Baby name consultant: A little green bean to join a solid, saintly set

Jessica and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! Their other children are:

Stephen Joseph
Paul James
Theresa Rose

You can’t get much more solid than those names! Beautiful!

Jessica writes,

I love reading your baby name ideas, and now I’m in need of some help myself … My husband really likes Brady for a boy’s name because that is his mom’s maiden name [but] I don’t think it matches our other names. For boys, I like Leo and Dominic. Samuel is a possibility, but I don’t like Sam or Sammy. For girls, I like Gianna, Lucy, Cecilia, Elizabeth (for middle name). Madeline Sophia is a name I’ve always liked, after St. Madeline Sophie Barat … My dad is Kenneth, but I haven’t figured out a first name I like with it to use it as a middle name … [Also] My husband’s mom’s family is Irish.”

Names that can’t be used include:


Alrighty, first off, my thoughts about their current list:

I was most intrigued by Brady — I totally get how Jessica’s husband feels (it’s SUCH a cool thing to have a family surname that can work as a first name, especially one as important as a mom’s maiden name), but I also totally get how Jessica herself feels — Brady as a first name is a very different style than Stephen, Paul, and Theresa. If both Jessica and her husband liked it and were on board with it, then who cares, but since Jessica doesn’t like that it’s so different in style, my favorite thing to do in situations like this is find a compromise that both parents can live with. Like:

  • Brady as a middle name. I think this is the most likely possibility, and works for either a boy or a girl.
  • Brady as a nickname (even just as a family nickname/just used at home), perhaps by mashing up first and middle names that are better style matches for their other kids’ names than Brady is. Like: Brendan Henry, Ambrose David, or Brian Andrew. Each of these first+middle combos has a strong Br- in the first name and a middle name that could make Brady as a mashup nickname make sense, and I think Brendan, Ambrose, and Brian all fit the style of their other kiddos’ names better than Brady. (I know David’s on their no-go list, I only included it with Ambrose as an example.) (Ooh, maybe Ambrose Edward?) (Fun coincidence [or not?? 😉 ] — today’s the feast of St. Ambrose!)

The second thing I particularly noticed was that Jessica would like to use her dad’s name, Kenneth, somehow, but she’s struggled to find a first name that works with Kenneth as a middle. I know two guys named Kenneth Brian, which I think is a handsome first-middle combo, so I thought I might suggest that as a possibility, as both Kenneth and Brian fit the feel of the other kids’ names well I think. Otherwise, I think some of my suggestions below might work as first names that can take Kenneth as a middle.

I love Leo and Dominic, as well as Samuel (though I do think Sam and Sammy are somewhat inevitable, more so perhaps than with other boys’ names — there’s just something about Sam/Sammy that everyone loves! That said though, if they’re firm and consistent and immediate about correcting people, it might work.)

Their girl’s list is gorgeous, I love all the names on it. Madeleine Sophie is a favorite combo of mind as well, gorgeous! (If they decide to use this combo, Sophie the Giraffe would be a perfect toy for her, as it was named after St. Madeleine Sophie Barat!)

I do of course have some other suggestions for Jessica and her hubs based on the names they’ve already used for their other little ones and the names that are on their current list:

(1) Catherine
One of the first things I almost always do when starting a consultation is look up all the names (already used and on the list of possibilities) in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it has the awesome feature of listing, for each entry, boy and girl names that match the entry in terms of style/feel/popularity. Once I make a list of all those names, I look for overlap — names that are listed as similar to more than one of the names the parents like. Catherine was the big winner for Jessica and her hubs, showing up in one spelling or another in the lists for Joseph, Paul, James, Theresa, Cecilia, and Elizabeth. (The Catherine spelling was the most common for them, like St. Catherine of Siena, followed by Katherine and Kathryn; there’s also Katharine, like St. Katharine Drexel.) It’s a great name (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Katherine! 😀 ), and it has a bunch of great nicknames: K/Cate (which I go by exclusively), K/Catie, K/Cat, K/Cathy, Kay, even Casey. I thought Brady went particularly well as a middle for the super saintly Catherine (and, because I love to think about things like this, Catherine Brady would make sense of the spelling Cady, which I love!). (Jessica and her husband should, of course, just ignore me with the nickname/mashup thing if they think it’s/I’m crazy! Haha!)

