Baby name consultation: Some initials-specific rules (hopes) for baby no. 2!

Happy last day of January! I always feel more hopeful when January is over — February brings with it the promise of spring, after all!

I start work again today after the Christmas break, so things will quiet down a bit around here. That said, I do have some posts already scheduled for later this week, and I hope (hope hope hope) that I can keep adding content each week — I’ll have consultations from Theresa to post as she has them (email her if you’d like one at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com!); hopefully more birth announcements; and I’m going to try to be better about doing meatier/nitty gritty posts too. We’ll see! My intentions are good, and hope springs eternal! I’ve so enjoyed my more frequent posting over January (maybe January isn’t so bad after all!), and reading all your comments, and doing some consultations. I will never not be so so grateful for this beautiful ministry and community!

Here is the fourth of the five consultations I opened up for January — I hope it makes your Monday a little brighter!

K and her husband are expecting their second baby and second girl! This little lady joins big sister:

Eleanor Lynn called Nora (Hubby “loved the name Nora but I prefer a more formal option which is how we eventually settled on Eleanor“)

I absolutely love their daughter’s name! Eleanor Lynn nn Nora is so lovely, and I love that Eleanor nn Nora was a way of marrying K’s husband’s preference with her own. Perfect!

K writes,

I may be a bit quirky with my name preferences … and that’s exactly where I think you’ll be so helpful! I don’t want to repeat any initials so J, K, E, and N are out as well as H as I don’t want to be alliterative with our last name. We’d like something that has formal options and a modern nickname for daily use. A true wish list is a name that, like Eleanor, starts with one initial but whose nickname has another. That feels kind of like a unicorn, so not a must. An obvious and common reference/tie to a saint is also preferred.” 

Family names that they would be open to using include:

  • Martha (husband “is not sold, but I would love to use this name somehow. It was my grandmother’s name and is my aunt’s name … I think I could convince him if it was in the middle, or masked a bit … like Emmy for Martha Elizabeth“)
  • Elizabeth
  • Katherine 
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony (for K’s father)

Names they can’t use include:

  • Madelyn/Maddy
  • Chloe
  • Ruby
  • Wren
  • Mary

And names that they like but can’t commit to include:

  • Gwendolyn (“I like nn Winnie, he’s not sold … Gwendolyn Martha is also the only name I’ve found where Martha fits in the middle“)
  • Margaret
  • Lydia (“doesn’t feel like it strikes the right balance of formal and nickname“)
  • Audrey (“same as Lydia“)
  • Claire (“same as Lydia“) 
  • Claudia (Hubby likes, “but it doesn’t fit with Nora in my mind and I can’t think of a good nickname“)
  • I like Teresa (Tess), Matilda (Tilly) and Vivian (Vivi) but haven’t been able to convince him on any

I’m just dying over K’s hope for a given name with a nickname that starts with a different initial. How fun! Such a great challenge and goal! I will say, though, that since she doesn’t want to repeat initials, having given names and nicknames with different initials will deplete the pool of acceptable initials pretty quickly — just something to keep in mind going forward. I do have to say — I would be completely blown away by a sibset that had all given first names with different-initial first names! That would be amazing! I would love to help K and her husband come up with names like that for all of their future children! But like she said, that would be a total unicorn, and probably not very realistic given that she and her hubby have different tastes in names. (Which is fine! And good! Not a problem at all!)

So first, I’ll offer my thoughts on the names K mentioned liking, in case they’re helpful:

  • Martha: I love this challenge as well — trying to find a way to work in Martha. It would be so great if K could find a way to use it that her husband is okay with! Her idea of Emmy for Martha Elizabeth is ah-MAZ-ing!! It seems to check all K’s boxes — this is definitely one of my favorite ideas for this family!
  • Elizabeth, Katherine: Both Elizabeth and Katherine are great names; I also thought K might like to consider Beth and Kate as middle names — they might flow better with certain first names than the longer Elizabeth/Katherine. I wanted to suggest Elizabeth as a first name, since it has a bazillion nickname options, most of which don’t start with the letter E, but not only does Elizabeth repeat Eleanor’s initial, it also repeats the first two letters of Eleanor — that does seem a little much. It’s fantastic as a middle name though (see Martha Elizabeth above!).
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony: This is such a nice idea! Tamsin is my favorite feminized Thomas name — it’s a contracted form of Thomasina, and I actually love Tamsin with Eleanor, as Tamsin is a traditional Cornish name, which makes an Eleanor-and-Tamsin pair of sisters feel like characters in an English storybook. How fun! If they like the idea of Tamsin, Tammy’s an obvious nickname, though that doesn’t feel like their style … They could maybe do a mashup nickname, like Tamsin Elizabeth nn Tally? Tamsin Kate nn Tate? Tamsin Katherine nn Tarin? Or put Tamsin in the middle, like Martha Tamsin nn Missy? Or maybe they’d like the full Thomasina? Thomasina Kate or Thomasina Beth nn Tamsin, or nn Tommy/Tommie? Missy could work as a nickname for Thomasina too (I love Missy, I think it’s so sweet). I’ve also seen Sina as a nickname for Thomasina. As for Anthony, Antonia is actually a style match for Claudia on K’s husband’s list! It would be a really striking and unexpected middle name; as a first name, they could do Annie, Andi, Tia, or Toni as nicknames. I also have a friend named Antoinette (she goes by the full Antoinette) and a little girl in one of my boys’ class is Antonella — both of those are lovely options to honor a man with Anthony in his name. Or … Toinette is a short form of Antoinette (a legit name) and I’m just thinking that Martha Toinette is kind of gorgeous! Mette could work as a nickname, said like “met,” but also Mette is a Danish diminutive of Margaret and is said like “meta.” Kind of cool!
  • Gwendolyn: Like with Martha Elizabeth nicknamed Emmy, I think K’s Gwendolyn Martha is a fantastic combo! I love the rhythm — I agree with her that Gwendolyn and Martha really sound nice together. Winnie is a great option as a nickname; Wendy can also work. One thing I can’t figure out is if I love that it ends in -lyn, thus mirroring Nora’s middle name, or if I think it’s a bad thing to have Nora’s middle name Lynn and a first name for their second daughter that contains “lyn.”
  • Margaret: Margaret’s got some great different-initial nicknames, like Greta, Daisy, and Rita. I also like Meg, Maggie, and Molly as nicknames for Margaret (Molly isn’t actually related to Margaret, being that Molly is an Irish form of Mary, but I do hear of little Margarets called Molly from time to time. I really like Molly as a sister to Nora!).
  • Lydia: I can see what K means here … if it helps, I love the nickname Liddy and had it on my own list as a nickname for Elizabeth; it obviously works even better as a nickname for Lydia.
  • Audrey: Lydia doesn’t really feel like Eleanor’s sister to me (though if they love it, then who cares!), but Audrey does! There aren’t any obvious nicknames that I can think of for Audrey though … the work “tawdry” actually comes from the name Audrey (specifically St. Audrey) — it’s not a good word, but it makes me think of Tawny, which is kind of a cute name — maybe Audrey Katherine nn Tawny?
  • Claire: Yes, it is a bummer that Claire also doesn’t have any traditional nicknames! (Though there are some people who find that aspect of Claire perfect for them). I like how Martha Claire sounds — maybe a mashup nickname from that? Like … Maggie (like Mackey, but not), Molly (from the L), or Marley? I could see using a longer nickname like Clairey for Claire … or using a longer name with Claire/Clare as the nickname, like Clairvaux or Claret. Or even Martha Claire who goes by her middle name — I actually really like that idea!
  • Claudia: Claudia is such an intriguing name to me — it’s so classic and traditional but I almost never hear it in real life, and even less on a baby! I think maybe it’s because it’s got clunky sounds that haven’t recently been in style — but I think they’re coming back! Think Agatha and Barbara, for example — both names I’ve heard on babies recently. As for nicknames, I feel like the mashup idea could work. Maybe Claudia Katherine nn Cla(i)re or Carly?
  • Teresa/Tess: Tess is one of my favorites!! It was pretty certainly going to be our second girl’s name, as a nickname for Elizabeth (but we had all boys, so never even got to our first girl’s name!). Maybe it could be a nickname for Tamsin?
  • Matilda/Tilly: This is a brilliant option — I love Matilda as Eleanor’s sister, and I love Tilly as Nora’s sister. And it’s a given name with a different-initial nickname! Amazing!
  • Vivian/Vivi: I love Vivi, I think it’s such a cute nickname! I have some other Vivi ideas below.

