Baby name consultation: Svellerella Baby No. 5!

Today’s consultation is for Carolyn, who you’ll know from her blog Svellerella (+Instagram) and her gorgeous hand-drawn-illustrations-and-lettering Etsy shop Brass & Mint Co. (+Instagram)! (Find her on Facebook too!) She was also on Haley and Christy’s podcast Fountain of Carrots last week talking about mothering her little boy with special needs — as she said, “They asked me about what it was like going through an Autism diagnosis and parenting a kid with autism, getting to church with Emmett’s challenges, and how I “do it all” (spoiler: I don’t.).” Such a beautiful, loving, pro-life mama witness!

Carolyn and her husband Craig are now expecting their fifth baby — fifth boy! I loooooove the names they’ve chosen so far:

Lexington Anthony (“We picked Lexington because we liked the phonetics, and the originality of it. At that time, neither of us cared about name meanings, and while we still love his name, it’s a little out of our scope of interest towards “originality” these days. Anthony was chosen for St. Anthony of Padua. And upon thinking about it later and knowing the story of St. Anthony’s ability to speak eloquently, it is a funny spiritual accident that we chose the first name Lexington — lexicon.”)

Emmett James (“We love the old timey feel of the name Emmett. And James was our Biblical/Christian pick.”)

Collin John Paul (“Honestly, It was the only name we agreed on. John Paul is after my patron saint JPII.”)

Jude Benedict (“We absolutely love the name Jude. It’s older, not overly popular, and while it breaks our streak of multiple syllable first names, it sounds strong to us. St. Benedict is my husband’s patron saint, and we love Benedict XVI.”)

What an interesting bunch of names! You all know I love bold naming, so seeing Lexington in the mix is so fun, and I love her other boys’ names as well.

Names they’re considering for this next little guy include:

Ambrose (“he’s due near St. Ambrose’s feast day … the only problem is that neither of us care for the double S sound when said with our last name Svellinger“)
Dominic
Edmund
Theodore (“we love Teddy, don’t love Theo“)
Gabriel (“This one is my top pick currently“)

And Carolyn explains,

We tend to be more creative with first names and choose a Christian based middle name [though note that she said above that Lexington is “a little out of our scope of interest towards ‘originality’ these days”] … Generally, neither of us care for nicknames, with the exception of Theodore. I’m a nerd and pay close attention to the phonetics of a name. For example, I don’t like if a name begins with a sound that starts from the back of the throat and drags with another sound from the same place: the sound that C + L makes when said together is an example. I know, it’s silly. Cluuhhh sounds and feels like I’m hawking a loogie … can’t handle it. Craig thinks I’m ridiculous.”

😂😂😂

Finally,

Last bit of info — I L O V E British literature and often think of Shakespeare, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Tolkien, and yes, Rowling — I adore nearly everything that comes from Brit lit and I’d love to draw from something there.”

My mind started clicking as soon as I read all this! I was particularly interested by the fact that Carolyn said Lexington is more unusual than where her and her husband’s current taste is — Emmett, Collin, and Jude really do have a similar feel to me, it’s pretty clear they backed off of really out-there names. That said, as you all know I really love coming up with “bridge” names that connect an outlier sibling name with the others, so I’d really love to come up with an idea that might loop Lexington back in while still fitting with their other boys’ names. I definitely focused on that to a good extent when looking for names that I thought Carolyn and Craig might like.

Backing up a bit for a minute, I wanted to comment on the names they already have on their list for their new little boy:

— Ambrose: We love Ambrose too! If they decide to use it, despite it ending in S and their last name beginning with S, one of its big benefits I think is that it swings their whole set back toward the more unusual.

— Dominic: One of my very favorites! I definitely think it fits well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

— Edmund: Narnia! St. Edmund Campion! Such a great name. And Teddy is a traditional nickname for all the Ed- names, so they could totally do Edmund nicked Teddy! I also love the idea of Campion for them — if they could move away from Teddy and Narnia, Campion seems more like Lexington’s style while still being super saintly. And, since Carolyn pointed out the similarity between Lexington and “lexicon,” she might also like to know that Campion means “champion”!

