Year in review: 2019 (scrabbling back)

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!! 🎉🎉🎉

I look forward to doing my Year in Review posts every New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day — it’s SO FUN to look back on all that was accomplished in the last year!

I’m describing 2019 as the year of “scrabbling back,” since much of it was devoted to healing physically and mentally from the baby’s birth in September 2018, which meant my efforts on the blog were slow and erratic, especially in the beginning. Worse, I had to keep putting off returning to baby name consultations — I knew you all understood, but it was so painful to me to know there were mamas (mostly, but papas too!) who were hoping for help naming their sweet babies, and I couldn’t do so! But I gained steam as the year drew to a close — take a look!:

Henry James
Felicity Victoria Kathleen
Michael Dominic
Greer Eileen
Ev@nd3r H@wth0rn (alt characters used for privacy)
Christian Gabriel
Noelle Katherine
Perpetua Carolyn
Bridget Marie
Reina Grace
Basil Anthony Philip
Christopher Rex called Rex
Damian Nicholas Elijah and Isaac Anthony Cosmas
Basil Grace
Linus John
Helena Faustina James
Clement Joseph
Lucy Adelaide
Peter Joseph
Sunday Josephine
Hildegard Edna Marie
Abigail Violet
Genevieve Immaculee Grace
Solan Peter and Magdalen Anne
Helena Mary
Cecily Germaine
Cl3m3nt Mich@el
Theodore Luke
Rosemary Ruth
Ariston Blaise
Finnian Agustin
Benedict Reid
Elizabeth Ríonach called Liesel
Alden Edward
Maria Therese called Maite
Penny Annalise Mariae
Lincoln David

Speaking of St. Anne, she’s been our patroness since almost the beginning, and this year I also dedicated Sancta Nomina (blog + social media + all associated work) to Our Lady — I should have thought to do so before!

What a year it’s been! I am, as always, so grateful for this little space, and for all of you. I love how wholesome and good it is here — it is such a great antidote to all the bologna, isn’t it? I know 2020’s going to be an amazing year! The word I got for 2020  by Jen Fulwiler’s Word of the Year Generator was THRIVE*, which seems perfect following a year of “scrabbling back”! I hope you’re looking forward with as much hope and joy as I am! Happy Eve of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God!!**

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

*Be sure to try out her Saint Name Generator as well! (I got Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati!)

**Don’t forget Jan. 1 is a holy day of obligation!


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!

Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs strong name that can be shortened to something fun

Happy sixth day of Christmas, and the feast of the Holy Family!!

Today’s consultation was a fun one to work on because the parameters are pretty broad! Emily (middle name Jane, which is important) writes:

This is our first baby and we are having a baby girl … My husband and I want to make sure she has a strong name, one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life … We also are wanting her to have my grandmothers name, Ruenell, in there somewhere. I am southern so I am partial to traditional names that can be shortened to something fun, but that is by no means a must.”

When I asked if Emily could give me a sense of what names she and her hubby like or don’t like, so that I had a better idea of what part of the name universe to focus on, she replied,

I went back over the list of names we have compiled over the years and there is a good healthy mix of traditional and quirky so we are happy to stand back and let you do your thing!

SO EXCITING! And also terrifying! Haha!

To start, I really love Emily’s middle name, Jane, and thought it fit the exact kind of name she said she and her hubby are looking for: “strong … one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life.” Jane is gorgeous! So Jane Ruenell would be my first suggestion. It honors Emily by using her middle name (how nice for a mom and her daughter to have a connection like that!), which is a great name for a little girl and for a grown woman of all ages, and it includes Emily’s grandmother’s name. Janie is a sweet nickname too.

Ruenell is such an interesting name! I’m guessing that they don’t want to use Ruenell as a first name, but Rue and Nell are both such great nicknames that I thought something like Mary Ruenell nicknamed Rue or Nell might be a good option for them to consider.

Since Emily said she’s partial to names that can be shortened to something fun, I tried to come up with some interesting nicknames that combine sounds from my first name suggestions with sounds from Ruenell as a middle name — one of my favorite strategies for coming up with interesting nicknames — as I thought the middle name spot was where they’d prefer to put Ruenell. However, before I get to those ideas, I was also thinking that Ruenell could conceivably be a nickname that results from combining elements of two other names — which I’m sure is not the kind of idea they were hoping for, but I had fun coming up with some ideas in that vein, so I thought I would share them just in case. Like:

Ruth Penelope nn Ruenell
Ruby Eleanor nn Ruenell

But back to my other first-name ideas. You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. Since Emily and her hubs wanted to hear fresh ideas without providing parameters, my usual methodology wouldn’t be helpful, so I basically just combed through my mental files for names that I consider to be strong and able to grow with a girl into womanhood. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the ones that came to mind:

(1) Catherine/Katherine
I’m not starting with C/Katherine because it’s my own name (haha!) but because it’s definitely one of the names that I think works at all stages of a girl’s life. The full C/Katherine is serious, sophisticated, and dignified, and there are a bunch of nickname options that fit any kind of family and personality. Some of these are: Cate/Kate/Catie/Katie/Cady, Cass, Casey, Cat/Kat, Cathy/Kathy, and Kit/Kitty.

