Birth announcement: Ariston Blaise!

I posted a consultation for Moira and her husband back in June for their baby boy, and then I actually did a second round of ideas for them privately a few months later, when they were still having a hard time deciding on a name, but turns out they didn’t need the help because they came up with an amazing name that I’d actually never heard of, and I LOVE it! They named their little guy … Ariston Blaise!

Moira writes,

We chose the name Ariston Blaise. As you know, we had a lot of difficulty finding a name that we both loved and that met our desires for significance. This one kind of found us — we were studying our book, Encyclopedia of Catholic saints put out by Our Sunday Visitor and in going through the A’s, Mike asked me, “what do you think of this one?” It totally surprised me, as it’s not a name I would’ve guessed that he would’ve chosen. We looked him up and he is a bishop/saint, more well-known in the eastern church, who is considered on the level with Saint Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom. One of his defining characteristics that he excelled in contest against demons. That trait seemed very strong, and a neat connection to Ariston’s dad’s name, Michael. This name has the ending sound I love — vowel with an N — complements his brother’s name, Brendan, and (though it is technically Greek) has a strong, not quite but almost Irishy feel to me.

For the middle name, Blaise, I had throat surgery two months before his conception, and we feel that Ariston is such a gift from God, and is due to his intercession.

So there you have it — two names that were never in the running and we love!

Ariston Blaise!! I’ve found myself saying his name in my head many times since first reading the email, I just love how it sounds, what a cool combo! In addition to the Ariston they read about in the Encyclopedia of Catholic Saints, I also found that it’s the name of a third-century martyr. It’s not everyday I hear a saintly name that I’ve never heard of before — you know Ariston is going in my mental files for future consultations!

Congratulations to Moira and Mike and big sibs Anna, Carol, Brendan, and Natalie, and happy birthday Baby Ariston!!

IMG_3739

Ariston Blaise


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Rosemary Ruth!

I did a consultation for Janelle and her husband a few years ago — one which I’ve referred to many times since, and I can see from my site traffic that it continues to be one of interest to you all! They were looking (ideally) for a first+middle combo that included the name of a theologian plus having a science/nature reference, and they had a pattern in their older children of same first+middle initials, so there were a lot of rules/parameters/hopes to keep in mind — it was so fun to work on! And the name they ended up choosing is fantastic.

Janelle emailed me recently to let me know they’ve since had another baby! Their new little lady has a name that’s just as great and meaningful as her big siblings’ names … Rosemary Ruth!

Janelle writes,

Rosemary Ruth follows our naming rules of nature reference, Bible name or faith meaning, and alliterative first/middle. Rosemary (and various names that can be nn Rosie) has been rising in popularity but it still fits with the generational association of the other girls. We call her Rosie or Rosaroo. The other kids call her Gherkin.”

(Gherkin!! 😂 ❤ )

I appreciate that her name reminds me of my grandmother Marie, who lived a long and faithful life worthy of remembering and emulating, and my mother and my husband’s aunt, whose middle names are also Ruth.”

Isn’t Rosemary Ruth a fantastic combo? I love how it checks off all their boxes, and has family significance as well. Great job!

Congratulations to Janelle and her hubs and big sibs Elanor, Peter, Inessa, and Andrew, and happy birthday Baby Rosemary!!

20190929_123540

Rosemary Ruth


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

The fascinating phenomenon of “battle babies”

Happy Veterans’ Day! Thank you to all those who have served our country, including both my grandfathers, several uncles, a cousin, and friends! ❤️🗽🇺🇸

We’ve talked a lot on here about different ways of honoring people (Jesus and Mary, the saints, and family/other loved ones) and the faith in general (through nods to prayers, words, and objects) in our babies’ names, and there have been some pretty out-there ideas (which you know I love!). I really love what I think of as “possibility thinking” — there are certainly rules that need to be followed, but there are a whole lot of rules that people *think* need to be followed, that don’t, and as a result they box themselves into these really limiting mindsets, and one of my favorite things is helping parents to see that there’s so much more freedom than they realize!

