Bonus consultation: Two naming styles, and having-to-spell

You know that in general I only post consultations on Mondays (a way of keeping myself from getting overwhelmed!), but sometimes I receive a request for a consultation and it’s one that I’d really like for you all to see for various reasons — today’s is one such. Rebekah from the blog Treasuring the Little Things (she lives in the Cayman Islands!) and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their third girl! Their older kiddos are:

Maria Margaret
Felicity Rose
William Patrick Peter
Augustine John (Gus)

Such great names, each one!

Rebekah writes,

We don’t like super common names but we also don’t want anything too unusual so that the kid will have to repeat it and spell it out constantly (our Felicity complains about this). We like nicknames.”

The names they’re considering for this little lady are:

Kateri (“I’m leaning towards but just not fully convinced“)
Azaelia nicked Zellie (“husband is convinced on this one but I think it is too different for us?“)

And names that are on their no-go list:


As I told Rebekah, I was interested to see in their taste what I think of as kind of two different threads—more “normal” (Maria, William), and a bit unusual (Augustine, Kateri, Azaelia). This family certainly isn’t the most extreme example — I actually think this set hangs together quite well — and I often see a different style for boys than for girls in the families I do consultations for, but this family just really struck me as a nice example of Catholic naming in that our saints have so many different kinds of names, and if you approach naming with your Catholic-colored glasses on, it’s not unusual to end up with varied styles.

I feel like Felicity is a great bridge name here for them — I think it can have a similar feel to Maria and William (kind of colonial maybe, which I just love) and certainly it’s Catholicky Catholic like Augustine, Kateri, and Zellie.

I wanted to focus on Azaelia for a minute, the most far-out of their ideas in that it’s a nontraditional spelling of a really unusual name. St. Zelie’s birth name, as you all know, was Marie-Azelie, and it’s often said that Azelie is a French form of the flower name azalea. Azaelia is a spelling I hadn’t seen before, so I googled it and all of my results were for rapper Azealia Banks. I know her first name isn’t spelled the same as the name Rebekah and her hubs are considering, but I also saw her name incorrectly listed as Azaelia multiple places, and most had to do with controversy—“Azaelia Banks Accuses Both Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga of Plagiarism,” “Azaelia Banks apologizes to Sarah Palin after NSFW Twitter fight,” and “Iggy Azalea Says She ‘Still Hates’ Azaelia Banks” to give a few headlines. The last one brings up another good point—even the traditional spelling Azalea is really connected to controversial rapper Iggy Azalea recently. So I’m kind of feeling like maybe Azaelia isn’t the best choice at this time? I always hate to dissuade parents from a name they really like, vastly preferring to offer ideas to make it work instead. In this case, I think using the spelling Azalea is a better idea than Azaelia, and Azelie an even better idea, and I also wondered what they’d think of just Zelie? Based on the families I’ve seen come through the blog, Zelie is the form of St. Zelie’s name that’s used the most, and it’s a great style match for Felicity and Augustine. (I wrote more about Azalea/Azelie/Zelie here).

Another kind of offbeat idea that I don’t think will be quite to their taste—but you never know!—is the idea of Hazel with the nickname Zelie. I did a private consultation for a mom a few months ago who was considering this idea—the first I’d ever heard of it—and then just recently a reader left a comment with the same idea! Hazel was actually listed in the Baby Name Wizard as a style match for Gus, and would have a far better chance of being spelled correctly than Azaelia (or even Azalea, Azelie, and Zellie).

On to Kateri—I think it’s a great fit for this family. I did a Sibling Project entry for Kateri and Maria, Felicity, and William are all real-life sibling names (and Augustine totally fits in, with its Catholicky Catholic vibe). It’s a great name with a great patron! I suspect a little Kateri will still have to spell her name, but honestly — if it happens with Felicity, which I think is fairly straightforward, it’ll happen with anyone. I know it happens with me all the time when I give my name as Katherine (as at the doctor’s, etc.), and even really simple names like Ann/Anne and Sara/Sarah may need to be spelled for others. A Kateri could go by Kate though, which is a nice option.

Okay! I came up with some other ideas that I thought Rebekah and her hubs might like, based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard (as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and my own ideas (keeping in mind that, unfortunately,  are on their no-go list):

(1) Avila
I kept trying to think of names that had a similarity to the sounds and/or appearance of Azaelia, and I thought Avila might be one that they’d like. It’s got pretty nickname options too, from the popular and easy-to-spell Ava to the more offbeat Avvie, and the full Avila is lovely.

(2) Zoe
This was another that was inspired by Azaelia, because of the strong Z sound. St. Catherine of Laboure’s birth name was Zoe, and Zoe’s a style match for Tessa (I used the names on their no list as inspiration for the kinds of names they like). It’s a sweet, spunky name!

(3) Juliet
The Juli- names did quite well for Rebekah and her hubs in my research—Julia’s a match for Maria, William, and Elizabeth, and Juliet for Felicity! I loooove the name Juliet, which is why that’s the name I chose to suggest to them, as well as the fact that I think they’re looking for something just a bit off center, if that makes any sense. Juliet is perfect for that I think—familiar but far less popular than Julia (at least in the U.S.). I did a spotlight on Juliet recently, focusing on the faith connections.

