Birth announcement: Calista Eucharistica!

I posted a consultation for Christine and her husband back in April, and I’m so excited to share that their baby girl has arrived and been given the ah-MAZ-ing name … Calista Eucharistica!

Christine writes,

I just wanted to let you know that our baby finally arrived yesterday, June 6th. After much deliberation, we finally chose a name for her. We went with Calista Eucharistica. Definitely a mouth-full! But we wanted to choose something in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi, and my husband has been looking for a chance to use ‘Eucharistica’ for years. I just put my foot down on it being her first name! Calista comes from calix (chalice) in Latin, and also seems to mean beautiful in Greek — both are nice meanings, and a chalice is a perfect ‘symbol’ that I can draw for her. We’re not sure about nicknames yet, but we may try Lissie?

Ahhhhh I LOVE it!! I feel like Calista Eucharistica is the kind of name you’d only find in the Sancta Nomina community! I can’t believe how perfect it is that this sweet baby was actually born on the Feast of Corpus Christi and given two names so specifically perfect for that feast day, one of which Dad had wanted to use for a long time. And such a gorgeous combo! And with a perfect “symbol” to go along with her big brothers’ and sisters’ symbols (read the consultation for the explanation of this cool thing)! So fantastic!

Congratulations to Christine and her husband and big sibs Sylvester, Stella, Linus, Flora, Felix, and Anastasia, and happy birthday Baby Calista!!

Calista Eucharistica


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: James Patrick Albert!

I posted a consultation for Katy and her husband a few months ago, and Katy has let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the fantastic name … James Patrick Albert!

Katy writes,

Our new baby boy, James Patrick Albert, arrived on April 22, and I’m finally coming up for enough air to shoot you an email!

Our name choice will come as no shock to you, I’m sure. In the end, and after several clear signs from the Holy Spirit (including my near rear-ending of a pick-up truck with a ‘James the Greater Catholic Church’ bumper sticker on it a week before the baby arrived and my responding with ‘OK, God, I hear you!’), ‘James’ was God’s choice. We loved your suggestion of Jamie as a nickname and, like the family you mentioned you knew, are calling him Jamie at home/as a family pet name, kind of like how we call our daughter Amelia ‘Mellie’ around the house.

James was baptized last weekend with all three names, which Hubby, who was unsure of the three-name thing, has come to love! We all love our little ‘Jamie-James,’ as my kids call him!” 

I just love all of this so much — what a handsome, meaningful name! And Jamie as the family nickname is so sweet and affectionate!

Congratulations to Katy and her husband and big siblings Jack, Amelia, Tim, and Andrew, and happy birthday sweet Baby James!!

James Patrick Albert with his sister and brothers ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Parents like Blaise, Shepherd, and Rocco

I hope all the dads in your lives had a wonderful Father’s Day! St. Joseph, please pray for them all!

Emily and her husband are expecting their first baby — a boy! Emily writes,

We’re very excited, but man, boy names are tough. We had fallen in love with the name Noa(h) Rose for a girl before we knew the sex, but I can’t get on board with the name Noah for a boy due to its popularity

My husband is an only child and doesn’t have a naming tradition in place, so we have almost too many options! While we aren’t looking for Catholicky-Catholic names (to use your term!), I would love to use a strong, classic/traditional name with great history.”

(I love that I’ve inspired others to think in terms of “Catholicky Catholic”!! Haha!!)

Names we are/were considering (we’re all across the board):

  • Blaise Eliot (or Elliott) (“I remember celebrating St. Blaise on his feast day in school, and kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool. We also love St. Blaise’s tie to animals. Eliot after T.S. Eliot, or Elliott Smith“)
  • Shepherd (“honestly, after our dog/current child, an Old English Sheepdog“)
  • Roman
  • Beau (“after my childhood dog, mostly … we need to stop with the dog names“)
  • Luke
  • Graham 
  • Vincent (“Van Gogh! And St. Vincent De Paul, obv“)
  • Rocco (“San Rocco, and after my brother/BFF because that’s his confirmation saint. Hubby says his motivation is Rocky Balboa“)

(Loooove the Rocky reference!!)

Names that one of us loves but the other can’t get on board with:

  • Quentin (“his choice“)
  • Ignatius (“my choice“)

Names that we both love but we can’t use:

  • Max (“our dog’s name! And it’s been hard to convince Hubby that they can’t share a name. And that we can’t change our dog’s name“)
  • Theodore/Teddy/Theo
  • Henry (“my nephew’s name“)
  • Julian (“his cousin’s child’s name“)
  • Benjamin (“my brother’s name“)
  • Ryan (“my brother’s name“)

Our last name is very French, so I’ve been leaning toward French-sounding names. Blaise is definitely at the top of our list, but we both keep catching ourselves wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses. We would love to feel really confident when we announce our naming decision! And Blaise could be it, but we would so appreciate your ideas and, if you like Blaise Eliot/Elliott, your reassurance. 🙂

I love the girl name that Emily and her husband had chosen! Noa(h) Rose is just gorgeous and I love that the spelling Noa is listed on Behind the Name as a French variant, which goes right along with how Emily said she’s “been leaning toward French-sounding names” because of their last name. I know Noa isn’t really a French-sounding name, but the fact that it IS a French name cements the theme — between French-sounding names and Frenchy French names, there’s a really large pool of names to choose from for lots of kids! (Not that they should feel locked into the French theme, I just want to assure them that if they want to continue with it, they’ve got a great start with Blaise and Noa.)

But enough about their girl name, because I really want to talk about their BOY name!! Blaise El(l)iot(t) is AMAZING!! If I were them, I would stop looking right now. It’s a fantastic name with great faith connections (did you know that the Elliott names are from a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah? Which of course is both a biblical name and a Marian name! I have it in my book of Marian names because of the prophet Elijah’s devotion to Our Lady, long before she was ever born. I love that!), and there was a real song in Emily’s voice when she wrote about Blaise — not only its Frenchness and saintliness, but also his tie to animals, which definitely seems important to her and her hubby (soooo many dogs’ names on their list!! Haha!!). I also love that “kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool” — I did too! I think it’s neat that Blaise is one of those uncommon-ish Saint names that nevertheless has a really visible presence in the liturgical year. I’ve also always loved that Blaise sounds like “blaze,” which has always struck me as a really perfect name for a little boy — so fast and superhero-ish!

All that said, it is notable that Emily and her husband “both keep catching [themselves] wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses.” I do understand that — half of my boys have more uncommon names (for my area anyway) and half have very familiar names, and whenever we were planning on one of the more uncommon names, I always had a little twinge of hesitation, even though *I’m* the parent with the love for uncommon names! (My husband has always said his name style is “Bob”!) I can speak from experience that it all ends up just fine. Before birth and for a short time after birth when everyone’s hearing their news and meeting the baby, Emily and her hubs will probably have to do some explaining, but it really won’t be long at all before everyone gets it and their baby’s name is just his name and there’s no more real discussion about it. And all their friends and family will have their little guy as *the* example of his name, and whatever associations or unfamiliarity they had before he was born will be gone. For real!

Okay, so now that Emily and her husband have been convinced that their top idea is the best idea, I’ll sign off with prayers for Emily’s labor and delivery.

Just kidding! Haha! A little name-consultant humor! 😂😂😂 Though I do think they have an amazing choice in Blaise El(l)iot(t), I can always come up with more ideas!

I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the other names they’ve thought about/considered, in case they’re helpful:

  • Shepherd: It really is hilarious to me how many dogs’ names they have on their list and, in this case, a name that nods to their dog’s breed! There are a lot of dog lovers in my family, I get it! And I love the name Shepherd — I consider it a nod to Jesus, which is cool.
  • Roman: I love that Roman is such a very Catholic name — Roman Catholic! Rome where Peter was martyred and where the Pope lives! The seat of our faith is there! A great name!
  • Beau: I agree with Emily that Beau is such a cool name. And French! It’s in my book of Marian names as a nickname for or a nod to Beauraing (Our Lady of Beauraing).
  • Luke: My youngest’s name, I love it! I love that the gospel of St. Luke is the most Marian, containing within it the Annunciation, Visitation, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat. I also love that he’s the patron of doctors and artists.
  • Graham: I was surprised by Graham here! I don’t know why, it’s a great name!
  • Vincent: I love that Emily noted both the artist and the Saint, so cool when a name works on more than one level!
  • Rocco: Emily’s reasons sound good to me! Rocco is such a cool name, and I love that her hubby’s thinking of Rocky! We just watched all the Rocky movies with my older boys and I have such a new appreciation for them, great movies and he’s such a great character! (I don’t know if it will be helpful or harmful to share this, so I’ll whisper it: Rocky’s given name [character’s given name] was actually Robert! I too always assumed it was Rocco!)
  • Quentin, Ignatius, Theodore/Teddy/Theo, Henry, Julian, Benjamin, Ryan: I’m glad Emily included these as they all helped in my research.
  • Max: I just wanted to address separately the idea of using the same name as their current dog, and/or changing the dog’s name — I think this is a first for me! I get letters all the time from couples who can’t use names they love because they’re the names of current or former pets, but I can’t remember ever getting a letter where a parent was advocating for having both their baby and their dog have the same name, or changing the pet’s name! This seems like a particularly “dad idea,” haha! Anyway, I think Emily’s right to convince Andrew that Max the dog should keep his name and their baby should have a different name. But I did use Max in my research for them! It was helpful!

