Bonus baby name consultation: Arwen’s new little guy!

You guys! It’s Thursday! And because you’re all so dear to me, I’m delighted to post a bonus consultation for this week!

I am SO EXCITED to do a consultation for Arwen of the blog abc family, formerly known as arwen/elizabeth — she’s been writing online at her blog and at the old Faith and Family Live since 2004 and I’ve been familiar with her most of that time — that’s a long [virtual, one-sided] relationship y’all! 😀 She’s expecting her fifth baby, and her fourth boy!

I think she might have been the first person I knew of who actually used Blaise for her actual son (rather than just listing it on fantasy baby name lists), and I remember getting all swoony and twinkly-eyed over his name when I first read her older two’s names (it’s been a lifelong affliction, my love of names).

And then the Catholic internets were all atwitter when she was expecting twins — little boys who will be five next month and I.can’t.believe. it’s been that long. !!

Here are her amazingly named older children:

Camilla Claire
Blaise Alexander
Linus Michael
Ambrose John

Camilla is just lovely, Blaise is awesome, and Linus and Ambrose! Like Blaise, I hadn’t ever heard of Linus on a real-life boy, and the only other Ambrose I knew of was Danielle Bean’s — Arwen’s naming was a revelation for me! I love her taste so much that I blogged about her a year ago, and on another occasion linked to this post she did on the naming of her two oldest (and discovered that her parents had equally amazing taste, as shown in this post written by her mom). ((sighs of happiness all around))

I see Arwen mostly on Twitter and Instagram now, and it was on Twitter that I saw her ask, all casual-like:


As if such a tweet wouldn’t make me start hyperventilating with excitement. So I tweeted back in a really restrained and professional manner, and she responded (!):


Which of course you know totally made my day (as did this little response to Arwen’s request, from our Mrs. Patton, no big deal:







Arwen’s currently on modified bed rest because of contractions that are too strong too soon, but she says she’s cautiously optimistic that she can make it to term (she’s 25 weeks now), which makes me extra happy to post this consultation for her because they’re such fun, aren’t they? A great distraction for a pregnant mama. ❤

I asked her about her naming hopes and dreams, and she wrote,

Okay, so our last name is Mosher (you probably know that) and is pronounced MOE-zhur … I am not at ALL worried about middle names — those are easy for me and I have no attachment to any particular ones. I just pick a saint name that flows with the first name (and you’ve probably noticed that for our boys we’ve used very common middle names to sort of “balance” the unusual first names) and Bryan cares not at all about middle names, so I’m confident that if we find the right first name we’ll be set.

We actually have ZERO boy names on the list so far — Linus and Ambrose were left over from naming Blaise, and they made such an obvious (to us) set of twin names that we used them both and now we’re out.

Here are our basic naming requirements/preferences:

1) It must be a saint name. (Requirement)

2) It would be nice to have an early saint, since all our other boys are named after early saints. (Mild preference)

3) It should be roughly the same popularity/commonness level as our other boys’ names, which I don’t define by any particular number on the SSA charts but by a general familiarity level: I like that almost everyone has *heard* of our boys’ names, but doesn’t usually know more than one other person with the name. (Non-Catholics don’t tend to know anyone, but we know another family with a Blaise, one with an Ambrose, and one with a Linus.) (Strong preference)

4) It should not start with C, B, L, or A, since I would like our kids to have their own first initials. (Fairly strong preference, but I would forgo this one for the perfect name)

5) The name should be reasonably intuitive to pronounce based on its spelling. Even though our boys’ names are unusual, I think we achieved this with them; Camilla’s name gets mispronounced more often than all of theirs put together. This is the main reason why I’ve never put the name Mathias/Matthias on our list even though I like it and it’s a style match — I feel like it’s not obvious whether it’s pronounced with a hard T or a TH sound and that bothers me. (Fairly strong preference)

We have no family names or favorite saints in mind, and I can’t think of any other similar names that we’ve ruled out for reasons not on this list. The only thing I can think of is that a couple people have suggested Pascal, which I rejected immediately because I can’t have brothers named Blaise and Pascal — too much. But as long as there’s not something obvious like that, no problem.

I hope this gives you a good place to start! I am due July 16th but tend to go early, so I’m hoping for birth no earlier than mid-June but would like to have the name nailed down before that … We tend to be kind of aggressive about hunting down names, but this is the first time we’ve been at a total loss for ideas, so I’m guessing it will take us longer than normal.”

