Baby name consultation: “Short and cute” vs. “flowery” for a girl, surname-style for a boy

Happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church! And at the same time, in sorrow I share this Prayer for Racial Justice, and the call to participate in this 19-day period of prayer and fasting (from today to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) as an act of reparation to God for the sin of racism in all its forms. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us. St. Michael, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless us and keep us close to You.

Trish and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Donovan Kolbe (“we liked last names that were first names for boys and Kolbe had special significance since my husbands grandfather escaped from the Warsaw ghetto as a boy“)

Genevieve Louise (“I love very feminine names for girls, while my husband likes short and cute. I sold it to him by saying we could call her Evie, which we did for a few years but she is now asking to be called Genevieve (YAY). Louise was after my husbands grandmother“)

Veronica Caeli (“we call her Caeli … we knew we wanted a Caeli, but didn’t want her to forever be spelling it … so made it a middle name so she can choose“)

Are you as swoony as I am over these names?! 😍😍😍

Trish writes,

My husband and I have different tastes and had a VERY difficult time coming up with our son’s name … I have a list of names for this baby but my husband pretty much doesn’t like any of them because they are “too flowery.” He would like Emma or Claire but they’re too common for me. I think Gemma is a good compromise and he likes it, but is Gemma a different name than Genevieve? I really don’t like super common names. Even Mary! Sorry to Our Lady but every other family has a Mary and I just can’t.”

(“and I just can’t” — haha!)

Names Trish and her hubby have discussed include:

Xavier
Leo
Oliver
Jerome
Gemma
Eloise Grace (“but can we do an Eloise with an Evie Louise??“)
Emmeline
Annalise
Seraphina

And Trish specifically said, “I hope you can bridge the gap!!!” which, as I told her, is one of my very favorite things to do! (In fact, my very first CatholicMom.com column [five years ago!] was about this exact issue!)

First off, I’ll say that I really love that they both like Gemma, and normally I’d think it would be a perfect compromise, but for Genevieve! I mean, Genevieve starts with the sound *jenna*, and Gemma is *jemma* — they’re SO close! If they always called Genevieve “Evie,” then perhaps it wouldn’t be too problematic, at least on an everyday basis. Of course, that said, if Trish and her hubby just really love Gemma and the similarity between Gemma and Genevieve doesn’t bother them, then it’s certainly not the end of the world to choose Gemma!

I’m interested in the divide between Trish and her husband over girl names — he likes feminine, shorter names (Evie, Caeli, Emma, Claire), while Trish has feminine, longer names on her list (Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina). I see a lot of potential here!

I actually think Emmeline is a perfect compromise name here — it’s got Emma in it, from Trish’s hubby’s list, and a little Emmeline could easily and naturally go by Emma and/or Emmy. Annalise and Seraphina are similarly good I think, because Anna/Annie and Sera are less “flowery” names and I think they would qualify as “short and cute,” as Trish described her husband’s taste (I also think Sophie could work as a nickname for Seraphina, which I also suspect Trish’s husband might like). Another name that might also be a good compromise is Clairvaux. It’s pronounced clair-VO, like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and having the Clair- at the beginning means a little Clairvaux can go by Claire with no problem. Two of my readers have daughters named Clairvaux! I definitely think Trish should check them out (here and here) as both families have name taste similar to hers, I think.

As for Eloise Grace, I wouldn’t think it would be a problem unless they regularly tack Louise onto whatever they’re calling Genevieve. That is, do they regularly call her Evie Louise? Or even the full Genevieve Louise? If so, I do feel like Eloise might be too similar. But if Louise rarely shows up when they’re referring to Genevieve, then I think it’s fine. It also reminds me of a friend of mine who gave both her first and second daughters the middle name Catherine, but the older daughter’s middle name was for her grandmother Catherine, and the second daughter’s middle name was for St. Catherine of Siena. And I know more than one family who used a certain name as a middle name for one child, and liked that name so much they used it as the first name for a subsequent child. I say all this to say, even if Trish and her hubby use Louise with some regularity and still want to use Eloise for their next daughter, other families have done similar and even crazier things and the world didn’t fall apart. They can easily say for those who wonder that Louise was for Hubby’s grandmother and Eloise is just because they like it, or whatever. And actually, Louise and Eloise aren’t linguistically related! Louise is a feminine form of Louis, while Eloise is a variant of Heloise.

Another name that I thought they might like to consider is Elise — very similar to Eloise but even more different from Louise than Eloise is. It’s a short French form of Elizabeth, which opens up lots of great patron saints. Or Elisa, which flows better with Grace than Elise, I think. Or Elodie? That’s also a really pretty name.

There’s no problem at all about not liking the name Mary! Many Catholic families feel similarly, both because of name fatigue from all those years of Mary as the Number One Girl’s Name as well as a preference for more unexpected names (and not at all because of any disrespect toward Our Lady), which is in large part why I wrote my book of Marian baby names! There are so many gorgeous, legitimately Marian names that aren’t Mary — names that fit all different tastes in names! I included some in my list of suggestions below.

As for boy names, I think they’ve got a great list! I’m surprised there aren’t more surname-type names on there, since Trish had said that she and her hubs like last names that are first names for boys. Xavier is the only name on their list that fits that criteria, though it’s been used as a first name for so long that many people don’t know that it started as a last name. Leo and Oliver are great, and I regularly see them on lists of names considered by parents I do consultations for, but I rarely see Jerome! I admit though, when I was looking for boy names for this baby, I focused mostly on finding last name type names.

Okay, on to my suggestions! You all know that I start each consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for both boys and girls. These are what I came up with (a few extra for girls, given that girl names are particularly problematic for this couple):

Girl
(1) Ave
I feel like Ava is the kind of name Trish’s hubby would like — “short and cute” — but changing it slightly to Ave makes it both much more uncommon and more obviously faithy. It’s said like AH-vay, like in Ave Maria. I’d love to see such a short first name paired with a longer middle — because Ave means “Hail” (Ave Maria=Hail Mary), it might be weird to put it with a non-Marian middle, so maybe something like Ave Immaculata? That strikes me as a combo Trish might really like, and I think Ave might be the kind of name her husband would be okay with. I could also see putting Ave and Maria together as Avemaria, that would be amazing.

(2) Isla
I was actually inspired to add Isla by one of the Clairvaux families I linked to above — they have another daughter named Isla, and Isla’s an entry in my book for the Marian title Our Lady of the Isles. It’s “short and cute,” and so pretty!

(3) Pia
This is another name in my book, it’s the feminine form of Pius/Pio, and in the Salve Regina Our Lady is specifically referred to as pia, which is translated in the English version as “loving,” though it’s technical translation is more along the lines of “pious, devout, dutiful.” Actor David Henrie (of Wizards of Waverly Place fame, which I never watched but he’s got loads of followers), who’s actually a devout Catholic, recently named his daughter Pia, and I love seeing her sweet face and name in my Instagram feed! If Trish could convince her husband to use a longer name, I think Pia could also work as a nickname for Seraphina and Philomena and Phillippa.

(4) Liesse
This is yet another name in my book — it’s French for “joy” and refers to Notre Dame de Liesse (Our Lady of Joy). Isn’t it such a pretty name? It can definitely be used on its own, and if Trish wanted to lengthen it, Marie-Liesse isn’t uncommon (especially in France).

(5) Maristella
I know Trish said she doesn’t care for Mary, but what about something like Maristella? It reminds me of Genevieve and Veronica (and Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina) because of its length and femininity (which probably means her hubby won’t care for it, oh dear), but both Maris and Stella can be nicknames for it, as well as some other creative options like Mia, Mari, Molly, Missy, Milla and Mella (I could see Trish’s husband particularly liking Mia and Molly). Maristella is a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). Two Sancta Nomina readers have daughters named Maristella: here and here.

(6) Mercedes
I know Trish’s husband is freaking out at this point that I’m including all these ideas he won’t like! So sorry! I just really love the idea of compromising by using a longer, less familiar name like Trish likes with a familiar, “short and cute” nickname more like her husband’s taste. Mercedes is in my book — it means “mercies,” and is for Our Lady of Mercy or Our Lady of Mercies. It’s a Spanish name with quite an interesting (and very Catholic!) history — I posted more about it here. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, quite a few of my readers chose names related to Mercy for their children, and not only did Mercedes get some usage, but so did Mercy itself. I thought maybe Trish’s husband might like Mercy? It can stand on its own, or it can be a nickname for Mercedes. Sadie can also be a nickname for Mercedes, which I also thought her hubby might like. Lots of options!

(7) Tessa
Again, Tessa seems to me like the kind of name Trish’s husband would like — I would definitely call it “short and cute.” I actually thought Trish might like it too! Or maybe this could be another possible compromise, where they could use the given name Therese or Teresa and call her Tess or Tessa. I mentioned Marie-Liesse above, which makes me also think of Marie-Therese — I just love how the French do that! And I think doing a double first name (with or without the hyphen) automatically gives the name a more unusual character, which Trish prefers. So maybe Marie-Therese plus a middle name, called Tess or Tessa?

(8) Zara
Finally, Zara: in my research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, I actually didn’t find a whole lot of ideas that I thought would work for them. But Zara is a style match for both Gemma and Xavier, and it’s short and cute while also being uncommon, so I thought I should definitely include it in my suggestions. I actually did a spotlight post on it a while ago, as I’d discovered that it’s a feminine short form of Zechariah — I loved finding that connection! Zechariah is a name I’ve often thought would be great for a boy as a sort-of nod to the Visitation, since he was Elizabeth’s husband and John the Baptist’s father; a little Zara could claim that same connection.

Boy
(1) Tiber
Okay, moving on to boy ideas. So I totally latched onto the fact that Trish said she and her husband like last-names-as-first-names for boys, and I always include place names in that category (especially since so many last names started as place names, and so many saintly place names have a last name feel, like St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, etc.). And any time I know one of the parents is a convert, I immediately think of Tiber! Tiber is for the Tiber River in Rome, and many of you know that when someone converts to Catholicism a fun thing to say is that they “crossed the Tiber.” (There are even t-shirts that say “Tiber Swim Team” with the year the person entered the Church, like these.) Anyway, two of my readers have used Tiber for their boys and I love it! I think it’s so cool and so meaningful, but in kind of a stealthy way! Check them out here and here.

(2) Fulton
Another name that came right to mind when seeing Donovan Kolbe’s name is Fulton! Fulton was actually Fulton Sheen’s mom’s maiden name, so a legit last name, even thought it’s so tied to him as a first name.

(3) Owen
A name that did well for this family in my research was Owen, which I love because of course it’s a first name, but it’s also St. Nicholas Owen’s last name (he’s amazing)! So it reminds me a lot of Donovan in that they both have good usage as first names.

(4) Elliott
Elliott’s another one that did quite well for them in my research, and like Donovan and Owen, I love that it has usage as a last name (poet T.S. Eliot is one example) while still being a familiar but not too common first name. It’s actually a variant of Elijah, which gives it both a faith connection and a specifically Marian connection (via Elijah’s connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which I discuss in my book).

(5) Campion
Camden was listed as a style match for Donovan, which made me think of the similar and saintly Campion, for St. Edmund Campion. Isn’t Campion a cool name? I’ve always had a soft spot for the nickname Cam, and I love St. Edmund Campion, and I love how brothers Donovan and Campion sound!

I also encourage Trish and her hubby to check out my posts on saintly surnames — there are so many great options for those who love the surname style!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Donovan, Genevieve (sometimes nicknamed Evie), and Veronica Caeli (called Caeli)?


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: Family names and special initials a consideration for baby number 3

Two consultations in one week, what?! 💃💃💃 Margie’s baby’s coming soon! No time to wait until Monday! She and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱, who joins big brother and sister:

Henry Lucas (“Henry after my husband’s uncle who passed away when my husband was 5 and Lucas as a tribute to my grandfather Frank Luke. We follow St. Henry (July 13) as his patron saint“)

Penelope Rose (“Penelope is our “Penny” sent from heaven. One of my sisters died while pregnant with Henry, then my dad died two years later and then I had a miscarriage. We haven’t started calling her Penny yet though, usually Little Pea or Sweet Pea. Rose is from St. Rose of Lima and I was called Rosebud when I was a baby“)

I love these! Margie and her hubs did a great job incorporating family names into their Henry’s name, even changing Luke to Lucas to fit their style. And the “penny from heaven” story is great — I love how they turned that into a meaningful name for their little girl, a nod to hope and happiness after such sorrow! Rose being for both St. Rose and a nickname of Margie’s is wonderful too.

