Baby name consultant: Biblical boy name with one-syllable nickname preferred

Stephanie and her husband are expecting their fifth born baby, a little green bean 🌱(=gender unknown)! He or she will join big sibs:

Bethany Grace
Luke Michael
Jackson Paul
Caeli Rose

I looooove these names!! They’re all amazing, and I really love seeing Caeli used in real life!

About naming her older kiddos Stephanie writes,

We have many girl’s names that we love but we are stuck on boy’s names! Bethany Grace was a name my husband and I just loved — we consider her patron Our Lady of Grace. Bethany is obviously a biblical region. She goes by Beth.

Luke Michael is named after St. Luke and St. Michael the archangel. Michael is also my husband’s and both of our dad’s middle names.

Jackson Paul is named after two of our grandfathers — Jack and Paul. Paul is also a strong biblical name. He goes by Jack.

We lost two babies through early miscarriage between Jack and Caeli — Samuel and Veronica. I just knew that first baby was a boy and that his name was Samuel, and my husband chose Veronica because we lost her during lent and Veronica was on his mind a lot as we prayed the stations of the cross frequently.

Caeli Rose was a name given to me by God — I can’t explain it. We didn’t find out her gender before birth but I think somewhere deep in my soul I knew she would be Caeli Rose. Everyone calls her Caeli (Chay-lee) and I frequently call her Rosie as a nickname.”

Such gorgeous names, and such significance behind each one! I love them all!

About the naming of this baby Stephanie writes,

The girl names we’re considering are Stella or Stella Maris, Kateri, or Philomena. I love them all and would be happy with any of them, by my husband is leaning towards Stella!

The boy names give us grief! I feel like there should be a biblical connection, and should probably have a decent one-syllable nickname. Sam was a perfect fit but he is our saint in heaven and I can’t use that again. We also love Matthew but it’s my brother and nephew’s name (so we don’t want to use any derivatives either). John and Jacob are out (too close to Jack). And I’m just not feeling Mark or any of the other obvious new testament names. I considered Judah but I don’t think my husband loves it!

We’ve also tossed around Augustine (Gus or Auggie), Benedict, William, Ambrose or Fulton. What are nicknames for Ambrose and Fulton? I get so hung up on nickname options! We also like Joseph and would probably consider it as a middle name. My husband has a devotion to St. Gerard but I’m not sure I’d name my baby Gerard, and Majella sounds more feminine to me.”

First off, how lucky is Stephanie to have a list of girls’ names that she’s totally fine with, and her husband likes one of them—that’s sort of rare in the emails I get! Most of the time I hear how Mom likes certain names and Dad doesn’t like any of them or vice versa. They’re all beautiful.

And the boy names! I love their criteria of biblical connection + “decent one-syllable nickname”—I have lots of ideas! But first—regarding Judah—I wonder if they’ve considered just Jude?

I love Augustine, Benedict, William, Ambrose, and Fulton—heavy hitters, all! And I totally understand getting hung up on nickname options—I’m the same way, nicknames are so important and half the fun of choosing a name in my opinion! I’ve often thought about nicknames for Ambrose because it’s on our list as well—I’ve seen Brose as a fairly traditional nickname for it, but maybe too close to Caeli’s sometimes nickname Rosie? I’ve also seen Amby, but my faves are the ones I’ve come up with on my own: Sam (which wouldn’t work for this family), Bram (a traditional nick for/variant of Abraham but I think totally works as a nick for Ambrose!), Abe (so cute!), Bo, Brady or Brody (perhaps especially with a D middle name), and I think even something like Ace could work, especially if paired with a C middle name, like Ambrose Christopher or Ambrose Charles/Carl. And I recently discovered thanks to one of you wonderful readers that NBC’s Olympic swimming analyst and former swimming champion Rowdy Gaines’ first name is actually Ambrose. I’m dying over Ambrose nicked Rowdy! (I’ve included all these on my Nickname ideas page.)

Fulton’s hard! I’m not really coming up with anything but Ful! Or maybe Finn? (I have more thoughts on Finn — see Philip/Phineas below.)

A thought about Gus—I’ve come up with some other ways to get to Gus that might be helpful here — one of my favorites is something like Gregory Stephen with the nickname Gus (from the G of Gregory and the S of Stephen). St. Gregory’s awesome! Or a super biblical name is Gideon—something like Gideon Stephen or Gideon Solanus (for Ven. Solanus Casey) could lead to Gus as well.

