Baby name consultant: “Normal” Catholicky name needed for Baby #4

Karra and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🙂 Their other kiddos’ names are:

Clare Hope
Samuel Joseph
Lucy Faith

*Happy sigh.* Lovely. And I love the Hope and Faith middles shared by the girls, even though Karra writes,

For the girls middle I do not like love or charity so I’m letting my theme of the virtues end with this baby (if it’s a girl). Although I do like mercy or verity (found on your blog-thanks) as a middle name. I’m not a huge fan of nicknames unless I like the nickname (my son is Sam). I like really catholicy sounding names, my husband thinks we need to stick to normal names because our other children have normal names.”

Fortunately, there are lots of good Catholicky Catholic “normal” names! Woo! 😀

The names they’re considering for girls are:

Susanna (“I do like the nickname Susie“)
Cora (“this and Mary are my husbands top choice“)
Mary (“I really wanted a Mary combination name but cannot find one I like. I for obvious reasons cannot use Mary Clare which I LOVE. Also out are Mary Anne, Mary Jane, and Mary Lou (too close to Lucy-who sometimes gets called Lu). Mary Ellen is the new American girl doll so I wouldn’t use that. We’ve thrown around Mary Therese but I feel like people would drop the Therese even though she would have a middle name as well“)
Zelie (“we debate the pronunciation, I say zay lee, my husband wants zellie which is why I don’t think we will ultimately pick this name“)

Note: “Cora and Mary are my grandmothers who have died recently. Francis is also a family name on my side and Frank is on my husbands. It goes without saying that if the first name isn’t a saint, we would use a saint name as a middle to be their patron

Their list for boys includes:

Christian (“pretty much out because my husband insists he will be called Chris and I do NOT like Chris, his name would be Christian“)
Francis (“nicked Frankie — my husbands top name but not my favorite and I’m really leaning towards the others“)
Caleb (“goes with Old Testament first name for boy“)
Micah (“again with Old Testament“)
Emmaus (“my husband does not like this name but I love it and I will always keep it on my list“)

Okay, so first off, as I said, I do love that they used Faith and Hope already for middle names for their girls, but I totally get not wanting to do Love or Charity. I wonder though if they might like the idea of something like Amor? I’m so glad that they like Verity and Mercy — those are some of my favorites too. I thought Grace and Joy might also work, and Charis means grace and is contained within the word eucharist and is related to Charity, so I thought I’d offer that suggestion as well. Or Caritas? I’ve also seen Cora used recently as a nod to the Sacred Heart (cor in Latin) — maybe Cora could be their “love” name? Kind of two birds with one stone — Grandma Cora and “love”?

I LOVE their girl list! Susanna and Felicity are favorites of mine too, as are Zelie (but yes, the pronunciation!) and Helena. Beautiful!

Mary doubles are so great, I always love them. Mary Kate and Mary Grace both have a similar feel to me as Mary Clare, I wonder if they’d like either of them? Mary Grace is kind of cool because then they could get a virtue name in there like the other girls. Or Mary Cora? I know a couple Mary Elizabeths also, and one of them goes by M.E. (sounds like Emmy), which is sweet. Re: Mary Therese, I think if they always call her Mary Therese, and immediately and firmly correct anyone who drops the Therese, it should be okay. If it’s still feeling troublesome to them though, I wonder if they might like Mary Tess or Mary Tessa? There was a mama recently who named her daughter Tessa for St. Therese. I think either of those combos is great because they’re unexpected (I’ve never heard of a Mary Tess or Mary Tessa) but familiar at the same time. Or Mary Charis? Too close to Clare?

As for their boy names, they’re also some of my favorites! Blaise and Xavier are super saintly, which I love. Caleb and Micah are awesome, and Micah is definitely a name we need to reclaim from the girls. I’ve always loved Christian too, but if Karra doesn’t care for Chris (which is probably one of those mostly inevitable nicknames, especially if Dad likes it) maybe she’d like to find a different nickname for Christian? I’ve seen Kit used recently for it. Francis nicked Frankie is one of my husband’s faves too, funny – maybe it’s a guy thing? It would be really cute on a little boy.