Margie writes,

We’ve been struggling with a name for this one, especially for a girl … My husband and I were both named after our grandparents — he has two middle names from both grandfathers [and] part of my first name and my middle name are after after my grandmothers … We like including family names and the tradition we have of being named after our grandparents but [are having a hard time figuring out how to do so for this baby].

Parents — Francis “Frank” Alan and Kristina Robin and goes by Robin. Philip “Phil” Allen and Michelle Elizabeth. 

Names we can’t/don’t want to use:
Amanda
Stella
Claira
Patrick
Lucy
Katherine/Catherine
David
Daniel
Crystal
Stephanie

Names we like for girls:
Bernadette — I’ve liked this one for years. Finally convinced my husband and now I’m not sure I like it due to length and can’t decide on a middle name
Eleanor
Edna — possible middle name (my grandmother’s middle name)
Veronica
Rebecca
Coralynn
Carolina
Edith
Agnes
Josephine (his grandfather’s name is Joseph, and Joseph is a family name for my side)
Frances — possible middle name (female form for Francis)

Names we like for boys:
Theodore — Gift from God — this is our number one choice
Francis — possible middle name, [Hubby’s] dad’s name and my grandfather
Dennis – possible middle name, form of my mom’s maiden name (Denes)
Allen/Alan — possible middle name, our dads’ middle names
Edward — possible middle name, is Theodore Edward weird together?
Thomas
Michael — My brother’s middle name

We also like the idea of having a baby with the initials KC because that’s where we are from and love the city ([Hubby] was in the Navy for years, and we moved away from home because of it).”

I, too, love using family names in the naming of my children, so I had fun trying to think of ideas for this family on how to incorporate Margie’s parents’ and in-laws’ names into this baby’s name! Francis for a boy or Frances for a girl is certainly a great option, as a nod to her father-in-law (and her grandfather). What about Christopher for a boy? It can be spelled Kristopher or Kristofer to get it closer to Margie’s mother-in-law’s spelling. I can see that they might think Theodore Christopher is overly long — what about Theodore Christian? Or Theodore Kristian? I actually quite like how Theodore Kristian looks and sounds — it’s handsome and unexpected! Kristian is a Scandinavian spelling of the boy name Christian, and I also really like that Kristian has all the letters in Margie’s mil’s name, just shuffled a little! Her mil’s middle name that she actually goes by, Robin, is both a boy and a girl name. So: Theodore Robin? I know a family with a teenage son named Robin! Robin started as a diminutive of Robert — Theodore Robert sounds natural together! I also really like the Allen/Alan idea, since both dads share that name.

Otherwise, I like the possibility of Dennis as a middle name for Margie’s mom’s maiden name, but I would love to encourage her to use the Denes spelling! There’s no reason not to (from a name perspective), especially when it’s in the middle spot. Theodore Denes is awesome. Theodore Edward sounds fine together, but I’m assuming Margie’s question about it being weird has to do with the fact that their nicknames Ted/Teddy for Theodore and Ed/Eddie/Ned/Ted for Edward rhyme (and are even the same in the case of Ted)? I mean, that shouldn’t be a problem in the sense that Edward as a middle name will never be nicknamed, and they can avoid any kind of rhyming altogether by using Theo as a nickname. I also think Michael is a great option — not only is it Margie’s brother’s middle name, as she noted, but it’s also the name from which Margie’s mom’s name, Michelle, is derived. That is, Michelle is a feminine form of Michael. So Michael can be for both her mom and her brother! Theodore Michael is very handsome.

For a girl, not only is a Frances a great option, but perhaps also Robin? Pippa is originally a nickname for Phillippa, and now often stands on its own as a name, so maybe Pippa as a middle name for Margie’s dad? I also like the idea of a nod to Allen/Alan for a girl — I looked up feminine variants and there are some really pretty ones, like Alana/Alanna/Alannah, Alaina/Alayna, and even Allyn, which I found intriguing. Maybe Allyn could be the answer to Margie’s quandary of what to use as a middle name for Bernadette? I like how Bernadette Allyn sounds! For that matter, I also quite like Bernadette Alana/Alayna! Or maybe they’ll feel that the honor to both dads remains if they switch the spelling to Ellen or Elaine/Elaina? They’re not related to Alan/Allen, but the similarity in sound might be enough?

As for first names they’re considering, here are my thoughts, in case they’re helpful:

  • Bernadette: I’m so intrigued by the fact that Margie’s liked this for years and now her hubby’s on board and now she’s not sure! That kind of thing has happened to me too, so I get it, but I’d love to see if I can help her salvage it, since her hubby’s come around (no easy task for many! It would be a shame to waste it, haha!). Margie said its length and the middle name are two reasons she’s cooled on it — as for length, it’s one syllable shorter than Penelope, so I wouldn’t think that should be a problem! If it’s a matter of thinking it’s too long for everyday use, finding a good nickname should do the trick, and Bernadette has some fun ones: I’ve seen Birdie, which is sweet, and I like that they can maybe think of it as a nod to Margie’s mother-in-law, being that her name is the name of a kind of bird! I’ve also seen Bernie, Etta, and Detta, and one of my favorite options is Betsy. I like that Margie’s mom’s middle name is Elizabeth — Betsy is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth, so maybe Bernadette nn Betsy would be enough of a nod to her? If so, then something like Bernadette Robin nn Betsy could nod to both of their moms!
  • Eleanor: You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used for older children and those they like/are considering for their current baby-on-the-way 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. Eleanor is a style match for both Henry and Penelope! How cool! I wonder if they might feel that Eleanor can be a nod to Allen/Alan? It would be totally based on sound rather than an actual etymological connection, but it could work? The spelling Elanor brings it even closer (it’s the spelling Tolkien used, I love it!).
  • Edna: Wow! I’ve never seen Edna on any of the lists of names I’ve seen in the families I’ve worked with! But it makes sense that it will start to pop up here and there, as so many other “old lady” names are coming back, like Edith and Agnes on Margie’s list. I quite like how Eleanor Edna sounds — I’m a big fan of alliteration! Saying it with Bernadette doesn’t sound great as a middle name I don’t think, and I think it’s because they share so many sounds, which makes me wonder if Edna might be feasible as a nickname for Bernadette?
  • Veronica: Gorgeous name. Also, it’s a long name — the same number of syllables as Penelope and one more than Bernadette — if they’re okay with Veronica, then that should work in Bernadette’s favor, right?
  • Rebecca: Also beautiful.
  • Coralynn, Carolina: These two are similar enough that I thought I’d comment on them together. I wonder what they would think of changing the spelling to Koralynn or Karolina, to achieve the KC initials they’d like? Karoline/Karolina especially is a spelling I’ve seen used quite a bit among Catholic families in recent years in honor of St. John Paul II, whose birth name was Karol (the Polish form of Charles).
  • Edith: I love Edith! I think Edie is one of the darlingest nicknames, and I’m a huge fan of St. Edith Stein! Since it’s a short name, if they were to use it as a first name I’d love to see it paired with a longer middle. One of Rosie Hill’s little girls is named Edith Veronica, which I’ve always thought was a stunning combo! Edith Josephine, Edith Rebecca, Edith Carolina, Edith Bernadette, Edith Coralynn are all quite pleasing to my ear.
  • Agnes: Another lovely, saintly name. Aggie is a sweet nickname! Like Edith, I can see Agnes pairing nicely with the longer names on their list — they all work quite well!
  • Theodore: I really see no reason for Margie and her hubs to change from Theodore as their top choice! It’s a great name and it has great meaning for them, so I say go for it!
  • Thomas, Michael: These are the only other names they have listed as possibilities for a boy’s first name, and I like them both! Since Margie didn’t comment on either one except to point out that Michael is her brother’s name (and it’s the male variant of her mom’s first name), I feel like them don’t love them as much as Theodore? Of the two, I like Michael the best for them because of the family connection.

So those are my thoughts on the names on their list, and I also spent some time with the KC idea, which is a really fun one. For girls, as mentioned, Karolina and Koralynn are definite possibilities. Other K names include Konstance, Kassidy, Kalista, and Karine/Karina. C names can include any of those, as well as Charlotte, which I like for this family! (I wouldn’t use Charlotte as a middle name for Karolina though, since Karolina and Charlotte are both feminine variants of Charles.) Also Camille/Camilla, Cynthia, Chloe, and Claudia. Some pretty combos include:

Karolina Carine
Karoline Chloe
Koralynn Carina
Karina Constance
Kassidy Charlotte
Kalista Carine

For boys, I like the idea of Karol! For St. John Paul II! Or maybe they’d prefer the easier spelling Karl? (I believe Karol is said like Karl, though I have heard people say Karol just like the woman’s name Carol.) Other K names that I thought Margie and her hubs might like include Kenneth, Kirk (which means “church”), Kurt (which is a contracted form of Conrad), and Kolbe (which is fairly popular among Catholic families for St. Maximilian Kolbe), as well as most C names. C names can include Caleb, Clement, Casper, Casey, Christian or Christopher, Colman, Conrad, and these, which are actually style matches for some of the names they like per the BNW: Charles/Carl (but not paired with Karol/Karl), Clark, Claude, Cyril, Chance, and Cooper. (A fun note about Cooper: I’ve seen families use it as a given name in honor of St. Joseph of Cupertino, and also as a nickname for Cupertino as a given name. Maybe they’d like to consider Cupertino as a middle name?) Some nice combos include:

Karol/Karl Clement
Kenneth Charles
Kurt Cupertino
Kolbe Christopher
Kristian Clark
Kristopher Carl
Konrad Cooper

Those are all my thoughts and ideas having to do with the first and middle name ideas Margie and her hubby already have on their list, as well as their KC initials idea. Now for my new ideas!

Girl
(1) Felicity
I think Felicity is a really nice “bridge” name between Henry’s style, which has a sweet, sort of British feel to me, and Penelope’s style, which is a little more offbeat (Felicity was specifically listed as a style match for Penelope). I did a spotlight post on it a while ago, which discusses saintly connections and nickname possibilities.

(2) Susanna
Suzy is a style match for Penny, and as soon as I saw that I thought of Susanna — it’s biblical and long like Veronica and Rebecca, and can take a bunch of fun nicknames in addition to Suzy/Susie, like Anna/Annie, Sookie, and Zuzu. (Susanna’s in my book of Marian names!)

(3) Genevieve
This is another long, lovely name like Penelope, Bernadette, Veronica, Rebecca, and Carolina/Coralynn, which is also style match for Theodore, Eleanor, and Josephine. A beautiful name! The little Genevieves I know mostly go by Evie or Gigi, though Gen/Gennie/Genna, Vivi, and Vieve are possibilities for nicknames.

(4) Beatrice or Beatrix
Beatrix is a match for Penelope and Beatrice for Eleanor and Theodore — I’m not sure which spelling I like more for this family! It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and the nicknames Bea, Trixie, and Tris are sweet. I also know of a little Beatrice who goes by Betsy!

(5) Violet
I loved seeing Violet as a match for Eleanor and Josephine, and Viola as a match for Edna! Violet’s also an entry in my book of Marian names — it’s a such a sweet floral name and the Marian character just kicks it up about a million notches, in my humble opinion. 😉

Boy
(1) Charles
I know I included Charles, and its variants Carl, Karol, and Karl, above, but I wanted to give it some more attention here. It’s a style match for Henry, Eleanor, and Theodore, and it strikes me as being exactly the kind of boy name Margie and her husband would like.

(2) Samuel
In addition to being a match for the biblical Veronica and Rebecca, Samuel’s also a match for Henry and Eleanor! It’s a great name, and the story of Samuel and Hannah in the bible can hold great meaning for any woman who has longed for a child. And is there any friendlier nickname than Sam?

(3) Milo or Miles
Milo is a style match for Penelope, and it and its variant Miles are included in one of my favorite entries in my book of Marian names! I like that it’s a little offbeat, like Penelope, but I also think both Milo and Miles have a nice gentlemanness that goes nicely as Henry’s brother.

