… is helping those in need! You guys, our dear Charlotte needs help. We’ve prayed for her before as she struggles with her health issues and the hope of preserving her ability to have children one day. She has surgery scheduled for Nov. 20, but in the meantime her chronic pain is interfering with her ability to work, and though she’s cut expenses down to the bare minimum — even moving back home — her financial situation is dire, especially in light of her medical bills. One of her friends has set up a Go Fund Me for her, and though Charlotte would never want to ask anyone for help, I thought I’d post the link in case any of you feel moved and are able to help, even a little bit. And also, as always, please keep her in your prayers. Thank you all!! ❤❤❤
The consultation I had scheduled for today had to be postponed, so I’m excited to bump up this post I had scheduled for later this week!
When I worked on that post on Catholic literary names the week before last, and saw all of your great comments and suggestions, I immediately thought of a beautiful family who I follow on Instagram whose daughters have the most amazing Catholic+literary names and I’d been meaning for ages to ask the mama if I could share them on here! So I asked and she said yes and I’m delighted to share their name stories with you all today!
Meghan is a FertilityCare Practitioner teaching the Creighton Mode of NFP, and her husband is “in the editing phases of his first book (!!!) and frequently freelances for the Catholic Beer Club and Aleteia.” What a cool couple!
They have three daughters, and Meghan writes,
“The source of our inspiration for our first names thus far has largely been from literature, so far authors have been the namesake of our three girls. But as we’ve created lists before each birth they’ve spanned all aspects of literature. Aside from that, we like them all to have a little nod to our Catholic faith, but in a unique/eclectic not-so-traditional way. I’ve been told my names are Catholic hipster, but trust me — least. hipster. girl. ever. over here, full blown SAHM stuff of your childhood happening, so I don’t know how I’m doing it.”
“My husband and I are both avid readers (at least we try!) and big literature fans. Neither of us got degrees relating to the subject, but both love to write! … We never find out the gender of our babies before they are born, so while we await their arrival, we typically have a short running list of names for both a boy and a girl.
We always S T R U G G L E to think of boy names that fit in with our style … or should I say we struggle to agree on boy names, we both can come up with boy names for days, but none that the other is on board with. But the Lord has been merciful to us in that and we have only girls so far!
With this last pregnancy I was very near considering contacting you for a consult when it came to boy name ideas just in case we had one because I was panicking! Thankfully we came to an agreement — one so oddly obvious we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been decided on earlier!
As a Meghan (a very popular name at its prime) it was important to me that we tried for more unique names! …. We are both QUITE Irish and so we often find ways to hint toward our ancestry in a lot of our name choices.”
Are you all ready to see these beautiful names?! (( drumroll ))
Flannery Ellen: “She’s named after Flannery O’Connor. The name accomplished just what we wanted. Something unique, with a Catholic flavor to it — something subtle that only the most Catholic and well-read among us usually pick up on. We tend to make fast friends with priests and scholars when we introduce Flannery! Now her middle name is a little bit of a different story. First of all, I’m picky about how the first name and middle name sound together. But when it gets down to it, her middle name is after my youngest sister Ellie. But we also have some other women from my side of the family that it subtly alludes too — I have a grandma and a great-grandma both named Helen, so its kind of a nice marrying of all those lovely ladies. I always assume that Flannery may take St. Helen as a patron one day if she so chooses!”
Harper Edel: “First, I have to clarify that we have chosen a different pronunciation for ‘Edel’, we say it like it rhymes with ‘pedal’. We thought it added to the uniqueness of her name to have a different pronunciation, which was important to us since as it turned out Harper had a bit of a rise in popularity around the time she was born. But as you can guess, her first name is after Harper Lee the well loved author of To Kill a Mockingbird. And Ven. Edel Quinn for her middle name. I had to be on bed rest for three months while pregnant with Harper and I was reading a lot about this incredible Irish Missionary during that time. One day when Zach came home I just told him, “if we have a girl we have to name her after this powerhouse Irish missionary!” Seriously, she is so legit. Fearless, disciplined, selfless, and zealous! All traits I hope my girls will embody in some way!”