And Emmaus! Ooh I love it! I’ve never seen it used as a name, though I’ve long thought it has potential as one. (I wrote about it here  and here.) This might seem totally out of left field, but Emmaus and Christian both made me think of nouns-as-names in general (as I wrote about in those two posts), and Fisher came to mind — like Jesus telling the Apostles they would be fishers of men — and also St. John Fisher, who’s such a great saint. It shares some sounds with Francis so … maybe? And Fisher makes me think of Fulton, for Fulton Sheen — maybe that would interest Karra and her husband? (Also, I kept thinking Fulton and Samuel go really well together and then I remembered that this mama used that very combo!)

As you all know, I looked up all the names Karra and her hubs have already used for their other kids in the Baby Name Wizard book, which has the amazing feature of listing, for each entry, boys and girls names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. The results inspired some good ideas for this family, I think (that book is uncannily accurate!). I always shoot for three suggestions, but I came up with four for each gender here:

(1) Tessa
I mentioned Tessa above as the second half of a Mary+ name, but I think it would be smashing as a first name for this baby all on its own. I mentioned above the mama who recently named her baby Tessa for St. Therese, and her older daughter is Clara, so it seems an extra good fit.

(2) Juliet or Annabel(le)
I suggested Juliet for this little girl recently, and her parents ended up using it, and that particular family was in mind for me a lot while doing this consultation because their style feels similar to Karra’s, to me. They have a Tessa too! Juliet is a French diminutive of Julia, so St. Julia could be the patron, or St. Julian if they prefer.

Annabel(le) seemed to be in every list Juliet was in when I looked up this family’s names in the BNW — it reminds me of Susanna, but has its own spin as well. It’s not as obviously saintly, but says the spelling Annabel is a variant of Amabel, which comes from the male name Amabilis meaning “lovable.” So that’s kind of cool, right? A “love” name without it being love? St. Amabilis was a 5th century priest BUT even better is the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother most amiable=lovable). Or it could be Anna + Belle=St. Anne and St. Isabel(le) or Elizabeth, or St. Anne + “beautiful.”

(3) Camille or Camilla
I was surprised by this one, but Camille/a showed up over and over again in the BNW as similar to names this family likes: Clare, Hope, Helena, Xavier, and Blaise, as well as my idea of Juliet. There’s a St. Camilla and a St. Camillus (which is where Camille/a comes from).

(4) Elizabeth/Elisabeth, Eliza, Elisa, Elise
Variants of Elizabeth were all over their lists in the BNW! I love the full Elizabeth (Our Lady’s cousin, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton), or Elisabeth (like Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, amazing woman), but I suspect the shorter Eliza, Elisa, or Elise might appeal to Karra and her hubs more, given the shortness of Clare and Lucy’s names.

(1) Gabriel
I would have suggested this for this family anyway — right away it seemed like a good fit for them, being biblical like Samuel and well used among Catholic families as well — so I loved seeing it listed as similar to so many of the names they like: Samuel, Faith, Susanna, Caleb, Micah, Xavier, Christian.

(2) Benjamin or Bennett
Benjamin has a similar feel to me as Gabriel, and it’s a great match for all of the biblical names they like, including Samuel — Samuel and Benjamin/Sam and Ben are brother pairs that I see quite often. They go together so well! I wavered on whether or not to suggest Bennett as well and decided to go ahead and do it — it’s got the same great Ben nickname as Benjamin, but it’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it’s more saintly than biblical. The family I referenced above who has a Juliet and Tessa also have a Bennett, which is where I got the idea for this family from, and then it was listed as a style match for Hope and Clare and my ideas of Juliet, Elise, Camilla, and Annabelle. There is the slight issue of Benjamin and Bennett starting with the same letter as Karra and her husband’s last name, but I actually really like the sound of Benjamin B./Bennett B./Ben B.