Anyway, I’m totally taken with this article that one of you readers sent me today: ‘I was named after a World War One battle.’ It’s a fascinating article!! I know we have a lot of history buffs here, so maybe some of you already knew about the practice of honoring relatives who fought in various battles by giving babies the names (or variations of the names) of those battles, but this was all new to me.

Jessamy Carlson, a historian and archivist at the National Archives, says the naming of children after battles was a way of honouring the dead and for families to keep a “personal, tangible connection” with a lost husband, father or relative.

She says it also shows the “extent to which war became part of everyday life”.

“You have an experience that is all pervasive. You have women whose husbands are away, dying far from home – and naming their children in this commemorative way is a way of holding them close,” says Ms Carlson.”

It’s such a great (albeit sobering) example of possibility thinking! Real-life examples offered in the article included:

Passchendaele (which was mentioned the most in the article — I had to look it up because I had no idea how to pronounce it! It’s like POSS-en-doll-la)
Somme
Arras
Cambrai
Verdun (“… after the battle in France. Verdun became the single-most used battle names” and was the name of actor Richard Burton’s brother)
Dardanelles
Ypres
Jutland
Vimy Ridge
Zeppelina
Belgium
Frances (after France)
Calais
Arras
Mons
Somme
Delville Wood

Interestingly, the “names tended to be given to girls rather than boys and the battle names were feminised, such as Sommeria, Arrasina, Verdunia, Monsalene and Dardanella.” And I love that as “the war ended, there was another flurry of names such as Peace, Poppy, Armistice and Victory.”

With these names given in honor of relatives who fought and died in these battles, it occurs to me that it wasn’t merely an interesting/unusual/offbeat way of naming a baby after someone, but it was a way of honoring this *particular part* of the person — his courage and ultimate sacrifice. It wasn’t just naming a baby after Grandpa Joe, but naming a baby after the courage and selflessness Grandpa Joe demonstrated in this specific instance. A Catholic example of this way of thinking is how many of us have devotions to specific titles of Mary, and name our babies in honor of those titles, even though they all refer to the same person. Or even how we’re drawn to particular saints, and want to name our babies after them.

I’d love to hear any insights or reactions you have to this article, as well as any other parallels you can draw between battle naming and Catholic naming! Also, do you know anyone who has any of these battle names? I’d love to hear their stories!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: How to narrow it down?

Elisha and her husband are expecting their first baby — a little girl! In my consultation for them, I mostly tried to help them nail down the style they feel is “their children’s names,” as they had some very feminine names on their list, as well as some more unisex, surname-type names. This is what I said to them:

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents, as it’s sort of like the sky’s the limit, name-wise! You don’t have older children with a set name style yet, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not your favorite name will clash with theirs — you can choose with abandon!

At the same time, though … I do encourage all first-time parents to give at least a little thought to how they would see the naming of their future children play out. A perfect example is that you have the ultra-feminine Evangeline on your list, as well as the more unisex Kennedy. Both names are fine and fabulous, but if you consider your possible future children, do you see them having names more in the Evangeline/Genevieve/Lilian vein, or more in the Kennedy/Morgan/Lindsey vein? Either way is fine! And to a certain extent, even if siblings’ names are wildly different and a little jarring to others, who cares?! (Except that people who care about names — like I suspect you do — do tend to care about those kinds of things …)

Elisha and her hubs thought this exercise had merit, and replied:

Thank you so much for all of the research that you put into this consultation! … We had so much fun reading through this and discussing it. After much discussion, we have narrowed our names down to Evangeline, Penelope, Rosabelle, and Genevieve with Grace and Feighth* leading our middle names. It would appear that we do enjoy those ultra-feminine names both individually and if we have more daughters later.

