Baby name consultation: How to name a Fifth (V)?

Christi and her husband are expecting their second baby and first son! Little Mister joins big sister:

Anastasia Therese (“We loved that her name means resurrection, and Therese is after both my grandmother that I was close with and St. Therese that we’ve entrusted our marriage to.”)

Such a gorgeous name!!

Christi writes,

My husband is a fourth (IV), as in — him, his dad, his grandpa, and great-grandpa all share the same name. We found out we are having a boy (due on Thanksgiving!), and now the pressure is on — will this baby be the fifth (V)?! 

My husband’s name is Domenick, spelled that way after some confusion at Ellis Island when his Italian great grandfather was immigrating here. His birth name was Amadeo, but couldn’t quite translate that to English, so he ended up with a uniquely spelled Domenick instead.

I would love to honor the family history in a special way. I don’t like the nicknames for Domenick that I’ve seen (Dom, Nick, Nico, etc), so a compromise that we are more or less settled on is naming the child Domenick but also giving him a middle name that he’d go by (none of the other Domenicks have middle names, so it wouldn’t be a true “fifth,” but I think the sentiment would be enough for his family to be pleased). So that kind of narrows down the options a lot; we *think* we are essentially looking for a middle name that fits with Domenick, that also is either a great standalone name or has a great nickname for our son to go by. We’re open to any other suggestions you have in this area!

In general, we find ourselves gravitating to more classic names that aren’t super popular (at least not in the top 100). We [obviously] love Italian names, but don’t want it to be too in-your-face. I think that’s why I love nicknames — they can take a super Italian name and make it more simple/ manageable. In terms of middle names that we’ve started considering for the baby boy, here’s the list (there’s not many!):

  • Gianni (“this is the front runner! We both love it, but it doesn’t have any special meaning to us which is a bit of a drawback. I also don’t know if we want a SUPER Italian first name paired with our SUPER Italian last name. Domenick and Anastasia both have a better balance I feel- they are easily translated/ pronounced in Italian, but they aren’t quite as in-your-face“)
  • Vincent, nicknamed — and would go by — Vio (“I got the nickname idea from reading your blog and thought it was genius! My dad’s middle name is Vincent, and I also liked that the V would be reminiscent of the fact that he’s the fifth male. I’m worried that Vio is so obscure that people wouldn’t know what I’m saying when I introduce him, as in, “Did you say B.O.? Veal?” haha“)
  • Malachi nn Chi or X pronounced “Ky” (“we like this but I don’t love it; there’s not really any significance behind the name for us“)
  • Amadeo (“love the family significance; the biggest drawback is that to us, there isn’t an obvious nickname to go by, and is slightly too Italian sounding by itself“)

Saints/ family members we’d like to honor:

  • St. Anthony
  • St. Ignatius
  • Henri Nouwen (“not a saint yet!“)
  • Joseph (“we found out we were pregnant on his feast day, and we both have Josephs in our families we’d love to honor; just not thrilled with a child going by Joseph, Joe, Joey, etc.“)

Names we have discussed but decided to cross off our list:

  • Sebastian (“close but not it“)
  • Pierre (“husband loves this, I think it sounds weird to have a super French first name with a super Italian last name. I love Peter but husband thinks it’s too often used as a euphemism“)
  • Attilio nn Lio (“this was the frontrunner if Anastasia was a boy, but family has since used the name so it’s off the table“)
  • Valentino (“no good nicknames, as we both dislike Tino“)
  • Romeo/ Roman (“I don’t think we’d actually choose one of these names, but they’re definitely in the right “name family”. My husband and I met in Rome, Italy, so it would be fun to honor that place. I think Romeo is too associated with Romeo & Juliet, and something about Roman just doesn’t fit. They’re both close though!“)”

I love how Christi described both Domenick and Anastasia as being not “too-in-your-face” and being more balanced Italian-wise — I totally agree. I also love that they’re planning on Domenick for a first name — no matter what they call their son on an everyday basis, I think it’s lovely that they’re going with Domenick as the first name on the birth certificate. The first thing I want to address is that Christi said she doesn’t like the nicknames for Domenick that she’s seen (Dom, Nick, Nico), so I wondered if I could come up with some others. Based on some of the other nicknames she and her hubby like, maybe one of these might appeal to them:

  • Deo: Since Christi mentioned Vio for Vincent and Lio for Attilio, I thought maybe Deo for Domenick would be perfect! They can say it to rhyme with Vio/Lio (and they can spell it Dio if they’d like), or they can say it more like Deo in Amadeo (and that spelling, no matter how they pronounce it, connects it double to great-grandpa Amadeo/Domenick). And Deo means “God” — Amadeo means “to love God” (amare plus Deus), making it basically the same as Theo.
  • Dino: Dino is another that I thought could be a nickname for Domenick, and it’s definitely an Italian-sounding nickname. I can see that it might possibly be *too* Italian, based on how Christi said she doesn’t want something too in-your-face? It could also be really cool! But then again, she said they don’t like Tino for Valentino …
  • V, Vio: I think V (“vee”) or Vio can work for Domenick the fifth! It’s like a third being called Trip.
  • Quin, Quinto: “Quinto” is “fifth” in Italian, so that could work as a nickname, or maybe they prefer Quin?

Since none of the other Domenicks have middle names, I thought the ideas above could allow them to choose “just Domenick” with no middle name and still have a nickname they like. But I also think the middle name idea is a great one, and I wanted to offer my thoughts on the ideas Christi and her hubby are discussing, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gianni: If they love it, I say they should go for it! In general, I think it’s nice to have at least one name (first or middle) that has significance, and then they can feel free to choose a name they just like for the other. Since they’re already choosing Domenick for the first name, I think it makes total sense to choose a name they love for the middle! I know popularity is an issue for Christi, but one way of working with not necessarily wanting a super Italian everyday name with their last name is to use John as the middle name. Domenick John called Johnny? Sounds like just Gianni but a bit easier maybe? Also, again with the Vio/Lio nicknames, maybe Gio as a nickname for Gianni?
  • Vincent called Vio: I love this! I love that Domenick is from Hubby’s side and Vincent would be from Christi’s side, and specifically her dad — that’s so special. I love that the V goes perfectly with her son being the fifth, and I think Vio is fantastic! People might not get his name at first, but that’s the case with a lot of names, especially ethnic ones. She’d probably get that a lot with Gianni too (mostly in how to spell it when heard, or say it when seen). Gianni tops my list for Christi because both she and her hubby love it, but Vincent tops my list because of the family significance (that I said a minute ago I wouldn’t worry about, haha!) — Gianni and Vincent are definitely tied for me. I also like that Vincent is one of those names that feels Italian without being in-your-face!
  • Malachi nn Chi or X: This is a very cool idea and if they were a different family I’d be all over it! But it seems out of place with the Italian theme they have going (overt, like Gianni, or more subtle, like Vincent), that I imagine they’ll probably want to go with going forward.
  • Amadeo: Annnd again, another tie for first place! Gianni, Vincent, and Amadeo are each amazing ideas!! I love how Amadeo just reinforces the whole connection to great grandpa, and I think Deo is the best nickname for it. Such a tough decision!!

