Liz and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big brothers:
X@vi3r Ern3st J@m3s
Eug3n3 Andr3w J0hn
(Alt characters used for privacy)
Absolutely fantastic names, and unexpected for brothers!
“We are expecting our third in early August. Gender unknown. I have been thinking for some time that I must get in touch, but the main reason that I haven’t yet is that we really have no short list!!!
We’d like something familiar but not super popular that doesn’t seem out of place with the boys’ names. Most Traditional names seem a bit boring. I’d like a Catholic connection.
I’m Catholic, Hubby is not. We have different interest levels and expectations of names, which is where the difficulty lies. He is happy to choose a name, because he likes it, and that’s it. He’s not interested in popularity, honour names, meanings, middle names, initials [though names with some link to a superhero character or a significant player for the Pittsburgh Penguins might appeal to him.]. He tends to like simple, recognisable names; Oliver, Jack, Lilly. In contrast, I am a complete name nerd, and I like lots of significance behind a name. Nothing made up, but not too popular either. We are in the UK. Latest data was that X@vi3r was 200ish and Eug3n3 wasn’t in the top 1000.
X@vi3r (Zay-vee-er) = born on the feast of St Frances Xavier, I like the Frances/Francis link to Pope Francis although I understand he is named after St Francis of Assisi. Husband likes it because Prof. Charles Xavier is leader of the X-men.
Ern3st = honour name, but not of a person! Before we were married we joked about having a child named Ernie. Because Ernie [rhymes with our last name and] would be a silly name. So X@vi3r’s arrival was the fruition of our hopes and dreams.
J@m3s = family name on both sides.
The middle EJ initials are a nod to my initials before I was married, and are my sister in law’s initials too.
If he wasn’t X@vi3r, he would have been James. There were no other boys’ names in contention!
We struggled with Eug3n3’s name. Again, we only had two boys’ names when we went to the hospital. He was called August (although I much prefer Augustine) for the first few minutes, but it didn’t feel right. August/Augustine/Augustus isn’t in contention for this baby. It feels as if it has been “used”.
Eug3n3 (You-Jean) = obviously a couple of Popes, saints (one feast day near the due date) and apparently a variant of my mum’s maiden name. Eugene is the English translation of Evgeni, who is a hockey player who Hubby admires.
Andr3w = After my husband.
J0hn = family name on both sides.
The initials EAJ are both mine (pre marriage) and my mum’s.
So for this baby we’re pretty stuck. The uncommon but familiar is tricky enough, without adding in some of the other stuff I’d ideally like!
Middle names will definitely be Simon and Philip, in either order. Neither of these names is a contender for a first name.
Names we can’t/won’t use:
*names I particularly like but used by other family members [or otherwise can’t use]. We also wouldn’t repeat any of our sons’ middle names.
Names I have thought about:
Raphael (This is the clear front runner for me. With the spelling variants it’s a little more popular than I’d like but not super trendy. The original feast day of 24th Oct would have been my grandfather’s birthday). Hubby doesn’t really like it. But it is the name of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle so ticks that box!
Other names I have written down but aren’t really contenders:
- Ignatius (this would make my mum really happy but I think it’s a very Catholic name and not one that many people (including Hubby) are familiar with. He doesn’t like Nate as a nickname either.)
When we were expecting Eug3n3 I managed to convince myself that Arlo was a good choice (significance via JP2, through Karol and variants of Charles), but I went off it when I realised how popular it is. If we were going to go for popular it’s much more likely to be a name that’s consistently up there (like Daniel) than something that seems trendy. I’ve also offered John-Paul as a name but Hubby isn’t keen.
My husband doesn’t like a double-barrelled name. And he doesn’t want to choose a name with the intention of using something else e.g. Margaret called Peggy.
If he had to choose a boys name right now, it would be Sidney. I’m struggling to like it, never mind love it.
