Baby name consultation: Bold Catholic names okay for Baby no. 2!

Rachel and her husband are expecting their second baby — a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big brother:

Albert Francis (Albie)

How cuuute is Albie??!! 😍

Rachel writes,

We always knew we wanted to have an Albert, as he is my husbands favorite saint, I am a nurse and my husband is a Physician Assistant so we spent most of undergrad and grad school praying that he would help us with tests as he is the Patron of the Sciences! St. Francis is also a favorite or ours and when our newest Pope took that name, we also felt called to use it when we were naming a baby someday. We love that Albie’s name is a mixture of a person so full of worldly knowledge and the sciences as well as a saint best known for his humility.  We didn’t know what we were having with our first (we also don’t know this time around) we were lucky that it was a Boy- as we had not really settled in on a girl name but had some options that we liked. However, settled in on Albie’s name right away- which I think is why it feels different this time around not being able to think of a name that we both agree on or have been able to feel connected to.

Naming babies is something that we have loved to do, we try and be really intentional in praying about it, as we really see as a making such an important decision for our kids- we celebrate Albie’s Feast day, have come across relics of St. Albert, visited the one St. Albert the Great church we could find- and have really looked to St. Albert as a protector for our son- trying to bridge the gap between the saints and us- even in a small way. For that reason I know that we would like the name to be a specific saint or blessed so that we can have that same connection for the next baby.

Currently the names that we like for girls are

Chiara Agnes (I really love that Agnes was Mother Theresa’s real name)
Zelie
Philomena
I like Faustina because I think she is a wonderful saint.
Being a working mom I probably ask St. Gianna for help 12 times a day 🙂

We do really love Blessed Chiara, I have been praying to her a lot during this pregnancy but for whatever reason just haven’t settled in on it for sure.

Names we have tossed around in no particular order for boys are:

Charles
Aloysius
Sebastian
Dominic
Jude (this is maybe my favorite?)
Maximilian

There are not many names that are definite “no’s” but we have a lot of Michaels in our family- so not really a name we would use- also our siblings names are Luke, Andrew, Joshua, Anna, Therese so would probably avoid these as well.

Nicknames are super important to us- so would love a name that we could shorten in a creative way. The most important thing is that we can feel connected to the saint that we are naming him or her after and that we are able to help blend the lessons we can learn from that person into the life of our child.

We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!) We love being able to evangelize through this process, even in a small way, by teaching others about the lives and stories of saints through explaining how we named our kids- which is a position the I really think God has put us in time and time again when being able to explain how we named Albert to people may not otherwise hear these stories. We have always been so passionate about the way that science and religion in many ways complement each other rather than go against each other- and being able to speak about a saint whose life mission was to blend the 2 has been so fun for us!

Did you all see that? >>> “We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!)” >>> Yessss!!! 😁

I love the names Rachel and her hubs are considering for their baby, and in fact I thought it was such a great and complete list that I had a hard time thinking of what I would add to it! Each one is heavy hitting and faith-y, and I love how St. Gianna and Bl. Chiara have been close to Rachel this pregnancy. I wonder if they would consider putting them both in one name? Chiara Gianna doesn’t have the best flow, but knowing that Chiara is the Italian variant of Clare/Claire/Clara and Gianna is a feminine form of John (so Joan, Jane, Joanna), they could do Chiara Jane or Clare Gianna or any of those combos, and though Clare/Claire/Clara/Joan/Jane/Joanna aren’t as obvious to others as Chiara and Gianna, they’re just as legitimate.

Also, re: Chiaria, I wanted to address how Rachel “for whatever reason just [hasn’t] settled in on it for sure” even though it seems clear to me that it’s her frontrunner. I wonder if maybe it’s because it’s such a different style from Albert? Certainly there’s no requirement to stick with the same style of name for every child—indeed, that’s one of the things I love about Catholic naming, that Archangela, Kateri, Joseph, and Bernadette can all be siblings under the umbrella theme of “Catholic saints”—so that might not be the hold up for Rachel and her hubs here. But Albert has a very distinct old-man feel to it (which is great! He’s a great saint and the names that peaked when his did [early 20th century] like Alice, Walter, and Helen are totally coming back right now) while Chiara feels more current and very Italian. So anyway, all that to say that Clare/Claire or Clara are much closer in feel to Albert. They can totally still honor Bl. Chiara, though I do understand that they might not feel close enough to her name.

So then I also wanted to suggest Mary Chiara. Adding Mary in front of any name makes that second name totally doable in my opinion, and can jazz up a second name (Mary Kate), sober a second name (Mary Willow), feminize a masculine name (Mary Charles), and Catholicize a more secular name (Mary Topanga). Or, in this case, it can pull Chiara a bit closer to Albert with its old-school Catholic feel. A Mary Chiara could still go by Chiara as a call name (most of my dad’s first girl cousins are Mary ___, and they all go by their middle names. One of them signs her name M. Kate, so that’s an option too, for signatures and school papers and that kind of thing), or she could go by the full Mary Chiara, or of course just Mary (or one of Mary’s many nicknames, like Molly, Mamie, Mimi, Mae/May).

If they liked the idea of Mary Chiara, they could still do Agnes as a middle name, thus considering “Mary Chiara” to be the first name. They could hyphenate it, if they wanted it even clearer: Mary-Chiara Agnes. Or maybe they’d like it to just be firstname Mary middlename Chiara, and save Agnes for a possible future daughter?

All that said however, they have such a good mix of older names and more current names on their list—and with Rachel’s favorite, Jude, being at an all-time high—that I’m guessing all this doesn’t fuss them a bit! I really do love the mix of styles.

So you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be for this family, since their taste is more eclectic and harder to pin down in one area (which is awesome), but it did give me some good ideas that I thought might be helpful for them. I admit I was swayed by the fact that Albert is the name Rachel and her hubs have already used—every time I saw a name that I thought had the same feel as Albert I’d excitedly scribble it down! But I did also try to bring in some names that fit more of a Chiara/Zelie/Gianna/Sebastian/Jude sensibility:

Girl
(1) Edith
Like Albert and Agnes, Edith is an old-timey name that’s coming back around again. I think, for broader society, the amazing nickname Edie has a lot to do with it; for Catholics, St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, is a major inspiration.

(2) Hildegard
Rachel said they’re not intimidated by bold names, and Hildegard is definitely bold! It’s Germanic like Edith and Aloysius and really heavy-duty Catholicky Catholic because of our new(ish) Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. And is Hildi the cutest nickname ever or what??

(3) Genevieve
I like that Genevieve is an older name with some good current use, and St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris, which is pretty cool. It’s also got some great, popular nicknames: Evie, Vivi, Genny.

(4) Regina
Regina is one of the *most* Catholic names! I really can’t imagine anyone using it who isn’t Catholic, and I think everyone knows right away when they hear it that it refers to Mary. I’ve seen the combo Regina Caeli used recently as a first+middle combo, which I love.

(5) Veronica or Monica
Veronica is another Catholicky Catholic name—I know non-Catholics use it, but that always makes me chuckle! There are some really pretty nicknames for Veronica too—there’s the expected Ronni(e), but also Via, Vera, Vero, Vivi, Nica, and Nicky.

Monica has exactly the same sound as Veronica except the beginning V—which I think makes all the difference! V is hot right now, which makes Veronica a less surprising choice these days than the more mid-century Monica. But St. Monica’s an amazing saint, of course, and Mo, Mona, and Nica/Nicky could be nicknames for it. Or even Molly for something like Monica Zelie.

(6) Zita
Zelie always makes me think of Zita, and though there’s the Italian St. Zita, who is a great patron, it’s Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria that I’ve been loving lately. What a woman she was!

(7) Gemma
Gemma was one of the names listed as a style match for Jude, and to me it’s 1000% St. Gemma Galgani. It’s such a pretty name with a Brit feel, due to its good use in England, that I think it fits in really nicely with Albert.

Boy
(1) Ambrose
Maybe following Albert with another A name won’t be their favorite idea? But since they have Aloysius on their list I thought Ambrose was a good one. It’s been on our list for a long time, and I’ve come up with a few nicknames that I love for it: Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially with a D middle name, like Ambrose Dominic).

(2) Leo
Leo has a similar feel to Jude—short, punchy, and totally Catholic, like Pope St. Leo the Great. There are a bunch of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee.

