Birth announcement: Michael Gabriel! (And a nickname question)

I posted a consultation for girl names for Dana and her hubby back in October, but they ended up having a boy! Dana let me know that they’ve named him after his dad — the so angelic … Michael Gabriel!

She writes,

Just wanted to let you know that we gave birth to our baby boy on Wednesday, Jan 22, the national day of prayer for the unborn. We did name him Michael Gabriel, after his father 😀 7 lbs, 3 oz and almost 21″ long. So far the transition from one to two seems to be going well! So we weren’t able to use any of the beautiful suggestions for girl names this time, but hopefully we’ll have many more opportunities!

Michael Gabriel is such a handsome, heavy-hitting combo!! And I, too, love the significance of a baby born on the national day of prayer for the unborn!

Dana had another question, which you all can help with:

One little dilemma I thought I’d ask you about… So my husband goes by Mikey, his dad goes by Mike. My husband really wants to call our son Mikey, too, but I think it is too confusing to have two Mikeys running around, haha! I’d like to call him Gabe, and I think he looks like a Gabe 😉 But my husband isn’t keen on it now. So even though it was easy to name him, we still haven’t decided what to actually call him! Of course we could use Michael or Gabriel, but we both really like nicknames. Another friend suggested, ‘Mick,’ any other ideas? No worries if not- just thought I’d ask!

Of course I have some ideas! 😀 I can certainly see how two Mikeys can be confusing! There is a precedent for it — it’s not for nothing that Seniors and Juniors are sometimes known as “Big Dan” and “Little Dan,” for example, so Big Mikey and Little Mikey could be cute, but if Dana’s not feeling it, maybe:

— I’ve sometimes suggested Miles or Milo as nicknames for Michael, both because of the “Mil” being contained in “Michael,” and because behindthenamesays that, while the origin of Miles is unknown for sure, it’s been associated with the Latin miles, meaning “soldier,” for a long time. I love a “soldier” nickname for Michael — the warrior angel! Additionally, both Miles/Myles and Milo have been used in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a legit Marian name for a boy! My only hesitation with Miles is that it’s got similar letters to big sister’s name, Mary Elise … but since she always goes by Elise, it’s practically no issue at all, right? (Unless it bothers them, in which case maybe Milo would be better?)

— Maybe Mitch? Behindthename says Mitchell is derived from Michael, and with the first three letters of Michael being “Mich,” Mitch definitely seems doable.

— Maybe a different nickname for Gabriel? I’ve seen Gib and Gil, both of which I love.

— Maybe a mash-up nickname for Michael Gabriel? Like … Mel? Hm. Maybe this idea doesn’t work so well with Michael Gabriel.

— Maybe Junior? Or a name that nods to him being a Junior/the Second? I did a quick search for nicknames for babies that are The Second and saw Twain, Dewey (like for the French “deux”), and Chip (like “chip off the old block”). Or a name for a Third, since both Dana’s husband and his dad are Michael? Like Trip, Tripper, Trey, Tres/Trace.

— Or a nickname unrelated to his name? Like Buddy?

I don’t mind Mick — I have an uncle named Michael whose family has called him Mick and Mickey (though he’s Mike to the rest of the world). One thing to be aware of is that Mick has a history of being used as a derogatory term for the Irish, but that same link includes a list of men who have gone by Mick (including Mick Jagger) so it can definitely work! There’s also Mickey Mantle (a pretty great example) (his given name was actually Mickey!) and Mickey Mouse (which may or may not be an appealing example of the name).

What other ideas do all of you have?

Congratulations to Dana and her husband and big sister Elise, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

Michael Gabriel with his parents and big sister ❤


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!

Saintly nickname names

There are a few names that started as nicknames, by which here I mean short forms or diminutives of other names, but have come to be considered formal names in their own rights. Some examples are Jack (diminutive of John), Pippa (diminutive of Philippa), Alison (diminutive of Alice) and Alice itself (a short form of Adalheidis [Adelaide]), Nancy (originally a diminutive of Agnes’ variant Annis, and later of Anne as well), Emmett (diminutive of Emma) and Elliott (diminutive of Elias [Elijah]), Molly (diminutive of Mary), Robin (diminutive of Robert), Austin (contracted form of Augustine), and Bennett (short form of Benedict). Many of these date back to the medieval period.

