Baby name consultation: Saintly surname style for third brother

Christina, who has an Etsy shop called The Rushnyk Room (“Beautifully repurposed rushnyks and vintage goods”), and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! Little brother joins big brothers:

Shepherd Gerald (Shep)
Becket George (Beck)

I love them! They go together so well!

Christina writes,

We have decided to go ahead and use [husband’s middle name] Gray for this boy’s middle name … We (especially I) want there to be some kind of Catholic/Christian meaning. I loved Shepherd, because not only was it after The Good Shepherd, I also always loved the story of the shepherds at the nativity, and just thought it was a good name for a boy…a shepherd takes care of animals, lives in the outdoors, etc..we also love the nickname ‘Shep’ and our son goes by this often. Becket we got from St. Thomas Becket and we just liked the surname…a little more unique than just naming him Thomas and liked that he could go by ‘Beck’ as a nickname. We really like names that can be shortened, but this is not a total deal breaker….but I would prefer something that has a good nickname. So, we obviously like more unique names, but don’t want anything too strange…like we are trying too hard. ha

We already have a good list of names going, but hoping you can add to the mix.
Names we have been marinating on:

FISHER- After St. John Fisher, and again, similar to Shepherd, there are lots of fishermen references in the bible- Jesus, the apostles, etc..also, just a good ‘boy’ name. I really love this name … [but] really no good nickname for it. My husband thinks ‘Fin’ is just totally random and doesn’t make sense for Fisher, and Fish isn’t ideal.

AUSTIN- pretty common name, but we do like it. I googled that there actually is a St. Austin or is a nickname for Augustine (which I love bc I would love a baby Gus..but husband says no to that one…he is not down with the super Roman/formal/old sounding names…so no Maximilians, Boscos. etc), but I never knew that before…so doesn’t scream Catholic name to me…but maybe it is.

COOPER- I would like to spell it Cuper after St. Joseph Cupertino, but husband nixed that…so would it still be considered a saint’s name with this spelling? I am worried Cooper Gray would just be too secular for me…but I do like the name! We do love the nickname ‘Coop’.

FULTON- I love the idea of this name, but it just does not flow off the tongue that easily for me…if that makes any sense. Just wish it was a little more pleasing to my ears…but seeing if it grows on me.

PIERCE- this is actually also a family name as well, and I saw it is a form of Peter…similar to Fulton though…I really want to like it, but something about it just sounds harsh to my ears…but still in the running. We would also be using two family names if we did Pierce Gray, so not sure if that is totally kosher.

Other names we have thrown around…Cade, James, Patrick, Jack (a little common compared to his brother’s names, so not sure it would work, but we like those), Sawyer (not a saint’s name and too much ‘er’ with our last name, but it is a name we liked.

Um, I THINK that is everything! Do you think you would have anything to add? I feel like I have looked at so many name lists already!

Oh, and XAVIER! I love it, but husband is trying to come around on that one still…a little strange for him (he was not raised Catholic…I tried to tell him this isn’t really that strange of a name for Catholics!)

I so much enjoyed reading this whole thing! They just have such a great, fun style, while still being tied into the faith.

To start, some thoughts about the names on their list:

— I think Fisher nicked Fin is so clever!! Too bad Christina’s hubby doesn’t like it! I’m not sure what else there is as a nickname besides Fin and Fish though! Unless … they *could* call him Jack, since Fisher is for St. John Fisher, and Jack’s a nickname for John. That would cause a lot of questions from others (“Why did you name him Fisher if you’re going to call him Jack?”) but maybe that doesn’t bother them. Interestingly, it seems Fulton Sheen was named Peter John but called Fulton (his mom’s maiden name), so they have a precedent to follow!

— Christina’s absolutely right that Austin is a medieval variant of Augustine, just like Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so it does have impeccable credentials. I don’t think most people know that though, so I don’t think it comes across as obviously saintly. Which is fine, if they’re okay with that!

— I love Cooper for them, I think it’s my favorite of their ideas! I mean, I think the intention is the most important thing, and wrangling spellings to fit intentions doesn’t always work, so if they intend for Cooper to be for St. Joseph of Cupertino, then it is! I don’t suppose Christina’s hubs would go for the full Cupertino? I like it with Shepherd and Becket! And the Cooper as a nickname can be spelled whatever way. They could also look for another way to get to the nickname Coop — something like Colin Patrick or Conrad Pierce could make sense of it — but then you’d lose your Gray. Ooh! What about Joseph Gray — Joseph for St. Joseph Cupertino — nicknamed Coop? Sort of like my Fisher nicknamed Jack idea above? I’m kind of loving that!

