Sibling Project: T(h)eresa

I’m really really enjoying working on the Sibling Project, and I hope you’re all finding it interesting and/or helpful! We’ve done Kateri and John Paul so far, and today’s post is thanks to Laura’s suggestion of Theresa, which she explains so well:

The [Baby Name Wizard] books suggestions tend to miss the Catholic rationale behind some of my favorite names. I was always horrified by the sibling suggestions for Theresa which I think is such a great name. I think a family using Theresa now is more likely to be a Catholic family rather than one that likes the names from mid-century.”

I actually think there’s an added problem as well — in the BNW, there’s only an entry for Teresa, with Theresa listed as an alternate spelling (which it is, of course, but I *think* people pick one spelling over the other for reasons that are related to favorite saints as well as stylistic preference and sometimes cultural/language considerations, which makes a difference).

The following names are listed as style matches for Teresa:

Girls: Cynthia, Pamela, Suzanne, Deborah, Colleen, Anita, Nina, Kathryn

Boys: Allen, Douglas, Russell, Mark, Paul, Stephen, Gregory, Philip

Just like Laura said, there’s a lot of mid-century going on there. I don’t disagree with Kathryn, Mark, Paul, Stephen, Gregory, and Philip because of the saintliness, but I do think T(h)eresa’s style/feel from our perspective is more well rounded.

What do you all think? Do you see a difference between Teresa and Theresa? Which do you prefer and why? Do you know any T(h)eresas (especially little ones, like younger than … 15?), and if so, what are their siblings’ names? Do they go by a nickname? Do you know why their parents chose the spelling they did? Do you hear different pronunciations (ter-EE-sah vs. ter-AY-sah, for example)?

I’m not totally sure how I’ll handle this entry on the SibPro page, being that it’s really for two names that I think might have different feels — maybe two different entries? We’ll see how it goes … if I have to post an addendum or follow-up questions next week I will. (I considered adding Therese in here too, but I don’t think the entry in the Baby Name Wizard is that far off, so I may not do an entry for it.)


48 thoughts on “Sibling Project: T(h)eresa

  1. I have a sister named Theresa (long e) she’s in her mid- twenties. She has many nicknames primarily T, TT, Teresita… Siblings names are Marie, Elizabeth Anne (Annie), Sarah, Joseph (Joe/y), Mary, John, Nicholas and Thomas.

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  2. This sibling set is older than 15… oldest is probably 30, youngest is 25: 3 sisters named P@ula, Th3resa, and L@ura. Subtly Catholic, fit without being matchy, and I don’t think they’d be out of place as little girls today.

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  3. I have a friend named Theresa (mid-twenties), younger sister is Ana, they are Guatemalan (I believe?) adopted by a Catholic couple. I’m not sure how they came by their names, or at what age they were adopted. She says tuh-REE-sa, but obviously in Spanish it’s te-RAY-sa with a little roll of the R. I mostly call her Theresa or T, I don’t know that she goes by any other nicknames.

    I usually assume that the Theresa spelling equals the tuh-REE-sa pronunciation, and the Teresa spelling signals that it’s te-RAY-sa. What’s more interesting to me is they pronounce Ana the Spanish way, like ON-uh (think Frozen) rather than ANN-uh. It seems weird to have tuh-REE-sa and ON-uh, but maybe that’s just my ears!

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    • None of the Teresas I know pronounce it the Spanish way. Even though Teresa of Avila would have pronounced it that way, it is definitely anglicized in the english speaking Church and of course Mother Teresa was never pronounced the Spanish way – given her prominence in the media the ter-ees-a is a given.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. My niece is Theresa (just turned 17 yesterday). No nicknames. Named for St. Therese – though not sure why they went with the “a” ending. Siblings: John, Maria, Agnes, Augustine, Margaret, Katharine.

    Another Teresa we know is 12. No nicknames. Named for Bl. Teresa of Calcutta. Siblings: Joseph, Thomas, Mary, Caitlin, John Paul, Peter, Sophia.

    My middle is Teresa so I guess I am partial to that spelling. Named for St. Teresa of Avila. With the “a” ending I prefer the Teresa spelling. I do like Therese but find it more confusing as it could be Ter – ese or Ter-ez.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know a few ladies named Theresa, but they are all in their 20’s. One has siblings named John, Sarah, Mary, and Hannah. Another has siblings named Anthony and Mary. Another also has a sister named Mary! None have nicknames that I know of. I prefer the spelling, Theresa, but I don’t have a preference when it comes to pronunciation..they both sound beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. We know a sibling set of Therese, Myriam, Brendan, Monica, Kateri and Lucy and a set that is Joseph, Teresa, Elizabeth, Paul and Maria and a set that is Mark, Joseph, Paul and Therese.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I prefer the Theresa spelling just because I like the way it looks (I’m guessing it was just more familiar to me before encountered the great Saint Teresas!).

