Baby name consultation: Middle name for baby boy

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


Gabrielle and her husband are expecting their third born baby and second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Catherine Immaculee (“I favored Catherine for our Loo (her nonsense nickname!), because it is strong (regal, feminine, dignified), I really admire and feel some shared attributes with Kate Middleton, and Catherine of Siena is such a bad-ass saint we would love to see our daughter imitate in any ways she can. The name is understandable in our culture and several others, and nicknameable in several directions as she chooses. When I think of her name, I think “power and grace”. Immaculee is because we love Mary and want all of Mary’s blessings and graces to fill her life, plus I got to have a bath in the Lourdes spring while I was pregnant with her, so she is marked with a Lourdes blessing.”)

John Francis (“[My husband] has had a call on his life from John the Baptist ever since I’ve known him. John the Baptist so clearly has his number (and his back), that we had to dedicate our first son to him. [Hubby’s] elderly friend, Johnny’s godfather, foretold Johnny’s full name before [hubby] even knew he was marrying me. The Francis part was a little random, except that’s what the godfather picked, and it sounds good. We love St. Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier, and our allegiance to the Church inspires us to honor the Pope. I also like John for the fact that it’s traditional, also regal, and sounds strong.”)

Don’t you just love both of those names?! I love Catherine Immaculee (love love love that they used Immaculee!) and John Francis—such strong, handsome, saintly names!

Gabrielle continues,

So, baby #3. We lost two in early pregnancy just before #3, and now this guy is healthy and due in April! Ever since I read about Maximilian Kolbe 3 or 4 years ago, I’ve been so moved by his testimony and martyrdom, and have loved learning more about his life. He has prayed for me, and taught me so much about who Mary is and how to relate to her (so important cause we’re pretty recent converts!). So the baby’s name is going to be Maximilian, cause I just love St. Maximilian so much, [hubby] likes him too, and likes the name a lot anyway (especially the X!). I regret that we probably can’t use his full name in everyday use (we’d use Max, but welcome your suggestions for other derivations and nicknames!), but I’m still super excited about it. 

FWIW, we named our miscarriage babies Jude and Kolbe. We didn’t know their genders.

For middle names, we most want to have a name in Maximilian’s spirit (overtly, effusively Marian), or Polish-y, or in some other way matching the first name. Maria/Marie seems like the most obvious choice … Our name-interested friend has suggested Josemaria, Reginald (for a Regina derivation), Rex (which is hilarious: Catherine, now 4, heard us bouncing these ideas around and came up with Max Reximilian!) I like Faustus (kind of Faustina-ish). I just love Marius, but it doesn’t get us out of [problematic initials] territory. Right now [hubby] is favoring Perpetua (he just likes St. Perpetua, and her name, and she’s another martyr), Raphael, who has often been a patron for our marriage, very appropriate, and John Paul, because we love him, and he and Maximilian are like brothers. I like Karol better, for honoring St. JPII. John Paul makes too many names, and we already have our John, but still, it’s a good idea. We’d probably use Immaculee, or Immaculate, or Immaculata, if we hadn’t already blown it on Catherine, but God knows what need she’ll have of it in her life. [We’ve also considered Benedict], and it now occurs to me that we could use Benedicta, turning it super Marian, [and helping with flow with last name]. Benedict is good too. We could use just straight Kolbe too, but it would be kind of wasting an opportunity.

So you see we have plenty of ideas, we just can’t figure out which is best, which one to really believe in, and agree on, and, for myself at least, want to ease any awkwardness in the flow of his name, and also compensate for leaving him out of the “British Royals” trend of our first two kids, which I’ve enjoyed while it lasted. We welcome all new suggestions from you or an evaluation of some of our own ideas. Thanks for taking the time!

I really enjoyed muddling through all of this! Okay, so first off, Gabrielle wondered about possible alternative nicknames for Maximilian. I’ve often suggested Miles or Milo as nickname possibilities for it, which I’d seen somewhere ages ago and I loved so much. That idea actually ties in quite nicely with their desire to have a middle name “in Maximilian’s spirit (overtly, effusively Marian)” (I love that!), since Miles/Myles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations for the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

They could also possibly use Ian as a nickname, though I don’t know if they would want people hearing John and Ian on an everyday basis, since Ian is a variant of John (even though technically for them it wouldn’t be a variant of John, but rather a truncation of Maximilian).

As for middles, of course Maria was my first thought! Maximilian Maria is St. Max through and through. I also think Marie, Marius (which Gabrielle already said she “just love[s]”), and even just Mary are great ideas.

