Baby name consultant: Lillian or Marie, Noah or Jude?

Theresa and her husband are expecting their third baby, gender unknown! This wee babe will join big sibs:

Abigail Rose nicked Abby
John Andrew nicked Jack

Which are just great names — biblical, traditional, can’t-go-wrong kind of names.

Theresa explained that she doesn’t love how popular Abby has become (though the meaning of “her father’s joy” for their firstborn seemed perfect), and that,

My husband’s name is John … and his father was a John with a different middle name and his father, etc etc. So we kept with the tradition of naming him John with a different middle name. We picked Andrew because my maternal grandfather is John Andrew and always goes by Jack. So perfect all around.”

Names they’re considering include:

Marie: “My middle name is Marie named after my late paternal grandmother. I wanted to honor her by bringing the name to the front again because I don’t know any other Maries but it seems like everyone’s middle name is Marie. It’s difficult coming up with a middle name for a name I associate with being the middle. I prefer Marie Therese (pronounced ter-ez, the French way). My hubby doesn’t really like it. [Another possibility is] his sister’s name, Tamara. She passed away suddenly a few years ago at 38 years old and left behind 5 children.”

Lillian Marie: “Our short list when we were pregnant with Abby was Abigail, Evelyn, and Lillian. John loves the name Lillian Marie and would love to have Abby and Lily as sisters. He also thinks Abby and Marie is a cute pair. I can imagine Abby always having roses and Lily having lilies when we do gifts and crafts. Anyway, Lillian Marie is a very Marian name so I love it for that reason too. I just feel bad abandoning my initial goal of making Marie a first name. My other concern is how popular Lily has become. I can’t decide!!!

William Michael nicked Liam or Will: “I’m not a fan of this name for many reasons. [My hubs] is hesitant because he hates other nicknames like Bill and Billy.”

Dominic Michael: “I like the saint but we are having a hard time shedding the Jersey Shore feel we get with this name. I imagine someone with more Italian traits and we are very pale people :/ Plus, we don’t like any of the nicknames.”

Elijah Michael: “[My hubs] likes Eli as a nickname but I don’t. I don’t really feel like Elijah fits our family.”

Jude Michael: “I think it would be cute to have John, Jack and Jude but Jude would have to grow on me. I’ve never known a Jude besides Jude Law and I wonder how manly it is. I hear lots of people are naming girls Jude now and that bothers me a little. But of all the boy names Jude is the top for both of us at this point.”

Also Noah, Logan, Tristan, “But I want the name to be Catholic and sound like those names. John doesn’t like any of those names except Noah, but it’s way too popular now.”

I just wish there was a boy name that stood out as “that’s the one!” and we both liked it.”

Okay, first off, I love Theresa’s kiddos’ names! Abigail Rose and John Andrew, and Abby and Jack, are great sibling names, nice job Mom and Dad! I can see already that they’re worried about popularity—Theresa said she has a bit of name regret over the fact that Abby is so popular, and she’s concerned at how popular Lily and Noah are, even though it seems pretty clear that she loves all those names! This is where popularity statistics are harmful rather than helpful, in my opinion. I hate seeing parents moving away from names they really love because they’re worried about popularity. I feel like it will be extra hard for this couple, because so many of the names they’re considering are super popular right now:

Abigail: 7
Abby: 437
Abbie: 791
Abbey: 904

John: 26
Jack: 40
Jackson: 17

Marie: 564

Lillian: 26
Lily: 25
Lillie: 579

Evelyn: 15

William: 5
Liam: 2

Dominic: 68

Elijah: 11
Eli: 53

Jude (boys): 156
Jude (girls): not in top 1000

Noah: 1

Logan: 14

Tristan: 101

As you can see, Abigail is a top ten name, as is William, Liam, and Noah. Not far behind are Jackson (not a name they chose, but definitely contributing to the feeling that Jack is well used among little boys currently), Evelyn, Elijah, and Logan in the top twenty, and John, Jack, Lillian, and Lily in the top fifty.

