Baby name consultant: Saintly, Italian, meaningful name for Baby Girl

You can see how much better I did at staying off the computer last week than I did at Christmastime! 😀 I hope you all had a great week, and I’m glad to be back!

In today’s consultation, Elizabeth and her husband are expecting their second baby, a girl! She’ll join her big brother:

George Francesco

Amazing combo, right? I love that George is handsome and normal-ish, and then pow! You’re hit with an amazing and unexpected middle name! And a fun little tidbit is that I recently did a poll on Twitter — what’s your favorite way to name a baby after Pope Francis — and I included both George (for his birth name Jorge) and Francesco!


So yeah, George Francesco is just a great name all around. 🙂

Elizabeth writes,

We would be so delighted if you were to weigh in on our current naming quandary … I’m Italian and my husband is part Scots-Irish … We like names that are fairly traditional (although we could possibly be swayed by a really great not-so-traditional Catholic name), saintly, meaningful, and not too popular. And there has to be an Italian name in there somewhere. I love love love our son’s name and hope to be equally in love with our daughter’s name.

A little background on our son’s naming: “George” is a family name … We love that it’s strong, traditional, not very popular, a saint’s name, and a family name. “Francesco” we chose for several reasons: George was born just a few months after Pope Francis’s election (fall 2013), St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite saints, and [there’s a connection to my maiden name as well]. Other potential first names were Gianluca, Luca, Henry, and James, and even though George was the front-runner even before we knew we were expecting, we didn’t officially bestow the name until he was a few hours old. (Funny story about “George”: I woke one morning in July 2013 and saw on Facebook that Duchess Kate was in labor, and I immediately thought “Oh, no, the baby is going to be a boy and they’re going to name him George, and it’s going ruin everything!” Well, it didn’t ruin everything, but I have noticed the name becoming tad more popular lately. 🙂 )

So, for our daughter, we definitely want an Italian middle name (or even first name but “at least” a middle name). We’d like the Italian part of her name to be obviously Italian (i.e. not something that could be easily confused for another origin or that has a widely accepted American pronunciation, for example Maria or Veronica). If we go with an Italian first name, we want it to be fairly easily pronounceable in English, without having to “put on” an Italian accent to say it properly.”

I always think of really Italian names as “confection” names — beautifully delicious. I was excited to come up with some ideas!

Some more thoughts:

We both love “Francesca” as a first name (for many of the same reasons we love Francesco), but we feel a little weird about using it so soon after naming our son George Francesco… maybe if we have another little girl in the future?

We want our daughter to have a strong saint to connect with (and whose feast day we can celebrate as her “name day”). For George, we celebrate St. Francis’s feast day as his name day, because we love St. Francis and love that there’s so much more to read/learn/emulate about him (in comparison to St. George). I hope that at least one of the saints our daughter is named for will be that way too. I don’t want her to be disappointed if there’s not much to know about her saint or most of what we “know” is as much folklore as fact. (One reason I like modern day saints so much.)

The names Elizabeth and her hubs are considering include (the asterisks are the current favorites):

*Beatrice (Elizabeth’s grandmother is nicknamed Bea)
Alice (“I’ve always written this one off because “alice” means “anchovy” in Italian, but I recently saw that it’s in the top ten names in Italy, so I guess no one cares“) 😀

And their favorite middle name ideas (largely dependent upon first name):

Luisa (“I have a great-grandfather Louis/Luigi“)
Rose/Rosa (“I’m afraid Rosa isn’t obviously Italian enough to work with an English-language first name“)
Marie (“my and my mom’s middle name; but would only work if she had a very Italian first name; I wish Maria were a good alternative, but most people associate it with Spanish-language origins more than Italian, at least around here“)

Elizabeth also said she’d love to honor St. Anne in some way but is struggling with ways to do so that fit their style and taste:

I’ve considered Marianna as a middle name (Mary and her mother!), but neither [of us are] sold on it. And it also has the potential to sound not Italian.”


If we name her Beatrice, we could “get around” the Marian dilemma by using a middle name that starts with ‘v’ — so her initials would be B.V.M. I can’t think of that many Italian ‘v’ names that really speak to me, but I’ve thought about Valentina, Viviana, Vincenza…?

Okay, so I love their list of girl names. Beatrice seems so perfect — it can be Italian, but not necessarily. I also LOVE their idea of using a V middle name for initials BVM for Our Lady. Brilliant! I like Valentina, Viviana, and Vincenza, and another idea is Vittoria — a friend was telling me recently about Our Lady of Victory — Vittoria could be a nice nod to her! It seems that the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was originally the feast of Our Lady of Victory, after the victory of Lepanto, which Our Lady of the Rosary points to as well. Kind of like two Marian titles in one name!  I also like that Vittoria is specifically Italian, as opposed to Victoria, which is used across multiple ethnicities but not Italian. Do you all have other ideas for Italian V- middle names?

