Baby name consultant: Baby SHAN-ick, if a girl

The SHAN-ick Family has a little boy, Dominic Paul, and is expecting baby #2, due February 19. They’ve decided on a boy’s name — similar feel and style to Dominic Paul, with your basic Catholic first and middle names, nothing crazy (like Athanasius) — but girl’s names are giving them a hard time. Mom says:

While I’d like at least part of the name to have a saint/Catholic meaning, I’m not obsessed with having both be saints names … my husband would really like a Marian name if it’s a girl. He was into simply “Mary” but I couldn’t get into that … We are sort of toying with a form of Rose: maybe Rosemary … We both love St. Therese of Lisieux but I think the French pronunciation will be too complicated. It stands out as a favorite for middle name. We don’t like Theresa … Lindsey was also a finalist for no particular reason … I have a problem with super popular names: Lucy is nice but I know four. My husband likes Gianna (because of the pro-life connection and because he’s a doctor) but we know SO many Giannas. Maybe I just need to let that go. Gianna may end up a middle name.”

(I like to generally shoot for three suggestions, if I can [as I did for Simcha], and I was able to do so here.)

Okay, as I understand it, it seems that for first names the three contenders/ideas you mentioned are (1) a non-Rose Marian name, (2) a Rose name, and (3) Lindsey. Middle name options are Therese and Gianna. Do I have that right?

I went to both Nymbler and Name MatchMaker and entered Dominic, John, Rosemary, and Lindsey as inspirations, and between their results and the general feel I got from your email I have the following thoughts as a sister to Dominic Paul:

(1) Marisa/Marissa or Molly
There are so many gorgeous Marian options, I wasn’t able to pick just one, but these two particular ones seemed to jump out. Behind the Name says Marissa is a variant of Marisa, and Marisa is an Italian/Spanish/Portuguese combination of Maria and Luisa; Namipedia says it’s a modern elaboration of Maria. Its peak of popularity was the 1990s, which is the feel I get from Lindsey (it peaked in the 80’s, but I think Marisa/Marissa and Lindsey share a general “throwback” kind of feel). A friend of mine recently named her daughter Marissa, for Our Lady, which I found a pleasant surprise. I quite like Marisa/Marissa Therese or even Marisa/Marissa Rose.

Molly too seemed like it might suit. I’m related to two — one born in 1979 and the other in 1984 — which is why I think it has that same “throwback” feel to me as Lindsey and Marisa/Marissa — but Name Voyager shows it’s been pretty popular from the 1980’s on, enjoying two pretty comparable peaks in the 1990s and 2010 (by “peak” I mean #84 in 2010 and #94 in the 90’s, so never super popular). It’s a diminutive of Mary, which makes it Marian, and it has definitely become its own name, but it could also work as a nickname for Mary (I know a Mary who goes by Molly). Molly Therese, Molly Gianna, Molly Rose, Molly Rosemary (or replace Molly with Mary on the birth certificate and still call her Molly) all strike me as lovely.

(2) Felicity

You don’t want a “popular” name like Lucy and Gianna, and the kinds of families that have Lucy’s and Gianna’s are the kind that like Felicity as well, so maybe it’s too popular in your circles, but I just love it. It totally fits with Dominic in my opinion, and goes great with your middle name options.

(3) Sydney or Sidony/Sidonie
I found Lindsey to be quite the wild card — not a saint’s name, and with a different feel to me than the other names you mentioned. But it made me think of Sydney right away, which I’d always understood was derived from “St. Denis.” I set out to verify that, and my most trustworthy name-meaning site, Behind the Name, only said it was derived from Sidney, which was an English surname. I checked it out in a couple of my name books, and found the most delightful little nugget:

[As a male name] The name appears regularly in Latin as de Sancto Dionisio, etc., and there can be little doubt that it is a reduction of St. Denis … [As a female name] this is not uncommon as a woman’s name in Ireland, and is probably a survival of Sidony

So then I looked up Sidony and it said,

this name was formerly used by Roman Catholics for girls born about the date of the Feast of the Winding Sheet (i.e., of Christ), more formally alluded to as ‘the Sacred Sendon’. Sendon or Sindon (from Latinsindon … ‘fine cloth’, ‘linen’) was used in Middle English for a fine cloth, especially one used as a shroud. The SacredSendon is supposed to be preserved at Turn … Sidonie is not uncommon in France, and the Irish Sidney is probably reallySidony.” (pp. 268-269, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names by E.G. Withycombe, 1977).

Now, come on. How cool! I’d never really heard of Sidony; I’d certainly never heard of its relationship to Sydney; and a name that refers to the Shroud of Turin?? But wait! That’s not the end! I looked up the Feast of the Winding Sheet and the Wikipedia entry said that it’s celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday … which is just two days before this baby is due!

So Sydney/Sidony has jumped onto my favorites list. I think either one goes really well with your middle name options, and though you said you don’t need both names to be saintly, I’m just loving this previously unknown (to me) super Catholic connection.

A P.S. about your Rose names: I really like Rosemary — it’s sweet and vintage-y, certainly Marian, and with cute nickname options (Rosie, Romy). I had a friend long ago named Rosemarie, which I like too. I also like just plain Rose, and Rosa, and Rosalie. Rosemary Therese and Rosemary Gianna both have a nice flow; I actually think Therese and Gianna go well with Rosa and Rosalie as well. I’d love to know what other Rose names you might be considering!

What about you readers? Do you think my suggestions are spot-on are totally crazy? Do any of you have any girl name suggestions for this little baby?