I admit I was really surprised that they’re considering Perpetua and Benedicta, and would have considered Immaculee/Immaculate/Immaculata if they hadn’t already used it — using girl names on boys is just so unusual, and though we have strong precedence with the Mary variants, other girl names on boys are very rare indeed! Although I did see a religious brother take Therese as part of his religious name, which I thought was pretty amazing. Despite the fact that I really wish the tradition of giving Mary names to boys would come back, and I love every example I see of it, I admit that I’d be hesitant to do so with my boys—I’d feel much more comfortable with them making that decision for themselves at Confirmation, for example, or when taking a religious name. So I like the idea of Benedictus rather than Benedicta, if they wanted to do something more than Benedict. Maybe Perpetuus instead of Perpetua; Immaculatus instead of Immaculata. But at the same time, I really love that we have the grounding of our faith and the tradition of using boy names on girls and girl names on boys with the appropriate mindset. So if they ended up using Perpetua/Benedicta/Immaculata, I’d be pretty impressed with their faith and boldness.

Josemaria’s a neat idea, so heavy hitting. Reginald with Regina in mind is great; Rex is cool though I agree maybe a little X heavy with Maximilian (Max Reximilian is hilarious!), and also it makes me think of Jesus rather than Mary (which is certainly not problematic at all! Only, if they want a very Marian name, I’m not sure Rex is quite right). Faustus made me think of Faustinus, which is closer to Faustina.

I love Raphael and his connection to their marriage. I’d actually had Karol in mind for them when I started reading Gabrielle’s email, before I even got to the John Paul/Karol part — I think Maximilian Karol would be amazing. BUT they might like even better the idea of Maximilian Charles! Karol is the Polish version of Charles, and Charles is a British Royal name, so in my mind, Maximilian Charles would fall in nicely with Catherine Immaculee and John Francis in the sense that all of them would have one super Catholic name and one British Royal name (with even the British Royal name being super saintly). I also like how the MIL from Maximilian paired with the ES of Charles makes Miles—it makes the idea of Miles as a nickname even more understandable, if they decided they liked the idea of Miles as a nickname.

So out of the ideas already discussed, I think Maximilian Charles is my favorite, followed by Maximilian Karol, Maximilian Maria/Marius, and Maximilian Raphael, and I love both Max and Miles as nicknames. But all of their ideas are so beautifully faith-filled that their boy will have an incredible name, no matter which of these they choose.

I did do some research for Gabrielle and her hubs to see if I could come up with some more ideas that would fit their hopes for a Marian or Polish-y middle in Maximilian’s spirit. At first I was gung-ho on Franciszek—the Polish form of Francis, and the name of the man whose place St. Max took in Auschwitz; the fact that St. Max was a Conventual Franciscan made the name seem extra perfect to me. But then I remember that John’s middle name is Francis! Ah well. But I have several more ideas that they might like:

(1) Raymond
Raymond was St. Max’s birth name, and in his bio as presented on this site was a letter he wrote to his mom from the concentration camp, which he signed “Raymond,” even though he was known as Maximilian to everyone else.

(2) Assunto/Assundo
St. Maximilian died on August 14, and was cremated on the 15th — the Feast of the Assumption. Assunto and Assundo are both male variants of Assumpta/Assunta, which is of course in honor of the Assumption of Our Lady.

(3) Clement
St. Faustina always makes me think of Divine Mercy, as does St. John Paul II, and Clement means “merciful.” Additionally, it’s a Marian name, as Our Lady is described as “clement” in the Hail Holy Queen.

(4) Gilmary
I think this might be one of the closest non-M Marian names — like Miles-for-Maolmhuire I mentioned above, Gilmary (and its more common variant Gilmore) is an anglicization of the old Irish name Gillamhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Other variants include Kilmary and Kilmurray. This is an interesting and unusual way to get an explicitly Marian name; it also gets closer (though of course not totally) to the British Royals feel of Catherine and John — Ireland is closer to England than Poland, after all! 😀

(5) Lolek
Lolek was the nickname St. JP went by as a boy — it’s a diminutive of Karol — and I’ve seen some families use it as a first name and a middle name for their boys.

(6) Louis
What about Louis? St. Louis de Monfort is known for his Marian devotion, and his writings had a significant influence on St. JP2 — he even took his motto from St. Louis’ Consecration to Our Lady (Totus tuus=Totally yours). It’s also a British Royal name!

(7) Pio
Pio is the masculine version of pia, which is also an adjective given to Our Lady in the Latin version of the Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina) — “o clemens, o pia, o dulcis, Virgo Maria.” Of course, it also calls St. Pio to mind as well. I really like the rhythm of a long first name with a short middle; Maximilian Pio has a nice flow I think.

(8) Leo
Speaking of short, three-letter middles that rhyme with Pio, they might also like to consider Leo! Pope Leo XIII was called the Pope of the Rosary because of his love for it and Our Lady, and his promotion of the rosary. I definitely think that fits in with Maximilian’s spirit. Like with Pio, I think Maximilian Leo sounds quite nice. Since they like the idea of something Polish-y, they might also like to consider the Polish variant Lew, which I believe is said like LEF.

(9) Royce
Finally, speaking of the rosary, Royce derives from the name Rose, which is the origin of “rosary” (a crown of roses). It’s an unusual choice for sure, and isn’t obviously faithy, but the Rose connection makes it Marian. Maximilian Royce is pretty handsome.

