Baby name consultation: “Slightly different” name needed for baby brother or sister

Cassandra and her husband are expecting their fourth living baby (fifth overall), a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Thomas Patrick (“this was the one name my husband was dead set on from before we were married. His late maternal grandfather was Thomas Patrick. Additionally, my husband’s father is Thomas and his brother is Patrick. So we’ve pretty much covered his side of the family with this name. Another note … our son mostly goes by Thomas. We have no issues with the name “Tommy” (or nicknames in general) but we know lots of other families with Tommy, Tom, etc so our son refers to himself as “Thomas”)”

Theresa Angeline (“when our daughter was born, we had a list of girl names, but it still took us a few hours to decide. We both loved Therese, but didn’t want her name to be constantly mispronounced. Once we chose Theresa (the hubs insisted on the “h” in there), we debated middle names. He liked Marie, but I told him that Theresa Marie was too common. I suggested Angeline which is my middle name (and my paternal grandmother’s middle name as well). I always liked my middle name because it was different. As for nicknames for her … we had every intention of calling her Tess. We told everyone that was the plan, but for some reason, it didn’t seem right to us as we got to know her. Now she goes by Theresa or the pet name TT (her best friend who is 9 days older than her called her this when they were toddlers and it stuck)“)

David Anthony (“for our next boy, we went with something from my side of the family. My paternal grandfather was David. We also have a very close friend in seminary whose name is David and we wanted to honor him as well. Anthony is my father and was my maternal grandfather. He mostly goes by the pet name “Day Day.” Not entirely sure how that happened, but it’s what most people call him“)

Nadia Rose (with Jesus) (“we had an early loss. I felt pretty strongly that she was a girl so we chose a girl’s name. My husband wanted something that meant “hope” but I am not a huge fan of the actual name “Hope.” I threw out “Nadia” as an alternative and he liked it. Rose was chosen because it’s the name I kept hearing in my head when I found out we had lost the baby“)

I love each of these, and the reasons behind each one! ❤

Cassandra writes,

We are Team Green and I feel like we need some new ideas for this baby. We have a lot of names on our list, but I’m not totally sold on any of them. Usually, I like to have two boy and two girl name combos chosen for the birth. I just feel like we need to make sure the name “fits” the baby …

If we have a boy, I’d like to honor my brother somehow. His name is Matthew so Matthias has been thrown around. He is also a huge fan of the name Victor so we could use that somehow.

If we have a girl, I’m toying with the idea of giving a nod to one of my college and grad school roommates. This is where is gets a bit tricky. Her name is Sarah Elizabeth, but I have a SIL named Sarah … I’ve mulled over using Seraphina as a possible nod. Or her initials are S.F. so I could use that as well. I have always called her “Franzie” (a play off her last name), but I’m not keen on using Frances. This one is not a necessity, but something I’d like to work in if possible.

My husband’s biggest thing is that our children need Saints’ names …

Names currently on our list …

Boys
Jonas Matthew seems to be my husband’s favorite so far. We both like the name Jonas slightly more than Jonah, but people seem to think of the Jonas brothers so I don’t know if that would be an issue.
Benedict
Brendan
Brennan
Nathan/Nathaniel
Vianney (I have wanted this as a middle name since high school. Hubs will only consider it as a middle name.)
Xavier (more likely as a middle name)
Raphael (again more likely as a middle name)

Hubs has nixed Beckett and Bennett because they are last names and not first names.

Girls
Clara
Anastasia
Seraphina
Felicity
Lily or Lila
Catherine (husband is not a fan of using just Katia)
Elizabeth
Evelyn
Cecilia

Other notes….
We do love Marian names, but our last name begins with “Mar…” So it can get to alliterative sometimes. We’ve debated doing BVM initials (ie Brennan Vianney M.) For a Marian name.

Too many “s” or “sh” sounds can be hard in a name with our last name.

Names we can’t use for one reason or another:
Michael
Jacob
Timothy
Hannah
Sarah

Husband doesn’t like place names (I.e. Avila, Siena, etc.) Or last names as first names.

I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

I’m really interested to see where Cassandra and her husband will land with a name for this baby! Thomas, Theresa, and David have a definite “feel” to me as all three peaked in popularity in the 1950s-ish, which gives them a mid-century feel, especially as a sibling set, and Brendan, Clara, Lily, Catherine, Elizabeth, Evelyn, and Cecilia from their list all feel like natural fits for that. And then, Nadia, Matthias, Victor, Jonas, Benedict, Nathaniel, Vianney, Xavier, Raphael, Anastasia, Seraphina, Felicity, and Lila have a much more exotic and perhaps more current feel, which is really fun to see a divergence in taste and the kinds of names they’re willing to consider for this baby!

