Laura of the blog B is for Bissonnette and her husband Chris are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱after four girls! Big sisters’ names are:
Elise Marianna (“we pronounce it Mari (rhymes with starry)- Anna (rhymes with sauna)”)
Beautiful, right?? So feminine and pretty, each one! (Laura actually blogged about the thought process behind the selection of each name—be sure to check it out!
“We love names that are not quite classic and not at all crazy. We tend toward shorter names since our last name Bissonnette (Bih-Suh-Net) is quite long already, but we aren’t married to the idea that they MUST all be short, per se. Obviously saints that end with -ette are out because we aren’t into rhyming. We love a Saint name to be somewhere in the name though it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the first name. As you can see, we have rather inadvertently chosen first names that are quite popular at this time. This wasn’t done on purpose, but we have a hard time agreeing on girl names that we both like so we just go with what we can both agree on now instead of worrying about popularity and whether they’ll end up with 15 friends who share their name….”
(I just have to insert here that one of my original suggestions for Laura, which I was feeling really good about, was Colette. Totally forgetting, of course, that she’d explicitly said, “Obviously saints that end with -ette are out because we aren’t into rhyming.” Gah!)
As for boys,
“My husband’s family has a tradition that the first born son in the family uses his first name as a middle name for his first son, and my husband is the first boy in his family, so his first name, Christopher would be our son’s middle name if we have a boy … Damian/Damien is a name we’ve had on our maybe list for boys for a while. And I’m not sure if it gives you a help just style-wise, but I like the sounds of names like Aiden and Liam (we just don’t do the Irish thing) … Names that fall into that general style of sound (not the language origin) might be names we’d go for.”
“[W]e sort of went with a bit more French (which didn’t really start until our 2nd child, but has been a theme with either the first or middle names of the other 3 girls…) but we also aren’t married to the “theme”, we are very much a couple who just read through baby name books/lists over and over until something hits us just right, which makes us difficult, I know. I’m currently reading tons of St. Therese, so that name as a middle is a huge consideration, but again, we aren’t married to anything at all as of yet. That’s the closest that I’m “in love” with at the moment is that as a middle. We are still struggling with much for a first that we just LOVE.
… we generally start with Saint names, come up with a list that we like and then categorize them in First, Middle, or Either.”
Saints they love/have particular devotions to include:
Katharine Drexel/St. Catherine of Siena
The Blessed Mother
Francis de Sales/St. Francis of Assisi
John Paul II
Damien of Molokai
John Mary Vianney
Pier Giorgio Frassati
Names that they can’t use for first names because of being part of a big family with lots of nieces and nephews:
(What a family! Some ah-mazing names in there!)
Also these have been nixed by the Mister:
Names with a similar “old lady” feel are probably going to be vetoed by him as well, including my initial suggestions of Margo and Greta 😦
Okay everyone! Let’s rub our hands together and jump right in!
You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. Patterns often emerge and it becomes clear what kinds of names the parents tend towards, but I was initially having a hard time pinning down exactly what Laura and Chris’ style was because there wasn’t any real overlap in the few names listed for each entry. Then I started noticing that their girls’ names (firsts and middles) came from the same four lists of names in the book (in the back the author lists all the names according to style): Bell Tones (“freshness with a clean, light touch”—e.g., Kayla), Antique Charm, French, and German/Dutch. Once I figured that out, so many names jumped out at me as ones I thought they’d like! I have a lot of suggestions for each gender, as I found it hard to narrow it down further:
(1) Chloe or Zoe
Chloe was the name that jumped out at me at first, being biblical and with good French usage. I did consider it may seem too rhymey following right after Sophie? I said the names all together as a set and that was my first thought. But otherwise I like it a lot for this family. And I kept wanting to cross Zoe off the list—Chloe kept seeming like a better fit—but each time I went to delete it I stopped. Something about that zippy Z that’s just really fun, and it’s meaning of “life” is such a great one. It was also the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure, and I’ve heard of a family using Zoe as a nickname for their little Catherine because of St. Catherine Laboure!
Siena’s for St. Catherine of Siena of course, and it’s really sweet as a first name. I even know of a little one who would have been Siena Catherine if he’d been a girl, which I thought was a neat twist.
I loved seeing both St. Catherine of Siena and St. Kateri on Laura’s list of saints because one of my favorite things about Kateri’s name is that Kateri is the Mohawk version of Catherine—she took the name Kateri at her baptism for St. Catherine of Siena specifically! So I kind of think of Kateri as a dual honor name, and I love that it can take the traditional Kat/Kate/Katie nicknames of Catherine.
