Baby name consultation: Biblical + Catholicky Catholic with maybe a Brit/royal feel?

Teresa and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! She writes,

We have 5 boys at home, a daughter in Heaven and this baby is going to be our first surprise gender. I ‘think’ it is a boy, but either way we are okay with girl names. We have several that we agree on and aren’t even discussing girl names because we will be able to pick one easily.

We have Benjamin Michael, Charles Thomas, Gianna Therese (stillborn), Dominic Paul, John Paul Augustine, and William Joseph. Part of what makes coming up with another boy name difficult is that we have quite a few nephews with Catholic names and I am trying to avoid copying first names at least since I already have done that once. I copied several middle names but am not too worried about that … First names that have been used are Joseph, Paul, Thomas, Isaac, Jude, Luke and Elias.”

I love all of the names Teresa and her hubby have used! Such handsome combos for their boys, and such a beautiful name for their little girl.

I’m a huge fan of bridging styles and trying to make a sibling set really hang together well. Not that all the names have to be the same style, but if there’s a mix of familiar and unexpected, for example, and there are more familiar names than unexpected names, then I like to try to balance it out again by suggesting some unexpected names. Does that make sense?

In this case, I see two what I’m calling Brit/royal names (Charles and William), three heavy hitting Catholicky Catholic names (Gianna, Dominic, and John Paul), and one biblical name (Benjamin). So I really wanted to find some biblical names to suggest that would loop Benjamin in a bit more, while still going nicely with the older kiddos’ names.

You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; it’s so helpful in trying to pin down parents’ style or come up with ideas that are likely to appeal to them. I also look through the book of Marian names I wrote (there are names for both boys and girls), and I also checked out my entries for both Kateri (as a stand-in for Gianna, since the BNW entry for Gianna only lists super Italian names as style matches, while Kateri has the Catholicky Catholic feel of Gianna) and John Paul (since it doesn’t have its own BNW entry) in the Sibling Project I started on the blog. Based on all that, this is what I came up with:

(1) Gabriel
This is my favorite idea for this family, and one I’d scribbled down in my notes before even starting my research. As mentioned, I was really using Benjamin as my main source of inspiration, and Gabriel is such a great brother name, both because it’s biblical (he’s mentioned in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel, so that’s an extra nice tie-in with Benjamin), and because its nickname Gabe is just as friendly and easygoing as Ben. In fact, I’ve seen several Benjamin-Gabriel/Ben-Gabe brother sets in real life. Beyond that, though, Gabriel is a style match for Dominic, John Paul, and Gianna as well, and is an entry in my book of Marian names! Finally, not to leave Charles and William out, I’ve often referred to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of how well and easily Gabriel fits with the Irish/British Isles feel. I really love it for this baby!

(2) Samuel
Second only to Gabriel is Samuel — I like it almost as much as Gabriel for Teresa and her hubs! I love that it’s an Old Testament name, like Benjamin, and it has that great friendly nickname Sam, like Ben. I think it can also have a serious, bookish feel — especially as the full Samuel — that fits nicely with Charles, Dominic, and William. And it certainly isn’t out of place with John Paul. Samuel/Sam is a great name.

(3) Peter, Philip
For my last idea, I really wanted to bring a little more of Charles and William into it, without losing Benjamin or the super-Catholic names. I initially thought Peter was the perfect name for this purpose — it’s biblical, it’s Catholic and papal, and it can easily have a Brit/royal feel. And I still do think it’s a great idea! But then, just as I was about to be done gathering ideas, Philip caught my eye, and I couldn’t shake it. So I thought I’d include them together! I think Philip has even more of the Brit/royal feel, while still being biblical. And St. Philip Neri is a great patron!

And those are my ideas for this babe! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Benjamin, Charles, Gianna, Dominic, John Paul, and William?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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Spotlight on: Agatha

One of you readers asked me to spotlight Agatha, specifically nicknames for it. You know that nicknames are my jam! And I’ve seen Agatha being considered and used more and more, so I’m sure that one reader wasn’t the only one who has wondered about this.

