August 12, 2015

Atticus: To Kill A Name

In case you hadn't noticed, Harper Lee's release of Go Set a Watchman is sending classic literature lovers into a tailspin.  Many are dismayed over the character Atticus Finch, who went from civil rights hero to racist KKK supporter overnight. The disappointment runs as deep as our love for Atticus once did.

Fans of the name are wondering—is this the end of Atticus?

Some parents are reconsidering Atticus altogether, including a headline-grabbing couple from Colorado who renamed their 18-month-old from Atticus to Lucas after the book's release. I can feel their pain as they realized everything that had at first emotionally connected them so deeply with this name had been lost. The couple explained,
"When the new book came out, we just felt like, this does not at all encompass the values that we want for our son to have and know. And we felt like our son was young enough that we could change his name."
the Epstein family

While literary names have been soaring over the last decade, few could have guessed that any of them, let alone a favorite character from a classic novel, could fall out of favor because of a tarnished reputation. Just last year, Atticus was ranked at 370, and it was doing better every year. There are thousands of boys with this name! But just as names like Isis and Kanye took a nosedive as soon as the bad press erupted, it's possible Atticus may be next.

That doesn't mean you have to scramble to change your son's name, of course, if he's an Atticus. It's got a unique sound and fantastic history, and at the time the name paid homage to a great literary character. There's more to Atticus than any novel could suggest, it's just that in the US our strongest association with this unique name has been the character Harper Lee created.

For those who hadn't yet pulled the trigger on this name, it's probably lost a lot of its luster. The name Atticus isn't only a little controversial now, it's been instantly dated. It's pretty easy to determine that a little Atticus is likely to have been born (and enthusiastically named) somewhere between 2004 and 2015. The name is losing its footing fast as enthusiasm is fizzling.

Atticus Alternatives
If you are in a tough spot with this name and are looking for similar-sounding alternatives, here are my best options:

  • Atlas ~ I love this as an alternative to Atticus. It's another strong Greek name with a very similar sound, and you could even keep the nickname Attie if you wanted to.
  • Marcus ~ A global hit with an ancient feel much like Atticus, Marcus is sweet and enduring, with a few literary characters to round it out.
  • Thaddeus ~ Latin with a splash of Greek, Thaddeus has a quirky, antiquated feel that encompasses the spirit of Atticus nicely.
  • Creative Classic Baby Names Starting with A ~ a recent post I wrote over on Baby Name Wizard, with 8 different boys' names beginning with A that are off the beaten path

If Atticus is beyond hope of returning to your favorites list, there are loads of other names ready to take its place. (Contact me for more inspiration if you'd like!) And in the end, ignore anything that's not helpful—including this post—and go with what your heart tells you.



Read More About Atticus
Here's my original name profile on Atticus, including history, celebrity babies, and a few other fictional characters to be given this unique name.

1 comment:

  1. It is just like the Adolph (hitler) Joeseph (stalin & Jesus's father) and Rudolph (reindeer) wars all over again. One can broaden their perspective on a name outside one connection, otherwise, your irrefutably ignoring history, and that doesn't teach your child anything!

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