And those are all my ideas for Gabrielle and her husband! What do you all think? What middle name(s) would you suggest for Catherine and John’s little brother Maximilian?

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Baby name consultation: Unmistakably Catholic name needed for baby no. 5

I had the great privilege of posting a consultation for Jaclyn and her husband two years ago, which inspired my Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names and Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names articles, and then posting a birth announcement for her sweet baby girl. I’m delighted that she’s back again for another consultation, this time for a baby boy!

This little guy joins big siblings:

Lillian Charlotte (“sometimes goes by Lily“)
Olivia Kathryn
Henry Sullivan
Gemma Clare

I love all of those names, and though as you’ll read Jaclyn and her hubs have moved more toward distinctively Catholic names, I think the whole group works together so nicely.

Jaclyn writes,

Our first two are named after family members and also just names we loved! But as time has passed, it has become increasingly important to us to choose strong Saint names, and names with an authentically “Catholic feel”. But we still want them to flow with the others. That’s why we came to you for help with Gemma and now this little one (our second boy!) 💙

Names we are considering so far:

The front runners:
-Benedict: we love the Pope Emeritus, and also feel a connection to St. Benedict of Nursia. However, we wonder if it fits in with our other kids well. Maybe it’s a little “strong”/“weighty”sounding? I don’t know what word I’m looking for, lol. Also, it’s a long name but we don’t love Ben or Benny.

-Maximilian: how can you not love St. Maximilian Kolbe? An inspiration! Max is a cute nickname and I think it sounds good with our other kiddos. But Max is also becoming fairly popular (as is Maximus, Maxwell etc) so it doesn’t feel as decidedly Catholic in the current culture.

-Augustin: another wonderful saintly inspiration. His conversion story speaks to me, and I think it’s definitely a “Catholic” name. We love Gus as a nickname and feel that it fits in with the family. Side note, we want it pronounced a-GUS-tin if we use it. I’m thinking this spelling would be better than Augustine then? Thoughts??

-John Paul: another wonderful Pope. Also my father and grandfather are Paul, so that’s a neat association. We aren’t sure about the double name though, or flow with our other kids. We don’t want to shorten it to John (mmmaaayyybe JP?).

Others we have considered: Fulton (I love it but it’s the name of a neighboring town so my husband hates that aspect), Kolbe, Ambrose (cool name, no viable nickname that we’ve come up with, and the full name doesn’t feel right with the family).”

I so enjoyed reading Jaclyn’s email — so many of my own favorites are on her list! I have some thoughts on them, which might be helpful:

  • Benedict definitely fits their desire for an authentically Catholic name! I do know what Jaclyn means about weightiness I think, but at the same time Benedict also has a Brit feel thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think her crew could totally pass as a group of English children! It’s a vibe I love! I was going to say that Ben(ny) makes Benedict more relatable, but since they don’t care for it then that doesn’t work … I’ve also seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, which they might like?
  • I love St. Maximilian too! But I also know what Jaclyn means about the nickname Max and the Max- names in general.
  • We considered Augustin — that spelling — for our last three boys, and had decided on it for our youngest son until we changed our minds just a week before he was born! Gus as a nickname was one of its biggest selling points to us, too. I admit that we ended up deciding not to use it because we didn’t feel like we could guarantee the pronunciation we wanted, which is the same Jaclyn and her hubs want. I don’t know about where they live, but a lot of older people near me spend winters in Florida, and the city of St. Augustine there is pronounced au-gus-TEEN, so I hear that pronunciation a lot. Plus, there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s that uses the TEEN pronunciation. But whenever I hear the name at church, they use the GUS pronunciation, and there’s also a Catholic school named St. Augustine’s near me that says it the GUS way … BUT no one can ever remember! I’ve heard people say go back and forth between GUS and TEEN in the same conversation! So we decided it was too much of a hassle, especially since TEEN is also the feminine pronunciation and we’re sensitive to any of our boys being mistaken for girls because of their names. So that’s a lot of personal baggage I just dropped on Jaclyn and her hubs! Haha! So to be more objective, if they were to call their Augustin “Gus” all the time, there probably wouldn’t be any problem at all. It’s a great name and a great saint, and I think it definitely fits their criteria, though I do think it’s similarly weighty/strong as Benedict.
  • I actually think John Paul might fit the best with their other kids! I think the fact that it’s two short, traditional, not uncommon names makes it very accessible and easy to work with, while putting them together as a given name adds the super Catholic feel and makes the two names more unusual. I like that they have a family connection too! They’d have to decide if they could live with “John Paul” all the time, or if they wanted to do JP, but I do think that so many people are used to saying John Paul in regards to the Pope/Saint that no one would ever try to shorten it to John.
  • It’s funny and unfortunate that Fulton is a neighboring town for them! I can definitely see that that would be problematic.
  • I like Kolbe for them — it gets around the Max issue while still honoring the amazing saint.
  • We have also had Ambrose on our list through several of our boys! Nicknames were an issue for us too, so I came up with a few that I thought were interesting: I definitely think Sam can work, since there’s the “Am” at the beginning and the “S” within it. I also like the idea of Bram, which is a traditional nickname for Abraham but like with Sam, Ambrose contains all the sounds of Bram. Another is Brody, especially if Ambrose was paired with a “D” middle name. And I’ve seen real-life Ambroses nicknamed Amby and Brose. Of all those, I like Ambrose nicknamed Sam the best for this family.