So! St. Agatha is a great saint! She (St. Agatha of Sicily, to be precise) was a martyr who’s listed in the Canon of the Mass, and has a brave but terrible story, as martyrdom stories tend to go. (I will never understand why some people think women are weak.) (I know the terrible martyrdom stories put some people off of naming after those saints — fortunately, there are a bunch of other holy Agathas! And some other really interesting historical Agathas, which Abby from Appellation Mountain discusses in her post on the name.)

Many people think of it as an old name, and it’s not just their perception:

agatha
Screenshot from the Baby Name Wizard’s NameVoyager tool 

Here’s a different version of the same info:

agatha2
Screenshot from the SSA’s Popularity of a Name tool

It was never very popular — it peaked at no. 392 in 1913, and fell out of the top 1000 altogether in 1945. 1945! That’s why it feels like an old name — it has a “stuck in the early part of the 1900s” feel because it was exponentially more popular then than has been since.

But! It never totally disappeared, and is coming back a little bit! Here’s how it’s looked since 2000:

2018: 102 girls named Agatha
2017: 95
2016: 77
2015: 87
2014: 71
2013: 62
2012: 44
2011: 51
2010: 49
2009: 36
2008: 38
2007: 47
2006: 50
2005: 53
2004: 24
2003: 38
2002: 25
2001: 23
2000: 28

Since 2013, it’s been on an upswing! Which is good for those who don’t like names that have an outdated feel, but it’s still got rare enough usage that those who prefer uncommon names won’t be disappointed either.

So how about those nicknames? Aggie is the obvious — it’s adorable, with the same sounds as the super popular Maggie, but the lack of that initial M makes a big difference. And I think a lot of people who might consider Agatha would be thrilled to have such a sweet, spunky nickname for their girl to use on an everyday basis. However, the mama who asked for the Agatha spotlight specifically said that Aggie is a no-go for her because the Texas A&M association is “way too strong”! I do know some people who love that association and consider Aggie because of it (alumni maybe?), but for others, especially those from Texas, I can see Aggie being problematic.

One of the nickname ideas I found in my research that I thought had promise is Gatha. Maybe? I also saw Agatine — I thought that could be cute — nicknames/diminutives aren’t necessary shorter, after all (e.g., John/Jack, Thomas/Tommy, Mary/Molly, Ann/Nancy). And I could see Agatine becoming something like Tina as time goes on, and then people would be like, “Why does your sister Agatha go by Tina?” and you can send them this post. 😂

There was actually a thread on Nameberry with this exact dilemma (Texan family who likes Agatha but doesn’t like the A&M association), and some of the suggestions were brilliant:

I have considered Hattie or the even rarer, cuter Hatsy! I think it works cuz you have the name ending in “ha” and you sort of just transmute the t and there you go!

Hattie and Hatsy are cuuuute! Others that commenters listed included

Ace
Aga, Ags
Ath, Atha
Gats, Gatsby
Gatta, Gattie
Gigi
Hatha
Tag, Tags, Taggy

I think Taggy’s brilliant — it’s an old nickname for Agnes, I totally should have thought of that!

What do you all think of Agatha? Would you consider naming a daughter Agatha, or have you? What nickname would you use, if any? Do you know any Agathas in real life? Do they go by a nickname? Happy Friday!!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Fun post at Design Mom

One of you dear readers emailed me the link to yesterday’s post on Design Mom, which was so fun! I know you’ll love reading the post itself, as well as the comments — so many fun stories!: What Were You Almost Named As A Baby? (For more fun, similar stories, see my recent post on this same topic!) (Also, I actually posted about Design Mom a few years ago, and just re-read the post — it made me laugh! Also, gorrrgeous 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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Brother for Twiggs!

I posted a consultation for Lily and her hubs for their first baby a few years ago, and then posted the birth announcement for their baby girl, who was given a name full of meaning for Lily’s family (especially Lily’s dad, for whom his granddaughter is named). I’m delighted that they’re back again for Baby no. 2, a boy!

Lily writes,

My husband is a Jr. and he is wanting to possibly make this little guy a III … [But] I don’t think Jeffery Lee goes with Twiggs! Twiggs is a pretty hard name to top! And man does she fit her name!