— Fulton’s a great name! I think maybe a good nickname could make them feel better about it? I posted a bunch here (check the comments too); I think Fulton Xavier nicked Fox is my favorite! (They do lose their Gray, but maybe Christina’s husband would be okay with Xavier in the middle?)

— Ever since this reader shared with me that she knows a little Pierce named for Our Lady (her heart would be pierced with a sword), I’ve loved it! Yes, it’s a form of Peter, and as for using two family names — that’s totally up to them! I used two family names for most of my boys, but that kind of thing is important to my family. If Christina’s family would be upset, then they definitely shouldn’t!

— I’m laughing that Xavier is too strange for Christina’s hubs but Shepherd and Becket aren’t! in 2015, Shepherd wasn’t even in the top 1000 names given to boys in America, and Beckett (that spelling) was no. 218 (Becket wasn’t in the top 1000) … while Xavier was no. 90! It’s definitely not a strange name these days, Catholic or not, and I’m sorry to say it’s losing a bit of its Catholic-only cachet as it becomes more broadly popular. That said, I think it still has a lot of saintliness attached to it.

— I like Cade, James, Patrick, and Sawyer as well (and Sawyer is a style match for BOTH Becket and Shepherd, according to the Baby Name Wizard [which lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity]!! No wonder they like it!). I will say that using the more unusual Gray — which has more of the feel of Shepherd and Becket to me — as a middle name makes me really love the idea of a more traditional first name for the first name, so I’m interested to see James and Patrick on their list of names they like. James Gray and Patrick Gray are both really handsome, and mirror the style of Shepherd Gerald and Becket George, but flipped. I wonder if using a more unusual nickname for a common first name would help? James could be … Jay? Not that that’s all that unusual … hmm … I can’t think of any others! For Patrick, the surname Patton is derived from Patrick … which also sounds like paten … perhaps Patrick called Paten (for a Catholic feel) or Patton (if they just like the sound)! I’ve also seen Packy and Patch used as nicknames for Patrick — Pack is just like Jack, so I could see them liking that … but is it too similar to Beck? I also knew a Patrick called Trick. My idea above of Joseph Gray nicked Coop also fits in with this idea.

Additional ideas I had that I thought they might like are:

(1) Kolbe
Like Becket, this is a saintly surname (for St. Maximilian Kolbe), and both the last-name-as-first-name style and the natural nickname Kole seem perfect as a brother to Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck!

(2) Miles
I think Miles can have a surname-y feel, and I’ve talked a bit on the blog about its faith-y connections: it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love a masculine Marian name!

(3) Gilmore
Gilmore was actually inspired by one of the names the BNW said is a style match for Shepherd: Gibson. It means “son of Gilbert,” and I almost included it in my suggestions, but I was finding myself wishing the “Gil” part from Gilbert was included, and then I remembered Gilmore! Like Miles, it’s a Marian name — and it actually means the same thing! In this case, it’s an anglicization of Gillamhuire, and I love the nickname Gil! My only hesitation is Gilmore Gray — I don’t mind it objectively, but I do think it calls Gilmore Girls to mind pretty strongly.

(4) Hawthorn(e)
My last idea is Hawthorn (or Hawthorne), which can also be considered Marian —
one of Our Lady’s French titles is Notre Dame de l’Aubépine (Our Lady of the Hawthorn)! I think Hawthorn’s a really cool, unusual name for a boy, and I know of one family who used it and decided on Hawk as a nickname, and I also love the idea of Thorn(e).

And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck’s little brother?

Baby name consultation: Remembering Lily in no. 5’s name (boy or girl)

I posted the winner of the giveaway this morning — go check it out if you haven’t already!

Laura and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown)! This little babe joins big sibs:

Thomas Blaise “Blaise”
Augustine “Gus” John
Rose Elizabeth “Rosie”
Lily Marie

So many great names!! 😍

Laura writes,

Finding a name for this little baby has presented more of a challenge. Just over a year ago, my husband and I unexpectedly lost our daughter, Lily, full-term at birth. We chose her name quickly after she arrived, not knowing how much peace it would bring us going forward. Spotting a lily now unites us with our daughter we so grateful yearn for. And having our daughters linked through their flower names is very special to me. Regardless of boy or girl, I’d really appreciate a name that nods to Lily’s memory somehow, if possible.”

