Reader question: Is Patton too General?

A reader has asked an interesting question that I hope you’ll all weigh in on! She writes,

One name we’ve considered A LOT is Patton. I like the sound of it and it generally fits our criteria, but I have two concerns. One is that my husband picked it while thinking of General George Patton (history buff), but I’m a little concerned the connotation is too strong. Even if we’re not technically naming him after the General, there are so few Pattons that the link is obvious. And I don’t know how I feel about our son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family. We agree Patton was a great General, but he was known to be harsh and vulgar, and though he was quite religious (protestant) he supposedly opposed the marriage of his daughter to a Catholic and believed in reincarnation. Those concerns aside, I read that Patton can be a diminutive of Patrick, which is awesome (we’re Irish).”

Interesting question, right?

I told her that I’m not really sure what I think about the General Patton connection. For me, General Patton wouldn’t have been my first connection at all! First, I would have thought of Patton being a diminutive of Patrick (I love that this mama knows that!); second, I would have thought of the paten at church. You can see where my head’s at! Haha! Names and faith all the time! A distant third would be the actor Patton Oswalt. But I did ask my husband what his gut reaction was when hearing the name Patton, and he thought about it for a minute (so much for gut reaction!) and said, “Well, there’s General Patton,” but he didn’t seem to think it was a negative or a dealbreaker.

As for her “son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family,” if I named my son Patton and someone asked about his name, I would always start with, “It’s a variant of Patrick that we really like.” This would tie the name closely to St. Patrick, both in the parents’ minds and those who they talk to, and of course St. Patrick would be his patron. Then if they brought up the General they could also say, “Yeah, he’s pretty cool,” and move on. Do you all agree?

Another option is to use Patrick as the given name, and use Patton as the nickname, which I also quite like. Do you agree that’s a good option, or do you think Patton as the given name is a better idea?

Please let me know how you would advise this mom?

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10 thoughts on “Reader question: Is Patton too General?

  1. I would guess that anyone who isn’t a history “buff” (most people!) would probably know that Patton was a general, but may or may not think of that immediately, and almost certainly wouldn’t know about the less savory details of his life. I agree with Kate, that it would be pretty easy to create a primary association with Patrick by mentioning that connection when appropriate. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I second this exactly!

      I doubt many would make the General Patton connection and fewer still know much about his life. I don’t think many would ask (or think) whether he’s your son’s namesake, and if they did, you could easily explain it away. Besides which, Patton fits in well with today’s popular, two-syllable, ends-in-n names.

      Don’t sweat it if it’s your favorite 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a military spouse, General Patton is my first association with the name (although I didn’t know the life details mentioned in the letter), with Patton Oswalt being my second. That being said, I love framing the name as a diminutive of Patrick and I think that association is quite lovely. Unfortunately, you can’t control how others view the name, but if you and your husband think of it in a way that brings you joy, then I say you should go for it. Once you actually have a child with the name, everyone will associate the name as his vs. someone else’s, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If I met a child named Patton, I would assume that it was a family name. I know of the general but very few details. If you told me it was a diminutive of Patrick, I would be surprised.

    With that said, my eldest child has a common name but one that wasn’t really used commonly in other generations and it is primarily associate with one particular historical figure. He gets asked alllll the time if he was named for this person, especially by people over the age of 60. I knew very little about this person when we named my son but in doing research afterwards there are some definite negative things associated with him (even though most people don’t know that). It gives me pause for sure. I suspect with Patton that you will get even more questions BC it is an unusual name. I actually rather like Patton and think it sounds strong, so I am definitely not saying don’t use it just wanted you to know our experience. I think if you really love it, the questions won’t bug you but if you are more so-so on it, it may be best to pick something else? Anyway do update us!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. General Patton – first and last thought. if you aren’t super OK with that being almost everyoneeeeeeee’s first thought, dont do it! i agree though, its not a “negative” first thought. but i also TOTALLY agree with her, not saint or family, deal breaker for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love it..especially as a diminutive of Patrick. I am however an advocate for naming the baby what you are intending to call them.ie Harry not Harrison,so would.definitely go with Patton not Patrick. As far the historical connection i see it but don’t think it immediately takes me to “Oh he’s named after General Patton.”
    As far as the

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think Patton is a great name. I definitely thought of General George Patton when I read it but I think its a strong and positive connotation. He was a great military leader. Sadly, as time moves on, your little one’s generation might not even know the name as one connected to a military leader’s. Also, just reading about Patton Oswalt, he himself was named after General Patton by his Marine father. I think the connection to Patrick is a good thing to explain, too. Overall, a great name!

    Liked by 1 person

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