— Theodore: I like its length with Lexington, and it too seems a great fit with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. Teddy’s super cute too. In the interest of shifting a bit towards Lexington’s style (which I’m thinking of variously as “unusual,” “place name,” and “surname-y”), I wonder what they’d think of the more unusual Thaddeus? Teddy can be a nickname for Thaddeus (I know a grown-up Thaddeus who goes by Ted), and Taddy is a similar-but-different nickname for it as well. I also wondered if they’d be interested in getting Teddy as a nickname from mashing up a first+middle combo? I was thinking something like Tolkien Edmund, for example. Too weird? Or Titus Edmund (Titus is a Shakespeare name)?

— Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names, I love seeing it here on Carolyn’s list, and as much as I love the faith connection, I also love that it’s got good use in Ireland (actor Gabriel Byrne, for one, love him!), which is not dissimilar from her Brit lit love. Great name! I think it goes really well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

Carolyn’s “C+L” issue made me laugh! Also that her hubs thinks it’s ridiculous! We all have our quirks when it comes to naming, and I’m always so interested to hear other people’s. I purposely stayed away from suggesting Clive for them because of this. 😊

I also love names from British literature! So when I was thinking of names to suggest, I looked up all the male names from Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Charles Dickens (thank you internet!) (searches for Chesterton’s characters didn’t result in any other than Fr. Brown, but neither Father nor Brown seemed like their style 😉), as well as place names mentioned in those works. I wrote down all the ones that I thought might possibly fit their style, then cross-checked that list against my research in the Baby Name Wizard (you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). Because Lexington isn’t listed in the BNW, I used Lennox as a stand-in there, and then looked Lexington up in the Name Matchmaker tool on the BNW web site — it showed a bunch of names as being similar to Lexington that I already had on my list for them!

So here are my ideas, in no particular order:

(1) Garrick or Oliver
My original idea here was Garrick, as in Harry Potter character Garrick Ollivander (and actually, if Carolyn hadn’t said that Lexington was farther out than they would currently like, I’d probably be pushing Ollivander on them! I love it! I think it totally fits with Lexington in length and feel, and the nickname Ollie is so well matched with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. But then, they don’t like nicknames either …). But then I thought maybe Oliver would be good! There’s Oliver Twist and St. Oliver Plunket, who’s amazing, and Oliver totally fits with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

(2) Caspian
I definitely think Caspian can hang with Emmett, Collin, and Jude, and its unusual-ness pulls in Lexington a bit more. I also love that that both Lexington and Caspian are place names (Caspian Sea), and of course Caspian is a Narnia name!

(3) Bartlett (or Bartholomew?) (or Bates?)
One of Great Expectations’ Pip’s brothers was named Bartholomew, and I thought that I like Bartholomew for them — it’s got that nice length that Lexington has. Then I was thinking about how the surname Bartlett is derived from Bartholomew, and decided I love Bartlett even more for them! I love it with all their boys’ names, and Bartlett’s Buildings is where Lucy Steele usually stayed when she was in London (Sense and Sensibility), so cool! But then, are Emmett and Bartlett too similar? (I actually had Garrett included in my first suggestion, with Garrick, and ended up deleting it because I thought Emmett and Garrett were probably too similar.) So maybe then the full Bartholomew is a better suggestion. Or maybe Bates? Bates is another surname derived from Bartholomew, which could also work — would Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey count as a Brit Lit character?? But Bates runs into their last name … Gah!

(4) Dig(g)ory
This is another more Lexington-esque name due to uniqueness, but it’s got so many cool literary connections, and I really love the sound of it, so I had to include it! There’s Cedric Diggory from HP, of course, and I’ve read that he was actually given the last name Diggory as a nod to Professor Digory Kirke from the Narnia Chronicles, which is another great reference. But the first time I ever heard the name was in high school when I read Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native — one of the main characters is Diggory Venn. (Also, I’m a huge nicknamer, so I can’t help but say that Dig is a really cool nickname and the name of one of the good guys in the current TV series Arrow).

