Check out this list of the new Solemnly Professed Dominican Brothers from the Province of St. Joseph (the eastern province)! All those Marys! And so many other beautiful names and combos!
I posted a consultation for Allison and her husband back in November, and Allison’s let me know her little green bean has arrived — a baby BOY! He’s been given the so-handsome name … Charles John!
“Baby BOY arrived yesterday healthy and safe, thank God! We switched up the name at the last hour and went with Charles John. He just seemed like a Charlie and is as sweet as can be. In the end, we thought he needed his own name! (Although there are Charlies on both sides — just more distantly).”
I just love Charles John, and Charlie is the sweetest nickname!!
Congratulations to the whole family, including big sibs Caroline Constance and Gerard Patrick, and happy birthday Baby Charlie!!
Happy Monday y’all!! I’m beyond overjoyed that it’s the last Monday of January!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sort of dread January. It’s so long and so cold. But February is short and March is spring! We’re almost there!
Corrie and her husband are hoping for baby number three! They already have:
Henry Layne (“My son Henry was easy to name. We both liked it. His middle name was picked by my husband after one of his favorite musicians Layne Stanley. We though he might be a Hank but it turns out he prefers Henry“)
Eleanor Grace (“We really struggled to name my daughter. We ended up in the hospital with a long list of names (she was born 4 weeks early) and spent the first 24 hours of her life considering possibilities. We chose Eleanor which “goes with” Henry. She has developed many nicknames (and she is only 10 months). We began calling her Ella, which has now morphed into Bella and Belle. Her middle name is Grace. It is my favorite virtue and has very powerful meaning to me“)
Henry and Eleanor are such a pleasing pair! I love both names on their own, and I love them together!
“For a boy I really like Maxwell Caleb (nn Max) or George Crosby.
For a girl, I have many names that I like but not sure I can pick one. I really would like to use Charlotte in some way … first or middle.
I feel like a lot of my favorite names won’t work — no Eloise (close to Ella), Elise, Nora, Stella, Isabelle (or any -belles, Annabelle).
I hesitate using Jane because of “Layne.”
We cannot use Emily, Margaret, Abigail, Allison or Alice. For various reasons these are vetoed names.
Names I consider are Charlotte (nn Lottie) but struggle with finding a middle that flows and/or is meaningful … Madeleine, Lillian (Lilly), Margot, Louise, Avery (I know this is a different style … but I do love it), Olivia, Rose, Gemma, Colette, Adora, Cecelia, Annaliese, Katherine (nn Kate).
My husband has always loved Audrey Claire. Henry and Audrey sounded clunky to me. He also likes Evelyn, Lucy, Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Anne, Caroline, Wilhelmina, Gwen, Aveline.
Family/Honor names could be: Hazel, Elizabeth, Anne, Frances, Marie.
Henry likes Sophie.
We don’t shy from a name because it is popular. After all Henry is #2 in our state now. We love a good nickname too.
I prefer no first names starting with “H” or “E” as each child will have their own initial. I was intrigued by your blog post with 2 middles also … Like “Avery Marie Frances” … but then my heart does want to incorporate Charlotte and when I try I always get stuck. Hence my letter to you.”
So I love both Maxwell and George if they were to have a boy, I think both would fit in nicely with Henry and Eleanor.
I can see why they’re struggling with coming up with a girl name! It’s amazing to me all the names that they like that they can’t use because of being too close to Eleanor or one of her nicknames.
If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about Layne and Jane rhyming — middle names are rarely known by others unless you really make it a point to use first+middle all the time, so middle-name Layne and first-name Jane are no problem to me. I think they’re even less of a problem if they use Jane as a middle name as well! I am interested, though, in how much Corrie and her hubs love the long A sound, having considered Hank and used Layne and Grace for their existing children, and having Caleb, Avery, Kate, and Claire on their list of possibles. I’m not sure what to do with that though, just an interesting thing to be aware of.
Their style is very very consistent! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names that the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I usually look for overlap — names that are listed as style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list — and there was overlap all over the place for this family! So much so that there were several times when I saw a name and thought, “This is perfect for them!” and then I’d see that it’s already on their list. Amazing!