As you all know, I love rules! Not only does it make for a really fun challenge, but it gives me a really good, really clear idea of what the parents are looking for. I especially really liked Arwen’s idea about popularity/commonness—a fact that she doesn’t “define by any particular number on the SSA charts but by a general familiarity level”—I feel like that’s something I can bring to the table that the Baby Name Wizard can’t, for example. The BNW‘s always really helpful, but a bit less so in cases like this one, because it relies heavily on SSA stats and tends to have little sense of Catholicky Catholic naming trends. (For example, Kateri’s always the one that comes to mind for me—in the BNW all the style matches are Native American names! While all the Kateris I know of in real life — a good few! — have siblings like Leo, Jude, Xavier, Regina, Rosemary, and Jane.)

So I should back up and explain for any new readers, I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and the ones they like as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did start here with the BNW, but I also rifled through my mental files and info I’ve learned on the blog and came up with seven *amazing* ideas! 😀 I should also mention that I didn’t look at the suggestions from Arwen’s Twitter followers on purpose — I wanted to have a clear, open mind when working on this for her. But it’s quite likely I’m repeating ideas others have mentioned, so — kudos to you all!

(1) Joachim (d. first century or earlier)f
Okay, if Arwen and Bryan hate this idea I get it—I’ve been pushing Joachim on people forever, including my own husband, and nobody’s yet bitten! But he’s definitely an early saint (though if they think he feels too recent, I understand that too, since I don’t think devotion to St. Joachim arose until around 1000?), and I think most Catholics are familiar with the name, although—and this is probably the other reason they might hate it, a la Mat(t)hias—a lot of people don’t know how to pronounce it. I’ve always heard it said JO-ah-kim, and it seems that’s the basic English pronunciation, and all other pronunciations are foreign or influenced by non-English speakers. So there’s that. If I could ever convince my hubs, we’d use the nickname Jake, which totally makes it user friendly.

(2) Justin (d. 165)
I love love love Justin for this family. St. Justin Martyr! He’s totally the right time period, the right first initial, and everyone knows the name even though not many babies are being named it currently. That being said, Monday’s consultation was for the little sister of a Justin! For Justin Martyr! And I love seeing it! But if Arwen and Bryan think it’s too time-stamped, I get it. Boo. 😦

(3) Damian (d. 303) or Damien (d. 1889)
Sts. Damian and Cosmas are also the right time period for what they’re looking for, and I’ve long loved the name Damian. The spelling Damien loses the time period, as St. Damien de Veuster becomes the patron (unless they just want to think of it as a variant of St. Damian, and that’s cool and legit too), but Damien is the French spelling, which really goes along with Camilla and Blaise. Unfortunately, they’ll definitely want to be sure they weigh whether or not The Omen connection is too much though (my hubs won’t consider because of that movie, which is like 40 years old and he’s never seen!).

(4) Ignatius (d. 107)
I’m really feeling Ignatius for this baby. St. Ignatius of Antioch is the right time period; I think the pronunciation is fairly intuitive; he’s known by Catholics but the name’s not used a whole lot; and I love the nickname options of Iggy, Nate, and Nash. Also Cate Blanchett named one of her sons Ignatius! That’s pretty cool.

(5) Thaddeus (d. first century or 1653)
Linus is the only of the other Mosher kiddos to have a biblical name, so I kind of like adding another one in. Thaddeus is familiar and I think Jude’s used more than Thaddeus among Catholic (and non-Catholic) families, so they’d get the benefit of a popular and beloved saint without the popular-name baggage. They could also look to later holy Thaddeuses—I particularly love Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican martyr.

(6) Sebastian (d. 288)
I’m guessing this might be too popular for Arwen and Bryan—a lot of Catholic parents love Sebastian! But for good reason! My boys looooove the pics of him with the arrows sticking out of him, and even my grown-up brother loves that he’s the patron saint of athletes. Seb(by) and Bash are really cute nicknames.

(7) Raphael (Old Testament)
Raphael’s another of those names that’s really known but not used too much. I guess there’s a pronunciation issue as well—I prefer RAY-fee-ul, but most people I personally know say rah-fay-EL (I’d be interested in how you all say it — am I in a weird pronunciation pocket? Or is rah-fay-EL pretty standard?). Otherwise, I think it would be so great for this baby!

(8) Clement (d. ~88)
Finally, Clement, and I know I’m totally breaking one of Arwen’s rules here (no repeating initials), but you all know I’ve been loving and pushing the Mercy names since it’s the Year of Mercy and Clement means merciful and it would be so meaningful for a baby born this Jubilee Year! He was also the same time period as Arwen’s other boys, and is papal like Linus!  (Also, as a related option, I’m totally loving the combo Justin Clement. Just sayin. 🙂 )

And those are my ideas for Little Mr. Mosher! What do you all think? What would you suggest as a little brother to Camilla, Blaise, Linus, and Ambrose that follows all (or most) of the rules?