Willa Margaret: “She is named after Willa Cather who famously penned O Pioneers and Death Comes for an Archbishop. I also have a great great Aunt Willa who was known to be stunning and strong. My great grandmother is still living (91!) and loves when we bring little Willa to visit her — you can see the rush of nostalgia just at the mention of her name! She has a hard time remembering who everyone is, but she always remembers that there is a baby named Willa! Now the Margaret part … So, our girls were on a big Daniel Tiger kick while I was pregnant and they do a fantastic job in that show explaining how it will be when mom has a new baby and so naturally, my girls related very well to this. Maybe a little too well … Daniel Tiger’s baby sister is named Margaret in the cartoon, “Baby Margaret”. Just kind of became how the girls referred to the baby in my belly — even though we didn’t know the gender! This went on for so long and no matter what I said to try and explain that if the baby was a boy it wouldn’t be named Margaret, etc. etc. I started to just say, “If it’s a girl, maybe that can be her middle name”. Well, then while I was pregnant we drew patron saints for the year and the patron we drew for the baby was St. Margaret of Cortona … so finally after a few months of ‘maybe that will be her middle name’ I had to ask my husband if that was in fact going to be our potential daughter’s middle name!? We both just decided … Why not!? So that one just sort of happened haha! But I love it!“
Aren’t these ah-MAZ-ing names??!! Can you see why I was so taken with them, and why I wanted to share them here?? I love each one!!
I asked Meghan if she would feel comfortable sharing some of the names on their list for the future, and this is what she said:
-Emerson, for either boy or girl. We were kind of leaning toward boy even though I kind of preferred it as a girl name (but then my cousin had a baby girl and named her Emerson, so I decided to nix it for now)
– Louis, Zach LOVES Louis Lamore, but I just wasn’t so sure if it fit with the style…
– Jack Clement (I love all the hard ‘k ‘ sounds especially with our last name), After Jack London and then Clement after St. Clement but its also a family name of Zach’s. He had a cousin a few generations back who died very young from tuberculosis while working as a doctor, it just sounds so romantically like the story of many of the great saints we know and love, I often dream up what he may have been like!
– Gilbert, because G.K. Chesterton and also Anne of Green Gables
– J.D.- One of my husband’s favorite books is the Catcher in the Rye, so he was really trying to talk me into Jerome David, but I just can’t get on board with initials … or Jerome for that matter.
– Quinn and Sully, okay okay — these are more inspired by my mild obsession with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I love Quinn for a girl and Sully for a boy and I think stylistically they work with our current names. So help me find a literary tie so I can get them on the list for next time! 😉 I tried suggesting Solanus Casey, nicknamed Sully … hubby LOVES Solanus Casey — we’ll see if we ever have a boy haha!
Authors/ books we love and would love to use as inspiration:
Some of these are our most favorite books/ authors but we struggle to find a way to utilize them in a way that matches our naming style and is unique …
Little House on the Prairie (we recently just moved back to SD and are reading them with the girls)
East of Eden
Anne of Green Gables
I know there are more, but my brain and memory are failing me …
I love all of this!! I personally think Gilbert is a slam dunk for them — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think “Gilbert Blythe” upon hearing the name, so to me it fits in perfectly with the obviously literary first names their girls have, and that tie-in with G.K. Chesterton is so great! Sully for Solanus is amazing too, I love that! I don’t know of any literary connections though?
Other ideas off the top of my head include:
Wilder (b) for Little House on the Prairie (but too much “er” with Harper?)
Eden (g) for East of Eden (similar in appearance to Edel, but okay since one is a middle name and one might be a first name?)
Blythe (g) for Anne of Green Gables (but this would knock Gilbert out of contention)
Caspian (b) for C.S. Lewis, loooove!
