Martha and her husband are expecting their eleventh (!) baby — their fourth girl! This Little Miss joins big sibs:
I looooove these names, each so great! You can see that the boys all have biblical first names, though the girls don’t follow suit. I really love sisters Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe — such great sister names, so chic!
“All first names must be saints … Middle names do not have to be saints though. No first name can start with the same letter as our other children. None of the children can be named after anyone we know, family or otherwise. We don’t want a name that is very common, but nothing way out there. We prefer traditional spellings … Dh loves Maewyn or Willow. I don’t think Maewyn fits as a saint name and am not keen on naming my girl after a tree … Our last baby was called “Poor Little No Name” until just weeks before he was born, so I hope you can help us avoid last minute naming stress this time.
We have some names we both like, but for some reason they just aren’t feeling like her to us.
We both like Sophia and Isabel or Isadora, but not as first names because they have become so popular lately. Also, we do not like potential nicknames of Izzy or Dora.
My husband is suddenly leaning towards using variants of either my first name or middle name, Martha Lee. I have no idea why. I’ve never liked either myself. But we were both sorta okay with the “lee” sounds in Leah or Lily (as a middle). And Iliana, which is not a saint.
The husband is still pitching hard for Maewyn Willow or Xena Isabella. (XI = 11) I am not even slightly fond of either.
I like Helen or Zelie Sophia, he does not like Helen at all and doesn’t like Zelie because he likes a name with clear pronunciation and thinks people will be confused about whether it is ZEL-ee or Zay-lee. He also quibbles that if I dislike naming our girl after a tree, it makes no sense to be okay with naming her first name after a flowery bush. Got me on that I suppose. lol
I was telling the husband the other day that I like Seraphina but it is a hard one to find a middle name for! He likes Danae, but I think that sounds harsh and too close to deny. I like Roux, but dh says he isn’t naming her after sauce starter.”
Did you chuckle as much as I did when reading Martha’s dilemma? She and her Mister sound like quite the funny pair!
This was a lot of fun to work on—big families with lots of naming rules/restrictions are seriously so fun for me!
So first off, regarding Zelie, yes, its pronunciation isn’t set—they can choose their own and as long as they’re firm and consistent I don’t think it (or any name with various pronunciations) is an issue. (I wrote about Zelie’s pronunciation here and here.) I also wanted to point out that Lindsay’s daughter at My Child I Love You who’s named after St. Zelie has the spelling Zellie, which makes their desired pronunciation really obvious — maybe that spelling would be a good idea for this family?
And good news! (Maybe?) Iliana *can* be considered a saint’s name! I don’t know how exact it has to be for Martha and her hubs (some people are okay with variants of saints’ names and some aren’t), but my trusty go-to source for name meanings (behindthename.com) says Iliana is a variant of Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), and the spelling Ileana may be a variant of Helen. Cool right?!
Maewyn is interesting to me as a first name as well—I’d never heard of it so I looked it up and learned that it was St. Patrick’s birth name!! Wow! It does strike me as more feminine for our modern sensibilities—it has a really pretty sound, and I keep seeing the “Mae,” which on its own is generally considered a variant of Mary (which I love—Marian names are my favorite!).
And Xena Isabella for the XIth baby?? Pretty genius!! 😀 I looked it up and discovered it’s a variant of Xenia, which I actually do quite like, and she’s revered as a saint in the Eastern Church, but as far as I can tell she’s not recognized in ours? BUT I did a little more digging and discovered St. Xantippa, who *is* one of our saints—feast day Sept. 23 with St. Polyxena (Xena could work for Polyxena, no?)—both first-century Spanish martyrs. So they definitely have some options if they want to use an X name! If they used such a long name as Xantippa though, I might suggest going shorter than Isabelle for the middle? Maybe Ivy or Iris?
And Seraphina! It was a later addition to Martha’s list, and one I’d written down for them before I’d known they were considering it! Woo! I love it, such a gorgeous name! For a middle name, Ruth has a similar sound to Roux and loses the cooking element (haha! 😂 ). I love Ruth in the Bible. There’s also Rue, like the awesome + tragic character in the Hunger Games and/or the Golden Girls’ Rue McClanahan (whichever they prefer!). (Rue was an actual given name for McClanahan—her given middle name, not a nickname for another name.)
I really like the rhythm of Martha’s husband’s middle name idea of Danae with Seraphina, and tried to think of others that a similar rhythm (two syllables with stress on the second) to appeal to him (and hopefully Martha might like them too):
- Seraphina Mairead (Mairead is the Irish for Margaret, rhymes with parade)
- Seraphina Therese
- Seraphina Corinne
- Seraphina Pilar (a sneaky Marian name!)
