Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

Happy Labor Day! No better day to post a consultation! 😉

Sometimes parents will request a consultation when they’re in between babies — the planners among you (like me!) will understand! It’s fun to replenish/refresh name lists when there’s no baby on the way and no pressure. I always enjoy those kinds of consultations, and tend to view them as a chance to spread my wings a bit — to seek a bit farther afield for ideas and to suggest some that I might not suggest if a baby’s arrival is imminent and Mom and Dad just need to find “the” name.

Today’s consultation is one such! Monica and her hubby recently welcomed their second baby — second girl! — and wanted to add some names to their girl list and see if there are any boy names that I might suggest as well. They currently have:

Magdalene Eve-Marie “Maggie”
Genevieve Rose “Genny”

Gorgeous, right??

For reference, my name is Monica Marie, confirmation name Bridget (but it’s for St. Brigid of Ireland). My husband is Joseph Martin, confirmation name Cyril.

Our main ethnic heritage is — from my side — Italian, with some German, Irish, and Scottish — from his side — French, Irish, and Ukrainian. Tidbits of other stuff, but those are the major lines.

Other names that have been at the top of our girl list in the past are Miriam (still high) and Ramona (falling in favor). These days we mostly only like Ramona because we had paired it with Carmel as a middle name, which we still like. Perhaps we could do Miriam Carmel instead. It’s not bad, though I think I preferred Carmel with Ramona because it ended in -a.

We also like Grace quite a bit. I like Avila, Mercedes, Edith, Celine, Faith and Hope … Anne (I love Anne of Green Gables, like every girl…) … but my husband isn’t as keen on those. My husband has a thing for Russian names and likes Natasha, but I don’t. I would consider Nadia or Sonya instead. We’ve recently been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, and were intrigued by Sunniva, but it’s probably too Scandinavian for us.

Aside from the Marian requirement, I think our girl name style is very feminine, elegant, but not over the top frilly/sugary/sticky sweet … We like the names Rebecca and Susannah/Suzanna, both of which belong to sisters of mine, and have considered them as middle names for Miriam, since they match its Old Testament feel. We like a lot of religious significance, both saint connections and linguistic meaning, and maybe a sprinkle of literary and historical inspiration. I also tend to like a more complex religious significance than just a patron saint, although patron saints are great, and if I like the name that would be enough. But if it’s more complex, like a title of Mary rather than just her name, or a combination that evokes a religious event like the Visitation (I.e. any combo of Mary and Elizabeth names), or a name with double religious significance … I like it even better! It seems like we’ve gone for French-inspired names (I know we didn’t choose the Madeleine form, but I still think of St. Mary Magdalene in a French light via her sojourn there) that could take an Irish sounding nickname. This is perfect, as our last name … is actually Irish, but often mistaken for French, and my husband actually has a lot of French heritage through his mom’s side. That probably isn’t a necessary requirement, though, since it’s kind of unusual to find French names with Irish sounding nicknames. Both names we’ve chosen so far are not super common but familiar enough to be recognizable and fairly pronounceable. And … heavy on the “Eve” sound … though maybe we should NOT repeat that a third time.

Boy names are a whole different story. We tend to disagree a lot more. Some of the universal stuff about name significance I mentioned above applies to boy names as well, but I’m not sure we have as much of a definite style since we disagree a lot and only agree sort of randomly. I like some more Romance language names like Santiago and Giovanni and Enzo, thanks to my Italian heritage, and my husband likes Russian names … partly because he loves Russian novels and history, but he is actually 1/4 Ukrainian/Slovakian as well. He is always pushing for Vladimir or Dmitri. I don’t think any of the above ethnic options work well with our very every-day-American last name, though I could maybe reconcile with one if it had family significance (like Cosimo in my family … but then again, that would be more significant with my maiden name). I’ve always said if we were going to do an ethnic name it might be best if it were the same ethnicity as our last name, so we went looking for Irish names, and found we agreed on Finnian, which is probably #3 on our list. Maybe paired with Thomas as a middle name, for my husband’s dad. I also like Eamon, but my husband is less enthusiastic.

