Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiers, loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace.
Today is also the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth! Such a beautiful feast day!
Alyssa and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) This little one joins big sister:
Such a gorgeous name — so feminine and pretty. I love it!
“[M]y husband and I just don’t feel as confident about names as we did for our daughter. We decided on Felicity for a girl before I was even pregnant!
Names we like are saint names that are a little bit different, but not weird and that are pretty easy to pronounce/spell. I definitely wouldn’t use any trendy names or very popular names. For example, I actually really like the name Sophia in itself, but it’s way too popular for our taste.
Since our last name starts with M, all B names are out unfortunately. I don’t like the initials BM. And some other names we can’t use that are taken by family and friend’s kids that we would consider are Theodore, Henry, and Edward.
I also don’t particularly like very traditional/common names such as Matthew, Elizabeth, John, etc.
I generally don’t like nicknames unless it’s very common (like Chris for Christopher, Ben for Benjamin, etc) or if it makes a kind of weird saint name into a more normal name or a very formal name into a less formal one. I can’t think of any examples of that weird saint name nicknames, but you probably know better than I do!
So now onto names my husband and I do like! I find myself liking longer names for some reason. I don’t know if I have a style necessarily, but I think I like very feminine sounding names for girls and I’m also drawn to french-ish sounding names (I think). Also, the flow of the first-middle-last name is very important to me. So I think I like a variation of syllables and sounds between the 3 names generally.
We also are 2 for 2 conceiving after a novena to St Gerard so I think it would be cool to honor him somehow, but my husband isn’t totally sold on this. I think he’d come around though if he liked the name. I’m ok with Gerard as a middle name for a boy, but I dislike Geraldine for a first or middle name. I’ve heard of Majella, but if we did this I’d want to pronounce/spell it Mayella and only for a girl. I’m definitely ok with Mayella as a middle name and would consider it as a first name too. But if you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear them!
I have a list of names we’ve been brainstorming over the years that I’ll explain below.
- Xavier (“Francis (for middle name potentially); my husband and I both really like Xavier, but I recently found out that people pronounce it differently. We would want to pronounce it ecks-zay-vyer, but I’m not sure if I want to deal with his name constantly getting pronounced zay-vyer or zay-vee-er or even Javier. I also would not particularly want him to have the nickname “X”. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on name pronunciations and correcting people are! My name is pronounced “uh-lih-sa” and I often have to correct people when they call me Alisa or Alicia and it gets old.”)
- Vincent (“James for a potential middle name. James is my favorite boy middle name; My husband and I also both like Vincent. Vincent is my husband’s middle name. I don’t dislike Vince as a nickname, but I just feel like it sounds too old for a baby/young boy to be called Vince and Vincent sounds overly formal to call someone all the time. And I’m not fond of the nickname Vinny. I think I could get over Vince not sounding like a baby name, but idk it just doesn’t seem quite right.”)
- Adeline (“Marie or Louise for potential middle names; I really like the name Adeline and my husband likes it too (but he is a little worried it sounds like Madeleine mispronounced), but I’m just not crazy about Addy. It’s fine, but it feels too plain/common and I feel like she would inevitably be called Addy and I’m not sure I want to deal with correcting people all the time and be “those people” who always corrects everyone. Again, I could get over it either by correcting people or just accepting Addy, but it just doesn’t feel perfect.”)
- Claire (“Philomena?; my husband and I both like Claire and it is a little more on the common side, but for some reason I just feel like it sounds really good with our last name. And of course it’s after a great saint and I like the frenchness of it. I’m struggling a little bit with a middle name though. Originally I wanted Anastasia, but my husband didn’t want the initials CAM. I think I like Philomena as a middle name, but I’m not sure if I like the flow of it [with our last name].”)
- John Paul (“I kind of like John Paul, but my husband isn’t sold. I don’t like either of these names separately, but for some reason together I do. I don’t dislike JP as a nickname, but it sounds way too informal with Felicity.”)
- Dominic (“my husband and I both like Dominic, but he likes it more than me. The Dominicans hold a special place in our heart because we met at a Dominican run Newman center. I think like Vincent, Dominic just sounds a little formal and I’m not crazy about the nickname Dom or Nick.”)
- Isaac (“I kind of like this name, but would probably never use it“)
- Maximilian (“we both really like Maximilian and Max as a nickname (although I wonder if Max is too informal with Felicity), but we had some friends just name their baby Maximilian. We’re not very close with them, but my husband feels like it’s too weird to use that name right now, but maybe for a future child. I think it’s probably fine, but we both have to be on board.”)
