Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby brother needs name that fits well with big brother (and also big sisters)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

Charlotte Jude

Finn Douglas

Stella Grace

+Francis Raphael (in heaven)

Aren’t these great names?! Each combo is put together so well — I love the unexpectedness of Jude as Charlotte’s middle name, and Charlotte, Finn, and Stella are a wonderful set of names. (Of course I’m not forgetting their little Francis Raphael! It’s such a saintly and meaningful name, just beautiful.)

They’re set on Daniel for the middle name, and don’t want to repeat these family names:

Ryan

Michael

Alex

Benjamin

Dominic

Alrighty, you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) 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, with Finn kept particularly in mind, as I think it’s always nice for brothers to feel like they go together (and sisters with sisters). I used Charlotte, Finn, and Stella as my inspirations, but I also included Jude, since it has a specific style that I thought was revealing of the kinds of names Lauren and her hubby like. It was a pretty easy job, as their older kids’ names are very consistent style-wise! Based on that research, these are my ideas for their little boy:

(1) Owen (or Oliver)

Owen is a style match for both Charlotte and Finn, and I absolutely love it specifically as Finn’s brother, too. Not only do Finn and Owen go together really well, as well as Charlotte, Finn, Stella, and Owen, but St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints. Owen Daniel is so handsome!

Before I’d even started my research, I’d actually had Oliver in mind as a possibility for this family, so I was happy to see that it’s a style match for Charlotte. I think it could also be a good brother name for Finn, as they both have that Irishy feel, and I like it with Charlotte and Stella, too. Since Owen and Oliver are similar in that they both start with O, have an Irish feel, and are actually style matches for each other, I thought I’d include them both here. St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and Oliver Daniel sounds great together.

(2) Emmett (or Elliott)

I always love when I see names listed as style matches for more than one of the names that the parents have used or like — like with Owen being a match for both Charlotte and Finn — and Emmett is another one, being listed as similar to both Charlotte and Stella. I knew an Emmett in college whose mom was from Ireland, so I’ve always thought of it as a sort of Irish name, so it goes well with Finn, too, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are no saints named Emmett as far as I could find, but since it derives from Emma, then any of the Sts. Emma can be patron. Or they can just look to the middle name and choose any of the Sts. Daniel as patron! Emmett Daniel is great.

Like with including Oliver in the Owen suggestion, I wanted to include Elliott in the Emmett suggestion, since it’s a similar name that is also a style match for Stella, and its saintliness is more obvious since Elliott’s derived from Elijah. Elliott Daniel is wonderful.

(3) Cole

I’m excited to include Cole here for two reasons: first, it’s a specific style match for Finn, which I think is significant, since I really want Finn and his brother to have names that go together. Secondly, Cole has usage as both a short form of Nicholas and a nickname of Nicholas, and their baby’s due on the feast of St. Nicholas! Cole could be the perfect way to nod to his feast day (even cooler if he was actually born on that day!) and/or the Christmas season more broadly. I like Cole Daniel quite a bit!

(Bonus) Henry

Though a Mini Consultation is for three ideas, since Henry’s a match for both Charlotte and Stella, I couldn’t not include it! It’s not one of my favorite suggestions, since it’s closer to Lauren’s girls’ style than Finn’s, but I don’t hate it with Finn either, and Henry Daniel is a really nice combo. And there are lots of great Sts. Henry!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charlotte, Finn, and Stella?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Easy to pronounce but uncommon name with maybe a gentle Brit feel for baby no. 6

Tahnee and her husband are expecting their sixth baby! This little green bean (=gender unknown) joins big siblings:

Simon Valentine (“we liked the name Simon because it’s easy to spell and people know how to pronounce it, but it’s not common, and I liked naming a first born son Simon, like Simon Peter. Valentine is my deceased father’s middle name“)

Margaret Dora (Maggie) (“we actually like the name Maggie and picked a full name that would work with it! She is named after St. Margaret Mary, but Margaret also happens to be my great-grandmother’s name. Dora is my husband’s grandmother“)

Louis Kolbe (twin of Benedict) (“Louis is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and St. Maximilian Kolbe is his patron saint, although he actually ended up being born on the feast day as well, but we had the name picked out long before he was born on that date. We found out relatively late in the pregnancy that I was pregnant with twins, so my original due date was nowhere near that feast day, but they ended up being born early on that day on their own which was a cool coincidence“)

Benedict Andrew (Ben, Benny) (twin of Louis) (“we were married at St. Benedict’s church and still attend there, so he is named for that. His patron is St. Andrew and his middle name is that because we actually had used the St. Andrew novena to pray for a baby, found out a few days after that I was pregnant, so when we found out we were having TWINS we knew it was the working of St. Andrew and had to name him after him“)

Theodore Joseph (Theo) (“I found out I was pregnant with Theo when the twins were only about 9 months old, which was a huge shock, and we definitely felt like this was God’s plan the whole way. So when I found out Theodore means “God’s Gift” we knew it was perfect. Joseph is my husband’s middle name, and we had planned to use that somewhere in the name whether the baby was a boy or a girl (either Joseph or Josephine)“)

Fantastic names!!

Tahnee writes,

We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side. Theo is more common than I would like but the meaning overtakes that for me in that particular case. [We have a common last name], so we don’t want them to have a similarly common first name. We like a good nickname, but we don’t have them for all our kids, so we can go either way. I’m kind of leaning toward no nickname for this baby just because the last two go by nicknames almost exclusively, but it depends on what we click with. We’d also like a different first initial than the other kids, though I would be ok with like an M name if it’s a girl, because then it would be just the two girls who match.

Names we’ve thrown around as contenders:

Perpetua (nn Poppy)

Eve

Gemma

Fulton (but I don’t know if this is a Midwest dialect thing or what, but I am worried about people saying “Fult’n” without actually saying the O sound)

Names we wouldn’t use because they belong to family/friends:

Stella

Katherine

Frances

Therese

Anne

Felicity

Timothy

Anthony

Stephen

Matthew

Olivia/Oliver

Dominic

James

Peter

Double first names (like John Paul)

I really love the names Tahnee and her husband chose for their older children. They’re certainly saintly, and they fit well with how Tahnee defined their style: “We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side.” I also felt that they can have a definite British feel — Simon almost always has that feel for me, and with brothers Benedict (like Cumberbatch) and Louis (like the little prince), I can see Margaret/Maggie and Theodore/Theo having a Brit feel as well. The fact that they’re considering Perpetua/Poppy and Gemma adds to that as well! It’s a subtle enough vibe that it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it did help me when I was trying to come up with name ideas that I thought they would like.

One thing that jumped out at me is that each of the names they picked for their kiddos, both first names and middle names, were chosen because of a personal connection — many are family names (Valentine, Margaret, Dora, Louis, Joseph), some they just liked (Simon, Maggie), others (Kolbe, Benedict, Andrew, Theodore) were chosen for Tahnee’s hubby’s patron saint/their church/the novena Tahnee said/the perfect meaning. These are all fantastic reasons to choose names, but I worry that my usual method of coming up with new ideas for parents — finding names that are style matches for the names they’ve already used and like per the (affiliate link) Baby Name Wizard’s suggestions of boy and girl names that are similar to each entry in terms of style/feel/popularity — won’t quite cut it. Hopefully I’m wrong! (Also, I’m astonished that their twins were born on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when they’d already planned to use Kolbe as a middle name and their due date was nowhere near his feast day. That’s amazing! As is the fact that it was later in pregnancy that Tahnee discovered she was expecting twins! Wow!)

Before getting into my new ideas, here are my thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Perpetua nn Poppy: This is a fantastic idea! It absolutely goes along with the gentle Brit feel of the rest of the kiddos’ names, and is a lovely Marian name. I’ve also seen Pippa as a nickname for Perpetua, and my friend who has a little Perpetua calls her Tua.
  • Eve: Lovely and trim, I love it! I really love short first names with longer middle names or vice versa (like Margaret Dora). Something like Eve Perpetua maybe?
  • Gemma: One of my favorites. It, too, has decent usage in England.
  • Fulton: What Tahnee described — Fult’n — is a problem for many people! It’s either called an elision or perhaps a glottal stop (or a combination — it was hard to figure out the difference for this example — if you know, please tell me!) and is very common — I’m not sure if it’s more common in some regions than others, but I do think it’s one of those things that they’ll encounter frequently, so if Tahnee really hates it, maybe Fulton isn’t the best first name for them — maybe better as a middle?

From the names they can’t use, I thought Felicity and Oliver were two names I almost certainly would have suggested otherwise, too bad!

I did do my usual research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, and felt somewhat disappointed by what I found. Not that they aren’t beautiful names! But I didn’t think any of the results really fit the “easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side” criteria Tahnee said she likes, nor did they have the sparkle of Perpetua nicknamed Poppy, for example (a truly unexpected name with an unexpected nickname, so fun!). So after compiling a list of names that the BNW says are style matches for this family, I also took some time to look through the birth announcements at British Baby Names, and got a couple of ideas from there, too. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Tahnee’s baby:

Girl

(1) Moira (or Maura)

My husband and I were actually brainstorming names that had a British feel to us (I also posed the question on the blog), and Moira was one that I thought had promise for this family. Though it’s technically an Irish name (a form of Mary), there are some English actresses with the name, and Wendy from Peter Pan’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I’ve mostly heard it said MOY-ra, but sometimes MOR-ah, which is also how the similar Maura is said (also an Irish form of Mary) — maybe they’d like to consider Maura instead? (This is the only name I’m suggesting that repeats an initial, and only because Tahnee said an M might be okay for a girl!) Here is a birth announcement I did for a little Moira, in case it’s helpful to see one in real life and what her siblings are named (not mentioned in that post is that she went on to have a sister named Genevieve Immaculee Grace). (Neither Moira nor Maura are in the top 1000.)

(2) Rosa/Rose/Rosamond

Rosa is a style match for Dora, Rose for Louis, and Rosamond for Benedict, and I thought all three had good potential for this family. I think they’re all easy to pronounce and on the uncommon side — Rose is the most popular, at no. 115, while Rosa is no. 650 and Rosamond isn’t in the top 1000. One of the families I’ve worked with who actually lives in England has a Rosamond, so that seemed to make it a good suggestion as well.

