Baby name consultation: Nickname-as-given-name, plus charismatic name ideas

Ali and her husband are expecting their third baby! This little one joins big brothers:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph

I love both of those names! Using short-and-sweet names — including the way Ali and her hubs have done it, where the names are usually used as nicknames — is a really fun way to go.

Ali writes,

Max was a result of me and hubby not agreeing and finally he said “how about Max?” Zack, we chose because it was monosyllabic and had the ah sound like Max. Max’s middle name was chosen because hub’s grandma, Patricia, has just passed away. It was a nod to her and a nod to St Patrick. Zack was adopted and we had a particular affinity for St Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus during the long process.

We like the idea of a middle name being a saint name and the first name being a shortened saint name. So Max isn’t Maximilian and Zack isn’t Zachary or Zechariah or anything. Since my hubby is Andrew and goes by Andy and my name is Alison but I go by Ali, we wanted to give our children a short first name that was their actual name. I didn’t want a long name I was going to shorten anyways. So a cool nod, monosyllabic, to a saint for a first name with a saint or Marian middle name is the goal.

We will be finding out soon if it’s a boy or girl. I have really no clue what I want for a boy. All I know is what I don’t want — names ending in -ack or -ax and not starting with Ma-. I’m not a huge fan of Luke or Ben. I’m not completely opposed to two syllables if it’s a cool name. I kinda like Nate. Shortened form but stands alone fine, single syllable.

For girls, we really like the first name Kate, for my best friend Katherine (Katie) who passed away in college and a nod to St Catherine. We are not sold on it yet. We would love to somehow incorporate a Marian middle name because my mom is Mary.

My husband is a cradle catholic and I’m a convert. My confirmation Saint was St Stephen of MarSaba. I have a personal affinity for him, Joseph, and Francis of Assisi. We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome. [Ali offered the example of Jubilee.]

Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Besides Nate and Kate (didn’t realize they rhymed until now), we are completely stumped on names.”

I had a lot of fun working on this! I love that Kate is their frontrunner for a girl, and not just because it’s my name! 😊 I love the name Kate — if I had to choose my own name, I’m sure it’s the one I would pick. It can be spunky and serious, attorney and artist. Pairing it up with a Marian name for the middle, I think Kate Marie sounds fine, as does Kate Marian. Maybe Kate Rosemary? If they were open to branching out from Mary itself, I’m kind of digging the idea of Kate Rosary — I posted a birth announcement for a little Rosary when I first started the blog, and thought it was just the coolest idea. Or, to make the St. Catherine connection more obvious, Kate Siena? Or two middle names: Kate Siena Rose? Kate Siena Mary? Or, moving beyond Mary names, Kate Elizabeth would go quite nicely together.

It’s funny too that Ali said Nate is also a contender and that she didn’t realize they rhymed til she was emailing me — I know a sister and brother named Kate and Nate! They must feel like they go together!

Alrighty, so you all know that I normally start a consultation by looking up names the parents have already used and those they 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 Ali and her hubs — I looked up Max, Kate, Jack (as a stand-in for Zack), and Zachary, as I felt they would yield the best results — though I didn’t find it to be as helpful as usual. So I really just kind of went off in my own direction of trying to think of one-syllable nickname-type names that can stand on their own. I also consulted the “Short and Sweet” list in the back of the BNW. Based on all that, these are my ideas that I think fit in well with the feel of Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate:


(1) Tess
I looove the name Tess, and just like with Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate, it’s originally a nickname for a longer name — in fact, any of the Sts. Teresa/Therese can be patrons of a little Tess!

(2) Hope, Faith
I have some suggestions below that might fit in more with their charismatic sensibility, but I think Hope and Faith can kind of bridge the style of Max/Zack/Kate/Nate with that of some more out-there names like Jubilee (tangentially, this reminds me of this family, who has True, Brave, Soul, and Glow).

(3) Beth
Beth can certainly be for any of the Sts. Elizabeth, but I actually had Bethany more in mind when I added it to the list!

(4) Zoe
I know it’s two syllables, but you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s spunky and zippy, and it’s the birth name of a different St. Catherine — St. Catherine Laboure. (I should say, I assumed Ali’s St. Catherine is Siena! But maybe she meant Laboure?) But maybe they don’t care to repeat Zack’s initial?