I looked through the comments you all left on the Catholic lit post and thought these might be good (though I haven’t read the books they’re from yet):
Brede (for In This House of Brede, which wasn’t on Meghan’s list but I like Brede! Reminds me of Bridey from Brideshead Revisited, and it’s said like the Irish name Bríd)
Ransom (from C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy)
And I did a quick search on the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site for names that have a similar style to Flannery, Harper, and Willa, and I really liked these (though they’re not all related to the books/authors Meghan said they like):
Darcy (Mr. Darcy! But I like it better for a girl)
Scarlett (she’s got that Irish thing going on too!)
Jules (Jules Verne)
Atticus (too much with Harper?)
Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Bennet (the Bennet sisters)
Tennyson (such a cool name!)
Gulliver (I always thought Gulliver and Tennyson would make a cool pair of brothers)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this family spotlight! Thank you to Meghan for sharing all of this with us! If you have any name ideas for this family, please leave them in the comments, and be sure to hop on over to Meghan’s Instagram to catch a peek of her little lovelies!
I profiled Katheryn and her beautiful family and her amazing taste in names in this post, and then was thrilled to post a birth announcement for her youngest son, and today I’m so excited to post a birth announcement for her youngest daughter, the incredibly named … Zephyr Wisdom Clove!
As with all her kiddos’ names, little Zephyr’s name is full of meaning. Katheryn writes,
“She is named after Mary Seat of Wisdom and also after the Holy Spirit, Who played a big role in bringing us together. Zephyr means wind which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and then Wisdom is also the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit. Clove is her birth family connection name, and all our girls also have a botanical name so it is in keeping with that theme as well and is after St. Clovis. Zephyr is also after St. Zephyrine and the prophet Zephaniah, specifically this quote; “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17“
I have always loved the way Katheryn and her husband knit together meanings into one gorgeous name combination, and this little one’s name is no different. Amazing!
Congratulations to Katheryn and her hubs and big sibs:
Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne
Gethsemane Juniper Anne
Bosco Willis Yard
Hyacinth Clemency Veil
à Kempis Exodus Praise (“Exodus”)
And happy birthday Baby Zephyr!!
Zephyr Wisdom Clove and her big brothers and sisters ❤
I have a new post up at Nameberry today! Some Surprising Surnames to Consider: From Ames to Wilkie.
I had a lot of fun putting together this post — as you’ll read, it was the result of research I spent last winter doing, and I have a bunch more topics to write about from that same research! The book I refer to, A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, is a treasure trove of interesting tidbits about surnames used in England over the last ten centuries (I wrote a little about it here).
I’m interested to hear what you think about the post, and whether you would consider or have considered any of the surnames as first names for your own children!
Rebecca and her husband are expecting their fourth baby on earth — their third girl! This little lady joins big sibs:
Sophia Kathryn (“Holy Wisdom and Catherine of Siena as well as a nod to my sister Kathryn“)
Chloe Patricia (“first green plant of spring, Saint Patrick, and her great grandmother is Patricia“)
Theodore Robert “Theo” (“God’s gift, Robert Bellarmine, and my dad is Robert“)
Jude Raphael (with Jesus) (“we prayed a novena for the intercession of Saint Jude when we realized we might lose him, and Raphael ‘God heals’“)
Albert Alphonsus (with Jesus) (“2 saints we love“)
Rebecca was sure to note that their miscarried babies were given names of saints they love, but they “would be less likely to name children who join us on this Earth after birth” with those names.
I love Sophia, Chloe, and Theo(dore) together, such a great group of names — sweet and sophisticated at the same time.
“We would sort of like to stick with the Greek theme we’ve stumbled into and have a few names we do like but none that we’re fully attached to. Saints/biblical names are a plus but not essential as first names. Our list includes Phoebe, Daphne, Elia, Eliana, and to a lesser degree Emma and Olivia. I’m hoping for Margaret (Mary, Margaret of Scotland, my mom’s middle name) or Rose (saint Rose of Lima and I just love it but [my hubs] doesn’t as a first name) for a middle name.”