(4) Elliott
I know that using Elliott now would knock Eleanor out of the running for the future, but it’s a style match for Penelope, and like with Milo/Miles, I think it goes handsomely with Henry as well. It’s a form of Elijah, which gives it its Marian character (as noted in my book), and I wonder if Margie could also consider it a nod to her mom’s middle name because of the El- beginning? (A total stretch? Or a possibility?)

(5) Frederick
Frederick is a match for Theodore and Josephine and I like that it has a longer length, like Penelope. Fred and Freddy are sweet, as is Fritz. I even know a little Frederick who goes by Erick!

I’m really reluctant to push too hard on any of these boy name ideas, though, because I think Margie and her hubby will be happiest with Theodore!

And those are all my ideas/thoughts/suggestions! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Henry and Penelope?


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: Marian names, Italian names, and family names in consideration for fourth baby girl

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. 🗽🇺🇸 This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiers, loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace. ❤ ❤ ❤

Jessie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby this month (!!) — their fourth girl! This little lady joins big siblings:

Leonard Edward (after his father)
Lillian Victoria (after two grandmothers)
Jude Thaddea (after St. Jude)
Majella Magdalene (after St. Gerard)

Aren’t these fantastic?! I was so surprised by Leonard — so unexpected on a little guy, I love that! And then to discover that their Jude is a girl — I LOVE Thaddea as a middle name with Jude for a girl! And Majella Magdalene! Of course I’m not forgetting Lillian Victoria, what a stunning combo! Jessie and her husband have done a great job!

Jessie writes,

We are having a hard time agreeing and coming up with a girls name for our fourth girl that is significant to family and also maybe had a little Catholic meaning.

We currently like:

Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes
Maribel (after mother Mary, my mother Maryanne and his mother Marie)
Francesca (Frankie as a nickname)
Rosie Jane (after his grandmother)
Giana (after St Giana)

I was really eager to see what names Jessie and her hubby are considering, and I wasn’t disappointed! These are my thoughts on those names, in case they’re helpful to them:

  • Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes: I actually know a little Lucciana! Her family calls her Lucci, and I’ve always been impressed that they used a Lucy name that’s much less familiar! Lucia is a gorgeous option too, and always brings Our Lady of Fatima to mind, to whom I have a special devotion. Our Lady of Fatima’s feast day is May 13, so a name connected to her — like Lucia (or Lucciana as a variant of it) — would be pretty cool for a baby born in May. And Lourdes! I love Lourdes! Fatima and Lourdes in one name is pretty great! I also love alliteration, so Lucciana/Lucia Lourdes (and Majella Magdalene) really sing to me. Also, I wonder if Jessie and her hubs have considered Lourdes as a first name? One of my readers has a little Lourdes, I love it!
  • Maribel: I really like the idea of a Marian name beginning in Mar- as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mother-in-law — so great to have that option! Of course, as you all know I’m a huge fan of Marian names in general, and I love the double Marian whammy of giving a May baby a Marian name! Maribel is beautiful, and I have some more ideas below, too.
  • Francesca: Italian girl names tend to be so gorgeous, and Francesca is one of the prettiest. Frankie as a nickname is adorable too!
  • Rosie Jane: I’m not sure if this would be a double name or the first+middle combo? Either way, Rosie Jane is so sweet! I wonder if it was Jessie’s husband’s grandmother’s given name? It has a little bit of a different feel than their older kids’ names and the other names they’re considering — a little lighter and more informal — which is totally fine! But something like Rosemary/Rosemarie Jane or Rosanne/Rosanna Jane or Rosa Jane or Rosary/Rosaria Jane as the given name, with Rosie or Rosie Jane as the nickname, feels a bit more stylistically similar to the other names they’ve used and like. Either way, Rose is a Marian name!
  • Gianna: St. Gianna’s awesome, and a big favorite among the Sancta Nomina families! I like how the “anna” part could be a nod to Jessie’s mom, if she wanted it to be. Also, Gianna is an Italian form of Jane, so they could consider it an honor name for Jessie’s husband’s grandmother too. Or they could even do a Rose first name with Gianna as a middle and still call her Rosie Jane!

So those are my thoughts on the names on Mom and Dad’s list. As for new ideas, you all know I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like 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 — this research gives me a great idea of the kinds of names that fit into the style(s) that the parents are most likely to like. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for this family (especially more Mar- ideas). Based on that research, these are my ideas:

(1) A Mar- name
I really liked what Jessie and her hubs were thinking with Maribel — honoring both Maryanne and Marie in one name. I have these names in my book that I thought might also be good contenders:

— Marienne: This is like a Marian/Maryanne mashup pronunciation-wise, but it’s French like Marie and actually contains Marie within it. It’s quite pretty and feminine to look at, it’s obviously Marian, and I like that it’s so much of an almost exact combo of Jessie’s mom’s and mil’s names.

— Mariae: I’m excited about this one for this family, as it’s one of the more unusual Mary names, and I think their taste runs to the more unusual. It’s pronounced MAR-ee-ay, and it’s actually a Latin version — it’s the genitive (possessive) form of Maria — it literally means, “of or belonging to Mary.” How amazing is that? Micaela Darr (who graciously endorsed my book!) bestowed it on her daughter. I LOVE seeing her write out her daughter’s name on Instagram, it’s so beautiful!

— Maristella: This one reminds me a lot of the ultra-feminine names Jessie and her hubby have used so far, I have a feeling they might like it! It’s a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). On that note, perhaps they’d rather consider just Stella? Or Stella as a first name and Maris as a middle? Or Stellamaris? Actually, now that I think about it, I might prefer Stellamaris for them, only because Maristella and Stella by itself both rhyme with Majella, where Stellamaris doesn’t, since it has a different ending.

— Madonna: Okay, I know this isn’t an Mar- name, but I wondered if they might like the idea of Madonna — which of course refers to Our Lady’s motherhood — as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mil (since they’re both mothers, and Madonna doesn’t begin with Mar- but it does begin with Ma-, like Maryanne and Marie)? I know it’s still really controversial as a first name (I hope Catholics can reclaim it one day!), but I LOVE it in the middle name spot, like this mama did for her daughter. It wouldn’t work as a middle name for Lucciana or Gianna, since it would rhyme with them, but something like Lucia Madonna or Rosa Madonna would be lovely!

(2) Jacinta
I’d actually already jotted down Jacinta for this family while reading Jessie’s email, even before doing my research (I was inspired by Lucia), and then I was excited to see it listed as a style match for Maribel in the BNW! I like that it’s a more unusual name, and relates to Our Lady of Fatima, so it has that nice connection for a May baby. It’s got similar sounds as Gianna, and it occurs to me that Jane or Janie/Janey could even be a nickname for Jacinta! (Or not, if they hate that idea! I always have lots of ideas, haha!) If they really prefer Italian names, they could spell it the Italian way: Giacinta, which also opens up Gia or Gigi and even Giana as nickname possibilities.

(3) Gemma
When doing my research in the BNW, I really look for names that are listed as a style match for more than one of the names on the parents’ list. Gemma is one! It’s a match for both Jude and Gianna, and St. Gemma Galgani is a saint much loved by many. Additionally, Gemma means “gem” (as in “precious stone”) in Italian, which is such a sweet meaning for a little girl.

(4) Chiara
Chiara was actually a match for three of the names they like: Lucia, Francesca, and Gianna! It’s the Italian form of Clare, and it’s a name I see considered quite a bit by families I work with, not only for St. Clare of Assisi, but also for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano and Servant of God Chiara Corbella Patrillo.

(5) Loretta
Finally, when I saw Loretta listed as a style match for Leonard, I knew I wanted to suggest it! Though I think most people might think of it as either an old lady name or a Hollywood starlet name (since it peaked in popularity in 1938, and was the name of beautiful 40’s Hollywood actress Loretta Young), which may or may not appeal to Jessie and her hubs, it’s actually an Italian name! It could be a form of Lauretta (an Italian elaboration of Laura), but Catholics consider it to be a nod to Loreto, “the name of a small town in Italy where stands a small house, held by tradition to be the house in which Our Lady was born and grew up, and in which the Annunciation and the Incarnation took place (known as the Holy House of Nazareth). Angels are said to have carried the house there in the 13th century. The Litany of Loreto (Litaniae Lauretanae in Latin), also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lists many of Our Lady’s beautiful titles” (quote taken from my book).

And those are all my ideas for Jessie and her husband! What do you think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister of Leonard, Lillian, Jude, and Majella?


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: “Short and cute” or “dripping in significance” … or both!

I posted a consultation for Ali and her husband a couple of years ago, and subsequent birth announcement, and I’m excited that Ali wrote again asking for help with girl name ideas!

Ali’s older kiddos are:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph
Tiber Augustine

I love all those names, and it’s interesting to hear that Ali’s changed her mind about her name preferences as time has gone on: When I did the consultation when Tiber was on the way, she and her hubby wanted a short name, preferably one syllable, and didn’t want a name with a nickname — they were more likely to like the nickname itself as a given name (like Max and Zack). But Ali said about Tiber’s name:

I thought I knew what I wanted last time but I was so so so wrong. Thank goodness we have you! You knew me better than I did and we picked a name off your second list and I felt so connected to the meaning … at Tiber’s baptism, our priest told the entire church our conversion story, the history of crossing the Tiber river, and who St. Augustine is to both protestants and catholics. He then told me (in front of the entire church) about his mother, St. Monica, who had prayed endlessly for his conversion and gave me a prayer card he had laid on her tomb in Rome when he celebrated mass there. I was in tears. If this is how amazing a perfectly selected name could be, how could I ever settle for less? Names are so much more important than syllables or style or popularity.”

What a moving story!! Ali continues,

So I need your help again, but this time for a girl! We’ve got boys names picked for days but we can’t seem to agree on a girl name.

[Hubby], like last time, likes shorter names that sound cute. Like Eva, Ava, or Claire. To date, I think those are the only ones he has said he really really likes. I like the crazier names dripping in significance, like Jubilee, Hosanna, Evangeline, Immaculee, Hallelujah (or Halle, but that rhymes with my name). Right now the only name we have found we are both ok with is Magdalene (which is quirky and significant enough for me, and is an “eh” from Hubby). I’m sure she’ll end up as a middle name at least.

Other names we have considered and both have given a “eh” rating or better to are:
Emilia
Noelle
Genevieve
Rose
Pearl
Phoebe
Clara

If we can find a name that is auditorily appealing to the hubs that also makes me feel more connected to God, the body of Christ here on earth, and the communion of saints in heaven, I think we will have a winner.”

Oh man! Challenge accepted! 😀

Magdalene is a fantastic name, and I like how Ali characterized it as “quirky and significant enough” for her. Great description!

Quickly, I’d like to just offer a couple quick thoughts on the names that are on Ali’s and her hubby’s lists, in case they’re helpful:

  • Eva, Ava: These are both variants of Eve, so they’re Marian via her title New Eve. I like them!
  • Jubilee, Hosanna, Hallelujah: These are so fantastic! But I assume they’re not realistic candidates? They did help me in finding other names Ali might like!
  • Evangeline: Ali and her hubby aren’t too far apart with his Eva/Ava and her Evangeline!
  • Immaculee: This variant as well as Immaculata are two of my favorite, unexpected ways to name for Our Lady.
  • Emilia: Lovely! St. John Paul II’s mom’s name was Emilia, and her cause for canonization has recently been opened!
  • Noelle: This is such a lovely name, and the fact that it means Christmas makes it a really faith-filled name!
  • Genevieve: A big favorite among my readers, for good reason! It and Evangeline are often on parents’ lists together.
  • Rose: A beautiful, simple, Marian name.
  • Pearl: Ditto!
  • Phoebe: This might be the only name on this shared list that I think fits the quirkiness Ali seems to like! And it’s biblical, which gives it good faith connection.
  • Claire, Clara: Both sweet, saintly names.

I took a look at my previous email conversation with Ali, and was surprised that her frontrunner last time — Kate, for her late best friend — isn’t on the list. I wonder if she’d like it as a middle name? Being short and sweet, it can offset a longer first name nicely, like Magdalene Kate. I like it with some of my new ideas for them, too. (I also just want to say, I love the idea of using Ali’s middle name in her daughter’s name as well! Grace is full of faith significance, and can be Marian too, for Our Lady of Grace. And like Kate, it can balance a lengthier first name really nicely. And so nice for a girl to share a name with her mom!)

