It’s always fun for me when I’m able to post a consultation for a frequent commenter, and today is such a day! Julia (whose handle here is ethelfritha!) and her husband Ben are expecting their third baby — a little boy! He joins big sibs:
Can you believe those names?! So great!!
“I’ve been a longtime reader and now I am so excited to ask you for advice myself! My name is Julia, but you may recognize me as commenter Ethelfritha, which is my internet alias for reasons that are very silly. Anyway, my husband Ben and I are hoping you (and your readers!) can help us out with names for our baby [boy], due in mid-January.
Ben and I have relatively similar naming tastes, or at any rate, we’ve come to understand each other’s tastes and have worked out a mutual style. First of all, we are HYUUUUUGE geeks. While I would love to say that we named Petra after one of the many wonderful St. Peters, that would not be 100% accurate in the sense of being true. In fact, we actually named her after Petra Arkanian from the sci-fi novel Ender’s Game (although of course we are thrilled that she has so many saintly patrons as well!). Her middle name, Jeanne, is for St. Joan of Arc, both mine and Ben’s confirmation saint.
Corwin is an old English name (in the same family as Edwin and Godwin), but Ben actually found it in the fantasy series The Chronicles of Amber. I haven’t read it, so we can’t really say we named him AFTER that character, but it was certainly the inspiration. Matthias is from the Redwall character (and the 13th apostle.)“
I have to admit I read Julia’s email with a big ol’ grin on my face — what a cool couple, I love that they just own their geekiness! 😎
Names that they’re considering for their little guy include:
Victor (“our top for a boy, but we’re only meh about it“)
Theo (“we don’t like Theodore and do like Theo, but are hesitant to give a nickname as a given name. We don’t really like Leo, which otherwise might be a good alternative“)
Christian (“we like this so I included it, but we probably won’t go this route since Corwin has a very similar sound“)
“We definitely need more boy name ideas! We’re just not crazy about any of the ones we’ve come up with.
In general we like shorter names with strong consonants, and usually prefer a harsher (for lack of a better word) sound (Ruth, Victor, Sigrid) over a softer, more Latin-inspired sound (Isabella, Sophie, Francis).
We don’t typically go for traditional Irish names (Liam, Patrick, etc.) Not that we don’t like those names, they’re just not really our style.
The names don’t have to be saints’ names, but we’d like at least one of the names (either first or middle) to be connected to the faith in some way.
Names with a geeky connotation are a plus, but hardly necessary!
We are willing to go pretty far out there with middle names.
No names beginning with a J, please.”
Also, it’s worth noting for inspiration purposes that some of the girl names they like are Ruth, Sigrid, and Ada (for the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace).
So first off, how great is it that St. Joan of Arc is the confirmation saint for both Julia and Ben!! I love that!!
Second, I had a total blast working on this—looking up “geek names” was so fun! I love the Catholicky Catholic names—obviously!—but I started the blog because there was a hole in regards to Catholic names, not because I don’t love other names—I looooove other names too! And Julia and Ben are great examples of one of things I think is so great about blogging about Catholic names—people who think “I hate the names Mary and Joseph and will never give those kinds of names to my kids so that’s one more thing about the Catholic Church that’s irrelevant and outdated and uncool and one more reason for me to turn my back on the faith” are shown that actually, that’s one impediment that doesn’t exist! Names of ALL kinds can have saintly connections! And if your favorite name doesn’t, that’s what middle names are for!
Okay! Rant over! Haha! 😀
I do just have to say that as much as I love names of all kinds, I don’t feel as confident in coming up with names outside of the names connected to the faith, so I’m not sure my ideas will be quite right!
That said, based on the names Julia and Ben have used and like and their science fiction, fantasy, and computer programming connections, I did lots of research on names having to do with those areas and found some amazing sites! Between A History of Computer Programming Languages, An Overview of Computer Programming, and A Brief History of Computer Programming Languages (#Infographic), I gave myself a quick education on the people involved with the history of computer programming and Ada’s confreres and came up with what I thought were some great ideas. Then I looked up fantasy names (being familiar with some—LOTR, A Wrinkle in Time, e.g.—but not sure which works Julia and Ben consider appealing [is Star Wars too mainstream? Harry Potter? Game of Thrones? Too recent? Comic books/superheroes? Video games? Are they a fan of Big Bang?]) and found some brilliant resources!! Like:
Fantasy Name Generators (this site is ah-MAZ-ing!! So! Many! Names! And all sorts of ways to search for just what you’re looking for! I actually found it really overwhelming, especially since I wasn’t totally sure what I was looking for)
Sci-Fi Names (another that requires a lot of time to sift through, but otherwise seems great!)
