Baby name consultant: Theologian + science/nature?

Janelle and her husband are expecting their fourth child this summer, a boy, and “are in the midst of our perennial argument about the name.” Their other kiddos’ names are:

Elanor Elisabeth
Peter Pascal
Inessa Irene

Janelle writes,

We clearly have a first – middle alliteration thing going on that we would like to keep but in addition to that we also like a solid spiritual meaning and a familiar but not trendy first name with an unusual middle for the boys (reversed for the girls obviously). Bonus for my husband–a theologians name for the boy. Bonus for me–a nature or scientific reference (Elanor: flower from LOTR, Peter: rock, Inessa: genus of skipper butterflies and the coolest version of Agnes ever). We got lucky with being able to have both of these with Peter but I’m realizing that I may have to let mine go this time.”

How great are the science connections with Elanor, Peter, and Inessa?? And I love the middle names paired with each one.

One option they’ve discussed is Andrew Augustine, but they’d still like to consider other ideas. And kind of an add-on thought is that they “initially talked about having #4’s name start with C so that our family would be EPIC (see the completely unplanned acronym from the kid’s names) but then wondered what we would do if we had #5 and neither of us loved the name Christopher which was the only boy name that came to mind starting with C. So we scrapped that idea.”

There’s nothing I love more than a challenging challenge! I did a little research into science/nature names for boys, keeping in mind also that Janelle’s husband likes theologians — I really wanted to find names that would work for both of their preferences, and that have a “solid spiritual meaning and a familiar but not trendy first name with an unusual middle.” I think I did a decent job — I always shoot for three suggestions, but I ended up with four here:

(1) Charles Caspian
I kind of really liked their idea of EPIC initials! So even if they decided it was too much/too stressful to do a C name this time because of the unknown options for a possible fifth baby, I wanted to suggest a combo for it anyway. Charles is for St. John Paul II (birth name Karol=Charles), theologian extraordinaire, and Caspian is both the Caspian Sea and Prince Caspian from Narnia. (If they did decide to have a fifth baby, I thought maybe an S name? So the kids could be “The EPICS”? For baby #6 though, I don’t know!)

(2) George Jasper
I know George and Jasper don’t start with the same letter, but since they have the same sound, they sound alliterative. Fr. George LeMaitre was the priest who came up with the Big Bang Theory (yay for priest scientists!), and Jasper is not only a gemstone but is also the name (either as Jasper or its variants Casper and Gaspar) traditionally associated with one of the Three Wise Men. Two extra bonuses: Pope Francis’ birth name was Jorge (=George), and a nickname for George can be Geo (like geology!).

(3) Nicholas Neri
At first I thought the scientist Tesla’s first name was Nicolas, but when I looked him up to be sure I saw it’s actually Nikola, which I suspect is a bit too exotic for this family’s taste? Especially with their boy style being a “familiar” and “not trendy” first name. Still, Nic(h)olas can work as a namesake for him, and of course there’s St. Nicholas, and Neri for St. Philip Neri — I’m not sure he can be classified as an actual theologian, but he did study theology and he’s a great saint.

(4) Thomas Tarcisius or Thomas Tesla
If Janelle and her husband like the idea of Thomas Tarcisius, I might suggest Thomas as the science name, for Thomas Edison, and Tarcisius as the religious name — St. Tarcisius is one of my favorite saints and a great patron for a little boy. He wasn’t a theologian, but he did give his life to protect the Eucharist. So yeah. I’d say you could make the argument that if theologian=one who specializes in knowledge of the divine, St. Tarcisius was an unofficial theologian. 😉 One fun thing about Tarcisius name-wise is that in Canada, the municipality of Saint-Tharcisius in Quebec is named after him, and that spelling — Tharcisius — paired with Thomas would be extra alliterative: Thomas Tharcisius. T(h)errific! 🙂

Thomas can also, of course, be for St. Thomas Aquinas, “THE Theologian,” as my husband calls him! Paired with Tesla, that’s a pretty heavy hitting religion/science combo.

