Laura and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown). They already have:
Which, beyond being just gorgeous, classy, and classic, is meaningful to Laura and her hubs because, as Laura writes,
“St. Clare and St. Francis are very special saints to me, and I entrusted prayers for my husband and myself to them back when we were still dating. Clara is also a nod to my favorite piece of classical music, The Nutcracker. (Hubby and I are both musicians.) Louise is my maternal grandmother’s middle name. We call her Clara-Lou and Lou-Lou as a “nickname.” I had Clara picked out when I was 11! I loved the meaning: “clear/bright/illuminated famous warrior.””
Beautiful, right? Such meaning! Laura continues,
“We’re not planning on finding out the gender this time around, and are just having an impossible time thinking of a girl’s name that we both like! What’s more, in all of my girl-name research, I’ve come to think my lined-up boy’s name is too boring.
Our top contender is: Rosalie Caoilfhinn (KEE-lin). I love that it’s a nod to our Irish heritage. (We’re both German/Irish). My husband is not totally thrilled with Rosalie, and I have my concerns about whether Rosalie is too cute for a teenager to wear. Also, I dislike Rosie, Rose, Lee and Ros, as nicknames.
My husband really likes Diana, for which I don’t care. It has too strong a mythology/princess connection for me.”
Some of the names Laura likes that her husband doesn’t include:
Anessa Coeli (“I love that Agnes is St. Clare’s sister, but Agnes is a tough name for a little girl. “Lamb of heaven” just tickles me pink but hubs thinks it’s horrid-sounding.”)
Eithne (“Gaelic pronunciation of en-ya“)
And “names initially suggested by my husband, but when I reminded him of them, he hated them” (!):
For the boys, Laura says,
“… my first boy plan for forever was William Thomas. It’s in honor of both my grandfathers, and also my father, William “Bill.” I simply adore Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket. “Will” was my planned nickname. Now, however, these names sound so…plain to me! And Liam is the name of a good friend’s son.
My boy name problem is the opposite of my girl name problem. I love too many! Arthur is a top pick if I have a second son. Pascal, Andrew, Paul, Bernard, Peter, Augustine, Éamon, Mark, George, Kieran, Kevin, Francis (though the F.F. is a big problem for my husband), Patrick, Seamus … I can’t even list all of the boys names that I like!“
I don’t know about the rest of you, but not only is Clara Louise amazingly lovely, some of Laura’s other ideas had me practically drooling, they’re just so beautiful. Like Anessa Coeli! My husband wouldn’t go for a name like that either but it’s so my taste — a little offbeat, a great rhythm, and packed full of faith-y meaning. Love it! (It also reminded me of this consultation, with their Inessa.)
I love too that they’re into the Irishy Irish names, I would totally have gone that direction if my husband had been open to it (he’s not. At all.).
Rosalie Caoilfhinn blows me away with its beauty. What a great combo! However, I do think that a possible nickname is sort of a must, especially if they’re worried that Rosalie won’t wear well at certain ages. I was trying to think of alternatives to Rosie, Rose, Lee, and Ros and thought of Ree (like Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman), and also a traditional nickname for Rosemary is Romy, which I’ve always liked — Caoilfhinn is an awesome middle, but I wonder if they’d consider Rosalie M__ nicked Romy?
Another nickname idea for Rosalie Caoilfhinn, which may just complicate things rather than make them easier, is Róisín, said ro-SHEEN, which I like as a nickname for this combo because it kind of takes a little from Rosalie and a little from Caoilfhinn sound-wise. It’s an Irish name meaning “little Rose” and was used as a middle name by this family.
They could also do just Ro — I have a friend named Rosey who sometimes goes by Ro and I always think it feels really affectionate.
With the boy names, I kept coming back to Laura’s comment that her boy names now “sound so…plain to me!” so I focused pretty heavily on finding names that wouldn’t sound “plain” — to me, for a boy, that means “more unusual,” whereas for a girl I’d think it would mean “frillier” maybe. The fresher a name sounds — the more uncommon — I think the less plain it seems. So when I was thinking about boy names, not only did I have some name suggestions, but I also had some strategies that I thought Laura and her husband might find helpful. Like:
- Alternate versions of names they like
For example, Laura said the name she’s loved and planned forever is William Thomas — it has loads of meaning for her in her family and saint-wise as well. What if she considered Wilhelm or Willem instead? Or Tavish, Tam, or Tomek? I’d probably think of doing one “normal” paired with one “unusual” name, rather than have them both be alternates, like William Tavish or Willem Thomas. Wilhelm and Willem can both take her planned nickname Will as well, so it would only mean a slight tweaking of their plan and still a clear nod to Laura’s dad. Looking at the other names they like, Andrew could become Ander; Paul could become Pavel; Peter could become Pierce or Piers; with their love of Irish could totally do Caoimhín instead of Kevin … you get the idea, and there are other variants besides those I listed — behindthename.com and dmnes.org are great resources for that kind of thing!