That said, I do feel like going from Thomas, Theresa, and David to Seraphina, for example, is a bit jarring — not that that should be a deal breaker! Just that, when I was looking for new ideas for this family, I was trying to find names that straddled the line between Thomas and Seraphina, that acted as “bridge” names almost between the two styles. (I’m not forgetting their Nadia in this conversation, only that her name isn’t one that most people will hear when they encounter this family.) And maybe there’s no need for bridge names! They’ve already jumped in with both feet to the more “exotic” style with Nadia’s name (which I absolutely love), so maybe Anastasia, Seraphina, and Xavier are indeed where they want to go with this baby’s name! Actually, I think Cassandra put it best: “I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

From their list, I think Clara, Lila, Cecilia, Nathan, and Nathaniel are closest to that middle ground I’m thinking of — I can see them each being varying degrees of unexpected with Thomas, Theresa, and David, but none of them feel like a different style from what they’ve already done. But I really love all the names on their list!

There are some strategies that I like to employ when trying to bridging styles that Cassandra and her hubs might find helpful, including choosing a “normal” given name but using an offbeat nickname on an everyday basis, or conversely choosing an offbeat given name that can take a “normal” nickname; you’ll see that I used this strategy a bit in my ideas below. I’ve also always loved an unexpected middle name paired with a more normal first name — their idea of Brendan Vianney M___/BVM is a fantastic example of this! Xavier and Raphael would also be awesome middle names in this line of thinking.

I wanted to offer some other thoughts on the names they have on their list, in case they’re helpful:

— I love Matthias as an honor name for Cassandra’s brother Matthew. Another possibility would be Levi, as Matthew in the bible was also known as Levi.

— I love Victor too, and think it might actually be a great bridge-type name! But I wonder if, as Cassandra says her brother loves the name, would he be upset if they used it? Might he be saving it for his future son?

— Naming a daughter for Cassandra’s roommate is so sweet! I like Seraphina as a nod to Sarah, and I like C’s idea of using her roommate’s initials S.F. (or perhaps S.E., for her first and middle?). Franzie’s a fun nickname — I wonder what Cassandra would think about the French Francine? The Italian Francesca? The German Franziska? Or maybe, drawing from her list, something like Felicity Miranda, with Felicity providing the F and Miranda providing the RAN … ? Maybe? Or is that too crazy?

— Jonas Matthew is a really cool combo! I like that, like Matthias, Jonas is biblical like Thomas and David, which can provide a nice link between the brothers’ names. I mean, yes, there are the Jonas Brothers, but there’s also Jonas Salk … I guess currently the former is more recognized than the latter, but I only offer it to show that there are other Jonases people might think of, and honestly, the people who make up their circle will quickly associate Jonas primarily with their son, if Cassandra and her hubby end up naming a son so.

— I love Benedict, and I’m thinking it might be really good for this family — Thomas and David are obviously biblical, and I think most people would assume a Ben is Benjamin, and it would make total sense with Thomas and David. And I would be so excited to find out that someone I assumed was Benjamin was actually Benedict! (I love Benjamin too, I just really love being surprised by a name! Haha!) That said, I think Benedict goes really well with Thomas, Theresa, and David. I love it!

— Brendan and Brennan are so similar but just the tiniest bit different … Brendan has more of a classic feel to me while Brennan is more contemporary maybe?

— Nathan and Nathaniel are both awesome too, and like with Brendan/Brennan, they have a slightly different feel — Nathan feels sort of “normal” while Nathaniel’s a bit sparklier — which I think is what Cassandra’s looking for? I like Nathaniel a lot for them, and they can always use Nathan as a nickname, which makes Nathaniel a two-for-one name!

— Vianney, Xavier, Raphael are awesome names and fantastic middle name options. I really feel like using one of them in the middle might scratch that itch of having something a little different than what they’ve already done.

— Might Cassandra’s husband be swayed by the fact that the surname Bennett arose from the first name Bennett, and not the other way around? Bennett was actually the medieval diminutive of Benedict (as was Austin for Augustine).

— Clara’s such a sweet name, I like it with Thomas, Theresa, and David.

— I’m so interested that C and her hubs named a daughter Nadia and have Anastasia on the list — they both scream Russian to me (though they both of other uses), and especially since C also mentioned liking Katia. That’s a fun style, and influenced one of my ideas below. I also wondered if they’d be interested in considering Stasia (or Stacia) as the given name — it’s a short form of Anastasia, so would have St. Anastasia as patron, and it begins with S, so could be a nod to her friend Sarah.

— Seraphina is gorgeous. Although, since they don’t want to use the name Sarah, would it bother them if others called her Sera? I know a little Seraphina who goes by Sera.

