Baby name consultation: Baby no. 5/boy no. 2 needs short saintly name

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Nash Michael (“His first name is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name and his mother’s middle name. His middle name is after St. Michael the archangel who is one of my favorite saints“)

Clare Ellaine (“Clare is after St. Clare, no real reason just really like the name Clare. Ellaine is my mom’s name and was my middle name“)

Holly Jane (“Jane is after my grandmother. Holly kind of came at the end a few days before she was born, someone was talking about a Holly they knew and the name just struck me and I asked my husband if he liked it and we ended up naming her Holly. This child is the only one who has just a random name that isn’t a saint or a family name, but we get around it by saying that Jane is a family name and there is a St. Jane de Chantal“)

Anna Mary (“We had always liked the name Anna and had seriously considered it for Baby #2, but it felt more right with this baby. My husband’s mom is also named Ann, so she is the family connection. We chose Mary because she was born on the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary. She was born 2 weeks early which very much surprised us and her name wasn’t set in stone. MY mom told me that day when I thought I was in labor about the feast day and it was just perfect to name her after Mary“)

I loooove these names! They make such a pleasing set to me! And I love that Anna’s middle name was because she was born on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary — one of my favorite feasts!

Ashley writes,

We always have a VERY difficult times with naming. And boys are especially hard. We do not name the child until they are born. We usually have a few top contenders, but it always just feels better for us to name them once they are here. We kind of have a bit of a theme with our kids of including saint/religious name and also a family name. One of our kids is a combo, but I think that I kind of want to continue that now that we have started it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. I would probably rather forgo the family name before I left off a religious or saint name.

All of their names have tended to be short, which I like and they aren’t shortened. We do call Anna, Annie and Anna. We use both names interchangeably.

Okay so now for the big dilemma on our hands. We are so stuck and don’t really like any names. Let me tell you briefly about this pregnancy though.

We were about ready to try for #5, about 2 years ago, when I had a series of health events that really drug me down. I ended up having chronic neck and back pain amongst other things. There was A LOT of stress, a lot of dr apps, physical therapy and sadness. I wondered if I would always be in pain for the rest of my life. We avoided pregnancy for a long time but in my deep part of my heart I wanted another baby so bad. But I was very very very scared. I was scared of what would happen to my body through a pregnancy, would my pain get worse, would I be able to do it … All of these fears. And at the beginning of this year I began to have improvements, but continued to hold off on pregnancy. My drs cleared me to get pregnant but I just could not get over the fear even though I really wanted another child. So I had been loosely but VERY conservatively using NFP to avoid and low and behold I became pregnant. I wasn’t being strict with NFP but I def didn’t think it was a fertile time either. The feeling that I had when I got the positive test was such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father. I felt like God was telling me, ”Ashley I know that you are scared to “try” for another baby so I am not going to make you make that decision.” I felt like he was saying, ”Ashley I am bigger and greater than your fears.” It was such an intense moment for me in my life! And this pregnancy has been awesome. I have felt great and I have felt like I have gotten a lot of clarity on my chronic pain condition and healing of mind body and soul!

So to say the least, I truly feel more than with any other child that this baby was so intended by God to not only be here in existence but also as a gift to me especially, one that has had great impact on my relationship with God and through this baby and pregnancy has brought about much healing.”

Isn’t this such a wonderful story?! I love how Ashley articulated that she felt “such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father,” what a gift. ❤

Ashley continues,

I mention all this because I had thought about some name that kind of represented some of that. I had looked up Theodore (Theo) because it means God s gift and it is on our maybe list because of that.”

Ashley explained to me that she doesn’t really care for a lot of traditional names (Matthew-type names), nor currently popular names (Aiden, Jaxon), nor country names (Colt, Cole, West).