Probably #1 is Louis, which is actually French like the girls’ names. We’ve considered pairing it with Anthony for my dad or Martin for my husband (he doesn’t want a direct junior). It primarily would be for St. Louis of France, the king, but if we did Louis Martin that would be a cool double for St. Therese’s father as well.

#2 is John, because I love several saints John — especially John of the Cross and John the Evangelist, such beautiful contemplatives. My husband only consented to John (it is very plain, I admit, but the saints are so great!) with an “interesting” middle name. I pushed for Augustine, but he doesn’t like “A” boy names. So we have it paired with Maccabaeus on our list, which we both think is cool. Our family says they would call him “Johnny Mac.”

We’ve batted around a lot of others. Alexander fits my husband’s Russian taste and I like it, but think it’s a bit common and overused. I’d consider Ivan, but he’s not that much of a fan of that particular Russian name. We both like Blaise, Judah, Isaac, and David, though Isaac is taken by a close friend. Owen, Henry, Nicholas, Dominic, Zachary, Jude, Paul, Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Elijah, Jacob, Sebastian, Damian, Martin, Alexei, Thomas, and are on our ok list, but not favorites due to various circumstances (close friends used them, or one of us isn’t as keen as the other). I like Old Testament names, but my husband doesn’t like boy names that end in the “-iah” sound, which rules out a lot. For example, I liked Isaiah Joseph, but … nope. Although we do both like Judah. We’ve considered maybe a David Judah before. We liked Lavrans from Kristin Lavransdatter (is it a form of Lawrence? Do you know?) but it flows poorly with [our last name]. I like Kenneth and Walter from the Anne of Green Gables series, but my husband thinks they’re too old man sounding.”

I love the names Monica and her hubs chose for their girls — Magdalene Eve-Marie and Genevieve Rose are both gorgeous, and Maggie and Genny are the sweetest nicknames!

St. Mary Magdalene being “the Perfect Image of the New Eve” is SO cool! And I laughed when Monica sheepishly admitted that she liked the name Genevieve first, then looked up the saint later — I’ve done that many many times myself! And I think that’s sometimes how saints “find” us, by using our God-given taste in names! (I wrote about that here.)

Genevieve Eleanor would have been gorgeous too, and as for that pesky Eleanor/Helen connection, maybe my most recent post on it would be helpful going forward.

But Rose is just perfect! The Marian connection and family connections are perfect. (And how cool is Rosamystica as a middle name??!) I love Lucie/Lucy too, I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady of Light is one of her titles, but I can see why Monica’s hubby might have a hard time thinking of it as Marian, since it’s got such a life and history of its own.

I had an idea for “a Marian name beginning with a vowel, preferably an E” for a middle name going forward: Edessa is a name in my book, after her title Our Lady of Edessa. Such a beautiful name!

I love Miriam from their current list, and Ramona! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Ramona! What a great name! Ramona Carmel is stunning, and Miriam Carmel is lovely too. Grace, Mercedes, Faith, and Hope all are Marian — OL of Grace/Mercy/Mercies/Faith/Hope are all titles of her, and all of these names are in my book. Anne is too! I figured, when people are trying to name a baby after a beloved someone, sometimes they might look to the relatives of that person for inspiration.

I love the Russian names! Natasha, Nadia, and Sonya are all gorgeous! And ooh, Sunniva! I did a spotlight on it once, such a cool name. And Belén! I probably would have normally thought it was too Spanish for a non-Hispanic family, but one of my favorite bloggers (who’s not Hispanic) named her daughter Belén and I just love it! Cecilia too, so beautiful.

Re: Rosemary, I wonder if its nicknames Romy or Roma might sway Monica’s hubby? They remind me of Ramona — Rosemary with one of those nicknames might be a nice balance of styles.