I also really wanted to come up with ideas connected to their list of Saints … Anthony and Joseph both jump out right away as being not-too-in-your-face Italian, and I love this baby’s connection to St. Joseph … Ty is a cool, different nickname for Anthony … or Tio, to go along with the Vio/Lio/Deo/Gio ideas? I looked up Joseph too and the Italian variants could be good — Giuseppe could go by Gio, for example. I know a Giuseppe who goes by Peppe … If they like initial nicknames, maybe DJ for Domenick Joseph? And Italian forms of Henri (Henry) include Enrico/Rico, Arrigo, and Enzo — maybe there’s something there that they like?

I’m also glad Christi included the list of names they like but aren’t quite right! My thoughts:

  • Sebastian, Romeo, Roman: I love how she said these are so close but not quite right. They definitely gave me good info for my research!
  • Pierre: Oh man, this is another great option!! Not Pierre itself — I agree, very weird to have such a French name with a super Italian last name — but Pier! Pier is an Italian form, and there’s even a great patron: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati! If Pier isn’t quite right, I have a friend who has all Italian-named kids and named her youngest Piero. I love both Pier and Piero for this family! And also, in the post I did a while ago on names for St. Joseph, I’d suggested Stone, since CatholicSaints.info noted that St. Joseph was a “builder by trade; traditionally a carpenter, but may have been a stone worker” — and with Pier/Piero meaning “rock,” Christi could possibly think of it as a nod to St. Joseph! (Crazy Catholic baby namer strikes again!! Haha!)
  • Attilio nn Lio: I’m amazed that such an unusual name was already scooped up by family! I wonder if Leo on its own might appeal to Christi and her hubby?
  • Valentino: Vio could work here, too. And Tio (but too close to Tino?). And probably Lio, if they wanted!

Okay, now on to new ideas! So you all know that my usual method is to look up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering 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, but I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be, since we’re basically sticking to Italian names. So I looked through the list of Italian boy names on Behind the Name to see if any really called to me. Based on that, these are my new ideas for baby Domenick’s middle name:

(1) Lucas, Luca, Luke

I loved seeing that Lucas is a match for Anastasia and Roman, and Luca is a match for Gianna! Luca could be awesome if they really want to lean into the Italian-ness, or if it’s too much, Lucas and Luke are great. Or Luca nicknamed Luc?

(2) Dante

I loooove the name Dante and rarely have a chance to suggest it, but it’s a style match for both Gianni and Romeo! I don’t know that much about the poet Dante except that he was Catholic and his Inferno was about heaven, hell, and purgatory, but I found this article about him with quotes from the Pope pretty cool. Domenick Dante is a lot of D’s, but I personally love alliteration.

(3) Orlando

I was looking for names that could fit in with an Italian theme but that aren’t your “usual” Italian names, so I thought it was cool that Orlando (the Italian form of Roland) is a match for both Valentino and Romeo. Those who are familiar with Shakespeare will recognize it right away as one of his character’s name, which helps take away from its Italian-ness a bit; I also had a friend growing up whose brother was Orlando and he went by Andy, which is pretty cool. Domenick Orlando is also D.O. initials, which again could make sense of Dio/Deo as a nickname.

(4) Pio

Christi’s probably sick of me suggesting -io names by now!! Haha! But come on — we’ve talked about Romeo/Vio/Lio/Deo/Gio/Tio/Leo, so I definitely need to suggest Pio, for St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina!

(5) Melchiorre

This is very much inspired by Malachi on the list of names Christi and her hubby like — Melchiorre is the Italian form of Melchior, which is the name traditionally given to one of the Wise Men. It’s also St. John Bosco’s middle name! (Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco.) Melchiorre would allow them to consider Chi as a nickname while still sticking with their Italian theme.

(6) Massimo, Massimiliano, Maximilian

Maximilian is a match for Anastasia, Domenick, and Sebastian; Maxim for Roman; and Massimo — the Italian for Maximus — was in the list of Italian boy names on Behind the Name. I thought maybe Massimo or Massimiliano (the Italian for Maximilian) might be appealing as a middle name with Max as the nickname, or maybe they’d prefer the non-Italian Maximilian (or Maxim or Maximus).

(7) Christian/Cristiano

Finally, Christian is a match for Roman and Cristiano is a match for Valentino. I think they’re both so handsome, and I really like that they could bestowed in Christi’s honor! I’d love to see more boys named after their mothers or other female family members (one of my boys’ first name is for my mother-in-law, and his middle name is a surname on my mom’s side — I’m still so pleased that he’s named for my mom and mother-in-law!). I could see Tio being an unexpected nickname for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Anastasia’s little brother’s middle name?


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!

Birth announcement: Lawrence Stephen!

I approved a bunch of pending comments this morning on recent posts, so if you’re one of the families with recent consultations posted, be sure to check the comments to read the new ones — lots of great ideas!

Emily left an awesome comment on the consultation post I did last year focusing on nicknames for Lawrence that I wanted to share with you all (with her permission):

Hi!! Just wanted to pop on to say this post gave me the courage to use Lawrence! We have JohnMark, Clara, Thomas and now Lawrence. JohnMark is named after his Great Grandpa John and his Grandpa Mark. Thomas named after his dad. And now Lawrence named after his Great Grandpa Larry and his Grandpa Stephen. We thought Lawrence Stephen was such a strong combo. I love that it’s unique but still classic. We aren’t sure if we will use a nickname yet but are going to see if one comes naturally!

It made me so happy to read that one of the consultation posts helped another family!! Lawrence Stephen is such a handsome combo!!

Congratulations to Emily and her husband and big sibs JohnMark (I’m such a huge fan of double names!!), Clara, and Thomas, and happy birthday Baby Lawrence!!


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!

Birth announcement: Calista Eucharistica!

I posted a consultation for Christine and her husband back in April, and I’m so excited to share that their baby girl has arrived and been given the ah-MAZ-ing name … Calista Eucharistica!

Christine writes,

I just wanted to let you know that our baby finally arrived yesterday, June 6th. After much deliberation, we finally chose a name for her. We went with Calista Eucharistica. Definitely a mouth-full! But we wanted to choose something in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi, and my husband has been looking for a chance to use ‘Eucharistica’ for years. I just put my foot down on it being her first name! Calista comes from calix (chalice) in Latin, and also seems to mean beautiful in Greek — both are nice meanings, and a chalice is a perfect ‘symbol’ that I can draw for her. We’re not sure about nicknames yet, but we may try Lissie?

Ahhhhh I LOVE it!! I feel like Calista Eucharistica is the kind of name you’d only find in the Sancta Nomina community! I can’t believe how perfect it is that this sweet baby was actually born on the Feast of Corpus Christi and given two names so specifically perfect for that feast day, one of which Dad had wanted to use for a long time. And such a gorgeous combo! And with a perfect “symbol” to go along with her big brothers’ and sisters’ symbols (read the consultation for the explanation of this cool thing)! So fantastic!

Congratulations to Christine and her husband and big sibs Sylvester, Stella, Linus, Flora, Felix, and Anastasia, and happy birthday Baby Calista!!