I initially wanted to suggest Cora but, as Laura pointed out to me, it rhymes with her own name, which could be a little weird. Corinne is a great alternative though, a beautiful but not over-the-top French name.
(5) Haley or Halle
There are a trillion ways to spell Haley (like Hayley Mills the actress, or my relatives Haleigh and Hailey, or actress Hailee Steinfeld or ……..!), but no matter which one, it immediately hit me as a name Laura and Chris might like. But then I wondered if it was too similar in sound to Kayla? Depending on how they say it, maybe … especially if they really emphasize the first part as “Hay” … if they said it more like “Hail” maybe it’s okay … but that thought process made me think of Halle, like Halle Berry, which bypasses the potential rhymes-with-Kayla while still having a lot of Haley’s appeal. I posted ideas for NFL quarterback Philip Rivers a while ago, and his wife responded to it and explained how they chose each of their kids’ names, and their oldest is Halle, which is a name they loved, but when she was at Mass once when she was pregnant and realized “Hallelujah” contains “Halle” within it, she took it as a sign. I love that!
(6) Lena or Mina or Mila
Lena is one of those names that can be a nickname for some great names like Magdalena and Helena, but it can also stand on its own as a variant of them, so a little Lena could have St. Mary Magdalene or St. Helena as a patron. Mina is similar in sound, but is connected more to Wilhelmina, which would be a great way to honor a William, if Laura and Chris have one in their family. I could also see it possibly being a nickname for Magdalena, so they could still choose that saint as patron if they wanted. And I discussed Mila recently as the best way to honor St. Ludmila, who was a great lady.
Pronunciation-wise, I say Lena as LEE-nah, but I’ve also seen LAY-nuh. Mina is MEE-nah, and Mila can be either MEE-lah or MY-lah or even MILL-lah I think. My son had a MEE-lah in his class this year. How about the rest of you? How do you say these names?
St. Gemma’s on their list of favorite saints, and I love love love the name Gemma. So it definitely had to be listed here as one of my suggestions! It leans more Italian (in origin and usage) or British (in usage) rather than French, but it’s a short, sweet, saintly ends-in-a name that fits in well with the big girls I think.
St. Zelie’s not on their saint list, but it’s French and sweet-and-spunky like the big girls’ names and is connected to St. Therese—a great option!
I’ve suggested the girls’ names from the blog My Child I Love You so many times, as I think they’re just so inspired, and Vianney is one of them. I think most people think of naming a boy after St. John Vianney, but Vianney is so pretty on a girl. (I was going to suggest another of their girl names — Clairvaux — but decided not to. Maybe I should have?)
I spotlighted Ruby a while back, and I came up with a lot of great faith connections for it. It’s such a sweet name, and I love it on its own or as a nickname (check out that spotlight post for ideas!).
Finally Tessa, a name I went back and forth on suggesting, and here now at the last minute, as I’m putting together this post for today, I’m just doing it. I’m not sure why I hesitated, because I love it with the older girls’ names. Though Therese is on their can’t-use list for first names, I’ve seen Tessa chosen specifically for Sts. Therese or Teresa, and I thought Tessa was different enough that it might be okay. Therese as a middle name would be out, but I quite like the idea of Tessa Catherine, Tessa Claire (for Chiara), Tessa Frances (for Francis), and Tessa Vianney.
Other girl names that didn’t make my final cut, but that I think still might be ones they’d like, include: Nora, Mia, Cassie, Isabel(le).
Blaise tops my list of suggestions for Laura and Chris—it’s super saintly and French, and I’ve always loved that it evokes image of speed and superheroes with its “blaze” pronunciation—great name for a little guy!
Jude is short and light like the big girls’ names, but definitely heavy hitting—who doesn’t like St. Jude??
Though Oliver has a really Irish/British Isles feel to me, Olivier, which of course is just one letter difference, is all French, and in my weird way of thinking, it made Oliver seem like a really good fit for this family.
(4) Cam (Campion?)
I’m kind of swoony over my recent discovery that Cambridge was named after the River Cam—Cam! I really love Cam for a boy! This revelation totally makes it doable as a first name on its own, without being a nickname! I really really like that idea, but I know it’s even better if it’s connected to a saint, and St. Edmund Campion is a great way to get there.
(5) Cole (Nicholas, Colman, Kolbe)
Cole is one of my favorite nicknames for a boy. Certainly it can stand on its own as a first name, but I love it as a nickname for Nicholas (so many great Sts. Nicholas! You know my fave is St. Nicholas Owen!), or Colman (an Irish saint; I feel like Colman is kind of unexpected but feels familiar, a nice combo), or even Kole for Kolbe (and St. Max is on Laura and Chris’ list of favorite saints).
