Baby name consultant: Baby #4, awesome initials please

Dianne and her husband are expecting their fourth baby and third girl! Their older kiddos are:

Ava Lilian
Sophia Elizabeth
Caleb Augustin

Love. Love. Love.

Dianne writes,

My husband prefers initials that spell things, but so far we haven’t done that well with the other children! Ava’s initials are ALM (and we stretched that to say she’s our almsgiving). It’s obviously not a deal breaker, but it’s nice.

We liked Ava because it was close to “ave”, the start of a Ave Maria … “Lilian” is her aunt’s name. Spelled with one middle L, being the Filipino way to spell it. (My husband is Filipino and I’m white, so our kids are mixed race. We considered more traditional Filipino names, but they’re mostly hispanic in origin and we don’t feel like that works well in the US with our heritage).

Sophia’s name was almost going to be Olivia, but my grandmother (middle name Elizabeth) died shortly before her birth. And for whatever reason at the time, I didn’t like Olivia Elizabeth and decided that Sophia went better with it. Since then, my cousin named her daughter Olivia, so I’m not keen on using it again.

We thought that Caleb Augustin was just a real strong name. We dropped the “e” on Augustin because we thought it helped to pronounce it as “Au-GUS-tin” instead of “AUG-us-teen.” His first name was almost Augustin, but I didn’t want a Gus (we did like the nickname Augie!), and I ultimately thought it would be too “weird” sounding outside of our Catholic circle.

We didn’t consult “top name” lists until after we named our kids. We had no idea how popular they are. I would probably prefer a name not at the top of the popularity list like our other kids, but again, not a deal breaker. I do want names that are common enough to 1) be pronounceable, and 2) not seem too weird on future job applications, etc. We would also love a very strong saint’s name, or at least some obscure connection to a saint.”

This was so fun for me to read, I love being given lots of information about the hows and whys a couple named their children.

For this baby, their top name contenders are:

Siena — (“Catherine of Siena is my patron saint. I don’t really like Catherine“)

Seraphina — (“we like that she could go by something more common sounding — Sera — while still having a beautiful name, that reminds us of the angels”)

Adele — (“A beautiful saint name. We don’t love the mental association with the singer, but we don’t dislike the musician, so it’s still a contender.. ha“)

Charlene, Charlotte, and Madeline — (Dianne likes but her hubs doesn’t care for Charlene or Charlotte, and Dianne’s not confident Madeline goes well with their last name)

Basically, it all boils to these three things:

1) Are these names too similar to Ava or Sophia’s names?
2) if we have future girls, are we locking ourselves into a name ending in “a” if we choose Siena or Seraphina? I’d lean towards Adele because of that reason, but I think Siena Adele sounds prettier than Adele Siena.
3) what nicknames would be good for these names?

Alrighty, first off, I love that Ava’s name was chosen because it’s close to Ave! I actually know a little girl named Ava Maria, for that same reason. Ava Lilian is a beautiful combo, and I love her initials!

Sophia is a beautiful name, and sounds lovely with Elizabeth. I do see what Dianne means about Olivia Elizabeth not flowing well!

I love Caleb Augustin, so handsome! We almost named our youngest three boys Augustin, that spelling, for the same reason Dianne and her hubs used that spelling—we wanted au-GUS-tin, not au-gus-TEEN. In the end, just like them, we just couldn’t pull the trigger! But I do still love it.

As for the names on their current list:

Siena is a great name, and a great way to honor St. Catherine of Siena if you don’t care for Catherine. It is similar in sound, rhythm, and length to Sophia, but with Caleb between them I don’t think it’s a huge deal. They could also consider a variant of Catherine — there are so many! Caterina was Catherine of Siena’s actual name (Catherine is an English and French version), and there are a million more variants here. I wouldn’t think of nicknaming Siena, would you? I could maybe see Sia working, if you really wanted to shorten it, but there’s the singer reference there as well (who’s actually quite well named: Sia Kate Isobelle. Gorgeous!).

Seraphina is one of my favorites, such a gorgeous name! But it is very similar to Sophia, more so than Siena I think, because it shares the beginning S-, the ending –a, and the –ph- in the middle. If Dianne and her hubs decided they wanted to use it anyway, there are some sweet nicknames for it: Sera, as mentioned; also Fia, Fina, Fifi, and even something sweet like Sunny! Another way to make it just a little different is to use the French Seraphine instead, which eliminates the –a ending. It also made me think of Josephine — it has a similar length and rhythm and some shared sounds, but that it starts with J- automatically makes it more different from Sophia.

