Spotlight on: Bosco

Today’s the feast of St. John Bosco, who is a special saint for our house full of boys. John is certainly a fine namesake for him, or the full John Bosco, but there was a Brother Bosco at our parish for a while, which really made me consider the name Bosco on its own.

Bosco. It seems to have some use as a first name among the laity — anyone remember Mr. T’s character’s name on the A-Team? (Answer: Sergeant B.A. Baracus — the B.A. was for Bosco Albert. This is new to me — I never watched the A-Team — I like Bosco Albert a lot! I guess he told people B.A. was for Bad Attitude? And his childhood nickname was Scooter. All super cute, I could totally see a precocious little guy owning all those names.)

But the scarcity of info on the name in my sources says to me its use is not widespread nor its origin well known (or maybe its origin for other people isn’t the saint). I could see Boz or Boss being really cute nicknames for it, and it seems a natural brother for a Fulton or a Kolbe.

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


Reading round-up

Some fun namey articles from around the webz:

First off, despite allllll the suggestions, Simcha and her husband have still not decided on a name for their baby girl! Lots of good ideas to read on all the places: her blog, the baby shower post, and right here on Sancta Nomina (the comments are where it’s at; I’m still getting suggestions in the comments on my post, so great!). You’ll see that I added two new suggestions: Pearl Emmanuelle and Martha Frances.

Did you know actress Julianne Moore’s name isn’t really Julianne Moore? I enjoyed reading about why and how she chose a new professional name: Julianne Moore’s real name isn’t Julianne Moore (I was pleasantly surprised by the reason behind her choice.)

And these three unvouched-for tidbits (I haven’t read them yet, but I’ve seen them referred to a couple places):

The Secrets of Street Names and Home Values

Parents banned from naming their kid ‘Nutella’ and the related French parents attempt to name their baby Nutella. Judge rules “Non.”

Happy reading!

Feminine first name, masculine middle

Let’s sidetrack for one moment and talk about the O’Hara sisters:

Katie Scarlett, called Scarlett

Susan Elinor, called Suellen

Caroline Irene, called Carreen

Oh my. Margaret Mitchell did an amazing job.

This post was inspired by Gone With the Wind’s well-named main character (I think Scarlett O’Hara is one of the best character names ever), but it’s not about her, and not even about a character created by Margaret Mitchell, but about a character created by Alexandra Ripley, who (as I understand it) had been commissioned by Margaret Mitchell’s estate to write a sequel to GWTW. Though her effort, Scarlett, wasn’t nearly as good as GWTW, I loved reading an end to Scarlett and Rhett’s story (ooh how I hated the way GWTW ended), and one of the fabulous details she imagined was another child, Scarlett and Rhett’s, a little girl, whom Scarlett named Katie Colum (after her cousin, an Irish priest named Colum, to whom she had grown close) (she was nicknamed Cat).

I just swooned over Katie Colum! I thought it was so clever, a feminine first name with a masculine middle. I was thinking about it this morning, because I know a little girl named Annie Ryan — that’s her given name, first and middle — and it totally works. It’s so charming! Ryan is a family last name for her, so she doesn’t technically have a boy’s name for a middle, even though of course Ryan is a boy’s first name.

I tried to think of other combinations that could have a similar feel as Katie Colum and Annie Ryan — names that are clearly girly even though the middle is masculine. What I came to was, the first name seems to need to be kind of *really* girly, not just feminine — not Katherine but Katie. Not Anne but Annie. And the middle name can’t be just any masculine name, I don’t think. I thought Gracie James could work. Maybe Rosie Ray. And I’ve long thought that starting with Mary makes any name do-able for a girl, but does it? Could a girl really pull off Mary Maverick? Or Mary Thomas? Actually Mary Charles sounds kind of intriguing, but even then I’d likely want to find an everyday nickname like maybe Macy, and not call her Mary Charles all the time. Certainly this brings to mind the religious names — Sr. Mary Edward or even Sr. Charles Francis — but that’s different than giving the name to a baby girl and intending to use the whole name as the everyday name. (I also know a little Elinor James, but she goes by Elinor/Ellie, so not exactly what I mean.)