My husband’s name is Jeffrey Locke and he doesn’t want a jr. On his side John is a very popular boy name. His nephew, brother, dad and grand dad are all John Locke. So John is a family name but we couldn’t use it as a 1st name. Locke could be used as a middle family name … Some family names on my side is my grandfather’s name was Leo. My great grandfather was Casper … my great grandfathers were Ray Rhymes and Ralph Harry; some other names on my side are McVea (but that has already been heavily used by my cousin) and my dad’s name is Rhymes but my sister already used it for her 1st daughters middle name. My maiden name is Oliver which is popular now but I don’t really like it and I don’t think it sounds good with my last name Wagner because of the -er at the end of both of the names. On my husband’s side there is a William Baumann and then John Locke.

Some names that have kind of made it on our list are Bruno, Leo, Ansel (my husband doesn’t like it though), Brock (but reminds me of 80’s), Ben, Raph/Raif, Theo, Abram, Owen, Sam, Isaac, Ford.

Ben has always been a name we liked, but my problem is that I don’t like Benjamin or Bennet, or Benedict. So I had said in the past I would just name my kid Ben. I feel like a lot of boy names have longer names and then there is the shortened version that the kid is called. (Benjamin/Ben, William/Will, Theodore/Theo) Problem is in most all of those situations I don’t like the long name and I wonder whether you can just name the kid the short name? Because I don’t want to name my kid Benjamin when I don’t like the name Benjamin just so I can call him Ben. Kind of like with Theodore, I don’t really like Theodore, but Theo is ok.

Abram has kind of struck me. You could call the kid Abe which is ok, but the longer name Abram isn’t that long and I actually kind of like it, but husband isn’t totally keen on it.

Leo is my grandfather name and I like it and am unsure about it all at the same time.

Bruno my son came up with after watching a movie about St. John Bosco, but I feel like with Bruno Mars it just kind of ruins it.

I think that we do not like names that are difficult for people to say or spell. That is why I like the name of my son Nash so much. It is different, not many people have that name, but no one ever asks how to spell it or for me to repeat it. It can’t be shortened or nicknamed. So I think we tend to lean towards those kind of names, especially looking at our other kids names, short, easy to say, can’t be nicknamed really.

So I think maybe that wraps it up … or maybe this is all just a jumbled mess of words. I just feel very discouraged because I will go through and read 1000 boy names and not really like any of them and none of the names on our list do I really really like and I just worry this baby won’t have a name 😦 or that I will just have to settle on a name. I don’t have great expectations of absolutely LOVING and feeling totally connected to a name because I just never feel that way before hand which is part of why we don’t name until the baby is here. I think its hard for me to connect a baby I haven’t seen with a name … it’s just weird to me and I certainly could never call a baby a name until there are here. (I think I am weird like that)

But I hope that you can think of some possibilities, although I fear that every boy name out there is just going to be blah. But thank you so much in advance for your time and your talents and good luck!!!!!

I’m sure we can help Ashley and her husband! Even if only by sparking a conversation that leads them to the right name! Ashley also sent a photo of her beautiful family, in case it was helpful for inspiration:


What a handsome/beautiful crew! 😍😍😍

So first off, I love that Theo(dore)’s on their list because of Ashley’s wonderful experience, and I think “just Theo” is a really nice fit with Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna. Theo Locke sounds pretty cool!

Speaking of Locke, I just have to say — it seems like a homerun for their son’s first name! With Nash having a surname feel — indeed, having been a surname in Ashley’s husband’s family before it was her son’s first name — I immediately thought when I started reading her email that another family surname would be a great idea for their second son, and then when I read about Locke it seemed so perfect! Something like Locke William (for the William on her husband’s side) or Locke Raymond (to lengthen her great-grandfather Ray’s name) would be so handsome (and both William and Raymond are saints’ names). I also like the idea of Rhymes and McVea — if they weren’t already used in Ashley’s family, I’d think they were great options.