Okay! On to my new ideas for this family! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to plug in both Blaise and Noa as a pair to see if anything additional came up. And I looked through the list of French boy names on Behind the Name to see if any of them felt right. Really what I was trying to do was think ahead to future children and what names would go well with Blaise and Noa, and I really leaned into Emily’s appreciation for French names. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Miles

We’ll start with one of my favorites, which you’ve all probably seen me talk about on the blog ad nauseam — Miles, which I absolutely loved discovering has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I also recently discovered that in Scotland it’s historically been used as an anglicization of Maoilios, which means “servant of Jesus”! Such a great, faithy name that doesn’t come across as one! I’ve also been advocating it as a nickname for Michael, both due to it being sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And for this family, it’s a style match for Elliott, Roman, Graham, Quentin! So many great reasons to love this name!

(2) Leo

Leo is one of those pan-European names that fits in with or has a variant in most European languages — Léo is the French versions which, like Thérèse, can easily be written without the accent, so I think you can think of Leo as French too! It’s a match for Max and Theo — I thought it was a pretty great substitute for those two names they love but can’t use.

(3) Jude

I’m always interested to see when a name shows up as a style match for two other names that don’t seem related at all. Jude is a style match for both Luke and Rocco! Both Blaise and Noa are small names, being just one syllable for the former and just three letters for latter, and Emily has some other small names on her list of names she likes: Beau, Luke, and Max. Jude fits in nicely with that style.

(4) Xavier

Names that are actual style matches for names that the parents have already bestowed on older children, or are frontrunners for the current baby, are always of interest to me, so I loved that Xavier is a match for Blaise itself, as well as Quentin, and it was in the list of French boy names on BtN! The French pronunciation is given as GZA-vyeh, which is closest to our ex-ZAY-vyer, but of course they could use the ZAY-vyer pronunciation if they prefer.

(5) Damien

Though Emily said they’re not looking for Catholicky Catholic names, they’re what my eye falls on always, and when I was looking through the list of French boy names, Damien jumped right out because I love St. Damien of Molokai. Damien is the French spelling (as opposed to Damian), which I thought was cool for this family, and it has a similar rhythm to Julian on the list of names they love but can’t use — and in fact, it’s a style match for Julian. I’ve had Damien on my own list for years, and planned to use the nickname Denny for it.

(6) Tristan

Tristan is another that is in the list of French boy names, as it’s the Old French form of the name Drustan, and its spelling was inspired by the Latin word tristis, meaning “sad,” likely as a result of the Tristan and Isolde story, and also the reason Tristan is in my book of Marian names — for Our Lady of Sorrows. (If you like this idea but hesitate over the “sad” connection, Theresa did a guest post on the beauty of using Catholic names relating to sorrow.) Tristan is also a style match for Quentin.

(7) Bastien

Like Damien and Tristan, I first noticed Bastien on the list of French boy names, and I liked it because that “en” ending is specifically French; because it begins with a B like Blaise, Beau, and Benjamin; and because its parent name, Sebastian, is a stye match for Julian (and St. Sebastian would be patron), but Bastien is maybe a little easier to work with.

(8) Remy

I wouldn’t have thought of Remy for this family, but I loved seeing it in the list of French names! Remy is such a fun name — I think it’s obviously French but not complicated to spell or pronounce — and it’s also a style match for Beau and Julian!

(10) Hadrien

Finally, I’m really only including Hadrien here because I’m always taken with it but I’ve never had the opportunity to suggest it, but seeing it in the list of French names means Emily might be interested! Also the fact that Adrian — which Hadrien is the French variant of — is a style match for Julian. I think Hadrien is so cool!

And those are my ideas for Emily and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents who like Noa for a girl and Blaise for a boy?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Surname-name for baby no. 5

Happy Friday, everyone! Let’s finish off the week with a consultation for a mama who’s due soon! Allyson and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Harper Anne (“I was in the depths of a PhD program; studying literature and I loved the works of Harper Lee; but above all, she just “felt” like a Harper: and so Harper it was! This was nine years ago, before it was on any popular name lists. My mom’s and my middle name is Ann; and I added an “e” for my grandma’a middle name “Eva” [and also the nod to the literary Anne].”)

Monroe (Mun-RO) Grace (“Sadly, my dad passed away from a (very) long illness two weeks before Monroe was born. My doctor told me not to fly to his funeral, all while writing a doctor’s note to let me fly to his funeral.

It was such a heavy time; but when I look back, I only see this perfectly calm, patient baby girl who was my medicine and healed me [she is still this person]. My dad’s name is Roger; and within her name are the letters R-O-G-E-R. The only other name we considered for her was Livie.

She was NOT named after Marilyn Monroe; but she looks exactly like her (at age 7) … which is a funny coincidence. I loved the name because Madison was such a trending presidential name for little girls, and James Monroe was the next in line! I also loved the names of Harper and Monroe together (we often called them “Harp and Roe”; and we had kind of started a surname trend with first names.

We have no family ties to the middle name Grace; but it was through God’s grace that she specifically came to our family at this time. I played the song “Amazing Grace” no less than a million times in her first few weeks. She offered me amazing grace.”)

Cohen Matthew (“Cohen is currently our only boy, and was the easiest to name. We decided he would be Cohen as we were driving back from the 20 week ultrasound; and so it was! Cohen is a common Jewish surname (we are not Jewish); and a name for a religious leader or priest. We loved the reverence of this (as well as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”: there’s the surname again). Matthew is my husband’s middle name and also means ‘Gift from God’ which sums up our sweet Cohen. Truly a miracle.”)

Blair Allyson (“Blair flew into the world 2 years ago; with no doctor in the room. I had a list of 50 names and I sat in the hospital for 2 days crying over the fact that I could not assign her a name.

All I wanted was to name her Elle; but our last name starts with “Bow” and she would essentially have the name “elbow”. I still love Elle; but she is definitely a Blair! With flair! And more. We decided not to add the ‘e’ to the end of her name … but I may honestly change it to include the ‘e’ as I think (now) it looks more feminine.”)

I love this family naming style! And I loved reading the story behind each first name and each first+middle combo — things like “Monroe Grace” containing within it Allyson’s dad’s name is the kind of detail that can be so meaningful to a family, even if no one else in the world knows about it or gets it. I also laughed out loud about Elle Bow-/Elbow!

Allyson writes,

[W]e have struggled with, and changed (almost) every one of our babies’ names (our last actually has “infant” as a first name with an amendment for her name on her birth certificate — we don’t want to do this again). It is SO difficult for me to assign names to these perfect, little people.

Harper left the hospital named Allegra Anne (which I still love). It is Italian with the meaning “joy”; and has a musical connotation (which I am very involved with). My husband was a dental student and that very day the allergy medicine “Allegra” was changed to be sold across pharmaceutical counters. He told his patient her name, and he asked how he could possibly name a baby after an allergy medicine. Our parents actually thought it was the name of a different medication 🙃; and to be fair, we couldn’t call her by her name, so we changed it.

Whew! So, we need a name for this baby!

We obviously lean toward classic, but trendy names with the sound of ‘surname’ as their first name.

If it’s a girl we will use the middle name ‘Mae’ after my husband’s mom and my aunt who is like a mom to me (as well as my mom’s favorite aunt).

If it’s a boy, we will use the middle name ‘Jay’ after my husband’s dad.

