Baby name consultant: German name needed for Little Sister

Hellooooo 2016!! 😀

This new year is starting off with a really fun consultation from one of my very first and wonderfully loyal readers:

Alyssa and her husband Klaus are expecting their second baby, a little girl! She joins big brother:

Konrad Wolfgang

Which is such an amazingly fabulous name! It’s bold, traditional, saintly, and I love how unapologetically German it is, and how they just own it!

Alyssa writes,

I’m very excited to have just found out we are expecting a baby GIRL in March! … Here’s some info about our family:

My husband’s name is Klaus Wolfgang and for obvious reasons he really likes German names. It’s the only thing he really claims as his “style.” Our son is Konrad Wolfgang, which began as a compromise name as Klaus wanted a Klaus, Jr. but I really wasn’t going for it. So we compromised and he agreed that if the baby could have his initials, he would settle for “not a junior” and of course it had to be German. So we happened upon Konrad and fell in love. It suits him perfectly and we get lots of compliments on it. We love that it is a saint’s name, along with Wolfgang, and we found out after he was born that it was actually his great-grandmother’s maiden name, too. So, bonus points for the family connection!

I love every single detail! I also really love that the compromise Alyssa and her hubs worked out was that they wouldn’t do the Junior he wanted, but they would use his initials — and with both Klaus and Konrad being super German, and Wolfgang being their shared middle name, it really really works as a pseudo Junior. Nice job!

For this baby our “rules” are — must be German or have German usage, and can not start with a K. So far we only have two real contenders: Louisa and Mabel. I don’t believe either of them are saint names, which is a little disappointing to us. But I really like them both!

The middle name will definitely be Marie, as is customary with almost all of the girls in my family and of course I’m happy that it honors our Blessed Mother. I REALLY tried to talk Klaus into Edelweiss (nicknamed Ada) because throughout this pregnancy I’ve had a strong devotion to Ven. Edel Quinn. I actually hadn’t heard of her until your blog post a while ago! So I looked her up and really took to her story and her mission. Unfortunately, Edelweiss is just too out there for him. I understand, but am still a little disappointed. I was thinking about trying to sneak it in as a second middle name but since two middles aren’t really customary in either of our families, I fear it may come off as a little pretentious. What are your thoughts on two middle names? Any other suggestions on girls names?

There are so many fun things to talk about here! German names; are-they-or-aren’t-they-saints-names; to use a second middle name or not? Let’s dig in!

I really like working on consultations for families wanting really ethnic names. I’ve learned so much about names and cultures from doing them! So I was excited to focus on German names or names with German usage for this family.

I love both Louisa and Mabel! Regarding the saintliness of Louisa — I’ve found a St. Louise who’s also known as St. Luisa and a Bl. Louise who’s also known as Bl. Louisa, both of which can work for patrons for a little Louisa, as can any of the Sts. Louis (de Montfort is a personal fave), and Louisa and Louise are the the same name, really, just linguistic variants (Louisa is the “Latinate feminine form of Louis” and Louise is the “French feminine form of Louis,”) but I do get that it’s kind of a bummer that “St. Louisa” doesn’t yield any results.

As for Mabel, it’s kind of an exciting option because Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is the name of a male saint, BUT it’s also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where amiable=lovable). So Mabel’s a Marian name! I would be so over-the-moon excited if I discovered that a name I loved but didn’t think had any saintly connection turned out to be a Marian name! I would think using a Marian first name would knock out Marie as a middle name, but maybe I’m wrong? There’s not really anything weird about Mabel Marie, and in fact it reinforces the Marian connection (like: “Mother Most Amiable, Mary”), but Alyssa and Klaus could also see it as an opportunity to use a different middle name. Like Edelweiss! I just died over the idea of Edelweiss nicked Ada, love love love!!! And that Alyssa has a devotion to Ven. Edel Quinn is amazing! Since her hubs isn’t into using it for a first name, I wonder if they would consider using just Ada as a first name? It’s sweet and spunky on its own, I think, and a fun connection is that the day after I sent this info to Alyssa, I discovered it was the feast of St. Ada! (And yes, you better believe I emailed her right away to let her know — how crazy is that?!) Otherwise, I love the idea of Mabel Edelweiss. Gorgeous!

