Why Did KayDee (“Private Practice”) Strickland Pick an Ancient, Latin Place Name for Her Baby, Atticus?

KayDee Strickland (of “Private Practice” fame) and her husband, Paul Behr, gave their baby boy an ancient, Latin place name. (If you don’t already know, Atticus means “from Attica.”) Do you know where Attica is? It’s a prefecture in ancient Greece; and a prison in New York State. It’s also the name of the courageous protagonist (Atticus Finch) of To Catch a Mockingbird.)

Why did they select that name? Perhaps because Atticus was one of the fastest rising boys’ names in 2012, jumping from 462 to 410—according to the Social Security Administration. It rose almost  as rapidly as pompous titles like Messiah, King, and Major, and about as rapidly as famous brands like Armani, Remington and Lincoln. In other words, the name is “hot.” Is that a good reason to consider Atticus for your child (as has recently been suggested by Nameberry) which touted Atticus in a recent post called “28 Very Surprising Baby Names On The Rise“?

Nameberry was right. it is very surprising that many of the names they suggested were “on the rise.” Why? Because so many of the “rising” names they listed come across as stodgy, stuffy, old-fashioned or just plain weird. And many of the names also present spelling and pronunciation problems, that make them even less attractive. Take a look:

Atticus (stuffy, an ancient relic that means “from Attica”–which refers to ancient Greece–or a prison in N.Y. State.)

August (old-fashioned)

Bodhi (weird, hard to spell and pronounce)

Azalea (old-fashioned, likely to be misspelled)

Persephone (old-fashioned, in Greek mythology: “queen of the underworld,” possible spelling and pronunciation problems)

Freya (strange, in Norse Mythology: the goddess of love; hard to spell and pronounce: FREE-ya or FRAY-ya?)

Gemma (a stodgy British name)

Arya (ARE-ya or ARE-ee-yah?; lots of confusing spelling options, too)

Perla (a Spanish version of Pearl—a classic old-fashioned grandma name)

Willa (a stodgy German name; short for Wilhemina—a female form of Wilhelm, neither of which are “cool”)

I like fresh, uncommon names (like Catalina and Hudson) and classic traditional names (like William and Katherine) that are always in style. Picking any of the “rising names” from Nameberry’s list of rising names involves a great deal of risk.

If most people perceive the name as an ancient relic from the Roman Empire and just 5% connect the name to Atticus Finch, how will that benefit the child? Or KaDee Strickland’s child—to get this article back on track?

Just because a name is rising in popularity doesn’t mean it will be a pleasure or a positive influence for your child. Romeo is another fast-rising name. Of course, Romeo is the “star-crossed” lover of Juliet in a Shakespeare play that features both names in the title. My gut feel is that Juliet comes across as a romantic name for a girl, but Romeo has become a term used to label a guy as a  “ladies’ man” or a “womanizer.” So I’m not planning to recommend that “rising” name any time in the near future.

Although I often enjoy reading Nameberry’s “trend” articles, I don’t think it can’t be much fun to be the first family on your block with a baby who sports a name that was abandoned by Brits, Germans, or Romans 100 or 1,000 years ago.

I worry that some (if not all) of the stodgy, old-fashioned names Nameberry served up in that “Baby Names On the Rise” post are unlikely to work well for your child. Does it really make a name more appropriate for your child when you learn some of those stodgy names  were selected by the former star of “Private Practice” or a variety of other celebrities? Given the spotty reputation of celebrities for baby naming, I hope your answer is “No.”

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