Our biggest reservation seems to be saving a name for later with no guarantee of another girl. For instance, if we chose Evangeline Feighth, we would be taking Feighth away from Genevieve. However, we could enjoy Evangeline Grace and save Feighth for Genevieve, but risk never having another girl. We read about that risk on your site somewhere awhile back …

Do you have any suggestions on how we might narrow them down from that? … Maybe the Sancta Nomina community will give us that last idea that solidifies our choice/grouping.”

(*Feighth is a spelling that has special meaning to Elisha and her hubs.)

You guys always have such great ideas, I know you’ll have some good advice for this couple! These are my thoughts:

— Fairness is something I encourage parents to think about when naming their children. Mostly, what I mean is, I think it’s important to do your best to make sure each child feels that their name is just as special as his/her siblings’ names. Though each name (both firsts and middles) on Elisha and her husband’s list has a great deal of significance to them through various connections to important things in their lives, Elisha told me that Evangeline is the only one that has a family connection. That detail seems to me to be a make or break — if honoring family is important, then Evangeline emerges as the clear winner. If Elisha and her hubs would prefer not to feel like they have to include a family connection in every child’s name, then perhaps Evangeline moves to the bottom of the list. (That said, the family connection with Evangeline isn’t super obvious, so they could still choose Evangeline on other merits and not point out the family connection.)

— The middle name options of Grace and Feighth seem to be part of the first-name decision-making process for Elisha and her hubby. They have a similar enough sound to me (one syllable, long A) that neither jumps out to me as better sound-wise with any of the first-name options, so I would then consider that since Feighth has particular significance to this couple, while Grace is simply a name they like, that Feighth should be the frontrunner middle name. Or, since Evangeline has family significance, for example, then perhaps a less-significant middle like Grace would be better with it, thus saving the more-significant middle name as a match for a less-significant first name. Does that make sense?

— Finally, Elisha referenced my article about the risk of saving a name for later use, knowing that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to use it later. The two bits of advice I offered in that post based on your great ideas when I posed the question on the blog were: “Name this baby as if he or she were your last (or only)” and “Consider which name you’d be sadder to not ever get to use.”

How about all of you? What advice would you give to these new parents? How would you rank the names on their short list?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

 

Update: No nickname? Not happening.

*Update to my post of the other day regarding my sister’s nickname woes*

My sister said it’s fine to include the particulars, as I told her a bunch of you were curious about what nickname she has and how it could be butchered so badly: She’s always gone by Betsey (that spelling appears quite a bit in my dad’s genealogy), but at work she got Becky, Betty, and Beth instead of Betsey all the time! She also reminded me of adults calling her Liz when she was small, even though she’s never gone by Liz, which people at work are also now calling her, in addition to the nickname of her last name. Whether Betsey or Elizabeth, the poor girl just can’t win!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Sancta Nomina

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because…

View original post 337 more words

Spotlight on: Agnes

Happy All Saints’ Day!! How about a name spotlight?!

Agnes was requested a couple months ago and I’m happy to be finally getting to it, as Agnes has always been the epitome of a sweet name to me, based entirely on a picture from a book of saints I had as a child of a sweet-looking young woman holding a sweet little lamb. (It might have been this picture, and I think this was the book, which my boys also love, and which I can’t currently find.)

Other than that, however, it was entirely off my radar as a feasible possibility for today’s little girls — being SUCH a grandmother name — until actress Elisabeth Shue named her daughter Agnes Charles back in 2006 (and let’s just sit for a moment with little Agnes’ siblings’ names: Miles William and Stella Street. There’s no evidence that I can find that Elisabeth Shue is Catholic, but her kids sure have some Catholichic names!) (Also, Agnes paired with Charles! I’d never seen such a thing before then, and thought Elisabeth and her husband were SO creative).

