Baby name consultation: Baby no. 4 needs the perfect boy name (not James!)

Happy last week of April!! I can’t believe May is already almost here — I’m looking forward to consistently warm weather! Enjoy this consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Nicole writes in asking for help naming baby #4. They’re team green bean but they have some girls names they like, so she just needs help finding the perfect boy name!

She writes,

I love so many names but feel like there are so many we can’t use. And I don’t love too much out there names for boys, I’ll put a list below. The middle name will be Peter, we have several to honor in our family. We made the mistake of telling our kids a front runner was James. And now no matter what we say, they only say they want James. This is throwing us way off. I love the name but don’t feel a strong connection to it.”

I actually love James for this family, but more on that in a minute.

Nicole writes,

I would love a name with meaning or around feast days. We have so much family born in May. My son is May 20 and my mom was May 3, my sister May 26 and cousin May 17.”

So maybe a saint name with a May feast day would work for this family?

She also says they love names with good nicknames. If baby is a boy, his middle name will be Peter.

This little baby will join big siblings:

David Edward “Eddie”

Sylvia Jo “Sylvie”

Clara Jeanne

Names they can’t use or don’t like include:

  • Blaise
  • Kolbe
  • Declan
  • Garrett
  • Gregory
  • Any Ben- name

Mama Nicole wanted me to give some thoughts on their girl names Catherine Juliette “Cate” (the frontrunner) and Wilhelmina Jane “Willa.” I think either would fit right in! Wilhelmina is clunky cool and Willa is soft and cute. I like it with their last name, too (begins with W). I also really really love Catherine Juliette “Cate,” though! I think that is such a stunning combination. The only drawback, and it’s minor, is that it repeats Clara’s sound. Maybe that doesn’t bother them. I don’t think it should! It’s just so amazing and fits right in with their other kids. They’ve got two incredible options here, but if I absolutely had to choose between them, I’d use Catherine Juliette first.

Now for some thoughts on boy names they like.

James- This is such a great, classic, strong name. You can’t go wrong with it! James Peter is so handsome, too, and flows so well. I think it’s really telling that the kids love this name so much, too. Nicknames Jim, Jimmy, and Jamie make it super accessible and fun. If they’re really not set on this, maybe they’d like Jacob instead? It’s actually the same name, just from a different language root. Jacob Peter is still really handsome but maybe slightly more unexpected. Nicknames can be Jake, Jack, or Coby. Lots to think about with these names!

Zachary- Another good, classic name. Zachary Peter is strong, too. Something fun with this, instead of calling him Zach, they could call him ZP, pronounced like “Zippy.” Just another option! I like this name for them and think it’s a good representation of their naming style.

Charles- Right in their lane, which is really good. I love brothers Eddie and Charlie, too. Charles Peter is fantastic. Nicknames can include Charlie (in vogue right now), Chuck, and Chucky. I’m partial to Charlie, but there are options.

Alvin- This was not a name I was expecting at all! I think this closes the gap between Eddie and Clara to Sylvia really well. In that regard, I don’t think it’s too out there for them at all. I do wonder if a certain chipmunk wouldn’t be at the forefront of everyone’s minds with this one, though.

Vincent- I love this name so much. I like it with their kids, too. Vin and Vinnie are great nicknames. I love the idea of brothers Edward and Vincent, Eddie and Vinnie.

Jonathan- Good name, but I think they’ve got other, stronger options here.

Luke- I like this name but I think Luke Peter feels a little choppy.

Nathan- Another good name but they have better options. This one also feels a little different than their other kids to me.

Anthony- I like Anthony with their kids but I was thinking about nicknames and the only one is Tony. I love Tony, but it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I also don’t think Tony goes with their other kids and their nicknames. Anthony Peter, though, is fantastic.

Patrick- I feel like this one fits in well with their kids but is slightly more popular or mainstream than the others. I don’t particularly like the alliteration of Patrick Peter, either.