So I think K and her hubby have a lot of good ideas already, and a lot of good potential ideas as well! Now on to new ones!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking 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 for this family, keeping an eye out for any different-initial firstname-nickname ideas, and of course avoiding repeating any of the initials they already have in their family. I actually really love when there are a lot of rules — it makes for a really fun challenge! I’m excited to see what K and her hubby think of the following:

(1) Amelia nn Amy, Lia, Mia, Millie, Melia

Amelia is a specific match for Eleanor, as well as for Matilda, and has a bunch of non-A nicknames (as well as an A nickname, if they decide not to worry about that particular thing): Amy, Lia, Mia, Millia, and Melia. They could do Ally/Allie, too, if they like. Of those, I particularly like Millie as Nora’s sister, and its similarity to Tilly and Winnie makes me think K will like it! Unfortunately, it does mean that Tilly would be out for the future, which K will have to come to terms with if she likes this idea …

(2) Penelope nn Penny, Pippa, Polly, Posy

Penelope is a match for Gwendolyn and Matilda, so great! I’ve seen Lola offered as a nickname for it, which fits K’s different-initial hope, but I’m not sure Lola feels like this family to me? (Though I love Lola!) Nell is another different-initial nickname, which feels a lot more like them, but repeats Nora’s initial. So maybe the P nicknames are best to consider — there are some great ones! I love Penny, Pippa, Polly, and Posy as ideas, so sweet! Abby from Appellation Mountain did a whole post on unexpected Penelope nicknames here. I also love how Penelope Martha sounds!

(3) Caroline/a

Caroline is a match for Katherine, Margaret, and Claire — such a beautiful, classic name! I love it as Eleanor’s sister. Carrie and Carly are C nicknames; I’ve suggested Lola to other parents as a nickname for Caroline; and if they do Carolina, they could consider Lina as well. Or — maybe Caroline nn Clare could work? And Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter’s name is Claire Caroline Wren and she goes by Clio! I don’t mind Caroline Martha — it doesn’t sound bad at all!

(4) Isabel

I’d actually already scribbled down Isabel for this family when I was reading K’s email, before doing any research, because her Martha Elizabeth/Emmy idea reminded me of a little girl I heard about once whose name is Isabelle Verity and she goes by Ivy (I.V.) — I thought that was cool! (I posted other ideas like that here.) And then I discovered Isabel is a match for Claire! I really love it as a sister to Eleanor, too — there’s a sophistication with the pair that is lovely! I still like the Ivy idea; they could also consider Belle/Bella (even with the Isabel spelling), or Isa. I don’t think Isabel Martha sounds terrible!

(5) Veronica

I was surprised (pleasantly so!) to see that Veronica is a match for Claudia, Teresa, and Vivian! It’s such a beautiful name, and so Catholic, and it can take the nickname Vivi that they’re already considering! Other nickname ideas include Ronnie and Ricky, which don’t repeat initials; Nica and Nicky, which do; and Vera, Vero, and Vica.

(6) Genevieve

I wonder if K and her husband might be interested in Genevieve with the nickname Vivi? I like Eleanor and Genevieve together, and I know of several Genevieves who go by Vivi. I don’t hate Genevieve Martha together — the rhythm isn’t quite as good as Gwendolyn Martha, but I don’t think it’s terrible either.

(7) Annabelle nn Anna, Annie, Belle

Annabelle is a style match for Eleanor! I looove the name Annabel(le) — I included Annabel in my book of Marian names because I discovered that it arose in Scotland in the Middle Ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis. I love that! The spelling Annabelle adds in the Anna+Belle idea, which is lovely. Nicknames include the same-initial ones like Anna, Annie, and even Abby, and the different-initial ones like Belle/Bella. I also love Annabelle Martha — a very cool combo! — and it could also allow for the nickname Amy (like Missy, I love Amy — such a sweet, old-fashioned nickname that is dropping in popularity after a huge resurgence, which makes it perfect in my opinion).

(8) Susanna nn Zuzu (or Anna/Annie)

I spent some time trying to think of names that have different-initial nickname possibilities, and after weeding out the ones that repeat K’s family initials (like Josephine nn Sophie or Posy and Julia nn Lia) or that don’t seem their style (Dolores nn Lola; Magdalena nn Lena or Dolly), one of the ones that was left that I love for this family is Susanna with the nickname Zuzu. While I’m nervous for K and her hubby that going down the path of trying to stick with different-initial nicknames while not repeating any initials already used will set them up for running out of names, Zuzu is the kind of nickname that is unlikely to cause problems because there are so few names that begin with Z — I don’t think using a Z name now will reduce their future possibilities at all! Zuzu is a traditional nickname for the Susan names (and the name of George Bailey’s daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life!). If they like Susanna but not Zuzu, they could also do Anna or Annie as different-initial nicknames (Susie/Suzy/Sue are also possibilities of course).

(9) Lucille or Louisa nn Lucy

My last idea is 100% inspired by Nora — Lucy is a style match for her, and since K specifically said that Lydia, Audrey, and Claire don’t “strike the right balance of formal and nickname,” I thought she might like the idea of Lucille nn Lucy or Louisa nn Lucy. I particularly like Louisa as a sister to Eleanor, though I know that Lucy is not a traditional nickname for it (I think it’s brilliant though!).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) and nickname(s) would you suggest for Eleanor/Nora’s little sister?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Retta Joy!

I posted a consultation for Ashley and husband last spring, and I’m excited to share that their baby girl has been born and given the fantastic name … Retta Joy!

Ashley writes,

We named her Retta Joy. She is named after St. Gianna Beretta Molla and St. Joseph as the Scottish name for carpenter is Rett (this would have been our boy name, Rett Thomas).”

Isn’t Retta Joy such a beautiful and unexpected name?! I love the connection with Rett for St. Joseph!! (Read more about the connection here.) How cool!! And for Retta to be for St. Gianna too — so many layers of meaning! Such a great job!!

( As a side note, my grandmother was Mary Loretta and she went by Rett with her friends — Loretta is a nod to Our Lady of Loreto, so if they wanted to include an additional Marian connection to their little Retta, that could work!)

Congratulations to Ashley and her husband and big sisters Emma Grace, Kennedy Faith, and Lillian Hope, and happy birthday Baby Retta Joy!!


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

An important resource is gone

You guys. I was working on a consultation the other night and couldn’t find what I needed in my trusty Baby Name Wizard book, so I went to babynamewizard.com to use the Name Matchmaker tool, only to find … babynamewizard.com, and all its tools, is no more. I’m devastated.

Laura Wattenberg, the creator of and brain behind The Baby Name Wizard (the amazing book, the amazing site, the site’s amazing tools [Name Matchmaker, Name Finder]) (I’m still thrilled and amazed and so grateful that she wrote an endorsement for my own name book!), had posted recently on her new site, Namerology, that the BNW site had been shut down by its new owners, but I didn’t really think that meant it was *shut down,* like, *not existing anymore* — I figured it just meant it was no longer progressing, it was just staying as it was forever and its info would become outdated.

I used to spend hours reading the threads on the BNW discussion boards, and I’ve used the site’s tools heavily for my own naming and in consultations. Laura still posts great, meaty content on Namerology, and she does have some name tools (but not the kind that offer style matches, which I have learned so much from and really rely on) and a discussion forum that I’ll have to look into some more, but it’s not the same.

When I was working on the consultation and discovered I could no longer access the Name Matchmaker, I went to Nymbler, which was also created by Laura, and was a precursor to the BNW stuff. I hadn’t used it in a while, and was surprised at its new look and the new way it works … I can’t tell yet if I think it will be helpful or not (though it did help me with the particular thing I was working on the other night).

Anyway. This is such an end to era! The baby naming world has suffered a real loss.


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Lawrence Joseph David!

I posted a consultation for Beth and her husband back in May (after posting a consultation and birth announcement for their third baby a few years ago — I love watching the Sancta Nomina families grow!), and am so happy to share that they’ve welcomed their baby boy and given him the tremendous name … Lawrence Joseph David! And they’re calling him Laurie!

