Baby name consultant: Little brother for Simon!

Emily, from the blog Raising Barnes, and her husband are expecting their second baby and second boy! She writes,

Despite my love of names, we are really struggling to come up with a name we both love. We have a few that we both are ok with, but I really want to find something to fall in love with. Does that make sense?

Yes indeedy, it makes perfect sense! I know you all agree!

It is important to us (especially me, as a convert) to have names rooted in our Catholic faith; there is so much awesome material there to work with! Also, it is important to me that my kid’s names aren’t super popular or trendy.”

Catholicky Catholic and not super popular or trendy — got it! 🙂

Their first son is:

Simon Matthew

Which I just love. Such a handsome combo. Emily says,

We both fell in love with the name Simon early on. Matthew is my husband’s middle name and my father-in-law’s first name … I absolutely love his name, which is part of the reason we are having difficulties with baby #2.”

Names they’ve discussed include:

Blaise (“but I personally don’t like the double B (Blaise Barnes…)“)
Xavier (Emily’s frontrunner)
Miles (her husband’s frontrunner)
Eli (“a distant second place for both of us“)

The first thought I wanted to offer — and please, readers, chime in if you think I’m off base — is that as much sense as it makes that they want to find a name they love as much as Simon, and I fully 1000% agree they should try to do so, I do think that it’s hard to recreate the experience of choosing the most!amazing!name!that is my very favorite name ever! So sometimes, with such a high bar set, whatever ends up being the agreed-upon name might initially have a sort of “settling” or “compromise” feel to it. But I can almost guarantee that as time goes on and it becomes completely associated with one’s beloved baby, that name will become equally as loved as the first baby’s name. I hope that helps Emily and her husband not worry too much!

So: names on their current list. I love Maximilian and Sebastian both. They have a really sophisticated feel to me, but both pare down to really friendly nicknames — Maximilian can be Max or Mac; Sebastian can be Seb/Sebby or Bash (a la Grace Patton’s little guy); and I’ve actually seen Ian suggested as a nickname for both Maximilian and Sebastian.

I like Blaise a lot too, but I can see Emily’s point — Blaise Barnes could be really great and memorable, or it could come across as somewhat cartoonish. Totally their call. I think if they own it, with confidence, and infuse their son with that confidence, it would be totally fine. But if they can’t get comfortable with it or if it feels weird, probably best not to use it.

And Xavier! There’s a little Xavier in my life, and I just love his name. He goes by Xave or Xavey, which are so sweet, and the full Xavier oozes handsomeness too, I think. And there’s no cooler initial than X!

Miles is a recent favorite of mine too, but if it matters to Emily and her hubs (and it may not, and that’s of course totally fine), I don’t love the –s ending of Miles with the –s ending of Barnes. Miles Barnes. Nit picky stuff, but maybe helpful in whittling down options.

Eli is fun! And yet another different style … I feel like Simon + Maximilian/Sebastian/Xavier/Blaise reads “Catholic and only Catholic.” Simon + Miles has a more … pilgrim feel? And Simon + Eli is all biblical. I like each of those feels/styles, and Emily and her hubs certainly wouldn’t have to stick with whichever one went with the name they end up choosing for their little guy — they could have Simon, Miles, Eli, and Xavier someday, all in the same family, totally fine! I think they all work together, because they’re not really far apart stylistically — pilgrim basically IS biblical, and biblical is certainly Catholic. But it’s fun to see it pointed out I think.

As for popularity — here’s how they all broke down in 2014:

Simon: #231
Maximilian: #445
Sebastian: #34
Blaise: #845
Xavier: #88
Miles: #108
Eli: #49

I assumed Eli would be the most popular, and was totally shocked to see Sebastian’s actually the most popular! What?? I don’t know any in real life (though I see it talked about/considered a LOT among the families who read my blog). I know a lot of little Eli’s, so I wondered at first if I just live in an Eli pocket, but upon further thought I realized I think they’re all actually Elijah, and Elijah was #11 in 2014. #11! So that’s something for Emily and her hubs to consider, as there may be a bunch of Eli’s in their little guy’s class who are actually Elijah on the birth certificate.

