Happy first day of spring! Woo!! 💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷
I shared in my interview with Jenny Uebbing that I was excited at my upcoming appearance on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast — it’s going to air tomorrow! I’ll post the link here once I have it, and in the meantime, one of the things we discussed was name ideas for Heather’s third baby — a little girl! I’m delighted to post here the consultation I did for her in anticipation of the podcast being aired, so you all can read about her name situation and weigh in with your own ideas, which she’s excited to read!
This baby girl will join big sibs:
Elizabeth Ann (“after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-Elizabeth and Ann are also both family names“)
Maximilian Leo (“after Saint Maximilian Kolbe-Leo is a family name“)
I love both of those names so much! So much faith significance in each one, and all those family names too!
“We refer to them as “Lizzie” and “Max.” What I am not sure of with this baby is if we would like to stick with the longer/older sounding name with a shorter more fun nickname. My husband isn’t as married to this idea, and feels that if we do it a third time we would feel like we had to keep it up with any other babies we have down the road.”
I do really love the balance of the long first name with the short middle name, and great nicknames are my jam. ☺
Names that Heather and her husband have considered include:
Clare (“my husband’s favorite currently-he is Irish and grew up on Clare street“)
Catherine (“maybe my favorite although we do have some friends in our parish with a Catherine. If we chose this, I would like to call her “Cate”“)
Edith (“maybe call her “Edie pronounced ee-dee?” Not sure if we could have Edith and Elizabeth or if those sound too similar?“)
Frances (“call her Francie or Frannie“)
“We both love St. Therese, but I do not love that for a first name. I also really love Catherine of Siena which is why I like Catherine.
Because our oldest daughter’s name honors my mother-in-law, as they share the middle name of Ann, we would like to find some way to honor my mother with this baby girl’s name, if possible. My mother and I share the middle name of Kay, so that is one solid possibility for a middle name for this baby.”
I loved working on this! Elizabeth Ann and Maximilian Leo are fantastic combos—I find the long first+short middle pattern really pleasing, and though I know what Heather’s husband means about feeling tied to it permanently if they name their third baby in the same way, it’s actually a pretty easy trend to continue. So I came up with some ideas that follow the trend, and those that don’t.
First I want to comment on the names on their list of those they’re considering:
Clare: I love Clare for them! It’s short, thus breaking them out of their established pattern, but it’s great with both Elizabeth and Maximilian. And the significance for Heather’s hubs is so great!
Catherine: I have a lot to say about Catherine below!
Edith: Love it! St. Edith Stein is a personal favorite, and Edie is one of THE cutest nicknames! But yes, they’ll have to consider Elizabeth and Edith … both starting with the same first letter, both ending with the same two letters. What do you all think? Deal breaker or not?
Frances: Francie and Frannie are both so darling! I love that they’re considering Frances, I’d love to see more little girls with this name.
Lydia, Maura, Rose, Zelie: All beautiful! Heather didn’t have any comment about them, so I’m assuming they’re not as “in the running” as the others, but maybe I’m wrong? I like them each for different reasons.
Clara: My inclination would be to cross Clara off the list, since Clare has personal meaning for Heather’s husband—using Clara would seem to me to lose a great opportunity.
Okay, moving along, I’d like to discuss honoring Heather’s mom. Using her middle name, Kay, is one great idea; I also I wondered what they’d think about giving the baby Heather’s mom’s initials? (Her mom’s first name is Marcia, so her initials are M.K.) This is a tactic that some families use, and the honoree feels really honored by it; others think it feels too far from the honoree’s name and therefore don’t feel as honored, so Heather and her hubs would have to decide how her mom would feel. But doing the initial thing opens up a lot of possibilities, and my favorites, based on the results of my research in the Baby Name Wizard book (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), are:
— Mary Katherine: They already have Catherine on their list, and while the Katherine spelling does seem to take it one step away from St. Catherine of Siena, Catherine and Katherine are the same name (the former is the French spelling, also used in English; the latter is the English spelling and closest to the Greek katharos [“pure”], with which the name—in both spellings—has long been associated), and Katherine can certainly honor St. Catherine of Siena (whose name was actually the Italian Catarina; Catherine is a Frenchicization/Anglicization of it). It would involve a bit of a discussion each time they told someone that Katherine was as much for St. Catherine of Siena as for Heather’s mom, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker at all. A simple, “We love St. Catherine of Siena and my mom’s middle name Kay so we went with the Katherine spelling” should suffice.