(3) Stanislaus
I’m living a bit vicariously through this suggestion! I love St. John Paul II and one of my favorite stories had to do with how he defied the Communist government with the help of St. Stanislaus—I shared it here. I’ve wanted to get on board with Stanislaus for one of our boys, but so far no luck! Stan is a natural nickname and has that friendly, old-timey feel of Albie (and funny enough, my not-really-namey husband has been telling me recently he likes the nickname Stan!).

(4) Gerard
I love St. Gerard Majella—he’s an invaluable help to expectant mothers and those whose babies are already born! I was thinking about how important nicknames are to Rachel and her hubs, and the ones I’ve suggested in the past for Gerard are Ged and even Jedi for the Star Wars inclined! But I was thinking … what about Jude? As a nickname for Gerard? That way they’d have a given name that was a natural fit as a brother to Albert, and a cool, equally saintly nickname. It might also provide a really natural “bridge” into other naming styles—Jude would help make Chiara/Zelie/Gianna a little less jarring I think (not that it matters what others think, of course!).

(5) Benedict
Up until 1968 Benedict stayed in the top 1000 but never got higher than 447 (1914) and dropped off completely after that, so I can’t even say it’s got a similar popularity arc as Albert, but it definitely has an old-school feel while still being able to hang out with the 21st century kids because of Pope Benedict and Benedict Cumberbatch. The nickname Ben has always struck me as friendly and easy, and Benny is also really sweet. I’ve also heard Ned for it, and I’ve often thought Bede could work for it too (another twofer! Two saints in one!).

(6) Louis
Not only have Louis and Albert followed a similar popularity arc, but—like with Benedict—Louis has a modern Catholic feel because of St. Louis Martin, St. Zelie’s husband. Maybe the connection between them would knock Zelie off their list for the future? Or maybe, like with this mom, they would like it!

(7) Blaise
Finally, Blaise was included in the Saints list in the BNW—a list at the back of the book that focuses on more unusual/exotic/surprising names like Aloysius, Chiara, Philomena, and Faustina—and as soon as I saw it I wanted to suggest it for this family because of their science/medicine connection! St. Blaise of the throat blessings was a physician—described as a “Healer of men and animals” on CatholicSaints.info—and Blaise Pascal is familiar enough to people I think that he automatically adds a math and sciences feel to the name.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Albie’s little brother or sister?

Baby name consultation: Patton Camper No. 6!

Happppppy Easter Monday y’all!!! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!! Doesn’t the world look extra sunny now that Lent is over and the tomb is empty? He is risen! Hallelujah!

I’m thrilled/delighted/dancing with joy 💃💃💃 to post today’s consultation! Funny enough, it was Easter Monday of 2015 when I posted the first consultation I did for this family (for Baby No. 5) — pretty cool that I get to post one for their newest little one on Easter Monday 2017!

So yes, as you’ve surely gleaned from the title, today’s consultation is for Grace over at Camp Patton — she’s one of my favorite favorite bloggers, not least because she posts lots of pictures of her beautiful children, and she are her husband have the BEST taste in names! Lest you’ve forgotten, this wee green bean (=gender unknown)  🌱 will join big sibs:

Julia Grace
Sebastian Xavier (Bash)
Theodore Augustine (Theo)
Phoebe Annika
Bosco Ignatius

(In calling this baby No. 6, I mean their sixth baby on earth — I don’t at all mean to forget their little Felipe, who’s surely interceding for them all, like so many of our babies.)

I’m ridiculously in love with the names Grace and her hubby Simon have chosen, and there’s not really a whole lot I feel like I can add — no matter what they end up naming their babe, I know it will be ah-mazing.

That said, when I asked Grace if she would mind if I offered some new suggestions, she said:

Yes! We’d love that!

We are always so undecided until the last minute!

Thank you Kate!!!! SO excited!!!

I know, right?? SO EXCITED!! 😍😍😍

She continued,

For boys we’ve tossed around Dominic or Damian (I think we should avoid a name ending in “o” as we’ve got Theo, Bosco, and now Diego and I’m constantly confusing their names!) and for girls I kind of like Caroline or Felicity but I’m not sure if Felicity is too similar to Phoebe and if it’s too long a name not to have a nickname for? (I’m not a huge fan of “lissy”) — I suggested Simon for a boy but Simon said that ship has sailed since we didn’t name our first born Simon but I disagree — ha!!!

As I’m sure you’re not surprised by, I have thoughts about this whole paragraph. First, I LOVE Dominic and Damian. Love! Dominic’s one of my very favorites (I spotlighted the name here), and I’m over the moon every time I see anyone considering Damian! (Here’s a little Damien I did a recent birth announcement for.) It’s such a great name with such a great saintly pedigree, I can’t say enough good things about it. (I’m not even going to acknowledge that movie. And I really hope you don’t know what I’m referring to.)

I also love Caroline and Felicity, both of which I included in my ideas in my first consultation post 😊. So let’s talk about Felicity. (1) Do I think it’s too similar to Phoebe? I do not. I considered this last time and decided it was perfect enough, even following immediately after Phoebe, to include it in my list of ideas. In a family with a bunch of kids, two of them sharing the same initial sound isn’t that big a deal at all, especially with having different first initials. Add in that, this time, there’s a Bosco in between Phoebe and this new baby, and I think it’s totally and completely fine. (2) What about nicknames? Nicknames! The nickname issue so often seems to be a sticking point in regards to choosing Felicity! But fear not — I did a spotlight on Felicity recently, and I included nickname ideas! A lot of the readers left great ideas too, including what they call their real-life little Felicitys, so be sure to check it out; some that I think could work well for the Pattons include:

  • Fliss(y)
  • Flick, Flicka (actress Felicity Huffman has a web site for women in general and moms in particular called What the Flicka)
  • Lily
  • Fin (especially maybe for something like Felicity Nora)
  • Zita is a Hungarian diminutive of the name, and Zyta a Polish short form
  • Felly
  • Cissy
  • Flitzi, Fitzi, Fitz
  • Cece
  • Liddy

So I would definitely keep Felicity on their list, and I know one little Felicity in real life who is always Felicity, so that’s an option too.

And what about Simon, after Dad? I’m glad brother Theodore isn’t interfering with Grace’s love of this idea, because Simon is a great name. But what about naming a non-firstborn son after dad? This could be the topic of a whole other post — in fact, I’ll plan to do that soon — but I’ll offer that though perhaps it’s more traditional to name a firstborn son after dad, if you’re going to do that kind of thing, it’s not UNtraditional nor unheard of to give Dad’s name to a subsequent son. I’ve got loads of personal examples: we named our firstborn after our two dads, and our second boy got my husband’s name as a middle, my brother’s second son is a Junior, my two brothers were named after my grandfathers, and if there was ever a third boy he would have gotten my dad’s name as a middle. There’s something really nice about naming a non-firstborn after Dad, actually — there are a lot of traditional firstborn “perks,” so saving Dad’s name for a second/third/fourth son could help even the playing field a bit. But if Simon can’t come around to the idea of Simon as a first name, I think it would make an amazing middle (for a boy or a girl! More on that below).

Really, I think Dominic, Damian, Simon, Caroline, and Felicity would all be amazing additions to the amazingly named Patton children, and I’d be thrilled if they named their baby any of them.

Despite the fact that the Patton Parents are expert namers and have some tremendous ideas, of course I can always come up with some more! First I just have to say, I still love all the ideas I suggested last time (for a girl: various ideas for backing into the nickname Lola, Elisabeth, Felicity, Stella; for a boy: Maximilian nicked Miles, Francis nicked Finn, Gregory nicked Rory or Gus [Gregory Simon=Gus so perfectly!]). And the arrival of Mr. Bosco opened up another whole area of possibilities with the last-name-as-first name thing, which really had already been there a little bit with Bash’s middle name being Xavier (I think Xavier’s mostly lost its last-naminess, but when there’s also a Bosco in the family, it comes to the fore a little more), so I was tempted to offer some more along those lines — Kolbe, Bennett, Becket, Siena, Serra — but I fought against it because I was feeling like following Bosco with another surname name might feel like a little too much. Do you agree? I did make two exceptions though, which I’ll explain below.