I think this might be more common in the South? Where there’s a feminine first name but a masculine or lastname middle? But then I think the tradition is to go by the middle name all the time? Like Jane Prentiss who goes by Prentiss? Do any of you know any girls or women with names like this? Or can you think of other possibilities like Katie Colum and Annie Ryan?

Baby name consultant: Baby #4, a girl

Mama Jessie, who’s due in less than three weeks!, wrote asking for help with naming her little girl. She and her husband already have Noah, Owen, and Eleanor (nicknamed Ella), and in considering names for the new little one, she wrote, “We both would like a saint name somewhere in there but aren’t particular about whether it is first or second … My one firm rule is that if the first name is over 2 syllables, I have to have a way to nickname it down to 2 or less … Names we both love that we have considered are Gianna, and Philomena. We are struggling with both though bc we don’t have a nickname for either that we like (Gia, Anna, Lola, Fila, Minnie and mena are all no gos) Plus we aren’t even sure Philomena is a saint since apparently there was some change in the 1960s and we have been told yes and no by different sources. My husband loves Terese. I can’t nickname it and worry about mispronunciation. My absolute favs are Lucy and Magdalena, both which my husband likes but he would want Lucy to be a nickname and has ruled out Luciana and Lucia , or he needs a nickname for Magdalena that is not Maggie or Lena. We both really like Grace for a middle name but aren’t set on it. I’d love something that matches the feel of both Eleanor/Ella like my first little girl but by the time I weigh everything else, I can hardly think about that too.”

First off, I too love nicknames — having one is pretty much a rule for me — so I enjoyed trying to think of some for Gianna and Philomena. For Gianna, besides the Gia and Anna that Jessie said they couldn’t use, I thought of Gina and Nina (which I particularly like), and I also know a little Gianna who goes by Gigi. For Philomena, I loved all the nicknames they’d already considered and discarded — nice job Mom and Dad! — and I contributed Pia, Pippa, Pina, Fina, Finn or Finna, and Pim to the list. Regarding Philomena as a saint, I’d never heard anything about her not being one until Jessie’s email! I looked it up — she’s in all my saints’ names books, but this article says differently (and quite convincingly): Why is Philomena No Longer Considered a Saint? Its use is certainly a mark of a super-Catholic family, and even the article I linked to above said, “In fact, this may actually not be the name of the person in the tomb at all, for the Greco-Latin roots of the word simply mean ‘lover of the light,’ and thus the tomb-inscription may have been intended as a description of the deceased person rather than her personal name.” So if one wanted to use it in that way — because of its meaning, and that meaning’s connection to God and His Truth — that would be quite valid, in my opinion, and quite faith-filled. It would definitely make an interesting story for a little girl named Philomena!

But I try to give three suggestions when considering a name dilemma, and I decided not to include Gianna or Philomena in my final three. Rather, my first is:

(1) Louisa

Louisa is inspired by Jessie’s love of Lucy and her husband’s desire for Lucy to be a nickname for a more formal name. He doesn’t like Lucia or Luciana, so I’ll throw out there that Lucinda and Lucille are also common Luc- names. But I’ve long thought Lucy would be a natural nickname for Louisa, and I love Louisa. It totally has the same feel to me as Eleanor — in fact, Eleanor is included in the list of similar girl names to Louisa in the Baby Name Wizard book (which I consider to be basically the most expert of all name books), which is just like striking gold to me, because Jessie had said, “I’d love something that matches the feel of both Eleanor/Ella like my first little girl but by the time I weigh everything else, I can hardly think about that too.” And with either St. Louis de Montfort of Bl. Louisa Therese (!) de Montaignac de Chauvance (who I knew nothing about until I looked up Louisa in one of my books! She was beatified by JP2, which is very cool) as a patron saint, Louisa nn Lucy, to me, satisfies everything Jessie seemed to want in a name. I love Louisa Grace, as they like Grace as a middle name, or Louisa Therese like Bl. Louisa.