So if their goal is to have a truly less popular name, then Marie, Dominic, Jude (boy), and Tristan are more aligned with their goal. But I’m not convinced that less popular is a good idea for them, because their favorite names are the more popular ones! So I’m going to implore them to not worry about popularity at all when making their choice—I think they’ll be much happier with a name they like, even if it’s a name a lot of other people like as well. And they have great names on their list! They have history and significance, and not a one of them is made up/invented.

One of the ways to “liven up” a name that feels otherwise overly popular is to pair it with an unusual middle name. Theresa loves Noah, but Noah Michael pairs the #1 name with the #9 name (which was previously the #1 name for generations)—but Noah Tristan is an unexpected, unusual combo, and very handsome. Or for Lillian, maybe Lillian Tamara? Or Lily Tamara?

Regarding Tamara, I wonder if Theresa’s husband would be okay with shortening it to Mara? Doing so makes it really similar to Theresa’s Marie, and might make a nice compromise between Theresa and her hubs, either as a first name or a middle. Lillian Mara is lovely, as is Mara Lillian (and they could even use Marie as a “nickname”!). Mara’s even less popular than Marie at #739.

Regarding Marie as a first name, it definitely seems like it should be their frontrunner, since (1) they love it, (2) it has family significance for Theresa, (3) Mr. thinks Abby and Marie are a cute pair, and (4) it’s the least popular of the options they’re considering. A little Marie would be quite a surprise, in a good way! And I think the best middle names to pair with it are names that flow well and/or that they wouldn’t otherwise use in the first spot. I love the combo Marie Tamara—it’s got family significance that Theresa’s husband seems really excited about, which is a nice balance for Theresa’s family-significance Marie, and Marie Tamara is a truly unexpected combo, which I find really exciting. If I heard that a little baby girl was named Marie Tamara, I’d be a little swoony over it! For real! And when I found out the family significance behind it, I’d be kind of blown away by it, honestly.

I looked into Tamara a bit to find out more, and it does have a date-stamped feel, as its peak of popularity was in 1974 at #64 (not even that popular back then) and its nickname of choice was usually Tammy, which peaked on its own at #8 (!) in the late 60s/early 70s, but the name Tamara itself is quite lovely and biblical! It’s the Russian form of the biblical Tamar, which was the name of the daughter-in-law of Judah and a daughter of King David—she’s included in Jesus’ lineage! How great is that?!

I also love Marie Therese as well—I knew a Marie-Therese growing up, and always thought it was such an elegant combo. That actually might be an interesting way to go—I wonder if they would consider Marie-Therese as a double first name? They could still call her Marie for her everyday name, and then they could add a middle name.

As for abandoning Marie in favor or Lillian/Lily, whichever they don’t use now they could reserve for a possible future daughter, which could be an argument in favor of not using Marie as a middle for Lillian, if they decided to use Lillian for this baby. That way they could revisit Marie as a first name if they ever have another daughter.

A couple thoughts on their boy names:

— I think it’s highly unlikely that a little William would be called Bill or Billy these days—Will and Liam are the two nicknames currently in use, I don’t think any of today’s parents or anyone younger would default to Bill or Billy. An older person might, not realizing that Will and Liam are preferable, but all they’d have to do is quickly, firmly, and consistently correct anyone who makes that mistake. One thing to note is that William and Lillian are the exact same name except for the first and last letters, and Lily and Will/Liam have a similar sound as well, so it seems to me that whichever they use for this baby (if any) would knock the other out of consideration for possible future use.

— A lot of people seem to be worried about Dominic being most appropriate for those of Italian extraction, and there certainly are Italian Dominics, but it’s a pan-European name that has usage in every culture. My dad knew a Dominic nicked Dommy growing up, which I think is so cute, and Nic and Nico are not terrible at all, but my real love is the full Dominic. I think it’s a great option! And if their hope is to have a Catholic-sounding name, Dominic is their man.