Even Avery, which Corrie noted is a different style, isn’t as different as I originally thought. According to the BNW, it’s a match for Audrey, which also includes Claire, Evelyn, and Charlotte as matches. Pretty great!
I was thinking about how Corrie said she loves Charlotte/Lottie but struggles with finding middle names that flow and/or are meaningful. Charlotte Avery immediately came to mind as a possibility, which I quite like — I think it has the spunk and unexpectedness of Henry Layne and George Crosby (which I think Eleanor Grace also has through her various nicknames). The fact that they like both Charlotte and Avery reminds me of this family, who have daughters named Josie, Brady, Mary, Charlotte, and Sloane — a good example of different styles in the same family. And honestly, I got a little swoony over Avery Marie Frances! That’s really one of my very favorite ways to name — an unexpected first name with a more familiar middle name, or a traditional first name with a surname middle, or a super saintly first or middle paired with a more contemporary name with a secular feel are all really fun ways of combining styles. Charlotte Avery and Avery Marie Frances (as well as Henry Layne and George Crosby) all do that.
I wanted to spend a minute thinking of combos that include Charlotte and middle names that might go together well. Using the names on Corrie and her hubs’ list and their family/honor names, maybe:
- Charlotte Hazel Anne (this is extra nice because Anne is on the list of names Corrie’s husband likes)
- Charlotte Marie Frances or just Charlotte Frances/Charlotte Marie
- Charlotte Avery Marie
- Charlotte Elizabeth (this is very similar in style to Eleanor Grace I think)
- Charlotte Hazel (ditto Charlotte Elizabeth)
- Charlotte Avery Hazel (could Hazel possibly work to honor both Hazel and Elizabeth? Since Elizabeth contains all the letters in Hazel …)
- Charlotte Avery Jane (I like the idea of Avery-Jane as a first name too, the addition of Jane swings it closer to Henry and Eleanor in style, and adding Avery maybe reduces the issue of Layne and Jane rhyming? This also makes me think of Avery-Kate, which is sweet)
There are so many names from their lists that I was pleasantly surprised by! A few thoughts:
- Louise is so close to the Eloise that they love, it’s a perfect solution if they really want Eloise but can’t
- I’ve never heard of the name Adora! Gorgeous, and such amazing meaning!
- Annaliese seems the perfect solution to honoring two of their family members, as it’s a combo of Anne and Elizabeth. It’s an even closer match if they use the Anneliese spelling. It reminds me too of Marieliese, which is a combo of Marie and Elizabeth. I like them both for this family. Charlotte Annaliese? Charlotte Marieliese? Even Anne-Elise and Marie-Elise could work, they’re both so pretty
- I love that Corrie’s husband has always loved Audrey Claire! It’s a gorgeous combo, and exactly their (collective) style, based on my research. I guess I can see what Corrie means about not loving the sound of Henry and Audrey together, but if they were to say their kids’ names together, I think Henry, Eleanor, and Audrey, or Henry, Ella/Bella/etc., and Audrey sound fine!
- Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Wilhelmina, Gwen, and Aveline are all surprising! I definitely think there are ways of working the idea of these in … like Poppy can be a nickname for something, even just an affectionate nickname that’s unrelated to the given name. It can certainly work as a nickname for Penelope and Persephone from Corrie’s husband’s list, as well as names like Perpetua and Apollonia. I wonder what they would think of Willa? It’s like Wilhelmina, and a style match for Gemma on Corrie’s list. Gwen is sweet, but I feel like the long Gwendolyn might be a better fit? And the fact that Corrie has Avery and Olivia on her list and her hubs has Evelyn and Aveline on his list really seems like there must be some name out there that combines what they both love, like Livia, Livian or Liviana/Livianna, Livienne, Avila, Genevieve (this also seems like maybe it could loop in Gemma and Gwen?), Evangeline, or Averil
I also love that Henry likes Sophie! So cute!
