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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baby Name to Discuss: Scout (but for a boy)

A. writes:
Why aren't more people using the name Scout, for boys? According to the Social Security Administration data, there were only 59 boys (and 148 girls) named Scout in 2010. I have heard it used, in real life, as a girl's middle name (which her parents also used as a pet name for her), in homage to the character in To Kill a Mocking Bird. And I do like it for a girl, but I kind of love it for a boy.
I think it has a very adventurous/rugged masculine feel, like Hunter, Ranger, Colt and Sawyer, and the Boy Scout association makes it sound capable and good citizen like (although, I actually have some issues with the Boy Scouts of America's stance on certain issues, the idea of boy scouting remains positive in my mind) .
I do see the possible downsides of it sounding too much like and being confused for Scott (a name I find utterly lackluster due to personal associations and it being out of fashion) and it sounding like a dog's name, but I still kind of love it and imagine it being adorable on a little boy and handsome on a man. What do you and your readers think of Scout? I love your blog(s) and a would love to know what you think about Scout!

I have four associations with the name Scout:

1. Jean Louise Finch's nickname in To Kill a Mockingbird (female)

2. The daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (female)

3. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (either male or female)

4. A talent/sports/military scout (either male or female)

Considering that I think the To Kill a Mockingbird association is likely the strongest one in the U.S. (and re-emphasized by so many parents citing the book as the reason they chose the name), a 59m/148f split is more boys than I would have expected. I see the gap widened in 2011: according to the Social Security Administration, there were 51 male babies and 182 female babies named Scout.

It's an interesting question, because I think if the name had entered our culture without the book, it would very likely have been as a boy's name. As you've mentioned, it sounds like Scott, and it works well with names like Hunter and Ranger.

But instead it's considered a boyISH name for a scrappy girl---and meanwhile, the book To Kill a Mockingbird is commonly taught in high school year after year, which doesn't allow the association to fade. And the name remains unusual, which doesn't allow the association to dilute.

What does everyone else think about why Scout isn't used more for boys? Do you think it could be tipped by, say, another famous Scout, but this one male? Maybe a handsome, winking, rugged type?

And let's have a poll over to the right to see what we think of the name for a boy at this point. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for "Scout, but for a boy" (380 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 16 votes (4%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 32 votes (8%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 124 votes (33%)
No particular opinion - 39 votes (10%)
Slight dislike - 96 votes (25%)
Strong dislike - 73 votes (19%)


Anonymous said...

I actually feel towards Scout from TKAMB the same way I feel about Elliot from the t.v show Scrubs (that makes me sound really literate, I know). To me both are names I would associate with guys, that are surprising and fun as girls names. Scout is a boy's name to me, and more of a nickname-name like "Bud" or "Champ".

Anonymous said...

I have a friend here in Australia with a little boy named Scout and it suits him to bits! Here the name has much more of a male vibe than female. All we need is another Wentworth Miller-type young man with the name Scout to appear on our screens and it will boom in popularity!

StephLove said...

I prefer it as a nickname rather than a given name but I could see it on either gender.

Rachel said...

I think this name would be perfect for a boy, and just needs a bit of exposure as a boy's name- a famous male Scout of some kind to boost its appeal. I can absolutely see it catching on.

Ginny said...

Currently I see it as much more a girl name (but, as you said, a tough, scrappy girl), but I do think one iconic male Scout could turn the balance enough to make it at least 50/50.

Anonymous said...

I think Scout works equally well on a girl or a boy, just not as a given name. It has a very strong nickname quality to me.

Jessica said...

I've always disliked the name because, as you said, it sounds like a dog's name. In fact, it's the perfect name for a dog (and there aren't many of those!) I just don't get why you'd give it to a person. (Although my opinion is probably influenced by the fact I don't like To Kill a Mockingbird.)

Susan Sellars said...

I just read that Katie Holmes is thinking of changing Suri's name to Scout Holmes. It was on the internet, so it must be true ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't like Scout as a given name for either a girl/woman or boy/man. Many babies grow up a bit to be boy scouts or girl scouts and/or to have friends who are scouts. And so said Scout, "my friends Jacob and Emma are scouts, but I'm not." "You're not a scout, Scout?"

If you must call your son Scout, I'd recommend using it as a mn: eg., Robert Scout Jones, so he has a solid name to use as an adult, on resumes, professionally, etc.

J. said...

My daughters given name is Scout. I love it! I do get annoyed at the Demi/Bruce comments but just clarify it is after To Kill A Mockingbird. When people hear Scout, a lot think she is a boy. (My daughter is 7 months; one of the 182)

I think that the name could go either way. It wouldn't surprise me to meet a boy named Scout. That's why I also likes the name, because of its boyish sound. Interestingly, if my husband and I were to have additional daughters, we like Sawyer, Alex, and Ryan.

I am interested in seeing how the name changes, evolves, and it's popularity as my little Scoutie grows. Maybe our Scouts will meet someday.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of it as a given name. It sounds like a nickname to me, or a dog's name. I bet it would grow on me if I knew a kid named Scout though.


Vivian said...

I like it, i'd want to consider it. But heres the thing. I much prefer Scout as a nickname ,rather than a full name. I see it in the Leave it to Beaver era of nicknames, so something like Christopher nn Scout is more up my alley.

xo Viv

AirLand said...

I wouldn't want to be an adult Scout, boy or girl. The nickname is adorable though.

I think it could work for a boy.

Anonymous said...

I actually know a male Scout. He's eighteen, and the name works pretty well for him. So when I think of the name Scout, my first thought is of a boy name.

For me, it's one of a very few real unisex names that I really like on either gender.

If Scott works, then Scout should work. But I think it'd be best as a nickname.

Rachel C said...

I think it's fine as a nickname for a little boy or girl, but it definitely doesn't sound like a grown man's name to me.

Emily said...

I've gone to school with two Scouts, and they were both guys. It works for either sex really, but I do prefer it on a boy.