It was such a special thing for me to be able to offer some thoughts and ideas for this beautiful family, such a gift.

She continues,

We are unaware of the baby’s sex, but feel especially called to solve the dilemma of keeping or scrapping the flower trend, should the baby be a girl. We also have chosen all saint’s names, other than Lily, who most likely would have been Lillian. We prefer to link each child to a saint.

It seems we also prefer a name that can have a nickname- and are open to the more “non-traditional” nickname options. (Two examples of yours that we LOVE are Miles for Michael and Pierce for Peter.)

We would not consider a “D” first name, and family names to avoid would be: Elisa, Conor, Jameson, Colin, Finn, Cecilia, Mary.

So, the question is, to flower or not to flower?

Laura also said I could share with you all the one photo of they have of the whole family, including Lily:

IMG_4993 2

❤❤❤❤❤

So I wanted tackle their “to flower or not to flower” question first: I love that they have a flower theme, and it sounds like they love it too—if Laura and her hubs were to continue with a flower name for all their girls, their Lily would always be looped in in a way that Laura said is “very special” to her. So my vote is to keep it! Sometimes themes like this can start to feel constraining, even suffocating, if a family continues having a bunch of kids and it becomes increasingly difficult to find names that fit. But I think there are a few ways to work with this theme in such a way that it doesn’t have to feel so. First, there are so many great floral names for girls! And if they opened up their theme to either first or middle name (rather than just first), some of the more unusual options become more doable. Second, if they were to extend their theme to “plants” rather than only “flowers,” or even more broadly to “nature” names, they have a lot more options that can be just as beautiful as flowers. Third, they could choose names that could nickname to flower names, which also loops Lily in an extra way because Lily—though it can be (is) a name on its own—is also traditional nickname for Elizabeth (which also connects Rosie and Lily in a special way!). (I have a suggestion of how to do this below.)

If Laura and her hubs decide the flower (or possibly plant/nature) theme is too restrictive, they could decide to do *Marian names* for their girls instead. Both Rose and Lily are considered Marian names, since they both are symbols of Our Lady, so it wouldn’t be any fuss to change mid-stream as it were and give this baby a Marian name—she’d fit in nicely with both her sisters. I’ve included a non-floral Marian suggestion that I think they might like below as well.

Alright, so first, I had some ideas about how to nod to Lily for both a girl and a boy. I’ll do boy first, since there aren’t as many ways to do so:

(1) Leo
I was trying to think of ways to connect to Lily through name, and one way that parents sometimes honor people is by using the same letter of their first name. After looking up the names Laura and her hubs have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (which you all know is how I start each consultation, as the BNW lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I actually already had Leo on my list for this family. I also like that, in addition to starting with the same first letter as Lily, it’s short and two syllables, just like Lily. Pope St. Leo the Great is a … *ahem* … great (!) patron as well! 😁

(2) El(l)iot(t), Elijah, Eli, Elias
That first jumble of letters is meant to be Eliot! Or Elliot. Or Elliott. Haha! I thought it could connect to Lily through her traditional usage as a nickname for Elizabeth, drawing on the similar beginnings between Elizabeth and El(l)iot(t). Elliot is also a style match for Miles, which Laura said they like, so Elliot seemed a name they would like. However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that their other kids have names that I would classify as Catholicky Catholic, and Elliot doesn’t really fit into that, so I could see them not loving it as a first name, but having it in the middle spot would be a fine place for Lily’s honor name. Or, perhaps a different El- name that doesn’t seem as similar to their names they like but is more obviously faithy, like Elijah and Eli or, maybe the best fit, Elias (which is the Greek form of Elijah, and is actually where Elliot comes from—Elliot is a medieval diminutive of Elias).

(3) Hawthorn
This is also probably a middle name pick, but I was trying to find what month lilies are the flower for, and I could only find lilies of the valley—one of the flowers of May. Interestingly, May has another flower as well, which is the hawthorn. I’ve actually seen Hawthorn used as a name for a boy (the family that I saw use it—on a name discussion board years ago—used Hawk as the nickname, which I thought was so clever!), and I think for this family it would make an amazing middle name with a really cool tie to Lily. An added fun fact is that there are several titles of Mary related to hawthorns—Our Lady of Arantzazu in Spain is a title for one such apparition (the “arantza” part means “hawthorn” in Basque, and a variant of it — Aranza — which began as a name in honor of OL of Arantzazu was one of the fastest rising girl’s names in 2014 because of a character on a telenovela!).

