Baby name consultant: biblical or Irishy for a little boy!

Our trip to St. Anne’s Shrine yesterday was just about as pilgrimage-y as pilgrimages go — lots of grace coming to you all!! 😀 I’ll write more about it tomorrow, and I have more pictures to share beyond the ones I posted to Instagram yesterday.

I’m delighted to have this consultation to post today, on my second blogiversary (!!), because of what this mama wrote about her daughter’s sweet name, Riley Ann:

Our daughter (22 months) is Riley Ann — we loved the meaning of “courageous” of Riley … and Ann for both our Mother’s middle names and of course a personal favorite, St. Anne. We liked that Riley is Irish (both have a bit of Irish in our heritage and love our shared alma mater Notre Dame but don’t want to go overboard with the strong Irish names).”

Woo! St. Anne for the win!! ❤

So this mama and her husband are expecting their second baby, a boy! She writes,

Don’t want them to be too popular but are less inclined to go totally unique with boys names (tried for a few weeks to get my husband on board with Joachim but failed when I couldn’t even decide how I preferred to pronounce it).”

(What’s that?? JOACHIM?? Ahhh!! 😀 And I consider that another hello from St. Anne!)

Steering away from S and C names that cause a super slur with our last name … And as I’ve been thinking about all the names we’ve used/like, it seems as though we most frequently go for two syllables a lot! I like a good nickname and 2 syllables is not a set criteria … but more often we tend to just shorten to the first syllable of any name and that works for me. “Ry” for Riley … Or, better yet we find a totally different word and call them that 🙂 So, I guess I do actually like a name to be the name and am less inclined to have dueling formal vs nickname thing if that makes sense.”

(That’s a really good articulation: “am less inclined to have dueling formal vs. nickname thing.”)

For reference, they love the name Leah for a girl, and names on their current list for this little boy include:

Evan Thomas (“love the meaning and has been at top of our list for the longest … would love to hear any saintly connections you can make to Evan“)

Thomas John (or Michael or Charles) (“My wonderful father’s name is Thomas and I love its traditional/Catholic roots without being overused. John, Michael and Charles are all possible family names that seem to pair well. Thomas Aquinas and the sentimental value of the name are pushing it forward but as a standalone name, we aren’t in love with it.“)

Joshua Thomas (“A recent addition to our list of biblical, traditional names that we love. But I honestly haven’t done my research and don’t know a ton about the Catholic roots of this name.”)

Jude Thomas (“The most recent name that caught our eye — as long as we distinguish it as representative of Judas the apostle as opposed to Judas Iscariot, right?!?“)

Robert (“We considered Robert (family name) with the idea to call him “Bo” but we really don’t love Robert, mostly just think the nickname Bo is super cute.”)

We’ve been really into “J” names lately if you can throw some of those into the mix (Jude, Jonah, Joshua and such).”

Okay! First my thoughts about the names on their list:

Regarding saintly connections to Evan — Evan is a Welsh form of John, so any of the Sts. John can serve as patron. Evan Thomas is a great combo, and seems to me to hit that sweet spot of being Celtic but not going overboard with it. I also like that it’s biblical (John) like Leah, and Celtic like Riley—a nice bridge name!

Thomas John/Michael/Charles is a great name. No quibbles at all. Though if they’d like to jazz it up a little, they might consider pairing it with a more unusual middle name. Maybe a family surname? Or Thomas Joachim, to go back to Joachim?

Joshua Thomas is a great name too. As for its Catholic roots—it’s Jesus’ name! Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua (Yeshua), which is Aramaic. Amazing right?! I wrote more about Jesus names, including Joshua, here.

