Catholicky Catholic boy names

A couple of weeks ago I posted my CatholicMom article for April in which I list the girl names I think are unmistakably Catholic (i.e., when people hear the name, they usually know right away that the child is Catholic), as well as those that are super duper Catholic but might not translate immediately that way due to other associations.

I’ve been trying to put together a similar list for boys — I’ve had my notebook open on the table all week, ready for me to jot down my ideas — but I feel like I’m falling short! Like my mind isn’t focusing the way I want it to! So you all definitely have to add your ideas in the comments.

This is what I have for obviously Catholic boy names (audience: USA broadly; northeast specifically [because that’s where I am and that’s what I know, but I’d love to hear all about your experiences]):

John Paul
Benedict
Francis, Francisco, Francesco
Anselm
Ambrose
Ignatius
Juan Diego
Rosario
Patrick
Dominic
Stanislaus

And these are names that ARE very, traditionally Catholic, but aren’t as obvious to as many people as the above names because they have decent usage in other areas:

Gabriel
Jude
Xavier (this one I wavered on … it might be better placed in the above list)
Augustine (mostly because there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s)
Clement
Michael
Joseph
Thomas
The other apostles’ names (and really, all the biblical names)

Some I thought of including in one list or the other but decided not to:

Joachim (most people don’t know what this name even is!)
Tiber (ditto)
Polycarp (same)
Tarcisius (same)
Athanasius (I almost included this on one of the other two lists …
thoughts?)

I feel like I’m missing a bunch of obvious ones and it’s driving me nuts! Help me out!

48 thoughts on “Catholicky Catholic boy names

  1. Felix.

    I had two patrons at my old job (librarian) with sons named Felix. One was a twin (brother Thomas), the other was a singleton. The singleton was definitely Catholic; the family attends a parish that I sometimes visit. Not so sure about the twins…but when I heard their names, I was wondering if they were Catholic.

    I’m in CT, if that means anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you missing Aloysius?

    I believe I have a fairly distant cousin Joachim from a Protestant branch of the family. More of a heritage pick, I think (his mom also has a very German name).

    Speaking as a Protestant, Francis doesn’t strike me as especially Catholic unless he was born in the last couple years. Ditto regarding Michael…they’re everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blaise, Urban, Clement, Pius, anything related to Mary/Maria

    And for what it’s worth I don’t think I’d include Francis or Patrick on that list. At least in my experience, I think both are relatively popular outside Catholicism. But maybe that’s regional!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes! We used one of the names of the Apostles for our son. My husband’s cousin asked, “What is his name again? Oh right. I knew it was something SUPER Catholicky.” I laughed a little just because I see it as a Catholic name but not one that is super catholicky because it seems like a common name outside of the Church as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like above commentors, I would add Aloysius, Fulton, Isidore and Thaddeus. Would also suggest Simon, Kolbe, Elias, Simeon, Florian, Bernard and Maurice.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My mother had a classmate called Aquilinus Aloysius, with a very unfortunate last name and an even worse nickname. I assume he was Catholic. How could he be anything else?

    Likewise, I have encountered a few men named Pius. All Catholic, all born around the time there was a Pope called Pius.

    My dad just decided to join the Catholic Church and took the name Benedict as his confirmation name. Unmistakably Catholic.

    Francis Xavier is Catholic even if Francis alone might not be (he probably is. My uncle is a Catholic Francis.) Anything in combination with Xavier is probably Catholic.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I got you :).

    Here are some names friends of mine picked:

    Campion (bonus: you can nickname him pio!)
    Kolbe
    Pier
    Walter
    Giorgio
    Cyprian
    Caspar
    Simeon
    Rafael
    Giuseppe
    Bosco
    Fyodor (“Fyo”)
    Ignatius (“Nate”)
    Louis (I can’t think of any non-Catholics who use this name now. I mean, there might be some…)
    Demetrius
    Ambrose
    Augustine (pronouncing this like the saint and not the city in FL is a huge indicator)
    Linus

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sebastian and Tobias are usually Catholic, at least in my area. Anthony too.

    I would second Kolbe, Ignatius, Xavier, and John Paul. But most Catholic boy names are usually only obviously Catholic in clusters, especially when it is a co-ed cluster. I was just enjoying the Catholic flair of the names in my kids’ catechesis class, but individually most of the names weren’t FOR SURE Catholic. As a group, there could be no mistaking it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A lot of pope names like Adrian, Celestine, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cyprian, Benedict, etc. are also very Catholic sounding.

