Baby name consultation: Baby girl no. 7 needs uncommon but not unfamiliar, feminine, French-sounding name

Shannon and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their seventh girl! Shannon writes,

We’re expecting a baby girl on the Feast of the Assumption! We have all girls and are struggling to find another name. We tend to gravitate to feminine, French sounding names that are more traditional, not too trendy, but also not unheard of. Here are our other names:

Annabelle Grace (6 1/2) Annabelle was my great grandmother’s favorite name, so I named her this in her honor. I like the Marian connotation — Mater Amabilis. Grace was chosen because it took us a few years and many prayers to conceive her, and we felt she was truly a gift from God.

Celeste Rose (nearly 5) Celeste is just a name I’ve always loved — probably hearkens back to my days reading the Babar books! I like the connection with Heaven and stars. Rose is after St. Rose of Lima, a beloved saint.

In 2015 we had identical twin girls who were sadly both stillborn on February 6 due to a heart problem. We named them:

Nora Catherine — I like the meaning “honor” for Nora and Catherine is my middle name as well as my other great-grandmother, who was very devout. As a woman who loves the academic side of the Church, I’ve always loved St. Catherine of Siena as well.

Mary Elizabeth — In honor of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth. Through the ordeal of a high risk pregnancy and the stillbirth, Our Lady was my constant companion and comfort. Though this tragedy brought suffering, it also has brought our family the most beautiful graces.

After the twins I suffered an early miscarriage where we had decided on the name Claire after St. Clare.

Noelle Evangeline (17 months) She was due near Thanksgiving but didn’t arrive until Dec. 11th, so she became our surprise Advent baby. We chose Evangeline because after our losses she was a welcome reminder of the good news and all that is wonderful in the world.

We’ve decided that we probably shouldn’t choose another “elle” name as we already have two. “Ette” names are difficult because we live in an area with many French speakers who pronounce our name the French way, so an “ette” name would rhyme. Which is a shame because Colette is one of my very favorite names. I also love Lucy but [it sounds weird with our last name]. We like Lucia but everyone pronounces it differently — my husband likes the pronunciation of the island and I prefer the Italian way. I also love Felicity but think that “Felicity LastName” sounds like a gunslinger in a western novel, like she would be friends with Calamity Jane. I have a sister with two beautiful daughters named Liliana (goes by Lily) and Camilla, so those are out. We are considering Elise Dominica but I’m just not feeling a hundred percent sold on it at this point. My husband loves the name Gwendolyn (would go by Gwen) and I like it too.

I tend to like names that are a bit more whimsical than my husband, or a bit more “extreme Catholic” such as Dominica and Benedicta. My husband doesn’t mind them for middle names as much but doesn’t love them for first names. He loves the names Olivia and Margaret but I don’t really care for them (even though Margaret was my confirmation name). I’m leaning toward something that honors Mary though it’s been tricky. I like Marigold but don’t think it’s a style-match for the other names. I’ve mentioned it to some friends and family and they’ve thought it sounded too whimsical/Bohemian considering our other daughters. Names like Mariana are too close to Annabelle and Stella Maris/Maristella has the dreaded “elle.”

I’m so excited for this consultation — please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.”

Wasn’t it amazing to read all this?! I’m so sorry to hear of the losses of Shannon’s babies, and so happy for her and her husband that this baby is on the way! I love their older girls’ names — each one is so gorgeous and meaningful! And I love the names they’re considering, they have wonderful taste!

I chuckled at Shannon’s comments about Lucy, and especially at Felicity LastName — “friends with Calamity Jane” is hilarious! I wonder if something like Lucille or Lucienne would do better for them?

Elise Dominica is beautiful, and I love how it combines a French name with a heavy-hitting Catholic name! Perhaps my one nitpicky thing, if I had to have one, is that their Mary Elizabeth already has an Elizabeth name. But certainly it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker — I only mention it in case it helps them make a decision one way or the other, since Shannon said she’s not feeling 100% on it.

Gwendolyn/Gwen is such an interesting addition to their list! It’s a great name, and I was surprised by it at first, since I was so focused on French names, but its Celtic feel fits in well with Nora, Mary (from the perspective that Mary by itself and Mary double names have a particularly Irish feel to me), and Claire (even with Claire being the French spelling). Since Shannon said she’s leaning toward a Marian name this time, I wondered if she and her hubs would be interested in Gwenfair? In my [recently published] book of Marian names, Gwenfair’s one of the entries — like Gwendolyn, it’s a Welsh name, with the “gwen” part meaning “white, fair, blessed,” and the “fair” part being actually Mair (it changes to “fair” when added on to Gwen), which is the Welsh form of Mary. It’s a little more difficult than Gwendolyn, in that its Welsh pronunciation is something like GWEN-vire, but I think one could get away with GWEN-fair in the U.S. But I totally get that that pronunciation issue might make the name less appealing than Gwendolyn.

I too love Marigold, but I can see what Shannon’s friends/family mean about it seeming too “whimsical/Bohemian.” One argument in its favor is that it’s the name of Edith’s daughter on Downton Abbey — I wouldn’t consider any of the characters on the show to be whimsical or Bohemian (though Edith leans the most that way of all of them). Considering it in light of early-twentieth-century England makes it seem more “quaint English rose” and less whimsical/Bohemian I think. If it’s helpful, I’ve posted two birth announcements for babies with Marigold as part of their name — one as a middle name, one as a first name — Shannon and her hubs might like to see the style of their siblings’ names.

Though Shannon said she doesn’t care for Olivia, I wondered if the fact that it’s actually an entry in my book might help? Part of what I wrote about it is:

One of Mother Mary’s titles is ‘Our Lady of Olives,’ also known as Madonna of olives, which makes any of the Oliv- names doable in her honor. Under this title, Our Lady has been compared to an olive tree in this verse in the book of Sirach: ‘Like a fair olive tree in the field’ (24:14), and also remembered for a miraculous occurrence involving lightning in a town in France.”

[Note that I did explain in the book that Olivia may or may not be etymologically related to “olive,” but as always I think intention is what matters most, and there’s certainly a visual/audial connection between Olivia and “olive.”]

I’m certainly not trying to sway Shannon one way or the other, but I do love helping parents come to an agreement on names, so if this is helpful in doing so, great! I particularly like that this title of Our Lady has a connection to France; you can read more about it here.

I’d love to find a way for Shannon to like Margaret as well, since it’s got that great tie to her and her hubby loves it. What about the French Marguerite? Or Margo(t)? Marigold actually made me think of Marguerite anyway, because the name for the daisy flower in French is marguerite, so while the Margaret names aren’t exactly Marian, this is one way in which they can be considered so, as daisies have a connection to Our Lady: the common daisy has been known as Mary’s flower or Mary-Loves, and the oxeye daisy has been known as Mary’s Star. (Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret because of this connection.) Marguerite or Margo(t) nicknamed Daisy might be the perfect solution to Shannon’s hubby’s love of Margaret plus her affinity for more whimsical names.