Beth writes,

Lawrence Joseph David was born October 17, and we couldn’t be happier! This baby was such a hard one to name; even as we filled out his birth certificate application at the hospital, we were still a bit uncertain! But what really decided it for us was hearing his 3 siblings calling him “baby Laurie” as we FaceTimed them from the hospital. So far we call him Laurie almost exclusively, but some extended family call him Lawrence. We figure with 3 such strong names, he’ll have his choice of names and nicknames as he grows 🙂 we ultimately went with the 2 middle names to honor both grandpas (Brian Joseph and David) and also St. Joseph for the year of St. Joseph and King David, my husband’s confirmation saint. And as described in my original post, St. Lawrence has a particular connection to us because I entered the Church on his feast day: receiving my first communion, being confirmed, and having my and my husband’s marriage blessed (so it’s a second anniversary for us). Also in our research before this baby was born, we found out he is one of the patron Saints of librarians, which made us laugh because my husband and I met while working at a library and we actually got engaged in that same library! With all of those invitations from St. Lawrence, we felt like it was time to name a baby for him 🙂 “

I agree with Beth — it definitely seems like one of her babies had to be named after St. Lawrence!! And I LOVE that they’re calling him Baby Laurie — I’ve heard from many of you that you would love to get your husbands/families on board with a Lawrence nn Laurie, it’s so fun to see it actually happen!

Congratulations to Beth and her husband and big sibs Charlie, Cate, and Henry (and Felicity in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Lawrence (Laurie)!!

Lawrence Joseph David


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Boy name needed for rainbow baby that fits with big sibs

Happy Monday, feast of St. Francis de Sales! He’s one of my favorite Saints and one I’ve taken as a personal patron because he’s a patron of writers. St. Francis de Sales, pray for us! Here’s the third of my five January consultations — enjoy!

I posted a consultation for Sara and her husband when they were expecting their twin girls several years ago, and then posted a birth announcement for her beautiful babies, and I’m so excited that Sara’s expecting again! This little one joins big sibs:

Landon Thomas

Brooks Grayson

Caroline Rose (Cali)

Evelyn Pearl (Evie)

I have always loved their taste in names — Landon, Brooks, Caroline/Cali, and Evelyn/Evie is just such an attractive bunch!

Though they don’t know if this baby is a boy or girl, they have some solid ideas for girls, so they need help with boy names. One thing that Sara shared that I didn’t previously know is that she lost a third baby during her pregnancy with the girls, and they’d like to consider using Everett as the baby’s middle name if they have a boy, in honor of the baby they lost. Additionally, Sara writes,

We could also use my husband’s name, Erich, or his middle name, Edward, as a middle if it needed to be shorter. That’s all assuming this is a baby boy! We are going to have it be a surprise but I’ve had so many dreams that this baby is a boy I’m really focusing on boy names for now. With all my others I dreamt their gender early on and it was correct.”

For style considerations, names on their girl list include:

  • Rosalie/Rosalind Grace nn Rosie
  • Margaret Grace
  • Magnolia “Maggie” Grace (“both of my husband’s grandmothers are Margaret so either of the last two options feels like a nice honorary name with the nickname Maggie“)

For a boy, names they’ve considered include (in order of preference):

  • Theo (“cannot use Theodore and also don’t like a third boy being Theodore because of those darn chipmunks 🙂 Love the meaning, “God’s Gift,” and that feels so relevant to the story I told you above. I like this name a lot, however, it sort of feels like a nickname and it seems very trendy right now, I know a Teddy and two Theodores off the top of my head, one of which is my cousin’s new baby! And my boys despise it for some reason although my husband likes this option“)
  • Rowan/Owen (“like both of these … Rowan is a nice option that we keep going back and forth about although it doesn’t have any real personal significance“)
  • August (“I love this one, husband thinks it’s weird that he wouldn’t actually be born in August and maybe thinks it’s a little pretentious? I love the nickname Auggie but may not be able to convince him about this
    one
    “)
  • Jasper (“like this option but not sure about the -er ending” [their last name ends in -er])
  • Max/Maxwell (“Maybe not in keeping as well with the other kid’s names. I want all the names to feel like they belong together although this is still a cute name“)
  • Julian
  • Phoenix (“feels especially relevent because of the “rising from the ashes” but honestly, I just don’t think the name fits with the other kids and the association with the city is not my favorite. Plus I can never spell it correctly!“)

Names they can’t use include:

  • Phineus/Finn
  • Felix
  • Oliver

And finally, Sara would prefer names with meaning/significance that aren’t “overly odd/unique but not super popular (like in the top 5) and goes well with all of the other kids … Lastly, I would prefer not to repeat initials with the other kids since it’s hard enough to keep everyone straight as it is!

Okay, let me first offer my thoughts on the names currently on their list for a boy, in case they’re helpful:

  • Theo: (The “chipmunks” comment made me laugh!) Theo can certainly work on its own — it’s no. 172 on the SSA list for 2020 as a given name, which means it’s both not unheard of as a given name (check out this little Theo as one example), and also far less popular than Theodore (no. 23). Theophilus (a biblical name) and Theobald are two names that can take Theo as a nickname that are less popular than Theodore (neither one are in the top 1000). I wonder what Sara and her hubby would think of Thaddeus? I often think of Theodore and Thaddeus as being two sides of the same coin — in fact, I posted about this very idea once ages ago, with that very title! Theodore and Thaddeus can both take Ted as a nickname (I know a Thaddeus called Ted), and I don’t even think it’s necessarily a stretch to say that Theo can work as a nickname idea for Thaddeus. If they like Thaddeus but not Ted or Theo as nicknames for it, Thad and Tad/Taddy are also possibilities. Regarding its meaning, it’s actually possible that Thaddeus means the same thing as Theodore! I love the name Thaddeus. Also, Matthew and its variants (Matthias etc.) also mean “God’s gift.” Thaddeus is no. 789 and Matthew is no. 30.
  • Rowan/Owen: These are both great names! I’m surprised that Rowan is the one that seems to rise to the top for them, as I think Owen feels like it fits better with the other kids. (But of course, who cares — if they love Rowan, they should use it!)
  • August: I LOVE August for this family! I think it’s a great fit for their kids in general, and as a brother to their other boys! I’ve seen others wonder if August is weird for a non-August-born baby, but I think it’s helpful to remember that August has a whole other meaning — it’s an adjective that comes from (according to the dictionary) “the Latin word augustus, meaning ‘consecrated’ or ‘venerable,’” which really ties into the faith and saintly connections (St. Augustine, for one) and is, I assume, why it was used as a name in the first place. That said, I can see how one might think it’s pretentious, since its main dictionary definition includes “marked by majestic dignity or grandeur” and “having a formal and impressive quality,” but I really don’t think that’s what *most* people think when they hear it, as evidenced by the fact that it was given to a fair number of baby boys born in 2020 (ranked no. 155), and the nickname Auggie absolutely brings it into the “easy and friendly” category. I wonder if Sara’s husband would husband find Augustus or Augustine more to his liking?
  • Jasper: I probably would have suggested Jasper to them if it wasn’t already on their list — it’s a great fit with the other kids! That said, I do see what Sara means about the repeating -er ending … I guess I wouldn’t cross it off altogether, but I’m pretty sure there’s a better option for them.
  • Max/Maxwell: I think Maxwell is absolutely in keeping with the other kids’ given names, and Max has a similar feeling to Cali and Evie. I like this option!
  • Julian: Similar to the other names here — I could see it working well!
  • Phoenix: I agree with Sara that it’s a style departure from the other kids’ names, though I, too, appreciate the meaning of “rising from the ashes.” Something interesting that Sara might like is that Phoenix actually means “dark red,” and Rowan is the diminutive of an Irish word meaning “red” (so basically, “little red one”), so Rowan could provide a connection to the Phoenix idea if she wants it to!

Alrighty, on to new ideas! I kept the idea of “names with meaning” (especially the meaning of a baby after loss) in mind when I was doing my usual research, which you’ll see reflected in some of my ideas below. You all know that I always look 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, but I also had some gut-reaction ideas:

(1) Hardy, Garrett

Everett derives from Everard, which means “brave boar,” from the Germanic elements ebur “wild boar” and hard “brave.” (That hard element is also seen in Gerard: ger “spear” plus hard “brave.”) Though of course “boar” doesn’t seem like a meaning anyone would like, “brave” is fantastic, and the element hard is actually where the name Hardy comes from. Hardy is one of my favorites! I think brothers named Landon, Brooks, and Hardy are fantastic together — surname-y and firstname-y at the same time — and I love the more subtle but very real connection to Everett.