I admit I totally latched onto how Monica said “we’ve gone for French-inspired names … that could take an Irish sounding nickname,” especially the “Irish sounding nickname” bit — you’ll see that a few of my ideas are in that vein!

Oh man, I’d love to find some “eve” sounding names for this family, but I agree — repeating that a third time would really set them up to continue it! And that’s a much harder pattern to follow than a “Marie-something” middle!

So I felt pretty confident with my ideas for girls after reading Monica’s email up to this point. It’s definitely helped by the fact that they have two girls already, and their names automatically rule out whole groupings of girl names, you know? Their names are no longer hypothetical options on their long list; they are now the reality and the standard to be measured against.

But boys! Since they don’t have any boys yet, and since they’re not committed to the same style for boys that they have for girls, it’s a wide open playing field. I had fun really trying to poke around and find some good options in addition to the three Monica mentioned. Louis Anthony/Louis Martin, John Maccabaeus (Johnny Mac! LOVE it! I also think John Augustine is pretty awesome), and Finnian Thomas are all fantastic!

One of the strategies that I thought might be helpful would be to consider Russian/French/non-English variants or nicknames of names they like, as a way of  spicing up a “normal” name. Alexander’s nickname in Russian and Ukrainian is Sasha, for example, so while Alexander might feel “common and overused,” Sasha is so interesting and unexpected! Or Alastar, which is the Irish variant; Sandro, which is an Italian nickname for it; or the spelling Aleksandr, which is Russian. (But then, Monica’s hubs doesn’t like A names — would Alexander be okay with him?) Regarding her hubby’s devotion to St. Peter, maybe the Russian Pyotr, the Ukrainian Petro, or the Irish Peadar? Or the variant Pierce, which is also an entry in my book, for how Simeon prophesied that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced with a sword.

This can go the other way too, which they’ve already considered: Ivan is the Russian for John, and they’ve already got John on their list! Monica is correct about Lavrans being a form of Lawrence (and blogger Haley Carrots considered it for her baby, if she’d been a boy!); Kenneth and Walter are both great too, and while they may have traditionally fallen into the old man category, I’ve heard them both (especially Walter, for Servant of God Walter Ciszek) on little guys over the past few years.

Blaise, Judah, Isaac, David (David Judah! So handsome!) are all wonderful. I love Old Testament names too! But there are so many that end in -iah! Gah!

When doing research for parents, you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book 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, using both their girls’ names and nicknames as well as all the other names Monica mentioned liking. Generally I look for overlap among the style matches for each name — are there names that show up as style matches for more than one of the names on their list, for example? That kind of thing. Also, a lot of it is really just gut feelings — do I *think* they’ll like this name? Based on all that, here are my ideas for Monica and her hubby to consider adding to their lists:

Girl
(1) Tess
I’m going to start off listing nicknames that I think fit their “Irish sounding nickname” idea, and then back into fuller given names for them. Tess is one of my favorites, and I think it’s darling with sisters Maggie and Genny. They could do a form of Teresa, but I didn’t think Monica would love that (although I knew a girl once named Marie-Therese and I thought she was so amazing and beautiful solely because of her name! Marie-Therese would go wonderfully with Magdalene and Genevieve, and Tess is so sweet for a daily nickname!). High up on my own list was Elizabeth with the nickname Tess (my reasoning being, if Betty, Bess, and Tetty can be traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — and they are — why not Tess?), but I thought Monica might like the spelling Elisabeth even better — it’s a French spelling, and the spelling of one of my favorite holy women: Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Or maybe they’d like to consider the more Italian Elisabetta? Despite it being so Italian, I think it can definitely work in their family, since they already have the long, lovely, and foreign-ish Magdalene and Genevieve.