(2) Sarah
I was surprised that Sarah was such a big hit for them, but it really was, listed as similar to Joseph, James, Samuel, Lucy (in the form of its traditional nickname Sadie), and Elizabeth. Sarah is a beautiful name with an awesome biblical namesake and enviable meaning (“princess”). I know a Sarah Elizabeth, which I’ve always thought was a pretty combo. Sarah-Lucy is striking me as an unexpected and appealing double name, if they’re into that kind of thing. Or Sarah-Kate. I really like Sarah Brady too, as a first+middle combo. I don’t know if they care about repeating initials, but it’s funny — I purposely didn’t put Thomas on the boy list, even though I thought it was a great match for them, because they already have a Theresa, who’s the next child up from this baby, and not only were the sounds the same and the initial, but with the first two letters of both names being the same (Th-) it seemed a little much. But I don’t mind Sarah as a sister to Stephen, probably because St- strikes me almost as an entire letter of its own, different from just S- (I know, my namey brain is weirdly wired!). Also because there would be two children between them.

(3) Rebecca (nicked Ruby?)
I’m worried that Jessica and her husband may be tiring of my love for nicknames (!) but this is the last one I’ll do for the girls, promise! 🙂 (I just like to make sure they have lots of options and ideas.) Rebecca was already a style match for this family through Stephen, Joseph, and Samuel, and then I saw that Ruby was matched up with Rose, Leo, and Lucy, and it reminded me that I know of a little Rebecca who goes by Ruby — when I first heard that, I thought I would die of name happiness! Even if Jessica and her hubs don’t care for Ruby as a nickname for Rebecca, or at all, I still think Rebecca is nice for them — it has a similar feel to me as Sarah, and it’s a substantial name that grows well from girlhood to womanhood.

(4) Anne or Anna
The BNW says Anna’s a better match for them, and I do love it, but I’m kinda feeling that Anne might be more their speed. I love Anne (Anne of Green Gables! And dear St. Anne, who’s the patroness of the blog), it’s solid and substantial, and even sophisticated in its simplicity. The only downfall with either Anne or Anna is that I think it would make Gianna unusable if they wanted to consider it for a future daughter. I’m loving the idea of Anne Cecilia, pretty! Or Anne Lucia (instead of Lucy)? (Or maybe they don’t want to use their first name possibilities as middles? I understand that — I’m the same way. I have very distinct first name and middle name lists.)

(5) Gemma or Veronica
Despite my heavy reliance on the BNW to make sure I’m on the right track style-wise, Gemma and Veronica were inspired by a friend of mine, who has what I think is similar taste to Jessica and her husband. Veronica especially has a similar popularity arc to Stephen, Paul, and Theresa, and is a gorgeous and really saintly name. I’ve always loved Gemma, beautiful name and great patron for a girl. I also like that it’s like the more familiar/mainstream Jenna, but not. (Like with Anne/Anna I think Gemma would disqualify Gianna for any future daughters.)

(1) Gregory
Gregory was well represented in the BNW for this family, with a popularity profile similar to Stephen, Paul, and Theresa. Its saintliness and manliness is impeccable as well, being a Pope St. the Great like Leo. As the BNW puts it (I love this!): “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” It would absolutely be my tippity top suggestion for this family — the ONLY thing holding me back from unreservedly putting my #1 stamp of approval on it is that it can’t take the middle name Brady. (Well, I guess it can, if they were okay with Greg Brady jokes I do quite like Gregory Kenneth. So handsome!

(2) Patrick
Patrick pretty much ties with Gregory in my estimation. I really love it for this family, for a couple of reasons: It’s similar in style/feel/popularity to the other kids’ names (saintly, mid-century peak of popularity); it’s Irish, which is a nice nod to Jessica’s husband’s family; and it takes the middle name Brady really well. Patrick Brady is a really swoony combo!

(3) Martin
Martin was a style match for Stephen, Paul, and Theresa, and St. Martin de Porres is one of my personal favorites, so it seemed an ideal suggestion for this family. I also love the nickname Marty, but the full Martin is very handsome. Martin Brady sounds great imo.