If they like this idea, but not Hardy especially, Garrett is derived from Gerard, so would have that same shared hard element with Everett-via-Everard, and I like that it also has the same ending as Everett. Garrett also has that Celtic feel of Rowan, Owen, and can’t-use Finn and Oliver, and also the bit of Country & Western feel that Landon and Brooks can have — very cool!

(2) Malcolm, Ambrose, Royce

I’m listing these three together because they were immediate ideas I had for this family while I was initially reading Sara’s email. Specifically, I wondered if Malcolm nicknamed Mac might be a nice replacement for Maxwell nicknamed Max? Like Garrett, Malcolm has the Celtic feel of Rowan, Owen, Finn, and Oliver, and Mac is just *that much* different from Max that it maybe feels a bit fresher.

I actually can’t remember why Ambrose came to my mind right away! But as I was working on this, I loved discovering that Brody is a style match for Landon, and I’ve seen Brody as a nickname for Ambrose — that could be a cool way to get around the “no repeating initials” rule! I actually really like Brody with Landon and Brooks. But then, I also remembered that Ambrose means “immortal,” which fits right in with the Phoenix idea! I’ve seen Amby used as a nickname for Ambrose, which avoids using another B.

As for Royce, it’s actually a male variant of Rose! Behind the Name says it’s from “a surname that was derived from the medieval given name Royse, a variant of Rose,” and I thought of it when I was reading Sara’s email because of how much she loves the Rose names. Transferring a Rose name to a boy is an unexpected move, but there’s no denying Royce is a masculine name!

(3) Miles

You all know that Miles is one of my favorite names ever! It’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of the Virgin Mary” — a totally Marian name hidden in a totally current boy’s name! Specifically for this family, Miles is a style match for both Owen and Maxwell, which I thought was pretty cool. It is rising in popularity so Sara will want to be sure she’s okay with that, but so far it’s still below her “no top 25” threshold (it was no. 59 in 2020).

(4) Bennett, Austin

I’m including these two together because they’re both medieval forms of names that Sara either likes or have a meaning she would like, and they’re both surname-y and firstname-y like Landon and Brooks. Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict, which means “blessed” — a meaning I thought Sara would really appreciate being worked into her little boy’s name. Unfortunately, it repeats Brooks’ initial, but it seems such a good fit for them (even being a style match for Brooks, Everett, Owen, and Maxwell, and having the same ending as Everett) that I didn’t want to not include it. Maybe they’d like it as a middle name?

Austin is a medieval contracted form of Augustine, and Augustine of course comes from august. I know Austin and August have different feels, but the more I thought about it, the more I like how Landon, Brooks, and Austin sound together.

(5) Fulton

Fulton is totally inspired by the surname+firstname feel of Landon and Brooks and of course Fulton Sheen. I love it in this family! I wrote a post a few years ago offering nickname ideas for it (be sure to read the comments too!).

(6) Grant

Grant is a style match for Brooks, but what really encouraged me to include it here are the faith connections — I’ve suggested it a few times in consultations because of them, like how I said in this one (appropriately titled “Rainbow baby needs a meaningful name,” where the parents hoped to maybe honor the baby they lost to SIDS in their new baby’s name): “One possibility might be in Job 6:8, when he says, “Oh, that I might have my request, and that God would grant what I long for” … Another is the beginning of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”” I’ve also suggested a faith connection can be the part in the Mass where we say, “Grant us peace,” which seems perfect for parents who have suffered loss.

(7) Samuel

Samuel is a match for both Caroline and Evelyn, which I thought could be really cool — Samuel goes great with Landon and Brooks and for it to be a style match for both the girls really loops everyone in together. But beyond that, the story of Hannah in the bible and her fervent prayers for a child — and for Samuel to be the answer to that prayer — can be very meaningful for any woman who has longed for a baby.

(8) John, Henry (John Henry?)

John is one of those ideas that I just had on my own, mostly because of Sara’s idea of considering Everett as a middle name. I think John Everett sounds SO handsome, and I’m loving the idea of Jet(t) as a nickname!

Then I saw that, like Samuel, Henry is a style match for Caroline and Evelyn (as well as Theo and Margaret), so I had to include it! But I was thinking that Sara might prefer a more unexpected name than Henry, so I thought again of John — John Henry is one of the sweetest combos for a little boy, and totally works for a man as well!

Finally, I want to go back to Sara’s love of meanings for a minute, because there are a bunch more names with meanings or connections she might like, so even though they didn’t seem to warrant a place in my list of “official” suggestions, I didn’t want to not mention them, just in case. Because she loves the meaning of Theodore being “gift of God” (Theo alone is the “God” part of that construction) and the connection of Phoenix to “rising from the ashes,” I looked up names meaning/connected to resurrection and Easter, as well as “gift” and “blessed,” and some miscellaneous names showed themselves as well (not all of these feel right [Anastasius] but might spark some inspiration):

Resurrection and Easter (“rising from the ashes”)

  • Anastasius (“resurrection”)
  • Paschal/Pascal (“related to Easter”)

Gift

  • Jesse (possibly meaning “gift”)
  • Matthew et al. (specifically “gift of God” as noted above)

Blessed

  • Asher (I like this one because it has the visual/audial “ash” connection, like “rising from the ashes,” though it actually means “happy, blessed”)
  • Baruch (“blessed”)
  • Benedict (“blessed”)
  • Macarius (“blessed, happy”)

Other

  • Dominic (“of the Lord”) (Jesse Dominic could roughly translate as “gift of the Lord”)
  • Gabriel (some people think of their lost babies as “angel babies,” and Gabriel itself was actually a style match for Julian)
  • Isaac (“he will laugh; he will rejoice”)
  • Kenneth (“born of fire”)

And you might like to take a look at these articles on naming rainbow babies:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother of Landon, Brooks, Caroline/Cali, and Evelyn/Evie?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Pia Maris!

I did a private consultation for Danielle and her husband last spring, and Danielle let me know that they had a beautiful baby girl and gave her the beautiful name … Pia Maris!

Danielle writes,

While we didn’t go with a name from the consultation, the consultation helped refresh the name conversation between my husband and I, giving us a few new directions. We’ve both loved the Marian title Stella Maris for many years. Once it came up in conversation to use Maris rather than Stella, we found ourselves running into Stella Maris in our daily lives and knew it was our Pia’s middle name. Thank you for the inspiration!

Isn’t Pia Maris an absolutely gorgeous name?! So Marian!! I love Maris for Stella Maris, and Pia is also in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady is described as pia in the Salve Regina. And I love love love that the consultation helped move the conversation between Danielle and her husband in the right direction!!

Danielle added,

I’d also like to ask you to please pray for Pia. I had her with me at my six week postpartum appointment, during which she experienced a medical emergency that lead to cpr being done, an ambulance trip, emergency baptism,  and brief hospital stay, but no real explanation. She seems no worse for the wear, but we are all on edge as tests continue.”

In a follow-up email, Danielle said,

We’ve not really gotten answers. She has seen several specialists, had lots of tests, but nothing really points to a reason or cause. They have found a number of things to monitor, but again, none of them would have caused her breathing or heart to stop.”

I told Danielle that you all are great prayer warriors — I know you will cover Pia and her family in prayer!

Congratulations to Danielle and her husband and big sibs Grace, Jackson, Henry, and Dolly (Dolly is for the Marian title Mater Dolorosa!), and happy birthday Baby Pia!!

Pia Maris


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Is@@c Cill!@n!

I discussed names over email a few times in the past with a mama who shared with me that she and her husband have welcomed a little boy! He’s been given the absolutely wonderful name … Is@@c Cill!@n! (Alt characters used for privacy.)