(I interrupt this broadcast to tell you of a major name FAIL on my part, in regards to Laura and her husband’s name ideas: Their last name begins with an F, and all the while I was working on this for them, it never once occurred to me that William Thomas F__’s initials would be WTF. Fortunately, one of Laura’s friends caught it and pointed it out. You guys — I really think it’s important to run your name ideas by some people before birth! And not just me, clearly. Relying on my opinion/advice will apparently have your child ending up with initials that will torment him or her for life. )
- Unusual nicknames for “plain” first names
Another way to jazz up names that you think are a little too plain is with an unexpected nickname. I was thinking about William and Laura’s idea of Will, and thought even if Will just changed to Wills, like the prince, it might provide enough sparkle for them to feel content with it again, you know? Wills is one more letter than Will, but it has a whole different feel to me — a little international and just … unexpected. I also saw that a Dutch nickname for it is Pim — I love that! I’ve mentioned here a bunch of times about Francis and Gregory, two names that I personally *intellectually* like — I know they’re great, traditional names with great saintly patrons — but if I were to use them I’d need just a little something, and the idea of the nickname Finn for Francis and Rory or Gus for Gregory does that for me. I’ve seen Packy and Patch for Patrick, which are so fun and different. And Pasha for Paul is so sweet!
- Double names
Double names are much more unusual for boys than they are for girls, and even pairing two “normal” names together really packs a punch — I’ve written about John Henry recently, for example. John Paul’s always a great example — on their own, John and Paul are solid and traditional and may even be characterized as somewhat “plain,” but put them together and it’s a totally different name. Mark Bernard’s striking me right now as kind of a cool combo from Laura’s list — I like the repeated “-ar” in both … double names can be a bit clunky for everyday, but Mark Bernard, for example, has less syllables than some of the really long boy names like Alexander or Nathaniel and is the same length as Augustine on their list.
Alrighty, on to my other name suggestions. As you all know, when I’m doing a consultation I almost always start by looking through the Baby Name Wizard, which has the amazing feature of listing, for each entry, boy and girl names that match the entry in terms of style/feel/popularity. I looked up all Laura and her husband’s name ideas for both boys and girls and wrote down all the style matches and then looked for patterns and overlap and came up with seven ideas for girls and eight for boys:
(1) Something to do with Anna
I always take notice when the same name and/or its variants starts showing up as a match for several of the names a couple likes, and in this case, it was all sorts of Anna versions. Anna itself was the one listed most often, but Anne, Anita, Annika, Annabelle, Amabel (which is not an Anna name but is where Annabelle most likely originated from, and has a great Marian connection as well), and Aine were also. The last one, Aine, really jumped out at me because of their love of the Irish names, especially Eithne, which is so similar, but maybe Aine is just different enough for Laura’s husband? They could spell it with a fada as Áine or without, or they could spell it Anya, which I don’t mind at all as it (1) makes the pronunciation more obvious and (2) I think it helps remind people that Clara has musical/balletic ties because Anya has a Russian feel which always makes me think of the ballet. (And now you’ve gotten a glimpse inside my weird namey head where associations make loads of sense to me and probably don’t to anyone else! Haha!) Something like Aine/Anya Roisin would be really pretty.
I was really interested to see Amabel and Annabelle listed because, first of all, as soon as I saw Annabelle I immediately thought there’s a good chance it’s the kind of name Laura would like. And Amabel, the origin of Annabel(le), is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which means “lovable” and was the name of a (male) saint. “Lovable” is such a great meaning for a little one! But wait — there’s more! “Mater Amabilis” is a title of Our Lady — usually translated as “Mother Most Amiable” but amiable literally means lovable — so Amabel (and therefore Annabel/Annabelle) can be considered Marian! I LOVE finding stuff like that out!
The other Anna names are great too, of course, but Annabelle and Aine were really the ones that seemed like great ideas for this family.
Both Sylvia and Sylvie showed up several times in my research, but my gut is saying Sylvie is more their taste than Sylvia. I personally love Sylvie — I feel like it’s the Sophie less traveled — elegant but sweet.
Julia, Julie, and Juliet were all big winners here style-wise as well, but as with Sylvie vs. Sylvia, I suspect that Juliet would be Laura’s favorite of those. I think Clara and Juliet are amazing as sisters — even though Juliet’s a literary name rather than a musical name, I think it evokes a similar artsy, cultured, feminine feel as Clara. Love it!
