I keep hearing that babies are being named Gatsby. I have yet to actually hear of any specific, real babies with this name. Have you? And, beyond that question, what do you think about Gatsby as a name? Is it pretentious or dashing? Ho do you think it compares to other lit inspired names like Atticus?


By EVie
June 14, 2012 12:17 PM

I searched for Gatsby in the 2011 Beyond the top 1000 data and couldn't find it, meaning that there were fewer than 4 born last year.

I do think that Gatsby is a rather pretentious choice, much more so than Atticus (though I'm just about the only person in America who didn't read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, so I can't do a fair comparison). It's also a much more heavily loaded name. I can see how some people might find Jay Gatsby admirable as a self-made man, but he's also a serial liar and a giant fraud who values money and class above all else (except maybe Daisy). He's often used as a comparison point for modern businessmen who get where they are through deception or other unethical means. He's also a tragic character—after all his efforts, he doesn't get the love he wants, or even meaningful friendship. So I really feel that anyone who uses Gatsby as a name for their kid didn't really understand the book (or maybe didn't even read it). He's not a symbol of the American aristocracy. He's a symbol of the people who try to fake their way into it. 

However—I think it's a great name for a pet, especially a cat (Catsby!)

By Guest (not verified)
June 14, 2012 12:19 PM

I agree with all of the above.  In general, I find last names as first names pretentious when they don't actually come from your family tree.  Gatsby doubles down on the pretentiousness because it clearly implies the parents never read the book.

June 14, 2012 12:43 PM

"However—I think it's a great name for a pet, especially a cat (Catsby!)"

Or an imp. Good morning!

By hyz
June 14, 2012 4:11 PM

Ha!  love it. :)

I don't really think Gatsby sounds more pretentious than Atticus--I guess I'd put them at about equal (except, we read TKAMB in 7th or 8th grade, and Gatsby in 9th or 10th, so our teachers arguably considered one to be at a slightly higher reading level than the other--but I don't think any standard middle school/high school reading would really strike me as a particularly pretentious choice.  Now, name your kid something like Zarathustra or Derrida, and I think you are definitely veering towards the pretentious).  But I do agree with all the comments above about why Gatsby does not make the best name/role model/association, regardless of any pretention. 

By Guest (not verified)
June 14, 2012 6:46 PM

Plus, there's a new movie version of the Great Gatsby coming out that looks gawd awful.  So they'd have that connotation too!

By Guest (not verified)
June 20, 2012 9:28 PM

Now I want to name my next cat Catsby.

By Guest (not verified)
June 20, 2012 7:04 PM

My younger son is Gatsby Charles. Our older son is Sawyer, we liked both because they are literary, strong, and good to grow up with. I guess I'm biased here, but I'd say it's dashing! At two years old, we've had nothing but compliments on it.


By Guest (not verified)
June 20, 2012 7:10 PM

My second son is Gatsby Charles. Our elder son is Sawyer. We picked Gatsby to stick with the literary theme, we love the novel and felt that the name, like Sawyer, was strong and good to grow up with. I hope that my boy will grow up to be proud of his name and to under the complex character, both admirable and not-so, that is Jay Gatsby. In two years, we've had very few negative reactions to his name. We didn't pick it to be pretentious, we picked it because we loved it and thought it suited him.

June 20, 2012 7:32 PM

I think they are both silly.  More faux - pretentious than actually pretentious.  Some people act like when choosing a literary name there are only 5 in existence they could actually choose form.  I don't think they say, 'we are well read and intelligent' and instead scream, 'we were forced to read a book in high school once!'