(3) Isaac
Isaac is a personal fave of mine, top of my list if we ever have another boy. It’s super biblical and super saintly at the same time — not an easy combo to come by! St. Isaac Jogues is one of the North American martyrs and he was martyred at the same place St. Kateri was born (Auriesville, NY). St. Isaac was French, which fits in well with Blaise and Xavier as well.

(4) August or Austin
I didn’t think the full Augustine would suit this family, but I thought August might — it’s trimmer, but still as saintly and with the same nickname possibilities as Augustine (Augie, Gus). It’s a style match for Clare, Verity, and Mercy as well. And Austin, like Bennett, is also a medieval variant — of Augustine. I know a little Austin who has a brother named Christian, so they seem to go together to me. Actually, that family’s naming style might appeal to Karra — there’s some similarity style-wise (the first eight kids’ names here and the ninth here).

And those are all my ideas for this little Miss or Mister! What suggestions do you all have for Karra and her husband?


41 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: “Normal” Catholicky name needed for Baby #4

  1. So many great names and great suggestions! First off, I love their children’s names! 3 of my favorite names 🙂

    The first name that came to mind, which you also suggested, was Mary Grace! I know a MaryGrace, and I absolutely love it, and wish I could use it!

    They mentioned they thought about Helena, but what about just Helen? As I mentioned last week I was almost Helen Grace, and I really think that’s a lovely combo, and Grace could honor Grandma Mary because of the Marian connection.

    And now that I’m talking about my name so much, what about Grace as a first name? It would keep with the virtue name theme, but move it to the first name. As I mentioned before, Grace could honor Grandma Mary. Grace Cora is really pretty 🙂

    Also, maybe because she likes Emmaus for a boy, maybe Emma for a girl? It might be too common, but I love the meaning (universal, like how God’s love is universal) and has a similar sound to Emmaus. (Side note: I love seeing people considering Emmaus! I’m going on an Emmaus Retreat this weekend with my school, and when I heard the name of it my first reaction was “that would be an awesome name if someone was brave!”)

    I love the suggestion of Benjamin for a boy! Ben and Sam are such friendly nicknames! Same with Gabriel 🙂 Gabe and Sam!

    Another suggestion for a boy: Jacob. Jake and Sam have the same feeling to me. Jacob Francis maybe?

    Oliver also came to mind for them as well. If they don’t like Ollie, I think it could be avoided. Ollie seems like a nickname that would only happen if the parents used it.

    What about Henry? We’ve been having some discussions about it lately, and those have reminded me how lovely love a name it is and now I want to suggest it to everyone! Clare, Samuel, Lucy, and Henry is adorably old fashioned! Henry Emmaus could be super awesome or Henry Christian if they want to use Christian but avoid the nicknames.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If they like Cora, how about Cara, which means ‘loved, dear’ in Latin and hence would make a beautiful 3rd middle name to go with Faith and Hope? I like the way Mary Cara sounds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Cara is beautiful! I love the meaning of Cara! I wonder … I could see Mom Karra considering it weird to have a daughter with the same-sounding name, or she could consider it a nice nod to her but with a twist. It’d probably work better in the middle, to avoid Karra/Cara confusion in the house, so your idea of Mary Cara is a great option I think.


  3. I really like Mary Grace and know a couple of those on young girls now. And Mary Kate is cute too. I am Mary Teresa, but never went by the combo name except when visiting cousins because there were 4 of us Marys – all were called by our first and middle when we were together. I didn’t really care for it, but that was just probably because it wasn’t my name any other time.

    Since Mary Ellen is out how about Mary Elena. So pretty and uses a variation of Helena (which Ellen is too). (I have a preference for Elena over Helena or Ellen).