Mary, Lucy, and Bernadette are all great — impeccably saintly, beautiful, feminine.

It would be so great to get St. Anne in there! Marianna is a beautiful idea, but if they’re not loving it, I wonder what they would think of Annetta? Behind the Name says it’s a diminutive of Anna with exclusively Italian usage. I could see it being beautiful as either a first or middle name. Mary Annetta? Lucy Annetta? Beatrice Annetta? (Probably not Bernadette Annetta!)

I have similar feelings to Elizabeth about Francesca — gorgeous name! But perhaps for a later girl?

From the rest of their list, Alice, Claire/Clara, Jane, and Eleanor seem great matches for the style of George. All beautiful! Gianna, Guilia/Julia/Giulianna, Alessandra, and Elena definitely skew more Italiany Italian. George and Mary or George and Alice will likely come across as very English, while George and Gianna or George and Alessandra (especially George and Alessandra) will be more surprising. I like both options! I might suggest Elizabeth and her husband give a quick thought to how they see the rest of their children’s names playing out, if they have more. Do they want to feel like they’ve set an English bookish vibe and then if they choose something more Italian sounding it’ll sound out of place? Or do they like the freedom that comes with choosing a different style name from George right now for their second baby, which preserves the possibility of both English-y and Italian names in the future?

I loved their list of Italian middle names! Several of them were ones I’d scribbled down as I’d read Elizabeth’s email initially, before I’d gotten to that part (especially Lucia and Chiara). Benedetta, Maristella, Luisa, Rose/Rosa are all beautiful … I wonder if an Italian Rose variant like Rosetta, Rosina, or Rosella would appeal to them? I love that Marie is Elizabeth and her mom’s middle name — maybe the variants Marietta and Mariella would be good to consider? I like that they contain “Marie” within them, but they also have that Italian twist.

I had a few more ideas for super Italian middle names:
Amalia (I know someone from Italy named Amalia)
Annamaria (despite that both elements could seem Spanish on their own, put together they read really Italian to me. Am I crazy? There’s a character in a book I recently read named Annamaria, so pretty)
Assunta (I wrote here about how women from Italy named Assunta sometimes anglicize it here as Susan!)

Annnnd there are just a lot of gorgeous names! A great list with a lot more options is here (you can see I only got through the A’s!).

I liked this bunch of specifically Marian super-Italian names:
Incoronata (I have a friend whose daughter’s middle name is Incoronata after her Italian grandmother, and it’s hard to find on name sites, but this one says it’s only used in Italy)
Consolata (from Behind the Name: “Means “consoled” in Italian. It is taken from the title of the Virgin Mary, María Consolata.”)

And I’m sure there’s more of those too at that link above! I also love Josephine and wondered if they’d considered the variant Giuseppa?

Alrighty, so I have a few more ideas for this family, based on the names they’ve already chosen and those that they like:

(1) Gemma
Gemma was the first name I thought of. St. Gemma Galgani was an Italian saint and a pretty well known one, so Elizabeth’s little girl would definitely have a feast day — April 11, right near her due date! I also really like that even though Gemma’s an Italian name, it’s been fairly popular in England for a while, so I think Gemma could serve as a nice bridge between George and a future daughter named Alessandra for example.

(2) Stella
Maristella on their list made me think of Stella right away, and I love it for this baby for a first name. As with Gemma, even though it *is* Italian I like that Stella doesn’t necessarily come across as Italian, so it can be that kind of “bridge” name between George and some of their more ethnic options for later daughters.

(3) Carmela
I know Elizabeth might not like this because it’s apparently both a Spanish and Italian form of Carmel, but I think of Carmen as being more common as the Spanish form, while Carmela’s all Italian for me, probably because I know a young Carmela whose family is very Italian, and an older Carmela who’s from Italy. A reader asked for nickname ideas for her little Carmela here. I love that it’s also Marian!

(4) Maddalena
I love Magdalene in any form, but the Italian version is so beautiful, I had to suggest it! It’s got really cute nickname options too — Maddy, Lena.

(5) Giacinta (Jacinta)
I wouldn’t have thought to suggest this except Elizabeth and her hubs have Julia/Giulia/Giuliana on their list. Jacinta’s one of my favorites, and I love the Italian spelling as well (I didn’t even know there was an Italian spelling until discovering that Halle Berry’s character in the Bond movie she was in, who went by Jinx, was actually Giacinta, and Jinx was a nickname. God works in mysterious ways. 😉 ).