(2) Annie
I know Monica mentioned loving Anne for Anne of Green Gables (I’m right there with her!) but she thought it might be too “boring.” I agree that Anne doesn’t feel like the right name for their family, with the weightier and longer Magdalene and Genevieve, but the nickname Annie is definitely one of those “Irish sounding nicknames,” and there are some pretty ways of getting to it, like the Italian Annunziata (what a name! I love it!) and the Russian Anastasia (a perfect fit for Magdalene and Genevieve’s sister, I think). I was toying with Anya as well, which is Russian, and how it has the exact same pronunciation as the Irish Áine — maybe they could consider one of those as a nickname for Anastasia or another Ann- name?. Another one I love is Annabelle (or Annabel) — it’s in my book because it’s a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis! How cool is that?? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love Annabelle for this family!

(3) Bridie
Bridie is one of my favorite Irish nicknames, and I’m extra loving it for a daughter for Monica because of her Confirmation name being Bridget! BUT, I didn’t think she’d want to consider Bridget or Brigid, but maybe the lovely French Brigitte? Or maybe the Slovak Brigita? Or Bernadette? I think all these could take the nickname Bridie!

(4) Josie
Josie is just as sweet as Maggie, Genny, Tess, Annie, and Bridie, and has a longer French name to boot in Josephine. Or they could consider Josefina or Josefa? I love all of these!

(5) Kate, Katie (or Cate, Cady)
Even though my name is Kate, I won’t be offended if they don’t like this idea! 😀 While Catherine might be too common for Monica’s taste, it’s got some gorgeous variants, like the Italian Caterina, the Russian Ekaterina (or just Katerina), and the Irish Catriona. They can all take the nicknames Kate/Katie (or Cate, Cady), which have a pretty good Irish feel to them!

(6) Vivienne
Vivian and Vivienne showed up a couple times in my research as being a style match for the names they like, and I totally agree! It shares some sounds with Genevieve, yes, but since they didn’t go the Evie/Vivi route with Genevieve’s nickname, they can with Vivienne (I thought Monica would prefer the French Vivienne over Vivian).

(7) Natalia
Natalia showed up a bunch of times in my research as similar to names Monica and her hubs like, AND it’s Russian! (They could also consider the Russian spellings Natalya and Nataliya [which is also Ukrainian].) In fact, it’s the formal name for the nickname Natasha, so while it’s not exactly the name her hubby likes, it’s pretty close (and he could use Natasha as a nickname if he wanted). Natalia is a gorgeous name!

(8) Veronica
Veronica is such a beautiful, weighty name like Magdalene and Genevieve, with loads of nickname options: Vera, Vero, Ronnie, Nica, and Nicky, and some less traditional ones like Vee, Via, and Vicka.

(9) Maristella
My last girl idea is Maristella or, if they preferred not to repeat Maggie’s initial, they could reverse the elements and do Stellamaris. Such a gorgeous name, either way! It’s for Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” as I’m sure they know, as Monica noted that neither of them care for Estelle, but Maristella and Stellmaris feel very different to me. Ooh, and I think Molly could work as a nickname for Maristella! Then they’d have their Irishy nickname! Or maybe Sadie for Stellamaris?

Boy
(1) Nicodemus, Nikolai
I felt a little all over the place with boy names — Santiago, Eamon, and Dmitri aren’t names I expect to encounter on a parent’s list at the same time! Additionally, when I looked at boy names that were matches for their girl names, I thought there were some great ideas there too. So we’ll start with one of my favorites: Nicodemus. I think it’s got a heavy, Old Testament feel, though it’s a New Testament name. It doesn’t end in -iah! And it can take the Nic- nicknames (Nico, Nic, Nick, Nicky), which make it really easy to live with on a day to day basis. While we’re talking about Nic- names, the Russian Nikolai is just such a swoony name, and while Nik etc. can be nicknames, I quite like the Russian Kolya.

(2) Nathaniel
Another long, biblical N name that I thought went great with their girls’ names is Nathaniel. I was really drawn to the longer, weightier boy names, and I thought Nathaniel fit that perfectly; I also love its friendly nickname Nate.