Okay! So on to my ideas for Stephanie and her hubs—I basically just tried to think of all the biblical names that I thought would fit their style and have “decent one-syllable nicknames,” and I also looked up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity—I found some new ideas in there and confirmed the others that I’d already had on my list for them. Here they are:

(1) Benjamin or Benedict/Bennett
As far as Ben- names go, Benedict is more saintly/Catholic-sounding than Benjamin, but Benjamin’s a bit easier for the non-Catholicky Catholic part of the world to handle, if that makes any sense, and it seems like a better fit for Stephanie and her hubs because they’d really like a biblical name.

Benedict’s great though, and having the nickname Ben kind of makes it feel a little biblical, even though it’s not — does that make sense? Bennett is also a possibility — it’s a medieval form of Benedict.

(2) Caleb
Caleb’s one of my top suggestions for them—it totally seems their  style to me, and it can take the great nickname Cal! I love that!

(3) Dominic
I know, Dominic’s not biblical, but it fits with the feel of Benedict, Augustine, and Ambrose, and comes with the great nickname options Dom and Nic(k), so I thought I’d suggest it anyway!

(4) Gabriel
When Stephanie said she’s “not feeling Mark or any of the other obvious new testament names,” my sense was that she meant the “normal” names like Andrew, Peter, etc., and that some of the less popular NT names might be okay. I would put Gabriel in the “less popular” category because traditionally it hasn’t been used as much as the others (though it’s fairly popular today), and I like it for this family a lot. The nickname Gabe is a great one too—it has a similar feel to me as Jack, Sam, and Ben. I’ve also seen Gil as a nickname for Gabriel, so that’s another option too.

(5) Joshua
I wonder if they’ve considered Joshua? I love that it can be considered a name for Jesus, since Jesus comes from a Greek translation of Joshua, and Josh is a great nickname.

(6) Nathaniel/Nathan
Like Gabriel, I would put Nathaniel especially in the “less obvious” NT category, and the nickname Nate is a great one. But perhaps Nathan is more their speed?

(7) Nicholas
Nicholas is actually a New Testament name, and the nickname options Nick and Cole are both fab.

(8) Philip or Phineas
I’m guessing Philip is one of those obvious NT names Stephanie doesn’t care for, but I wonder if the right nickname could jazz it up enough for her? We considered Philip as a first name with Neri as a middle (St. Philip Neri!) and the nickname Finn, but I think Finn could work as a nickname for Philip even without an N middle name. Or maybe a different middle name? Philip Nicholas? Phineas is another possibility—it’s an OT name, and Julia Roberts named one of her sons Phinnaeus (I like that spelling too) and calls him Finn. Finn is really on-trend right now, in a good way imo, I love it! There’s also the new Star Wars character Finn, who’s awesome.

(9) Raphael
I love the name Raphael and the nickname Rafe—so cool and fairly uncommon! And it’s an OT name, which is a nice biblical connection.

(10) Seth
I think Seth could really work for this family! It’s a great one-syllable name like Luke, and of course fits in with their one-syllable nicknames.

(11) Thaddeus or Theodore
I’m not sure they’ll like the full Thaddeus (though it’s a style match for Veronica and Benedict), but it’s a NT name that has the super cute nickname option of Tad—I know two little Tads (nicks for Thaddeus), and I just love hearing it/saying it. I suspect Theodore might be more their speed, though it loses the biblical connection, but its nickname Ted is one syllable and really similar to Tad. (Theo’s also a great nickname option.)

(12) Timothy
I’m guessing they’ve already ruled out Timothy, but hear me out! I’m really feeling it recently—I never hear Timothy on new little boys, but it’s a great biblical name, and Timmy and Tim are solid, handsome nicknames. I’ve also recently been thinking that Ty’s a great nickname option for Timothy, cute!

(13) Zechariah or Isaac
I feel like Phineas, Thaddeus, and Zechariah kind of go in the same category—names that might just be a little more than what Stephanie and her hubs like. But Zachary seemed like a great fit for them until I remembered that they can’t have brothers Jack and Zach, so I wondered about Zechariah, which can be Zeke instead. Zeke’s so fun! And I love the connection of Zechariah to St. Elizabeth/St. John the Baptist/Our Lady/the Mystery of the Visitation.