[W]e would possibly like to use his same initials. Also we would be good with using his grandfathers name Leland Boyd as middle name options or Lee.

I would like a name that goes with Twiggs. I also like names that sound more like last names and not common. I really like Whitt, Tate, Miller, Carter. My number one name is Whitt … I really like Whitt Leland or Whitt Boyd.

My husband wasn’t too sure about names he likes he said other than a name like his he wasn’t sure. So is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?!?

I thought that last question — “Is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?” — was perfect! It perfectly articulated the naming dilemma!

Lily provided a fuller list of names she likes:

Whitt
Sutton
Myers
Tate
Harris
Mack
Fitch
Finley
Asher
Jasper
Jensen
Johnson
Carter
Colt
Porter
Brick
Miller
Ward
Reade

As well as names they can’t use:

Josh (ua)
Joseph
Jefferson
Jacob
Jack
Jackson
Luke
Vincent
Robert
Henry
Owen
Andrew
Ross
William
Johnathan

This was definitely a challenge! Seeing that they’ve already named one child, normally I’d want to stick with names that are similar to it, but Twiggs isn’t an easy name to find style matches for, mostly because it’s a family name and one that was important to Lily, rather than necessarily being a “style” that they like. That said, though, it is clear that Lily prefers surnamey names! Whitt is very cool, and I also like both Whitt Leland and Whitt Boyd.

In trying to figure out what Lily’s hubby’s style is, just based on the fact that he’d like to consider Jeffery Lee III and isn’t sure what other names he likes other than “a name like his,” my sense is that he likes traditional boy names, preferably with a family tie. So I really wanted to try to find names that they would both like — “common ground between Whitt and Jeffery.”

One tactic would be to do something similar to what they did with Twiggs, whose given name is Lucy Twiggs — call their little boy by a name different from his given first name. They could have him go by his middle name, like Twiggs — maybe something like Jeffery Whitt would satisfy Lily’s husband’s desire to have his son named after him, while giving Lily an everyday call name that she loves. Lucy Twiggs and Jeffery Whitt sounds pretty great to my ear.

Another way to call him by a different name than his given name is with a nickname that he could go exclusively by. There are a few that are traditional for boys that are the Third, which might work nicely: Trip, Tripper, Trey, and Trace all have usage as nicknames that nod to the fact that the boy is a Third. I have a cousin who is a Third who has always and only gone by Trey; my sister had a classmate who is a Third and has always and only gone by Tripper. Trip and Trace are also great. So then Lily’s hubby could be happy with Jeffery Lee III on the birth certificate, and Lily could be happy with calling him Tripper all the time (or whichever she likes the best). Twiggs and Tripper/Twiggs and Trey/Twiggs and Trace/Twigs and Trip all sound great!

I like that they’re open to using Hubby’s initials, and I definitely looked for J names while I was doing my research because of it! I like the ones on Lily’s list — Jasper, Jensen, Johnson. I love the idea of Leland or Lee as the middle name, very meaningful for her husband!

Moving away from using Hubby’s actual name/initials, maybe he’d be happy with names from his family tree? Lily mentioned Boyd, and a good friend of mine recently named her son Boyd, so I wondered if that might appeal to the both of them, in honor of Lily’s hubby’s grandfather? Boyd Jeffery maybe? Boyd Lee?

From the list of names Lily likes, I thought names that have traditional usage as first names, rather than mostly last names, would be a good middle ground between her style and her hubby’s. Those include Mack, Asher, Jasper, Carter, and Colt. Does he dislike those?

I was bummed to see Jefferson on their “no” list! That’s definitely one I would have suggested!

I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this family, looking up names that are similar in style to Lucy and Jeffery, as well as any of the names on Lily’s list that I could find in the book: Tate, Carter, Asher, Jasper, Porter, Reid (in place of Reade), Lee, and Leland. I also looked through a book I have called A Dictionary of English Surnames, which has some really cool ideas, as well as the listing of English Martyrs, as their last names seemed like a good place to find meaningful names they might like. And of course, I looked through my book of Marian names. My goal was to find names that appealed somehow, whether they were as first names, middle names, or ways to get to nicknames. This is what I came up with:

(1) Leo
I’ll start with one that I don’t *think* Lily will love, but maybe she will? Leo is a style match for Lucy, and it’s a big name in my own family, and all the Leos go by Lee. So I thought maybe Leo nicknamed Lee would be a nice nod to her husband while still giving their son his own first name. Leo Jeffery maybe, as a way of sort of reversing Hubby’s name? Or Leo Boyd?

