Baby name consultation: Eloise, Penelope, or … ?

This is the first of the five consultations I opened up for January — this baby is coming any day! Rebecca and her hubby are expecting their first girl after four boys! Big brothers are:

Henry Blake 

Theodore Jude (“we call him Theo“)

Everett Scott

Oliver Ambrose

I love these! Such a fantastic bunch of names — all so handsome!

Rebecca writes,

With each of our boys we tried to have a way to honor our family either in the first name or the middle name. We also tried to have either the first name or the middle name be Catholic/biblical/a saint name. The only name that didn’t fit it was our third son Everett Scott, which is my cousin’s name and my husband’s middle name.

We have had a girl name picked out with each of our boys just in case. However, now that we are pregnant with our first girl I don’t seem to want to use any of those names. Some of the names that we had picked before are: Amelia Eloise, Lucia Eloise, Vivienne Simone, Violet Eloise

The day I took a pregnancy test and found out it was positive I immediately looked up the due date which turned out to be January 21. I looked up the Saints feast days and it turned out to be the feast day of Saint Agnes who is the patron saint of girls

Prior to finding out and that I was pregnant … I swore if I would have a girl I would name her Eloise. So this whole pregnancy I’ve pretty much been trying to find a middle name that I like with Eloise but I can’t seem to find ‘the one’ … I feel a lot of pressure to find the exact perfect name because I am 41 years old and this is probably going to be my only daughter so I want to find the most perfect name haha!

I totally get that!!

Rebecca continues,

Names that we have considered: Eloise Agnes, Eloise Marie, Eloise Lucia, Eloise Bernadette. My husband isn’t a big fan of Agnes but he said he would be fine if the name was Eloise Agnes Marie. But that feels like quite a mouthful

Names that I would love to use but cannot would be Eloise Therese, Eloise Beatrix, Zelie. My husband doesn’t like Beatrix or Zelie

Names other than Eloise that we like: we have seriously considered Penelope Eloise. My problem is is there doesn’t seem to be a Catholic connection in any way. Other names that we have considered: Opal, Lucy, Marigold, Josephine. My husband does not like Marigold. I adore floral type names and would love to call her Posie, Blossom, little flower as a special ‘between us’ nicknameOne other name that we can’t use is Claire!

There aren’t many family names left that haven’t been used by other people and I’ve been trying to avoid using the same names as other people in my family. Some family names that I have considered is Lorraine but only as a middle name, Anne or Anne Marie (This is my mothers name and she would really like me to use it in some way but ok if I don’t). I’m not set on having a family name this time.

I just feel like if I don’t use Eloise I’m going be sad but at the same time I can’t seem to find the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows. I would love some suggestions that go well with my boys names!

Such a fun “dilemma” to have — naming a girl after so many boys!! I love the names Becca and her hubby have considered for girls in the past, and of course I immediately picked up on the fact that Eloise was part of almost every combo, so my first thought was, “Why not Eloise as a first name?” And then of course the very next thing Becca wrote is that she swore to herself she’d name a girl Eloise! So I definitely think that Eloise as a first name should be at the top of their list. I’m not surprised, though, that they’re having a hard time finding “the one” in terms of a middle name for Eloise — while working on this, I spent a lot of time trying to think of some, and I find Eloise to be an unusual rhythm to work with, so not a lot of names seem to flow quite right. Not that that has to matter at all — they’ll likely find they’re happy with a middle name that has significance, whether it flows exactly right or not.

So I want to start with the idea of Agnes. I love that Becca’s due on St. Agnes’ feast day! She’s a great patron for a little girl! I would encourage Becca and her husband to lean into that, whether their daughter ends up being born on her feast day or not! I wonder if using an Agnes variant might appeal to them? Agnes itself still has an “old lady” feel for a lot of people, but Ines/Inès, Inez, Inessa (like this family’s second little girl), Annis, Agnesa, and Agneta are all variants that have a very different feel than Agnes while still being 100% Agnes.

Back to Agnes itself, I actually quite like how Eloise Agnes sounds — it’s a nice-flowing combo! I’m surprised that Becca’s hubby doesn’t care for Eloise Agnes, but wouldn’t mind Eloise Agnes Marie — in my experience, husbands tend to like “less fussy” rather than “more fussy.” But I love Eloise Agnes Marie as well! And I really like that it loops in Becca’s mom.