Okay, on to my additional suggestions. As you all know, I usually start my consultations by looking through the Baby Name Wizard book — it has the amazing feature where it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. It provides really great inspiration and good directions to go in. I looked up each of the names on Emily’s list (including Simon) and wrote down the boy suggestions for each one, and looked for any overlap. She and her husband have very consistent taste! Sebastian is similar to Maximilian, for example, and Xavier is similar to Blaise AND Maximilian AND Sebastian! I love seeing those kinds of things pop up. It all gave me good ideas for other options as well. I always shoot for three, but I had four ideas for Baby Boy Barnes:

(1) Oliver
Oliver was actually one that came to mind as soon as I started reading Emily’s email, before I’d done any research. While Simon is certainly super saintly and biblical, it usually has more of a bookish, Brit feel to me, which I love. Oliver has always struck me as similar. We discussed Oliver for our second boy, and very nearly named our third boy Oliver, so it’s long been a love of ours. We just haven’t felt it was “the one” for our boys just yet, but in considering it we looked up St. Oliver Plunkett, and he is a fabulous saint to have as a patron. But what really clinched it for me is that it was listed as similar to both Simon and Sebastian! Winner!

(2) Isaac
Isaac was another I’d scribbled down for Emily before cracking open my BNW book, so I was delighted to see it listed as similar to Simon and Miles. Isaac is super biblical, but to me it’s also St. Isaac Jogues — the Shrine of the North American Martyrs is near where I live, and he was martyred there. (It’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri.) Isaac’s such a cool name, I love it.

(3) Nathaniel or Gabriel
Nathaniel has that long, sophisticated feel that Maximilian and Sebastian have, and it’s biblical like Simon. And I always think of Nathaniel and Gabriel as having a similar feel — they always remind me of each other — and Gabriel was listed as similar to Xavier, and it’s also biblical. I love both choices for a brother to Simon.

(4) Colin/Cole or Kolbe
Colin was listed as similar to both Simon and Miles (as was Isaac), and it also made me think of Cole (both can claim a connection to Nicholas for saintliness), and Cole and Maximilian both made me think of Kolbe, which I see used with some frequency among Catholic families as a first or middle name. I love the idea of Kolbe, but I wonder if Kolbe Barnes might be too much B together? Or not? I was named Katherine Towne and always called Kate, and it wasn’t until I was grown up and considering how names sound together for my own boys that I realized Kate Towne does the thing I try to avoid — Kate ends in the –t sound and Towne starts with it, so it can sound like Kay Towne (and I’ve always hated when people mishear my name as Kay, but it makes so much more sense to me now than it did when I was growing up). My point being — sometimes us namiacs notice things that no one else does or cares about. I can’t imagine that anyone a little Kolbe B. would come in contact with would be like, “Can you believe they named him Kolbe Barnes?? So many B’s!!” So really, I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about (if there was any concern to begin with). And Kolbe could take the nick Kole if desired, which is really pretty hip.

So those are my thoughts/ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little brother to Simon Matthew?


52 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Little brother for Simon!

  1. The first things that popped into my mind before I even read down into the post were Jude, Matthias, Colin, and Oliver. Then I saw that Simon’s middle name is Matthew, so Matthias is probably out. Then I saw that you suggested Oliver and Colin! Lol! I’ll add Jasper now that I’ve read the post. It also has that intellectual Brit quality that Simon just exudes, it has a very modern but classic quality, and it honors a Magi which is just too awesome. My sister is TRYING to talk her husband into Jasper…I hope she succeeds.
    Oh! And also Felix would be a great brother name for Simon. Super Catholicky Catholic, but also with the intellectual urban Brit feel that I so strongly associate with Simon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooooh… I love Simon and Jasper, Simon and Sebastian, Simon and Nathaniel, Simon and Xavier, Simon and Gabriel… I think the “b” in Gabriel actually complements the “B” in Barnes!

    Other names… Instead of Mathias, maybe Thaddeus? Also, I have a sister with very similar name tastes to this family, and they have a Benedict (which I also think sounds nice with Barnes when the full name is said).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A few comments:

    1. Ugh!! Simon Matthew Barnes???? Could that be anymore handsome?!?! I seriously think that’s one of the best combos I’ve ever heard. I’m jealous I didn’t come up with it, lol.

