A Rose by any other name

Rose is a Marian name — it can refer to Our Lady of the Rosary for one, or Our Lady of Guadalupe with the roses that fell from St. Juan Diego’s tilma; she also often appeared with roses on her feet, as at Lourdes and Knock (there’s a beautiful song about Our Lady of Knock that calls her the “Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland”). It’s also saintly — there’s also St. Rose of Lima, and the roses associated with the intercession of St. Therese.

When parents seek to honor someone — a relative or saint or other respected person — in the naming of their child, it’s not unusual to look for different variations of the name.  Aunt Marguerite might have a little namesake named Margaret, or Uncle John who always went by Jack might have a little namesake bestowed with just Jack or maybe Jackson. “Catherine Marie” might have a nicer flow to it in the opinions of the parents than “Catherine Mary,” and so Grandmother Mary is honored with “Marie.” Grandpa Stephen might have a little Stephanie named after him. Flow, the preferences of the modern-day ear, and gender differences are some of the reasons parents may veer away from the actual name they’re inspired by and replace it with a variant.

I was thinking of Rose yesterday because my boys were playing the Wii game Super Mario Galaxy and they said the Star Mother (I think?) was named Rosalina. I’d never heard that variation before, and I admit — I liked it. Some of my other favorites are Rosa, Rosalie (despite the Twilight connotation), and Roisin (with an accent over the ‘o’ and the second ‘i’ — I don’t know how to do that here — can anyone tell me?), which is my very favorite — it’s the diminutive of the Irish for Rose, Rois (accent over ‘o’). I also love Rosey/Rosie — one of the sweetest nicknames in my opinion.

What are your favorite Rose names? Do you have examples in your own life and family when a child was given a name in honor of someone but with a change like those mentioned above?

7 thoughts on “A Rose by any other name

  1. I am scheduled for a c-section on March 17th, and we decided to go with the name Rosary Brigid Marie. It’s making me a little nervous because it’s not common and anyone who isn’t Catholic looks at me like I’ve got three heads. I love the nickname Rosie, and can’t seem to settle on any other formal name, so Rosary it is! The good news, though, is that any Catholic who hears it is thrilled 🙂

    I’m having a hard time with the middle names, though. I’m not entirely sold on Brigid, the first draft was Rosary Therese Marie, but that changed when we learned the baby’s birthday, now we have to do something Irish! We’ve always planned on having our girls’ third middle name to be Marie, but we started off with Miriam Anna Rose (figuring Miriam is enough Mary for one name), so I’m not afraid of finding another Mary name, but flow is a problem. Moira and even Maura seem to make it too much of a mouthful. I’m probably overthinking this!


  2. Theresa! This is gorgeous! And Rosary has a long history of use in other languages — Rosario, for example, is a name used for both men and women in Spanish, and for men exclusively (I think) in Italian. My mom actually has a friend named this, an older Italian man, and he’s always gone by “Soddy” (I assume because the Italian pronunciation is more like ro-SOD-io? With that semi-rolled R?).The behindthename.com entry says about Rosario: “Means “rosary”, and is taken from the Spanish title of the Virgin Mary Nuestra Señora del Rosario meaning “Our Lady of the Rosary”. This name is feminine in Spanish and masculine in Italian.” So I’m totally on board with Rosary, nice job! And Rosie totally makes it not a big deal — friendly, “normal,” accessible nicknames can make just about any formal name okay, in my opinion.

    (I do just want to whisper to you though, since you’ve already decided on Rosary and all, that Roisin is one of my favorite favorite Rose names, and it’s sooo Irish!!! It’s a diminutive of the Irish Rois (Rose), and could totally take the nickname Rosie! Roisin Therese Marie? Mmmmmm!)

    Also, the Rose names are considered Marian, and I totally would consider Rosary to be so too — does that help with your flow problem? You don’t need to use Marie (unless you want to of course) because Our Lady is already honored. If you still want an M Mary name there, I agree Moira and Maura don’t flow well, because I think the rhythm of Marie is what works — two syllables, with the emphasis on the second. So Maureen would flow quite well I think (or the Irish spelling Mairin, accents over both i’s).

    Brigid is gorgeous too, and so is Miriam Anna Rose, oh my! So beautiful! I would love to think about this more and offer you some more suggestions for middle names if you’re interested … Irish names are a particular favorite of mine, as my roots in Ireland are deep and beloved. Email me if you’re interested! sanctanomina@gmail.com.


  3. I love Rose names! They are just beautiful. My favourite is Rosalia – a variant of Rosalie. Not sure of its pronunciation but I would pronounce it like it’s two separate names; Rosa Leah. I believe there is a connection with Palermo, in Italy. Maybe a saint by this name or the use of roses in another festival. Some other Rose names:


    I also love Mary Rose and Lily Rose as names where the child goes by the two names.

    I’m Irish and on my computer I use the CTRL and Alt buttons to do the fadas (accents). Do you know how Róisín and Róise are pronounced cos they sound even more beautiful than they look?!

    In answer to your last question, my mother and aunt used different versions of family names when naming their children.
    My mother’s name is Margaret and my middle name is Mairéad, which is Irish for Margaret. If I was going to use the name I would go with Margarita – love it!

    My sister’s middle name is Marie, after both of our grandmother’s who were called Mary.

    One of my father’s names is Edward and my brother’s middle name is Eamon – Irish for the same.

    And one of my cousins is called Sinead after our grandmother who was called Mary Jane.


    • Carrie, I’m so glad you commented! I didn’t know how to do the fadas, but I don’t think the CTRL and Alt buttons do it on my keyboard — at least, I just tried it and nothing happened! Roisin is ROW-sheen right? But I don’t know Roise — how is it said? I love love Mairead — one of my best friends named her daughter that. Eamon too, one of my favorites! And Sinead is my sister’s very favorite name for a future daughter. 🙂

      You’re right about the pronunciation of Rosalia — like Rosa Leah — and she was born in Palermo and is the patron saint of Sicily. Beautiful story, beautiful name!


  4. My second daughter is named Rosalie Anna. I knew I wanted a Rose something name and that variation seemed like the best for us. It goes with our Italian last name without adding the extra syllable of Rosalia. We call her Rosie or Rose. Sometimes she demands to be called Rosie Anna (she’s 3 and very demanding.) I also really like Rosamund with the right surname.

    I’m really enjoying your blog, and I’m having a great time exploring and looking for ideas for our fourth girl arriving in Aug. Thanks for sharing your passion.


    • Hi Lauren! Rosalie Anna and Rosie Anna are both beautiful! Congrats on #4 girl, so wonderful! If you find yourself stuck in your naming process, I’d love to weigh in 😉 Though with a Rosalie Anna, it seems you have good naming well in hand!


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