Of the names on their list, a few thoughts:

  • Bruno—this is the second time in a month I’ve heard the name Bruno from a reader! I guess I wouldn’t have thought that Bruno Mars would ruin the name, but rather that he would make it seem extra feasible — do the rest of you agree? The fact that it was inspired by a St. John Bosco movie made me wonder if Ashley and her hubs would consider Bosco as a first name? Blogger Grace Patton has a Bosco, it’s such a cool name I think (she also has an Abe!)
  • Leo—great name, and I love that it’s a family name for them! It’s easy to say and spell, like Nash
  • Ansel—I’m not sure if this is helpful, but if Ashley’s husband doesn’t like Ansel, there’s the similar and very saintly Anselm
  • Brock—Ashley’s comment about Brock reminding her of the 80s made me laugh! I can see what she means, though it actually peaked in popularity in 2003
  • Ben—it’s funny that, though I think Theo can stand on its own as a name, I have a harder time getting there with Ben. I do see what Ashley means about not caring for the longer version and just preferring to name him Ben—it’s certainly not the end of the world, and I’m sure other parents have done it (in fact, checking the 2016 SSA stats, there were 347 baby boys named just Ben!). I had some other ideas for them on how to get to Ben though, if they were open to thinking of a formal name for it—all of these were bestowed on boys in 2016 per the SSA:

— Ruben/Reuben
— Eben
— Bento
— Robben
— Benz
— Benning
— Bence
— Benno

One that’s not on this list that I like is Bendt — it’s a Danish form of Benedict

  • Raph/Raif—I usually see these as nicknames for Raphael (I usually see the spelling Rafe, if that’s helpful), but Rafe (that spelling) is also a variant of Ralph, and reflects the way the name used to be said (it still is sometimes—actor Ralph Fiennes says it “Rafe”), so that could make it a nice nod to the Ralph Harry in their family. AND — the meaning of Raphael is “God has healed,” which is so perfect for this baby!
  • Abram—I like Abram a lot, and Abe is one of my favorite nicknames! Abel is another with similar sounds
  • Owen—I actually think Owen’s a great idea for this family, because it’s short like their other kids’ names, and it has usage as a surname, which fits in with the style of Nash—St. Nicholas Owen is one of my favorites!
  • Sam—If they’re thinking of Sam on its own, I feel like it’s similar to Ben for me, in that I have a hard time seeing it as a given name on its own (but who cares what I think, if they like it!). If Ashley and her hubs don’t care for Samuel or Samson, I’ve often thought Sam could work as a nickname for Ambrose, which is sort of similar to Abram and Ansel, and super saintly. Another nickname idea I’ve liked for Ambrose is Bram, and I actually love Bram on its own too—I should have thought of it when I was commenting on Abram above, as Bram is a form of Abraham
  • Isaac—love it
  • Ford—this would be a great brother name for Nash I think! Especially if it has family significance! There’s a Bl. Thomas Ford, which can give them a saintly tie-in
  • Casper and Oliver are both awesome—and Oliver would be particularly attractive to me, being Ashley’s maiden name—but I agree that they don’t sound great with the last name Wagner

I totally get that Ashley and her hubs like names that are easy to say and spell, so I focused on that when looking for name ideas for them, and I let Nash’s name influence me the most! I tried to find names that I thought felt like his—short and surnamey, or at least one or the other. I also tried to find faith connections for each of my ideas, though I wasn’t able to for all of them (but that can be easily remedied by the middle name).

That said, you all know that I start all my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, so I did look up Clare, Holly, and Anna too to see if there were any boy ideas that were similar in style to theirs, that would also work as a brother for Nash.

Based on that research, as well as some ideas that I had on my own, these are my suggestions:

(1) Grant
Weirdly, Clare doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but Claire and Clara do, so I looked them both up, as they have different style matches. Grant was a match for Claire, and it immediately felt like a good suggestion. I know a family with a Benjamin and a Grant, so Grant makes sense to me for someone who likes Ben. It’s easy to say and spell, just like they’re hoping for. (For what it’s worth, Benjamin is also a match for Claire, and Leo for Clara.) I looked up the popularity of each name I suggested here (as well as their older kids) to be sure they weren’t too popular, and Grant was no. 171 in 2016, which is a really comfortable place to be—not top 100, but not unheard of. (For reference, Nash was 286, Clare was 719 [but Claire was 40]), Holly was 527, and Anna was 51.)