Before getting to my new ideas, I also want to take another look at some of the names I suggested for this family last time that I still really like for them! In fact, I didn’t look back at our old emails until after already making my list for Ali and her hubs for this time, and was pleasantly surprised to see that so many of my favorite ideas for them this time are ones I suggested to them before! The more “normal” suggestions from last time, that are probably more Ali’s husband’s taste, include:

(1) Tess
I looove the name Tess, and just like with Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate (a contender last time), it’s originally a nickname for a longer name — and in fact, any of the Sts. Teresa/Therese can be patrons of a little Tess! But maybe they don’t want to follow Tiber with another T name?

(2) Hope, Faith
I think Hope and Faith can kind of bridge the style of Max/Zack/Kate/Nate/Eva/Ava/Claire with that of Selah/Brave/Jubilee/Hosanna/Jubilee/Hallelujah. I particularly like Faith for this family — it seems to fit Ali’s desire to “feel more connected to God, the body of Christ here on earth, and the communion of saints in heaven.”

(3) Zoe
I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard at the beginning of this consultation, and found Zoe to be the biggest style match of all the girl names, being similar in style to Max, Zachary (standing in for Zach, which doesn’t have its own entry), Ava, and Phoebe. When I looked back at our old emails, I was happy to see it was on my list for this family back then as well! It’s spunky and zippy, and it’s the birth name of a different St. Catherine — St. Catherine Laboure. (I should say, I assumed the St. Catherine they’d intended as the patron for a Kate last time around is Siena! But maybe they meant Laboure?) And it’s got a great meaning: “life.” In fact, Behind the Name says that from “early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve,” which gives it a Marian spin via her title New Eve.

(4) Liv
Speaking of Eve, I almost included it as a suggestion last time, and now Eva and Ava — both of which are Eve variants — are on Ali’s hubby’s current list of favorites! And Evangeline is on Ali’s! Back then, I’d thought Eve might be a little too serious for what I perceive Ali’s taste to be, but I’d thought that Liv felt more like her, to me, and like Eve (and Zoe) it’s related to “life.” But to tie it to a saint, it’s used as a nickname for Olivia, so St. Oliver Plunkett can be patron, or Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Rose
I liked Rose for this family last time, so I’m happy to see it on their “’eh’ rating or better” list now! It’s beautiful, simple, and Marian. I quite like both Rose Magdalene and Magdalene Rose.

(6) Clare
At the end of my last consultation for this family, I’d said that there were a bunch of other names I considered but decided not to include in my “final” list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them just in case — and Clare was one of those! So seeing Claire on Ali’s hubby’s list and Clara on their combined list feels right. (The others I thought about including but decided not to were Shea, Elle, Abby, Molly, Jane, Rue.)

And the more charismatic, “dripping in signifance” names that I suggested last time that I think are more Ali’s taste include:

(1) Charis
Taken right from the word “charismatic” itself, and contained within the word Eucharist, Charis is a really pretty girl name. I’ve seen parents choose it because of the connection to the word Eucharist (and that part of Eucharist is the same as the “charis” in charism(atic)). I feel like Charis fits right in with Ali’s husband’s preference for “shorter names that sound cute”! Like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ daughter Carys, Charis is said the same way.

(2) Caeli
Again, short and cute! But for Ali, it’s a heavy duty Catholicky Catholic name! You can say it CHAY-lee or KAY-lee, and it’s Latin for “of heaven,” as in the Marian title Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

(3) Pia
Pia means “pious,” and Our Lady is called “pia” in the Latin form of the Hail Holy Queen (O pia, o clemens, o dulcis virgo Maria). Actor David Henrie (from “Wizards of Waverly Place”) is actually a devout Catholic and named his baby girl Pia — I’ve been loving seeing the name and her sweet face in my Instagram feed!

(4) Kyrie
I know the basketball player Kyrie Irving is a man, and Kyrie means “Lord,” but I’ve always thought of it as sounding more feminine (I’m sure I’m influenced by Kira). He says KY-ree, but at Mass we say KEE-ree-ay.

(5) Rosary
I’d mentioned Rosary last time as a Marian middle name idea for Kate, but since they have Rose on their list of first name ideas, maybe they’d be open to considering Rosary as a first name? This reader of mine named one of her daughters Rosary! Also, I don’t know if Ali and/or her husband have any ties to Louisiana, but I discovered that Rosary isn’t an uncommon first name in the New Orleans area.

So those are the names from last time that I think still have possibility for this family this time (unless of course Ali and her hubs already went through them last time or this time and decided they hate them!) Fortunately, I can always come up with more ideas!

As mentioned, I looked up the names they used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard to find names that are similar to them in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through my book of Marian names with, I admit, an eye for shorter names like the kind Ali’s husband likes. But always with Ali’s love of the more obvious faithy names in mind! Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this family:

(1) Ave, Avila
I really love the idea of Ave for this family. Ali’s hubby has Eva and Ava on his list, and Ali has Evangeline on hers, so those three letters seem like a great point of compromise for them both. But Ave really bumps it up — it’s said AH-vay, and it’s the first word in the Latin version of the Hail Mary: Ave Maria. While we’re talking about Av- names, I also wondered if they might like Avila? Like St. Teresa of Avila? It’s a place name like Tiber, so maybe that would be a turn off? Or maybe it’s perfect!

(2) Cana
Speaking of place names, Cana (KAY-na) is in my book of Marian names for this reason: “This name refers to the Wedding Feast at Cana, at which Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine because his mother asked him to (Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary). I’ve always loved this example of Our Lady’s love for us and her intercession on our behalf.” There’s a little girl named Cana in my Instagram feed, I love it!

(3) Magnificat, Magnify
Magnificat is an entry in my book for this reason: “In the Liturgy of the Hours (the ‘daily prayer of the Church,’ involving five times of prayers throughout the day), Evening Prayer includes the ‘Canticle of Mary,’ also known as the Magnificat, after the first word of the first line in Latin: Magnificat anima mea Dominum (‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord’). It’s the beautiful prayer of blessing and adoration that Our Lady exclaims after hearing Elizabeth’s greeting during the Visitation (Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary). Though I’ve never seen Magnificat used as a given name, its similarity in sound and nickname possibility to Magdalene and Margaret makes it quite feasible.” Since they’re already considering Magdalene, I thought they might like to consider Magnificat! Or what about Magnify? I was thinking recently what a cool given name that would be. Very along the lines of Praise/Jubilee/Hosanna!

(4) Veil
I wrote in my book about the name Veil: “Our Lady always wears a veil, both in her apparitions and in artistic renditions … Additionally, Our Lady of Mercy (also known as the Madonna della Misericordia) is associated with images of the faithful taking refuge under her cloak, also known as her veil or mantle.” Veil has amazing faith connections, and is short like the names Ali’s hubby likes (and it has that prominent V, like in Eva, Ava, Evangeline, and Genevieve)! One of my readers gave Veil as a middle name to one of her daughters, specifically “after the Holy Protection of Our Lady, since Mary’s veil is known as a symbol of her motherly protection and care” (so beautiful!), and the ‘Today Show’ co-anchor Savannah Guthrie named her daughter the sound-alike Vale.

(5) Seraphina
Seraphina is a style match for Evangeline, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names as well! I think it fits Ali’s criteria of a “crazier name dripping in significance”: it refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who “stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court” and it gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: “Our Lady of the Angels” and “Queen of the Angels.” It can also be easily nicknamed to Sera or Fia or even Sophie, which might appeal to Ali’s husband.

(6) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen” — the Spanish counterpart to Regina — and as Our Lady is Queen of so many things, it’s exquisitely Marian! One of my readers named her daughter Reina Grace, after Our Lady, I just love it. It’s short and sweet like the names Ali’s hubby likes, too!

(7) Gloria, Glory
I’m interested to see what Ali thinks of this idea. Gloria is a familiar enough name — it’s tended to feel old lady-ish, but it’s definitely on the upswing — I currently know two little girls named Gloria! And think of how many times we say Gloria at Mass — it’s such a Catholic name! That said, I wondered if Ali might like Glory even better? I think Glory, being more unfamiliar than Gloria, comes across as a more charismatic name, and since it’s one syllable less than Gloria, Ali’s husband might like it even better.

(8) Gemma
Gemma has similar sounds to Emilia and Genevieve on Ali and her hubs’ shared list, and similar meaning to Pearl (Gemma means “gem, precious stone”), and St. Gemma Galgani has made it a favorite among Catholic families!

(9) Eden
Eden is a match for Noelle, and it’s similar in sound to Eva, and I’ve recently encountered two devout Catholic families who have daughters named Eden, so maybe Ali and her hubby would like to consider it too? I think it fits the “shorter names that sound cute” criteria of Ali’s husband’s, and one of the mamas who has a daughter named Eden explained they chose it because the “Garden of Eden was the ultimate paradise and gift.” I love that!

(10) Verity
My last idea for this family is Verity. It means “truth,” and I think it fits right in with the other quirky + significant names Ali likes, and can have some cute nicknames like Vee, Vera, and maybe Via.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister of Max, Zack, and Tiber — whether “short and cute” or “crazier and dripping in significance” … or both!


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!

How to name an entity

Good FRIDAY morning!! TGIF!!

I received an email from a reader asking,

Have you ever considered writing posts about other times we want to use a name that is dear to our Catholic faith … like naming a home, property, farm, homeschool, boat, etc.”

Such a fun question! I actually have had the privilege of working on names for businesses, projects, and ministries — they’ve all been private consultations except that I was able to share the results of this one:

One my dearest friends, who was one of my two original readers (the other being my mom) and has been so supportive and encouraging and helpful to me since I started the blog, referred a friend of hers to me when the friend was trying to come up with a name for a ministry she was starting. It was such fun to work on a project like this! And I was pretty pleased with the ideas I came up with, and she seemed to be too — I just recently read about her new ministry, sporting one of the names I’d suggested, and I’m really delighted to direct you all to her in case you have what she’s looking for. Check it out: The Madonna and Child Project by Alexandra Sullivan Photography (and be sure to check out her work, she’s so talented!).”

When I’m working on a project like this, I like to try to incorporate the family’s patron saint(s), or saints connected to the industry or topic — sometimes this might mean using the saint’s actual name (like “St. Joseph’s Carpentry Business”) or symbols associated with that saint (like “The Lily and the Square Carpentry Business”), that kind of thing. (CatholicSaints.info often has the symbols of the saints included in each saint’s entry, for example. Or you can google it, of course.) Sometimes an explicitly faithy or saintly name isn’t quite appropriate, as with a business that operates mostly in the secular world, which is when I love to “bury” the connection in a more creative name (like the “Lily and Square” idea above). I always remind such entities that they need to search online to be sure there aren’t other businesses with the same name that might cause a legal problem — if you were to hire an advertising/marketing agency or branding firm to come up with name ideas, they’ll include that as part of their service, but I don’t have the time or resources to do that and I wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble because of me!

For private naming (like homes, homeschools, etc.), you can go as crazy faith-wise as you want! I love to look to Sisters for inspiration, so many of their names are so perfectly suited to something like this! You can have a whole string of things you have a special devotion to! Like, Our Lady of the Holy Family and the Precious Blood, that kind of thing. Or something lighter and fun, like Our Lady of Small Children and Dirty Dishes! Haha! For Marian ideas, the Litany of Loreto is a good one to look through (in both English and Latin — English names are great and totally fine; Latin names up the Catholic ante). You can search for topics on CatholicSaints.info too (like “patron of artists” or just “artists”) for saint ideas, or just google the same.

I know several of our readers have named homesteads and homeschools, so I’d love to hear how they chose their names! And any other advice any of you have! Have a great weekend!


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: Girl name needed for baby no. 6 (British-y/Irish-y/Celtic-y)

Mary Beth and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big sibs:

Reese Joseph (“Joseph is a family name that runs through both sides of our family as a middle name. He is named after St. Joseph, protector of the holy family. Reese means ardour or enthusiasm and I think that fits his personality well.”)

Finnian Michael (Finn)We picked Finnian for both the Irish saint namesake as well as the nickname derived from it. We loved the nickname Finn and worked backwards from there, finding a saint that would match that. It was either Finnian or Finbarr so for us the choice was easy. Michael is in honor of the great Archangel as well as honoring my deceased brother.”