Okay! On to my ideas. You all know that I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard in my consultations, as it offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker this time around as well. I used both the names they’ve already used (first names only, except I also included Xavier and Annika, both of which Grace has said in the past that she sort of wished they’d saved for first names), and those they’re considering in my research. A lot of names spoke to me that didn’t last time, and I also took some chances and ventured farther afield. This is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Emmeline
I started out feeling like the Pattons had a Brideshead Revisisted feel going on with Julia, Sebastian, and Theodore, and while I initially felt a little bit like Phoebe threw me for a loop, all I had to do was remember that my own family tree on my dad’s side — which has a direct line back to 1600s England — has a bunch of girls named Phebe in it (that spelling), especially the closer you get to the family’s emigration from England, to make me think I wasn’t that far off with Brideshead Revisited. Add in Caroline and Felicity to the names they’re considering, and I’m feeling pretty good about suggesting the lovely Emmeline. Behind the Name says it’s a variant of Amelia, which is where patron saints can be found, or you could think of it as an elaboration of Emma, in which case these saints would suit. It can be said emma-LINE, emma-LYNN, and emma-LEEN, and can be spelled Emmaline and Emmalyn. Emma and Emmy are sweet nicknames.

(2) Magdalene
This is the first surname name I allowed myself to suggest, both because it’s a girl’s name rather than a boy’s, and because it doesn’t feel surnamey and has a long history of use as a first name. I also like that it’s long, like Sebastian and Theodore — until now the girls’ names have been short, and until Bosco the boys’ names were long, so it’s kind of cool to switch it up with a longer girl’s name. There are lots of nickname possibilities: Maggie, Maddie, Molly, and Magda are some that I’d consider (Magda has that Brit feel to me).

(3) Verity
Ever since watching Poldark (which I happen to know Grace is a little bit into), I’ve loved the name Verity. Not only is it uncommon but familiar, which is sort of a sweet spot with naming, it’s got great faith significance in the sense that it means “truth.” It also has a little of that Puritan feeling that I get from Phoebe and Felicity, which is a feel I love.

(4) Audrey
I was surprised to find Audrey listed as style match for Dominic, so I looked it up in the BNW and a good number of the names listed as similar to it are ones I could see fitting in really well at Camp Patton, like Claire, Evelyn, Charlotte, Elliott, and Luke. I thought about it for a bit, and since Audrey Hepburn is its overwhelming association for me, and she herself was British (not to keep harping on the British thing), I started to really feel it. It’s classy, and literary (Shakespearean, no less: As You Like It), and saintly (though it took me a few minutes to find a version of her story that was uplifting).

(5) Mary/Maria + _____
I mentioned the possibility of a Mary+ name in my last consultation, and it’s on the list again! I’m a big fan of balance in baby naming, which I realize works better on storybook families than those in the real world, and it’s so totally not a big deal whether sibling names have that aesthetic composition that makes me sigh with contentment, but as many of you know I do often find myself trying to come up with names that “bridge” different styles in the names of the already-born children. With Bosco’s name having a different feel than his big sibs, I wanted to offer an idea that might make sense of it beyond the [very real and awesome] “Catholic names all go together by virtue of them being Catholic names” idea (which I myself have happily employed in the naming of my own children). To that end, I thought a Mary+ double would be just the thing, as putting Mary in front of virtually any name makes it (1) totally doable for a girl and (2) gives it a Catholic oomph, and (3) there’s the added layer of a double first name being unusual enough that it can fit in with all sorts of unusual names. There were a few ideas I liked for this idea (and I liked Maria as much as or better than Mary in some examples):

  • Mary Simone or Maria Simone: I mentioned above that if Dad Patton can’t get on board with Simon for a boy’s first, maybe he wouldn’t mind it as a middle for a boy OR a girl. I really love the idea of Mary Simone or Maria Simone, *especially* if a nickname like Maisie is used! You know I’m a fan of those firstname+middlename mashup nicknames! I think Mary/Maria Simone nicked Maisie would be amazing. (And they could even go with the old English pronunciation of Maria if they wanted, which is like Mariah — I know a little girl who has Maria-pronounced-like-Mariah for a middle name.)
  • Mary Tess or Maria Tess: I like Tess for them anyway, but I don’t feel like Therese/T(h)eresa is exactly their style. But Mary Tess or Maria Tess are sweet! She could go by the double name, or just Tess on the day-to-day.
  • Mary Elliott, or Mary Emmett, or Mary Bennett: One of my favorite things to do with a Mary+ double is to pair it with a boy name or a surname (this is my second surname suggestion). It feminizes the second name without making it seem like a girl name, if that makes any sense, and gives the very Catholic & traditional Mary+ construction a little whimsy and unexpectedness while still staying grounded. Elliott, Emmett, and Bennett are all names I liked for them for a boy, but ultimately cut them from my final list — this would be a neat way to work them in in a different way. (Elliott is a variant of Elijah, Emmett is actually from a surname deriving from Emma, and Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so lots of patron saint options here.)

A last note about girl names: There were several that I considered last time that didn’t make the cut then or now, including Penelope, Imogen(e), Genevieve, Iris or Ivy, Lydia, Corinne, and Liv. This time around, the ones that I considered but ultimately decided not to include on this girl list include Alice, Zara, Lydia (for the second time … hmmm), and Natalia.

Boy

(1) Oliver
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t suggest Oliver last time — I love it for the Pattons!! It did tremendously well in my research, being similar to Julia, Sebastian, Phoebe, Felicity, and Simon. Wow! In this consultation from a couple months ago, a family (who already has a Dominic and a Kolbe — like Dominic on the Pattons’ list and Kolbe has a similar feel to Bosco to me) who was considering Oliver explained, “We like Oliver Plunkett’s story because in today’s culture it is hard to be a faithful Catholic. We’d like any name-sake to be an example of how to live out the faith when facing persecution or other challenges” — I love that! Additionally, though it seems that Oliver is not etymologically related to “olive,” it’s close enough that it could be a nod to Our Lady of the Olives, and you all know what a sucker I am for a Marian boy name! A reader also pointed this out to me from Psalm 128:

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your home,
Your children like young olive plants
around your table.”

Um, pretty accurate I’d say (in the very very best way!). 😉 In that same consultation, I also suggested middle names for Oliver and I thought some of the combos might appeal to the Pattons as well: Oliver Nathaniel, Oliver James, Oliver Matthias.

(2) Isaac
Isaac has been on my own list for a long time, I love it! I love that it’s biblical, which I’m sure it’s why it was listed as a style match for Julia and Phoebe, and I love that it’s saintly — St. Isaac Jogues is one of the North American Martyrs (their shrine is near me and a local church is named after him, so the name really has taken on more of a saintly feel than biblical for me). It’s got great nickname options in Ike and Zac.

(3) Gabriel
Gabriel is a fantastic name for a little boy. It’s biblical, saintly, angelic, and Marian, which covers all the bases! It’s a style match for Xavier, Simon, Dominic, and has great nickname options: Gabe is friendly and boyish; Gil is bookish and dreamy in a Gilbert Blythe sort of way.

(4) Alexander
Alexander is a long name name like Sebastian and Theodore; it’s papal and saintly and pan-European; but what really encouraged me to put it on the list was the nickname Xander. Grace lamented once that they didn’t save Xavier for a first name, and in my experience people who like Xavier often like Xander. BUT, if she and Simon don’t care for Xander but like Alexander, Sander’s my recent favorite nickname for it. There’s Alex too, of course, which is such a classic.

(5) Nathaniel
Finally, Nathaniel, a style match for Sebastian, Simon, Caroline, and Julia according to my research, but also having some of that Puritan/Pilgrim feel of Phoebe and Felicity. It’s such a handsome, serious name with the great nickname Nate.

The boy names that I considered but ultimately cut from my final list included Tobias (I really loved this one for them, but I just kept thinking that the long O and the B, especially if they used the nickname Toby, was too much with Bosco and Theo and Diego), Tristan (a name moms tend to like and dads tend to not, in my experience), Benedict/Bennett and Benjamin, Matthias (I’m trying to remember why I didn’t include it?), Samuel, Joseph, Henry, Elliott, Emmett, and Jude.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julia, Sebastian, Theodore, Phoebe, and Bosco?

Baby name consultation: Short call name would be great for baby no. 4/boy no. 2

Meghan and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, and second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Benjamin William
Mae Elizabeth
Rose Elizabeth

I really really love these names — classic and handsome for Benjamin, sweet and vintage-y with Mae and Rose, all so great together!

Meghan writes,

We are going to seem like the pickiest people! It took us 9 months to agree on my sons name. For some reason my husband and I can’t do boy names. We both also have a ton of male relatives we don’t want to duplicate. We want to avoid any name starting with S or ending with y or i. I think it sounds funny with our last name. For the middle name we want to use Paul (my father and brothers name) but we could also do William (shared middle name with brother Ben since the girls have shared middle names). It would be kind of nice if the name could have a shorter nickname like we have Ben, Mae, and Rose. No name that could be a boy or girl name like Cameron, Morgan etc. In general we don’t really want a top 25 name if we can avoid it (even though Benjamin is in the top 25, we were desperate) and nothing too trendy either.”