I was reading about Mickey Mantle recently and the fact that Mickey was his given name, not a nickname for Michael (which is how I’m most familiar with it). (Funny enough, Mickey Mantle was named for Mickey Cochrane, whose given name wasn’t Michael — it was Gordon! But he’d been nicknamed “Black Mike” because of his “fiery, competitive nature,” which I’m assuming is where Mickey came from?) Other names that started as nicknames (diminutives or short forms) that we often see bestowed as given first names include Jake, Maggie, Sadie, Archie (hello, little prince), Liam, and Mia.

There’s another set of nicknames that have taken on a life of their own as given names, which a recent consultation post reminded me of. It included a discussion of Nell as a given name and the parents’ preference for it to be a nickname for a more formal, saintly given name:

Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.

In this case, the hesitancy to use Nell as the given name is less about style (its nicknaminess) and more about the saintly connection being less obvious. A couple of you suggested Little Nellie of Holy God for the saintly connection* — she’s mostly known as Nellie, even though her baptismal name was Ellen, and I can see parents naming daughters Nellie with her in mind, since that’s the name mostly attached to the stories of her holiness. In this same vein, I thought it would be fun to compile a listing of saintly names that are actually nicknames (I don’t mean religious names). These include:

St. Rose of Lima
Rose’s birth name was Isabel! According to this site, “Isabel del Flores y del Olivia, known to history as St. Rose of Lima … was baptized on the day of her birth, with her aunt, Isabel de Herrara, acting as her godmother. The baby was named after her aunt, Isabel. Because the child was so beautiful, she was nicknamed Rosa or Rose. History and her family would call her by this name.”

St. Francis of Assisi
Francis’ birth name was John! According to his Wikipedia entry, “[His dad] Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and [his mother, a Frenchwoman named] Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco (“the Frenchman”), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French.” (cited as the source: Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1924). “St. Francis of Assisi” (14 ed.). Garden City, New York: Image Books: 158.)

St. Zelie
It’s perhaps not as unfamiliar that St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azélie, but she went by Zelie — and that’s the name I see her called and bestowed in her honor most often.

St. Bernadette
St. Bernadette’s given name was actually Marie-Bernarde! This site even refers to her as Marie, which I find kind of hilarious. As with so many of these nicknames, once you know that Bernadette (“little Bernarde,” where Bernarde is the French feminine form of Bernard) is a diminutive of her name, it takes on a such a sweet, affectionate feel.

Juanito (St. Juan Diego)
This one isn’t exactly like my previous examples, because I haven’t heard of lots babies being named Juanito when wanting to honor St. Juan Diego — in fact, I only know of one Juanito (the pastor of my parish), but I asked him about his name and it is, indeed, his given name, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Juan Diego, as Our Lady called him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito, the most humble of my sons …” ❤

Lolek (St. John Paul II)
Like with Juanito, it’s rare to hear of a little Lolek, but I have heard it from time to time from Catholic parents looking for a different way to honor St. John Paul the Great, as it was his childhood nickname.

Can you think of other examples of Saints being known as a name that was not their given name (and not their religious name), which would be the name parents would be most likely to choose in their honor? Do you know of any little ones named in the style of Juanito and Lolek — nicknames that aren’t as well known and aren’t necessarily the names the Saints are known as, but are absolutely connected to them?

* As far as I can tell, Little Nellie’s cause for canonization has not been opened, though it’s pretty amazing that she was the reason Pope St. Pius X lowered the age of Communion for children: “‘There! That is the sign for which I was waiting.’ — Pope St Pius X after hearing about the holy life of little Nellie. A few months later in 1910 he issued “Quam Singulari” which significantly lowered the age of Holy Communion for children.”


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

 

Birth announcement: Bosco Anthony!

A mama for whom I’ve had the privilege of doing two private consultations (one a few years ago, as well as a birth announcement for that baby, and one a few months ago) has let me know she and her husband have welcomed a son and given him the fantastic name … Bosco Anthony!