(3) Raphael
Here’s an Old Testament name that doesn’t end in -iah! Raphael appears in the book of Tobit, and the nickname Rafe is said just the way Ralph is in the U.K. (Ralph is a family name, according to Monica — maybe Raphael could be a different way of nodding to that Ralph?).

(4) Matthias
Matthias was the man chosen by the other Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, so one might even consider their discussion to be the first Church Council! 😊 Matthias’ ending is almost -iah, so if Monica likes the idea of this name but her hubby doesn’t like the pronunciation, maybe the variant Mattias, which is said ma-TEE-as, would be better?

(5) Benedict
Benedict’s got that great length and weightiness of Magdalene and Genevieve, and the great friendly nickname Ben, I just love it.

(6) Luka, Luca
The Luke names are great to look at if you want a name that travels well internationally. Luka is the Russian version, and Luca the Italian — I love that! I would think, though, that if they like this idea, they might want to cross Louis off their list, since Luka and Louis are so similar in sound.

(7) Adrian, Julian
Adrian and Julian are two of those great Catholic names — saintly, papal, and pan-European. I saw them both pop up in my research, and thought I’d combine them here because they’re so similar.

(8) Roman
Roman is listed as both a Russian and Ukrainian name (among others) on behindthename.com, and of course it refers to Rome, which is Italian, so I’m loving that Roman can nod to both Monica and her hubby in this way! This would knock Ramona off their list, but I think Roman’s a great option for them to consider.

(9) Santino
My last idea is a bit of a wild card, and I’m not sure it’s any better than the overly ethnic (according to Monica’s hubby) Santiago, but I looove the name Santino — I love that it means Little Saint, I love that Sonny is a nickname for it a la The Godfather, and I totally get if they hate it because of these things, but I had to put it on the list! (Fun fact: Mario Lopez and his wife just named their baby Santino Rafael, nicknamed Sonny!)

I also had two consultations in mind while working on this that I thought Monica might find inspiring as there was a lot of overlap with what I perceive to be her taste:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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17 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

  1. Anastasia seems perfect for this family: it’s Ukrainian, it’s a longer Saint’s name, has a great meaning (Resurrection) and can be shortened to Annie. So Maggie, Genny and Annie 🙂
    I know they prefer to not repeat the Eve sound, but Evangeline is also a great match. It can be a nod to St. John the Evangelist, both because of its meaning (Good news, the Gospel) and because Evan is a form of John.

    For a boy, what about Cyril? It’s the dad’s Confirmation name, it’s French and Slovakian, it refers to two Eastern European Saints and it means “Lord”. Too many great reasons to use it! haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Magdalene and Genevieve, how lovely! For some reason my first thought was Angelique nn Angie, or they could get to Annie from there as well. Angelique has the French feel like the other girls’ names do and also ends in e, and there’s the connection to angels, but if they’d like a patron saint, they could go with Angelina, as there is bl. Angelina Marsciano, while I can’t think of a direct patron saint for Angelique, though perhaps there is one. Or if Angelina is too much like Jolie (which I suppose it could be) and they don’t like the association, perhaps Angelica? Oh and there’s Our Lady Queen of Angels for a Marian connection! 🙂
    I also thought of Lucille.
    Iespecially love your suggestion of Maristella nn Molly for them, so gorgeous! 🙂
    I like the combination Finnian Thomas for a boy very much, but in fact I like most of these names a lot. They have plenty of great options to choose from.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny, I think the way to go is a more elegant (French leaning) w/a spunky (Irish leaning) nn:
    – Marguerite—> Rita, Pearl
    – Claudia —> Dia, Cadi??
    – Antonia—> Annie

    – Philomena—> so many nn options (is Philomena still a Saint, Kate?)

    My favorite for the list of Kate’s suggestions is Josephine/ Josie, but I’m biased.

    Liked by 1 person

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