(5) Sebastian
My last idea is Sebastian. It’s a Shakespeare name and a saint’s name; it’s long like Lexington and I think it also fits in well with their other boys. Some people don’t like alliteration, but I tend to, and Sebastian Svellinger sounds smashing imo. 😊

While those are my “official” suggestions, I did have a few others I considered when trying to whittle down the list, which I thought I’d include here just in case they’re helpful: Austen, Augustine (Austen’s actually a medieval variant of Augustine!), Chesterton (could be cute?), Orlando (Shakespeare and place name), Duncan (hmm … maybe I should have included this on my official list), Kingsley (Kingston was a style match for Lennox, which made me think of HP character Kingsley Shacklebolt), Quentin or Quinlan (for a fifth baby!), Jasper (a style match for Emmett and Jude), Brandon (I looooove Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility), Abel (two different Dickens characters named Abel), and Rider/Ryder (the former for the Riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings; the latter for Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited).

In looking back over my ideas, I feel like maybe I focused too much on connecting with Lexington, which is totally me inserting myself into Carolyn and Craig’s taste, which I really try not to do! (Not too much anyway!) So I hope that this was at least a little helpful!

What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lexington, Emmett, Collin, and Jude?

Spotlight: Callixtus

I really wanted to post a name spotlight today, and could not for the life of me think of a name to spotlight! I have a running list of names I’d like to feature, but I can’t put my hand on it at the moment (and if any of you are waiting for one that I’ve promised, maybe shoot me an email to remind me! So sorry!). So I asked my oldest, who I had to pick up early from school because he wasn’t feeling well, what some of his favorite names are, and was surprised that Callixtus was in the mix! So that’s today’s name!

My son was like, “I’m not sure you’ve heard of this name,” and I was like, “Do you even know me, boy?!”, but beyond being a collector of Catholic names (although I admit I’ve been surprised a time or two by new-to-me names), I knew a friar/professor in college with the variant Callistus (his religious name), and I’ve actually given it some thought, mostly because of the nickname Cal, which I love (the friar went by Fr. Cal).

Behind the Name gives Callixtus as a variant of Callistus, “the spelling perhaps influenced by Latin calix ‘wine cup.'” Callistus is from the Greek Kallistos, meaning “most beautiful,” and the feminine name Callista is from the same. I just said to my son, “Callixtus is from the Greek for ‘most beautiful'” and he said, “Oh! I thought it came from ‘chalice.'” What a smartie! Our “chalice” comes from “calix,” so he really did know more about the name than I did!

There are a bunch of Sts. Callistus, including two Popes (Pope St. Callistus I and Pope St. Callistus II), and funny enough, when I searched CatholicSaints.info for Callixtus, only Pope St. Callistus I comes up — he’s got an interesting story. I kind of like the X spelling — X is a hot letter right now, and I really do like the connection to “chalice.” I also looked up Calix because I thought I’d remembered seeing that name on a child before, and it does seem to be mostly given as a short form of Callixtus, though a calyx is also the “chalice-shaped” part of a flower. I’m loving all these connections to the chalice! Callixtus is such a meaningful name!

What do you think of Callixtus (or Callistus)? Would you name a boy so, or have you? What nickname would you tend toward (Cal or Calix), or would you use a different one?

Baby name consultation: Fike Baby no. 8!

I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!

Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)

Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)

John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)

Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)

Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)

Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)

Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)

Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.

Blythe writes,

I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)

Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.

Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”

I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.

When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:

  • A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
  • A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
  • An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.

Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.

Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:

(1) Tiber
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.

One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)

(2) Blaise
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.

(3) Nic-
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.

(4) Zac-
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.

(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).

(6) Cashel
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).

(7) Bram
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)

(8) Remy
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.

(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.

(10) Magnus
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.

(11) Tristan
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).

(12) Tobit
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!

(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.

(14) Pace
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace!  There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!

Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.

And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?

Birth announcement: Samuel William!

I posted a consultation for Meghan and her husband back in April, and I’m delighted to share that Meghan has let me know her little boy has arrived and been given the so-handsome name … Samuel William!