(3) Claire/Clare/Clara

Claire and Clara were both results of my research, and I liked that they’re short enough that they won’t get nicknamed, since Tahnee said she might prefer for this baby to not have a nickname. I know she said no double names, but I’ll admit I’ve been loving the idea of sisters Margaret and Mary Clare! (Claire is no. 55, Clare is 800, and Clara is 95.)

(4) Caroline

Margaret, C/Katherine, and Elizabeth are the classic English trio, so I was tempted to suggest both Catherine/Katherine and Elizabeth here. But Katherine’s on their no list, and while I love Elizabeth, if Tahnee doesn’t want a nickname, Elizabeth definitely isn’t for her. However, Caroline is often liked by people who like Catherine, and it’s an actual style match for Margaret. I love the full Caroline, but if Tahnee did decide she wanted a nickname, Callie is a style match for Maggie and is so pretty as a nickname for Caroline. (Caroline is no. 61.)

(5) Cecily

Cecily is the English form of Cecilia and was the usual form used during the Middle Ages. Such a cool background! It’s one of those names that comes across as particularly British to me, and I think it’s easy to pronounce but uncommon (it’s not in the top 1000!).

(6) Annabel

When I was looking through the birth announcements on British Baby Names, one of the first that caught my eye was for a little Annabel (Annabel Octavia Barbara!), and I thought that would be a great suggestion here. I certainly think it’s easy to pronounce and uncommon (Annabel was not in the top 1000 in 2019, but Annabelle was no. 170), but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s apparently a Scottish variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Lovable)! (For that reason, Annabel’s an entry in my book of Marian names.)

(7) Alice

Finally, Alice also caught my eye on the British Baby Names site, and I thought that with the other kids it has that same gentle British vibe. Also, it’s short enough that it doesn’t need a nickname! (No. 73.)

Boy

(1) August

August is a match for Theodore, and while I think the longer Augustine would fit in really well with the other boys, I thought August might be better for avoiding a nickname. (August is no. 167.)

(2) Jude

Jude is a match for Simon and Gemma — what a wonderfully British trio of names! Jude is Catholicky Catholic as well, which is just perfect, and nickname-proof. (It’s no. 153.)

(3) Oscar

I really love Oliver for this family, but since they can’t use Oliver, I thought maybe one of the other O names, and one that is more uncommon. I’m seeing Oscar more and more among the families I work with (here’s one, and here’s another); it’s also a style match for Theo, is pretty nickname-proof, and is the no. 10 name in England and Wales (but no. 205 here).

(4) Henry

I’m guessing Henry might be too common for Tahnee, but it’s a darling name, is a style match for Margaret, Louis, and Theo, and doesn’t have any nicknames but Hank, which I feel like is one of those nicknames you have to make happen. Henry’s the most popular of my suggestions, at no. 12.

(5) Charles

Similar to Henry, Charles might be too common, but again — it’s a great match with the other kids. Charlie’s inevitable, but how cute is Charlie?? I love it! (Charles is no. 51.)

(6) Frederick

As with Annabel, Frederick and Freddie caught my eye in the British Baby Names birth announcements. I love how sophisticated Frederick is, and how sweet and friendly Freddie is. (Frederick is no. 475.)

(7) Hugo (or Hugh)

Finally, Hugo. My husband and I considered it for our last two sons and loved that it’s weighty but sweet at the same time, is familiar but uncommon (no. 460), and doesn’t have a nickname. Hugh is a variant that’s also quite nice! (It’s no. 795.)

And those are my ideas, a mix of research and gut feeling! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister or brother of Simon, Margaret/Maggie, Louis, Benedict/Ben, and Theodore/Theo?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Traditional, vintage, old-timey name for first baby

This consultation is for a first baby! The mama writes,

My husband and I are looking for a name for our first baby. We haven’t found out the baby’s sex. If it’s a boy, his name will be John, which is a family name … For girl names we are stuck and haven’t found one that we are both in love with.

We both definitely lean towards traditional, vintage, old-timey names. I think I’m slightly more adventurous than my husband.

A saint’s name is important to us in either a first or middle name. I’d love to do Mary as a first name, but I do think it’s awfully close to my own name. I would definitely use Mary as a middle name. St. Gerard Majella has been a huge intercessor for us, although I am not sure how to best honor him (Geraldine? Which I am not crazy about.) 

Names that we have discussed:

1. Nora is a top contender for me. I love the Irish-ness of it. My husband likes it, but prefers Eleanor.

2. Cecilia is my husband’s favorite. It feels very sugary-sweet to me. I also know a lot of little Cecilias! 

3. Frances is also a favorite of my husband. I like it, and love Frannie or Frankie as nicknames. I wonder if it’s too old-fashioned?

4. I adore Beatrice as well as the nickname Bea. This is a little “out there” for my husband. 

5. Josephine is a contender. We like Joey and Josie as nicknames. 

6. I think Rose is simple and beautiful. It makes my husband think of Titanic. 

7. Esther is a name I’ve always loved, but is way too old-fashioned for my husband.

Other names that we have talked about and like: Caroline, Lucy, Isla, Leah, Alice, and Laura.”

First off, I love that they’ve chosen John if their baby is a boy. Such a strong, handsome name! You can’t go wrong with John!

Second, I love that the mama said she and her hubby “both definitely lean toward traditional, vintage, old-timey names” — what a blessing that they’re both basically on the same page!

Okay, her first question was about how best to honor St. Gerard Majella (one of my very favorites too! I even started compiling stories on the blog of babies who were the answer to prayers for St. Gerard’s intercession!). I have a few ideas!

  • Majella: She mentioned loving the Irish-ness of Nora. I discovered a while ago that Majella has a reputation for being an Irish name (according to its Behind the Name entry), and it was a top 100 name in Ireland from 1964 to 1970, remaining on the Irish name chart (though somewhat spottily later on) until 2009 (source). Given the other names on their list, I’m not sure these parents would love Majella as a first name (though its built-in nicknames Ella and Ellie can make it feel more doable), but maybe as a middle?
  • Maiella: St. Gerard’s name in his native Italian was Gerardo Maiella — I believe Maiella is said MY-ella, with MAY-ella perhaps being acceptable if they prefer. It’s so pretty! It’s very Italian, while this couple has a more English/Irish sensibility, but again, this could be a perfect middle name.
  • May, Mae: I wonder if May or Mae might feel close enough to Maiella to feel like they could honor St. Gerard? They’d pull double duty as honoring Mary as well, as May/Mae are Mary variants.
  • Margaret: I once heard of a family with a devotion to St. Margaret naming their son Garrett after her — taking the “-garet” ending of Margaret as their inspiration for Garrett, which I loved! Even more fun is that Garrett is derived from Gerard, so if they went in reverse, perhaps Margaret could honor St. Gerard! (In fact, if my last baby had been a girl, I wanted Margaret to be part of her name in honor of St. Gerard.)
  • Lucy or Josephine: According to St. Gerard’s Wikipedia page, the St. Gerard’s Chapel in St. Lucy’s Church in Newark, NJ was dedicated as a national shrine in 1977 and every year near his feast day, there is a big celebration there including a street procession. And St. Joseph’s Church in Dundalk, Ireland does the St. Gerard Majella Annual Novena every year, which is described as the “biggest festival of faith in Ireland.” So perhaps Lucy or Josephine would suit? Especially since they’ve considered them both already!

Those are my ideas for honoring St. Gerard, and I also wanted to address this mama’s hope to use Mary as a first name: I wonder if she has considered a Mary variant as a first name instead, so it didn’t feel so similar to her own name? I mentioned May or Mae above; I also particularly love Maura (or the longer Maureen) and Moira (can be said like Maura, or MOY-ra) for this family — Irish versions that are lovely! (Though they’d knock Nora out of the running for the future.) Molly is an Irish version too, which is wonderful on its own, or it can be used as a nickname for Mary (since it started as a nickname/diminutive of Mary). I have a friend whose given name is Mary, and she goes by Molly, and I know a girl named Maura who uses Molly as her everyday call name. Then there are the non-Mary Marian names — for example, Beatrice, Rose, Lucy, and Isla are all in my book of Marian names! I’ll explain why more specifically below.

