Baby name consultation: Names for a little brother that work in both English and Spanish

Happy Mother’s Day to you all! In honor of this day of remembrance and celebration, I’ve requested a Mass be said by the Marian Fathers at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy for “the Sancta Nomina community and their families and intentions,” which includes all those for whom Mother’s Day is a happy day, and all those for whom it’s a difficult day. ❤️❤️❤️

Also, I’m sure you all already know, but the new baby name data (based on 2020 births) was released by the SSA on Friday! Happiest day of the year for name enthusiasts! I haven’t yet had a chance to get into it too deeply (though I did notice that Ambrose is one of the boy names that climbed the most — up 137 spots from 958 to 821. I was surprised by that!), but Abby at Appellation Mountain always has great, immediate analysis and insight, as does Nameberry, Nancy’s Baby Names, and Namerology (formerly Baby Name Wizard). Here are the new top ten:

I hope to post more about it later this week!

Now for today’s consultation! Maggie and her husband are expecting a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown), baby sister or brother to:

Augustine James

Augustine James is so handsome! Nice job!

Maggie writes,

I need help with our son’s name should we have one. We’re due 5/31/21 and not finding out the gender … Our stipulation is obviously Catholic, nothing our friends have (which is becoming a short and shorter list) and can be said in both English and Spanish. I would love to honor Our Lady, but don’t care for Diego.

Here are some names I liked:

  • Roman Alexander
  • Felix 
  • Isaiah 
  • Dominic – astronomers 
  • Cristiano – travelers & children 
  • Sebastian  
  • Alexander
  • Cassian 

Cannot use:

  • Lukas [but Maggie loves it]
  • Noah 
  • Daniel 
  • Patrick 
  • Jude 
  • Gregory 
  • John
  • Blaise
  • Kolbe
  • Maximilian 
  • Basil 
  • James
  • Elijah

Maggie and her husband have a great list of names! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Roman: I love the name Roman, and it goes so great with Alexander!
  • Felix: I’m seeing the name Felix more and more among the families I work with, it’s a great name and I’m so glad it’s getting more usage.
  • Isaiah: I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, Isaiah’s a great one!
  • Dominic: One of my very favorites. It’s a style match for Augustine, so it would be a great fit for his brother! Maggie said that she’d love to honor Our Lady in a son’s name — I included Dominic as an entry in my book of Marian names because of this quote from Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary: “Saint Dominic was a Marian saint who, as he walked from town to town preaching the Gospel, raised his voice in song to Our Lady by preaching her Psalter and singing the Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea). His early biographers mention that he frequently received visions of the Virgin Mary and preached about her with great fervor. In one particular vision, Jesus himself informed St. Dominic that the Dominicans were entrusted to the protection of Mary.” Dominican tradition also holds that St. Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady. Dominic is a very Marian name!
  • Cristiano: I love both Cristiano and Christian!
  • Sebastian: I like that Sebastian really matches the length and weight of Augustine, great name. One thought is that Christian and Sebastian have the same ending, so it’s probably the kind of thing where if Maggie and her hubby used one for one son, they wouldn’t want to use the other for another son — that could help them decide between the two names: which one would they be sadder to lose?
  • Cassian: Cassian is so cool, and the nickname Cash is so appealing.

So they have a lot of great options! But of course, I can always come up with more, haha! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, keeping an eye out for names that were listed as matches for more than one of the names on Maggie’s list. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to look up Augustine, as Augustine doesn’t have its own entry in the book, and I also paid attention to any names that could be Marian. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Leo, Leander

Leo is a fantastic option for anyone who loves the Luke/Lucas names but can’t use them! Leo is a match for a couple of the names Maggie and her hubby like, so I definitely think it’s a good bet that Leo might appeal to them as well.

Leander is a match for Augustine, and I’ve recently been loving it — St. Leander (Leandro) of Seville was a Spanish saint, so the name definitely works in both English and Spanish, and Leo can be a nickname for it, if they’d like.