If they don’t like that idea, though, of course I totally understand. It’s really cool that Alyssa’s family has a tradition of the girls having Marie as a middle! Another way to perhaps keep with the tradition but use another name (like Mabel) might be to re-form it as “all the girls in our family have a Marian name for either their first or their middle name.”

Which brings me to the question about two middle names. I don’t think two middle names are a bad thing! I’ve never really thought of them as pretentious either, though I could see that … something like Sebastian Roderick Maximilian does sound kind of … uppity. But something like Julia Janine Marie doesn’t to me — I would be more likely to assume the parents tried to get in two honor names. Full disclosure: three of my five siblings have two middle names! It can be kind of a hassle with official forms and such, as forms aren’t set up (in America) to take more than one middle name, so the second middle often gets dropped. I don’t think that’s necessarily a deal breaker though — I actually think it can be freeing, because you can do whatever the heck you want with the second middle name (and the third, fourth, etc., if you so choose) if you think of it more like your child’s “real” name as opposed to their “legal” name. It’s an interesting distinction — for most people, they’d probably say their real name *is* their legal name — that’s the definition of “real name.” But Alyssa and her hubs could absolutely have their baby’s legal name be Louisa Marie, and her “real” name be Louisa Marie Edelweiss, and they can bring her up knowing that, and it’ll just be part of her identity, separate from what the government knows. I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t make any sense, but it seems maybe sort of thrillingly subversive! (And now you know just how big of a name nerd I am! Haha!)

I was excited to see what other ideas I could come up with for this little girl, based on Konrad, Mabel, and Louisa, using my trusty Baby Name Wizard book (both the names listed as similar to those Alyssa and Klaus like, and its list of German names), and the list of German names at behindthename.com as well. I have five names that I think they might be intrigued by:

(1) Some form of Adele
I was absolutely amazed to see that Adela was listed as similar to Louisa, and Della (a diminutive of Adela) was similar to Mabel, both of which remind me of Ven. Edel Quinn because apparently her parents intended to name her Adele but the priest misheard and thought they meant Edel, like a diminutive of Edelweiss. So Adele and related names could be a really nice nod to Ven. Edel! Some other variants with German usage include Aleida, which I thought was really pretty (though I did read there’s a character by this name on Orange is the New Black, which I’ve never seen, so I don’t know if it’s a bad association, or neutral?), and Adelheid (though I personally prefer the variant Adelaide, which loses the German flavor though), and Adelais, which I thought was quite pretty.

(2) Eleanora/Eleanore
This would have been my first suggestion if it wasn’t for the connection of Adele to Edel, because Eleanor was listed as similar in style to Louisa; Elinor to Konrad; and Nell (a traditional nickname for Eleanor/Elinor) as similar to Mabel! Wow! The German variants were listed on behindthename as Eleonora, Eleonore, Leonore, Lore, and Nora. I like them all for this family. The El- also kinda reminds me of Edelweiss/Edel.

(3) Greta
This is one of my very favorite German names, and when I saw it listed as similar to Konrad, I knew I had to suggest it. It could work as a nickname for Margaret/Margareta, or it could be a given name on its own. The Margaret names mean “pearl,” which is always so great too — I’d feel so lucky to have pearls be “my” gem, you know? And the name Pearl was listed as similar to Mabel!

(4) Hildi
I couldn’t let a German consultation go by without suggesting Hildi! I’ve been pushing it on everyone recently, haha! It’s in honor of St. Hildegard of Bingen, who was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict. Such a big deal to have a female Doctor as a patron saint! I’m pretty sure Hildegard’s a bit much, though, and I know a little one named Hildi for St. Hildegard and I always think it’s just the sweetest. If Hildi feels too nicknamey, Hilde and Hilda are both full names, but I think Hildi works on its own just fine.