Alrighty, so first, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names Rebecca and her hubs are considering:
— I like both Phoebe and Daphne, they’re interesting picks and not terribly common
— Elia and Eliana are both lovely, and they made me think of Elena and Eleni—both are Greek forms of Helen, and I know a Greek family who has a little Eleni, it’s such a sweet name
— Emma and Olivia are great names, and very popular these days because of it. If popularity bothers them, the similar-but-longer Emmeline was listed as a style match for Theodore in the Baby Name Wizard (which, as you all know, I always consult when I start a consultation, as it lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). I also found Emmeleia on the Greek Name Days site — such a pretty name! (That web site is such a great resource — I would definitely recommend taking a look through it)
As for new ideas, these are based on my research in the BNW (including its listing of Greek names in the back of the book) as well as a search through behindthename.com for Greek girl names and the list provided on Nameberry of Greek names, all of which resulted in some good ideas of Greek origin, but I also included some non-Greek names that I thought they might also like:
(1) Evangeline or Eva
I really like Evangeline for this family. Though it’s totally not a big deal at all, I like that Sophia, Chloe, and Evangeline all have different endings, and I like that Evangeline is long like Theodore. I also LOVE the sweet nickname Evie! I’ve also seen Lina used as a nickname for it. If they prefer something shorter, Eva is the Greek version of Eve, and is quite lovely itself.
(2) Georgia, Georgiana
I was surprised by Georgia, as I wouldn’t have thought of it as a Greek name, but indeed it’s categorized as such — not only was it included in the lists of Greek names I looked at, but the BNW also says that it’s “more common in England and Greece than in the U.S.” It also caught my eye because it’s a style match for Theodore! I also love the longer Georgiana.
(3) Anastasia or Stasia
Anastasia is such a gorgeous name that, like Evangeline, has a nice length. But if they thought it was too long, I love both Ana and Stasia as nicknames, and I love Stasia as a given name on its own as well. (I don’t know if Rebecca and her hubs care about repeating initials though?)
(4) Anna or Annabel(le)
Speaking of Ana, what about Anna? I love Anna, and it’s got that pan-European usage that Sophia has, which is so great, and it’s biblical like Chloe and has Greek usage like all of them, including Theodore. But actually, Annabel(le) was my first thought for them Ann-wise after Anastasia — it was listed as a style match for both Theo and Olivia in the BNW, which I thought was pretty amazing (though it loses the Greek).
A reader emailed just the other day to tell me of the increase she’s been seeing in the number of little girls named Irene. Those of you who follow Simcha Fisher know that she also has a little Irene. It’s Greek for peace, and though it’s been more of an “old lady” name until recently, those names are coming back!
Lucy’s another that isn’t Greek, but it is a style match for Theo and Emma and it has that sweetness that I get from their other kiddos’ names, I love it!
I love Lydia for this little girl!! It’s Greek, and biblical like Sophia and Chloe, and a style match for some names that also match up with Theo!
(8) Thais or Tessa
Thais is a bit out there as a suggestion, but it’s one of my very favorite husband-would-never-agree names! When I saw it on one of the Greek lists, I had to include it. Pronunciation could be an issue — those familiar with the opera, or from a non-English-speaking country, will be familiar with the pronunciation tie-EES (which is made more obvious if you use the diaresis: Thaïs); I’ve seen TAY-iss, TACE, and THAY-iss as other pronunciations that people use and go by. (I did a spotlight on Thais here.) Tessa is similar but much easier, and though it was listed on Nameberry’s Greek list, it isn’t actually Greek or of Greek origin as far as I can tell. But I love Tessa as a sister to Sophia, Chloe, and Theo (the full T(h)eresa is lovely too! And Tessa is a great nickname, if they prefer that route).
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Sophia, Chloe, and Theo(dore)?
Deciding to be an English major in college was a no brainer for this lifelong bookworm and writer — I love good writing and I love a good story, regardless of genre.