She writes,

[H]ere he is, Samuel William 😍. Yes, I said no names that started with S and no top 25 but I couldn’t get Sam out of my head and your advice and also seeing comments from your readers helped us along in the decision. Thank you! I lost out on the middle name selection but the boys (Dad, William and son, Benjamin William) wanted to have a shared name like the girls and I do (we all have the middle name Elizabeth). Oh and Ben and Sam share a birthday along with a common middle name so how cool is that?! Thanks again for everything!

I have such a soft spot for Samuel/Sam, and I’m so happy they went with it! I also love the shared William between Dad and his boys (and the shared Elizabeth between Mom and her girls, so great!). Great job Mom and Dad!

Congratulations to Meghan and her husband and big sibs Benjamin, Mae, and Rose, and happy birthday Baby Samuel!!

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Samuel William and his big brother and sisters

Birth announcement: Jane Marigold!

One of my longest-time readers has let me know that her fourth baby on earth has arrived — a little girl with the amazing and meaningful name … Jane Marigold!

Jen shared,

[Jane is] named for St. John Chrysostom. We also wanted a Marian name, so she’s ‘Mary’s Gold’ as well as the ‘gold’ reference to Chrysostom (‘golden-mouthed’ so called on account of his eloquence) … I’ve always preferred Día de los Muertos to Halloween. Another reason for using the name Marigold. It’s known as Flor de Muerto and since she was born after the loss of Felix [the baby Jen miscarried last year], it’s a connection to her brother. And Marigold in Spanish is ‘Maravilla’, which also translates to ‘wonder’. After a miscarriage, surgery, constant shots/blood tests, I now have my 🌟Wonder Baby🌟 … Her full name in Spanish is Juanita Maravilla, which my family in Argentina just adore … Also, my husband and I only recently realized after we picked Jane’s name, that we were confirmed at St. John Chyrostom parish in Los Angeles.”

Each name so carefully chosen, and with so many layers of meaning! Such a stunning combo!

Jane joins her equally amazingly named big sibs:

Polly Bloom (named for St. Polycarp!)
Linus Theodore
Augustine Basil “Gus”

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Jane!!

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Jane Marigold

Double middle names?

A reader was asking me about double middle names so I looked up all my posts on middle names and was surprised to see that I hadn’t written about them yet! Surprised because I feel like I do discuss them with some frequency in my email discussions with parents. It’s definitely time to post here and get your feedback!

My thought is that two middle names is fine. I have two brothers and three sisters, and one of my brothers and two of my sisters have two middle names, and I’ve never heard any of them complain about them. Even now, as adults, they include all their initials when they’re writing out their full names. I know my mom has told me that sometimes the second middle would get dropped (not enough room on forms, or a bureaucratic decision or misunderstanding by some official person to only include one middle), which irritated her as the mom, and she and Dad even hyphenated my youngest sister’s two middles to try to avoid that, but otherwise it hasn’t ruined anyone’s lives.

If you didn’t want the hassle (or didn’t want to saddle your child with the hassle) of two middles but you have two middle names you’d like to use, you could do what this mom did and only put one middle on the birth certificate — thus having his/her legal name be First Middle — but everywhere else in life (within the family, when you’re telling others, on the baptismal certificate, etc.) use First Middle Middle. I think this is such a great solution for certain families! And I think the idea of one’s “legal name” being different from one’s “real name” to be an interesting thing to muse on.

What do you all think about double middle names? Do you have two middle names? Do you like them? Hate them? Feel indifferent? Do you all feel like it’s an unnecessary burden for a child, or a reasonable way to work in all the names you want to use?

Baby name consultation: Traditional name with cute nickname for baby no. 6 (boy)!

Ashley and John are expecting their fifth baby on earth (sixth overall) — a boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

George Charles
Caroline Renée
Joseph (in heaven)
Augustine David “Gus”
Madeline Mae

Such a classic, handsome set of names! Ashley writes,

Our girls are each named after their grandmothers and our boys are named after strong saints we liked, Charles is a nod to my husband’s mother (Carolyn) who died while I was expecting him. We love the idea of family names, but can’t quite find any relevant ones we like at this point. My husband has a decent extended family, some of which we don’t want to overlap, but I have a huge family (1 of 11) and have quite a few names we love but can’t use, I will list those below.”