143 thoughts on “Bonus baby name consultation: Arwen’s new little guy!

  1. church father names seem to strike the balance of catholicky-ness and coolness arwen is looking for!
    I really like cyprian, but it has that repeating initial with camilla…. jerome is cool and unexpected, but maybe not unique enough? ephrem is my favorite for them! st ephrem is a doctor of the church who smashed heresy by writing SONGS AND POEMS!!!
    I’ll also toss in bonaventure just because the nickname bonnie is the kind of thing I dream about:)
    may god bless this sweet baby, whatever he’s named!

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  2. My pick would be Urban – Monsignor from one of our former parishes always suggested this one! I also second Ignatius. My husband also always pushes for someone to use Pius. There is also Irenaeus but I don’t think pronunciation and spelling are going to be intuitive.

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  3. Great suggestions, Kate! Ignatius is also my favorite for them.

    As for Raphael, just about everyone I know pronounces it rah-fay-EL, though I also prefer RAY-fee-ul. I did once work with a girl (we were high school/early college aged at the time) who was Jewish and her brother’s name was Raphael with the RAY-fee-ul pronunciation, but he went by Rafa. A college friend named her son Raphael nn. Rafa a few years ago, too, but since we’re only in touch via FB, I’m not sure which pronunciation of Raphael they use.

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  4. This was a really fun one.

    If not for the repeating initials, I’d love Abraham, Benedict, and even Lawrence (which feels more popular because it’s well known, but there aren’t too many little kids named Lawrence running around).

    I love Ignatius and Clement for them. And Justin – like Lawrence, it’s not especially popular among kids even though it’s so well known.

    I think Felix, though getting popular, sounds awesome with their other names. Camilla, Blaise, Linus, Amrose, and Felix. Swoon. I like Urban a lot for them. Blaise, Linus, Ambrose, and Urban. Perfect, though I suppose less matchy with Camilla? There’s also Magnus, which feels similar to Linus to me.

    There’s also Fabian, Patrick, Maurice, Gregory, Jerome, Isidore, and Ephrem (that’s in the order that I like them paired with the other siblings.. because I’m slightly nuts).

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  5. None of the boys have nicknames . . . so to keep it short and sweet, I will max out with 2 syllables. My votes are Felix, Cyril, Jerome, Urban, and Gerard. We used Gerard as our firstborn’s middle (his name is Blaise) and I almost wish it were still in the name pool.

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  6. We have a Linus, so I’ll chime in and say that his brother’s name, Edmund hits the same level of popularity/pronounceability well (though it’s not an Early Church name, of course). Urban was on our short list for a while, though it might be dead to my husband since Urban Meyer took the Ohio State job. 😉

    Everyone I know with a Raphael pronounces it RAY-fee-ul. I wonder if the other pronunciation is TMNT’s influence?

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    • I have NEVER heard Ray-fee-ul! I hear this name quite regularly and this blog post is honestly the first time I’ve ever heard it. I wonder if this is a regional difference? Or a church background different? We’re Greek Orthodox, and the priests all say rahf-eye-el.

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      • I say Ray-fee-ull. That’s the way the only person I know with the name pronounces it. Rafe is the nickname. I’ve never seen Rafa or Rafi, though I suppose they make more sense with other pronunciations. It’s not a common name here, though it’s probably more so with Latinos. I live in the Upper Midwest.

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      • I don’t know the origin of the ray-fee-ul pronunciation, I’ve only heard it once or twice, but I just prefer it sound-wise. My guess is it might be British in origin though I don’t know this for sure. But it does seem like a pronunciation shift that might occur there, and might explain regional differences in the US? I don’t think it’s a religious background differences because the vast majority of people of any/no religion I’ve ever heard speak this name aloud say rah-fay-el (or some variation of that, the second syllable seems mutable to a fy or fee).

        Also I don’t think nicknames always follow the same vowel sound as the given name, even though it seems surprising. I know a family with an Adelaide (short a at the beginning, like add-a-lade) who goes by Ada (long a at the beginning, ade-uh), and an Annabel (short a at the beginning, ann-uh-bel) who goes by Ani (“third sound of a” at be beginning, ah-nee). And I met that guy named Raphael, pron ray-fee-ul, nn Rafa. So it does seem to be something people do, changing the vowel sounds in nicknames.

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    • Definitely not in my case bc I remember a world pre-TMNT and most of the people I know who say rah-fay-EL would also pre-date it. I’m guessing TMNT used that pronunciation because it’s common.