Let’s talk about Marie for a minute, and also the fact that another thing that jumped out to me right away is that Becca loves French girl names!! Vivienne, Simone, Bernadette, Therese, Zelie, Josephine, Marie itself, and even Lorraine (the name of a region in France!) and can’t-use Claire are all beautiful French names, so I let my mind wander a bit down the French path and wondered what they’d think of switching Agnes Marie to Marie-Agnes? That is SUCH a French construction, and I think the French girl names come across as so girly and feminine! Marie-Agnes as a first name can take the nickname Maggie, which makes everyday life so easy. If they were open to considering the French spelling/pronunciation of Agnes — Agnès, pronounced like ahn-YES — then Marie-Agnès become even more gorgeous, and I would still use Maggie as a nickname. If Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès feels too much for a first name, and/or they like the Agnès idea but don’t want their daughter to have to deal with it in the first name spot, I think Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès would be an amazing middle for Eloise! It also absolutely without a doubt fits the “Catholic, girly name” theme Becca was hoping for. As for a double middle name being a mouthful, I encourage them not to worry about that — the middle name spot is the place to put all the names, and when one has a girl after so many boys who is likely to be the only girl in the family, it’s very likely one has All The Names to work into her name! I spotlighted writer Rachel Balducci on the blog once, and she did that with her daughter, too — the only girl and youngest baby after five boys; she named her Isabel Anne-marie and noted “her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!

I’m actually also loving the idea right now of Annis Marie — Annis is a form of Agnes, and has Ann in it, so Annis Marie could be a double nod to Becca’s mom while still getting St. Agnes in there! And I’m also thinking of the French diminutive of Marie: Manon. I’ve always loved that! Maybe it could work here? Marie Eloise nicknamed Manon? Marie Agnes nicknamed Manon?

One last thought about Marie — it’s a very traditional thing for a Catholic girl to have Mary as her official/legal first name but go by her middle name. The Marie Eloise idea above made me think that Becca might like to do that too — Marie Eloise called Eloise? I think Marie Eloise is very girly and any name that includes a form of Mary sounds very Catholic to me, especially when it’s in the first name spot like that.

Don’t you love how my mind jumps all over the place?? Haha! Let me back up a minute and share some thoughts I had about names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Amelia: I wonder if the French Amelie (said like AH-muh-lee) would appeal to them? Or maybe the spelling Emilia, which is the way St. John Paul’s mom’s name was spelled?
  • Lucia, Lucy: The fact that Becca mentioned both Lucia and Lucy as names they’ve considered, and the fact that they share a lot of sounds with Eloise, makes me wonder if they might like the idea of Louisa with the nickname Lucy?
  • Vivienne, Violet: Because of their obvious love of V’s with Vivienne, Violet, and of course Everett and Oliver, I wanted to suggest Evangeline or Genevieve … but then I thought, that’s a lot of V’s! And Evangeline is probably too similar to Everett anyway, but I wanted to mention them just in case.
  • Opal, Marigold: Both of these make me think of Margaret — Opal, because it’s a jewel and Margaret means “pearl,” and Marigold because of the similarity between Marigold and Margaret in terms of appearance, sound, rhythm, and the nickname Maggie. There are a lot of Margaret names that Becca might like! Marguerite is the French form, and not only does it mean “pearl,” as the French form of Margaret, but it’s also the French word for the daisy flower! Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret, and with a Margaret name Becca would have her built-in flower connection for using Daisy or even Posie/Blossom/Little Flower as nicknames for her girl. Another form of Margaret that I thought she might like is Margot — it’s also French (am I killing you all yet with all the French ideas?? They just seem so perfect!) and can take all the Margaret associations, since it’s a French short form of Margaret (and can be a nickname for Margaret, if they prefer). One last thing about “pearl” — not only would Becca have a flower connection if they used a form of Margaret, but her girl would also have her very own gem! Pearls could be one of her things!
  • Josephine: I love Josephine anyway, and Posie is one of my favorite nicknames for it, so that was fun to see on the list.

I wanted to discuss Penelope on its own and not as a bullet point in the previous list. Penelope is a great name! I’ve heard from many parents who love it but don’t love that they can’t find a faith connection, but you don’t need to worry about that, because indeed there is! Venerable Ersilia Penelope Frey was declared Venerable in 2015! So Penelope Eloise would work just fine!