— Elijah and Eli kind of cracked me up, especially since Theresa said they don’t really feel like they fit her family—you all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Elijah is a style match for Abigail and Eli for Noah so, at least on paper, it’s very much Theresa’s taste. But if she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it! This is another time in which statistics might not be helpful—just because it seems like parents should like a name doesn’t mean they will, and feeling like a name doesn’t fit one’s family is a much better indicator.

— Jude is a great name, and another one that has that really Catholic feel that Dominic has (though the Jude Law association does dilute it a bit. But also makes it more familiar to others, which can be helpful). There is some usage by girls, but it’s important to know that, as I noted above, Jude as a given name for girls hasn’t ever been in the top 1000 names since the Social Security Administration started keeping track in the late 19th century. For reference, there were 135 girls named Jude in 2015, as compared to 2636 boys.

Whew! I had a lot of thoughts on everything! Haha! I do have some further ideas for this family, which are all based on my research and my own namey mind:

(1) Anna or Hannah
The most fun part of the Baby Name Wizard is finding names that are listed as matches for two or more of the names on the parents’ list—it’s such an indication of parents’ taste! Anna and Hannah are variants of the same name, and one or the other was listed as a match for Abigail, John, William, Jude, and Noah. Pretty cool right?

(2) Elizabeth
Lily is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth, though not used too much as such I don’t think, so even though Elizabeth is more popular than Lillian (it’s #13), using a more unexpected nickname like Lily makes the whole package seem a bit more unusual. If they like Elizabeth but not Lily as a nickname for it, there are loads of nicknames that are less common for it that might help them feel like they’re choosing something a little more offbeat. Some of my favorite less-used nicknames for Elizabeth are Liddy, Tess, Zelie (I’ve not actually seen this used for Elizabeth, but I totally think it can be, and a nod to St. Zelie at the same time), and Libbett (I know someone who goes by this). There are other ideas here, including Sabeth, which I’d never heard of before it was added in the comments but it has a great saintly connection.

(3) Molly
Molly’s a match for Abigail, Abby, Jack, and Noah, and its origin is as an Irish diminutive of Mary, so it’s Marian! It’s long been used as a given name in its own right, and I love it for this family, but it would knock out Marie as a first name for the future. They could do Marie as a given name with Molly as the nickname—a little unusual but totally legit.

(4) Sofia/Sophia/Sophie
These names are definitely popular—Sophia is down to #3 from having been #1 from 2011 to 2013 (Sophie’s #104 and Sofia’s #14)—but they’re such great matches for this family’s taste, and really faith-y! Sophia’s a match for Lillian and Dominic, Sophie for Lily, and Sofia for Elijah. It means “wisdom,” so it’s a biblical/faith concept, and there’s a St. Sophia as well as St. Madeleine Sophie Barat who’s referred to as St. Sophie (Sophie the Giraffe was named after her!).

(5) Natalia
Natalia might have a bit more of an exotic flair than they’d like, but it’s a gooorgeous name, and faithy on a couple different levels—it literally comes from the Latin for “birthday of the Lord,” so a nice connection there to Jesus, and there are two great Sts. Natalia. It’s also fairly uncommon at #118. Some sweet nickname options too: Natty, Talia, Lia.

(6) Fiona
Fiona’s such a dark horse here, it cracks me up that I’m including it in my suggestions for Theresa and her hubs! But it was listed as a style match for Liam, Jude, Logan, and Tristan! I think it’s a great name and not nearly used enough. If they didn’t care for it as a first name, it would make a great unexpected middle—Marie Fiona, Molly Fiona, and Lillian Fiona are all striking me as really pretty combos.

(1) Luke
I feel like Luke solves all their problems! I’ve often thought of it as the Jude more traveled (or rather, Jude is the Luke less traveled!), and since Jude is their frontrunner right now, maybe Luke has a chance of being high on their list as well. It’s saintly and Marian (in the sense that his gospel is the most Marian and includes Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat), and a style match for Jack, Lily, and Jude. It doesn’t have the potential issue that Jude has regarding feminine usage—there aren’t any girls named Luke! And at #28 it’s not overly popular, being very comparable to John and Lillian (both #26).

