Category: baby name Atticus
Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?
(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)
So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?
Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?
Maybe contemplating the name Rufus sparked my revelation. Or it might have hit me when I encountered an Otis. Whatever the inspiration, I suddenly realized that my most-loved boys’ names end in the letter s. Yep, almost all of them.
Amias? One of my all-time underappreciated favorites.
What is it about s-ending names that hold such appeal?
It’s true, I prefer their soft, sybillant ending to the harder –er ending that’s so popular right now for boys’ names. Besides being more gentle, it feels a bit more surprising, intrinsically distinctive.
Many of my favorite classic boys’ names end in s: Thomas, James, Louis, Charles, and Nicholas. And trendier choices of decades past, from Chris and Curtis to Dennis and Douglas to Ross and Russ to Jess and Wes, helped whet the overall appetite for s-ending names.
Some of the names that end in s are fairly fashionable today. These include:
When out-of the-box-named Ever Carradine, actress and member of a multi-generational Hollywood dynasty, recently gave her baby daughter the equally out-of-the-box-name Chaplin, it got me wondering—could there be an extreme baby naming gene that passes from generation to generation?
Frank Zappa’s kids’ names are the poster children for extreme starbaby naming: Moon Unit, Dweezil (actually Ian Donald Calvin Euclid on his original birth certificate when the hospital refused to register Dweezil), Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Are these sibs following the tradition? Kinda–though more cool than crazy– judging from their offspring so far:
Equally well known are the Phoenix (originally Bottom) family of nature names: River Jude, Summer Joy, Rain Joan of Arc, Liberty (originally Libertad Mariposa) and the brother first called Joaquin then Leaf and then Joaquin again. Among their kids’ names:
- Indiana August (Indiana in tribute to uncle River, who played the young Indiana Jones)
- Indigo Orion
- Rio Everest
- Scarlette Jasmine
And then there’s the Coppola clan, which includes Nicolas (nee Coppola) Cage, with their imaginative choices:
The four acting Baldwin brothers have pretty normal names, but not so some of their offspring:
Legendary Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob (Robert Nesta) Marley had a convoluted family tree, with some eleven children, including Cedella (named for Marley’s mother), David (‘Ziggy’), Rohan and Ki-Mani. Among his interestingly-named grandchildren—although there are probably many more–are:
- Gideon Robert Nesta
- Joshua Omaru
- Judah Victoria
- Selah Louise
- Zion David
The fairly normally named ten-strong Wayans brood seems to have a penchant for vowel-ending names for their own kids:
The Jackson 5 + 5 configuration is almost too daunting to look at. For one thing, the Michael Generation names are actually a lot more elaborate than they would appear. “Jackie,” for example, was christened Sigmund Esco, Jr and “Tito” Toriano Adaryll, while Jermaine’s middle name is La Jaune. The baroque (and sometimes immodest) name gene is evident in some of their own child (and grandchild) choices:
So, creative, quirky or genetic imperative? You be the judge.
As the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird is being celebrated, the thought comes to mind that it sometimes can take decades for an iconic fictional character –usually one imprinted on our minds from a classic read during our formative adolescent years—to take off as a baby name.
A prime example of this is Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, that noble lawyer/father Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel, which appeared in print in 1960 and on screen in 1962, and yet didn’t make it onto the Social Security baby name list until 2004. The same is true of Holden: J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield appeared in The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, but not on the pop charts until 1987. Scarlett O’Hara (GWTW book 1936, movie 1939) didn’t hit the top half of the list until 2004—when it combined with the Johanssen factor. And if we want to go back even further, it took Huckleberry well over a century to suddenly be used by a couple of celebs.
Below are some literary names from 20th century American novels and plays, a few of which, like Daisy, Owen and Ethan, have already made their comebacks, others which conceivably could, plus a few that are probably too eccentric to be condsidered.
As always there’s the caveat that not all these characters were particularly likable or noble namesakes. Some American literary names to consider, for both boys and girls, include:
ÁNTONIA — Willa Cather, My Ántonia