Calista Eucharistica


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!

Birth announcement: James Patrick Albert!

I posted a consultation for Katy and her husband a few months ago, and Katy has let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the fantastic name … James Patrick Albert!

Katy writes,

Our new baby boy, James Patrick Albert, arrived on April 22, and I’m finally coming up for enough air to shoot you an email!

Our name choice will come as no shock to you, I’m sure. In the end, and after several clear signs from the Holy Spirit (including my near rear-ending of a pick-up truck with a ‘James the Greater Catholic Church’ bumper sticker on it a week before the baby arrived and my responding with ‘OK, God, I hear you!’), ‘James’ was God’s choice. We loved your suggestion of Jamie as a nickname and, like the family you mentioned you knew, are calling him Jamie at home/as a family pet name, kind of like how we call our daughter Amelia ‘Mellie’ around the house.

James was baptized last weekend with all three names, which Hubby, who was unsure of the three-name thing, has come to love! We all love our little ‘Jamie-James,’ as my kids call him!” 

I just love all of this so much — what a handsome, meaningful name! And Jamie as the family nickname is so sweet and affectionate!

Congratulations to Katy and her husband and big siblings Jack, Amelia, Tim, and Andrew, and happy birthday sweet Baby James!!

James Patrick Albert with his sister and brothers ❤


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!

Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Parents like Blaise, Shepherd, and Rocco

I hope all the dads in your lives had a wonderful Father’s Day! St. Joseph, please pray for them all!

Emily and her husband are expecting their first baby — a boy! Emily writes,

We’re very excited, but man, boy names are tough. We had fallen in love with the name Noa(h) Rose for a girl before we knew the sex, but I can’t get on board with the name Noah for a boy due to its popularity

My husband is an only child and doesn’t have a naming tradition in place, so we have almost too many options! While we aren’t looking for Catholicky-Catholic names (to use your term!), I would love to use a strong, classic/traditional name with great history.”

(I love that I’ve inspired others to think in terms of “Catholicky Catholic”!! Haha!!)

Names we are/were considering (we’re all across the board):

  • Blaise Eliot (or Elliott) (“I remember celebrating St. Blaise on his feast day in school, and kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool. We also love St. Blaise’s tie to animals. Eliot after T.S. Eliot, or Elliott Smith“)
  • Shepherd (“honestly, after our dog/current child, an Old English Sheepdog“)
  • Roman
  • Beau (“after my childhood dog, mostly … we need to stop with the dog names“)
  • Luke
  • Graham 
  • Vincent (“Van Gogh! And St. Vincent De Paul, obv“)
  • Rocco (“San Rocco, and after my brother/BFF because that’s his confirmation saint. Hubby says his motivation is Rocky Balboa“)

(Loooove the Rocky reference!!)

Names that one of us loves but the other can’t get on board with:

  • Quentin (“his choice“)
  • Ignatius (“my choice“)

Names that we both love but we can’t use:

  • Max (“our dog’s name! And it’s been hard to convince Hubby that they can’t share a name. And that we can’t change our dog’s name“)
  • Theodore/Teddy/Theo
  • Henry (“my nephew’s name“)
  • Julian (“his cousin’s child’s name“)
  • Benjamin (“my brother’s name“)
  • Ryan (“my brother’s name“)

Our last name is very French, so I’ve been leaning toward French-sounding names. Blaise is definitely at the top of our list, but we both keep catching ourselves wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses. We would love to feel really confident when we announce our naming decision! And Blaise could be it, but we would so appreciate your ideas and, if you like Blaise Eliot/Elliott, your reassurance. 🙂

I love the girl name that Emily and her husband had chosen! Noa(h) Rose is just gorgeous and I love that the spelling Noa is listed on Behind the Name as a French variant, which goes right along with how Emily said she’s “been leaning toward French-sounding names” because of their last name. I know Noa isn’t really a French-sounding name, but the fact that it IS a French name cements the theme — between French-sounding names and Frenchy French names, there’s a really large pool of names to choose from for lots of kids! (Not that they should feel locked into the French theme, I just want to assure them that if they want to continue with it, they’ve got a great start with Blaise and Noa.)

But enough about their girl name, because I really want to talk about their BOY name!! Blaise El(l)iot(t) is AMAZING!! If I were them, I would stop looking right now. It’s a fantastic name with great faith connections (did you know that the Elliott names are from a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah? Which of course is both a biblical name and a Marian name! I have it in my book of Marian names because of the prophet Elijah’s devotion to Our Lady, long before she was ever born. I love that!), and there was a real song in Emily’s voice when she wrote about Blaise — not only its Frenchness and saintliness, but also his tie to animals, which definitely seems important to her and her hubby (soooo many dogs’ names on their list!! Haha!!). I also love that “kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool” — I did too! I think it’s neat that Blaise is one of those uncommon-ish Saint names that nevertheless has a really visible presence in the liturgical year. I’ve also always loved that Blaise sounds like “blaze,” which has always struck me as a really perfect name for a little boy — so fast and superhero-ish!

All that said, it is notable that Emily and her husband “both keep catching [themselves] wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses.” I do understand that — half of my boys have more uncommon names (for my area anyway) and half have very familiar names, and whenever we were planning on one of the more uncommon names, I always had a little twinge of hesitation, even though *I’m* the parent with the love for uncommon names! (My husband has always said his name style is “Bob”!) I can speak from experience that it all ends up just fine. Before birth and for a short time after birth when everyone’s hearing their news and meeting the baby, Emily and her hubs will probably have to do some explaining, but it really won’t be long at all before everyone gets it and their baby’s name is just his name and there’s no more real discussion about it. And all their friends and family will have their little guy as *the* example of his name, and whatever associations or unfamiliarity they had before he was born will be gone. For real!

Okay, so now that Emily and her husband have been convinced that their top idea is the best idea, I’ll sign off with prayers for Emily’s labor and delivery.

Just kidding! Haha! A little name-consultant humor! 😂😂😂 Though I do think they have an amazing choice in Blaise El(l)iot(t), I can always come up with more ideas!

