Spotlight on: Stanley and Stanislaus

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!! Today’s the last day of a novena to St. Anne I’ve been praying, in which I included all of your intentions; your children both living and deceased; those of you who are hoping for babies and those of you struggling with your motherhood; and in thanks for all of you. ❤ Be sure to check in again on Friday — I’ll have a special Black Friday gift for you all!!

Meghan asked for a spotlight on Stanley in light of the recent beatification of Bl. Stanley Rother, and Natalie had previously mentioned considering Stanley because of that same Blessed, and Annie said she *couldn’t wait* for this spotlight, and I heard Bl. Stanley mentioned quite a bit in the press for Bl. Solanus’ beatification this past weekend including in this article (in which my sister is also mentioned! Nbd), so! I think we need a Stanley spotlight!

I’m coupling it with Stanislaus because of their shared first four letters and nickname; because Stanislaus is another name and holy man I’ve had on my mind for a while because of the JP2 story included in this post; and because Stanley has been used as an anglicization of Stanislaus/Stanislaw (but they’re actually two totally separate names).

First, Stanley: from an Old English surname meaning “stone clearing” (according to behindthename). According to the SSA it was a top 100 name from 1900 until 1960, peaking at no. 34 in 1915, 1916, and 1917. I did some brief research into what might have inspired that peak, and found this comment on this post:

Stanley was extremely popular among Polish-Americans at the turn of the century. It was used as an Anglicization for Stanislaw. In fact, it was so common among them, that some areas refered to any Polish guy as Stan or Stanley.”

I looked for events in 1914 that might have contributed to the first year of the Stanley peak of popularity and found the 1914 naval Battle of the Falkland Islands that involved its capital, Stanley, and the 1914 Stanley Cup Finals, which is described as “the first officially sanctioned series for the Stanley Cup between” the champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association. I don’t know enough about either historical battles or hockey to know if either/both of these events might have really inspired the peak, though. Do any of you?

One of the interesting things about Stanley is that, until Bl. Stanley, it wasn’t a holy name — not the kind of name Catholic parents might have considered (unless it was a family name, or a nod to Stanislaus, etc.). It reminds me of this sentence from this post by a Canon Lawyer on whether today’s Catholic children need to be given saints’ names:

Perhaps if we all raise our children as committed Catholics, names like ‘Ashley’and ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Curtis’ and ‘Todd’ may some day in the future indeed be the names of saints.”

And now Stanley! (It’s important to note that his middle name was Francis, which satisfied the then-requirement for a Christian name; this article about him noted, “When he arrived at the mission, the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the village took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.” So if Stanley isn’t your style but you love Bl. Stanley, Francis is a good alternative. Or Rother, if you prefer more unusual names? I’ve heard RO-ther, is that how you say it? Or RAW-ther?)

Now for Stanislaus: “Slavic stan ‘to stand, to hold, to become’ + Slavic sława, slava ‘glory, fame'” (according to the DMNES), and also known in variants Stanislav, Stanislaw, and Stanislas. Besides the St. Stanislaus of the JP2 story I linked to above (St. Stanislaus of Cracow, patron saint of Poland), another one that I love is St. Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, also known as Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA (they call him Father Founder) who was canonized in 2016. I’ve also seen Kostka used as a name in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. There are a few other holy men with this name, and I even included Stanislaus in my CatholicMom article Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names.

Whether Stanley or Stanislaus, Stan is an easy, natural nickname. It’s funny too, because before I’d ever heard of Bl. Stanley or had Stanley/Stanislaus on my radar anywhere, my husband told me he kind of likes the nickname Stan! At first I was like Stan?? But I’ve been thinking about it, and I can totally see it! Stan is a familiar, friendly nickname — easy to say and spell and with that old-man feel that’s currently so appealing. In fact, when I was researching this name, I saw a couple different places online where people likened Stan to Max and Gus, so clearly it’s the next Big Thing. Like Max and Gus, it also has usage as a given name on its own — Stan was a top 1000 name from 1933 to 1973. If Stan isn’t your thing, there are other nicknames that are traditional to Stanislaus that are kind of cool, like  Stas and Stane (I’m assuming it’s not actually said to rhyme with rain — Forvo has the Czech pronunciation more like “stah-NEH” — but rhymes-with-rain is do-able here in America I think). (I might advise American parents to stay away from the traditional Stanko though).

Stan- has some pop culture references that may or may not be interesting to parents, like Stan Lee (stealth way to name for a Blessed AND your comic book obsession!) and Stannis on Game of Thrones (which is a [nick]/name I would find SO COOL if it wasn’t for GoT), and the Stanley Cup mentioned above (holy+hockey!). I’ve always been interested in the fact that Obama’s mom’s given name is Stanley, and by her name story as presented on Wikipedia: “According to [her], she was named after her father because he wanted a son, though her relatives doubt this story and her maternal uncle recalled that her mother named Dunham after her favorite actress Bette Davis’ character in the film In This Our Life because she thought Stanley, as a girl’s name, sounded sophisticated” (in that movie, Bette Davis’ character was Stanley and the character of her sister, played by Olivia de Havilland, was named Roy!).