Alright, so I was pretty excited to do the research for Corrie and her hubs, since there are so many names on their lists — I was really interested to see what might result as new ideas for them. It was definitely challenging! As I mentioned before, so many times I would see a name and think, “Aha!” only to remember that that name was already on one of their lists! And really, I feel like, just based on what Corrie said, the choice is basically down to Charlotte or Avery. So maybe these extra ideas aren’t helpful at all! But it was fun to come up with them anyway:
I think this is my favorite idea for this family. It’s long and French like Charlotte, and I think Poppy as a nickname is totally feasible. I’ve also seen Posy/Posey as a nickname for it, which is adorable, and I’ve long thought that Sophie can even work as a nickname for Josephine, which might be a good way of working in Henry’s idea.
Rosemary is actually a style match for Penelope, but I thought it was similar enough to the feel of Henry and Eleanor that it was a good suggestion. I thought Rosemarie was a better variant because it incorporates the Marie from their family/honor list. But what really sealed the deal was the nickname Romy — Corrie said they love a good nickname, and Romy is actually a style match for Poppy! Of course, Rosie/Rosey is a natural nickname, and I’ve seen Rory too, as well as Roo (I think it was for Rosemary Olivia!), which is adorable. Or just Ro! Cute!
Felicity is a match for Gemma and Anneliese (as a stand-in for Annaliese) on Corrie’s list, and Penelope on her husband’s! I really like it as a sister to Henry and Eleanor! I know some families who hesitate because it doesn’t have a huge amount of traditional nicknames, but I did a spotlight post on Felicity that addressed that issue, and there are a bunch to consider, from the more demure Lily to the fun and spunky Flicka.
(4) Beatrice, Beatrix
Henry and Eleanor have a nice Brit feel to them, and Beatrice, which is a match for Eleanor and Eloise, and Beatrix for Penelope, have that same feel I think. Bea is a sweet nickname, and Trixie is traditional as well. I’ve also seen Betsy, and I wonder if they did Beatrice with the nickname Betsy, if that might work as an honor for their Elizabeth? Since Betsy is a traditional Elizabeth nickname?
I was surprised at how well Phoebe did for them! It’s a match for Belle, Charlotte, Penelope, and Sophie! Phoebe’s a sweet name, and Grace Patton’s little Phoebe is such pip, she’s totally made me love the name even more (here,
(6) Philippa, Pippa
Speaking of Pip, I’m kind of loving Pippa for them! It can totally hold its own with Henry and Eleanor, and it’s similar in sound/appearance to Poppy, Penelope, and Persephone. I also love Ella/Bella/Belle/Ella Grace/Bella Grace with Pippa — what a sweet pair of sisters! If they prefer something a bit more formal with Pippa as a nickname, Philippa’s the traditional choice, a la Princess Kate’s sister Pippa (given name Philippa Charlotte).
(7) Molly, Maisie, Daisy
These ideas are all really inspired by the fact that Corrie said they love a good nickname. Molly’s a match for Henry, Max, Nora, Lucy, Stella, Lily, Kate, and Sophie. Such a great fit for them! If they felt like they preferred a more formal given name, Molly’s origin is as a nickname for Mary, so maybe they could use the Marie on their family/honor list in its place. I’ve already offered a few Marie- names (Marieliese, Marie-Elise, Rosemarie), and Molly could be nicknames for all of them (maybe Marie-Rose more than Rosemarie if you wanted Molly as a nick?). I also like the idea of Madeleine nicked Molly, and Marie Lillian/Marie Louise/Marie Penelope/Marie Olivia/Marie Colette nn Molly.
Maisie’s similar in that it started as a nickname (for Margaret) and it’s a specific style match for Poppy. I know Corrie said Margaret was out (and I love the variant Margot that they have on their list), but I wondered if maybe they would consider something like Marie-Hazel and use Maisie as a nickname?
And Maisie made me think of Daisy, which is also a traditional Margaret nickname, and similar in style to Poppy. I’m not sure what to suggest as a formal name for Daisy, since Margaret’s out, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway, in case it sparks something.
And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Corrie and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry and Eleanor?