(2) Nic(h)olas

Nicholas is a match for Alexander, but more than that, I thought of it because of Dominic having the -nic ending (and Nic can be a nickname for Dominic) as well as the fact that Maggie noted Cristiano is a patron of travelers and children — I’m not sure which Saint she means, but St. Nicholas is a patron of travelers and children as well. And it’s not on the list of names they can’t use, which is a plus!

(3) Milo

I’m not entirely sure Maggie and her hubby will like Milo, as I think it’s not as obviously Catholic as they’d like, but Miles and Milo are matches for several names Maggie likes — Miles and Milo are variants of the same name, and both have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Such a great, very Marian name for a boy! I thought that, of the two options, Milo was preferable to Miles, since I assume Milo is easier to say in Spanish, but maybe not? I like them both!

(4) Oscar

Though the results in the Name Matchmaker for Augustine were certainly helpful, I also looked up August in the book to give some added ideas — I’ve often found that the matches for August are appealing to parents who like Augustine. Oscar is a match for August, and it works really well in both English and Spanish.

(5) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Isaiah, Christian (Cristiano doesn’t have its own entry), and Sebastian, and it, too is an entry in my book of Marian names for his role in the Annunciation, which of course is also the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — such a Marian name!

Raphael is a match for Roman, and is certainly the least common of the three angelic names, but I love that he’s mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in the Protestant Bible, which makes me think of the names contained therein that aren’t elsewhere (also including Tobit and Tobias) as having a particularly Catholic character.

(6) Julian

Julius is a match for August, and Julian for Christian and Sebastian, so I think it’s just the kind of name that Maggie and her hubby might like. I also really wanted to include Jude on this list, but since it’s on the list of names they can’t use, I thought Julian was a good alternative.

(7) Xavier

Finally, Xavier is a match for Dominic, Sebastian, and Felix. It’s clearly Catholic, and points of course to the great St. Francis Xavier. You can choose the ex-ZAY-vyer pronunciation or the ZAY-vyer pronunciation, and Xave and Xavey are great nicknames.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Augustine James that can be said in both English and Spanish?


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

Baby name consultation: Familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic (+English royalty?) name for baby boy

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Beth and her husband’s third baby a few years ago, and now they’re expecting their fifth baby/fourth baby on earth — a rainbow baby and their third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“Each of his are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo, and Charlie has a special affinity for St. John Paul II — such a fun Charles connection“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“There is lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 7 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as a fellow Protestant convert“)

Henry James (“Our first difficult naming! He was Samuel Benedict for most of his in utero life which led to a lot of confusion for our family! Henry for St. John Henry Newman, and James for my grandpa“)

Felicity Perpetua (“In heaven — her name came to me almost the day I found out I was pregnant. I knew in my heart from day 1 she was a girl, and I had never considered the name before, but it choose her. I miscarried her at 12 weeks, and we named her for the two best friend Saints who are remembered for not only their courageous martyrdom but also their tremendous motherhood“)

I love each of these combos and the reasons behind them, a really well-named bunch of kids!

Beth writes,

My husband and I just found out we are expecting a baby boy! And once again, we are a bit clueless about what to name him (you may remember doing our consultation for our third born, also a boy)

I had been concerned with Henry of continuing an English royalty theme, but in the end we just went with it, and he is very much Henry James. While I love all of my children’s names, I really love the beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua. I would love to find a boys name with similar resonance. It’s somehow a combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.

Boys names we have considered in the past include:

  • Leo
  • Luke
  • Benedict
  • Samuel
  • Julian
  • Gabriel

None of these names particularly stand out to me; I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before. Girls names we love include:

  • Teresa (Tessa)
  • Rosemary
  • Stella Maris

If this baby was a girl, she would have been one of the three above names for sure.

Names we cannot use due to family include:

  • William (I have always loved William)
  • Alexander
  • Vincent
  • David
  • Joseph
  • Jack
  • Daniel
  • John Paul
  • Isaac/Isaiah
  • Benjamin (this one makes Benedict problematic because he goes by Ben)
  • Matthew/Mathias
  • Eli/Elijah
  • Miles
  • Thomas
  • Nathan
  • Tobias

Thanks so much for your help! We have plenty of time (we aren’t due until October 13), but I would love to give this little boy a name. Let know if you need any more information or have any questions!

