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?

11 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Baby #4, a girl

  1. Okay, whenever we have another, I want to write in. :). These are fantastic suggestions. Terese nn Tess (or Tessa) is a long-time favorite of mine, and I immediately thought “USE IT!” when I read it was already on the list. That said, Magdalena/Molly = adorable! A great way to give a girl a sweet nickname with a beautiful, strong longer formal name. Lastly, Louisa did not even come to mind initially, but oh my goodness, it does indeed seem perfect!!


  2. All of the suggestions above are really great. I suspect my taste is very similar to Mama Jessie’s, because I also used the name Eleanor for one of my daughters. My other favorites (some of which I’ve used for first and middle names) include Cecilia, Felicity, Adelaide, Camilla (St. Camilla Varano is pretty recently canonized), Genevieve, Anastasia, and Margaret. Nicknames for each would be CeCe, Felice, Addie, Cam, Genny, Stacy, and Meg, respectively.


    • I have a Felicity and, though I love nicknames, I love her name so much that I don’t want anyone to use nicknames lol. But my parents call her Lissy so that’s another option.


  3. J.M.J.

    Okay girls…it’s old Irish Nannie enjoying this name profundity! You are all so fun to read! You all have been responsible for an old Matriarch seeing such beauty and mystery unfold from names I have heard of and those that never really entered my mind! That being said, I think Noah, Owen, and Eleanor have grand names!
    Louisa, Magdalena, and Terese sound like names that really have the same kind of feel…fine and lovely as Eleanor sounds, yet strong and substantial as Noah and Owen sound. And, it’s a bonus that the wonderful name of Grace as a middle name sounds somewhat “perfect” for all three names!
    All the options for nicknames were so fun to think about. There was also a fun Irish fact that came to me when I was reading the possibilities for nicknames for the name Terese. It had to do with the nickname Tea.
    There is a story that the Hill of Tara was named for a Tea. She has also been referred to as “Tephi.” Anyhow, Tea lived in ancient times and she picked where she would like to be buried. So, she chose the place we now know as the Hill of Tara…derived from mur-Tea or Tea-mur…meaning mound (hill) of Tea. I believe the spelling somehow became something like Temair and in the Irish would sound to our ears something like Tara…just a fun story. Of course, as was mentioned by sanctanomina, Owen (in Irish spelled Eoghan) is also a wonderful Irish name, and, the old Irish annals bring Ireland’s history right back to Noah’s family!
    However, I will be humbled and say that Mama Jessie did not seem to indicate that Irish connections were in top consideration. I just couldn’t resist the opportunity for an Irish story.
    Can’t wait to find out what Sweet Baby Girl is named! I pray, Jessie, your delivery is well and peaceful, and that you and Baby have good health! God bless you and your Family…and all who read or write at this most respectful and substantial blog site. (Did I say that right?) Thank you and thank you, sanctanomina!


  4. My aunt was named magdalena! None of her siblings could pronounce it so everyone ended up calling her Nena. I’ve always loved her nickname!


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