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  7. I love this sibest! It reminds me a little of the joke my husband has that we are going to go through the litany of the saints for our future sons. (“Linus Cletus Clement Cornelius Sixtus Cyprian Lawrence Chrysogonus John and Paul Cosmas and Damian”). I was going to suggest Titus, which I’ve heard a few times lately on little boys, but it’s probably too close to Linus.

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  8. I think a great style match is Vincent, either first or middle. As a middle it would go nicely and safely, just like his brothers’ middle names. As a first name, it pairs well with Camilla.

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  9. I like Ignatuius or Thaddeus for them. I’d have said Augustine or Benedict if it weren’t for the initials. Other names I like for them are Julius, Piers, Felix, and maybe Martin or Edmund if the timeframe is flexible.

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  10. I really like Vincent or Thaddeus for this family!

    So I just realized (thanks to this post) that I’ve always pronounced Joachim differently (and maybe incorrectly?) I’ve always thought of it as yo-ah-KEEM. I just Googled it and the first pronunciation that came up was YO-ah-kim. Wow. Maybe there are a lot of options out there?

    I’ve always pronounced Rafael as rah-fy-EL, but my first exposure to the name was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve only met one Rafael in real life, and he pronounced it like the turtle. I wasn’t aware of any other pronunciations until I started reading name blogs!

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  11. I love Joachim and have tried to talk my husband into it. Unfortunately it goes terribly with our last name. I know one little Joachim (I think you’d like their set – Julian, Sophia, Ambrose, Joachim, Noah, and…Mary Catherine? and I might have forgotten a kid in there…). We end every Liturgy with a petition to “the ancestors of God Joachim and Anna” so it is pretty familiar to our ears.

    My baby godson is Ignatius. His middle name is Theodore and we call him Theo mostly. I think his whole name is pretty adorable.

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    • Also, I adore your godson’s name and I’m jealous you have a godchild. I think we never will. All of our friends are, like us, nearing the end of childbearing years, and my only married sibling will never be able to choose us because of her religious community’s rules.

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      • You’re kidding me…
        I recall you mentioning her community and I did not realize they have rules about choosing godparents. Hmmm…

        You know I am quite a bit older than you. And to give you some godparent hope, we recently were asked to be godparents for a young family we’ve known a few years (like the mom could be my daughter young). I said, are you sure you want old godparents? lol – so anyway, you never know who will come into your life in that way.

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      • Aww that’s so great! I think it makes a lot of sense to ask people with a lot of experience in life and faith to be a godparent! One of my boys’ godfather is my husband RCIA sponsor, who’s the dad of one of my childhood friends — he’s probably about 65 or so and the perfect godparent — we know he understands his role completely and takes it really seriously!

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      • skimac—I know that’s possible because my own godparents were probably 20-30 years older than my parents. So I guess I’ll keep that last ray of hope in mind…
        And yes, because they only do baptisms at the Easter vigil, which is not open to visitors like their usual masses, godparents from outside their community are simply impossible. Not de facto forbidden, but just not able to be done. (And yes, this means a baby born just after Easter would be a year old or so by the time they were baptized.)

        Kate—I met this awesome mama of eight recently who said her personal slogan was “always the mother, never the godmother” because she also has never been asked!

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      • My godson’s name is a result of parental disagreement 🙂 Dad really wanted Ignatius, mom wanted Theodore, so formal name Ignatius, nickname Theo. I like the whole thing!

        I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a godchild either! I don’t know anyone who has a family member as a godparent, which makes me think it’s not allowed for us, although I don’t know that for sure. It also makes makes godparenting a little more democratic, since no one is using up all the godparenting on aunts and uncles. We go to a large parish full of young families, and nearly all the children have their godchildren there. Children go to their godparents for communion, so their a giant kid shuffle that happens right before communion 🙂

        We do have pretty strict rules about godparents (must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing, cannot be god-related already) AND there are strict rules about godchildren marrying each other or their godsiblings. So people tend to be careful about how often they choose godparents with children the opposite sex and similar ages. Although that didn’t stop our godson’s parents, nor several of the godparents we chose. We just raise them like cousins and they know they are out of the running for spouses 🙂

        I totally think you’ve got next-generation chances for godchildren. So far it’s worked out that all four sets of godparents we chose are about our same age, but I really like the idea of choosing someone a generation older too.

        Now I am super curious about your sister’s religious community!

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      • So interesting, julianamama! I didn’t know any of these rules about godparents, godsiblings, etc!

        My sister & her husband are members of the Neocatechumenal Way which is a movement in the Church developed for the post-baptismal catechesis of adults. It is influenced by the catechesis process of the early Church and having been developed in Spain in the 1960’s and 70’s, it has a very Spanish spirituality which is somewhat unique. They also have their own liturgy. It does a lot of good but it’s most definitely not for everyone.