So they have a great list! I think they’ve really nailed the names that come across as Catholicky Catholic! For additional ideas, I turned to my trusty Baby Name Wizard to see if any of the style matches for their other kiddos’ names might also fit in that category, and I re-read the article I’d written on unmistakably Catholic boys’ names for inspiration as well. Based on that, I think they might like:

(1) Dominic
Though Dominic can definitely hang with the heavies like Benedict and Augustin(e), I think it can also go really well with Jaclyn’s older kids because of that Brit thing again. The actor Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) is a great example, for one. It shortens easily to Dom(my), or they could use Nic(k) instead.

(2) Gabriel
I don’t know if they’re okay repeating initials, but I thought that since Gemma and Gabriel have different initial sounds, this might be okay. When I think of Gabriel, I think of Mary via the Annunciation, which is so Catholic of course! Gabe is its traditional nickname, but I also love the idea of Gil. The actor Gabriel Byrne is another British Isles-area example for them (he’s Irish, which I totally know is not British — you all know what I mean by “British Isles-area” right? No offense intended!).

(3) Joseph
Joseph is spot-on as a match for their other kids, and St. Joseph is just amazing. I know it’s not as exclusively Catholic as some names, but at the same time, it is, you know?

(4) Jude
I know some people tend to think of the Beatles or Jude Law in regards to the name Jude, but St. Jude is so popular that anyone familiar with Catholicism will think of him right away when they hear his name! I know a lot of Catholic families who have chosen Jude for their sons specifically because of its obviously Catholic connection.

(5) Leo
Leo is such a sweet name that’s also sophisticated at the same time, and the fact that there’s Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church makes it perfect for a family that wants a truly Catholic name!

(6) Luke
Like with Gabriel, when I hear the name Luke, I think of Mother Mary, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains her Magnificat, for one thing. It’s similar to Joseph in terms of having other associations that dilute the Catholic significance, but at the same time, it’s such a Catholic name.

(7) Thomas
I know that Joseph, Luke, and Thomas might be surprising on this list, since they’re so … “normal.” But even looking at them listed together like that screams “Catholic!” to me! There are so many great Sts. Thomas! I was thinking that one way they could increase the Catholic feel is to give a middle name that really cements it — like Thomas Aquinas or Thomas More. Wow!

(8) Simon, Simeon
My last idea for this family is Simon or Simeon (they’re variants of the same name). I think Simon on its own is a great Catholic name (not only Simon Peter, but St. Simon Stock as well), and I’m including Simeon mostly because I want to see it used more! Simeon is such a great character, and has that Marian connection as well!

Two others that I considered suggesting, but decided not to for whatever reason, are Blaise and Vincent. They’re such great names though that I thought they deserved at least this small mention, just in case.

And those are my ideas for Jaclyn and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lillian, Olivia, Henry, and Gemma?

Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

(Thank you all so much for your excitement and prayers following my pregnancy announcement on Saturday!! You all are the best!! ❤ ❤ <3)

Megan and her husband are expecting their second little one, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This wee babe joins big brother:

Finnian Daniel

You know how much I love Irish names! Finnian Daniel’s so handsome! (And so sorry to all of my Italian readers for continuing the Irish theme on St. Joseph’s Day!)

Megan writes,

Our son’s name is Finnian Daniel. We wanted to honor our Irish heritage with a first name that is clearly Irish — we’d love to continue using Irish names for our children if we can, and I’m also open to Gaelic/Celtic/Scottish names as well. My husband’s family is German and Welsh, so I guess those names aren’t out of the question, either. Since we both have very common first names, and are one of “many” with the same name, we tend to like uncommon names more. We love longer names that can be shortened to nicknames. Finnian is really the perfect name to us: it’s not in the top 1,000, but easy to say and spell, and of course shortens to the adorable and more commonly known Finn — it’s clearly Irish; there are several amazing Catholic saints who bear the the name; and, in general — we like the sound of it — it is happy and carefree (just like his personality!). We like the idea of continuing to use Catholic saint names for our children, but it is not a requirement (we’ve had trouble finding female saints in particular…).

Finn’s middle name is after his grandfather/father. To us, middle names are an easy way to honor family. If we have another boy, we’ll most likely go with Thomas (my dad’s name) for the middle, or maybe Francis (grandfather) or Brendan (brother) or even Leo (another family name). For a girl, my mother and I share the middle name “Eileen,” so that may be a nice tradition to pass on, but also have Clara (grandmother who I was very close to), or May/Mae (both of grandmother’s middle names). If it’s a girl, I’m more open to a different middle name option than I would be for a boy.