(2) Margaret
Like C/Katherine, Margaret is appropriate for all ages, and has a bunch of great nicknames as well, like Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Daisy, and Peg/Peggy. Variants that can be used as nicknames or given names on their own include Greta, Rita, and Margo/Margot. An unrelated name that nevertheless has some history of usage as a Margaret nickname is Molly. Lots of cool options here!

(3) Elizabeth
C/Katherine, Margaret, and Elizabeth are considered the classic English trio of girl names — they’ve been used by royals and non-royals alike for centuries in many different European countries and there are a bunch of patron saints for each one. Elizabeth is perhaps the mama of the nickname-rich girl names — there are SO MANY! Liz/Lizzy, Beth, and Ellie are probably the most expected, but I love some of the quirkier options like Elsa, Libby, Libbet, Lily, and Tess.

(4) Anna, Anne
Anna has a sweeter feel, I think, and Anne is maybe more stern — but then again, what girl doesn’t love Anne of Green Gables? Annie is a darling nickname.

(5) Julia
Julia is feminine and lovely while also passing the “Supreme Court Test” (that is, Julia would be fine and appropriate for a Supreme Court justice). Julie and Jules are familiar nicknames, but I’ve seen Jilly and Lia, and Juliet actually started as a diminutive of Julia, so it can be used as a nickname for Julia (though it’s rare to do so these days. I also love Juliet as a given name).

(6) Madeline, Madeleine
I love all variants of Magdalene, but I think Madeline and Madeleine are the ones that come across as the most “professional” maybe. Maddy is always a cute nickname for a little girl — whether she’s super feminine or a tomboy — and I think Molly can work too.

(7) Susanna
I love the name Susanna (the girl name we’ve saved through all our boys!) — I think it’s a strong, feminine name, and I love that it has a bunch of nickname options, like Susie/Sue and Anna/Annie as well as the quirkier and sweet Zuzu, Sassy, and Sunny! A reader just recently suggested Sam/Sammie as a nickname for Susanna(h) plus an M middle name, which I thought was great.

(8) Lydia
One of my favorite things about the name Lydia is that the Lydia in the bible was a seller of purple cloth — how cool that the name comes with its own color! I love the nickname Lyddie, SO charming!

(9) Frances
I think Frances could border on seeming too severe for everyday use for a little girl, but if so, its nicknames save it: Frannie, Francie, and Frankie are spunky and fun!

(10) Gemma
Gemma is probably the most offbeat of my suggestions, but it’s traditional and saintly and I think it fits in as well on the playground as it does in the boardroom.

(11) Cecilia
If Gemma is the most offbeat, Cecilia might be the softest of my suggestions, but it certainly works for any age and any kind of girl/woman, in my opinion. Cece and Celia are great nickname possibilities.

(12) Teresa
I can definitely see Teresa on both a little girl and a woman (and I know Teresas of both age groups!). I mentioned Tess earlier as a nickname for Elizabeth, which I do love, but Tess and Tessa are originally and usually nicknames for the Teresa names. Reese and Resa can also work.

(13) Bridget
I couldn’t end the list without adding Bridget — it’s such a familiar name, but I don’t hear it in real life too often. I’d be pleasantly surprised to hear it on a little girl, and it certainly has enough weight for a woman. Bridge/Bridgey and Bridey are adorable nicknames.

I think there’s a good bunch of styles and ideas above that fit Emily and her husband’s hope for a strong name that can fit their little girl at all stages of her life, and there are some really fun nickname options too. I mentioned above that I toyed with nickname ideas that involve combining first name elements with Ruenell as a middle — they include:

Catherine Ruenell nn Carly
Julia Ruenell nn Junie
Susanna Ruenell nn Zelie
Lydia Ruenell nn Lyra or Lynnie
Bridget Ruenell nn Bell or Bella
Madeline Ruenell nn Marnie or Marley
Katherine Ruenell nn Katie-Rue or Katie-Nell
Teresa Ruenell nn Tessa-Rue or Truly

It’s fun to try to come up with some fun and quirky options!

And those are all of my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Emily that fit her hope for “a strong name, one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life,” that might also be able to be shortened to “something fun”?


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!

Name story: Leland, Elliot, Fulton, Selwyn

Happy third day of Christmas!!

A reader emailed me recently to share her boys’ names — I love when you guys do that!! (Check out my Name Stories tag for more!) I know you’ll love reading about this beautiful family! Emily writes,

I thought you would get a kick out of our name rules!

Our first we named Leland, we wanted something classic but not common. It was a name of a trustee at my husband’s school and an editor of a Bible we purchased.

Number 2 we named Elliot just because we liked it, a slight nod to T.S. Eliot. We thought it went well with Leland.

We found out number 3 was another boy, and I enjoy several Catholic blogs despite not being Catholic myself, and I fell in love with the name Fulton. What a perfect fit for our boys’ names!