- Gianna (“I like Gianna, but my husband is so-so on it. And I’m not sure if it goes well with Felicity. But I really hate Gi-Gi.”)
- Nathaniel (“I like Nathaniel but I don’t really love any nicknames for it, but I feel like just Nathaniel would be fine and wouldn’t necessarily be turned into a nickname by other people. But my husband isn’t super into it.”)
- Walter (“I kind of like Walter and Walt, but my husband doesn’t. He says it’s an old man name.”)
- Philomena (Fia?) (“I really like Philomena, but I feel like it’s too out there of a name to call her Philomena all the time and I don’t really like Mina as a nickname. I think I read you suggest the nickname Fia which I kind of like, but I worry it’s too out there and she’d always be correcting people because no one has heard of it.”)
- Alice (“this name has really grown on me, but I wonder if it’s too vain since it’s so close to my name! (We also figured out after we named Felicity that my name sound is in her name! (Falyssa-tee)“)
- Maggie (Margaret) (“Anne?; my husband really likes Margaret, but I hate it, but I think Maggie is kind of cute. So I’d potentially be open to naming a daughter Margaret and just always calling her Maggie.”)
- Clara (“I’ve just always liked this name for some reason.”)
- Jane (“Jane has grown on me, but my husband and I worry it’s too plain“)
- Georgiana (“this name has really grown on me (definitely influenced by pride and prejudice!), I just think it’s so beautiful. But I don’t like Gi Gi, georgia, or Ana and I feel like this would be an inevitable nickname name. Also my husband’s late grandma was named Georgette, (but went by Bunny) and he feels a little weird that it’s so close to Georgette, but not that. However, he’s open to it.”)
- Natalie (“both my husband and I like this name and it would be very fitting if we have a girl because I’m due in December! But idk, something about just doesn’t feel super exciting.”)
- Finnian? (“my husband and I like this name and Finn as a nickname, but Finnian seems a little too out there/formal to always use and Finn seems too informal with Felicity.”)
- Francis (“St Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints, but I don’t like it as a first name“)
I apologize for my essay, but hopefully it’ll help you understand our taste/dilemmas and give you some good information! Thank you for your help!“
(Just so you all know, no one ever has to apologize to me for sending “an essay” — I LOVE reading about name dilemmas and find each detail interesting and helpful!)
I so enjoyed reading through the names on Alyssa’s list! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each one, in case they’re helpful:
- Gerard: I absolutely love the idea of honoring St. Gerard in Alyssa’s baby’s name! And I love that she and her husband did novenas to him both times they conceived! I have a couple of stories on the blog of parents who similarly benefited from St. Gerard’s intercession, he’s awesome. I wanted to work St. Gerard into my last baby’s name as well, and while it’s easy enough to do so for a boy (Gerard as a middle name is perfect!), it was harder for a girl. I do love the idea of Mayella! I usually see Maiella, which is the Italian spelling and what St. Gerard’s actual spelling was (he was Italian: Gerardo Maiella); Mayella makes Alyssa’s preferred pronunciation more obvious (I think the first syllable in Maiella might be said more like “my,” so if you prefer “may” than Mayella is perfect!). The idea that I’d decided on if I had a girl (I had a boy) was Margaret, because of something one of my readers told me: she said that she knew a couple who had a devotion to St. Margaret, so they named their son Garrett (going off of the last few letters in Margaret); Garrett is actually derived from Gerard! So Margaret might be perfect for Alyssa for honoring St. Gerard in the first or middle name spot for a girl, but also maybe she’d like to consider Garrett as a first or middle name for a boy? Another idea for a boy, if she and her hubby are okay moving away from the obvious connection, is that Gerard is made of the elements ger (meaning “spear”) and hard (meaning “brave, hardy”), so I love Hardy as a possible honor name for St. Gerard. Oh, also — Alyssa said she wanted to avoid B first names, but since she has Bonaventure as a possible middle, then St. Gerard’s mom’s name might do well as a middle name for a girl: Benedetta (the Italian feminine of Benedict, equivalent to Benedicta). And in fact, my youngest son (the one who I wanted to work Gerard into) has Benedict as a middle name in part as a nod to the several Saints whose intercession I asked for (St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard), as Benedict means “blessed,” so I figured it could stand for all of them.
