Names for miscarried babies

Mandi over at A Blog About Miscarriage posted today about the names she and her husband gave the four babies they lost to miscarriage. They chose to use gender neutral names, as they don’t know if their little ones are boys or girls. She told me, “When we were trying to name the babies we lost, I tried googling “gender neutral Catholic names” and “gender neutral Saint names” and didn’t come up with much,” so she also listed a bunch of the gender neutral names she thought of, in case it’s helpful for other parents like her “who don’t like naming a baby a gender specific name without knowing the gender for sure,” and she wondered if I had any further ideas?

It was hard to come up with more! Mandi listed so many great ones already … the only ones I could come up with off the top of my head without spending three days poring through name books/sites were:

Mary/Marie/Maria — of course these are girls’ names, but men such as St. Clement Maria Hofbauer and St. Anthony Mary Claret used them as well.

Angel — I once knew a girl named Angel, and the main male character in Tess of the d’Urbervilles is Angel Clare (what a beautiful combo itself!)

Clair — speaking of Clare, Clair (that spelling) is actually the male form of Clare. It also makes me think of Sinclair, which is a male name that literally means “St. Clair” — to me, then, Clair and Sinclair could be used for either boys or girls.

Sidney/Sydney — Sinclair makes me think of Sidney, which could refer either to St. Denis or the “Holy Winding Sheet of Christ” (Shroud of Turin).

Rosario — means “Rosary” and is feminine in Spanish and masculine in Italian

Guadalupe — from Our Lady of Guadalupe, and is used for both boys and girls

Sam — this could work nicely for a boy or a girl

Nicola — it’s masculine in Italian but feminine in German, Czech, and English

Luca — it’s masculine in Italian, Romanian, and German, and feminine in Hungarian and Croatian (and English sometimes too — I know a girl named Luca)

Clairvaux, Vianney, Majella, Liguori — I’ve seen these last names of male saints used for girls

Another option, which is what we did, was to give the baby a first and middle name, and have one name be masculine, and one be feminine.

Do you have any other saintly names that would be suitable for either a boy or a girl? Have you named a miscarried baby, and if so, did you use a gender neutral name?


Name carryover?

Quick question for today: I think this might apply mostly to those who don’t find out the baby’s gender before birth, but if you decide on a boy name and a girl name for your baby-on-the-way, do you carry over the unused name and consider it for the next baby, or do you now cross that name off your list?

For example, if you decided on Adam for a boy and Anna for a girl, and you had a boy, do you consider Anna for a girl the next time you’re expecting, or do you cross Anna permanently off the list? Why or why not?

We carry over the name. We’ve had the same girl name picked out through all of these boys, and if we ever have a girl, it will be her name. But I’ve heard from time to time from other parents who feel like, using the names from the examples above, Anna somehow seems like it *belongs* to Adam — it would have been his name if he were a girl, and now it seems Anna would be inappropriate for any other sibling. I’d love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

Omri and his brothers

I’m reading The Indian in the Cupboard to my three oldest boys, a book I haven’t read since I was little, and I remember very little about it. We’ve only gotten through the first chapter and of course, what I mostly stayed with me are the names of the three brothers:

Omri — the main character

Adiel and Gillon — his brothers

They’re unfamiliar to me — if I had to hazard a guess, I’d guess a Hebrew origin for Adiel, with the -el ending being so like Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Nathaniel, Samuel. Gillon strikes me as French maybe. Omri I had no clue about, nor how to pronounce it — I was saying AHM-ree in the my head, short O, the O like in hot. I asked my son how he would say it, since he’s read it before, and he said he thought it was OHM-ree, long O, the O like in home.

So of course I had to look the names up. is my #1 go-to source for name meanings and origins, and it had no official entry for the brothers’ names! Only user-submitted entries, which may or may not be accurate:

Adiel is said to be “A Hebrew name meaning ‘ornament of God’ or ‘God is my ornament’. In the Old Testament, Adiel was the father of Azmaveth, who was treasurer under David and Solomon. Another bearer of this name in the Old Testament was a family head of the tribe of Simeon. In Ma’asseh Merkabah, Adiel is an angelic guard of the seventh heavenly hall.”

Gillon is only listed, with no info given.

Omri, however, had its own official entry: “Possibly means “life” or “servant” in Hebrew (or a related Semitic language). This was the name of a 9th-century BC military commander who became king of Israel. He appears in the Old Testament, where he is denounced as being wicked.”

In the comments, which again aren’t officially approved as accurate, the pronunciations OHM-ree and UM-ree are both given.