(4) Henry
As I’ve posted about before, I love Henry, it’s such a sweet name for a little guy, and totally fits a man as well, and when I saw it listed as similar to Rose, Samuel, Lucy, and Cecilia, I was excited to suggest it for Jessica and her husband. I don’t love the rhythm of Henry Brady; I don’t mind Henry Kenneth or Henry Dominic; I really like Henry Patrick.

(5) Anthony or Vincent
Anthony and Vincent are super solid, super saintly names. Jessica and her husband’s ideas of Dominic and Gianna reminded me of them both, because, like Dominic and even more so Gianna, they can have an Italian feel, but within a Catholic family with saint-named sibs, ethnicity melts away and they can work for anyone. Like Stephen, Paul, and Theresa, they’re timeless, but also not currently popular. I think either one could be a great fit for this family. I like Vincent Brady and Vincent Kenneth; I don’t think Anthony Brady works as well, but I like Anthony Kenneth a lot.

So those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Stephen, Paul, and Theresa?


20 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: A little green bean to join a solid, saintly set

  1. Just have to say I love their children’s names! I’ve used 5 of the 6 of them and Theresa (the one I didn’t get to use) was our top girl’s choice with one of my boys. I think Martin in a great suggestion and makes me also think of Martha for a girl. Mary and Margaret would also be great style matches for their family. Catherine is also an outstanding choice.

    If I were them I stick to a New Testament first name for a boy. I particularly like John Kenneth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG love love love their children’s names! Wonderful taste!

    My first thought was to suggest Clare, so I’m sad that they can’t use it! It would go so perfectly.

    I adore your suggestions of Catherine and Anna 🙂 So cute! I would love to suggest Hannah as well.

    Also for girls I would like to suggest Julia and Caroline. I feel like Caroline Elizabeth or Caroline Cecilia would be gorgeous.

    Lastly, for girls, Rosemary. I know that Theresa’s middle is Theresa Rose, but I still think Rosemary would be totally usable, but it would set a precedent of using Rose in some way for girls, but I feel like you could get around that by using other Marian names. BUT if Rosemary doesn’t strike a cord, what about just Mary? That would be so sweet and classic in that set. Stephen, Paul, Theresa and Mary could be from any time period and are truly undeniably Catholic.

    You suggestions for boys are so lovely as well. I would maybe suggest William as well. Or Matthew? I feel like Matthew or William would be really adorable with their set.

    I have full faith that they are going to choose a wonderful name given their fabulously named children that are already named!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Could you do a spotlight on Ruby sometime? Maybe before February? 😉 I have seen you mention it before as a nickname for Rebecca, but hubby and I really love it for our second girl. The only faith-based reference of any kind to it that I can find is the proverb, but I’m wondering if there is more. Anyway, just a thought. I love reading your blog! Thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like this sibling group is begging for a double Mary name to solidify its awesomeness. (And since I’m writing on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, how could I not suggest that?) 🙂 Since you like Elizabeth, what about Mary Elizabeth? Nn could be based on Elizabeth (love Libby) OR the darling “ME” pronounced “Emmy.”

    As for boys, I don’t think they can go wrong with any of the suggestions here! I particularly like Matthew Brady, Patrick Brady, Dominic Brady/Kenneth, and Gregory Kenneth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I see that there are three themes: New Testament names (first names for the boys and middle names for the girls), J middle names for the boys and very well-known saints’ names for all of them.

    So I suggest Catherine Elizabeth for a girl and Matthew John for a boy.

    I would not choose a biblical first name for a girl because Theresa might feel excluded that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As usual, all the suggestions seem just right…but…I particularly loved the whole Brady discussion…love the name itself, that it is a Family name (of course, Irish!), and the name combinations for which it could be a nickname!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Since you mentioned Veronica here, which I too love: have you written about nicknames for Veronica before? I really like Vera, but it doesn’t go well with our last name (Cruz–unless we want our next daughter to sound like a Mexican city? :)), but I’m not a fan of Ronnie. You had some great combo suggestions here with Brady…I was thinking of a middle name combining with Veronica to make a nice nickname or an alternate nickname for Veronica alone. Let me know if you have already written somewhere about this and I’ll click on over! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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