Baby name consultation: How to narrow it down?

Elisha and her husband are expecting their first baby — a little girl! In my consultation for them, I mostly tried to help them nail down the style they feel is “their children’s names,” as they had some very feminine names on their list, as well as some more unisex, surname-type names. This is what I said to them:

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents, as it’s sort of like the sky’s the limit, name-wise! You don’t have older children with a set name style yet, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not your favorite name will clash with theirs — you can choose with abandon!

At the same time, though … I do encourage all first-time parents to give at least a little thought to how they would see the naming of their future children play out. A perfect example is that you have the ultra-feminine Evangeline on your list, as well as the more unisex Kennedy. Both names are fine and fabulous, but if you consider your possible future children, do you see them having names more in the Evangeline/Genevieve/Lilian vein, or more in the Kennedy/Morgan/Lindsey vein? Either way is fine! And to a certain extent, even if siblings’ names are wildly different and a little jarring to others, who cares?! (Except that people who care about names — like I suspect you do — do tend to care about those kinds of things …)

Elisha and her hubs thought this exercise had merit, and replied:

Thank you so much for all of the research that you put into this consultation! … We had so much fun reading through this and discussing it. After much discussion, we have narrowed our names down to Evangeline, Penelope, Rosabelle, and Genevieve with Grace and Feighth* leading our middle names. It would appear that we do enjoy those ultra-feminine names both individually and if we have more daughters later.

Our biggest reservation seems to be saving a name for later with no guarantee of another girl. For instance, if we chose Evangeline Feighth, we would be taking Feighth away from Genevieve. However, we could enjoy Evangeline Grace and save Feighth for Genevieve, but risk never having another girl. We read about that risk on your site somewhere awhile back …

Do you have any suggestions on how we might narrow them down from that? … Maybe the Sancta Nomina community will give us that last idea that solidifies our choice/grouping.”

(*Feighth is a spelling that has special meaning to Elisha and her hubs.)

You guys always have such great ideas, I know you’ll have some good advice for this couple! These are my thoughts:

— Fairness is something I encourage parents to think about when naming their children. Mostly, what I mean is, I think it’s important to do your best to make sure each child feels that their name is just as special as his/her siblings’ names. Though each name (both firsts and middles) on Elisha and her husband’s list has a great deal of significance to them through various connections to important things in their lives, Elisha told me that Evangeline is the only one that has a family connection. That detail seems to me to be a make or break — if honoring family is important, then Evangeline emerges as the clear winner. If Elisha and her hubs would prefer not to feel like they have to include a family connection in every child’s name, then perhaps Evangeline moves to the bottom of the list. (That said, the family connection with Evangeline isn’t super obvious, so they could still choose Evangeline on other merits and not point out the family connection.)

— The middle name options of Grace and Feighth seem to be part of the first-name decision-making process for Elisha and her hubby. They have a similar enough sound to me (one syllable, long A) that neither jumps out to me as better sound-wise with any of the first-name options, so I would then consider that since Feighth has particular significance to this couple, while Grace is simply a name they like, that Feighth should be the frontrunner middle name. Or, since Evangeline has family significance, for example, then perhaps a less-significant middle like Grace would be better with it, thus saving the more-significant middle name as a match for a less-significant first name. Does that make sense?

— Finally, Elisha referenced my article about the risk of saving a name for later use, knowing that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to use it later. The two bits of advice I offered in that post based on your great ideas when I posed the question on the blog were: “Name this baby as if he or she were your last (or only)” and “Consider which name you’d be sadder to not ever get to use.”

How about all of you? What advice would you give to these new parents? How would you rank the names on their short list?

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



11 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: How to narrow it down?

  1. We’ve chosen names individually, except for twins, so we haven’t ever worried about saving a name, but I wonder if they want to avoid Genevieve Grace with two Gs, or would rather have that for a built in nickname for a second possible daughter. (We have a Gianna, called Gigi.) That might help them decide on Grace or Feighth as a middle name for this baby. We have found that the names we consider have changed over the years, so we’ve never used all the names from baby #1’s list of potential names.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On saving names: Yes, whether to use or save a name is a tricky part of naming. I think the two tips you mention basically describe our thinking. Naming our first, a girl, was relatively straightforward. But with our second, a boy, we had to think about his middle name (first had been decided) and narrowed down to two, and went with the one we more wanted to use, and I’m glad we did. The other one is still high on our list (I also like it a lot as a first name). With our third, a girl, we put thought into her name and it has significance (they all have saint names). In each case, I think we did think, well for all we know this may be our only (or last) girl/boy.

    On gender of a name: While that boy name that we still really like could be feminized, we chose not to. (We also didn’t use the feminine form of husband’s name, just waited to see if we eventually had a boy.) I think it boils down to this: Are you attached to that specific name, as a boy’s or girl’s name (like, first boy gets dad’s name, or girl gets mom’s middle)? Or do you feel very strongly on honoring that saint with this child’s name?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One thing that struck me about “Feighth”, especially in this spelling, is that there isn’t any reason that they would have to save it for a daughter — I could imagine it being a son’s middle name, too. And while they might not have any daughters after this first one, the chances that they will have no children at all strike me as low.

    “Evangeline Grace” is a beautiful name, and it would save a meaningful name for the next child along, son, daughter, or other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I’m leaving this comment really late, but I noticed the name Penelope was on their list. I’ve loved that name for a long time, especially the nickname Penny! I searched it on your blog and saw that you’d connected it to Venerable Ersilia Penelope Frey (I think) but I did some research on my own and found that its meaning is “weaver” both from the etymology and the legend of Odysseus (Penelope is the name of his mother), so I thought maybe you could use that meaning to link it to Our Lady Undoer of Knots?? I know it’s a stretch but I think it could work…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s