(4) Pierce or Simeon
Laura already mentioned that they like Pierce, but I think it would make a really nice way to nod to Lily, although in a sad way—this reader said she knows a family who named their son Pierce for the prophecy of Simeon—how Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword. That’s pretty fitting for a mom who’s lost a baby! Simeon could also work, being the name of the man who prophesied the piercing.

Those are my ideas for first or middle names for boys that can nod to Lily, but I also had some more ideas of first names that they might like. I usually start with girls, but since I’m already talking about boy names I’ll go ahead and do them first:

(1) Xavier
According to the BNW, Xavier’s a style match for Blaise, and its Catholicness also makes it a great match for Augustine. It’s a really fun first name too—you can’t beat that X initial!

(2) Thaddeus
At first I was going to suggest Theodore, as it was listed as a style match for August (as a stand-in for Augustine, as the BNW doesn’t have Augustine) and I liked that it was long, like Augustine, which brings some nice balance to sib set as a whole, but I thought it wasn’t quite right. I often think of Theodore and Thaddeus as two sides of the same coin—they’re so similar but different enough that parents tend to pretty clearly prefer one or the other. The obvious patron is St. Jude Thaddeus of course, but I also love Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty—an Irish Dominican priest martyred for the faith.

(3) Isaac
I really really like Isaac for Laura and her husband! I’ve had it on my own list for ages, and St. Isaac Jogues is the inspiration for me. I know the name is really Old Testament, but to me it’s so saintly—in fact, I overwhelmingly think of St. Isaac before the biblical Isaac. I live near the North American Martyrs’ Shrine, though, which is where he and his companions were killed, and there’s a local church named after him, so it could be a regional thing on my part. I know two little Isaacs — one a brother to Oliver, the other a brother to Owen, so it’s definitely getting use outside of the heavy biblical namers.

(4) Sebastian
As I mentioned with Thaddeus, I was trying to think of longer names that could loop the long Augustine back in with his shortly named sibs Thomas/Blaise, Rosie, and Lily (the nickname Gus is perfect with the others!), and Sebastian came immediately to mind. I think it has that same Catholic cachet as their other names, and some great nicknames too: Seb(by), Bash (like Grace Patton’s Sebastian/Bash), Baz.

(5) Campion
My last idea for them for a boy is Campion, like St. Edmund Campion, but what made me first think of it was when I was trying to think of ways to nod to Lily, I was hung up on finding some flower names that could work for boys (for some reason I’d conflated “nodding to Lily” with “flower names for girls” and was thinking flower names for everyone!)—campion is a pink flowering plant. But then I thought I’d keep it in anyway—St. Edmund’s a great saint, and Cam’s a great nickname, and as I noted in the consultation I did for Jenna at Wilber Huset, Campion means “champion,” and is also of course the last name of St. Edmund Campion. Ancestry.com even says it originated as a “status name for a professional champion,” which is great for a boy—he wouldn’t even need to know about the pink flowers!

(6) Benedict
Nope, I lied—I’m adding one more in. Benedict has the same feel to me as Blaise and Augustine, and Ben is one of the friendliest nicknames, very in keeping with the feel of Gus. It’s also for Pope Emeritus Benedict of course, who I love, and since it means “blessed” they could also think of it as an apt name for being blessed with another baby after losing their Lily.

Now on to the girl names! I came up with loads of flower/plant names that I thought could work with their theme of wanting their girls to have those kinds of names (if they decide to stick with it). I think they’ll see there are a lot of options!

(1) Jacinta
Jacinta is one of my FAVORITE names—I took it as my Confirmation name, and if I’d had a bunch of girls instead of a bunch of boys, Jacinta would have been in there somewhere! Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese form of Hyacinth, which is of course a flower, so it sticks with their theme, and also—how perfect to include Jacinta in a name for a girl born right after St. Jacinta’s canonization! Also, Jacinta was such a little girl when she died, and she died alone—Our Lady told her she would, and I saw the most beautiful artistic depiction of her Mary carrying Jacinta to heaven—I’ve found that image so comforting when I think of the baby I miscarried, and I wonder if it might be really meaningful to Laura and her hubs in memory of Lily. I also sort of think of Jacinta as the patron of those who suffer in secret, and the devastation of losing a baby isn’t always as obvious to the outside world. And since they love creative nicknames, Jacinta might be extra perfect for them! I did a spotlight of the name here, along with nickname ideas.  If Laura and her hubs like this idea but not Jacinta exactly, they could also just do Hyacinth, like the Pioneer Woman’s BFF, whom she often refers to as “Hy” on the show.