On to new ideas! Becca specifically said she wants “the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows” and that goes well with her boys’ names. To that end, I looked up her boys’ names, as well as the names she and her hubby have considered for a girl, in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also consulted the article I wrote a few years ago called Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names (from that list, Becca and her hubs have already considered Bernadette and Marie). Finally, I tried to think of names with a floral connection that I thought they might like. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Fleur, Flora

The very first idea that came to mind was one of the names that actually means “flower”! Any of the sweet flower nicknames could work if they used a name that means flower! Fleur is the French version, and Flora is every other language; they’re both lovely (and Flora is a style match for Opal).

(2) Eleanor

Eleanor is the name that’s the biggest style match for Becca’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like overall! It’s a style match for Henry, Theodore, Oliver, Penelope, and Josephine, and the variant Leonora is a match for Ambrose. It also begins with El-, like Eloise, so I wondered if making a small switch from Eloise to Eleanor would preserve what they like about Eloise while giving them a name that flows easier with other names? Eleanor Amelia, Eleanor Lucia, Eleanor Simone, Eleanor Agnes, Eleanor Marie, Eleanor Agnes Marie … they all have a really lovely rhythm. Nicknames include Elle/Ellie/Ella, Nell, and Nora, which really go well with the big brothers (Nell can also be a nickname for Penelope, and Nora is specifically a style match for Theo). (I discuss Eleanor in depth in this consultation post, which also includes some great, heavy-hitting middle name ideas that Becca might find helpful as well!) (I also recently discovered Bl. Eleanora, in addition to the saintly connection I discussed in the blog post and also below [no. 7].)

(3) Elizabeth nn Lily

The El- of Eloise and Eleanor, as well as Becca’s love of “floral type names,” encouraged me to add Elizabeth to this list. It’s feminine and serious, solid and saintly, and I even included it in my book of Marian names because of how closely tied Elizabeth is to Our Lady via the Visitation. But what I really love about Elizabeth for this family is that Lily is a traditional nickname for it! Not only is Lily a floral name, and not only would using Lily as a nickname for Elizabeth be a little offbeat (despite its traditional usage), which is fun, but Lillian is a style match for Theodore and Lily is so for Oliver. (If they like the idea of Elizabeth but would prefer a different nicknames, there are a zillion and one!) They might also like to consider the French spelling Elisabeth, which is said the same as Elizabeth but I think that S really gives it something different. (Do you know about Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur? I love her!)

(4) Rosalie

Rosalie is a style match for Everett, Eloise, and Vivienne, and I’m also struck by how many sounds it shares with Eloise, making me think Becca might really like this one! It’s also got the nice Rose connection, and Rose, Rosa, and Rosie/Rosey are all great floral nicknames.

(5) Camille, Camellia

Camille is a match for Vivienne and Simone, and Camila for Lucia, so I thought there might be something there. I also love its similarity to the flower name Camellia. The Camille names aren’t obviously Catholic, but there is a Bl. Camila Díez Blanco, Bl. Camilla Gentili, and St. Camillus de Lellis. (There’s also a Bl. Angela Truszkowska, whose birth name was Zofia Kamila Truszkowska. Zofia Kamila! Wow!)

(6) Felicity

Felicity is a style match for Oliver, and it’s included in my article of Unmistakable Catholic Girl Names. I think it’s so feminine and pretty, so I had to include it! Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are such a well-known saintly pair and such great patrons for girls. I spotlighted Felicity, including nickname ideas (one of which is Lily!), here.

(7) Seraphina, Seraphine

This is totally inspired by Becca’s hope for a Catholic girly name. I think Seraphina is just so beautiful, and I included it in my book of Marian names because it “refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who ‘stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court,’ and gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: ‘Our Lady of the Angels’ and ‘Queen of the Angels.’” I like how the French variant Seraphine flows with Eloise!

(7) Archangela

This was inspired both by Seraphina, in that it’s an obvious angel name — and specifically for the archangels, which means three patrons! — but also by Eleanor, because of Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor.

(8) Immaculata

Finally, Immaculata is one of my favorite of the super-obvious-Catholic feminine names, and I LOVE how it sounds with Eloise! Eloise Immaculata! Ohhh my! This is one of my very favorite ideas for Becca’s baby girl.