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    • St. Joachim’s was the name of my childhood church. We pronounce it Joe-Kim, with a typical Midwest accent. The priest probably said it more like Jo-uh-Kyim, at least during Mass. St. Ann’s is the neighboring parish.

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  12. So a few things…first off, I love the way Arwen categorized her rules, makes them very easy to follow!! 🙂

    Next, Raphael. I also have never heard of the RAY-fee-el pronunciation that you prefer Kate. I think rah-fai-el pronunciation is more common, because of the Italian painter, who would have been Rafaele, which in Italian would be rah-fai-ell-ay. The ray sound doesn’t really exist in Italian, so I feel like when Rafele became famous and people exported his name and it because Anglicized as Raphael, it kept some of the Italian pronunciation intact.

    Overall, I love all your suggestions! And the pervious suggestion of Jerome! I love Jerome!

    I really want to suggest Cyrus. Even though it violates the no repeating initial rule, Cyrus makes a very different sound than Camilla, and Camilla is the first child and Cyrus would be the 5th, so there’s a lot of separation between them. The only problem might be with Miss Miley, who isn’t the best association no matter how wonderful her music is to workout to. I feel like though if more people just took the plunge and used Cyrus, then while the association wouldn’t go away, it would have less of an impact.

    I feel like this is also a family that could pull off having a child named Bernard. They seem cool enough with their past name choices, lol. Again, there is the repeating initial with Blaise, but Blaise like Camilla is earlier in the sibset, so it might not be that big of a deal.

    I feel like Maximilian could be super awesome in this sibset, for St. Maximilian Kolbe of course. I know he isn’t an early saint, but she seems more flexible with that, and Maximilian sounds like the name of an early saint even if he isn’t one.

    Their style is so different from what I consider my own naming style! This was quite the challenge for me but also quite fun!

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    • Great ideas! I’m interested by your association of Cyrus with Miley — I would never have thought of her if you hadn’t mentioned her — is that an association your peers would certainly have?

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      • Oh 100%. Hannah Montana (which gave her her start) started in early 2006, so I was about 10 and everyone I knew (boys and girls) watched it and loved it. Then the Last Song, her major Hollywood movie, came out when I was about 15 I think, which was about the right age demographic for it. Then her music is aimed basically at millennials, and is played still at all parties and like I said I still listen to it to work out to even though her last album came out in 2013.

        She was really popular with my age group and then her downfall made us all pretty sad because we grew up with her basically. And then also Liam Hemsworth, her on-again off-again boyfriend is especially popular with girls my age.

        I remember when Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy named their son Cyrus, a lot of us were like “Like Miley? Why would they do that?”

        Maybe the association is waning now? I know my best friend and I had a pretty detailed conversation about her the other night about how we wish she would get back on track and make another album and that’s something I’ve heard some people my age talk about before.

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      • I had never thought of the Miley association with Cyrus until this comment. My first association is actually John Malkovich’s character in “Con Air” (terrible movie but I love it), and then I think of the nickname Cy and the baseball player Cy Young.

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      • It could definitely just be my age group! That would be a good thing for me because I love love love the name Cyrus. I thought it was much more wide spread. Maybe I’ll ask some of my friends tomorrow in a sneaky way.

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      • Well…I’m 38 and would definitely think of Miley if I heard Cyrus. I mean, I wouldn’t think the child was named after her, but I’d hear “Cyrus” and “Miley” would pop into my head.

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      • oh yes, I definitely agree with you grace! I wouldn’t think a child was named after Miley Cyrus, it would just be a word association type thing.

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      • So I’m a few years older than Grace (about five, I think, if you’re around 20 🙂 ) and I didn’t think of Miley Cyrus until reading the comment. I think I would have a few years ago – when, like Grace said, she was huge: tv show, major movie, albums, etc. Right now I think Cyrus can escape it (plus I don’t think anyone his age would associate the two, so at least his parents wouldn’t need to worry about that). Now, I don’t think the name Miley is ready to be disassociated, lol. I’ve heard of babies named Miley, and while I know they’re not named FOR her, Miley Cyrus still immediately comes to mind every time. But I think Cyrus is usable now. (And it’s only going to get better as she gets older, most likely.)

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      • I took a poll of 6 people. Not the biggest pool of people, but the best I could get who wouldn’t think I was insane for asking. There was 1 male, and 5 females. Age range from 19 to 29.