Adele is great if they want to move away from names that end in –a. I agree that Siena Adele sounds nicer than Adele Siena, but of course they could do a different middle. Something like Adele Josephine, for example, or even Adele Seraphina — both sound lovely to me! I think the most natural nickname for Adele is Ada, which doesn’t work with their Ava, but I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t do Elle or Ellie, or even Dell — kind of sweetly tomboyish.

Charlene I was surprised by! It’s feminine and pretty, but has more of a mid-century feel to it (style matches would include Marsha, Gayle, and Francine) than the other names on their list. Charlie and Lena are both cute nickname ideas.

Charlotte, on the other hand, didn’t surprise me at all! It’s very consistent with the other names they like style-wise. It (along with all the names on their list) helped inform my ideas for below.

Madeline is also beautiful and consistent with this family’s style. I don’t mind alliterative first name-last name combos as much as some others do — I think Madeline M____ could be really kind of M-memorable! 🙂 And with an I- middle name, MIM is a cute nickname option. This is me being crazy, but I’ve seen Mim as a nickname for Miriam, so they could possibly see MIM initials as a super subtle nod to Mother Mary? I know, my thought process is not to everyone’s taste … 😛

I did come up with some other ideas, of course! I can always come up with name ideas! As you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up all the names that the parents have used and like in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I then look for names that show up as similar to more than one of the names they like, and I comb my own head for ideas as well. With all that, I had six ideas for this little baby girl on the way:

(1) Isabel or Isabelle
I know they already used Elizabeth for Sophia’s middle name, and Isabel(le) is a variant of Elizabeth, but its sound and appearance is so different — and it would be in the first name spot instead of the middle — that I thought Dianne and her husband might be willing to consider it. It’s very similar in style to the other names they like, and going with Isabel or Isabelle rather than Isabella gets away from the ends-in-a names. As for the initials spelling something, I’m reminded of the little girl named Isabelle Verity who goes by Ivy because of her initials I.V., so sweet! That doesn’t work with sister Ava, though … or what about something like Isabelle Helen or Isabel Hope for initials IHM=Immaculate Heart of Mary? (Other good initials-as-nicknames ideas here.)

(2) Violet
Violet is kind of, ahem, flowery (haha!), which is how I’d describe Seraphina as well, and yet it also reminds me of Adele in some way — pretty and feminine but also solid and traditional. It can also be considered Marian, which is always a huge plus in my book! Violet Isabelle M___ would have the initials VIM, like “vim and vigor” (vim means “robust energy and enthusiasm,” love that!).

(3) Caroline
Caroline is long like Seraphina, and was inspired by (and is a variant of) Charlotte; its –ine ending also calls to mind Seraphine, Josephine, and Madeline. A lot of Catholic parents have been loving Caroline recently because of St. John Paul’s birth name of Karol (and I’ve seen Karoline and Karolina as well, to get even closer to his name). I can’t think of spelling a word with initials, but Caroline Adele M___ would be CAM, which could lead to nickname Cammie.

(4) Grace or Faith
Grace and Faith are virtue-esque names, like Sophia. Grace is also a style match for Charlotte and August (Augustin(e) isn’t listed in the book), and Faith is similar to Caleb. Grace can refer to God’s grace, as well as Our Lady of Grace, and of course Faith refers to all of what we believe. They are so similar to me in terms of faith-y significance that I would think popularity would be the deciding factor, if they decided they like these ideas. Faith is vastly less popular than Grace, but just as sweet in my opinion. I don’t have any ideas for initials-words for Faith, but Grace Emmanuelle M___ could be GEM — great initials for their little gem!

(5) Vivian or Vivienne
People who like Seraphina tend to like other long, frilly, saintly/faith-y names like Genevieve, Evangeline, Veronica, and Vivienne (lots of V’s!). Of those, I thought Vivienne would be of interest (perhaps more likely as the spelling Vivian, being shorter and closer in length to the big sibs’ names). I don’t *think* it’s too similar to Ava, with the V’s, but maybe you all think it is? Especially if they go with the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, but very like Ava. See Violet above for an initials-word idea.