Jude Thomas is also amazing, love love love. It’s so funny this mama should point out the Judas the apostle vs. Judas Iscariot bit! I wrote a little bit last summer about how, to me, even though Judah, Jude, and Judas are all variants of the same name, they all have very different feels: Judah is almost exclusively Jewish; Judas is not okay to use; and Jude is ultra Catholic (or maybe Jude Law). I also spotlighted Jude a few months ago (be sure to check out the comments too!). I just skimmed it again and was reminded that it can be used as a nickname for Julian—I wouldn’t have thought of Julian as the kind of name this couple likes, but it does start with a J!

Robert nicked Bo is such a cute idea and made me laugh because my brother and sister-in-law were considering something similar! I posted a consultation for them in November, with lots of possible ways of getting to the nickname Bo. It is super cute!

Re: their question about J names, one I really like is St. Isaac’s last name Jogues. That’s probably too unique though? Jasper, Jacob, and Joseph are favorites, and Jack totally seems like this family’s style—a little Irish without being too much so, and it’s a variant of John so, like Evan, it could take any of the Sts. John. But it would also knock Evan out of consideration for the future. I have some more J- ideas below that I think are more their speed.

Okay! So you all know I almost always start with the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here for this couple. Between its suggestions and my own mental files these are my ideas for them:

(1) Colin or Cole
I think Colin’s my biggest suggestion here—it’s Irishy but not too much so, and its English usage stems from its use as a medieval diminutive of Nicholas. So any of the Sts. Nicholas would be good for a Colin! Cole was listed as a style match for Jude, and it also can be related to Nicholas. I prefer the KAHL-in pronunciation for Colin, rather than COLE-in (like Colin Powell), but even with the KAHL-in pronunciation I think Cole could still work as a nickname for Colin if they wanted.

(2) Owen
Owen has the same feeling to me as Evan and Colin—Irishy but not overly so, and I’ve been over-the-moon about St. Nicholas Owen recently—great patron for a little guy! Also, my brother and sister-in-law who were heavily considering Bo ending up naming their son Owen!

(3) Joel, Jared, Jonathan, Justin
It’s funny, I originally had Seth as my third idea for this couple, as it was listed as a style match for both Leah and Evan, which I thought was pretty great, but then I remembered that they preferred not to have an S- name and that they’ve been loving J- names, and Joel is a match for Leah and Seth so it was the perfect swap-in. I love what the BNW says about it: “Joel’s not flashy. It has been steadily popular for many years, but not in the top 100. It’s biblical, but unlike the Isaiahs and Ezekiels of the world, Joel doesn’t shout the fact from the rooftops. It’s quiet and warm, and you’ll never tire of it.”

Jared was listed as a style match for Joel, and I love that too! It’s two syllables and it begins with a J … it’s not Irish but it is biblical!

Jonathan is another John-type name in that it would probably knock out Evan for the future (though it’s not actually related to John, weird right?), and it’s got a heavier biblical feel.

I’ll be interested to see what they think of Justin! I know a lot of people feel like it’s still a bit too 70s/80s, a bit too much of a “dad name,” but St. Justin Martyr is just such a cool guy (and I actually love that combo, “Justin Martyr”—is it too much? 😀 ), and I feel like the name Justin is cool guy name. He may be a dad in a lot of people’s minds, but he’s a cool dad. Haha!

(4) Caleb
Finally, Caleb. I had it on my list for this family, and then I took if off, but at the last minute made the decision to put it back on again. I just love the name Caleb, it’s so sweet and biblical and it can take the amazing nickname Cal, which I just love. It’s also two syllables.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Riley’s little brother?


11 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: biblical or Irishy for a little boy!

  1. I really like their naming style – I have a Leah and have always loved Evan for a boy, though we didn’t use it. I like all the suggestions from you, Kate, too. But I would be inclined to vote for the Evan Thomas on their list. Have always love the John connection, and it is a unique variation. Also, St. Philip Evans is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joel is such a good idea for this family! And Evan, too. But they can still choose Joachim, and call him Joe or Jake.
    Other names that (I think) go with Riley are Nathan and Logan.

    Liked by 1 person

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