Baby name consultation: “Light,” “mercy” good meanings for baby no. 5, plus some other rules

Happy New Year!! I hope you all saw my Year In Review post yesterday — so many thanks to all of you for a wonderful 2017!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — a little green bean! This little one joins big sibs:

Caleb Michael
David Joseph
Isaac Matthew
Lucilia Faustina

I really love these names! Old Testament names are some of my favorites, and brothers Caleb, David, and Isaac are just so pleasing! As for Lucilia — how pretty! How unusual! So unusual, in fact, that I’ve never heard it before!

Erin writes,

Names we have considered for this baby:
Eloise or Eloisa Josephine, Magdalene/Magdalena– We like Eloise right now but I’m starting to have second thoughts. Not really sure why. Maybe not girly enough? My husband likes Josephine because he wants to honor his sisters Jean and Steph and he thinks this name works. And I’m not opposed to it.

Jude, Francis, Blaise (Probably leaning towards Francis for middle name). We love the name Jude. However, I don’t like its only one syllable. I would prefer 2 or more for a first name. We both like Blaise but it feels a little too unique for us.

Names on our no list:
Margaret, James, Theresa, Rosemary, no direct family names (Francis is ok), Sara, Jenna, Alicia, Alana, Louisa (we think its too close to Lucy), Heather, Paula, Dianna

People to honor:
Girls maybe a something honoring both Ellen and Evelyn without using either name or Jean and Steph again without using their actual name. I also am growing closer to St. Therese but my husband works with many Terry’s so he says that is out as a possibility.

Any saints or biblical characters. I am particularly connected with Light in particular. I love to say let your light shine or be the light as it means a lot to me. Which is why we decided on Lucilia (Loo-seal-ya). We didn’t like Lucille because it seemed too old and not feminine enough. Also strong devotion to Divine Mercy.

Requirements: Prefer 2 or more syllables (more than 4 letters). Girl I want something very feminine. Either ending in -a, -lyn- ette preferred. I think.
Saint or bible related. We like vintage names. Unique but not too bold. We like Ignatius and Blaise but we are afraid they are too bold. Oh and pronounciation can’t be too difficult. My husband wants Blaise to be pronounced Blay-ce not Blaze. Oh and nicknames. We are big on nicknames. We have Ca, D, Ike/Ikie, and Lu or Lulu. So preferrably names that we can shorten the beginning of to have a nickname. (This is our issue with Magdalene because although tons of nickname possibilities we’d probably end up nicknaming Mags and I don’t like Maggie/Mag etc) We are leaning towards Josephine for girl middle name and Francis for a boy.

Family names:
Evelyn Gerada
David Lee
Scott Michael
Andy Thomas
Chad Garette
Valerie Nicole
MaryAnn Elizabeth
Lyle Francis
Ellen Jean
Michael Ralph
Jean Elizabeth
Stephanie Ann

I had fun working on this! Eloise, Eloisa, Magdalene, and Magdalena are all lovely. I’m also really interested in Josephine to honor Jean and Steph! That’s pretty clever! Because they used Joseph for David’s middle name, I thought I’d give some thought to some other possibilities to honor Jean and Steph (I assume Steph is Stephanie?), and came up with Jeanie (the “anie” from Stephanie), Phoebe (a stretch, visually, but I thought it could be for the “ph” in Steph plus the long E sound in Jean plus and ending all her own, resulting in a biblical name), and Fiona (similar to Phoebe with the “ph” sound from Steph and the long E sound from Jean; Fiona was a style match for Jude, which is what put it on my radar. But it’s not a saint’s name as far as I know). But I love Josephine too.

Ooh wait a minute, maybe Photine/Photini could be perfect! It’s the name traditionally given to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7), it means “light” (!!), and the “Ph” could be for Steph and the “ine/ini” (which I believe is said “eenie” in Greek) could be for Jean because of the long E? I know it’s unusual, but in the middle name spot anything goes!

Jude, Francis, and Blaise are great names for boys too! Regarding Jude being only one syllable, I had two ideas. One is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for Julian, so that’s a possibility; the other is to use Judah, which is a great style match for Caleb, David, and Isaac. Or, I wonder what they would think of switching Jude to a girl and using it as a nickname for Judith?

Also, I know Erin said she prefers names with more than four letters, but since Blaise is only one syllable, I wonder what they’d think of Boaz? Blaise and Boaz are kind of similar in that they start with B and end with the Z sound (I do think Erin’s husband’s preference for “blayce” is an uphill battle, and I love the “blaze” pronunciation for them anyway because of the light connection!), and Boaz is Old Testament like their other boys. It was high on my list of suggestions for Erin and her hubs until I remembered they don’t want four-letter names! Also, Lucilia was given to only 11 girls in 2016, while Blaise was given to 236 boys and it was in the top 1000 (no. 903), so it’s definitely not too unique for them! AND — I was just researching St. Therese a little, specifically because Erin said she’s growing closer to her, and I discovered that she was born on Rue Saint-Blaise! Wow! That could be a really neat way to nod to St. Therese with a boy’s name!