    Other Mary combos: Mary Margaret, Mary Beth (for Mary Elizabeth) or Mary Pat (for Mary Patricia),

    Any chance of changing the Mary to a Marie – Cora Marie sounds nice to me and combines the Mary and Cora. I love Cora. I was one who recently mentioned having a friend with a 3 year old Cora who is named for the Sacred Heart connection. I think that is such a great idea they had. She is an adorable little thing as well.

    I also really like their top considerations of Susanna or Felicity. And from Kate’s ideas, Elise/Elyse has always been a favorite of mine. Mary Elise would be another awesome combo name.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like the suggestion of Grace as a first name very much! My other thoughts for girls (I’ll have to think more about the boys!):

    Anne: I know you said Mary Anne was out, but standalone Anne? Or Anna? I think Anne sounds so fresh on a baby girl. And can you beat the nn Annie?

    Elizabeth: Not that I’m biased ( 🙂 ), but I think this suits your family really well, and Elizabeth definitely doesn’t have to be shortened with a nickname. (I was always called Elizabeth growing up.)

    Molly: For than Marian reference. I love the sister combo of Clare, Lucy, and Molly. Add Sam in there and you have a very friendly-sounding group!

    Mary-something: Mary Agnes? Agnes it short enough that it might not be dropped. Mary Margaret is another favorite, as it Mary Katherine/Catherine. Double Mary names sound super Catholic to me, but mainstream enough to suit your husband’s taste.

    Catherine/Katherine: Another “normal” but Catholicky name.

    Finally, could you use Zelie as a middle name? That way it wouldn’t matter so much if it were pronounced differently by you and your husband. Actually, that might be kind of cute. Best of luck to you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lots of great ideas here! I LOVE the suggestion of Molly! Love love! Being that it’s a traditional variant of Mary, it could definitely honor Grandma Mary as well as Our Lady. And Zelie as a middle name is great! Just like you said, pronunciation doesn’t matter so much there.


  5. When I read about a catholic name that feels “normal”, the first name that comes to my mind (besides Lucy) is Rose! But there is also Joan or Catherine.

    For the middle name, I would suggest Sophia (it means wisdom in Greek), so I think we can consider it a virtue as well.

    So, Rose Sophia, Joan Sophia or Catherine Sophia (I also love Catherine Grace).

    For boys, there are many options: Daniel, Gabriel, John, Michael, Simon, James… and Francis as a middle name.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Before I even finished reading, Mary Grace came to mind! Beautiful name that would fit well!!! And I love Francis…. !!! I also think the name Leo would work well with the siblings , even a Leo Francis 😉

    Ps – hi Karra! From your “old” friend H!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Ooh yes, I agree with Kate that there are loads of virtue name possibilities and there is no need to give up on that very cool theme yet! All her suggestions are great, especially Joy! There is also a good Nameberry virtue name list. Some that came to me were:
    Or there’s always Chastity. 😛

    For Mary- names, I know a Mary Helen, and also a Mary Corrine, nn “Cora.” Mary Joan? Mary Edith? Mary Eva? Mary Susanna, nn Mary Sue? Mary Ruth?

    I love an Elizabeth variant (Elise!) or Anna for them. Felicity is great (and could count as a virtue name– happiness!), and makes me think of Madeline as well. Or Adele. Or Eve. Or Gemma.

    For boys, I can see a big brother Sam with a little brother Ben or Will or Jon or Eli. Or Frank! Or Thomas.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Clicked back to the original post from your update, and just wanted to add:
    Maria Teresa is a very common combo in Spanish-speaking countries, and it’s often shortened to Mari Teri (pronounced mar like car + e and Teri like Terry) or Maite. (My – tae). You could do some kind of Mitty/Mattie/Maddy nickname for a Maria Teresa too, I think. Spanish-speakers have lots of cool Maria + second name nicknames…my husband’s cousin is Maria Alejandra, nn MariAli!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm … my personal preference is, generally, to leave boy names for boys … but that said, I’ve always loved when a Sister or priest takes a new name and chooses the opposite gender. Like St. Clement Mary Hofbauer and Sr. Miriam James.


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