Okay everyone, buckle up — this is a daddy of a consultation! In more ways than one! Yes, it’s really long (twenty-three ideas for this couple! What!) (You’ll see why!), and also, it’s a papa that commissioned me to do this consultation!
Cameron is one of my most loyal and encouraging readers, and I’m delighted today to post this consultation for he and his wife Chelsey, who are expecting their first baby — a boy!
C&C have fully agreed on Jude Alden as an amazing combo that they both love, that has great meaning for them as well — a great, saintly first name and a nod to Chelsey’s dad in the middle.
But what would a consultation be without a dilemma? For this couple, it’s that Cameron’s full name is John Cameron, and his dad’s first name is John as well. Cameron loves the idea of giving his firstborn son the first name John, like he and his dad, and have him go by his middle name. BUT he and Chelsey love Jude Alden. And they can’t figure out a John ___ name they like as much or better.
“Since my dad and I are both first borns and both have “John” as our first name, I always thought it’d be really cool to turn that into a tradition should God bless me with a boy first … Jude Alden just hit us in the face one day when we were out and about and we just stopped and knew right away that we loved that name. It is a power hitter name regards to our faith; being one of the apostles, and honors Chelsey’s father for his middle name! 🙂
[I feel like] Jude Alden is the perfect name… for a younger brother. Chelsey would gladly name it for the first born … However, after having that discussion with you a while back regarding Jude in the spotlight, I have heavily considered giving up my “made up tradition of John + something” to replace it with Jude Alden as a first born, thinking that maybe we’ll never get the chance to use the only name we’ve both come up with and loved.
Obviously Jude Alden is the forerunner. It could very possibly happen that when we see our boy, we just know it’s a Jude and that’s that. We are coming to you to help us with our “John Dilemma”.
John is the beloved apostle and I (Cameron) have a dear devotion to him and his connection with Our Lady. I love John for being a very strong solid name, and the thought of tying in another name to that is so exciting. But Jude Alden is stellar… who knows.”
(Cameron calls it a “made up tradition” because he wasn’t actually named John [something] *because* his dad was, it just worked out that way.)
Except for Jude Alden, Cameron and Chelsey have pretty different taste in names. For Cameron,
“I personally am not a big fan of super “secular” sounding names like “Hunter, Derek, Brad, Jordan, etc…” or names along those lines for the MAIN NAME that we would call our child. We have tossed around ideas including a secular name as a middle name (or first, doesn’t matter what order, really) for example, but not the name we could call him. That includes several, obviously, so I wouldn’t write all those out. … I love good solid Catholic names. You know that. Raphael, Gabriel, Paul, John, Jude, Titus, Daniel. Chelsey and I have been thinking about not being TOO obsessive (mainly me) about having a super well known Catholic name, because we love the thoughts of our children being new saints, thus creating a new name for other families using in reverence and honor….if that makes sense.”
(I totally cracked up at this: “Chelsey and I have been thinking about not being TOO obsessive (mainly me) about having a super well known Catholic name”!! 😀 )
Chelsey, on the other hand,
“likes uniqueness… Chelsey likes names that are a little bit more “rare” but still have a good sound to it, if that makes sense … [she doesn’t] like names that are very common, and [she’s] also not a fan of names that can appear boring, e.g. Paul, Bob, Tom, Sam, etc.. Some names [she does] like are killed by the shortened versions e.g. Elijah- Eli.”