Why don’t we kick off the weekend with a baby name consultation?! Hooray! 😄🎉
Arenda and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big sibs:
James Elias (“we both just loved the name James, and we thought it was neat it was the name of one of the apostles. We’re drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middle names, and we both liked the way the names James and Elias flowed together“)
June Adelle (“while we were on our honeymoon road-tripping across the USA, Jeremy and I read Johnny Cash’s autobiography aloud to each other. We both loved the name of Johnny Cash’s wife, June. She was known as a woman of great hospitality – so we agreed then that if we ever had a baby girl we’d name her June after June Carter. Plus, my birthday happens to be in June, so that’s a nice little connection, too. We both liked the way June + Adelle flowed together“)
Alice Genevieve (“we both really like simple, classic names. Alice is a sweet and feminine name — and our daughter totally fits her name that way! We both liked the flair/heft that Genevieve adds to Alice, and it turns out there’s a Saint Genevieve, which is lovely. Both Adelle and Genevieve sound French, which is funny seeing as my husband and I are both Dutch [though our heritage doesn’t factor heavily in our naming]“)
Gorgeous names, right?? I love each one!
“My name is Arenda, and my husband Jeremy and I are expecting a baby in March. We’d love your input on naming this little one! A little bit about us: we’ve been married for nine years, have three kids, and are both major book nerds. 🙂 Jeremy and I grew up Protestant and just joined the Catholic Church this past April. He was attending seminary to become a Protestant pastor when we both felt the call to the Church. (Super lengthy blog post detailing our conversion here [by Arenda; this one‘s by Jeremy)].)
(I just want to jump in and say how much I love reading conversion stories, and how much regard I have for those who have to leave behind a whole network of friends and sometimes family members in order to enter the Church.)
When we were naming our children, we mostly chose names that appealed to us on an aesthetic level. But I do love that our kids ended up with names that have saintly connections, even if we didn’t intend it that way at the time!
With this little one, we’d love to name him/her in a meaningful way after a saint or two, or to choose a name based on its meaning. My husband is really drawn to older names like Charles, Henry and George … I like classic names, too, but I find those a little much! He also loves the name Mary, while I find it rather plain. I love the idea of having a Marian name of some sort, though … and more specifically, a name associated with Our Lady of the Rosary.
Some names we’ve considered or are considering:
– Joseph ([my hubs] found a job after praying a novena to Saint Joseph)
– Matthias (maybe)
– Ambrose (too much?)
– Andrew (kinda plain)
– Xavier (I like the Zavier pronunciation better, but don’t want to have an unusual spelling)
– John Paul
– Pierce (I really like your suggestion of naming a boy Pierce because of Mary’s heart being pierce with a sword; also, Peter Kreeft’s books were integral in our conversion, and it seems like a neat way to honour that without actually using the name Peter. Could also use the name Simon …)
– Rosa (simple and sweet; quite love this!)
– Rosemary (I like this name, but don’t really like the herb, lol)
– Marigold (I really like this name, and it also reminds me of my grandma who always had lots of marigolds planted around her home – but it sort of seems like a name for a blonde baby? and we’re both brunettes)
– Rosetta (this was on our list when I was pregnant with Alice and I still really like it)
– Roma (to honour our joining the Church … except it always makes me think of Roma tomatoes)
– Gemma (but also has the J sound — too much having a James, June and Gemma?)
– I also quite like the name Francesca, but more as a middle name
– Catherine (I’m reading Sigrid Undset’s biography of Catherine of Siena and her life was one of such devotion to Christ! But, I tend to prefer softer names for girls)
– Dorothea (means ‘gift of God’, which is lovely)
– Josephine (love this name, but June has a doll named Josefina — maybe as a middle name?)
– my husband also really likes Gianna, and I find her story very compelling, but find the name a bit of a mouthful. And it’s a bit rhymey with our last name.
We haven’t had much time yet to get acquainted with the saints, but here are a handful who are meaningful to us…
– St. Thomas Aquinas (Jeremy’s a theology teacher and loves the writing of St. Thomas)
– St. Augustine (ditto)
– St. Catherine of Siena (so devoted to Christ)
– St. John Paul II (holy man)
– St. Joseph
– St. Anne
We have quite a long list of names to avoid because we both come from bigger families and would like to avoid duplicates. For girls: Amber, Charlotte, Eden, Emerson, Everly, Georgia, Heidi, Ivy, Kelsey, Kim, Kristi, Leighton, Leila, London, Mackenzie, Michelle, Renae, Sadie, Skye, Tanya, Zara. And for boys: Aaron, Anthony, Austin, Brian, Calvin, Colin, Edward, Gabriel, Jake, Jonathon, Duane, Jaxon, Lucas, Matthew, Peter, Ron, Sawyer, Stan, Terry, Thomas, Timothy.