Names we like:

Girl

  • Quinn: (this means queen and fifth born!).  It’s kind of perfect; but my husband thinks it is a boy name; and I don’t love it with the middle name Mae.
  • Elle: Can’t do it. But I love it.
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: I love London, but I know so many babies with that name … the other two might be too trendy?
  • Jolie, Juliet
  • Lucca
  • Delaney, Demi
  • Bellamy
  • Mila

(I have a list a mile long of more girl names I love).

Boy

  • Jamison
  • Maxwell
  • Jones
  • Landon

(Shorter list, not completely sold on any of them).

Anyway! This was a novel! We all need all the help we can get!

I’m fascinated that Allyson and her hubby changed their babies’ names multiple times! I definitely hope we can help them feel peaceful with a name for their little one before birth! But it’s clear that even if the same thing happens again, they’ll end up bestowing a fantastic name, just like they did four times before.

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names Allyson and her husband like, in case they’re helpful:

  • Quinn: I love Quinn for a girl! It’s very easy to debunk Allyson’s husband’s claim that Quinn is a “boy name” — the naming stats compiled by the Social Security Administration show that in 2020 (the most recent year we have data for), Quinn was no. 85 for girls and 440 for boys. Vastly more girls than boys were named Quinn! I do think a greater concern is that Allyson doesn’t care for Quinn with Mae. I wonder if she’d be open to considering a different middle name? Mae is a form of Mary, for example — would Quinn Mary appeal to them and retain the same honor for Allyson’s mother-in-law and her aunt? Or maybe they’d like to consider a double middle name, like Quinn Lucca Mae? If they were open to dropping Mae altogether, a suggestion I’d usually offer is Edel, after Venerable Edel Quinn — my readers who have considered Quinn for their girls (almost always for their girls!) look to Ven. Edel Quinn as patron — Quinn Edel sounds quite nice (I’ve heard Edel said like Adele; like the first part of Edelweiss; and to rhyme with “pedal”), as does Quinn Edel Mae. I also have a reader whose daughter is Quinn Margaret, which is lovely. Or maybe switch up the order and call her by her middle name? Mae Quinn called Quinn? I did a broader spotlight of Quinn here.
  • Elle: Such a great name, really too bad. Speaking of Edel, it’s kind of like Elle without the “elbow” problem — maybe they’d like to consider that?
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: These, along with Landon on their boy list and the fact that Allyson loves Elle (“L”!), really make me think they might like to consider an L name! I have quite a few suggestions below. Otherwise, I know they considered Livie for Monroe — Liv would be great. Lux is maybe a little edgier than they’ve done already? Lennon seems spot on for their style, and if Allyson knows a lot of Londons, I’d love to see if we can find something that feels fresher to her.
  • Jolie, Juliet: My first thought here is that, since they’ve done surname-type names with their other kids, I’d really love to see them continue that theme. Juliet is one of my favorite names in the whole world, but it has a frilliness that Harper, Monroe, and Blair don’t have (Marilyn notwithstanding!). Jolie fits in nicely, though (thank you Angelina for giving it a surname vibe!), and it was fun to see that Cohen, Elle, Quinn, and Juliette itself (that spelling) are style matches for it per the Baby Name Wizard!
  • Lucca: If it wasn’t for Allegra, I’d probably wonder where Lucca came from! I like that it’s a surname (as opposed to the first name Luca), and it does fit in with a name Allyson loved (Allegra), but it is very Italian as compared to their other kids’ names.
  • Delaney, Demi: I often see Delaney on name lists of parents who have taste like these parents, such a cool name! Demi is all Demi Moore and Demi Lovato to me, and in both cases they may be (for Moore) and are (for Lovato) nicknames for Demetria (some sources say Demi Moore’s given name is Demetria, but I guess she’s said that’s not true. Demetria is, however, Demi Lovato’s given name). I only say this because Demi on its own has names like Kirstie, Gigi, and Rico given as style matches for it, which don’t seem like Allyson’s style at all, so maybe she’d like to consider it as a nickname for a longer name instead? One option is the biblical name Damaris, which I’ve seen sometimes spelled Demaris; another is to use a D first name with Mae for the middle and think of Demi as sort of a mashup nickname from the first+middle names: Delaney Mae, Dempsey Mae, Darcy Mae, Della Mae.
  • Bellamy: I always think it’s so great that “Bella” is the first part of Bellamy, making it feel really feminine, and also that the whole thing means “beautiful friend.” Bellamy actually directly inspired one of my suggestions below.
  • Mila: When I first read Allyson’s email, and again when I started working on her consultation, I read this as “Mia” both times and thought it seemed a departure from her style, but okay. Mila makes so much more sense to me for them! I would understand if Allyson’s mother-in-law didn’t feel honored by Mila (nor her aunt), but I’ve often thought it can be a nice nod to a baby’s grandmother because of St. Ludmila.
  • Jamison: I think Jamison is such a fun way to shake up the traditional James. If the Jay for Allyson’s father-in-law is short for James, Jamison could be thought of as a nod to him?
  • Maxwell: A fine name, no surprises here. I’m wondering though if Wells might be more their style?
  • Jones: I’ve often thought Jones would make a cool first name! I like that it’s derived from John, which gives it all sorts of faith connections.
  • Landon: As I mentioned above in regards to Liv, Lux, Lennon, London, Allyson must really like L names! I have a couple suggestions of others below. Also, Lander is a style match for Cohen — I’ve never seen Lander before and don’t really know anything about it, but I thought it was neat that it’s like a more unusual Landon.

So Allyson and her husband have some pretty great ideas here, but of course I can always come up with more! I mentioned the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) above — you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I was excited to do so here, as Allyson’s kids’ names are a bit outside of what I usually see and it was fun to see what names were listed as style matches for them! (I’m such a name nerd! Haha!) There were a few that didn’t have their own entries in the book, so I used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com, and I also had a couple of my own ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

Girl

(1) Greer, Tierney

Right off the bat I thought of Greer, one of my very favorite girl names! I knew a girl when I was growing up whose name was Greer, which I thought was so fun and interesting and unusual. When I discovered Greer Garson, the name took on a starlet feel, which totally goes with Monroe I think. Brooke Shields used the Grier spelling for her daughter. I love both Greer and Grier!

Tierney is included here with Greer because the Greer I knew growing up has a sister named Tierney, which I also thought was amazing, and it was fun to see Tierney listed as a style match for Bellamy!

(2) Romilly

Speaking of Bellamy, Romilly is a style match for it, and as much as I like Bellamy, I think I like Romilly even more. Such an unexpected name, I wish I heard more of it!

(3) Luna, Larkin, Linnea, Landry

Just as Allyson had a list of L names she likes, so I have a list of L names I came across in my research that I loved for her — I couldn’t pick just one! I said above that I thought Lux was a little too edgy for their style, but Luna is so similar and a bit softer, and it’s a match for Jolie and Mila.

Larkin is an actual style match for Monroe as a girl’s name and also Jamison, and also given as a boy name match for Jones. My only familiarity with it is as a girl’s name, probably because of the bird “lark” having a feminine feel and the actress Lark Voorhies from Saved by the Bell as well as the sister’s name of a friend of mine, and this family used Larkin for a daughter too. (It appears to be a medieval diminutive of Lawrence, so if you wanted to honor a Lawrence in either a boy or a girl’s name, Larkin would be great!)

Linnea is a match for Allegra, and I might have thought it too frilly but that I know it derives from the surname Linnaeus (the linnea flower is named after the botanist Carolus Linneaus), which goes along with this family’s style.

And Landry is another one I thought of right away for them — a surname with unisex usage that’s also a Saint’s name, so it’s often a go-to suggestion from me for other families who enjoy similar names.

(4) Eyre, Eden

I kept my eyes open for names that struck me as having a similar feel to Elle, which I thought both Eyre and Eden fit. Eyre is a match for Monroe and as soon as I thought it I thought of Allyson’s academic work and thought it might be perfect. Eyre also reminds me of Lux — “air,” “light.”

Eden is an actual match for Elle, and also for Jolie, and having Old Testament connections also ties it to Cohen, which I like.

(5) Halle

Finally, Halle is a match for Jolie, Hailey is a match for Madison, and Hali is a match for Demi; of those, I like Halle the best for this family because of why one family I spotlighted chose it — because it’s contained within Hallelujah! I think that’s amazing! (They also have a Grace Marilyn! Like Monroe Grace!)