    I’m really liking the name Cassian, and if I heard someone use it, I’d think that they are Catholic and probably ask them about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I definitely thought of Augustine first!! There was a baby visiting my office the other day (I work at a Catholic media company) and his name was Augustine!

    It’s pretty common but I also find Peter very Catholic! Also Stephen. If I met a little Peter or Stephen I would assume their parents were Catholic. Maybe because they’re just not as common for little boys now. (Maybe the catholic-ness of names changes while trends change–perhaps because Catholic names kinda stay the same, but the general population uses them more or less).

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t think I’d assume that! I know of two if not more totally secular (no religion at all) families with little Peters. Surprisingly, Peter is a popular name among Jewish families too.

      As for Stephen, as the formal name for Steve, I’m guessing a lot more Protestant and secular people are named Stephen than you might guess!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Anselm
    Alphons / Alphonsus
    Bartholomew
    Damien
    Fabian
    Hilary
    John Baptist (French : Jean-Baptiste)
    Lawrence
    Martin
    Nicodemus
    Philip
    Simon
    Valentine
    Vincent
    Vitus

    Liked by 1 person

    • My son is Vincent and I have been told by people that no one but a Catholic would use Vincent. I think it’s use in Italian and Irish families is where the reputation comes from.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve seen the roster at the local Catholic school (North Dakota) and there really aren’t any differences between them and the public school. Catholic parents here tend towards trendier names like Jaden, Braden, Kaden. There might be a few more Johns, Anthonys and Dominics on the roster than would normally be expected.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m in the Boston area, and Barnabas came to mind. Also Damian, and anything really ethnic (which here means Irish, Italian, or Portuguese) – Giacomo, Anthony, Sean, Seamus, Joao, Manuel. And it also can depend on siblings – a little Thomas might not mean much, but if his brother is Peter? Catholic! And I’m not sure how this fits in, but anything “double” – John-Patrick, James Michael (which I have). I saw a mom at a playground with 5 little boys and she yelled “James Patrick!” – my immediate thought was “Catholic!” 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Definitely Thaddeus and Bartholomew, as mentioned. What about Peregrine? Jerome, definitely.

    An earlier poster mentioned the fact that these names have more Catholic oomph in groups, which I think is true. If I met a Dominic, especially one under about 5, I wouldn’t know for sure if he was Catholic. But if his brothers are Vincent, Anthony, Francis, and Xavier, then I would have no doubt. I think a lot of biblical names are kind of generic Christian–like, I wouldn’t think Michael is a specifically Catholic name. But I do think Protestants shy away from Peter, perhaps for obvious reasons, so that might be more in the Catholic column.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would only say Pergrine has Catholic feel if he has siblings that are similar in the Catholic sense because Pergrine could also be named after Lord of The Rings.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know about Thaddeus & Bartholomew. Thaddeus Stevens (civil war era) was a Baptist. I think lots of people today would be drawn to Thaddeus as a throwback name. Bart Simpson is a famous non-Catholic Bartholomew. I know, a fictional character, but proof that the name doesn’t ring “Catholicky Catholic” to the general public.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The only name a non-Catholic person has ever said to me sounded “explicitly Catholic” (“too Catholic for me” were her exact words) was Clement.

    I agree with Ambrose, Anselm, and Ignatius, too.

    But anything biblical, while of course being *truly* Catholic, isn’t going to seem overtly Catholic to the general public because those names are used by other Christians and just secular folks, too. I went to college with a Zechariah who was totally secular, not raised in a religious home at all. His brother’s name, if I recall correctly, was Zeke or Zeb (either of which could’ve been short for biblical names)! The parents were just looking for interesting choices, I guess!

    Michael was the #1 boys’ name in the US for so long, and is still being used…I don’t think you can make any calls there on Catholic-ness.

    Boys’ names are just hard to pin down! Maybe it’s because there’s a smaller list of really commonly-used boys’ names or something.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I heard Frank McCourt on NPR years ago (like, almost 30…) saying that when he was growing up in Ireland, you had to be able to tell if someone was Catholic or Protestant by their name. I remember him listing a couple that were definitely Catholic (I wish I could remember what they were!), and then he said Isabel was always Protestant, and that Patrick was one that could go either way and you had to be careful about anyone named Patrick. I’ll never forget that because it both surprised AND seemed obvious to my 11- or 12-year-old self.

    Liked by 1 person

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