Names that they like but don’t love or agree on:

Aaron
Adam
Connor
Ian
Brian
Mitchell

And names they can’t use:

John
James
Leonard
Christopher
Matthew
Nicholas
Richard
Thomas
Andrew
Eric
Charles
Anthony
Joseph
Robert
Joshua
Daniel
Patrick
Dominic
Lucas
Vito
Ryan
Jackson
Walter
Carter
William
Mason
Paul
Michael
Alexander
Elijah
Everett

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge, and having all those names off-limits is challenging!

To start, I really love their one-syllable “call name” theme — Ben, Mae, and Rose are fabulous together, and remind me of my own family growing up —
the three oldest (I’m the oldest, then my two brothers) are Katherine, Benjamin, and Jonathan, but we always went by Kate, Ben, and Jeb. So of course, not only did we all go by one-syllable nicknames, but Benjamin’s also in the mix, so one of my very first suggestions for Meghan and her hubs is Jonathan! I’ll explain more below.

I also really like the names they’re considering — in particular, Aaron, Adam, and Connor seemed most similar to the vibe I get from Benjamin/Ben, and Ian, Connor, and Brian add an interesting touch of Irish/Celtic that I found inspiring.

You all know that I usually start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already 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 did so here, and came up with the following ideas:

(1) Jonathan
Not only did I immediately think of Jonathan because of my brothers, but also because, according to the BNW, Jonathan is a true style match for Benjamin, as well as Adam and Aaron. It’s long like Benjamin, and has a couple of one-syllable nicknames they could consider: I assume Jon is not an option, since John was on their list of names they can’t use (and I should note that John and Jonathan are not actually linguistically related), but they could do Jack, or Nate (“Nathan” is the last part of Jonathan), or take a page from my parents’ creative nicknaming book and call him Jeb! Jonty’s also a traditional nickname for it, which is kicky and fun. And if they went with Paul for the middle name, they could do JP, which are pretty amazing initials! 😉 Jonathan fits their “no top 25” rule as well, being #48 in 2015.

(2) Nathaniel (or Nathan)
I love Nathaniel for this family — it’s another style match for Benjamin, and similar in length, and it’s got the great nickname Nate. Its popularity is perfect for Meghan and her hubs too, being #97 in 2015. Nathan is a trimmer Nate name, and also biblical, and a little bit higher on the popularity charts (#38).

(3) Thaddeus
Thaddeus didn’t show up as a style match for any of their kiddos’ names or those on their list, but it’s long and biblical like Benjamin and has a bit of an old-timey feel like Mae and Rose, and can take the one-syllable nicknames Ted and Tad, so I thought it was worth a mention.

(4) Charles or Caleb
Charles is a style match for William and Rose (and was #50 in 2015), and Caleb (#37) is a match for Aaron, and though they don’t seem related they can both take the nickname Cal, which I’m loving with the other kids!

(5) Patrick
Connor, Ian, and Brian on Meghan’s list inspired me to add Patrick to my ideas. It was listed as a style match for Brian, and I’ve heard some really cute nicknames for it that can fit in with Ben, Mae, and Rose: certainly there’s Pat, but also Patch (like in this family), and I’ve seen Packy also, which can trim down to just Pack (like Jack) or even Pax.

I also had just another couple quick thoughts: If they were open to backing into a given name from a nickname, Gus was one of the names listed as a style match for Mae, and I loved it for this family right away! There are a few ways they can get to it: There’s August (#195), Augustine (#820), and Augustus (#467), as well as Angus and Fergus (neither in the top 1000), which tap into the Irish/Celtic feel of some of the names on their list. Or they could get crazy and just use Gus no matter what the given name! I know that’s probably too crazy for most people, but it’s fun to know that nicknames don’t have to have obvious ties to given names. I knew a little Gus growing up whose given name was actually John, and I know a little Gregory who goes by Duke and a Gerard who goes by Sam. Lots of possibilities!

There were also a few names I really wanted to suggest, but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, but just in case they’re helpful I wanted to list them here:

Gabriel (SO great as a brother to Benjamin imo, and the nickname Gabe is great! But at #22 it was just past their “no top 25 rule”)

Samuel (very similar in popularity to Gabriel, at #23, but I love it with Benjamin and I adore the nickname Sam! But it begins with S, boo)

Henry (it’s #29 and the nickname Hank was making me swoony with the other kids, but Henry breaks their “no ending in y or i” rule)

Timothy (I thought this was an amazing “bridge name” between their biblical style and Irishy style — it’s a style match for Patrick and Brian, and it’s biblical as well, and Tim is such a great nickname. Also, it’s #147! Alas, it ends with a y)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Ben(jamin), Mae, and Rose?

Baby name consultation: Traditional/theological/biblical/long-ish girl name needed

Joanne and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 He or she will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Esther
Rebekah Rachel
Monica Magdalene
Andrew Athanasius

I love each name anyway, but so cool that each first+middle combo has the same first letter!

Joanne writes,

I love patterns hence the double first and middle initials for each kid because i knew I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of names that start with the same letter like the Duggars. My husband was on board plus his dad was an RRK — he died in a plane crash when my husband was 13. My husband is open to lots of names but very opinionated about some. He prefers longer names with more than one syllable. He does pool construction by day and a deacon by weekend. He took the name Joseph when he was ordained which was also his confirmation name. He likes more traditional/theological/biblical names.

There are 1001 excellent boy names that we can mix and match:

Dominic/Daniel/Damien
Jeremiah/Justin/Joseph/Jacob/James/Jonah
Paul/Philip/Peter/Patrick
Michael/Matthew/Mark/Matthias
Nikolas/Nathaniel/Noah

We are pretty good with boy names but girl names are another story. I really like Gianna — (pronounced Gee-ana (like from Frozen) — not John-a) but my husband HATES it. We both like Hannah but Hannah Montana and other news stories involving Hannah are the first thing to come to mind — not out, just not a front runner. Lucy is excellent but too short — just like I think Luke would likely be out on the boy side. Sophia is a great one but it is super popular but it is Greek we are Ukrainian Catholic so that checks a Eastern Catholic box. That being said, we are open to alternative spellings Rebekah — if we had a Nikolas it’d be spelled with a K. I like Ivan for John. I don’t know I think I’m rambling because I love talking names.”

(Sing it, sister! 😀 )

[Their last name begins with a K so] all K names are out and I don’t think we want to repeat any EEK, RRK and MMK for girls — so we’d be open to a Matthew but not a Rose.

Okay I think that pretty much does it.

I cannot wait to read what you come up with!

I love working with “rules”! But before I get into it, I just have a few thoughts about the names on Joanne’s current list:

Their boy names are awesome. Lots of my personal faves in there, like Dominic, Damien, Jeremiah, Philip, Matthias, and Nathaniel. The others are great too! Solid, handsome, traditional. Great list!

I’m sorry her husband doesn’t like Gianna, as it’s a gorgeous name and an awesome saint, but it does seem a different style than their older girls. I wonder if he would be open to considering it in the middle name spot? Grace Gianna for example? If they were open to repeating sounds rather than initials, maybe something like Josephine Gianna?

Hannah’s beautiful, and I’m so sorry secular Hannahs are bothering them! For what it’s worth, Hannah Montana wouldn’t be my first association at all, and I have several friends who have used Hannah in recent years. Hannah Helene has a really pretty sound together. Or Hannah Hildegard! Wowww I LOVE that idea!!

And Lucy! I love Lucy! Now. If Lucy and Luke are too short, then they must cross off all four-letter names from their list, like Paul, Mark, and Noah. Also the other one-syllable names, like James. And the other two-syllable names, like Justin, Joseph, Jacob, Jonah, Philip, Peter, Patrick, Michael, and Matthew. And the Andrew they’ve already used! All this to say, of course, that I don’t think Lucy’s too short at all!! I think Noah’s actually a good parallel for it — a four-letter two-syllable name — and if they’re okay with Noah, then there’s nothing wrong with Lucy! It’s so sweet and wonderful — in fact, Joanne said it herself: it’s “excellent.” Lucy Lillian? Lucy Lourdes? Maybe a longer middle name would help them feel like it’s balanced better? Lucy Lillianna or Lucy Larissa/Larysa (I love this one because of the Ukrainian connection) or Lucy Lavender (joking! Sort of … it’s cute!) or Lucy Ludmila (not really joking! I spotlighted Ludmila here, she’d make a great patron!) or Lucy Liviana … there aren’t a huge amount of long L- names, but those there are would be fun to pair with a shorter more “normal” name like Lucy.