        There were 5 yeses, and 1 no as to associating Cyrus with Miley. The 1 no however is someone who is from the Netherlands so that probably influenced it. One also thought of “little blue alpaca from Animal Crossing New Leaf.” I don’t know what that is, but alpacas are cool, so that can’t be a bad association right?

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    • Regarding Raphael—it’s a biblical name and would have been known in any Christian nation even prior to the Italian painter. Only after the Reformation would the book of Tobit, where Raphael is mentioned by name, have been removed from the Protestant canon of scripture, and there would have developed local pronunciations for all the names in scripture by then.

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      • That is very true and I did think about that. I was just thinking what would give the name the absolute most wide spread amount of use, instead of just being a name that people heard every so often in Mass.

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      • I don’t know, I think the culture was so deeply influenced by the Church then that this would have been the bigger influence. No one who couldn’t travel to see the art in Italy would have known much or cared about the artist. Visual arts couldn’t spread as much as, say, music which travels with the musician, especially visual arts that are part of buildings, like a lot of Raphael’s work.

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      • Another good point. I do know that Thomas More and Erasmus were big fans of Raphael and brought back some of his influence to England during the Renaissance, so at least among the higher classes (Utopia actually reached great fame among all people who could read and has a character who might be named after Raphael in it).

        What would be very interesting would be if we could actually see the naming trend of Raphael. Did it get more popular during the Renaissance? Did it stay the same? Did it change after Utopia?

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      • And, that still wouldn’t mean the English wouldn’t have had their own pronunciation! Even today I notice that they are less likely to pronounce imported words closely to how they’d be pronounced in the original language. Americans are more keen to do so. Ever gotten into a debate with a Brit over the pronunciation of “herb” before? Or heard how they pronounce the names Indian cuisine? Such a different attitude about pronunciation than Americans have. They are more likely to apply English pronunciation rules to foreign words than Americans, who, in my observation, try to imitate original pronunciation more. (That said, just this week I was saying I wanted to hire a dialect coach to teach me to speak in an English accent full-time. And it still doesn’t settle this Raphael pronunciation issue!)

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      • That’s so true too! The Brits do tend to be really very particular about how they pronounce things, lol. Clearly, there is no real “correct” pronunciation for Raphael in English and it’s up to the person doing the naming to choose what they like most 🙂

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    • This is what I was going to say about the Raphael pronunciation – rah-fai-el. That one definitely seems to come from the painter and of course MTNT names are all Renaissance artists.

      I hear Ray-fee-el commonly in local Catholic circles though, so wonder if it is the “religious” pronunciation or geographic. Found this pronunciation guide on a baby name site, so clearly has options. PRONOUNCED: ra-fa-EL (French), RAF-ee-el (English), RAY-fee-əl (English).

      I get so confused and find myself pronouncing it both ways within minutes of each other – like when I am talking about the archangels at our annual homeschool feast day party.

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      • I pronounce it Ray-fee-ull, which I think is the standard American English pronunciation. The only person I knew of with the name Raphael was a Native American from a Catholic family. He pronounces it that way. His nickname is Rafe.

        If we’re talking about a Mexican or other Spanish speaker, it’s Rafael, pronounced Rah-fye-ell. I assume the native French Raphael is the same.

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      • I do suspect that you’re right about the RAY- pronunciation being the/an English pronunciation BUT I don’t think it can be called “standard” because it sounds like, from most of these comments, most people are hearing rah-fye-EL, even by English speakers and English-speaking boys named Raphael. It might be like Xavier, where I would argue that though the ex- pronunciation doesn’t follow English pronunciation rules, it’s quite standard among English speakers and seems to break down more according to geography than language among Americans for whom English is their first language. But I’m always open to being proven wrong — I’m fascinated by such things!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! I do that too with names I’m not sure of the pronunciation — sometimes I say them different depending on which context I’m in! I know I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I seriously considered Augustin(e) for our last three boys, but pronunciation issues prevented us from choosing it — we just could never get comfortable with the possibility of others saying au-gus-TEEN. Just recently a local St. Augustine’s has been in the news a bit and even people close to it say it differently, and I’ve even heard the same people say it differently in different conversations. Argh!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. My Linus has a brother named Augustine. It repeats an initial, but if you call him “Gus”, it would work. Also, did you notice that all the boys have an “s” in their names? Other suggestions: Basil, Gregory, Cyril, Irenaeus nn “Ira.” Jerome seems like perfection, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. When I read this on Instagram, I was thinking Augustine, Clement, and Jerome. With the no-repeating-initial rule, Augustine and Clement are out, but I still really like Jerome. Since Raphael has a bit of a pronunciation issue, what about Gabriel? Becket (Thomas a Becket) and Dominic seem like they would be a good fit.