Boy

(1) Rourke

Knowing that Allyson and her hubby are having a harder time with boy names, I really tried to cast a wide net. Both Roarke and Rourke are style matches for Monroe, and I was intrigued right away since they represent a sound/rhythm that I think is kind of unusual among boy names. I thought Roarke was too Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, but there are two Irish Martyrs with the surname O’Rourke that I would look to as patrons (more specifics about Bl. Conn O’Rourke here).

(2) Bennett

Bennett was a big match for this family! It’s listed as a match for Monroe, Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell! I love that it means “blessed,” and I love that Bennet has a literary connection through Pride and Prejudice!

(3) Elliott

Elliott, too, did very well in my research — it’s a match for Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell. Elliott is derived from Elijah, which I’ve always thought was amazing — a biblical name “in disguise”!

(4) Tate

I have to say, I wasn’t sure whether to put Tate in the boy list or the girl list, and ultimately decided to put it in the boy list because it’s listed as a boy match for Blair and Elle, and because I thought a girl Tate might be misheard as Kate too often. Tate is a fun name! Tate with their last name sounds like a star football player to me.

(5) Lincoln, Lexington

Finally, I’m making good on my promise to offer more L names! Allyson mentioned liking the presidential connection of Monroe, so I wondered if she might like Lincoln? I think Lincoln and Linc are fantastic names, and Lincoln’s a style match for Harper, too.

Lexington is a match for London, and I kind of thought of it as a Lux alternative, but for a boy?

Those are all my “official” suggestions, but there were a bunch of other names I considered including that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, so I wanted to list them just in case there’s something here that feels right to Allyson and/or her husband:

Girl

  • Austen, Avalon, Avonlea
  • Cassidy

Boy

  • Garrett
  • Grant
  • Cashel
  • Patton
  • Locke
  • Knox

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Harper, Monroe, Cohen, and Blair?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Out with the old (temporarily), in with the new

Happy Thursday everyone! There are some changes happening here at Sancta Nomina, which I’m excited about!

First: Starting today I’m going on hiatus from baby name consultations until probably around Christmas — some things are happening in my family (all good!) that I need to be able to focus on for the rest of the summer and through the fall, but I think things should even out by Christmas. That said, I won’t be off the blog entirely — I hope to use these next few months to clean up the blog a little (update old links and other housekeeping) and finally get some posts written from my list of topics that keeps growing and growing, and I’m always happy and eager to receive your birth announcements! I’ll still be posting those on the blog with parents’ permission (and as always, if you prefer to keep our email correspondences private, that’s totally fine!).

Second: Those of you who would like baby naming help will still be able to receive it! I’m happy to announce that longtime reader, Catholic mama, and baby namer extraordinaire Theresa Zoe Williams will be offering baby name consultations through Sancta Nomina! Theresa has told us about herself and her naming sensibility in the guest posts she’s written here over the last few months, and here she introduces herself as a our new baby name consultant:

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The New Baby Namer In Town

I have been naming things since the moment I could speak –– stuffed animals, pets, cars, characters in my stories, and even three children of my own (you can read about their names here and here). All of my children and pets have two middle names (the dog is Jackson Coakley Francis and goes by Jack) because I have two middle names (my parents wanted to honor both sides of their family while still using their favorite saint’s name). As part of a family tradition, I also took on my Confirmation name as part of my legal name, which is where the Zoe comes from. I have always been interested in finding creative ways to honor the people in my life, like my oldest daughter’s name being both my and my mother’s birthstone, giving each child a unique name but one grounded in their history. Kate has even called my style of naming spunky but grounded! Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator. I am pleased to announce that I will now also be offering baby name consultations to the public.

Just as I have experience naming things and people in my own life, I do come with experience of helping to name other people, too. The first time occurred almost four years ago. A woman I was acquainted with asked a group of Catholic moms that I was a part of for help in naming her third child, a boy. She set out all of her parameters and offered a gift card to the person who suggested the name they ended up choosing. The most important criterion was that the name had to be connected to the Passion in some way. We all had at it. I rattled off a couple suggestions but then one name hit me like a ton of bricks. I researched the name to make sure my perceptions of it were correct and then suggested it. Tristan means “sorrowful”, was not on their “couldn’t use” list, went well with another name they liked for a good first-middle combo, and wasn’t too popular nor weird. The woman and her husband loved it! They named their baby Tristan Oliver and I was awarded a $15 Starbucks gift card.

As far as naming goes, I tend to go off of my gut instinct and do research to back that up. I also look for creative and out of the box ways to meet criteria given by the parents. To practice, I asked a group of women if they would allow me to try to guess their naming styles. They gave me sibling names and maybe another detail or two about what they look for in a name and I would rattle off six to twelve guesses or suggestions. Many of them exclaimed that I had correctly guessed some names on their lists and many of those women also said that I’d given them more names to add to their lists!

Helping families find meaningful names they love for their children is a passion of mine and I’m so honored to help anyone I can. To kick off my tenure as the new baby naming consultant in town, I’m offering my first three consultations for free, provided you are okay with me posting the consultation on the blog. This offer is good for regular and mini consultations. Logistically, I will be offering the same two types of consultations Kate does and for the same prices. To get a consultation from me, you can email me directly at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com. Thank you for welcoming me into the family!

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“Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator” — isn’t that beautiful?! Theresa has such a great understanding of the awesome responsibility that parents have in naming — I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for you and your babies! As she noted, you can email her directly to request a consultation, and any requests that come to me will be forwarded on to her as well. Hurry to secure your place as one of her first three FREE consultations! The free consultations will be posted on the blog in order that you can get a feel for Theresa’s style and expertise. (I still have a few to post, so Theresa’s won’t post until July.)

If you’re not one of the first three free clients, you can use the Sancta Nomina PayPal buttons to pay for your consultation — the Mini is still $25 and the Ordinary is still $50, however the buy-my-book-and-get-a-discounted-consultation deal that I’ve been offering will be suspended until I return to consultations.

I know you will all be as gracious and lovely to Theresa as you have been with me all these years! And even though I have put an automatic away message on my email, I’ll still be checking email regularly and will reply to your non-consultation emails when I can.

Have a great rest of the week!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

Molly and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second girl! Their Little Miss joins big sister:

Margaret Clare (“I’ve always loved the name Maggie so picking her name was very easy. We decided on Clare as a middle name because we thought it flowed well with Margaret and we used the Irish spelling to honor our Irish roots.  If we hadn’t already used Clare, it might very well be the name we would have picked for this baby.”)

Margaret Clare is beautiful and timeless; Maggie is sweet and friendly; and Maggie Clare is a darling combo. I can see why it was an easy choice! I was determined to try and help Molly and her husband find a name they love just as much!

Molly writes,

This is our second rainbow baby girl and we are so very happy that she is joining us! I had started to think we wouldn’t be able to have another baby and I feel bad that the name is still up in the air.

Below are the names we are considering:

  • Elizabeth (nn Libby) — We thought we were set with this name but I am not sure if it’s quite right. We would love to use my maiden name (Christy) as the middle name. Maggie Clare is such a cute name and I don’t think Libby Christy has the same ring to it. Additionally, Elizabeth Christy LastName [a long Italian name] might be a mouthful. I do adore the name Elizabeth however, and the versatility it provides. I also think Libby is an adorable nickname. It may still be the frontrunner.
  • Nora — Nora has come in strong lately. I love the simplicity and think it flows better with Christy as a middle name. My concern is its current popularity. I feel like I hear the name a lot these days.  

Names we’ve discussed:

  • Bridget — a name I still really like but my husband does not. I’m also not a fan of the initials BM [last name begins with M].
  • Maeve — Love this name but doesn’t feel right.
  • Grace – Also considered this but again, not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora

As you can see, I like traditional, classic names with Irish roots — nothing funky but not too popular. I’d also love to incorporate my maiden name as the middle name.

Names we cannot use:

  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • Maureen
  • Patricia
  • Regan
  • Anne
  • Eleanor
  • Brianna
  • Riley
  • Rose

Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby is an absolutely fantastic choice for baby girl no. 2! I completely agree with Molly about Elizabeth’s versatility, as well as how adorable Libby is. This, to me, is the name to beat! And I personally don’t mind Elizabeth Christy LastName at all — it’s a beautiful, sophisticated name and not too much of a mouthful in my opinion. So let’s talk about Libby Christy for a minute. I love how Maggie Clare flows, and I agree that Libby Christy isn’t quite as pleasing. I spent some time trying to figure out why — the matching “ee” sound at the ends of the two names makes it seem too rhymey maybe? But then Mary Christy doesn’t bother me, nor does Ree Christy, nor does Molly’s own name Molly Christy, so I think with Libby it specifically has to do with the matching “short i” sound in the middle of both names as well. But then again, I was imagining myself naming a daughter Elizabeth Christine and could very easily see coming up with Libby Christy to use sometimes, especially in those early years when it’s so easy to use cutesy babytalk, so I don’t think it’s a total dealbreaker! My recommendation would be to go ahead with Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby and see what happens.