So here are my thoughts on the names these parents have discussed, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora too! Eleanor with Nora as a nickname isn’t a terrible compromise, if Mama can get on board with it. Another is Honora, which is described as an Irish name on Behind the Name (and related names Annora and Onóra, which seem a little too offbeat for this couple). Also, I think it’s always helpful to share a name’s popularity, especially for first-time parents, just so they can place the names they like in 2020 context: Nora was no. 29 in 2019 according to the SSA data, Eleanor was no. 27, and neither Honora, Annora, nor Onóra were in the top 1000.
  • Cecilia: Cecilia is also lovely! I wonder if the medieval English variant Cecily might be a better option here — it seems a little less frilly than Cecilia, so maybe a little less overly sweet? I like that they could consider using Lia as a nickname for Cecilia — since they’ve considered Leah, Cecilia nicknamed Lia could be a nice two-for-one option. Cecilia is no. 153, Cecily is not in the top 1000. It’s funny that this mama said she knows a lot of little Cecilias, when, at no. 153, it’s less popular than several other names on their list. It’s definitely important for parents to be aware of any “name pockets” they might be in, whether geographically or faith-wise, because that will definitely color how they see a name, no matter what the stats say.
  • Frances: Frances sounds like a homerun for this family, since both Mom and Dad like it and Mom loves the nicknames Frannie and Frankie! So many “old” names are roaring back into fashion right now, so I wouldn’t let any worries about a name being too “old-fashioned” bother them! Frances was no. 438 in 2019, up from no. 828 in 2007 (its most recent low ranking) — in fact, it’s always been a top 1000 name and was a top 100 name until 1956. When I think “old fashioned,” I don’t think 1956! It’s true that it was at its most popular from 1911 to 1926, when it was a top 10 name, but a name that’s always been in the top 1000 (and most of that time in the top 500) isn’t a name that is irretrievably tied to one time period. And even the most difficult of given names can be salvaged with a great nickname, and they have two that the mama loves — Frannie and Frankie are spunky and sweet and perfect!
  • Beatrice: I mentioned earlier that Beatrice is an entry in my book of Marian names, and it’s for this reason: “As the word beatrix in Latin means ‘she who blesses, makes happy, delights,’ the name Beatrix [of which Beatrice is a variant] can easily refer to Our Lady, who blesses us all and is the Cause of Our Joy (Causa Nostrae Laetitiae).” I love it as a Marian name! And Bea is a darling nickname. Beatrice actually has a similar popularity arc as Frances: it was more popular earlier in the 20th century, then fell in popularity — dropping out of the top 1000 altogether in 1997, 1999, and 2002-2005 — and is on its way back up (no. 562 in 2019).
  • Josephine: Wonderful name, and I too love Joey and Josie. Josephine is no. 89.
  • Rose: Rose is simple and beautiful! And Marian! (Our Lady’s titles Mystical Rose, Golden Rose of Ireland; the roses at Guadalupe and on her feet at Lourdes; the rosary — just to name a few connections.) If Mama loves Rose but Papa’s stuck on Titanic, maybe a longer Rose name? Like Rosemary, Rosemarie (I had a friend a long time ago from Ireland named Rosemarie), Rosalie, or I’ve even seen Rosary as a given name? Rose is no. 115, Rosemary is 409, Rosemarie is not in the top 1000, Rosalie is no. 208, and Rosary is not in the top 1000. Since they like spunky and sometimes tomboyish nicknames, I’ve seen both Rory and Romy as nicknames for Rosemary! Something else to consider is that Josephine nicknamed Josie, and Rose or a Rose name as a given name (with or without Rosie as a nickname) might be too rhymey for sisters going forward.
  • Esther: It’s so funny to see that Mama worries that Frances is too old-fashioned, and Papa worries that Esther is too old-fashioned! All of the names on their list fit neatly into the “traditional, vintage, old-timey names” that the mama said they both like, so I would encourage them both not to worry too much about any name being too old-fashioned! Esther is another one that I see coming back, and nicknames like Essie and Etty are so appealing. Esther is actually more popular (and has almost always been more popular, and more steadily so) than Frances and Beatrice — it was no. 167 in 2019.
  • Caroline: Caroline is a huge hit among the families I do consultations for, usually in honor of St. John Paul II, whose birth name was Karol. I love it! It’s no. 61.
  • Lucy: Lucy’s another name in my book of Marian names, for Our Lady of Light and also Lux Veritas (“Light of Truth”), the name of the 1931 papal encyclical that celebrated the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, during which Mary’s title as Mother of God was declared (Lucy comes from the Latin lux, meaning “light”). Such a sweet name. Lucy is no. 48.
  • Isla: Isla, too, is in my book of Marian names, for Mary’s title Our Lady of the Isles, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland as well as many churches and institutions in the U.S. and Canada devoted to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle. (While I do see Isla as a little bit of an outlier for this family style-wise, I also find myself swoony over sisters Nora, Lucy, and Isla — I love that they’re all four letters and can have an Irishy/British Isles feel.) Isla is no. 57, after having been out of the top 1000 for over 100 years! It entered the top 1000 again (since 1908) in 2008 at no. 623 and rose quickly, so it does have a trendy feel right now, even though it has a long history of usage.
  • Leah: Leah’s one of my favorite of the Old Testament girl names — I love how short and sweet it is. I mentioned earlier that I thought it (along with Isla) is maybe out of sync with the style of the other names this couple is considering — it’s funny that other biblical names like Esther and the more familiar ones like Elizabeth, Sarah, and Anna feel more similar to this couple’s other names but have a different feel than Leah. I wonder why? Anyway, I do like Leah! It’s no. 44.
  • Alice: I actually had Alice as one of my top suggestions for this family until I re-read the mama’s email and realized they’d already considered it! It feels great as a sister to almost all of the other names on their list, and is actually a great example of the “old” and “old-fashioned” names that are coming back: it wasn’t that long ago that Alice was totally a grandmother name to me, but it was no. 73 in 2019, up from no. 328 in 2008 — it’s jumped quite a bit in the last ten years!
  • Laura: Funny enough, while most of the names on this couple’s list are on the rise after having fallen a bit out of fashion, Laura’s actually on the way down. It’s been a strong (top 100) name for all of the twentieth century until it started declining for good in 2002 when it dropped from 86 to 105, and in 2019 it was no. 337. Isla, Leah, and Laura all sound similar enough to me that I think it’s the kind of thing where if they use one of them, the others are probably off the table moving forward. I wonder if any of those three rise to the top as their favorite of them?

Alrighty, so those are my thoughts on the names these parents are considering — now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like and 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. I did so for this couple, and was intrigued by my findings — some of the names were ones I expected, and others were a surprise! I also used different combinations of the names they like (Nora, Cecilia, Beatrice; Josephine, Rose, Esther; Frances, Isla, Lucy) in babynamewizard.com’s Name Matchmaker tool, and was delighted to see confirmation of the names I’d already started scribbling down for them. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Claire/Clare or Clara

The Claire names fit in so nicely with their “traditional, vintage, old-timey names” — they’re sweet and saintly, and the spelling Clare can loop in an Irish feel too. Claire is no. 55, Clare is no. 800 (amazing what difference spelling can make!), and Clara is no. 95.

(2) Julia

I like how Julia has the same -lia ending as Cecilia, but I don’t think anyone would think of Julia as “sugary-sweet” (lovely and feminine, yes, but also maybe a bit more serious?). Like with Cecilia, they could consider Lia as a nickname, or Julie, Jules, and Jude, and even Juliet, as Juliet started as a diminutive of Julia. Julia is no. 99.

(3) Violet

I expected Violet to be a style match for Rose (being that they’re both flower names), but it was also fun to see that it’s a match for Beatrice, Josephine, and Cecily (which I looked up in addition to Cecilia, just to see how they differ stylistically). V or Vee can be a fun, spunky nickname, or Vi (rhymes with “eye”) or even Lettie. Violet is no. 36.

(4) Gemma or Genevieve

I’m including Gemma and Genevieve together because of their nearly identical first-two-syllable sounds. I do love Genevieve, and I think it fits their “old/traditional/vintage” vibe, but something kept me from enthusiastically recommending it — maybe because it’s so French? Gemma has more of that British Isles feel, and is more consistent with the length of name they seem to prefer (ten of their thirteen names are one or two syllables only. Though I’m not disregarding Cecilia, Josephine, and Caroline!). They’re both saintly and lovely! Gemma is no. 198 (after not having ever been in the top 1000 until 2008, so rising fairly quickly) and Genevieve is no. 168 (while almost always being a top 500 name). Genevieve can also take a lot of nicknames, like Genna, Vieve, Vivi, Vee, and Evie.

(5) Ruby or Ruth

I was actually amazed at how well Ruby did here! Between my research in both the BNW book and the web site, it showed up as a style match for basically all of the names on their list! It’s a sweet, vintage-y name that’s actually always been in the top 400 and is currently no. 66. If they don’t like it as a given name, maybe they’d like to consider it as a nickname? I saw it as a nickname for a little girl named Rebecca years ago, and thought that was amazing! I did a spotlight post on Ruby a while ago, and offered some other ideas of given names to get to Ruby as a nickname, like Rosa Beatrice (such a great match for their list!), Ruth Abigail, Roma Benedicta, and Regina Kolbe — combos that have an R first name and a strong B sound in the middle. But let’s go back to Ruth for a minute — it’s a match for Leah and Esther, being an Old Testament name like them, and such a great character in the bible, as well as having the amazing meaning of “friend.” I adore the nickname Ruthie. Ruth is no. 231.

(6) Sadie (or Sarah with the nickname Sadie)

Sadie is a traditional nickname for Sarah, and it feels similar to Ruby to me. And it was a big match for this couple’s style! It definitely has that sweet old-fashioned feel, while also having current appeal: it’s no. 87. They can certainly use Sadie on its own, but I also quite like the idea of using Sarah as the given name and Sadie as a nickname. Sarah is like Esther and Leah (and Ruth above) with being an Old Testament name, but I think it fits more with their other names than Leah does, for example. It reminds me quite a bit of Laura (for which Sarah is also a style match). Sarah was a top ten name from the late 70s until 2002, but like Laura is on its way down (it’s no. 81). However, a friend of mine named her baby girl Sarah two years ago, and I was so pleasantly surprised!

(7) Emilia

Emily popped up a couple times here and there in my research for this family, but it just didn’t feel quite right, I’m not sure why. But I wondered what they’d think of Emilia? It’s St. John Paul’s mother’s name — her cause for canonization is open! Emilia’s on the rise — it’s currently no. 42 after having hung out between 500 and 1000 previous to 2004, and it’s almost identical in sound to Amelia, which is no. 7, but I love that connection to St. JP!

(8) Adelaide

Finally, like Ruby, Adelaide showed up for almost all their names once I finished my research in both the book and the web site! In the book it’s in the category “Elegant Antiques,” which I think it such a great way to describe this couple’s style. Adelaide is actually related to Alice — they’re derived from the same name! And it’s got fun nicknames, like Addie, Ada, and Laidy/Lady. Adelaide’s no. 305.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for this first baby, if a girl?


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: A sister for Lucy and Zelie, but big brother’s name has influence too

Melissa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their third daughter! This little lady joins big siblings:

Graham

Joseph (called Joe/Joey)

Lucy

Zelie

Such a lovely bunch of names!!

Melissa writes,

I was convinced this current baby was a boy, so I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around another girl! … I love the names Lucy and Zelie and just don’t love any other girl names as much! I also want to stay away from names ending in “e”, but I tend to be drawn to those names! 

Names we like but I’m not sure:

  • Isla — this is probably my favorite so far but it seems trendy and popular. Not sure if it goes with the other names. 
  • Claire or Clara — my husband likes Claire but not Clara! My best friend from childhood is a Claire, and I like the idea of changing it up by adding the A. 
  • Nora — I think it’s pretty but husband doesn’t like as much. 
  • Frances — I like this but am scared to use it for some reason. 
  • Amelia — I like it but don’t love it. Husband isn’t the biggest fan. 
  • Vivian — kind of like this, but husband isn’t a fan! 
  • Lillian — this is a family name, but I don’t love Lily, which I think people would call her. 
  • Matilda — love the idea of Tilly, but not sure I want another name ending in “e”. My son Joseph also goes by Joey sometimes. 

We have lots of cousins, so here is a list of names I don’t want to duplicate! 

  • Katherine or Katie
  • Anna 
  • Elizabeth 
  • Margaret (goes by Maggie)
  • Adelaide (goes by Addie)

This was fun to work on! Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie are great names — it was fun to see Graham in there, as I frequently see Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie in the families I work with (and I love each of those names!), but I rarely see Graham — I’m always delighted by an unexpected name! I felt pretty confident about the names that are style matches for Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie, but was really interested to see what names would be revealed as style matches for Graham in my research.