I’m interested in character-naming, and how authors choose the names they do — because they like them? Because they’re on their list of favorite names for children that they never got to use? Or because of the name’s meaning and connection with the character’s personality/role in the story? I’m kind of baffled by the choices here — they’re too unfamiliar to me to mean anything.

(Also, I admit that the name I really loved the most was Gillon, because of my recent post about Gil/Gilbert Blythe. I say it “GILL-en in my head — does that seem right? I kind of love it.)

Do any of you know any more about Omri, Gillon, and Adiel?

ETA: Given that the biblical Omri was “denounced as being wicked,” isn’t that a strange choice for a boy character? I don’t care as much about name meanings in real life, but for a literary character?

ETA2: My previous comment wasn’t entirely accurate — the biblical Omri “denounced as being wicked” is associated baggage, separate from the meaning. The meaning of “life” or “servant” is nice, and likely does have a tie-in with the book’s story.

Baby name consultant: Baby Girl Johnson

Natalie and Christopher Johnson are expecting their third baby and second girl. Their other children are:

Fiona Emma

Arthur Christopher


Natalie writes,

I’m due with a girl in [early May] and we cannot think of a good name! … Our last name is Johnson, so we like names that are not too popular, but also classic and not ‘made up’. We’ve been seriously considering Alice and Eleanor, but I feel like it’s weird to use two ‘A’ names (Arthur then Alice) and I think Eleanor is nice, but I’m not a huge fan of nicknames and I’m worried too many nicknames would come out … I would like to use a family name for her middle … either Olivia or Eugenie [Natalie’s middle name is Eugenie]. I would love some help!

I love Natalie and Christopher’s taste! Regarding Alice and Eleanor, I can see why another ‘A’ name might seem less than ideal, especially being directly after an A-named sibling, and Eleanor certainly does have a bunch of nicknames, but they’re both really beautiful names — I don’t think they could go wrong with either one. However, I can always come up with suggestions! And though I always shoot to offer three, I came up with four for the Johnsons:

(1) Nora

Thought it can be a nickname for Eleanor, my top suggestion is to consider just Nora. It’s a full name in and of itself. It totally seems well matched to Fiona and Arthur in my opinion. I also love the idea of Nora Eugenie — not only does it flow nicely, and Eugenie’s Natalie’s middle name, but she’d also have Natalie’s initials, which is a sweet connection between Mom and daughter.

(2) Beatrice

You all know by now that I love looking for patterns and connections between already-born kids’ names and the names in consideration in the Baby Name Wizard book, and Beatrice emerged as similar to both Alice and Eleanor. I thought it was a great suggestion for the Johnsons, not only because of its similarity in style to the names they’re considering, but also because, as I recently found out from another of my trusty sources (Behind the Name), its origin/early usage is fairly religious (as Beatrix, which of course Beatrice is a form of): “Probably from Viatrix, a feminine form of the Late Latin name Viator whic meant ‘voyager, traveller’. It was common amongst early Christians, and the spelling was altered by association with Latin beatus ‘blessed.'” I thought that was pretty cool! But I would definitely recommend Olivia over Eugenie as the middle name — Beatrice Eugenie is too Royal Family (Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s girls). (Unless of course Natalie and Christopher like the royal connection — Beatrice Eugenie is quite beautiful together!)

(3) Molly

I know of a little Arthur who has a sister Molly, and I love it with Fiona as well. Molly is Marian too, being originally a nickname for Mary, and its Irish/Celtic feel is so spot on as a sister to Arthur and Fiona in my opinion. I’m loving Molly Olivia!

(4) Other awesome names that seem similar to the Johnson’s style and don’t nickname easily

I came across a bunch of other names, both in my head and my research, that I thought would work well for the Johnsons, so I thought I’d mention them just in case: Iris, Juliet, Clara, Lucy, Aine or Anya, Carys or Charis.

So those are my ideas! What do you all think? Have I hit the right note, or am I totally off? What name(s) would you suggest for the sister of Fiona and Arthur?

I love to do name consultations! If you’d like me to give your name dilemma a go, check out my Baby name consultant tab.

Birth announcement: Olive Faustina Mark!

I make it a point not to post on Sundays, but I have such wonderful wonderful news, it seems most fitting for our day of worship, celebration, and rest!

Last night I asked you to pray for one of our readers who was having a baby right at that time — the baby has been born! Hallelujah!!

Little Olive Faustina Mark was born last night, named for St. Oliver Plunkett, St. Faustina, and St. Mark the Evangelist, on whose feast she was born. What wonderful names! What powerful patrons!

Congratulations to Olive’s whole family!!!

