Kelli and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and third boy! Her induction was originally scheduled for next week (and I planned to post this tomorrow) but she emailed tonight to let me know there’s been a change of plans and the little guy’s arriving tomorrow! They’re still eager for name feedback, so please share any ideas you have!
Baby Boy joins big sibs:
Abby Leigh (“Our first baby and named before my husband, Adam, and I were really religious and definitely not Catholic … we both liked it, and at the time did not like Abigail. We slightly regret now not having used the full version of the name. Our daughter (now 13) wishes we had used the full thing, and so sometimes she pretends like we did and we occasionally refer to her as Abigail to appease her. Leigh was always a name I loved, and the spelling I thought was just beautiful. My husband’s grandmother’s middle name is Lee, named after her mother’s maiden name, so it also just happened to fall in place nicely. We just lucked out that there is a Saint Abigail (biblical and alternate form of St Gobnait) so that her name doesn’t seem too strange with our other kids.”)
William Thomas (“My husband and I have different naming preferences, so every kid has been a bit of a compromise. I refused to use Thomas as a first name because I don’t really care for it too much. However, it is my husband’s middle name, his Dad’s name, his grandfather’s name, and his great grandfather’s name, so I was kind of stuck with it in some way or another. Since I didn’t like Thomas, I claimed full rights to first name choosing and it came down to Aaron or William. I just loved the way William Thomas sounded. Of course, now that we have converted, I am so glad my son has many wonderful saints he is named for by accident. We call him Will.”)
Aaron Matthew (“My husband has always loved this name, and since I picked the prior first name for our older son I gave him Aaron this go round. I liked the name well enough. We were considering conversion to the Catholic church at this point, so wanted biblical or saint names. We had a baby shower where his name was going to be Aaron Josiah and we had told the world this, but when he was born I realized we had completely messed up on the middle name. Took us more than a day to decide on his middle name, and it came down to Samuel or Matthew. My Great Uncle Sammy had just passed away a couple months before he was born, and Aaron’s godfather had a brother named Matthew who had passed away shortly before as well. We ended up going with Matthew because his godfather was not going to be having any more children, and we wanted to honor him and his brother by using the middle name Matthew.”)
Jessica Caeli (“We call her Jessa, and I completely won a battle for this name! I just knew this was supposed to be her name. However, my husband did not care for it, but he did like Jessica ok. A perfect compromise of Jessica for the first name and Jessa as a sweet nickname was doable with some middle name compromise as well. Adam has always wanted to use the name Kaylee for a first name, but I haven’t ever cared for it. I loved the name Caeli (pronounced Chay-lee) after the Regina Caeli, but Adam didn’t like its so we agreed to Caeli but pronounced Kaylee as the middle. We were a bit worried about Caeli being unsual compared to the other kids names, but we figured since it was the middle name we could squeak by and pull it off, especially since the pronunciation was more typical to non-Catholic family and friends. Fortunately it ended up being the perfect name for her and she’s just a doll.”)
Great names, right? A little bit eclectic, a little bit unexpected — I love them!
“We know this baby is a boy, but are having a terrible time finding names we like, agree on, or even feel at all “right”. We haven’t had any good ultrasound pictures of the face, which I think for me is throwing me off my game. We usually get an awesome picture of the sweet baby face, but this guy only wants to show us his er… other parts. So definitely a boy, but no cute little pictures of his nose or anything.
We realized that both of our boys happen to have middle names of apostles. We didn’t really do it on purpose, and since we are open to having more kids in the future, feel like our choice of middle name is really key for this baby. If we go with another apostle middle name we feel stuck for any future boys to have apostle middle names as well, but if we switch things up now than the first two can just be played off as coincidence and no big deal.
Adam doesn’t like calling kids by their middle names, so we can’t do a first name with the middle name being the nickname. The first name is the first name and what the kid will be known as, unless there is a shortened version of the first name that can be used, like Will and Jessa. I’ve tried to change his mind on this unsuccessfully.
All of our kids names are fairly traditional sounding, so we feel like we can’t go too far off and be crazy. We would like for it to somehow tie in to a saint name, biblical name, or something faith related for both the first and middle names, but it doesn’t have to be super exact either. It can be a little bit of a stretch. Usually we find names we like and see if there is some way it connects to the faith, rather than the other way around.
I also feel like going a bit nontraditional with Jessa’s middle name may have given us a bit of leeway in what we can do for naming this baby. Unusual first names might be ok, if it has a nice regular sounding nickname we could use (ex. Benedict but calling him Ben, although we don’t like that one).