You all know about my devotion to St. Anne, and because I have all boys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to honor St. Anne with a boy’s name — I’ve known a couple of parents who have also wanted to do so, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. But more recently I’d thought that the Stan- names could do it — you know, ST ANne! So Stanley/Stanislaus could nod to her as well. (I love getting lots of saints into one name!)

What do you all think of Stanley and Stanislaus? Would you consider either one for your son, or have you? Do any Stanleys or Stanislauses that you know like their name? Do they go by a nickname other than Stan? Do you think Stanley is the next Big Thing, both secularly and Catholicly?


20 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Stanley and Stanislaus

  1. Haha! As promised, I was so excited to read this!!! This is so thorough!

    Stanley is a family name on my mom’s side; we’re on Stanley III currently (my cousin), but it’s a 4-generation tradition – the first Stanley (my great-grandfather) had a different middle name. We’ll see if it continues! (The “dynastic” name actually has the initials SSS which is cool I guess.)

    We keep track of who was who by employing the nicknames “Old Stan” (my uncle) and “Young Stan” (my cousin), but my grandpa (SSS Sr.) was called Stash or Stush by his family and friends who didn’t call him Dad or Pop. I don’t know that those nicknames would particularly catch on but you never know haha

    Regarding the popularity spike around 1914, the things you might have contributed but I had another thought! There was an influx of Eastern European immigrants into the US at that time, many of whom probably changed their names or named their children Anglicized versions of names from the “Old Country.” You mention that Stanley was often used as an Anglicized version of Stanislaus – this almost certainly happened in my family. The first Stanley, my great-grandfather, immigrated to the US from Poland around 1911-1912, and I’m fairly certain he changed his name at Ellis Island. Then he named his son Stanley. (3/4 of my Polish g-grandparents Anglicized their names – Rose from Rozalia, interestingly George from Wojciech as I discovered upon visiting their graves for the first time recently.)

    I also enjoy your St. Anne connection, which also has a family connection for me (lol I know, surprise!!). My grandmother, who was married to my Pop-Pop (Stanley) had a deep devotion to St. Anne… and she’s why I was named Ann, which I’ve mentioned in the comments before! This just got me thinking about different ways to honor family members- their favorite saints, in addition to similar sounds, as you mention. Since my immediate family is not the Stanley branch, I probably won’t use Stanley, though I may honor my grandpa in another way. 🙂 (However, now that there’s a Bl. Stanley… hmm… haha)

    Sorry for the novel of a comment! I love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love all of this Annie!! I kind of love Stash and Stush!! I think you’re so right about the immigrants — I’m sure that’s who was driving the popularity of the name. I love hearing family stories like this, thank you!!


  2. I came to echo the above comment re: Stosh. My mom grew up in a very Polish neighborhood. Many of the Stanleys actually went by Stasiu (stah-shew). I don’t speak Polish, but I guess the diminutive of many names is -sia (for girls) or -siu for boys. I have a great friend named Katarzyna, which is the Polish Katherine, and she goes by Kasia which is like Katie! All of this is a roundabout way of saying Stasiu -> Stosh (or even Stu) are all totally doable nickname alternates.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stush?! My dad called me stushmo or stush when I was little, and my given name isn’t Stanley. Our family is from the outskirts of Pittsburgh…where there plenty of Polish families…hmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I adore the name Stanley, because my favorite comedian is Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy. He was such a kind, good, generous person, in addition to his talent as a comedian, actor, and director. Though he was born Arthur Stanley, he went by Stanley most of his life. I always thought Stan was a cute nickname, and that Stanley is very distinguished.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stan the Man. I kind of like the name, even though it’s definitely old fashioned sounding. It makes me think of an upright, regular, every man who always does the right thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] The second idea I had, re: St. Anne, is that I’ve thought that Stanislaus could work because of the first four letters being the same first four letters of “St. Anne.” Arenda said she’s drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middles, so maybe Stanislaus could qualify? Another neat thing about Stanislaus is that I think it could honor JP2 too, because he had a devotion to him. I relate an awesome story about the connection between JP2 and St. Stanislaus here, and I did a spotlight of the name here. […]


  7. A very late addition, but I am reading the Latsch Valley Farm series (by Anne Pellowski, Bethlehem Books) about Polish-American immigrant families in a valley in Wisconsin over several generations. It is a wonderful Catholic focused children’s book series – like Catholic Little House. There are a lot Polish names that have been anglecized. In the second book which I am currently reading, Winding Valley Farm, there is a boy named Stance. I think that is very likely a nickname or variation on Stanislaus. They never say though, so it is just my guess. It is not a name one would hear otherwise.


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