Another really nice thing about using Katherine is that Kay is considered a short form of Katherine. Certainly Kay has its own life as a standalone name, but my understanding is that it started as a diminutive/nickname/variant of Katherine. So using Katherine is not only using Heather’s mom’s middle initial, but also, in a way, her name (again, Heather would have to be sure she felt honored by this choice, if her goal was to honor her mom). And I love that Mary has the same first three letters as Marcia. So Mary Katherine really is quite close to Marcia Kay! I love Mary Katherine as a sister to Elizabeth and Maximilian as well, and there are a lot of nickname options: Mary and Mary Kate are natural ones, but they can also do just Kate, as they’d planned on if they went with Catherine as a first name. This is especially fun with Heather’s husband being Irish, because it’s not uncommon (at least in the old days) for Irish girls to be named Mary ___ and go by the double name, or just the middle. Most of my dad’s first female cousins—all from two sides of a large family who embraces their Irishness—are Mary ___, and almost all of them go by their middle names. (Read more about the Irish Marys in my latest CatholicMom article: Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.)
So they could definitely do Kate, and with her given name being Mary Katherine, that would make it a little different from the little Catherine they know. And I think Mary Katherine works really well with their thought of not doing a long+short combo this time, because Mary Katherine feels like a double name—which gives it the longer feel of Elizabeth and Maximilian—but unless they intend for it to be a double name, it’s actually a short+long—a really nice way to move away from their current pattern without seeming totally different. (I should note that even if they used Mary Catherine, knowing that Katherine is related to Kay and Catherine is the same name as Katherine, I still really like it for them.)
— Maura Karoline: Heather and her hubs already have Maura on their list (I love this beautiful Irish Mary name!), and Karoline is a name I’ve seen used with some frequency among Catholic families as a way of honoring St. John Paul II, as his birth name was Karol. Overall, it’s a smashing combo that brings in Irishness and faith along with Heather’s mom’s initials.
— Molly Katherine/Karoline: (Obviously Katherine and Karoline can be interchanged in the combos above as well—Mary Karoline and Maura Katherine are both gorgeous.) Molly is a name I thought of for this family right away for two reasons: Heather’s husband’s Irish, and I have two sisters named Elizabeth and Molly. To me, then, Elizabeth, Maximilian, and Molly go together really well!
I know some people who don’t care for Molly as a given name, as it feels too nicknamey to them—and though it has become a standalone name, it did indeed originate as a nickname for Mary—which can work in their favor here as well. A Mary K/Catherine or Mary Karoline could absolutely go by Molly—I know several people named Mary who go by Molly. And I even know a Maura who goes by Molly! I love this option for them, however it ends up happening. (I also wanted to mention that I know a Molly Therese, which is another combo that’s gorgeous, and Heather said she loves St. Therese …)
Okay! Those are my ideas for honoring Heather’s mom with initials, but I have several other ideas for them as well, which can be grouped into two categories: Long first names to go with the middle name Kay (and how amazing that they have a meaningful, three-letter middle to use, just like Ann and Leo?!), and short to middling names to break out of their pattern. All of the ideas are the results of my research into names that seem consistent with their style, as demonstrated by Elizabeth and Maximilian, as well as my own mental files.
Long first names
Zelie and Therese had me thinking of other French names they might like, and Bernadette came right to mind. St. Bernadette is wonderful, and there are some really cute nickname possibilities: Berni, Benny, Netty, Etta/Etty, and Detta. Bernadette Kay has a lovely rhythm to it.
(2) Rosemary or Rosemarie
This is only partially a new idea, since they have Rose on their list already. I have a friend from Ireland named Rosemarie, and I love that that’s the French spelling—seems to put it in a similar category as Zelie, Therese, and Bernadette to me. Rosemary is also a wonderful variant, and maybe the one most people would be familiar with. Rosemary Kay and Rosemarie Kay are both great, and Rosie, Romy, and even Rory are really sweet nicknames.
Like Mary, Margaret starts with the same first three letters of Heather’s mom’s first name, so Margaret could also be a nice option for M.K. initials. And they certainly could do the longer Margaret with a long middle name, like Katherine or Karoline or whatever, but I really like the balance of Margaret Kay. Maggie is a great nickname and has a similar feel to me as Molly, and Maisie and Daisy are both traditional nickname for Margaret, which could be really fun. Margaret and Elizabeth are also two of the three “timeless English trio” names, according to the BNW (the other is Katherine!), so they definitely go together as sisters.