That said, more recently (in the past few years) I’ve been really interested in figuring out what makes good Catholic fiction. I’ve read some in the past that was more “Catholic” than “good” — I really don’t like stories that hit you over the head with rosaries and Mass while the story and characters feel too good to be true and/or not well written. (Full disclosure: my own attempts at fiction writing have tended toward this, so one of my reasons for trying to figure all this out is so that I can be a better writer myself.) I’d love to hear what you all know about this topic! Also, book recommendations! (The authors don’t have to be Catholic, nor the stories explicitly so, as long as the themes and/or any presentations of the faith reveal a real understanding and accurate representation of the the things we know to be true, as well as good vs. evil. Do you think that’s a fair definition?)
Anyway, I’m listing here a bunch of the books I’ve read in my quest to define “good Catholic fiction,” along with names associated with the books and authors that might be perfect for literary-minded parents who’d like a nod to the faith as well (this is by no means a comprehensive list, neither the titles nor the authors nor the characters’ names — please leave your additions in the comments! I’m really just listing the names I remember and/or the ones that stuck out at me).
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
- Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte, Julia Flyte, Cordelia Flyte, as well’s as Waugh’s own first name — what do you think of Evelyn for a boy? Would you do it? Also, I’ve always found it hilarious that his first wife’s name was Evelyn as well!
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
- Henry Miles and Sarah Miles (both first and last names), Maurice Bendrix, Graham
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (the entire thing in one volume is FREE on Kindle today! Follow that link!) (I also have to admit — I had a hard time getting through the books and vastly preferred the movies … 😔)
- So! Many! Names! Frodo, Meriadoc/Merry, Peregrin/Pippin, Sam(wise), Rosie, Elanor, Arwen, Aragorn, Strider, the Riders of Rohan, Eowyn, Galadriel (I saw a birth announcement for a Galadriel years ago and thought it was SO cool!), and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien — any of those
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (I know, he wasn’t Catholic and the books aren’t Catholic but then again, they are, aren’t they?)
- Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, Digory Kirke, Eustace (do any of you find this usable?), Jill, Gael, Rilian, I even think Nikabrik could be a super cute nickname for a little Nicholas. ☺ Also Clive and Lewis, for the author himself
The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz (I think this is technically horror, which has *never* been my cup of tea, but I LOVED these books — I felt like their representation of “reality,” as we know it, with the thin veil that separates, was spot on)
- Odd Thomas, Stormy Llewellyn (Bronwen), Ozzie, Annamaria … I can’t remember others
- I really really want to like Chesterton, I know he’s amazing. Maybe his fiction just isn’t my thing? (Though I’ve enjoyed the BBC Father Brown recently.) I like Gilbert, Keith, and Chesterton as names, and I’ve seen parents just use his initials (a friend planned on Gemma Katharine if she’d had a girl — G.K. initials — and our reader JoAnna’s son is Gabriel Keith — for other reasons — but she and her hubs like the nod to Chesterton with his initials as well)
The Fairy Tale Novels by Regina Doman (6 books)
- A lot of great names, like Rose and Blanche Brier, Arthur/Bear, Benedict/Fish, Kateri, Alex, the twelve daughters of The Midnight Dancers (I can’t remember them all! There’s Rachel, Priscilla/Prisca, Deborah/Debbie, Miriam I think?, Tammy, Linette, Cheryl … [two families with six daughters each combine through the parents’ second marriage, hence the difference in name style])
Catholic Philosopher Chick Series by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman (2 books)
- Catelynn/Cate Frank, Portia, Danielle/Dani, Felicity, Sean, Hector/Che, Nathaniel/Nat, Bartholomew/Bart, Justin, Sr. Jane Frances
I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner (I just finished this today and am excited to read the three other books in the series — I was blown away by how good this was)
- Margaret/Margo, Blake/Bane, Jonathan/Jon, Jane, Kyle, Peter, Mark
I have not yet read anything by Flannery O’Connor, which I intend to remedy soon. Also Oscar Wilde? Right? Who else? Do you know of any more current books, like the last three I listed here? Are there any names you chose for your baby/ies specifically because of their Catholic lit connection?