(2) Caleb
Caleb is actually a style match for both Carter and Asher, which made me think it might be a great compromise name for them. The nickname Cal seems like it might be the kind of nickname Lily’s husband could get on board with. It’s a great name for a boy.

(3) Everett
Everett isn’t a surname as far as I know, but I’ve always thought it has a surname feel. Such a handsome name! It’s a style match for Jasper.

(4) Bennett
Moving more toward Lily’s preferred style, I thought maybe surnamey names with “normal” nicknames could be another compromise. Bennett has long usage as a last name (as well as a first name), while Ben is a solid first name/nickname. Bennett is a match for Cooper and Reid.

(5) Evans
This is another idea of surnamey names with a first name feel — Evan is a first name, of course, but even just adding an S on the end makes it a last name and gives it an unexpected twist.

(6) Cort
This is one that caught my eye from the list of English Martyrs — Venerable Thomas Cort, a Franciscan — and it reminded me of some of the shorter names Lily likes, like Whitt, Tate, Mack, Colt, Ward, and Reade.

(7) Leeson
Leeson is actually an entry in the book of Marian names that I wrote — I’d discovered it in that book of English surnames and loved that it’s derived from the Latin Laetitia, which means “joy,” by way of the common medieval female variant of it, Lettice, and its short form, Lece; they all connect to Our Lady through her title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (“Cause of Our Joy”). For Lily, I particularly love that it’s a surname that has her hubby’s middle name right in it!

(7) Jebb, Jebson
Jebb and Jebson were listed in the book of English surnames, and were both said to have derived from Gepp, which derived from Geoffrey, which is where Jeffery comes from. So in that sense, Jebb and Jebson can be for her husband in the same way as Jefferson, but in a different way. Very cool!

I also looked through the surname book for more J names, in case they decide they want to stick with Hubby’s initials. I thought these might be appealing to them:

Jacoby (I know Lily said Jacob was on their No list, but maybe Jacoby would be ok? It’s derived from Jacob/James)
Judd, Judson (derived from Jordan)
Jerred (derived from Gerard or Gerald)
Jessop (derived from Joseph)
Jones (derived from John)
Jory (derived from George)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What other name(s) would you suggest for Twiggs’ little brother?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Name announcement: Your new favorite TV character!

I posted a consultation last month for screenwriter/actress Kathleen Jones — she was looking for help naming the main character in the show she’s writing, which she describes as “the first Catholic scripted comedy,” “a Parks and Rec style comedy about a failing Catholic parish and the laypeople that try to bring it back to life”!

Your new favorite TV show is called FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (follow it on Instagram and Twitter!) and Kathleen’s made her decision about the name of its main character! She writes,

I picked Tess!! Mother Teresa has always been a patron of mine (she was my confirmation saint, and my confirmation name is Teresa). I love her quote, ‘Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are.’ And where I am is a writer and actress in the arts! Something about the name Tess feels friendly, comedic and bright. And I think it matches well with her sister Molly. Thank you so much for your help, Kate!!

TESS!! I’m so excited!! Tess was my number one favorite suggestion for her!!💃💃💃

I also LOVE the connection to Mother Teresa!! Not only does it have personal significance for Kathleen, which is awesome, but Tess is just back from a trip to India in the pilot and there’s even a reference made to Mother Teresa, which gives it a really nice tie-in. And secondarily — but very cool — today is the feast of St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and Tess’ last name is Benny — Tess Benny! Teresa Benedicta! The Communion of Saints is everywhere! 😂🥰

Kathleen is going to be on Jen Fulwiler’s show on Sirius XM (Channel 129) on August 15 (feast of the Assumption!) at 2:00 talking about this awesome project!

kathleen&jen

I know you’re all excited as I am about this great show (I read the pilot, it’s hilarious!), and it’s SO FUN that we all were able to weigh in with our ideas for the main character!