Alrighty! I read and re-read my most recent email conversation with Beth, and also the one she sent when I did the consultation for Henry, really trying to nail down exactly what she and her hubby are looking for, since the names that come to mind as a brother for Charles, Catherine, and Henry really do have a very English and/or royal feel to me, which is a vibe that I love, but I know that’s something Beth was hesitant to continue with Henry. The addition of their sweet Felicity Perpetua both strengthens the English feel (both Felicity and Perpetua can have a real Brit feel, depending on the context!) and also brings the whole crew more into “Catholicky Catholic” territory, which fits right in with how Beth said that she’d love to “find a boy’s name with similar resonance” to the “beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua” — a “combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.” So that’s really where I focused for this baby: I wanted to come up with some ideas that really conveyed the faith in an obvious way, but not at odds with the Brit feel (no Juan Diego, for example). Also, how Beth said, “I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before”: that’s tough, but I tried! I definitely cast a wider net because of that, so some of my ideas here might be a little crazy.

I should also note that I mostly leaned into the British/royal-sounding names in this consultation, despite the fact that Beth has said before it’s not something she wants to continue. This is partly because of her wanting “something she hasn’t thought of before” and partly because I have a growing love for the English Catholic Church and its beautiful history (England used to be known as “Our Lady’s Dowry”!). And also because those names just go really well with her other kids! (I didn’t look through the list of English martyrs because I had enough ideas to work with already, but if Beth and her hubby decide that they might like to embrace this idea, there are so many who died for the faith in England.)

Before I get to my new ideas, I’ll start by offering my thoughts on the names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Leo: Great name, and definitely moving away from the Brit feel, while not feeling at odds with the older kids’ names.
  • Luke: I loved re-reading my previous emails with Beth, where she said Luke Benedict was one of the contenders for Henry before they landed on Samuel Benedict (my youngest is Luke Benedict). I think Luke’s a great option, and like Leo moves away from the Brit feel, while still sounding fine with the other kids.
  • Benedict: Even though I love both Leo and Luke, and for Beth I love that they move away from the Brit feel because that seems like something Beth would prefer, Benedict is actually the kind of name that is in my head as the ideal for them *because* it can have a Brit feel (Benedict Cumberbatch!) as well as being super Catholic. Beth said later in her email that Benjamin on her “no” list makes Benedict problematic because Benjamin goes by Ben, which makes me wonder if a different nickname would make the difference? I considered Benedict as a first name for Luke (Benedict Gerard as a first+middle combo, specifically), and I’d come up with a couple offbeat nickname ideas I thought could work: my favorite was Bear (so cute! And perfect for Benedict Gerard!); I also liked Boone for a while (similar sounds and meaning to Benedict); others are Bede (a two-for-one — St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) and Ned (super British-feeling!).
  • Samuel: I’d said in my last consultation that Samuel was great because it moved away from Charlie and Cate’s royal British feel, so that still remains — still such a great name!
  • Julian: I’m interested by Julian! It’s like Benedict for me — I think it has the Brit and Catholic qualities that would be great! Another thing I love about Julian is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which makes it like my idea of Benedict nn Bede — two saints in one!
  • Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names — I never tire of hearing it. Nicknames include Gabe, Gil, Gib, and Eli.
  • Lawrence/Laurence: Wow! Beth is the second mama in recent months to tell me that Lawrence is a real consideration! Here’s the consultation I posted for the other one — she was looking for nicknames besides Larry, and Rory and Lolek were my favorites of the ones I suggested to her. But I love Laurie too! In my experience, it’s getting Dad on board with a nickname like Laurie for his son that’s the challenge — is Beth’s husband okay with it? I love the special meaning Lawrence has for Beth and her hubby!

I’m glad she included the girl names she likes — Teresa, Tessa, Rosemary, and Stella were helpful in my research, as was William from their “no” list.