One last Marian idea before moving on to the ideas suggested by my research for this family, is that, with their daughter due on the feast of the Assumption, maybe a name related to that feast would be fun to consider? Assumpta and Assunta were the first to come to mind; second were the Susan names — as I related in my book, it seems Italian women named Assunta often “anglicized” their name as Susan when they arrived in the US! However, the more I think about it, the more I think the Susan names don’t work … Suzette would be great except for the -ette, and Susanne/Suzanne and Susanna are too similar to Annabelle. But I could see Assumpta or Assunta being really cool, especially perhaps in the middle spot. As a first name, Susie could work as a nickname for either of them I think, and Amy for Assumpta.

Alrighty, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also consulted the Exotic Traditionals, Saints, and French lists at the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool since Marigold doesn’t have an entry in the BNW book. And I did a post a while ago about a family with French roots whose girls all have really French names, so I consulted that as well. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Shannon and her husband:

(1) Genevieve
No list of French-type girl names would be complete without Genevieve! She’s the patron saint of Paris, and Gwendolyn was actually what inspired me to put it on this list, as they’re both long G names (though I know the fact that one’s a hard G and one’s a soft G makes a difference to many).

(2) Em(m)eline
The family in the post I linked to above has an Emeline, and Emmeline was actually listed as a style match for Celeste in the BNW! There’s a St. Emilina of Boulancourt, and behindthename.com also says it’s related to Amelia, which offers two more options for patron saints.

(3) Elodie
Continuing with French E names, Elodie was in the list of French names, Saint names, and Exotic Traditionals in the BNW! I immediately thought it might make a nice replacement for Elise, if Shannon ended up deciding Elise was too repetitive with Mary Elizabeth or if she decided she doesn’t care for it for other reasons. Elodie Dominica is lovely.

(4) Sylvie
Sylvie’s a style match for Noelle, and as soon as I saw it I was reminded of a family I posted a consultation for who has a daughter named Sylvie Regina, specifically because it sounds like Salve Regina. I have thought about how clever that is so often! AND that little Sylvie has a sister named Marigold! Sylvie feels like a less popular Sophie to me, I love it.

(5) Madeleine, Magdalene
Speaking of Sophie, I always think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat when I think of French names. There’s a school near me called St. Madeleine Sophie’s, and I’ve always loved that they always say both names. Madeleine is the French form of Magdalene, and I wondered if Magdalene might appeal to Shannon and her husband? It’s so similar to Margaret in that it can take Maggie as a nickname, but it’s got a more unusual feel.

(6) Simone
When I do research in the BNW, I’m always looking for overlap — for names that are style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list of considerations. Simone was one of those names for this family! It’s a match for both Celeste and Noelle, as well as Dominique, which I looked up in place of Dominica, as Dominica didn’t have its own entry in the BNW. Simone is all gorgeousness to me, and St. Peter is an easy patron; there’s also a Bl. Simone who was beatified by St. JPII.

(7) Josephine
Finally, Josephine, listed as a specific a style match for Annabelle as well as being included in the list of French names and Saints names in the BNW. I love Josephine and all its possible nicknames, including Josie, Sophie, and Posy.

And those are my ideas for Shannon and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Annabelle, Celeste, Nora, Mary, Claire, and Noelle?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Literary/Irish-y/saintly name needed

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

Lindsey writes,

Help! My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of June/beginning of July. We live in Boston and are having a ton of difficulty coming up with a name! We already had the name picked out if we were having a girl, so we are of course having a boy. We’re Catholic and would like to have a Catholic influence in the name, though we don’t necessarily require that it be the first name.

General criteria:

— We don’t want it to be a common or popular name, but we would like it to be a name that most people will have heard at some point. Ideally, we’d like it not to be in the top 100 or near that so that he won’t have to run into the issue of being “Matt LastInitial.”

— I tend to like old-fashioned/classic names and have somewhat of a preference for English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, though my husband doesn’t want anything too Irish. We also, however, tend to like some more unique, trendy sounding names like Sloan, Bligh/Bly, &c.

— We’d like something that would have the possibility of a nickname if that’s something he’d like or could stand on its own.

Likes but Not Requirements:

–I’m a huge bookworm and like the idea of having a literary inspiration in the name, but I’d rather the perfect name than to force this.

Below is a list of names that we like and have been considering:

Ambrose
Edmund
Simon
Blaise
Frederick
Calvin
Byron
Ciaran
Charles (I like the nickname Charlie more than I like Charles, but I question whether Charlie is appropriate for an adult)
Baron
Fulton
Sebastian (though it’s a bit too common for us to use)
Nathaniel (I feel it may be a bit too common for us to use)
Damian (may be a bit too common for us to use)

Of the above list, Ambrose and Edmund top out as our favorite right now (and though they continue to volley back and forth for top seed, Ambrose seems to be the current preference), but we are struggling with those and with them all:

–If we went with Ambrose, we can’t think of any middle names that would flow well with our last name. [Some family names include] (Daniel, Thomas, Benjamin, Joseph, Robert, Gabriel, Calvin, Francis).
–If we were to have a daughter in the future, we would likely name her Rosemary after my grandmother, and I wonder whether the “rose” in Ambrose and Rosemary would be harmonious or tacky. That being said, there’s no guarantee that we will have other children or that we would have a girl even if we did.
–While we like Edmund, I cannot stand “Ed” or “Eddie” as a nickname, and while I could consistently reiterate that his name is Edmund, I know I would likely be fighting a losing battle of him being called Ed or Eddie.

We are 31 weeks along and have been struggling with this for months and thought it was finally time to reach out for help since we’re not getting anywhere ourselves. We’re hoping for feedback on our top picks as well as any other name suggestions you may have for us to consider. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

I love working with first-time parents! I’m so excited for Lindsey and her hubby that they’re expecting their first baby, I remember those days well. ❤

I totally understand not wanting a common/popular name. It is true though that the popular names of today aren’t even a fraction as popular as the popular names of the past. Also, it’s possible to live in a “name pocket” where a particular name, which might not be popular according to the national Social Security data, is actually really popular where you live. There’s more info here.

I’m with Lindsey on loving English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, but I admit I’d never heard of Bligh/Bly before! So funny to me that she included it as an example of a “unique, trendy sounding name” — are any of you familiar with it? Maybe it’s a regional name?

Like Lindsey, I also love literary names, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was doing my research for her and her hubs.