(One of eleven!!)

We have realized that we love having a strong formal name for our Gus, with a planned nickname. I find it hard that we don’t have short nicknames that we like for Caroline and Madeline (not a fan of of the obvious Carrie, Lynn, Maddy), so I’d like to plan that in with this baby. For example, we recently met someone with a daughter named Bernadette Claire that they call Birdie Claire. We LOVE this, as the traditional name and cute newish nickname are a perfect combination. We would like to make sure it “fits” with all our others.”

Bernadette Claire nicknamed Birdie Claire is adorable!! I love that they want to try to find something with a similar feel for their little boy.

Lastly, I am an avid reader and re-reader of the Baby Name Wizard Book and would say (you probably already know this) but our favorite categories tend to be Antique Charm and Ladies and Gentlemen. We love French names like Jacque (we live in Cajun South Louisiana and they are very common here, but haven’t bitten the bullet on any and at #5 are uncertain they fit with the others).”

Names that they like but aren’t sure of:

Phillip (“don’t like Phil“)
Frederick (“my husband’s middle name and a family name but he likes Fritz, and I don’t really like Fred or Freddy… maybe I could come around on Fritz“)
Peter (“but don’t like Pete or Petey“)
Bernard (“don’t love but LOVE the idea of Bear for a nickname“)
John double names
Other double names
Raymond (“neither of us love Raymond, but it is John’s Dad’s middle name and we love St. Raymond Nonnatus… thought you may be able to come up with a creative way to use this“)
Blaise (“love this name, but aren’t sure it fits well with our others“)
Dominic (“maybe, again need a cute nickname“)
Benedict (“maybe, but don’t like Benny!“)
Jacque (“in Cajun French South Louisiana, these French names come up a lot and this is one we really like, but aren’t sure it fits with our others“)
Nicholas (“my middle name is Nicole, but again can’t find a good nickname we like… not a fan of Nick“)

Family names they could “maybe incorporate in a cute way”:

Richard
Donald
Raymond
James
Reginald
Wilbur
Daniel
John Henry

And names to avoid:

Anything ending in ‘ine’ as it was an accident that our middle 3 have that in common.”
Close family member names (“none of these are off limits for middle names!“):
Paul
Luke
Patrick
Christopher
Richard
Eric
Sean
Robert
Andrew
David
Michael
Benjamin
John Charles
Henry
Oliver
Jack
Isaac
Eli
William
Jules
Jonah
Charlie
Leo
Jude

Alrighty, before listing the ideas I have for Ashley and John, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names that are currently on their list, especially with the “Birdie Claire” style of nickname that they like:

Phillip: I love Phil(l)ip, and tried to get my husband on board with it, to no avail! The nickname idea I loved for it was Finn. I especially liked the idea of Philip paired with an N middle name to make sense of Finn as a nickname (like Philip Neri … Philip Nicholas would also be quite nice), and there’s precedent for a Ph- name going by an F- nickname in that actress Julia Roberts named her son Phinnaeus and he goes by Finn. Otherwise, Pip is a traditional nickname for Philip that’s adorable, and they could even do Pippin. They don’t grow so well into manhood I suppose, but Flip’s another fairly traditional nickname for Philip — I worked with a Philip/Flip for a while who’s older than me and I always thought it was a pretty cool nickname.

Frederick: I love Frederick because of it being John’s middle name! I think Fritz is cute, and the fact that Ashley doesn’t like Fred/Freddy reminds me of my parents’ neighbor who named their baby Frederick and insisted on the full Frederick because they didn’t care for the Fred nicknames, but when one too many people called him Fred(dy) anyway, they decided to nickname him Erick. So that’s an option too, as is Rick/Ricky, which are cute and retro.