- Xavier: Oh yes, the pronunciation debates over Xavier! I wrote an impassioned post about it here (with a related post here). I say it like Alyssa says it, as it was my grandfather’s middle name and that’s how he said it, which tells me that it has a very long history of being said like ecks-zay-vyer (he was born in Ireland in 1904). We live in the northeast, and most people we’ve encountered assume ecks-zay-vyer is the pronunciation, but I do think there is a regional aspect to which pronunciation people will default to. Those who are familiar with Xavier University in Cincinnati, for example, will default to zay-vyer, since that’s the way the University has chosen to pronounce it. Those who live in an area with a lot of native Spanish speakers might hear the Javier pronunciation more often. But lots of names have issues like that! If they’re firm and consistent about correcting people, it will be fine. But if that’s too annoying to think about, I get it! As for nicknames, I’ve seen Xav(e) and Xav(e)y (“Zave” and “Zavey,” rhymes with Dave/Davy), as well as Xave pronounced ecks-zave. Francis is a great middle, which really reinforces the St. Francis Xavier connection, but I also like Xavier James, since Alyssa said James is her favorite boy middle name.
- Vincent: I love that Alyssa’s husband’s middle name is Vincent — using Dad’s middle name for a son is a great way to honor him without using Junior! Regarding Vince vs. Vinny, first I should say that they don’t have to use a nickname — they can plan to call their son by the full Vincent. That said, if they don’t choose a nickname, then it’s very possible someone else will somewhere along the way—even if Alyssa’s son grows up being called Vincent and being introduced as Vincent (which is awesome, btw), there will be someone who will want to shorten it (sports coaches, for example, and even her son’s friends), and if Alyssa and her hubs haven’t decided on a preferred short version, the coaches/teachers/friends will shorten it to what feels natural to them, whether Vince or Vinny. So if Alyssa prefers one over the other, she’ll probably want to decide right off the bat and call him that at least some of the time (not saying that will prevent a Vince from being called Vinny, for example, but I think it will help). She could also consider a different nickname — V, for example, or Vin, or Cent, or Cinco! (Because V is the Roman numeral for five!)
- Adeline: Adeline is a gorgeous name! Alyssa’s husband’s worry that it sounds like Madeline mispronounced is hilarious — I can see that is the kind of thing that gets in a person’s head and sticks there! If they were to choose Adeline for their daughter, I think that he would quickly get over it. I wonder if switching to Adelaide might help him with that? Though doing so wouldn’t help with the nickname issue. Alyssa articulated exactly what I was trying to say above about Vincent — how it might be inevitable that people will nickname her Addy. And while I agree that “’those people’ who always correct everyone” can be annoying, the way it’s done is what makes it annoying or not. A person’s name is a person’s name! If a person can stick up for nothing else in life, at least stick up for one’s own name! For what it’s worth, I think Addy is sweet, but Alyssa and her hubby might like to consider other nicknames like Allie, Annie, or Del/Della.
- Claire, Clara: I’m including these two together, since they’re variants of the same name. I actually love Claire Anastasia, and I actually love the initials CAM and the nickname Cam or Cammie, but I also like Alyssa’s idea of Claire Philomena, and I like Claire Philomena with their last name! Clara is also beautiful, and they probably wouldn’t want an ends-in-a middle name for Clara (Clara Anastasia and Clara Philomena might be too sing-song-y? Or maybe they like it!), but Clara Marie and Clara Louise are both really pretty. They could also do the French variant of Philomena, which might flow better: Clara Philomene. I wonder, too, given that Gianna is on Alyssa’s list, if she might like to consider the Italian variant of Clare: Chiara?
- John Paul: I always love any nod to JP2! So Alyssa brings up a point here that she referenced other places, which I wanted to address — the idea of some nicknames sounding too informal with Felicity. I do know what Alyssa means — if Felicity is always Felicity, I can see how she might think that a sibling with a nickname might sound weirdly informal, but I promise that no one else will think so! (Though, again, I totally get it when something’s in your head and it’s hard to get out.) (Also, I tried really hard to find names for my list of “official” suggestions below that are not too likely to be nicknamed.)
- Dominic: I love Dominic too, and I love that Alyssa and her husband share that Dominican connection! Dom/Dommy and Nick are definitely possible nicknames, but also Nico — I wonder if Alyssa would like that better?
- Isaac: While I, too, love Isaac, and I think it could be great in Alyssa’s family, I’d probably want to shelve it for now to see how her children’s names shake out … it might feel right after a couple more kids! I love St. Isaac Jogues, and I love the nickname Zacky.
- Maximilian: Oh man! I hate having to grapple with issues like that! Shelving it for possible use for a later child is a great idea — a good compromise I think. I love that Alyssa said “we both have to be on board” — the ideal totally is to find a name they both like for this baby.
