Cool Baby Names: Character Names

Cool baby names today may reference celebrities, sure, but more and more parents are looking to fictional characters for inspiration when naming their children.

Based on nearly two million visits to Nameberry’s individual name pages over the past three months, we see these character names — from classic literature and futuristic fantasy, Old Hollywood films and modern animation — attracting big jumps in interest.

This is one cool baby names trend that makes sense.  Fictional characters embody positive, uplifting qualities that their mortal counterparts often fall short on.  And in the ever-broadening search for names with personal meaning, parents may find referencing a favorite book or film to be a perfect way to make an important style statement and give their child a namesake to look up to.

Here, the hottest character names on Nameberry right now:


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Where Scarlett goes, can Rhett be far behind? Scarlett Johansson breathed new life into the literary moniker of Scarlett O’Hara, and now we see a dramatic rise in interest in the name of her Gone With The Wind companion Rhett, a variation of the (also newly popular) Welsh name Rhys.

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25 Responses to “Cool Baby Names: Character Names”

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lemon Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 12:46 am

These are really wonderful – Holden is probably my favorite, though Esme is beautiful and Zuzu is very chic. But, Gatsby! Is that actually used as a name? I can see why it would be, but I’ve never heard of that being used!

As for Atticus, I think he’s almost so hip he’s not hip anymore, you know? I’d much rather see Scout and even Lee get a bump. Darcy is fantastic, but I think Lydia is the underused classic in that novel. And, I won’t lie – Twilight has great names, from Esme to Emmett to Alice and Rosalie, they’re just so…pretty! While Katniss and the inevitable Kat nickname are cool, I’d say Everdeen would be just as, if not more, usable, with Ev, Evey, and Ever as nicknames. And, last but not least, I’d just like to say that I wish Phoebe and Holden weren’t brother and sister in The Catcher in the Rye because I love both! It’s like Eliza and Henry (My Fair Lady) or Gwendolen and Cecily (The Importance of Being Earnest) – two names that are perfect together that you can’t necessarily use together!

TeacherMA Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 12:59 am

Esme Squalor is also a character in “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. This character’s name is a play on “For Esme: With Love and Squalor.”

CassieCake Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 1:29 am

LOVE Esme and Holden…
two names I never see mentioned in these character blogs is JONA, from “The Giver”. that is one of my favorite books ever. There is also CLARISSE from “Fahrenheit 451”.

titch Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 6:19 am

I love Esme, Emmett and Eloise. Holden is the name of a car manufacturer here in Australia so not as appealing despite the great literary namesake.

pam Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 7:56 am

Lemon, I think Gatsby may end up being the hottest of all the names here, especially after the movie in December. TeacherMA, I didn’t know that about Esme Squalor! Lemony Snicket (obviously) is a naming master. Also, I was thinking this morning that perhaps Charlotte belonged on this list, as I think just a little of Charlotte’s newfound popularity is thanks to the spider.

pdxlibrarian Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 9:08 am

I like Rett as a nickname for Everett. It sounds like Rhett, but has a bit more substance.

mermuse Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 9:45 am

Oh, Rhett!

Lola Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 9:51 am

I love Esme (as a nickname for Esmeralda!) and Zuzu (for Zuleika). Holden’s lovely for a boy as is Atticus,which will never be too popular for me. Rhett is a dashing cad of a boys name & Darcy on a girl makes me cringe inside. It’s too insubstantial for a girl. Katniss is one I want to like but the Kat part feels so passé to me already.

And Eloise? I hate the spoiled, willful girl at the Plaza. But I like her as long as I can forget about the book. Weird, but true! 😀

Literary characters have always appealed to me. If they correspond to a family name, all the better for me!

skizzo Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 11:02 am

I like Rhett, but can’t stand Holden – cheap trendy name.

Darcy is great, but only on a boy.

anniebee Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 11:13 am

I love Eloise and Rhett. I also love the character Madeline, though that name is out b/c Madison ruined it.

I like the idea of Atticus and Holden, but I think when the names are so tied to the character that that’s the only thing you think of it sounds too contrived. Maybe it’s the fact that both are 10th grade reading books, too. If it were a more obscure book, I think the idea would be more personal, but since practically every kid in the country is required to read them in HS, it almost seems strange to name your kid that. Although, I used to really to like Harper after I heard it from Harper Lee, so maybe I’m being a hypocrite.

Wildsyringa Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 12:14 pm

So many great names! Love Holden, Darcy and Rhett. Esme is divine, but the Twilight association kind of ruins it for me. Lydia is still my favorite name from Pride and Prejudice, but it’s becoming way to common in my state – already in the top 40 and definitely headed for the top 25.

Just an FYI: The new Gatsby film won’t be out until December of 2012.

i.heart.nerds Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Atticus is spectacular. I wish I had the guts.
Darcy will forever be a man to me.
Eloise and Esme are both on my list
Holden, Rhett, Gatsby, Katniss, Zuzu and Kairi see not my style.

corsue Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I may be one of the few, but Darcy is very girl to me. It reminds me of Marcy, Stacy, Lacy (quite a bit more feminine b/c of lace), Tracy (also girl to me). I know that hard “ar” isn’t on all of those, but that’s what I think of. Obviously, this is totally just my opinion, but even when I read Jane Austen’s book it seemed like a really girlie name. I’ve only met one person named Darcy (a girl). I would like to meet an Atticus, but would prefer a Scout, like another poster said. The rest I could do without, but are very nameberry to me.

