Baby name consultation: No. 5 green bean 🌱 — solid, saintly, no nicknames

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day/Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

Vanessa and her husband are hoping for baby No. 5! Vanessa writes,

My husband David & I have a unique situation in that we’ve adopted our 4 children. We’re on “the list” again and there’s no telling when (or if!) our next little one might arrive. We could receive a phone call next week, in 3 months, in 2 years or not at all (you get the picture!)…Also, we have no idea if we’d be adopting another boy or another girl next time as we are not able to specify a preference.”

A new little one will join big sibs:

Nicholas Benedict (“his birthmom chose his first name Nicholas but we changed his middle name to Benedict. We LOVED the name Nicholas but had never considered it as a first name – when he was already named Nicholas, we immediately loved it! (As it turns out, he inherited much generosity from his namesake, St. Nicholas!) We received the call about our son when Pope Benedict was in the US for his historic visit in 2008. We decided while watching the news coverage to pray to St Benedict for his intercession and at that point decided if it worked out, we would change his middle name to Benedict. Of course, the rest is history!“)

John Paul (“we gave him this name after St Pope John Paul. We had always loved and admired the beloved Pope and we wanted our son to have a wonderful saint and holy Pope to look up to. Of course, John is very loving, just like the beloved Pope was.”)

Mark Thomas (“we gave him this name after St Mark and St Thomas More. We chose Mark because we met his birthmom on the feast day of St Mark (April 25). We have always loved and admired the fortitude and perseverance of St Thomas More and we loved the idea of using this name. Ironically, Mark’s birthday is the birthday of St Pope John Paul and he came home to us on July 11, the feast day of St Benedict! Clearly, he was born to be our child – God knew he would be in our family!!“)

Mary Catherine (“we gave her this name after Our Lady and also after St Catherine Laboure. We have always loved the miraculous medal and we loved the name Catherine. Mary was born on the sixth anniversary of the day Nicholas came home to us! (It was even a Thursday, just like in 2008!) Also, she came home to us on 5/19/2014, the day after Mark’s 2nd birthday.”)

What wonderful names! And the name stories! I totally had goosebumps reading all the fun and amazing details!

Vanessa and David have several naming rules/considerations:

1. We don’t really like nicknames for our children. With the exception of Nicholas, our other children’s names can’t really be shortened. This was intentional. We also call Nicholas by his full name as often as possible. We hope he’ll always be “Nicholas.”
2. We definitely want our children to have saints or biblical names so they know WHO they were named after and who they can learn about to look up to and admire.
3. We haven’t ever really considered any names that are trendy or too unique or too far “out there.”
4. We love to consider saints’ feast days for any special or noteworthy days around the birth, placement, birthparent meetings, etc. Since we have no idea when or if a child may come to us, this happens along the way if a match happens.
5. For a boy, we want the name to be a “strong” name – nothing too trendy or weak/feminine sounding. Also, nothing that could pass as a girl name and vice versa for a girl. (No unisex names!)

Some boy names they’ve considered include:

Andrew (“we don’t really love “Andy” or “Drew” so we have shied away from using this name, although it’s still a possibility“)
David (“this is a strong contender if next child is a boy. He would be named after his dad and luckily, there’s a St David! We could use this as a middle name or a first name“)
Christopher (“perhaps for a middle name, but this name doesn’t really work as a first name with our last name (since it starts with “S”)“)
Dominic (“David LOVES this name (and I do too) BUT I’ve always thought it was too close to “Nicholas.” I have always thought this could not be used because of our Nicholas. We love that St Dominic received the rosary from Our Lady“)
Anthony (“We love this name but we do NOT like “Tony.”“)
Joseph (“David loves this name (St Joseph) but see below (nephews). For me, I would think perhaps a middle name, if anything“)

We have 4 nephews: James Michael, Michael Charles, Joseph Brian, Jack David. While my husband David disagrees, I feel we should NOT use any of the first names as a first name for our child. He would strongly consider Michael and Joseph but I would prefer these for a middle name, if at all. After all, these nephews are HIS brother’s children, so they would then have the same first AND last name.”

And names they’ve considered for girls include:

Veronica (“my ABSOLUTE favorite girl name – Mary was almost Veronica, but we felt strongly we wanted to name our daughter after Our Lady, and I didn’t want to “waste” Veronica on a middle name, just in case we ever had another daughter! We love how Veronica wiped the face of Jesus in the Stations of the Cross – what compassion! What a beautiful image (pun intended!)“)
Monica (“I love this name – LOVE St Monica, mother of St Augustine“)
Anna (“I have always loved this name. Love how Anna is the woman with Simeon when the baby Jesus is presented in the temple“)
Therese (“We LOVE St Therese of Lisieux but NOT a fan of “Terry” – also the “s” or “z” sound at the end of any name isn’t great with our last name since it begins with “S.” I think this one is out although it could be a middle name“)

My mother and mother in law both have the middle name “Ann(e).”
My MIL’s name is Ruth and we had a reading from Ruth in our wedding (our favorite verse!). It’s even engraved in my engagement band {“Ruth 1:16-17”}. For these reasons, I could see using Ruth as a middle name.