Isaac is awesome too, one of my faves, and even though the undoable Zac is a common enough nickname for it, I also think Zeke could work, and Ike is very traditional and adorable. And I saw somewhere online that today used to be the feast of St. Isaac Jogues and Companions (and still is in Canada?) (one of his companions was St. Gabriel Lalemant — see Gabriel above)!

And those are all my ideas for Stephanie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little brother for Bethany, Luke, Jackson, and Caeli?

Birth announcement: Elizabeth Margaret!

Amanda’s consultation was the one that posted this past Monday, and in light of my little niece’s birth announcement from this morning (Margaret Elizabeth), it seems very appropriate to post the birth announcement for Amanda’s little green bean 🌱 — a little girl who’s been given the gorgeous name … Elizabeth Margaret!

Amanda writes,

Elizabeth Margaret was born at 10pm MST, Sept. 19th.  I couldn’t convince my husband to change Margaret to a first name, and he wanted to use it now.  He also wouldn’t agree with using a variation of it.

Thank you for your help in naming her!  While I was in labour, we were still talking about boy names.  My husband mentioned Nicholas, and though I have a sister name Nicole, it was growing on me throughout labour.  We’ll definitely have to keep it on our list for the next baby!

It’s such a wonderful combo!! Margaret was Amanda’s husband’s paternal grandmother’s name, and it’s so lovely with Elizabeth — royal, really!  This wee lady joins big sibs:

Olivia Rita
Zachary Claude

I love Elizabeth as a sister to Olivia and Zachary! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Elizabeth!!


Elizabeth Margaret

Birth announcement: Margaret Elizabeth!

You all know about my sister-in-law, mom of Owen who was grandchild No. 10 for my parents — and grandSON No. 10! We have been a boy-only family since my oldest was born twelve years ago (today)!

Until … last month! I have the very great pleasure of announcing the birth of the very first granddaughter in my family, born to my other brother and his lovely wife. They have given her the beautiful, meaningful name … Margaret Elizabeth!

Margaret is my SIL’s mom’s and grandmother’s name, full of meaning for her. Elizabeth, though, is a funny story — originally they’d talked about using my SIL’s mom’s maiden name, which was also my SIL’s middle name before she got married, but then their oldest son Matthew (who’s 5) was *sure* the baby was a girl (they didn’t find out gender) and that her name was Elizabeth! His best friend Elizabeth had moved away last year, which may be where his inspiration came from, and when Margaret — Maggie ☺– was born, they decided to use Elizabeth as a nod to her big brother who came up with the idea, and her other big brother Benjamin (who just turned 3) who no doubt went along with his brother’s grand plan.🙂

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday to my beautiful niece (I still get swoony over being able to say “niece”!), Baby Maggie!!

❤ Margaret Elizabeth (Maggie) and her big brothers❤


Bonus consultation: Two naming styles, and having-to-spell

You know that in general I only post consultations on Mondays (a way of keeping myself from getting overwhelmed!), but sometimes I receive a request for a consultation and it’s one that I’d really like for you all to see for various reasons — today’s is one such. Rebekah from the blog Treasuring the Little Things (she lives in the Cayman Islands!) and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their third girl! Their older kiddos are:

Maria Margaret
Felicity Rose
William Patrick Peter
Augustine John (Gus)

Such great names, each one!

Rebekah writes,

We don’t like super common names but we also don’t want anything too unusual so that the kid will have to repeat it and spell it out constantly (our Felicity complains about this). We like nicknames.”

The names they’re considering for this little lady are:

Kateri (“I’m leaning towards but just not fully convinced“)
Azaelia nicked Zellie (“husband is convinced on this one but I think it is too different for us?“)

And names that are on their no-go list:


As I told Rebekah, I was interested to see in their taste what I think of as kind of two different threads—more “normal” (Maria, William), and a bit unusual (Augustine, Kateri, Azaelia). This family certainly isn’t the most extreme example — I actually think this set hangs together quite well — and I often see a different style for boys than for girls in the families I do consultations for, but this family just really struck me as a nice example of Catholic naming in that our saints have so many different kinds of names, and if you approach naming with your Catholic-colored glasses on, it’s not unusual to end up with varied styles.

I feel like Felicity is a great bridge name here for them — I think it can have a similar feel to Maria and William (kind of colonial maybe, which I just love) and certainly it’s Catholicky Catholic like Augustine, Kateri, and Zellie.