John Thomas (sometimes called Jack)John is named specifically for St. John the Apostle (the one whom Jesus loved!) but there are really so many great saints out there with that name that we couldn’t go wrong. It is also the name of a beloved Grandpa (who was named John but often went by Jack). Thomas is for St. Thomas Aquinas – and our John is really such a little philosopher at heart.”

Lucy Rose (“We picked Lucy because it is pretty, and light, distinctly feminine, but also fits better with the shorter names of our first three than say, Philomena or Benedicta. I loved that St. Lucy was such a beautiful model of purity. Rose is a nod to our Our Lady of Guadalupe and to St. Rose of Lima. She is also named after my Grandma Rose Lucy.“)

Gabriel John (also referred to as Gabey, Gabe) (“I have always loved the name Gabriel but never used it on any of our boys previously. I hadn’t even considered it for this child until one day in adoration I asked God what the name of this child was supposed to be (we knew he was a boy) and shortly after I began praying the joyful mysteries. Once I got to the Annunciation the name clicked in and it became number one on my list. After discovering that my husband had no qualms with the name and that it’s meaning is “God is my strength”, we never looked back. Also he was born 4 days after Christmas and I think that Gabriel fits so nicely into the season. His middle name was picked for St. John Vianney and also is my husbands middle name.”)

I loooove all of these!! Of course I couldn’t help but notice that the style of names changed somewhat as their family grew, which Mary Beth addresses:

Our style has become refined over the years in regards to our children’s names. When we started with our oldest, we were young and newly married – and hadn’t thought much about the names that our children would have. Over time we’ve come to see how important the naming of a child is – a name that will stay with them for all eternity!

I love seeing how a couple’s taste in names changes as life goes on — it’s so fun to see where they started and where they are now! Some couples change a lot and some change very little; some start with more conservative taste and become bolder, and some do just the opposite. Working with the population of families that I do, I’ve also seen quite a few couples who’ve had conversion experiences or whose faith has deepened as time goes on, and their babies’ names often reflect that. One of my favorite things is helping find names that loop in the siblings with the outlying names, that provide bridges between the styles while still having great faith connections.

Mary Beth continues,

We love names that are clearly masculine for boys and feminine for girls, especially since Reese’s name has since gained in popularity for girls. We also sneak in family names as much as possible. We require that at least the first name is a saint’s name, biblical name or Marian name.

One interesting twist to our naming process with this child is that we have agreed that my husband get’s to name this child if he is a boy and I will pick the name if she is a girl (we each have veto power however if we really hate the name). Hubby prefers straightforward names, simple names, masculine names (for a boy). I prefer longer names, beautiful names, names with meaning and history.

For this baby (#6) we found out that I was pregnant on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the due date is one day after the Assumption of Mary in August (exactly one year after our family consecrated ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart!), so I feel like Our Lady’s fingerprints are all over this child. We would love to give him or her a Marian name (either first or middle) to honor that. Your book has given me some great ideas as well as solidified some names for me that I had already been considering but did not know of the Marian connection.

Names I like for girls (in a loose order of preference):

Esther: I love the sound of this name, that there’s 2 syllables (one syllable has been done a lot in our family and yet I worry that 3 syllables is a stretch). I also enjoy that this name is well-known enough but not popular today. Esther is one of my favorite bible heroines and the name of a very sweet aunt. Essie as a nickname is precious. Husband thinks it’s ok.

Felicity: I like that it means happiness; also the uncommonness and the sound of the name. While I love the name I’m not sure of a good viable nn for it, since Lucy and “Lissy” sounds too similar. Name is growing on Hubby.

Clementine : I love this name — Marian and family connection! And how cute is Clemmie? I have a bit of an attraction to certain literary names that I grew up reading, especially British ones. For instance, I would love to have a Louisa as a nod to Louisa May Alcott, but it would not jive with Lucy. Hubby gives thumbs up.

Ruth : A favorite bible heroine but also just like the name and the simplicity goes with our family’s style. The simplicity makes it an easier sell for my husband.

Margaret : My mom’s name who I would love to honor. Not sure about a nickname? I don’t care for Maggie, Gretta, Marge or Molly. I could see using Etta but I don’t know if it’s too far-fetched.

Hope : I don’t have much reason for liking hope (except for the attributable virtue) but I haven’t been able to shake the name ever since hearing of an acquaintance with the name – it’s just so pretty! I read in one of your posts that Hope could be named after Our Lady of Hope – which I love! Hubby approves.

Elisabeth : It is pretty common but so lovely and classic, biblical and British (I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). We would have to do some work to find a nickname for it because my nn is Betty and Lissy sounds too similar to Lucy. I do like Liesel for nn but awfully close again to Lucy.

Mary : Obviously a great name! – and has a triple family connection since it’s my first name, my mother’s middle name and our Blessed Mother’s name. Maybe overused since it’s my first name, although I often go by a nickname. If used it would likely be a middle name or a first name in a case where we call her by her middle name (as in Mary Clementine but called Clementine).

Middle names:

Immaculata
Maristella or Stellamaris
Regina
Henrietta
Marie
Verity
Frances
Therese
(any unused first name/)

Alice [is] also [a] contender … [it] is more Hubby’s preference (I have hesitations on the name since I don’t like the nickname Ali and I didn’t know there was a saint Alice but in the meantime I have found one) … I do find that each other’s preferences will sway the other to some degree so we might not want to cross [it] out.”

I’m not surprised that Mary Beth said that she has an affinity for British names, as her children’s name have a definite Irish/Celtic/British Isles feel to me. I love it! Reese and Finnian are most obvious; John Thomas is a huge name in my Irish family, and even though Jack is so popular now, it always ultimately makes me think of an Irish boy/man. I love St. Lucy, but when I hear Lucy my first thought is always Narnia! And I’ve often suggested Gabriel to families with an Irishy sensibility, citing actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of Gabriel’s usage in Ireland. So that’s really where my mind went when coming up with ideas for this family.

It’s an interesting twist that Mary Beth’s hubs gets to choose the name for this baby if they have a boy, and MB gets to name a girl! I’ve known other couples who have done similarly, but I’m most surprised by the fact that it sounds like they didn’t do so with their previous children! (That would make an excellent basis for a Fun Friday Question …)

You have to know how excited I am to read, as Mary Beth says, “Our Lady’s fingerprints all over this child”! And I’m so glad that my book was helpful to them! A few of the ideas I had for this baby are in my book, so I’m a little worried that, since MB didn’t have them on her list, she’s already decided against them, but maybe a good argument in favor of them is all that’s needed?

First though, these are my thoughts on the names Mary Beth likes for a girl:

  • Esther: I do love it! And I love her reasons for loving it — the fact that she has a personal connection with the biblical figure and that it’s a family name. I admit it seems to me a little mismatched with her other kids, but the family connection definitely trumps that I think, and I agree that Essie is darling! (Hmm … but maybe too much like Lucy?)
  • Felicity: I love it too, and I think it goes great with the older kids. Nicknames often seem to be problematic for parents considering Felicity! Lucy and Lissy are too similar, I agree, but there are others, like Flick and Flicka, Lily, Fin, Zita, Fee, Felly, and Liddy — these were all discussed in the spotlight I did of Felicity a while ago.
  • Ruth: I love Ruth, and I think of it as similar to Esther, so normally I might think of it as a mismatch for the other kids, BUT the only Ruth I know in real life is native Irish! And of course she goes by Ruthie, which of course they’d have to call her, it’s the sweetest!
  • Margaret: Oh man, I would have a hard time not choosing Margaret if I were Mary Beth! Her mom’s name! And a fantastic match with the older kids! I think Etta is totally fine and not too farfetched at all! Other nicknames for it that she didn’t mention include Margo, Madge, Mae/May, Mamie, Meg, Peggy, and Rita, but my very favorites for this family are Maisie and Daisy! Maisie is a Celtic (Irish&Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, and Daisy is a traditional nickname for it (since the French form of Margaret is also the name of the daisy flower in French: marguerite) — I think both would be amazing with the other kids! I could also see something like Margaret Eve nicknaming to Maeve, which I think would be really cool (I have Daisy, Eve, and Maeve in my book!).
  • Hope: I agree with MB, there’s something about Hope! Yes, it can be for Our Lady of Hope!
  • Elisabeth: I love this spelling! Elizabeth/Elisabeth has SO MANY nicknames! Some of my favorites are Betsy (probably too close to Betty?), Libby, Liddy, Ellie, and Tess, but they’re all so great! Elisabeth can also shorten to Elise, which is so pretty.
  • Mary: Oh yes! I like Mary Beth’s plan to have it be a middle, or a hidden first name.
  • [Alice: I don’t think people tend to nickname Alice? I mean, Alison seems very nicknameable — I feel like most Alisons go by Ali at least sometimes during their lives, but Alice has a more distinguished feel (while also being so sweet), I don’t know, I don’t think I’d ever find myself casually nicknaming an Alice. Maybe Ali’s used more than I thought!]

I looove Mary Beth’s list of middle name ideas!! Immaculata, Maristella/Stellmaris, Regina, and Marie are especially perfect to honor Our Lady with a non-Marian first name, while Henrietta, Verity, Frances, and Therese would be great as a middle name for a Marian first name.

Alrighty, as you all know, 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 as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As I mentioned before, I also really had my eye out for Irish-y/Celtic-y/British-y type names, not only because I get that vibe from Mary Beth’s kids as a whole, but also because as I mentioned I really try to loop in any siblings with names that are kind of outliers, and her oldest two — especially Reese — are starting to have that feel. And I looked through my book as well! With all that in mind, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Beatrice or Beatrix
I’m not sure which I like better here, Beatrice or Beatrix! I have them in my book — they mean “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is an amazing meaning for a little girl, and a great connection to Our Lady! Bea is a great nickname, and I like Tris and Trixie too! Beatrice is a style match for both Clementine and Alice.

(2) Juliet
Julia is a match for John and Juliet for Felicity and Hope, and of them, I like Juliet quite a bit for this family, but they’re both lovely! I did a spotlight of the Julia names a while ago, complete with patron saints. The Juliette spelling is French and frilly, but the Juliet spelling is more in keeping with the older kids I think.

(3) Annabel(le)
Annabelle is also match for Felicity and Hope, and I immediately thought of Annabel in my book: it arose in Scotland in the middle ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable)! I think it’s so lovely, and Annie as a nickname sounds perfect as Lucy’s sister!

(4) Susanna
Speaking of Annie: Anna, Hannah, and Susannah all were results of my research as well, and of them, I thought Susanna might be perfect! It’s also in my book, as it means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which could make for a nice connection with sister Lucy Rose! Susannah has a heavier Old Testament feel (more along the lines of Esther and Ruth), while Susanna is New Testament and saintly — and in fact, St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! The same month this baby is due!

(5) Miriam
Lovely Miriam fits right in with Esther and Ruth, and it’s Marian to boot! Mary Beth’s husband likes some Old Testament names too, so I like that Miriam might appeal to both of them. Miri and Mimi are sweet nicknames as well.

(6) Maura or Moira
Speaking of variants of Mary, since we’re (or, at least I’m) talking about Irish-y names, I wonder if Mary Beth might like to consider one of the Irish forms of Mary? It would be a neat way of connecting her first name, her mom’s middle name, and of course Our Lady in a new way in her daughter’s name. I love both Maura and Moira!

(7) Nora
Nora isn’t as obviously faithy as some of my other ideas, but it kept tugging me as a perfect fit for this family! Though it’s got good usage as a given name in its own right, it’s a short form of either Honora or Eleanor, either of which could provide a patron (Bl. Archangela Girlani’s birth name was Eleanor, and there’s a Bl. Eleanora as well; Venerable Honora Nagle would do also). A name like this might be best paired with one of the heavy hitting Marian middles, like Nora Maristella or Nora Clementine.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Reese, Finnian, John, Lucy, and Gabriel?


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: Short name with no nicknames needed for a little sister

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (Blessings to you all on St. Patrick’s Day!)

I’m so sorry I didn’t post this consultation yesterday — I came down with a wee (only a wee, thank goodness) stomach bug and felt gross for most of the day, but I’m much better today! I’ve got my Guinness stew cooking (yes, while everyone else was making sure they had enough toilet paper and canned goods, I was making sure I had enough Guinness and stew beef 😂☘️) and a plan for the boys’ school for today (huge shout out to our teachers who have nearly seamlessly transitioned to distance teaching) and a nice cup of coffee so here we go!