She writes,

We have a baby boy, who we named Bosco Anthony. Although you had great suggestions for other boy names, it kind of solidified for my husband that Bosco was his favorite. I still had some reservations, but he convinced me and now I think it fits our little guy very well. Most people are unfamiliar with the name, and either have a reaction like “huh” or they think it’s cute and original. Occasionally people (usually men) think it’s awesome.

In the end we chose Anthony mostly because it sounded good as a full name, Bosco Anthony. I worried it is too Italian (he’s only 1/8 Italian) but I think the English-ness of [our last name] balances it out. He’s our first child without a family connection to the middle name, but probably like most people from a Catholic family, I have a small handful of instances where St. Anthony helped either myself or a relative find an important lost object in a way that was maybe not miraculous but certainly amazing. I’ve always appreciated St. Anthony, and I like that this baby is named for two solid saints.”

I love his name!! I’m so delighted that they ended up going with Bosco, and I love it paired with Anthony! Great job!!

Congratulations to the proud parents and big siblings Penelope, Leo, and Adelaide, and happy birthday Baby Bosco!!

Bosco Anthony with his big sisters and 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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Requiescat in pace

So many have been hit hard by the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, and our family is no exception. My husband and boys know him best from basketball, but I know him best from being his exact age (we were born on the same day in the same year) and being starry eyed over what a beautiful couple he and Brandy made when they attended her prom together when they (and I) were high school seniors. Such a funny memory!

Since the tragic news broke, I discovered that Kobe and his family are Catholic, which I hadn’t known. Beautiful stories are being told of his Mass attendance and reliance on his faith, including the fact that he attended Mass the morning of his death. What a gift, and such a consolation for his loved ones.

One article reported:

Mr. Mauser [husband of Christina, who died in the crash] said that he had cuddled in bed with his children as they grieved, and that his older daughter had been comforted by what she saw on television.

“We watched ‘SportsCenter’ for two seconds and everything was about how much everybody was mourning and hurting, and she said it was nice to know that everybody was hurting along with us,” he said. “And I know that sounds odd, but it still kind of helps.”

This is one of the best uses of the media (social and otherwise) — it’s such a lovely thing when our country feels like a community that cares about each other.

Eternal rest grant unto all the deceased, O Lord — Kobe and Gianna; John and Keri and daughter Alyssa; Sarah and daughter Payton; coach Christina; and pilot Ara — and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Prayers also for their families — spouses and children left behind — I can’t even imagine.

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that isn’t “completely ordinary,” yet not unheard of

Sarah and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little girl or boy joins big siblings:

Cody Michael
Benjamin Scott
Claire Elizabeth
Dominic Anthony
Grace Cathryn
Peter Charles
Caroline Maria
Charlotte Zelie (“she goes mostly by ‘Zelie’“)

What a great bunch of names!! It’s important to note that Sarah acknowledged that her oldest’s name is more modern than they have come to prefer, though I did try to find names that can bridge Cody’s style with that of his siblings’ names.

Sarah writes,

This baby will be a “tiebreaker”, as we currently have 4 boys and 4 girls. We are starting to run out of (primarily boy) names, so are curious what you are able to come up with. We have an unwritten rule that the names be traditional and also double as a Saint name. Our style of “traditional” appears to be names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of. The middle names have either been a family name or a powerhouse Saint. We are open to nontraditional for a middle name if it is a super Catholic “mic drop” of a name.”

A “super Catholic ‘mic drop’ of a name”!! I love that!!

Names we cannot use are:
Alexander
Nicholas
John (open to John Paul, however)
Christian
James
Andrew
Rachel
Gabrielle
Lily
Thomas

I was sort of glad to see that they’re struggling with boy names, because I felt like I had an easier time coming up with boy names than with girl names!

As I mentioned, Cody was actually a big inspiration to me when I was trying to come up with name ideas for this baby. His name is certainly an outlier, and I really wanted to try to come up with an idea or two that might make his name seem more a part of the group. First though, I was glad to see that it means “helpful,” which could put it in the same category as Grace — that is, a virtue-type name. That’s a nice spin to put on it! And Michael is a great middle. I’ve included Cody-esque ideas in my suggestions below.