(5) Liesl
I know you’re going to laugh, but Edelweiss make me think of Liesl because of the Sound of Music! Haha! I love the name Liesl, and if we had any German I’d totally try to use it! Being that it’s a short form of Elisabeth, it’s got a saintly connection, and it kind of reminds me of Louisa sound-wise. Alyssa and her hubs could also do Elisabeth with Liesl as a nickname.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little sister to Konrad in a very German family?

59 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: German name needed for Little Sister

  1. Haaaaaaaa, my first thought, before I read your suggestions, was Liesl. Great minds think alike! Another possibility is Anneliese.

    I also love Ilse (which is, like Liesl, a German derivative of Elisabeth).

    Or, perhaps, Wilhelmina. It’s a big name for a baby, but nickname possibilities are Willa or Mina.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I LOVE the suggestion of Greta! Perfect!

    But my total first thought was Anja!! I love Anja (said like Anya, but more visually appealing to me), and it has German usage. Thinking about Anja reminded me of Maja, which is the German version of Maya, and I love this spelling. If you can replace a Y with a J, I probably like the J spelling more.

    Going through behindthename.com list of German names, a few stuck out to me. First was Alena, which is related to Helena or Magdalena, and St. Helena is awesome and so is Mary Magdalene, they could choose what root they followed depending on who they liked better. There’s also just Helena too, which is German as well.

    Benedikta was also on the list and I found it intriguing. Might be too out there for the the hubby, but I more or less just wanted to mention it because I thought it was cool.

    We have a lot of the Von Trapp names listed (or names that are similar), so how about Brigitta? I love all the saint Bridgets out there!

    There’s Leona and Leonie. Leonie doesn’t really go awesome with Marie, though I still think it sounds fine, but Leona Marie is gorgeous! They’re lucky with the family middle name of Marie, Marie goes with absolutely everything I think.

    Random names that stuck out to me for no reason: Monika, Petra, Philomena, Raphaela, Rosa, Teresa, and Viktoria.

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  3. So I love Elisabeth nicked Liesl. I really like Lottie too. Though German, it comes from Charlotte and that isn’t German. But, a little Lottie Mabel??? So sweet! And following The Sound of Music, my favorite of the girls’ names was/is Marta ❤
    What an exciting challenge this consultation is. I am excited to find out the name this family settles on! 🙂

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  4. My very first thought was Liesl. I have always thought it was an adorable and very German name without sounding over the top. After visiting the tomb of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Marburg, Germany I have loved it even more because she would be such a wonderful patron for a little girl!

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  5. There are many beautiful German names!

    And The Sound of Music has, in fact, great possibilities: Liesl, Marta, Gretl, Brigitta, … and Louisa is a Sound of Music name too! I think St. Louise of Marillac actually counts as a Louisa. After all, almost every saint name is translated (remember that post about St. Clare actually being Chiara?). And her feast day is in March! So for me, Louisa is the best idea so far! And Louisa Marie is a lovely combination!

    Another German name that reminds me of Edelweiss is Heidi! I love this name, and it is short for Adelaide, which is a saint name (see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Italy).

    I hope my ideas help Alyssa and Klaus!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Before reading your suggestions, I thought of Leisl and Greta, so I was so happy to see you suggested them. I think both go well with Marie, but I also like the suggestion of Marta, which maybe doesn’t go as well with Marie? Maybe Franziska?

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  7. I love Renate, Regina, Corinne, Julia, Eva, Lieselotte, Katrin, Simone, Silke, Juliane, Sabine, Daniela, Elke Irene, Christiane, Franziska, Antje, and Martine from my former exchange student’sb friends & family 😊

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      • Hello Kate! Happy new year and hope you had a blessed Christmas season! If you remember me from the Meike pronunciation post, I’m here to help with the pronunciation of Antje (who happens to be my mom Meike’s aunt by marriage lol). Antje, the low German and Dutch diminutive of Anna, is pronounced approximately AHN-schuh. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sabrina! You’re a star! Thanks so much for commenting with this!! I really really like that pronunciation! (You have some really well-named relatives! And your own name as well!)