(5) Catherine or Caterina
Finally, my favorite idea of these two is Caterina, which was St. Catherine of Siena’s actual name. So beautiful! And so fun that this family can pull it off with their Italian heritage! (I have none!) But I was starting to feel like I was leaning too heavily Italian and not considering the other names they like, and loved discovering that Catherine is a style match for several of their favorites (George, Mary, Alice, Julia). Either one would be just beautiful.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the baby sister of George Francesco?

Birth announcement: Elias Pier Giorgio!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her seventh baby has arrived — the handsomely named Elias Pier Giorgio!

She writes,

Announcing the birth of Elias Pier Giorgio, born February 1, at 10:28, in Regina, Saskatchewan, weighing 7 lbs 8 oz.

I think that the Marian connection to Elias, that you made for us, gave the name meaning to my husband and he chose my favourite as a first name. I let my husband choose the middle names and decided it was nice to honour the Saint with both names. Perhaps he was teasing me, for nine months, with Septimus….

The older kids are loving this new brother soooo much. He has barely been set down since the moment he came home.

Thanks for all your suggestions. We all had fun (including aunties and grandma) contemplating these name ideas along with our other ideas.”

I love this little baby’s name!! So handsome and significant!!

His older siblings have equally amazing names:

Connor Kenneth Joseph
Christian Michael David
Mattea Gabriella Grace
Tomas Micah Joseph
Emmett Maximillian Sheen
Magnus John Paul

What a family! I’ve been kind of swoony lately over two middle names — you’re able to fit in so much that way! Beautiful beautiful names.

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday baby Elias!!


Elias Pier Giorgio

All about Confirmation names over at

My February column posted today, check it out! Choosing a Confirmation Name


I know we’ve talked about them before, but if you have more to say about Confirmation names, please do! And if you think this article would be helpful to anyone making their Confirmation this spring, please share it (I wrote it with teens in mind).

Baby name consultant: Baby #8, gender unknown, not popular name please, and girls end in -a

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!! I hope you love and are loved today! (Let me remind you, in case you’re having a hard time remembering: You’re always loved, always, even if people let you down — you’re loved intensely and without end. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

Before jumping into the consultation, I just want to let you know that I’ll be mostly off the blog for the coming week — my kids are home from school and we’ll be vacation-ing it up together! 😀 I’ll still be moderating comments and answering emails, and I’ll post my February CatholicMom column on Wednesday, and I’ll be back to cracking on Monday Feb. 22.

The mama whose consultation I would normally have posted tomorrow made a special request to have it post today — what a lovey day to talk about a lovey baby! ❤

Jenn and her husband are expecting their eighth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown). Their older kiddos are:

Joseph Albert III, called Joey
Theresa Rose, called TT
Michaela Grace, called KK
Nicholas Daniel, called Nick
Hannah Faith, called Hanni
William Thomas, called Liam
Gianna Marie Noelle, called GG

The one name they’ve discussed is:

Vincent Michael

Alrighty, so I’ll start with their boy idea of Vincent Michael: I love it. It’s one of those names that, weirdly, says “Irish+Italian” to me, which is funny that Jenn’s hubs is 50/50 that exact mix. But of course it works with all ethnicities because of it being a saint’s name — I love that the saints’ names are used everywhere, in every country. My only hesitation with Vincent Michael is that they already have Michaela, but I’m sure they thought of that and if it doesn’t bother them it doesn’t bother me either.

So as you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up all the names that have already been used and that are liked in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Doing so, and picking through my own namey head, I came up with a few suggestions for each gender that I think fit Jenn and her hubs’ taste and criteria (including girl names ending in the –a sound):

(1) Sarah, Julia
Sarah was a big winner for this family, and it’s my top suggestion. It’s Biblical like Joseph and Hannah but it totally holds its own with the other kids’ names, which are all classics. Sarah used to be quite popular, but it’s dropping quickly — it was #5 in 2000 but has dropped each year since and was at #50 in 2014 according to the Social Security baby name stats. So I don’t think Jenn and her husband need to worry that it’s too popular. They have great nicknames for their girls too, and the traditional Sarah nickname Sadie would fit in well I think.

I grouped Julia with Sarah because it’s also a biblical name, and I think it goes great with the big sibs, I just wasn’t sure they’d want to follow Gianna with Julia — too much J sound? It’s on a downward popularity arc, at #86 in 2014. Following their nickname style, I could see something like Leelee, and I’ve also seen Jilly for Julia, which I think is adorable. Or JJ?