Michael- This feels super common but it’s really not anymore. I like this with their kids. It’s classic, strong, has good nicknames…I feel like this is a can’t miss name. Michael Peter is really nice, too.

On to new suggestions!

1) Theodore/Thaddeus

I find myself suggesting these names together a lot, not only because they share a probable root, but because they’re so similar stylistically. Theodore means “gift of God” and is currently sitting at #23, meaning it’s popular, but with good reason! I love nicknames Theo, Ted, and Teddy. Teddy and Eddie might be too much, though, so I’d probably call this child Theo. Bonus, St. Theodore of Bologna’s feast day is May 5th! Thaddeus can be a form of Theodore or possibly means “heart.” Ranking at #785, it’s much less common. The patron is St. Jude Thaddeus and nicknames Tad and Taddy are super cute. I knew a little Thaddeus who went by Tadpole, too.

2) Frederick

I thought of this name because it has covert Catholic connections. There’s a St. Frederick and Bl. Frederic Ozanam. Meaning “peaceful ruler,” this name is a little more uncommon (#485) but not weird and I think that’s their sweet spot. The only drawback to this name is that nickname Freddy rhymes with Eddie. I’d probably shorten this to Fred. I love Frederick Peter.

3) Raphael

Another in the vein of uncommon but not weird, I love this underused name. I think it bridges the gap between Sylvia and her siblings really nicely. Nicknames include Rafe, Ralph, and Raffie. There are lots of saints to go along with this name including the archangel and St. Raphael Kalinowski. Raphael Peter is so fantastic! Eddie, Sylvie, Clara, and Rafe sound so cool and unexpected but cohesive. I really love this name for them.

4) Louis

This name means “famous battle” and ranks at #260, meaning it’s not trendy or super popular but not uncommon, either. Lou and Louie are nicknames. There are lots of saints to go with this name but Bl. Louis Moreau’s feast day is May 24. Louis Peter reads a little old world, old man to me, but in a cute, modern way. Sylvia Jo reads the same way to me.

5) Timothy

This name means “honoring God” and I love that on a child. Tim and Timmy are the obvious nicknames, which I think pair perfectly with brother Eddie, but unexpected Timo (TEE-moh) brings a little pep and pizzazz to it, matching with sister Sylvie. It’s fairly common at #193, but in a good way. It’s not trendy, just enduring. There are also lots of saints Timothy to go with this name but Sts. Timothy and Martha are celebrated on May 3.

6) Robert

David Edward and their love of Michael made me think of this name. It’s at #80, meaning it’s having a bit of a moment right now but is an enduring classic. Robert Peter is swoon-worthy. This name has tons of nickname potential, too, which I know is important to them. Eddie and Robbie feel like natural brothers to me. There are, again, lots of saints to go with this name, but St. Robert Lawrence’s feast day is May 4.

7) Philip

Finally, Philip. Philip was a style match for Sylvia and I fell in love with it for them. It means “friend of horses” and ranks at #451, meaning it’s uncommon but not weird. Nicknames include Phil, Philly, and Flip (which I LOVE for a little boy!). Philip Peter sounds distinguished and handsome. Edward, Sylvia, Clara, and Philip feel like a natural sibling set, too. Bonus, St. Philip the Apostle is celebrated on May 3. The only drawback I can think of here is the initials PP, but that doesn’t concern me too much, especially since Philip starts with a different sound than Peter.

These are my thoughts! What do you think?


I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

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!

Name changes in Catholic literature?

Hi everyone! Happy Easter!!

Today I’m thinking about characters in stories written by Catholic authors who go through a name change during the story (the characters, not the authors). I’ve got Joy from Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” on my list, but that’s it! I have no other ideas … is it because there are no other characters that fit this description? Anything from Chesterton or Greene or Waugh, or any other authors known to be Catholic? Thanks!!


I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

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: Formal name with nickname or nickname as given name for first baby?