Amazon affiliate links used in this post.
My October column is up over at CatholicMom.com! Naming After Fr. Solanus Casey.
I’d love to know if you have additional ideas! Also if you’re going to the Beatification Mass in Detroit next month! (I likely won’t be able to, though my parents and my sister will be there!)
(I’d said last month that my topic this month would be “religious name changes for men,” but I wasn’t able to pull my research together in time. Hopefully next month!)
Today’s consultation is for Carolyn, who you’ll know from her blog Svellerella (+Instagram) and her gorgeous hand-drawn-illustrations-and-lettering Etsy shop Brass & Mint Co. (+Instagram)! (Find her on Facebook too!) She was also on Haley and Christy’s podcast Fountain of Carrots last week talking about mothering her little boy with special needs — as she said, “They asked me about what it was like going through an Autism diagnosis and parenting a kid with autism, getting to church with Emmett’s challenges, and how I “do it all” (spoiler: I don’t.).” Such a beautiful, loving, pro-life mama witness!
Carolyn and her husband Craig are now expecting their fifth baby — fifth boy! I loooooove the names they’ve chosen so far:
Lexington Anthony (“We picked Lexington because we liked the phonetics, and the originality of it. At that time, neither of us cared about name meanings, and while we still love his name, it’s a little out of our scope of interest towards “originality” these days. Anthony was chosen for St. Anthony of Padua. And upon thinking about it later and knowing the story of St. Anthony’s ability to speak eloquently, it is a funny spiritual accident that we chose the first name Lexington — lexicon.”)
Emmett James (“We love the old timey feel of the name Emmett. And James was our Biblical/Christian pick.”)
Collin John Paul (“Honestly, It was the only name we agreed on. John Paul is after my patron saint JPII.”)
Jude Benedict (“We absolutely love the name Jude. It’s older, not overly popular, and while it breaks our streak of multiple syllable first names, it sounds strong to us. St. Benedict is my husband’s patron saint, and we love Benedict XVI.”)
What an interesting bunch of names! You all know I love bold naming, so seeing Lexington in the mix is so fun, and I love her other boys’ names as well.
Names they’re considering for this next little guy include:
Ambrose (“he’s due near St. Ambrose’s feast day … the only problem is that neither of us care for the double S sound when said with our last name Svellinger“)
Theodore (“we love Teddy, don’t love Theo“)
Gabriel (“This one is my top pick currently“)
And Carolyn explains,
“We tend to be more creative with first names and choose a Christian based middle name [though note that she said above that Lexington is “a little out of our scope of interest towards ‘originality’ these days”] … Generally, neither of us care for nicknames, with the exception of Theodore. I’m a nerd and pay close attention to the phonetics of a name. For example, I don’t like if a name begins with a sound that starts from the back of the throat and drags with another sound from the same place: the sound that C + L makes when said together is an example. I know, it’s silly. Cluuhhh sounds and feels like I’m hawking a loogie … can’t handle it. Craig thinks I’m ridiculous.”
“Last bit of info — I L O V E British literature and often think of Shakespeare, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Tolkien, and yes, Rowling — I adore nearly everything that comes from Brit lit and I’d love to draw from something there.”
My mind started clicking as soon as I read all this! I was particularly interested by the fact that Carolyn said Lexington is more unusual than where her and her husband’s current taste is — Emmett, Collin, and Jude really do have a similar feel to me, it’s pretty clear they backed off of really out-there names. That said, as you all know I really love coming up with “bridge” names that connect an outlier sibling name with the others, so I’d really love to come up with an idea that might loop Lexington back in while still fitting with their other boys’ names. I definitely focused on that to a good extent when looking for names that I thought Carolyn and Craig might like.
Backing up a bit for a minute, I wanted to comment on the names they already have on their list for their new little boy:
— Ambrose: We love Ambrose too! If they decide to use it, despite it ending in S and their last name beginning with S, one of its big benefits I think is that it swings their whole set back toward the more unusual.