(5) Liv, Viv
I almost included Eve as a suggestion, and ultimately decided it was a little too … staid? Serious? For what I perceive Ali’s and her husband’s taste to be? But Liv felt more like them, to me, and like Eve (and Zoe) it’s related to “life.” But to tie it to a saint, it’s used as a nickname for Olivia, so St. Oliver Plunkett can be patron, or Our Lady of Olives. It also made me think of the rhyming Viv, and it’s funny because just recently I was thinking again how disappointed I was in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they named their twins Knox and Vivienne, because, though I love Vivienne, I always felt like Knox and Viv would have gone together better, especially since the older sisters have the more-unusual-than-Vivienne names Shiloh and Zahara. (I know it’s weird that I have an opinion on it!) There’s a St. Vivian that can be patron.

(6) Mae, Rose
Mae is a Mary variant, so it can work to honor Ali’s Mom and Mother Mary! And Rose speaks for itself. I’m including them together because I did a consultation + birth announcement recently for a family who has girls Mae and Rose — those are their given names and I thought they were so pretty together.

There were a bunch of other names I considered but decided not to include in my “final” list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Clare, Shea, Elle, Abby, Molly, Jane, Rue.


(1) Sam
Funny that Sam is my first suggestion for Ali and her hubs on the boy list, when those two girls with the names that are the last on my girl list, Mae and Rose, have a brother Samuel! I love Sam with Max and Zack (and Kate/Nate if they do so later).

(2) Cole, Nico
Cole and Nico are both variants/nicknames of Nicholas, who’s a great patron!

(3) Leo, Theo
In my experience, parents who like shorter names like Leo and Theo. Leo’s a little different from their other ideas in that it’s a full name on its own and it didn’t start as a nickname (though it can be for Leopold/Leonard(o)), but Theo definitely has a similar feel as Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate.

(4) Hank
The name Hank makes me grin whenever I see it! What a fun name! It’s a traditional nickname for Henry, so any of the Sts. Henry can be patron.

(5) Tad
Tad is a nickname for Thaddeus, so they can choose St. Jude Thaddeus as patron, or Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican priest and martyr to whom I have a devotion.

(6) Eli
I think the biblical Eli ties nicely to Zack, which I think most people would connect with the longer biblical names, but it was actually listed as a style match for Max.

So those are my ideas for names that I think are similar enough to Ali and her hubs’ style that they might like them and feel comfortable with them. But I loved Ali’s comment, “We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome.” Keeping Jubilee in mind as inspiration, this is what I came up with:


(1) Charis
Taken right from the word “charismatic” itself, and contained within the word Eucharist, Charis is a really pretty girl name. I’ve seen parents choose it because of the connection to the word Eucharist (and that part of Eucharist is the same as the “charis” in charism(atic)).

(2) Caeli
This could make a great middle name if they liked it but weren’t comfortable with it for the first name. It can be said CHAY-lee or KAY-lee, and it’s Latin for “of heaven,” as in the Marian title Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

(3) Halle
Not to talk football the day after the Superbowl 😀 , but Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers and his wife named their first baby Halle because Halle’s contained in Hallelujah. So cool, right?

(4) Roma
After Rome, like Roman Catholic!

(5) Pia
Pia means “pious,” and Our Lady is called “pia” in the Latin form of the Hail Holy Queen (O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria).

(6) Kyrie
I know the basketball player Kyrie Irving is a guy, and Kyrie means “Lord,” but I’ve always thought of it as sounding more feminine (I’m sure I’m influenced by Kira). He says KY-ree, but at Mass we say KEE-ree-ay.

(7) Praise
One of the mamas I spotlighted on the blog because of her fantastically creative taste in names recently named a son à Kempis Exodus Praise, and I could see Praise being a really pretty name for a girl as well.


(1) Tiber
I love the name Tiber — this mama used it for her boy because of her conversion and her husband’s reversion. The Tiber is a river in Rome, so those that have converted are said to have “crossed the Tiber” — could be meaningful for Ali too!

(2) Blaise
Funny enough, that mom of Tiber also has a Cole (which I suggested above) and a Blaise, which also strikes me as a great charismatic name because of how it sounds like “blaze”!

(3) Cruz
Those who don’t have any Hispanic ancestry might feel weird about using this name, but that didn’t stop the Beckhams! Cruz means “cross” and refers to the Cross of Crucifixion.

(4) Pace
I totally would have suggested Pax if they didn’t already have Max, but Pace means the same: peace.

(5) Rio
When Pope Francis visited Rio de Janeiro, I immediately started thinking about Rio as a faithy name! It could be a nod to Pope Francis via his trip there, or the River Jordan, or John the Baptist because he baptized Jesus in the Jordan.

(6) Creed
Fans of The Office will probably laugh at this suggestion! But it’s a great name, full of faith significance.