Names Cameron likes but Chelsey doesn’t:
Paul (“I’d totally go for John Paul for obvious reasons, JPII!!!“)
August (“booooo” [John August is Cameron’s favorite combo])
Name Chelsey likes but Cameron doesn’t:
Name they both kind of like:
Ignatius (but Cameron worries that it’s “SUCH a heavy hitter, that it almost seems to be too much“)
Names that are no-go’s:
And finally, for reference, some girls’ names they’ve discussed and like:
Alrighty, first off, the idea of John+[something] is just one of those things that can’t be ignored. You know? On the one hand, I want to say that Jude Alden, being the name Cameron and Chelsey both agree on and love, is the perfect option for their little boy. On the other hand, naming traditions can be so meaningful, and given that John+something is Cameron’s name and his dad’s name, as firstborns, I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that they can shelve for now and maybe consider if they ever have a second boy. I think this baby boy here is their one shot at John+something. So that’s kind of a lot of pressure! It might seem like they’re down to “family tradition” (which happens to nicely coincide with Cameron’s particular devotion to St. John the Evangelist and Our Lady, beautiful) vs. “favorite name, and the one we can happily agree on.”
I posted a while ago on whether parents should reserve names for later use at the expense of using them now or vice versa (in that example it was “Felix now at the expense of Felicity later?” but it works perfectly for John+[something] vs. Jude Alden) and two things that came up in the comments seemed really helpful: (1) name this baby as if he/she were your last baby, and (2) in light of that, which name would you be sadder not to ever get to use? If this little boy is the only little boy that C&C are ever blessed with, would they be sadder to not use John as a first name in the tradition of Cameron and his dad, or the handsome and agreed-upon combo Jude Alden? (Cameron actually commented on that post — this is a really hard dilemma for them, which has been hanging over them for a while!) (Also, if you want to get a glimpse of these sweetest expectant parents, click on his username!)
So my main goals (and my hopes for you all in the comments!) is either to come up with a John+ name that will make them both really happy and not feel like they’re settling, or help them realize Jude Alden is *the* answer, and either way not set them up for name regret later. Cameron started emailing me about this dilemma several months ago, and we’ve had quite a long conversation about it — I’ve suggested several (where “several”=”23”) ideas to them, and since none of them have hit quite the right note, I hope you all can come up with something that’s just right (or maybe Jude Alden is meant to be this little boy’s name?). My ideas are:
(1) John Alden, called Jude
This is probably my top option. It has all three of the elements they both want: John, Alden, and Jude. I know it’s an offbeat idea — you all know I totally specialize in offbeat nickname ideas! So I get it if it’s just too crazy for C&C. It’s the kind of choice that they’d really have to be 100% with and just own it — telling people firmly and consistently that yes, his given name is John Alden, and yes, he’s called Jude exclusively.
(2) John Jude Alden, called Jude
The two-middle name option isn’t for everyone, but it’s a tactic often employed when there are a bunch of names that parents can’t choose between.
(3) John Thaddeus, called Jude
This is probably the one that’s closest to my own personal taste. Thaddeus is after St. Jude Thaddeus, and I think his full name is familiar enough to people that if you say his name is John Thaddeus but you’re calling him Jude, people will probably raise eyebrows because it’s an unorthodox way of getting to Jude, but I don’t think they’d be like, “Where the heck do you get Jude from John Thaddeus??” Another nice thing is that with the “J” of John and the “ude” that’s contained within Thaddeus, Jude is almost like a mashup nickname of the first+middle names. Finally, Thaddeus is a style match for Ignatius and Raphael — it’s got loads of Catholic cachet; it’s also super biblical like Chelsey’s Ezra and several of the names Cameron likes. If they were to go with John Thaddeus nicked Jude, they’d have two of their three important elements — John and Jude. It’ll be important to consider whether or not Chelsey’s dad will be upset with not being included in their first son’s name.