Some other names that I thought could be helpful/inspirational included Dietrich (von Hildebrand, theologian) and Reginald (Garrigou-Lagrange, theologian), and if they had a fifth baby in the future and decided to go the S route next time, I recently discovered that the biblical Silas is also likely nature-y via Silvanus. According to Behind the Name, “[Silas is] Probably a short form of SILVANUS. This is the name of a companion of Saint Paul in the New Testament. Paul refers to him as Silvanus in his epistles,”* and Silvanus is a “Roman name derived from Latin silva “wood, forest.””

Those are my ideas! What do you all think? Can you think of other alliterative first name-middle name combos for a boy that pair a theologian with a science/nature name? Can you think of a good first initial to follow EPICS if they’re blessed with a #5 baby (and decided to use S names for him/her) and then have a sixth as well?

After I’d finished all this, I also found an awesome consultation by Appellation Mountain’s Abby over at Nameberry in which the parents were looking for a scientific name for their son. I didn’t include any of the ideas here, but maybe you’ll all be inspired by some of the ideas, both in the list Abby offered and in the comments.

*Do note that BTN goes on to say, “… though it is possible that Silas was in fact a Greek form of the Hebrew name SAUL (via Aramaic).”


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.

37 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Theologian + science/nature?

  1. Chrysostom? (Nn “Chrys?” or as a middle name?).
    Blaise… Blaise Pascal and St. Blaise share this name… AND it is a homonym for “blaze” like fire…
    Basil… St. Basil is a Church father, and basil is of course, botanical.
    I know a special little guy in my life named “Forest/Forrest”… no doubt about the nature connection there.
    Athanasius… an awesome Church Father who defended the divinity and humanity of Christ, if you want to go the “A” route. Or Ambrose… great Church Father (all the Church Fathers seemed to be equivalent to theologians!) and similar to the word “Ambrosia” – food of the gods/connection to Greek mythology and the Eucharist and maybe a stretch of a connection to nature with wine/grapes being connected? 🙂

    Love all the original suggestions too, I am just brainstorming more off the top of my head. What a fun/neat set of criteria to go by!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chrysostom is a great C name! Normally I’d love Blaise, but that their Peter’s middle name is Pascal … totally still doable! But my fussy name nerdy self prefers that sibs not share versions of the same name (except with twins … then I think it’s kind of inspired). (Don’t let my little old opinion stop anyone from doing so if they like do it! Use what you love!)

      I love Basil but prefer the pronunciation BA-zul — how do you all say it? Like the herb or Basil of Baker Street? And Athanasius and Ambrose are great suggestions.

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      • I say St. Basil with the short “a” and the herb with the long “a.” So the nature connection would be more in spelling than in pronunciation.

        Yeah, the Blaise connection to their other son could be an issue (or could be a bond? But then what if they have more boys?? Then again, Dh wants to name a second girl pretty much the same name as our first girl, soooo at least these are two different names, ha! :)).

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ok I DO have a suggestion… Felix Frederic (or flipped). St. Felix has an awesome story about escaping the persecution of the Romans by hiding in a cave where a spider built a web over the doorway, thus convincing those searching for him that there was no need to look inside (nature reference). There are numerous Frederic theologians: Godet, Buechner, and Tennant…
    And if they used this “F” but had more kiddos they could work on their own spelling of EPIFANY…. lol
    EPI is a prefix that means above and beyond, so they could really start spelling any other word to go along with those first three letters! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ok this is WAY TOO FUN! Here I go:

    Robert Rowan (For Robert Bellarmine and the Rowan tree)
    Jasper Jerome (Stole Kate’s nature name and added a personal fav, St. Jerome)
    Benedict Basil (Um two thelogians and a herb!) or Benedict Bramble
    Blaise Birch (I guess two for Pascal is a bit much, but St. Blaise is a great saint and name)
    James Juniper (So many Jameses to choose from, Juniper for Junipero Serra!)
    Ignatius Iranaeus (Ok so this is a theologian one-two punch, but couldn’t resist)
    Francis Falcon (St. Francis and a super epic bird)
    Owen Orion (Nicholas Owen, not really a theologian but hero and martyr works or St, Owen and a beautiful constellation. Bonus: there’s a saint Orion)

    I could do this for hours….Hope one of those stands out!