You all know that I always start a consultation 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. I find it to be uncannily accurate! I used Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie, as well as Isla, Claire, Clara, Nora, Frances, Amelia, Vivian, Lillian, and Matilda. All such beautiful names!

Before sharing my new ideas, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the names Melissa and her hubby are considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Isla: Isla is a beautiful name! This mama, who I had the privilege of doing a consultation for, has three daughters named Adelaide, Clairvaux, and Isla, so I chuckled when I saw that Claire is a name Melissa and her hubby are considering and Adelaide is on their list of names they can’t use because they’re cousin names (the fact that Melissa included it as a name they can’t use tells me that she thought I might have suggested it, and/or that she might otherwise like to consider it if it wasn’t already taken). So yes, I think Isla would fit in fine with the other children! It was also pretty cool to see that a style match for both Graham and Isla is Fiona — having a name in common like that tells me that Graham and Isla are pretty well matched, even if it doesn’t explicitly say so in the BNW (the style matches for each entry are restricted to 5-8 names, so not all the style matches will be listed). I will say that Lucy and Zelie come across as super Catholicky Catholic (at least to me, who sees all names through a Catholic lens), while Isla doesn’t have that same feel. It does have fantastic faith connections! Marian ones, even! I wrote a book of Marian names, and Isla is an entry in it! So it can definitely work, and it’s so pretty, but I can see why Melissa wondered if it goes with the other names. I actually love that it’s more closely connected to Graham, because Graham feels like a bit of an outlier (not in a bad way, and not a bad thing!), and using Isla loops him back in. One last thought: Melissa said she’s worried that Isla is trendy and popular, which I do understand. I thought it would be good to look up the actual numbers: Isla was actually in the top 1000 in both 1905 and 1908! Wow! But wasn’t so again until 2008, when it roared onto the scene at no. 623 (likely due to actress Isla Fisher, I’m guessing); since then, it’s continued to climb and is currently at no. 57. So it’s had a quick ascent, which gives it its trendy feeling, but Lucy and Joseph are both more popular at nos. 48 and 24, respectively, so I wouldn’t say it’s overly popular for this family. (Zelie isn’t in the top 1000 [but Zaylee has been since 2015 and is currently no. 735], and Graham is no. 180, so this family’s names are kind of all over popularity-wise — which is great! It means there are a whole lot of names that would be comfortable in their family.)
  • Claire or Clara: So funny to me that Melissa’s hubby likes Claire but Melissa prefers Clara! They actually do have separate entries in the BNW, with different style matches, so there is a different feel to them both. Interestingly, Claire is a style match for Graham, and Lillian from Melissa’s list is a match for Clara. Since I mentioned it above, I wonder what they would think of Clairvaux? It would be another way of changing it up, like Melissa said she liked the idea of doing, and adding a patron saint (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it could still take her husband’s preference, Claire, as a nickname. Claire is no. 55; Clara is 95; and Clairvaux is not in the top 1000.
  • Nora: I love Nora too. It can be a nickname for Eleanor and Honora — might either of those appeal to Melissa’s husband? I was also interested to see that the similar Nola is a style match for Isla — maybe that one letter change would make a difference? Nola can be a nickname for Finola/Fionnuala, or it can stand on its own. It’s also been used secularly as shorthand for New Orleans (New Orleans, LA = N.O.L.A.), so they could maybe think of it as an honor name for St. Joan of Arc, since she was nicknamed “The Maid of Orleans.” Nora is no. 29; Eleanor is 27; Honora is not in the top 1000; Finola and Fionnuala aren’t in the top 1000; and Nola is 606.
  • Frances: Aw Frances, how sweet! But I totally get that Melissa’s “scared” as it does have an older feel than her other kids’ names. I also think its nicknames are part of its appeal, and if she doesn’t love the idea of an “ee”-ending nickname, than Frannie and Francie and Frankie would be out. Frances is no. 438.
  • Amelia: I would be inclined to cross this off of their list, since Melissa said she doesn’t love it and neither does her husband. I wonder if switching to the Emilia spelling would help? It’s the name of St. John Paul’s mother, whose cause for canonization is open! I think Amelia is probably way more popular than they’d like, at no. 7, while Emilia is no. 42.
  • Vivian: I’d say the same as Amelia — I would consider crossing it off the list. V-heavy names that families who like Vivian often like include Evangeline and Genevieve — both of those have the similar faithy feel as Lucy and Zelie to me, and Evie and Vivi are such cute nicknames (but they end in that ee sound, gah!). Vivian is no. 96; Evangeline is 275; and Genevieve is 168.
  • Lillian: I love that Lillian’s a family name, and I thought, if Melissa didn’t want it to be reduced to Lily, maybe it would be best as a middle name? Also, thinking of Isla and Lillian, I wondered if she might like Lila as a first name, in honor of Lillian but without the risk of Lily, or Lila as a nickname for Lillian that she would enforce through firm and consistent correction of others if they call her Lily? I think the sound of Lila — rhyming with Isla, having the long I instead of Lily’s short I — would move everyone’s mindset away from Lily. Lillian is no. 37; Lila is 227.
  • Matilda: Oh yeah, Tilly’s darling. I don’t have a good suggestion here! It’s a pickle! Matilda’s no. 447.

Okay, on to my new ideas! As mentioned, these are a result of my research in the Baby Name Wizard — looking at the style of Melissa’s children’s names as a whole and trying to find names that would fit in with that — but also I gave a lot of weight to Lucy and Zelie specifically, together, and what names would feel like their sister, with special excitement for names that also loop Graham in a bit more (handsome Joseph goes with a broader range of names). Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Gemma

I think Gemma is such a slam dunk for this family! It shares with Graham the style match of Fiona, which means they’re style matches for each other, even though they weren’t listed as so, and Isla is also a style match for Gemma! So it’s already firmly in the world of names Melissa and her husband like, and I like that it specifically matches up with Graham. Additionally, and this really is what sealed it for me, it matches up exactly well with Lucy and Zelie in terms of the names that I see Catholic families of today considering. It’s two syllables, like them, but doesn’t have an “ee” nickname. St. Gemma Galgani is much loved and makes a great patron! Lucy, Zelie, and Gemma are fantastic sister names! (Also, the little Isla mentioned above was almost Gemma!) I quite like Gemma Lillian, lovely. Gemma is no. 198.

(2) Stella

I like that Stella is a style match for both Nora and Matilda — it brings in two of the names Melissa and her hubs like in a way that’s similar to Lucy and Zelie. And it’s a Marian name! It refers to Our Lady’s title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and I like that it doesn’t have a natural “ee” nickname. If they decided they might like a longer name, I love both Maristella and Stellamaris. But I prefer just Stella for this family! Stella is no. 39. I don’t love it with Lillian, but Stella Claire is lovely! If you’re into name meanings, it has the nice added layer of meaning of “clear star,” since Claire means “clear” and Stella means “star” (could be great for a Christmastime baby?).

(3) Elise or Alice

I was so interested to see that Elise is a style match for Graham and Claire, and the similar-but-different Alice is a match for Lucy and Frances! I’m not sure which one I like better for this baby girl — on the one hand, Elise is French like Zelie, and I love that it’s an Elizabeth variant (but then again, maybe it would be too similar to cousin Elizabeth?); on the other hand, I like that Alice is a match for Lucy and has Graham’s gentle Brit feel. Elise is no. 207, and Alice is 73.

(Bonus) Ave

The Mini Consultation is for three ideas, but I had this fourth idea that’s a little offbeat, so I thought I’d include it as a bonus. I mentioned Evangeline earlier, and its sweet nickname of Evie; additionally, Evelyn is a match for both Amelia and Vivian, which made me think maybe an Eve- name might appeal to Melissa and her hubs. But Eve, Evelyn, and Evangeline all lend themselves naturally to Evie, so if they’re trying to avoid that, I wonder what they’d think of Ave? Like in Ave Maria? I’ve never seen it used as a given name, but I included it as an entry in my book after hearing about a little girl named Ava Maria, in honor of Our Lady. Ava is certainly lovely, but it made me wonder if Ave would be doable, and I think it is! I think it can definitely hold its own with sisters Lucy and Zelie.

And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Graham, Joseph, Lucy, 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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs a name with meaning and a cute “little brother” nickname

Kelly and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Patrick Robert
James Gregory
Peter Thomas

Such fantastic names! So classic and handsome!

Kelly writes,

I am so excited to have this consultation done as we have been at a total loss for names, even after prayer and extensive research of names. We are expecting baby boy number four … We love classic, strong, traditional names. We’d love to find a name that goes with our other boys but that also isn’t too popular and has meaning behind it. We have chosen Francis as the middle name after St. Francis De Sales … Andrew, Joseph and John are out … Names that we have considered are William, Edward (Teddy), George (doesn’t sound as great with our last name), Henry, Maximilian (doesn’t necessarily fit with the others). I’d love to find a name that also has a cute nickname given that he’ll be the youngest of the pack.”

Okay! *Rubs hands together* 😀 Kelly and her husband have a great list, but I’m eager to see if I can help them find a name they really love!

I love that they’ve chosen Francis as the middle name, for St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorites. I wonder if Kelly and her husband might like to consider it as a first name though? Especially since Kelly said they’d love to find a name that has a cute nickname since their little guy will be the youngest of a pack of boys. Frankie strikes me as that kind of nickname, so cute!

I do love the other the names they’re considering! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • William: Will, Liam, and Billy are all great nicknames that could go well with the other boys
  • Edward/Teddy: Super cute, I agree! I love St. Edward the Confessor
  • George: I agree that it’s not great with their last name
  • Henry: I love Henry, such a sweet name
  • Maximilian: I can see what Kelly means about Maximilian not being the best fit with Patrick, James, and Peter — if they’re considering it because they love St. Maximilian Kolbe, maybe they’d like to consider his birth name, Raymond, instead? Patrick, James, Peter, and Raymond go together a bit better I think, and Ray’s a cute nickname

I also noted that Kelly would prefer a name that isn’t too popular, so I looked up the popularity of the names they’ve already used and those they’re considering, to get a sense of what kind of popularity we’re talking about. These are the numbers based on the most recent data (2018):

Patrick: 189
James: 4
Peter: 211

William: 3
Edward: 169
George: 127
Henry: 16
Maximilian: 448

So Kelly and her hubs have a mix of names that are quite popular (James, William, Henry), and others that are outside the top 100 (Patrick, Peter, Edward George, Maximilian). In my suggestions below, I included a mix as well. Here are the numbers for the names I’ve already suggested:

Francis: 480
Raymond: 299

I didn’t forget that Kelly also wanted to have a name with meaning, so I definitely took that into account when looking for names that I thought she and her hubby might like. 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. I did that research for Kelly, and looked for names among the results that had a good faith meaning. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Michael
I was pretty influenced by their oldest son’s name: Patrick with brothers James and Peter says “classic Irish Catholic,” which is the theme I had in my head the most when looking for names for this family (though not exclusively). Michael is one of those names! It’s no. 14, which is similar to Henry and less popular than James and William. Michael Francis is so handsome, and Mikey is an adorable nickname.