I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the other names they’ve thought about/considered, in case they’re helpful:

  • Shepherd: It really is hilarious to me how many dogs’ names they have on their list and, in this case, a name that nods to their dog’s breed! There are a lot of dog lovers in my family, I get it! And I love the name Shepherd — I consider it a nod to Jesus, which is cool.
  • Roman: I love that Roman is such a very Catholic name — Roman Catholic! Rome where Peter was martyred and where the Pope lives! The seat of our faith is there! A great name!
  • Beau: I agree with Emily that Beau is such a cool name. And French! It’s in my book of Marian names as a nickname for or a nod to Beauraing (Our Lady of Beauraing).
  • Luke: My youngest’s name, I love it! I love that the gospel of St. Luke is the most Marian, containing within it the Annunciation, Visitation, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat. I also love that he’s the patron of doctors and artists.
  • Graham: I was surprised by Graham here! I don’t know why, it’s a great name!
  • Vincent: I love that Emily noted both the artist and the Saint, so cool when a name works on more than one level!
  • Rocco: Emily’s reasons sound good to me! Rocco is such a cool name, and I love that her hubby’s thinking of Rocky! We just watched all the Rocky movies with my older boys and I have such a new appreciation for them, great movies and he’s such a great character! (I don’t know if it will be helpful or harmful to share this, so I’ll whisper it: Rocky’s given name [character’s given name] was actually Robert! I too always assumed it was Rocco!)
  • Quentin, Ignatius, Theodore/Teddy/Theo, Henry, Julian, Benjamin, Ryan: I’m glad Emily included these as they all helped in my research.
  • Max: I just wanted to address separately the idea of using the same name as their current dog, and/or changing the dog’s name — I think this is a first for me! I get letters all the time from couples who can’t use names they love because they’re the names of current or former pets, but I can’t remember ever getting a letter where a parent was advocating for having both their baby and their dog have the same name, or changing the pet’s name! This seems like a particularly “dad idea,” haha! Anyway, I think Emily’s right to convince Andrew that Max the dog should keep his name and their baby should have a different name. But I did use Max in my research for them! It was helpful!

Okay! On to my new ideas for this family! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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 I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to plug in both Blaise and Noa as a pair to see if anything additional came up. And I looked through the list of French boy names on Behind the Name to see if any of them felt right. Really what I was trying to do was think ahead to future children and what names would go well with Blaise and Noa, and I really leaned into Emily’s appreciation for French names. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Miles

We’ll start with one of my favorites, which you’ve all probably seen me talk about on the blog ad nauseam — Miles, which I absolutely loved discovering has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I also recently discovered that in Scotland it’s historically been used as an anglicization of Maoilios, which means “servant of Jesus”! Such a great, faithy name that doesn’t come across as one! I’ve also been advocating it as a nickname for Michael, both due to it being sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And for this family, it’s a style match for Elliott, Roman, Graham, Quentin! So many great reasons to love this name!

(2) Leo

Leo is one of those pan-European names that fits in with or has a variant in most European languages — Léo is the French versions which, like Thérèse, can easily be written without the accent, so I think you can think of Leo as French too! It’s a match for Max and Theo — I thought it was a pretty great substitute for those two names they love but can’t use.

(3) Jude

I’m always interested to see when a name shows up as a style match for two other names that don’t seem related at all. Jude is a style match for both Luke and Rocco! Both Blaise and Noa are small names, being just one syllable for the former and just three letters for latter, and Emily has some other small names on her list of names she likes: Beau, Luke, and Max. Jude fits in nicely with that style.

(4) Xavier

Names that are actual style matches for names that the parents have already bestowed on older children, or are frontrunners for the current baby, are always of interest to me, so I loved that Xavier is a match for Blaise itself, as well as Quentin, and it was in the list of French boy names on BtN! The French pronunciation is given as GZA-vyeh, which is closest to our ex-ZAY-vyer, but of course they could use the ZAY-vyer pronunciation if they prefer.

(5) Damien

Though Emily said they’re not looking for Catholicky Catholic names, they’re what my eye falls on always, and when I was looking through the list of French boy names, Damien jumped right out because I love St. Damien of Molokai. Damien is the French spelling (as opposed to Damian), which I thought was cool for this family, and it has a similar rhythm to Julian on the list of names they love but can’t use — and in fact, it’s a style match for Julian. I’ve had Damien on my own list for years, and planned to use the nickname Denny for it.

(6) Tristan

Tristan is another that is in the list of French boy names, as it’s the Old French form of the name Drustan, and its spelling was inspired by the Latin word tristis, meaning “sad,” likely as a result of the Tristan and Isolde story, and also the reason Tristan is in my book of Marian names — for Our Lady of Sorrows. (If you like this idea but hesitate over the “sad” connection, Theresa did a guest post on the beauty of using Catholic names relating to sorrow.) Tristan is also a style match for Quentin.

(7) Bastien

Like Damien and Tristan, I first noticed Bastien on the list of French boy names, and I liked it because that “en” ending is specifically French; because it begins with a B like Blaise, Beau, and Benjamin; and because its parent name, Sebastian, is a stye match for Julian (and St. Sebastian would be patron), but Bastien is maybe a little easier to work with.

(8) Remy

I wouldn’t have thought of Remy for this family, but I loved seeing it in the list of French names! Remy is such a fun name — I think it’s obviously French but not complicated to spell or pronounce — and it’s also a style match for Beau and Julian!

(10) Hadrien

Finally, I’m really only including Hadrien here because I’m always taken with it but I’ve never had the opportunity to suggest it, but seeing it in the list of French names means Emily might be interested! Also the fact that Adrian — which Hadrien is the French variant of — is a style match for Julian. I think Hadrien is so cool!

And those are my ideas for Emily and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents who like Noa for a girl and Blaise for a boy?


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!

Baby name consultation: Surname-name for baby no. 5

Happy Friday, everyone! Let’s finish off the week with a consultation for a mama who’s due soon! Allyson and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Harper Anne (“I was in the depths of a PhD program; studying literature and I loved the works of Harper Lee; but above all, she just “felt” like a Harper: and so Harper it was! This was nine years ago, before it was on any popular name lists. My mom’s and my middle name is Ann; and I added an “e” for my grandma’a middle name “Eva” [and also the nod to the literary Anne].”)

Monroe (Mun-RO) Grace (“Sadly, my dad passed away from a (very) long illness two weeks before Monroe was born. My doctor told me not to fly to his funeral, all while writing a doctor’s note to let me fly to his funeral.

It was such a heavy time; but when I look back, I only see this perfectly calm, patient baby girl who was my medicine and healed me [she is still this person]. My dad’s name is Roger; and within her name are the letters R-O-G-E-R. The only other name we considered for her was Livie.

She was NOT named after Marilyn Monroe; but she looks exactly like her (at age 7) … which is a funny coincidence. I loved the name because Madison was such a trending presidential name for little girls, and James Monroe was the next in line! I also loved the names of Harper and Monroe together (we often called them “Harp and Roe”; and we had kind of started a surname trend with first names.

We have no family ties to the middle name Grace; but it was through God’s grace that she specifically came to our family at this time. I played the song “Amazing Grace” no less than a million times in her first few weeks. She offered me amazing grace.”)

Cohen Matthew (“Cohen is currently our only boy, and was the easiest to name. We decided he would be Cohen as we were driving back from the 20 week ultrasound; and so it was! Cohen is a common Jewish surname (we are not Jewish); and a name for a religious leader or priest. We loved the reverence of this (as well as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”: there’s the surname again). Matthew is my husband’s middle name and also means ‘Gift from God’ which sums up our sweet Cohen. Truly a miracle.”)

Blair Allyson (“Blair flew into the world 2 years ago; with no doctor in the room. I had a list of 50 names and I sat in the hospital for 2 days crying over the fact that I could not assign her a name.

All I wanted was to name her Elle; but our last name starts with “Bow” and she would essentially have the name “elbow”. I still love Elle; but she is definitely a Blair! With flair! And more. We decided not to add the ‘e’ to the end of her name … but I may honestly change it to include the ‘e’ as I think (now) it looks more feminine.”)