Hubby’s top choice has always been Thea. Not Theadora, or Dorothea, or Thea-Grace or anything, just Thea. I don’t love it (there’s the God thing, right?), it’s very popular (no. 46 I think in the UK), and if there is another one in the class, or she doesn’t like it, or something, these isn’t an obvious nickname.
Having said all that, I am open to the possibility. But I would like to arrive at the hospital with some other option just in case it doesn’t suit (or if Harry and Meghan name their baby Thea!).
- Evangeline (after the Johns in our lives? Nicknames like Evie are really popular in their own right here in the UK).
- My absolute favourite is Agnes, but Hubby hates it.
- I used to like Veronica, but it’s now the name of a girlfriend in the family.
- I’ve also got Magdalene on my list but Hubby doesn’t like it.
- We both like Wanda (but it’s a bit too unusual, and I can’t find a convincing Catholic connection, and apparently it should be pronounced Vanda, and we prefer Wanda as in the fish).
- My slight curveball, and is outside my usual style on so many levels, is Joy. I think it might be nice, after this dreadful year, to have something happy. It also opens up some options for me for significant initials!
Names we can’t use: Martha, Catherine, Alexandra
I’m not worried about middle names; one from a selection including Elizabeth, Philippa, Agnes, Bernadette.
Second middle would be Simon/Simone/Simona [after a dear friend named Simon] (do you have any thoughts? I strongly favour Simon even though it’s a boys name! But I don’t really like Simona/Simone, I think it dilutes the honour slightly, and as Simon could be a surname I don’t think it sounds odd as a second middle on a girl.)
Thank you and good luck!“
Every time I read Liz’s email I chuckled as I read her last line: “Thank you and good luck!” Haha!
In regards to superhero and/or Pittsburgh Penguins names, I like Liz’s attempt to find names that her husband can connect to, I’ve done similar things as well! I’m sure you all remember that I love the name Joachim (as I’ve mentioned a thousand times on the blog) and in trying to convince my husband I started searching for athletes with the name because I knew that would be meaningful to him! It didn’t work but he appreciated the effort! “Superhero” and “Pittsburgh Penguins” are as good a place as any to look! And even Catholic husbands don’t always care about having a Saint name or other Catholic connection — in fact, how Liz described her husband as being “happy to choose a name, because he likes it, and that’s it. He’s not interested in popularity, honour names, meanings, middle names, initials. He tends to like simple, recognizable names” sounds so familiar, many of the men I know approach naming in a similar way!
I absolutely love Liz’s sons’ names — first and middles — and all the meaning behind each name, they’ve done a great job finding names that are awesome that Liz’s husband will agree to! (The Ern3st story is so lovely, “X@vi3r’s arrival was the fruition of our hopes and dreams” is just fantastic, I love that Ern3st is very “them” as a couple.) But trying to figure out the thread that connects X@vi3r and Eug3n3 occupied my entire thought process for days — they’re just such different styles that what I came to is trying to find a name (for a boy) in a third style (because I’m nothing if not a sucker for balance and symmetry in naming, which is so completely unimportant but just the way my weird mind works!). But finding a name that truly feels “third style” without leaning too far toward X@vi3r or too far toward Eug3n3 is hard!
I do love Raphael, it’s totally my style and a name I wish would get more usage, and if Liz’s hubby could get on board I’d be thrilled along with her! But it definitely feels more X@vi3r-ish to me. I could see Raphael nn Ralph being a tremendous “bringing together” of both styles, but Liz’s husband doesn’t like bestowing a formal name and using a nickname. Sidney feels more Eugene-ish, but less so — it’s closer to a “third style” I think? Maybe? But if Liz doesn’t like, then I definitely think they should keep looking!