I don’t like names to be too long. If its a long first name, I prefer a one or two syllable middle name so it doesn’t get too “mouthy”. It needs to be easy to yell across the house or whisper threateningly in public, lol. Shorter first names can pull off longer middle names, but I am hesitant to use a long middle name since we haven’t ever done it before. I would kind of like a first name that could have a one syllable nickname, so Will isn’t the only one who doesn’t have a two syllable first name.
Although we have 2 A names, we would also rather not use the same letters again. We are negotiable on that, but A names are definitely out for first name unless we have a good nickname to use that doesn’t start with A.
My husband wants to make sure the boys all have strong sounding names that are masculine, as he feels this is very important.
Popularity isn’t super important to us if we like the name.
You can see that I like a wider variety of names, and my husband is pretty picky based on the above lists, whereas I have more “criteria” that needs to be met. We have always managed to compromise before, but I guess by number 5 we are about out of ideas for that! I am sorry for all of these restrictions. I feel like we have given you an impossible task.”
(I LOVE impossible name tasks!! I love having lots of parameters to work within and criteria to satisfy, and while I often don’t hit the mark, sometimes I do, and in super-challenging cases any success is that much sweeter. 😁)
Names on their “maybe” list include:
David (“middle name only per husband“)
Philip (“was a top contender, but now we feel meh about it“)
Noah (“always comes up when choosing names, but never feels quite right. Also Adam had a friend in high school who passed away named Noah, so that’s another reason its often on the table. A distant cousin has two kids named Abby and Noah, so I feel using both the names they used, even though we don’t really know them“)
Jacob (“Will wants us to use this desperately, but we don’t love it. However, another one of my husband’s friends who passed away was named Jacob, so it is often on our list as well“)
Andrew (“I love it and love the nickname Drew, but Adam only likes it for a middle name, if that“)
Zachary (“another name that always comes up but has never stuck. Husband is pushing for this one, but the nickname “Zach/Zac/Zack” feels a little too harsh for me for this baby“)
Gregory (“middle name only per husband“)
Names they’ve discussed but have crossed off the list for various reasons:
Gideon, Titus, Soren (“we like them but they seem too far off from our other kids names to pull off“)
Martin “Marty”, Colm (Cull-um), Owen, Seamus, Nolan, Reid, Dean, Becket, Killian, Evan (“names I liked but my husband despised“)
Kealan, Kevin, Caleb, Travis, Brian, Patrick, Michael, Robert, Kieran, Luke, Jeffrey, Easton, Hendrix, Eric, Kolbe, Daniel, Stephen (used by close family/friends)
“We also considered Sheen as a middle name because we didn’t like Fulton but I LOVE Fulton Sheen, but my husband thought it was a bit crazy to make a boy sound so shiny.”
Alrighty, so first off—I LOVE their older kiddos’ names!! I have a real soft spot for Jessa and Caeli—Jessa really makes Jessica sparkle, and Caeli is Catholicky Catholic but putting it in the middle spot and using the Kaylee pronunciation makes it so much easier for everyone who’s not into hardcore catacomb-y names. Great job!
I’m also loving the fact that they call their Abby “Abigail” sometimes. I’ve often thought that bestowing a name that’s traditionally been a nickname—like Abby, Maggie, Jack—could legitimately allow the child to claim Abigail/Margaret/John as their own (just like they can claim St. Abigail/St. Margaret/St. John as their own). (I’m glad they only have “slight” regret—Abby Leigh is a beautiful name! And it sounds like it was pretty representative of where they were as a couple at the time, which can be kind of fun to remember.)
I have a few thoughts about the names Kelli and her hubs are considering:
David, Gregory: David’s a great, solid name, and really similar in style to their other kids’ names. A great middle name choice, and great faith associations (the biblical king of course, and also the patron saint of Wales). I also think it’s relatively easy to pair with a variety of first names. Gregory’s another great one—papal and saintly (Pope St. Gregory the Great!) and so handsome. A short first name would pair really well with Gregory as a middle, like Noah Gregory.
Philip: so interesting that it was a top choice and now they’re waning on it! It’s one of my faves too. I know that the possibility of Phil (or Philly for a little guy) turns some people off of Philip, but I think Pip/Pippin, Flip, and Finn are all viable options.
Noah: So interesting that they have relatives with an Abby and a Noah! Our neighbors’ two kids are Abby and Noah as well! They definitely go together. My only hesitation with Noah (though for some reason not so much with any of their other biblical name ideas) is that it’s SO biblical, which leaves William out of the brothers’ name style (and technically out of the whole sibset, since Jessica’s also a biblical name, though I think few people know that, so Jessica doesn’t come across as biblical at all).