And we have a couple name requirements, too! One is that it be a name that’s recognizable and not going to be mispronounced. My name is Arenda (a Dutch name that rhymes with agenda) and people are often confused when I introduce myself. We also prefer classic spelling of names, names without awkward nicknames, names that aren’t super trendy, and names that are clearly boy/girl names. Also, [no names that rhyme with Anne, as they would also rhyme with their last name] (I quite adore the name Anne, for St. Anne and for Anne of Green Gables, but I just can’t do it!). I do quite like repeating initials in names — like Ruby Rosetta. So cute! And we don’t care for names that are rather a mouthful (Thaddeus, for example).”
Alrighty! So I laughed out loud when I read that names like Charles, Henry, and George are “a little much” for Arenda — according to the Baby Name Wizard (which, as you all know, I always use in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) they’re exactly this couple’s style! Henry especially is one I would have suggested to them if Arenda hadn’t said she doesn’t care for it.
Many Catholics find Mary too plain, but there are a million ways to honor her using different names! My first thought was, maybe a Mary double would be a nice compromise between Arenda’s hubs liking it and Arenda thinking it’s too plain? Mary doubles are a very Catholic naming tradition! If the second name was more adventurous, maybe that would appeal to her? Something like Mary Aquinas, for example. Or Mary Corinne, Mary Seraphina, Mary Sabine, Mary Paloma, Mary Esther, or Mary Fiona (I’m pulling all these ideas from style matches from some of the more unusual names on their list, like Adelle, Rosa, Matthias, Ambrose, Xavier, and Pierce). Or, because Arenda said she likes alliteration, Mary Margaret, which might be one of the quintessential Catholic combos! Or perhaps she’d prefer them to be first+middle combos, rather than double first names? Either way, they could do nicknames that come from the first and second names together, like Marin for Mary Corinne, Maisie for Mary Seraphina or Mary Sabine, Maple (to get really interesting!) from Mary Paloma, Missy from Mary Esther, or Mina from Mary Fiona. Mary Margaret could be Mimi. Or they could use the second name as the call name, which is also a very Catholic tradition! St. Therese and all her sisters and her mom had Marie as their first name, but they all went by their second names. My dad has four first cousins named Mary ___ and they go by their middle names; his mom was Mary Loretta and she went by Loretta. So lots of ways to work with Mary, if they wanted to try to figure something out that would appeal to both of them!
I was also interested to see that, according to the BNW, Mariana is a style match for Elias, Marian for June, and Marion for Adelle, so maybe they’d like to consider one of those as a nod to Our Lady?
In terms of Our Lady of the Rosary, any of the Rose names on their list can honor her, as Rosary arose as a term for a figurative “crown of roses” for Mary. Arenda also said she loves Rosa, which would totally do the trick, as would Rosemary and Rosetta. I also wondered what they’d think of Rosary itself? I did a consultation and birth announcement a while ago for a mama who wondered if it would be weird to name her baby Rosary as a first name; she ended up doing so, and I just love it. I subsequently discovered that Rosary is not uncommon as a given name in Louisiana!
Another possibility in regard to honoring OL of the Rosary is that she was formerly called Our Lady of Victory, since devotion to her in this way is due to her intercession in the battle of Lepanto, so Victoria (or Victor for a boy) could be a nod to her. (I think this wiki entry is pretty accurate.)
Regarding the names they’re considering:
- They can’t go wrong with Joseph! (But too many J’s?)