I started by doing my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard — whenever I work with a family for a second or third time, I always treat the current consultation as if it’s the first, and I do all the research anew. Then I look back at the previous consultation(s) to see what names I suggested back then, and cross them off my new list. I did so here, and before I list my new ideas below, I just wanted to mention again a few of the ones from before that I still think would be great:

  • Edmund: This was my number one choice for Beth and her hubs when I started doing this consultation, and was both thrilled and disappointed that I’d already suggested it to them! Edmund feels very British and it’s also a royal name so it would be really leaning into the style they’re trying to get away from! So Beth will probably hate this idea, but I just think it’s so stunning with her other kids. St. Edmund Campion is an amazing patron. Like with Benedict, Ned can be a nickname for Edmund; like with Thaddeus from their list when they were expecting Henry, Ted can be a nickname for Edmund.
  • Gregory: In one of the consultations I posted recently I discussed Gregory and how I see it a lot on lists of names that the parents I work with are considering. Pope St. Gregory the Great! Saintly and papal and so handsome! I also discussed nickname ideas other than Greg in that post, as I know that “Greg” is the reason a lot of parents don’t end up choosing Gregory.

Beth also had a longer list last time of names they couldn’t use, which caused me to cross Philip (Pip!), Ignatius, Dominic, and Maximilian off my list of new ideas, but if they’re actually okay to use this time, maybe they’d like to consider them?

In addition to the research in the BNW, I also went through the article I wrote for CatholicMom a while ago called “Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names,” and I went through my own mental files as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Francis

Francis is one of those ultimate Catholicky Catholic names for boys! There are so many great Sts. Francis to choose from, but if they were to pair Francis with the middle name Xavier, that would really be a one-two punch, similar to Felicity Perpetua. I occasionally see F.X. as initials, usually for an older man, and I immediately know that his given name must be Francis Xavier and that no matter where he is in his faith journey currently, he obviously comes from a Catholic family. I love that!

(2) Oliver

Oliver is a style match for Henry, Felicity, Leo, and Julian! I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a favorite of mine, and Ollie is such a darling nickname. I also love that, as a reader pointed out to me, St. Oliver Plunkett wrote about Divine Mercy centuries ago (it’s about a third of the way down at that link — do a “find” search for “Divine Mercy”), which gives him a really nice connection to St. Faustina and St. John Paul II and our current heightened awareness of Divine Mercy.

(3) Simon, Peter

In considering Samuel and how wonderful it is but perhaps doesn’t quite have that “Felicity Perpetua” feel Beth is looking for, I thought maybe Simon would be a good replacement? As with Felicity Perpetua and Francis Xavier, the right middle name could really send it over the edge into Catholicky Catholic territory: Simon Peter, for example. Which makes me think of Peter — the more I think about it, the more I like Peter as a first name for this baby! I have a friend who named his son after St. Peter Damian by giving him Peter as a first name and Damian as a middle, which I absolutely love.

(4) Damian/Damien

Speaking of Damian — it’s a style match for Perpetua, and not only do I love St. Damien of Molokai, but this family — who actually lives in the U.K. (the mom is American and the dad is English) — named one of their boys Damien (Damien Edmund, specifically), which I thought of right away when I saw Damian in the list of Perpetua’s matches.

(5) Augustine

It was fun looking through the style matches for Perpetua, because I knew a lot of them would be the heavy Catholic names, and of course they were! Ignatius, Aloysius, and Dominic were the kinds of boy names that were listed as matches for Perpetua, in addition to Damian; of them, I like Augustine best for Beth’s baby.

(6) Fulton

When I was looking through the list of names I included in the article I wrote on unmistakably Catholic boy names, I was drawn to Fulton right away for this family. I love it with the other kids! I did a post on nickname ideas for Fulton — be sure to read the comments too!

(7) Walsingham

This is definitely my craziest idea! But I felt very much like Beth when I was pregnant with my youngest — I spent a long time looking and looking for “something I haven’t thought of before” (which, also like Beth, is hard to do when you’ve read all the sites and books and discussions and comments available on baby names!) and Walsingham was one I tried to convince my husband of — it’s for the English apparition title Our Lady of Walsingham, and as my husband had strongly suggested Stanley with the nickname Stan, I thought maybe he’d be interested in Walsingham with the nickname Walt! (He wasn’t, oh well.) This name is one of those that really honors the English Catholic tradition in a very specific way.

