Happy Third Week of Advent! I hope you’re all as excited about Christmas as everyone in my house is! Enjoy today’s consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams:
Mama Frances writes in asking for baby naming help.
“My husband and I come to you in a name conundrum we really never imagined ourselves to be in. You see, we (and by we, I mean me) are very certain about names — so certain we have always named our babies immediately upon finding out their gender and shared them with anyone who would listen. It proved a great balm, with our first who has a critical congenital heart defect and lots of prenatal complications (and post-birth surgeries). It always tells me exactly who this little person is I am getting to know, and has come so naturally. However, we have now come to find we are happily expecting our sixth child and fifth boy, and we have used so many names we have loved that I am simply struggling naming another little boy … which makes me feel horribly guilty because we have about twenty more girl names waiting in the wings.”
That’s always tough when you’ve used so many of the names you like already!
This little man will be joining big siblings:
Walter “Walt/Wally” David
Franklin “Frank/Franky” Richard
Theodore “Ted/Teddy” Paul
Arthur “Art/Arty” Daniel
They have a few naming rules, though.
- family honor either in first, middle, or both
- traditional, but not “popular” names (the more vintage the better)
- a likable nickname and formal name (most of the time)
- a way to tie the name to a saint, an etymological derivative is fine
- we end boy nicknames in y (even if it is less common like Franky and Arty), girls in ‘ie’
Also, they’d like to keep their Irish and Polish heritage in mind when naming this child, though it’s not a hard and fast criteria.
Here are some names they like but don’t feel like “the one”:
- Alexander (too common), Gerald (don’t like the nickname “Gerry”), Anthony (repeating first initial and nickname Tony would start with a different letter than the full name), George (friends just named their son this), Ronald (no family significance), and Richard (already used it in the middle spot for a different child)
Names they cannot use are:
First, some thoughts on names they like but have issues.
Alexander– I agree that it’s too popular for them but it is popular for a reason, it’s a great name! This is one of those names that you can’t really go wrong with, especially in the middle spot.
Gerald– I love this name for them. I feel like it ticks all of their boxes! Unfortunately, I couldn’t really think of any other nicknames for it besides Gerry, which they aren’t a fan of, without getting really creative (Gerdy, Gordo, Gordy, etc.).
Anthony– This one surprised me for them, in a good way! I love this name and the nickname Tony, but understand their hangups. Perhaps in the middle spot?
George– I don’t think they should worry too much about having two Georges in the same social circle. This is a great name and ticks most of their boxes otherwise!
Ronald– Another name that I really like for them and ticks most of their boxes. Ronald Alexander is a great combination, too, which would give it the family significance Ronald lacks on its own.
Richard– Great name, but I would worry about having already used it on another child, too. I would let this one go since they’ve already used it in a middle spot.
On to new suggestions!
I couldn’t decide which I thought they would like more, so I’m including them all! Edward is the most popular currently at 195 and Edmund is the least popular currently, not having ranked above 1000 since 1998. These all come with the built-in nicknames of Ed and Eddy and tick all but the family significance box. There are tons of saints to go with each name, too, such as St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edmund Campion, St. Edwin the King, and St. Edgar the Peaceful. I like any of these names with any of the names they already like in the middle spot, some favorites are Edmund Alexander, Edmund Gerald, and Edwin Alexander.
I think I prefer the Laurence spelling for them, but I’ve included both just in case. I love the vintage-ish nicknames of Law and Laury (Laurey?), too. There are tons of Saints with both spellings of the name but one that stood out to me was St. Lawrence O’Toole, since they said their family background leans Irish (and Polish). I think this name fits in with their other kids’ really well but it does share the first initial with the only sister.
When they mentioned their family is part Polish, I immediately thought of this name! There’s St. Stanislaus Kostka and Bl. Stanley Rother to tie into it, too. It can take the nicknames Stan and Stanny and fits their vintage vibe so perfectly! I love Stanley Gerald and Stanley Alexander best out of the other names they like.
This name was originally a Scottish surname through the Gaelic language, tying it to their family’s heritage. I could only find one saint with the name Douglas, Bl. George Douglas, who was martyred for being a priest. Nicknames Doug and Douggy are super friendly and fun.
This was one of the first names I thought of when they said “the more vintage, the better”. The only problem here is that there are no saints by this name and its connection with John Calvin and Calvinism. Otherwise, I think this fits in with their crew really well and I wouldn’t be afraid of the associations. Calvin Gerald is like peak vintage, too!
This comes with the obvious nicknames of Fred and Freddy but it would repeat an initial. I love its meaning of “peaceful ruler”; a great meaning for a 5th boy/6th overall! There are several saints to go along with the name, including St. Frederick and Bl. Frederick Ozanam.
I have Irish and Polish in my ancestry, so I actually looked to my family trees to see if there were any winners there. I found Terrence on my Irish side and fell in love! I think this is a great name for them and ticks almost all of their boxes. It has nickname Terry which is very friendly and fun, too. Amazingly, there is Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien to go with the name! Paired with one of the other names they like, this name feels like a real home run for them. Maybe Terrence Alexander, Terrence Anthony, or Terrence George?
These are my thoughts. What do you guys think?
I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)
During my hiatus, please don’t forget about 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!