Regarding the list of names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

  • Ambrose: Love it! We considered it for a couple of our boys, and I’ve spent some time thinking of nicknames as a result. Sam, Bram, and Brody are my favorites, and Bram would give them a literary tie-in. Brody would make extra sense if Ambrose was paired with a D middle name. I don’t hate Ambrose Daniel, and Ambrose David is another combo I quite like. Of the other family names that could possibly be used as a middle, in the interest of whittling down the list, I might cross off Gabriel (Ambrose Gabriel is a lot of “br,” though Gabriel is one of my very favorite names) and Calvin (all I think of is John Calvin, which is unfortunate, because it’s a cool name otherwise. With Ambrose being SO saintly and Catholic, if I were to see Ambrose Calvin it would make me scratch my head! But few people know others’ middle names, so it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker). I like some of the names on their list of first names as potential middles for Ambrose … Ambrose Ciaran is particularly appealing to me, because it’s got the Irish Lindsey likes but I’m assuming it’s not *too* Irish? I also love Ambrose Edmund, what a heavy hitting name! It might be a good way to work Edmund in if they can’t feel comfortable with it as a first name. As for Ambrose and Rosemary … I’m not sure! If Ambrose always went by a nickname that didn’t contain Rose, I’d say it’s fine. But if he was Ambrose or Brose all the time, then maybe that would be too much Rose? I do think Lindsey’s wise to remember that “there’s no guarantee that [they] will have other children or that [they] would have a girl.” I wrote more about the issue of whether to use a beloved name now or save it for later here.
  • Edmund: I think that if they called him Edmund all the time, it’s quite likely that he would eventually be shortened to Ed or Eddie by someone — maybe even himself! But if they picked a different nickname and enforced its use, they may be able to avoid Ed/Eddie. Ned and Ted are both traditional nicknames for the Ed- names, I wonder if either of those might appeal? Another idea, tapping into Lindsey’s love of Irish names, is Eamon — the Irish variant of Edmund. There would be no chance of Ed/Eddie with Eamon! But I also get that, while it’s technically the same name as Edmund, at the same time it isn’t (and likely too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby?).
  • Simon, Blaise, Frederick, Byron, Baron, Fulton: All pretty cool.
  • Calvin: See my comments in the Ambrose bullet point above. Although, since it’s a family name, I can see that it might just be too important to not use. I do love the nickname Cal.
  • Ciaran: Love it! So surprised it’s not too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby though!
  • Charles/Charlie: I think this is an excellent choice for a boy, specifically because Charles offers so many nickname possibilities to fit different personalities and stages in life. Charlie is adorable on a little boy, and I don’t think it’s inappropriate on an adult at all. In fact, I know a little boy whose given name is Charley, so he’s going to be Charley his whole life! But if Lindsey’s son feels like he’s not a Charlie when he grows up, he can be Cal or Chaz or Chuck or the full Charles. It’s a great name!
  • Sebastian, Nathaniel, Damian: The recently released 2017 name data might be helpful here. Sebastian rose two spots to no. 22, so I can see why Lindsey thinks it might be too popular for them. Nathaniel’s been steadily decreasing since 2000 though, and is currently at no. 112, and Damian has been going up and down but never more popular than no. 98 (in 2013) and is currently no. 119 (up five spots from 2016), so I don’t think either Nathaniel or Damian are too popular. I love them both!

So those are my thoughts on their current list — I think it’s a great list with loads of great contenders, and I’m not sure adding more ideas will be helpful! But I did do my usual research for them, in which I looked up all the names Lindsey and her hubs 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 looked up all the names on their boy list, as well as Rosemary, and have several ideas that might appeal to them (I hope they don’t muddy the waters rather than making things more clear!):

(1) Philip nicknamed Pip
I told Lindsey that I kept the idea of a literary name in mind while doing my research, and I was thrilled to see Philip as a result! It’s handsome and classic and not too popular at all — it’s currently no. 425 — and while it’s not popular, it is familiar. And isn’t Pip the cutest nickname for a little boy?? And literary! It’s probably not a nickname that can last his whole life, but the full Philip as well as Phil are Men’s Names. I even worked with a Philip who preferred to be called Flip, so not all men hate cute nicknames, and I like that Philip offers options.

(2) Atticus
Atticus was actually solely due to Lindsey’s liking of literary and Latin names, and wasn’t a result of my research at all, but I was looking up Atticus earlier for something different and it occurred to me that it might be perfect for this family. There’s a St. Atticus, and I’ve seen Atty, Gus, Kit, and Ace all used as nicknames for it. Atticus is no. 350.

(3) Bennett or Benedict
I’m actually kind of surprised they didn’t have Benedict on their list! It’s got good familiarity in England (Benedict Cumberbatch) and it’s Latin for “blessed” and super saintly — it fits right in with so many of the names on their list! Its medieval diminutive Bennett, though, was an actual style match for them — per the BNW it’s similar in style to Edmund and Calvin, and I consider it to be similar to Fulton (Fulton doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but it’s a surname-turned-first-name with strong Catholic roots, and while Bennett started as a first name I believe, it’s also a common surname). And its literary! The Bennet sisters! Bennett is no. 123 and Benedict is not in the top 1000.

(4) Tristan
I’m interested to see what they think of Tristan! It’s a style match for Sebastian, it’s no. 121, and it’s literary — it’s got a lot going for it! It can also be considered a Marian name, as its meaning is related to “sorrow” and Our Lady of Sorrows is one of her titles.

(5) Pierce
Speaking of male Marian names, ever since one of my readers shared that she knew a little boy named Pierce after Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, I’ve loved the idea of it (and included it in my book of Marian names!). It’s actually a style match for Blaise, and has an English feel. If they didn’t feel tied to the Marian connection, it’s a form of Peter, so St. Peter can be patron. Pierce is no. 522.

(6) Neil (or Niall?)
I wonder what they would think of Neil? It’s a style match for Calvin, and comes from the Gaelic Niall (which itself could be a good option?). Could be cool! Neil is no. 619 and Niall’s not in the top 1000.

(7) Cormac, Colman
Cormac was actually the style match here, being listed with Kieran (standing in for Ciaran, as Ciaran doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), and I thought it was a great possibility for a couple who’s split between loving Irish/Gaelic/Celtic names and not wanting them to be too Irish. Mac is an awesome nickname possibility. Cormac made me think of Colman, which I think of the same way — it’s impeccably Irish, but isn’t hitting you in the face with it. Cole is an easy nickname. Neither Cormac nor Colman are in the top 1000.

(8) Conrad
Speaking of two-syllable C names, Conrad is a style match for Edmund and Frederick! We seriously considered Conrad for our youngest and intended to use the traditional nickname Cord (or Cordy). There are a couple Sts. Conrad, and it’s no. 577.

And those are my ideas for Lindsey and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for their little guy?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Name for baby no. 3/boy no. 2 that ideally moves away from the English theme

Beth and her husband are expecting their third baby and second boy! He joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“each are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo so it was a win win“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 4 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as Protestant convert“)

I love both Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate — they’re so classic and sort of sophisticated, but also sweet. ❤

Beth writes,

I love both of [my children’s] names and knew the minute the ultrasound revealed their gender that that would be their name. Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them. Both are strongly English names, which was not intentional. I feel like this has pigeonholed us into having to keep the English theme up, even though it wasn’t important to us. In fact we would rather that not be a consideration at all. Also, both start with “C” as does my husband’s name, and that was also not intentional and not at all something we want to continue. Lastly, I have a thing about nicknames — since my name is just Beth, I have always been sensitive to naming my children with a longer name and then nicknaming them the shorter name we use. But also I love their longer name if they want to use it or a variation some day.