Thea and Agnes don’t feel that far apart to me, so I’m not surprised that Liz feels like she’s “ok with” Thea, even thought it isn’t her favorite. It’s funny Liz mentioned the “God thing” with Thea — a reader emailed me recently asking about that very thing! I’d never thought about it until her question, and my research yielded some cool results. I also recently posted a birth announcement for a little Thea, whose mama loved the name Therese but was afraid of it being mispronounced, and when she heard somewhere that Thea is sometimes used as a nickname of Therese, she was sold on it as a given name in its own right, which I thought was awesome. (I’d never heard of Thea being used as a nickname for Therese, but I can totally see it, especially with the Theresa spelling.) Maybe thinking of it in honor of a St. T(h)eresa/Therese would help Liz? There’s also Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman. As for Liz’s thought that there isn’t an obvious nickname for a Thea to fall back on, maybe she could think of it as a case of “reverse nicknaming,” where if Liz’s daughter hated Thea she could go by Theodora or Dorothea or another nickname coming from those names, like Dora or Dot or Teddy. If they wanted to think of Thea as being for a St. T(h)eresa/Therese, maybe Liz could help her daughter consider Tess, Tessa, and Teri?
As for Harry and Meghan, I wouldn’t have thought of that, but Liz is so right! It’s definitely a good idea for expectant British parents to have a second choice for a girl, just in case! In fact, this might be a good exercise for Liz’s husband: If Harry and Meghan name their daughter Thea and therefore it’s off the table, what other names(s) would he consider?
I thought I’d go through the other names Liz mentioned, in case my thoughts on them are helpful:
- Simon, Philip: Fantastic middles! I was going to suggest Simon as a first name — that seems very “third style” to me — but if it’s out of the question, I’ll keep moving on!
- Ambrose: Ambrose actually helped inspire one of my ideas below in my “official” suggestions!
- Caspar: I thought Liz’s hubby might go for this one, because of Pittsburgh Penguin Kasperi Kapanen.
- Jago: Wow, awesome.
- Ignatius: I love it too! If Liz could get her husband on board with a different nickname than Nate, there’s Iggy and Nash as well.
- Arlo: I really love how Liz explained this: “If we were going to go for popular it’s much more likely to be a name that’s consistently up there (like Daniel) than something that seems trendy,” I totally get that and think it’s smart.
- Felicity, Evangeline, Magdalene: Just lovely names, feminine and faithy.
- Veronica: It’s so frustrating when a name is off the table because of a family member or friend or “other”!
- Wanda: I’ve never seen anyone consider Wanda! The fact that both Liz and her hubby like it is amazing! I couldn’t find any really strong Catholic connection either, but the fact that the father of the legendary Princess Wanda was King Krak, after whom Krakow is said to be named, could be a nod to any of the Polish Saints maybe? I especially think of John Paul II when I think of Krakow. But they can also let the middle names do the heavy lifting — any of the names Liz mentioned (Elizabeth, Philippa, Agnes, Bernadette) would do fine, and Simon or a variant provides another wonderful faith connection. Also, from what I can tell their preferred pronunciation of Wanda is the English pronunciation and similar to the French pronunciation, with the Vanda pronunciations being Polish and German, and I’m sure that most anyone encountering Wanda in the English-speaking world will say it with the W. The new Disney+ show WandaVision will help with that, too. So I think they’re good!
- Joy: Joy! Joy is the name on Liz’s list that really sang! I can “hear” it in her voice when she writes! I think Joy is a fantastic idea! It can be Marian (Our Lady of Joy/Notre Dame de Liesse; also Cause of Our Joy/Causa Nostrae Laetitia), and St. Catherine of Siena was called Euphrosyne when she was a child (Greek for “joy”), and St. Philip Neri is known as the Patron Saint of Joy, so there are a lot of great faith connections! I agree that it would be such a nice name for a babe born during this terrible year.
- Second middle: I strongly favor Simon as well! Though I would totally understand if they wanted to use a feminine variant, since Liz doesn’t want to, and since it’s meant to be an honor and she feels the honor would be diluted if they used a variant, I say use the full original Simon!