    2. If we’re going off their list of talked about names, my vote goes for Xavier. There’s a little Xavier in my life too, and we call him Xave or X or my dad likes to call him 10, because X is the Roman numeral to 10.

    3. Love the suggestions of Oliver and Gabriel 🙂 Simon and Oliver has a super British feel to me, which is great! Simon and Gabriel just work to me because they’re both super formal but at the same time down to earth 🙂

    4. Some of my suggestions:
    Benjamin (or Bennett maybe)
    Walter (not very Catholic, but is a Saint and I think with the right middle name it could push it into Catholicky-Catholic territory as you say, Walter Maximilian maybe?)
    Francis (Simon and Francis sound like two little old men in a nursing home and I love it)
    George (same comment as Francis)

    Honestly, I have complete faith in them to pick something as wonderful as Simon Matthew the second time around 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, the super duper Catholic option is obviously Jude. 🙂 Can’t go wrong with a brother set of Simon and Jude!

    I like Oliver and Simon a lot, going with the more British set. Oliver Barnes is fantastic! Other British-y options: Henry? Gilbert? (G.K. Chesterton!) Clive? (C.S. Lewis!) Simon and Clive would be amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So interesting to read the comments, Simon is not particularly British-sounding to me the way Colin or Clive are. It’s a very Pan-European to me. Simon Matthew Barnes sounds dreamy to me because Barnes is a heavy, solid name, while Simon Matthew is more airy and light – a great balance. Simon is such a great name, a classic that’s not overused, soft-sounding though unmistakably masculine, a friendly yet serious name. I would choose a boy’s name along those lines.

    – Paul hovers around where Simon is in popularity, while Philip (or Phillip spelling) is even higher. Just like Simon, they are familiar yet surprisingly not over-popular, soft in sound yet masculine, not overbearing on a boy or too boyish on a grown man. They have strong Catholic ties. Either ones achieves that airy-solid balance with Barnes. Like Simon and Matthew, they (and their variations) will always be well-loved names across generations and cultures.

    – Some of the suggested names like Henry, Oliver, and Miles are lovely, but it must be said that they are very popular and trendy. Still, if Miles remains a favorite, the nickname (or full name) Milo does away with that double s-s ending.

    – I have a strange aversion to Eli, and have no idea why – are there any Eli villains in popular culture that I was exposed to growing up?

    – Blaise is completely different in feel to Simon for me, but it instantly reminded me of Pascal because of the French scientist/polymath. Now, Pascal is truly not a popular or trendy name. It may not quite have the ease and pleasing familiarity of Simon, but I believe people would respond very positively to this name. The ‘l’ ending goes very well with Barnes. And I think a name that means Easter is a moving choice for a Christian convert to give their child.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the names Simon and Paul are like the names Simon and Theodore: they need a sib or two in between in order to avoid pop culture references (I want to sing Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes when I think “Simon and Paul”).

      And, interestingly, I have the same reaction to Eli/Elijah. I cannot believe Elijah ranks over 200 places higher than Simon! What?!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think that Paul Simon’s name resonates enough with people of typical child-bearing age for it to really be an issue among the peers of both parents and children. I read an article about an actress who recently named her daughter Dorothy Rose, and some of the comments made Golden Girls references. Again, I doubt that connection resonates strongly with the current generation of parents. I’m sure naming coincidences such as these happen to parents often. Usually it’s not a big deal, it can be rather cute when you stumble upon them.

        But the generation where Paul Simon brings up an instant pop culture reference are the grandparents now, so it’s a very fair concern to have.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. See, I actually didn’t like Gabriel because of the B and the possible Gabe nickname, which gets into the same issue as Kay-town with the last name. In this case, though, it would sound like “Gay Barnes.” Gabriel would be a nice middle name, though!

    I know a family of 3 boys that are Nolan, Simon, and Oliver (which I can’t say without singing it to the Chipmunks themesong), so I think there’s a lot of similarities here.

    The previous comment’s suggestion of Phillip is my fave. I’ve never even thought about that name before right now, but it’s basically jumping off the page at me. Phillip Gabriel Barnes? Phil Barnes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the elision of Gabe into a “B” last name is so unfortunate. Gabriel is one of my favorite names, but we have a “B” (noun) last name and my son being known as a Gay ____ is very unappealing. I think this basically precludes the use of Gabriel with a “B” last name.

