Baby name consultation: Baby no. 12 (boy) needs a name that works in English and Spanish

Rebecca and her husband are expecting their twelfth baby (eleventh on earth) — their seventh son! This little guy joins big sibs:

Adam Joseph (“We chose Adam because it was very important to my husband that we choose names that can be said or translated to Spanish easily. His parents speak only Spanish. I liked that Adam wasn’t/isn’t a very popular name but wasn’t unheard of either. In Spanish it is Adan (emphasis on 2nd A) and it was appealing to me as well. I really wanted Joseph as a middle name for all my boys — because St. Joseph! Plus I think Joseph is the best boy name ever! We call him by his full name.”)

Nicholas Joseph (“We agreed on his name pretty quickly, keeping Joseph as a middle patron saint name. Nicolas in Spanish sounds awesome too. We call him Nick.”)

Madeline Marie Lucia (“Ever since I was in high school I wanted a daughter named Madeline. I totally dismissed my husband’s need for a name that can be said in Spanish! I really wanted Madeline! I figured her grandparents would find a name for her and that would be a special thing between them. They call her Madalena. Which I love too! Her middle names are for Our Lady and for Lucia, one of the children of Fatima [OLFatima is one of my favorites!]. We call her Maddy.”)

+ “baby in heaven (gender unknown). We named this baby Cesar.”

Isabella Marie Lucia (“I was hesitant to name her Isabella even though this was one of my favorite names since forever because she was born in the middle of all the Twilight hype and the name became crazy popular. But ultimately I didn’t care because I wanted this name before all that hype anyways! I figured since we named the boys with the same middle name, we should name the girls with the same middle name too Emoji. I really wanted her nn to be Izzy, but as much as I pushed for it, people call her Bella/Bells and now so do I. My adult niece calls her Bella-rina [which I adore!].”)

Marco Emilio Rafael (“Marco was one name my husband came up with … I liked that it was different, but not totally unheard of … His middle names are for his 2 grandmothers. We didn’t know the gender before he was born and had planned to name this baby after them either way. My MIL is Emilia and my mom is Rafaela … We figured Emilia and Rafaela could be easily switched to masculine names, so we went with it! … We call him Marco usually, I call him Mark sometimes.”)

Elias Joseph (“On the morning before he was born, we still didn’t have a name that we agreed on … during breakfast, I opened up the SSA list of names, scrolled past 500, and started reading names to my husband. As soon as I said Elias, I fell in love! And I love it in Spanish too [Eh-lee-as] Emoji. Luckily my husband agreed and our baby had a name! We decided to go with our classic Joseph for a middle name, it sounded so nice together! We call him Eli or Li-Li [Lie-Lie].”)

Josiah Thomas James (“This poor little guy went for 2 weeks without a name because we couldn’t agree on a name [and we knew we were having a boy too!]. He was our first home-birth so we had the “luxury” of not having to pick a name before we leave the hospitalEmoji. I was insisting on a name that is not popular and my husband and I couldn’t agree on any name. I don’t remember where we came up with Josiah but I loved it immediately. Again, luckily my husband did too and this guy had a name! His middle names are Thomas for his godfather and James after my godfather who passed away shortly after Josiah was born — both very strong, faithful Catholic men who will be amazing examples for our son! We call him Joe or Joe-Joe.”)

Theresa Maria Faustina (“At the beginning of this pregnancy, we were blessed to have spent our 10th anniversary in Poland & Rome with our very holy and close priest-friend and his family! His mom’s name is Teresa and we named her after this amazing woman! Maria is, of course, after Our Lady and Faustina is a nod to our time in Poland, plus how amazing to have a patron saint connected with Divine Mercy!! [We got to renew our wedding vows on the altar in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow!!! EmojiEmojiEmoji]. We call her Reese or Reesa.”)

Monica Lily Marie (“I have always loved Monica and love that it’s not super popular and am so in love with how it sounds in Spanish. My husband and kids agreed … so we went with Monica. Her middle names are Lily as a nod to St. Joseph. My dad passed away when I was 7 months pregnant on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, so I wanted something to honor his memory. Marie is, of course, after our Lady. We call her Moni [Moh-nee].”)

