Two new (to me) name blogs

I came across two new (to me) name blogs today: Appellation Mountain and Roses and Cellar Doors. It was actually this AM post, in which author Abby* noted, “Roses & Cellar Door’s post It’s Big Overseas is genius!  Why don’t we hear Olga, Joachim, Tecla, Emil – or their equivalents? – in the US?” that sent me to the mentioned R&CD post. I’m a huge fan of names with a pan-European feel — names that have an equivalent in most European languages — and I would argue the vast majority of such names are saints names. Check out the names on the R&CD list — are any of them NOT saint names?? And one of my very favorites is on there: Joachim.

*I just have to note that on Abby’s “About” page she says her and her husband’s naming style has shaken down to “classics on the birth certificate; unexpected nicknames in real life.” Very well articulated — I myself love that approach.

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Nicknames: Getting to Bo/Beau

I always find it interesting when parents start the naming process with a nickname they love, and then try to backtrack into a given name. Some really cool first-middle combos can result. I came across this post today that seeks to offer formal given names for for both boys and girls for the nickname Bo/Beau, I really loved some of the suggestions, especially the unexpected ones.

On my bookshelf: The Baby Name Wizard

I have a lot of name books. Each one is beloved for one reason or another, and I plan to post about each one in due time.

The first — the mama of them all in my humble opinion — is The Baby Name Wizard, Revised 3rd Edition: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg.

You might think that, for a Catholic baby name blog, I might start with a book of saints names. There are many such that are excellent references, but no name book besides TBNW that I’ve ever come across has all the elements that I love in a name book: pronunciation, commentary, popularity, nickname options. Not only does TBNW have all those, but it has a feature that I’ve  never seen anywhere, and I just love it: it offers “Brother” and “Sister” suggestions for every single entry, by which it does not mean names that should necessarily be sibling names of someone with the entry name (though they are excellent suggestions), but more that the sibling names listed are similar to the entry in style and popularity; someone interested in the entry name might very well find that he or she also loves the listed sibling names and is inspired by them. It’s a particularly helpful feature for someone who has a sense of some names that he or she likes, but none of the ones on their list are striking them as *the* one. The listed sibling names might provide that very name, or send them on the path to finding it.

For example: Dakota (girl) has Sedona, Oakley, Montana, Shenandoah, Laramie, and Bryce listed as sister names, and Maverick, Chayton, Ridge, Jedidiah, Coty, and Sawyer listed as brother names. Not only do you have twelve more names to consider, but those names also give a fuller idea of the image that “Dakota” on a little girl projects.

I mentioned the “Saints” section in a previous post, and the names listed are truly delectable. Given that the “quirkier corners of 2000 years of religious history” were plumbed to create the list, there are some really fun options on there, like Amata, Filomena, and Landry for girls; Cormac, Gennaro, and Tillo for boys. Some of the more obscure ones aren’t listed in the main part of the book, but others are, leading to great related options: Felicity’s sisters include Verity, Juliet, and Arabella, and brothers include Crispin, Colin, and Oliver; Rocco’s sisters include Mia, Giada, and Lucia, and brothers include Luca, Arlo, and Jude.

I’ve read TBNW front to back a hundred times or more, and I always learn something new with each read. I can’t recommend this book highly enough (and if you’re a real name enthusiast, you can check out the author’s blog, which she updates weekly, and the various forums available to discuss naming issues and questions).

Men Who Love Mary

Today my second son and I were discussing the name of the baby I miscarried several years ago. I always sensed that the baby was a boy (though I wasn’t far enough along to know for sure) and so my kids have always referred to the baby as their brother. Today my son discovered that, while we’d given the baby a masculine first name, we’d given him the middle name Marie, for Our Blessed Mother. “Marie??” he said. “For a boy??” It was too perfect — a great opportunity to talk about all the male saints who have a form of Mary in their names. Off the top of my head I came up with St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, and St. Anthony Mary Claret. He was semi-interested, and I loved that he got a little lesson in Men Who Love Mary.

I know there are a bunch more — which of the male saints do you know with a form of Mary in their names?

Nicknames: Aloysius and Elizabeth

One of my favorite things is interesting nicknames for more formal given names — the more interesting the better.

I recently read about the nickname “Ish” for Aloysius, which I’d never heard before. And nicknames for Elizabeth, which might win the prize for most numerous of any name, are discussed here, with a link to a longer list here. Some of my favorites: Tess, Betsey, Liza, Ellie, Liesl/Liesel, and Liddy. And I know of an Elizabeth nicknamed Libbet.

Do you know of any interesting or unusual nicknames for more formal given names?

Spotlight on: Veronica

Veronica is one of the most gorgeous names ever, in my opinion, and a great Catholic  name. According to tradition, it’s the name of the woman who wiped the face of Jesus while He was carrying His cross to Calvary; the image of His face was left on her cloth. Though Scripture doesn’t name her, “Veronica” comes from the Latin vera icon, meaning “true image.”

What makes Veronica a particularly Catholic name? Surely non-Catholics use it? Surely they do, but I contend non-Catholics would choose the name Veronica in ignorance of its meaning, or in spite of it. It’s not mentioned in the Bible and it refers to an image, both of which, in my experience with the non-Catholic Christian world, take away from any religious importance that might have been given it. And non-Christians would have no reason to choose a name that specifically refers to the image of Christ’s face on a cloth, and to the woman who wiped His face, except that they like it for other reasons.

Not only do Catholics love tradition and images of holy people, but we remember Veronica and her act of love toward Jesus every Lent in the Sixth Station of the Cross: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. And names that are heavily used by Catholics tend to travel well — most languages will have a form of a very Catholic name. Some of Veronica’s variants are beautiful, like  Véronique (French), the Russian spelling Veronika, and Berenice/Bernice is related as well (Greek).

One potential downfall of the name Veronica, in my opinion, is the lack of good traditional nicknames, but I think that’s easily remedied with some research and creativity. There’s Ronnie and Vera, maybe Nicky or Nica, maybe even Vicky, but for this namer, none of those are appealing. Reading the comments for the Veronica entry on Behind the Name reveals some other intriguing possibilities: Ronja (pronounced RON-yah), which is said to be the Russian short form of Veronica; just “V” (I think I’d prefer the spelling Vee. Although, signing one’s name with one letter is so romantic and intriguing); Evie (a stretch but doable); and Nona (sweet).

Another potential point against Veronica is the Archie comments. That’s my husband’s first and overwhelming thought every time I mention the name. Sigh.

What do you think of Veronica? Do you have any other nicknames for it to offer? What do you think of the Archie association?

Edited to add: Ha! Funny enough, when I was writing this last night I almost included a bit about St. Veronica Giuliani, just as an example of a saint with the name. I decided not to, but then this morning (July 10) I saw on Facebook that today is the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani! You can read more about her here.