I was wrapping the big brother presents prior to his birth and used dot stickers and noticed the first 2 had 6 letters . . . and so did Fulton! And they all had an L as the 3rd letter! Other things include being last names, sort of British, and generally pretentious 🙂

Boy #4 would arrive in 2018, so we had to find a name that would fit our “rules”! While reading a short story by L.M. Montgomery I came across the name Selwyn, and at first I thought it was too much, but then it really grew on me and now here we are with 4 boys who fit the rules!

… [H]ere are their full names. The first 3 middle names are family names, the 4th middle name we wanted a Bible name with a good meaning and of course flow.

Leland Daniel (God will judge the meadowlands)

Elliot David (God is the Lord, Beloved)

Fulton Ray (Either, Sunshine on the bird enclosure, Or, King of the fields of the village)

Selwyn Jude (Friend of the manor, Praise God)

One more story — when I looked up Selwyn on one baby name website, it said “you may also like: Leland”!!!

I loved reading about these boys’ names! What a cool theme this family has going! And they’ve chosen really fun, unexpected names — “classic but not common” is a perfect description of them! I’ve never come across anyone in real life with the names Leland and Selwyn (though we love Monk and his boss is Leland Stottlemeyer) — it’s not often I’m surprised by names, and I’m always excited when it happens! Have any of you seen Leland or Selwyn in real life? I love Elliot and Fulton as their brothers, what a great set! Thank you to this mama for sharing these great names!


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!

Christmas gift certificates can be redeemed starting today!

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a happy, holy day! And happy feast (today) of St. Stephen, the first martyr!

Just a reminder that those of you who purchased Christmas gift certificates with my Black Friday special can redeem them starting today!


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!

Baby name consultation: First baby (girl) needs a classic, saintly, not-unusual name

Merry Christmas Eve’s Eve! (Or Christmas Adam, if that’s the way you roll. 😂) I hope your house is as full of joy and anticipation as mine is! A very happy and holy Christmas to you all! ❤ ❤ ❤

Today’s consultation is for a dad! Chris and his wife are expecting their first baby — a girl! He writes,

[W]e’re having a really hard time coming up with girls names that we love. We like classic names, and would like a strong saint connection. So no Kateri or Perpetua or Felicity or anything like that (too unusual). Also, no place names, no objects, no common nouns. Ana, Alexandria, Catherine, Lynn, Jennifer, and Madeleine are out due to them being in use by cousins already. The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day!

We had a boys name that we love, Nicholas Anthony, but that will have to wait for a future child, God willing.

For a girl, we’re toying with Victoria Nicole, nickname would be Tori because neither one of us likes Vickie, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger and say that’s definitely the one.”

Expecting your first baby is such a wonderful, exciting time! From a name perspective, I always think it’s fun to work with first-time parents because they have a blank slate –they can choose any kind of name they want, without any worries about it “going with” older children’s names. That said, it can be daunting to have so many options in front of you, and I do encourage parents in this position to give some thought to their future children’s names so that they don’t make a decision with their first baby’s name, style-wise, that they might regret with later children. For example, if Galaxy is your very favorite name, but other names on your list are Kate, Jane, and Mark, Galaxy probably isn’t the best name to choose.

I only explain this in case it’s helpful to any of you, but Chris and his wife actually seem to have a great handle on this already! Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole are well-matched style-wise, and they give me a good idea of what other kinds of names they might like.

Before discussing my additional ideas for them, I want to talk about Victoria Nicole for a minute. There are a bunch of Saints and Blesseds named Victoria, so they have a lot of options for a patron saint if they name their daughter Victoria, and it’s also a Marian name by virtue of the fact that one of Our Lady’s title is Our Lady of Victory. Chris said he and his wife are thinking of Tori for the nickname since neither of them likes Vickie, which makes me think that they might like to consider some of the other nicknames I’ve seen considered for Victoria: Vee, Via, Vicka, Cora, Tia, Ria, and Ree (like the Pioneer Woman! Though Ree for her is a nickname for Ann Marie). As for Nicole, while I quite like how it sounds with Victoria, I wonder if they want to have a daughter with the middle name Nicole and a son with the first name Nicholas? It doesn’t have to be a big deal and I know a lot of families who have done similar things, but I thought I should point it out, just in case they hadn’t realized that they’re basically the same name (Nicole being a feminine variant of Nicholas).

You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents 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 then look for overlap among those results — a Venn diagram of names — to find names that the parents are most likely to like. It’s uncannily accurate most of the time! I also poke around in my own mind for ideas that feel like the parents’ style, and I’m a big fan of nicknames, so I liked that Chris said, “The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day” — you know I love coming up with nickname ideas!