- Gianna: Again, if Alyssa’s husband is so-so, I’d suggest shelving it for now, though I want to assure her it goes great with Felicity! Felicity and Gianna are names I see used a LOT among Catholic families right now, so while Gianna might seem jarring to those unfamiliar with currently popular Catholic Saints, anyone who’s tuned into Church-y things will think Gianna’s a great choice for Felicity’s sister (same with Chiara, which I mentioned above). I don’t know how inevitable Gigi is — it feels very natural, but I don’t actually know many little Giannas, and the one I do know goes mostly by Gianna (but I think I’ve seen Gigi from time to time).
- Nathaniel: Unfortunately, the longer the name, the more likely people are to nickname it, so unless they’re firm and consistent with Nathaniel being called Nathaniel all the time (which I would 100% support, I love the name Nathaniel), I think Nate is sort of inevitable. I’ve seen Nash used as a nickname for Nathaniel, which is kind of cool; also Niel. But again, if Alyssa’s hubby doesn’t like it, let’s move on!
- Walter: This one made me laugh! Walter is another name I see with some frequency among my readers, usually used for Servant of God Walter Ciszek (awesome story), which also reflects the fact that “old man/old lady” names are definitely back! My own husband wanted to consider Stan for our last son. Stan! (I totally think Bl. Stanley Rother is also awesome.) I actually suggested Walsingham with the nickname Walt to him, after Our Lady of Walsingham, and I thought Walt would be the kind of nickname he’d be right on board with because of Stan, but no.
- Philomena: I love that Alyssa’s considering Philomena as a first name! I love it. Like with Nathaniel, I do think it’s likely to get shortened because it’s such a long name. Fia is awesome; I also like Pia and Pippa (not the same sounds, but I think they’re doable), and Finna, which is like Finnian that Alyssa likes.
- Alice: First of all mama, it is NOT VAIN to name a child after yourself! Men have done it for centuries with their sons, and I LOVE seeing a woman honored in a little one’s name, whether it’s the mama or a grandmother or whoever. Boy or girl! Indeed, Alyssa is a variant of Alice originally (which is a variant of Adelaide! I mentioned Adelaide above as a possible replacement for Adeline — it could be a great way to nod to Alyssa!), so Alice could be awesome for her little girl, a nice connection between Alyssa and her daughter. And I NEVER would have figured out the fact that “Alyssa” is contained within Felicity — but that makes me love it more! How cool! I’m a little uppity about the whole “naming after a woman is bad” thing — first of all, it’s awesome, and also totally appropriate, and also it’s not at all a bad thing that men name their sons after themselves — I wrote more about all of it here. All of that said, I wonder what Alyssa would think of the similar but different name Elise? It’s a French diminutive of Elizabeth, so not related to Alyssa in any way (though, like Alice, has similar sounds).
- Margaret: So I talked about Margaret above as being a possible way of honoring St. Gerard, so maybe that idea will help sell Alyssa on it? Especially since her husband really loves it? Maggie is a sweet nickname. Speaking of Maggie, I wonder what Alyssa and her husband would think of Magdalene? It could still take Maggie as a nickname if they wanted, and it’s a little rare/more offbeat than Margaret, which I think Alyssa would prefer? Or maybe the French version of Margaret: Marguerite?
- Jane: Jane is certainly a simple name, but I’d also call it “trim” and “chic” and “sophisticated,” and I actually think it’s great with Felicity because they can both sort of have a gentle British feel, which I love. A short name like Jane also opens up lots of long-and-luscious middle name possibilities, similar to Claire: Jane Anastasia, Jane Philomena, Jane Magdalene/a, Jane Immaculata, etc.
- Georgiana: I was so surprised to see this on Alyssa’s list — I LOVE being surprised by names! So fun! I love P&P too, and Georgiana is definitely my favorite of the George names for girls. It’s also funny that Alyssa’s hubby’s grandma was Georgette! I could see how that feels a little weird to use a name that’s so similar to Grandma’s name, but to not use her actual name. They could spin it as: they combined Grandma’s name with St. Anne or something. They could also do Georgiana nn Bunny! As with the long names on their list, I think a nickname here is inevitable — if they don’t like Gigi, Georgia, or Ana, maybe Jorie? Giana? Jana? Nina? (It’s totally okay to switch letters for nicknames, like Kate for Catherine — Jorie and Jana are fine for Georgiana.)
- Natalie: I wonder if simply switching to Natalia would give this name more sparkle for Alyssa? It retains the Christmas meaning, and I love it with Felicity. Or they could switch the spelling to the super French Nathalie. Or, if they want a Christmas name, what would they think of Noelle? Also, Magali is a French (Occitan) variant of Magdalene and it rhymes with Natalie — maybe they’d prefer Magali to Margaret?