Andrew Edward (“We started looking for a name that began with an “X” because he is our 10th baby, we thought that would be cool! All we found was Xavier and Xander. But as much as I like Xavier (Ex-Zavier), I couldn’t commit to this name for this little guy! After about 5 days of searching, I kept coming back to Andrew but felt like we couldn’t use it [because it’s my nephew’s name]. I thought it was perfect since he was born during Advent and I had been searching for an Advent name. I had a conversation with my adult niece and we decided that … it was completely fine to use it … Edward is after St. Edward the Confessor. Cool side story about his name: The headmaster at my kids’ school knew we were looking for a name beginning with ‘X’ for this 10th baby and when he heard we named him Andrew, he reminded us about the way St. Andrew was martyred — on the X shaped cross! I was in tears when I heard this and it confirmed for me that this guy was meant to be Andrew! We call him Andrew or Drew-Drew.”)

What a fantastic bunch of names, and all with great stories! For her newest little guy, Rebecca writes,

St. Thomas More was really calling to me during the first half of this pregnancy and I was convinced this should be his name, despite Thomas being Josiah’s middle name. Then suddenly I felt a huge draw towards St. Paul and his conversion story. I love how he had a huge change of heart and was able to totally transform from who he used to be, to the person God intended for him to be. Then Benjamin caught my attention and I love how this is Jacob’s 12th son since this is technically our 12th baby. I am hesitant for Benjamin because I feel as an adult what would he go by? Ben sounds a little bit juvenile (or maybe it just sounds like a sweet, gentle guy??) and Benjamin is such a mouthful to go by your full name all the time. My husband is not totally feeling Pablo as the Spanish name for Paul, even though I loooove Pablo!

I’m thinking:
Paul Thomas
Benjamin Paul

I also love Matthias but I’m not totally convinced. I like that he could go by Matt but then surprise people with his full name not being Matthew. I think in Spanish it would be Mat-ee-as and I like it too.

I am interested in names that sound like the cute little baby of the family but that can also be grown-up and mature sounding. Maybe that’s Benny with full name Benjamin?

My husband likes Samuel — it would have to grow on me, I’m not totally digging this name. I do like how it sounds in Spanish though! Diego has been on our list a few times, both my husband and I like it. Hubs likes Mario but that’s so similar to Marco. I STILL love Benicio! haha!

Names we can’t use (there are more than 50 grandkids on my side of the family!)

  • Joshua*
  • Michael*
  • Vincent*
  • Daniel*
  • David*
  • Nathan*
  • Steven
  • John (my dad’s and FIL’s name, but there are 3 grandkids with John as their 1st name)
  • Anthony
  • Jesse*
  • Cameron
  • Hector*
  • Robert
  • Fernando*
  • Martin*
  • Ricardo
  • Gustavo*
  • Matthew
  • Alan
  • Richard
  • Christopher
  • Jacob
  • Luke
  • Noah

(I starred the ones who are completely out. The others are similar to Andrew’s name, if it’s meant to be, it doesn’t matter to double up, ha!)

I loved reading Rebecca’s thought process regarding names for this baby — first Thomas, then Paul/Pablo, then Benjamin, all so great! Here are my thoughts on those, and the others she mentioned, in case my thoughts are helpful to her and any of you who might also be considering these names:

  • Thomas: Thomas is fantastic name and St. Thomas More is a fantastic saint, so if they chose Thomas as a first name, Rebecca and her hubby can be sure their little guy would have a good, solid name that would always serve him well. However, the fact that it’s already Josiah’s middle name makes me really want to find a name that they haven’t already used (despite the fact that I know they’re not opposed to doing so and have done so before). I do like it as a middle name, and it would be a neat connection between Josiah and this baby, which could be great!
  • Paul: I agree, St. Paul’s story is amazing! Paul does feel a little different in style to me than the other kids’ names — I mean, it does fit, since it’s biblical and classic, but it’s different at the same time. I love it as a middle name for as listed by Rebecca — Benjamin Paul is my favorite! (Benjamin Pablo would be amazing too! I wonder if her hubby would be okay with Pablo if it was in the middle?)
  • Benjamin: Okay, let’s talk about Benjamin. This is what I’ve been waiting to do since I first read Rebecca’s email, haha! I have a lot to say, so I’m going to jump out of bullet points for a second.