Based on my research and my own ideas, these are names that seem like they would be a good fit for Chris and his wife:

(1) Elizabeth, Isabella
Chris said they like classic names with a strong saint connection, and since Victoria also has such a strong royal vibe, I thought Elizabeth was a great suggestion, as it’s similarly classic, saintly, and royal. It’s a great name on its own, but one of the best things about Elizabeth is that it has so many nickname options! Liz/Lizzy, Beth, Betsy, Eliza, Ellie, Elsie, Libby, Libbet, Lily, and a whole bunch more all have traditional usage as nicknames for Elizabeth. Another Elizabeth variant that I thought Chris and his wife might like is Isabella. It’s currently popular, but it’s got a long history of usage, including several queens. Izzy, Isa, and Bella are sweet nicknames for it. Both Elizabeth and Isabella can have Our Lady’s cousin Elizabeth as patron, or any of a whole bunch of holy Elizabeths/Isabellas.

(2) Margaret
Like Victoria and Elizabeth (and Catherine, which is on their no list), Margaret is a classic, saintly, royal name. There are quite a few holy Margarets, and there are quite a few traditional Margaret nicknames, including Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Peg/Peggy, Rita, and Daisy. I’ve also seen Molly used as a nickname for Margaret, though they’re technically not linguistically related (Molly is a variant of Mary). That said, Margaret nicknamed Molly is a great way to have a Marian connection without naming your daughter a Mary variant.

(3) NatalieNatalia
Elizabeth, Isabella, and Margaret were my gut-reaction ideas before doing any research for Chris and his wife, but the rest of my ideas here are all based on the results I got from the BNW. Natalie is listed as a style match for Nicholas, Anthony, and Nicole! It’s a beautiful, traditional name that literally refers to Christmas (it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “birth of the Lord”), but of course it’s suitable for a baby girl born any time of year! Nat and Natty are sweet nicknames, and if they wanted to get a little creative, I could see Nolly working too. Natalie’s a variant of Natalia, which is also a lovely option, and opens up the nicknames Talia and Lia. Natalia is where a patron saint would come: there are two Saints and two Blesseds named Natalia.

(4) Caroline
Caroline is a style match for both Nicholas and Victoria per the BNW. I love the name Caroline — it’s so classy and elegant, and has some pretty great patron saints. It has a lot of nickname options too, like Callie, Carrie, Caro, and Carly. Carly’s actually a style match for Tori!

(5) Veronica
I often think of Victoria and Veronica as being similar, since they’re both long, feminine names starting with V and ending with A. But they have very different feels to me — Victoria has that royal English feel I mentioned before, while Veronica has a biblical feel (though she’s never named in the bible). I think many parents would think daughters Victoria and Veronica in the same family are too much, so if Chris and his wife like Veronica I could see them thinking Victoria is off their list — which will be a good litmus test for them. If it makes him and his wife really unhappy to cross Victoria off their list, then they should definitely forget Veronica! But if they like it, some nicknames include Nic/Nica/Nicky (like Nicole and Nicholas, so maybe not?), Ronnie, Vera, Evie, Nona, Ricki, and there are some that are shared with Victoria, like Vee, Via, and Vicka. Maybe even Nora? I spotlighted Veronica here.

(6) Julia
Julia is a match for Victoria and is biblical like Nicholas, and has that same classiness and loveliness that all of these names have, in my opinion. Julie and Jules are the nicknames for Julia that most people are familiar with I think, but Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia and used to be used as a nickname for Julia so they could do that if they wanted. Other nickname possibilities for Julia include Lia, Lula/Lulu, and Jilly. I spotlighted Juliet here, which included a conversation about Julia patron saints.

(7) Rebecca
I’m not convinced that they’ll love Rebecca, but it’s a style match for Nicholas, and I liked that it’s classic and lovely in a different way than Victoria, Elizabeth, Isabella, Margaret, Natalie, Caroline, Veronica, and Julia, even though two of those are biblical like Rebecca. I think it’s because it’s such an Old Testament name — its echoes of the ancient past are inspiring and royal in their own way. Of course Becky is a very modern nickname, which, it occurs to me, might strike Chris and his wife as overly similar to Vickie, which they don’t like. I saw a birth announcement once for a baby Rebecca whose parents were calling Ruby as a nickname — I loved that! Because of that story, I was inspired to do a spotlight of Ruby (here). Other Rebecca nicknames include Becca, Bex, and Reba, and there are two saints to choose from as patron.