Recently, especially after reading your post from Lindsay at My Child I Love You, I’ve been thinking Clairvaux or Zelie would be a good name for a girl, although they both go against our past idea that we don’t want anything too unique. While these are definite Catholic references/saints, I think they might be too “out there” for my husband. If I ever won this one, I’d be surprised! Although Zelie could be a fun middle name?

I loved working on this! Regarding the names Vanessa and David have on their list of considerations, first I have to say (which you all already know) that I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. So I had to laugh when I was looking up the names on this family’s list — they’re all style matches for each other! They have very consistent taste!

So I love all their boy ideas. I do think Andrew and Anthony could be “just Andrew/Anthony” if they stuck with it, like they do with Nicholas. David also — I know a couple little Davids, and they all go by just David, never Dave/Davy, etc. In fact, I think these days people are much less likely to automatically nickname a child who’s been introduced as a formal name. So all that works in their favor!

As far as Christopher — yes, I can see why they’d prefer it to be in the middle spot because of having an S last name, but I also don’t think it’s the worst thing ever.

Re: Dominic being too similar to Nicholas — on the one hand, I can see what Vanessa means, especially with Nic(k) being common enough nicknames for both. But, on the other hand, Veronica and Monica both have the “nic” within them, and Nicky is a common enough nickname for Veronica, so I don’t see any reason for Dominic to be dropped from the list if Veronica and/or Monica stays on it. However, that said, I suspect that Nicholas, Dominic, and Veronica/Monica might be too much “nic” for one family, and since Veronica is Vanessa’s favorite girl name, maybe Dominic should bow out. But then, maybe they won’t have another girl? Gah! It’s a hard one to figure out! I am sure, though, that Veronica and Monica are too rhymey for sisters.

Of the girl names on their list, I think that (besides Veronica), Anna/Anne is one of their best options, since Anne can’t be shortened and I don’t think Annas really ever get shortened either. Both are gorgeous names and really fit their style (according to the BNW). I love Ruth too, and it would be unexpected as a middle name, which I love.

I totally get their feelings on Therese, like Christopher, and though I think Tess is more likely than Terry these days, that doesn’t solve the problem of running into the S last name. It would definitely make a great middle name for them though, beautiful! I’m loving the idea of Anna Therese or Veronica Therese.

And Clairvaux and Zelie! I’m so surprised by them both! They’re both great, and I could see them both as a middle name as well. Anna Clairvaux … Veronica Zelie … they totally work!

Okay! So I came up with a bunch more ideas for Vanessa and David, and while I leaned heavily on the BNW for ideas of names that they might like, I also paid a lot of attention to names that don’t nickname easily:

Girl
(1) Clare/Claire
I was going to suggest Clare/Claire anyway, because of its non-nickname-ability, and when I read that Vanessa likes Clairvaux I thought aha! It totally fits the style of their other kids!

(2) Lucy
Lucy is just one of the sweetest names, and isn’t very nicknameable — I love it for this family!

(3) Rose
This is such a sweet one-syllable name — Marian and traditional with a little vintage feel!

(4) Helen(a)
I’ve been seeing Helen and Helena getting a good amount of love lately, and I don’t think most people would think to nickname a Helen (though Nell can be used if one wanted to use a nickname for Helen; Helena can shorten to Lena or I think Nell could work there too, but the one Helena I know in real life has always only been Helena). Dwija from the blog House Unseen, Life Unscripted named her youngest Helen Margaret, so cute!

(5) Hildi
I think lots more people would name their daughters after St. Hildegard of Bingen if her first name wasn’t so clunky! But I do know one little girl who is named after her and goes by Hildi and I just die over how sweet it is! I would totally do *just Hildi*, and I’m loving the idea of Hildi Ruth — I kind of love how antique that combo sounds!

(6) Sara(h)
Sarah was actually a huge style match for this family according to the BNW and since it doesn’t really reduce down I thought it definitely deserved a mention. There’s a St. Sara of Antioch (feast day April 20), and Sarah the Matriarch of course.