    My sister-in-law is Theresa (32) and her siblings are Benedict, Joseph, Katherine (Katie) and Mary.

    My mom has a friend Theresa who actually pronounces it THUH-ree-suh, which I’ve definitely never heard!

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  8. My name is Teresa (tuh-ree-sa). I’m 25, and my sibs are Michael and Madeline. I’ve never really had any nicknames and I tend to think of Theresa as a different name but probably because I associate it with the other pronunciation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know a Therese (no ‘a’ at the end), with siblings Susan, Dorothy, Jane and Elise. Yep, some are ‘mid-century,’ but they are all pretty Catholic names. Hope the original commenter isn’t too ‘horrified’. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Original commentator here and I’m not at horrified at all by those siblings! Like Theresa. Jane and Susan are totally classic. Elise seems quite stylish today. Only Dorothy is in style limbo and I could see it making a comeback sooner rather than later. I have boys Paul and Mark I don’t mind a little mid-century vibe. Theresa is my all time favorite girl’s name and most of the BNW suggestions for sisters left me a little cold and didn’t see to have the “timeless” quality that Theresa has; I much prefer the sets on this thread. If I was writing the entry I’d have suggested sister names: Catherine, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Joan.

      Thanks Kate for doing Theresa! Reminds me of how great a name it is and how perfectly she’d fit in with my kids’ names if we’re ever blessed with another girl.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. How about we go back to the cohort of names that are old enough to be coming BACK into style ;). My grandmother’s name is the Polish version of “Theresa” (don’t ask me to spell or pronounce it…. it won’t sound or look familiar to English speakers, haha. Kind of starts with a “Ch’ sound). As with many immigrants, she wanted to fit in, and went by “Tessie” (adorable, right?). Her sisters were: Frances, Irene and Mary. I also know a little Teresa today whose sisters’ names would also fit nicely into my grandmothers’ peers (I feel a little funny writing their names out, though).

    For me, the T/TH is truly just a spelling variation, but they feel like basically the same name to me. Kind of like when my husband and I were playing tug of war over Rebecca/Rebekah… it was a spelling war, not really a love-of-the-name war (but the spelling did matter a lot to us) . I am also one whose favorite version is Therese, and *that* version does have a different feel and does seem like a different entry to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I know a Theres@ (she was the second-youngest of a sibling group that spans 16ish years) and the siblings are Rosem@ry, Eliz@beth, @my, M@rg@ret (M@ggie), D@vid, Theres@, and Joshu@.

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  12. I’m on the side that Theresa and Teresa are more or less just spelling variations for english speakers who are picking the name and I feel like the choice mainly just has to do with preference when it comes time to decide between with an H or without an H.

    My cousin is Theresa “Teri,” her sisters are Erin and Kymberly. She’s in the 40s, so I think her’s is more on trend, less religious significance.

    I know another Teresa who is 1 of 6, who is my age-ish (one year older) but I only know that she has a sister named Catherine “Cat” and a brother named Joseph “Joe.” I haven’t met the other siblings unfortunately or hung out with her enough to ask what her other siblings are named.

    I think that’s all I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I know so many young Teresas (surprising to me how few of the people I know have used Theresa), but I can’t think of all the sibling names. I will try.

    One family is An@st@sia, Adr!@n V (goes by Qu!nt), Teresa (named for St. Edith Stein), Fr@nz!sk@, and N!c0l@s.

    Another family has Teresa, V!nc3nt, K@t!e (I’m not sure what it’s short for), and D0r0thy (they love Dorothy Day).

    Those are the only ones I can think of right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I know of a large family with a Theresa who is about 13. Her siblings (that I can remember!) are M@ri@, R05e, Mich@el, C@roline, Rebecc@, Anth0ny, Cl@ire, El@in@, Jo@nn@.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My niece and goddaughter’s name is Teresa (almost 2) and my daughter who is the same age still isn’t great at pronouncing the letter R so she started calling her “Tesa” which has firmly stuck as a nickname, especially after my brother-in-law pointed out that tesa (possibly with different spellings g) means sister in Serbian.

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