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  15. Although I see that early saint is only a mild preference, I still would lean that way.

    Clement and Ignatius and Benedict definitely have the style and are very similar in (lack of) popularity level. But are very recognized and super “Church father” Catholic.

    Jerome and Augustine are a good fit. Church fathers and match in popularity with Blaise which is the most popular of the trio so far (I know lots of little Blaises). Having a son with middle Jerome, know it is not really used currently though at one time very popular. Both truly great patron saints.

    To avoid repeated first initial it does rule out some of these great contenders (Augustine, Benedict, Clement) so would go with Jerome or Ignatius.

    Heard of my first little Cyprian this fall, so not common at all (ranks in the 7000s) which is far less common than any of their other names. It is too uncommon/unknown for my tastes, but is growing on me through knowing this new baby. Definitely associate it with the Eucharistic prayer/Roman Canon because until this baby that was the only place I had ever heard it. I don’t think I would go lower than the 2000s in popularity for a fit for family. ; ) Which rules out Athanasius, too. And how about Methodius, Irenaeus, and Chrysogonus – don’t even make the SSA list.

    Cyrus, doesn’t seem to have the same instant saintliness factor to me and yes I associate it with Miley before I would have thought of the saint.

    I really love Raphael, but don’t feel it fits as well and it does have the pronunciation issue. Would rule out Joachim for pronunciation issues too.

    I think Justin, Sebastian, Damian, James are too popular/common for their style – still in top 100 or just barely below. I know quite a few baby James and Justins.

    Some weird stuff I found – the name Damien actually increased in popularity following the Omen movie while Damian spelling decreased, but only slightly.Both have increased still since the 70s after dropping some in the early 90s. Obviously didn’t stop people and encouraged some in their naming. I find that odd as it is counter to most of our thinking here because of the evil association. So do some people like the evil….? Damian is hovering around 100 so still quite popular.

    So basically I haven’t contributed anything new – you all covered the options so well! The only different one I am thinking is Maximus – doesn’t repeat initial, Church father/saint, intuitive to pronounce. But it may be too popular which is funny because it went from obscurity (not being on list ever) until 1997 when it debuted at #10251 (5 boys) and has increased to #192 (2118 boys) in 2014. That is quite a jump. I do know a couple little Catholic boys with this name in last couple of years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Regarding Damien/an, in rereading my post I don’t think it was clear – was wondering if popularity in the name is a reclaiming of name despite the negative association or is it a liking of the name because of the association, or does associationhave less impact than we think and people just like the name?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, this is a great way to articulate the question. I don’t think it’s a reclaiming (though it definitely needs to be!), nor because of the movie (though certainly there are some dark souls who might choose it for that reason), and “sort of” to the last category (see my comment to your previous comment).

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve noticed the same thing about Damien/Damian — they’ve increased in popularity since the movie. My guess is that the movie put it on people’s radar where they’re not naming their boys *after* the movie character, but the movie character made them think, “Huh, Damian/Damien’s actually a pretty great name.” I suspect that it’s only those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about good and evil that would really be bothered by the movie association. Just a guess!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My husband was born in the 70’s and his name is spelled Damion. I have no idea where that spelling came from, but I hardly ever see it.
        Also, Cyrus can be pronounced “See-rus”, which would take it away from the Miley association.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good point about See-rus! Interesting about Damion … if you ever find out why I’d love to know! I know of a Demien (said like Damian), which I always found sort of baffling — I’d love to know the thought process there too. And not to be critical — I might love the reason! I’d just love to know what it is.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I love your post, skimac! So thoughtful and thorough as always! I’m usually like, “Yay! I love your suggestions, Kate!” Lol! 😂😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Love this sibset! Great suggestions already too.

    Some other options:

    Familiar names not used as much in the current generation:
    Paul, Gregory, Stephen, Phillip, Simon, Vincent (my son’s name but I can’t help suggesting), Ralph, Tobias.

    More unusual names to consider:
    Apollo, Silas, Felix, Malachi, Octavian, Rufus, Nicodemus, Elias, Fabian, Magnus, Micah, Quentin, Wolfgang, Simeon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • One more thought, Johan. Biblical, early saint, familiar but not common. Not sure others would always get the pronunciation correct. Also John is already in the sibset as a middle. But thought it might work anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Johan made me think of Sebastian (because of Bach)……which is much more popular than their other names, but I really feel like it has the same feeling as their other names! Camilla, Blaise, Linus, Ambrose and Sebastian just seem to “go” for me. It also fits the rules of being an early saint (St. Sebastian was martyred around 288) and not repeating an initials.