Don’t forget to follow Kathleen on Instagram and Twitter for updates on FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Spotlight on: Cosima

A reader asked for a spotlight on Cosima, what a cool name! This was extra fun to work on because I didn’t really know anything about it until starting to do the research — how neat to discover it’s a feminine form of Cosmas! Like the twin saints, Cosmas and Damian!

In fact, let’s talk about Cosmas for a sec — I love that it’s a Catholicky Catholic name (in the Canon of the Mass, even!), and I love that it’s tailor-made for a twin (along with Cosmas’ actual twin, Damian — this mama did an awesome job incorporating both saints into her twin boys’ names! — and also Thomas, which means “twin”). I even love that Cosmo is one of its variants — who knew that Kramer has such a saintly name?? 😀

But of all the Cosmas variants — Kosmas, Cosmo, Kuzman, Cosimo, Côme, Cosma, Cosme, Cosmin, Kuzma — there’s only one feminine variant, isn’t that interesting?

Cosima is an Italian name, but I don’t think it comes across as overly Italian, do you? I mean, I think a family with no Italian heritage could consider it without raising eyebrows, do you agree? (Not that I think eyebrow-raising names are a bad thing!) In fact, Nameberry says it’s “the kind of elegant and exotic name the British upper classes love to use for their daughters” and that it’s “well used in Germany, Italy and Greece.”

Behind the Name says its pronunciation is KAW-zee-ma, but commenters said they’ve heard KO-zi-muh, KO-see-ma, ka-see-MAH, and cho-SEE-ma — if you’ve heard it in real life, what pronunciation(s) have you heard?

Based on those pronunciations, I can see Cosi (cozy), Cosi (kaw-zee), and Sima being doable as nicknames — can you think of others?

There are a few celebrity babies named Cosima, including the daughters of chef Nigella Lawson and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, as well as the daughter of supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who deserves a special shout-out because of the whole sibling set: Cosima Violet, Clementine de Vere, and Caspar Matthew. Ohhhhh my! ❤ ❤ ❤

I also saw several references to Cosima as a character’s name on the show Orphan Black, which I’m not familiar with, and the daughter of composer Franz Liszt; that Cosima was also the wife of composer Richard Wagner. I didn’t find any saints named Cosima, however.

What do you all think of Cosima? Would you consider it for a daughter? Do you know any Cosimas, and if so, do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Boy names needed for baby due today!!

A mama emailed me for help with naming her baby due today!! She writes,

My husband and I took about 2 days naming our daughter in the hospital and so we are hoping to be a little more prepared this time around. We ended up loving her name, Madeleine Virginia. Madeleine = we thought was pretty and I liked the French sound of it and I read somewhere that in French it relates to Mary Magdalene and my grandmother later told me my daughter’s patron saint is St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, of which 2 of my grandmother’s cousins were nuns. Which is interesting too because we liked Sophie and Sophia as a name for her as well but were worried they were too trendy at the time. We liked Virginia after my grandmother and I liked the reference to the Virgin Mary. I think it also flows nicely. We have never been big on nicknames so we still call her Madeleine. We didn’t really think of or mutually like any boy names so it was a good thing she was a girl!

Isn’t Madeleine Virginia gorgeous??

We do not know the gender of this baby either. My husband is not Catholic but has been very supportive of raising our children Catholic and has been interested in learning more about the faith and I would really like the baby’s name to have a reference to the faith. I have always liked more traditional names for boys but my husband having a very traditional name himself would like something a little different (but not TOO different!). He likes more hipster-ish names (like Hudson) … I am getting a little more on board with something being a bit different if it has staying power through the ages (i.e. Madeleine is a classic name but still not too common) … [We] also have lots of cousins so many of the traditional names are already taken (but maybe that shouldn’t matter?), so I’m thinking maybe something a little different could be good after all.