For a girl, we were going to use either Rosemary or Teresa (Tessa). I love both of these names (both have Saint and deep family connection for us), but I don’t love any of our boy names. We are out of family boy names and Saints that would work for naming.

First, names I can’t/won’t use for various reasons (I put a * by ones I really like and would consider if possible):

James* (I love James largely because it was my grandpa’s name, but it’s already in the family this generation and, in addition, my husband doesn’t care for it or my nickname, Jamie)
Jack*
Benjamin (Ben)*
Will (William)*
Caleb (C name)*
John
Alexander*
Matthew
Vincent
Daniel
Eli/Elijah
Isaac/Isaiah
Aaron
David
Brian
Graham
Adam
Levi
Joseph (family name I would consider for a middle name)
Augustine
Micah
Timothy
Max (all its forms)
Dominic
George
Ignatius
Jude
Peter
Paul
Philip
Thomas
Nathan
Sebastian
Michael
Zachary
Arthur

Names we like (none that really stand out to us):
Henry
Samuel
Gabriel (Gabe)
Leo (I’m leaning away from this one)
Benedict (I love this for a middle due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom my husband and I both like a lot, but I’m afraid it’s too heavy for a first name)
Andrew (my husband doesn’t care for the nicknames Andy or Drew which seem to rule this out)
Theodore (Theo) (probably not)
Thaddeus (Thad) (again, probably not)

Saints in our heavenly family (and reasons why this list isn’t helpful):
St. Raymond Nonnatus (notable that my grandpa’s name was James Raymond, and he went by Raymond, but I don’t actually like Raymond despite loving the man dearly)
St. David (My husband’s dad’s name coincidentally; we don’t really want to do first names for grandparents though)
St. Catherine of Siena (honored with my daughter’s name)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (ditto)
St. Charles Borromeo (Son’s name)

I feel like I have read every baby name book and consultation you’ve done, and I just can’t come up with what this little boy’s name is. The hardest part are the names we can’t use that I love. We need help!

While reading Beth’s email, I was struck by how she said, “Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them,” which is such an amazing thought, isn’t it?

I was also interested that Beth said she feels a bit pigeonholed into keeping up the English theme, and that she’d rather that not be a consideration. Unfortunately, a lot of the names that seem like good ideas for her and her hubs fit very nicely into an English theme! Fortunately both Charles and Catherine — and the names on my list of suggestions below — have saintly ties that really pull them out of the realm of strictly English names and place them in the “saint’s name” category, which really opens up their possibilities. In fact, I would encourage them to start trying to re-categorize Charlie and Cate’s names in their minds as “super saintly” rather than “English” — I think that will help them moving forward. Both St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena were Italian saints, after all! And Catherine is also the French spelling of her name (as well as an English spelling, of course), so focusing on those characteristics will be helpful I think. If they’re just feeling very tied to the English feel, they could try reframing them as “royal” — Charles and Catherine would fit in with the royalty of many countries!

I’m with Beth on no more C names, at least not for this baby — three really does seem to make a definitive statement, so doing a non-C name for baby no. 3 would probably be best if they don’t want to continue with C names. I also love that they’d prefer a longer name with an everyday nickname — I too am a huge fan of options!

I love both Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa and used both of those as additional inspiration when doing research for this family, though I focused more heavily on trying to find names that were similar to the boy names that they like. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having any more saints that they’d like to honor — I often find that parents are introduced to a saint through the naming of their baby, almost as if the saint found them! (I wrote about saints finding us here.)

I had a couple thoughts about the names they like but can’t or won’t use that might be helpful:

  • James: I wonder if a different nickname than Jamie would both help Beth’s husband warm up to the name and differentiate their son’s name enough from the other family member(s) with the name? My first thought was Jake — James and Jacob are the same name (James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew), so there’s an actual connection between James and Jake; additionally, Jake is so similar to the Jack that they like but can’t use that it might really be a good option for them. To make Jake as a nickname for James even stronger, they could consider a middle name with a strong K sound — I’ve been crushing on James Kolbe for a while, for example. Or James paired with hubby’s hard-C first name! What a nice nod to both Beth’s hubby and her grandpa!
  • Because they have Benjamin on the list of names they like but won’t use, and Benedict on the list of names they’re considering but think it might be too heavy for a first name, I wonder what they’d think of Bennett? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it can absolutely be a nod to our Pope Emeritus (I love him too!), but it’s not heavy like Benedict and of course it can take the nickname Ben like both Benjamin and Benedict.

Regarding the names on their list:

  • Henry: Love it, such a sweet name and there are so many great Sts. Henry (I spotlighted it here). If they really want to move away from the English feel, this is perhaps not a great option (but it would fit in so well!).
  • Samuel: This is a great option from the perspective that it doesn’t have an overly English feel, and I love the nickname Sam, it’s a great fit with Charlie and Cate.
  • Gabriel: One of my very favorites, I love it!
  • Leo: Another one I love, and one we strongly considered. St. Leo the Great is an amazing patron saint.
  • Benedict: Discussed above.
  • Andrew: If Andy and Drew are the obstacles to this name, maybe considering a different nickname would help? I’ve see Ace used for Andrew, for example. Or maybe something with the middle name … Andrew Benedict nicknamed Abe? Andrew Joseph nicknamed AJ?
  • Theodore: The Leo/Theo names are rising in popularity, so I’m not surprised to see Theo(dore) on their list! Though I love Leo, I can see how Theodore might appeal to Beth more, since it’s longer and provides more options.
  • Thaddeus: I love the name Thaddeus, and Tad/Taddy is my favorite nickname for it, though I do know a Thaddeus nicknamed Thad, and another who goes by Ted.

And a thought about St. Raymond: I wonder what Beth and her hubs would think of Redmond? It’s a variant of Raymond (via the Irish variant Reamann, which Redmond is an anglicization of), so it can nod to Beth’s grandpa and St. Raymond, but I think it feels a bit fresher, and I personally think Red is one of the cutest nicknames.

Okay! On to my additional suggestions. I looked up all the names Beth and her husband have used and like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) 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 also went through my own mental files, and came up with a list of possibilities that I then cross-checked against their list of names they can’t/won’t use. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Louis
Okay, I’m just going to jump right out there with an overtly English name! Louis just did so well for this family in my research that I can’t not suggest it, and although it’s the new prince’s name (I know! I totally get why they might not want to use it!), it’s more a French name I would think, and St. Louis de Montfort is awesome, as is St. Louis Martin.

(2) Luke
Luke did really well for this family in my research, being similar to Cate, Gabriel, and Jack. I consider Luke to be a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian, which I love. One fairly big negative in this case is that it’s not a long name, like Beth would prefer, but it is a full name in its own right.

(3) Nicholas
I really like Nicholas for this little guy. It’s not obviously English, and it has the great nicknames Nick, Nicky, and Nico, as well as Cole, which is adorable but since it starts with a C, I can see why they might not prefer it. They can certainly use St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus) as patron, and he’s wonderful, but I love St. Nicholas Owen, and the fact that he was English is, I think, a selling point here rather than a negative, because if Beth and her hubs ever decided they love the English feel after all, Nicholas can fit right in. At the same time, I don’t think people think “English/British” when they hear it at all. A nice option! There’s also Pope St. Nicholas the Great.