(2) Violet
Violet was actually a style match for August (standing in for Augustine), Rose, Lily, and Lillian. It’s also considered a Marian name, and would be a perfect sister for Rose and Lily! The only problem with a name like Violet is that it’s so *obviously* floral that it really might make them feel wedded to a style that’s hard to keep up with.

(3) Iris
Iris is also explicitly floral, but it also means “rainbow,” which is so suitable for a rainbow baby and by its very meaning points to the baby who came before. It’s not obviously faithy though, so if they like it maybe they’d prefer it in the middle?

(4) Juniper
If Laura and her hubs wanted to branch out of flowers into plants generally, Juniper’s a great one to consider! St. Junipero Serra’s canonization last year has put this one on the radar of a lot of Catholic families, and Junie is the CUTEST nickname! There’s also a lovely pious tradition that the juniper tree hid the Holy Family from Herod’s men during their flight into Egypt.

(5) Azelie
This name is super saintly (to people like us anyway), like Blaise, Augustine, Rose, and Lily, and also floral without being in your face! A lot of people take Azelie to be a French form of azalea (it is, of course, part of the given name of our St. Zelie—she was born Marie-Azélie). In fact, Lindsay from the blog My Child I Love You has a Rose, Lillie, and Zellie (that’s how they spell them), and she said she loved that the three of them are like a bouquet of flowers.

(6) Margaret or Marguerite nicked Daisy
This is the name I mentioned above that would fit into my idea of having the flower connection come from a nickname. Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret! The French form of Margaret, Marguerite, is actually the name of the daisy flower in French! Since Laura and her hubs like creative nicknames, this idea might be right up their alley. There are some great Sts. Margaret too, and it’s obviously saintly like the rest of their crew.

(7) Susanna
I’m not sure if this is overkill or perfect, but I couldn’t not suggest it! According to Behind the Name, Susanna comes from the Hebrew shoshana, which means lily AND it also means rose in Modern Hebrew! So Susanna can tie the other two girls together in one name! Again, I’m not sure if that’s brilliant or just way too much, especially when they consider what to do if they have a fourth girl? As far as saintliness, not only is there a St. Susanna, but the church in Rome for American Catholics is St. Susanna’s, I love that.

Okay! Those are all my flowery ideas for them for a girl, but I had a couple other names that I thought I’d suggest in case they want to put the flower name in the middle and do a non-flower name for the first name:

(1) Clare or Chiara
I probably wouldn’t have included any other ideas than flower ideas except for the fact that Claire and Clara and the next name (Hope) were style matches for them in my research. Clara is a style match for August (standing in for Augustine) and Lilllian, and Claire for Lily, but I thought the variant Clare—often said to have the saintliest feel of the Clare names—was closest to what they’d like. BUT, then I thought maybe the variant Chiara would be an even better fit! It’s got a little more of that heavy feeling that Blaise and Augustine have, and can be for St. Clare of Assisi (whose name was actually Chiara—Clare is an anglicization of it) or Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who’s such a great patron for modern girls because she herself was a modern girl (she died of cancer as a teenager in 1990).

(2) Hope
Hope was listed as a style match for Pierce, and I immediately thought it was a great idea for Laura and her hubs to consider. It can signify the hope of a new baby after losing their Lily, and can also be for Our Lady of Hope, if they decide to go Marian instead of floral (or even if they do stick with the floral theme! Hope would be a great first or middle coupled with a floral name).

(3) Gemma
I actually didn’t see Gemma listed as a match for any of their names, but it just struck me as one they’d like, and when I looked it up I saw that Violet and Clare are both style matches for it! St. Gemma Galgani is a great patron for a girl and—you guys, get this — when I looked her up I got holy bumps because lilies and roses are two of her symbols! And she’s also known as the Flower of Lucca! Ohmygoodness. Whether they use the name or not, these are such fun details to discover!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Thomas Blaise/Blaise, Augustine/Gus, Rose/Rosie, and Lily that can also nod to Lily?

And the winner is …

… randomly chosen by Rafflecopter … Meghan! Hooray!!! 🎉🎉🎉 She said she’d choose a blue B for her newborn Benedict — how wonderful!! (Meghan — I’ll email you!)