Geek Names (I love this one too and have used in the past. Great resource!)
So if my thoughts aren’t quite right, Julia and Ben have a lot of good resources for their own hunting! The last one there is a post on the babynamewizard discussion forums, which would also be a great resource for Julia and Ben — I think the readers there would know exactly the right names to suggest for them—the only reason I know Ender’s Game, for example, is because I see it pop up in the comments over there from time to time. There are computer scientists there too and scientists of all kinds really—they happily think of themselves as geeks, which I just love! (But they’re not so great with the faith connections.)
I also did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard book to see what suggestions it had for siblings of Petra and Corwin, taking Ruth, Ada, Sigrid, Victor, Theo, Christian, Jeanne, and Matthias into consideration. That’s where it became clear to me that Julia and Ben definitely seem to love Scandinavian-type names! Some that were suggested as good matches for them that I didn’t think were quite right included Astrid, Casper, Elsa, Gunnar, Ingrid, Lisbeth, Konrad, and Pim. Great names all! But too similar to Corwin or Petra/too soft/too weapon-y, etc.
But I came up with a bunch of other ideas that might work — like, a lot of other ideas. I maybe went a little crazy. But it was so fun to find each new name that I thought might be perfect, and my list just kept getting longer … and since it was just for boys and not for both girls and boys I’m just going to go ahead and include them all here!
(1) Theoden, Theodred
They love Theo but don’t care for Theodore … Theo can stand on its own, but Julia and Ben might be interested in Theoden or Theodred? From LOTR? I really wanted to suggest Theon too—I was reading about Sr. Thea Bowman recently and discovered she chose her religious name after her dad, Theon. It was the first time I saw Theon as a name outside of Game of Thrones, and I love its meaning (related to “God,” as is the Theo- in Theodore); when I looked it up I discovered it’s also the name of a second-century Greek philosopher and mathematician, as well as a saint. Very cool! But I do think the GOT character has irreversibly tainted it, at least for now.
I know Charles is probably really plain and maybe even boring to Julia and Ben, but I was thinking of mathematician and pre-computer programmer Charles Babbage, and Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time, and Charles Xavier from X-Men (looove this one!), and I just had to suggest it. I thought maybe Karl was more their speed, but it’s probably too similar to Corwin, right?
I was really intrigued by inventor (“widely regarded as the father of modern automatic computation”) Herman Hollerith’s last name because it reminds me so much of Julia’s handle ethelfritha! I don’t know what to do with that except it might be fun as a middle name nodding to both Herman and, in a funny way, Julia.
(4) Murray, Hopper
I was sorry that computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper’s first name is so common—so cool to see another woman in the mix! But I thought her second and third names would be great for a boy’s first or middle, or a girl’s middle. Actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright (Princess Bride!) have a son named Hopper.
I wonder if Julia and Ben have ever considered Pascal?? It’s one of my very favorite ideas for them!! It’s the name of a programming language, which was named after Blaise Pascal, which is also a really cool reference, and Pascal means “Easter” and there’s also a St. Pascal Baylon … I’m totally loving Pascal!!
Is it too weird to consider the name of computer operating system Linux? Because otherwise I LOVE it! Linus to me is all papal (the Peanuts connotation has long faded for me, but I know I’m in a naming bubble), and I totally think Linux could work as a nod to St. Linus as well as the language. (Also, in case any of you are cringing every time I say “programming language” or “language,” I don’t actually know what I’m talking about, so I apologize!) The name Sixtus is translated into Italian as Sisto, so I would take that as a precedent for X’s and S’s sometimes being interchangeable.
Speaking of X’s and S’s being interchangeable … the Dutch and Scandinavian Alexander short form Sander seemed to me one that Julia and Ben would like. I didn’t actually find it in any other research than my normal BNW research, so I don’t know if there’s any geeky connection, but it just sounds to me like it would fit in with all those names! And of course there are loads of Sts. Alexander.
