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:
Jude (boys): 156
Jude (girls): not in top 1000
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?
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?