(2) Gabriel
Gabriel’s a style match for Abigail and Elijah, and it has more of an obviously Catholic feel than Elijah has, so it might feel like a better fit for this family. Gabe’s a great nickname and feels a lot like Jack to me—a sturdy, masculine, one-syllable name. It’s #22 on the chart.

(3) Caleb
Theresa and her hubs do love their biblical names, what with Abigail, John, Elijah, Jude, and Noah! Caleb has a similar feel to Abigail, Elijah, and Noah especially, and I think it’s so sweet for a little boy and solid for a man. Cal is a possible nickname that’s really great too.

(4) Owen
It might seem like Owen takes their naming in a different direction—more Celtic than biblical—but it’s actually a style match for Abigail, Lily, Liam, Logan, Noah, and Evelyn. It’s #36, so a little less popular than some of their other favorites, but not a total mismatch either. St. Nicholas Owen is an amazing patron for a little Owen!

(5) Cole/Colin/Nicholas
Speaking of Nicholas, this family of names did well for Theresa and her hubs in my research as well. Cole and Nick are both style matches for Jack, Cole is a match for Jude, and Colin for Tristan—both Cole and Colin can be nicknames for Nicholas, or they can stand on their own with any of the Sts. Nicholas as their patron.

(6) Henry
My last idea is Henry. It’s a match for Jack, Lillian, Lily, William, and Evelyn, and its popularity is in what I’m thinking of as their sweet spot at #29. Such a great name, and lots of great saints.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Abby and Jack’s little brother or sister?


37 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Lillian or Marie, Noah or Jude?

  1. I like the idea of Lillian-Marie Tamara as a name. I know not everyone is into double first names, but they can work (somewhat biased 😉 ). It seems like they’re more into the everyday use of Marie than Lily, but really love the name Lillian. This way, they’d get to use the beautiful name (Lillian), they don’t have to use a common nickname (Lily), and even though it’s not the FIRST first name, Marie is still saved from the middle spot and put to everyday use if they call her Marie (which makes mom happy, but also dad since he likes the idea of Abby and Marie).

    I also kind of love James for them. James Michael. I know it’s technically popular, but I NEVER hear it (and I worked with school aged children from 2011-2014, so plenty of opportunity). Is it too similar to Jack though? The only nickname I’ve heard used is Jim/Jimmy (I actually think Jimmy is adorable, though). Abigail, John, and James. Sounds nice to me! I also sort of love Thomas for them. It feels Catholicky to me with all the saints Thomas. My youngest brother is names Thomas (goes by Tom, Tommy, and Thomas) and it wears well. He’s 9. It’s not popular enough that you’ll continually hear of other kids named Thomas, but obviously everyone knows the name. 🙂 Abigail, John, and Thomas. Abby, Jack, and Tommy. Swoon.

    (Samuel feels like it’d work really well with their other kids’ names, too, but my favorites are Thomas and James.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! I have a very similar taste in names and am struggling with naming our second child, gender unknown. I’ve also always had a rule of “no top ten names”. Which is all fine, except we really like some of those names. I love the name William with a nickname of Liam and we both have beloved grandfathers that went by Bill (my husband on the other hand loves Bill or Billy for a nickname. Less popular, but not my favorite). I’ve moved it to middle name status because of popularity, but keep going back to it. I always felt bad for the Jennifers and Tracy’s of my generation.
    I love the Mara option for this family. I’m also a big fan of Marie as a middle name. So unique but classic. I would also suggest Lucy as an option, only because our taste is similar and it is a front runner for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember that with as much naming diversity as there is today, a top-10 name will not be nearly so ubiquitous as it would’ve been a generation ago. I commented about this on another post a few weeks ago, but take the #1 boys’ name for 2015, Noah. Only about 20,000 boys were given that name in 2015. Compare that to 30 years ago when something like 67,000 boys were named Michael in one year, 56,000 named the #2 name, Christopher, on down to the #20 name, Brian, which was used about 21,000 times in 1986! More boys were given the 20th most popular name in 1986 than the most popular name today! Crazy! Plus, with approximately 65,000 public elementary school in the United States, you can see that not even every school would have a Noah in a given grade. So I think parents shouldn’t let popularity deter them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If you go with Lillian, there’s no reason that this excludes Marie for a future child — Lillian Tamara would, for example, be lovely.