We have many male names that we like, but are just not as in love with them as we were with Finnian! They are Declan, Cullen, Cormac (but really I just like nn Mac), Lachlan, Callum. I also like Henry which is clearly not Irish and way too popular but just to give you an idea on style … we love that Finn sounds like a little old man’s name.

The girl names we are a little all over the place on. One name that we both do really like is an Irish place name, Adair (or Adare) (which I read about first on your blog!) with the nn Ada? Other girl names we tossed around are Ailish, Saiorse (husband loves this one but way too hard to spell IMO), Arlen (I like unisex names for girls a lot), Arwen (think we nixed this one due to sounding too LOTR), and Nuala.

Really no names are off limits! Oh except for flower names.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I had loads of fun with this! Megan and her hubs have a really fun style!

It’s interesting to me that Leo is a family name for Megan — I’ve always thought of it as an “Irish” name because there are loads of them in the Irish side of my family, and I wondered if that was just my experience or if it does have exceptionally good usage among families of Irish descent. So I love seeing that it’s in her family tree too!

Some thoughts about the names on their list of considerations:

  • Declan: Great name, very Irish. In the movie Leap Year, which is mostly set in Ireland, the main guy is Declan and they call him Decko (Deco?) at one point, which is really cute. Dex could also be a cute nickname
  • Cullen: Love it
  • Cormac: Ditto, and the nickname Mac is great
  • Lachlan: Great name
  • Callum: I probably prefer this to Cullen, only because I don’t know how prominent the Twilight association would be with Cullen anymore, but they wouldn’t have to worry about that at all with Callum
  • Henry: I’m glad Megan included this on the list — I think it helped me understand their old-man taste! If they did decide to go with Henry, its traditional nickname Hank is definitely an old-man name and sooo cute
  • Adair/Adare is an awesome name, and I’m so pleased Megan found it on the blog! Ada as a nickname is cool too. Maybe also Dara?
  • Ailish I love, and the similar Eilis. Gorgeous! They also made me think of Aislin(g) (said ASH-lin or ASH-ling) and Ainsley. Also, Ailish and Eilis are saintly — I understand that Ailish is generally considered the Irish form of Alice, and Eilis is Elizabeth
  • I love the idea of Saoirse, and a friend of mine had her daughter on July 4 and seriously considered it because of its meaning “freedom,” but it’s SO hard to spell and no one will figure out the pronunciation! Because Megan and her hubs have such Irishy Irish ideas on their list, I thought I’d throw out some of my favorites: Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Aine, and Grainne. But all of them (except maybe Niamh? Maybe it’s got a little familiarity? I did a spotlight of it here) have the same problem as Saoirse
  • Arlen’s cool
  • Arwen is 100% LOTR to me, which I don’t think is terrible, but I can see they’d want to move away from that
  • I like Nuala! Another variant of Nuala is Nola, which is like Nora but with a twist, and is easy to spell and say

So when I was coming up with new ideas for Megan and her hubs, I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (as you all know, I rely heavily on it in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), but I also went off-road as it were by just coming up with ideas that I thought might fit their style, especially based on nicknames and Irishness. Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby:

Girl

(1) Gwenfair or Mairwen
These names were inspired by their love of Celtic names, the fact that Megan’s husband is Welsh, and the fact that they have a LOTR name on their list (Tolkien’s names have some good connection with Welsh in particular, I believe). These gorgeous names are actually the same name, with the elements reversed: “gwen” (which is of course the “Gwen” in Gwenfair as well as the “wen” in Mairwen) means “fair, white, blessed,” and Mair (which is the “fair” part of Gwenfair, as well as of course the “Mair” in Mairwen) is the Welsh form of Mary. So these are gorgeous, unusual Marian names! I believe the “fair”/“Mair” parts are both said to rhyme with “tire” in Welsh, and the F is like a V, so gwen-vire and mire-wen, but I think they could legitimately say “fair”/“Mair” to rhyme with “care,” which makes it easier to live with in the U.S. I did hesitate that maybe Gwen and Finn are too similar sounding as nicknames? But I think they could be fine too.

(2) Brigid/Bridget nicked Bridie; Briege
When Megan said they like longer names that can be shortened to nicknames, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Irish girl nicknames: Bridie. So cute! I like both Brigid and Bridget for this family as longer forms. These names also made me think of Briege, which is a form of Bridget … it’s not a long name that can be shortened to a nickname, but it’s a pretty cool+unusual Irish name. You all might be familiar with Sr. Briege McKenna.

(3) Greer
One of the names I’d scribbled down for this family before I even cracked open the BNW is Greer, one of my favorites. It’s a Scottish feminine form of Gregory, and while I think it definitely has a unisex feel, it also has a Hollywood starlet feel to me, a la 40’s actress Greer Garson. Funny enough, her given name was Eileen, so Greer Eileen really goes together imo!