(2) Timothy
Timothy is one of my favorite names in the “classic Irish Catholic” theme. And being that it’s also a New Testament name, it seems like it can really strengthen the tie among all Kelly’s boys’ names. I love the nickname Timmy! Timothy is right in that sweet spot at no. 165.

(3) Charles
Because Patrick isn’t a biblical name and James and Peter are, I definitely wanted to include some names that aren’t biblical. Charles is a match for this family’s style, and has been used quite a bit recently by Catholics wishing to honor St. John Paul II (his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles). There are also loads of other Sts. Charles, it’s a great, saintly name! And Charlie is so darling. Charles is no. 52.

(4) Oliver
Oliver has shot up the charts recently and is currently at no. 5, which is nice for their James, since his name is so popular at no. 4. It’s also got that nice Irish connection like Patrick, with St. Oliver Plunkett being a great patron; they could also consider it to have biblical connections if they wanted, with the Mount of Olives and the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane being two prominent examples. I love Oliver Francis, that’s stunning. And is anything cuter than Ollie?!

(5) Martin
I like Martin quite a bit — I would definitely consider it classic, strong, and traditional. I love the nickname Marty too, I can definitely see a youngest brother being called Marty! Martin Francis sounds wonderful together. Martin is no. 272.

(6) Kenneth
I wonder what they would think of Kenneth? Kenny is such a great, friendly nickname, and there are two Sts. Kenneth — one Irish and one Welsh. Kenneth is no. 226.

(7) Kevin
I wasn’t surprised to see Kevin listed as a style match for Patrick — like Patrick, it’s a classic, strong, traditional Irish name, and it’s a saint’s name as well. I know of Kevins who go by Kev, which is pretty cool, and I could see Kevvy being a brother nickname when he’s small. Kevin’s no. 125.

(8) David
Finally, David is a style match for this family, which struck me as having a good feel because it’s biblical, like James and Peter, but Old Testament, which gives it its own thing. And my grandfather, who was born and raised in Ireland, was named David, so that felt like a great connection for Patrick (again, totally subjective here, but my consultations are always a mix of research and gut feeling!). Davy is one of my favorite nicknames, I love it. David is no. 122.

Those were all my ideas for Kelly’s baby boy, but after I sent them to her she responded with another question that she’d be delighted to get your thoughts on as well:

Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas! This truly has been so difficult, I never thought naming could be this tough! Hah We are leaning towards William given that it like Patrick, it isn’t biblical, it goes with the other boys, and it was a popular Irish immigrant name (my husband’s great-grandfather). There is another name that randomly came up that I was going to get your thoughts on, Grady. Grady seems unique, but not totally out there and also has the Irish attachment. It also has the meaning noble, like Patrick. Does William Grady (call him Grady) or Grady itself work with the other boys? Does it seem too far off the beaten path? I wish there was a saint association with it to tie it together.”

I told her that I love William, just because it’s great, but I love her reasons behind it too. And I love Grady! I had it on my own list back when I thought I could sway my husband toward more Irishy names, haha!

I took a quick look on CatholicSaints.info for any saintly connection for Grady, and found that one of the priests who is part of the Irish Martyrs was John O’Grady; here’s another entry that mentions him — he’s not canonized, but that could be a nice faith connection for Kelly and her husband to consider (and perhaps she and her family could take it on as a spiritual exercise to pray for his cause for canonization — it appears there isn’t much known about him, including the date he died — maybe their prayers could help bring his holiness to light!). I’m sorry I could find anything more direct!

As for fitting with the other boys, I think Patrick, James, Peter, and Grady sound fine together. Certainly Grady is a different style, which might feel a little jarring to people who really pay attention to those kinds of things (name nuts, mostly!), but the fact that it’s his middle name remedies that nicely — Patrick, James, Peter, and William are exactly perfectly matched. If any of Kelly’s older boys have offbeat nicknames for their names, that would loop Grady in a bit more too, but even if not I think it’s fine! And it opens up some more possibilities for future boys’ names, if they were so blessed.

And that’s all I got! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Patrick, James, and Peter? What do you think of Grady, either as a given name or as a middle name that he’d go by?


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: Nicknames for Lawrence (and some other ideas too)

M. and her husband are expecting their first baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 She writes,

We very recently found out we’re expecting again. I’ve had 3 previous losses, 2 very early and 1 at 11 weeks, so we are cautiously hopeful. I am a huge name nerd and we have been discussing names for years. We aren’t planning to find out gender so we want to have a name picked for each.

Our girl name is set — Maria Grace. My Mom and I are both variants of Mary and all of my Aunts and many cousins have the middle name Marie. I wanted to continue the Marian tradition with a little girl. I’m a chemist and my husband is in IT, so the name is also a nod to Marie Curie and Grace Hopper.

Boy names have been harder, with our last pregnancy, we had kind of settled on Nicholas Daniel, but neither of us were in love. Other names in the mix were Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard and James. We wanted something that as he grows up, has a lot of nickname opportunities to fit his personality. My worry was that Nicholas Daniel dated too much into the 90s when Nicholas was most recently popular.

While we were trying to conceive this little green bean, I had a dream about a little boy, Anthony James, and grew attached to the name. It’s still a contender, but it doesn’t feel perfect.

A bit randomly I was scrolling a list of names that have never been out of the top 1000, and saw Lawrence. We both really liked it immediately! It just felt right in a way other names hadn’t. But is it an old man’s name? I know ‘old’ names are coming back, but I’ve not heard Lawrence mentioned for a baby ever. We wanted a harder middle name sound and think Lawrence Kolbe had a great flow, with great patron saints as well. We’re about 94% certain this is our boy pick (and open to suggestions).

And after that novel of explanation, the main point of us wanting the consultation: I loathe the nickname Larry for Lawrence and it seems like that’s the most accepted one. I would love suggestions for nicknames! I’m trying to make Rory fit because I adore the name but it’s not intuitive. Does that matter?

I absolutely love their girl name — Maria Grace is a gorgeous combo and sounds perfect for this family, for the reasons mentioned and also, of course, its Marian-ness. Beautiful!

As for their previous boy names, I think Nicholas Daniel is very handsome! Nicholas is exactly as M. described it — lots of nicknames to fit any personality — and I would include “classic” and “saintly” as well. I wouldn’t let its 90s popularity bother them — it entered the top 100 in 1972 and hasn’t left since, coming it at no. 74 in 2018 (the most recent year the data is available), so even though its top ten years were in the 90s, it’s a consistent, solid favorite. I continue to hear of babies named Nicholas — my husband and I considered it as well!

The other names they considered — Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard, and James — are all similarly classic and saintly! Anthony was a top ten name from 2006-2008, and James has been since 2014 (no. 4 in 2018), which I think put them in good company with Nicholas. I love M.’s “dream name” as well — Anthony James is very handsome!

BUT! I mostly love Lawrence Kolbe!! What a fantastic name!! Please let me alleviate M.’s worries right away — I think Lawrence is wonderful for a little boy born in 2021! She’s right that it’s had an “old man” feel up until recently, but as she said, “old” names are definitely coming back. My eight-year-old actually had a Lawrence in his class in preschool — he went by the full Lawrence all the time, and his sister was Penelope, which is very popular currently, so I always felt like his parents had their fingers on the pulse of what’s up and coming.

I think M.’s question about nicknames for Lawrence is perfect, and so fun. As soon as she said Rory I LOVED it — I very much want them to name their son Lawrence Kolbe and call him Rory! That is simply wonderful!! I know that it might not seem intuitive, but when I was compiling a list of alternate nickname ideas, I remembered Laurie from Little Women, and Rory is absolutely not that big a leap from Laurie (or Lawrie). It reminds me of Bob for Robert, for example, or Daisy for Margaret, or Tony for Anthony, or Betsy/Lily/Buffy for Elizabeth — all traditional nicknames for the given names that don’t start with the same letter as the given name and in many cases aren’t intuitive at all. I say, go for it! (In fact, I’d included Lawrence as a possible patron saint for a little guy named Rory in this post!)

However, I can always come up with more ideas! I looked through the entry for Lawrence on Behind the Name for ideas, and came up with the following:

(1) Lars
This is a Scandinavian and German form of Lawrence, and makes an easy nickname.

(2) Lenz
Another German variant of Lawrence, and cool with that ending “z.”

(3) Rens, Ren
Rens is a Dutch variant, and I’ve actually seen Ren used as a nickname for Lawrence.

(4) Enzo, Renzo
Enzo and Renzo are both Italian short forms, and Renzo has Spanish usage as well.

(5) Larkin
What a sweet name! It’s a Medieval English diminutive of Lawrence.

In addition to those, Rence, Law, Laz (I think this is a very Australian construct — giving nicknames that end in Z, like Baz for Barry, Shaz for Sharon, etc.), and Law are all doable. A crazy but maybe really cool idea could be Lolek — it’s the nickname St. John Paul II went by as a child, I believe it’s a diminutive of his name Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, but it makes total sense for Lawrence Kolbe, and gets an extra saint reference in there! (Here’s a little guy named Lolek whose [belated] birth announcement I posted to the blog.)