Feminized masculine names, take 2

Okay, I asked my husband about this — turns out he doesn’t like these kinds of names either! I had no idea, since one of his very favorite names is Charlotte. “That’s different,” he said, because it doesn’t *look* like the boy name. Like Josephine looks too much like Joseph. (I don’t know, CHARLes and CHARLotte … that’s a pretty big similarity there, in appearance much more than sound.)

I went through the list of names I’d included in my last post — he said Jane is fine, for example, because it’s so removed from John. Kristin is not his favorite, but not because it originated in a male name (again, because it doesn’t *look* like a boy name). What about Francesca? Francis with a -ca on the end? He also declared that “fine” because “it’s foreign.” Ah.

I suspect those husbands who feel similarly have a similarly shaky argument.

Feminized masculine names?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard about two different husbands who don’t like “girl names that came from boy names.”* Have you heard this? Do you share this opinion?

I guess I could see it if a family made a point of letting everyone know they hoped for a boy, and then when a girl was born and she was a given a feminized masculine name — that might seem a little weird. Like they were so hoping for a boy that they didn’t even have a girl name picked out, like she was a disappointment.

Or, in a family like mine, where there are a whole bunch of boys and no girls, if Little Miss were to show up and be given a feminized masculine name — that might seem a little weird too. Like really? After all those boys named, you can’t come up with a girl name?

But otherwise, I’m just thinking of all the gooorgeous, really beautiful, really feminine names that are missed out on! Like:



Christiana (and all the Christ-/Kris- names)


Michaela and Michelle


Maybe Olivia (it may or may not be derived from Oliver)







Gabrielle and Gabriella

Even the Juli- names come ultimately from Julius (and what’s more stereotypically feminine than Juliet??)

And that’s just the briefest smattering of examples. I’m certainly not begrudging anyone their taste — I mean, your taste is your taste, you can’t make yourself like something you don’t like. But the names that are missed out on! And how overwhelmingly feminine these name are! Some of them downright frilly! Wives of such husbands, you are good women. 😉

*This is different than actual boy names used for girls.

BNW blog

There were a couple of fun topics posted on the Baby Name Wizard blog recently that I thought you’d all be interested in:

Cool Victorian Nicknames Beyond Mollie and Sadie — there are some really cute ones on this list. One of my favorite ideas mentioned is Effie as a nick for Josephine or Stephanie.

Acronames: The Sneaky-Clever Baby Name Alternative — “Acronames”! It refers to nicknames or given names made from, as in the former, the first letters of a person’s full name (eg., John Ellis Bush=Jeb) or, as in the latter, the first initials of several people (eg., a little boy named Jase after his grandparents Jerome, Anita, Stewart, and Eileen). I personally love this kind of thinking. One of the commenters said she knows a little one named Isabelle Verity and goes by the nickname Ivy (from her initials I.V.!) — I love that!! That is some brilliant naming right there.

Countdown to the New Royal Baby Name: Hitting the Bullseye — I have immense respect for Laura (The Baby Name Wizard)’s opinion about names, but I like my ideas better than hers.

Birth announcement: Christopher Jesse!

I’ve had the great blessing in the last few weeks to receive a few panicky last-minute emails, along the lines of, “Help! My baby’s due [in two days/next week, etc.] and we can’t decide on a name!” They’re as fun and stressful as you can imagine — I love love being able to offer some thoughts, and I’m always nervous and hopeful I can get back to the mom with some ideas before the baby’s born!

One such was lovely Allie, whose eighth baby, gender unknown, was to be born the following week via scheduled c-section. Her other kids are named:

Andrew James

Timothy Ryan

Dylan Richard

Kyle Scott

Gabrielle Marie

Caitlyn Rose

Elizabeth Claire

Great names, right?!! Allie and her husband had decided on Caroline Grace for a girl (beautiful!) but were having a hard time coming up with a boy name. They knew for sure they wanted to use the middle name Jesse, after Allie’s dad, who passed away several years ago.

My suggestions for her, based on the style and feel of her other kids’ names, as well as flow with Jesse as the middle name, were: Christopher, Alexander, and Samuel.

Just last night Allie emailed me with the following:

Just wanted to update you on our new arrival and name decision. We were blessed with a beautiful baby boy on Monday. After talking to my husband Scott we both felt drawn to the name Christopher Jesse! We love the strength of the name and you can’t go wrong with a name honoring Christ. (And St Christopher ain’t too bad either. :)) So I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to get back to me. May God bless you and all you do!

How wonderful!!! Congratulations to Mama Allie and her beautiful family, and happy birthday to Christopher Jesse!!


Christopher Jesse