I also wanted to offer a list of names beyond the obvious (but also including some of the obvious ones) that have floral connections. I used the posts Daring Flower Names and Botanical Girl Names on Appellation Mountain to compile this list (I didn’t include all the ones listed in those articles, so definitely check them out!), and I’ve asterisked the ones that I included in my book of Marian names. I also want to share the quote I found in a book called Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow: “It is thought that at one time all flowers and plants honored Mary, the ‘Flower of Flowers,’ in legend or in name,” which would give a Catholic connection to any floral name (Behind the Name is the site I use for all name meanings if you wanted to look up the less obvious ones below).

  • Anthea
  • Azalea
  • Briallen
  • Calla
  • Carmel*
  • Eden
  • Hazel
  • Iris*
  • Ivy*
  • Jacinta, Jacinthe, Hyacinth
  • Lily, Lillie, Lilia, Lillian, Liliana, Liliane*
  • Linnea
  • Magnolia
  • Primrose*
  • Rosanna*
  • Rosary*
  • Rosemary, Rosemarie*
  • Susanna*

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry, Theodore/Theo, Everett, and Oliver?


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!

23 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Eloise, Penelope, or … ?

  1. How about Ines for Agnes??

    Eloise Ines
    Eloise Inez

    I do think if you love Eloise, you should do it! We had a name or two at the top of our girl list thru all of our boys, but when we finally had a girl I admitted that I’d really wanted a Clara since I was 9… and I’m so glad we used it, instead of the name we thought we should use. (But now we’re having another girl, and the pressure is REAL to find another name that I love as much… but that’s another topic.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Eloise Anne Marie flows well and is a great option to keep their favorite name, honor a grandmother, and also a form of Mary and the name of her mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew a (French Canadian) girl named Marie-Fleur, if that appeals maybe as a middle name. I personally love Flora but can’t use it with my last name, I love that for this family… I think it sounds kind of British in the same way their boys’ names do. You’re right though Kate that Becca leans French with the names she loves and maybe it’s best to lean into that with her daughters name regardless of whether it’s a matching set with brothers’ names!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Agnes is a really nice name that should make a comeback. It’s my 3 year-old’s middle name. Agnes is a great patron saint. She is invoked in the traditional Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.

    I liked seeing all the different forms of the name. It’s always interesting to see how the same name appears in different languages. Speaking of which, Agnes is etymologically connected to agnus, Latin for lamb, which gives it a Christological connection as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh one more thought. I remembered they can’t use Claire, but sounds like they like it? I wonder if they might like another form? My above-mentioned daughter’s first name is Clare. My oldest created -what I think Kate calls a- mash-up nick-name by combining Clare Agnes into Clara. That could officially give them the Claire they like, plus Agnes, and introduce a maybe-different-enough-sounding Clare-form as her nickname.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That was an amazing name-consultation, and so much fun to read. I think you outdid yourself, Sancta Nomina!
    I sympathize with this mama’s delightful dilemma! There are so many beautiful names, it seems impossible to pick just two (or three).
    Eloise would be a darling little sister to Henry, Theodore, Everett and Oliver.
    Perhaps they might also like Elise, Elyse, or Lys.
    Eloise Bernadette
    Bernadette Anne-Marie
    Elise Marie-Agnès
    Lys-Marie Agnès
    Rose-Adele Marie
    Rosemary Agnes
    Rosemary Eloise

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Inessa for St. Agnes!
    Inessa Eloise
    Inessa Marie

    But I’m always on teh camp of using your all-time favorite name!
    So:
    Eloise Felicity
    Eloise Benedicta
    Eloise Mary-Anne
    Eloise Marie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would strongly recommend Eloise Rebecca. I think it’s lovely for a mom’s to pass on her names to her daughter. And I find the flow quite nice. Rebecca has a lot of nice hard sounds that balance Eloise softer ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just love your ideas—especially the French ones 🙂 I have very similar naming style and my son’s name is Henry! I really love the name Agnes and am geeked about the idea of Marie-Agnes/Agnés Also, my name is Elizabeth and I go by Lily—people are surprised at the nickname usually and I just love everything about both of my names!! St. Elizabeth Mary’s cousin is the best patron too!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am totally going to start using the phrase “I am geeked about” — that’s fantastic! It so perfectly articulates the way I feel about so many namey things, haha! I love Lily for Elizabeth!!

      Like

  9. I hope they go with Eloise as the first name! I *love it* but can’t use it on my own kid bc it flows unpleasantly straight into our last name when said aloud.

    Liked by 1 person

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