She writes,

I want to thank you for the advice you gave us back in February.* We welcomed Is@@c Cill!@n to the family in mid-July. We are still preparing for his baptism, and haven’t yet finalized a patron saint but he very much fits the name Is@@c. He’s a happy laughing baby all the time

I prayed a lot to St. Gerard (coincidentally one of the names you suggested for a previous pregnancy) to help keep us both safe through the pregnancy and delivery. So we may pick that as his patron saint, but I’m also keeping it in my back pocket for a future baby boy if we are blessed with another.”

Isn’t that so wonderful! I love baby’s first name’s happy meaning!! And while he has two saintly names to inspire a patron Saint, he can of course absolutely have another Saint as patron! The more the merrier!

Congratulations to the happy parents, and happy birthday Baby Is@@c!!

* I just wanted to share the advice this mama thanked me for, in case it’s helpful for any of you. She’d written,

We had originally selected St. Kilian as inspiration for his middle name, and patron. With Is@@c I really preferred the traditional Irish spelling Cill!@n though. But now I’m wondering if baby’s patron saint is still St. Kilian?! How literal does the name need to be to still pull as baby’s patron? These pregnancy hormones are making me question everything …”

And I’d replied,

Your question is a great one, and I’m thrilled to put your mind at ease! I subscribe to the belief that a variant of the name is the same as the name itself, honor-wise. There are so many examples to support this, like how St. Catherine of Siena’s name was actually Caterina — the Italian variant — since she was Italian; Catherine is a French and English variant that the English-speaking world uses, and Katherine can be used for her as well. St. Clare of Assisi was actually the Italian Chiara; Clare is an English spelling and Claire is a French spelling — they all work for her! St. Francis of Assisi is Francesco in Italy and Francisco in Portugal … and one of the Sts. Killian that I found specifically said he’s also known as St. Cillian!

I don’t know which St. Kilian you had chosen as patron — CatholicSaints.info lists two (St. Killian, who is also known by a bunch of other spellings, and St. Kilian of Inishcaltra, which doesn’t have other variants listed) — but either way, Behind the Name lists the K spellings as variants of the original C spelling. So I think you’re totally fine to go with Is@@c Cill!@n with St. Kilian as patron! (You can even [refer to that St. Kilian as] St. Cill!@n, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find an old shrine or church in Ireland with his name spelled that way!).”


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. four needs Marian name that’s consistent with big sibs’ styles

A prayer today, and always, for an end to racism, and a prayer of thanks for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his courage and good work. 🙏🙏🙏

Today’s consultation is another of the five I opened up for January; if you’d like a consultation of your own, Theresa is available to help!

Madison and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Cooper James (“We thought about naming him John Phillip after both of our dads. This choice is so handsome and I still love it! But it’s just not our style. After talking about it for a while we finally narrowed our list down to 3 names: Cooper, Colton, and Duke. I was all for Colton but [my husband’s] eyes lit up when he said Cooper and it made me fall for it as well. Cooper suits him so perfectly! James is my husband’s middle name and my husbands grandpa’s name so it was an obvious choice. Plus we love the flow of Cooper James together! It was shortly after Cooper was born that I had my re-conversion. I scoured the internet for faith connections and was so happy to come across your blog and the connection of the name Cooper to St. Joseph of Cupertino. We call him Coop, Coopy, and Cupertino for fun.”)

Reagan Elyse Mary (“her due date was in May and I immediately knew I wanted a name to honor Mary. The name Reagan stood out to me on every baby name list, but I kept ignoring it because I needed something Marian! But when my husband suggested it I just blurted out yes. After that I searched hard for some sort of connection. I stumbled upon a probably unreliable source that said for little girls the name could be taken to mean “little queen.”* I was sold! (It didn’t take much haha) I then found some amazing history about Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II that further solidified our choice. Elyse is my middle name which I love — it has a sort of cool elegance to it. I didn’t know it at the time but Reagan’s due date was on the Feast of the Visitation so it really was the perfect middle name! Mary wasn’t added until later. About 5 months after Reagan was born I had this crazy urge to add the actual name of Mary to her name. I looked into it and saw that it wouldn’t be too difficult to do. After I got my husband’s permission, I sent the paper work in on October 22 [Reagan’s 5 month birthday and the feast of Pope John Paul II!!] We call her Reags, Reagy Roo, or just Roo.”)

Fulton John (“When I was pregnant with Reagan I remember giving my husband a long list of saints names I liked. He turned down literally all of them. Jokingly, I mentioned Fulton thinking he would think it was an absurd name. I wasn’t super fond of it myself, but I did like the idea of it. To my surprise he told me he liked it, and I realized I would probably have a son named Fulton. It may have taken me 2 years to warm up to it, but I love it now! When I found out I was pregnant I started seeing Fulton Sheen quotes all over Social Media. When I suggested Fulton John [John for hubby’s dad] he said yes immediately. We call him Fults or Fultsie.”)

* [I just have to note that, though Behind the Name disagrees, Baby Names of Ireland says that Regan (Behind the Name says Regan and Reagan are variants of the same) may come from a diminutive of the Irish word for “sovereign, king,” which to me means “little king” or — if used for a girl — “little queen” (not “king’s child” as Baby Names of Ireland suggests. So says this non-liguist! Haha!). So I think the meaning that Madison is using for Reagan is entirely defensible, and even if not, I’ve always felt that intention trumps meaning in almost all cases.]

I LOVE this family’s style! In Madison’s email she noted that she feels like their “taste in names is pretty secular,” but I think they’ve done a fantastic job of working within that, and I think that’s so thrilling! It’s like a stealthy sneak attack, Catholic-style! Such a fantastic way of blending in with the culture and thus bringing the possibility of evangelization in a way that’s easier for the average American to swallow. Nice job! I really love that they were able to connect Cooper to Cupertino, that has always been one of the coolest things I discovered through the blog, I love that! Reagan is one of my FAVORITE ideas for a girl as an unusual Marian idea — I’ve seen it before and always thought it was awesome … in fact, I just looked in my book of Marian names, because I was sure I included it, but I didn’t — why didn’t I?? I love it! And Fulton! Such a perfect fit style-wise with Cooper and Reagan, and so faithy! All so great!!

Madison writes,

I am so early on in my pregnancy that it might seem crazy to do a consultation already, but my husband shot down almost every name on my list so I need some fresh ideas! The due date of our baby is somewhere between September 6 – 14 which is AMAZING because there are so many Marian celebrations within that time as well as the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I would love to give this baby a Marian name.”

Sounds perfect to me!

Some girl names they’ve considered include:

  • Callie (“love that it means ‘Most beautiful.’ I was researching about Our Lady of La Salette and learned the shepherd kids called Mary “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her. Could be a little connection?“)
  • Blair (“I’ve always loved this name and my husbands open to it, but I find it less appealing with no faith connection. It sounds really good as a sister to Reagan though!“)
  • Maren (“[rhymes with Karen] — worried about pronunciation, would majority pronounce it MA-rin? Our last name is already difficult to pronounce. Just not sure that I like it, but I like that it’s Marian, so I want to like it“)
  • Aurora nn Rory (“I love the idea of it and my husband said he was open to it, but it doesn’t seem like us“)
  • Reese (“seems a little masculine to both of us, though I like that I could connect it to the St. Teresa’s!“)
  • Emery (“same as Reese, a little masculine. Though I liked the idea of Emery Catherine called Emery Cate for Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich“)

Madison continues,

Hubby says he likes Emma and Ava but he’s not overly excited about them nor am I, but might help with his style? I prefer names not in the top 50 but am not strict about it if it’s the right name. I think he wants a name that is familiar, that’s why he turned down all my Catholicky Catholic suggestions.”