I love this family naming style! And I loved reading the story behind each first name and each first+middle combo — things like “Monroe Grace” containing within it Allyson’s dad’s name is the kind of detail that can be so meaningful to a family, even if no one else in the world knows about it or gets it. I also laughed out loud about Elle Bow-/Elbow!

Allyson writes,

[W]e have struggled with, and changed (almost) every one of our babies’ names (our last actually has “infant” as a first name with an amendment for her name on her birth certificate — we don’t want to do this again). It is SO difficult for me to assign names to these perfect, little people.

Harper left the hospital named Allegra Anne (which I still love). It is Italian with the meaning “joy”; and has a musical connotation (which I am very involved with). My husband was a dental student and that very day the allergy medicine “Allegra” was changed to be sold across pharmaceutical counters. He told his patient her name, and he asked how he could possibly name a baby after an allergy medicine. Our parents actually thought it was the name of a different medication 🙃; and to be fair, we couldn’t call her by her name, so we changed it.

Whew! So, we need a name for this baby!

We obviously lean toward classic, but trendy names with the sound of ‘surname’ as their first name.

If it’s a girl we will use the middle name ‘Mae’ after my husband’s mom and my aunt who is like a mom to me (as well as my mom’s favorite aunt).

If it’s a boy, we will use the middle name ‘Jay’ after my husband’s dad.

Names we like:

Girl

  • Quinn: (this means queen and fifth born!).  It’s kind of perfect; but my husband thinks it is a boy name; and I don’t love it with the middle name Mae.
  • Elle: Can’t do it. But I love it.
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: I love London, but I know so many babies with that name … the other two might be too trendy?
  • Jolie, Juliet
  • Lucca
  • Delaney, Demi
  • Bellamy
  • Mila

(I have a list a mile long of more girl names I love).

Boy

  • Jamison
  • Maxwell
  • Jones
  • Landon

(Shorter list, not completely sold on any of them).

Anyway! This was a novel! We all need all the help we can get!

I’m fascinated that Allyson and her hubby changed their babies’ names multiple times! I definitely hope we can help them feel peaceful with a name for their little one before birth! But it’s clear that even if the same thing happens again, they’ll end up bestowing a fantastic name, just like they did four times before.

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names Allyson and her husband like, in case they’re helpful:

  • Quinn: I love Quinn for a girl! It’s very easy to debunk Allyson’s husband’s claim that Quinn is a “boy name” — the naming stats compiled by the Social Security Administration show that in 2020 (the most recent year we have data for), Quinn was no. 85 for girls and 440 for boys. Vastly more girls than boys were named Quinn! I do think a greater concern is that Allyson doesn’t care for Quinn with Mae. I wonder if she’d be open to considering a different middle name? Mae is a form of Mary, for example — would Quinn Mary appeal to them and retain the same honor for Allyson’s mother-in-law and her aunt? Or maybe they’d like to consider a double middle name, like Quinn Lucca Mae? If they were open to dropping Mae altogether, a suggestion I’d usually offer is Edel, after Venerable Edel Quinn — my readers who have considered Quinn for their girls (almost always for their girls!) look to Ven. Edel Quinn as patron — Quinn Edel sounds quite nice (I’ve heard Edel said like Adele; like the first part of Edelweiss; and to rhyme with “pedal”), as does Quinn Edel Mae. I also have a reader whose daughter is Quinn Margaret, which is lovely. Or maybe switch up the order and call her by her middle name? Mae Quinn called Quinn? I did a broader spotlight of Quinn here.
  • Elle: Such a great name, really too bad. Speaking of Edel, it’s kind of like Elle without the “elbow” problem — maybe they’d like to consider that?
  • Liv, Lux, Lennon, London: These, along with Landon on their boy list and the fact that Allyson loves Elle (“L”!), really make me think they might like to consider an L name! I have quite a few suggestions below. Otherwise, I know they considered Livie for Monroe — Liv would be great. Lux is maybe a little edgier than they’ve done already? Lennon seems spot on for their style, and if Allyson knows a lot of Londons, I’d love to see if we can find something that feels fresher to her.
  • Jolie, Juliet: My first thought here is that, since they’ve done surname-type names with their other kids, I’d really love to see them continue that theme. Juliet is one of my favorite names in the whole world, but it has a frilliness that Harper, Monroe, and Blair don’t have (Marilyn notwithstanding!). Jolie fits in nicely, though (thank you Angelina for giving it a surname vibe!), and it was fun to see that Cohen, Elle, Quinn, and Juliette itself (that spelling) are style matches for it per the Baby Name Wizard!
  • Lucca: If it wasn’t for Allegra, I’d probably wonder where Lucca came from! I like that it’s a surname (as opposed to the first name Luca), and it does fit in with a name Allyson loved (Allegra), but it is very Italian as compared to their other kids’ names.
  • Delaney, Demi: I often see Delaney on name lists of parents who have taste like these parents, such a cool name! Demi is all Demi Moore and Demi Lovato to me, and in both cases they may be (for Moore) and are (for Lovato) nicknames for Demetria (some sources say Demi Moore’s given name is Demetria, but I guess she’s said that’s not true. Demetria is, however, Demi Lovato’s given name). I only say this because Demi on its own has names like Kirstie, Gigi, and Rico given as style matches for it, which don’t seem like Allyson’s style at all, so maybe she’d like to consider it as a nickname for a longer name instead? One option is the biblical name Damaris, which I’ve seen sometimes spelled Demaris; another is to use a D first name with Mae for the middle and think of Demi as sort of a mashup nickname from the first+middle names: Delaney Mae, Dempsey Mae, Darcy Mae, Della Mae.
  • Bellamy: I always think it’s so great that “Bella” is the first part of Bellamy, making it feel really feminine, and also that the whole thing means “beautiful friend.” Bellamy actually directly inspired one of my suggestions below.
  • Mila: When I first read Allyson’s email, and again when I started working on her consultation, I read this as “Mia” both times and thought it seemed a departure from her style, but okay. Mila makes so much more sense to me for them! I would understand if Allyson’s mother-in-law didn’t feel honored by Mila (nor her aunt), but I’ve often thought it can be a nice nod to a baby’s grandmother because of St. Ludmila.
  • Jamison: I think Jamison is such a fun way to shake up the traditional James. If the Jay for Allyson’s father-in-law is short for James, Jamison could be thought of as a nod to him?
  • Maxwell: A fine name, no surprises here. I’m wondering though if Wells might be more their style?
  • Jones: I’ve often thought Jones would make a cool first name! I like that it’s derived from John, which gives it all sorts of faith connections.
  • Landon: As I mentioned above in regards to Liv, Lux, Lennon, London, Allyson must really like L names! I have a couple suggestions of others below. Also, Lander is a style match for Cohen — I’ve never seen Lander before and don’t really know anything about it, but I thought it was neat that it’s like a more unusual Landon.

