Spotlight on: Benedict/a

I haven’t done one of these in ages and it feels goooood to work on one! 😀

One of you dear readers asked me for a spotlight on Benedicta a while ago, so I thought it would be best to add in Benedict as well, as Benedict is the “originating name” in the sense that it was a name first, and then the female variant arose. (Withycombe says that Benedicta is, “Probably as a rule simply a f. form of Benedictus, the man’s name, though there are one or two obscure saints Benedicta.”)

Benedict/a’s meaning rocks: “blessed.” So great, right?! And for us, it also means “any of the Sts. Benedict, and/or the Benedictine Order (especially for those who have a Benedict spirituality), and/or our dear Papa Benny — Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV (aka B16 because we Catholics are cool like that, giving our popes hip nicks. 😀 ).”

Speaking of hip … this image of St. Benedict always kills me, he looks so cool, like he’s just wearing his hoodie, hanging out with friends, like (Catholic nerd alert!) your favorite young seminarian or director of campus ministry. 😀 I hope it isn’t disrespectful to say so! It’s my favorite image of him, and if I ever have a Benedict, I’ll get this icon for him.

Hoping it’s okay that I’m including this screen grab — I’ve seen this image all over the internet and only tonight discovered who wrote it — great job, Br. Claude Lane! I got it from Mount Angel Abbey’s web site.

I know some people have a hard time moving past the Benedict Arnold association that, unfortunately, continues to cling stubbornly to the name, but fortunately that’s only an American problem, and Pope Benedict, Benedict Cumberbatch, and time have all helped to dilute it, and will continue to do so I’m sure.

Benedicta suffers from no such problematic association, as far as I’m aware, and Simcha Fisher’s little Benedicta Maribel — called Benny exclusively and swoonily — is a tremendous example of how such a big name can work on a beautiful little girl.

As far as nicknames go for Benedict, there’s Ben and Benny, and I’ve suggested Bede as a nickname for it, and I’ve recently been loving the idea of Boon(e) as a nickname for it too, if you want something a little offbeat — it means “good,” a similar meaning to Benedict, which just adds to its possible use as a nickname for Benedict in my opinion (Abby did a post on Boone not too long ago, which I loved). I’ve also seen Ned (and Neddy!) — seriously adorable! Benito is a Spanish variant (though … is the Mussolini connection still too strong?) and Benedetto an Italian variant, and I think some of the other foreign variants could really work as nicknames or given names too, like Bendt/Bent (Danish), Bence (Hungarian), and Bento (Portuguese).

For Benedicta, there’s of course Benny and I think Betty, Neddy/Nettie, and even Becka could work. (Which makes me think — Beck could work as a nickname for Benedict too! Fun!) I could see Bonnie working for a girl as well. Benita is a Spanish form and Benedetta an Italian form (and Bettina its diminutive). Pretty!

I can’t not mention also Bennett/Bennet/Benett/Benet/Bennitt — medieval variants of Benedict that can be a little easier to bear while still retaining the saintliness of the name. Withycombe even says that those same variants were used for girls as late as the end of the 17th century! She also says that the surnames Benn and Benson were derived from Benedict, which provide further ideas.

All in all, I think Benedict and Benedicta are great names, very usable. I’d love to hear from any of you who have a Benedict/a or know any — do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname and if so, what is it?


34 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Benedict/a

  1. I’m not usually big on nicknames, but Benedict nicked Benny is a combo I can get excited about. I have actually mentioned this one to hubby for future babes, but I don’t think I’ll get him on board. Benedict is on our list for middle names, though. B16 is one of hubs’ fave popes.

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      • Out of those choices, definitely Bennett would be more my speed 🙂 I lean towards Bennet for the Austen association!

        Maybe grand wasn’t the right word. Uncommon might be better. But I feel like Benedict just seems grander than say Benjamin (my favorite Ben name) and William (just my plain old favorite name) even though they have the same syllable counts, and that might come from Benedict being so uncommon in my world and really only being associated with the Pope.

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      • I totally know what you mean! It’s so interesting that even though it has the same number of syllables as Benjamin and William it has a grander feel — I think you’re right about the uncommonness of it!

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  2. I knew a family with a Benedict they called “Bene” (Ben-Nay) like the Latin for good. He was the first one I knew but since have met several little Benedicts, some who wear the full name, and one who also answers to Ben. I didn’t like the name at first but it has since grown much more wearable to me!

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  3. benedetta is a super popular name in Italy, it was number 40 in 2014. I know many around my age (late 20’s) and younger. I’ve only met one benedetto and he was jewish, his best friend was beniamino which is also super rare. there were only 64 benedetto to 1.214 benedetta born in 2014. there was a very slight rise after the pope chose that name, but it didn’t last. probably because it sounds feminine due to benedetta?

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      • yes beniamino is benjamin. benjamin is actually much more popular than beniamino, even in italy.

        i’m not sure about benedetto, maybe it was a family name since i think it used to be more common a century ago? names like asher and baruch mean blessed in hebrew, so benedetto would be a direct translation. i think that used to be a thing.

        oh, and a guy named benedetto croce is an historical figure that i would associate the name with (we study him in school).

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  4. You know my teenager’s #1 favorite name is Benedict! Since I ended up naming my first son the name that had been my favorite boys’ name when I was her age, I do wonder if maybe she’ll keep it!

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  5. My husband is Benedict and goes by Ben. He was the first Benedict I’d ever met! I just die over Simcha’s Benny and the name Benedicta. We likely wouldn’t use it for a girl since I’ve already got 2 or 3 fictional daughters named! 😉 So far only sons for us.

    A friend of mine is a novitiate for the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus and her name is Sister Maria Benedicta! 💕

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  6. We have a Bennett, nn ‘Benny’, now ‘Ben’ because he’s SOOOO old and mature now that he turned six. 😛 Although he introduced himself as “Mr. Bennett” the other day to a random stranger, so maybe we’re heading in more of an Austen direction rather than the B16 direction we intended…? 😀

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  7. I know a little girl who’s middle name is Benedicta. I had never really heard it before she was born. At first I thought it was a big name for such a little girl, but I must say it fits her perfectly

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    • Sure, Beno or Benno can definitely work as a nickname for Benedict! According to Behind the Name, Ben(n)o is traditionally connected to names that contain the element “bern” (e.g. Bernard), which means “bear,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a nickname for other names!


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