I do like that they’re open to John Paul, I think that’s a great option! I like that it incorporates biblical names, like Benjamin and Peter, and is a heavy-hitting faithy name. It can also take the nicknames Jack and JP, which I think fit in quite nicely with Cody.

You all know that I always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel popularity. Within those results, I look for names or connections that have a solid faith connection. It’s a fun process! Based on that, these are my ideas for Sarah’s little one:

Girl
(1) Josephine
I couldn’t help but notice they like French girl names — Claire, Caroline, Charlotte, and Zelie are all French, but in an understated way (especially Claire, Caroline, and Charlotte), where they don’t at all clash with the other kiddos’ names. I hoped to find a similarly not-overly-obvious French name to suggest, and Josephine was a result from my research that seemed perfect. It can honor St. Joseph, or any of the holy Josephines.

(2) Isabella
Funny enough, though the French Isabelle is a style match for Charlotte, I thought the spelling Isabella was a better suggestion for this family, as Queen Isabella of Portugal, aka St. Elizabeth of Portugal, is a great patron. Isabelle can, of course, honor her as well if they prefer, as can Isabel, which was a style match for both Claire and Caroline. I normally wouldn’t suggest an Elizabeth name for them, since Claire’s middle name is Elizabeth, but since they used three Charles names, I thought they were probably fine with considering another Elizabeth name.

(3) Hannah
I was excited to see that Hannah is a style match for Benjamin and Grace—Benjamin is the only Old Testament name they have, so I like that Hannah would loop him in a bit, and having it be a style match for Grace makes it really feel like it fits in well with the other kids as well. Hannah is such a sweet name and can take St. Anne as a patron, as it’s an Anne variant.

(4) Felicity
I think Felicity is the kind of name that exactly fits Sarah and her hubby’s style of “traditional,” as they put it: “names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of.” It’s super saintly and has a long history of usage, and St. Felicity is one of the best patrons for a girl, in my opinion (there are others as well). I spotlighted it here.

(5) Avila
Finally, in my hopes of finding names that could feel a little more Cody-esque while still checking off their other boxes, I’d thought a saintly surname or place name might do the trick: Kolbe, Clairvaux, or Cabrini, for example (but not those, since they’re too similar to Cody, Claire, and Caroline). Avila was one that I thought might do nicely. It’s got its own entry on behindthename, which tells you that it’s “definitely not unheard of,” and it’s the kind of name that families with Dominics and Zelies often choose. St. Teresa of Avila is a great patron, and a Doctor of the Church, which is so great for a little girl!

Boy
(1) Luke
Luke is biblical, like Benjamin and Peter; it’s four letters, like Cody; and it’s Marian, like Dominic! (Marian due to the fact that his gospel is the most Marian, containing within in the Annunciation and Our Lady’s Magnificat, for example; St. Dominic is a very Marian saint due to the fact that Our Lady tasked him with promulgating her rosary). I like Luke a lot for for this family! Being short, it can also take a longer middle name, which some of the heavy hitting “mic drop” names are (e.g., Luke Augustine, Luke Maximilian, Luke Emmanuel).

(2) Gabriel
Speaking of biblical names and the Annunciation, what about Gabriel? I’ve seen Benjamin and Gabriel brother sets fairly frequently, as well as Dominic and Gabriel brother sets, so it feels like a good fit. Gabriel’s also mentioned in both the Old Testament and New Testament, which is nice for Benjamin and Peter. They have Gabrielle on their “no” list for girls, but I’m hoping Gabriel’s okay for a boy!

(3) Joseph
I suggested Josephine above for a girl, but what about Joseph for a boy? I’m loving that it’s both an Old and New Testament name, and St. Joseph is such an amazing patron for a boy. It was also St. John Paul’s birth middle name, and Pope Benedict’s pre-papal first name. Lots of great connections!

(4) Henry
Henry reminds me of Hannah in that it’s such a sweet name! It’s a style match for Grace, Caroline, and Charlotte, and has a great saintly pedigree — I actually did a spotlight post of it here. Also, since Sarah mentioned possibly being open to John Paul, I wonder if they’d consider John Henry? It would be a really nice nod to our brand new St. John Henry Newman, and can also take the nickname Jack.