(2) Miles or Milo
You all know that I often suggest Miles/Milo on the blog, ever since I discovered that they have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I loooove Marian names for boys! I thought their popularity was pretty good for Ashley’s taste too—Miles was no. 105 in 2016, and Milo was 248, which I think makes it an extra good match for Nash, who was no. 286. Miles was also a style match for Clara, and Milo for Leo.

(3) Case
This is one of my own ideas, inspired by a family I did a consultation for a while ago who had a similar aesthetic as this family. One of their boys was Case, in honor of (now) Bl. Solanus Casey. I loved that! I love Casey (and it’s a style match for Holly!), but I get that some people don’t like that it has usage among both boys and girls, so I thought Case was a great solution. Nash and Case have a really similar feel, and I love any name that ties to Bl. Solanus! Case was no. 551 in 2016 (for reference, Casey was no. 560 for boys and 857 for girls).

(4) Jude
I’m actually surprised that Jude wasn’t already on their list, which makes me think maybe they considered it and decided against it? It’s actually a match for Anna and Leo, and it was no. 161 in 2016. I like that it starts with a J, so it can maybe be a nod to Ashley’s husband Jeffrey and the Johns in his family. Jude Locke has exactly the same rhythm as John Locke, which can be another connection to them.

(5) Blaise
This is really just because it’s a really saintly, short name. I also thought they might like a B suggestion, since they have Bruno, Brock, and Ben on their list (and Abram, which has a strong B sound). It was no. 903 in 2016.

(6) Kolbe
Speaking of really saintly, short names, Kolbe is that, and it’s also a surname! I know Ashley said she doesn’t like Cole (which, incidentally, was a match for Claire and Owen), but I think Kolbe has a different flavor all together. It wasn’t in the top 1000 in 2016, though there were 51 boys so named.

(7) Nico
I looove the name Nico! I think this might be a wild card suggestion, as some people think it has too much of a Latin feel to work well for families that aren’t Hispanic or Italian, but it’s listed on as a Dutch and German short form of Nicholas or Nicodemus (in addition to being an Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese short form), and the spelling Niko is a Finnish, Croatian, Slovene, Georgian, and German form. Nico was no. 496 in 2016, and Niko was no. 614. It’s definitely not trendy, or country, or Matt-esque, and I don’t consider it “wacky out there” either. So maybe?

(8) Evan
My last idea for Ashley and her hubs is Evan. It was a style match for Owen, which is what put it on my radar, and what encouraged me to list it here is that it’s a variant of John. Ashley said they can’t use John as a first name because of all the Johns in their family, but using a variant of John could be a cool way to work around that, and still nod to those relatives. I quite like the idea of Evan Locke. Evan was no. 69 in 2016, and I think it fits their criteria of “easy to say and spell.” (Other John variants are Sean, Shane, and Ian, and I’ve even seen an argument made for Owen having usage as a Gaelic form of John, so if they end up going with Owen, that could be a nice connection too).

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna?


41 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Baby no. 5/boy no. 2 needs short saintly name

  1. Grant and Case sound great with these names. Great thinking! I love the name Grant in general. Grant has the same connotation as “gift” in my mind, especially because in the prayers of the Mass, “dona (from ‘donum’ – meaning gift) nobis pacem” is translated as “grant us peace”.

    Also, I think that Clare is the name that really sets the tone for this family. Nash came first, so Clare was obviously chosen to go with Nash. And then the girl names match really well with Clare as well. Grant matches really well with Clare and also with Nash.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Theo for them given mama’s experience and I think it totally works as a stand alone.