I wanted to focus on Azaelia for a minute, the most far-out of their ideas in that it’s a nontraditional spelling of a really unusual name. St. Zelie’s birth name, as you all know, was Marie-Azelie, and it’s often said that Azelie is a French form of the flower name azalea. Azaelia is a spelling I hadn’t seen before, so I googled it and all of my results were for rapper Azealia Banks. I know her first name isn’t spelled the same as the name Rebekah and her hubs are considering, but I also saw her name incorrectly listed as Azaelia multiple places, and most had to do with controversy—“Azaelia Banks Accuses Both Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga of Plagiarism,” “Azaelia Banks apologizes to Sarah Palin after NSFW Twitter fight,” and “Iggy Azalea Says She ‘Still Hates’ Azaelia Banks” to give a few headlines. The last one brings up another good point—even the traditional spelling Azalea is really connected to controversial rapper Iggy Azalea recently. So I’m kind of feeling like maybe Azaelia isn’t the best choice at this time? I always hate to dissuade parents from a name they really like, vastly preferring to offer ideas to make it work instead. In this case, I think using the spelling Azalea is a better idea than Azaelia, and Azelie an even better idea, and I also wondered what they’d think of just Zelie? Based on the families I’ve seen come through the blog, Zelie is the form of St. Zelie’s name that’s used the most, and it’s a great style match for Felicity and Augustine. (I wrote more about Azalea/Azelie/Zelie here).

Another kind of offbeat idea that I don’t think will be quite to their taste—but you never know!—is the idea of Hazel with the nickname Zelie. I did a private consultation for a mom a few months ago who was considering this idea—the first I’d ever heard of it—and then just recently a reader left a comment with the same idea! Hazel was actually listed in the Baby Name Wizard as a style match for Gus, and would have a far better chance of being spelled correctly than Azaelia (or even Azalea, Azelie, and Zellie).

On to Kateri—I think it’s a great fit for this family. I did a Sibling Project entry for Kateri and Maria, Felicity, and William are all real-life sibling names (and Augustine totally fits in, with its Catholicky Catholic vibe). It’s a great name with a great patron! I suspect a little Kateri will still have to spell her name, but honestly — if it happens with Felicity, which I think is fairly straightforward, it’ll happen with anyone. I know it happens with me all the time when I give my name as Katherine (as at the doctor’s, etc.), and even really simple names like Ann/Anne and Sara/Sarah may need to be spelled for others. A Kateri could go by Kate though, which is a nice option.

Okay! I came up with some other ideas that I thought Rebekah and her hubs might like, based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard (as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and my own ideas (keeping in mind that, unfortunately,  are on their no-go list):

(1) Avila
I kept trying to think of names that had a similarity to the sounds and/or appearance of Azaelia, and I thought Avila might be one that they’d like. It’s got pretty nickname options too, from the popular and easy-to-spell Ava to the more offbeat Avvie, and the full Avila is lovely.

(2) Zoe
This was another that was inspired by Azaelia, because of the strong Z sound. St. Catherine of Laboure’s birth name was Zoe, and Zoe’s a style match for Tessa (I used the names on their no list as inspiration for the kinds of names they like). It’s a sweet, spunky name!

(3) Juliet
The Juli- names did quite well for Rebekah and her hubs in my research—Julia’s a match for Maria, William, and Elizabeth, and Juliet for Felicity! I loooove the name Juliet, which is why that’s the name I chose to suggest to them, as well as the fact that I think they’re looking for something just a bit off center, if that makes any sense. Juliet is perfect for that I think—familiar but far less popular than Julia (at least in the U.S.). I did a spotlight on Juliet recently, focusing on the faith connections.

(4) Gemma
Gemma’s a style match for Gianna and as soon as I saw it I thought aha! It seemed so perfect for more than just gut-feeling reasons so I looked up Gemma itself and, indeed, my suspicions were confirmed—Felicity’s listed as a style match for it as well! Gemma is such a beautiful name and St. Gemma Galgani such a beautiful saint.