So Allyson and her husband have some pretty great ideas here, but of course I can always come up with more! I mentioned the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) above — you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I was excited to do so here, as Allyson’s kids’ names are a bit outside of what I usually see and it was fun to see what names were listed as style matches for them! (I’m such a name nerd! Haha!) There were a few that didn’t have their own entries in the book, so I used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com, and I also had a couple of my own ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

Girl

(1) Greer, Tierney

Right off the bat I thought of Greer, one of my very favorite girl names! I knew a girl when I was growing up whose name was Greer, which I thought was so fun and interesting and unusual. When I discovered Greer Garson, the name took on a starlet feel, which totally goes with Monroe I think. Brooke Shields used the Grier spelling for her daughter. I love both Greer and Grier!

Tierney is included here with Greer because the Greer I knew growing up has a sister named Tierney, which I also thought was amazing, and it was fun to see Tierney listed as a style match for Bellamy!

(2) Romilly

Speaking of Bellamy, Romilly is a style match for it, and as much as I like Bellamy, I think I like Romilly even more. Such an unexpected name, I wish I heard more of it!

(3) Luna, Larkin, Linnea, Landry

Just as Allyson had a list of L names she likes, so I have a list of L names I came across in my research that I loved for her — I couldn’t pick just one! I said above that I thought Lux was a little too edgy for their style, but Luna is so similar and a bit softer, and it’s a match for Jolie and Mila.

Larkin is an actual style match for Monroe as a girl’s name and also Jamison, and also given as a boy name match for Jones. My only familiarity with it is as a girl’s name, probably because of the bird “lark” having a feminine feel and the actress Lark Voorhies from Saved by the Bell as well as the sister’s name of a friend of mine, and this family used Larkin for a daughter too. (It appears to be a medieval diminutive of Lawrence, so if you wanted to honor a Lawrence in either a boy or a girl’s name, Larkin would be great!)

Linnea is a match for Allegra, and I might have thought it too frilly but that I know it derives from the surname Linnaeus (the linnea flower is named after the botanist Carolus Linneaus), which goes along with this family’s style.

And Landry is another one I thought of right away for them — a surname with unisex usage that’s also a Saint’s name, so it’s often a go-to suggestion from me for other families who enjoy similar names.

(4) Eyre, Eden

I kept my eyes open for names that struck me as having a similar feel to Elle, which I thought both Eyre and Eden fit. Eyre is a match for Monroe and as soon as I thought it I thought of Allyson’s academic work and thought it might be perfect. Eyre also reminds me of Lux — “air,” “light.”

Eden is an actual match for Elle, and also for Jolie, and having Old Testament connections also ties it to Cohen, which I like.

(5) Halle

Finally, Halle is a match for Jolie, Hailey is a match for Madison, and Hali is a match for Demi; of those, I like Halle the best for this family because of why one family I spotlighted chose it — because it’s contained within Hallelujah! I think that’s amazing! (They also have a Grace Marilyn! Like Monroe Grace!)

Boy

(1) Rourke

Knowing that Allyson and her hubby are having a harder time with boy names, I really tried to cast a wide net. Both Roarke and Rourke are style matches for Monroe, and I was intrigued right away since they represent a sound/rhythm that I think is kind of unusual among boy names. I thought Roarke was too Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, but there are two Irish Martyrs with the surname O’Rourke that I would look to as patrons (more specifics about Bl. Conn O’Rourke here).

(2) Bennett

Bennett was a big match for this family! It’s listed as a match for Monroe, Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell! I love that it means “blessed,” and I love that Bennet has a literary connection through Pride and Prejudice!

(3) Elliott

Elliott, too, did very well in my research — it’s a match for Juliet, Jamison, and Maxwell. Elliott is derived from Elijah, which I’ve always thought was amazing — a biblical name “in disguise”!

(4) Tate

I have to say, I wasn’t sure whether to put Tate in the boy list or the girl list, and ultimately decided to put it in the boy list because it’s listed as a boy match for Blair and Elle, and because I thought a girl Tate might be misheard as Kate too often. Tate is a fun name! Tate with their last name sounds like a star football player to me.

(5) Lincoln, Lexington

Finally, I’m making good on my promise to offer more L names! Allyson mentioned liking the presidential connection of Monroe, so I wondered if she might like Lincoln? I think Lincoln and Linc are fantastic names, and Lincoln’s a style match for Harper, too.

Lexington is a match for London, and I kind of thought of it as a Lux alternative, but for a boy?

Those are all my “official” suggestions, but there were a bunch of other names I considered including that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, so I wanted to list them just in case there’s something here that feels right to Allyson and/or her husband:

Girl

  • Austen, Avalon, Avonlea
  • Cassidy

Boy

  • Garrett
  • Grant
  • Cashel
  • Patton
  • Locke
  • Knox

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Harper, Monroe, Cohen, and Blair?


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!

Out with the old (temporarily), in with the new

Happy Thursday everyone! There are some changes happening here at Sancta Nomina, which I’m excited about!

First: Starting today I’m going on hiatus from baby name consultations until probably around Christmas — some things are happening in my family (all good!) that I need to be able to focus on for the rest of the summer and through the fall, but I think things should even out by Christmas. That said, I won’t be off the blog entirely — I hope to use these next few months to clean up the blog a little (update old links and other housekeeping) and finally get some posts written from my list of topics that keeps growing and growing, and I’m always happy and eager to receive your birth announcements! I’ll still be posting those on the blog with parents’ permission (and as always, if you prefer to keep our email correspondences private, that’s totally fine!).

Second: Those of you who would like baby naming help will still be able to receive it! I’m happy to announce that longtime reader, Catholic mama, and baby namer extraordinaire Theresa Zoe Williams will be offering baby name consultations through Sancta Nomina! Theresa has told us about herself and her naming sensibility in the guest posts she’s written here over the last few months, and here she introduces herself as a our new baby name consultant:

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The New Baby Namer In Town

I have been naming things since the moment I could speak –– stuffed animals, pets, cars, characters in my stories, and even three children of my own (you can read about their names here and here). All of my children and pets have two middle names (the dog is Jackson Coakley Francis and goes by Jack) because I have two middle names (my parents wanted to honor both sides of their family while still using their favorite saint’s name). As part of a family tradition, I also took on my Confirmation name as part of my legal name, which is where the Zoe comes from. I have always been interested in finding creative ways to honor the people in my life, like my oldest daughter’s name being both my and my mother’s birthstone, giving each child a unique name but one grounded in their history. Kate has even called my style of naming spunky but grounded! Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator. I am pleased to announce that I will now also be offering baby name consultations to the public.

Just as I have experience naming things and people in my own life, I do come with experience of helping to name other people, too. The first time occurred almost four years ago. A woman I was acquainted with asked a group of Catholic moms that I was a part of for help in naming her third child, a boy. She set out all of her parameters and offered a gift card to the person who suggested the name they ended up choosing. The most important criterion was that the name had to be connected to the Passion in some way. We all had at it. I rattled off a couple suggestions but then one name hit me like a ton of bricks. I researched the name to make sure my perceptions of it were correct and then suggested it. Tristan means “sorrowful”, was not on their “couldn’t use” list, went well with another name they liked for a good first-middle combo, and wasn’t too popular nor weird. The woman and her husband loved it! They named their baby Tristan Oliver and I was awarded a $15 Starbucks gift card.