I wonder if they might be open to considering Lucia or Lucille as the given name and use Lucy as the nickname? I’ve also often thought that Lucy makes a natural nickname for Louisa, so that’s another possibility.

(Also, I do agree that Luke’s not a great fit for them, not because of length but because of the ending -k sound in Luke running into the beginning K- of their last name.)

Sophia’s also lovely and yes, super duper popular. Maybe a name like Sophronia or Seraphina/Serafina would appeal to them instead? Sophie could even be a nickname for them (more of a stretch for Seraphina, but doable I think if they really wanted it). And Josephine! I definitely think Sophie can be a nickname for Josephine! I’m dreaming of Josephine Juliet nicknamed Sophie. Ohhh my! 😀

Okay, now this isn’t a serious suggestion (unless Joanne and her hubs love it! Then it totally is!) but I was remembering a consultation I did for an Eastern Orthodox family, which meant no names of saints canonized after 1054 (unless they were also the names of saints canonized before then), unless the name could be connected to an Orthodox name via meaning — the example the mom gave was Claire (meaning “clear, bright”) for Photini (meaning “light”) — and I was thinking of biblical women because Joanne and her hubs seem to like those names, and had the idea of … Phoebe Photini!! I love it in the sense that it’s meaningful and biblical and SO clever that not only do they start with the same letter and sound, but they both start with the same consonant cluster! But I assume Joanne and/or her hubs would think it was a little much. But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love it! If so then I’ll continue to pat myself on the back! 😀

(If they like either Phoebe or Photini but not together, Philippa’s another Ph- name I love, and Philippine for St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. And actually, when I was looking it up, I saw that Filippa’s the Greek variant — that’s pretty! I’m imagining Frances Filippa, Filippa Fleur, Filippa Faith, Filippa Flannery if they’re into Flannery O’Connor … I could do this all day! Haha! I love same-initial combos, so fun! And Filippa’s making me think of Felicity, which is also gorgeous and could pair nicely with all these middle name ideas, and I see the Polish version is Felicyta, which is a pretty awesome Eastern variant.)

Alright, so I’ve suggested a bunch of new first name options already — Grace, Josephine, Lucia/Lucille, Sophronia, Seraphina/Serafina, Phoebe, Philippa/Filippa, Felicity/Felicyta — which had more to do with my train of thought than any actual research into Joanne and her hubs’ taste in names, but I did that too — as you all know I almost 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 entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Grace and Josephine actually *were* style matches for this family according to the BNW, with Grace being a style match for Hannah and Gracie for Lucy, and Josephine a match for Elizabeth. I have a few other ideas for them based on that research as well:

(1) Susanna(h)
Joanne likes Gianna and Hannah, which says to me that she likes the -anna sound (whether said AH-na, like Frozen, or AN-na). I considered suggesting Anna, since it’s the same name as Hannah and retains almost all the same sounds and loses the Hannah Montana association, but then I thought it might be too much with Andrew starting with the same AN- sound. But then Susanna(h) seemed perfect — sort of like a combo of Gianna and Hannah, in the sense that, like Gianna, it’s got Anna in it but it’s not actually an Anna name (i.e., it’s not linguistically related to Hannah/Anna), and like Hannah, it’s a biblical name. If they spelled it Susannah, they’d really bring out the biblical, and it has a closer tie to Hannah as well; if they spelled it Susanna, it has more of a saintly feel, as in St. Susanna of Rome and a whole bunch of others. Maybe Susanna(h) Sophia?

(I was going to suggest Anastasia and Anya as well, but I thought they both were too similar to Andrew’s sound … but maybe not?)

(2) Gemma
Gemma’s a style match for Gianna, and has such a similar sound that I think Joanne would like, and it’s less obviously ethnic, so maybe her husband will like it as well? Gemma Grace is gorgous, or Gemma Josephine if they prefer the same sound.

(3) Lydia
Lydia might be a nice alternative to Lucy — it’s biblical and a bit longer with a lovely appearance and sound. Lydia in the bible sold purple cloth, so the name also comes with its very own color! I love the idea of something like Lydia Lucille.

(4) Abigail
Abigail was a style match for several of the names they like: Rebekah, Rachel, Andrew, and Hannah! Though it starts with the same letter as Andrew, it’s got a much different sound (not like Anna), so I think it would be a great pick for them. Maybe something like Abigail Anastasia, to get an Eastern saint in there?

(5) Natalia (or Nataliya)
Natalia’s one of my favorites, such a pretty name! It’s a style match for Ivan and Dominic and can be spelled Nataliya to make its Eastern sensibility even more obvious. Maybe Natalia Naomi?

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

Baby name consultation: Middle name for Molly

Kate and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and third girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

McKenna Veronica (“Her name is the one most rife with meaning. McKenna is my MIL’s maiden name and my husband always wanted to name his daughter McKenna. Veronica is my confirmation name, my nana’s confirmation name and my nana’s mother’s middle name. Plus, I love St. Veronica. We call her Kenna/Kens/Kenny, her grandpa calls her McV.”)

Emily Grace (“We both liked Emily. And Grace is a nod to my husband’s uncle who passed away the year she was born. His first name started with “G”, plus she was born at time when our family needed (and received) some graces. She is most often called Emmy or Emmy Grace.”)

Benjamin Patrick (“We both liked Benjamin, and McKenna, who has speech delays, could say “Ben” perfectly. Patrick is my husband’s first name, and it’s also my Godfather’s middle name. Ben and my Godfather share a birthday, and, as it turns out, were born at the exact same time of day. My husband and I had a deal that if Ben was born on my Godfather’s birthday he’d be Benjamin Patrick (Pat wasn’t too keen on using his own name in any of the naming process), if he was born any other day he would’ve been Benjamin Daniel. He is most often called Ben or Benny, sometimes I call him Benji.”)

I love these names! I also would absolutely use McKenna as a first name if it was my MIL’s maiden name! McKenna Veronica is a stunning combination, and the nicknames they have for her (McV!) are super cute. Emily Grace and Benjamin Patrick are just wonderful.

Kate writes,

[We] have decided on the name, Molly, but we are stumped for a middle name. … [regarding] Molly, we have both always liked it, Pat was flipping through a name book this time around and saw it on the list we had jotted down for when we were expecting Emily. We both have Irish roots (my nana was mostly Irish and would have LOVED to know that one of her grandkids traded in the Polish family surname for a nice Irish name), and I like the “M” letter/sound connection she will share with her sisters.

As for middle names, I’ve been throwing around Anne and Amelia as middle name ideas.

I like Anne because I have an Aunt Ann(e) on either side of my family (one of whom is a favorite aunt), and I like the connection between the Blessed Mother and her mother – St. Anne being her mother and Molly being an Irish form of Mary (if I’m not mistaken). I’m not entirely sold because it’s also the middle name of one of our nieces, and while I think there’s less stigma about “stealing” a middle name, I’m not sure I want to stick with it. I also feel like the name as a whole is missing a little something.

Amelia is my great grandmother’s name, and also the middle name of a very dear cousin from that same side of the family, who is also my Aunt Ann’s daughter. Pat did not like Amelia when I suggested it, but sometimes he needs time to let a name soak in. The other problem is that I have taken to sometimes calling Emily “Emilia” as sort of a weird nickname, so it might make it not work. Still, I think Amelia is a front runner for me as it’s a nice way to honor that side of my family and my cousin – unfortunately my cousin’s first name would not go with Molly at all.

I’ve been stumped for other ideas though, it seems that every time I try and research it, the same list of middle names comes up and they all feel a little flat to me. I find that I feel like with a simpler name like “Molly” the middle name should be a little “bigger” or “heavier” – especially because sometimes I think there’s a stigma about Molly being a little girl’s name.

We don’t really have any real naming trends, I think we tend to go for the more classic, middle of the road (popularity-wise) names. We are kind of bummed that “McKenna” has turned out to be so popular and trendy, as for us it was a meaningful rather than trendy name. Although, honestly, I think McKenna is as “weird” as I would get!