(4) Edmund, Edward
I know, these are probably too English for Beth, but they’re amazing matches for their style! Edward is a match for Charles, Catherine, Henry, and William, and Edmund for Benedict and Theodore. St. Edmund Campion is amazing; St. Edward the Confessor is amazing; and the traditional nicknames for both Edmund and Edward — Ed(die), Ned, and Ted — are really sweet (and Ted can also be used for Theodore and Thaddeus, which makes me feel even more that they might like this idea). I’ve also seen Ward used as a nickname for Edward, which is a fun, unexpected twist.

(5) Bartholomew
Bartholomew is similar in feel to Benedict and Thaddeus, and one of the interesting things about it is that when I was reading A Dictionary of English Surnames (by Reaney & Wilson), it seemed to me that Bartholomew was a strong contender for the name from which came more English surnames than any other. There are so many! And many of them would work wonderfully as given names, or as nicknames for Bartholomew. Bart is the most familiar choice these days, but Bartlett, Batten, and Bates are all variants that I love as possible nicknames (though probably not Bates as a brother to Cate, right?). (I wrote more about my findings from that book here.)

(6) Robert
Robert is a style match for both James and William, and it really came on my radar when I encountered a couple of people, unrelated to each other, who loved the nickname Bo and wanted to find a formal name for it. Both considered Robert, and I thought Robert nicknamed Bo was a really cute idea! I also like both Robbie and Bobby, they’re such sweet nicknames. St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian saint, like St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena, which is a cool connection.

(7) Gregory
As I mentioned, I didn’t give as much weight to the style matches for Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa as I did the boys’ names, but when I saw Gregory listed as a style match for Teresa, I thought it was a great suggestion. St. Gregory the Great is an awesome saint and was a pope (just like St. Leo the Great and St. Nicholas the Great), and while Greg has fallen somewhat out of fashion as a nickname, others have arisen in its place, like Grey and Gus (especially if paired with an S-heavy middle name — Gregory Stephen? Gregory Samuel? Gregory James? Gregory Joseph?) and Rory.

(8) Nathaniel or Jonathan
I’m including these two together, at the end, because they both have issues that might be insurmountable, but I like them both for this family. I know they have Nathan on the list of names they can’t/won’t use, but I wondered how they’d feel about Nathaniel? It’s a match for Gabriel, Thaddeus, Benjamin, and Alexander, and if they dislike the nickname Nate, there’s also Nat and I’ve seen Nash as well, which is fun. Jonathan also contains “Nathan,” and starts with Jon, and John is on their can’t use list, so I can see why they might not like it, but it’s a long biblical name like Benjamin, Alexander, and Thaddeus, and — Beth will probably hate me for saying this! — one of its traditional nicknames (which has mostly British use! So sorry!) is Jonty, which I’ve just been dying over — SO cute!!

And those are my ideas for Beth and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Green bean needs a name that evokes “hope” or “blessing”

I had the great privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lea’s little guy a little over two years ago, and I’m delighted to post this consultation for her newest baby today!

Lea writes,

We have 3 sons here and 4 children in heaven. Here are their names:

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon

Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

The boys are named with a first name that we liked and their middle names are after 3 of the 4 grandfathers of my husband and me. The final grandfather was named Victor and we’d like to use his name for the middle name of a boy.

Paul is after Bl Paul VI and Luke is a nod to Mary and St Gianna. James was simply a name we both liked.

I am looking for some names of each gender that are unique. I like Jude for a boy but my husband isn’t keen.

Some other info, we lost our Nicholas on December 6 2017, so a name meaning hope or blessing would also be good for either gender.

I’m not due until September and we won’t be finding out the gender before the birth.”

I so enjoyed working on a consultation for another of Lea’s babies! I love the name Victor, and think it makes a great middle name. I’ve always liked that it can nod to Jesus, as He is Victorious, and Lea and her husband can think of it having extra meaning for them in the sense of Jesus being a victor by conquering death, which is a nice meaning for this baby following the loss of their Nicholas.

I started the consultation by looking up names that mean “hope” or “blessed”/ “blessing, and in doing so came across some that meant “gift” and “rainbow” as well, which I thought they might like to consider. The ones that I thought were possible contenders for this family I’ve included in my “official” suggestions below, but I wanted to include the other ones I found here, just in case (these were found by searching for key terms on behindthename.com, which I trust as far as name meanings go):

Names meaning “hope”
Girl
Nadia, Nadine — Nadia is Slavic and Nadine is French, but they both mean “hope.”

None found for boys

Names meaning “blessed” or “blessing”
Girl
Beata — this comes from the Latin for “blessed,” and is used to describe Our Lady in some Latin prayers.

Benedicta — as with Beata, this means “blessed” and points to Our Lady (I’ve always been interested that beata is used to describe her sometimes, and benedicta others — I’m not sure what the difference is? If any of you know, I’d love to hear it!).

Gwenfair or Mairwen — these Welsh names are some of my favorite finds! They’re actually the same name, with the elements reversed: Gwenfair is “white, fair, blessed” + the Welsh form of Mary (Mair), while Mairwen starts with Mary and the “white, fair, blessed” part is on the end. I think both are so lovely, though I can understand they may not be quite to Lea’s taste.

Boy
Asher — means “happy, blessed.”

Baruch — Baruch was a companion of the prophet Jeremiah, and his name means “blessed.”

Macarius — means “happy, blessed.”

Names meaning “gift”
Girl
Dorothea, Dorothy — I was torn on whether or not to include this in my list of official suggestions, but I had a lot of girl suggestions, so I decided to put it up here. Dorothy is a variant of Dorothea, which means “gift of God.”

Boy
Jesse — I might have liked to suggest this for this family, except I thought maybe it’s too close to the sounds of James? Otherwise, its meaning of “gift” is a great one.

Name meaning “rainbow”
Iris — it’s just too perfect that Iris means “rainbow” — such a perfect name for a rainbow baby!

I like all of the names here, but I didn’t feel like they really fit their style … although, Lea did say they were looking for “unique,” so maybe they’ll be perfect for them!

As for my official suggestions, I went to my trusty Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for all of the names Lea listed in her email: James, Paul, Luke, Agnes, Eli, Isaac, Nicholas, and Jude. I tried to err on the side of more unique when I was whittling down the results, and I also tried to be careful not to repeat suggestions from the previous consultation I did for them (it was supposed to post here, but Luke came before the date the post was scheduled! From that consultation, Gabriel and Peter still feel like great ideas for this family). Based on that, these are my ideas for Lea and her hubs:

Girl
(1) Annabel(le)
The Anna family of names were big for them in my research — Anna is a style match for James and Jude, Anita for Paul, and Hannah for Isaac. While I love Anna names (and St. Anne!), I didn’t think the ones I mentioned would fit Lea’s “unique” designation, but I thought Annabel/Annabelle might. It’s not technically an Anna name, arising in the Middle Ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is contained in the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable), but of course the fact that Anna is contained in it can definitely be a nod to St. Anne. In fact, they could think of it as Anna + belle, where belle means “beautiful” in French. How lovely! I love that it’s also a Marian name. I don’t feel like I have a good sense of their taste in girl names, so I don’t know if they’ll love it, but I really like it for them.

