Emily and Ben Floyd are expecting their fourth baby, and though they don’t know the gender, they’re “feeling ‘girl.'” Their other kiddos are:
Gwenevere Marie (Gwen)
Avalene Ruth (Avie)
I love their style!! Some of the names one or both of them like that they can’t use include:
Midas (unusable because of the company)
Ulysses (related to the Greek for “to hate”)
Georgiana nicked Georgie/Ana
Alexandria nicked Alex
Walter nicked Walt
“My husband, Ben, especially likes unique and unpopular names. He will often ask me how popular a name is when I suggest one! I know Gideon is getting more popular, but we both really liked it and can have a hard time agreeing! 😉 … I love to read and it heavily influences my favorite names. Like Georgiana! We also love names with legends and stories, like with Gwenevere and Gideon and Midas. Avalene was named after seeing a picture of my great-great aunt who was a nun, her name was Sister Avallina. After beginning RCIA we found out that our Avalene was born on the feast day of Teresa of Avila! I have a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to St Joan of Arc. I also love Pope Francis, as he became Pope right before we joined the Church. Gwen would have been Charles/Charlie if a boy. But we don’t re-use the other gender name if that makes sense! Almost like it’s still the child’s name in a way … We also keep the syllables of the names in mind & all three kids have three syllable first names. Because our last name is so short & common, we like the long, unique first name to balance it out.”
(Isn’t Avalene’s name story awesome??) Current frontrunners for a girl are:
Winifred nicked Winnie or Freddie
Eleanor nicked Nora or Nori
And for a boy:
Augustine nicked Auggie
I had a lot of fun with this dilemma — working with Ben’s love of “unique” and “unpopular” names was challenging but so interesting!
First off, some thoughts about their current ideas: As you all know, I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard book for inspiration — for each entry it provides lists of boy and girl names that are similar to the entry in style/feel/popularity — and Winifred is spot on, having connections to both Ulysses and Gwenevere — nice job Mom and Dad! Unfortunately, Ben is right to be concerned about the popularity of Eleanor and Edith — I see Eleanor used a lot, and Edith is starting to be as well. They’re both great names! But not so unique or unpopular anymore. Every once in a while I see the spelling Elanor instead of Eleanor, and wondered if they’d like that? It’s literary — both a flower and a character in Lord of the Rings. And I wondered if Esther might interest them instead of Edith? It’s similar to both Walter and Edith in style/feel/popularity, and I really like that it’s biblical, so it can loop Gideon in as well. Gabriella is a lovely lovely name, but I do think it’s pretty popular? And Augustine — I see it allll the time among the Catholic families I know. We almost used it! I do love it, it’s a great name — but I don’t think it passes their unique/unpopular test. Ambrose, on the other hand, might, so I wonder if they’d like that? I do hear it from time to time in Catholic circles, but not a whole lot, and I feel like the rest of the world doesn’t even know it exists! I’ve often thought Sam and Bram could be good nicknames for it.
I did come up with some other suggestions that I think Emily and Ben might like. I relied heavily on their love of literature/stories and Ben’s preference for unique and/or unpopular, with a saintly or biblical spin when possible. I always shoot for three for each gender, but I ended up with five for girls and three for boys:
I’m not entirely convinced that they’ll like this, because it seems so different to me from their other names, but the reasons behind why I’m including here have me just swoony! Okay, Emily said she loves Georgiana because of Pride and Prejudice, and she has a special devotion to St. Joan of Arc … the two thoughts were swirling around in my head while I was working on this for them, and all of a sudden I sat straight up with an exhilarating thought! I scrambled to look it up and — yes! — Darcy (as in Mr. Darcy) comes from the French d’Arcy, meaning “from Arcy,” and Joan of Arc’s name in French is Jeanne d’Arc, and while I haven’t been able to verify that d’Arc and d’Arcy mean the same thing, I’m going to guess that they do, and even if they don’t, it’s totally close enough that the connection is there. Whew! When all that occurred to me I felt like dusting my hands off and saying my work here is done. Haha! It’s definitely unique and unpopular, and Emily said she loves Pope Francis right after she was talking about Joan of Arc so in my mind they’re now together: Darcy Frances. That is a great name for the daughter of Catholic, literature-loving, somewhat-contrarian-naming parents. 🙂
In general, it was hard to find much overlap in the styles of the names they’ve already chosen and the names they’re now considering. So Melisande was only in the list of names similar to Gwenevere, but it jumped right out at me as a possibility. I’ve always liked it, and I think Gwenevere, Avalene, and Melisande make a smashing group of sisters. It’s got literary roots too, as in the (admittedly pretty sad) play-turned-opera Pelleas et Melisande. It’s definitely unique/unpopular.
I came across this name a a few months ago while doing a consultation for another family, and its meaning just blew me away: “[Sidony] 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 Latin sindon … ‘fine cloth’, ‘linen’) was used in Middle English for a fine cloth, especially one used as a shroud. The Sacred Sendon is supposed to be preserved at Turin … Sidonie is not uncommon in France, and the Irish Sidney is probably really Sidony.” (pp. 268-269, Withycombe). When I saw it listed as similar in style to Avalene, I knew I had to include it!
(4) Miranda or Imogen
I was playing off their love of literature here, and trying to think of literary names that were also unique and/or unpopular — Miranda and Imogen immediately came to mind — I thought they both went well with the other kids.
(5) Mercy or Mercedes
I felt like it was easier for me to think of names that fit Gwenevere and Avalene and Winifred and Walter than it was to think of names that fit with Gideon. I love the name Gideon, and if it didn’t clash with our last name, I’d want to use it in a heartbeat. But his style seems a bit more … offbeat? than their other ideas. So when I saw Mercy listed as a girl’s name similar in style to Gideon, I thought it was definitely worth a mention. My idea here was Our Lady of Mercy, because Emily said she has a special devotion to Our Lady. I know a little girl whose middle name is Mercy for OL of Mercy, and any baby born this year and given a name with a connection to Mercy is doubly blessed because Pope Francis declared it the Year of Mercy! So great! I also thought Mercedes (“mercies,” from the Marian title Our Lady of Mercies, aka Our Lady of Ransom) might be of interest.
Leopold’s such a great name! It’s similar in style to Ulysses and Winifred, and it has the amazing nickname Leo. When I looked it up, I was impressed by its pedigree — saintly and royal, both — but what really clinched it for me was that it was “used by James Joyce for the main character, Leopold Bloom, in his novel ‘Ulysses’ (1920).” I know that a character’s name in a novel called the same name as another name one likes does not necessarily mean that one will like the first name, but it seemed too coincidental to pass up, especially with its connection to Winifred.
And again, I’m drawing inspiration from P&P. I was trying to think of names that will always be somewhat unique/unpopular, no matter the changing tide of societal taste, and I thought surnames are one of those that may tend to fit that category. Certainly some have become popular, like Taylor, but when Mr. Darcy’s first name came to mind I thought aha! I can’t imagine Fitzwilliam charging up the charts any time soon. Fitz and Will are both natural and awesome nicknames for it, and I kind of really really love Fitzwilliam Floyd. That has such a ring to it!!!
This was listed as similar to Avalene, and I probably wouldn’t have given it any thought except that Pope Francis recently had that amazing thing happen where the blood of St. Gennaro (also known as St. Januarius) liquified in our Holy Father’s presence. I knew a Gennaro growing up, and I had the name on my list for years, even though I don’t have a drop of Italian blood. I love it, it’s a very cool name. I do realize that using it would leave Avalene out first-initial-wise, but I had to suggest it anyway.
Those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for this family?
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