Those are my ideas for nicknames for Lawrence, but M. also said they were open to suggestions, and their name dilemma and taste, as well as M.s profession as a chemist and her hubby’s work in IT (and the fact that M. used “about 94%” to describe their level of certainty about Lawrence Kolbe as their frontrunner — 94% is very precise! I love it!), reminded me of two consultations I did previously: one for a family who loves science and technology (I’d suggested Charles for Babbage and Hopper for Grace for them!) and one for a family who wanted a science or nature reference included in each of their children’s names (I’d suggested Nicholas for them, after Tesla; this family specifically wanted alliterative first+middle combos, so Nicholas Neri was my full suggestion — it’s unexpected-but-saintly middle name reminds me of Lawrence Kolbe!). So I looked back at those consultations to see what other boy names I’d suggested and thought these might be nice additions to M.’s list:

(1) Gerard
This had actually been inspired by the character of Ged in the fantasy/sci-fi Earthsea series, and I’d previously seen Ged suggested as a nickname for Gerard, and St. Gerard is amazing, so I love the idea of Gerard nicknamed Ged — very like Lawrence nicknamed Rory! For reference, Gerard hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 2002 (I find that so surprising!).

(2) George
George is one of the first “old man” names I observed come back into fashion — a friend of mine named her son George ten years ago and I remember being surprised, and now I know so many little guys named George! Fr. George LeMaitre was the priest who came up with the Big Bang Theory, and the nicknames Geo and Geordie have that unexpectedness that Rory for Lawrence and Ged for Gerard have. George was no. 127 in 2018.

(3) Reginald
Reginald’s inspiration for that science+nature family was theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (they wanted a theologian’s name in addition to a science/nature name), and Reginald jumped out at me for M. and her husband when I was looking back through those consultations, as I think it has a really “Lawrence” feel. I don’t have any cool nickname ideas, but if they like Reginald, I could certainly try to come up with some! (And if any of you know of any, I’d love to hear them!) Reginald was no. 831 in 2018, which I find fascinating. Old is definitely new!

And those are all my ideas for this little bean! What do you all think? What nicknames for Lawrence and/or other name(s) would you suggest if they have a boy? Please keep M. and her baby in your prayers!


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: Tiebreaker baby needs not-too-popular, classic, Catholic name with a great nickname

We had the opportunity to go away for the weekend, so we took it! So I missed wishing you all a happy feast of St. Dominic (Saturday) — a big deal for this lay Dominican! — and of St. Edith Stein (Sunday) — a big deal for me because it’s my second oldest’s birthday (he turned 14)! Such a great couple of feast days!

Nicole and her husband Brenden both — separately — survived accidents which left them with severe traumatic brain injuries, then met each other in rehab and got married, became motivational speakers with the so-needed message that every life has a purpose, and are expecting their fifth baby — a tie-breaking boy! (Read more about their mission and ministry on their web site!) Each of their children is extra miraculous, since Nicole had been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. Such an inspiring couple and family!

Their littlest guy joins big sibs:

Faith Marie
Seth William
Veronica Kateri
Kieran James

Of course I love all these names! I love how they each have at least one name that’s a little more unexpected: Faith, Seth, Veronica, Kateri, and Kieran are all out of the top 100, coming in at numbers 122, 376, 357, not top 1000, and 497, respectively, in 2018. I like that a lot!

Nicole writes,

We like relatively classic names that are not unheard of but not super popular either … I think finding a name is so so so difficult for us for a few reasons:

(1) Our friends are almost completely Catholic and have pretty much chosen all of the best names

(2) I love nicknames and if there is a controversial nickname or one that I don’t care for it gets excluded

(3) So far baby names we’ve thought were “the one” but changed from are:

— Christian (I think it sounds redundant with big sister Faith)
— Maximilian (my husband has a cousin named Max)
— Kellan (I think the names Kieran & Kellan are too much next to each other and we would potentially like to use Cole as the middle name and [I don’t want to use the initials KC])

I would love it if you could find name options with either a -ca or -an ending [like Veronica or Kieran] of a letter in common with all of the [kids’ names] … we have a special devotion to the rosary … A Marian name might be good for this babe as I feel (like so many other people) a special devotion to Our Lady … [also] I was diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) [and] I was hoping you could offer a name option of someone that either lived with a sickness their entire life (similar to me), who cared for the sick, or a patron saint of respiratory, joint, arthritis.”

I love that Nicole let me know about their devotion to the rosary and Our Lady, as well as her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Those kinds of things are really meaningful to me as well, and I kept them in mind as I was working on this for her. I admit I couldn’t figure out a connection with EDS (I looked it up quickly, but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant — if any of you know of anything, please share!), but Marian and Rosarian connections are my specialty! (Or at least, one of my favorite inspirations for names!)

Before getting to my list of suggestions for this family, I want to address the names that they’ve considered (and even thought were “the one”) and decided against (they gave me good extra info to use in my research). I thought it might be helpful to hear my thoughts on those names:

  • Christian: Such a great name, one of my favorites! I can see what Nicole means about Christian being redundant with big sister Faith
  • Kellen: I totally agree that Kieran and Kellen are too similar, unfortunately, especially with Kellen immediately following Kieran
  • Maximilian: I love St. Maximilian Kolbe, so I love seeing this name on their list! If Max is the biggest reason that they don’t want to use it, I wonder if a different nickname would help? My favorite nickname suggestion for Maximilian is Miles — I’ve suggested it many times to parents in other consultations. Not only do I think Miles is a cool and totally possible nickname for Maximilian, but it has Marian connections of its own! I wrote a book of Marian baby names and included Miles in it for this reason:

Miles is an Anglicization of an old Irish name — in this case, Maolmhuire, meaning ‘servant of the Virgin Mary.’”

And Maximilian is in my book too! I wrote:

This name points to the greatness of Our Lady, as Maximilian means ‘greatest,’ as well as to St. Maximilian Kolbe … who had a great love for Our Lady

So I could see Maximilian nicknamed Miles being a great option for this baby! However, if Nicole still doesn’t want to go with Maximilian, I wonder what they would think of Miles as a given name, for the reasons I outlined above?

I love that they’re considering Cole as a middle name — in honor of Nicole, I’m assuming? I love the name Cole, and think honoring Mom in a son’s name is fantastic. However, I have a few ideas below that wouldn’t go so well with Cole as a middle name, so I offered some alternative ideas, in case they’re helpful.

In terms of finding a saint connected to Nicole’s autoimmune disease, St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of arthritis, and St. Bernardine of Siena is the patron of respiratory illnesses. I didn’t think either one is their style, though I included St. Alphonsus below in the list of “rosary saints” (and he’s got a bunch of amazing names included in his [very long] given name!). Nicole’s thought about a saint who lived with a sickness his/her entire life reminded me immediately of Bl. Margaret of Castello (she was a lay Dominican! And patroness of disabled/physically challenged people!), so I included a name connected to her below.

Alrighty, so when I was looking for names that Nicole and Brenden might like, I took into account how Nicole said she’d love name options with either a -ca ending, like Veronica, or an -an ending, like Kieran, or a letter in common with all the kids. I kept nicknames in mind, as well as the fact that they prefer more classic-sounding names, and the aforementioned devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Otherwise, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they 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. I did so for this family, and then took a look at the list of results to see if any names jumped out as being similar to more than one of their children’s names, as well as those with great faith connections. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this baby boy:

(1) Gabriel
I noticed Gabriel immediately as it’s a style match for Faith and Christian! Additionally, Gabriel is incredibly Marian and Rosarian because of his role in the Annunciation. Its traditional nickname is Gabe, which I love because it’s so friendly, but I’ve also seen Gib and Gil, both of which I think are amazing. I quite like Gabriel Cole.

(2) Caleb
Though Nicole had suggested a -ca name or an -an name to match up with Veronica or Kieran, I focused more on the fact that both had strong K sounds (as do Kateri, Christian, and Kellen), and hoped to find names with a similar sound. Caleb seemed like a perfect candidate! I love that it not only has the strong K sound like Kieran, but also begins with the same Ca that Veronica ends with, is biblical like Seth, and was an actual style match for Faith per the BNW. Caleb Cole isn’t the best flow, perhaps, but maybe Caleb Maximilian? Caleb Francis, for St. Francis de Sales (Nicole told me in another message that she was born on the feast of St. Francis de Sales)? Caleb Brenden, for Dad?

(3) Kolbe
Very similar in sound to Caleb, I wonder what they would think of Kolbe as a first name? It’s got that strong K sound that ties Veronica and Kieran together, and is a non-Max way of honoring St. Maximilian Kolbe. It could also possibly nod to Nicole, because of the “Cole” sound at the beginning? Kolbe Francis and Kolbe Brenden are both nice options.

(4) Dominic
Maximilian has that heavy, monastery feel of names like Augustine, Benedict, and Dominic, and when I saw Dominic listed as a style match for it, I thought it could be awesome for this family. Not only is it a great name, but according to tradition, St. Dominic was given the rosary by Our Lady and the Dominicans have always promoted it. Additionally, it’s got Veronica’s and Kieran’s hard K sound, and the ending “nic” could be a nod to Nicole! Some nicknames include Dom/Dommy (like Tom/Tommy, so cute!) and Nic/Nicky/Nico. I quite like Dominic Cole, as well as Dominic Francis, Dominic de Sales, and Dominic Brenden. It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and I spotlighted it on the blog here (a big reason was to assure those who aren’t of Italian or Spanish heritage that Dominic is an amazing option!).

(5) Patrick
The more I think about Patrick, the more I like it for this family. It’s got the hard K sound, it’s Irish like Kieran and Brenden, and it’s got some really cool nickname ideas. If they like Pat, that’s great — I know a few men named Pat, and it works well. They could go the ultra Irish route with Paddy, which I also love! But I think they might prefer something like Packy or Pax, both of which I’ve seen used for Patrick, and I think they really help freshen up the name. Also, Pax means “peace”! They could use it as a nod to Our Lady of Peace, giving it a Marian spin. Patrick Cole, Patrick Francis, Patrick de Sales, and Patrick Brenden are all really handsome.

(6) Nicholas or Nico
I’m guessing that maybe they’ve already considered Nicholas and decided they like Cole more? But it’s a style match for Veronica and Christian, it’s got the hard K sound, it’s a perfect way to name a boy after Nicole, and they can totally use Cole as a nickname. It’s also biblical like Seth. Nicholas Francis would be a really nice way to honor Nicole — the male version of her first name and the Saint whose feast day is the day she was born! If Nicholas is too popular for their taste, then maybe Nico as a given name? Nico Francis?

(7) Luke
Luke is a style match for Faith and Seth (!), it’s got the hard K of Veronica and Kieran, and it’s a super Marian name! Luke’s gospel is considered the most Marian, as it contains the accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat, which is why it’s in my book. Luke Cole doesn’t sound so great, but maybe Luke Nicholas? Luke Francis? Luke de Sales? Luke Brenden?