- Finnian: I don’t think Finnian sounds too out there or too formal! It’s not any more formal than Felicity, and while Finnian itself isn’t in the top 1000 currently, the Finn names in general (Finley, Finnegan, Finn as a given name, etc.) have been rising in popularity, so I don’t think anyone else will think it’s “out there” either. And I go back to the fact that I don’t think a nicknamed sibling is overly informal with big sister Felicity. One idea I’ve suggested on the blog is Finn as a nickname for Francis — Alyssa said she doesn’t like Francis as a first name, but maybe she wouldn’t mind it if the nickname Finn was always used? One thing to consider is whether they want to follow Felicity with another F name (or Ph-, as in Philomena), or possibly save it for a future baby. There’s no right answer, whatever they’re comfortable with is fine!
- Middle names: I don’t have any comment on the middle name ideas other than to say they’re all great, and I see Alyssa has Felicity’s middle name, Rose, on there — if they decided on Rose for all their girls’ middle names, that would be sweet!
Whew! Alyssa apologized for her essay, but you can see I don’t mind being long-winded, haha! Now on to new ideas!
You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they love 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 I also used the Name Matchmaker took on babynamewizard.com for Georgiana, since it doesn’t have its own entry. Based on all that, and some ideas of my own, this is what I came up with:
This was the very first idea I had for Alyssa when I read her email, before doing any research at all! Gemma is like Gianna, but I think loses the Gigi possibility, since it doesn’t have that “ee” sound at the beginning. And while it’s an Italian name, like Gianna, it actually has decent usage in the U.K., which plays off of Felicity’s bit of Pilgrim feel. Felicity and Gemma are tremendous sister names!
This was my immediate second idea for them, and I was so pleased to see it show up in my research as a style match for them as well (Juliet is a match for Felicity and Vincent!). I thought Alyssa might like the French spelling, Juliette. Either way, this is one of my favorite names, and I did a spotlight post of it here.
(3) Caroline, Karoline
I’d already had these names in mind for Alyssa when I saw John Paul on her list, and I loved seeing that Caroline is a match for Claire and one of its nickname possibilities, Callie, is a match for Maggie. It’s a feminine variant of Charles, which is how it connects to John Paul, since his birth name, Karol, is the Polish for Charles. If they switch the spelling to Karoline, it both becomes more uncommon and connects even closer to JP.
(4) Josephine, Josefina, Josefa
I wanted to suggest a Joseph name to this family anyway, since their baby might be born in the Year of St. Joseph (it ends Dec. 8 and Alyssa is due near Christmas), and even if he or she isn’t, the Joseph names are always wonderful! Josefa is actually a match for Georgiana; Josefina is a bit longer and so pretty; and then of course Josephine, which is actually French, which I know Alyssa likes! Another thing that’s fun is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine, and since Alyssa likes Sophia but feel it’s too popular for her, maybe something like Josephine/Josefina/Josefa nicknamed Sophie would be perfect? (If she likes the idea of a Joseph name, but not the ones listed here, the Lily names can be for St. Joseph, since the lily is one of his symbols: Lily, Lillian, Lilia.)
(5) Lucy, Lucia
Lucy is such a great fit with Felicity, and is a style match for Alice and Max as well. Lucia, which can be nicknamed Lucy of course, is a match for Gianna and Clara. One of these names would be great! So beautiful!
Simon is a match for Felicity, Claire, Alice, and Isaac! I love it! And Simon is another name that’s unlikely to be nicknamed, which I think Alyssa prefers.
Colin is a match for Felicity, Claire, and Natalie — another fantastic boy name that’s unlikely to be shortened! It’s a short form of Nicholas, which is the Saint connection, so handsome.
Continuing my unlikely-to-be-nicknamed list, I was delighted to see Roman as a match for Sophia, Dominic, and Maximilian, and the similar-sounding Ronan as a match for Finnian! I love Roman, it reminds me of all things Catholic — Rome, the Vatican, Roman Catholic.
Leo is such a little name but it packs a big punch I think — not only is it a papal name, but a Pope St. the Great name (Pope St. Leo the Great), and a different Pope Leo is the one who composed the powerful St. Michael Prayer. It’s a great Catholic name, and it, too, is unlikely to be nicknamed — a formal name that doesn’t feel overly formal, a great match for Felicity.
Gabriel is a match for Sophia, Xavier, and Dominic — it’s a heavy hitting saintly, angelic, and Marian name (I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation), and while I think it would be harder to prevent Gabriel from being nicknamed, I love the nickname Gabe — I think it’s so friendly and masculine, great for a boy and for a man — and I’ve also seen Gib, Gil, and Eli given as nickname possibilities.
And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity?
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!)