Zuzu Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 2:36 pm

My name is Margaret, but somehow my mom started calling me “Zuzu” as a nickname when I was very small…and she didn’t even realize at the time that it was a character in It’s a Wonderful Life! It’s still her special name for me and I love it.

lemon Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 3:18 pm

@pdxlibrarian – Oh, Everett. I love him, too! But, to me, Rhett feels more substantial as a nickname than Rett, which could possibly be because all I think about with Rett is Rett Syndrome. Then again, that could be because of my career interests…

@pam – Good point on the Gatsby front. But, it seems slightly less wearable on a human to me than other surname names of the same style (Ashby, Colby, Darby, Jacoby, Kirby, Rigby, etc.). Could it be because of the lack of a nickname?

@corsue – I’ve only met one Darcy. A female dog! But, I’m with you that Darcy has a feminine feel to it, though I could see it on either gender. Speaking of, I recently overheard a girl introduce herself as Chandler, which felt rather boyish to me. But, it was pretty refreshing and cool! I don’t know how Darcy could seem like a feminine name from Austen’s novel, though. He was such a studly dreamboat! But, then again, I guess he was fairly sensitive… 😉 I like it for both genders.

crescentmoon Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 3:50 pm

These are all great, but I especialy love Eloise! The Eloise at the Plaza books were my favorites as a young child, and I would love to bestow the name of such a spunky, adventurous, and bighearted heroine on a future daughter. I think Lola is a great nickname, as opposed to the super popular Ellie.

miloowen Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 6:30 pm

The fact that my daughter’s middle name of Louisa was also the name of two literary heroines — Louisa May Alcott and Louisa from Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children — added to the pleasure of giving her that name.

I really am annoyed by the TKAM names. Scout grew up to be Jean Louise, which, if you read the book, you would know. Atticus was the pen name of the lawyer Solon, which is why Lee gave her fictionalised father that name. I’m not sure why they annoy me so, except that it’s sort of the same irritation when someone gives to charity and then brags about it….

I’ve never liked Holden as a name and the character of Holden Caulfied is hardly a likeable character or one I would name my child after. That goes for Gatsby too, whose name was James….he just thought Jay was upscale. As for Darcy, it’s a French surname — D’Arcy — so it’s hardly made up.

I think, besides Louisa, my favourite character names date all the way back to the Narnia books, as funny as that is. I have always loved Edmund, Peter, Lucy, Digory, Corin, Susan, Eustace, and Jill ever since I first read the books when I was eight.

Jaci Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I love the name Holden but could never use it. The character just was not appealing in any way to me. I think Darcy is a fantastic choice. It frustrates me when parents ask if a name is too feminine for a boy. People expecting a girl don’t ask if it’s too masculine!

Some of the other names are just a little too out there for me like Scout, Radley, Atticus, and Gatsby.

kalikeli Says:

October 21st, 2011 at 11:38 pm

One of my all-time favorite character names is Cady from The Sound and the Fury, her full name is Cadence… such a great name, tough but beautiful, musical and meaningful.

I also love Esme, so elegant. My beloved grandmother gave me the Eloise books when I was a little girl, and in her family the first girl was named Helen E- (Helen Etta, Helen Etta, Helen Elizabeth) so I’ve always wanted to honor her with an E middle for a girl. Sadly we have two boys and I don’t think were going for another one…maybe one of my sisters (neither of which are named Helen), will carry on the tradition.

erb2010 Says:

October 22nd, 2011 at 5:53 am

I love Rhett and Eloise. Matilda in the Roald Dahl book was one of my favorite characters when I was little.

Nook of Names Says:

October 24th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

A great selection. Some of my favorite character names there, including Atticus and Holden.

Literature is such wonderfully rich hunting ground for names :D.

Momesque Says:

October 25th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

We have named our children with (mostly) literary names — and Esme is the middle name of our almost 9-yr old. I had always been a fan of the Salinger short story. I only wish my mom would not have criticized it as “sounding like pig-Latin.” ugh. So she’s Ava Esme, but she would have made a lovely “just” Esme.

Scout is phenomenal, but always seemed like an unlikely choice in the end. Louisa is another favorite (for Alcott), Pearl…there are so many beautiful ones!

LilyLunaPotter Says:

February 12th, 2012 at 6:16 pm

How about Ramona (as in Beverly Clearly)? Or Beatrix (Potter)? Atticus is spectacular, but I agree with whoever already stated this above: It’s, unfortunately, much to connected to the character… much like another Greek-inspired gem, Hermione. As much as I love Hermione (both the name and the Harry Potter character), it most likely could never work. Zuzu is like Pippa to me; I LOVE it as a nickname for a little girl, but it absolutely has to stand for something, as Zuzu has an expiration date.

Arianrhod Says:

August 25th, 2013 at 2:29 am

Most of the names i like come from books! Which makes it tricky when picking names for characters in stories…i dont want to name a character after another character. :/
I love Elouise and Darcy.
My favourite auther is Tamora Pierce, and she is extremely creative with names. Some of her heroines include Alianne, Keladry, Daine, Sarai, Dovasary (Dove), Thayet, Kalasin, Sandry, Beka, Kora, Aniki, Sabine, Miri. And male characters like Matthias, Rosto, Thom, Nealan, Domitan (Dom), Cleon, Numair, Niko and Briar.

Bobcat108 Says:

June 1st, 2015 at 8:22 pm

D’Arcy was the female protagonist in the ’60s novel Here Come the Brides…IIRC she was named for her uncle. Darcy is the older brother of Elizabeth, one of the main characters in the YA The Mother Daughter Book Club series. Darcy & Elizabeth’s mom is a librarian & a huge Jane Austen fan (go figure). So for me Darcy works on either a boy or a girl, but if I were to use it it would be on a girl.

I agree w/the pp who said that Holden & Phoebe are the perfect sibset that’s impossible to be used because of The Catcher in the Rye.

Most if not all of my favorite names come from a book. 🙂

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