(8) Owen
Owen is a match for Faith, it has the -n ending of Kieran (not -an, but the -en has a similar sound), and it has that Irishy feel of Kieran and Brenden (and Kellan, to a certain extent). It’s also the last name of one of my favorite saints — St. Nicholas Owen — so something like Owen Nicholas or even Owen Cole would be extra meaningful. I also love Owen Francis and Owen Brenden.

(9) Isaac
Isaac is totally based on the fact that it’s biblical like Seth and has the hard K of Veronica and Kieran — it’s such a great name! Ike is a traditional nickname for it, as is Zac. Isaac Francis, Isaac Cole, Isaac Nicholas, and Isaac Brenden are all great.

(10) Garrett
Garrett is inspired by Bl. Margaret Castello — and I know of a little boy named in honor of a different St. Margaret, because his dad has a devotion to her, and the name they chose to honor her in a boy was Garrett (because of the -garet ending of Margaret). I love Garrett! It’s got an Irishy feel, and is actually derived from Gerard, which is another great patron — St. Gerard Majella is the patron of pregnant women and unborn children.

Those are all my “official” suggestions for first names for Nicole and Brenden’s little guy, but there are also a bunch of Saints and other names that relate to the Rosary that might be perfect as middle name contenders (or maybe first name ideas as well?), which I wanted to include in case one of them hits the right note (these are all from my book):

  • Bl. Alan de la Roche (also known as Alain de la Roche, Alan de Rupe, Alano de la Roca, and Alanus [de] Rupe)
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (his full name: Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori!)
  • Bl. Bartolo Longo (Bartolo is a variant of Bartholomew)
  • Benedict (it means “blessed” and as such can refer to Our Lady; there are of course a bunch of Sts. Benedict)
  • Clement (means “merciful” or “gentle,” and is used as an adjective for Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen)
  • Francis (can be used for St. Francisco, one of the children at Fatima)
  • St. Louis de Montfort (he’s a huge Marian saint and wrote the classic The Secret of the Rosary)
  • Rosario (means “rosary”)
  • Royce (as I wrote in my book: “This traditional male name is from a medieval variant of Rose, which makes Royce an entirely appropriate way to name a little boy for Our Lady”)

And those are my ideas for Nicole and Brenden’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran?


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: Ideas for baby girl whose parents like names like Bridget, Rowan, and Saoirse

Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s second baby a couple of years ago, and the resulting birth announcement, and I’m excited to post this new consultation for baby no. 3 — another girl! This little lady joins big sibs (alt characters for privacy):

F!nni@n Dani3l
Gr33r E!leen

I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!

Megan writes,

At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”

(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)

I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.

Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.

We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”

I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.

I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.

(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)

I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!

As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).

Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Mabel
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?

(2) Edel
I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.

(3) Casey
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).

(4) Molly
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!

(5) Willa
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.

(6) Flannery
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)

(7) Isla
Pretty Isla is an entry in my book of Marian names; this is what I wrote about its Scottish connection:

Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … its Marian character comes from the title “Our Lady of the Isles” (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).”

It’s two syllables and Scottish!

(8) Tamsin
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.

(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!

(10) Sorcha
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.

There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?


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: Double first name for baby girl a priority to honor Grandma — lots of options!

Jenny and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, their third girl (on earth)! This little lady joins big siblings:

Lilyana Marie (“Marie is my middle name and I just liked the name Lilyana”)

Anthony Jay (“After my husband”)

Dominic Lucas John (“I went to our Parish’s “Traveling relics” and right after I picked up St Dominic’s relic I knew I was pregnant and I knew he was going to be a boy. Sure enough I tested the next week and I was pregnant and he was a a boy. I also have always loved the name Lucas and St Luke. John is after my Father-in-law.”)

Isabella Teresa Grace (“… so the whole time we were pregnant I was told she was going to be a boy. So the whole pregnancy her name was Benedict Emmanuel. Once we found out she was a girl we had to scramble to come up with a girls name. Her original name was Isabella Grace but after being born on Mother Teresa’s feast day we just had to add that in. I also love longer names. 🙂 And looove Mother Teresa!”)

Jameson Jude Ramiro (“Jameson was a little different for us. I wanted to go with Jude but my husband wasn’t so keen on it at first. We chose Jameson because it’s a variant of St James but a longer version. So we decided on Jameson Jude as first name but we ended up putting Jude on his BC as part of his middle name. We chose Ramiro because that is my Dad’s name”)

+Mary Irene (with Jesus; “Mary after Hubby’s Grandma who was very special to him. And Irene because my Mom used to say “Good night Irene” to me at night before bed when I was growing up”)

+Jesse Francis De Sales (with Jesus; “we picked a name that could be gender neutral because baby was 10 weeks and we didn’t know the gender yet but I felt like he was a boy”)

I love Jenny’s older living kiddos’ names! Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jameson are such a fun bunch of names — beautiful and handsome and with great faith connections. I love all the middle names, too, and the reasons for them. And Mary Irene and Jesse Francis De Sales are so perfect for her babies in heaven, as well — such a great job!

Jenny writes,

_______ Ann Is what we are really wanting. Not a must but we strongly want to use it. We’re open minded. My husband lost his Mom almost 2 years ago to cancer. Her name was Doris Ann. We really wanted to use her name with this next baby without copying Doris Ann. My husband doesn’t want to just use her whole name.
He likes the idea or using Dorothy Ann for a first name because Dorothy was the name of his Grandma, who was his Mom’s Mom and they were all very close.

So we are considering Dorothy Ann as a first name.

Other name we like that we are considering are:

Lucia Ann or using Lucia in there somewhere. But don’t really think it goes well with Dorothy Ann … Lucy was Hubby’s Grandma from his dad’s side.

We also have considered using Lorelei. I’m not really fond of the basic meaning but I don’t know too much about the history of the name. We just have a cute background story of that name. It is my nickname that my in-laws gave me early on. They said I looked more like a Lorelei and the name just stuck. So Hubby’s Uncles and Aunts still call me Lorelei as a nickname and my mother-in-law used to call me that as an endearing name. So it has a good feel.

We also really want a pretty Saint name. I like longer names but this would be a first time using Ann with a first name so I’m flexible. We like names that aren’t very common but aren’t too rare. We don’t like off the wall names like River or Sun or Apple. 🙂 something classic and beautiful.

We are really stuck on this name. We have tried to go with names like Francesca or Philomena but it hasn’t really stuck … I’m really into have a special meaning to the name so I would love to get your recommendations!

I really love that Jenny and her hubs originally intended Jameson Jude to be a double first name — how cool is that?! I love bold ideas like that! I’m totally on board with their wish to have a ___ Ann double first name for their baby girl in honor of Jenny’s mother-in-law, so I wanted to spend a few minutes exploring this idea. First, I love the idea of Dorothy Ann — I love that Dorothy honors both Jenny’s mother-in-law (I’m guessing maybe she was named Doris as a way of naming after her mom, without using the same name?) and her mother, and Dorothy Ann as a combo strengthens that connection by using Jenny’s mil’s middle name as well. I might normally think that Dorothy Ann isn’t a great fit with Jenny’s older kiddos’ names (not that that matters at all, I think family honor trumps style considerations every time in my opinion), but I’m so charmed by Dorothy on the daughter of the Bucket List Family that it’s taken on a more modern, chic feel for me. Its meaning of “gift of God” (same as Theodore — in fact, Dorothy is the same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed) is so great, too.

Working Jenny’s hubby’s other grandmother into the name as well via some form of Lucy is pretty great — the more the merrier! I agree with Jenny that Dorothy Ann Lucia doesn’t have the best flow, nor does Dorothy Ann Lucy, but I think Dorothy Ann Lucille sounds quite nice — I wonder if that would be a possible solution? Another possible solution would be to change the way they’re planning to honoring Jenny’s hubby’s mom and grandmother. I spent some time trying to come up with different options that might honor them just as well in a way they might like, and came up with:

  • Dora Susann Lucia: I like how saying “Dora Susann” (or Suzann, if they prefer that spelling; I dropped the “e” to highlight the “Ann” connection) together makes “Dora S-” sound like Doris. I thought Dora could easily nod to both Doris and Dorothy, and Susann/Suzann (or Susanne/Suzanne, if they wanted to spell it the more conventional way) brings in the Ann in a new way. And Dora Susann allows their preferred Lucia to fit in nicely, I think.
  • Doriann/DoriAnn/Dori Ann Lucia: I was interested to discover that Doris is from the Greek for “Dorian woman” (the Dorians were a Greek tribe), which made me think that Doriann might be an interesting way to mash up Doris (and Dorothy, through the shared Dor-) and Ann, and Doriann Lucia also sounds quite nice I think. They could also do DoriAnn or Dori Ann to make the “Ann” part more obvious.
  • Lucia Ann Dorothea: I thought Lucia Ann Dorothea flowed better than Lucia Ann Dorothy or Lucia Ann Doris (Dorothea and Dorothy are variants of each other). One hesitation I have about Lucia Ann as a double first name, though, is that Lilyana is Lily + Ana (a variant of Ann) — Lilyana and Lucia Ann seem really similar. (Again, though, not a dealbreaker if they love it!)
  • Lucia Doriann/DoriAnn: This option takes away the issue of Lilyana and Lucia Ann being possibly too similar, as it moves Ann to the middle spot, on the other side of Dori.
  • Lucia Dorothy Ann: This option uses all the names Jenny and her hubs wanted in an order that has a nice flow and rhythm to my ear. They lose the double-first-name option (unless they wanted to do Lucia Dorothy, which is unexpected and pretty [though long for everyday use]), but they have all the special ladies in one name.

(I also like Lucy in place of Lucia for these options.)

As for Lorelei, I absolutely love that Jenny’s in-laws have called her Lorelei from the beginning! What a sweet story! It would make an awesome honor name for her (and her in-laws, by extension) in her daughter’s name (either as a first name or a middle name). It does have a history that gives some people pause — in legend it’s the name of a siren that lured sailors to their death — but I think Gilmore Girls and other associations have diluted that association (and some people don’t even know about it). I never thought it had any saintly connection, but when I was doing a little research on it for this family, I discovered that Lorelei’s Wikipedia entry gives August 17 as its Czech name day. Name days almost always coincide with saint feast days, so I was really interested to see what saint was connected with Lorelei. Pretty clever: Petra is listed on the Czech calendar for that day, which is the feminine form of Peter, which means “rock,” and the “lei” part of Lorelei is thought to come from a Celtic word for “rock” — the siren is actually named for the rock headland on the Rhine River called Loreley. I loved discovering that any of the holy Peters or Petras can be patron for a Lorelei!