- I love Matthias
- Ambrose is a heavy name from the sense that it’s not popular and might also be totally unfamiliar to some people. My husband and I have considered it for a few of our boys, and really like the ideas of Sam and Bram as nicknames for it. One caution is that one of my readers has an Ambrose, and she said doctors’ offices and such are constantly mistaking him for a girl (Amber Rose) (but her son loves his name)
- Regarding Andrew, something that might help is that Fr. Andrew Apostoli was a great priest who recently passed away, and I remember when I heard him speak once he referred to Andrew the Apostle as his patron, which is such a no-brainer but it really struck a chord with me — I’ve never known anyone named Andrew who’d really connected with any of the Sts. Andrew. So I thought that was pretty cool
- They can totally do the Zavier pronunciation with the Xavier spelling! Both ZAY-vyer and ek-SAY-vyer are acceptable and traditional pronunciations! I wrote about the pronunciations of Xavier here (and got a little uppity!)
- Patrick and John Paul are great, solid, saintly names
- I love Pierce for them! And Simon too!
- Rosa is lovely
- Regarding Rosemary, since the herb association is problematic, I wonder if the variant Rosemarie would strike Arenda as a better fit? Roma could be a nickname for either Rosemary or Rosemarie, which would allow them to use two of the names on their list!
- I don’t think Marigold is only for blondies! My friend recently named her baby Marigold, and all of her kids have darker hair
- Rosetta’s such an unexpected Rose name, really pretty
- Roma I love … maybe also Roman for a boy?
- I can see what Arenda means about James, June, and Gemma. Another consideration is that Gemma is sometimes used as a feminine form of James
- I think I agree with Arenda about Francesca being better as a middle name
- St. Catherine of Siena is great! If not Catherine, maybe Siena as an unusual middle? She was also called Euphrosyne as a child — Greek for “joy” — so maybe Joy as a middle name? (Or Euphrosyne!)
- I do love the meaning of Dorothea
- Being the mom of boys, I’ve never had to worry about baby doll names interfering with naming my babies! Josephine would be lovely in the middle
- St. Gianna is pretty awesome … her name is the Italian form of Joanna/Joan/Jean/Jane, so any of those could work in her honor, though Jane is too close to James and Joanna has the “Ann” problem with their last name, bummer
Regarding their list of saints, I had two thoughts I’d like to add: One is that the Charles family of names is often used to honor JP2, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. I know Arenda said her husband likes Charles and she doesn’t; maybe she’d like to consider Carl/Karl? I also know several boys with Karol as a first or middle — one is Joseph Karol, which would be nice since they have Joseph on their list (though, that’s a lot of J’s!). I’ve even seen a Lolek or two! Lolek was his childhood nickname, which is a Polish diminutive of Karol. For girls, I know little Charlottes (which I know they can’t use), Carolines, Karolines, and Karolinas named in his honor.
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.
Alrighty, so I’ve already offered a bunch of ideas based off of the names Arenda and her hubs are considering, but I have a few more. These are based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, as well as ideas I had that just felt like good suggestions (very scientific, I know! Haha!). I tried to make sure I didn’t list any names that were on the list of names they can’t duplicate, and also that the names are recognizable and not likely to be mispronounced, and that don’t sound weird with their last name. These are my ideas:
I scribbled this down on my list for them before I even cracked open the BNW! I was initially inspired by St. Gianna — I’ve seen people use Molly in her honor, since her name is Gianna Beretta Molla. Additionally, Molly is a Mary variant — in fact, its origin is as a nickname for Mary, though it’s come to be a name in its own right. They could still use it as a nickname — maybe even for Mary Gianna, where Molly works as both a nickname for Mary and a nod to St. Gianna? I like it both ways for them: as a nickname, or as a given name.
(2) Clare, Clara (Chiara?)
I think my favorite here for them is Clara, but Clare (or Claire) is certainly lovely. St. Clare of Assisi is a wonderful patron, and actually, her name was really Chiara, which is the Italian form of Clare, and I love the idea of Mary Chiara for this family! I also know several little Chiaras named for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano. But I wonder if this family of names is similar to Catherine for them in being not soft enough?
I know of a little Lucy June (she goes by both, SO CUTE!), so I actually already had Lucy in mind for this family when I saw they have a June, and then my research revealed that Lucy’s a match for their style. I love it! And the Ruby Rosetta that Arenda mentioned loving (as do I!) made me think of Lucy Loretta — Loretta’s a Marian name by virtue of the fact that it’s generally considered by Catholics to be a variant of Loreto, as in the Holy House of Loreto.