Whew! I really wanted to be sure to address every angle and offer every thought that came to me when reading the names Liz and her hubby are considering, I hope I didn’t miss anything! Now, on to new ideas!
I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) for this family, but it always feels so inadequate when I’m working with non-American families, since the data used in the BNW is American data. So I didn’t find the results of my research to be terribly helpful, not least because most of my ideas are too popular for Liz’s liking in England (I only looked up the name stats in England, not in the rest of the U.K.), but also because I’m not sure that the style matches in the BNW are style matches in the U.K. So I used a few ideas from my research (which also included looking up some names in the NameMatchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com), but also a surprising number (to me) of names that I stumbled upon here or there somehow that just really seemed like good suggestions. We shall see if I’m right or if I’m totally off base!
St. Hildegard of Bingen was known as the Sibyl of the Rhine — that would be a cool name to give a baby girl in her (sneaky) honor! Sibyl has Thora and Theda and Agatha as style matches per the Name Matchmaker — I’m sure if I went through enough pages of results I’d find and Agnes and Thea as well — I think it feels right with the name style Liz and her hubby like!
I was so intrigued to discover that Cleo is a match for Ignatius, Arlo, and Sidney! Wow! I knew nothing about the name, but in looking it up I was delighted to discover that it’s from the Greek for “glory” — what a great meaning!
I was doubly intrigued to discover that Clio is a match for Jago! I’ve never seen Cleo or Clio on any of the parents’ lists I’ve worked with, so these feel like really fresh ideas. Clio is also from the Greek for “glory,” but I wanted to give it its own paragraph because Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter’s name is Claire Caroline Wren, and she goes by Clio, which is just so fun and interesting, and because of that (even though it’s just one family’s experience/decision and not an objective thing) I thought maybe Liz could also attach any of the Sts. Charles (including John Paul) or Caroline/Charlotte or Clare to Clio as patron.
Two more names that sort of shocked me when they were in the BNW results were Ione and Iona! Like Cleo, Ione is a match for Ignatius, and Behind the Name says it’s from the Ancient Greek for “violet flower” — how lovely! Violets used to be called Our Lady’s Modesty, and have also been considered to represent her humility, which is why I included Violet in my book of Marian names — so I think in this case Liz could consider Ione to be Marian!
Iona is a match for Magdalene, and it’s the name of the Scottish island where St. Columba founded his monastery, and also where he died. Could be very cool!
I was sitting at Mass on a Sunday recently trying to pay attention but my mind was wandering to Liz’s name dilemma (God forgive me), so I was sort of on high alert for any mention of anything that seemed like it might be a good fit for this family. We were singing Dona nobis pacem when I thought that maybe Dona would be interesting as a name! It’s Latin for “give” or “grant,” and I like that it’s also similar to Donna, which means “lady” and can be Marian.
I admit I was thinking of Liz’s husband here because of the Bond association, which I thought he might like, but Vesper is such a great Catholic name, too: it means “evening” in Greek and “Vespers” refers to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.
(6) Remy, Romy
I originally had Remy on my list for this family for a boy (which I still like), but then I thought maybe for a girl? It’s a short form of Remigius, and there’s also a (male) St. Remy, but it can also be a nickname for Remedios, which gives it a Marian spin: Remedios is Spanish for “remedies” and refers to the titles Our Lady of the Remedies, Our Lady of Good Remedy, and Our Lady of Good Remedies.
Remy reminded me of Romy, which is a nickname for Rosemary — it could be a pretty, short-and-sweet nod to Our Lady!