(2) Faith, Hope
Faith is actually a style match for Luke, and I liked it right away for this family, especially since Lea said they specifically wanted a name with a good meaning. Of course, it also made me think of Hope, which was the meaning she specifically wanted — I think both Hope and Faith are such sweet names! I know little girls with both names, and always find them charming.

(3) Felicity
Felicity means “happiness,” which is just perfect! It’s a gorgeous name, and not terribly common while still being familiar.

(4) Edith
Edith is a style match for Agnes, and I actually had it in mind for this family before I even saw it in my research! St. Edith Stein has been inspiring Catholic families to use Edith for their baby girls — she’s an amazing saint, and I’ve loved seeing her name on little ones like these (here and here). And could the nickname Edie be any cuter??

(5) Mariae, Mariah, Molly, Marigold, Miriam
There are many meanings given for the name of Mary, from not great ones like “bitter” and “rebellious,” to much nicer ones including “wished for child” and “beloved.” Since no one really seems to know for sure (though the academic sources seem to lean toward “beloved”), you can really pick which meaning speaks to you the most. And of course, ultimately, Our Lady as patron gives the name all the good meaning you could want. That said, I thought maybe one of the more unique forms of Mary might be intriguing to Lea and her hubs. Blogger Micaela Darr recently named her baby Mariae, pronounced MAR-ee-ay, which is Latin for “belonging to Mary” — I love that so much! (She found it in my book!) I’ve always had a soft spot for Mariah too. Molly has an Irish flavor; Marigold is both English (Downton Abbey!) and floral; and Miriam is biblical like Lea’s boys (though all the Mary names can technically be considered biblical). And there are a million more!

Boy
(1) Bennett
I think Bennett is my no. 1 choice for Lea and her hubs! I considered suggesting Benedict, which I love and which means “blessed,” but I thought maybe it was too heavy for them? (I’d be delighted to discover I’m wrong!) So I thought Bennett was perfect — it’s actually a medieval variant of Benedict, so it has the same meaning of “blessed” and can take the same patron saints, and I know two different sets of brothers named Luke and Bennett, so I really feel like it fits in well with Lea’s boys!

(2) Samuel
Biblical like Lea’s other boys, Samuel also has the great connection to the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible. Samuel means “God has heard,” which of course is exactly in line with the Hannah and Samuel story and exactly in line with the blessing of this baby after Lea’s loss.

(3) Felix
Felix is the male variant of Felicity, which I listed above. It’s a pretty ancient name, so even though it’s not biblical, I think it can hang with the biblical names just fine.

(4) Pierce
Pierce is a form of Peter, and though I said above that I thought Peter was still a good idea for Lea and her hubs, I thought this different form deserved its own spot on the list. In fact, it’s not on this list because it’s a form of Peter, but because of its Marian meaning — I know of at least one little boy who was named Pierce because his mother had a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and how Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword.” I love that meaning so much — at first it might seem overly sad, but upon reflection, it really nods to Jesus’ victory over death, which gives the combo Pierce Victor extra meaning.

(5) Theodore
Finally, Theodore. Like Dorothea, Theodore means “gift of God” — so perfect! I like both Theo and Ted(dy) as nicknames.

There were a few I considered including but ultimately cross off my list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Martin, Phoebe, Abigail, Veronica, and Gemma.

And those are all my ideas for Lea and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for both a boy and a girl?

Links, updates, and consultation info

I’ve got a bunch of things to share today, so I’m putting them all in one post!

First up, I’ll be going on “maternity leave” from consultations starting June 1. That will give me a chance to finish up all those currently in the queue and any new ones before things get real around here, baby-wise (i.e., doubling down on getting things ready + my own slowing down as the time approaches). But I won’t be off the blog — posts take less time than consultations, so I should still be able to post regularly (though perhaps less frequently? It’s almost summer y’all! My boys and I have plans!). I’ll also still be on Instagram and Twitter (especially IG). I’m not sure when I’ll be back to consultations — I’ll have to play it by ear, based on how things are going post-baby. A very unofficial, tentative date might be sometime around Christmas, but again, I’ll just have to see. I’ll be emailing those of you who purchased the Black Friday deal and haven’t yet redeemed it — which is totally fine! It doesn’t expire! But if you aren’t ready by June 1, I won’t be able to do it until I return from my baby hiatus.

I’ve gotten some emails in response to my giveaway! Woo! No one’s yet gotten the full list, so there’s still a chance for the rest of you! But the ones I’ve gotten are pretty good, so the competition is tough! It ends Saturday at midnight (Eastern).

I also have the final official links for my segment on Mater Dei Radio: this is for when it aired on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary, and this is for when it aired on Morning Drive. So much fun!

Almost three years ago I posted about Rachel Campos-Duffy and her congressman husband Sean’s seventh baby, and then totally missed that they’ve since had an eighth! Two years ago this month they welcomed Patrick Miguel — love love love his name!

Finally, back in November I posted a consultation for Amy at Our Family Fiat, and she recently relaunched her site and one of her first posts up is about the naming of her baby! Definitely go check out her third little lady’s beautiful name!! (Her first name is in my book! Woo!)

Okay! That’s all I have for this Tuesday! I hope you’re all having a great week!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

Lauren and her husband are expecting their first baby — a girl!

Lauren writes,

We are are open to names of any ethnic origin, with partiality to Irish, Italian and Lebanese names (our heritage).

We are looking for a name with good nickname potential. It was a long journey (4+ years) to get to this pregnancy, so we want this name to be special, significant and point to God’s glory for giving us this gift. We are having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves. We are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc).

Top names we have so far:
1. Eliana – Translated from Hebrew means “God heard us”
2. Elizabeth – After St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Lauren’s patron saint and one who has interceded for us many times
3. Azelie (Zelie) – After St. Zelie, which kind of just “jumped out” when Lauren was reading about the life of St. Therese

Potential middle names:
1. Rose – [derived from Lauren’s maiden name]
2. Grace – Sweet reminder of God’s grace
3. Catherine – hubby’s beloved maternal grandmother
4. Elizabeth – See above

Names we will not want to use:
Marissa, Karen, Loretta, Annemarie, Maria, Kimberly, Sandra, Beth, Stella, Kelly, Brittany

I totally get their desire to have a special name, full of significance and pointing to God’s glory! I love reading hopeful stories like Lauren’s. ❤ I was also really interested that Lauren said they’re “having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves.” I appreciate their desire to break out of the box a little, and totally understand having a hard time doing so!