Thank you to all of you who entered the raffle — you showed Kortnee some well deserved love!! For the rest of you — be sure to take advantage of the special discount code Kortnee’s offering to Sancta Nomina readers: use SANCTANOMINA15 until June 1 for 15% off anything in the shop! And don’t forget to check out Kortnee’s Etsy shop and web site and follow her on Instagram if you haven’t already!

Finally, a huge thank you to Kortnee for introducing herself and being so generous with her talents! I’m adding her to my Gift ideas & marketplace page as well, so you know where to find her any time you need an amazing gift for a little one (or big one?) in your life. 🙌

Happy Thursday! I’m working on a consultation post — stay tuned! I’ll have it up soon — it’s a good one!

New CatholicMom article: Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names!

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post — there’s a giveaway! It ends tonight at midnight (Eastern time), so just a couple hours left! I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. 😊

My May CatholicMom.com article posted today, and I thank you all for helping me with it in that recent post I did! Your help was invaluable! Check out the final result: Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names

catholicmom_screen_shot-05.17.17

A few thoughts on the new name stats from the SSA

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

I think one of the things I loved the most about the Social Security Administration releasing the 2016 name stats last Friday was seeing how excited Abby from Appellation Mountain was! That morning on Facebook she revealed how she’d been refreshing the SSA site all morning in hopes they’d finally updated it … then when they did she pretty immediately posted a video of her talking about the results (she mentioned some names I’ve had discussions about recently, like Matteo and Shepherd), and has posted a couple great articles analyzing the results:

Most Popular Baby Names – May 2017 Update (mostly discussion of the new-not-new top ten)
Top 100 Baby Names May 2017 Update

I also really enjoyed these from the Baby Name Wizard:

America’s Fastest-Rising Boys’ Names: Feel the Force
The Fastest-Rising Girls’ Names of The Year

And found this one (also from BNW) really interesting:

Caitlyn at the Crossroads: The Fastest-Falling Baby Names of the Year

Laura starts out by saying, “At first glance, this wholesale retreat from a familiar name may seem to be a rejection of Jenner’s new public identity,” which was exactly what I would assume it to be, but I also appreciated that she pointed out, “The name was sliding out of fashion, and it’s easiest to move the public in a direction it’s already heading.” She also makes the good point that, “The name itself was the story, announced with a flourish in a ‘Call Me Caitlyn’ magazine cover, the choice of name debated and analyzed” — a million percent yes! — but then argues, “The result was inevitable Caitlyn fatigue,” which I strongly disagree with. I would characterize the fact that the name was already “sliding out of fashion” as name fatigue; I would describe what happened in the wake of Caitlyn Jenner (which Laura herself called a “wholesale retreat”) as name train wreck. Take a look at these numbers:

caitlyn_et_al-2016
From https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/rankchange.html

This screenshot is from the newest statistics, and they’re listed in order of greatest amount of decrease to least amount of decrease, so these four names were the four biggest drops of all the girls’ names in use in the U.S. I was amazed to see this! I mean, all four of those variants were well into the top 1000 (except Kaitlynn, which was hovering on the line), and all four dropped out of the top 1000 in one year.

To be fair, I tried to find the decrease stats from last year, to see if this isn’t as big a deal as it looks like to me, and found a post Nancy had done that showed Isis as the biggest loser in 2015, having dropped 1065 spots, but in the top ten biggest decreases were also Annabell (500 spots), Anabel (500 spots), Anabella (333 spots), and Anabelle (272 spots), which I thought were good parallels for the Caitlyn names, since they were also four variants of the same name, and all dropped similar amounts to the Caitlyn names — in fact, not to get all math-y, but I did the math and the four Caitlyn names dropped a cumulative 1787 spots (averaging 446.75 each), while the Annabell names dropped a cumulative 1605 spots (averaging 401.25 each). This might not seem like anything except that Nancy noted, “nearly every single variant of Annabelle was negatively affected by the horror film Annabelle, released in late 2014.” So Caitlyn’s no Isis, but had a similar effect as a horror movie. Oh dear.

(For the record, I still love the name.)

(There are also other variants of both names lower down in the decrease list, I just focused on those in the top ten.)

(Also interesting in light of our Damien discussion is that until now I hadn’t heard a whisper of that horror movie, despite having freely and frequently suggested Annabel(le) to parents on the blog and in private consultations.)