Despite a name’s seeming perfection on paper, though, sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick. So my second suggestion is:

(2) Magdalena

Jessie described Magdalena as her other favorite along with Lucy, but said her hubby doesn’t care for Maggie or Lena. Well. If all that’s standing in the way of them using this gorgeous name is the right nickname, I think I got them covered. What about: Magda, Meg, Molly or Dolly, Madge, Mandy, Mae/May, or Maddy? Magdalena Grace is so pretty, and as a special bonus, Molly is listed as a name with similar feel as Noah in the Baby Name Wizard book! I really think Magdalena nn Molly could work, I love how Molly bridges the style between Magdalena and Noah, Molly totally feels like it could fit with Eleanor/Ella to me, and it’s Irish like Owen! Woo!

(3) Terese

My final suggestion is Terese. I do love this name. I’d never seen it spelled that way before (I was only familiar with Therese), but I looked it up and apparently it’s the Basque and Scandinavian form of Teresa, according to my trusty source — I like it! The two pronunciations I’m familiar with, and I believe they’re both valid, are teh-REHZ and teh-REESE. One of my very favorite nicknames in the whole world is Tess, which is a traditional nn for the Theresa names; I’ve also seen Reese used as a nn when the teh-REESE pronunciation is used. (As an aside, I once heard of twin sisters Aurora and Therese that were nicknamed Rory and Reese. So cute!) I don’t mind Reese — it’s fun and spunky — but I adore Tess (it’s quite high on our own girl list). If neither Tess or Reese suits though, Tea, Tracy, Tessa, and Tressa are all nickname for the Theresa names (Tea and Tessa/Tressa probably more so for Theresa itself rather than T(h)erese, but I personally see no reason you couldn’t use them if you wanted to for Terese). My personal preference would be for a different middle than Grace with Terese, just for flow — I quite like Terese Magdalena.

So that’s what I got! What do you all think? Do you have any other idea or suggestions for Jessie and her husband?

Alumni directory sib sets

Being the name nut I am, I love poring through anything that might have lists of real-life sibling sets, like alumni magazines or, as in the case tonight, high school alumni directories. Three hundred pages of tiny-typed info about every alumnus/a who has responded, including their children’s names. Some fun sets I read tonight (alternate characters used to protect privacy):

Er!ca, Grant, Gr3tchen, and Gabr!el (I wonder if Er!ca feels left out?)

Jam3s, Jan3, and J0hn (really? Beautiful names all, but that’s really a bit much in one family. Not only all J’s, which I don’t mind so much, but all the matching sounds and length!)

Ann, Lucy, and Charl!e (lovely)

K3ndra, Bryn, and Marl0we (I kinda like it)

G!anna and D0minic (they could totally fit in here on the blog)

Tell me I’m not the only one who does this? Have you come across any fun sib sets in any alumni publications?

Spotlight on: Juniper

Taylor asked for a spotlight on Juniper, and in light of Pope Francis’ recent announcement that he’ll canonize Bl. Junipero Serra when he visits later this year, I’m delighted to do so.

Junipero is all male to me, because of Serra, but Juniper is only feminine to my ear; it’s listed as a girl name at Behind the Name, but its entry at Namipedia is a bit more gender neutral. I’m a big fan of boy names for boys, meaning unambiguously male names (except for something really obvious like Mary as a middle name), so I think I’d have a hard time with Juniper for a boy. If anything can change that though, a new saint could!

For a girl though, I’ve seen it talked about a time or two, like when Swistle discussed it and a few times on Baby Name Wizard (here, here, here, here …), and it’s really grown on me. The nicknames are just the sweetest — Junie? Come on. It could not be any cuter. Juno’s another option, and of course just June. Up until now I’ve thought of Juniper as kind of a hippie name, but from here on out I’m going to be thinking all saint, which is so great.

What do you think of Juniper? Do you know anyone named Juniper? Does he or she go by a nickname? Would you consider using Juniper for a boy?