— I love Felicity, it’s such a lovely name, and it has a touch of Pilgrim feel to it, which goes especially well with Thomas and David I think.

— Lily and Lila are both beautiful, and along the lines of using an unexpected nickname for a normal given name, I wonder if they’d be intrigued by the fact that Lily (and Lila could work here too) is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth? What would they think of Elizabeth as a first name in honor of C’s roommate, with the nickname Lily/Lila? Or, Lilia (or they can spell it Lilya) is the Russian form of Lily — maybe they’d like that?

— Catherine absolutely fits really well. I think Cassandra could still use Katia as a nickname if she wanted to?

— Elizabeth: ditto, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names, because of the Mystery of the Visitation. Eliza was a big style match for this family in my research, I wonder if they might like to consider it instead of the longer Elizabeth?

— Evelyn is lovely, and I think it goes well with the others, though I think it comes across as less saintly than the others. Though it’s not technically related to Eve, they could use it in that way for the Marian connection.

— Cecilia is a fantastic fit as well.

So I think Cassandra and her husband have some really great names on their list already! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the name they end up using is on their current list. But I can always come up with more ideas! 😂

You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the 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 this family, and in addition to Thomas, Theresa, David, Nadia, and the names on their list of considerations, I added Tess and Sarah (even though Cassandra said they wouldn’t use Sarah, it was a huge style match for them, so I thought I’d see what other names are style matches for it that I may not yet have come across). This is what I came up with:

Girl
(1) Natalia
Natalia was influenced both by the fact that it’s listed as a style match for Anastasia, and also that Natalie is a match for Nathan (and of course that it’s similar to Nathan/Nathaniel on their list). I like that it’s a Russian name that begins with an N, like Nadia — it might make for a nice connection between them. Natalia is a saint’s name, but it also ultimately comes from the Latin for Christmas (natale domini=birth of the Lord), which could be perfect for an almost-Advent baby.

(2) Susanna
This is actually my favorite suggestion for Cassandra and her hubs! I feel like Susanna fits the exact profile I’m thinking of when I talk about “bridge” names — it’s much rarer than Thomas, Theresa, and David, but I definitely think it fits in well with them. Anna was actually a good match for their style, being similar to Thomas, Clara, and Catherine, and the Russian Anna — Anya — is similar to Nadia, so Susanna gives them Anna but with a twist. I love it both as a sibling to Thomas, Theresa, and David, and specifically as a sister to Theresa, and I think it hangs equally well with Nadia. And it begins with an S, for C’s friend Sarah! It’s also an entry in my book, as Susanna means both “lily” and “rose”!

(3) Julia
Julia is a match for Elizabeth and Sarah and Juliet is a match for Felicity, so I liked the Julia family of names for this family, and thought Julia was more their speed than Juliet (though I love Juliet, so if they love it, I hope they go for it!). Julia is such a great name — perfect for a little girl and perfect for a grown woman, similar to how I think of Theresa.

(4) Lydia
Lydia is a match for Jonas, and as soon as I saw it I thought it felt like a good fit here. One of the things I’ve always loved about Lydia is that the biblical character was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia would have her own color!

(5) Veronica
Veronica was only a match for Theresa, but I thought that was great, for sisters to share a style like that! And certainly Veronica goes with Nadia as well — in fact, Theresa, Nadia, and Veronica make a very pleasing set of sisters!

(6) Molly
Molly was influenced both by the fact that they’d intended to call Theresa Tess — and Molly is a style match for Tess — but also that it’s a variant of Mary, so it’s a way to have a Marian name without using a Mar- name.

Boy
(1) Samuel
I know Cassandra said that she might like to name a daughter after her friend Sarah, but I found myself on the lookout for S names in general, and then thought maybe she’d like to do SF (or SE?) initials no matter whether they have a boy or a girl? Samuel is a great name that’s biblical like Thomas and David, and the story of Samuel in the bible is a great one for anyone longing for a baby — after the loss of their little Nadia, Samuel could be the perfect name.

(2) Simon
Another S name, but I’m really loving Simon as a brother to Thomas, Theresa, and David — it makes the whole group seem extra sophisticated!

(3) Stephen
Last S name, I promise! It’s just that, I know two brother sets who are two generations apart named David and Stephen! That’s some classic staying power! And then I have uncles who are brothers named Thomas and David, so in my mind Thomas, David, and Stephen are fantastic brother names.

(4) John Paul
John Paul was a name that came to me outside of research (the BNW doesn’t even have an entry for John Paul) — I was really thinking of that “bridge” name idea, and John Paul feels like such a perfect one. John and Paul are both really similar in style to Thomas and David, but putting them together gives the whole thing a little bit of an edge (a saintly edge) and is definitely more unexpected. His name is an entry in my book of Marian names because of what a huge devotion St. John Paul had to her!