I also really tried to think of a good way to honor Ellen and Evelyn — I kept feeling like the perfect answer was within reach, I just hadn’t found it yet, but I never did end up feeling like I’d found it. For what it’s worth, the ones I scribbled down were Evangeline, Elena, and Avila.

As for St. Therese, I was immediately like, “Tess is the perfect answer!” and then I remembered again the four letter thing. But a few thoughts here: One is, it’s strange to me that Terry would turn Erin’s husband off of Therese — these days, I’d be shocked if anyone defaulted to Terry upon meeting a Therese. Terry’s definitely a nickname of the past, and I don’t believe it’s ready for revival just yet — I think it still feels pretty dated to most of today’s parents. Today’s Therese/Teresa nickname is Tess, which would be so great for this family! Secondly, if Erin’s husband just won’t go for Therese but they like the Tess idea, maybe they could do something like Marie-Tess? Marie is actually Erin’s middle name, so it would be a really nice nod to her, and also — St. Therese was Marie-Therese! Thirdly, what about Tessa as a given name? It’s such a sweet name, it’s more than one syllable and more than four letters; this post gives a lot more great info.

Regarding nicknames for Magdalene/a, I do get it that if they prefer to just use the beginning sound of a name as a nickname and they don’t like Mags/Maggie, then Magdalene/a would be difficult for them. But there are other nicknames they could consider, like Mae, Maddie, Magda, or Lena (though that’s using the end of the name, which I’m guessing they don’t want to do). Or maybe Meg? Maybe it’s different enough from Mag that Erin and her hubs would be okay with it? If Margaret can be Meg, than I think Magdalene could too.

Okay! On to my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names 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 did so for this family, looking up Caleb, David, Isaac, Lucia and Lucy as stand-ins for Lucilia (I thought the matches for Lucy and Lucia seemed closer to what I perceive their style to be than the matches for Lucille), Eloise, Jude, Francis, and Blaise, and since Magdalene/a doesn’t have its own entry, I looked it up in the Name Matchmaker. Based on the results of all that, and my own ideas, these are my ideas:

(1) Clara, Claret (Clarette? Clairvaux?)
When I read Erin’s email and saw that she has a connection with light, I immediately thought of the Clare family of names. Clare comes from the Latin for “clear, bright,” which, while not exactly “light,” is close enough! In fact, this mama named her daughter Claire (the French spelling) because of its connection to light. Because Erin doesn’t care for one-syllable names, I thought Clara was an easy fix. If they wanted to be a bit more unusual, I also thought of Claret, as in St. Anthony Mary Claret, which made me think of Clarette, which I think I like even better for this family. It has the -ette ending Erin said she might like. Or Clairvaux! We see it a bit here on the blog (Lindsay’s girl and Amy’s girl), and I wasn’t sure if it had the “light, bright” meaning, but the Wiki entry for Clairvaux Abbey in France said its Latin name is Clara Vallis, which translates as “clear valley,” so I do think the Clair part is synonymous with the Clare family of names. Clare and Clair(e) are easy nicknames for Claret(te) and Clairvaux, like their other kids’ nicknames.

(2) Clementine
I had scribbled Clementine down for Erin before I did any research, because of her love of Divine Mercy. “Clement” means “merciful,” and Clementine is a style match for both Eloise and Magdalene! Clem and Clemmie are cute nicknames too.

(3) Mercy, Mercedes
These were also inspired by Erin’s devotion to the Divine Mercy. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I saw both of these names considered by families, and I think they could both be beautiful for this family! And in fact, Mercedes is a style match for Magdalena.

(4) Faith
Mercy made me think of other virtue-type names, especially those with a Puritan-type feel, as I think the Old Testament names of their boys fit in well with that style and I could see Lucilia doing so as well. Faith is actually a style match for Caleb, so I thought it needed a spot on this list! (And this just made me think of an addition to the Clara entry above: Clarity!)

(5) Estelle, Estella
Estelle is a match for Magdalene and Estella for one of Eloise’s matches, and since it means “star,” I thought it was a nice tie-in to Erin’s love of light-meaning names. It can also be Marian, for Our Lady Star of the Sea!