I’ve always loved the name Michael … [and] I really liked the name Dominic. I liked the Italian due to my Italian maiden name, but my brother just had a son and named him Dominic Michael so that’s out. I also don’t know how Italian sounding we want to get as my kids will all probably be so fair 🙂

At one point we kind of liked the name Brogan for a boy, after the Irish saint as that’s where I found the name. There is not a lot of history but I do like that it has a religious tie and that it’s different. But I was reading about it and some people say it’s a girls name? It seems masculine to me and I like names that are pretty gender specific and when I did a search I found some weird urban slang which may or may not be a thing because I had never heard of it. Also my husband knew someone with that last name so he’s not totally sold.

We also liked Brody when we were thinking of names but I don’t think there is anything religious there and I think it means mud which seems like a terrible meaning but the name sounds cute.

My husband likes the name Brooks and I want to like it because he does but I can’t seem to come fully on board (maybe because it’s one syllable or seems trendy, I have no idea) but also because I don’t think it has any religious meaning. I’ve considered Becket which was cute and has religious ties to St Thomas Becket but I’m still not totally in love with it. Brayden seems kinda cute too but again no religious ties that I know of. What are your thoughts on non-catholic first names, do you just find a strong Catholic middle name? Are there any loose ties to these names and the religion I could be missing? Also, we keep leaning towards B names for boys. I’m not sure why that is because that’s not a requirement at all, but it seems to be what we have been drawn to for some reason.

My husband started looking at Saint names and also liked Blaise. I knew someone growing up who’s dog was named Blaze so I need to get over that but I keep thinking of that dog and maybe again I’m not digging the one syllable which seems so picky of me! BUT I do like that it is a saint name and my mother-in-laws maiden name is Blaser so lots of meaning there.

For girls I am really drawn to Rosary (from your book) and although I’m not big on nicknames I do love the idea of calling her Rosie. I can’t help but worry with our secular culture how this name will influence her in the future whether she will love it or go through a phase where she won’t like it because it’s so unique and so Catholic or if she will get prejudice on college or job applications. My hope is that if it’s a girl she loves it. I wasn’t sure what I thought when I first heard it but I have become really drawn to it over the last couple of months.

We also like the name Emery for a girl. I thought it wasn’t tied to a saint but now I’m thinking it is tied to Saint Emeric who was male so I’m not sure. For a middle name I like Josephine which I’ve always found pretty. Another middle name could possibly be Patricia, after my mother in law and grandmother. We have considered other girl names but I think we have them narrowed to the above.”

I just think this mama and her hubby did a fantastic job with their daughter’s name, Madeleine Virginia is beautiful! She’s right about the connection to Mary Magdalene — Madeleine is the French variant of Magdalene. And how cool that two of her grandmother’s cousins were Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart! I love St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and a fun fact about her is that the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named after her!

I loved reading about her husband and how he’s interested in learning more about Catholicism — names of the faith are a great, easy, inoffensive way to do so! I’d love to help them find some names that fit his “more hipster-ish” style while having a connection to the faith and “staying power,” as Mama put it (love that!).

I agree with her thought that they should try to find a name that they both really like. Regarding the fact that a lot of traditional names have been used by their cousins, only they know what their family dynamic is like in the sense of, will the cousins (or their parents) be offended if this Mom and Dad give their baby the same name? Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it at all — traditional names like Michael, David, Thomas, James, and John have been used so much throughout history and in every generation of every family that there’s no reason at all for anyone to think they’re off limits (except in the case of a possible family rift, as I mentioned above).

I love Dominic too! I can see how Mama’s brother using it makes it unusable for them, but I just want to assure them (and all of you!) that Dominic can work for fair people too — I even wrote about it here!

I was really surprised to read that that this mama found Brogan to be used for both boys and girls — I would have said that it’s definitely a boy name! All the saints named Brogan were men, and St. Brogan of Mothil may have been St. Patrick’s nephew and secretary! But she’s right — behindthename.com lists it as both masculine and feminine. I looked to see how it breaks down in the Social Security stats: it’s a rare name — it’s not in the top 1000 for either boys or girls, though the last time it was, was in 2012, no. 933 for boys. In 2018, it was given to 21 girls and 101 boys … I don’t know, I’d still consider it a boy name — a boy name with some usage among girls. But if they don’t feel comfortable using it, I totally understand!

