Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

To Name a Mockingbird?

My husband is a movie fanatic. His all-time favorite films are To Kill a Mockingbird and It's a Wonderful Life. He is bound and determined to name our next child either Atticus (from Mockingbird) or Zuzu (Jimmy Stewart's daughter from his Wonderful Life). He wants to be able to scream with pure joy, "Zuzu's petals! Zuzu's petals!" I, frankly, am frightened, yet I want my husband's favorites to be included. Are Zuzu and Atticus TOO weird? - Attack of the Atticus

At first blush, I'd say that any name that "frightens" the baby's mother is, indeed, too weird! But if you're personally open to the names and just worry what the neighbors will say, I might be able to reassure you.

Weird isn't what it used to be. Atticus, a name that  seemed eccentric a generation ago, is now a top-1000 baby name and rising. It's more popular than many familiar choices like Randall, Harry and Neil. Most parents of a young Atticus were inspired, like your husband, by "Mockingbird's" wise Atticus Finch. That book and movie, though, were beloved for half a century without inspiring many namesakes. The name is finding its moment now because America is ready for its style.

Atticus is an ancient Roman name, long associated with wisdom and learning. It's quirky and eye-catching, but serious and impeccably traditional. Other names that fit that description are on the rise too, especially biblical and classical choices like Ezra, Silas, Augustus and Gideon. In that company, a young Atticus is perfectly stylish.

As for Zuzu, it too is a name with some buzz. The beloved movie and the hot letter Z are a killer combo. But many parents, like you, worry that the name may sound too fanciful.

Never fear: Zuzu has a secret. Remember how the other Bailey children in "It's a Wonderful Life" were named Janie, Tommy and Pete? Ever wonder how an exotic Zuzu slipped into such an all-American brood? The answer is that like the others, Zuzu is a nickname. It's from Zuzana, the Czech/Slovak form of Susannah. If we ever got a glimpse of the Bailey girl's birth certificate, I'll bet it would have read Susan. So you can choose any form of that classic name and call your daughter Zuzu for short. I think you'll find the nickname charms most everyone you meet.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

March 7, 2011 2:09 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love, love, love Susannah. It's a name that should be used WAY more. I wanted to use it but DH declined. He was afraid of "Susie", which I liked as a nickname, but ZuZu is even more modern and cute. Go for it! She'll have a classic name for her resume, and an perky nickname for highschool.

March 7, 2011 3:44 PM
By Jenna (not verified)

zhu zhu pets are a hot toy right now. might want to keep that in mind.

March 7, 2011 6:55 PM
By mk (not verified)

I like Suzanna with a nuckname of Zuzu, but not Zuzu as a stand alone name.

Though I love To Kill a Mickingbird, I'm not a fan of Atticus as a first name. What about Jeremy Atticus (Jem's real name)?

March 8, 2011 1:05 PM
By Alli (not verified)

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book, and I actually really like the name Atticus. I think it would be very cute on a little boy, I don't think it would sound too strange with the other names that are gaining popularity now.

I'm not a big fan of ZuZu, but it wouldn't be bad as a nickname. Susan is the only version of that name that I like.

March 8, 2011 1:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know an adult named Atticus, and it is a great name.

March 8, 2011 1:28 PM
By paula (not verified)

Am I the only "Silk Stalkings" (USA Network's crime drama in the late 1980's - early 1990's) fan who thinks of Atticus Dunn, the lovable con artist with the heavy Southern accent every time the name comes up?

March 8, 2011 1:29 PM
By Annee (not verified)

Oh, any of the "Susan" names would be great, imo: Susan, Susanna(h), Suzanne. Just "Susan" would be rather retro, imo. Actually, it's sort of funny that Susan is the one of the three (or four, if you count Susanna and Susannah as two names) that is still on the list of Top 1000 names.

March 8, 2011 1:50 PM
By Shammy (not verified)

I LOVE Susannah!! I think Zuzu is a great nickname for it, too. I also really like Atticus, I think it sounds dignified.

March 8, 2011 3:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Atticus is one of my favourite names - linked forever to a wonderful fictional character. I teach at an all boys private school - and there are 4-5 Atticuses (Attici?!) there among the approx 1200 students.

What surprised me more is that you say it is less popular than "Harry". There would be at least 1 Harry in every class I teach! It has been super-popular here in Australia for over a decade. I suspect it slowly caught on after Prince Harry (although Henry is also popular in its own right).

I would prefer "Scout" to ZuZu - but would probably never use it in real life! I am a more traditional kind of namer! (And Jean Louise does not appeal).

March 8, 2011 4:44 PM
By eliza (not verified)

Zuzu just makes me think of the lion king character and Rachel dratch's Bostonite from snl. Also... zuzu is unfortunately linked w "zoo" , as in you smell like one, or this place is one. Unappealing.