      I also had elision with my first name and maiden name as Kate did, and it has the effect of turning the name “Grace” into “gray”. Since my maiden name was also a noun, it sounds like something that is gray. It always bothered me despite it being a lovely name on paper, and I began a habit of pausing between the two and enunciating very clearly when I was quite young.

      Overall, I think elision should just be avoided in order to minimize confusion!

      Liked by 7 people

      • Great examples. Some of my boys have that with our last name, but fortunately none of their names turn into an unfortunate phrase … last names often add an extra layer of complication to naming!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I have a little theory on this phenomenon on ending a first name with the same sound as the first letters in the last name – that might be helpful? Lol. Our brains tend to want to make sense if things and often finish or complete words for us. For example, I have a loved one named Forest T. (Won’t spell out his full last name for privacy!). It has never been an issue. I think it’s because there is no recognizable name “Fores”. We all naturally assume the “t” belongs to the name/word “Forest.” If there is any confusion, it could be over his last name, since last names tend to have many variations and we don’t expect them to be recognizable names or words.

      I think the reason “Kate T.” Is confusing is because “Kay” IS a legit first name. But I think “Gabe Barnes” would almost always be recognized as “Gabe” initially, with potential confusion over his last name being “Arnes.” (Which is still an issue that needs consideration, but not quite as jarring as “Gay Barnes”!” While “Gay” is a word, we almost never meet a person with it as a proper name, so I think most brains will hear ghe much-more-common “Gabe”).

      Liked by 1 person

      • And we’ve had to deal somewhat with this too. Our last name starts with “ph.” We’ve nixed the name “Joseph” as a first name not because I fear folks will think his name is “Joe-suh,” but because I am more worried it will just be hard to say his name with having to add a slight pause between the two names. Just a thought. I do like “Gabriel Barnes,” but I could definitely understand if a couple nixed it too.

        Liked by 2 people

      • My daughter’s piano teacher is a woman named Gay. I just don’t think it’s a good idea! We have a B last name and I’ve tried in my mind to make it work, to no avail. My husband knew a guy named G@be Beach and that was the worst. It was impossible not to hear “gay beach” and that’s just not a name you want to have!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, traditionally, it was a feminine name. I think Gabe Beach is a little tougher because it creates a phrase that makes sense in our minds. I agree that Gabe Barnes is still potentially problematic, but when I say it, it seems a little less likely to become “Gay” as Gabe Beach… But there is always the potential for some bully to make the connection and then you have a real headache.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, I’m totally marveling over all the different directions they can go with Simon as their oldest!

    I’m thinking hip OT like:
    Simon and Ezra
    Simon and Jonah
    Simon and Gideon
    Simon and Amos

    Or vintage revival:
    Simon and Oscar
    Simon and Leon
    Simon and Charlie
    Simon and Clement

    Or British:
    Simon and Alden
    Simon and Reuben
    Simon and Jack
    Simon and Arthur
    Simon and Everett
    Simon and Bennett
    Simon and Lewis

    Or cool saints:
    Simon and Martin
    Simon and Augustine/ Simon and Gus
    Simon and Atticus
    Simon and Luke

    Or if I choose only from their list, I first cross out the names that sound noun-noun with their last name. Blaise Barnes makes me think of a barn fire, sorry. Miles and Cole do the same thing for me (Miles of Barns; Coal Barns). But Maximilian or Michael, nicknamed Miles would be fine. Or Nicholas, nn Cole. Then his future business cards wouldn’t read like a sentence, but they could still use the nickname they like.

    My top combos would be:
    Jude Maximilian Barnes
    Luke Xavier Barnes
    Sebastian Blaise Barnes
    Maximilian Blaise Barnes, “Miles”
    Eli Leon Barnes
    Ezra Xavier Barnes
    George Thomas Barnes
    Oliver Augustine Barnes
    Jonah Sebastian Barnes Gabriel Lewis Barnes

    Liked by 2 people

  8. […] know Emily’s baby’s name, right? For anyone who didn’t yet see, Emily linked to her consultation on her blog, and added the tantalizing note that she’d actually had the baby that morning, […]


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