(2) Clara, Eliza/Elisa
St. Clare is always a great patron for a little girl, and at first I was going to suggest Chiara, which is the Italian version of it and goes really well with sister Gianna … but it just seemed too Italian — Clara seemed a better fit to me. (#108 in 2014) Not sure about nicknames though? Kiki seems like it would work because of the hard C- beginning of Clara, but they already have KK. Maybe Clari, in the style of Hanni?

Eliza is because Elizabeth was a big style match for their name taste but it doesn’t end in –a. Eliza has the same sweet classic feel as their other girls’ names. A similar option in this same vein is Elisa, which is also really pretty and gets closer to the style of Gianna. (Eliza: #212; Elisa: #498) (I considered Isabella and Elisabetta as well, but Isabella seemed too popular [#4], and Elisabetta too Italian. Both gorgeous though! And I read recently about Ven. Elisabetta Sanna …) Ellie would be a great nickname with their other girls (and Izzie for Isabella, or Lizzie/Lissie and Betty [!] for Elisabetta).

(3) Maria, Olivia
I know they used Marie for Gianna’s middle name, but if they’re okay with using Michael as a middle even though they have Michaela, maybe Jenn and her hubs would be okay with Maria as a first name? It was the first idea I had for them after reading their email. All the other girl’s have names that could be considered Marian — Rose, Grace, Faith or Hannah (with Hannah being a form of Anne and Anne being Our Lady’s mom), and Marie — so it makes sense to have a Marian first or middle for another girl. And Mimi totally rocks as a nickname, and totally fits in with the other girls; Mia’s another great option as a nickname, a la Mia Farrow, whose given name is Maria. (Maria’s #115)

I wouldn’t have thought of Olivia for this family on my own, but the Baby Name Wizard said it was a style match for them, and it reminded me that one of our mamas named her daughter Olivia after Our Lady under the title Our Lady of Olives — a title I’d not been familiar with, but how great is that? And Livi! One of my favorite favorite girl nicknames! (Unfortunately Olivia’s the most popular of my suggestions—#2 in 2014! So maybe I should have included Isabella in my official suggestions, since I included Olivia …)

(4) Cora, Cecilia
Cora is totally drawn from my own life, because I know a family with a Michaela and a Nicholas, and they also have a Cora. I love it for this family because it ends in -a and we’ve had some discussion of Cora on the blog recently as a name for the Sacred Heart or the Immaculate Heart of Mary — or both! (Check out the comments on this post, as an example.) A Marian and a Jesus name in one! (#103) Coco would be a really fun nickname, or Cori.

I’m including Cecilia with Cora because both are my own ideas (i.e., not listed in the BNW). I thought of Cecilia mostly because of the nickname option of Cece, which so fits what they’ve already done with their other girls, and isn’t too popular (#206). And actually, CC could work for something like Cora Cecilia or Cora Clare or Clara Catherine. I’m loving that!

(1) Francis nicknamed Finn
I had a harder time with boy names for them! Joseph, Nicholas, William/Liam, and Vincent are all great, classic names, but the names that matched style-wise didn’t seem to work for them for one reason or another (Thomas has already been used as a middle; James is a great name but would they want to repeat the J of Joseph, especially after Gianna? Edward just didn’t seem … right, even though it’s saintly and masculine). But the fact that William goes by Liam made me think of one of my favorite suggestions, which you all know I’ve tried to push on lots of people (haha!): Francis with the nickname Finn. I think it totally works! And: Pope Francis! (Francis: #234, Finn: #234, though sure to rise because of Star Wars. Which I don’t think is a terrible thing. At all. 😉 Especially with Francis as the given name.)

(2) Dominic
Dominic is another name that says “Irish+Italian” to me, like Vincent. I actually did a post a while ago about non-Italian Dominics, because I’d heard some people say Dominic didn’t work for a fair-haired boy. I don’t know what Jenn’s kids look like, but, as I noted in my post, I first fell in love with Dominic in Kindergarten Cop — he was the little blond boy. 🙂 I’ve seen Nick used as a nickname, which obviously won’t work for this family, since they already have Nicholas, but I’ve also heard Dommy for a little boy, which is adorable. The full Dominic is really my favorite though. (#69)

(3) Andrew
Andrew seems the most likely to be a name Jenn and her hubs would like, I think. It’s classic and biblical, and has the great nicknames Andy or Drew. Or even something like Ace, if they paired it with a C middle name (Andrew Charles? Andrew Christopher?). (#22)

(4) Charles
Speaking of Charles, it’s my last suggestion for them — I’ve been seeing it a lot in honor of St. John Paul (birth name Karol=Charles), and the day before I did this for Jenn was the feast of St. Charles Borromeo (and I read that JP2 was actually named for St. Charles Borromeo! Can anyone verify that?). Charlie is a great nickname, but they might not love it with their last name, so there are some other fun ones too, like Cal, Hutch, and Huck, among others. (#51)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little brother or sister for Joseph, Theresa, Michaela, Nicholas, Hannah, William, and Gianna?