Joseph: love it, such a great name and a great saint. But being “meh” says to me, “Keep looking!” Also, it repeats Jessa’s J.
Jacob: funny enough, even though Jacob is just as biblical/Old Testament as Noah, and just as popular secularly as Noah, I just don’t think of it in quite the same way as Noah. This could be weirdness on my part—maybe people would still see William as the odd man out if Jacob was used? It’s so cute that Will loves the name Jacob so much. But, a J name.
Nicholas, Andrew, Zachary: these are such solid, cool-boy names to me (in a good way!). They’re all biblical, but I don’t think most people think of Nicholas and Zachary as biblical, and Andrew’s so classic and has that Brit vibe (via its ultra Scottish connections) that I think it goes really well with William while looping Aaron in via biblical. But Kelli said no more A names, so at least for this baby, I’d probably cross Andrew off the list (or use as a middle, as Kelli said). Nick and Zach/Zac/Zack are so similar in sound (and Jake too, for that matter) that at least from a nickname perspective, I think they’re all pretty equal and great. I do feel like Nicholas feels a bit more … timeless? Classic? While Zachary feels a bit more modern, which is funny since they’re both equally ancient. I looked up their stats on the Social Security web site and was interested to see that Zachary didn’t break into the top 200 until the 70s, while Nicholas has been in the top 200 for as long as the SSA has been keeping stats. However, they both had a peak of popularity in the 90s (Nicholas at #5 in 1999; Zachary at #12 in 1994) and they’re currently still in the top 100 at #62 and #88 (Nicholas and Zachary, respectively). So I’m thinking of Nicholas/Nick and Zachary/Zach as pretty similar options for this family, and both great. But Kelli doesn’t seem thrilled about either one, so let’s keep looking.
Gideon, Titus, Soren: love these names! But I agree that they’re very different from the other kiddos. Maybe as middle names? I personally love using John for a boy the way that Mary’s used for a girl—putting John or Mary in front of any name gives the whole thing a Catholic spin, and both John and Mary can serve as the first part of a double name (where both first and middle names are always used together) or—as Kelli has tried unsuccessfully to convince her husband of—as a “reverse middle name” almost, where the child goes by the middle name. Does that make sense? I mean, anyone can go by their middle name no matter what their first name, but Mary has traditional usage that way (all of my dad’s first cousins who are women, for example, are Mary___, and they all go by their middle names), and so does John in my family. So John Gideon, John Titus, and John Soren all strike me as really really handsome, and they could call him John Gideon as a full name, for example, or just John/Jack, or just Gideon. However, all that said, I do understand if Kelli’s husband simply can’t be swayed to the going-by-one’s-middle-name idea. In which case I still like the idea of John____ and going by the double name or just John/Johnny/Jack. They could even do Jake as a nickname for John—it’s got fairly traditional usage that way, and gets in Will’s love of Jacob without doing Jacob. (But John’s a J name.)
Martin/Marty, Colm, Owen, Seamus, Nolan, Reid, Dean, Becket, Killian, Evan: I love these names! I’m really interested in Kelli’s Irishy sensibility here … I feel like William and Andrew are on the outskirts of it (having good Brit/Scot usage), and I tried to take it into account when coming up with new ideas for them (Owen was actually one of my frontrunners for them until I looked back at this list and realized Owen was already on it!).
I’m dying over Kelli’s husband saying Sheen as a middle “was a bit crazy to make a boy sound so shiny”! Haha! I can see what he means (especially since he has a preference for strong, masculine-sounding names). I also think their method of finding a name they like and backing into a patron saint from there is fine and legit, and a method I’ve used myself quite happily (and I wrote about here).
Okay! So on to my ideas for Kelli’s little boy! As you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. For this consultation, I also used entered all the kids’ names (as a group) on Nymbler to see what its suggestions for a brother for the sibset as a whole would be. Based on all that, and some of my own ideas, these are my suggestions:
As soon as I saw that they’d considered Samuel as a middle name for Aaron, after Kelli’s Great Uncle Sammy, I scribbled it down as a first name idea for them. It’s obviously biblical like Abby/Abigail and Aaron, but classic and gentlemanly like William, and it has the awesome nicknames Sam, which is one syllable like Will, or Sammy, which nods even more closely to Kelli’s great uncle, and both Sam and Sammy are great with Jessa. I think it’s a great option for this little guy!
(2) Jared (or Gerard?)