    Liked by 3 people

    • These are awesome!! I particularly love Jasper Jerome and Francis Falcon, those are some great combos!! But really I love all the names you mentioned, and I love all the Juniper love!

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  4. Lovey lettuce cheer for you! Hahaha!
    (Love-y let us) Who would ever use Lettuce?! 🙂 My contribution for theologian/nature…Lovey for the Divine Master Theologian (God Himself!) and Lettuce. Of course, I am only kidding…I just couldn’t think of any fabulous possibilities like you grand ladies did!

    Love Geo and t(h)errific!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is one of the funnest name consults yet! And after reading the bit about EPIC, my first thought was Caspian! So I’m partial to Charles Caspian, but there are many great suggestions in the comments, too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Charles and Charlie aren’t my favorite boy names, although we’re meeting more of them and then I like the name better when I have met the little boy its attached to! But with the ‘c’ name I also thought of Clement. I’m also thinking through other science-y names…Newton (bonus: nature=apple)? Copernicus (which has me think of Brian Regan routines and the Back to the Future series…)?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. (This is going to be long, sorry. I am very intrigued by this family’s names and name patterns. I kind of wish we could be friends!)

    It’s hard to beat Charles Caspian, but I did think of a few other C- names. Most of them are probably too adventurous for the first name slot for this family, so would be middle suggestions for Charles. However I’d like to push for Cornelius or Clement! I have virtual friends (as opposed to IRL friends) who have used both, and they really are charming on a little boy. And there is nickname potential: Cory or Neil, and Clem, respectively. I especially love Clement with Peter.
    Colum/Columb- I just heard of this masculinized version of St Columba’s name on a Catholic blog. Sounds like the established names Callen and Callum, but also means Dove in Latin (your nature connection!)
    Cyprian
    Constantine
    Cyrus
    Cosmos/Cosmas (as in, “and Damian”)
    Celestine (I love the nature/starry connection of this one and the one above)
    Christian
    Claude/Cloud
    Campion (after St Edmund Campion)
    Cyril
    Clive (this is the only one that’s not a saint name; after C.S. Lewis, don’t tell me he’s not a theologian)
    How about Christian Cornelius? Or Clement Claude?

    If you give up on C- I vote for:
    Leo Lucretius (papal saint like his brother, plus theologian/philosopher. His book is called On the Nature of Things, plus Leo has a slight nature connection: lion.)
    John Juniper (double saint– gotta love Brother Juniper!– plus nature name), or John Jasper
    Abel Athanasius (double saint, plus Abel Tasman was an explorer after whom the Tasmanian Islands are named, and Athanasius is your theologian name)
    Simon Silvanus (are brothers Simon and Peter too much, or a cute pair?)
    Paul Peregrine (double saint, nature name)

    Though Kate’s Thomas Tharcissius is probably my top pick.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Can’t. Stop.

    Anthony Aquinas.
    Benedict [von] Balthazar.
    Dominic DeSales. (Or DeKoninck.)
    Ethan Evagrius.
    George Gregory.
    Henry Hilaire.
    James Josemaria.
    Karl Kempis. (Rahner or Wojtyla, and Thomas a.)
    Luke Lisieux.
    Philip Poeman. (After the desert father.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much for this list. We found it interesting and it definitely brought up some names that we hadn’t thought of. I really like Caspian and my nerdy heart leaped with delight at having two sons named after kings of Narnia. We are also both huge C.S. Lewis lovers and he definitely counts as a theologian.
    We both also liked Tesla to go with Thomas or Timothy. Both Peter and Timothy crop up with regularity in my husband’s family but we decided to not let that keep us from using them. But then my husband turned to me and remarked that people would think that we named him after a car manufacturer. Perils of living in the Puget Sound, I suppose.
    I didn’t know about the connection between Silas and Silvanus. My husband has been trying to get me to use Sylvia for a girl so that might be a nice nod to his love of that name.
    Basil is one that I hadn’t considered and I really like the combination of the theologian–a fascinating person that I hadn’t known much about–with the herb. My brother’s name is Benjamin and it would be fun to have another Ben in the family to go with that.
    The baby is due in about 3-4 weeks so we’ll update with an announcement when he arrives.

    Liked by 1 person

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