Baby name consultant: Baby #5 (boy #4): John Paul? Augustine? Matthew? Or … ?

Keri and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a boy! Their other kiddos are:

Keegan Thomas
Emma Claire (called “Emma Claire”; “I am thinking of officially adding “Therese” as her middle name and changing her first name to “Emma Claire” instead of just “Emma.” It was always our intent to call her Emma Claire, I just used Claire as a middle to give her flexibility which I now sort of regret. Seeing as how St. Therese is one of her special saints and she died on Emma Claire’s birthday, it seems fitting to add it to her name.”)
Evan Jacob
Andrew Paul

Great names, right? Strong, handsome names for the boys, and I love Emma Claire as a double first name.

Keri writes,

We are Catholic converts. Through the years, as we have waded more deeply into the Church and its teachings, we have become more and more “Catholic” in our naming practices. I wish I had given Keegan a more “Catholic” name. St. Thomas the Apostle is his patron. St. Clare (along with St. Therese) is Emma Claire’s. Since “Evan” is a form of “John,” St. John the Baptist is his patron. Andrew has St. Andrew has a patron. Given that his birthday was close-ish to St. Andrew’s feast day and it was on our short list, it seemed like a winner.”

I just have to insert here that, though I know what Keri means about Keegan, I wanted to reassure her — says Keegan is “From an Irish surname, the Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Aodhagáin, which means “descendant of Aodhagán”. The given name Aodhagán is a double diminutive of AODH.” So I looked up Aodh, and it said Aodh has been traditionally anglicized as Hugh — and Hugh is a saint’s name! The saints with that name are often in the form of Hugo, but Hugh and Hugo are the same name, and New Advent even has an entry for St. Hugh the Great. So her Keegan Thomas can claim two wonderful saints for his own. ❤

Keri continues,

My husband has lobbied for “John Paul” for every single boy and for some unknown reason, I have always rejected it. John Paul is now on our short list. We have also seriously considered “Augustine” (nn — “Gus”) but I am not quiiiiite sure I am so bold … If we go with John Paul, middle name would likely be “Augustine.” These are two very important saints to us, both heavy influences on my husband, in particular, in his conversion. In fact, John Paul is his confirmation name.”

Other names on their list include:

Alexander (“Alexander has been a runner-up for every boy we have. I really like “Alex” as a shortened version”)
Matthew (“just not sure it has that “zing” to it”)

And those they like but can’t use:


So my thoughts regarding their ideas: John Paul is a great name, a great saint, a great patron for a boy, and so awesome to have the connection to Keri’s husband through his Confirmation name! But I do feel I have to point out that they already have a John (Evan) and a Paul (Andrew’s middle name), and while those certainly aren’t deal breakers by any means — if they want to name their unborn son John Paul they should go right ahead and do so! With my full blessing! 😀 — it might also soothe them that they’ve already used John Paul, in a sense. It might help them feel freer to move on to a different choice for this little boy on the way, you know? (It’s worth noting that there’s certainly precedent for naming more than one baby after the same saint — Jenny Uebbing‘s got two little ones named for St. Maximilian Kolbe! And it works! And it’s totally fine and the sky didn’t come crashing down! Also, as Keri did note in a later email, “my friends convinced me that because they have two totally different patrons it was ok. 🙂 ” Yes indeed, I 100% agree.)

There are also other ways of working St. John Paul into a name, like by using a form of his pre-papal name Karol. I’ve seen a lot of families use Charles, Karl and Carl, Karol, Charlotte, Caroline and Karoline/a in honor of JP2 — Charles for a boy seems especially relevant right now.

Augustine is also an awesome name, but it does seem a little different in style than the other kids’ names — much heavier. John Paul can fit in I think without raising eyebrows, but Augustine would be a little more baffling. So I really like it in the middle name spot for this baby. However, if they were open to considering August, I think it fits in their naming style a bit more, and they could still use the nickname Gus. But I think what seems like it might fit even better is Austin — Austin is an old form of Augustine, a “medieval contracted form” of it, according to behindthename. A little Austin would legitimately be able to claim St. Augustine as his patron, and it’s certainly a less bold choice than Augustine. I quite like August John Paul, August Charles, Austin John Paul, or Austin Charles for this family (especially Austin), I love how both options allow them to honor both of the heavy influences on Keri’s husband’s conversion.

Benjamin, Alexander, Nicholas, Thomas, and Matthew are all really great, solid, biblical names — I’m particularly interested that Alexander was the runner up for every boy! That definitely says something … I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they have an Alexander some day, even if it’s not this particular boy. And Patrick echoes the Irishness of Keegan, so I can definitely see the appeal there. Overall, a great, solid list. I wonder, instead of Matthew, since Keri said she wasn’t sure if it has enough “zing,” if they might consider Matthias? It’s a more international form of Matthew and has a heavier biblical feel.

So those are my thoughts on the names Keri and her husband have been batting around, but I had a few other ideas that I thought might be worth considering:

(1) Kolbe or Bennett (et al.)
As a name nut (or “namiac,” as my mom calls me!), I really like to see sibling sets that have a balanced feel name-wise. This certainly is much less important than a lot of other factors, but when I first looked at Keri’s kids’ names, I really wanted to loop Keegan in somehow. Emma Claire, Evan, and Andrew can really hang together style-wise, while Keegan looks to be a little on the outside. It’s totally understandable that as they’ve grown in their faith they’ve drawn closer to the names of our faith (santa nomina), which is so great, and I really wanted to come up with a suggestion or two that would have more of the feeling that Keegan has, while being really Catholicky Catholic. Kolbe was the very first one that came to mind: It’s a last name, like Keegan started out as; it starts with K, which is aesthetically pleasing to me — just that alone makes Keegan make more sense within the context of his siblings’ names; and it has a really current sound — like Colby and Cody and Kobe — which Keegan also has. At the same time, St. Maximilian Kolbe is of course an amazing patron, and I’ve seen Kolbe used a lot by the heavy-duty Catholic families I know. I think Kolbe John Paul works fine, or Kolbe Augustine (wow that is a heavy hitting name!), or Kolbe Charles.

