Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.
We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
Our son is due at the end of May. We like names like Henry, William, Sam, Jack, Theo, Alex, Charlie, Max, and James. But we know kids with all of those names already.
For a while we were thinking about Joseph, but it never felt right.
The name we keep coming back to is Patrick.
But … does anybody really name babies Patrick right now?!
We’re not Irish, not even a little.
And I think the nickname Pat is pretty bad.
Patrick, though, makes both of us smile. But only Patrick. Will people call him Pat?
Are we crazy for even thinking about naming a baby Patrick?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
It sounds like you know LOTS of kids already. That’s a challenge, because it can mean that some of the best names are taken off the table.
But it’s a good thing, too.
Because you already know that some boys are James, not Jimmy, and William, not Will. Or the opposite. Maybe their legal name is Alexander or Charles or Theodore, but you’ve only ever heard them called by the shorter version.
While there aren’t any rules, there are names we tend to always shorten – when’s the last time you met a Samuel who wasn’t Sam? But there are also plenty of names we tend to use almost exclusively in full. James is among the latter.
I think Patrick is, too.
That wouldn’t have been the case in another generation. Back then, Jim and Pat were defaults. But these things do chance.
It’s tempting to suggest more timeless, classic choices. Adam? Nathaniel? Maybe Jonathan?
Except … Patrick is kind of perfect. And you both already love it! So let’s turn to your questions.
Is anyone naming their sons Patrick?
Yes, absolutely! In 2019 alone, 1,870 boys were named Patrick. That makes the name #206 in the US Top 1000. You’re more likely to meet a new baby Patrick than you are a Sullivan, Hugo, or Gage.
But we’re not even Irish!
Neither is Patrick.
It’s Latin, from Patricius – nobleman. It’s also the root of our word patrician.
The future saint’s birth name was Sucat. (Probably. Not all of the details of his life are certain.) We know he was born in Britain, kidnapped as a young man and taken as a slave to Ireland. While in captivity, he converted to Christianity. Patrick escaped, but eventually returned to Ireland as a preacher and converted the country.
Which is why Patrick feels so inescapably Irish. Well, that, and bajillions of glittery green shamrocks that appear every March 17th.
While Patrick feels Irish, it’s a classic first, used all over the world, in nearly every European language, and across centuries. Founding Father Patrick Henry wasn’t Irish; neither is current NFL star Patrick Mahomes.
Some people might assume, or even ask … but it’s not really that surprising if your answer is no.
Will they call him Pat?
Introduce your son as Patrick, and my guess is that 99% of the world will follow suit. I’ve come across a few small Patricks, and they all use the full, two-syllable version of the name.
If you worry that some might want a nickname – or even you might find yourself casting about for an affectionate version of Patrick – then I have a suggestion. Patch! It’s unexpected, but follows logically from Patrick.
But what if someone does?
You might get a kick out of this story: an ESPN announcer kept referring to Patrick Mahomes as Pat. Until his mother tweeted at ESPN + got an apology.
If it’s your elderly great-aunt that you see once a year, I’d probably shrug it off. But if your neighbor or a caregiver or anyone else in your everyday life refers to your son as Pat? Politely saying, “Actually, we call him Patrick” is probably enough in most cases.
Besides, your son will soon be talking and introducing himself as Patrick!
So, no, you’re not crazy at all for considering Patrick for your son’s name. It sounds perfect!
Every name has a drawback or two. Patrick fits your general style requirements, isn’t being used by anybody in your immediate circle, and has a strong, classic vibe. It sounds like you’ve found your son’s name!
Readers, what do you think? Is there anything else Nora should consider? Do you know any Patricks who are never called Pat?
Patrick Waiyaki says
As a Patrick, to me the name is so perfect and historically great to a point it doesn’t require diminishing nicknames like pat or paddy. Even to other people here, you can tell those are not their favourites. It’s like giving something great like Facebook a nickname like “Fee” or elephant “Ele” or “Elf”!. If you have to give Patrick a nickname, the best of all is “Ricky”.
My mom still isn’t over my brother choosing in mid-childhood to go by Jeff and not “what she named him,” and he’s almost 40. So, if you really hate Pat and you’re going to be that mother correcting his grandparents, teachers, friends, and even his wife, you should pick a name that won’t easily shorten to Pat. Because if he embraces Pat, that’s it.
I think Patrick sounds like a great choice for you. I know three young Patricks – two always called by their full name, and one called Paddy. I would not expect a young Patrick to be ever called Pat.
The one Patrick I sort of know, it is definitely more a friend of a friend sort of situation, somewhere picked up the nickname Trick and it stuck. I can remember long ago in my school-girl days, from elementary all the way through university, there being a few Patricks and none of them were ever Pat, they were all always Patrick. So yes I agree that Patrick is a great name and, at least to me, is never automatically shortened to Pat.
Normally, I would have so many ideas of other names you could
choose from, but this time I’ll just introduce you to this cutie: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLcCZuFDZcL/
(A baby Patrick, called Patrick all the time, who was born last year.)
Oh my goodness, I love Patch as a nickname! My go-to suggestion is always Pax. I agree to do it do it! Recognizable, easy to spell, fits in but stands out. I was just thinking about how I have only ever met one child Patrick over the eight years I’ve been a parent. It is refreshing!
We strongly considered Patrick (called “Pax”) when we were expecting our child last year, but she ended up being a girl :).
Pax is fantastic! Thanks for suggesting it.
I know several children named Patrick. I think you should use Patrick, and every time someone tries to call him Pat, you can send them a gif of David Rose “We’re not doing Pat”
Alison Doherty says
My parents thought about naming me Patrick if I was a boy! I always thought it was a cute name and I think it’s fine not to be Irish. Ezras, Noahs, and Gabriels aren’t all Jewish anymore. There are Isabellas that aren’t Italian. And so many Irish names have entered the mainstream Connor, Sean, Liam – I don’t see Patrick any differently!
My husband and I might have named our first son Patrick a few years ago, but it doesn’t work with our last name. It’s such a neat blend of classic and spunk. Happily, my brother and his wife chose if for their son a few months later, so we get to use it a lot. Nobody calls him Pat. If you love it, I say, go for it!
I love Patrick! My brother (now 25) is Patrick, never once called Pat. I can’t even imagine someone calling him Pat, his name is Patrick.
We do affectionately call him Patch, just as Abby suggested, though it feels funny to type it out because in our case it’s exclusively a spoken nickname, not a written one. Isn’t it funny how that happens?
He is a quarter Irish, but doesn’t look it. I wouldn’t think twice of hearing it on a non-Irish person, truly. It’s a great name!
So my Patrick experience is all Pat’s mius one. Maybe I’m an outlier. That doesn’t mean yours will be a Pat too. I’m just saying, if you hate the nickname, don’t use the name.
To be fair, we changed my son’s name because I couldn’t stand the idea of him being called Jimmy. Just could not deal with Jimmy. So now he is something completely different, and James is a middle. Do I regret not calling hhim James? Sometimes. But I’m still glad he isn’t Jimmy. Always.