One of the ways I like to try to deal with that tension — one I often see with couples, usually with one parent liking more unique names and the other preferring more conservative options (ahem 😉 ) — is by either bestowing a more unique given name with a more familiar nickname, or a bestowing a more conservative first name with an unexpected nickname. The names Lauren and her hubs have on their list already lend themselves to this idea nicely, especially with Elizabeth as the anchor name. Consider:

  • Given name Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie: We’ve actually discussed this idea on the blog a couple of times! With Ellie being an obvious and traditional nickname for Elizabeth, it’s not a stretch at all to put Elizabeth’s Z in front of it. I love that this option allows them to have Lauren’s patron saint AND St. Zelie, all in their baby’s first name!
  • Given name Elizabeth paired with a middle name that makes sense of Eliana as a nickname: Elizabeth Anna, for example, could lead to Eliana as a nickname. With St. Anne being one of the patrons of childless couples, expectant mothers, and women in labor, her name (or a variant, like Anna, which helps move them away from the Annemarie on their “no” list) might provide the perfect meaning to their little girl’s name.

Otherwise, I love Eliana, Elizabeth, and Azelie/Zelie — all lovely, meaningful options! I love their list of possible middle names too — how cool that Rose can nod to Lauren’s maiden name! Additionally, with St. Therese being so connected to roses, they could consider Rose a nod to St. Zelie through her daughter; Rose is also a Marian name. Grace is beautiful, and Catherine is a wonderful name as well, and so like Elizabeth in style — Elizabeth, Catherine/Katherine, and Margaret are considered the “classic English trio” — all of them weighty, substantial, feminine, strong, and saintly.

When coming up with new ideas for Lauren and her hubs, I took a few things into account: names with meanings that nod to their long journey to this baby and their gratitude to God; their partiality to Irish, Italian, and Lebanese names; good nickname potential, especially with the idea I mentioned above of a unique first name with an unexpected nickname, or vice versa; and matches with their style (Elizabeth, Eliana, Zelie) as revealed by the Baby Name Wizard, which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Mattea
Mattea is gorgeous and unusual — it’s never made it into the top 1000 in the U.S. according to the Social Security data — but it’s Italian and not unheard of (25 baby girls were named Mattea in 2016, and actress Mira Sorvino named her daughter Mattea in 2004). Additionally, Matthew (and therefore Mattea) means “gift of God,” which is a great meaning for them. Matty’s an easy nickname (I’ve seen it for Martha too, which is adorable), and fits right in with the very familiar Maddy/Addy names that are so popular right now. Mattea Rose, Mattea Grace, and Mattea Catherine have a beautiful flow, and Mattea Elizabeth isn’t terrible either (in general I don’t prefer a first name ending in a vowel followed by a middle name starting with a vowel, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and Lauren and her hubs may like it!).

(2) Hannah
I know I mentioned Anna above, as a nod to St. Anne (I chose Anna in that example in order to lead to Eliana as a nickname), but there were some other Ann names that I thought were good suggestions. The first is Hannah — one of the many Ann variants — and the story of Hannah in the bible has long resonated with mamas who struggled to conceive. Hannah/Ann means “grace,” so they’d have the “sweet reminder of God’s grace” that led them to add Grace to their middle name list included in Hannah, and like with Mattea, Hannah has a lovely flow with Rose and Catherine, and not a terrible flow with Elizabeth (in fact, thinking about it now, perhaps Elizabeth Hannah would be an even better idea than Elizabeth Anna to lead to nickname Eliana? Being that Eli was part of Hannah’s story, I extra-like the idea of Eliana being a nickname for Elizabeth Hannah.)

(3) Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella
I was definitely on an Anna kick, and when I was looking up names with good meanings, one meaning I was using was “beloved,” and when I saw Annabel I thought it was a great idea! It’s not technically an Anna name — it’s said to have arisen in the middle ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a feminine variant of Amabilis — the name of a male saint, and also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (usually translated as Mother Most Amiable, where amiable derives from the Latin for “to love”). But they can surely claim St. Anne as patron for an Annabel, as well as Our Lady. Annabel Rose, Annabel Grace (okay to use Grace here, since Annabel’s not technically an Ann name), Annabel Catherine, and Annabel Elizabeth all work well. Also, Annabel doesn’t really read as a Scottish name, so I don’t think they’d need to worry about that in terms of it not being Irish (unless “general British Isles area” speaks enough to their Irish ancestry … I know I’m playing with fire by suggesting such a thing!).

Annabelle is also a gorgeous variant — the extra “le” on the end lends it an extra feminine and French feel; Annabella makes it Italian and opens up the wonderful nickname Bella. Actually, all the Annabel variants could probably take Bella as a nickname, and of course Anna/Annie as well, and even Abby.

(4) Cara, Caramia, Carina
While looking up names having to do with “beloved,” the Cara names caught my eye. Cara means “beloved” in Italian, AND it means “friend” in Irish, also sometimes listed as “beloved.” So fun to find a name with a great meaning in two languages! Caramia is a not-uncommon Italian name meaning “my beloved,” and Carina is a Latin elaboration of Cara (retaining the “beloved” meaning), as well as, separately, a variant of the Swedish form of Katherine, so it could work for Grandma Catherine too! I thought all three were beautiful ideas for Lauren and her hubs to consider.

(5) Any of the feminine John names
Like so many of the names listed here, John has a great one too: “God is gracious.” There are a whole bunch of feminine variants that can work, including:

  • Jean, Joan, Jane (listed in order from least currently popular to most — I’ve seen a few Janes recently and I’ve been loving it. St. Joan of Arc is also amazing.)
  • Joanna, Johanna (the former is also biblical, the latter has more of a German/Scandi feel)
  • Gianna (one of my favorite ideas for Lauren and her hubs — it’s Italian, and it has the additional awesome connection to St. Gianna)

I also liked that Joanna/Johanna and Gianna have “anna” in them — they’re not Ann names, but the fact that they contain “anna” in them makes me think they can nod to St. Anne too. (In case any of you are wondering why I’m so much all about St. Anne, I just love her! She’s the patroness of my blog, and I’ve sought her intercession many times myself, both for loved ones who hoped to conceive and for my own hopes for another baby.)

(6) Majella, Maiella
Speaking of good intercessors, St. Gerard Majella is a patron of pregnant women, the unborn, and childbirth. Though not officially patron of those hoping to conceive (that I could find, anyway), he nevertheless has quite a few conceptions attributed to his intercession! I’ve been collecting the stories on my blog — here’s one. Many mothers have turned to him for help during their pregnancies and labor+delivery as well, and I thought he’d be a great patron for Lauren’s baby. Majella is actually a fairly traditional girl’s name, and behindthename.com even lists it as Irish! Of course it isn’t — St. Gerard was Italian — but how cool to find an Italian name that must have good enough usage in Ireland to be considered Irish by at least some! Majella is actually an anglicized version of his Italian last name, which was Maiella — a gorgeous name, and one that pulls in the “ella” of both Elizabeth and Eliana. Ella and Ellie would be easy nicknames for either Majella or Maiella.