(7) Milo or Miles
Milo is described on behindthename.com as an Old Germanic form of Miles, whose origin doesn’t seem to be clear, but I’ve seen it connected to Michael (and I think Milo or Miles could totally work as a nickname for Michael) and the Latin miles, which means “soldier.” A fun tidbit is that Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (from their saint list)’s middle name was Michelangelo, so Milo/Miles could be a nod to him in that way.
At first I thought Milo was more Laura and Chris’ speed than Miles, being that Milo has that Germanic edge, but the recent brouhaha surrounding Milo Yiannopoulos’ permanent suspension from Twitter made me wonder if Milo is going to be a name to avoid for a while (what are your thoughts on this?). Miles is great, and can be considered a legit Marian name for a boy as both Miles and Milo are used as anglicizations of the Old Irish Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of Mary.”
(8) Bram or Abram
These might be totally out there for Laura and Chris, but Bram’s been one of my favorite names for a long time. It’s an English and Dutch short form of Abraham, and my husband and I have also talked about using it as a nickname for Ambrose. I say it to rhyme with “gram,” and I’ve heard it said that way; it can also be said like “brahm,” which I believe is how Bram Stoker said it.
Abram never used to be on my radar at all, but when I was at the doctor’s office recently I heard a mom calling her son Abram, and he was this adorable little guy with blond curls and I immediately loved the name.
(9) Grady, Brady
Both of these were listed as similar to the Bissonnette style in the BNW and while they skew more Irish than anything else (and are the last names of two of the Irish martyrs), I thought I’d include them because I think they’re both really handsome and go well with the girls’ names.
(10) George (or just Geo?) or Jerome
These are 100% inspired by Laura and Chris’ devotion to Pier Giorgio Frassati. I’ve read that he never went by Pier, only by Pier Giorgio or Giorgio (or Georg when he was writing in German), and since Giorgio/Georg is George, I thought that could work. I especially love love love the nickname Geo! So cool! It might even be able to stand on its own as a given name? Or is that too weird? Geordie (Jordy)’s another option that I really like, it’s a traditional nickname for George. And Pier Giorgio took Girolamo as his religious name when he became a Third Order Dominican, which is the Italian for Jerome, so that’s an option too.
As with the girls, there were some boy names that were swirling around the right area for me that didn’t end up making my final cut, but I wanted to mention them just in case: Adrian, Henry, Keegan, Kian, Rylan, Tobias.
A fun last-minute question Laura added was that she’s “especially interested in nicknames/variations of Joseph, Sebastian, Damien, Francis, and John Bosco.” You all know nicknames are my jam!! My ideas for these are:
- Joseph: according to behindthename.com, Jozo (Croatian), Pepe (Spanish), Sepp/Seppel (German), and Zef (Dutch) are all short forms or diminutives of Joseph. I’m especially intrigued by Sepp, Seppel, and Zef (I think Zef is my favorite!)
- Sebastian: not to mention Grace Patton’s amazing name style twice in one post, but another of her sons is Sebastian and he goes by Bash. I know he’s not the only one, but he’s the first Sebastian I’d ever heard of going by Bash and I was immediately besotted. Such a great nickname for a little boy! There’s also Seb/Sebby, Bax (especially for Sebastian Xavier, for example), and Baz. I’ve even seen Ian used as a nickname for it!
- Damien: I’ve had Damien on my own list for a long time, and my nickname idea for it has been Denny, and I’ve felt pretty clever about it. 🙂 Using that same thought process, I think Danny would be great for the Damian spelling.
- Francis: I’ve suggested Finn a bunch of times as a nickname for Francis—I love that it allows for a super-saintly given name and an on-trend (and Star Wars!) nickname. Frank/Frankie is traditional, of course (and Frankie for a little guy is so cute!), and I’ve also known guys who went by Fran and the Italian Cici/Cic (“Chee-chee”/”Cheech”). Some non-English options that are cute include Chico (Portuguese), Franz (German), and Pancho or Paco (both Spanish)
- John Bosco: Certainly Bosco, as I’d mentioned (I might have seen Grace’s Bosco referred to as “Boss”? Sooooo cute!), and all the John nicknames (Jack, Jake, Johnny), and even Don for Don Bosco. There are loads of John variants of course, if they’d prefer to go that direction (Evan, Hans, Ian, Ivan, Sean, Shane, etc.). I also just discovered that his middle name was Melchiorre—the Italian for Melchior, which is the name traditionally given to one of the three Wise Men, how cool!
Whew! Those are all my ideas for the little brother or sister of Kayla, Elise, Ava, and Sophie! What would you suggest? What other nickname ideas do you have for the saints Laura was asking about? How do you say Lena, Mina, and Mila?