What else? Molly’s due date is my Godmother’s birthday (she is married to my Godfather and has joked about me having Molly at the same time of day that she was born). Her name is Mary Ellen (and she is VERY Irish, so she is thrilled with the name Molly – plus, again with the Molly/Mary connection). Molly’s also due near Pat’s grandmother’s birthday. Her name is Barbara Sandra … Maybe there’s a “B” or “S” name I haven’t thought of as a way to honor her.

We both really like the name Lucy, but know too many Lucy’s in our friend’s circles. Pat also really likes the name Riley, but that’s the name of a friend’s (male) dog, so I couldn’t do it. :-)”

This was fun to work on! I chuckled when I saw Anne on their list—my sister is Molly Anne, and I’ve always thought that combo sounds so natural and lovely together. Kate is absolutely right that Molly is a Mary variant—it started as a nickname for Mary—and Molly Anne is a beautiful Marian+St. Anne combo with a nice Irish feel. I’m interested that she’s worried about using her niece’s middle name—I’ve never heard this perspective! Certainly I’ve heard horror stories about “stealing” a first name (though I vehemently disagree that anyone can own a name!), but I’ve never known anyone to be upset about sharing middle names, especially as middle names are most often used to honor family members, and multiple family members might want to honor a beloved grandparent, for example. My grandfather had an unusual first name (it was his mother’s maiden name), and there are loads of boys in the family that have it as part of their names (first or middle), including one of my sons, my uncle, two of my cousins, and my brother. All of them have different first names, so it works, and it’s so fun and family-ish to see so many with the same middle name, honoring the same beloved man.

However, feeling like “the name as a whole is missing a little something” is a totally different issue! From that perspective, I wonder if using a longer Ann name might help? Molly Annabelle, Molly Annabeth, Molly Anastasia, and Molly Anneliese are all ideas that might fit the bill. Or, putting Ann(e) on the end, maybe Molly Julianne or Molly Susanne (or Susanna(h))?

Amelia is a lovely name, and with such nice family connections! I can see how Kate might not like having one daughter sometimes called Emilia and one with the middle name Amelia, but families do that kind of thing all the time. I posted a birth announcement recently for a little Claire Marie-Therese whose big sister is Julianne Clare. The mom did have a hard time with it for a while, but came to think it was pretty cool (especially after finding out her husband’s family had a bit of a tradition doing that kind of thing). If Kate and her hubs can’t get past it though, I wonder what they might think of Adelia? My cousin has a little Adelia — she says it to rhyme with Amelia, and calls her Delia for short (which would also be a cute middle for Molly).

I love that Molly’s due date is Mary Ellen’s birthday, with the Mary-Molly connection, so wonderful! As for Barbara Sandra, Sandra is, in origin, a nickname for Alexandra and the Italian variant Alessandra, both of which would be gorgeous as middles for Molly. I would just advise finding out ahead of time if Barbara Sandra be honored by that, or if she would feel like it’s too different from her name — different people have different feelings about things like that.

I wonder if, given how they like the name Lucy, they might be interested in something like Molly Lucille? Or, combining with Anne, Molly Lucianne? Or are they too L heavy? And they would probably knock Lucy out for the future, which would be a bummer—it’s a great name, and Kate and her hubs might find that they don’t care so much about all the Lucys in their circle.

Riley’s a sweet name, and I actually know a Molly Reilly (first+middle), but given that Kate’s already sensitive to some people’s opinions about Molly being a little girl name, it might be too singsongy for them.

In which case, I think going for something longer, with gravitas, is a good idea. I think all the ideas I’ve suggested already can fit into this, and these are some others:

(1) Katherine
Maybe it’s because Katherine’s my name, but I’ve always loved Katherine (or Catherine) as a middle name for a shorter first name. A Molly Katherine could also go by Molly Kate sometimes, which is adorable, and such a nice nod to Kate herself.

(2) Elizabeth
Molly Elizabeth has a really classic feel to it, I love it! There’s also the nice Mary+St. Elizabeth connection, which calls to mind The Visitation.

(3) Caroline or Karoline
Molly C/Karoline has a lovely rhythm to it as well. Caroline has long been one of my favorite names, and I’ve seen Karoline used with some frequently recently for St. John Paul II, as his pre-papal name was Karol. (Caroline can also honor him, as Karol is the Polish for Charles, and Caroline is a female variant of Charles.)

(4) Rebecca
I have no idea where the idea for Rebecca came from—it just flew into my head while I was writing this, and I’m digging it! Molly Rebecca is really pretty!

(5) Victoria
I also really like the idea of Molly Victoria. Victoria is so elegant and regal sounding, and flows so nicely with Molly. I love its connection to Our Lady of Victory, and Molly Victoria makes it doubly meaningful.

(6) Seraphina
This one is a little more out there, but Seraphina’s a gorgeous, feminine name, and it also can point to Our Lady in her title Queen of Angels, so Molly Seraphina has that double Marian oomph. This could also serve as a nod to Barbara Sandra, because of being an S name.

(7) Bernadette
Speaking of using initials to honor Barbara Sandra, Molly Bernadette is gorgeous and saintly and Marian AND a B name! For Barbara!

(8) Roisin, Rosheen, Rosaleen
If they wanted to make Molly’s name super Irish, they could do like this family and name her Molly Róisín (Roisin is Irish for “little rose”). Róisín can be spelled without the accents, and is pronounced like Rosheen, which is a spelling they could use instead, if they liked the idea. It also made me think of Rosaleen, which has such a pretty Irish feel without the spelling issues of Róisín/Roisin.

Finally, just for all of you readers in case it’s helpful, I normally would have suggested perhaps finding another family surname that could work in the middle, especially since they already used one for McKenna, but Kate said the other family names are too hard to work with pronunciation/spelling-wise.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What middle name would you pair with Molly?

Baby name consultation: Heather from the Go Forth podcast! (Continue long+short or not?)

Happy first day of spring! Woo!! 💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷

I shared in my interview with Jenny Uebbing that I was excited at my upcoming appearance on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast — it’s going to air tomorrow! I’ll post the link here once I have it, and in the meantime, one of the things we discussed was name ideas for Heather’s third baby — a little girl! I’m delighted to post here the consultation I did for her in anticipation of the podcast being aired, so you all can read about her name situation and weigh in with your own ideas, which she’s excited to read!

This baby girl will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Ann (“after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-Elizabeth and Ann are also both family names“)
Maximilian Leo (“after Saint Maximilian Kolbe-Leo is a family name“)

I love both of those names so much! So much faith significance in each one, and all those family names too!

Heather writes,

We refer to them as “Lizzie” and “Max.” What I am not sure of with this baby is if we would like to stick with the longer/older sounding name with a shorter more fun nickname. My husband isn’t as married to this idea, and feels that if we do it a third time we would feel like we had to keep it up with any other babies we have down the road.”

I do really love the balance of the long first name with the short middle name, and great nicknames are my jam. ☺

Names that Heather and her husband have considered include:

Clare (“my husband’s favorite currently-he is Irish and grew up on Clare street“)
Catherine (“maybe my favorite although we do have some friends in our parish with a Catherine. If we chose this, I would like to call her “Cate”“)
Edith (“maybe call her “Edie pronounced ee-dee?” Not sure if we could have Edith and Elizabeth or if those sound too similar?“)
Frances (“call her Francie or Frannie“)
Lydia
Maura
Rose
Zelie
Clara

Additionally,

We both love St. Therese, but I do not love that for a first name. I also really love Catherine of Siena which is why I like Catherine.

Because our oldest daughter’s name honors my mother-in-law, as they share the middle name of Ann, we would like to find some way to honor my mother with this baby girl’s name, if possible. My mother and I share the middle name of Kay, so that is one solid possibility for a middle name for this baby.”

I loved working on this! Elizabeth Ann and Maximilian Leo are fantastic combos—I find the long first+short middle pattern really pleasing, and though I know what Heather’s husband means about feeling tied to it permanently if they name their third baby in the same way, it’s actually a pretty easy trend to continue. So I came up with some ideas that follow the trend, and those that don’t.

First I want to comment on the names on their list of those they’re considering:

Clare: I love Clare for them! It’s short, thus breaking them out of their established pattern, but it’s great with both Elizabeth and Maximilian. And the significance for Heather’s hubs is so great!

Catherine: I have a lot to say about Catherine below!

Edith: Love it! St. Edith Stein is a personal favorite, and Edie is one of THE cutest nicknames! But yes, they’ll have to consider Elizabeth and Edith … both starting with the same first letter, both ending with the same two letters. What do you all think? Deal breaker or not?