Josephine is a style match for Elizabeth and Catherine according to the BNW, and can have either St. Joseph (yesterday was his feast day!) or St. Josephine Bakhita as patron—both great saints! Josie is a great nickname, and I’ve also seen Joy, Sophie, and Posy/Posey used (as well as this list from Appellation Mountain).
I mentioned Karoline above, using that spelling to fit in with Heather’s mom’s initials, but I had Caroline on my list for them for a first name from the beginning. It’s got the length of Elizabeth and Maximilian, and I love the nicknames Carrie and Callie. It might not be great with Kay though—some people love alliterative sounds and others don’t. Caroline Therese is beautiful too.
Cecilia’s a style match for Catherine and Lydia, and it’s super saintly like Elizabeth and Maximilian. Cecilia Kay is really lovely—it has sort of an Old World glamor to it, to me, and Cece is a sweet nickname.
Short to middle first names
Alice was a big hit for this family according to the BNW! It’s a style match for Edith, Frances, Rose, Clara, and Lydia! It’s a sweet vintage-y name that’s already back in revival mode. There are a bunch of saints to choose for patron — even though most of them are better known by more international variants, they’re all Alice. (One of the variants, Adelaide, would actually make a great addition to the “long first names” list above!)
Cora is a sweet little truffle of a name, and I’ve been loving it recently, ever since I heard of families using it in honor of both the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus! (Cor=heart in Latin) Cora Kay doesn’t work so well; Cora Therese is beautiful.
Like Alice, Lucy was a great style match for them, being similar to Clara, Rose, and Lydia. Lucy is one of the darlingest names I think! And familiarly saintly, like Elizabeth and Maximilian. I’ve also often thought Lucy would be a great nickname for Louisa, if they thought Louisa was more their speed.
Finally, Julia is a style match for Elizabeth, Catherine, and Lydia, and Juliet (which is technically a nickname for Julia) is a match for Clare. It’s such a sophisticated name, and while Julie/Jules are natural nicknames, I’ve also seen Jilly, which is sweet, and I also like the idea of Junie, if it was paired with an N middle name for example—Julia Noelle or something like that. I did a spotlight on Juliet here, in which I touch on the faith connections for Julia.
I also wanted to give a few minutes to thinking of three-letter names in case Heather and her hubs decide they want to stick with that pattern going forward. For girls, there’s:
Ave/Ava (like Ave Maria! And Ava’s a variant of Eve, which can also be Marian)
Bay (lovely nature name)
Day (I’ve seen this used for Servant of God Dorothy Day)
Eve/Eva (Eve can be Marian because she’s the New Eve)
Fae/Fay (sometimes used as a Faith variant)
Lia/Lea (variants of Leah; can also refer to names ending in -lia, like Julia)
Liv (Scandinavian for “life,” or a variant of Olivia or a nod to St. Oliver or Our Lady of Olives)
Mae/May (a Mary variant)
Mia (a form of Maria in several languages)
Ora (like “ora pro nobis”)
Paz (means “peace” in Spanish; could be for Our Lady of Peace)
Pia (feminine form of Pius/Pio)
Via (like the Via Dolorosa)
Zoe (St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name)
And for boys:
Cam (a river in England)
Eli (for the prophet)
Gus (for St. Augustine)
Ivo (Ivo is a variant of Yves/Ives, as in St. Yves and Burl Ives)
Jay (could refer to James/Jacob/Jason, but I’ve also seen it as a standalone name)
Jon (nice that a variant spelling fits so well into their pattern!)
Pio (for St. Pio, or could refer to any of the Sts. Pius)
Ray (for Raymond, or on its own)
Roy (can mean “king,” which could refer to Jesus)
A good way to continue the pattern without being tied in to number of letters is to use one-syllable middles like Clare, Rose, Maeve, Pierce, Carl, James—a one-syllable middle with a long first is a nice balance.
And those are my ideas! What do you all think about continuing Heather and her hubs’ current pattern of long first name+three-letter middle? What names would you suggest that would go well as a sister for Elizabeth/Lizzie and Maximilian/Max? Can you think of any other three-letter names, in case they want to continue it? Heather would love your ideas, so please jump right in!