(8) John, Joseph

In trying to come up with “Felicity Perpetua”-type names for a boy, I really felt like double names more than any others achieve the effect Beth is going for — for a boy, that’s probably generally most comfortable looking like a first+middle combo like Edmund Campion or Simon Peter or Peter Damian, but a double first name might also be perfect (John Paul is one of the most familiar examples, but it’s on their “no” list; John Henry’s totally one I would have suggested for them if they didn’t already have a Henry! I included the idea of double names in my article on unmistakably Catholic boy names). In this vein, I kept thinking that John might be perfect, whether as part of a double first name, or as a first name to pair with a heavier or more offbeat middle name, or as the perfect middle name. For example, using ideas discussed here already:

  • John Francis: I’m dying over John Francis, such a handsome combo! And John (Giovanni) was St. Francis of Assisi’s given name.
  • Peter John: This was actually Fulton Sheen’s given name — Fulton was his mother’s maiden name that he went by.
  • John Benedict, John Damien, John Augustine, John Walsingham: With these, I love John as the legal first name, so their son can always have the option to go by John if he prefers, but it also allows them to use the middle name or a nickname of it as the name he goes by if they want. John Benedict called Benedict or Bede; John Damien called Damien; John Augustine called Gus; John Walsingham called Walt. Fantastic!

As for Joseph, with this year being the Year of St. Joseph, I simply must suggest it to all the families I work with! I would have suggested it as a first name here but that it’s on Beth’s “no” list, but I’m hoping they can consider it for the middle name. Damien Joseph has the nice added layer of Joseph being St. Damien’s birth name. Fulton Joseph is amazing.

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


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

Baby name consultation: Stuck between two names for little sister

Happy Monday! Did you guys all see the good news over the weekend that Bl. Margaret of Castello has been declared a Saint?! I think this is such great news!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their second baby any day — their first girl! This little one joins big brother:

Calvin Frederick (“Both are family names and I liked that Frederick was also a saint name“)

Such a handsome name!!

Regarding Baby Girl, Erin writes,

We’ve narrowed it down to 2 first names, Lucy or Josephine (Josie). I’d like to have a front runner name heading to the hospital and middle names picked out for each. Lucy is a family name on both side and my confirmation name. It was my front runner for a long time, but we worry about it getting popular and also sounding slightly childish. Josephine is a name we both really like but doesn’t have a family tie. I also don’t love that we would rarely call her by her formal name. Overall though, I love both names and would be happy with either. Below are the middle names we are considering. I’d like to honor my mom’s side because we haven’t used anything from her side yet, but are struggling to find one we love.

  • Marie, Ann (“both lovely but I feel like I everyone has these middle names. Marie is tied to the most people we’d like to honor. Ann is my mom’s middle name. We’ve also considered Lucy Annmarie to use both these middle names with a twist“)
  • Renee (“my middle name and my godmother’s name, probably the current front runner“)
  • Margaret (“I like with Lucy but not as strong of family ties“)
  • Mae (“is an important family name on the other side that I really like with Josephine“)

Other family names: Theresa, Helen, Leah, Betty (not short for Elizabeth)

[Also] … we’ve avoided names that end in A since we have 3 A sounds in it.”