    Case stands out in the best possible way to me! I can totally see that as a brother to Nash.

    I also like Jonas (from another recent consultation) as a name that everyone can spell and pronounce but is still uncommon enough to make you pause.

    Any “saintly surname” could also be a great match for this family!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We have a baby boy named Grant (5 months old). We love the name and call him Grant-man or Baby G as a nickname 😉 I have never heard of another Grant and I have worked with kids for lots of years, so I like that! We also have a Luke and a Bennett!l 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a Bent (from The Netherlands) in Urban’s class and now I’ve thrown two of my suggestions in the ring! Heartily agree on Blaise, LOVE Anselm, and would add Clement, Felix, Pius, and Roche

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Four Thoughts on this Consult:
    1. If you love Bruno, go for it. As a mom of a Jude, Jude Law and the song ‘hey Jude’ are nowhere near as awesome as the love I have for my boy. If you name your kid Bruno, the association will fade.
    2. Theo definitely works on its own. If you don’t like Theodore, you could say it’s a reference to Theodophilus, to whom the Gospel of Luke is addressed.
    3. There is a Saint Benno who was a bishop. It’s unique, Catholic, and easy to spell. Worth considering.
    4. As previously stated, I am the mom of a Jude, so I think that name rules. Pick that. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I immediately thought Theodore after reading her story. And I absolutely think Theo stands alone just fine. To be honest…i think she could totally do just Ben if that’s what she likes. But lately I’ve really liked the name Benton and it has a surname theme going on like Nash.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I just have got to leave a compliment for you, Kate, because I feel like this post really knocked it out of the park! I’m not sure why this one hit me more than others, but I thought it was fab! Theo, Locke, Raphael/Rafe, Case (!!), Jude, and Nico all seem like really great matches to me, and Benno if they’re feeling brave! I can’t wait to read the update from this lovely family!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So it seems like they are fixed on some names. May I suggest a few! I have 3 boys.
    Ethan Gabriel
    Joshua Logan
    Jonas Anthony
    I don’t like shortening names either but each of the longer names are Saint names. We actually use the 5 letter names, so we calll our middle boy Logan.
    But Jonas Anthony is a double whammy, both are Saints. St. Jonas was a Priest that lived humbly, he was a gardener.
    Perhaps a combo of Jonas Benton would compliment their last name? I wish them the best and pray for a healthy delivery!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There are lots of good suggestions here! I like Leo, Case, and Jude. Another short B name I thought of was Bede, for Saint Bede. It’s easy to say, but not quite as intuitive as Nash to spell.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really love this post as well! I have two cousins, who are brothers, named Evan and Casey. I am always surprised when names that “go together” actually do go together in real life!

    I was thinking about the name Nathaniel for this family, because it means, “God has given”. We used it for our son, because he was born after we had had a miscarriage. We call him Nate and he is a really sweet and fun little boy.

    Nash and Nate are probably too similar for a set of brothers, but maybe Nathaniel or Nathan could work as a middle name. A little nod to how this pregnancy was such a gift from God.

    As for first name ideas, here are some that I think sound like a fit for this set of siblings: Ethan, Finn, Graeme/Graham, Henry, Jack (unless one of the Johns in the family is a Jack) , Jay or Locke (I think it sounds like a cool first name).