I’m also not sure I agree with this point, which I’ve seen a lot of other people say as well: “Finally, consider that the Caitlyn gazing out of that famous magazine cover was 65 years old. Caitlyn became popular as a fresh, youthful twist on Catherine and Kathleen. The new standard-bearer for the name helped age it in a hurry.” I just don’t see the name Caitlyn as having aged at all, I still see it as a young-ish name that is now worn by a 67 year old, which is as jarring to me as hearing other names that were similar in popularity to the Caitlyn names during the Caitlyn names’ peak (1990s), like Lindsey and Kristen, on a grandmother. Do you agree?

Otherwise, I took a look through the rest of the changes (changes in increase as well as decrease, and those that stayed the same), which I found to be the most interesting part of the statistics, and didn’t find anything as interesting as Aranza and Mon(t)serrat of 2014 except for Mercy for the girls — it’s no. 21 on the list of girls’ names that rose the most, having increased 222 spots from out of the top 1000 to well in it (new no. 731) and all I think is: Jubilee Year of Mercy! 😍 Zaylee also increased 177 spots to no. 813 (which may be due to St. Zelie?), and Regina, Rosemary, Juniper, Clementine, Mabel, Colette, Edith, Siena, Livia, Adelaide, Aurora, Helen, Felicity, and Gianna caught my eye from those names that increased in popularity.

For the boys Augustine went up 87 spots to no. 728, Santiago went up 21 to no. 106 (what? I had NO idea it was that popular!), and Thaddeus, Matthias, Conrad, Fisher, Gilbert, Bennett, George, Oliver, Henry, Jasper, Harold, Oscar, and Roman (which is new to the top 100) all jumped out at me as well.

On the decrease list, Guadalupe, Madeleine, Lola, Catherine and Katherine and Kate, Genevieve, and Mary stood out to me for girls, and Blaise, Mohammed, Damien (though still a top 300 name) and Damian (though still not too far from top 100), Myles, and Jude for boys.

Also Sylvie is up while Sylvia is down, which seems right to me based on where the collective taste seems to be at the moment. Do you agree?

Did any of the rest of you wait on pins and needles for this new info? Did you find anything exciting or disappointing? Any other thoughts/analyses?

Birth announcement: Fiona Therese!

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Fiona Therese!

She writes,

You did a consult for me a few mos ago. Our children are Cecilia Rose, Ian Michael, Anneliese (pronounced the German way) Claire, Aidan John, Eva Marie, Francis Martin. We didn’t know the sex of the baby … We narrowed it down to Josiah Patrick for a boy. Aaaaand: we welcomed a baby sister, Fiona Therese. Fiona is a cute name I have liked, but had forgotten til you reminded me! Celtic but spellable and pronounce-able. Therese for the Little Flower, which also allows us to use flower or rose nicknames. (Rosemary was top in the running for a long time.)

Such an amazing sibling set!! I love all the names, and Fiona Therese is such a fabulous addition to the family!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Fiona!! 🎉🌹

Baby name consultation: Honoring St. Josemaria with boy no. 2’s name, etc.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

Megan and her husband are expecting their second baby — and second boy! This little man joins big brother:

Henry Allan

Such a solid, handsome name!

Megan writes,

Just as a little background on how we named Henry — There were a few things that ‘confirmed’ that Henry Allan is what we felt God wanted his name to be.  Craig and I were both strongly formed in our faith from Newman Centers so he is partly named after Blessed John Henry Newman.  We also heard a story about St. Henry Heath and his martyrdom.  We felt he was a fitting saint for our time in our culture.  We also learned that Henry is a family name in both mine and Craig’s ancestry.  Allan is both Craig’s middle name and his Dad’s middle name.  It is also my Dad’s first name, although he spells it Alan.  We wanted to honor both our Dads in that way, as well as to honor Craig.

