Melissa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their third daughter! This little lady joins big siblings:
Joseph (called Joe/Joey)
Such a lovely bunch of names!!
“I was convinced this current baby was a boy, so I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around another girl! … I love the names Lucy and Zelie and just don’t love any other girl names as much! I also want to stay away from names ending in “e”, but I tend to be drawn to those names!
Names we like but I’m not sure:
- Isla — this is probably my favorite so far but it seems trendy and popular. Not sure if it goes with the other names.
- Claire or Clara — my husband likes Claire but not Clara! My best friend from childhood is a Claire, and I like the idea of changing it up by adding the A.
- Nora — I think it’s pretty but husband doesn’t like as much.
- Frances — I like this but am scared to use it for some reason.
- Amelia — I like it but don’t love it. Husband isn’t the biggest fan.
- Vivian — kind of like this, but husband isn’t a fan!
- Lillian — this is a family name, but I don’t love Lily, which I think people would call her.
- Matilda — love the idea of Tilly, but not sure I want another name ending in “e”. My son Joseph also goes by Joey sometimes.
We have lots of cousins, so here is a list of names I don’t want to duplicate!
- Katherine or Katie
- Margaret (goes by Maggie)
- Adelaide (goes by Addie)“
This was fun to work on! Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie are great names — it was fun to see Graham in there, as I frequently see Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie in the families I work with (and I love each of those names!), but I rarely see Graham — I’m always delighted by an unexpected name! I felt pretty confident about the names that are style matches for Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie, but was really interested to see what names would be revealed as style matches for Graham in my research.
You all know that I always start a consultation 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 find it to be uncannily accurate! I used Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie, as well as Isla, Claire, Clara, Nora, Frances, Amelia, Vivian, Lillian, and Matilda. All such beautiful names!
Before sharing my new ideas, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the names Melissa and her hubby are considering, in case they’re helpful:
- Isla: Isla is a beautiful name! This mama, who I had the privilege of doing a consultation for, has three daughters named Adelaide, Clairvaux, and Isla, so I chuckled when I saw that Claire is a name Melissa and her hubby are considering and Adelaide is on their list of names they can’t use because they’re cousin names (the fact that Melissa included it as a name they can’t use tells me that she thought I might have suggested it, and/or that she might otherwise like to consider it if it wasn’t already taken). So yes, I think Isla would fit in fine with the other children! It was also pretty cool to see that a style match for both Graham and Isla is Fiona — having a name in common like that tells me that Graham and Isla are pretty well matched, even if it doesn’t explicitly say so in the BNW (the style matches for each entry are restricted to 5-8 names, so not all the style matches will be listed). I will say that Lucy and Zelie come across as super Catholicky Catholic (at least to me, who sees all names through a Catholic lens), while Isla doesn’t have that same feel. It does have fantastic faith connections! Marian ones, even! I wrote a book of Marian names, and Isla is an entry in it! So it can definitely work, and it’s so pretty, but I can see why Melissa wondered if it goes with the other names. I actually love that it’s more closely connected to Graham, because Graham feels like a bit of an outlier (not in a bad way, and not a bad thing!), and using Isla loops him back in. One last thought: Melissa said she’s worried that Isla is trendy and popular, which I do understand. I thought it would be good to look up the actual numbers: Isla was actually in the top 1000 in both 1905 and 1908! Wow! But wasn’t so again until 2008, when it roared onto the scene at no. 623 (likely due to actress Isla Fisher, I’m guessing); since then, it’s continued to climb and is currently at no. 57. So it’s had a quick ascent, which gives it its trendy feeling, but Lucy and Joseph are both more popular at nos. 48 and 24, respectively, so I wouldn’t say it’s overly popular for this family. (Zelie isn’t in the top 1000 [but Zaylee has been since 2015 and is currently no. 735], and Graham is no. 180, so this family’s names are kind of all over popularity-wise — which is great! It means there are a whole lot of names that would be comfortable in their family.)
- Claire or Clara: So funny to me that Melissa’s hubby likes Claire but Melissa prefers Clara! They actually do have separate entries in the BNW, with different style matches, so there is a different feel to them both. Interestingly, Claire is a style match for Graham, and Lillian from Melissa’s list is a match for Clara. Since I mentioned it above, I wonder what they would think of Clairvaux? It would be another way of changing it up, like Melissa said she liked the idea of doing, and adding a patron saint (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it could still take her husband’s preference, Claire, as a nickname. Claire is no. 55; Clara is 95; and Clairvaux is not in the top 1000.
- Nora: I love Nora too. It can be a nickname for Eleanor and Honora — might either of those appeal to Melissa’s husband? I was also interested to see that the similar Nola is a style match for Isla — maybe that one letter change would make a difference? Nola can be a nickname for Finola/Fionnuala, or it can stand on its own. It’s also been used secularly as shorthand for New Orleans (New Orleans, LA = N.O.L.A.), so they could maybe think of it as an honor name for St. Joan of Arc, since she was nicknamed “The Maid of Orleans.” Nora is no. 29; Eleanor is 27; Honora is not in the top 1000; Finola and Fionnuala aren’t in the top 1000; and Nola is 606.