Peter: I thought this was a great opportunity to research some of the non-English nicknames and variants of Peter, to see if there’s any good nickname inspiration there. Pier, Piers, and Pierce are all variants … Pero is a Serbian/Croatian/Macedonian nickname for it … Pierrick is a Breton diminutive, which is cute on its own or could lead to Rick(y) as a nickname, which would be a really unusual way to nod to the Richard in their family! People would be so confused! Haha!

Bernard nicked Bear: I actually can’t believe Ashley said she loves the nickname Bear because I recently decided I love it myself! But for me — and this might solve their Bernard/Benedict conundrum — I like it as a nickname for Benedict! Something like Benedict Richard or Benedict Raymond would provide a B+R sound that would make sense of Bear as a nickname AND honor family/saint!

John double: I LOVE John doubles!! I think it’s such a handsome way to name a boy! I love that Ashley’s husband is John too, that makes it extra meaningful. I did a massive consultation a while ago for a dad who was angsting over whether to name his son John + like he and his dad, or to go with the name he and his wife actually loved. There are loads of good ideas in there, if I do say so myself. 😉 They could also come up with nicknames based on John +, like … John Raymond could be Jay, which isn’t that creative I guess but I do like the nickname Jay … John Peter could be JP, which could also nod to John Paul II (or they could just do John Paul, of course!). A John Richard or John Raymond could nickname to Jordy, which is so cute (though one potentially weird thing for them is that Geordie — said the same as Jordy — is a traditional nickname for George, which is their oldest son’s name). They could do the full John Frederick, Jr. and call him something like Jed.

Raymond: I’ve actually struggled with Raymond myself! The best I’ve come up with is that Redmond/Redmund is an Irish variant of it, which is cool — I like the surname vibe, and the nickname Red is adorable! Actually, I think they could totally do Raymond nicknamed Red if they wanted. If their little guy has red hair no one will bat an eyelash; if not, they’ll just have to explain, but that’s kind of cool — a nice little opportunity for evangelization!

Blaise: I love it too! I definitely think it fits in with their other kiddos’ names — it’s got that super saintly feel that Augustine especially has, but also their others. I just did a birth announcement for a Blaise whose mom was worried it didn’t fit with the other kids, but they used it anyway and they’re thrilled with it.

Dominic: I looooove Dominic!! My dad grew up with a Dominic that they called Dommy, which I think is really cute — like Tommy with a twist. Nico is another that’s not unusual for Dominic, I love Nico.

Benedict: Not only can Bear work as a nickname for Benedict as I mentioned above, but I’ve also thought Buddy and Bede (two-for-one! St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) could work (how cute is Buddy!), and I’ve also seen Ned. Also I think Beck could work, which could be fun.

Jacque: I’m not sure how to say this name — in my head I keep saying Jake, but when I looked it up on forvo.com it sounded more like Jack. Either way, my hearty recommendation for Jacque is to use it as a nickname. It’s a variant of James/Jacob (they’re the same name, just different languages), and Ashley and John have their James family member, so if I were in this situation I’d probably totally name the baby James ___ and call him Jacque. James Frederick is quite handsome, and is a really explicit nod to Ashley’s husband (same initials and everything!) without being a Junior.

Nicholas: We considered Nicholas nicknamed Cole, and just Cole as a given name, for our youngest, so I can definitely recommend Cole as a nickname. Nico can also work, and also Colin, which sometimes derives from Nicholas.

Family names: As for their family names, one of my favorite favorite Richard names is Dickon — he’s a character in The Secret Garden and I think it’s such a great sounding name. Alas, anything that has those first four letters in it is not going to fly these days. If Ashley and John are into Irish names, I quite like Donal and Donnell as nods to Donald. I already mentioned James; interestingly Reginald, Reynold, and Ronald are all variants of each other! Not sure if that’s helpful though … William could possibly work as an honor name for Wilbur except that it’s on their No list. Daniel’s great, and I love John Henry too as a combo, and I love that there’s already a precedent in their family with both John Henry and John Charles to do the John double. Love it!