That said, I had some ideas about how to tweak this idea to maybe make it work better, one of which I included in my “official” suggestions below, and the other, which is less dramatic, is: Modify Libby when using it with Christy. I thought a name that didn’t end in the “ee” sound would sound better with Christy, and I thought that even if they call their little girl Libby most of the time, if they said “Libba Christy” every time they paired it with Christy, that flows a lot better. Another idea I had was inspired by a neighbor — her name is Elizabeth but she always (and still!) went by Libbett. Libbett Christy works nicely too, I think.

Before getting to my list of suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the other names on Molly’s list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora! I think it perfectly fits Molly’s preference for “traditional, classic names with Irish roots,” and I love how it sounds with Christy — it has a much more natural flow than Libby Christy. I personally wouldn’t worry about its popularity — it was no. 30 in 2020, and has hovered around there for the past few years, though it is remarkable that in 2000 it was no. 502 — it’s definitely had a steep increase in popularity in the last twenty years! But I think national popularity only really matters if it matches one’s local popularity, and it sounds like Molly lives in a place where Nora might be more popular than the national average, especially if she adds in any little Eleanors that also go by Nora. I think I do, too — my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter is Nora — but something else I love is that my parents’ neighbor is an older lady named Nora! Even with its current popularity, I think it still has that lovely vintage feel. Also, Nora’s popularity can’t even touch Elizabeth’s! Elizabeth was no. 16 in 2020, having dropped out of the top ten in 2014; before that, it was in the top ten just about every single year since 1980; and it’s been in the top 25 since forever. Elizabeth is a powerhouse! Which I’m sure is why so many nicknames for it have sprung up — to differentiate among all those Elizabeths! So I would say Molly’s concern probably isn’t popularity so much as it is a feeling of trendiness. It’s funny to think of a classic name like Nora being “trendy”! I definitely think Nora is one of those names that will endure, no matter its ups and downs on the popularity chart, which definitely sets it apart from the truly trendy names. Elizabeth is still my favorite for this baby, but if they go with Nora, I won’t be disappointed at all.
  • Bridget: I love Bridget too! BM-type initials are always an issue, though, I agree.
  • Maeve: Also a gorgeous name! And I like it with Christy! But if it doesn’t feel right, then I would suggest shelving it for now. They can always revisit it for a later baby, maybe.
  • Grace: So pretty and simple, but it’s telling that Molly said, “not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora.”

So I think Molly and her hubs have a fantastic list — Elizabeth rises to the top for me as the strong favorite with, perhaps, some tweaking; Nora is a fantastic second, which I could see overtaking the first place spot without too much effort. Great options! But I can always come up with more! Haha! I always hate to muddy the waters, but it was fun to look for more ideas for this family.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and as mentioned I also tried to think of other ways to work with Elizabeth. I also looked up “Irish immigrant names for girls,” as I felt like that best described Molly’s style, and I looked up two-syllable-ends-in-a names on babynamewizard.com. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Tess(a) (Elizabeth? Theresa?)

While I love Libby, and I love that Molly loves Libby, there are about a trillion Elizabeth nicknames, and some of them work better with Christy than others. I like how Ella Christy and Liza Christy sound, for example, and one of the more unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth is Tess (which is also one of my favorites, and if we’d ever had a second daughter she likely would have been Elizabeth nicknamed Tess) — Tess Christy and especially Tessa Christy have a really pleasing flow I think. Tess is actually a style match for Libby according to the Baby Name Wizard, which is one of the reasons I thought of it for Molly’s baby. Tess is also one of those “old timey Irish-y names” — names that seem to often be given to Irish girls/women in movies, like Nora (I immediately think of the grandmother in The Secret of Roan Inish, who was named Tess) — so even if Molly doesn’t care for it as a nickname for Elizabeth, perhaps she’d like to consider its “parent” name, Theresa (or Teresa or Therese) with the nickname Tess(a). (Tess and Tessa also have usage as given names in their own right, but using them as a nickname for a more formal name seems more Molly’s style.)

(2) Caroline

I really love Caroline for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret, Clare, and Elizabeth, and has some really sweet nicknames. One is Cara, which is also the Irish word for “friend” and works beautifully with Christy; others are Carly and Callie, which don’t work as well with Christy but aren’t terrible. The initials for Caroline Christy would be C.C., which could also lead to a nickname (like Cece for Cecilia, and they could spell C.C. as Cece, that totally works!). I could also see Cora working, if they want it to, which is so similar to Nora that it might be perfect.

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

I’m including these three together because they really feel like they could be replacements for Nora if Molly wants them to be. Sarah is a style match for Clare and Elizabeth, and was one of the top ten names for girls born in Ireland in 1864 according to this article. While Sarah works best with Christy when said together, they might also like Sarah’s traditional nickname Sadie. Sarah has been dropping in popularity from its top ten status from the late 70s to the early 2000s to no. 87 in 2020.

Maura and Moira are both Irish forms of Mary — I know Molly has both Mary and Maureen on the list of names she can’t use, but perhaps Maura and Moira are different enough? Maura rhymes with Nora and I’ve seen some people say Moira that way, too, though I think Moira is more often said like MOY-ra. Neither Maura nor Moira are in the top 1000.

(Bonus) Other two-syllable names ending in the A sound like Nora, Tessa, Sarah, Maura/Moira

Two-syllable-ends-in-a names work really nicely with Christy, so I looked through the list of such names on babynamewizard.com to see if there were any other ideas. I like these:

  • Anna: From this list, I think Anna is the closest to the style Molly seems to favor, it’s a beautiful, traditional, classic name that has good usage in Ireland
  • Deirdre: Deirdre Christy sounds like quite the Irish-American lass!
  • Emma: I’m sure Molly won’t want to use Emma because of popularity, but it is a sweet name
  • Gemma: Gemma is like Emma with a twist and far less popular and with a more obvious patron saint. I love it with Christy!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Maggie Clare?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Gemma Theadora!

Liz and I emailed a bit over the past few months about names for her baby, and I’m very happy to report that her little girl has been born and given the absolutely beautiful name … Gemma Theadora!

Liz writes,

We had the baby Friday. We were between 2 first names, and my husband decided he preferred Gemma (so did I), so that stuck. Since the first name was shorter, I was trying to gun for a longer middle name. I absolutely love the name Stellamaris, but he’s not keen on it. I was looking up some longer names, and I honestly don’t remember how I came across this one, but I threw out Theadora … He really gravitated to it, so much so that he was thinking of overriding our first name choice and calling her Theadora nn Thea (saw your blog post about a recent Thea’s birth). Ultimately, we decided to keep the names how we’d picked them, and Gemma Theadora arrived after 41wk2d. It’s a lot of A’s, many people we’ve informed via text have already asked if it’s a hard or soft G, someone thought I’d said Jenna, and lots have asked how we came up with Gemma. But it’s sparked some fun conversations about the Italian mystic from the 19th century. I don’t have a devotion to her; I just really like the name.”

I love so many things about this name story!! Gemma was a name Liz liked from the beginning, and it fit her husband’s preference for a name that would be used as-is; I love that Hubby was crazy for the middle name idea Liz suggested; I love that despite some issues that before birth might have seemed prohibitively annoying (a lot of A’s, others not knowing how to pronounce it or thinking it’s a different name, etc.), Liz has been enjoying the conversations that the name has sparked. And I love that St. Gemma has found this family, despite them not having a previous devotion to her! And Gemma Theadora is an absolutely gorgeous name!!

Congratulations to Liz and her husband, and happy birthday Baby Gemma!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Birth announcement: Caroline Grace!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Sarah’s third baby a few years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had another baby — her third baby girl — given the gorgeous name … Caroline Grace!

Sarah writes,

As usual, my husband’s girl list is pretty short. We had to debate if we continue on incorporating his favorite, Claire/Clare, into the name so that she matched her sisters. We also had to weigh whether or not it really mattered to us if two kids shared a first-name initial when the others don’t. Ultimately, we decided to prioritize choosing a name we both liked and that had meaning to us over trying to find a name that sounded ideal with her siblings. So we may trip over Claire and Caroline, but maybe it’s having more kids now – it seems like less of a big deal when mixed in with the oldest two? 