I had the honor of doing two previous consultations for Caitlin and her husband, for babies no. 3 and 4, and I’m so happy for them that they’re expecting their fifth — a little green bean! This sweet baby joins big sibs:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)
George Warren

I just love their style, and I love Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice! So perfect!

Caitlin writes,

We’ve followed the pattern of patron saints as first names and our grandparents’ names as middle names. We’re pretty set on a boy’s name: Patrick William. But we’re struggling with a girl’s name that meets our criteria and that we agree on!

Our second and third daughters’ names are in a very similar style. They are both on the longer side, but we call them by nicknames that have the same ending. We want to avoid that name ending this time, and we want to have a shorter name (like our oldest, Claire) that doesn’t have any nicknames.

We also only have one grandmother’s name left to use. Her name was Shirley Anne and we’d be happy with either Shirley or Anne as a middle name.

I really like the name Alice and my husband really likes the name Helen. We’re trying to think of more names to add to our list. Lydia? Adele? We like Joan and Jane but feel like they’re a little *too* short.”

I couldn’t wait to see what names they considering, especially for a girl (I do love Patrick William, so handsome!), and I wasn’t disappointed! Alice and Helen as frontrunners, and Lydia, Adele, Joan, and Jane as possibilities are all fantastic!

First though, I wonder if Caitlin and her hubby have considered Anne Shirley as a first+middle combo?? I mean, what an opportunity!! I think Anne fits their criteria of a great patron saint for a first name, it goes great with Shirley as a middle (not just because it’s the name of one of the best literary characters ever), and it’s short, like Claire. The only thing working against it is that Annie is such a common nickname for it — but it doesn’t have to be! They can definitely be firm and consistent and insist on “just Anne” always, just like the amazing Anne-with-an-E herself. I could also see Nan arise as a non-ee-ending nickname — it was originally a diminutive of Anne (even though it’s not any shorter) and it feels sweet and affectionate to me. I looked back at my previous emails with Caitlin and saw that I suggested Anna for them before, but I’m loving Anne even more for them this time.

Okay, now that I’ve tried to convince them of Anne as a first name (!) here are my thoughts on the other names they’re considering:

  • Alice: I love it with the older kids, great name
  • Helen: I’m surprised that Caitlin’s husband is the one who likes Helen — I feel like moms are the ones who usually like the older names! It’s a great name too
  • Lydia: I love Lydia! The older girls definitely have an Austen-type feel, so I think Lydia fits in nicely
  • Adele: Also great! They’ve done really well coming up with names that don’t necessarily automatically nickname to anything (though I love Nell for Helen)
  • Joan and Jane: I love both of these, and since they’re both one syllable, they’re not any shorter than Claire!

So basically I’m like, I have nothing to offer! They have such great ideas! I can see each one of them working really well with both of the middle name options, and they each sound great as sisters to the older kids. I’m pretty excited to see what name they end up giving this baby!

Of course, even though they have a fantastic list, I can always come up with more! I did my usual research, looking up the names they’ve already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard and compiling a list of names from there, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also had some of my own ideas of names that I thought they might like, and once I had a good list I went back through our old emails to be sure I wasn’t repeating any. Sure enough, I was — I’d suggested Eleanor with the nicknames Nell or Nora, and this time I was going to suggest just Nora as the first name due to its short length and lack of nicknames (and also it fits with their Irish/Scottish/British heritage that Caitlin had told me they wanted to stick with). Otherwise, all my ideas are new! This is what I came up with:

(1) Elise or Eliza
Elise is a style match for Claire, and I loved it as soon as I saw it! Because it’s already a diminutive of Elisabeth, I think it’s less likely to be nicknamed? I also love that it’s French, like Claire. Eliza is a match for Lydia, and I could see it also working quite nicely for this family! Any of the Sts. Elizabeth would be wonderful as patron.

(2) Edith
Edith wasn’t a style match for any of their other names per the BNW, but Helen made me think of it right away. Even though a lot of people love Edith for its sweet nickname Edie, Edith on its own with no nickname is totally doable. St. Edith Stein is a fantastic patron for a young girl.

(3) Rose or Rosa
Is Rose too similar in length to Joan and Jane — too short? It’s so lovely and feminine though, I love it! And it’s a style match for Alice and Jane. Rosie is certainly common, but again: firm and consistent can make sure she’s always just Rose. I think Rosa is less likely to be nicknamed, maybe? And it’s just that wee bit longer, and it’s a match for George!

(4) Ruth
As with Edith, people who I see drawn to Ruth are usually totally taken with the sweet Ruthie, but just Ruth is great too! Its meaning of “friend” is wonderful, and because Catilin and her hubs love their heritage, I know they’ll be interested to know that the only person I know my age with the name Ruth is native Irish.

(5) Stella
Despite Edie, Rosie, and Ruthie, one of my main motivators was trying to find names that didn’t have an obvious or natural nickname, so when I saw Stella listed as a style match, I thought it might be just right. Also, of course, I love the Marian connection with her title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea).

(6) Flora
Same as with Stella because of no obvious nickname, when I saw Flora as a match for Adele, I thought it could be perfect! It’s one of those names that I never think of, but when I do encounter it I’m always pleased.

(7) Faith, Eve
Finally, I did a search in the Name Finder on babynamewizard.com for one-syllable girl names that don’t begin with C, M, B, G, or P, and of the results, I thought both Faith and Eve would be lovely with the older kids. They both have great Marian connections, and I like them both with the middle name options. (Hope and Grace also fit, and in fact, Grace was a huge hit for this family in my research, but I thought Gracie would be even harder to avoid than Edie and Rosie. I didn’t think Hope was exactly right.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and George?


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: Advent name for a surprise baby?

I’ve had the great privilege to do two previous consultations for today’s family — one which was supposed to post here but I got to post a birth announcement instead because the baby came sooner than expected!, and this one and subsequent birth announcement, and I’m honored to post this consultation for them today! They’re expecting their fifth baby on earth, a little green bean who joins big sibs:

Lea writes,

We are 15 weeks along with a (surprise) baby #5! We are due August 14, 2020. We have 4 other children on Earth and 4 in heaven. Here are our other children’s names. You helped us name 2 of them!

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon
Felicity Victoria Kathleen

And in heaven: Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

I just love these names! The boys’ names are so handsome and straightforward (and Luke was specifically with Our Lady in mind!), and Felicity is such a beautiful name for the little sister of all those brothers!

We are stumped on boy names in particular but I’d like to hear your suggestions for girls too. I have a strong intuition that it is a boy, though! 

Names we have considered for a girl are mostly Advent themed as we discovered baby was coming during the first week of Advent.

Marian Elizabeth
Marian Violet
Marian Rose
Lucy Rose Marie

And boys we have considered are:
Maximilian Victor (since we’re due on St Maximilian Kolbe’s feast day)
Samuel Victor (like the name and the way it fits with other boys)

We don’t really like Kolbe (husband doesn’t anyway) and Victor would probably be the middle name because it’s the last grandfather to be used by us. Each of our other boys has a grandfather in their middle name.

We love Rose and Marie for girls but not really for first names because they feel a little too common.  

So, suggestions for names that are either Advent/saint themed would be appreciated! As I mentioned this baby was a total surprise to us, we’ve not faced this circumstance before so maybe a name reflecting that would be neat if that exists??

I totally get that they’re stumped on boy names, since I had a harder time coming up with new ideas for boys than for girls! I did my usual research first in the Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for the names they’ve already used and those they like/are considering, then found all my old posts on Advent and Christmas names (they’re all listed here), and between the two of them, I made my list of ideas for this baby. That’s when I went back and reread my previous conversations with Lea, and had to cross a few of my ideas off my list, as I’d previously suggested them! I’ll list them here again, though, just in case:

Girl
(1) Annabel
I suggested this for them when they were expecting Felicity, saying: “The Anna family of names were big for you 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 your “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, you 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 your taste in girl names, so I don’t know if you’ll love it, but I really like it for you.” Now that they have Felicity, I actually think Annabel(le) goes really well as her sister! I also included Annabel in an article about Christmas names that I did for CatholicMom, saying that it “is fitting for the holy day on which we celebrate Mother Mary giving birth to her Baby.” (I know Lea asked about Advent names, but I looked through my Christmas names posts because the names can often be Advent-y as well.)

(2) Anna, Hannah
I mentioned these in the Annabel bit above, but an added reason that I love Hannah or Anna for Lea and her hubs this time, especially, is because of their baby being a surprise. Hannah prayed for Samuel for so long, and St. Anne and St. Joachim prayed for Mary for so long, that I think their stories are great for anyone who’s surprised by a baby-on-the-way! Anne is lovely, but I think Anna is a better fit for them.

(3) Faith, Hope, Nadine
When Lea was expecting Felicity, she said she’d love a name with a good meaning, and I had Faith, Hope, and Nadine (which means “hope”) listed as suggestions for her back then. This time, I had them on my list because of their Advent meaning!

Boy
(1) Joseph
I was digging Joseph for this baby, because of the Advent/Christmas connection, but then I discovered that I suggested it for them when they were expecting Luke and interested in Marian names. Maybe they’d like to consider it again?

(2) Gabriel
Similar to Joseph, I’d suggested Gabriel when they were expecting Luke because of its Marian meaning; I love it now for them because of its connection to Advent and Christmas.

(3) Martin
Martin was one I considered suggesting to them for Felicity, but then decided not to –which I noted in Felicity’s consultation, so I really already threw it out there! I had it on my list again for them now because it’s a style match for Paul, and I was really trying to find new boy names to suggest to them. It’s a great saintly name, but unfortunately I don’t think it has any Advent or Christmas connection.

(4) Henry
I suggested Henry for Luke almost solely because I have a friend who has a James and a Paul, as well as a Henry! Haha! This time, I had it on my list because it’s a match for Lucy and Samuel, though, like Martin, it doesn’t have any Advent/Christmas connection, as far as I know.

Alright, so those are the names I’d previously suggested that would have been on my list today otherwise. But don’t worry! I can always come up with more ideas! 😜 First though, I just want to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Marian Elizabeth/Violet/Rose: I think Marian as a first name is unexpected and lovely, and certainly *ahem* Marian! 😂 I love each of the middle names Lea and her hubs are considering with it: with Elizabeth, it’s so “The Visitation,” which is awesome; Violet and Rose can both nod to the Advent candles, which is great for what they’re looking for.
  • Lucy Rose Marie: Gorgeous! I like that St. Lucy’s feast day is Dec. 13, which is both during Advent and close to when they found out this baby was on his/her way! Rose and Marie as middle names are just beautiful. If it’s helpful, I have a friend named Rosemarie. (Actually … I wonder if Rosemary or Rosemarie might interest them in the first name spot? I like them both for this family and as Felicity’s sister!)
  • Maximilian Victor: Awesome, I love St. Max and I love that Lea’s due on his feast day! Maximilian has more of a “Felicity” feel to me than their older boys, and helped me when trying to come up with boy ideas for them.
  • Samuel Victor: I agree, I like how it sounds with the older boys. I also love the story of Hannah and Samuel, and as I mentioned above with Hannah, I think Samuel could be a nice nod to the surprise! of this baby.

Speaking of the surprise factor, when I read that Lea might like a name that nods to that, my first thought was Isaac! I excitedly scribbled it down for them … and then remembered they already have an Isaac! But I quite like the Hannah/St. Anne/Anna idea for them in that vein. Another surprise baby was John the Baptist, though Lea had previously said John has been used a lot in their family.

Okay! On to my suggestions for this baby:

Girl
(1) Lydia
As soon as I saw Lydia in the post on Advent names I did for CatholicMom, I thought yes!! The biblical Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, which could be a nice nod to the purple candles of the Advent wreath. Additionally, it’s a style match for Samuel! I love it as a sister to Felicity.

(2) Stella
Stella might be too Christmassy and not Adventy enough? But I love it for this family! It means “star,” and so can refer to the Christmas star, but it can also refer to Our Lady, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), and it’s a style match for Lucy.

(3) Holly, Ivy
Of course both Holly and Ivy have an unmistakable Christmas feel (and I know I’m referring Christmas a lot, instead of Advent, but it’s hard to separate out the two! And most people have holly and ivy up during Advent, so I think they work!), but they’re also both entries in my book of Marian names! I wrote: “Christmas holly (Ilex opaca et al.) has been known as St. Mary’s Holly and represents the perpetual virginity of Our Lady” and “Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis) has also been known as Tears of Mary.” Ivy is also a style match for Eli.