+ xoxo ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ xoxo +

Are you waiting to hear from me?

I’ve had a couple of snafus recently where some of you wonderful readers have tried to get a hold of me, both over Facebook and email, but I never saw your message until you tried again a different way — I’m so sorry for that! My intention is to write back as soon as I get an email/message — sometimes I’m a day or two later — but if it’s been a week or more since you wrote and I haven’t responded, please do try again! One of you messaged me on Instagram to ask about an email — I thought that was great, it’s hard to miss those orange notification alerts! Or even leave a comment on a post here, if you’re worried that an email/FB message hasn’t been seen.

And again, I apologize for anyone I’ve missed! I’m certainly not ignoring anyone!

Spotlight on: Mercy names

I’ve gotten a few different requests recently for more info on names connected to Mercy, so I thought it would make a perfect Spotlight post.

This Jubilee Year of Mercy is such a great reason to consider a Mercy name for a baby during it! There’s also the Divine Mercy connection, which, in my mind, includes a connection to both St. Faustina and Pope St. John Paul the Great (I really like typing out his full title. So cool), and there’s Our Lady of Mercy/Mercies. I love them all!

First, of course, is Mercy itself. I love the name Mercy. I’ve seen it used as a middle name, which is a perfect spot for a name that might feel a little too adventurous for one’s style, but I love it as a first name too — I think it holds its own nicely with Grace, Faith, Hope, Sophia, Felicity — all the virtue-esque names. It could have a Pilgrim/Puritan feel also, with their children named Patience and Chastity and Temperance, but that’s not a terrible thing either in my opinion. A pretty variant is Mercia.

Other versions of Mercy that might appeal include:

I love the name Mercedes. I did a mini spotlight here, really just pointing you to a great post by Laura Wattenberg (the Baby Name Wizard herself) on “how such a devout Catholic name became a car brand.” I loved hearing it in Jim Caviezel’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and that movie made it seem do-able to me for non-Spanish families (the characters were French). I’ve also gotten swoony over the idea of Sadie as a nickname (could also be spelled Cedy? I’ve also seen Cedes), and Merche is a traditional Spanish nickname for it; Mercy also certainly works. I’ve seen the combo Maria Mercedes, which is such a heavy hitting name and really emphasizes the Marian aspect.

Clement means “merciful” or “gentle” (think: clemency), so any of the Clement names could work if you’re going for a merciful meaning. I’ve considered Clement for my own boys (just can’t get my hubs on board!), and Clementine is such a great name for a girl (I love the nickname Clemmie, and Emmy and Minnie are also possibilities). I don’t mind the folk song reference either.

The meanings of the Spanish Piedad can include “mercy” or “pity.” Piedad is inspired by the Marian title Nuestro Señora de la Piedad (Our Lady of Pity). You can see the connection between “pity” and “mercy” when you think of the phrase “have pity on me” — it’s similar to “have mercy on me.”


Behind the Name offered a bunch of other names that have “mercy” in their meaning, but they were so unfamiliar to me I thought I’d just list them and you can check them out if you’d like: Armo, Chesed, Chifundo, Ebele, Eir, Eskarne, Hanan, Remiel (this is said to be a name of one of the seven archangels according to the apocryphal Book of Enoch. I’d be careful with this, as the Church has not included this name in its list of Archangels’ names).

What do you think of Mercy or the other Mercy-meaning names? Would you consider using them for your child, or have you? Do you know any little ones with any of these names?

Guilty pleasure names

Charlotte from To Harriet Louise mentioned her list of “guilty pleasure names” the other day and now I’m dying to know what they are! And yours too!

By “guilty pleasure” I mean names you kinda really love even though, for whatever reason, you could never see yourself actually choosing them for your own children. Mine include:


I know there’s a bunch more — I’ll add in the comments as I think of them. Let me hear what you have! I bet I’ll be adding to my own list after reading yours. 🙂

(Also — the Jennifer Fulwiler show went really well yesterday!! I was so nervous but once we started talking it was so fine. She’s a great host — she really directed the conversation and there weren’t any awkward pauses … she had great thoughts and questions … and I think she liked my ideas for her! If I make it into her highlights podcast, I’ll definitely post it when it’s available!)