- Seraphina Renee
- Seraphina Celeste
And other unusual one-syllable names like Martha’s Roux might be:
- Seraphina Wren
- Seraphina Lark
- Seraphina Vale
- Seraphina Paige
- Seraphina Tru(e)
- Seraphina Viv
- Seraphina Liv
- Seraphina Greer
Regarding the idea of using a variant of Martha’s name, I was intrigued by connecting to it somehow. There really aren’t any variants of the name itself other than Marta, which is sweet and I do like it, but if they didn’t like that I thought of some others that might do the trick. Like Margaret, which has the same first three letters of her name. Maite has the same first two letters as Martha and the same total number of letters—it’s got French and Spanish usage and is a contraction of Maria Teresa so it’s used both as a nickname and a given name (I’ve heard it said MY-tay).
Okay! So those are my comments on the names they’re considering, and I have new ideas for Martha and her hubs as well. As I mentioned, I used the Baby Name Wizard and relied heavily on its suggestions of names similar in style/feel/popularity to the names they’ve used and like, but I also added in some ideas of my own:
I love that Susanna(h) is biblical, like the boys’ names; I love that if it’s spelled Susanna it loses a little of the biblical feel and fits in really well with the older girls’ names. Zuzu is a Susanna nickname I’ve been crushing on lately, and Anna, Annie, and Susie are all possibilities, as well as the full Susanna just on its own. St. Susanna’s also an early saint, and the American Catholic Church in Rome is St. Susanna’s.
(2) Faith or Hope or Mercy
Faith is a style match for Levi, and as soon as I saw it I loved it as an idea for this little girl. It does repeat the sound of Phoebe’s name but not the initial … I also know a little Faith Immaculata and I just die over her name, soooo gorgeous.
Hope’s a match for Leah, and I think it’s a really sweet name that, like Faith, can take a nice long middle name (lots of fun possibilities there!). And Mercy has been on my radar for months because of the Jubilee Year of Mercy—if they didn’t like Mercy as a first name, I love it as a middle for them.
I love love love Nora—it’s a traditional nickname for both Honora and Eleanor, and there’s a Venerable Honora Nagle, and Eleanor has often been taken as a variant of Helen, but there are some quibbles about that, so it can also refer to Bl. Archangela Girlani whose birth name was Eleanor.
I recently discovered that St. Catherine of Laboure’s birth name was Zoe, and I’m really loving it! Especially since Martha and her hubs have been discussing names that begin with the end of the alphabet (Willow, Xena, Zelie), they might be interested in this Z name, which is also a style match for Phoebe.
(5) Inessa, Ines, Inez
At a certain point I just started going through the alphabet and trying to come up with names for the letters that haven’t used yet, and when I got to I, I thought of this family who has a daughter named Inessa, which is a form of Agnes. So pretty right?! Ines and Inez are more familiar variants — I’m interested to hear feedback on them because I can’t tell if they’re revival ready or still a bit too old?
Genevieve is such a long gorgeous name, and has a similar feel to Seraphina, I love it and its nickname options Evie and Vivi and Neve, beautiful!
(7) Rosalie or Rosaleen
Rosalie is fast becoming one of my favorite names, and I love it as a sister to Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe. And I was thinking about Rosaleen the other night and how it has such a similar sound to Rosalie, but Irish-ed up. Very sweet name!
I suspect Rowan is too unisex for this family, but it’s another nature name (like Willow) with a Celtic feel and a [male] saint’s name (like Maewyn), and it begins with the as yet unused letter R.
I’ve totally been digging Verity recently — I love that it means “truth,” and is definitely one of the more underused virtue-esque names. So pretty!
Having Z for an initial is so cool, and Zara has a really sophisticated feel to me (like Brit royal Zara Phillips Tindall) — I can see it being awesome with sisters Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe. At first I wasn’t going to include it because I didn’t think there was a saint associated with it, but I loved the idea of it so much that I did some digging and discovered that it’s a diminutive of Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian feminine form of Zechariah. Wow! Zechariah makes me think of St. Elizabeth and the Joyful Mystery of the Visitation, which is all kinds of wonderful to me.
My last idea (eleven ideas for the eleventh baby! 😄 ) is a little out there, but there’s a Pope St. Zephyrinus, and Zephyrine is a French feminine variant of the name (I just read that a sister of French Kings Louis XVI and XVII and Charles X was Marie Zephyrine, so named because she was born on the feast of Pope St. Zephyrinus). It’s long and lovely and elegant and saintly, and — fun fact! — I had a great-great Aunt Zepherine (I think that was how she spelled her name) and she went by Zee. So. Cool. (My only hesitation for this family is — are the endings of Kathryn and Zephyrine too similar? )
And those are all my ideas for this sweet little Baby Eleven! What do you all think? What would you suggest?