Namers extraordinaire: Hanson brothers

Like with the Royal baby post, this one veers a little outside of my main topic of Catholic baby naming into non-Catholic celebrity babydom. But the Hanson brothers, of MMMBop fame, and their wives have done, in my opinion, an extraordinary job naming their children.

Oldest brother Isaac and his wife Nikki have: Clark Everett (called Everett), James Monroe (Monroe), and Nina Odette (no word on whether she’s called Nina or Odette)

Middle brother Taylor and his wife Natalie have: Jordan Ezra (Ezra), Penelope Anne (Penny), River Samuel (River), Viggo Moriah (Viggo), and Wilhelmina Jane (Willa). (Mom Natalie is a name nut like us, and has blogged about the naming of her children here [first four] and here [number five].)

Youngest brother Zac and his wife Kate have: Ira Shepherd (Shepherd), Junia Rosa Ruth (Junia), and George Abraham Walker (Abraham).

There are so many things I love about their naming style. I love that they have a whole-family tradition of going by middle names — a really nice way for cousins to feel connected. I love that their collective taste is a little funky, with an often Christian spin, as seen with Biblical names James, Jordan, Ezra, Samuel, Moriah, Junia, Ruth, and Abraham. Junia is one of my favorites of their choices, and I love it followed by Rosa Ruth. I also love their adventurousness, as they seem to just choose names they want to choose.

What do you think of the Hansons’ names? Do you have examples of families whose naming you admire?

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Spotlight on: Cornelius

Today is the feast of Pope St. Cornelius, so what better name to spotlight than his?

Cornelius. Not a common name. I’m not quite sure what to think about it. On the one hand, it’s a Pope’s name, and a pope who became a saint (he combated heresy and an anti-pope and died a martyr). It’s also an old Roman family name, and has become one of those pan-European names, with a variant in nearly every European language. Some of them are quite cool, like Cai/Kai/Caj/Kaj (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish), and there are some interesting diminutives too, like Cees/Kees (Dutch). I knew a man whose first name was Cornelius, but he always went by Neil, which is also a possibility. And I just discovered that Connie Mack‘s given name was Cornelius McGillicuddy, Sr. That is really cool. (I cannot recommend strongly enough to always always read the comments for each entry on Behind the Name — there is so much great real-world information there.)

On the other hand, though, Corny is a pretty natural nickname. Corny just doesn’t work these days. Right? I think kids still say it: “You’re so corny,” “That’s so corny.” Which is a bad thing. Or at least not a good thing. Right? Additionally, Corny always makes me think of Cornflake S. Pecially, which shouldn’t be a bad association (Mr. Rogers!) but isn’t a good one, in my opinion, for a baby. And as cool as the Connie Mack connection is, Connie just doesn’t seem doable for a boy these days (see also: Carroll, Meredith, Courtney …). Really, for me, I can’t see being able to warm up to Cornelius.

Which is really unfortunate, because I do love its historical and religious pedigree and international flavor. It’s got all the elements I look for in a boy’s name, but sometimes … that’s just not enough. (Alexander is another name that I feel similarly about — it hits all the right notes except the one that makes me like it. A post for another day.) If you love Pope St. Cornelius, or have a Cornelius in the family you’d like to honor, I could see it being a smashing middle name. Or, consider the female variant Cornelia, with its own history (the name of a woman considered to be the “ideal Roman woman”) and many sweet nicknames (Corrie, Lia, and my favorite: Nell).

Do you know anyone named Cornelius? Does he like his name? Does he have a nickname?

Baby on the way: Prince or Princess, and Predictions

Will and Kate are having another baby. The internet is already atwitter with predictions for names, like last time:

Royal Baby’s Name and Sex: Bookmakers Taking Bets

Royal Baby No. 2: The Internet Reacts with Jokes, Excitement and Plenty of Baby Names

The Royal Name Game: 10 Potential Names on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s List

What Should Prince William and Kate Middleton Name The Second Royal Baby? POLL

Kate Middleton’s Baby Name Predictions From the Expert Who Picked ‘George’

But, like last time, I just can’t get too into it. Royal baby naming is so different than regular baby naming, don’t you think? I mean, it seems that they only choose from a certain pool of names, which I’m not interested enough in to even figure out what that pool is. (So says the mom who won’t stray outside of Catholic saints when naming her children. But our pool is so large!) And they string so many names together, what with the four or five middle names (or, I guess, just two, as in the case of Prince George), all of which are meaningful to them, I know, but I don’t even really know what the criteria is that they use. It certainly doesn’t seem to be flow, at least to my ear (though I think Kate and Will did really well with the flow of George’s name). And again — I’m just not interested enough to figure out what formula, if any, they all use.