(4) John Ignatius
I think it’s really telling that C&C are both considering Ignatius — besides Jude Alden, it’s the only name they listed that they’re both okay with! John Ignatius is an amazing combo. I know that Cameron said he doesn’t like the “main name” their son will be called (sometimes called a “call name” in the naming world) to sound secular, which I totally get. But I suspect that Chelsey might not mind that so much, and perhaps a good compromise between their tastes would be a heavy hitting super duper Catholicky Catholic given name, like John Ignatius, with a friendlier, more accessible nickname/call name, which I think usually sound secular. I don’t think Gus translates as Catholic, for example, even though St. Augustine is such a big deal, and Gus is a natural nickname for it. Does that make sense? Anyway, with that in mind, John Ignatius with a great nickname might be just the thing for this baby. I’ve seen Iggy, Nate, and Nash as nicknames for Ignatius — I don’t think Iggy’s their taste; Nate’s a pretty safe choice — familiar, masculine; and I’m going to guess that Cameron hates Nash and that Chelsey thinks “Huh. Nash is kinda cute.” But I’d let it sit for a while! I wrote a while ago about when Mom and Dad have different tastes and how to deal with that – heavy hitting given names with cooler/friendlier nicknames were one way to go (I blogged about it here: https://sanctanomina.net/2015/01/14/baby-name-consultant-he-likesshe-likes/, and reworked it into a column for CatholicMom here: http://catholicmom.com/2015/04/15/patrick-vs-polycarp/). An easy nickname also helps to deal with Cameron’s concern that Ignatius is “SUCH a heavy hitter, that it almost seems to be too much.”
(5) John Ezra, called Ezra
Most of the time, if I knew Dad really felt strongly about a certain first name, I would unequivocally think the fairest thing would be for Mom to get full rights to the middle name. This situation is a little trickier because their son would actually go by his middle name and C&C will both have to deal with calling him by that name every day for his whole life, so it’s not as easy as picking a mostly hidden middle name. But their tastes are actually not that far off from each other! Cameron’s picks of Ezekiel, Isaac, and Elijah are all style matches for Chelsey’s Ezra, so I feel like it shouldn’t be that much of a thing to scooch closer together, you know? Of course, I also know that’s not really how naming works — you both like what you like and that’s just the way it is. But I’d consider John Ezra. Something Cameron wants, something Chelsey wants. Ezra’s a really cool name I think, and while it doesn’t have the Catholic cachet the names on Cameron’s list have, I think the full “John Ezra” steers it more in that direction. For what it’s worth, I also think John Ezra and Jude Alden are amazing brother names! Similar lengths, and Ezra and Jude sound really cute together.
(6) John Caleb
Caleb is a great name in my opinion, and a great style match for the Old Testament names they both like. It can also take the awesome (imo) nickname Cal, if they wanted to do a nickname. So cute!! But then Chelsey said some names that she might otherwise like are “killed by the shortened versions e.g. Elijah-Eli” – I don’t feel like I have a good handle on what nicknames she would consider dealbreakers (I loved the examples of Paul, Bob, Tom, Sam, etc. – perfect! But I’m less sure about the more uncommon nicknames, like Cal, for example. I was also surprised to see she doesn’t like Eli, as I would probably have thought she would have liked it). I don’t think Caleb needs a nickname, and I don’t think most people would think to shorten it to a nickname. I also like that John Caleb would share initials with Dad – another nice connection.
(7) John Roman
Roman is another one that seems like it might be just perfect. It can be heavy duty Catholicky Catholic, with its ties to (in my mind) the Pope, the Vatican, Roman Catholicism, etc. But I think it can also appeal to those who prefer names that are a little less heavy – there are some celebs that have used the name Roman, for example, like Cate Blanchett, Molly Ringwald, Debra Messing, and Rodney Peete. It’s a style match for Raphael, Dominic, and Noelle, and the similar sounding Ronan is a style match for Haven, all of which I thought was pretty awesome. John Roman is really handsome. (Or John Ronan?)
(8) John Gabriel
Gabriel is a style match for Isaac, Raphael, Samuel, and Elijah, as well as being a great Catholic name – St. Gabriel the Archangel brings to mind Our Lady and the Annunciation, which are beautiful Marian tie-ins for a boy. Gabe is one of the best nicknames imo, and I’ve often thought Gil could totally work too. John Gabriel rocks.