Caroline is a family name on dh’s side – a beloved, holy great aunt and also also Grandma’s middle name. I also like the connection to St. John Paul II (Karol) and St Charles as well as the meaning “free man.”

Grace is also a paternal family name. Dh’s holy and much-loved grandmother bore the Spanish version, Graciela. We also like the connection to Our Lady.”

Isn’t Caroline Grace just so lovely and elegant?! Sarah mentioned that they debated incorporating Claire/Clare into the name so that “she matched her sisters” — as explained in her third baby’s birth announcement post, one of Sarah’s older girls has Clare as a middle name, and another has Claire as a first name, but as I told Sarah, I’ve often thought of Caroline as sort of a “longer Clare” — people who like Clare/Claire tend to like Caroline and I’m sure the shared sounds are part of it — so to me, I think they do kind of have Clare/Claire in all their girls’ names! (I know that thought process wouldn’t make sense to anyone else haha! Crazy Catholic name lady strikes again! 😀 )

Congratulations to Sarah and her husband and big sibs Nathaniel, Julianne, and Claire, and happy birthday Baby Caroline!!

Caroline Grace


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Lilibet Diana, and honor names

I posted briefly on Twitter and Instagram yesterday when I heard the news about the birth of Harry and Meghan’s daughter and quickly received the most IG likes and comments I’ve had in a while! Some people love the baby’s name, while others have been driven to deeper depths of anger at H and M than they were before the baby was born. I’d love to know what you think!

I’m also thinking quite a bit about what makes a name an honor name, and when an honor name does the exact opposite. If you have thoughts and/or personal experiences on that topic, I’d love to hear that too!

As for me, my initial reaction upon hearing the name was to be absolutely stunned at how very perfect I thought it was. I’m always delighted at being surprised by a name, and I was thoroughly and happily surprised by Lilibet Diana. Though I’ve since thought more about the possible negative aspects of it, I continue to love it.

Please share your thoughts!

Baby name consultation: Philomena or Claire, Maximilian or Walter?

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiersloving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace

Today is also the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth! Such a beautiful feast day!

Alyssa and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) This little one joins big sister:

Felicity Rose

Such a gorgeous name — so feminine and pretty. I love it!

Alyssa writes,

[M]y husband and I just don’t feel as confident about names as we did for our daughter. We decided on Felicity for a girl before I was even pregnant!

Names we like are saint names that are a little bit different, but not weird and that are pretty easy to pronounce/spell. I definitely wouldn’t use any trendy names or very popular names. For example, I actually really like the name Sophia in itself, but it’s way too popular for our taste

Since our last name starts with M, all B names are out unfortunately. I don’t like the initials BM. And some other names we can’t use that are taken by family and friend’s kids that we would consider are Theodore, Henry, and Edward.
I also don’t particularly like very traditional/common names such as Matthew, Elizabeth, John, etc
.

I generally don’t like nicknames unless it’s very common (like Chris for Christopher, Ben for Benjamin, etc) or if it makes a kind of weird saint name into a more normal name or a very formal name into a less formal one. I can’t think of any examples of that weird saint name nicknames, but you probably know better than I do!

So now onto names my husband and I do like! I find myself liking longer names for some reason. I don’t know if I have a style necessarily, but I think I like very feminine sounding names for girls and I’m also drawn to french-ish sounding names (I think). Also, the flow of the first-middle-last name is very important to me. So I think I like a variation of syllables and sounds between the 3 names generally

We also are 2 for 2 conceiving after a novena to St Gerard so I think it would be cool to honor him somehow, but my husband isn’t totally sold on this. I think he’d come around though if he liked the name. I’m ok with Gerard as a middle name for a boy, but I dislike Geraldine for a first or middle name. I’ve heard of Majella, but if we did this I’d want to pronounce/spell it Mayella and only for a girl. I’m definitely ok with Mayella as a middle name and would consider it as a first name too. But if you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear them!

I have a list of names we’ve been brainstorming over the years that I’ll explain below.

  • Xavier (“Francis (for middle name potentially); my husband and I both really like Xavier, but I recently found out that people pronounce it differently. We would want to pronounce it ecks-zay-vyer, but I’m not sure if I want to deal with his name constantly getting pronounced zay-vyer or zay-vee-er or even Javier. I also would not particularly want him to have the nickname “X”. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on name pronunciations and correcting people are! My name is pronounced “uh-lih-sa” and I often have to correct people when they call me Alisa or Alicia and it gets old.”)
  • Vincent (“James for a potential middle name. James is my favorite boy middle name; My husband and I also both like Vincent. Vincent is my husband’s middle name. I don’t dislike Vince as a nickname, but I just feel like it sounds too old for a baby/young boy to be called Vince and Vincent sounds overly formal to call someone all the time. And I’m not fond of the nickname Vinny. I think I could get over Vince not sounding like a baby name, but idk it just doesn’t seem quite right.”)
  • Adeline (“Marie or Louise for potential middle names; I really like the name Adeline and my husband likes it too (but he is a little worried it sounds like Madeleine mispronounced), but I’m just not crazy about Addy. It’s fine, but it feels too plain/common and I feel like she would inevitably be called Addy and I’m not sure I want to deal with correcting people all the time and be “those people” who always corrects everyone. Again, I could get over it either by correcting people or just accepting Addy, but it just doesn’t feel perfect.”)
  • Claire (“Philomena?; my husband and I both like Claire and it is a little more on the common side, but for some reason I just feel like it sounds really good with our last name. And of course it’s after a great saint and I like the frenchness of it. I’m struggling a little bit with a middle name though. Originally I wanted Anastasia, but my husband didn’t want the initials CAM. I think I like Philomena as a middle name, but I’m not sure if I like the flow of it [with our last name].”)
  • John Paul (“I kind of like John Paul, but my husband isn’t sold. I don’t like either of these names separately, but for some reason together I do. I don’t dislike JP as a nickname, but it sounds way too informal with Felicity.”)
  • Dominic (“my husband and I both like Dominic, but he likes it more than me. The Dominicans hold a special place in our heart because we met at a Dominican run Newman center. I think like Vincent, Dominic just sounds a little formal and I’m not crazy about the nickname Dom or Nick.”)
  • Isaac (“I kind of like this name, but would probably never use it“)
  • Maximilian (“we both really like Maximilian and Max as a nickname (although I wonder if Max is too informal with Felicity), but we had some friends just name their baby Maximilian. We’re not very close with them, but my husband feels like it’s too weird to use that name right now, but maybe for a future child. I think it’s probably fine, but we both have to be on board.”)
  • Gianna (“I like Gianna, but my husband is so-so on it. And I’m not sure if it goes well with Felicity. But I really hate Gi-Gi.”)
  • Nathaniel (“I like Nathaniel but I don’t really love any nicknames for it, but I feel like just Nathaniel would be fine and wouldn’t necessarily be turned into a nickname by other people. But my husband isn’t super into it.”)
  • Walter (“I kind of like Walter and Walt, but my husband doesn’t. He says it’s an old man name.”)
  • Philomena (Fia?) (“I really like Philomena, but I feel like it’s too out there of a name to call her Philomena all the time and I don’t really like Mina as a nickname. I think I read you suggest the nickname Fia which I kind of like, but I worry it’s too out there and she’d always be correcting people because no one has heard of it.”)
  • Alice (“this name has really grown on me, but I wonder if it’s too vain since it’s so close to my name! (We also figured out after we named Felicity that my name sound is in her name! (Falyssa-tee)“)
  • Maggie (Margaret) (“Anne?; my husband really likes Margaret, but I hate it, but I think Maggie is kind of cute. So I’d potentially be open to naming a daughter Margaret and just always calling her Maggie.”)
  • Clara (“I’ve just always liked this name for some reason.”)
  • Jane (“Jane has grown on me, but my husband and I worry it’s too plain“)
  • Georgiana (“this name has really grown on me (definitely influenced by pride and prejudice!), I just think it’s so beautiful. But I don’t like Gi Gi, georgia, or Ana and I feel like this would be an inevitable nickname name. Also my husband’s late grandma was named Georgette, (but went by Bunny) and he feels a little weird that it’s so close to Georgette, but not that. However, he’s open to it.”)
  • Natalie (“both my husband and I like this name and it would be very fitting if we have a girl because I’m due in December! But idk, something about just doesn’t feel super exciting.”)
  • Finnian? (“my husband and I like this name and Finn as a nickname, but Finnian seems a little too out there/formal to always use and Finn seems too informal with Felicity.”)