— Dominic: One of my very favorites! I definitely think it fits well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.
— Edmund: Narnia! St. Edmund Campion! Such a great name. And Teddy is a traditional nickname for all the Ed- names, so they could totally do Edmund nicked Teddy! I also love the idea of Campion for them — if they could move away from Teddy and Narnia, Campion seems more like Lexington’s style while still being super saintly. And, since Carolyn pointed out the similarity between Lexington and “lexicon,” she might also like to know that Campion means “champion”!
— Theodore: I like its length with Lexington, and it too seems a great fit with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. Teddy’s super cute too. In the interest of shifting a bit towards Lexington’s style (which I’m thinking of variously as “unusual,” “place name,” and “surname-y”), I wonder what they’d think of the more unusual Thaddeus? Teddy can be a nickname for Thaddeus (I know a grown-up Thaddeus who goes by Ted), and Taddy is a similar-but-different nickname for it as well. I also wondered if they’d be interested in getting Teddy as a nickname from mashing up a first+middle combo? I was thinking something like Tolkien Edmund, for example. Too weird? Or Titus Edmund (Titus is a Shakespeare name)?
— Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names, I love seeing it here on Carolyn’s list, and as much as I love the faith connection, I also love that it’s got good use in Ireland (actor Gabriel Byrne, for one, love him!), which is not dissimilar from her Brit lit love. Great name! I think it goes really well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.
Carolyn’s “C+L” issue made me laugh! Also that her hubs thinks it’s ridiculous! We all have our quirks when it comes to naming, and I’m always so interested to hear other people’s. I purposely stayed away from suggesting Clive for them because of this. 😊
I also love names from British literature! So when I was thinking of names to suggest, I looked up all the male names from Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Charles Dickens (thank you internet!) (searches for Chesterton’s characters didn’t result in any other than Fr. Brown, but neither Father nor Brown seemed like their style 😉), as well as place names mentioned in those works. I wrote down all the ones that I thought might possibly fit their style, then cross-checked that list against my research in the Baby Name Wizard (you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). Because Lexington isn’t listed in the BNW, I used Lennox as a stand-in there, and then looked Lexington up in the Name Matchmaker tool on the BNW web site — it showed a bunch of names as being similar to Lexington that I already had on my list for them!
So here are my ideas, in no particular order:
(1) Garrick or Oliver
My original idea here was Garrick, as in Harry Potter character Garrick Ollivander (and actually, if Carolyn hadn’t said that Lexington was farther out than they would currently like, I’d probably be pushing Ollivander on them! I love it! I think it totally fits with Lexington in length and feel, and the nickname Ollie is so well matched with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. But then, they don’t like nicknames either …). But then I thought maybe Oliver would be good! There’s Oliver Twist and St. Oliver Plunket, who’s amazing, and Oliver totally fits with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.
I definitely think Caspian can hang with Emmett, Collin, and Jude, and its unusual-ness pulls in Lexington a bit more. I also love that that both Lexington and Caspian are place names (Caspian Sea), and of course Caspian is a Narnia name!
(3) Bartlett (or Bartholomew?) (or Bates?)
One of Great Expectations’ Pip’s brothers was named Bartholomew, and I thought that I like Bartholomew for them — it’s got that nice length that Lexington has. Then I was thinking about how the surname Bartlett is derived from Bartholomew, and decided I love Bartlett even more for them! I love it with all their boys’ names, and Bartlett’s Buildings is where Lucy Steele usually stayed when she was in London (Sense and Sensibility), so cool! But then, are Emmett and Bartlett too similar? (I actually had Garrett included in my first suggestion, with Garrick, and ended up deleting it because I thought Emmett and Garrett were probably too similar.) So maybe then the full Bartholomew is a better suggestion. Or maybe Bates? Bates is another surname derived from Bartholomew, which could also work — would Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey count as a Brit Lit character?? But Bates runs into their last name … Gah!