    If Elijah doesn’t do it for you, how about Elyas or Elias, the Greek form?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Only Lillian Marie would exclude it I think. But then, some families repeat middle names as first names for later children, so even then it might be fine! I like Lillian Tamara too, and Elias/Elyas are so great.


  4. My cousin has a Lilia, which I think is also extremely pretty and a bit of a twist on a popular name. In our case, it’s a family surname. She slightly modified the surname. Lilia went by Lily when she was small but now prefers the full name. I think Marie is also very nice as a first name. It’s a little too common as a middle name, but interesting as a first.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love so many ideas here!

    Therese, because it would be after Theresa, the mom’s name, and I think it’s fair, because Jack was named after his father and Abigail was named “for” her father.
    Marie, because it’s just lovely. And Mara for Tamara is genius! Mara is also a Biblical name (mentioned in the book of Ruth) and it’s a form of Mary! Another form of Mary that’s lovely is Miriam.
    Lillian is a great choice, I think, for the middle name, to pair up with Rose.
    Hannah is perfect for their unofficial theme and it’s so sweet!

    For a boy, I like William, Noah, Henry and Thomas (such great names!) and I’d suggest Benjamin, Elias, Lucas or James Peter (because St. James is St. John’s brother and St. Peter is St. Andrew’s brother).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely suggestions for an already lovely set!!

    I love the idea of Marie as a first name! So unexpected as a first name. I think it would go quite well. Marie Tamara or Marie Lillian are both amazing options for them I think.

    I think for girls, my favorites were Anna and Elizabeth 🙂 What about the nickname Ellie for Elizabeth? It has the same feeling as Lily to me. It’s also really common, but it’s so cute!! I really am of the opinion for the most part popular names are popular because they’re amazing names!!

    William is one of my favorite names ever, and so are Jack and Abigail, so I really feel this one for them 🙂

    I’m trying to think of my own suggestions but they’re all coming up pretty popular. Leah came to mind to for me. It has the strong L sound like Lillian/Lily. Leah Marie isn’t an awesome combo for flow, but who cares?

    Stella also came to mind for them 🙂 I love the combo Stella Marie.

    For boys Andrew and Timothy come to mind for the boys.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OH!!! What about Katherine/Catherine?!?! Kate/Katie would be perfect with Abby and Jack. Katherine Marie, Katherine Tamara or even Katherine Tamara Marie would be so beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. For boys: From their possibles I love Dominic and Jude. They are favorites of mine, but if they aren’t feeling it because of too strong ethnic sound or not masculine, then I don’t think they should go with them. Those comments made me think they wouldn’t be happy with the names really.

    I like the Owen suggestion for style match with Noah, Logan, Tristan. Was trying to think of other Catholic names with that feel/style/sound. What about Jonah – similar to Noah? What about Brogan (Irish saint) or Fulton (very Catholic-y) or Mason (Bl. John Mason) – though probably way too popular currently. Also really like Evan or Ewan, but that is a variant of John so could be redundant. Some names that hit me as similar, Gavin, Nolan, Dylan, Broden aren’t Catholic at all. Cooper might be in the ballpark and we have friends with a Cooper (for St. Joseph Cupertino).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OK, girl names: It really seems that Marie would be a contender for them. It is not that common and is so pretty. And pulling it out of middle name status would be cool. Something about the sound of it does make it a natural middle name. It seems that is the obstacle – finding a middle that goes with it, since it so often fits itself in the middle slot to our ears. I find that names ending in “a” don’t flow as well – maybe due to the fact that that ending in “a” with a middle name Marie are really common and lovely sounding. That is why I would prefer Tamara Marie to Marie Tamara.