First of all, let me put Rebecca’s mind at ease about all her concerns about Benjamin and Ben! I have an adult Benjamin in my life and I have nothing but good things to say about his name! While it is a long name, his dad loves it so much that he almost always calls him by the full Benjamin, but everyone else in life calls him Ben, and I think Ben is just the best nickname — so friendly but solid at the same time. This same Benjamin named his son Benjamin Jr., and he goes by Ben(ny), so that should tell you that at least one Benjamin thinks it’s a great enough name to pass on!

Not only is there my own personal story about the amazingness of the name Benjamin, it’s also amazing that Benjamin is a style match for Rebecca and her husband! You all know that I always start a baby name consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and discovered that Benjamin is a style match for Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, and Andrew! And Samuel too! Wow!

There are also several holy Benjamins, including St. Benjamín Julián, Bl. Benjamín Fernández de Legaria Goñi, and Bl. Benjamín Ortega Aranguren — there are others, but I loved seeing the Spanish variants for Rebecca and her hubs!

So I wholeheartedly agree that Benjamin is the *best* name for their son!! I love that this baby is their twelfth baby, and that Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob. What a great connection! I really have no job here, since they already have the perfect name!

(If they’re still not convinced about Benjamin, I’ve also seen Ben as a nickname for Bernard, and its variant Bernardino reminded me of how Rebecca likes Benicio.)

  • Matthias: Despite the fact that I’m convinced Benjamin is the best name for this family, I also love Matthias for exactly the reasons Rebecca mentioned.
  • Samuel: Samuel is a great name! Sam and Sammy are great.
  • Diego: Love it.
  • Mario: I agree that it’s similar to Marco — I didn’t think so at first, just looking at them printed, but then I said them out loud — oh boy! Very similar indeed!

I also took note of other names Rebecca said she liked/considered in the past, and I noticed Xavier — while that X initial would be great for a tenth baby, the initials XI would be perfect for an eleventh! I wonder what she would think of Xavier Isaac or Xavier Ignatius/Ignacio or Xavier Isidore?

As for the list of names that they can’t use, I was bummed out by Daniel (“Danny Boy” seemed such a sweet name for the baby of the family), David (similar to Benjamin, I was thinking how King David was the youngest of his brothers), and Luke (it’s a style match for their taste), but never fear, I was able to come up with a bunch of other ideas!

(1) Gabriel

I wasn’t surprised to see Gabriel show up as a style match for a bunch of their names, since I often see Gabriel on parents’ lists that also include Benjamin and Samuel. And it works in Spanish too, right? Rebecca’s husband represents St. Michael in his name, and Marco has St. Raphael — it would be great to round out the angelic trio with a Gabriel!

(2) Jonathan

Jonathan is a big style match for this family as well! There are a few nickname options — Jon and Jack, and if they did something like Jonathan Paul or Jonathan Pablo, then they could do JP initials (like St. John Paul!). I know this might seem like splitting hairs, but John and Jonathan are not the same name, so the fact that John is on their “no” list shouldn’t technically prevent them from considering Jonathan! (Unless their family thinks it’s too close to John, which I would understand.)

(3) C(h)ristian

Christian is one of my favorite names, and I enjoyed seeing that it’s a style match for this family. Cristian is the Spanish spelling, so handsome! I’m hoping that since Matthias isn’t too close to Matthew on their “no” list, C(h)ristian isn’t too close to Christopher on their “no” list.

(4) Tadeo or Tobias

Tobias is actually the name that’s the style match for them — it’s a match for Elias and Josiah, and I do love it … but maybe too close to both Elias and Josiah? I wanted to include it anyway, just in case. Thaddeus is a style match for Benedict, and I love the Spanish version Tadeo, what a cool name!

(5) Sebastian

Sebastian is long like Nicholas, Isabella, Benedict, and Benjamin, and St. Sebastian tends to be a favorite with boys — what boy doesn’t love a gruesome story about being shot to death with arrows?? Haha! Seb, Bash, Baz, Bastian, and even Ian are all nicknames I’ve seen.