(6) Abigail or Chloe
I’m listing these two together because neither one are names I’d come up with on my own, but they both were similar to several names Dianne and her husband like: Chloe to Ava, and Abigail to Caleb, Madeline, and Olivia. Both are biblical names — Chloe was a woman in the New Testament who housed St. Paul, and Abigail is in the Old Testament (King David’s wife) and is referred to as Abigail the Matriarch, with a feast day of September 1. Chloe Adele M___ (CAM, like Caroline above) or Abigail Irene M___ (AIM, like “aim for heaven”)?

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would suggest for a little sister to Ava, Sophia, and Caleb? Any other initials-make-words ideas?


56 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Baby #4, awesome initials please

  1. GORGEOUS sibset.

    My first thought was Josephine, after St. Josephine Bakita. If paired with an “A” middle name, such as Abigail or Anne, the initials would be JAM. And Josie is such an adorable nickname.

    I also thought of Gianna Eleanor, which would be GEM.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I just realized that the top 5 girl names at Baby Name Wizard are: Charlotte, Sophia, Amelia, Olivia and Ava! And Caleb is in the top 5 for boys! So totally their name taste!

    Too bad it isn’t a boy, because I would suggest Daniel: it’s short and easily pronounceable, which I think it’s what all these names have in common, besides the faith-y connection.

    I wouldn’t repeat initials, because I feel that the names would be too similar.

    My ideas are Emma and Rebecca. I woudn’t worry too much about the -a ending: there are so many possibilities with this ending that I don’t think it will limit your choices.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I also think Adele Seraphina is a nice choice. I think Sophia and Seraphina sound too similar to use as first names for sisters. It’s such a nice name though! I’ve also heard of Lady as a nickname for Adele.

    I’m a fan of Grace for them, too, since it branches out of the “a” endings which she mentioned and it’s a little less popular than the others, while still fitting in with their style. Charlotte seems to fit really, really nicely with their other daughters’ names, and it’t not bad with Caleb either. All of the options are great!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love this families style! I of course love all of your suggestions but I think Grace might be my favorite 😉 I go by Gracie a lot and Gracie struck me as similar to their taste as well.

    Their style is really similar to what I consider my style, so I went through my lists looking at girls names because I’m a nerd who saves name lists on her computer.

    First suggestion didn’t come from my list, but just from association. Adele and Charlotte made me think of the name Adelaide. I feel like Adelaide could be really sweet with their names that they have now, especially with the nickname Addie. Also, I know an Adele who goes by Della if they’re into that.

    I love the suggestion of Emma up there too, which I thought of as well. Emma also reminded me of the name Emily, which is beautiful even if it is popular. I also thought of Ella but that might be too similar to Elizabeth for them if they care about that.

    Next, I thought of the name Hannah 🙂 Hannah is OT like Caleb and more popular like Ava and Sophia. I just find it really sweet too, and it could be a nod to St. Anne. Unfortunately the only word I could come up with was HAM, which isn’t too nice (especially for vegetarian me). Hannah made me think of Leah, which has the same style matches as Hannah to their other children’s names.

    Lastly, I thought of Lucy, Stella and Tessa. Lucy is getting more popular but it’s just so sweet!! And St. Lucy is very nice. Stella because they don’t have a direct Marian name yet really, and I feel like with girl #3 that might be nice. I’m not sure why Tessa struck me for them, it just seemed like it would be nice. And it could honor all the great Therese and Teresa saints in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aha! The answer for differentiating between the two of us! I NEVER go by Gracie, and in fact, anyone who calls me that will receive some sharp words from me. I have always disliked it! Only my grandma was allowed to call me that. 😉

      So, Gracie is all yours!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes!! Call me Gracie 🙂

        There’s actually a funny story with how Gracie came to happen, because my mom had the same opinion as you do about it grace and my dad was the only one who called me Gracie. One my first day of kindergarten it turned out there were two other Graces in my class, which was bad, until I learned that they both got to have their full last names attached to their first name because they had the same last initial, but mine was different so I was stuck as Grace Last Initial and I HATED that. So I spent the whole walk home telling my mom “Sign me out, sign me out, call them and sign me out, I’ll just start next year.” Obviously that couldn’t happen and I was adamant about not going back to the place where I had to be called Grace Last Initial, so my mom was like “Well, what if we had you go by Gracie” and I was like “I guess that’s fine” and that’s how Gracie happened.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Grace vs. Charlotte, which will they pick?!

      Just kidding! One of my friends and I went through this with the birth of the princess. Both Charlotte and Elizabeth were on the lists of likely names, so we had a bit of a rival going. We were probably too thrilled when we found out it was Charlotte Elizabeth, haha!