(4) Gemma
Gemma’s a style match for Gianna and as soon as I saw it I thought aha! It seemed so perfect for more than just gut-feeling reasons so I looked up Gemma itself and, indeed, my suspicions were confirmed—Felicity’s listed as a style match for it as well! Gemma is such a beautiful name and St. Gemma Galgani such a beautiful saint.

(5) Annabel or Annora
Anna did really really well for them in my research, being similar in style to Maria, William, Catherine, Emma, and Elizabeth! But I thought it was a bit too “safe” for their taste, and I had two ideas for adding some sparkle: Annabel (or Annabelle, but I’m guessing Annabel is more their speed) is the first, and while it can be considered an embellishment of Anna (and take St. Anne as patron), its history points to Our Lady as patron! According to, which I consider (along with the DMNES) to be the most trustworthy site for name meanings, Annabel is in origin a variant of Amabel, which comes from Amabilis, which is the name of an early saint BUT also a part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis!

My other idea was Annora, which is a variant of Honora, and I thought of it because Honor was listed as a style match for August (which I used in place of Augustine in my research … not an exact match but not that far off). So pretty!

(6) Josephine
My last idea is Josephine, which is a match for Catherine, Cecilia, and Elizabeth. As with Anna I thought it might normally feel too safe for Rebekah and her hubs, but I thought the nickname possibilities might sway them (I’ve written before how an unexpected nickname can be just the thing to jazz up a more familiar given name, especially in the case of different styles within the same family). Josie is most common I think, and like Zoe I think it’s sweet and spunky, but there are loads of other options as well, like Posy/Posey, Sophie, Sephie, Sosie, Fina, Joy, and Jolie (if used with an L middle name … Josephine Leonie, to keep with the Martin saints? Or even Josephine Azaelia, if they still love it), and others! Check out my Nickname ideas page where I’ve listed some and link to Abby’s awesome post on others.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Maria, Felicity, William, and Gus’ little sister in light of Rebekah and her hubs’ taste and preferences?


25 thoughts on “Bonus consultation: Two naming styles, and having-to-spell

  1. For the Zelie discussion I vote Azelie or Azalea. I don’t think anyone will connect the rapper, but I emphasize with leaning toward the more formal version of the name. No one will remember the bad connections. Zelie strikes me as modern, possibly hipster name that no one thinks of as a religious name. The fuller versions make the name less cutesy, which I think would fit an adult better. I think Zelie is a great nickname for the more formal name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, my name as a suggestion on the blog! 🙂 I’m Hazel, and while I’ve never had a nickname, I think Zelie would be cute and workable! It’s probably to late to for me to take on, but for a new baby I’d be charmed by it. Also, I’ve never had to spell out my first name, although I always have to spell out my surname and you just get so used to it that that I just spell it out without being asked. I just say, Hazel Surname, S-U.R- etc.

    Otherwise I really like Annabel and Josephine for them. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just aesthetically for this sibset I kind of like the flow of a two-syllable name. Z is my favorite letter so I’m all about Zoe, Hazel with or without a nickname, or just Zelie.

    I don’t know if this is a concern for anyone but Gus and Hazel are the main characters in The Fault in Our Stars–maybe John Green consults the BNW for character pairings? (:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Azilda is a name that was popular among French-Canadians for awhile. It’s hard to find its etymology but it could be related to Isolde. I don’t see why Zilda or Zellie couldn’t be nicknames and Azilda is just slightly easier to spell than the alternatives. Since it sounds like Matilda and Hilda, I think it doesn’t sound as out there as it really is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s too bad Elizabeth is on the “no” list. It seems like the perfect name for them: easy to spell, has a Z, semi-colonial style match, and could use Zelie or Zellie as a nick. Could they reconsider?

    Or use a variant, such as Eliza nicknamed Zel/Zellie? Or if Nellie can be a nickname for Helen, why not Zelie? Or Cecily has similar sounds to Zelie. Or Emilie/Amelie. Amelia or Abigail could be style matches, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! You and I think alike!! I actually had that in my original suggestions to her — exactly what you said, Elizabeth with Zellie as a great nickname — then deleted it for this post because I didn’t think she liked the idea. I love that you came up with that independently! I like your other ideas too!


  6. Cecilia sounds like the perfect match to these girls’ names: it goes well with Maria and I think Felicity and Cecilia are perfect sister names! But giving that it is on the no-go list, I tried to think of Saint names that, just like Felicity, are neither too common nor too out there. So I came up with Therese, which could be a great way to honor St. Zelie without using her exact name.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like Beatrix for them (nicknamed Trixie). It’s not a common name, but people know it, and thus seems a good bridge name. It’s saintly. The X is spunky like the Z in Azaelia. And I don’t think spelling would be an issue.

    I also like Camilla for them (nicknamed Millie or Cammie). Millie has a similar sound to Zellie. Spelling definitely wouldn’t be an issue. It’s also saintly. And it seems to fit with all of the sibling’s names.

    I have the same thoughts towards Matilda (nicknamed Tillie). I feel like this family likes names with Ts and/or Ls. For example: MargareT, FeLiciTy, WiLLiam, PaTrick, PeTer, AugusTine, KaTeri, ZeLLie.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sophie Therese would be pretty with her other sib’s names.
    I think Gemma and Amelia are also beautiful names that could be a good match!

    Liked by 1 person

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