Can you believe this Sunday is Palm Sunday?? Lent is racing to an end, and I’m so looking forward to Easter. Many prayers for you all for a strong Lenten finish, from me and also, I’m sure, from St. Anne! (Be sure to check out my Instagram, as I just shared a special post about our dear St. Anne, patroness of Sancta Nomina.) Please enjoy this consultation by Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Abbey writes in needing help naming their first child. She says,

My husband … likes strong names. He is also of the opinion that they should have a formal name and then a nickname … My mom was of the opinion that your name should be your name. Her name is Sandra, but everyone has always called her Sandy. My sisters’ names are Liz, Marlee and Lexie. Each of us girls have middle names that are named after grandmothers or great-grandmothers.”

Abbey’s husband (Anthony called Tony) likes the names “Duke, Finnigan and Russell (Rusty) for a boy. For girls he likes more whimsical names like Misty or Trish.” Abbey says, “I like more old fashioned names but also like names with meaning or reminds you of someone like a family name.” Her shortlist includes:

  • Irene
  • Bea
  • Tilly
  • Caeli
  • Mary
  • Finnegan
  • Patrick
  • Adam
  • Blaise
  • Cal/Caleb

They would like to include a family name in their child’s name. Abbey writes,

I had a special connection with my great-grandmother. She died when I was in college but we spent a ton of time with her growing up. Her name was Irene Matilda Malli Hlubek. I’ve thought I would use Irene for a girl but I’m not sure what the middle name would be. I was thinking of Irene Malli, as it’s different from Irene Matilda. But I’m looking for boy/girl name ideas just in case.”

Tony and Abbey’s parents are grandparents are Perry Arthur, Polly Ann, Dennis Lee, Sandra (Sandy) Meredith, Salvatore Mercurio, Lois Adele, William Charles, Patricia Louise, Karen LeAnn, Meredith Macel, Maurice Kenneth, and Gary Lee.

Names they cannot use include Lily, Mya, Nic, Levi, Cruz, and Reid.

So much great information! I’ll start by giving some thoughts on names they like that don’t quite feel like the one.

Duke- Very dated, very Western, doesn’t have a nickname. This feels more like an informal name you’d call a child with a formal name that doesn’t naturally have a nickname or go to a nickname you like. Unique, though! So I kept that in mind when searching for other names.

Finnegan/Finnigan- They both had this on their lists so I’m inclined to say this is a winner! It’s a little unusual but shortens to the absolutely spectacular and in vogue Finn. Love this name for them a lot. Finnegan Salvatore or Finnegan Lee honor family really well, too.

Russell nn Rusty- Very dated but sweet. I love Rusty as the nickname for this instead of Russ.

Patrick- Classic, cannot go wrong name. It’s strong, it’s sweet, it will never go out of style. It can shorten to Pat or Paddy but I prefer the whole thing! Patrick pairs so well with so many of their family names, too.

Adam- Very classic, underused but not uncommon name. I like this for them a lot, other than that it doesn’t have a natural nickname.

Blaise- Great name, maybe they’d also like the spelling Blaze to get it away from the saint and into an action? Blaze reminds me more of names like Duke and Rusty, too. Only thing is this doesn’t have a natural nickname. This name and Duke gave me an idea below.

Cal/Caleb- Love this. I think this is a great name for them. Very balanced, right in the sweet spot they’re looking for.

Misty- Very dated, never popular, but very fun!

Trish- Interesting that this traditional nickname for Patricia showed up as a like for the husband who tends to like formal names with good nicknames. Dated but interesting!

Irene- Classic, criminally underused, sweet connection to family. I would say that this is a winner in the first or middle spot for them based solely on the family connection. I think that can’t be beat.

Bea- Sweet short form of Beatrice or Beatrix, both great names. I like any of these for them. I think this name combines the formal and nickname necessity with the classic but whimsical qualities. They couldn’t go wrong with this.