Middle Names:

  • Gerard
  • Mayella
  • Francis (“St Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints, but I don’t like it as a first name“)
  • James
  • Elizabeth
  • Anastasia
  • Anne
  • Joseph
  • Marie
  • Rose
  • Louise
  • Bonaventure?

I apologize for my essay, but hopefully it’ll help you understand our taste/dilemmas and give you some good information! Thank you for your help!

(Just so you all know, no one ever has to apologize to me for sending “an essay” — I LOVE reading about name dilemmas and find each detail interesting and helpful!)

I so enjoyed reading through the names on Alyssa’s list! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each one, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gerard: I absolutely love the idea of honoring St. Gerard in Alyssa’s baby’s name! And I love that she and her husband did novenas to him both times they conceived! I have a couple of stories on the blog of parents who similarly benefited from St. Gerard’s intercession, he’s awesome. I wanted to work St. Gerard into my last baby’s name as well, and while it’s easy enough to do so for a boy (Gerard as a middle name is perfect!), it was harder for a girl. I do love the idea of Mayella! I usually see Maiella, which is the Italian spelling and what St. Gerard’s actual spelling was (he was Italian: Gerardo Maiella); Mayella makes Alyssa’s preferred pronunciation more obvious (I think the first syllable in Maiella might be said more like “my,” so if you prefer “may” than Mayella is perfect!). The idea that I’d decided on if I had a girl (I had a boy) was Margaret, because of something one of my readers told me: she said that she knew a couple who had a devotion to St. Margaret, so they named their son Garrett (going off of the last few letters in Margaret); Garrett is actually derived from Gerard! So Margaret might be perfect for Alyssa for honoring St. Gerard in the first or middle name spot for a girl, but also maybe she’d like to consider Garrett as a first or middle name for a boy? Another idea for a boy, if she and her hubby are okay moving away from the obvious connection, is that Gerard is made of the elements ger (meaning “spear”) and hard (meaning “brave, hardy”), so I love Hardy as a possible honor name for St. Gerard. Oh, also — Alyssa said she wanted to avoid B first names, but since she has Bonaventure as a possible middle, then St. Gerard’s mom’s name might do well as a middle name for a girl: Benedetta (the Italian feminine of Benedict, equivalent to Benedicta). And in fact, my youngest son (the one who I wanted to work Gerard into) has Benedict as a middle name in part as a nod to the several Saints whose intercession I asked for (St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard), as Benedict means “blessed,” so I figured it could stand for all of them.
  • Xavier: Oh yes, the pronunciation debates over Xavier! I wrote an impassioned post about it here (with a related post here). I say it like Alyssa says it, as it was my grandfather’s middle name and that’s how he said it, which tells me that it has a very long history of being said like ecks-zay-vyer (he was born in Ireland in 1904). We live in the northeast, and most people we’ve encountered assume ecks-zay-vyer is the pronunciation, but I do think there is a regional aspect to which pronunciation people will default to. Those who are familiar with Xavier University in Cincinnati, for example, will default to zay-vyer, since that’s the way the University has chosen to pronounce it. Those who live in an area with a lot of native Spanish speakers might hear the Javier pronunciation more often. But lots of names have issues like that! If they’re firm and consistent about correcting people, it will be fine. But if that’s too annoying to think about, I get it! As for nicknames, I’ve seen Xav(e) and Xav(e)y (“Zave” and “Zavey,” rhymes with Dave/Davy), as well as Xave pronounced ecks-zave. Francis is a great middle, which really reinforces the St. Francis Xavier connection, but I also like Xavier James, since Alyssa said James is her favorite boy middle name.
  • Vincent: I love that Alyssa’s husband’s middle name is Vincent — using Dad’s middle name for a son is a great way to honor him without using Junior! Regarding Vince vs. Vinny, first I should say that they don’t have to use a nickname — they can plan to call their son by the full Vincent. That said, if they don’t choose a nickname, then it’s very possible someone else will somewhere along the way—even if Alyssa’s son grows up being called Vincent and being introduced as Vincent (which is awesome, btw), there will be someone who will want to shorten it (sports coaches, for example, and even her son’s friends), and if Alyssa and her hubs haven’t decided on a preferred short version, the coaches/teachers/friends will shorten it to what feels natural to them, whether Vince or Vinny. So if Alyssa prefers one over the other, she’ll probably want to decide right off the bat and call him that at least some of the time (not saying that will prevent a Vince from being called Vinny, for example, but I think it will help). She could also consider a different nickname — V, for example, or Vin, or Cent, or Cinco! (Because V is the Roman numeral for five!)
  • Adeline: Adeline is a gorgeous name! Alyssa’s husband’s worry that it sounds like Madeline mispronounced is hilarious — I can see that is the kind of thing that gets in a person’s head and sticks there! If they were to choose Adeline for their daughter, I think that he would quickly get over it. I wonder if switching to Adelaide might help him with that? Though doing so wouldn’t help with the nickname issue. Alyssa articulated exactly what I was trying to say above about Vincent — how it might be inevitable that people will nickname her Addy. And while I agree that “’those people’ who always correct everyone” can be annoying, the way it’s done is what makes it annoying or not. A person’s name is a person’s name! If a person can stick up for nothing else in life, at least stick up for one’s own name! For what it’s worth, I think Addy is sweet, but Alyssa and her hubby might like to consider other nicknames like Allie, Annie, or Del/Della.
  • Claire, Clara: I’m including these two together, since they’re variants of the same name. I actually love Claire Anastasia, and I actually love the initials CAM and the nickname Cam or Cammie, but I also like Alyssa’s idea of Claire Philomena, and I like Claire Philomena with their last name! Clara is also beautiful, and they probably wouldn’t want an ends-in-a middle name for Clara (Clara Anastasia and Clara Philomena might be too sing-song-y? Or maybe they like it!), but Clara Marie and Clara Louise are both really pretty. They could also do the French variant of Philomena, which might flow better: Clara Philomene. I wonder, too, given that Gianna is on Alyssa’s list, if she might like to consider the Italian variant of Clare: Chiara?
  • John Paul: I always love any nod to JP2! So Alyssa brings up a point here that she referenced other places, which I wanted to address — the idea of some nicknames sounding too informal with Felicity. I do know what Alyssa means — if Felicity is always Felicity, I can see how she might think that a sibling with a nickname might sound weirdly informal, but I promise that no one else will think so! (Though, again, I totally get it when something’s in your head and it’s hard to get out.) (Also, I tried really hard to find names for my list of “official” suggestions below that are not too likely to be nicknamed.)
  • Dominic: I love Dominic too, and I love that Alyssa and her husband share that Dominican connection! Dom/Dommy and Nick are definitely possible nicknames, but also Nico — I wonder if Alyssa would like that better?
  • Isaac: While I, too, love Isaac, and I think it could be great in Alyssa’s family, I’d probably want to shelve it for now to see how her children’s names shake out … it might feel right after a couple more kids! I love St. Isaac Jogues, and I love the nickname Zacky.
  • Maximilian: Oh man! I hate having to grapple with issues like that! Shelving it for possible use for a later child is a great idea — a good compromise I think. I love that Alyssa said “we both have to be on board” — the ideal totally is to find a name they both like for this baby.
  • Gianna: Again, if Alyssa’s husband is so-so, I’d suggest shelving it for now, though I want to assure her it goes great with Felicity! Felicity and Gianna are names I see used a LOT among Catholic families right now, so while Gianna might seem jarring to those unfamiliar with currently popular Catholic Saints, anyone who’s tuned into Church-y things will think Gianna’s a great choice for Felicity’s sister (same with Chiara, which I mentioned above). I don’t know how inevitable Gigi is — it feels very natural, but I don’t actually know many little Giannas, and the one I do know goes mostly by Gianna (but I think I’ve seen Gigi from time to time).
  •  Nathaniel: Unfortunately, the longer the name, the more likely people are to nickname it, so unless they’re firm and consistent with Nathaniel being called Nathaniel all the time (which I would 100% support, I love the name Nathaniel), I think Nate is sort of inevitable. I’ve seen Nash used as a nickname for Nathaniel, which is kind of cool; also Niel. But again, if Alyssa’s hubby doesn’t like it, let’s move on!
  • Walter: This one made me laugh! Walter is another name I see with some frequency among my readers, usually used for Servant of God Walter Ciszek (awesome story), which also reflects the fact that “old man/old lady” names are definitely back! My own husband wanted to consider Stan for our last son. Stan! (I totally think Bl. Stanley Rother is also awesome.) I actually suggested Walsingham with the nickname Walt to him, after Our Lady of Walsingham, and I thought Walt would be the kind of nickname he’d be right on board with because of Stan, but no.
  • Philomena: I love that Alyssa’s considering Philomena as a first name! I love it. Like with Nathaniel, I do think it’s likely to get shortened because it’s such a long name. Fia is awesome; I also like Pia and Pippa (not the same sounds, but I think they’re doable), and Finna, which is like Finnian that Alyssa likes.
  • Alice: First of all mama, it is NOT VAIN to name a child after yourself! Men have done it for centuries with their sons, and I LOVE seeing a woman honored in a little one’s name, whether it’s the mama or a grandmother or whoever. Boy or girl! Indeed, Alyssa is a variant of Alice originally (which is a variant of Adelaide! I mentioned Adelaide above as a possible replacement for Adeline — it could be a great way to nod to Alyssa!), so Alice could be awesome for her little girl, a nice connection between Alyssa and her daughter. And I NEVER would have figured out the fact that “Alyssa” is contained within Felicity — but that makes me love it more! How cool! I’m a little uppity about the whole “naming after a woman is bad” thing — first of all, it’s awesome, and also totally appropriate, and also it’s not at all a bad thing that men name their sons after themselves — I wrote more about all of it here. All of that said, I wonder what Alyssa would think of the similar but different name Elise? It’s a French diminutive of Elizabeth, so not related to Alyssa in any way (though, like Alice, has similar sounds).
  • Margaret: So I talked about Margaret above as being a possible way of honoring St. Gerard, so maybe that idea will help sell Alyssa on it? Especially since her husband really loves it? Maggie is a sweet nickname. Speaking of Maggie, I wonder what Alyssa and her husband would think of Magdalene? It could still take Maggie as a nickname if they wanted, and it’s a little rare/more offbeat than Margaret, which I think Alyssa would prefer? Or maybe the French version of Margaret: Marguerite?
  • Jane: Jane is certainly a simple name, but I’d also call it “trim” and “chic” and “sophisticated,” and I actually think it’s great with Felicity because they can both sort of have a gentle British feel, which I love. A short name like Jane also opens up lots of long-and-luscious middle name possibilities, similar to Claire: Jane Anastasia, Jane Philomena, Jane Magdalene/a, Jane Immaculata, etc.
  • Georgiana: I was so surprised to see this on Alyssa’s list — I LOVE being surprised by names! So fun! I love P&P too, and Georgiana is definitely my favorite of the George names for girls. It’s also funny that Alyssa’s hubby’s grandma was Georgette! I could see how that feels a little weird to use a name that’s so similar to Grandma’s name, but to not use her actual name. They could spin it as: they combined Grandma’s name with St. Anne or something. They could also do Georgiana nn Bunny! As with the long names on their list, I think a nickname here is inevitable — if they don’t like Gigi, Georgia, or Ana, maybe Jorie? Giana? Jana? Nina? (It’s totally okay to switch letters for nicknames, like Kate for Catherine — Jorie and Jana are fine for Georgiana.)
  • Natalie: I wonder if simply switching to Natalia would give this name more sparkle for Alyssa? It retains the Christmas meaning, and I love it with Felicity. Or they could switch the spelling to the super French Nathalie. Or, if they want a Christmas name, what would they think of Noelle? Also, Magali is a French (Occitan) variant of Magdalene and it rhymes with Natalie — maybe they’d prefer Magali to Margaret?
  • Finnian: I don’t think Finnian sounds too out there or too formal! It’s not any more formal than Felicity, and while Finnian itself isn’t in the top 1000 currently, the Finn names in general (Finley, Finnegan, Finn as a given name, etc.) have been rising in popularity, so I don’t think anyone else will think it’s “out there” either. And I go back to the fact that I don’t think a nicknamed sibling is overly informal with big sister Felicity. One idea I’ve suggested on the blog is Finn as a nickname for Francis — Alyssa said she doesn’t like Francis as a first name, but maybe she wouldn’t mind it if the nickname Finn was always used? One thing to consider is whether they want to follow Felicity with another F name (or Ph-, as in Philomena), or possibly save it for a future baby. There’s no right answer, whatever they’re comfortable with is fine!
  • Middle names: I don’t have any comment on the middle name ideas other than to say they’re all great, and I see Alyssa has Felicity’s middle name, Rose, on there — if they decided on Rose for all their girls’ middle names, that would be sweet!