(8) Tessa
I feel like I have a good sense of Chris and his wife’s taste in given names based on Nicholas, Anthony, Victoria, and Nicole, but I don’t feel like I have a great sense of their  taste in nicknames. That they prefer Tori to Vickie says to me they like more modern nicknames, but I don’t know if they like (or at least don’t mind) creative nicknames (like some of the ones I mentioned above, that aren’t traditional for the given name) or if they prefer to stick with a formal name’s established nicknames and find creative nicknames to be irritating. But Tessa is a style match for Tori, per the BNW, and I immediately thought they might like it. It can work on its own as a given name, but as such I don’t think it has the “classic names” cachet Chris said he and his wife prefer. It originated as a diminutive of Teresa/Theresa/Therese, and I think it could also work as a nickname for Thomasina, so any of those can work as a given name, but I’m not convinced they’d like them (though Theresa is a style match for Anthony). So if they like Tessa, maybe they wouldn’t mind getting creative? I once saw Tess listed as a nickname for Elizabeth — Tess has a slightly different feel than Tessa, but this at least is one idea; the spellings Elisabeth and Elisabetta make the connection even stronger. Another way I like to come up with nicknames is by combining elements of the first and middle names — so maybe a first name with a strong T sound and a middle name with a strong S sound that ends in A? Like … Tara Susanna, Trinity Vanessa, Tegan Jessica, and Talia Marissa (or Natalia Marissa, because of how the T is stressed in Natalia …. OR, for that matter, Victoria! I could see something like Victoria Jessamine taking the nickname Tessa quite well!). (I know those combos aren’t Chris and his wife’s style, I’m just using them as examples.) (Don’t worry if you think I’m crazy! My poor husband has been tormented by my outside-the-box thinking through each of my pregnancies. 😂 😂 😂 I just like to make sure parents have lots of options.)

And those are my ideas for Chris and his wife’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents whose list consists of Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole?


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Lincoln David!

I posted an emergency consultation last night for Meredith from Daily Divine Mercy and Catholic Sticker Club — her baby was on his way and they weren’t sure about his name! She has let me know that he’s arrived and been given the so-handsome combo … Lincoln David!

If you remember, Lincoln David had been their chosen name until Meredith’s hubby started having second thoughts, which is when she reached out to me. She writes,

You might think I’m crazy for what I’m about to say, but I wanted to see what he looked like before we committed to Lincoln … [The names from the consultation hit] on ALL of my favs, [hubby] is just really picky. Ultimately I’m just grateful we agreed. I’d be sad if we didn’t have any more boys and I missed out on Lincoln.”

Isn’t that perfect?? I told her that being sad at the idea of never being able to use Lincoln is a perfect litmus test for whether a particular name is the right one or not. And coming to an agreement with her husband is so great! I know I always feel like that’s the pinnacle of naming for me — I love when my husband and I finally agree on a name.

Another fun bit about this name is that Meredith really wanted a Christmas connection with the middle name, and liked that David had that … and today is the “Key of David” O Antiphon — so her little guy was born on the Key of David Eve! So great! (I wrote more about O Antiphon names here.)

Thank you to those who left ideas for Meredith in her eleventh hour!

Congratulations to the happy parents and big sibs Jackson/Jack, Theodore/Teddy, Clara, and William/Will, and happy birthday Baby Lincoln!!

Lincoln David with his mama and two of his big sibs ❤


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: A Christmas-due-date baby is being born TODAY — help please!

Meredith from Daily Divine Mercy and Catholic Sticker Club is having her baby TODAY — her fifth baby and fourth boy! She and her husband are still trying to nail down a name and would love to hear your ideas! This little guy joins big sibs:

Jackson Solomon (Jack)
Theodore James (Teddy)
Clara Faye
William Harrison (Will)

Just a stunning bunch of names, right?! Jackson Solomon, Theodore James, and William Harrison are so handsome and sophisticated, and Clara Faye is so lovely. Nice job!

Meredith writes,

We thought we landed on a name but are second guessing now … Our top name at the moment is Lincoln David … This was almost 100% … But now hubby is second guessing. We disagree on a lot of names.

The names on Meredith’s list include:

Lawrence
Gabriel
Lincoln (hubby’s on the fence about this one)

Her husband’s list includes:

Abraham (Meredith isn’t a fan)

And they both like:

David
Joseph
John-David
George

Alright, so the first thing I tried to do was nail down what Meredith and her husband’s taste in names is, as evidenced by their other children’s names and those they like/are considering: I get a really strong Presidential vibe with Jackson, Theodore/Teddy, William, Harrison, Lincoln, and Abraham; a strong Old Testament vibe with Solomon, David, and Abraham; and a sort of colonial feel (I’m not sure that’s the right word … English? Pilgrim? There’s certainly some overlap there) from Theodore, Teddy, William, Clara, Faye, David, Joseph, George, and Abraham. I love all those styles, and I’m so impressed how they put them together in such great combinations!

I’m really taken with Lincoln David — I think it goes perfectly with their other boys’ names and their daughter’s as well. If they end up going with it, I’ll be thrilled! But if one or both of them are legitimately cooling on it, then I’m hoping some of my ideas here (and yours!) might be helpful.