I love both the “Antique Charm” names and “Ladies and Gentleman” names in the Baby Name Wizard as well! So I’m hopeful that my ideas might hit the mark. I’m not as strong on French names, but I was inspired by the list in the BNW.

Okay, on to my new ideas! As you all know, these were mostly inspired by my research in the Baby Name Wizard, but also a bit by my own namey head:

(1) Arthur
This “Ladies and Gentleman” name was a style match for both George and Frederick, but I’m not sure I would have taken notice if it wasn’t for the fact that Ashley loves the nickname Bear. Arthur’s generally considered to be related to the word “bear,” and I’ve seen other families use Bear as a nickname for Arthur. And I actually started thinking about the nickname Bear recently after re-reading one of the Regina Doman’s The Shadow of the Bear — a retelling of Snow White — in which the main male character’s name is Arthur but he goes by Bear. One hesitation is that Ashley and John’s last name is quite a bit like Andersen, so Arthur might not be the best first name. But if they liked it, they could do John Arthur, and call him Bear as a nickname of his middle name.

(2) An Ed- name
Edward was a match for George and Joseph, Edmond for Frederick, and Edmund for Benedict. Add in the fact that Ned can be nicknames for all the Ed- names, as well as Benedict, and I thought they definitely deserved a spot on this list. (Ted’s also a traditional nickname for the Ed names.) I can’t tell which I like better — St. Edward the Confessor’s pretty amazing, and Edward fits so well with the royal feel of their older kids; Edmund is Narnia and St. Edmund Campion, which are both great; Edmond is Edmond Dantes in Count of Monte Cristo and I just die over Jim Caviezel in that role. 😊 Also, it’s French!

(3) Sebastian
Sebastian is a natural on any list that includes names like Augustine, Dominic, and Benedict, and it’s also on the French list (as Sebastien). Grace Patton introduced me to the nickname Bash for Sebastian and I love it so much! I’ve also seen Baz, and Seb and Sebby are probably the first nicknames people would think of. Lots of great options there!

(4) Theodore, Thaddeus
I find that people like Theodore, or they like Thaddeus, with a clear preference for one or the other. Theodore is a style match for August (which I used as a stand-in for Augustine, since there’s no entry for Augustine in the BNW) and Frederick, and Thaddeus is a match for Benedict. Both of them can take the nickname Ted; Theodore can also be Theo, which is kind of hot right now, and Thaddeus can be Tad and Taddy, which I think is adorable.

(5) Nickname Abe, or Ambrose as a given name
I looked up Gus to see what other nicknames were listed as similar to it, and Abe was the first one listed — I’ve been dying over Abe for a while, what a fabulous nickname!! There was a little towhead named Abram at our pediatrician’s recently, which I found pleasantly surprising, and Grace just named her youngest Abraham James with the nickname Abe. SO CUTE! I also really like Abel, and I think Abe can work as a nickname for Ambrose, which also makes me think maybe they’d like to consider Ambrose? It might be too much for Augustine’s little brother, but it’s been on our list for a while and I think that in addition to Abe, other nicknames that could totally work include Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially with a D middle … Ambrose Daniel? Or even a middle with a strong D, like Ambrose Frederick?). And I think Ace can work too!

(6) Maximilian nicked Miles or Milo
I used to suggest this one all the time on here! I haven’t in a while, but I wonder if Ashley and John might be interested in it. Like Augustine, Dominic, Benedict, and Sebastian, Maximilian is heavy-duty Catholicky Catholic. Max is a great nickname, but if they want something a little different, I definitely think Miles and Milo can work as nicknames for it. An added bonus is that Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of the Virgin Mary” — an actual Marian name for a boy! So they’d get St. Maximilian Kolbe and Our Lady in one name! And Milo was actually a style match for Gus!

(7) Damien
My last idea for this family is Damien, and it’s solely because it was in the French list in the BNW and I love St. Damien of Molokai and I’d love to see more baby Damiens. But also, since I’ve had it on my own list I’ve thought of nickname possibilities and I think Denny is my favorite for Damien. It totally works, right? And Danny for Damian.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of George, Caroline, Joseph, Augustine (Gus), and Madeline?