    In trying some variations I found that I like one syllable names with Marie:
    Marie Claire
    Marie Grace
    Marie Anne
    Marie Kate (or the full Marie Catherine)

    I also love the short Marie Elise.

    Which leads me to what are basically French names. Because Marie is the French (and Czech) variation of Maria, it goes well with many French names (which is why I live Elise and Claire with it I think). Some of the endings I like best with it are elle or ile, ette or este, and ine ones.

    -elle or -ile or -ole:
    Marie Isabelle
    Marie Estelle
    Marie Adele
    Marie Annabelle
    Marie Gabrielle
    Marie Noelle
    Marie Janelle
    Marie Joelle
    Marie Lucille
    Marie Cecile
    Marie Nicole

    -ette or -este:
    Marie Celeste
    Marie Collette
    Marie Nicolette
    Marie Juliette
    Marie Bernadette
    Marie Josette
    Marie Suzette
    Marie Violette
    Marie Georgette
    Marie Claudette
    Marie Antoinette ( I know this one conjures up a specific person, but it is a pretty name. My sil is named Maria Antoinette and she goes by Toni. I was recently reading about this Bl. Antoinetta who would be an amazing patron – )

    -ene or -ine:
    Marie Helene
    Marie Emeline
    Marie Christine
    Marie Josephine
    Marie Jeaninne

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really like the suggestion of Luke for Theresa. Interestingly enough, I know a set of siblings with those names (Theresa and Luke). Other ideas: Martin, Matthew, love the suggestion of Thomas, Timothy and Colin.

    I don’t see Dominic as being super Italian/Jersey Shore. Sometimes people say the same thing about my son’s name, Vincent. However, I only hear it from online comments, never in real life. Maybe because I’m in the Midwest , the association is not as strong. It doesn’t bother me either way.

    For girls, I love the idea of Marie up front. I also really like Mara for Tamara. What about Marie Lillianne just to change it up a little?

    Love the names of their kiddos. Abby is one of my favorites forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I’ve heard that about Vincent too, but St. Vincent de Paul! And I knew a blond Vincent so, like Dominic, it’s easy for me to see it on non-Italians. (That blondie was Italian though!)


  11. I actually know of a few people named Marie, and one Marie Elizabeth! She goes by Marez (Mar-ez) and Marza and I thought it was pretty awesome.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First time commenting, but I wanted to chime in and suggest Susannah. I think it has the same sweet Americana vibe that Abigail/Abby and Jack share. Shortens easily to Susie, Anna, Annie, Zuzu. Susanna was a woman who followed Jesus, mentioned in Luke 8:3. The best part? It comes from the Hebrew word for lily! So you can have the rose/lily thing with a less popular name than Lillian/Lily itself.

    I also like the suggestions of Molly, Sophie, and Leah for a girl (though I really like Marie Therese!) and Luke, Gabriel, Matthew, Peter, and James for a boy. Would Judah nn Jude feel a little more masculine to you? If you like the idea of another J name to go with John and Jack, would Joseph or Josiah nn Joss or Joe appeal? Or Joel? I also like Silas with Abby and Jack.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I know sisters abby and lily! Personally I think Lillian Tamara is a great combo, and Abby, Jack and Lily really go together. Hannah Marie or Hannah Lily would also be super cute. I know siblings Jack and Hannah. My personal view on popularity is that siblings should have similarly popular name. Of course it’s not a rule, and the more children the less it applies.

    I think Jude with a more common middle name would be a great and not so popular choice. It is a bit matchy tho, so maybe a name like Samuel could work if you want to keep the biblical/nickname trend. I like Caleb and Gabriel but they sound a bit too close to Abigail, while Luke sound a bit too much like Jack. How about Benjamin and Oliver? Those are two names I’ve always loved despite popularity (just like Jack and Abigail).

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