(4) Tierney
Another I’d written down for them before starting my research was Tierney, so I was delighted to see both Tierney and Greer as style matches for Adair according to the BNW! I was actually inspired to suggest both of them to Megan by sisters I knew growing up named Gr33r and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy). Like Greer, Tierney has a unisex feel, and I love its rhythm. I know neither Greer nor Tierney lend themselves to natural nicknames, but they seemed too good a match for this family to not suggest them!

(5) Rhiannon, Rowan
There were a few inspirations behind these names: Rhian was listed as a style match for Cormac, but I though Rhiannon was a better idea, since then they’d have a longer name that they could shorten to the unisex-feeling Rhian, or also Rhia. Rowan is a match for Cullen and Adair as a girl’s name, and Finn as a boy’s name, so it seemed a great idea for Megan and her hubs!

Boy

(1) Malachy
The Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) had a brother named Malachy, so I’ve always thought of it as an Irish old-man name. It’s the name of an Irish saint, and Mac is an easy nickname for it, which is what made me think of it for this family, since Megan said what she likes about Cormac is actually the nickname Mac. And Malachy’s definitely uncommon!

(2) Jameson
I thought Jameson felt similar to Finnian — definitely Irish, not unfamiliar, and a longer name that can be shortened. I can definitely hear “Jamie” being said in an Irish brogue, and Finn and Jamie sound like amazing Irish brothers.

(3) Cameron
Cameron might be too popular for them (no. 57 in 2016 compared to Finnian not even being in the top 1000 [though Finn was no. 175]), but it’s Scottish and Cam is one of my favorite nicknames.

(4) Ronan, Rohan
While Rowan started as a boy name and has become more unisex, Ronan — which is a match for Finnian, Declan, and Cormac — is firmly masculine, as far as I know. And Ronan (and Arwen) made me think of Rohan, like the Riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings — I think it’s maybe not as well known as a LOTR name as Arwen is? And Rohan is actually an Irish surname.

(5) Timothy or Thaddeus nicked Tadhg
I don’t think Megan and her hubs will love the familiar feel of Timothy (though it’s dropped in popularity, being no. 153 in 2016), though it does have an Irish feel — it’s one of those names that seems to be favored by Irish/Irish-American families of the past, and so it has a green sheen even though it’s biblical. Conversely, Thaddeus has the uncommonness I think they prefer (it was no. 641 in 2016), and though it does have traditional usage in Ireland, it doesn’t have an Irish feel like Timothy. But the reason I’m including them on my list of suggestions is because both have been used as the Anglo version of the super Irish name Tadhg. In fact, I have a devotion to one of the Irish martyrs, a Dominican priest named Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, and he’s sometimes listed as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty. I think Tadhg is one of the coolest Irish boy names —
it’s said like the first syllable of “tiger” — but like with Saoirse, its spelling is a challenge and no one will know how to say it. That’s why I suggested Timothy or Thaddeus as the given name, and Tadhg as the nickname — of the two, I think Timothy is a better match as a brother for Finnian.

And those are all my ideas for Megan and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Finnian Daniel?

Baby name consultation: Not-popular boy name or Italian girl name for baby no. 3

Allegra and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little bean joins big sibs:

Anthony David (“Anthony is for my late father, who passed away when I was about 3 years old, who in turn was named for St. Anthony of Padua. We are all Italian if that wasn’t clear 😉 My father went by Tony, which I like, but I just don’t see it in my son so he goes by Anthony. He’s also not even 3 yet, so we’ll see. David is my husband’s middle name“)

Giuliana Catherine (“Giuliana was my girl name choice for Anthony. I’ve liked the Italian spellings of the variants of Giulia/na for a while, so no other reasoning than I just like the name. I also (theoretically) like the nicknames for it, except G, but again we just still call her by her full name so far (she’s about 1.5). Catherine is a family name (my maternal grandmother) and one we both liked. For Giuliana’s patron we chose St. Catherine Laboure“)

Such great names! Yes, they’re not unusual, but they’re classic and saintly and so handsome/beautiful. And such great family connections for both of them!

Allegra writes,

For Anthony I never even considered popularity because I wanted to name him after my father, and then around when we had Giuliana I realized just how many Julianna’s there are, and how I accidentally gave both my kids popular names, even though I claim to like unusual ones.

This is the first time we’ve decided not to find out the sex until birth. My husband isn’t as passionate about baby name discussion as I am (huge shock, I’m sure!) so we’ve only had pretty casual conversations so far, but here are some names we have discussed.

For boys:
Luke (my second choice with Anthony, but I dislike how popular it is)
James (not Jim or Jimmy)
Max (for St. Maximilian Kolbe, but we don’t care for Maximus or Maximilian … any other formal name suggestions? I don’t like nicknames as legal names)

We are growing in our love for St. John Paul II as a family, but we aren’t crazy about the actual name, so any way to tie him in would be great. Overall I worry that our boy name ideas are too boring/popular/plain. I like how unusual my name is but I find it harder to come up with stuff for boys that I like without it being so popular.