SO FUN to think about girl names after already naming a boy!! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names Erin and her hubby are considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Lucy: Oh man, Lucy totally has my heart here. The fact that it’s a family name on both sides AND Erin’s Confirmation name AND their longtime frontrunner is amazing! About it “getting popular” and “sounding slightly childish,” I actually think the former helps with any feelings of the latter! By which I mean, the fact that Lucy is on an upward swing popularity-wise (no. 48 in 2019, up from 306 in 2000 and 75 in 2010) means that when their little Lucy is grown up, there will be a fair amount of Lucys her age, so by the time she’s a woman, everyone will feel like it’s a woman’s name. The women of today were born in a time when Lucy wasn’t popular at all (it was no. 207 in 1950 and 203 in 2004 and between that time dipped to a low of 500 in 1973 before heading up again, but still remaining fairly uncommon), so to us it either feels like a grandmother/great-grandmother name or a baby/little girl’s name, but that won’t last long. It’s actually nice to use it now, when the name will kind of grow with your baby. That said, they could consider using a longer Lucy variant as the given name and then use Lucy as the nickname — Lucille and Lucienne are two that don’t end in A, and Lucienne makes me think of something like Lucianne or Lucy-Ann to incorporate Erin’s mom’s middle name into the baby’s first name.
  • Josephine: If it wasn’t for how amazing Lucy is for them (in my humble opinion haha!), I would be all over Josephine! It’s the Year of St. Joseph, so it’s the perfect time to use a Joseph name for a baby! Also, I do understand what Erin means about not loving that they “would rarely call her by her formal name,” but I’ve heard from many families who named their babies with the intention of using a particular nickname only to find that when the baby arrives, they love using the full name more than they realized. Bestowing a formal name, even if a nickname is used exclusively, can give the baby options for different areas and times of his/her life. If it weren’t for the fact that Erin and hubby “both really like” Josephine (so I could see it being the frontrunner for a future daughter), and also that they want to honor Erin’s mom/her mom’s side of the family, I would definitely think Lucy Josephine is the winning combo.
  • Marie, Ann: I know what Erin means about feeling like these are everyone’s favorite middle names, as lovely and saintly as they are. If honoring her mom is Erin’s favorite idea, maybe she could consider her mom’s maiden name? I find maiden names to be such charming names for little ones (depending on the surname of course), in either the first or middle spot and for both boys and girls. Or maybe another surname or given name from her side? I also love Erin’s idea of Lucy Annmarie.
  • Renee: While I love that Renee is Erin’s middle name and her godmother’s middle name, this isn’t my favorite idea for this baby’s middle name IF they use Lucy (or a variant) for the first name, as Lucy will already be a nice nod to Erin, so they can use the middle spot for her mom or someone else they’d like to honor. But if they don’t use Lucy, I do love Renee, since I’m a big fan of working Mom’s name into one of her kids’ names somehow, and I also love that their baby will be born during Easter (meaning Eastertide: the period from Easter to Pentecost) and Renee means “reborn.” Josephine Renee would be very meaningful, for example: a name for the year in which their baby’s born (the Year of St. Joseph), and a name for the season in which she’s born (Easter), that also honors Erin. Also, Erin said that she likes Mae as a middle name for Josephine, so I like that Renee rhymes with Mae — Josephine Renee and Josephine Mae have a similar sound, so I think Erin would like Josephine Renee.
  • Margaret: Lucy Margaret is a really beautiful combo, and I feel like the seriousness of Margaret is nice with the lightness of Lucy. Since Lucy is a family name, maybe they don’t want to worry so much about having a family name in the middle as well?
  • Mae: Mae is a form of Mary, as is Marie, so in theory any Mary name could honor all the Maries and Maes Erin knows. I know this kind of idea doesn’t always work neatly in real life, though — would a Marie feel honored by Mae and vice versa? Would Marie and Mae feel honored by Mary or Molly? The answers to these questions vary from person to person and family to family — depending on the personalities in your family, these ideas might be helpful. Otherwise, for this family Josephine Mae is a great combo that feels perfect for me for their *second* daughter (I’m still rooting for Lucy for this baby!). In fact, I think Lucy Annmarie and Josephine Mae are my favorite combos of the names Erin mentioned, and they sound amazing as sister names, and I love that both name combos have a form of Mary in them, which is a very traditional Catholic naming practice.

But who cares what my favorites are! Haha! And even though Lucy Annmarie and Josephine Mae would be my favorites for girls 1 and 2, I am still hung up on the perfection of a Josephine in the Year of St. Joseph. It’s so hard when you have so many great names to choose from and combine together!

I hate to muddy the waters or make Erin’s decision any more difficult, but a Mini Consultation gets them three name ideas, so at the very least they can tuck them away for potential future use. 😊 You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names that the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family using Calvin, Lucy, Josephine, and Josie as inspiration, with the following results:

(1) Alice

I love that Alice is a style match for both Calvin and Lucy! It’s such a sweet name, and I love the combos Alice Ann, Alice Annmarie, and Alice Renee. I also like Alice-Ann as a double first name! Something like Alice-Ann Renee would be meaningful from a family names perspective, if they decided not to use Ann and Renee for this baby (or if they decide not to use either Lucy or Josephine for this baby).