(7) Natalie
Natalie and Natalia both did quite well for Vanessa and David in my research as well! I thought Natalie was more their speed than Natalia, and though it can nickname to Nat, all the Natalies I know go by the full Natalie. I also love its meaning — it literally refers to Christmas Day (from the Latin natale domini — “the birth of the Lord”).

(8) Julia
I thought Julia was another name that would be a good fit for them style-wise and also because the Julias I know all go by the full Julia, never Julie/Jules. A lovely, regal name!

Boy
(1) Jude
I actually don’t think that Jude is their speed — it has a bit of a hipster feel to me, which I love, but I think their taste skews more classic (not that Jude isn’t a classic — you know what I mean!). But being one syllable, I thought it deserved a mention!

(2) Blaise
As with Jude, I’m not sure they’ll love Blaise, but it’s one syllable and super saintly, so maybe!

(3) Stephen
I was actually inspired by David to suggest Stephen for Vanessa and David — it has a similar feel to me as their other kiddos — classic, handsome, saintly — and I know two Davids who have brothers named Stephen! And they all go by the full Stephen, not Steve/Stevie.

(4) George
I think George might be my favorite idea for this family! Between St. George and Pope Francis (born Jorge [Spanish for George]), and with two other boys being named after recent Popes, it’s a great pick for a little Catholic boy!

(5) Henry
I think Henry is just one of the sweetest names for a little boy! There are so many great Sts. Henry to choose from, and no obvious nickname! (Hank, yes, but not terribly obvious just from hearing Henry.)

(6) Adam
I feel like this suggestion seems a little out of left field, but when I saw Adam as a style match for Christopher I thought they might like it! It hasn’t got any nicknames, and there are a bunch of holy Adams (which I was surprised to discover!).

(7) Robert
Robert is a pretty big style match for this family, and I’ve been loving it recently — it’s so solid and handsome, and I love hearing it in Downton Abbey. 😁 It’s probably in the same category as Stephen and Nicholas — Vanessa and David would have to actively make sure that no one shortens it. St. Robert Bellarmine’s great!

(8) Peter
Like Robert, Peter did really well for them in my research; like Robert, they’d have to make sure no one shortens it to Pete/Petey. But otherwise I love it for them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Nicholas, John, Mark, and Mary?

47 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: No. 5 green bean 🌱 — solid, saintly, no nicknames

  1. It’s so funny the Dominic/ Nicholas debate is brought up here. We have a Nicholas and although we both love Dominic always thought it was too much “Nic”. That being said our Nicholas has a sister 12 months younger who we named Monica and it has never even occurred to me that she had a “Nic” as well. Haha. Lovely name ideas, especially Lucy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, this family has exactly my style of naming I feel like! Love every single name they have used!!

    I definitely think Anna might be the way to go for them! I know a couple of Anne’s and they’re all called Annie (I think because Anne seems like such a serious name for a little girl), but none of the Annas I know are nicknamed! Hannah also could be really nice

    So suggestions, I love your idea of Claire/Clare. It would really be perfect for them. The name Caroline also came to mind for them! Only one Caroline I know is nicknamed (Carly), but I think that would have to be established by the family and it wouldn’t be automatic.

    What about Elizabeth? I know so many Elizabeths who just go by Elizabeth (also, the other reader/commenter named Grace has an Elisabeth who I don’t think goes by any nickname).

    So for the boys re: Andrew and Anthony. I know multiple Andrews and Anthonys that just go by Andrew or Anthony (one of those Andrews is a cousin of mine). I don’t think Andy or Drew is automatic without the parents initiating it, same with Tony. I agree now that people are less likely to nickname if the parents introduce by full names. However, I think it’s important to at least like the nicknames that could possible come with a name because it’s possible one day their little Andrew could decide he likes Andy.

    For boys I don’t really have any suggestions, your suggestions were so spot on! I guess maybe William or Samuel, but the potential for nicknames might be too high with those names.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very right that my Elisabeth goes only by the full Elisabeth—and she’s almost 15, so that’s unlikely to change. We have also met several other Elizabeths/Elisabeths who only go by the full name. Before she was born, I worried that it would be a lot of work to keep her from being nicknamed, but in reality we’ve had no pushback at all on it. Our other children (James, Fiona, and John) are also not nicknamed, and again, it’s been no trouble. I guess people are more accepting of what a person is called when they are introduced (whether by a parent or by the person him/herself) than I expected!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Can I make a pitch for Linus – saintly, easy to spell, and unique without being too different? Or Blaise, Felix, Gerard, Jerome, and Theo. I’m a fan of Peter as well. My Peter has never been called Pete/Petey – if you stick with the full name, most people respect that. (I also have a Catharine, Gregory, and Christopher who go by their full names.)