But, if I had to guess, I might think of these names (first names only) as befitting a brother or sister for Prince George Alexander Louis:

Charles, Francis, Philip

Elizabeth, Caroline or Charlotte, Jane

I personally always look to family names as one of my first places of inspiration, hence Charles (Will’s dad), Francis (Kate’s dad’s middle name), Elizabeth (Kate’s middle name, her mom’s middle name, and Will’s grandmother’s name), and Caroline/Charlotte (feminine form of Charles; Carole is also Kate’s mom’s first name, and Charlotte is her sister Pippa’s middle name). I also like my sib sets to go together, to feel similar in style, hence Philip (chosen at first because I know a little George who has a brother Philip, and then I realized it’s also a family name for Will — it’s his grandfather’s name, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip — and a family name for Kate — her sister Philippa/Pippa), and Jane (Jane Seymour, not the greatest association, but it’s British and royal, and I like it with George). I think Francis might be the outlier here — it doesn’t strike me as a royal British name — but I’m keeping it on there anyway.

For middles, I would look again to family — any of those I mentioned above would make good candidates, as would Diana (in fact, I’d be shocked if they didn’t use some part of Diana’s name somewhere for a little girl), Spencer (Diana’s maiden name), Michael (Kate’s dad’s first name). It was mentioned that the Scottish would be happy with George’s middle name of Alexander; perhaps Margaret would make a good contender for a middle for a girl for the same reason? (It’s “still considered the Scottish national name.”)

So. If it were me naming the sibling of big brother George Alexander Louis, I’d choose:

Philip Spencer Francis

Caroline Diana Margaret

I didn’t read any of the articles I cited above before making my picks, and now that I’m perusing them … I see Philip, Caroline, Diana, Elizabeth, Charles, Charlotte from my lists; others mentioned include James and Victoria. Ok, I didn’t do too badly picking names that a royal might choose! The only picks of mine that I don’t see mentioned are Spencer, Margaret, Francis, and Jane.

And I’ll also throw out a gender prediction: I’m guessing boy, since Kate is sick like last time (prayers for her! Hyperemesis gravidarum sounds like the very Pit of Despair), and all my pregnancies have been more or less the same in regards to level of sickness, and I’ve only had boys. Very scientific assessment, I know. Be sure to check back when the baby’s born to see how I did!

(Guest) spotlight on: Mercedes

I have a special fondness for Marian names, and Mercedes is one of my favorites. How many times have I wished that it wasn’t also a car brand! I loved hearing it in the movie The Count of Monte Cristo (the one with Jim Caviezel), and in high school it was given to one of my best friends as her Spanish name to be used in Spanish class.

Laura Wattenberg (the Baby Name Wizard) just blogged today about Mercedes and how such a devout Catholic name became a car brand. It was pretty fascinating — as she put it, “the emblem of German engineering [is possibly] a product of French literature, with Spanish Catholic origins, via an Austrian Jew. Nobody said names were simple.”

Spotlight on: Thais(a)

Do you know the song “Meditation on Thaïs“? I’ve always loved it, it’s from an opera by Jules Massenet about a courtesan who repented and turned to holiness (based on a novel by Anatole France). Only today did I discover that she’s revered as a saint (though the details of her storyincluding whether or not it’s even true — are debated).

Thais, properly pronounced tie-EES though understandably sometimes said THAY-iss or TAY-iss, is, for me, one of those names that makes my mouth water — it’s gorgeous, interesting, and unusual, both to see and to hear; it also feels somewhat familiar, being similar in spelling and sound to Theresa/Therese and Tess(a). I also came upon the variant Thaisa, which I think I love even more — it’s a Latinate variant of Thais, and is the name of a character in the Shakespeare play Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

What do you think of Thais(a)? Does Thais’ connection to a probably untrue story represent a stumbling block to you? Does its connection to an opera, a novel, and a Shakespeare play add or detract to the name? Do you know anyone named either Thais or Thaisa, and if so — how does she pronounce it? Does she like it? Why did her parents choose that name?