(9) John Kolbe or John Xavier
I wonder what they’d both think of Kolbe? I’m feeling like it might overlap really nicely with both their styles. It can sound trendy, like Colby and Coby and Cody, but it’s St. Maximilian Kolbe all the way. Loads of Catholic families I know have been choosing it for their sons; it’s a great option, and very recognizably Catholic. Kole could also work as a pretty cool nickname. I love John Kolbe.
I’m including Xavier in the same category because it’s a saint’s last name that’s being used as a first name. It’s gotten popular recently, but I still think it comes across as exclusively Catholic. I really like John Xavier.
(10) John Francis
Okay, hear me out – Francis is St. Francis of Assisi, it’s Pope Francis, it’s awesome. But most people I’ve talked about it with don’t care for Francis as a call name, and I’m guessing Frank/Frankie isn’t really C&C’s style. So I wonder what they’d think of the nickname I keep pushing on people for Francis: Finn? One of the things about Catholicky Catholic names is that you might be saddling a child with a name that’s too heavy for them when they’re little, so having nicknames that are easy and friendly, or that fit in with their peers, can sometimes be as much a gift as the Amazing Saint Name you gave them. Does that make sense? So there are going to be a lot of little Finns this year, because of the new Star Wars movie, but he’s a great character, and a little John Francis would happily and easily fit in with his peers if he went by Finn.
(11) John Matthias
Matthias might really work for this baby as well. He’s in the New Testament – he was chosen by the Apostles to replace Judas, so I think Matthias can be considered a really Catholic name, since his selection was the result of an official meeting of the Apostles – one of the first (if not THE first) Church Councils perhaps? In a manner of thinking? It’s got that heavy biblical feel that Ezekiel, Isaac, Samuel, Elijah, Jude, and Ezra have as well, and could shorten to Matt/Matty if you like (one of the objectively coolest people I’ve ever known has a son named Matty, so you know Matty’s a good nickname! Haha!).
(12) John Bryant
In emailing with Cameron I discovered that Bryant’s an important family surname for Chelsey, and I wondered if she’d like to balance Cameron’s family first name pick with her own family middle name pick? Bryant’s a great surname to have in the family mix to have if you’d ever want to consider using it for a child, because it’s so first-namey.
(13) John Michael, John Miles, John Milo
Miles and Milo were my first ideas here—I know you all have seen me suggest them ad nauseam to others on the blog but darn it, I’m going to keep suggesting it til someone uses it! 😀 I love them because they’re Marian! The Irish name Maolmuire, which means “devotee of Mary” has been anglicized as Miles/Myles/Milo! I’ve also seen Miles and Milo offered as offbeat nickname ideas for Michael, so I thought if C&C kind of liked Miles and/or Milo but were still hesitant, maybe John Michael would work for them with the nickname Miles or Milo?
(14) John Connor
The combo John Connor reminded me of John Cardinal O’Connor, the amazing archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York who founded the Sisters of Life—a great association! Connor’s a great name.
(15) John Owen
I’m dying over brothers Owen and Jude, love! And St. Nicholas Owen has been a favorite of mine for a while—he built hiding places for priests in England and was martyred for the faith. And it’s also my newest nephew’s name. 🙂
(16) John Elliott
Elliott has strong connections to the faith—in origin it’s a diminutive of Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah. I’ve always considered Elijah/Elias/Elliott to be Marian, because the cloud the prophet Elijah saw on the water from Mt Carmel in the book of Kings is said to have represented Our Lady. Indeed the Carmelites trace their history back to Elijah and that incident—they were venerating Our Lady long before she was born. It gives me goosebumps to think about!
(17) John Charles nicked Cal
C&C did actually let me know that they both liked the nickname Cal from my Caleb suggestion, which made me think that maybe Charles was the answer. Cal is a traditional (though somewhat uncommon) nickname for Charles, and Charles is all kinds of awesome—JP2’s birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles; there’s also St. Charles Borromeo and one of my new favorites Bl. Karl of Austria and a bunch of others. This ties in well (I think) with their decision to not be “TOO obsessive about having a super well known Catholic name”—it’s got impeccable credentials but doesn’t hit you in the face with it.