Tilly- A traditional nickname for Matilda, which is a family name. I love this. Fun and whimsical, family name, classic and strong, sweet. This is another one that basically checks all of their boxes.

Caeli- A little adventurous! This opens up their style a bit past strong, sweet, and classic but I like it. Caeli Irene is very sweet.

Mary- It doesn’t get more classic and sweet than this. Mary also pairs well with most of their family names, too. I think this is a great name for them. It doesn’t have a natural nickname really but they can do things like Mar, Mare, or Mamie or something related to whichever middle name they choose.

On to new suggestions! Let’s start with the boys.

1. Callahan

Meaning “bright-headed,” I thought of this name because Abbey liked Cal as possibly a nickname for Caleb. I thought maybe they might like this longer form, too. It is a surname name and that steers its feel away from classic and more into Southern or preppy vibes, though.

2. Jacob

This classic name can’t be beat. Its popularity shows, as it currently sits at #15, but that just means it’s enduring and classic and people recognize that! I love that this can shorten to the very classic Jake or to the more fun and whimsical Coby. That gives this name options, something I think they both will appreciate. Jacob pairs well with many of their family names, too, to give it some more significance.

3. Elijah

I initially thought of the name Eli, which I think suits them so well, but then thought they might like the longer form Elijah to go along with it. Elijah is currently #4 and Eli is #60, meaning they’re popular, enduring, and right in style now while having that classic, strong feel.

4. Blake

This is the “compromise” name I came up with after seeing Duke and Blaise on their lists. I think this fits both of those vibes perfectly making it feel really them! It’s short, sweet, a little out of the norm (it currently sits at #209, meaning they’re not going to hear it everywhere but everyone will know the name), but classic and strong. Blake Lee, Blake Anthony, Blake Salvatore, and Blake William are all amazing.

5. Benjamin

I love this classic, strong name with nickname potential. Beyond Ben there’s also Benji and Bennett (Bennett began as a short form of Benedict, but I think it could work here, too). Another great thing about Benjamin is that it pairs well with basically any family name they have!

On to girls!

1. Esther

This sweet “old lady” name came to me when they said they love Irene. Meaning “star,” this name is classic, strong, and sweet, and can shorten to Essie or even Star. Alternatively, they may like Stella, too, which is more popular right now (Esther is at #153) and a little more in style. I like Esther for them, though, and they could always call her Stella! Esther Irene is swoon-worthy!

2. Frances

I was trying to think of very classic girl names with lots of nickname potential that were a little off the beaten path and that’s how I came up with Frances. It currently sits at 416 making it clunky cool, which I think is their sweet spot for girls. Nicknames can include Fran, Franny, Fanny, or Frankie! Frances Irene and Frances with just about every name they like or is a family name go really well together. I think this is a can’t miss name for them.

3. Blythe

This came up as a style match for some of the names they like and I thought it was just whimsical enough to include! Meaning “cheerful” this name is out of the top 1000 meaning it’s uncommon and rare but not unheard of! I love this cheery little name for them but it doesn’t have any natural nicknames. That’s the only downside I can find!

4. Charlotte

Now this name is really popular, currently ranking at #4 but I don’t think that should deter them. It’s a classic, sweet name with fun nickname Lottie! Charlotte pairs well with almost all of their family names, too, making it a great name to work with. I love this name for them.

5. Nellie

I felt really drawn to this fun, classic nickname for them but couldn’t decide on a long form I thought they’d like best. Traditionally, Nellie is a nickname for Helen (at #424), Eleanor (at #22), and Ellen (at #804). Nellie can totally be used on its own, too! This name was totally inspired by the name Tilly on their list. Eleanor Irene is swoon-worthy, as is Eleanor and Helen with most names on their list or in their family. I think this hits their sweet spot of classic, strong, and sweet and a little bit fun, whimsical, and unusual.

These are my thoughts. What do you think?


I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

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!