I also did a post a while back on Holy Spirit names, which might interest Ali and her hubs.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Max and Zack?


23 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Nickname-as-given-name, plus charismatic name ideas

  1. I love Luke – but they don’t, so my other favorite would be your suggestion of Sam. That is perfect. For the girl names I like Beth and Tess. All typical nicknames but also known to be used as stand-alone names. And great saints or OT figures.

    For girls, another I thought of is Meg – short sweet, nickname for Margaret but can stand on its own and there are so many St. Margaret to choose from. When I was a kid I always wanted a Meg (because Little Women).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Boy: Hugh (for the Holy Spirit), Chris (for Jesus and St. Christopher), Gus, Finn, Will and Fred.

    Girl: Dove (for the Holy Spirit – I’ve also seen Breeze), Gwen (=white, for Mother Mary), Jane, Lux and Quinn.

    My favorites are Gus Francis and Gwen Catherine.

    Also, I love some of your ideas: Blaise, Leo, Claire, Mae, Rose and Caeli.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul’s writings are source of the information on charismatic gifts so he is a go-to charismatic saint, I think. Paul is nice and short one syllable boy name – no nicknames. Could also be a nice middle nickname for a girl – Pauline or Paulina.

    And have to mention Jude – not a nickname associated one, just stand alone. It is my current favorite short and sweet boy’s name with a saint connection. But maybe it has a softer feel than Max and Zack.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, and what about just Steve? Great way to have a connection to St. Stephen of Mar Saba that Ali mentioned. Steve was a very common stand-alone name mid-century.

    Joy for a girl. Short sweet. The root of charismatic is “chara” with literally means joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cole and Kate were my first thoughts.

    My husband also loves Kate & Nate 🙂 I wasn’t a big fan of Nate as a stand-alone, but Kate is still a contender for a future girl 🙂

    Other ideas are Frank, Nick, Jake, Gabe, or Mike. For girls: Clare, Bree or Brie (like Gabrielle), Joy, or Hallel (like the praise Psalms). Lily might work too as a nickname for Lillian or Elizabeth, but it is a two syllable name.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Max, Zach and…
    My first thought was Abe. I like the suggestions of Hank and Theo. Vince or Levi if 2 syllables are ok. Is this too out there…Cai? You could also spell it Kai. It seems to have many meanings; I think it could be considered a reference to Pope Caius.
    In the same vein as Jubilee, for boys I love Chord (allusions to biblical David, angels, etc), Arrow, and Quill.

    For girls, I love Tess and the suggestion of Meg. A previous poster mentioned Little Women, but it is also the main character in A Wrinkle in Time. Jubilee makes me think of Bliss. In the same vein, there’s Vesper, Selah, Lux, Revere, Beacon (nn Bea), Alma (Spanish for soul).

    My favorites for you are Cai and Tess.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve always liked the name Drew on its own, and it would be a cool connection with dad, Andrew/Andy. I wonder if Sam would be too many short-a sounds in a row, that they would feel stuck in that pattern later if they have additional boys? Totally up to them though, of course!

    I knew a girl named Kyrie pronounced like we say it in mass, when I was a kid!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a fun consultation! All my first thoughts have already been suggested… but there are a few I’d like to add. For a girl: Mercy, Elsie or Fae. For a boy: Cal, Dean, Jay or Matt. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think Creed would be great -my first association would be with the band not The Office – but the meaning is beautiful.

    I will also suggest Case for a boy which could be a tribute to Solanus Casey.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Anne, Bea, Bowe, Clare/Clare, Day, Doe, Dot, Dove, Eve, Faye, Fleur, Jael, Jewel, Joss, Lourdes, Lune, Luz, Maeve, Maude, Neige, Nell, Pearl, Ruth, Xanthe

    Bay, Beck (too similar to Zack?) Beech, Bix, Bram, Claude, Frost, Giles, Heath, Ives, Job, Keats, Lev, Luc, Mies, Rhett, Roche, Roque, Van, Vaughn, Yves

    Liked by 1 person

  11. these are such fun cool names! what a great ideas! just a thought: knew a mama who wanted to name her daughter Kyrie and a priest told her it was off limits, that it’s basically naming your child God. i’m sure there are other perspectives on this and differing opinions, but it’s just a thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that poor mama! I’m sure the priest was well intentioned, but by his reasoning I would think Emmanuel/Emmanuella, Jesús, and the Chris- names would be off the table as well. Never mind that the name Cyril is derived from the same as Kyrie.


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