Brody, Brooks, Becket, Brayden, and Blaise are all good names that are both different from and similar to each other — similar in that they’re all surname-y and begin with B; different in that I think Brody and Brayden have that trendy feel that the mama said she’d like to stay away from, while Brooks feels both preppy and serious, and Becket and Blaise are saintly. (I did look up Brody, Brooks, and Brayden to see if there were any ties to the faith, but I didn’t find any.)

I’m very intrigued by Blaise for this family for four reasons: (1) it’s super saintly with a cool feast day — Feb. 3 is St. Blaise’s feast, which is when they do the Blessing of the Throats, as he’s patron against throat diseases (among other things); (2) it’s French, like Madeleine; (3) her mother-in-law’s maiden name is Blaser, which is amazing — I did some research and discovered Blas is the Spanish variant of Blaise, Blasius is the original Latin form of Blaise, and St. Blaise is also known as St. Blase — so many nice tie-ins to the mil’s name; and (4) her hubby identified it as one he likes from a list of saint names — that’s great! I would definitely encourage this mama to try to let Blaise grow on her! Though of course, if she doesn’t like it then she doesn’t like it, and I did note that she mentioned not liking the one-syllable-ness of both Brooks and Blaise, so maybe one-syllable names just aren’t her thing! I would definitely try to forget about the dog named Blaze! Maybe seeing some adorable little guys named Blaise would help?

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/08/17/birth-announcement-blaise-michael/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/06/07/birth-announcement-blaise-maximilian-kolbe/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/07/11/birth-announcement-felix-thomas/ (big brother is Blaise)

Also, I wonder what she and her hubby would think of using Blaser as a first name? It’s got that surname style they seem to like, it’s not one syllable, it can take Blase as a nickname and a patron saint, and it would honor her mother-in-law.

As for my thoughts on non-Catholic first names, I should first point out that though it used to be required that parents bestow a Christian name (saint, virtue, etc.) in either the first or middle spot (not even both!), current Canon Law only requires that the given names (first and middle) not be “foreign to Christian sensibility.” However, there’s a strong case to be made for bestowing a Christian name in the first or middle spot, and I think this mama would be happiest with a strong Catholic name somewhere in her son’s name.

That’s so funny that she read an article about names people regret the most and -en/-an names were mentioned! That seems very strange and arbitrary especially given that there are loads of great, traditional names that end in those letters and sounds. I wouldn’t worry about that at all!

For their girl ideas, I love so much that they’re considering Rosary!! I love it!! Rosie is so sweet too. It’s a fair point she brings up about how the name might affect her daughter in secular culture going forward; it might help to consider that she can go by Rose if she prefers, even on college and job applications, or go by her middle name (though it’s true that any time her legal name would be required, it would be seen) (I worked in Admissions in college and definitely saw applications of students applying under their nicknames). Here is a real-life Rosary, if it’s helpful, and here are her siblings’ names.

Emery is so different from Rosary in the sense that its faith connection isn’t obvious, and it’s also trendier than I think this mama would like? It entered the name charts for the first time in 2005 at no. 813 and has zoomed up the charts, entering the top 100 at no. 92 in 2018. That said, there is a holy woman it can connect to it: Mama is right that Emery is a form of Emeric, which is a form of Emmerich, and there is a Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich. I also noticed that both Rosary and Emery end in -ry — if they were to look for additional girl names, they might try looking for other names ending in -ry. (Speaking of Emeric/Emmerich, I wonder if either one would be a possibility for a boy?)

Rosary Josephine, Rosary Patricia, Emery Josephine, and Emery Patricia are all lovely!

In a separate email, the mama had asked about two-syllable first names paired with two-syllable last names (their last name has two syllables), and I assured her that I thought such a pairing was fine. That said, to go back to her -en/-an concern, first names that have the same number of syllables AND end in the same sound as the last name can sometimes sound sing-songy in a way some parents don’t like, which is something they’d have to contend with in regards to their last name. Brogan LastName and Brayden LastName have that feature, as their last name ends in the “in” sound, but if it doesn’t bother them, then they definitely shouldn’t worry about it! There are very few real “rules” when it comes to naming, and what some parents find jarring others may fine charming. Other considerations sometimes outweigh aesthetics as well — for example, if it’s important to the parents to use a particular family name, that might be more important to them then the fact that it sounds weird with their last name.