My oldest boy said to me recently, “Did you know there was a Pope Lando?” And I was like, “There was not!” and of course then he went and proved me wrong—Pope Lando was also known as Landus or Landon and was pope from 913–914. There isn’t much known about him except he had a Star Wars name centuries ahead of its time!! 😀
Monty Python is a whole geekiness in and of itself—and maybe not quite Julia and Ben’s taste? But I saw that the Python language was named for Monty Python, and Monty’s a really cute nickname. Montgomery’s the normal long form, but I think Monty can also stand on its own.
(10) Rossum, Rasmus
Rossum is for programmer Guido Van Rossum—it struck me as similar enough to Ross that it could work as an unusual first name. Rasmus is for programmer Rasmus Lerdorb, and it’s actually a name my husband and I considered a time or two, as his mom’s maiden name was Rasmussen. Rasmus is the Scandi version of Erasmus, which is the name of several saints.
(11) Ged (Gerard)
I saw Ged in a listing of fantasy+sci-fi writer Ursula LeGuin names, and while I know she’s supposed to be amazing, I’ve never read anything by her and I’m totally unfamiliar with her characters. So I have no idea if Ged’s a good guy or not, but I’ve seen it suggested as a nickname for Gerard, so I love the idea of Gerard nn Ged or Ged on its own with St. Gerard Majella as patron.
Hugo’s got lots of great geek cred! It’s the name of Ron and Hermione’s son in the last Harry Potter book, and the annual awards for sci-fi writing are called Hugos! It’s also the name of a couple of saints … do be warned though that it’s increasingly in popularity across Europe.
Rupert is a form of Robert, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s a great patron! I didn’t find any connection to any geeky thing except that Rupert Grint plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies, but it still struck me as the kind of name Julia and Ben would like.
How about Arthur? It’s from Camelot of course and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and has that old British-y feel I get from Corwin.
Tycho is for astronomer Tycho Brahe, and I see it regularly pop up in name discussions by science nuts. I love the sound and look of it, and there’s also St. Tycho of Amathus!
I really really really like Remy for a boy (though I do know sometimes it’s used for girls … maybe Julia and Ben would like to consider it for a possible future girl?). It’s X-Men character Gambit’s “real” name, and a variant of Remigius, of which there are several so-named saints.
(17) Tobias, Tobit
Tobias was a big winner for Julia and Ben in the BNW, but I don’t know … maybe it’s striking me as softer than they would like? It’s also the “real” name of the Divergent character Four, which I’ve found tends to annoy people rather than appeal to them. Tobit is similar and said to be a form of Tobias, but it’s got a harsher, more abrupt sound, which I suspect they’d prefer. It’s biblical (Book of Tobit) and I consider it Catholicky Catholic since the Book of Tobit isn’t included in Protestant bibles.
Wolf was actually suggested a bunch of times for this family in the BNW! It’s so cool and edgy, kind of Wolverine but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It can be spelled Wolfe or Wulf, and I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Wilfred. I could see Wilfred and Corwin being smashing brother names! There’s also a St. Wilfred of York.
(19) Bram, Ambrose
Finally, Bram is one of my own personal favorite names. I saw a name dilemma on BabyCenter ages ago (like ten years ago!) for a family who had three boys already: Jack, Finn, and Bram. I fell in love with that brother set! Of course we’ve seen Jack and Finn both surge in popularity, so maybe Bram will too, but I don’t see it discussed that much, and I still think it’s awesome. It’s a Dutch short form of Abraham, and also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker (though I think his name is said BROM, rhymes with bomb, while I prefer BRAM, rhymes with lamb). If Julia and Ben don’t like Bram on its own—or if they don’t like it at all—Ambrose was a style match for them, and of course it’s super saintly, and I’ve often thought Bram could be a nickname for it.
This one doesn’t fit the science/fantasy/computer geek vibe, but it does for anyone who geeks out on philosophy and the faith. And I die over the nickname Bo! This post and its follow-up provide good arguments in favor of Boethius.
I also think this post on theologian+science/nature names might be inspiring, just in general.
Whew!! That might be one of the longest consultations I’ve ever done! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Petra and Corwin, born to parents who are self-professed “HYUUUUUGE geeks”? 😀