        Liked by 1 person

    • @Other Colleen — Vincent was our A#1 boy choice beyond Tiber for our Oct ’15 baby — we felt chicken to use Tiber after we already went and used Blaise and Urban (which people typically hear incorrectly as Irwin or Irving), but it suited him just right. I just love Vincent, though!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Aww, thanks!! Although my Vincent may have to be renamed to monkey after I found him climbing up the shelves on our TV cabinet last night!

        I lo-o-ove Blaise. It’s been high on my favorites list. We have very close friends with a son named Blaze. Even though we’d use the saintly spelling, not sure how our friends would feel if we used it. Still might use it anyway if we have another son. I never had considered Urban until recently but I love the sound. Have you run into anyone else named Urban?

        Liked by 2 people

  17. This has been such a great set of comments with such amazing names 🙂 Totally needed this escape after hosting out of town guests with 3 teenagers on one of our busiest weeks of the season!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. After reading all of the comments, my #1 bar-none favorite for this family is definitely Urban!

    Also, I read her mom’s awesome post about naming her own children, and I just love all their Tolkien and Lewis names! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I researched pre-5th century male saints whose names have an intuitive pronunciation and have some familiarity, and this is what I came up with:

    Demetrius, Didymus, Dismas, Elias, Ephrem, Erasmus, Elmo, Fabian, Felix, Fidelis, Flavian, Florian, Hilarion, Hilary, Ignatius, Innocent, Isidore, Jerome, Jude, Julian, Julius, Magnus, Martin, Maurice, Maximus, Mel, Methodius, Nicodemus, Philip, Pius, Polycarp, Quentin, Quintus, Romanus, Romulus, Rufus, Rusticus, Sergius, Severin, Severus, Silas, Silvanus, Simeon, Simon, Sylvester, Thaddeus, Theodore, Theophilus, Titus, Urban, Valentine, Valerian, Victor, Vincent, Zacchaeus, Zechariah

    I particularly like Felix, Ignatius, Innocent, Jerome, Nicodemus, Rufus, Sylvester, Thaddeus, Titus, and Zacchaeus. (Okay, I like them all!) I love that this family has bold names. Hopefully one of these will jump out at them.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I’m stuck on the fact that all of the boys have an S in their names.

    I love Rufus for them. Rufus and Jasper seem like a nice twin pair. Jasper may be a bit too popular for them.

    Also Ephrem and Magnus.

    If Rufus isn’t quite right, there’s Fergus.

    The last name that came to mind was Peregrine.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Clearly drinking caffeine at dinner was a bad idea. Just clicked to the grandmother’s blog. Her name is Salome.

        SOLOMON! USE SOLOMON! I’m not up-to-speed why King Solomon isn’t a saint, when King David (who did some really bad stuff) is a saint. Perhaps this blog could enlighten us at some point. That’s not the point. It’s a biblical name, so the spirit is there.
        With Blaise, Linus, Ambrose, my favorite twin combo is Solomon and Rufus.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I *think* when we talk about St. David we’re talking about St. David of Wales — can anyone else verify? Because King David is listed as King David at CatholicSaints.Info, not as St. David … so I’d say King Solomon is similar … though I haven’t done extensive research … I will add it to my list!

        Liked by 1 person

      • For Catholics, we don’t generally refer to Old Testament people as “Saint”. Also, King Solomon started out good, but then he started amassing foreign wives and riches and basically let his kingdom fall into idolatry, so I’m guessing he probably wouldn’t be listed as a saint after that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! And in addition to St. David of Wales, there’s also a St. David of Thessalonica that one David I know had as a patron.

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  21. italian reader here: i love raphael and pronounce it the spanish way, although being jewish i think of it as the hebrew way. the only raphael i know is also jewish, british and pronounce it my way. in italy the painter/ninja turtle is raffaellO while the common name is raffaelE, same name but old/modern version.

    i’ve been thinking about this sibset and their pattern for the boys is blaiSE/ambroSE/linuS so the S is very strong, and they all have 2 syllables. Considering camilla the L is also very strong.

    Early saints names i like for them are: darius, elias, ephrem, fabian, felix, isidore, julius, quentin, roman, silas, simeon. some of these names are quite trendy at the moment, but others strike me as mostly saintly/religious (ephrem, isidore, simeon). While blaise and ambrose are very catholic in my mind, linus also fits with the vintage trend which is popular these days, so i’d say they could use felix and silas with no problem, and they would fit amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for an Italian perspective, awesome!! Interesting about Raffaello vs. Raffaele! And though I’d noticed the strong S’s in this fam’s boys’ names so far, I hadn’t noticed the prominence of L as well. I like Felix and Silas!

      Liked by 1 person

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