As far as naming goes, I tend to go off of my gut instinct and do research to back that up. I also look for creative and out of the box ways to meet criteria given by the parents. To practice, I asked a group of women if they would allow me to try to guess their naming styles. They gave me sibling names and maybe another detail or two about what they look for in a name and I would rattle off six to twelve guesses or suggestions. Many of them exclaimed that I had correctly guessed some names on their lists and many of those women also said that I’d given them more names to add to their lists!

Helping families find meaningful names they love for their children is a passion of mine and I’m so honored to help anyone I can. To kick off my tenure as the new baby naming consultant in town, I’m offering my first three consultations for free, provided you are okay with me posting the consultation on the blog. This offer is good for regular and mini consultations. Logistically, I will be offering the same two types of consultations Kate does and for the same prices. To get a consultation from me, you can email me directly at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com. Thank you for welcoming me into the family!

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“Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator” — isn’t that beautiful?! Theresa has such a great understanding of the awesome responsibility that parents have in naming — I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for you and your babies! As she noted, you can email her directly to request a consultation, and any requests that come to me will be forwarded on to her as well. Hurry to secure your place as one of her first three FREE consultations! The free consultations will be posted on the blog in order that you can get a feel for Theresa’s style and expertise. (I still have a few to post, so Theresa’s won’t post until July.)

If you’re not one of the first three free clients, you can use the Sancta Nomina PayPal buttons to pay for your consultation — the Mini is still $25 and the Ordinary is still $50, however the buy-my-book-and-get-a-discounted-consultation deal that I’ve been offering will be suspended until I return to consultations.

I know you will all be as gracious and lovely to Theresa as you have been with me all these years! And even though I have put an automatic away message on my email, I’ll still be checking email regularly and will reply to your non-consultation emails when I can.

Have a great rest of the week!


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!

Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

Molly and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second girl! Their Little Miss joins big sister:

Margaret Clare (“I’ve always loved the name Maggie so picking her name was very easy. We decided on Clare as a middle name because we thought it flowed well with Margaret and we used the Irish spelling to honor our Irish roots.  If we hadn’t already used Clare, it might very well be the name we would have picked for this baby.”)

Margaret Clare is beautiful and timeless; Maggie is sweet and friendly; and Maggie Clare is a darling combo. I can see why it was an easy choice! I was determined to try and help Molly and her husband find a name they love just as much!

Molly writes,

This is our second rainbow baby girl and we are so very happy that she is joining us! I had started to think we wouldn’t be able to have another baby and I feel bad that the name is still up in the air.

Below are the names we are considering:

  • Elizabeth (nn Libby) — We thought we were set with this name but I am not sure if it’s quite right. We would love to use my maiden name (Christy) as the middle name. Maggie Clare is such a cute name and I don’t think Libby Christy has the same ring to it. Additionally, Elizabeth Christy LastName [a long Italian name] might be a mouthful. I do adore the name Elizabeth however, and the versatility it provides. I also think Libby is an adorable nickname. It may still be the frontrunner.
  • Nora — Nora has come in strong lately. I love the simplicity and think it flows better with Christy as a middle name. My concern is its current popularity. I feel like I hear the name a lot these days.  

Names we’ve discussed:

  • Bridget — a name I still really like but my husband does not. I’m also not a fan of the initials BM [last name begins with M].
  • Maeve — Love this name but doesn’t feel right.
  • Grace – Also considered this but again, not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora

As you can see, I like traditional, classic names with Irish roots — nothing funky but not too popular. I’d also love to incorporate my maiden name as the middle name.

Names we cannot use:

  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • Maureen
  • Patricia
  • Regan
  • Anne
  • Eleanor
  • Brianna
  • Riley
  • Rose

Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby is an absolutely fantastic choice for baby girl no. 2! I completely agree with Molly about Elizabeth’s versatility, as well as how adorable Libby is. This, to me, is the name to beat! And I personally don’t mind Elizabeth Christy LastName at all — it’s a beautiful, sophisticated name and not too much of a mouthful in my opinion. So let’s talk about Libby Christy for a minute. I love how Maggie Clare flows, and I agree that Libby Christy isn’t quite as pleasing. I spent some time trying to figure out why — the matching “ee” sound at the ends of the two names makes it seem too rhymey maybe? But then Mary Christy doesn’t bother me, nor does Ree Christy, nor does Molly’s own name Molly Christy, so I think with Libby it specifically has to do with the matching “short i” sound in the middle of both names as well. But then again, I was imagining myself naming a daughter Elizabeth Christine and could very easily see coming up with Libby Christy to use sometimes, especially in those early years when it’s so easy to use cutesy babytalk, so I don’t think it’s a total dealbreaker! My recommendation would be to go ahead with Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby and see what happens.

That said, I had some ideas about how to tweak this idea to maybe make it work better, one of which I included in my “official” suggestions below, and the other, which is less dramatic, is: Modify Libby when using it with Christy. I thought a name that didn’t end in the “ee” sound would sound better with Christy, and I thought that even if they call their little girl Libby most of the time, if they said “Libba Christy” every time they paired it with Christy, that flows a lot better. Another idea I had was inspired by a neighbor — her name is Elizabeth but she always (and still!) went by Libbett. Libbett Christy works nicely too, I think.

Before getting to my list of suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the other names on Molly’s list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora! I think it perfectly fits Molly’s preference for “traditional, classic names with Irish roots,” and I love how it sounds with Christy — it has a much more natural flow than Libby Christy. I personally wouldn’t worry about its popularity — it was no. 30 in 2020, and has hovered around there for the past few years, though it is remarkable that in 2000 it was no. 502 — it’s definitely had a steep increase in popularity in the last twenty years! But I think national popularity only really matters if it matches one’s local popularity, and it sounds like Molly lives in a place where Nora might be more popular than the national average, especially if she adds in any little Eleanors that also go by Nora. I think I do, too — my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter is Nora — but something else I love is that my parents’ neighbor is an older lady named Nora! Even with its current popularity, I think it still has that lovely vintage feel. Also, Nora’s popularity can’t even touch Elizabeth’s! Elizabeth was no. 16 in 2020, having dropped out of the top ten in 2014; before that, it was in the top ten just about every single year since 1980; and it’s been in the top 25 since forever. Elizabeth is a powerhouse! Which I’m sure is why so many nicknames for it have sprung up — to differentiate among all those Elizabeths! So I would say Molly’s concern probably isn’t popularity so much as it is a feeling of trendiness. It’s funny to think of a classic name like Nora being “trendy”! I definitely think Nora is one of those names that will endure, no matter its ups and downs on the popularity chart, which definitely sets it apart from the truly trendy names. Elizabeth is still my favorite for this baby, but if they go with Nora, I won’t be disappointed at all.
  • Bridget: I love Bridget too! BM-type initials are always an issue, though, I agree.
  • Maeve: Also a gorgeous name! And I like it with Christy! But if it doesn’t feel right, then I would suggest shelving it for now. They can always revisit it for a later baby, maybe.
  • Grace: So pretty and simple, but it’s telling that Molly said, “not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora.”