(4) Natalie/a
Speaking of Christmas names that also work for Advent, Natalie is a style match for Nicholas and I thought they might really like it! Its variant Natalia is gorgeous too. St. Natalia’s feast is July 27, so if the baby comes that early, Natalia or Natalie might be perfect!

(5) Susanna (Zuzu)
Susanna might be my favorite idea for this baby — it means both “rose” and “lily” in Hebrew, which gives Lea and her hubs Rose without the “common” feeling (and is also why it’s in my Marian names book); it can be Advent-y through its nickname Zuzu (Zuzu’s petals in It’s a Wonderful Life!); AND St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! Felicity and Susanna sound like amazing sisters!

(6) Immaculata
Finally, I have Immaculata here more as a middle name idea, inspired by St. Maximilian Kolbe, since he founded the Militia of the Immaculata and often referred to Our Lady as “the Immaculata.” I know a little Faith Immaculata and I’ve always thought her name was just stunning; for this family, I’m loving the idea of Rose Immaculata — Marian and Kolbe-ian in one name! I know Lea said Rose feels too common, but as a first name it isn’t really. It was no. 123 in 2018; it was a top 100 name — often in the top 20 — from 1900 to 1960 before dropping down as far as 392 in 1997. It is on the upswing — it broke into the top 300 in 2011 and since then has increased each year — but Lucy is no. 51, for reference. Of course, if they just can’t shake that “too common” feel, then that matters! But giving the name an unexpected middle can give the whole combo a real sparkle.

Boy
(1) Andrew
I loooove Andrew for this baby, it’s hands down my favorite idea!! I think it’s amazing as a brother to James, Paul, and Luke (and Felicity of course), but even better, did you know that Advent is set in reference to the feast of St. Andrew? His feast is Nov. 30, and the First Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday nearest his feast. How cool! Andrew Victor is very handsome.

(2) David
I also quite like David for them — as with Andrew, I love it with brothers James, Paul, and Luke, and its Advent connection is fantastic, being that we wait for the birth of King David’s descendant. David Victor sounds fine together.

(3) Nathan(iel)
Another name from Jesus’ genealogy is Nathan, and since Nathan is a style match for both Luke and Samuel, I thought it would be a good suggestion for this baby! Nathan’s place in the genealogy is pretty cool, as I wrote about in this post. The longer Nathaniel is a match for Nicholas, and Nate and even Nathan can certainly be nicknames for it. Nathan Victor and Nathaniel Victor both work nicely.

(4) Dominic
Dominic is a match for Maximilian, and I love that it means “of the Lord,” so they can definitely assign it an Advent meaning if they want to! St. Dominic’s feast day is August 8, which could be great for a boy born a few days early! Dominic Victor has a pretty heavy-duty meaning: “victory of the Lord”!

(5) Charles
Charles is based solely on style — it’s a match for James; Charlie is a match for Lucy; and its variant Carl is a match for Paul. Since they’re having a hard time with boy names, I felt like I couldn’t not include a name that seems to match their taste! Charles and Charlie are great names and have such great patrons: Sts. Charles Borromeo and Charles Garnier; St. John Paul II (birth name: Karol); and Bl. Karl of Austria (for whom JP2 was named!), among others. (If you read the article at that link, you’ll be left thinking there’s no better name for a Catholic boy than Charles!) I like Charles Victor.

(6) Sebastian
Originally, I had Oliver here, also for style reasons: it’s a match for both Felicity and Lucy, and a sweet brother for James, Paul, and Luke. But then I said Oliver Victor out loud and thought that didn’t work too well! So I’m changing my last idea to Sebastian, which is also a match for Felicity, as well as Maximilian. I actually love Sebastian Victor together, since St. Sebastian is the patron of athletes!

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of James, Paul, Luke, and Felicity?


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: Baby no. 9 needs a name in the established theme

I’m thrilled today to post a consultation for one of my favorite families, for whom I’ve done three previous consultations (!) (here, here, and here) and three birth announcements (!) (here, here, and here) — and they’re expecting another baby! Josh and Mari are having another girl — their sixth! — a baby sister for:

Ariana Camille
Audrey Caroline
Caleb Daniel
Amelia Clare (“Millie”)
Anne-Catherine Gianna (“Gianna” or “Gigi”)
Charles Michael (“Charlie”)
Anessa Corinne (“Nessa” or “Nessie”)
Christian Gabriel

As you can see, they have an A-C theme for girls, and they’ve done such a lovely job with picking beautiful names in the theme!

Josh writes:

We learned on Christmas Day that we are expecting baby #9, a girl, in late August, which will give us three kids with August birthdays. We’d like to enlist your help again with a name. As may recall we have an A-C theme going with our girls, and we want to stick to that.

Our top contender right now is Adrienne Cecilia. Here are some first names we are considering:

Adelaide (previously vetoed for Anessa, although I like it)
Abigail (nice name, although our best friends have an Abigail)
Adeline
Angeline

We’d like some other middle name ideas too, but I think it would be tough to knock out Cecilia unless we pick a first name that doesn’t go well with it.”

I love their top contender of Adrienne Cecilia — it’s a beautiful combo that has two great saintly connections and a pleasing rhythm. Wonderful! Adelaide, Abigail, Adeline, and Angeline are also great options; of those, I’d probably cross off Abigail because of their best friends’ daughter, and I would give Angeline an edge because of it being Mari’s middle name.

Since the desire for an A name is the primary concern for this family, I didn’t do my usual research to find names that match their style in the Baby Name Wizard; rather, I looked through the A section of a couple of my name books, including the book of Marian baby names that I wrote. Some of these might be too Spanish or Italian for their family, but I actually didn’t include the really out-there ones, only the ones that I could see Josh and Mari thinking were okay. First though, I went through our past emails to be sure I wasn’t suggesting names I’ve already suggested. They were:

Avila
Ava
Alice, Alicia, Adelaide,* Aleydis
Adeline,* Adele, Adelia
Aurora
Abigail*
Amata, Amanda, Amy/Aimee
Agnes* (as Anessa)
Antonia
Augusta (which was going to be one of my top suggestions this time, because of the baby being due in August!)
Charis, Carys
Cara, Carine/Carina, Caritas
Cora, Corinne*
Clementine
Carmel, Carmela/Carmella, Carmen
Casey
Chloe
Christina, Christine, Christiane

(the asterisks denote names that they’ve used or considered)

And two other names they said they’d considered in the past were Anneliese and Charity.

I love seeing all these names listed here like this — what a handy reference for them for this baby, and even going forward should they be blessed with another daughter in the future! Here are my new A-name ideas for them:

(1) Addolorata
Starting right away with a super-Italian name, Addolorata is the Italian variant of Dolores and, like Dolores, refers to Our Lady of Sorrows. One of the things I love about Addolorata for this family is that it can take the sweet and accessible nickname Addy, like Adelaide and Adeline from the list of names they’re currently considering.

(2) Alma
Alma is Marian because of Our Lady’s title Alma Redemptoris Mater, but its translation is tricky. This is what I wrote in my book:

[It] has been translated into English in several ways by different authors, depending on their intended poetic effect: ‘Mother of Christ,’ by Fr. Edward Caswall; ‘Kindly Mother of the Redeemer,’ by John Henry Cardinal Newman; ‘Sweet Mother of Our Saviour Blest,’ by John Wallace; ‘Maiden! Mother of Him Who redeemed us,’ by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, Third Marquess of Bute; and ‘gentle, loving bounteous mother,’ by Thomas Sheehan. These translations are influenced by the various translations of the term alma itself: it is said to be a Hebrew word meaning ‘young woman’ (married as well as unmarried); it can also come from the Latin almus, meaning ‘nourishing,’ and the Spanish alma, which means ‘soul.’

It’s a lovely, old-feeling name, and the Marian connection is pretty great!

(3) Araceli
Araceli is the Spanish form of the Marian title Ara Caeli (or Coeli): “Altar of Heaven” — what a beautiful meaning, and I love how Araceli sounds, so feminine and lovely! I posted a birth announcement for a family who gave the name Araceli to their daughter a while ago, which gives a nice real-life example of the name.

(4) Assumpta
This name, of course, refers to the Assumption, and behindthename.com says it’s “used especially in Ireland.” How interesting! Another interesting tidbit is that the Italian Assunta has often been “translated” as Susan when Italian immigrants came to this country, therefore I don’t think there’s any reason they can’t use something like Susie as a nickname for Assumpta. I like the idea of Susie with Millie, Gianna/Gigi, and Nessa/Nessie as a non-A nickname.

(5) Aurea or Aurelia
I’d previously suggested Aurora, but not Aurea or Aurelia. Aurea is Latin for “golden,” which is a gorgeous meaning, and can be Marian in a few different ways: the golden crown Our Lady’s often depicted wearing; the golden roses she had on her feet at Lourdes; her title of Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland; and the fact that her heart appeared golden during some of her apparitions at Beauraing. Aurelia means the same, and is perhaps a bit more familiar. Auri and Ria are possible nicknames for both Aurea and Aurelia, as is Goldie! (Swistle posted a while ago about a family with a daughter named Aurelia that they call Goldie!)

(6) Ave
Previously, I’d suggested Ava, but Ave is a little different: it’s said like AH-vay, like Ave Maria, and is an entry in my book because of how similar it is to Ava, and because of this particular verse in the hymn Ave Maris Stella (“Hail, Star of the Sea”):

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ao,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below.

I thought it was so cool that the author of the lyrics poetically connected Ave to a reversal of Eva (Eve)!

(7) Azucena
I suspect this one might be a little too out-there for Josh and Mari, but I love it, so I wanted to include it! It’s a Spanish name that refers to the Madonna lily, and shares the same root as Susanna, which itself means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew. Susie could work as a nickname for Azucena as well, as can Zuzu (like Zuzu’s petals in It’s a Wonderful Life!).

(8) Archangela
If they’re going to go with an Angel name, my very favorite is Mari’s own middle name, Angeline — what a nice connection for a mother and daughter to have! But if they wanted to consider a different one, Archangela is a pretty great option! Not only would a little Archangela be able to claim the archangels as her patrons, but there’s also a Bl. Archangela Girlani.

(9) Alivia
I don’t know if they’re open to alternate spellings, but I’ve seen Alivia as an Olivia variant, and think something like that could work quite nicely for this family, especially as they start to run out of A names that they like.

So those are my A-name ideas, and here are new C-name ideas:

(1) Caeli
I can’t believe I haven’t suggested Caeli already! It’s Latin for “of heaven,” and is used in the Marian titles Regina Caeli (“Queen of Heaven”) and (as mentioned above) Ara Caeli (“Altar of Heaven”). It’s said like CHAY-lee, and is also sometimes spelled Coeli (but pronounced the same). I’ve known of a couple little Catholic girls named Caeli in honor of Our Lady.

(2) Candace
I included Candace in my book for this reason:

This biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27, was the title of the queens of Ethopia. It’s said to mean ‘queen mother’ in Cushitic, which perfectly describes Our Lady.”

I could see it being a really great middle name for this baby!

(3) Celeste
I often think of Cecilia and Celeste as being two sides of the same coin — though they don’t mean the same, the fact that they both start with Cel- make them so similar in my mind. I wouldn’t suggest Celeste instead of Cecilia to this family *except* if the first name they choose doesn’t flow so well with Cecilia, and might sound better with Celeste. Celeste means “heavenly,” so etymologically it’s related to Caeli.

(4) Cruz
Cruz might seem an unusual option for a girl, but when I was researching and writing my book, I discovered that Cruz is actually used for both boys and girls in the Spanish-speaking world. It literally means “cross,” and as such can point to the Cross of Crucifixion and of course to Jesus, but in a Marian sense it refers to Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. A name full of meaning! And again, it might have just the right rhythm as a middle name for the chosen first name for this baby.

(5) Colette
My last C suggestion is Colette — one of my recent favorites! St. Colette of Corbie is a patron of expectant mothers (among other things), and her name is just so pretty and feminine! (Her feast day is this Friday, March 6!)

And those are all my new ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest in the A-C theme for the little sister of Ariana, Audrey, Caleb, Amelia (Millie), Anne-Catherine Gianna (Gianna or Gigi), Charles (Charlie), Anessa (Nessa or Nessie), and Christian?