Boy names on their list include:

  • Phillip (“[after my dad] Paired with a cool middle like Kolbe? Or Phillip Pierce for the pierced heart of Mary? Worried about the nickname Phil since we shorten our kids names a lot! Husband didn’t like the idea of Phillip Neri nn Finn“) 
  • Watson (“my mom’s maiden name. Could be a good way to honor her? We talked about Watson Phillip or Phillip Watson. I don’t think I love Watson though. I want to because it’s a family name and my hubby thinks its cool“)
  • Declan (“I love this name!! Hubby is only ‘open to it’“)
  • Bennett (“I like it but not overly excited about it“)
  • Owen (“My Godfather’s middle name and a name we like. Owen Phillip or Phillip Owen is handsome!“)
  • Duke (“this has been on our list since Cooper but it always gets pushed to the side. One of the English Martyrs was Edmund Duke! Still considering it“)
  • Gannon/Cannon (“We like the sound of these. But I don’t think we’d use either“)
  • Kolbe (“I love the name Kolbe and even though my husband has vetoed me on it a few times now, he does say he likes the name C/Kole. I still see a glimmer of hope with that name so I’m going to keep it on my list“)

Some other family considerations include:

  • Lourdes (“my dad was born on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. My Nana and Great Nana have St. Bernadette as their confirmation saint. I love this as a middle name option for a more girly sounding first name — like Caroline Lourdes or Felicity Lourdes. Hubby is actually open to using this as a middle! But he didn’t like the two combos I just mentioned.”)
  • I’d love to honor my mom but there are names I prefer to hers, which is Sally Michele. Naming a daughter Callie could be fun since it rhymes with her name? She loves the names Felicity and Rosemary, so maybe using one of those as a middle? My husband doesn’t like those ones though :/

Names that they considered but can’t or won’t use for various reasons include:

  • Avila
  • Magdalen/Magdalyn
  • Caroline nn Callie (“for Pope John Paul II“) 
  • Emmeline
  • Isla
  • Ivy
  • Mary Grace
  • Marian
  • Felicity
  • Zelie
  • Rosary (“love it but probably too bold for me any way“)
  • Rowan/Rowen (“I really like this name but can’t decide for boy or girl. Husband doesn’t like it“)
  • Quinn
  • Finley
  • Morgan (“like it but too similar to Reagan“)
  • Greer
  • Perrin
  • Sienna
  • Stella
  • Cana
  • Riley
  • Or any Saint last name that’s a bit unusual like Clairvaux, Vianney, Cabrini etc.
  • Becket 
  • Kolbe 
  • Campion
  • Pierce
  • Cruz
  • August
  • Luke
  • Shepherd
  • Cassian
  • Crispin
  • Bastian
  • Xavier

Finally, Madison notes,

Most importantly: I want a girl to have a Marian connection. I might add Mary or Marie as a third name like I did for Reagan!

I have your book of Marian names and have been scouring it! I think boys will be easier for us to agree on a Marian name — Leo and Maximilian are names my hubby has expressed he was open too as well, though he doesn’t care for nickname Max because that’s his parents’ dogs name. But we are open to moving away from surnames as long as it still feels like it fits. Leo feels like it might not fit and I can’t find a longer version I like. Maximilian nn Leo?? Maybe too much of a stretch ha.

The middle name for a boy will be Phillip unless we use it as the first!

I am sort of inclined to avoid “n” ending names just to help the flow of all the sibling names, but I’m not committing to that because I tend to love names that end in ‘n.’

Okay, first off — I’m sure you all know that I was DYING over the names Madison said they/won’t use! I even said to my husband, “Oh man! Alllll the names I would have suggested for this family are on their can’t/won’t use list!” Quinn and Greer would have been right at the top for me, as well as Finley (I agree about Morgan being too similar to Reagan). But that’s totally fine, because it just makes the challenge extra challenging, which I always love!

So here are my thoughts on the girl names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Callie: As a variant/diminutive of Cal(l)ista, Madison’s right that Callie can mean “most beautiful,” which is such a fantastic meaning for a girl! I didn’t know about the shepherd children calling Our Lady “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her at La Salette, but I love that and yes, I totally agree that Callie can work as a nod to her because of that! In fact, I think Reagan’s and Callie’s connections to Our Lady are at a similar level, which I always find pleasing in a symmetry sense. A couple thoughts I had about Callie are that Calla (like the Calla lily) might feel a bit less nickname-y, if Callie’s nicknaminess was bothersome to Madison or her hubby, and so could work as a given name with Callie as the nickname if they’d like. Calla also comes from the Greek kallistos “most beautiful,” so the meaning is still there. Another is that I’ve seen Salette considered as a given name in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and with Madison’s mom’s name being Sally, I wondered if Salette could work as a nod to her and Our Lady at once? I love the idea of Callie Salette or Calla Salette as a double whammy Marian-wise and also with that possible connection to Madison’s mom. (Also, back to her mom, Sally is a variant of Sarah, which means “princess,” so Madison could possibly think of Reagan as having a connection to her mom that way if she wanted.) (Also, the fact that Madison wondered if Callie, rhyming with Sally, could nod to her mom makes me extra love Callie Salette because of that double-whammy idea.) I also love Callie as a nickname for Caroline, as Madison noted they’d considered in honor of JP2, but I don’t love Caroline with the other kids’ names (you’ll see that this is a theme with me during this consultation — I love that Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton all fit together style-wise really nicely in my opinion, and while I don’t want Madison and her hubby to feel boxed in by that, I would very much love to help them find a name that they love that also fit with their style!)
  • Blair: I’m so interested that Madison has “always loved” this name — that definitely counts for something! The first thing I did was try to find a faith connection for it — it apparently means “plain, field, battlefield,” which is why I suggested it recently as a possible way to honor St. Hildegard of Bingen, because Hildegard means hild “battle” plus gard “enclosure,” so that’s a possibility. Also, pairing a less faithy name with a more faithy middle name often helps a less faithy name to feel more acceptable to parents who are worried about such things, you know? So like Blair Immaculata hits you right in the face with the faith, even though Blair itself doesn’t — anyone who knows the full name and knows anything about Catholicism will *know.* A couple ideas that came to me regarding Blair were that the rhyming Clare, spelled that way, is both St. Clare’s name and also Co. Clare in Ireland — I thought Clare being a place name as well as a Saint’s name might make a good bridge going forward between the names they’ve already chosen (Cooper, Reagan, Fulton) and some of those Madison likes (Emma, Caroline, Mary Grace). And then Clare being a place name made me think of the Irish place name Adare, which is cool on its own; if you spell it Adair, it’s a form of Edgar, which is a Saint’s name. (I did a whole post on Irish place names — definitely read the comments too if you like this idea!)
  • Maren: This is a lovely option! Regarding pronunciation, it is one of those names that people aren’t always sure how to pronounce, but that’s the case with lots of names, so unless it’s one of those things that will drive them crazy forever, I’d encourage them not to worry too much about it — they should just be firm and consistent when correcting people who get it wrong. Saying “rhymes with Karen” is really helpful for them when explaining it to others, and will be helpful for their daughter as she grows up. I’m not surprised Madison’s hubby doesn’t love the double middle name idea — in my experience with my own husband and husbands I learn about through consultations, dads tend to prefer “less fuss” over “more fuss.”
  • Aurora nn Rory: I totally get loving “the idea” of a name, but having a hard time getting totally on board with the name itself. I think what Madison said about it not seeming like “them” is the key — there are a bunch of names on their list that I feel this way about — names that I know Madison likes or her husband likes but that don’t seem to fit the naming style they’ve agreed upon up until now. That said, I think Rory as a given name feels definitely like their style! I wonder if they would consider Rory on its own, for either a boy or a girl? (I actually did a whole post on faith connections for Rory!)
  • Reese: Like Rory, I actually feel like Reese fits their style really well! Though Madison and her hubby think it feels more masculine, Reese Witherspoon makes it very feminine in my opinion — I think Reese is great for a girl, and I agree that it can be a nod to any of the Sts. Therese/Teresa! I remember reading years ago about twin girls named Aurora and Therese and called Rory and Reese, I thought that was just so brilliant.
  • Emery: As with Reese, my impression of Emery is just flipped from Madison’s — though it certainly started as a masculine name (and in fact, it’s a form of Emmerich!), even Behind the Name says it’s “now typically feminine”; the one Emery I know is a little girl. I wonder if using the Emerie spelling would help make it feel a bit girlier for them? I love the idea of Emery/Emerie Catherine for Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich — a double-call-name with Kate/Cate as the second element has always appealed to me, I think it’s so pretty.

I’m also interested that Madison said her husband likes Emma and Ava, because there seems to be huge potential for compromise with Emery and Emmeline from her list with the nickname Emma or Emmy, and also with Avila with the nickname Ava. From what I know from Madison’s email, it seems exactly right how she articulated that she thinks her husband “wants a name that is familiar” and it makes sense that “he turned down all [her] Catholicky Catholic suggestions.” I really think sticking to the kinds of names they’ve already chosen for their older kids will help her hubby feel comfortable with the choice, and Madison has done a terrific job of finding those kinds of names with faith connections, or finding faith connections for those kinds of names.