So I think Molly and her hubs have a fantastic list — Elizabeth rises to the top for me as the strong favorite with, perhaps, some tweaking; Nora is a fantastic second, which I could see overtaking the first place spot without too much effort. Great options! But I can always come up with more! Haha! I always hate to muddy the waters, but it was fun to look for more ideas for this family.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already 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 for this family, and as mentioned I also tried to think of other ways to work with Elizabeth. I also looked up “Irish immigrant names for girls,” as I felt like that best described Molly’s style, and I looked up two-syllable-ends-in-a names on babynamewizard.com. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Tess(a) (Elizabeth? Theresa?)

While I love Libby, and I love that Molly loves Libby, there are about a trillion Elizabeth nicknames, and some of them work better with Christy than others. I like how Ella Christy and Liza Christy sound, for example, and one of the more unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth is Tess (which is also one of my favorites, and if we’d ever had a second daughter she likely would have been Elizabeth nicknamed Tess) — Tess Christy and especially Tessa Christy have a really pleasing flow I think. Tess is actually a style match for Libby according to the Baby Name Wizard, which is one of the reasons I thought of it for Molly’s baby. Tess is also one of those “old timey Irish-y names” — names that seem to often be given to Irish girls/women in movies, like Nora (I immediately think of the grandmother in The Secret of Roan Inish, who was named Tess) — so even if Molly doesn’t care for it as a nickname for Elizabeth, perhaps she’d like to consider its “parent” name, Theresa (or Teresa or Therese) with the nickname Tess(a). (Tess and Tessa also have usage as given names in their own right, but using them as a nickname for a more formal name seems more Molly’s style.)

(2) Caroline

I really love Caroline for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret, Clare, and Elizabeth, and has some really sweet nicknames. One is Cara, which is also the Irish word for “friend” and works beautifully with Christy; others are Carly and Callie, which don’t work as well with Christy but aren’t terrible. The initials for Caroline Christy would be C.C., which could also lead to a nickname (like Cece for Cecilia, and they could spell C.C. as Cece, that totally works!). I could also see Cora working, if they want it to, which is so similar to Nora that it might be perfect.

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

I’m including these three together because they really feel like they could be replacements for Nora if Molly wants them to be. Sarah is a style match for Clare and Elizabeth, and was one of the top ten names for girls born in Ireland in 1864 according to this article. While Sarah works best with Christy when said together, they might also like Sarah’s traditional nickname Sadie. Sarah has been dropping in popularity from its top ten status from the late 70s to the early 2000s to no. 87 in 2020.

Maura and Moira are both Irish forms of Mary — I know Molly has both Mary and Maureen on the list of names she can’t use, but perhaps Maura and Moira are different enough? Maura rhymes with Nora and I’ve seen some people say Moira that way, too, though I think Moira is more often said like MOY-ra. Neither Maura nor Moira are in the top 1000.

(Bonus) Other two-syllable names ending in the A sound like Nora, Tessa, Sarah, Maura/Moira

Two-syllable-ends-in-a names work really nicely with Christy, so I looked through the list of such names on babynamewizard.com to see if there were any other ideas. I like these:

  • Anna: From this list, I think Anna is the closest to the style Molly seems to favor, it’s a beautiful, traditional, classic name that has good usage in Ireland
  • Deirdre: Deirdre Christy sounds like quite the Irish-American lass!
  • Emma: I’m sure Molly won’t want to use Emma because of popularity, but it is a sweet name
  • Gemma: Gemma is like Emma with a twist and far less popular and with a more obvious patron saint. I love it with Christy!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Maggie Clare?


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!

Birth announcement: Gemma Theadora!

Liz and I emailed a bit over the past few months about names for her baby, and I’m very happy to report that her little girl has been born and given the absolutely beautiful name … Gemma Theadora!

Liz writes,

We had the baby Friday. We were between 2 first names, and my husband decided he preferred Gemma (so did I), so that stuck. Since the first name was shorter, I was trying to gun for a longer middle name. I absolutely love the name Stellamaris, but he’s not keen on it. I was looking up some longer names, and I honestly don’t remember how I came across this one, but I threw out Theadora … He really gravitated to it, so much so that he was thinking of overriding our first name choice and calling her Theadora nn Thea (saw your blog post about a recent Thea’s birth). Ultimately, we decided to keep the names how we’d picked them, and Gemma Theadora arrived after 41wk2d. It’s a lot of A’s, many people we’ve informed via text have already asked if it’s a hard or soft G, someone thought I’d said Jenna, and lots have asked how we came up with Gemma. But it’s sparked some fun conversations about the Italian mystic from the 19th century. I don’t have a devotion to her; I just really like the name.”

I love so many things about this name story!! Gemma was a name Liz liked from the beginning, and it fit her husband’s preference for a name that would be used as-is; I love that Hubby was crazy for the middle name idea Liz suggested; I love that despite some issues that before birth might have seemed prohibitively annoying (a lot of A’s, others not knowing how to pronounce it or thinking it’s a different name, etc.), Liz has been enjoying the conversations that the name has sparked. And I love that St. Gemma has found this family, despite them not having a previous devotion to her! And Gemma Theadora is an absolutely gorgeous name!!

Congratulations to Liz and her husband, and happy birthday Baby Gemma!!


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!)

Birth announcement: Caroline Grace!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Sarah’s third baby a few years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had another baby — her third baby girl — given the gorgeous name … Caroline Grace!

Sarah writes,

As usual, my husband’s girl list is pretty short. We had to debate if we continue on incorporating his favorite, Claire/Clare, into the name so that she matched her sisters. We also had to weigh whether or not it really mattered to us if two kids shared a first-name initial when the others don’t. Ultimately, we decided to prioritize choosing a name we both liked and that had meaning to us over trying to find a name that sounded ideal with her siblings. So we may trip over Claire and Caroline, but maybe it’s having more kids now – it seems like less of a big deal when mixed in with the oldest two? 

Caroline is a family name on dh’s side – a beloved, holy great aunt and also also Grandma’s middle name. I also like the connection to St. John Paul II (Karol) and St Charles as well as the meaning “free man.”

Grace is also a paternal family name. Dh’s holy and much-loved grandmother bore the Spanish version, Graciela. We also like the connection to Our Lady.”

Isn’t Caroline Grace just so lovely and elegant?! Sarah mentioned that they debated incorporating Claire/Clare into the name so that “she matched her sisters” — as explained in her third baby’s birth announcement post, one of Sarah’s older girls has Clare as a middle name, and another has Claire as a first name, but as I told Sarah, I’ve often thought of Caroline as sort of a “longer Clare” — people who like Clare/Claire tend to like Caroline and I’m sure the shared sounds are part of it — so to me, I think they do kind of have Clare/Claire in all their girls’ names! (I know that thought process wouldn’t make sense to anyone else haha! Crazy Catholic name lady strikes again! 😀 )

Congratulations to Sarah and her husband and big sibs Nathaniel, Julianne, and Claire, and happy birthday Baby Caroline!!

Caroline Grace


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!)