(5) Owen
Owen actually showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Claire, Grace, and Charlotte, as well as Logan, which I looked up in order to add to the names that could be style matches for Cody. I think Owen is a great idea for this family! My favorite patron is St. Nicholas Owen — he was amazing! But there are actually a few Owens they can choose from for patron.

(6) Austin
Austin might be my favorite suggestion for this family for a boy. It’s a style match for Cody (!), and it’s a contracted form of Augustine! While it might have a modern feel, it’s been in use for a long time. There are the Austin Friars, founded in 1253, also known as the Hermits of St. Augustine, and I loved this medal for St. Augustine of Canterbury that says “St. Austin” on it. They could also do Augustine with the nickname Austin if they want.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Cody, Benjamin, Claire, Dominic, Grace, Peter, Caroline, and Zelie?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

March for Life 2020 (and a little about the names of Jane Roe)

Today’s the March for Life in Washington, D.C.! My oldest boy is there with a group from school, and I know many of you and/or your children are there as well. Thank you for fighting the good fight!

Because this is a Catholic name blog, I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective a few times*; today I thought I’d take a brief look at the names — real and pseudonymous — of the woman named in that 1973 Supreme Court decision**.

Jane Roe was a pseudonym for the plaintiff in the case, used to keep her identity anonymous. This article explained that John Doe and Jane Doe are used when a person’s identity is unknown, while Roe and Poe are used for those whose identity is known but who wish to remain anonymous. The woman known as Jane Roe continued to be known as Jane Roe for the rest of her life, though she revealed her real name after the case was decided: Norma McCorvey.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading articles about her with, at first, a sort of detached onomastic perspective — I was interested in finding anything that discussed her names. As has happened every time I’ve ever looked her up, though, I was moved by how much she experienced and endured from her earliest days. Even though there are questions about what was truth and what was fiction, not knowing what and especially who could be trusted seems a constant characteristic in her life. As does a definite vulnerability; I found this namey quote particularly sad and telling: “Norma McCorvey had little more to her name than a pseudonym. But it was the most famous pseudonym in American legal history: Jane Roe.” And when she became pro-life, she said before a Senate subcommittee in 1998, “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.”

What a lady, and what a life, for better and for worse. May she, and all deceased victims of abortion, rest in peace.

* Things I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective:
I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names
Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus (CatholicMom) (and my blog post sharing it, which includes further thoughts)
March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus
The name of Mother Teresa (includes a link to her amazing address at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast)
Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

** Roe v. Wade (1973) “determined that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion involved the question of whether the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The justices answered this question by asserting that the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from “depriv[ing] any person of … liberty … without due process of law,” protected a fundamental right to privacy. Further, after considerable discussion of the law’s historical lack of recognition of rights of a fetus, the justices concluded “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.” The right of a woman to choose to have an abortion fell within this fundamental right to privacy, and was protected by the Constitution.”


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

A few fun things

Haappppyyy Thursday!!

I know you’ll love this: I was telling my eight-year-old about someone we know whose name is Emmanuel. “His name is ‘God with us’?!” he exclaimed in amazement. 😂😂😂 (Someone’s paying attention at Mass! 💃💃💃)

I loved these two recent posts at Swistle:

Baby Girl Vansanover: Is the Name Bernadette Too Catholic?
I was surprised at the number of people that felt Bernadette was not as Catholic as might have been thought, and instead comes across as a vintage up-and-coming name. I was even more surprised at the number of commenters who didn’t know why anyone would think it was a Catholic name! Even commenters who identified as Catholic in some way (currently practicing or lapsed)!

Baby Girl Carrot-with-an-M, Sister to Avila and Rose
This family is Catholic, and there was a fun discussion about the name Zelie, including a poll on pronunciation.

Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted the name St. John (Sinjin) recently, which always makes me think of Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas because it was on her list of names for Baby Hildi if she’d been a boy. And a few days before St. John, Abby also spotlighted Jacinta!!


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!