Just quickly about a name on the list of those Madison likes: Rosary is exactly the kind of middle name that could balance out a more secular-sounding first name! It doesn’t flow so well with Callie, Blair, Rory, Reese, or Emery, but I love Calla Rosary, for example.

For family names, I addressed ideas for Madison’s mom in the Callie point above, and I love the Lourdes connection! I also love the idea of adding Marie like how Madison added Mary to Reagan’s name — that could be a really nice connection between all their girls! And Lourdes-Marie and Marie-Lourdes are common constructions I see, to make the Our Lady of Lourdes connection even stronger. “FirstName Lourdes Marie” is really nice.

Okay, on to the boys!

  • Phillip: I have always loved Philip! Madison’s original idea of John Phillip is one of those names that makes me swoon, even though my taste in names also runs a bit spicier than that — it’s just so handsome. I love that she suggested Phillip Neri nn Finn to her husband — that’s one of my favorite ideas! And of course, pairing it with a fiery middle name like Kolbe or Pierce is absolutely the way I would go if they decided to go with Phillip. That said, I do find it jarring with their other kids’ names — but that never has to be a dealbreaker! They should definitely go with the name they love! But if they wanted to be more consistent style-wise, I would definitely put Phillip in the middle. BUT, I might also like to see them consider using it as the call name! A Kolbe Phillip, for example, would fit right in with their kids on paper, but they can use whatever nickname they want, even if the “nickname” is the actual middle name, or a nickname of the middle name. I’m a big nicknamer, too, and I agree that Phil doesn’t feel right, and Finn is out, but I love Pip and even Flip (I worked with a Philip nn Flip). Maybe they could do a combo nickname from the first+middle, like Kip for Kolbe Phillip or Billy for Bennett Phillip. Or, I just discovered that the surname Phelps means “son of Philip” — I wouldn’t worry about the “son of” part, and what a cool connection to Madison’s dad’s name! Phelps could be a nickname for Phillip, or a given name in his honor. Or, I wonder what they would think of, ahem, *flipping* (haha!) the name from the boy side to the girl? I love Pippa, and I think Pippa could work well with their kids! It’s a diminutive of Philippa, so it’s an obvious way to honor a Phillip in a girl’s name. Pippa Salette would be a really interesting way to name after both Madison’s parents! Or Pippa Felicity or Pippa Rosemary, if she could get hubby on board. And Madison also asked about Fulton and Phillip being too much … I mean, the fact that they have the same beginning sound and they both have an L in the middle and the same number of syllables does make them feel overly similar, but if they went with Phillip as a first name, a one-syllable nickname can help, or a non-F nickname, that kind of thing. The family connection is so great that if they just really wanted to use it, I wouldn’t argue with them!
  • Watson: Oh MAN, I LOVE this! I think it’s a fanTAStic way to honor Madison’s mom! And I love that her husband thinks it’s cool! This is definitely one of my favorites for this family. Maybe learning more about the name will help Madison like it more? It means “son of Wat,” where Wat is a medieval diminutive of Walter. Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek is a favorite of a lot of my readers — he’s got an amazing story. I think Watson is a great middle name for lots of first name options, and as a first name, Wats and Watts are traditional nicknames. Watkins is another variant of Watson, and I could see that being a fun nickname for a Watson. Even Wally is cute and unexpected in a super-old-man way, which I always think is adorable on little boys, and totally do-able I think because of the connection to Walter. Even better, a Watson Phillip would have that double L in Phillip that could make sense of Wally as a nickname. I feel like there’s a good chance that, even if Madison can’t really bring herself to love it, eventually she will grow to love the fact that her son has such a great family name. And Watson is smashing with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton!
  • Declan: Declan is a great name! I love that it has that Irish feel of Reagan and Fulton, which Cooper isn’t far off from because I think Cooper feels British (and is, in fact, an English occupational surname), so even though my preference is for them to stick to names that either are or feel surnamey, I wouldn’t be disappointed with Declan.
  • Bennett: I like Bennett a lot, especially that it’s a form of Benedict but also fits in with their surname style, but since it doesn’t have a family connection, I’m not loving that Madison is “not overly excited about it” — I think we can do better!
  • Owen: I agree that Owen Phillip and Phillip Owen are handsome! And being the sucker for family names that I am, I like having Madison’s dad and her godfather together in the same name. And it even counts as a surname — one of my favorite Saints is St. Nicholas Owen! (Incidentally, Cole can be a diminutive of Nicholas, so something like Cole Owen could be very explicit for St. Nicholas Owen.) I was musing about Madison’s idea of Leo being a nickname for Maximilian (which I don’t think is too much of a stretch, by the way), and wondered what they would think of Leo as a nickname for Philip Owen? There’s the “Li” of Phillip and the O of Owen … maybe? Is that way too crazy? Madison’s hubby probably thinks so, haha! Another thought I had was to switch from Owen to Bowen — that makes it obviously more surnamey, opens up the awesome nickname Bo, and can still be for Madison’s godfather, since Bowen means “son of Owen”!
  • Duke: Like with Blair, the fact that Duke has been on their list from the beginning is so meaningful! I love Duke, and I love that Madison found that Saint connection! In fact, Edmund Duke is making me think of Eamon, which is the Irish form of Edmund … I wonder what they would think of Eamon Duke? It would be the martyr’s actual name, just in Irish, and Eamon is a style match for Declan … He could even go by Duke as his everyday call name!
  • Gannon/Cannon: I think Gannon’s very cool, and I’ve often thought Canon could be a cool Catholicky Catholic name (with that spelling). I’m not sure I love Cannon (and even Canon by sound-association) — “weapon” names are certainly controversial, which any parent who is considering one should be ready to deal with. I loved discovering that Gannon is related to Finn, how cool is that??
  • Kolbe: I’m excited that Madison thinks she might be able to bring her husband around to Kolbe because he likes C/Kole! Kolbe would be very cool for this family, I think.

So when I was trying to come up with new name ideas, I found myself really going far afield from what I would usually suggest, mostly because my suggestions are all on their “no” list! In my suggestions below, I included some results from the research I did in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link), where I looked up names they’ve used and those they like, as the BNW lists boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, but at least as many are based on nothing more than my own gut reaction! I definitely kept in mind that avoiding ends-in-n names is preferable, and that Madison wants a Marian connection (or at the very least, a faith connection), and that she’s open to moving away from the surnamey names if it feels right. I really hope I hit the mark here with at least some of my ideas below!

Girl

(1) Scarlett

I’m going to start with one that I *don’t* think they’ll love … but maybe they will? Scarlett is a style match for both Cooper and Duke, and also Ivy from the list of names they can’t use, which I thought was pretty amazing. I never would have thought of Scarlett! I’ve actually seen Carly used as a nickname for Scarlett, which is so similar to Callie — maybe Madison would like that? I did a spotlight on the name Ruby, and I feel like a lot of the faith associations for Ruby can also be used for Scarlett, plus also the Feast of the Most Precious Blood on July 1 AND the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross during Madison’s due-date week!

(2) Tierney, Kearney

I’m putting Tierney here on the girl’s side because I knew a girl growing up named Tierney, but it’s actually derived from the Old Irish word meaning “lord” — such a great meaning, and can totally work for a boy if they prefer! With that meaning, it reminds me of Dominic/Dominique (“of the Lord”) or Emmanuel/Emmanuela or Christopher/Christina — a great “Jesus” name! But hidden in plain sight, like their other kids!

Kearney rhymes with Tierney, and like Tierney can be masculine or feminine; I’m putting it here on the girl list because when I was looking for Saints whose feast days fall during Sept. 6-14, I found Bl. Elizabeth Kearney, whose feast is Sept. 13 (there’s also a Bl. John Kearney, if they like this idea for a boy). Kearney seemed like a perfect fit for this family!

(3) Gemma

This is a gut-reaction name, brought about because, in thinking about their style being surname-y (but not into unusual surnames like Clairvaux etc.), I thought maybe faith-y *thing* names might be a good direction to go that would feel consistent but open up more ideas. With their British/Irish feel, I thought of Gemma — it means “gem” in Italian and is the name of the Italian St. Gemma, but has amazing usage in England/Ireland/Australia, which gives it that English/Irish feel.