Whew! Alyssa apologized for her essay, but you can see I don’t mind being long-winded, haha! Now on to new ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they love in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker took on babynamewizard.com for Georgiana, since it doesn’t have its own entry. Based on all that, and some ideas of my own, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Gemma

This was the very first idea I had for Alyssa when I read her email, before doing any research at all! Gemma is like Gianna, but I think loses the Gigi possibility, since it doesn’t have that “ee” sound at the beginning. And while it’s an Italian name, like Gianna, it actually has decent usage in the U.K., which plays off of Felicity’s bit of Pilgrim feel. Felicity and Gemma are tremendous sister names!

(2) Juliet(te)

This was my immediate second idea for them, and I was so pleased to see it show up in my research as a style match for them as well (Juliet is a match for Felicity and Vincent!). I thought Alyssa might like the French spelling, Juliette. Either way, this is one of my favorite names, and I did a spotlight post of it here.

(3) Caroline, Karoline

I’d already had these names in mind for Alyssa when I saw John Paul on her list, and I loved seeing that Caroline is a match for Claire and one of its nickname possibilities, Callie, is a match for Maggie. It’s a feminine variant of Charles, which is how it connects to John Paul, since his birth name, Karol, is the Polish for Charles. If they switch the spelling to Karoline, it both becomes more uncommon and connects even closer to JP.

(4) Josephine, Josefina, Josefa

I wanted to suggest a Joseph name to this family anyway, since their baby might be born in the Year of St. Joseph (it ends Dec. 8 and Alyssa is due near Christmas), and even if he or she isn’t, the Joseph names are always wonderful! Josefa is actually a match for Georgiana; Josefina is a bit longer and so pretty; and then of course Josephine, which is actually French, which I know Alyssa likes! Another thing that’s fun is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine, and since Alyssa likes Sophia but feel it’s too popular for her, maybe something like Josephine/Josefina/Josefa nicknamed Sophie would be perfect? (If she likes the idea of a Joseph name, but not the ones listed here, the Lily names can be for St. Joseph, since the lily is one of his symbols: Lily, Lillian, Lilia.)

(5) Lucy, Lucia

Lucy is such a great fit with Felicity, and is a style match for Alice and Max as well. Lucia, which can be nicknamed Lucy of course, is a match for Gianna and Clara. One of these names would be great! So beautiful!

Boy

(1) Simon

Simon is a match for Felicity, Claire, Alice, and Isaac! I love it! And Simon is another name that’s unlikely to be nicknamed, which I think Alyssa prefers.

(2) Colin

Colin is a match for Felicity, Claire, and Natalie — another fantastic boy name that’s unlikely to be shortened! It’s a short form of Nicholas, which is the Saint connection, so handsome.

(3) Roman

Continuing my unlikely-to-be-nicknamed list, I was delighted to see Roman as a match for Sophia, Dominic, and Maximilian, and the similar-sounding Ronan as a match for Finnian! I love Roman, it reminds me of all things Catholic — Rome, the Vatican, Roman Catholic.

(4) Leo

Leo is such a little name but it packs a big punch I think — not only is it a papal name, but a Pope St. the Great name (Pope St. Leo the Great), and a different Pope Leo is the one who composed the powerful St. Michael Prayer. It’s a great Catholic name, and it, too, is unlikely to be nicknamed — a formal name that doesn’t feel overly formal, a great match for Felicity.

(5) Gabriel

Gabriel is a match for Sophia, Xavier, and Dominic — it’s a heavy hitting saintly, angelic, and Marian name (I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation), and while I think it would be harder to prevent Gabriel from being nicknamed, I love the nickname Gabe — I think it’s so friendly and masculine, great for a boy and for a man — and I’ve also seen Gib, Gil, and Eli given as nickname possibilities.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)