(2) Eleanor, Helena

Eleanor’s a match for Josephine and Ella for Lucy, but I love Ellie as a nickname for their daughter even more — sisters Lucy, Josie, and Ellie are darling! And I love Lucy, Josephine, and Eleanor, as well as Lucille/Lucy-Ann, Josephine, and Eleanor. Or Nora — I love the nickname Nora for Eleanor too. Oh, and Nell! Nell also works as a nickname for the Helen names, and Helena’s a match for Josephine — maybe they’d like to consider Helena nn Nell as a nod to the Helen in their family for a future girl?

(3) Molly, Ruby, Sadie

I’m grouping these together because they have a similar rhythm and feel, and they’re all matches for Lucy and Josie. I mentioned above that Molly is a variant of Mary — it actually started as a nickname for Mary, so something like Mary Theresa or Mary Margaret or Mary MaidenName nn Molly could totally work. It also has occasional usage as a nickname for Margaret — Margaret Mae nn Molly would be cute!

I’ve loved Ruby for years, but I often think it sounds best as a nickname rather than a given name. I actually did a post on it here, including some names that it can be a nickname for, in case that’s helpful for Erin going forward. Considering the family names she mentioned, I like the idea of something like Rosemarie Betty nn Ruby, for example.

And Sadie started as a nickname for Sarah, and can still be used that way (like Mary/Molly), but like Molly has taken on a life of its own as a given name as well. I’ve also seen it used as a nickname for Mercedes, which gives it a nice Marian spin (for Our Lady of Mercies). Sarah Margaret nn Sadie is quite a nice combo, though no family connection … I like rearranging classic names in unexpected ways, so something like Ann-Sarah as a double first name with Sadie as a nickname would be the kind of thing I’d like to consider if I liked the name Sadie and had Ann as a family name to work in (though that ends in A …).

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Calvin?


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

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 6 (boy no. 3) — biblical? Western? Other?

This week’s going to be another consultation-heavy week — I have three to post again for mamas who are due soon! I’m excited!

First up: Rachelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby — their third boy! Little Mister joins big sibs:

Samuel David (Sam, Sammy) (“Samuel came to me later in our pregnancy during Mass during the reading when God calls out to Samuel. David is my husband’s name“)

Adelaide Marie (Addy) (“Adelaide is my confirmation saint and Marie is my middle name and a tradition in my family for first girls of the family“)

Paul Thomas (Pauly) (“Paul was my husband’s grandpa’s name, my brother’s name, and after St. Paul. Thomas is after my late uncle Fr. Tom, and St. Thomas Aquinas“)

Veronica Therese (Nica, Nic) (“Veronica was my great-grandma’s name and after St. Veronica. Therese after St. Therese, I read I Believe in Love during her pregnancy and found a new devotion to St. Therese“)

Miriam Ann (Miri) (“Miriam after our Mother. My husband and I did our Marian consecration during her pregnancy and wanted to honor Mary. Ann after my mom and St. Anne“)

I absolutely love the names Rachelle and her hubby have given their older kids — Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam are all really wonderful names! They’re solid and saintly and traditional, but there’s an unexpectedness about them too that I just love. And you all know that I’m a big nickname girl — I love Sam/Sammy, Addy, Pauly, Nica/Nic, and Miri! I was excited to see what names and nicknames I could come up with for their new baby boy!

Rachelle writes,

I am pretty indecisive or maybe I just take a long time to really make up my mind, so with a baby’s name and firm date I need to decide by, it makes it tricky. My husband doesn’t ever seem to have an exceptionally strong liking to any name, but he knows when he doesn’t like a name. I think he also knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits :).

