Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation 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. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

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14 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

  1. I think Sebastian is a home run name! I will offer Giles though, for variety. I’ve always thought Gus could be a great nickname for Gus and Vinny and Gus would make the best brothers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Disclaimer: I am a CRAZY obsessed soccer mom.

    One nickname for Xavier is Xavi, pronounced “Zhavi”, like the Spanish soccer player Xavi Hernandez. Awesome awesome nickname, in my book.

    Vinny and Xavi as brothers? Wonderful!
    Love those two names together!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many wonderful names! I think any of the options on your list works very well, as do all of Kate’s suggestions.

    Some more ideas (not that you need them!)
    Raphael/ Rafael (Rafe, Raf, Rafi/Raphi)
    Hugo (Hu/Hugh/Hue?)
    Ambrose (Brody, Amo, Ames, Amos, Ro?)
    Lucien/Lucian/Louis (Luc/Luke, Lu/Lou?)
    Florian (Flor, Rian, Flin?)
    Olivier (Ollie?)
    Simeon (Si, Sim?)
    Edmund/Edmond (Ed, Ted, Ned?)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m also a mom to a Vincent and I adore his name to this day. My Vincent occasionally goes by Vinny as well. It really fits in so many categories that it is hard to find a follow up.

    My long list (my other sons’ names are included in this list):
    Pascal (nickname Cal), Zechariah, Dominic, Nicolas (Nico), Gabriel, Raphael, Xavier (Xavy), Emmanuel, Isaiah, Isaac, Johan (Yo), Francis, Thomas, Marco or Marcos, Olivier, Matthias, Evander, Edmund, Malcolm (Mac), Maximilian, Casimir (Cas), Alexander, Marius, Benedict, Jeremiah (Jem), Hugo, Andrew, Levi and Patrick.

    Good luck!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Emmanuel nicknamed Manu is a love of mine!

    Maxwell could also be Mac or Wells. Maxim seems like it would fit in with your set really well

    I’d like to suggest Hector, Gabriel, Miles (nicknamed Milo?), Peter, Dante, Frederick, Oscar, Laszlo, Ambrose (nicknamed Ambo, Bo, Obie, Row), Reuben, Thaddeus (Tad, Day), (or Thadée as a middle?), Julius, Anders, Fraser, Otto (Ottie, Otter or Toto), Ignatius, Magnus (Gus), Hadrian (Rio), Bram, Ira or Leander (Leo, Land, Anders, Andy etc)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi! I live in Quebec and am surrounded by amazing French names. Some of the names I was thinking of have already been mentioned, but I have a few bilingual names to add: Aaron, Adam, Antoine, Benjamin, Charles, Damian, Daniel, David, George (Georges in French), Henry (Henri), Jeremy (Jeremie), Justin, Loïc, Nicolas, Paul, Robert, Samuel, Victor, William (it is the most popular boys name in Quebec) and Zachary.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Double names are also very popular here. A few I’ve heard lately are Louis-David, Olivier-Pierre and Laurent-Paul. I wonder if this family might give a double barrel name and use the initials as a nickname.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love all your suggestions, Kate!!! Especially Xavier and Dominic (really I think the “nic” names, whether it’s at the beginning or the end of a name, are fantastic as far as sound and working pretty much anywhere go). I like the names they’re already considering, too. Felix and Emmanuel!!!

    I know Francis is an issue because of the pronunciation, but what if he went exclusively by a nickname? I’ve loved the idea of Francis Oliver (or Francis Oscar or Francis Oswald or Francis Owen etc etc) nicknamed Franco and I’ve been dying for someone else to use it because if I ever had a Francis he’d be Finn to go along with the other names I like – and if I can’t use it I need someone else to!!! 🙂 🙂 I wonder if they’d be okay with Francis since a nickname can be an opportunity to pick a single pronunciation and stick with it forever. With the other names they like, I’m especially into Francis Oliver Pascal, Francis Pierre Oliver, Francis Oliver Aslan, Francis Pierre Oswald. I really like Vinny and Franco together, too. Like… a LOT! The only thing that would stop me from using Francis is that it would mean not being able to use Felix in the future if they were to have another son. Unless they change their minds about initials!!! Both are such great names, I’d hate to choose!!! I suppose a middle spot it always a possibility though. 🙂

    Wells is another possible nickname for Maxwell, too. I like Wells, although I think I prefer Max as a brother to Vinny. To me Wells has a different vibe than Vinny – though… I think it has a similar feel to Vincent. LOL. But I think you’re right about Maximilian! I actually think that would be the ideal choice if they go with a Max name.

    Also – I’ve long thought that the names of the archangels are pretty worldly. I think Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel would all make lovely choices for them. Each goes really well with Vincent in my opinion, and the nicknames go pretty well with Vinny, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have some great choices. You can’t go wrong. I like there combos.
    – Emmanuel Leo Pierre. Manny
    – Maxwell Aslan Xavier. MAX or Wells.
    – Leo Etienne Valor. Nn LEV. I noticed you have a few names meaning “lion” on your list, specifically Leo and Aslan. I kinda dig that Leo means lion and the initials of this spell Lev, a cool nickname. Lev is lion in Russian.

    Liked by 2 people

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