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 predictions: Patton Baby No. 8!

Happy Lundi Gras (Mardi Gras’ little-known sister)! 😂 Of course by the time you read this it probably *will* be Mardi Gras, since it’s taken me allll dayyyy to get this up due to my little stinker Luke who refused to nap.

I’m super excited to share my predictions for our buddy Grace Patton’s new baby, due in June!! I’m calling them predictions rather than suggestions since I’ve previously done two consultations for Grace (here and here), and been so surprised by the names she and her hubby ended up giving the babies (which is something I LOVE – being surprised by names never ceases to thrill me!) … so I feel like I don’t really have anything to offer the Pattons! They are Baby Naming Royalty, as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t wait to hear what they name this little green bean! (=gender unknown 🌱) (I posted birth announcements for babies five, six, and seven as well.)

But of course I can’t stop my namey head from trying to get in their headspace and predict what names, or kinds of names?, they might choose! So first off, as a refresher, Baby’s big brothers and sisters are:

Julia Grace
Sebastian Xavier (Bash)
Theodore Augustine (Theo)
Phoebe Anika
Bosco Ignatius
Abraham James (Abe)
Clement Joseph
+Felipé (with Jesus)

Amazing names, each one! ❤ ❤ ❤ I did chat with Grace a little bit recently about names for this baby-on-the-way, and she said,

We really are kind of coming up empty-handed, honestly! We feel like we are completely out of boy names (of course we aren’t — just will take some digging/thinking — and Simon prefers to chat about names on the way to the hospital, ha!) and understand why my mom used one of my brother’s middle names as a first name (Daniel Peter and then Peter Joseph when she had her fourth boy). So, I’d love suggestions or predictions! Phoebe (at the mature age of 5) is really concerned that any potential girl names, “sound nice with Phoebe and Julia” and so far all she has approved is, “Catherine” — ha! I do love that name but I wouldn’t consider it a frontrunner at the moment.

Because Julia’s middle name is Grace and Phoebe’s middle name is Anika (which means grace) — Simon loves the idea of carrying the tradition on with another middle girl name that also means grace — which I feel less strongly about but am not at all opposed to the sentiment!

If Clement wasn’t Clement I think he would’ve been a Dominic but again, not a frontrunner this time around — funny how that works! Sebastian would’ve been a Vivienne had he been a girl and I think Abe was going to be Iris if he was a girl and I still love those names but I don’t know — we still have months to discuss, I suppose!

Such good info here! I love that Phoebe is concerned that a sister’s name “sound nice with Phoebe and Julia” — I definitely took that to heart when coming up with my list of predictions! (For the record, one of the things I love about her idea of Catherine is that it ends in a different sound than Julia and Phoebe — not so easy to do with girl names, since ends-in-a and ends-in-the-ee-sound are pretty common! You’ll see I included some other differently-ending-names below.)

So we know that Vivienne and Iris were previous frontrunners for a girl, as well as Dominic for a boy. I remember from my previous Patton posts that Caroline and Felicity were also previously discussed, as well as Damian and Simon Jr. (yes, even for a non-firstborn); also no more ends-in-o names for boys either (because of Theo and Bosco).

Since I did two previous consultations, there are a lottttt of names that I’ve already suggested, like:

  • Various ideas for backing into the nickname Lola (Violet, Caroline, Lourdes, Louisa, Lucia)
  • Elisabeth
  • Felicity
  • Stella
  • Emmeline
  • Magdalene
  • Verity
  • Audrey
  • A bunch of Mary/Maria/Marie+ ideas (any of those paired with Olivia or Olive, Ophelia, Simone, Tess, Elliott, Emmett, Bennett)
  • Maximilian nicked Miles
  • Francis nicked Finn
  • Gregory nicked Rory or Gus [Gregory Simon=Gus so perfectly!]
  • Oliver
  • Isaac
  • Gabriel
  • Alexander
  • Nathaniel

(As you can see, there were a couple instances of overlap between names I’d suggested and names they considered! SO exciting!)

There were several that I’d considered that didn’t end up making my final cut, but I think a lot of these still potentially have merit (Grace’s previous idea of Iris is on here! Woo!):

  • Penelope
  • Imogen(e)
  • Genevieve
  • Iris or Ivy
  • Lydia (in BOTH previous consultations)
  • Corinne
  • Liv
  • Alice
  • Zara
  • Natalia
  • Tobias (too much long O probably)
  • Tristan
  • Benedict/Bennett and Benjamin
  • Matthias
  • Samuel
  • Henry
  • Elliott
  • Emmett
  • Jude

Whew! This post is a study in New Evangelization Catholic Baby Naming! 💃 💃 💃 What names are left??

I was actually chuckling as I was pulling this post together, because when I do repeat consultations (or “predictions posts,” as I’m calling this one), I always start from scratch, without looking back at my previous ideas. Then I’ll go back and cross off any repeats. When I did so here, it was hilarious to discover that there were SO MANY names I had to cross off of my ideas below! So many that I thought were spot on, but I’d already suggested them previously! (As usual, I looked up the names they’ve already used in the Baby Name Wizard, and I looked through my book of Marian baby names; I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com, and spent a bit of time looking for names that mean “grace.” I also looked through a bunch of recent Appellation Mountain posts that list the names that are big on the site that week — I’ve always thought Grace has her finger on “the pulse,” and up-and-coming names would be right in her wheelhouse I think.) After whittling my list down to just new ideas, these are the names that I think Grace and Simon might consider (with, okay, an actual suggestion or two thrown in here and there, I just can’t help myself):

Girl
(1) Charis
I love this idea, it might be my favorite. Charis, which is said like Karis and Carys and is contained within the word Eucharist, means “grace”! In fact, that’s what it means within the word Eucharist! (From Merriam-Webster: “from eucharistos grateful, from eu- + charizesthai to show favor, from charis favor, grace, gratitude; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice.”) I know of a family who named their daughter Charis because of the Eucharist connection, and I really love it for a sister for Julia and Phoebe (it’s got that different ending!). Both Julia and Phoebe have middle names that mean “grace,” but I really like Charis as a first name for this baby. It can certainly work as a middle too, though I found it sort of difficult to work with rhythm-wise. If they prefer it in the middle, I think something with the rhythm of Felicity Charis would sound lovely.

(2) Margo(t)
Margaret didn’t seem quite right to me, but I love its variant Margo(t)! It can take any of the Sts. Margaret as patron, and of course means the same as Margaret — “pearl,” which happens to be June’s birthstone! Kind of a cool connection for a baby due in June!

(3) Maud(e)
When I saw Maud(e) in one of the recent Appellation Mountain posts, I was immediately struck by it. I’ve never, not once, considered or thought of the name Maud(e) for anyone, but for some reason, it really seemed like one Grace might like! It’s a variant of Matilda (in fact, it’s Matilda’s “usual medieval form,” like Austin for Augustine and Bennett for Benedict), which provides a patron saint.

(4) Edith, Esther
Both Edith and Esther have a similar feel to me — names that were too old lady-ish for a baby not that long ago, but that I’m starting to see on little girls more and more. St. Edith Stein is a huge inspiration behind the little Catholic girls I see with the name (she’s amazing), and I love that Esther is biblical like Julia and Phoebe. Edie and Essie are both adorable nicknames too.

(5) Eliza
I’m not sure what to say about Eliza except that it feels like it might be right! I like it on its own for the Pattons (so far they’ve done shorter girl names [letter-wise] while tending toward longer boy names), but I also like it as a nickname for Elizabeth, if they preferred that.

(6) Bernadette, Colette
Grace and her girls recently took an amazing trip to France, so French names were on my mind when I was working on this. I decided that I really like Bernadette for them! It’s definitely an up-and-coming name vintage-y name, as we discussed recently on the blog, and it was also in my recent saintly nicknames post (which I submitted as my February CatholicMom article after incorporating your ideas from the comments). The spotlight I did on it a few years ago has a few nickname options too. I also love (LOVE) Colette … but maybe it’s not quite right coming right after Clement? If that’s not a bother though, it’s such a pretty name, and St. Colette is a great patron.

Before moving onto boy names, I want to discuss more fully Simon’s hope that they’ll give a name that means “grace” to a girl. I searched on behindthename.com and also a general google search for names meaning “grace,” and the results are almost all variants of Grace or contain Grace (like Graciela, Altagracia, and Engracia), or are variants of Anne (since Anne means “grace”). Julia’s middle name nods to the former (being Grace), and Phoebe’s to the latter (being Anika), which is another reason I was psyched to find Charis — it’s in a third category altogether! Another that’s neither Grace nor Anne is Amara, which is Igbo (the language of the Igbo people of Nigeria) for “grace,” and is quite pretty. Otherwise, I think an Anne name is the best bet, since there are a few that are different enough from Anika I think. Like:

Anja or Anya
Anna or Anne
Annabel(le)
Annette
Anouk
Hannah
Nan, Nancy, Nanette
(many others listed here)

If Grace and Simon like the idea of an Anne name, they might like to choose one based on how their chosen first name sounds. Margo Annabelle sounds gorgeous to me, for example, as does Charis Anne and Charis Annette, Maude Annette, Bernadette Anne, Edith Annabelle, Eliza Nanette … so many beautiful ways to put these names together!

Boy
(1) Oscar
Moving onto boy names, I’m seeing Oscar here and there a bit more these days — I’m thinking of it as a recent addition to the Owen, Oliver group (along with Otto). St. Oscar Romero is a great patron, and the inspiration behind the choice of name for this sweet boy.

(2) Vincent, Victor
Vincent and Victor are old school Catholicky Catholic names that I think always wear well. The full Vincent is so handsome, and Vince and Vinny are easy nicknames. Victor is a particular favorite of mine — I tried to convince my hubby of it many times, and I wrote a whole CatholicMom article about it. “Nicknames for Victor” also continues to be one of the most frequent search terms that lead people to my blog, because of this post I did. So fascinating!

(3) Raphael, Ralph
I’d previously suggested Gabriel for them, but since having Abe, Gabe is no longer an option. Raphael’s rarer anyway, and has the cool nickname Rafe. Speaking of Rafe, what do we think about Ralph? I don’t hugely love the “ralf” pronunciation, but I’ve long loved that Rafe is a traditional pronunciation of it (and the one actor Ralph Fiennes uses). Cool? Or too high maintenance? (I remembered that I thought Design Mom has a Ralph, so I looked it up to be sure and hoooooly cow, check out Ralph’s siblings: Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty, and Flora June. !!! I’ve included Maude, Olive, and Oscar somewhere in this post [either as today’s predictions or previous consultation ideas]; Betty can totally be a nickname for Bernadette; and I’m not joking that I considered the Flora/Fleur/Florence idea before deciding not to include it here. Wow. Spot.On.) I’ve recently come to love St. Ralph Sherwin, which is another plus in Ralph’s favor.

(4) Bear
This is another backing-into-a-name-from-a-nickname idea. Animal names — like Fox and Bear — are big right now, and I considered Bear myself as a nickname for Benedict Gerard — I thought that was so cute! And I already liked Benedict as an idea for another Patton boy. Arthur is another that I’ve seen people using Bear as a nickname for, since Arthur is said to have “bear” as part of its meaning — Arthur has a very Design Mom feel to me, so maybe?

(5) Joaquín
Grace has a little Spanish flair to her style, as seen in sweet Felipé’s name. Joaquín takes its cue from that, being the Spanish form of (my beloved) Joachim, and also the fact that it’s not as unfamiliar as Joachim — Joaquin Phoenix and Kelly Ripa’s son Joaquin are two examples of Joaquins that people might know (especially the former). (If they want to consider Joachim though, you know I’m all over that!!)

Those are all my predictions for boy names, but I couldn’t resist offering this list of long, saintly names that Grace and Simon might consider for middle names (they’ve already used Xavier, Augustine, and Ignatius): Emmanuel, Thaddeus, Ambrose (ooh this might make a great first name for them?), Maximilian, Chrysostom, Athanasius, Matthias, and the once-considered Dominic and Damian.

And those are all the names that I think Patton Baby No. 8 might end up being given! What do you all think? Do you have any predictions or suggestions for the little brother or sister of Julia, Sebastian, Theodore, Phoebe, Bosco, Abraham, and Clement?


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!