(18) John Leo
Pope St. Leo the Great! It’s also on the rise popularity-wise, having cracked the top 100 or the first time since 1937 in 2014 after rising steadily since 1995, so it’s got appeal beyond the Catholic world.
(19) John Robert nicked Rory or Bo
I suspect that Chelsey’s first reaction to Robert will be “ugh”! But St. Robert Bellarmine is a great saint, so maybe Cameron will like it, and updating the nickname options from Bob(by) or Rob(by) to Rory or Bo might do the trick. Rory is a style match for some other names that are similar to Jude, like Finn. Brothers Rory and Jude would be so cute! And I’m including Bo because my brother and SIL, parents of the Owen I mentioned above, considered Bo as a nickname for their next baby, and Robert was one of the suggestions I gave them for a way to get to it.
(20) John William nicked Will or Liam, or John Liam
William is as solid as they come, and Will and Liam are great nicknames. Liam was actually a style match for Willow, which is what encouraged me to suggest it. There are a whole bunch of Sts. and Bls. William, and one is also known as Bl. Liam Tuiridh.
(21) John Damian/Damien (nicked Danny or Denny?)
Finally, Damian is a style match for Noelle, and of course I immediately thought of St. Damian (of Damian and Cosmas fame) and St. Damien de Veuster (sorry to Chelsey, I have the “uber Catholic name” bug like Cameron! It’s just how my namey mind works!) and wondered what they’d think of them? Damien’s one of those that I’ve tried to convince my hubs of, and he won’t have any of it because of the demon child in the 1970s horror movie The Omen, which I’ve never seen and neither has he, but people do seem to associate that movie with these names. Which just kills me. Although, the popularity of the name has actually increased since that movie came out! Both variants are impeccably saintly, and though neither has traditional nicknames, I’ve often thought Danny (for Damian) and Denny (for Damien) could work.
(22) John Thomas or John Timothy nicked Ty or Trey or Trip(per)
I know Chelsey said she didn’t like Tom, but I was thinking if they use John for this baby, he’ll be the third Murray boy in succession to have John as his first name. So Trey could totally work as a nickname for him, and really it doesn’t matter what his middle name is, they could still use Trey, but I thought a “T” middle name might be the most appealing. Thomas and Timothy were the two I thought might be the best, not having any particular hardcore Catholic feel even though they *are* hardcore Catholic. Then the idea of Timothy reminded me that I’ve seen Ty used as a nickname for it, and I quite liked that too: John Timothy nicked Ty.
Trip(per) is because I know another boy who’s the III and he’s always gone by Tripper, I love it. Totally sounds like an athlete’s nickname, no? (And not to get totally crazy here, but one could possibly think of Trey/Trip(per) as a nod to the Trinity. Oh man.)
(23) John [middle name meaning “beloved” or otherwise referring to St. John] nicknamed Trey, Trip(per) if desired
This is actually a brand-new suggestion for C&C, which I haven’t yet offered. Piggybacking on the previous suggestion and my assertion that C&C can call their baby Trey or Tripper no matter what his middle name is as long as his first name is John, I thought I’d suggest some names that could refer specifically to St. John the Beloved Disciple:
Amatus — means “beloved”
Erasmus, Erastus — mean “beloved”
David — likely meaning “beloved”
Cruz — means “cross,” referring to the Cross of Crucifixion and the fact that St. John the Beloved was there with Him, and that Jesus gave His mother to St. John from the Cross (though I would use the “croos” pronunciation and not the Spain-Spanish “crooth”)
John Amatus, John Erasmus, John Erastus, John David, and John Cruz are all all pretty amazing (I’m loving John Cruz! I actually love it without the Trey/Trip nicknames — Cruz is great!).
Whew! Okay! Those are all my ideas, but I’m dying to hear yours — what would you all suggest for this family torn between John+[something] and Jude Alden? Or any advice?