I’m not sure what I think about this suggestion. It doesn’t feel like Laura’s taste to me, but the Baby Name Wizard is saying it fits her style. It tied with Anna as having the most mentions in the lists of names that were similar to the other names she likes! Behindthename gives the traditional Harriet nicknames as Etta, Ettie, Hallie, Hattie, Hatty, and Hettie, all of which I like on their own as a given name, so maybe Laura and her husband would prefer one of those? Or maybe they do like Harriet? I do think it’s one of those names that’s coming back on the heels of Alice and Matilda-type names, so we’ll probably see more little Harriets running around soon!
We talked quite a bit about Lydia recently! It’s not going to deter me from suggestions it though. I’ve always loved Lydia — it’s biblical (the name of a woman who sold purple cloth — how cool for a little Lydia girl to have a color of her own!), and the nickname Liddy is too sweet. It was also a style match for Clara (as well as others on their list), which was a great plus!
I’m loving Frances recently. In Dwija’s consultation I wrote, “Frances [is] fairly uncommon for a first name for a girl as far as I can tell, though Francis is all over the Catholic name stats for boys. Frannie and Frankie are sweet nicknames, and the full Frances is serious and bookish in all the best ways. Frances can be a nod to any of the Sts. Francis, but of course there are loads of female namesakes.” That’s pretty much what I want to say here too! Clara and Frances seem so well matched to me as sisters too, probably because Frances reminds me so much of Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, which makes me think of great books for girls, in which I include Heidi, whose beloved friend is Klara. So. Once again, the weird ramblings of my mind. 🙂
(7) Miscellaneous others
There were a lot of names I came upon that I thought would exactly fit the part of Laura that loves Anessa and Elsabeth and Eithne but they weren’t overall style matches, just names that might have been listed as similar to just one name that’s on their list, but I couldn’t not list them here, even just as a P.S. Interestingly, most of them were listed as style matches for Pascal: Allegra, Aida, Ariadne, Elodie, Melisande, Ophelia, and Esme. A few Irish names too, like Mairead, Eimear, Catriona or Riona, and Aoife — names I consider to be a bit more accessible because they don’t have any b’s or h’s and they’re not seventeen letters long, haha!
Frederick was far and away the biggest hit for Laura and her husband in terms of style matches — it was listed as similar to Rosalie, Josephine, Frances, and Arthur. It reminds of Chopin (and his spelling, Frederic, is a nice one and a little different without being crazy, especially for musicians!), and it can take the German nickname Fritz, which could be really fun. I also know a little Frederick who goes by Erick.
I’ve long loved Gilbert Blythe but not his name … but more recently it’s been growing on me. I love the nickname Gil, one of my faves, and there’s Gilbert and Sullivan too. (So sorry if my musical references are making you musicians out there roll your eyes — I’m not a musician so my thoughts are really amateurish! But I’ll offer any connections that come to my mind, just in case.)
(3) Jasper or Casper
Both of these names refer to one of the Three Wise Men, whose known by one or the other depending on what you’re reading. I love them both, and they’re certainly not “plain”! Jasper is similar to Augustine and Josephine, and Casper to Elsa.
Oscar is similar to similar to Clara (!), Elsa, and Alice, and it’s offbeat and saintly with both Irish and German usage — what a great option for this family! I spotlighted it here.
Tristan has always had an artsy feel to me, probably because of Tristan and Isolde but also because it’s one of those “softer” names for boys, which I quite like. It’s also Irishy, which is a great bonus!
I already mentioned Caoimhín, and I thought I’d suggest my very favorite Irish boy name: Tadhg. It’s said like “tiger” without the -er, and Tadhg is sometimes Anglicized as Thaddeus (and sometimes as Timothy, but my favorite is one of the Irish Martyrs who’s known as both Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, OP and Bl. Tadhg Moriarty, OP). Tadhg has such a cool look and sound to me, and I like that it can be a name on its own, or conceivably used for a “nickname” for Thaddeus or Timothy (or really a “call name,” since it’s not technically a diminutive of either Thaddeus or Timothy).
(7) Style matches for Elsa
Like with the Pascal matches for girls, I thought the boy matches for Elsa were all right up Laura’s alley (some of which I’ve already mentioned): Oscar, Leo, August, Hans, Felix, and Casper.
(8) Style matches for Pascal
And once again Pascal seems a great benchmark for what might be considered “not plain.” All these seemed like they might be intriguing to Laura and her husband (some I already mentioned): Alistair, Aloysius, Artemas, Atticus, Augustine, Cassian, Dashiell, Gideon, Joachim, Leander, Leopold, Matthias, Milo, Jasper, Orlando, Phineas, Raphael, Thaddeus, and Tristan.
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest as a little brother or sister to Clara Louise, based on all the characteristics Laura and her husband like?