Mash-up names

I was reading last night a tiny bit about Bl. John Piamarta, who I’d never heard of before. I was immediately drawn to his last name, Piamarta, as I assumed that it was a mash-up of Pia (the feminine of Pius, Latin for “pious”) and Marta (a form of Martha). I don’t know if it is, but even if that’s not the origin of Bl. John’s last name, one could decide to make such a combo a first name for a girl, and what a pretty name it would be. (I’ve always loved the idea of Pia, but I think it take some thick skin for a child to have that name today, because of what else it sounds like. Adding it onto another name is a nice way to get around that though, I think.)

Bl. John Piamarta made me think of other mash-up names I’ve heard. The first that came to mind was Maristela, which I had not heard of until someone suggested it for Simcha. I of course was familiar with Stella, and Stella Maris, but what a lovely way to reconfigure the name with Maristela! (Or Maristella.)

I’ve also always loved the name Maite, which is a contraction of Maria Teresa. Gorgeous on its own, or as a nickname for Maria Teresa. Maricruz was a character on the TV show Prison Break.

I had a hard time finding a listing of more like that. A search for “contraction baby names,” which is how Maite was described (a contraction of Maria and Teresa) gave me info on labor contractions. Try again! A search for “mash-up names” resulted in an article about Bettylou and Maryjane-type names — but I didn’t mean two separate names connected with no change (which, yes, is what Piamarta is, but still). I tried “compound names” and came up with a really fun article about contracting a longer name down to a shorter, like Anastasia–>Asia, which is really fun for nicknames and a technique I myself have suggested, but it’s not two names contracted together.

It would be fun to make some up, like … John Paul–>Jopa. Okay, maybe not. Maristella and Maricruz sound so reverent to me, probably because the elements aren’t so hidden, so it’s easy to see what names they came from. So then maybe I’m being crazy, because we have so many beautiful names like that already.

What mash-up/combo names are you familiar with? What are your favorites?

Baby name consultant: baby #8, a boy

Sarah and David are expecting their eighth baby, a little boy. Sarah describes them as “your typical Catholic family and like traditional (preferably French or Irish) names.” They have seven children already, named:

Zoe Olivia

Brady Patrick

Michael Joseph

Katherine Mary-Claire

Margaret Rose

George Thomas

Matthew David

They have some names they’re considering, but they don’t want to share them as they really want a fresh perspective. In trying to come up with suggestions, I was struck by what seems to be a difference in style between Zoe’s and Brady’s first names and the names of the rest of the kids. So I relied heavily on the style of Zoe and Brady when musing on names for #8, while also keeping in mind that their younger children have very traditional names.

I used both Nymbler and Name MatchMaker for ideas, and I usually shoot for three suggestions, as I’ve done for others. So my ideas for this little baby are:

(1) Henry

It was the first name that came to my mind, even before checking out the name matching sites, and it was one of the first names they suggested. Brady, Michael, George, Matthew, and Henry sound like a great set of brothers, and I love it with the girls’ names as well.

(2) Myles

As soon as I saw Myles I thought it was a great fit. I think it’s a little more offbeat than Michael, George, and Matthew, which makes me think it’s a great bridge between their names and Brady’s. It does make for a lot of M’s, but with so many kids I don’t think that matters much, and besides — one of my favorite things about Myles is that it can be considered a Marian name! One of my name books, Oxford Dictionary of First Names, says that Maolra is a “[m]odern spelling, common particularly in the west of Ireland, of earlier Maoil-Mhuire ‘devotee of Mary.’ It has been anglicized as Myles.” It’s Irish, it’s Marian, it seems more stylistically consistent with Brady than your other boys’ names, I love this idea! (Do note though that the spelling of Miles is unrelated.)

(3) William

I love William for you. Its traditional-ness is a great style match for your younger boys, and its current popularity, as well as both nicknames Will and Liam (though I know Liam can stand on its own), seem well suited as Brady’s brother. I wouldn’t mind if you chose just Liam as the first name, but William seems just that much more a better match in my opinion.

Oliver was a heavy contender for me until I remembered that Zoe’s middle name is Olivia, and Charles and Jude also struck me as possibles, but in the end I settled on Henry, Myles, and William. If I had to choose a middle name, not knowing anything about how you choose them (family names?), I’d guess Francis.

What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Sarah and David’s baby boy?