Frances: Francie and Frannie are both so darling! I love that they’re considering Frances, I’d love to see more little girls with this name.

Lydia, Maura, Rose, Zelie: All beautiful! Heather didn’t have any comment about them, so I’m assuming they’re not as “in the running” as the others, but maybe I’m wrong? I like them each for different reasons.

Clara: My inclination would be to cross Clara off the list, since Clare has personal meaning for Heather’s husband—using Clara would seem to me to lose a great opportunity.

Okay, moving along, I’d like to discuss honoring Heather’s mom. Using her middle name, Kay, is one great idea; I also I wondered what they’d think about giving the baby Heather’s mom’s initials? (Her mom’s first name is Marcia, so her initials are M.K.) This is a tactic that some families use, and the honoree feels really honored by it; others think it feels too far from the honoree’s name and therefore don’t feel as honored, so Heather and her hubs would have to decide how her mom would feel. But doing the initial thing opens up a lot of possibilities, and my favorites, based on the results of my research in the Baby Name Wizard book (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), are:

Mary Katherine: They already have Catherine on their list, and while the Katherine spelling does seem to take it one step away from St. Catherine of Siena, Catherine and Katherine are the same name (the former is the French spelling, also used in English; the latter is the English spelling and closest to the Greek katharos [“pure”], with which the name—in both spellings—has long been associated), and Katherine can certainly honor St. Catherine of Siena (whose name was actually the Italian Catarina; Catherine is a Frenchicization/Anglicization of it). It would involve a bit of a discussion each time they told someone that Katherine was as much for St. Catherine of Siena as for Heather’s mom, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker at all. A simple, “We love St. Catherine of Siena and my mom’s middle name Kay so we went with the Katherine spelling” should suffice.

Another really nice thing about using Katherine is that Kay is considered a short form of Katherine. Certainly Kay has its own life as a standalone name, but my understanding is that it started as a diminutive/nickname/variant of Katherine. So using Katherine is not only using Heather’s mom’s middle initial, but also, in a way, her name (again, Heather would have to be sure she felt honored by this choice, if her goal was to honor her mom). And I love that Mary has the same first three letters as Marcia. So Mary Katherine really is quite close to Marcia Kay! I love Mary Katherine as a sister to Elizabeth and Maximilian as well, and there are a lot of nickname options: Mary and Mary Kate are natural ones, but they can also do just Kate, as they’d planned on if they went with Catherine as a first name. This is especially fun with Heather’s husband being Irish, because it’s not uncommon (at least in the old days) for Irish girls to be named Mary ___ and go by the double name, or just the middle. Most of my dad’s first female cousins—all from two sides of a large family who embraces their Irishness—are Mary ___, and almost all of them go by their middle names. (Read more about the Irish Marys in my latest CatholicMom article: Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.)

So they could definitely do Kate, and with her given name being Mary Katherine, that would make it a little different from the little Catherine they know. And I think Mary Katherine works really well with their thought of not doing a long+short combo this time, because Mary Katherine feels like a double name—which gives it the longer feel of Elizabeth and Maximilian—but unless they intend for it to be a double name, it’s actually a short+long—a really nice way to move away from their current pattern without seeming totally different. (I should note that even if they used Mary Catherine, knowing that Katherine is related to Kay and Catherine is the same name as Katherine, I still really like it for them.)

Maura Karoline: Heather and her hubs already have Maura on their list (I love this beautiful Irish Mary name!), and Karoline is a name I’ve seen used with some frequency among Catholic families as a way of honoring St. John Paul II, as his birth name was Karol. Overall, it’s a smashing combo that brings in Irishness and faith along with Heather’s mom’s initials.

Molly Katherine/Karoline: (Obviously Katherine and Karoline can be interchanged in the combos above as well—Mary Karoline and Maura Katherine are both gorgeous.) Molly is a name I thought of for this family right away for two reasons: Heather’s husband’s Irish, and I have two sisters named Elizabeth and Molly. To me, then, Elizabeth, Maximilian, and Molly go together really well!

I know some people who don’t care for Molly as a given name, as it feels too nicknamey to them—and though it has become a standalone name, it did indeed originate as a nickname for Mary—which can work in their favor here as well. A Mary K/Catherine or Mary Karoline could absolutely go by Molly—I know several people named Mary who go by Molly. And I even know a Maura who goes by Molly! I love this option for them, however it ends up happening. (I also wanted to mention that I know a Molly Therese, which is another combo that’s gorgeous, and Heather said she loves St. Therese …)

Okay! Those are my ideas for honoring Heather’s mom with initials, but I have several other ideas for them as well, which can be grouped into two categories: Long first names to go with the middle name Kay (and how amazing that they have a meaningful, three-letter middle to use, just like Ann and Leo?!), and short to middling names to break out of their pattern. All of the ideas are the results of my research into names that seem consistent with their style, as demonstrated by Elizabeth and Maximilian, as well as my own mental files.

Long first names
(1) Bernadette
Zelie and Therese had me thinking of other French names they might like, and Bernadette came right to mind. St. Bernadette is wonderful, and there are some really cute nickname possibilities: Berni, Benny, Netty, Etta/Etty, and Detta. Bernadette Kay has a lovely rhythm to it.

(2) Rosemary or Rosemarie
This is only partially a new idea, since they have Rose on their list already. I have a friend from Ireland named Rosemarie, and I love that that’s the French spelling—seems to put it in a similar category as Zelie, Therese, and Bernadette to me. Rosemary is also a wonderful variant, and maybe the one most people would be familiar with. Rosemary Kay and Rosemarie Kay are both great, and Rosie, Romy, and even Rory are really sweet nicknames.

(3) Margaret
Like Mary, Margaret starts with the same first three letters of Heather’s mom’s first name, so Margaret could also be a nice option for M.K. initials. And they certainly could do the longer Margaret with a long middle name, like Katherine or Karoline or whatever, but I really like the balance of Margaret Kay. Maggie is a great nickname and has a similar feel to me as Molly, and Maisie and Daisy are both traditional nickname for Margaret, which could be really fun. Margaret and Elizabeth are also two of the three “timeless English trio” names, according to the BNW (the other is Katherine!), so they definitely go together as sisters.

(4) Josephine
Josephine is a style match for Elizabeth and Catherine according to the BNW, and can have either St. Joseph (yesterday was his feast day!) or St. Josephine Bakhita as patron—both great saints! Josie is a great nickname, and I’ve also seen Joy, Sophie, and Posy/Posey used (as well as this list from Appellation Mountain).

(5) Caroline
I mentioned Karoline above, using that spelling to fit in with Heather’s mom’s initials, but I had Caroline on my list for them for a first name from the beginning. It’s got the length of Elizabeth and Maximilian, and I love the nicknames Carrie and Callie. It might not be great with Kay though—some people love alliterative sounds and others don’t. Caroline Therese is beautiful too.

(6) Cecilia
Cecilia’s a style match for Catherine and Lydia, and it’s super saintly like Elizabeth and Maximilian. Cecilia Kay is really lovely—it has sort of an Old World glamor to it, to me, and Cece is a sweet nickname.

Short to middle first names
(1) Alice
Alice was a big hit for this family according to the BNW! It’s a style match for Edith, Frances, Rose, Clara, and Lydia! It’s a sweet vintage-y name that’s already back in revival mode. There are a bunch of saints to choose for patron — even though most of them are better known by more international variants, they’re all Alice. (One of the variants, Adelaide, would actually make a great addition to the “long first names” list above!)

(2) Cora
Cora is a sweet little truffle of a name, and I’ve been loving it recently, ever since I heard of families using it in honor of both the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus! (Cor=heart in Latin) Cora Kay doesn’t work so well; Cora Therese is beautiful.

(3) Lucy
Like Alice, Lucy was a great style match for them, being similar to Clara, Rose, and Lydia. Lucy is one of the darlingest names I think! And familiarly saintly, like Elizabeth and Maximilian. I’ve also often thought Lucy would be a great nickname for Louisa, if they thought Louisa was more their speed.

(4) Julia
Finally, Julia is a style match for Elizabeth, Catherine, and Lydia, and Juliet (which is technically a nickname for Julia) is a match for Clare. It’s such a sophisticated name, and while Julie/Jules are natural nicknames, I’ve also seen Jilly, which is sweet, and I also like the idea of Junie, if it was paired with an N middle name for example—Julia Noelle or something like that. I did a spotlight on Juliet here, in which I touch on the faith connections for Julia.