(1) Gabriel
Erin’s due in March, so I love the idea of Gabriel for this baby because the feast of the Annunciation is March 25! Gabriel’s also a style match for Caleb and Isaac, and he’s mentioned in both the Old Testament (Daniel 8:16) and the New (Luke), so it would be a good pick if they didn’t want to feel locked in to Old Testament boy names going forward.

(2) John Paul (John-Paul, JohnPaul, Johnpaul)
John Paul is inspired mostly by Erin’s devotion to Divine Mercy — I went to a Catholic Women’s conference in October, and Fr. Gaitley was the keynote speaker (the 33 Days to Morning Glory guy), and he spoke all about how amazing Poland is in salvation history, and of course St. John Paul the Great is one of the reasons. He spoke about how, when JP2 was cardinal, he worked on getting a better translation of St. Faustina’s Diary (because the previous one was full of translational errors that caused it to be temporarily banned by the Vatican). Then of course he canonized St. Faustina, and instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, even dying the evening before it, after the Vigil Mass was celebrated. He is a huge Divine Mercy guy! And the fact that his papal name involves two biblical boy names, and that each one on its own would break Erin’s rules but together they’re okay, is pretty amazing.

(3) Jonas, Jonah
Jonas is simply the Greek form of Jonah, and it was listed as a style match for both Caleb and Lucia (standing in for Lucilia), so I definitely had to include it! I like what the BNW has to say about it: “Jonah is the form of this name that you’ll hear most often today, but the Greek Jonas has historically been the preferred English version. That gives Jonas a double punch: it’s less common and has a throwback pioneer style.” Although, I think Jonah Francis sounds better than Jonas Francis.

(4) Tobias, Tobiah, Tobit
Like Caleb and Isaac, Tobias has a heavy Old Testament feel (David has been so historically popular that I feel like it doesn’t come across as super biblical to many people), and like Jonas/Jonah, Tobias is the Greek form of Tobiah. I love that Tobias/Tobiah is a character in the Book of Tobit, which was removed from Protestant bibles after the Reformation, so it’s a rare bird: heavy-duty Old Testament as well as (within Christian circles) sort of specifically Catholic. I also like the name Tobit itself. Tobiah Francis and Tobit Francis both flow well.

(5) Abram, Abel
This last idea is mostly inspired by the nickname Abe, which I think is one of the best. I considered suggesting Abraham, but I like the shorter Abram better with Caleb, David, and Isaac — especially with Isaac. Or maybe Abram is even too much as a brother to Isaac? If so, I wonder what they would think of Abel? But it’s four letters! Gah! Maybe Abram *is* the better option?

And those are all my ideas for Erin and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia?


44 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: “Light,” “mercy” good meanings for baby no. 5, plus some other rules

  1. Your suggestions of Jonas/Jonah as well as Tobiah made me think also of Josiah, which had a similar pioneer kinds of feel. Jo could obviously be a nickname, but I also like Joss.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another idea is Evalina or Evelina. I knew a Polish Ewelina growing up, and it’s stuck with me as such a pretty name. It could pay homage to the family Evelyn while having a different sound, and Evie is such a cute name! For some reason, I could also see them liking Juliette or Julianna, or maybe even Marianna or Christianna (the “-ahna” names always seem so feminine!) Also, I love the nickname “Minnie” for Clementine. Clemencia is another way to incorporate mercy.

    Other Old Testament boy names I like for them are: Jonathan, Reuben, Joseph, Simon (for Simeon), or Aaron.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Aaron would be a great fit for this family! A 5-letter Old Testament saint name to tie him in with his brothers. Has a ring to it with the middle name Francis. Plus, one of its meanings is ‘enlightenment’, which fits in with the desire for a name evoking ‘light’ and ‘mercy’. And Aaron was such an important OT figure, both in helping his brother Moses and leading the people himself, that any little boy with the name has some great characteristics to look up to!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first name that came to mind after reading the title was Ellie/Ellen/Helen, because it means “shining light. The bright one”.

    If you were to go with Helen/Helena/Helenie, etc., it wouldn’t be a repeat of Ellen, but it would tie in both light (due to the meaning) and mercy (because of St. Faustina’s birth name & the rays of light in the Divine Mercy image).

    Joshua means “God saves”, so that could go along with the mercy them as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Feast of the Annunication is April 9th this year, have you noticed? Because it falls on Palm Sunday. I’m due with #2 on March 30, so I pushed for Annunziata for a second middle name if it’s a girl and born on the 25th, or Gabriel if it’s a boy— until I realized it’s pushed back this year. I don’t think the baby will wait around till the 9th! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still would go for the connection to the Annunciation if it ends up being on the 25th (or even near) as the birthday would always (almost) be the feast day. It still is the date of the Annunciation – just liturgically moved so that it gets is honor time and isn’t quelled by Palm Sunday with no recognition.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gah! I did see that and totally forgot!! Hmm … but still, going forward, a March baby would have the Annunciation celebrated during that month normally, so I think you should do it!!