For girls:
-Margaret (going by Maggie) — This was actually one of my top choices before I even had a due date, maybe before this pregnancy, and then I found out my due date is the feast of St. Margaret of Antioch! We also have a dear family friend Sister Mary Ann (“Aunt Sis”) whose birthday is 7-22 and initials are MAG and who has the nickname Mags or Maggie, so it’s kind of a subtle way to honor her.
-Maria (or other Blessed Mother names). My husband’s grandmother is also named Mary.
-Grace (again popularity concern)
-Teresa
-Thalia (I actually wouldn’t use this, because it feels too Greek and we are so Italian, but I really like it)
-Sabrina was on my list for Giuliana, but I’m not as crazy about it anymore.

Names we can’t use (niece/nephews) are Joseph, Peter, Filomena, and Angelo. Other saints we like (aside from JPII and Kolbe) are St. Thomas Aquinas (not crazy for Thomas), Sts. Therese/Zelie/Louis (but our dog is Zelda, hah), and St. Padre Pio.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Allegra said she would like to have a less popular name, but the names she likes (especially for boys) are more popular than she’d prefer. I thought this post might be helpful, which discusses how the popular names of today aren’t even close to being as popular as the popular names of the past were; this is also great.

I was really interested to see that in 2016, Anthony was no. 30 and Luke was no. 29. Very well matched!

James is also a great name, but I don’t think Allegra will love that it was no. 5 in 2016. It’s funny to me that she said she doesn’t care for Jim or Jimmy, but prefers James, because most of the little boys with James-type names that I know of go by the full James. That said, I do have a friend who named her son James and calls him Jimmy, and there’s a Jim on my 7yo’s basketball team and a Jim in my 3yo’s nursery school class! Jim! I chuckle every time I hear it, because it sounds like such a man’s name to me. Anyway, all that to say, I totally understand that Allegra prefers James to Jim or Jimmy, but Jim/Jimmy are actually a much more unusual choice (but maybe also starting to rise in popularity?).

An idea for James, if Allegra and her hubs liked the idea of a nickname other than Jim/Jimmy, is Jake. Jacob is the Hebrew form of James, so Jake for James has an actual linguistic connection. But then I was thinking how they like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and I thought something like James Kolbe would be very handsome, and would make even more sense of the nickname Jake. (This is assuming that they even like the nickname Jake, which maybe they don’t! And maybe they prefer a Max first name to Kolbe as a middle! So I hope they just ignore these suggestions if that’s the case. 😊 )

As for Max, the formal Max names I know of besides Maximus and Maximilian are Maxim and Maxwell. I have some other ideas for formal names for Max below in my official suggestions as well.

There are several ways to honor St. John Paul that don’t involve using John Paul. His birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, so any of the names of that family can work: Charles, Carl, Carlo, Karl, Karol for boys and Caroline, Karoline, Karolina for girls. If they use the K spelling, those who are familiar with JP2 would like get it right away, which is fun. I actually really like the idea of Karolina for this family — it’s long and feminine like Giuliana. But I think Carolina is the Italian variant, so maybe they’d prefer that.

His childhood nickname was Lolek, which I believe is a Polish diminutive of Karol, and I’ve seen Lolek used by some families! We even had a discussion of the possibility of Lolek as a nickname of sorts for Luke in this comment; since Allegra has Luke on her list and doesn’t love its popularity, maybe using Lolek as a nickname for Luke will give it that unusualness she hopes for? That same comment suggests Emilia as a nod to JP2, as it was his mom’s name. That could be lovely for this family too! Emilia also has Italian usage! I actually know a super Italian family who named their daughter Emilia because it’s so Italian.

I love the girl names on Allegra’s list, and I’m amazed by all the Margaret/Maggie connections!! It seems like such a great fit for them!! My only thought was, would they like to consider the Italian variant Margarita? Either way, Margaret/Maggie sounds like *the* name for Allegra and her hubs!

Maria, Grace, Teresa are all beautiful, and Thalia and Sabrina surprised me! I like being surprised! I have an idea regarding Thalia in my ideas below.

As for saints Allegra and her hubs like, I have seen boys named Aquinas, and I know one of them goes by Quin. I know they have Teresa on their list, which certainly counts as an honor for St. Therese; I’ve also seen Rose names given in her honor. I could see some Rose names being nice for this family! Rosa and Rosalia are two Italian versions that they might like. Louis for a boy is not popular (no. 289), so they might like to consider it for a first or middle name, or maybe Louisa for a girl? Zelie and Zelda do seem too similar! St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azelie, so maybe some version of that instead? Many people say that Azelie is the French for the azalea flower; if they like the azalea idea, maybe they could do an Italian version? The dictionary says the Italian for azalea is azalea, so maybe Maria-Azalea? I love coming up with nicknames formed from the first and middles — Maria-Azalea could be Maizie or Mariza or Malea or Mia …

The blogger Ana Hahn has a Joseph Pio, and I thought putting Pio in the middle was so interesting! It could help “liven up” a first name that Allegra thinks is otherwise too popular/common? Luke Pio? James Pio? Ooh, if they’re into initials, James Pio could be JP, which could also be a nod to JP2!