Here is a list of names we are considering for our second child:
Benedict
Joseph
Stephen
Peter
William
George
Gabriel
Conrad
Francis
Fulton
Simon

Here is a list of names that we like but not quite right:
Philip

Here is a list of names we can’t or won’t use:
Michael — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
James — like but won’t use because nephew’s name
Maximillian — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
Jack — like but won’t use because nephew’s name

Here are some Saints we love:
Mary
St. Josemaria Escriva — one of our favorites, but we are not sure how to work with this name
St. Joseph
St. John Paul II

Great list of names, and great saints to honor! When I first read Megan’s email, my mind immediately started clicking over St. Josemaria and how to work with that, so I’ll start with that. Josemaria is a combination of Jose and Maria, which of course are Joseph and Mary in Spanish—and they have Joseph and Mary on the list of saints they love! So my first—and heartiest—suggestion would be for Megan and her hubs to name their little guy Joseph (they have Joseph in the list of names they like anyway!), which covers St. Joseph and could cover St. Josemaria as well, but especially if they make the middle name something to do with Mary. Possibilities include:

  • Joseph Mario or Joseph Mariano—neither Mario nor Mariano are etymologically related to Mary, but they’ve both been used for a long time as a male form of Mary.
  • Joseph Miles—most of you have likely seen the many many many (!) times I’ve tried to push Miles on expectant parents, but I love so much that it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means, literally, “servant of the Virgin Mary.”
  • Joseph Mercer—one of my name books (Oxford Dictionary of First Names by Hanks, Hardcastle, and Hodges) says that Mercer (a last name derived from the Old French for “trader”—mercier) “may sometimes also have been chosen as a kind of male equivalent of mercy,” which would be really cool because it could be a nod to Our Lady of Mercy—in keeping with trying to come up with a combo that mirrors Josemaria—and it can also be a nod to the Divine Mercy pope, JP2, which would work in all their favorite saints!
  • Joseph Marion—they could totally channel John Wayne—who was born Marion Robert Morrison—by using Marion as a middle name!
  • Joseph Maria—this would be the most explicit way to honor St. Josemaria in English. Mary/Marie/Maria as a middle name for boys used to be a traditional practice, especially in Europe, but I’ve seen hardcore Catholic parents do so recently too. I’ve love for that tradition to come back!
  • Joseph Marriot(t) or Joseph Murray—both Marriot(t) and Murray have ties to Our Lady: Marriot(t) is an English surname derived from an old diminutive of Mary (Mary-ot), and Murray comes from the Irish Mac Giolla Mhuire (son of the servant of Mary), which is anglicized as Kilmurray, Kilmary, Kilmurry, and MacElmurry. Murray is the “Mary” part and has become a surname in its own right.

Those are my ideas for how Megan and her hubby can incorporate their favorite saints into their son’s name, and Joseph was actually listed as a style match for Henry in the Baby Name Wizard book (which, as you all know, I almost always use in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), so I think it’s a really great option for them.

So they have a really great list and great ideas, and I think the Joseph M. option is amazing and perfect, but of course I can always come up with more! 😀 Based on my research in the BNW using the names on their list and Henry’s name, these are my other ideas:

(1) Edmund/Edmond or Edward
Edward’s actually a style match for Henry, Joseph, William, and George; Edmund for Benedict; and Edmond for Conrad—all great, saintly names! St. Edmund Campion’s awesome, as is St. Edward the Confessor. They all remind me a bit of Benedict, because I’ve seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, and Ned is also a traditional nickname for the Ed- names. I know a little Eddie too, which is really cute, and Ted is also a traditional nickname for Edward.

(2) Theodore
Speaking of Ted (and Ned and Ed), Theodore—which can be nicked Ted—was another good match for their style. It has that sort of Brit feel that I get from Henry, and Ted(dy)’s super cute; Theo’s another great option. Theodore also has the awesome meaning “gift of God.”

(3) Thomas
Thomas was a style match for Joseph, Stephen, Peter, William, Michael, and James! While Tommy’s a cute nickname, most of the little Thomases I know go by the full Thomas. Lots of good patrons to choose from too! St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More are two favorites of my family.

(4) Charles
Charles is another traditional, gentlemanly name like the ones on their list, with an added bit of sparkle: It’s the English version of John Paul II’s birth name (Karol). I’ve known of many little ones named Charles in honor of JP2, so this could be a way Megan and her hubs can nod to him without using John Paul itself (since John Paul wasn’t on their list, I assume they don’t care for it). As a slight tangent, I find Benedict on their list to be somewhat difficult to pair a middle name with, because there are so many initials that are potentially problematic, but BC is a fine pairing, so I really love the combo Benedict Charles. Two awesome popes in one!

(5) Oliver
My last idea for Megan and her hubs is Oliver, a match for Henry, Simon, and Peter. I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and it can also be a nod to Our Lady of Olives (I love Marian names for boys!). Henry and Oliver are a darling set of brothers!

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Henry’s little brother?


Interested in having your own baby name consultation? Check out my Baby name consultations tab for all the details!