(5) Annabel or Annora
Anna did really really well for them in my research, being similar in style to Maria, William, Catherine, Emma, and Elizabeth! But I thought it was a bit too “safe” for their taste, and I had two ideas for adding some sparkle: Annabel (or Annabelle, but I’m guessing Annabel is more their speed) is the first, and while it can be considered an embellishment of Anna (and take St. Anne as patron), its history points to Our Lady as patron! According to, which I consider (along with the DMNES) to be the most trustworthy site for name meanings, Annabel is in origin a variant of Amabel, which comes from Amabilis, which is the name of an early saint BUT also a part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis!

My other idea was Annora, which is a variant of Honora, and I thought of it because Honor was listed as a style match for August (which I used in place of Augustine in my research … not an exact match but not that far off). So pretty!

(6) Josephine
My last idea is Josephine, which is a match for Catherine, Cecilia, and Elizabeth. As with Anna I thought it might normally feel too safe for Rebekah and her hubs, but I thought the nickname possibilities might sway them (I’ve written before how an unexpected nickname can be just the thing to jazz up a more familiar given name, especially in the case of different styles within the same family). Josie is most common I think, and like Zoe I think it’s sweet and spunky, but there are loads of other options as well, like Posy/Posey, Sophie, Sephie, Sosie, Fina, Joy, and Jolie (if used with an L middle name … Josephine Leonie, to keep with the Martin saints? Or even Josephine Azaelia, if they still love it), and others! Check out my Nickname ideas page where I’ve listed some and link to Abby’s awesome post on others.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Maria, Felicity, William, and Gus’ little sister in light of Rebekah and her hubs’ taste and preferences?

Birth announcement: Annunziata Graziella!

Can you believe it? THREE birth announcements in one day?! (I have a bunch more to post Friday as well! Woo!)

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know that her little girl has arrived and been given the ah-MAZ-ing name … Annunziata Graziella!

She writes,

The day finally arrived! Our sweet little baby girl finally arrived Saturday Sept 17 at 3:14!

She was definitely harder to name than the boys just because we had so many beautiful choices! We decided to name her Annunziata Graziella.

I fell in love with Annunziata the first time I saw it. The idea of her name meaning the Annunciation really struck me and I just kept going back to it. Plus Nunzia! I found it so fitting. It just really seem to fit her🙂

Graziella just seemed like the perfect companion for her first name. My husband told me that in Italian families Annunziata is especially popular when the families have had 6 or 7 girls they name the last girl Annunziata so the next “Annunciation”baby will be a boy. I thought that was really cool.

Also! My grandmother’s name was Anna and my great grandmother on my father’s side was Grace so it was great to incorporate them in a way as well!

I’m just dying over Annunziata and Nunzia!! And you know that I don’t mind one little bit if my ideas are used or not — my only hope is to support parents in naming their babies, whether that means offering ideas or encouraging them in their own ideas — but it’s a special kind of thrilling when an idea of mine ends up being *the one* — so it was with Annunziata/Nunzia! I’m so excited! 😍😍😍

This lovely little lady joins big brothers:

Francesco Totti (called Frankie)
Marco Romolo

Such a wonderful bunch of Italian names! I love them all!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Annunziata!!


Annunziata Graziella

Birth announcement: Joseph Benedict!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a boy! And he’s been given the so-handsome name … Joseph Benedict!

She writes,

Just thought I’d let you know we had our baby and love his name!! We had narrowed it down to Edmond (Eddie) but the morning before he was born it didn’t feel right. I told my husband I really felt like if this was a boy we should go with Joseph (even though it’s a nephew of ours, but he is 22 so now we have big joe & little joe) my hubby said “let’s flip through my phone calendar and I’ll stop it on a random date and we will go with that feast day.” I was 17 hours into labor so I agreed…… What do you know he landed on March 19! I laughed cause he didn’t know that was Feast of St Joseph!!! So after 26 hours of crazy back labor Joseph Benedict joined our family!! Thank you for your help and input!!

Can you beLIEVE that story about flipping through the calendar and randomly stopping on the feast of St. Joseph?? So so amazing!! I totally had goosebumps when I read that! And I love love the combo Joseph Benedict, so great.

This little man joins big sibs:

Zelie Anna
George Patrick (Georgie)
Timothy Michael (Timmy)
Martin Gerard (Marty)

I just love this family’s names! And the boys — I can totally see Georgie, Timmy, Marty, and Joey getting into all kinds of boyish trouble!😀 (In a good way I mean, it’s just such an awesome bunch of names for a bunch of brothers!)

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Joseph!!


Joseph Benedict