March 9, 2011 12:07 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love Susannah! I would totally go with that, nn Zuzu, with no second thoughts. Susan is also kind of fun in an unexpected retro way, but I don't care for Suzanne (sounds too harsh for me). Zuzu is an adorable nn, as is Susie.

I don't love Atticus, but it's a fine name--pleasant and respectable, and definitely not too weird in today's naming climate.

March 16, 2011 8:10 AM
By Gina (not verified)

It's funny you mention Ezra, Silas, Augustus and Gideon. I had all those names (and some others, like Augustine) on my shortlist for the next kid! Unfortunately my husband doesn't like any of them. Wahh!!

March 18, 2011 7:20 AM
By Julie (not verified)

Susannah in Hebrew is Shoshana, which I think is very pretty, and it means lily!

March 20, 2011 12:27 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My Gideon is 7 and my Ezra is 4 (we also have Isaac, Malachi, and Havilah), and I'd love to have an Atticus someday!

March 25, 2011 4:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My old childhood friend had a son and named him Atticus, nickname - Tuck. Personally, I think it is a lovely name, and the connection to Atticus Finch is not a bad one in the slightest!

March 29, 2011 2:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My husband and I were considering Atticus as a name for a boy, but around here it's becoming so popular that it reads as a rather trendy name. If you're worried about obscurity, I wouldn't. He might have another Atticus in his kindergarten class!

April 6, 2011 11:58 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The writers from It's a Wonderful Life actually took the name Zuzu from a brand of gingersnap cookies. They were comically paying homage to the origin of the name by having George call Zuzu his "little gingersnap." It's a Wonderful Life has always been one of my favorite movies and I've been determined to name a little girl of mine Zuzu one day. It's short and sassy name that's also a bit sweet.

April 13, 2011 2:17 AM
By Julie (not verified)

I like both the names..Zuzu would be a little bit harder to swallow but i have definitely heard the name Atticus and it doesn't seem to far out in left field at all. I like the idea of zuzu as a nickname. Also Zusanna sounds cute and modern

November 9, 2011 8:39 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

nice sharing, love it..^^
http://tinnitusmiracleg.com/

June 12, 2012 8:59 AM
By fleemingdick (not verified)

Friends across 50 different databases to identify where your child has online accounts, identify who your child is friends with, screen for posts with at-risk content, and view photos your child has posted or others have posted that include your child. mcitp // 70-620 mcsa // 70-640 mcts // 70-647 mcpd // 70-646 mcse // snoring // Anti snoring devices

March 5, 2013 7:40 PM
By Shauna (not verified)

I named my son Atticus (he is now 15 months old) and ironically I think Zuzu would be a great sister name (so kinda funny this was somebody's idea of awful names;). I would probably use a full name of some sort, but they both have the same vintagie, dare I say it, hipster feel to them:)

May 28, 2013 1:40 AM
By hermes birkin 35 (not verified)

Good job. thanks for sharing. Nice writing.

September 10, 2013 9:41 PM
By ZuZu's mom (not verified)

Love Atticus, but we were thinking Tucker ( yes the car movie)
We were not afraid at all to name our daughter ZuZu. we surprised our family with her name at the hospital the day she was born. She is our reminder that life is a precious gift and we indeed our blessed with a Wonderful Life because she will be our only child. She is our pride and joy. When she was a toddler she proudly told people (usually old ladies) her name and spelled it so they would not call her Susie. But most people replied after hearing her name, like from the movie it's a wonderful life and she said yes of course. But daddy says I'm his little gingersnap you know the clown girl on the nabisco ZuZu gingersnap box. As school started, everyone in the school seemed to embrace her and I believe her name was the reason. She truly is "sweet" and so loving and truly cares about people and wants to warm their hearts. No one at school, swim, field hockey, lacrosse, has ever picked on her. Just the opposite, they get excited to see her and after not seeing her for a season or two...they remember her name and yell "hey zu...zu...", while other team members names are usually forgotten. during the ZhuZhu pet craze, everyone seemed to know that they did name one of the pets ZuZu and made sure she got one...lol she owns four.
On an additional note, she has met The original ZuZu from the movie twice now. Karolyn grimes (ZuZu) what a loving great lady, she absolutely loved meeting our ZuZu. She has autographed movie posters for us and has sent our daughter a its a wonderful life Christmas ornament with the famous ZuZu quote "every time a bell rings an angel gets it wings" And she also sent her a collectible porcelain ZuZu doll. We hope to get another chance in the future to see her again. So hands down the best name we ever picked for our daughter. We feel she will continue to love her name and when asked once would she ever change her name she replied no way everyone loves it

July 7, 2014 4:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We named our daughter Zoey and call her Zuzu for that exact reason. My husband loves "it's a wonderful life" and George Bailey.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.