Before listing my new ideas for this baby, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the names currently on Meredith’s and her hubby’s lists, in case they’re helpful:

  • Lawrence: I think maybe I’d consider Lawrence to be the outlier here. It doesn’t have an English feel and it’s not biblical or presidential, though it’s certainly handsome. I don’t love the nickname Larry with their other kids, but I’ve seen Lance used, which I think is a better fit with their others (though it still has a mismatched feel to me).
  • David: A handsome, classic, biblical name that fits in well with the names they’ve already used. It’s also Marian, via Our Lady’s title Tower of David — and Christmas-y too!
  • Joseph: I love Joseph!
  • Gabriel: Since hubby doesn’t care for Gabriel, I would recommend crossing it off the first-name list (maybe he’d be okay with it as a middle?).
  • Abraham: Similarly, since Meredith doesn’t care for Abraham, I would recommend crossing it off the first-name list (maybe she’d be okay with it as a middle?).
  • John-David: In general, I’m a big fan of double names for boys, as I love that they generally take two names that on their own aren’t unusual and give them an unexpected sparkle. However, in this case I’m not sure John-David is a good idea for this family, since Jack (and, by extension, Jackson) is a variant of John.
  • George: George is a great name! However, if I’m being nitpicky, I really like how their other boys have long names that trim down to friendly nicknames, which isn’t as easy with George. That said, Georgie is adorable, and I’ve always loved Geordie (said like Jordy) as well — it has traditional usage as a George nickname. I’ve seen Geo too, which is really cool.

Okay, now for my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, as it offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research and my own namey mind, these are my ideas:

(1) Charles
Meredith didn’t mention whether or not they’re okay with repeating initials, so maybe they’d rather not have Clara and Charles, but otherwise Charles is a match for Clara, William, and George, and Charlie’s a match for Jack — a great fit for this family! Cal is another possibility as a nickname for Charles that I quite like with Jack, Teddy, and Will (though is Cal too similar to Clara?).

(2) Henry
Clara, William, and George are also style matches for Henry! I can see Henry fitting in really well with their boys (and Clara too), and I also like Hank, if they wanted to nickname Henry. One tiny hesitation that I feel I must mention, though, is that Will’s middle name, Harrison, means “Harry’s son,” and Harry is a variant of Henry.

(3) Francis
Francis is a match for Lawrence and Frank for George — I feel like Francis definitely has that gentlemanly feel of the other boys’ names, and Frankie’s an adorable nickname for a little guy! I also love Finn as a nickname for Francis.

(4) Oliver
Despite the fact that Oliver only showed up in my research as a match for Theodore, I’m loving it for this family! Jackson, Theodore, William, and Oliver are amazing together, and Jack, Teddy, Will, and Ollie are great as well.

(5) Bennett (or Benedict?) or Benjamin
I don’t normally include middle names in my research, but I thought Harrison really felt like their style, so I looked it up to see what names the BNW would list as similar and Bennett is one — Bennett is a variant of Benedict, so I like that saintly connection, and Bennett also has usage as a surname, which fits in with their Jackson/Harrison/Lincoln names. But maybe they’d like the full Benedict? I love that as well, and Benedict Cumberbatch has certainly given it a British sheen, which fits in nicely with the other kids’ names. Ben is a great match for Jack, Teddy, and Will as well. If they prefer Benjamin, though, I won’t be disappointed! Benjamin is such a great name, and it’s Old Testament like Solomon, David, Joseph, and Abraham.

(6) Jude
There are a bunch of super-Old Testament names that match the super-Old Testament names Meredith and her hubby have used (Solomon) and that her hubby likes (Abraham) like Ezekiel, Ezra, Judah, and Moses. While those names can fit in with a Pilgrim-type feel and I wouldn’t hate them as first names for their son, I sense that Meredith would rather put names like that in the middle. But Judah made me think that Jude might be a possibility for them for a first name. Like with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law and the Beatles have given Jude a Brit feel, and it’s certainly got a nice saintly connection.

(7) Gideon
Finally, Gideon’s a match for a name Meredith loves that her hubby doesn’t (Gabriel) and a name her hubby likes that she doesn’t (Abraham), which might make it the perfect bridge name between their two styles. It’s biblical, of course, and to me it also has a strong historical/colonial-type feel, as there’s a historic figure local to my area named Gideon Putnam who was born in 1763 and died in 1812. I’ve always loved the name, so I was excited to see it match up with this family’s style!

Those are my ideas for first names for this baby, and there were a couple names that I thought wouldn’t do as first names, but that they might like to consider for the middle spot: Frederick (Fred/Freddy wouldn’t do well as a brother to Teddy) and Emmanuel (perfect for a Christmas baby! And similar to Solomon and Abraham in style). I don’t know how they choose middle names (maybe they reserve that spot for family names?), but if they just choose names they like, then I thought I might offer some first+middle combos, in case they’re helpful. These are just combos that I thought went well together (using both names I suggested and names they’re already considering):

Charles Ezra
Charles Emmanuel
Charles Gabriel
Henry Abraham
Henry Emmanuel
Henry Gabriel
Francis Judah
Francis Jude
Francis Lincoln
Oliver Francis
Oliver Henry
Oliver Lawrence
Benedict Moses
Bennett Moses
Benjamin Oliver
Benjamin Lawrence
Jude Frederick
Jude Emmanuel
Gideon Joseph
Gideon Lawrence

I’ve also done a bunch of posts/articles on Advent and Christmas names that might offer some helpful inspiration — they’re all listed in this post.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Meredith’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jackson/Jack, Theodore/Teddy, Clara, and William/Will’s baby brother?