Another name in this vein that also seemed like it might work is Bennett. It too is a medieval form of a saint’s name — Benedict! And given that they’re considering Benjamin, Bennett is a really great option, since it allows for the nickname Ben.

Otherwise, it might be worth their while to look at lists of saints’ last names to see if any strike their fancy for a first name — there are two posts in particular here that have a lot of great ideas, both in my post and (mostly) in the comments: Last names as first names  and Baby name consultant: Not-so-normal Catholic names. I think this is a really great pool of names to draw from if Keri and her husband want to find a name that is more like Keegan stylistically.

(2) Luke (or Lucas) (nicknamed Lolek?)
Luke has the same great, solid, biblical pedigree that so many of Keri’s other favorites have. I’ve always loved that it’s a really Marian name for a boy — the gospel of Luke mentions Mary more than any of the others; it’s the one which the prayer the Magnificat comes from; and it presents Jesus’ genealogy that some believe goes through Mary rather than Joseph. Additionally, in the consultation I did for Jenny, because of her love of JP2 someone suggested Lolek as a nickname for Luke, which I thought was just inspired — Lolek was JP2’s childhood nickname! (That same commenter also said she knew of a little boy with Lolek as his middle name, so that’s an option too, for honoring JP2.)

There is the consideration that Keri’s last name is one syllable, and if that were problematic for her with a one-syllable first name, I’ll change my suggestion to Lucas. Lucas Karl and Lucas Augustine are striking me as particularly handsome.

(3) Jonathan or Justin (with a P middle name? For JP initials)
As you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up all the names — already-named kids and names on the list of considerations — in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. When I looked up all of Keri’s names, it was amazing to me how much overlap there was in her style — Alexander, Benjamin, Nicholas, Andrew, and Thomas routinely showed up — so I started noticing what other names were often linked with theirs. Jonathan was one of the names, and I immediately thought it might be a great option. I love that Jonathan has the John sound of John Paul, but it’s not actually a John name, so it doesn’t compete with Evan. Additionally, I thought if Keri and her husband paired it with a P middle name — Jonathan Patrick maybe? — they could call him JP, which of course are John Paul’s initials; of course, he’s routinely referred to as JP or JP2 or JPII, so it would be both obvious and subtle at the same time.

Justin isn’t tied to too much other than my gut feeling. My suggestion of Austin is what made me initially think of it — both the similar sound and feel they share, as well as the fact they’re both sort of “underground Catholic” — few people seem to know that Austin comes from Augustine, and few people seem to know that Justin Martyr was a heavy duty Church Father and therefore Justin is a heavy duty Catholic name. Justin feels similar to Evan to me, and it’s listed as similar to Matthew, so I thought it might hit the right notes. Similar to Jonathan, if it was paired with a P middle name, Keri’s little boy would have JP initials. I like Justin Patrick a lot.

(4) Christopher or Samuel
Christopher and Samuel were others that kept popping up as similar to other names Keri and her hubs like, especially Emma, Alexander, and Benjamin (Samuel), and Andrew, Nicholas, and Matthew (Christopher), so they definitely needed a mention. Chris and Sam are great boy nicknames.

(5) Nathaniel or Gabriel
Both Nathaniel and Gabriel were two others that had lots of overlap in the Baby Name Wizard for this family’s style, and they always kind of remind me of each other — their style is so similar, the big difference being (to me) that if you like longer names, Nathaniel fits the bill, and if you prefer shorter, Gabriel. Nathaniel was listed as similar to Benjamin, Nicholas, Alexander, and my idea for them of Samuel; Gabriel was listed as similar to Benjamin, Nathaniel, and my idea for them of Luke. Gabriel especially is often included in the Catholicky Catholic category, with his ties to Mary in the Annunciation.

So those are my ideas for Keri and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Keegan, Emma Claire, Evan, and Andrew’s little brother?


8 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Baby #5 (boy #4): John Paul? Augustine? Matthew? Or … ?

  1. On the traditional side, how about Anthony? Or other classics, like Michael, Stephen, or David (Davey!) would fit with littlest brother Andrew, and everyone’s classic/biblical middle names. Or modernize them a bit, with Anton or Stefan.

    Owen fits well with Keegan and Evan. Or Christian. Or Callum (awesome patron who is very similar to St Patrick!). Adrian. Simon. Francis.

    I love the August/Austin ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great suggestions (Samuel is probably my favorite favorite boy name). I like all of the names they’ve been thinking about, but I agree that a name that ties into Keegan would be perfect. I like Kolbe and Bennett. I like Becket, too – it could wrap around to Keegan because of the last name thing, but it’s also another K sound.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So many great options for consideration. Love all the variations. And I love the Austin or August from Augustine.

    Another thought for honoring John Paul II is that in addition to Karol being his given name the middle was Jozef, so any Charles Joseph or variants could be considered. I like that name combo.

    Liked by 3 people

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