Anyway, since then I’ve seen Agnes pop up here and there, including two more celebrity babies (daughter of actors Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany in 2011 [who, weirdly, has a brother named Stellan — so similar to Elisabeth Shue’s daughters Agnes and Stella!] and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ daughter Inez in 2016 [an English form of Inés, which is the Spanish form of Agnes]) and among Sancta Nomina families (though only as a middle name or under variants like Anessa and Inessa). But it still remains really rare, having dropped out of the top 1000 in 1972. Between 2000 and 2010 there were between 57 and 81 girls named Agnes each year, and between 2011 and 2018 there were between 97 and 232 girls so named (with 232 [2016] being the clear peak — more than thirty more than the next highest); 2018 saw 195 baby girls named Agnes.

I think the jump in 2011 is probably due to the first Despicable Me movie (2010) — adorable sisters Margo, Edith, and Agnes did wonders for their names! (The second came out in 2013 [2014 saw another jump for Agnes from 123 to 191] and the third in 2017 [which, funnily enough, saw a drop from 232 to 196].) Do you agree? Do you know what might have caused the jump from 190 in 2015 to 232 in 2017?

Anyway. Agnes is a Catholicky Catholic name. She’s like Agatha, but younger-feeling to me — do you agree? She’s in the Canon of the Mass. I associate the name quite a bit with my mom, as she attended the Sisters of St. Joseph-run St. Agnes Seminary in Brooklyn from Kindergarten through Grade 12, so a lot of her childhood stories involve the name of St. Agnes.

The similarity of Agnes to the Latin for “lamb” — agnus — has created a connection between St. Agnes and lambs that’s in all her artwork though, according to behindthename, her name actually means “chaste” (which is also lovely). The “lamb” connection is so strong that the Irish name Úna/Oona(gh), which means “lamb,” has sometimes been translated into English as Agnes. And one of you readers came up with the brilliant first+middle combo of Agnes Daisy to mimic the sound of Agnus Dei: “Lamb of God.” I love that!

Nicknames for Agnes include, of course, the adorable Aggie (which I know has its own problems for those who don’t want to associate with Texas A&M!), as well as Ness/Nessa/Nessie and Tag/Taggy. Some of its variants can lead to nicknames for Agnes too — I can see the Welsh Nesta serving as a nickname for Agnes, as well as the old English variant Annis/Annes. Speaking of old variants, I think Annis, Annas, Annatt, and Annison — all of which are English surnames deriving from Agnes per Reaney & Wilson — could be great ways to name a little girl after an Agnes without using Agnes, if that was important to the parents (and the nickname Annie could be used).

What do you all think of Agnes? Would you consider naming a daughter Agnes or any of its variants, or have you? Do you know any Agneses, and how old are they? Do they go by a nickname? Happy Friday!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

No nickname? Not happening.

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because of the chosen nickname, which is used quite a bit in our family tree. But something that’s driven her crazy as an adult is that her nickname is constantly misheard by others at work, causing her to constantly correct her coworkers and other people she interacts with in a professional setting (with varying degrees of success), so she decided to go by the full Elizabeth in her professional life, and she just started a new job, so it was the perfect time to make the change.

Since starting her job, she’s been firm and consistent about introducing herself as Elizabeth, never once letting on that she goes by a nickname. However, more than one person has said that Elizabeth is “too long” and doesn’t she go by a nickname? She tells them no, every time — that her name is Elizabeth, no nickname.

Some of her new coworkers have refused to accept this! They told her that they’re not going to call her Elizabeth, but instead are going to call her by a nickname of her last name. They’re definitely doing it in a jovial buddy-buddy kind of way, like teammates would — and her husband has cheerfully told her that nicknames like this mean she’s being accepted and that she should just go with it (“If they call you Bob, you go with it!” he said 😂😂😂) — but she’s just shaking her head over the whole thing. After all the frustration about her actual nickname being butchered all the time, and making the deliberate decision to go by her full name, only to have her new coworkers pooh-pooh that and come up with their own nickname (which, incidentally, is the same nickname her husband always goes by) … what can you do but shake your head??


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!