      (I also have lists – one of names I love and then one “guilty pleasure” list of names I like but am not bold enough to use. 🙂 )

      Liked by 4 people

      • Many of mine are nouns or verbs or adjectives. Others are just incredibly long. Some are names you only really hear in history or in literature. And then I have ones like Estelle and Salvatore and I don’t know WHY those aren’t on my actual list – I think it’s just that they’re so different from most of the names I like that I probably won’t use them (I change my mind on this all the time – I’m starting to care a little less about matching styles, unless there’s just like one kid that has a name incredibly different from the rest). Minerva is my #1. I love the meanings behind it, the literary connections, and the historical figures who’ve been named Minerva throughout history. But I worry that everyone who knows me will think I’m just naming my kid for Harry Potter and ONLY Harry Potter.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah I know Minerva is out there. And to be honest, at first I wasn’t wild about the sound of it. But I’ve come to love it. It’s got some cool connections (goddess of wisdom, Professor McGonagall, and I’ve just found out there was a St. Minervius?!). And after I read a book about the Mirabal sisters (who fought a brutal dictatorship) I totally fell in love with the name. I also like some of the potential nicknames. Minnie is probably the corniest, which is why it’s my favorite. But there’s also Vera and Mara. I’ve also played with the idea of a Jeb Bush situation – something like Minerva Elizabeth Grace aka Meg or even Minerva Elizabeth Rosemary aka Merry (a LOTR connection!) and am I coming off as a little crazy now????

        btw, I looked up the Mirabal sisters to make sure I was spelling their last name correctly and saw that the sister known as Dede (I pronounce that like dee dee) had the name Adela in her formal name! (And I think you’d like their names – two of the four sisters have Maria in their names.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are so not “coming off as a little crazy now”!!! Or, rather, if you are then I totally am too — you and I think alike!

        I’ve never heard about the Mirabal sisters — I’ll have to look them up!


    • Hannah could also spell HIM, which you could consider pointing to God Himself… I think that resonates beautifully with Hannah’s prayer, “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2), and the meaning of Hannah, “favor” or “grace.” The thought that’s striking me for the ‘I’ is Irene. Irene, “peace…” Hannah Irene: “Graceful peace” with the initials of HIM. I’m just geeking out over this name right now. Haha.


  5. Funny that in a comment a few days ago I mentioned the similarity between Seraphina and Sophia – as Italian grandma names. I do think they are very similar – which is clearly why they like them both, such pretty names. I would probably not go with it for that reason though – too similar.

    Also, I really like the Augustin spelling and pronunciation. My grandfather’s name was Agustin – which is Spanish/Basque spelling. Pronunciation is sort of inbetween – Ah-goo-steen. Would use it know if I had the chance – didn’t then.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions, everyone! I’m Dianne’s husband. We are enjoying hearing the ideas.

    After we submitted this but before the blog was posted, we had other ideas come up. We actually had a Maternity Madness bracket pitting 64 names against each other. Our Final Four is Siena, Halle, Gianna, and Charlotte. (Maybe we should have waited until this post so we could include some of the suggestions! And even hearing some names here that were on the bracket sound better now than when we last considered them…)

    We are still considering Siena Adele, and Halle Leah as first-middle combinations, while the other two first names in our Final Four are unpaired as of yet. We have friends who have a little girl named Eleanor, so that might rule that combo out.

    We go back and forth with Halle Leah (i.e., Hallelujah), thinking, from “It’s awesome! We love it!” to “Is it cruel to do that to her?”

    I am somewhat hesitant to go with Josephine, as even though it would be a nod to Jesus’ foster father, my own father might get the idea it was named after him, and we don’t necessarily want that. Same logic applies to Emily, for another family member.

    I do like Emma, but paired with a last name whose first syllable is “Ma,” it may be a little tongue-twisty! We also have good friends with an Emma.

    All this to say, I’m not sure if we’re any closer to naming this gal, even though we’re almost 35 weeks! 😬

    Liked by 1 person

    • DiannesDearHusband!! I’m so glad you wrote!! It was so fun to read this!! Siena Adele, Halle Leah, Gianna, and Charlotte, are all great! It made me laugh that you wondered if Halle Leah is cruel! It reminded me Philip Rivers’ daughter Halle — she was named that in part because it’s contained within Hallelujah ( I love Halle — maybe a different middle name would help you feel comfortable with it? Halle Adele sounds awesome. All your choices are great though — I can’t wait to see what you choose!


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