I also wanted to give a few minutes to thinking of three-letter names in case Heather and her hubs decide they want to stick with that pattern going forward. For girls, there’s:

Ave/Ava (like Ave Maria! And Ava’s a variant of Eve, which can also be Marian)
Bay (lovely nature name)
Day (I’ve seen this used for Servant of God Dorothy Day)
Eve/Eva (Eve can be Marian because she’s the New Eve)
Fae/Fay (sometimes used as a Faith variant)
Lia/Lea (variants of Leah; can also refer to names ending in -lia, like Julia)
Liv (Scandinavian for “life,” or a variant of Olivia or a nod to St. Oliver or Our Lady of Olives)
Mae/May (a Mary variant)
Mia (a form of Maria in several languages)
Ora (like “ora pro nobis”)
Paz (means “peace” in Spanish; could be for Our Lady of Peace)
Pia (feminine form of Pius/Pio)
Via (like the Via Dolorosa)
Zoe (St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name)

And for boys:

Cam (a river in England)
Eli (for the prophet)
Gus (for St. Augustine)
Ivo (Ivo is a variant of Yves/Ives, as in St. Yves and Burl Ives)
Jay (could refer to James/Jacob/Jason, but I’ve also seen it as a standalone name)
Jon (nice that a variant spelling fits so well into their pattern!)
Pio (for St. Pio, or could refer to any of the Sts. Pius)
Ray (for Raymond, or on its own)
Roy (can mean “king,” which could refer to Jesus)

A good way to continue the pattern without being tied in to number of letters is to use one-syllable middles like Clare, Rose, Maeve, Pierce, Carl, James—a one-syllable middle with a long first is a nice balance.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think about continuing Heather and her hubs’ current pattern of long first name+three-letter middle? What names would you suggest that would go well as a sister for Elizabeth/Lizzie and Maximilian/Max? Can you think of any other three-letter names, in case they want to continue it? Heather would love your ideas, so please jump right in!

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 3/baby no. 4 needs great first name with friendly nickname

Kim and her husband are expecting their fourth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles Patrick (Charlie)
Peter Augustine (Pete)
Magdalene Lucy (Maggie)

What a great set! I absolutely love how sophisticated each full first name is, and how friendly all the nicknames are!

Kim writes,

I love Henry and the cheerful ring of it, but that name is out for my husband. The following names have already been used in our family: Francis, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, Joseph, Dominic, Stephen, Matthew, Patrick, Nicholas, Anthony, Samuel … [also] we have the Baby Name Wizard and don’t like any of the sibling suggestions for the kids’ names.”

So you all had to know how excited I got to see that Kim and her hubs had already looked through the Baby Name Wizard — my go-to when starting a consultation, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — and didn’t like any of the ideas! The more challenging the name challenge, the more fun I have with it!

I also want to say that I really love the combo Magdalene Lucy … Lucy’s so unexpected to me in the middle spot, and it just flows really really well with Magdalene. Lovely! (Their boys’ names are great too! Magdalene Lucy just particularly struck me.)

So I took a couple of different routes when coming up with ideas for this baby boy. I actually did start with the BNW, as usual, in order to see what names Kim and her hubs don’t care for, and also to do some extended research, by which I mean I started looking up names that I thought felt like their style, and then looking up their style matches, etc. I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site, plugging in both their kiddos’ full names and nicknames, as well as looking at matches for just the boys’ names and for the sib set as a whole. There were definitely a few names that kept popping up over and over again, in all the different sites/sources I used, two of which were also listed as style matches for their kids’ names in the BNW (i.e., names Kim and her hubs don’t like), but I included them below anyway—sometimes a discussion about a name can sway parents one way or another. It’s worth a try!

I also gave good weight to names with “friendly” nicknames — when Kim said she loves the “cheerful” feel of Henry, I think it’s similar to the vibe I get from the nicknames of her kids. I definitely think of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie as having a real friendliness to them, and I thought it revealed the kinds of names Kim and her hubs would gravitate toward.

Okay, without further ado, here are my ideas:

(1) Long and heavy hitting, like Augustine and Magdalene
I had so many ideas that I decided to group them into categories! I was struck by Peter’s middle name Augustine and Maggie’s full name Magdalene—I often see those names pop up in lists by families who love longer, heavy-hitting names (“heavy hitting”=catacombs + incense kinds of names), and I wondered if that might be a category Kim and her hubs would like to consider for their next baby. In particular, I thought of:

  • Sebastian—Sebastian’s actually a style match for Dominic, which is on Kim’s list of names they can’t use. But Dominic also goes along with the heavy-hitting feel of Augustine and Magdalene, so I was interested in its style matches, and Sebastian struck me as a good possibility. There are some really cute nickname possibilities: Seb and Sebbie are pretty traditional, and Bash is one I only heard of a few years ago (Grace Patton has a Sebastian nn Bash) and fell in love with. I’ve also heard Bas/Baz and even Ian!
  • Theodore—Theodore’s one of those names that kept showing up over and over in my research. According to the BNW it’s a style match for August (since the BNW doesn’t have an entry for Augustine, I’ve had pretty good luck with substituting August in the past), and the Name Matchmaker offered it as a match for all Kim’s kids’ names. The nicknames Ted/Teddy and Theo struck me as really great matches for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathaniel—Nathaniel has that really biblical feel of Magdalene, and it’s also the name of one of the Twelve Apostles, so it’s really saintly as well. But what really sold me is the nickname: Nate is a great, friendly nickname, similar in my mind to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Benedict—Ben is also a nickname that I think this family might like, based on the feel of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, as well as Lucy and Henry. Benedict is a great way to get to it if they wanted to channel the “long and heavy hitting” vibe of Augustine and Magdalene.

(2) Long and normal-ish
Augustine and Magdalene definitely have a different feel to me than Charles, Peter, Lucy, and Henry, though of course they do all go together by virtue of their saintliness, which is one of the things I love about Catholic naming. If this family didn’t want to go 100% the Augustine/Magdalene route for this little boy, a sort of compromise option might be a name that’s longer, like A and M, but not as weighty, if that makes any sense. In that vein, I thought of:

  • Alexander—Sebastian had a few style matches that I thought were swirling around the right area, like Nathaniel (suggested above) and also Alexander. Charles, Peter, and Alexander have a really royal feel to them, as brothers, and Alexander has loads of fun nickname options, like Xander/Zander/Xan/Zan, Sandy, Sander, and of course Alex. Given that their other kids go by Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, I’m guessing Alex is probably mostly their speed, though I think Sandy would fit in really well—a friend of mine named her son Sandy, which surprised me so much at first, but the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more it’s grown up me. Certainly it used to be used a lot more for boys and I’d love to see it come back again.
  • Benjamin—I listed Benedict above, as it has that monastery feel of Dominic and Augustine, but Benjamin comes across as a bit friendlier I’d say. And again, I’d say Ben is a great fit for this family, and I also love Benny and Benji.
  • William—William is absolutely a name I would have thought was spot-on for this little boy! When I saw it listed as a style match for Charles I thought Nooooo! I’m so worried that means Kim and her hubs don’t like it! But I’m just going ahead and listing it here anyway! I think William is such a great match as a brother to Charles and Peter, and the nickname Will seems perfect as a brother to Charlie, Peter, and Maggie, and a great match for the feel of Henry as well.

(3) Middling
Despite the fact that Augustine and Magdalene are so long, two-thirds of Kim’s kids’ first names as well as her favorite name for this little boy (Henry) are actually much shorter, so it would be silly to not include some names like that. A few rose to the top for me, including:

  • Oliver—I’m guessing they hate Oliver, since they surely saw it listed in the BNW as a match for Lucy and Henry, but in the off chance that they might come around, I had to include it! Oliver is such a great name, and St. Oliver Plunkett such a great saint. I also love the nickname Ollie—it has that same friendly feel to me as Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Bennett—Each of my categories here has contained a formal name for the nickname Ben! I really do love Ben for this family, and Bennet(t) is yet another name that they might like. It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, which gives it great saintliness, and it has long use as a last name (a la the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice).
  • Martin—Martin was strongly recommended by the Name Matchmaker as a good match for all their kids’ names as a set. I love Martin as a brother to Charles and Peter, and I love Marty as a brother to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathan—I suggested Nathaniel in the first category, and I want to include Nathan here — they’re both driven by the nickname Nate, which I love with the other kids, and Nathan’s biblical too.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie’s little brother, remembering that they have Augustine and Magdalene in the mix as well?