    Congratulations on your pregnancy and I hope choosing this baby’s name is a fun experience for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I want to add Knox in just because I think it goes with Nash so well. I know a set of brothers with those names.
    Also, on Brock I have known two. One was probably born between 1985 and 1990 and the other is about 6 I think.
    I love your suggestion of Evan Locke. So cool sounding.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. We have a Grant David and love the name! It was my maiden name so it has special meaning for us, but I love the Grant us peace notes from above, never occurred to me. Something that was important to me was a name that wasn’t too popular. With our second son, I completely let this go and went with the very very popular name William (long story) for our second son. Funny enough, Grant has another Grant in his preschool class and William doesn’t have anyone with a similar name in his class. LOL I think Grant is a lovely match for them!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the name Rocco for them. St. Rocco is the patron saint of the sick and has an awesome story of healing. Also, I feel Rocco and Nash go together and it’s easy to spell. Also, the name Rocco means “rest,” so you could say that this baby gave her rest from her illness and rest from worry, and she is now resting in the love of the Father.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Two more ideas-one is that Sam(uel) has the great meaning “God heard” so I think it’s worth a good look again from Ashley’s list. Another is that a nickname for Oliver could be Lio (Leo) which would make this baby have a double Ashley connection and perhaps fitting since this has been such a special pregnancy journey for her. I don’t think the -er endings bother me too much, especially if the only time he’d hear it would be at graduation with a middle name to break it up 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I think so many of these names work great for this family’s new boy: Bruno, Kolbe, Felix, Blaise, Theo, Ben, Reuben, Jude, Locke, Grant and Miles. But not Oliver, because they have a Holly already and they sound similar.
    Other ideas are: Hugo, Ryan, Ethan, Jordan, Justin, Kyle, Drew, Jasper, Scott and Beckett.
    Beckett is my favorite: B initial, just 2 syllables, surname and saint connection 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I like Leon for them, it goes really well with Nash in my opinion (and it’s just a cool name). Leo is also nice! I love Milo, maybe they might like Arlo? It’s kind of trendy but cool. Bruno was my grandfather’s name so I considered it, but it’s a bit much for me. Apparently it’s super trendy in Germany. Jude is spot on! They could even do just Beck for Beckett, I like that idea. Feels more complete than Ben to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I was thinking Theo immediately when Ashley was talking about this pregnancy and feeling assured by God! And then she mentioned it. 🙂 So I think Theo is perfect!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jude Locke is swoon worthy. Saintly, family tie, nickname proof, nice tie to the feeling of your pregnancy this time…seems to hit all the marks.

    Boone. If Ben and Bruno don’t seem quite right, how about Boone? It means blessing. I like Boone Locke and Boone Leo.

    One of the aspects I appreciate about Nash is that it has a part of mama’s name (ASHley) embedded in it. N(ash). It would be an incredibly subtle nod to mom if this son had a name that included a Ley/lee/li sound. Brotherly bookends to mom’s name. Leo and Lee seem to pair as good middle names to most every name I’ve seen considered for this family.

    While reading Ashley’s story, I started humming the hymn that starts, “There is a balm in Gilead.” This pregnancy is kinda like God’s balm. The name means “hill of testimony.” Ashley’s story seems to be a testimony to me. I love surprises in the middle name spot. I like Grant Gilead. Bonus points for having a Lee sound buried in it.

    I love so many options in this post, but wanted to highlight these:
    Jude Locke
    Boone Leo
    Grant Gilead

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We call our son Nico. His full name is Dominic (plus a bunch of middle names, because I love middle names), which fits nicely with the Anglo Saxon sounds of our other two – Margaret Jane and Alasdair Lewis, but we live in Georgia (the country) and that name sounds so foreign to Georgians. Niko (or Nika), on the other hand, is incredibly familiar to them, because St. Nicholas is so popular here. “His name is Nico,” we say, and everyone smiles, and nods and says, “Nika, yes, yes, yes..”
    We’re glad that it worked out so well, because we had the absolute WORST time choosing his name. Girls’ names are so much easier, and Nico was a day old before we had decided on anything.

    Also, Lewis is a great name (Not that I’m biased, or anything!). Also short, similar sounding to Owen, Leo and Ansel. Not a saint, but CS Lewis is awesome. And there’s always St. Louis, and this is just the English spelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. My cousin has a Nash (middle name Patrick- for her parents Rick and Patty who have passed away). Siblings are Madilynn Cecelia (middle after a grandma who lived with her) and Samarra Elizabeth.

    I like Case for them. To me it seems like the best match to Nash.

    Liked by 1 person

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