I’ve seen Nora used as a nickname for Eleanor, Honora, and Annora (which is technically an Honora variant but could be a cool way to name a baby after St. Anne), but it’s also a name on its own, and has that same classic, sweet feel of James, June, and Alice. There’s a Ven. Honora Nagle, and they could also connect it to St. Helena via Eleanor, and also (a closer fit, I think) to Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name is rendered as both Eleanor and Elanor. And actually, Elanor is fun for two “major book nerds” as it’s a Tolkien character name! I know a little girl named Elanor for that reason.
I felt really good about Molly, Clara, Lucy, and Nora for this family, but I’m less sure about Beatrice — if it hadn’t been listed as a style match for Alice, Genevieve, and Dorothea, I probably wouldn’t think to mention it. But Bea is a fantastic nickname, and Beatrice can actually be considered Marian, as its “mother” name, Beatrix, means “she who blesses, makes happy, delights” in Latin, which points to the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy).
I was far less confident in my ideas for boys than for girls! Leo’s the one that I think Arenda and her hubs might be most likely to like. Pope St. Leo the Great is a, ahem, great patron 😊; I have a nephew Leo — I love hearing it on him, such a great name!
(2) Owen, Oliver, Oscar
My favorite of these for this family is Oliver, after St. Oliver Plunkett — I love how James, June, Alice, and Oliver sound together! But I listed Owen first because my nephew Leo’s little brother is Owen! St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints, so courageous! And Oscar’s a style match for Alice, Josephine, and Rosa; Bl. Oscar Romero would be patron.
Not only is Dominic a style match for Elias, Genevieve, Matthias, and Gianna, and a great saint in my humble and unbiased opinion 😊, but I also think Dominic can honor Our Lady of the Rosary — tradition holds that Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic and asked him to promulgate it. I have this lovely image of Our Lady, Baby Jesus, St. Dominic, and St. Catherine on a medal I wear always. Also, since they love OL of the Rosary, they’d probably love Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary (Marian Press, 2016) — it’s an amazing historical and faith-filled account of the history of the rosary, and the Dominicans are HUGE in it — in fact, in the beginning are pages and pages of endorsements from top Dominicans all around the world.
Speaking of Dominicans and Our Lady, St. Louise de Montfort is one of the most Marian saints, and his name is a style match for Adelle, Alice, Catherine, and Rosa, and Louie is the most darling nickname!
(5) Benedict, Bennett
I was going to end with Theodore, but since it’s the same name as Dorothea (but masculine, and with the elements reversed), I thought I’d end with Benedict and its variant Bennett. Benedict’s a style match for Genevieve, Matthias, and Dorothea, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is so so wonderful. St. Benedict of Nursia is also the father of western monasticism. And I think Benedict can also be considered Marian because of its meaning, “blessed.” But I wonder if Benedict is too much of a mouthful like it’s style match Thaddeus? In which case, maybe Bennett would suit their taste better? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict.
And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of James, June, and Alice?
Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:
Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)
Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)
You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!
“First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.
There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?
On to some lists!
Names we do like, for inspiration:
Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla
Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver
Names we do like but can’t use:
Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice
Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)
Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat:
Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc)
Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen
Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉
Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey
Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow:
Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady
My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”
Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.
I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.
I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:
- Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
- Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
- Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!
Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):
- I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
- I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
- Malachy is an Irish saint’s name and an anglicized form of some heavy-duty old Irish names
- Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
- Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
- I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
- For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
- I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
- Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
- St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
- Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
- Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below
Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:
(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:
O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below
Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).
(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.
(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.
There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.
And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Liam and Clare?
Cecilia! You’re breaking my heart! You’re name meaning’s causing some problems! 🎶🎶🎶
Not for everyone, certainly — Cecilia’s definitely one of those names that’s generally favored by parents wanting an obvious saintly name (I included it my list of unmistakably Catholic girl names), and I know lots of Catholic families with little Cecilias. St. Cecilia was a martyr for refusing to sacrifice to false gods; she was the first incorruptible saint; she’s in the Canon of the Mass; and she’s the patroness of music, musicians, musical instrument makers, and singers (among other things), which makes her name perfect for a music-loving couple to consider for their daughter. She was a strong, holy woman, and her name is lovely and feminine. There’s a lot to recommend Cecilia! But I’ve heard from multiple parents who have a hard time getting past its definition of “blind.”