Now onto new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and like 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, looking for names that I thought they’d like that also had a connection to the faith. I also perused this post I’d done of Catholicky surnames, this post I did of “not-so-normal Catholic names,” and this article I wrote about surnames that derived from first names. I also looked through my book of Marian names. Based on all that research, these are my ideas:

(1) Other B names
I kept coming across B names with saintly connections, and I couldn’t decide which ones to include here, so I thought I’d list them all! I’ve linked to their saintly connections.

Bennett — Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict.

Bates, Batten, Bartlett — these are all variants of Bartholomew — the name of a bunch of saints as well as one of the twelve apostles.

Bosco — for St. John Bosco; one of my favorite bloggers named her son Bosco, as did another of my readers.

Brice — Brice is a style match for Brody, Brayden, and Blaise, per the Baby Name Wizard! Check out St. Brice of Tours.

Bram — Bram is a short form of Abraham, and I’ve actually had it on my own list for years! It can be pronounced to rhyme with “ram,” or to rhyme with “bomb,” which is how Dracula author Bram Stoker said it.

Brendan — Brendan is more traditional like the names the mama likes, while beginning with a B like so many of the names her hubby likes. St. Brendan’s a great patron.

Brannock — St. Brannock is a Welsh saint with a pretty cool name!

Britton, Bretton — Bl. John Bretton is also known as John Britton, and was one of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Bruno — I thought Bruno might represent an interesting marriage of Mama’s Italian heritage and the Br- names that are on their list. There are a bunch of Sts. Bruno!

Blake — Blake is a style match for both Brody and Brayden per the BNW. Bl. Alexander Blake would serve as patron.

(2) Cooper (Cupertino?)
One of my readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, who goes by Cooper, which I think is just genius! I think Cooper as a given name could be a tribute to St. Joseph of Cupertino, and Cooper is a specific style match for Becket per the BNW. If they wanted to use Cupertino as the given name though, with or without the nickname Cooper, that would be cool too!

(3) Bastian (Sebastian?)
Since Mama said she loves Dominic, I wanted to see if I could find a name or two similar in style that might fit her other criteria. Sebastian is actually a style match for both Dominic and Madeleine, and as soon as I saw it I thought the shortened form Bastian as a given name might hit the right note! The full Sebastian would be great too.

(4) Gabriel
Gabriel is another name that was inspired by Dominic, and by Michael too actually — Gabriel feels like a nice combination of both of their styles.

(5) Gratian
Since she’s familiar with my book, maybe she noticed this entry and didn’t care for it? But I thought I should mention it just in case. Gratian is basically the male version of the name Grace, and there was a St. Gratian who was a third-century Roman soldier and martyr.

(6) Kolbe
I’m interested to see what they would think of Kolbe! The same-sounding name Colby is a style match for Brody and Cooper, but spelling it Kolbe gives it lots of saintly cred via St. Maximilian Kolbe. I love him!

(7) Landon
Brooks has enough of a different feel to me from the Brody/Brayden names that I wanted to find one or two options that are similar to it. I remembered a consultation I did for a family who had big brothers Landon and Brooks, and thought Landon might be great! It’s the only name here that doesn’t have a saintly connection, though it does have a papal one—Pope Lando was the 121st pope (year 913), and is also known as Landon; not much is known of him, but he was described as “a worthy man.”

(8) Grant
Another style match for Brooks that I thought they might be interested in is Grant — we’ve discussed it a bit on the blog recently as being bestowed in honor of St. Anne or after the English translation of the Latin dona nobis pacem: “Grant us peace.” I know this is one syllable like Brooks and Blaise (and my other suggestions Bates, Brice, Bram, and Blake), but I included it (and other one-syllable names) in case the mama doesn’t dislike all one-syllable names.

(9) Garrett
My last idea mixed the surname style with the mama’s more traditional taste pretty well, I thought. Garrett is actually derived from either Gerard or Gerald, of which there are many saints so-named, and it has traditional usage as a last name.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for a brother for Madeleine?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!