(5) Lukas
Lucas, Lukas, and Luke did really well for this family in my research, and of those I thought Lukas went more along the lines of what they’re looking for — the K spelling gives it a really international feel (which it is), but it’s still biblical like Thomas and David. It’s also an entry in my book of Marian names because his gospel is the most Marian and contains her Magnificat.

(6) Thaddeus, Theodore/Theo, Maximilian
Each of these names seemed SO perfect for this family until I realized something about them at the last minute! I thought maybe they don’t want another Th- name after Thomas and Theresa? But Thaddeus and Theodore are both matches for them, and there’s a particular Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty who has a brother named Thomas! And Theo is a match for Tess as well! And then I couldn’t not suggest Maximilian! It’s a match for Benedict and Seraphina, and friendly Max goes with almost every name. And St. Maximilian Kolbe! And I actually love Maximilian M___, but then I thought maybe Max M___ was too much? But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love Thaddeus, Theodore, and/or Maximilian! I couldn’t not mention them!

I also had a bunch of names that *almost* made the cut for this list and ultimately I decided not to include them, for whatever reason, but I thought I’d list them here just in case: Alexandra, Evangeline, Philomena, Naomi, Chloe, Phoebe, Tobias, and Caleb.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Thomas, Theresa, David, and Nadia?


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!

24 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: “Slightly different” name needed for baby brother or sister

  1. The first thing I thought about Bennett was what you pointed out- it means Benedict.

    Re. Brendan vs. Brennan: I’d go with Brandan. Brennan is a surname, which they don’t want.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Monica would be so nice with this sibset.

    I’m totally crushing on BVM initials right now so I’ll throw out my favorites of Bernadette Victoria and Brigid (Bridget) Victoria which would also tie in with her brother liking the name Victor, but not using it if he wants to use it in the FN spot himself in the future.

    Francis with the NN Franz or Frankie could be a way to honor her college friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thomas, Theresa and David are 3 of my absolute favorite names! So awesome to see them all used together.

    I was wondering if Rosemary or Rosemarie would work with their last name. Just as with John Paul, those names would keep their traditional naming style but add a little twist. Lots of sweet nickname options too. The name Joan also came to mind for them. Unless they’d want to save Jonas for a future boy.

    Simon is a fantastic suggestion if they want something a bit different from their other kids names but that still fits in.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One way to honor Victor would be via a name with the same meaning, but coming from Greek rather than Latin. For that, I recommend “Nicetas”, the name of a saint and deriving from “Νικήτας”, ‘the victorious one’. (Nicholas would also work!).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For girls. From their list I love Lila! From your suggestions I love Julia! For them/in this set. What about Katerina? I think it’s another Russian option for Catherine, and it has more of the princess-name feel I get from their girl list overall. Plenty of more “normal” nicknames (Kate, etc) if they want one as a “bridge,” but I think if you look at girl and boy as possibly separate styles, the full Katerina goes great with Theresa.

    I agree that if they go with Jonas, their little boy would quickly overtake the JoBros in the circles where it would matter. Jonas Matthew is darling.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If you love Jonas ans Nathan, why not Jonathan?
    I noticed that for the older boys there is a Biblical first name and an obvious saint name for the middle, so I suggest Jonathan Benedict.

    For a girl, I noticed you tend to prefer A ending names (Theresa instead of Therese, Nadia instead of Hope, Clara instead of Clare) and longer names, so I would use both preferences to narrow down the list to long names ending in A. That gets you: Anastasia, Seraphina and Cecilia.
    Lydia and Susanna also work. Veronica, too, but with your last name, all I can think of is Veronica Mars, the TV series about a young woman who is a private investigator.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know a little Sera which honours Sarah without doubling up and the Seraphim reference mirrors Angeline 🙂

    Cecily because it popped into my head while reading your girl’s names.

    For a boy have you considered Francis? You say no Frances but that’s not the same. I love it and it is very 50s chic.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We just named our new daughter Beatrice, so that immediately comes to mind when I think of a B name for BVM 🙂 I also think it would work well with these siblings – it is slightly more “out there” but still well known. Beatrice Victoria or Veronica is gorgeous (although I’m biased!).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My first idea for a girl name was Elisabeth Seraphina. Some variations are – Eliza Seraphine, Elsbeth Seraphina and Elsabeth Sally. For a boy… maybe Matthias Vianney or Levi Benedict?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What about Jonathan, since you like Jonas and Nathan?

    For a girl, I’d keep the long and ending in A trend, so Anastasia, Seraphina or Cecilia (probably Cecília, for a november baby).

    Liked by 1 person

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