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  8. How about Ludmilla? Behind the name is saying its Russian/Czech, but this is the middle name for mom who is very German and came to this country in her mid-20s from a very catholic family. There is a Saint Ludmila, the grandmother of Saint Wenceslaus, also known as Good King Wenceslaus. And how cute would the nicknames Lulu, Mila, or Millie be?! Love it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ohmygosh Ludmil(l)a! One of you actually sent me a little blurb about her from the Magnificat a while ago and I’ve been meaning to post about St. Ludmila ever since, because her story was so great! What do you all think? Would Ludmil(l)a work today? I do love those nickname options!

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  9. WOW, thank you everyone!! These are wonderful suggestions and I can’t wait to share them with my husband. Some thoughts on some of your suggestions: Wilhelmina was our first choice if Konrad were a girl! We were going to call her Willa, which I love! But since then my sister-in-law had a little girl named Filomena so I almost felt like it took the magic away from Wilhelmina. But I still love it!

    I also really like the suggestions of Elke (one of my FAVORITES but I work closely with a girl named Elka and it’s such a unique name that I think it would be too obvious that I “stole” it from her). Franziska (we’ve actually talked about this with the nn Frankie – my DH loves boyish nn’s for girls so that’s always a bonus for him!), Liesl (my mother-in-law’s favorite), Marta (SO cute!), Heidi (my grandma is convinced this will be the baby’s name), and Helena.

    Kate, I’ve already told you about my feelings on your suggestions – so spot on! (I do have to share with everyone that my husband’s favorite is Hildi!)

    THANK YOU again! I have loved reading each of your responses. This is such a great community! 🙂
    -Alyssa

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  10. Fascinating blog and blog post! I found you through Fountains of Carrots podcast! Quick question:When you write that names are ‘similar’ (for example “…Adela was listed as similar to Louisa, and Della (a diminutive of Adela) was similar to Mabel, both of which remind me of Ven. Edel Quinn…”)–what does that mean? In what way are the names similar?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Katie! Whenever I talk about names being similar, I’m referring to the book The Baby Name Wizard — it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar to the entry in terms of style/feel/popularity, based on a computer program the author wrote. She’s a genius! It’s uncannily accurate, I find! So many times I’ll look up a name someone likes, and see the names that are listed as similar, and then find out that several of those were on their list of other names they like. Really, amazing!

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  11. I can’t even pick a favorite. If I was this family I’d be hoping to have five daughters so I could use all the names! You might have done TOO good a job on suggestions, haha.

    I never imagined I’d meet a baby named Greta, but I worked with kids when I lived in NY and had a little girl named Greta. She rocked it. (Which makes me feel like Hildegard would work, especially with a nickname.)

    Love the name Eleanor/Eleanore/Eleanora. My friend and I have joked that if I had triplet girls I could name them Eleanor, Victoria, and Loretta… and call them Nora, Cora, and Lora. Which might be really mean, but hey.

    Love this post!!!

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    • Haha! I love Nora, Cora, and Lora, very cute! They would make awesome storybook names too! (Also — LOVE Cora for Victoria! Wow, that’s inspired!!) (Also, my grandmother was Loretta and went by Rett sometimes, so cool.)

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      • Rett! That IS really cool! I love the name Loretta and the million nicknames that can come with it. Lori, Lora, Etta, even Lottie if you want. And now Rett! lol I’m single and therefore likely years from having kids but I like to figure out nicknames for all of my favorite names. (And… I won’t pretend I haven’t struggled with Loretta vs Harriet because I think Etta would be a great nickname for either – but it works since Hattie is nice, as are the other Loretta nicknames!) Pondering names is also how I figured out Cora for Victoria. I love Victoria, but the nicknames Tori and Vicky aren’t my favorite (and don’t go well with the nicknames for my other hypothetical children – am I sounding too crazy now???). I figure the letters for Cora are all found in Victoria and the sounds aren’t all that different, so it works for me. 🙂

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      • Yes! This is totally how my mind works too!! I LOVE Cora for Victoria, I’m seriously so impressed. Tori and Vicky aren’t really my style either, and Victoria’s such a sophisticated name, it’s a shame to dismiss it because of not figuring out a good nickname. You’ve totally done it!