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Penny Annalise Mariae!

Theresa (who wrote an amazing review of my book for Epic Pew!) shared her older kids’ names with me a couple of years ago, and I loved them so much I did a Name Story post about them! We’ve actually had many fun conversations about names — including for the baby she recently gave birth to! I’m excited to share that Theresa and her hubby welcomed a baby girl, to whom they gave the swoony name … Penny Annalise Mariae!

Theresa writes,

On November 13, our little girl, Penny Annalise Mariae, was born. I know we had talked about her name here and there throughout my pregnancy (and you were so generous in offering some ideas for a boy name when we could not settle!) and I’ve previously shared her big sister’s and brother’s name stories with you, so I wanted to share her name story with you! It’s a long one, so I’ll take it name by name.

Penny– When we began, we liked the name Penelope with the nickname Penny. We actually had a completely different set of middles to go with Penelope, Penelope Chiara Lucy, which altogether means “weaver of illustrious light”. I had wanted Mary Stella Maris to be our next daughter’s patroness anyway, so this was a lovely coincidence! Then I was curious to see if there are any saint Penelopes. There aren’t, but there is a St. Irene of Thessalonica whose birth name was Penelope. This is where even more coincidences start coming into play. One of my middle names is Irene for my Italian grandma and, though I’m sure if she was named for a saint it would be St. Irene of Rome, I thought this was an incredible connection for the three of us. (Similarly, I had heard my daughter Ruby’s name on a TV show and fell in love with it; there is a story that my great-grandma heard Irene on a radio program and fell in love with it. I really like that both of my girls have these cool connections to my Gram, with whom I was close).

Ok, so, Penelope nicknamed Penny. The day before we found out gender, we were talking about boy names and realized that we both thought the girl name should just be Penny. We really only like nicknames if we’re going to use the given name and the nickname fairly equally and we knew that we’d be calling this baby Penny 90% of the time. So we switched Penelope to Penny and came up with her two middles (more on that in a bit!). More coincidences presented themselves.

Way back when I was 16, a friend gave me a little penny bank (they were one of those $1 add ons from Claire’s) that had this poem on it: “Place a penny in the slot, close your eyes and wish a lot. Your Prince Charming you’ll receive, if in your heart, you believe.” I started collecting pennies and saving them from that moment on, but instead of just making a wish on them, I’d say a prayer for my future husband and for my own vocation discernment before placing each penny in the bank. Ten years later, my husband and I married and I gave him all of the pennies I had been praying on and saving. We were able to go out to a nice dinner on all the pennies I saved! And that has proved a sort of foundation of prayer and devotion for our marriage. Since pennies played a big role in the young life of our marriage, it was nice to be able to reflect that in our daughter’s name.

But there’s more! My mom’s favorite band was The Beatles who has the song “Penny Lane”. My favorite band is Hanson who has the song “Penny & Me”. My mom has been gone for almost 12 years now and so this shared connection is really special to me. (I also realize that Taylor and Natalie Hanson, fantastic namers that they are, have a daughter Penelope who goes by Penny. Just a coincidence! I didn’t remember until after we had chosen the name.) Also, my best friend Jackie and I became best friends in 7th grade because of a mutual love of Hanson, so I feel like Penny is a nice nod to our friendship, also. Penny is also two syllables like my other kids’ names and ends in the “ee” sound like her sister.

Annalise– There are lots of Ann(e)/as and Elizabeths on my and my husband’s family trees (including me, my sister, my mom, both of my grandmas, my aunt/godmother, another aunt, and one of my great-grandmas), so this is a nice little nod to family. My second middle name is Anne and my daughter Ruby’s is Anastasia, so I also like that we’re keeping An- names going (my mom’s and her mom’s middle names are also Anne). We had considered Annalise for a first name and then revisited it when we changed Penelope to Penny and it fit! It’s also a nod to my maid of honor, Anna, who is now a religious sister, and to another good friend of mine Anna Elizabeth. The “L” in there as a form of Elizabeth was actually really important to me, too. My grandma Irene didn’t have a middle name. When she was confirmed, she took St. Elizabeth and decided to make it her middle name; however, she wanted to be different from “all the other Elizabeths” and so spelled it Lizbeth. She was a firecracker! The L was also important to me because I have other special people in my life whose names begin with L- both of my sisters-in-law have middle names beginning with L, my MOH’s religious name is Sr. Luisa Grace, my grandma Irene’s dad was Louis, my aunt Linda, I had an “aunt” Louise, and some others. I also really like that I basically get a two-for-one name with Annalise! Gotta get as many names in as possible!

Mariae– Last but not least (but a little more succinct)! We wanted a form of Mary in her name, just like big sis has Mae. Originally, we were going to go with Marie for my mother-in-law’s middle name, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I remembered Mariae is the Latin form of Mary (and I think I read it on your blog somewhere once?) and I really liked that and finally convinced my husband it wasn’t too weird lol! It has a little more pizzazz than Marie and then gives everyone their own form of Mary. AND it rhymes with Mae and also my maiden name Bey. Turns out there are a lot of people in our families with Marian names- big sis (Mae), one of my sisters-in-law (Maria), my mother-in-law (Marie), and two of my great-grandmothers (Mary and Marie), and also some cousins!