Alrighty, on to my suggestions. You all know that I start my consultations 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 entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for Allegra, looking up Anthony, Juliana (standing in for Giuliana), Luke, James, Max, Margaret, Maggie, Maria, Grace, Teresa, Talia (standing in for Thalia, which wasn’t as close a match as I’d hoped), and Sabrina. Based on that research, and my own ideas, these are my suggestions for Allegra and her hubs:

Girl

(1) Gabriella
So my original first idea here was Caterina, which I was super psyched about and thought it was perfect for this family,* and then I re-read Allegra’s email and saw that Giuliana’s middle name is Catherine! Gah! I’d totally forgotten! So I changed my first suggestion to Gabriella. Though I was very influenced by Giuliana’s name when coming up with girl ideas — the Italian-ness of it makes it hard for me to think of non-Italian names! — and Gabriella certainly fits in with that, I also like that Gabriella isn’t *uber* Italian, I know a bunch of Gabriellas that aren’t Italian. So it might be a really nice way to start moving their girl style away from “super Italian” without it feeling out of place.

*I thought I’d include what I’d written about Caterina, just in case they’re okay using it for a first name even though they already used Catherine as a middle: “When I saw Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn as style matches for Anthony, Margaret, and Teresa, and Kate as a match for Maggie, I thought Caterina (possibly with the nickname Cate) was perfect! St. Catherine of Siena’s name was actually Caterina, as she was Italian, which makes for a really nice saintly connection.”

(2) Natalia
I was so excited when I started looking up the names included in Allegra’s email and discovered that Natalie is a match for Anthony and Natalia for Juliana! I thought Natalia was such a great suggestion for this family, not only because it’s a style match for their older two children, but also because it nicknames neatly and easily to Talia! Like Thalia on Allegra’s list! Perfect!

(3) Chiara
Claire is a match for Luke and Grace, but of course I felt like I had to Italian it up! Chiara is the Italian form, and like with St. Catherine being originally Caterina, St. Clare of Assisi was actually Chiara, so she can be patron. But more recently, there’s Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who I often see parents naming daughters for — she’s a great, modern patron for a little girl. I did a spotlight on the name here.

(4) Veronica
Veronica’s a match for Anthony, and its long femininity makes it a great sister for Giuliana I think! Such a gorgeous name, and one that I consider exclusively Catholic (though I know it has non-Catholic usage), since she’s never named in the bible but rather her name has come down through tradition. I did a spotlight on it here.

(5) Maristella
This is inspired by the “Maria (or other Blessed Mother names)” on their list, as well as, of course, Giuliana’s Italian-ness. Maristella is from Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” which is rendered as Stella Maris and Maris Stella, which can be used as-is for a girl’s name, but I usually see Maristel(l)a and Stellamaris. Maristella is so lovely!

Boy

(1) Michael
I know Allegra said she doesn’t love that the names she likes tend to be fairly popular, and Michael’s one of those names that sounds uber popular because it was the no. 1 boy name for so long. It’s still a top ten name (no. 8 in 2016, less popular than James), but as that article I linked to above shows, it’s not nearly as huge as it was. It’s a style match for Anthony and Maria, but beyond that, I thought it could get them to Max as a nickname. Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, make the nickname Max really obvious. (Any M name paired with Xavier or Alexander could get them to Max, of course — Matthew comes to mind as another great example.)

(2) Nicholas
Like Natalia, Nicholas is a match for both Anthony and Giuliana! I love that! And its diminutive Cole is a match for Luke. I think Nicholas has that same Italian feel that Anthony has (by which I mean, Anthony and Nicholas can be used by any heritage, but there’s something about them that feels really right on a boy of Italian heritage). As mentioned, Cole could be a nickname, or Nico (which was actually a match for Talia), or of course Nick/Nicky.

(3) Dominic
Dominic also has that Italian feel of Anthony and Nicholas, and like Nicholas can take Nic(o) as a nickname. Or, Dom(my) can work — my dad had a friend Dominick nicknamed Dommy growing up, and I always thought that was really cute.

(4) Nathaniel
Moving away from the Italianate names, Nathaniel is a style match for Giuliana and Nathan for Luke! I like them both, though I like Nathaniel for this family better because its length is nice with Anthony and Giuliana (though of course Luke and James are short and I think they’d go fine too).

(5) Victor
My last idea for Allegra and her hubs is Victor. It’s a match for Anthony and Maria, and is a name I’ve had on my own list for a long time. I wrote about it being a great Jesus name here, and the post I did on nicknames for Victor has always been — and continues to be — my second most-viewed post ever! Every single day I have visitors that reach my blog because of some variation of the search term “nicknames for victor.” Isn’t that crazy?

And those are all my ideas for Allegra and her hubs! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Anthony and Giuliana?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:

Girl

(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)

Boy

(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from behindthename.com (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?