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  12. And I always tend to go with what a family is feeling drawn to initially. Louisa is great – and so many female names don’t really have a saint – they are the male derivative. I used to wish there were more female saints to draw from, but I now love the female names from male saints a lot. So I would say, don’t be concerned about it having to have a female saint.

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  13. Is the Louisa spelling the more common German one? The Eastern Europeans I know use the Luisa spelling (which I prefer), and I assumed that continued into Western Europe as the more common version. (Louisa seems more Americanized to me for some reason.) I think it’s a great choice, and any version of Edel/Adele/Adela is so great, too.

    My first thought for them was Edith. Strong and simple. It seems comparable to Conrad/Konrad in style and popularity (although I admit I was too lazy to look it up). Great German patroness as well (Edith Stein)!

    If the first initial wasn’t an issue my first suggestion would have been Klara/Clara.

    How about Ilsa? Or Ida? Imogen? Anna?

    How about just Willa as a standalone name? It’s lovely! Willa Louise Marie Lastname

    If not Greta/Great, how about Gretchen? I’ve heard people say it sounds harsh, but the two Gretchens I’ve known were a little blond girl, and a yoga teacher… very soft and sweet associations for me.

    I also thought of Lena for them. Darling on its own, or could be a nick for so many things. Adeline or Adelina could be Lina/Lena. Or Elena. Or Magdalena or Angelina.

    A few other ideas, some were mentioned above, I noticed:
    Cassia/Kaisa
    Helena
    Hanna
    Lenore
    Antonia
    Viviana
    Tessa
    Alberta
    Regina
    Alma
    Gemma

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    • These are all beautiful suggestions!! I never even considered whether Louisa is the common German spelling or not, good question! Behindthename says Luisa is Spanish and Italian, and that the German variants are Louisa and Luise …

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    • Also, I found this neat list of patrons. Maybe consulting it for your in-laws region of origin would help: http://catholicsaints.info/patron-saints-of-cities-of-germany/

      Under German saints I found some goodies:
      St Berta/Bertha (not too far off Marta!)
      St Gertrude (I’ve been in love with Gertie since reading All-Of-A-Kind Family)
      St Marcellina (I know a little Marcelline, and it’s not a mouthful at all)
      St Odilia/Ottilie of Cologne… I keep coming across her this winter and love her name! Totally wearable as a more-hip Olivia replacement!

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      • Huh, I suppose it may be! I was pronouncing the ending of Ottilie as Natalie’s ending. Love it either way though.

        And I forgot to mention that she was martyred with St Ursula, which is another great option. Konrad and Ursula!

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      • Oh-tih-lee-uh Is my instinct here, but I’ve never heard the name, so I will defer to someone with more German fluency than I. (My Deutsch is also flavored by my exchange family’s accent.) 😉

        Mariam, Sinah, and Caroline (Caro-lee-nih nn Caro) were some of my favorite names from my time in Germany. I don’t think Sinah has a saint connectiom and am too lazy to dig, but I think it’s such a striking and sylvan name.

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      • These are all gorgeous names! I’ve not heard of Sinah — I couldn’t find any info on it that was verified — behindthename says it’s a modern German name; other places say it’s Irish or Indian … interesting!

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    • Ok, reallly sorry for the over-posting, but just had to share that Edith is #627 and Conrad is #649 (Konrad has never been in the top 1000). So my instinct there was right!

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      • Oh yes! I love St. Edith Stein! And Edie is just the sweetest! So cool that Edith and Conrad are well-matched popularity-wise! (No worries about “over-posting” — I love learning this stuff!)

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  14. And the good ideas just keep coming! Thank you, everyone! i hadn’t checked the comments in a while but I’m so happy to see so many more wonderful suggestions! Some thoughts – I love Willa as a standalone name, definitely haven’t considered that yet. And Edith is great! Love the cute nn Edie. And you’re right, so close to the same popularity as K/Conrad! Also, I would LOVE to use Ursula, as I work in an Ursuline school so it has special meaning to me. Plus, I think it has lovely sounds. Ugh, I just wish that dang sea-witch never existed! 😉

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