Because I like playing around with names and was already in that mindset with the Dorothy Ann/Dora Susann/Doriann ideas, I wondered if that might be a fun thing to do for Lorelei: come up with some name combos that could nickname to Lorelei for everyday usage but provide a more obvious saint connection. I came up with:

  • Laurel Isla
  • Laurel Eileen
  • Laura Lyla
  • Loretta Lyla

Both secularly and in the faith, laurel wreaths have been used as “crowns of glory”; another cool saintly connection is that the stories of Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna include two laurel trees. Isla is an entry in the book of Marian names I wrote, for Our Lady of the Isles. Eileen is generally considered an Irish form of Helen (St. Helen(a) is awesome). There are a few saints and blesseds named Laura. I couldn’t find any holy connection for Lyla though, so maybe the Laurel ideas are better from a saintly perspective. But also, if there’s a saint’s name in the middle spot (or in the first spot, if they use Lorelei as a middle name), then they’re covered saint-wise! Maybe Lorelei Ann (could also be a double first name, as Jenny was hoping for), Lorelei Dorothy Ann (double middle, like Jude Ramiro), Lorelei Doriann, etc. Or maybe something like Laurel Ann would sound enough like Lorelei to feel like a nod to that name, while providing a double first name with Ann that isn’t overly long (like Lorelei Ann might be). Laurel Ann Dorothea maybe?

Okay! Those are all my ideas/comments on the ideas Jenny and her husband already have — now onto to my new suggestions/ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation 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. I did so for this family, keeping in mind that they’d really like to have their chosen name pair up with Ann in a double first name, and also that Jenny said she’d like “a pretty Saint name” and “something classic and beautiful” (which I think she did really well with her older daughters). I also thought of Lilyana and Isabella as a pair and tried to think of names that went well naturally with them, without taking into account the brothers’ names or Jenny’s little ones in heaven. And finally, I thought of names that I thought would go well with Ann as the first element of the double name, instead of the second. I used the NameFinder and NameMatchmaker tools on babynamewizard.com to find additional ideas, and I also looked at the “Lacy and Lissome,” “Italian,” and “Short and Sweet” lists in the back of the Baby Name Wizard book. And I went through my own mental files for faithy names that I thought would go well.

Based on all that, these are my additional ideas (buckle up — there are lots of them! I actually did two consultations for Jenny, which I’ve condensed into this one post):

(1) Natalie or Natalia
Natalie is a style match for Anthony and Lucas (I included Lucas in my research since Jenny said she’s always liked it) and Natalia for Lilyana and Dominic, so it seemed like a great suggestion to start with! I think Natalie Ann flows better than Natalia Ann, but if they like Natalia they could consider doing Natalia Ann as her given name and a nickname + Ann for everyday usage, like Talia Ann or Tally Ann. I know a Natalie who goes by Natty, so that’s an option too — Natty Ann. There are some Sts. and Blds. Natalia (Natalie is the French form, so St. Natalia would be patron for a Natalie or Natalia), and Natalia also literally refers to Christmas Day — it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “the birth of the Lord.”

(2) Camille or Camila/Camilla
Camila/Camilla is a match for Lilyana, Jude, and Lucia, but like with Natalie and Natalia, I thought Camille Ann had a better flow than Camilla Ann. But again, they could do Camilla Ann as the given name and Cammie Ann or Callie Ann as an everyday nickname. There are some holy Camillas, which work for Camille as well.

(3) Sophia/Sofia or Sophie (or as a nickname?)
Sophia is a match for Dominic, and Sofia for Lucas and Lucia. Sophia/Sofia Ann is lovely, but again I feel like Sophie Ann has a better flow. While I love both Sophia/Sofia and Sophie, I’ve seen them (especially Sophie) used as nicknames for Seraphina/Serafina and Josephine/Josefina, which remind me of the Francesca and Philomena that Jenny said they’ve tried but haven’t felt quite right. So maybe one of those? Josephine Ann nicknamed Sophie Ann? Serafina Ann nicknamed Sofie Ann? On its own, Sophia means “wisdom” and is an entry in my book of Marian names because one of Our Lady’s titles is Seat of Wisdom.

(4) Olivia
Olivia’s a match for Lucas and Isabella, and Olivia Ann strikes me as similar to Sophia Ann — quite pretty, but maybe Olivia Ann with Livvy Ann as the everyday nickname would be easier? Olivia’s also in my book of Marian names, after Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Audrey or Aubrey
I was surprised by these names, as they’re a bit different than the ends-in-a names Jenny and her hubs gave Lilyana and Isabella, and are considering with Lucia, but Audrey’s a match for Dominic and Aubrey for Jameson, and since they’re so similar to each other I thought their shared sound and rhythm might be one that appeals to them. There’s a St. Audrey (her entry on CatholicSaints.info is for St. Etheldreda, which she’s also known by), and I quite like Audrey Ann — it has a bit of a Hollywood starlet feel to me, probably because of Audrey Hepburn. Its shorter length makes it easier with Ann as an everyday double name, too. Behind the Name (my go-to for name meanings) says Aubrey is a form of Alberich, and there are a few saints by that name — all male. I believe Aubrey was predominantly a male name until recently. If they love it, it’s certainly no problem for a girl to have a male saint as patron! Like with Audrey Ann, Aubrey Ann is quite easy enough for everyday use.

(6) Rosemary
My thought process behind Rosemary is a little funny. It’s a style match for Dorothy, which normally wouldn’t sway me because I don’t get the sense that Dorothy is really this family’s style, but rather their favorite option of the ways to honor Jenny’s hubby’s mom (and grandmother), but one of the nicknames I’ve seen used for Rosemary is Rory, which always makes me think of Lorelei because of Gilmore Girls. And then thinking about it more, I thought Rosemary Ann nicknamed Rory Ann might be a really cute idea, with that connection to Lorelei too if Jenny wants it to. Rosemary also has a little bit of that Hollywood feel I get from Audrey (e.g., Rosemary Clooney). I think Rosemary is classic and beautiful; it honors Our Lady; and not only is Rory a great possibility for a nickname, but so are Rosie and Romy — Rosie Ann and Romy Ann are both darling. (Just a note of caution that Rosie Ann, being “a flower + Ann,” is similar to Lilyana, being “a flower + Ana.”)

(7) Magdalena
Magdalena Ann is certainly long and difficult for everyday, but I love Maggie Ann! And St. Mary Magdalene is an awesome patron.

(8) Emilia
Emilia is an Italian name, and it’s also the name of St. John Paul II’s mom, whose cause for canonization has been opened! Emilia Ann isn’t terrible, and Emmy Ann is darling.

(9) Carys or Charis
Carys is Welsh for “love,” and Charis — which is said the same as Carys — is Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word “eucharist.” Carys Ann and Charis Ann are awesome!

(10) Vesper or Verity
Vesper is from the Latin for “evening” and in a Catholic context is used to refer to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (“Vespers”). Vesper Ann is lovely! Verity means “truth” and even thought it’s three syllables, I think Verity Ann is easy enough, and wonderful.

(11) Sunday
I posted a birth announcement for a little Sunday Josephine on the blog a while ago, and I love it for this family — it’s got that faith connection for the Lord’s day, and I love Sunday Ann as a combo!

(12) Elodie
This is a French name that I think sounds smashing with Ann! Elodie Ann!

(13) Caeli
Caeli is Latin for “of heaven” (like the Marian title Regina Caeli: Queen of Heaven) and would be really sweet and very Catholic with Ann: Caeli Ann. It’s said CHAY-lee in Church Latin, but you could say it KAY-lee if you wanted.

(14) Mercy
Mercy is a great and unexpected virtue name — I saw quite a bit of it as a baby name during the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016). Maybe Mercy Ann?

(15) Ann Catherine, Ann Madeline (or similar); something like Ann Seton?
My last ideas have to do with putting Ann first in the double-first-name idea. Catherine is a match for Anthony and Madeline is a match for Dominic, and both of those made me think of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Anne-Madeleine Remuzat — I think both of those combos are so lovely, and thought maybe Jenny would like to consider something like that? I particularly like that Ann Catherine could go by Annie Cate. I know a little AnnClare, which might also appeal to them. From their ideas, I like Ann Lucia quite a bit. If Jenny knows who her mother-in-law’s favorite saint was, that might be an option here too. Then I was noticing that the girl style matches for Jameson were mostly surname-type names, like Kendall, Larkin, and Harper, and wondered if they might like Ann with a saintly surname? Seton was the first that came to mind, because of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — Ann Seton would be a cool, unexpected first name that would immediately call to mind that particular saint without having to use Elizabeth. Some other surnames that might work in this way include Ann Kolbe, Ann Vianney, Ann Goretti (is it crazy that I just thought Annie Grey could be a doable nickname for Ann Goretti??), Ann Majella (St. Gerard Majella is a patron of expectant mamas!). Or maybe Ann + Jenny’s maiden name? Or Ann Lorelei? So many options!

(16) Ann Elise or Ann Elisa (Annelisa?)
I was staying away from Elizabeth names because of big sister Isabella, which is a form of Elizabeth, but then I realized that Lily and Lillian have a history of usage as nicknames for Elizabeth, so then I thought it might be cool if Jenny’s living daughters have that connection — just kind of lean into it, you know? But without using the full Elizabeth. So if you switch the elements, I think Ann Elise and Ann Elisa are quite pretty! Anneliese is a German mashup of Anne and Elizabeth, so I thought they could do the same with Annelisa if they wanted to combine them. But I quite like them separate too, and doing so highlights the Ann moreso.

(17) Ann Colette, Ann Juliette, Ann Corinne
I definitely found that I think French names go really well with Ann as a combo, especially if they’re in the second spot (like Ann Elise above). I love Colette, Juliette, and Corinne — so feminine!

(18) Alessandra, Carolina, Caterina or Catalina, Veronica
Finally, these ideas are just names I came across that I thought Jenny would like, since she said she likes longer names. I like them all with Lilyana and Isabella, though I’m not sure Ann goes as well with them. But I thought it would be fun to include them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jamison?


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!