    For girls, Ada is short and strong, though Veronica is one of my favorite names. (I couldn’t use it as my friend just named her baby that, and I had boys next anyway.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think you definitely can keep young kids from a nickname but not necessarily indefinitely when older. I have a David – always David growing up – but come high school and college he became Dave, which was fine with him. Had he been diligent in remaining David, it probably would have worked, but he didn’t mind. So now he is pretty much Dave to everyone (including his wife) except to our immediate family. It is funny because our other boys vacillate between full and nicknames amongst everyone including immediate family. I like their nick/variants much better than I do Dave.

    From your suggestions Henry and George are the ones I think are best fits. Having brothers Robert and Steven I know that the shortened forms Rob and Steve are almost automatic for people. Though they are still Robert and Steven to immediate family including their spouses. I do think Michael and Joseph will inevitable get shortened by some they would meet. Same for Christopher.

    I was going to recommend Paul then of course realized it is already part of John Paul’s name. Paul and Luke are the two names I love which don’t nn generally (unless one goes to diminutives). I like Luke for them. We have friends who feel strongly about names that aren’t easily nicknameable also – and so far they have a Clare, Leo and Simon.

    They don’t seem like an Old Testament style family but there are several there that are not as easily nickname-able. Like you mentioned Adam – also: Levi, Aaron, Isaac, Noah, Caleb.

    Our daughter’s name is short and doesn’t nickname really – at least people haven’t tried to. I honestly, think girls are much less likely to be randomly nicknamed – only if they take it on themselves or the family does. Boys it definitely seems more common for those outside to influence, especially the nicknames that are a simple shortening to first sound/syllable. I think if you have to jump to a nn that is significantly different sounding – Anthony to Tony, Henry to Hank – it is less likely to happen spontaneously with others.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love their kids’names and your suggestons! Nicholas is a favorite of mine. As for worrying about nicknames, I thought I’d throw it out there that in my family we’ve got a lot of boys who have long(ish) names but aren’t nicknamed, and that includes my brother Anthony. *I* call him AJ (and sometimes affectionate names stemming from other versions of Anthony), but for the most part our family all calls him Anthony. (If they dn’t, they’re calling him AJ, which isn’t a natural problem for Anthony, it’s just his childhood name.) But I’ve never once heard a friend call him anything other than Anthony, and he’s never went by Tony. It’s one of my favorite boy names and I think my style is at least a bit similar to theirs, so I just wanted to encourage them that Anthony doesn’t NEED to come to a nickname 🙂 (Anthony’s middle name is Joseph, so I’m partial to that option of their’s!)

    Also wanted to suggest Felicity. It’s one of my favorite names and to me it feels simila to their names. Also, Ithink it’s got less natural nicknames than most names, so that’s a plus for them. Along with the sound, I loooove the meaning of the name.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For girls I was going to suggest going with Theresa instead of Therese so as not to end in “s” or “z” sounds.

    And like Clare, Lucy, Rose, Helen and Sarah best from the suggestions.

    I love both Veronica and Monica – don’t think it is too similar to Nicholas since it is a middle sound, not beginning or end. Though they should decide which of those two they like best and are likely to use, because having a Veronica and a Monica would be too much. ; )

    I think Veronica is easily nicknameable but also very possible to keep intact (because, a girl). Monica less nicknameable though a couple Monicas I know have nn Monc/k (mahnk) – though as terms of endearment and don’t get called that by general many.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elizabeth seems the obvious match to me. They could use Elizabeth Ann, as in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a very honorable namesake. I’ve known Elizabeths who are only called Elizabeth.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Umm, their girl names and the names you suggested are basically identical to the list I have compiled between me and Dh’s suggestions. Wow! We need to submit a consult to you, though, because we are still a little stuck haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What neat adoption and naming stories! I just adore the name Veronica and I think it’s perfect for this family. I hope they go for it! I also really like Peter for them, as you suggested.

    Keep suggesting Hildi, Kate! SOMEONE will bite eventually! (I love it…maybe one day it’ll be me!)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think Veronica Ruth is the clear choice for a girl. For a boy, I agree that a one-syllable choice like Luke would be a good idea. My nephews are named Noah and Felix, neither of which are very easily nicknamed. From her list, Peter is my absolute favorite and I hope they go with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So I keep thinking about this family because they have a Mark and a Mary! I have a son Mark and though I really love Mary I have wondered if the name Mary is too close to Mark’s name. I wonder how it works out for them in real life. (This is just hypothetical wondering at this point 😉).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve also been meaning to add a mention of Blessed Sara Salkahazi to this post. If anyone is considering Sara as a name and wants another namesake option. She’s such an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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