(6) Damien or Damian

Damien’s a match for Cesar — I included their little one in heaven’s name in my research because it was yet another data point for showing their style, and I kind of love including a name on this list that is specifically tied to that baby — what a sweet connection! I mentioned above that I really liked the idea of Danny Boy for their “cute little baby of the family,” and when I saw Damien, I thought it might be perfect because I had it on my own list and had Denny as a nickname for it … change the spelling to Damian and Danny could easily work! In fact, Damián is the Spanish variant!

(7) Caleb

Speaking of “cute little baby of the family” names, Caleb has always struck me as having a snuggly feel. It’s certainly manly and strong, like the biblical character, but I think I get that cozy, cute feel from the fact that I saw Cub/Cubby as a nickname for it once and thought that would be so sweet for a little boy! Cal is also a possibility, which is so wholesome and boyish. Caleb goes right along with Rebecca’s Old Testament boys Adam, Elias, and Josiah, but I admit I don’t know how it does in Spanish.

(8) Stephen

My last idea for is Stephen — a style match for Mark (standing in for Marco for this example), Theresa, and Paul. I know a Stephen Paul and a Paul Stephen! While St. Stephen the Martyr is the first one I think of, and top of mind at this time anyway because of his feast day being the day after Christmas, I looked through the feast days starting with Rebecca’s due date and working backward, looking for anything that jumped out at me, and I saw that St. Stephen of Murat is on Feb. 8. Could be cool if her baby was born that day! (And only right now, as I’m putting this post together, do I realize that Steven is on the “no” list. Gah! I’m leaving this here in case it’s helpful to any of you.)

(For reference, other feast days that I noted were St. Matthias of Jerusalem on Jan. 30, St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28, Conversion of Paul the Apostle on January 25 [!!], and St. Sebastian on Jan. 20.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, Isabella, Marco, Elias, Josiah, Theresa, Monica, and Andrew?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

9 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Baby no. 12 (boy) needs a name that works in English and Spanish

  1. Congrats on the 12th baby (wow)!
    From your list, I’d exclude Diego because it’s not a Biblical name, unlike all the boys’ names.
    Thomas, Paul, Benjamin, Matthias and Samuel are all great options.
    My father is the 10th and last child and apparently, my grandmother always regretted not using Benjamin for him at least as the middle name, because traditionally it’s used for the youngest child.
    So I totally support the idea of Benjamin for this baby! And you can even use Benicio as a nickname! Or even Jamie?
    Another option is Simon or Simeon. I think they work well in Spanish.

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  2. I think Benjamin and Benjamin Paul would be great! Benji is a fun nn for a child and Ben is definitely appropriate for an adult — Ben Franklin, Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck, Ben Folds, Ben Roethlisberger …

    The first name that came to mind as I read through the post was Gabriel.

    I also like Caleb, but the Spanish pronunciation I found online is a little different from the English. It’s three syllables, sort of like Ka lih eb. The i sound in the middle sounds like a cross between a short i and a long e.

    What about Zachary or Zachariah? In Spanish the name would be Zacarias. Zechariah or Zachariah (depending on what version of the Bible you use) is a priest and the father of John the Baptist. I love the A to Z aspect this name would bring to the sibling list, although that’s presuming there won’t be another baby.

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  3. What about Oscar? My son was almost named after Oscar Romero 😍

    My other favorite goes in both languages names has always been Julian.. or even Joaquin – father of Blessed Mary!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Adam, Nicolas, Marco, Elias, Josiah, Andrew, and
    – Diego. I love it! Of course it is a Biblical name. It’s James. It is my favorite from your list.
    – Gabriel. This is my favorite from the suggested names. I like that it has a different initial. None of the boys’ names end in L.
    – Simon. I think this one meets your criteria. I like it in the group.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you all for the suggestions! This was such a fun process to go through with Kate!
    We are throwing another name into the mix: Joseph! I love love naming my boys after St. Joseph and so how could I not with this little guy since it is now the year of St. Joseph!?
    The names I really really want are Paul, Joseph and Gabriel – just can’t figure out how to use all of them so it sounds good! I DO still love Benjamin it’s just that those 3 names are extra significant for me! Oh so difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

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