One reader emailed recently about this issue — she would very much like to consider the name, but said, “I just cannot get past the meaning of ‘blind.’ A positive meaning is a must for me … I was just thinking that knowing more about the origins of Cecilia might change my heart a bit.” Of course! Let’s get to the root of the problem! We know it derives from the Latin for “blind,” but why? Who was the first to be named “blind,” and why were they?
Based on my research, I’m going to argue that the definition of “blind” no longer applies to this family of given names. From what I can gather, Cecilia is the feminine form of a Roman gens (or “clan”) name, which originally — in ancient days — was taken from a mythological figure, Caeculus, who was a king mentioned in the Aeneid, and his name was indeed intended to mean “little blind one” (from the Latin word for blind) because part of his mythology was that he showed mastery over fire (and in fact his mother was said to have been impregnated by a spark of fire), but the smoke did affect his eyes, hence the name of “little blind one.” He was really a figure of divinity and strength, and I’m sure the Roman clan didn’t fuss about the meaning of “blind” (otherwise they would have changed their name, right? Or not chosen Caeculus as their “ancestor” in the first place?). (I’m getting this info from Wikipedia, hoping that it’s accurate! I also read this.)
So really, I think the name originally persisted because of that clan, and that family doesn’t mean “blind,” they mean whatever would come to mind when those who were familiar with them would hear their name, you know? Like, my last name is Towne, but I’m sure when people see or hear my name they don’t think “town, village, enclosure,” which is what the name originally meant. Or if they do, it’s a fleeting thought that’s quickly replaced by whatever comes to mind when they think of *me.* This is all what I tried to articulate in the article I wrote about name “definitions” vs. name “meanings”.
So if the original people with this name were able to look past the meaning of “blind,” and be powerful despite their name’s origin (and there’s even a goddess [of sorts] known as Caia Caecilia), even more so can those who have no connection to them or their origins (mythological or otherwise), and in fact have new connotations that are intimately tied up in the name Cecilia. Because I’m sure it’s only name nerds (and Latin ones too, I suppose) who know that Cecilia means “blind” — other Catholics know that it means “patroness of musicians,” and non-Catholics might know that there’s a musical connection, or they might just know it as a pretty name.
Now that I’ve convinced you all that blindness has nothing to do with St. Cecilia, in an interesting twist I just read this post that says St. Cecilia was born blind, and this post, which says, “The name Cecilia means blind and so, although we don’t know if she herself couldn’t see, she is also the Catholic patron saint of the blind.” None of this info (her being blind, or her being patroness of those who are blind) is included anywhere on CatholicSaints.info (which is where I usually turn for my saint info). In fact, I’d assumed that she’s known as Cecilia because she was a member of that Roman gens, and The Catholic Encylopedia at New Advent seems to support that hypothesis when it refers to “the family of St. Cecilia (Gens Caecilia).”
Back to being able to look past the “definition of the name,” I love that Behind the Name argues, “Due to the popularity of the saint, the name became common in the Christian world during the Middle Ages.” It’s ultimately because of St. Cecilia, and no other bearer of the name (nor, of course, its meaning), that the name has the popularity it has had and continues to have! So great!
As for the name itself, isn’t Cecilia so sweet? So soft and lilting. It can be spelled Caecilia (like this family) or Cecelia, and has some great variants like Cecily, Cicely, and even Sheila! Sheila is an anglicization of Síle, which is the Irish form of Cecilia. I love the Russian Tsetsiliya, the Polish Cecylia, and the fact that Cecil and Cecilio are male variants — so cool! And lots of fun diminutives and nicknames, including the familiar Cece, as well as Lia, Celia (which can also stand on its own with separate origins), Cissy, Cila, Cilla, Cilka, Silke, Silja, and Zilla. Who knew?!
What do you all think of Cecilia? Have you, too, been bothered by the meaning? Has this post helped? Would you consider naming your daughter Cecilia, or have you? What do the Cecilias that you know go by?