(4) Eliette

Elliott’s a match for Bennett on the boy side, and maybe they’d prefer to consider it for a boy (I do love it for a boy!), but it made me think of Eliette right away — one of the families I worked with has a daughter named Eliette, which was the mom’s grandmother’s name, and is derived from Elijah, just like Elliott. As you know from my book, the Elijah names can be considered Marian because of the awesome connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so I thought that was cool; I also thought this very feminine spelling of an otherwise masculine-sounding name could be one of those “bridge name” ideas between what they’ve already done with their older kids’ names and how Madison might like to branch out going forward. I was thinking particularly of Eliette Catherine nn Ellie Cate — I thought maybe her husband would like that?

(5) Maeve

Madison had mentioned in another email that she kind of likes the nickname Mav, so Maeve was mostly inspired by that. Of course it’s an Irish name, and I also put it in my book of Marian names, so it checks that box as well. I really like the repeating sounds in Reagan and Maeve — beautiful, Marian (in an unexpected way), Irish sister names!

(6) Maisie

Josie, Molly, and Maggie are style matches for Callie; Lacey for Blair; Daisy for Duke; Lucy for Emma and Leo; and Maisie for Rory — they all have a similar sound and feel, and of them, I like Maisie the best for this family. It’s a Celtic (Irish/Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, which provides a fantastic patron.

(7) Talbot

Lindsay from My Child I love You introduced me to this name — she considered it for a first name for one of her girls, but ended up using it in the middle for her daughter Lourdes Marie Talbot. It’s for Bl. Matt Talbot, who was Irish (!) and had a devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes (!!) — how cool is that?! Read about it in this post. The nickname Tally/Tallie is awesome, and so similar to Madison’s beloved Callie; if they spell it Tally it mirrors her mom’s name really nicely. Another really cool thing, in addition to it being a nice nod to Bl. Matt Talbot, is that there’s a Bl. John Talbot whose feast day is Sept. 8!

Boy

(1) Miles

Since Madison said she has my book and has been scouring it, and she’s clearly familiar with the blog, then she must have come across Miles and decided against it. But let me make an argument for it! First off, it’s a style match for Bennett, Owen, and Ivy; secondly, it (as well as the spelling Myles) has a history of usage as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a totally, legitimately Marian name for a boy! Thirdly, I’ve suggested it as a possible nickname idea for Maximilian, which would get away from Madison’s in-laws’ dog’s name Max and/or could claim St. Maximilian as a patron even if they go with the given name Miles instead of the given name Maximilian with Miles as a nickname; fourthly, I’ve suggested it as a nickname idea for Michael, being that it can be thought of as sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And with Madison’s mom’s middle name being Michele, Michael or a name related to it could be a nod to her! There are so many reasons to love the name Miles! I think it goes amazingly well with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton, and I love that it has a different ending than all of them.

(2) Garrett

Garrett is a gut-reaction idea — I was inspired by both Gannon and Bennett on their list, and also the fact that it’s an English surname that’s also categorized as “Celtic” in the BNW, and it derives from Gerard, which gives it a great saintly connection. I’m loving Garrett for this family!

(3) Kells

Kells is so much like Madison’s Callie, but is actually a surname like their older kids, and also the name of that beautifully illuminated manuscript containing the gospels at Trinity College in Dublin: The Book of Kells. I think Kells is so cool, and like Tierney and Kearney is really a unisex idea, so if they like it better for a girl, that could totally work, too.

(4) Finnian

I admit I had a hard time coming up with ideas for a boy for this family, so I do feel like I included ideas here that probably wouldn’t have passed muster if I had more ideas. Finnian is one — I love it, and I think it would be great in their family, and I was specifically inspired to include it here because St. Finnian of Moville’s feast day is Sept. 10. I do, however, realize that it’s maybe overly similar to Finley, which Madison said they can’t use, and it ends in -n, which isn’t ideal. But maybe they’ll like it anyway? Or, maybe this St. Finnian will provide them with the perfect patron for a little Gannon, since they’re related?

(5) Lolek

My last idea is a departure in that it’s not a surname, and it’s not English or Irish/Celtic. But it does have a different ending than their other kids’ names, and it is specifically Catholic and Marian, since it’s the nickname that St. John Paul II went by during his growing up (it’s a diminutive of Karol, which is the Polish for Charles/Carl/Karl). I just love the idea of Lolek! Because it was JP2’s childhood nickname, it feels sweet and affectionate. It’s sort of similar in sound and/or rhythm to Leo, Luke, Colton, Cole, and Kolbe, so I can see Madison and her hubby liking it from that perspective. Here’s a little guy named Lolek, if you want to see it in real life (his mom said it feels like an “underground code name,” which I thought was so fun!).

I’m sorry my boy ideas are so sparse! I feel like Madison might have good luck going through the names of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales as well as the Irish Martyrs to check out their surnames — I’m sure there’s a lot of good inspiration there! (I don’t think those lists are totally comprehensive, but definitely provide a lot of possibilities.)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Fun Friday Question: “Unmistakably Catholic,” except … not?

Happy Friday everyone! A question for you all today: Do you know or have you ever encountered someone with what you consider to be an Unmistakably Catholic name, but the person isn’t Catholic? I don’t mean someone who has Catholic parents and/or was raised Catholic and has fallen away, nor do I mean someone with a name that is *both* super Catholic and also something else (like Fatima), nor do I mean someone with a name that *is* very Catholic but has also become very mainstream and borne by people with lots of different backgrounds (like Joseph), I’m thinking more like a non-and-never-have-been-Catholic named Regina or Pius.

If so, what name was it? Were you able to ask about it? Do you know the person’s siblings’ names? Any other info about this kind of naming situation? What characteristics do Unmistakably Catholic names have that you think might be appealing to non-Catholics?

Have a great weekend!!


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Benedict Jozef!

I did a private consultation for Taryn and her husband last summer, and she sent me a beautiful birth announcement email during the months that I was on hiatus — I’m happy to post it now, better late than never! They happily welcomed their second baby boy, to whom they gave the fantastic name … Benedict Jozef!

Taryn writes,

Kate!! Our precious blessing is here!!! Introducing Benedict Jozef! 

You’ll have to tell me if I’m interpreting the meanings correctly!! Our two sons

1. Dominic: “belonging to God”; Giovanni: “God is gracious.” Interpretation: “belonging to our gracious God” Verse: ““Consecrate every firstborn male to me” Exodus 13:2 (I didn’t think of this verse at the time of his naming, but it totally fits the meaning I think!)

2. Benedict: “blessed”; Jozef: “God shall add (another son).” Interpretation: “God shall add another blessed son” Verse: too many blessing verses to choose from! But I do remember this one jumping out to me at mass on July 11th as we waited for baby: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” Ephesians 1:3

One of the last images that I saw in labor before leaving our house was the image of JP2 and I felt something STRONG, like a powerful intercession and a lifting of hope that I could do it (this labor was very scary and intense; 2 hours of active work). I continued to pray for his help during our fast and furious labor along with the intercession of St. Joseph. Then, once gazing upon baby, we decided that he looked much more Polish/Czech than our first son (who had a full head of black hair!), so “Jozef“ stood out to us! Both in honor of Karol Jozef a.k.a. Pope Saint John Paul II and the year of St. Joseph! 

Benedict still won us over for his first name although I’m really struggling to settle on his nickname because it still feels a big too big of a name for such a tiny guy!! Again, for family ties on both sides: “Bennett” for Grandma Bette and “Benson” for Grandma Jean

And of course, awesome Marian connections abound in both Benedict and Jozef! 

God bless you and yours! We feel so “blessed” to welcome “another son”!!! Eternally grateful for your help in naming our babies. 🙂 “

Isn’t that all just so beautiful?? Dominic Giovanni and Benedict Jozef are amazing brother names!! I love the layers of meaning — so much faith significance! I love that Benedict is a nod to both grandmothers, that is just fantastic. And of course, I love the Marian connections!

Congratulations to Taryn and her husband and big brother Dominic, and happy birthday Baby Benedict!!

Benedict Jozef with his big brother and one of his namesakes

(The “Karol Jozef” image of St. John Paul II is from the January Jane Shop — she’s got cool things!)


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!