I really tried not to duplicate first initials, but I have two J names (the other’s below) that I had to suggest (besides John, mentioned above). Jared seemed a great fit for this family to me—like Jessica, it too is biblical though I don’t think a lot of people know that, which also makes it a nice fit for Will. Another option, if they like the sound of the name but not the repeated J, is Gerard, and this is a weird suggestion because in American English Jared and Gerard don’t sound alike at all—I’m tapping into Kelli’s love of Irishy names in the sense that in British English and Irish English, Gerard has the stress on the first syllable like Jared (and like Gerald), so they end up sounding very similar. (Bernard is similar—we say ber-NARD, but remember that the character in Four Weddings and a Funeral [set in England] was BER-nerd.) I had an Irish friend ages ago named Gerard, and it sounded exactly like Jared when he said his name; I understand actor Gerard Butler says his name the same way. This idea of course is fraught with issues—the explanations they’d have to constantly give might become a real headache—but for the right family it could make perfect sense. And William, Aaron, and Gerard make a very sophisticated set of brothers!
Jared and Gerard made me think of Garrett, which I’m definitely interested in for Kelli and her hubs. It’s got a Celtic feel as well as a surnamey feel (given that it actually got its start as a surname, which was derived, funny enough, from Gerald or Gerard), and as such it reminds me of Nolan, Reid, Dean, and especially Becket from her list. I love the idea of brothers William, Aaron, and Garrett—so handsome!
This is the other J name I had to suggest. Jacob made me think of it, since James is the Latin form of Jacob, and as such Jake is possible as a not-unheard-of and understandable (to those who know) nickname for James. (Pairing James with a K middle name, like James Kenneth or James Kolbe, makes Jake make even more sense.) I should also mention that I’m a little hung up on Jake for them because of Jacob being on their list and Will being “desperate” for it, as well as the fact that Jake is a style match for Abby and Drew and similar in sound to Nick and Zach on their list.
Gabriel’s a style match for Abigail and Noah, and Gabe’s a similar friendly+masculine+one-syllable nickname like Will, Nick, Zach, Drew, Sam, and Jake. It’s biblical like Aaron, and Irish actor Gabriel Byrne gives it a shot of green that Kelli might like. It’s also got a little more of an obviously Catholic feel I think than the other kids’ names, which ties it in nicely with Caeli. It’s actually got a sort of similar popularity arc as Nicholas and Zachary—not as steep a rise as Zachary, not as consistent as Nicholas, but otherwise pretty similar, though perhaps a few years behind—it’s currently where Nicholas and Zachary were a few years ago (it was #22 in 2015).
Ethan was inspired by Evan on Kelli’s list of names she likes that her hubby doesn’t (sometimes similar-but-different makes all the difference!), as well as the fact that it’s biblical and a style match for Abigail, Noah, Jacob, Zachary, and Owen. It covers a lot of bases!
Brandon was listed as a style match for Jessica, and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to suggest it. It has an Irishy feel to me, like Colm, Owen, Seamus, Nolan, and Killian from Kelli’s list, because of its similarity to Brendan; it’s also a surname like Nolan, Reid, Dean, and Becket. As a surname, it calls to mind the wonderful Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility, which makes me think it’s a fantastic match for William with a Britishy feel.
Ryan was another one inspired by Jessica (a style match per the BNW) as well as the Irishy surnamey names Kelli likes. I did a spotlight on it a while back at the request of a reader to find some faith connections for it, and it’s since became a favorite of mine because of what I was able to find. I really like it with the other kids’ names.
Henry is a style match for William and Joseph per the BNW, and it’s such a sweet yet exclusively masculine name with lots of great saint connections that I had to suggest it. If they wanted a one-syllable nickname like Will, they could do Hank, which is beyond adorable on a little guy!
My last idea is Miles, for a few different reasons: it’s surnamey like Brandon and Ryan and the similar names Kelli likes; it’s one syllable (ish … depending on how you say it, it can sound like one-and-a-half syllables, which I think makes it a good match for the length of Will and the rest of the kids as well); and it’s got an ah-MAZ-ing Irish connection that I continue to be swoony about: it’s used as the Anglicization of the Old Irish masculine name Maolmhuire, which means, literally, “servant of the Virgin Mary.” A legit Marian name for a boy! I’ve also seen it possibly connected in origin to Michael, which opens up the possibility of St. Michael as a patron.
I also had a few names I considered suggesting and ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d list them here just in case: Isaac, Kenneth, Tobias. Also, Kelli’s comment about Benedict nicknamed Ben made me wonder if they might like to consider Benjamin or Bennett instead? Since she said they don’t care for Benedict, I wasn’t sure enough about Ben- names in general to include them in my official suggestions, but I couldn’t not mention Benjamin or Bennett just in case.
And those are all my ideas for Kelli and her husband! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Abby, Will, Aaron, and Jessa’s little brother? (And prayers for Kelli and the baby during tomorrow’s birth!)