These aren’t really suggestions, because they were all too popular for what Liz said she’d like, but I wanted to list them anyway because I thought they might strike a chord with her and/or her hubby:
In working on this, I discovered something I never knew: St. Ignatius of Loyola’s birth name was Íñigo, which is unrelated to Ignatius, but he changed it to Ignatius in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and because Íñigo and Ignatius are similar in appearance and sound and they both belong to St. Ignatius, they’re often taken to be variants of each other. So interesting! And Inigo (the English variant with no accent or tilde) was, according to Behind the Name, “well-known in Britain due to the 17th-century English architect Inigo Jones. He was named after his father, a Catholic who was named for Saint Ignatius of Loyola.” Isn’t that awesome?! I’m loving Inigo for this family! AND the Princess Bride connection (“I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”) could be perfect for Liz’s husband! Another awesome thing is that Behind the Name says Íñigo is the medieval form of Eneko, which might translate to (from Basque) “my” plus a diminutive suffix. So maybe “my little one”? Which is so sweet!
Milo is a style match for Thea, Caspar, Arlo, and Daisy (which Liz had separately said her husband likes) — I thought that was pretty great! You all know how much I love Miles and Milo because of their history of usage as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — such an awesome, unexpected, under-the-radar way to give a little boy a Marian name!
(3) Linus, Lando
Linus is a match for August and Arlo, and I see it being used a bit more by the families I work with than I ever had before. Pope St. Linus was the second pope! And St. Irenaeus said that that Linus was the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4, which is pretty cool.
Lando is also a papal name (he was also known as Landon and Landus), and while he wasn’t a Saint, Liz’s husband might appreciate the connection to Lando Calrissian in Star Wars. To get really geeky for a minute, I just read that Lando Calrissian, whose given name was Landonis Balthazar Calrissian (!), was born on a planet called Socorro, which is one of the entries in my book of Marian names! Socorro is “help” in Spanish — Our Lady of Perpetual Help is Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro. I don’t know how this bit of knowledge is helpful at all though, haha!
Cyrus is a match for Agnes and Cyril for Ignatius, but I don’t think Cyrus flows well with Simon as either a first or second middle name, so Cyril is my suggestion here. Not only is Cyril a Saint’s name, but it’s also derived from the Greek for “Lord” (like Kyrie), so it can also nod to Jesus.
Elliott is a match for Oliver, and Ellis and Everett are both matches for Sidney, so I thought maybe Liz’s hubs might like Elliott, which would be cool because Elliott is originally a diminutive of Elias/Elijah, and I included them all in my book because of Elijah’s connection to Our Lady: Carmelite tradition holds that Elijah understood the cloud he sees in 1 Kings 18 to be a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah.
As Dona means “give” or “grant” in Latin, I thought maybe Grant would be a name Liz and her hubs would like to consider. It’s nickname-proof and Liz can assign it the meaning of “Grant us peace” in the Mass.
(7) A “B” name
Because of the superhero thing for Liz’s hubby, and the fact that she likes Blaise, I thought maybe a name beginning with B would be cool, since their last name begins with a B — alliterative first+last combos can come across as really superhero-ish (like Peter Parker). Some I thought of for this family are:
- Bram: I love Bram! It’s a short form of Abraham, which gives it a nice faith connection in a sort of hidden way. It’s also the name of the author of Dracula, which makes it seem kind of like a contrary choice, which is the word that came to mind when I was thinking of Liz’s husband’s taste: he seems sort of contrary. So maybe Bram is great! I’ve often thought it can be a nickname for Ambrose as well — maybe in this instance, Liz could consider Bram to be a nod to St. Ambrose.
- Basil: Basil is a match for Magdalene and there are a lot of holy men named Basil! I quite like St. Basil the Great.
- Blaine: Blaine is almost exactly Blaise, but without the “fire” sound (which is problematic with their last name). I actually just looked through the B section in the BNW for ideas, and I thought Blaine was a great one. There’s a St. Blane, who’s also known as Blaan, Blan, and Blain, and his feast day is August 10 — near Liz’s due date!
Like with the girls, there were some boy names that I wanted to suggest that didn’t quite fit for one reason or another (popularity, or that Liz doesn’t care for last names as first names, or they’re too long to not go by a nickname), but I wanted to include them here just in case:
And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of X@vi3r and Eug3n3?
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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)