So, this name not only fits this individual child while keeping her unique and her own person, but it gives so many wonderful nods and connections to people and saints that we love. Between her name and her sister’s name, I think we’ve covered 90% of the females in our life in some way! This is important to me as I like names for our children with lots of meaning but that also give the child a unique identity.”

I mean. Aren’t these amazing names with so many amazing layers of meaning?? I love the saving-pennies-praying-for-future-husband/vocation story so much, how incredible is that anyway, never mind naming their daughter Penny! The connections with so many of the beloved women in Theresa’s family and life and of course Our Lady are tremendous, I was blown away by each detail as I read this from Theresa. And I’m so charmed by siblings Ruby, Peter, and Penny — what a great trio!

Congratulations to Theresa and her husband and big siblings, and happy birthday Baby Penny!!

Penny Annalise Mariae with her big sister and brother ❤


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Maria Therese (nn Maite)!

Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage has been a cheerleader for Sancta Nomina from the beginning, and I have turned to her and her blog again and again for help with ministering to moms who have miscarried, including helping to name the babies. Since her own many losses were the catalyst for her blog and ministry, I’m extra happy every time I can share her baby news! I had the great privilege of doing a consultation for her second living baby (and birth announcement) as well as one for her third living baby (and birth announcement), and now I’m excited to share that she’s had her fourth — a baby girl given the so-beautiful name … Maria Therese nicknamed Maite!

Mandi writes,

Maria Therese was born on November 26 in the midst of a snowstorm that left 19.8” of snow! She is named after the Mother of God and David’s two grandmothers, who were both named Mary, and St. Therese of Lisieux. I call her Maite (pronounced my-tay), a traditional Spanish nickname for girls named Maria Teresa. Her biggest sister and my parents have been calling her Mimi and big brother calls her “fluffy”.

Her name was really easy to choose and we knew we would name our next girl (if we were so blessed) Maria Therese long before we were even pregnant with her. Maria continues our trend of girls names that end in “ia” and it was about time to name a little lady after Our Lady. We started saying a daily rosary as a family earlier this year and both my husband and I have strong devotions to the Blessed Mother (David to Our Lady of Fatima and I to Our Lady of Guadalupe). We chose her name day to be January 1st, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is a Holy Day of Obligation and our oldest’s baptism day. I love that Therese has a connection to my middle name and my oldest’s middle name, Rose, since St Therese of Lisieux is the “Little Flower” and often associated with roses.

Interestingly, we didn’t find out the sex before birth and our chosen boy’s name was Joseph. I always felt a bit silly when asked about names saying the baby was either Joseph or Maria- the two most quintessential Catholic names! We often got little chuckles when we told people. It just lined up that way this time, Joseph has been our planned boys name for our last two pregnancies (and if we have another baby will be the boy’s name again, we always carry name choices forward to the next baby).”

What an awesome name story!! You know I’m crazy for Marian names, and Maite has long been a favorite of mine (I love Mimi too, but Fluffy is definitely a contender for my favorite here! 😂). I love that they chose a name day for Maite as well! This is just perfection, all around!

Congratulations to Mandi and her husband and big sibs Lucia, David (Davey), and Cecilia (Cici), and happy birthday Baby Maria Therese!!

Maria Therese “Maite” with her big siblings ❤


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Alden Edward!

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Our priest’s name is Juanito, and he has a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe — I only recently remembered that Our Lady called Juan Diego “Juanito” and “Juan Dieguito.” So sweet and affectionate! I’ll have to ask him if that’s his religious name or his given name. Either way, I love it!

Speaking of Marian names, I posted a consultation for Jess and her husband back in October for their baby boy — I’m so happy to share that Jess has let me know their little guy has arrived and been given the amazing name with amazing initials … Alden Edward V___! I never include last name info in the post title or name announcement, but it’s particularly meaningful here because his monogram is the Marian AVE (aVe)! ❤ ❤ ❤

Jess writes,

I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving. We had a lot to be thankful for this year. I really appreciate your consultation. We narrowed the names down to Edward, Alden, and Roland. Our daughter was strongly advocating for Edward so she could call her brother Teddy Bear. The birth mom decided to meet me for lunch prior to the delivery. When she asked what we planned to name the baby, I told her the options and she had a very positive reaction to Alden. We named our son Alden Edward after her input. Big sis calls Alden his name, Teddy Bear, and Toots (because he farts a lot). We’re smitten. Thanks again!

(Toots!! 😂😂😂)

Alden Edward is so handsome! And you know I love the aVe monogram!! What a wonderful holiday season for this family!!

Congratulations to Jess and her husband and big sister Josephine Jean, and happy birthday Baby Alden!!

Alden Edward with big sister Josephine Jean ❤


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!