This is another more Lexington-esque name due to uniqueness, but it’s got so many cool literary connections, and I really love the sound of it, so I had to include it! There’s Cedric Diggory from HP, of course, and I’ve read that he was actually given the last name Diggory as a nod to Professor Digory Kirke from the Narnia Chronicles, which is another great reference. But the first time I ever heard the name was in high school when I read Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native — one of the main characters is Diggory Venn. (Also, I’m a huge nicknamer, so I can’t help but say that Dig is a really cool nickname and the name of one of the good guys in the current TV series Arrow).
My last idea is Sebastian. It’s a Shakespeare name and a saint’s name; it’s long like Lexington and I think it also fits in well with their other boys. Some people don’t like alliteration, but I tend to, and Sebastian Svellinger sounds smashing imo. 😊
While those are my “official” suggestions, I did have a few others I considered when trying to whittle down the list, which I thought I’d include here just in case they’re helpful: Austen, Augustine (Austen’s actually a medieval variant of Augustine!), Chesterton (could be cute?), Orlando (Shakespeare and place name), Duncan (hmm … maybe I should have included this on my official list), Kingsley (Kingston was a style match for Lennox, which made me think of HP character Kingsley Shacklebolt), Quentin or Quinlan (for a fifth baby!), Jasper (a style match for Emmett and Jude), Brandon (I looooove Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility), Abel (two different Dickens characters named Abel), and Rider/Ryder (the former for the Riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings; the latter for Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited).
In looking back over my ideas, I feel like maybe I focused too much on connecting with Lexington, which is totally me inserting myself into Carolyn and Craig’s taste, which I really try not to do! (Not too much anyway!) So I hope that this was at least a little helpful!
What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lexington, Emmett, Collin, and Jude?
I really wanted to post a name spotlight today, and could not for the life of me think of a name to spotlight! I have a running list of names I’d like to feature, but I can’t put my hand on it at the moment (and if any of you are waiting for one that I’ve promised, maybe shoot me an email to remind me! So sorry!). So I asked my oldest, who I had to pick up early from school because he wasn’t feeling well, what some of his favorite names are, and was surprised that Callixtus was in the mix! So that’s today’s name!
My son was like, “I’m not sure you’ve heard of this name,” and I was like, “Do you even know me, boy?!”, but beyond being a collector of Catholic names (although I admit I’ve been surprised a time or two by new-to-me names), I knew a friar/professor in college with the variant Callistus (his religious name), and I’ve actually given it some thought, mostly because of the nickname Cal, which I love (the friar went by Fr. Cal).
Behind the Name gives Callixtus as a variant of Callistus, “the spelling perhaps influenced by Latin calix ‘wine cup.'” Callistus is from the Greek Kallistos, meaning “most beautiful,” and the feminine name Callista is from the same. I just said to my son, “Callixtus is from the Greek for ‘most beautiful'” and he said, “Oh! I thought it came from ‘chalice.'” What a smartie! Our “chalice” comes from “calix,” so he really did know more about the name than I did!
There are a bunch of Sts. Callistus, including two Popes (Pope St. Callistus I and Pope St. Callistus II), and funny enough, when I searched CatholicSaints.info for Callixtus, only Pope St. Callistus I comes up — he’s got an interesting story. I kind of like the X spelling — X is a hot letter right now, and I really do like the connection to “chalice.” I also looked up Calix because I thought I’d remembered seeing that name on a child before, and it does seem to be mostly given as a short form of Callixtus, though a calyx is also the “chalice-shaped” part of a flower. I’m loving all these connections to the chalice! Callixtus is such a meaningful name!
What do you think of Callixtus (or Callistus)? Would you name a boy so, or have you? What nickname would you tend toward (Cal or Calix), or would you use a different one?
I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!
Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:
Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)
Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)
John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)
Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)
Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)
Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)
Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)
Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.
“I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)
Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.
Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”
I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.
When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:
- A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
- A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
- An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.
Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.
Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.
One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.
(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.
(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!
(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace! There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!
Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.
And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?