- Frances: Aw Frances, how sweet! But I totally get that Melissa’s “scared” as it does have an older feel than her other kids’ names. I also think its nicknames are part of its appeal, and if she doesn’t love the idea of an “ee”-ending nickname, than Frannie and Francie and Frankie would be out. Frances is no. 438.
- Amelia: I would be inclined to cross this off of their list, since Melissa said she doesn’t love it and neither does her husband. I wonder if switching to the Emilia spelling would help? It’s the name of St. John Paul’s mother, whose cause for canonization is open! I think Amelia is probably way more popular than they’d like, at no. 7, while Emilia is no. 42.
- Vivian: I’d say the same as Amelia — I would consider crossing it off the list. V-heavy names that families who like Vivian often like include Evangeline and Genevieve — both of those have the similar faithy feel as Lucy and Zelie to me, and Evie and Vivi are such cute nicknames (but they end in that ee sound, gah!). Vivian is no. 96; Evangeline is 275; and Genevieve is 168.
- Lillian: I love that Lillian’s a family name, and I thought, if Melissa didn’t want it to be reduced to Lily, maybe it would be best as a middle name? Also, thinking of Isla and Lillian, I wondered if she might like Lila as a first name, in honor of Lillian but without the risk of Lily, or Lila as a nickname for Lillian that she would enforce through firm and consistent correction of others if they call her Lily? I think the sound of Lila — rhyming with Isla, having the long I instead of Lily’s short I — would move everyone’s mindset away from Lily. Lillian is no. 37; Lila is 227.
- Matilda: Oh yeah, Tilly’s darling. I don’t have a good suggestion here! It’s a pickle! Matilda’s no. 447.
Okay, on to my new ideas! As mentioned, these are a result of my research in the Baby Name Wizard — looking at the style of Melissa’s children’s names as a whole and trying to find names that would fit in with that — but also I gave a lot of weight to Lucy and Zelie specifically, together, and what names would feel like their sister, with special excitement for names that also loop Graham in a bit more (handsome Joseph goes with a broader range of names). Based on all that, these are my ideas:
I think Gemma is such a slam dunk for this family! It shares with Graham the style match of Fiona, which means they’re style matches for each other, even though they weren’t listed as so, and Isla is also a style match for Gemma! So it’s already firmly in the world of names Melissa and her husband like, and I like that it specifically matches up with Graham. Additionally, and this really is what sealed it for me, it matches up exactly well with Lucy and Zelie in terms of the names that I see Catholic families of today considering. It’s two syllables, like them, but doesn’t have an “ee” nickname. St. Gemma Galgani is much loved and makes a great patron! Lucy, Zelie, and Gemma are fantastic sister names! (Also, the little Isla mentioned above was almost Gemma!) I quite like Gemma Lillian, lovely. Gemma is no. 198.
I like that Stella is a style match for both Nora and Matilda — it brings in two of the names Melissa and her hubs like in a way that’s similar to Lucy and Zelie. And it’s a Marian name! It refers to Our Lady’s title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and I like that it doesn’t have a natural “ee” nickname. If they decided they might like a longer name, I love both Maristella and Stellamaris. But I prefer just Stella for this family! Stella is no. 39. I don’t love it with Lillian, but Stella Claire is lovely! If you’re into name meanings, it has the nice added layer of meaning of “clear star,” since Claire means “clear” and Stella means “star” (could be great for a Christmastime baby?).
(3) Elise or Alice
I was so interested to see that Elise is a style match for Graham and Claire, and the similar-but-different Alice is a match for Lucy and Frances! I’m not sure which one I like better for this baby girl — on the one hand, Elise is French like Zelie, and I love that it’s an Elizabeth variant (but then again, maybe it would be too similar to cousin Elizabeth?); on the other hand, I like that Alice is a match for Lucy and has Graham’s gentle Brit feel. Elise is no. 207, and Alice is 73.
The Mini Consultation is for three ideas, but I had this fourth idea that’s a little offbeat, so I thought I’d include it as a bonus. I mentioned Evangeline earlier, and its sweet nickname of Evie; additionally, Evelyn is a match for both Amelia and Vivian, which made me think maybe an Eve- name might appeal to Melissa and her hubs. But Eve, Evelyn, and Evangeline all lend themselves naturally to Evie, so if they’re trying to avoid that, I wonder what they’d think of Ave? Like in Ave Maria? I’ve never seen it used as a given name, but I included it as an entry in my book after hearing about a little girl named Ava Maria, in honor of Our Lady. Ava is certainly lovely, but it made me wonder if Ave would be doable, and I think it is! I think it can definitely hold its own with sisters Lucy and Zelie.
And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie?
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!