  5. Happy New Year!

    What about Eileen for both Ellen and Evelyn?
    I also love Helena (for Ellen and similar to Magdalena), Elisa (for Ellen), Gemma, Natalie, Colette, Bianca (complements Lucilia’s name meaning) and Genevieve (Genie, for Jean).

    For a boy, another Biblical name: Jacob, Samuel, Stephen (for Steph), Timothy, Ethan or Eli (for Ellen).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I knew a girl in high school names Elynn (pronounced E – Lynn). It would to me seems a possible way to combine those names. (something honoring both Ellen and Evelyn without using either name). And then there is the spelling Ellyn (pronounced Ellen) which combines them as well. As was mentioned Ellen, Ellyn, Helen all mean bright, shining light.

    A note on Therese – I don’t know any of the little Therese/a girls that have nickname Terry so I think that is easily avoidable. I would push for Tess or Tessa for nn. Love those.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As well as Estelle, you could use Esther, Estere, Estera, (the last two I like especially).

    What about Samson which means “sun”? Or Aurora for Dawn?

    To get to Abe, Abner means “Father of Light”, though it’s probably a bit too out there (Or also apparently Uriah means “God is my light” which strikes me as perfect meaning with a perhaps less than perfect sounding name).

    Would Jesse/Jessie work for Jean and Stephanie? What about Jessamy/Jessamyn/Jessamine for a girl? I think that would be so nice with Lucilia, an unexpected (and very feminine!) twist on a more common name. Jess or Jem (!!) for her nickname.

    Or Seraphina for Stephanie? Eleanora for Ellen?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. From Kate’s suggestions for girls names, I really like Clementine for the lovely mercy connection. And I will vouch for it being a style match to Eloise as we know a local family with a Clementine and Eloise. And I really have loved Estelle recently so would give a thumbs up for that. I will be interested to see what folks have to say about Claret (or Clarette). I recommended it in a comment some time back when we were discussion saint last names as first names. Because of the wine connection, it seemed to be a discouraged name from other comments.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This might not work as a suggestion for this family, but for others looking for a St. Therese namesake that’s not Therese/a…

    My husband and I intend to name our daughter Rose after St. Therese.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love all the elements which are being sought in this name, and I pray the perfect name comes up in time 🙂

    I immediately thought of Helena for s girl …. I know others have also mentioned it! But if you want a good nickname, Alina or Eleanor are variants of Helen which also mean light and could have cuter nicknames. I know a little girl at church called Eliora, which I think is just gorgeous.

    Other ‘light’ and girly names coming to mind were Stella and Oralie or Aurelia. I thought Seraphina was a nice nod to Stephanie and Jean too. St Aurelia is an interesting saint 🙂

    For boys, Elior came to mind. It is Hebrew for “God is light”. Is also would link with Ellen :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought of Elior as well! I think that the feminine Eliora (nn. Ellie/Eli to further honor the namesake) would be a beautiful sister name to Lucilia, especially considering the longer translation of the name: “God, Who shows mercy, is my light.”

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Magdalena Josephine is a gorgeous name! I love the nickname of Lena. Lulu and Lena seem perfectly paired. Using Magdalena gets you honor names for Jean, Steph, and Ellen in one name. Lena also plays up the “light” connection since it is generally short for Helena (light).

    Genevieve’s saint symbol is a lit candle, loosely connected to light. There’s a Gene/Jean connection. I like Genevieve Mercy a lot too.

    For a boy, I’m digging the suggestion of Abner, with the “my father is a light” meaning. It also keeps the 5-letter trend going. Abner JonPaul opens up the AJ nickname, which some people like. I prefer the nn Avi.

    Dominic’s saint symbol is a star, so maybe a “light” connection there. Miles has a possible meaning of “merciful” according to BNW.

    Magdalena Josephine
    Genevieve Mercy
    Abner JonPaul
    Dominic Miles

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a lovely consultation to read. Kate I think your suggestions of Judah and Abel are fabulous. Seraphina as others suggested is also a nice fit. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The only idea I have to add is Selah. It’s biblical, ends with a, and has the unique, vintagey feel to me. Selah Marigold, Selah Josephine all have a lovely ring to it. I love the suggestion of Faith and Clementine!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve heard that Philomena means “Daughter of Light”. My kids even have a book by Anna Kuck that talks about the meaning of her name and tells the story of her martyrdom as poem.

    Philomena goes really well with Lucilia.

    Liked by 1 person

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