(7) Dorothy, Dorothea
My last idea is Dorothy or Dorothea. They’re the exact same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed, and they mean “gift of God.” Dorothy has an old feel, and also a bit of a starlet feel I think, because of Judy Garland’s Dorothy. There’s a family I follow on Instagram — @thebucketlistfamily — they have a trillion followers and they named their daughter Dorothy. So I’m sure it’s starting to come back — in fact, the SSA data shows that it was mostly out of the top 1000 from 2005–2010, and in the last eight years it’s risen from no. 933 to 652. Choosing a traditional name that hasn’t been used much recently can be another good way to marry their desire for a unique name with their more conservative natures.

Dorothea has a bit of a different feel from Dorothy — maybe a little more elegant? (Although Dorothy strikes me as pretty elegant!) The “A” ending fits with the current popular names, though it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970.

Both Dorothy and Dorothea can take the adorable Dory/Dorie as a nickname, as well as Dora; Dot/Dotty and Dolly are also traditional. Thea can be a nickname for Dorothea, which as a given name on its own dropped out of the top 1000 in 1965, then jumped back on in 2014 at no. 775, jumped to no. 460 in 2015, and was no. 290 in 2016 — that’s a crazy ascent! A little Thea would be very fashionable. (Theodora is another option, but I thought the Doro- ones would appeal to Lauren and her hubs more.)

I did look up Lebanese names, and while several of the ones I found had lovely meanings, the one that I thought would cross over the best — Sereena — is said to mean “princess, beautiful as a princess” (probably related to Sarah), which is a great meaning for a girl, but I didn’t think it fit in with the kinds of meanings Lauren and her hubs are looking for.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for this baby girl?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

Baby name consultation: Baby My Love’s new baby!

Don’t miss my earlier post about the new prince’s name!

I’ve posted about Sharon’s beautiful family before, and her beautiful shop, Baby My Love (if we have a baby girl, I would totally want her to be outfitted in Baby My Love every single day), and I’m SO EXCITED to post this consultation for her sweet baby girl who’s due just a couple weeks before my little one!

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Sharon and her husband Zeb have the most incredible taste in names — check out their older kiddos:

Gemma Agnes
Felicity Anne
Nicodemus Joseph
+ Miriam Rose
Maximus Michael Patrick
Quintus Edmund
Francis Fulton
Evangeline Marie

Including their unborn babies that are with Jesus:

+ Nic
+ Joy
+ Carmyn

What I love about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they just go for it! They just choose names that they love! They’ve done an amazing job!

For their sweet Little Miss, they’re feeling stuck! Sharon and I have talked about names a bit the last few months, and she posted on Instagram the other day listing all the names they’re considering and the ones they can’t use (A LOT of names can’t be used!):

On their current list:

Lydia
Pauline
Madeleine
Gabriella nn Bella (Gabriel is Zeb’s middle name)
Charlotte
Olivia
Cassandra

Others they’ve considered/talked about/like:

Mercedes nn Mercy
Genevieve
Camille
Hope

And the names they can’t use (because of having SIXTY nieces and nephews!!):

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As well as (as mentioned by Sharon in other comments):

Tamara
Magdalena
Maggie
Lourdes (Zeb prefers no place names)
Beatrice
Zelie
Siena

Whew!! There were a lot of great suggestions on the Instagram post, and I read through them all and tried not to duplicate suggestions here.

One thing that really struck me about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they seem to really love very feminine names, so I definitely took that into account when I was compiling my list. Of course I used my trusty Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with similar style/feel/popularity—I looked up only their girl names and ideas (Gemma, Felicity, Bernadette [it was almost Felicity’s name], Miriam, Gwendolyn [considered for Miriam], Joy, Evangeline, Eden [considered for Evangeline], Clare, Lydia, Pauline, Madeleine, Gabriella, Bella, Charlotte, Olivia, Cassandra, Mercedes, Mercy, Genevieve, Camille, and Hope), since their boys follow an ends-in-the-“us”-sound theme, which wouldn’t necessarily reflect their taste in girl names. And I stayed away from all forms of Mary and Rose, as they’d prefer to have those be associated with their Miriam Rose.

So based on all that, and trying not to duplicate any of the ideas offered in the comments on Instagram, these are my ideas:

(1) Annabelle, Annabella
Anastasia, Anne Marie, Julianna, Hannah, and Marianna are all on the list of names that can’t be used, but Annabelle was listed as a style match for Evangeline, Madeleine, and Olivia and they’re already considering Bella (as a nickname for Gabriella), so I thought it deserved a mention! Annabel is said to be, in origin, a variant of Amabel, which stems from the Latin for “beloved,” and of course it can be connected to our girl St. Anne. Belle/Bella means “beautiful” in French/Italian, so Annabelle and Annabella can be all kinds of meaningful, and so feminine!

(2) Juliette
The Julia names actually did quite well for this family in my research—Juliet is a match for Felicity, Madeleine, Camille, and Hope; Julia for Lydia; and Juliana for Gabriella. But Julia and Julianna are on their can’t-use list, and I thought the French Juliette was more their style anyway, as the extra “te” adds such a feminine frill. Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee considered Juliette in honor of Servant of God Julia Greeley, and there are loads of other holy Julias and a Ven. Juliette who can serve as patron.

(3) Dahlia
Sharon mentioned to me a while ago that her older girls would love for this baby to have a D name, to go along with the alpha-sister set Evangeline, Felicity, and Gemma, but Dorothy, Deborah, Diane, and Damaris either couldn’t be used or didn’t feel quite right. I thought of that immediately when I saw Dahlia listed as a style match for both Gemma and Felicity! Wow! It’s a flower name, and according to this, dahlias signify “elegance and dignity,” which is so lovely. I’ve seen DAH-lia, DAL-ia, and DAY-lia given as pronunciations (apparently the latter is that used in the UK), all of which have their merits, but I’m loving the first pronunciation because I think Dolly is the cutest nickname! How perfect for a baby sister!

(4) Helena
An H name would work in the alpha set as well, and I chuckled when I saw Sharon start her IG post with “Oh Nelly!” since Nell(y) can be a nickname for Helen(a)! Nella can also be used, which of course calls to mind the Bella they’re already considering.

(5) Calla (given or nickname)
Speaking of flower names, and inspired as much by Bella and Dahlia (and Nella) as by the fact that it’s a style match for Mercy, Calla is one of the loveliest flower names. It’s the name of the Calla lily, and it’s also related to the Greek word for “beauty.” I do love it on its own as a given name, but I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Caroline—Sharon and Zeb already have Charlotte on their list, which is a feminine variant of Charles as is Caroline (which is on their can’t-use list), so maybe they’d like to consider Calla as a nickname for Charlotte?

(6) Verity
My last idea is Verity, which means “truth.” It’s a virtue-esque name like Felicity, Joy, Mercy, and Hope, but I think it’s more unexpected. I love the character of Verity on Poldark, and I love how full of faith significance it is.

I also originally considered suggesting Avila, Junia, and Juniper, but place names are out (so no Avila), and I wasn’t sure enough about the biblical Junia (I thought Juliette was a closer fit) or the plant-y Juniper (Dahlia and Calla seemed better). But I wanted to put them here just in case.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Sharon and Zeb’s little lady?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!