My style: In general, I like older names, classics. I would prefer them to have meaning — after someone we love, a saint, someone in the bible, or a great literary character. Girl names are for some reason a little easier for me to circle in on than boys. A lot of times I’m intrigued by a name but then when I imagine myself calling to the child in the backyard or at a sporting event, it just doesn’t seem right (it’s what ruled Henry out for us 9 years ago … it also happened with Desmond and a few other names — I love the names but they don’t seem to fit one of my sons, even though they aren’t born yet). So I have a larger running list of boy names that I’m intrigued by, but some of them are maybe too out there for them to fit well. Nicknames are also important for us and play a part in the decision process. I’d like there to be a good nickname. For all our children, we call them by their full name and nickname equally

We know his middle name! We had decided that if this is a boy, his middle name will be Joseph after David’s grandpa, his Dad’s middle name, my great uncle (a Jesuit priest) and my grandpa’s middle name. So many Joseph’s in our lives — we pretty much had to!  And now that it is the year of St. Joseph, it is even more special — though I’m sure he will be one of many many many boys born this year named after him.  

My top first names: 

  • George (“after Pier Giorgio. I’m not sure I love the nicknames for this that I’ve heard [namely Georgie and Geo, thought the second could be ok]”) (“husband is on the fence on this one“)
  • Simon (“I really like the Simons in the bible, I feel like this would fit the name styles of our other 2 boys, but I don’t know if I like Si for a nickname, and I don’t think it’s too close Sam but maybe?“)
  • Jesse (“husband is a firm no on this one“)  

Names I’m intrigued by: 

  • Ezra (“I like the nickname Ezzie, it’s different enough from our kids nicknames, but it’s a little more unique than the current vibe we have going at least with our boy names … but my husband has been vocal about liking this one“)
  • Hugo (“I think it’s so cute, the nickname Hugh would grow on me, but I don’t have any personal connection to the name“) 
  • Casey (“Blessed Solanus Casey has been coming up a bit this pregnancy and I love his story“)  
  • Martin (“love St. Martin, but I don’t love Marty“)
  • Adam (“I could like this one a lot but the nickname situation is tricky. there isn’t one I like a lot I don’t think, and many of them are close to Addy“)
  • Ethan (“We don’t have a personal connection to the name“)
  • Malachi (“similar to Ezra, too uncommon for our boy names?“)
  • Cassian/Cassius (“Like the sound but is it too uncommon to fit? I like the nickname Cash fine. Big hold up is the meaning of the name!“)

Names I would have considered if not for my current children’s names/nicknames:

  • Nicholas
  • Simeon
  • Matthew

Names we can’t consider because they are our nephews:

  • Jerome
  • Elliot
  • Dominic
  • Thomas
  • Blaise
  • Henry
  • Noah
  • Benjamin
  • Lucas
  • Leo
  • Christopher
  • Levin
  • Graham
  • Theodore (Teddy)
  • Caleb
  • Matthew
  • Peter

Other names we’re not really considering:

  • John/Jon
  • Michael
  • Stephen
  • Timothy
  • James
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Isaiah
  • David
  • Aaron (“I could go through the whole bible and say yay or nay, but I won’t 🙂 

Just wanted to add my husband has expressed he really likes the name Malcolm as well. Wondering about any Christian/Catholic connections to the name?“)

It made me laugh to read about how Rachelle said her husband “knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits.” I like to stew about things too — I always love that there’s nine months to think about/talk about/decide on a name — and even change our minds! We’d decided on Oliver for our third and Augustin for our sixth, but then in my sixth month of pregnancy with my third and just a couple weeks before my sixth was born, we changed our minds, which I found kind of thrilling!

Joseph as the middle name is just perfect — the family connections and the Year of St. Joseph make it a total no-brainer, I agree!

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names that they like and are intrigued by, in case they’re helpful:

  • George: I like George a lot with Samuel and Paul, and since Rachelle currently has more biblical names than not in her older kids’ names, it would be nice to get another non-biblical name in there with this baby. (Not that it’s at all necessary — they have such a nice mix of names that it’s not at all a big deal to choose a biblical name for this baby, and I have both biblical and non-biblical names in my “official” suggestions below. It’s just something I was thinking about in regards to George and the other non-biblical names they have on their list.) Georgie is cute and I love Geo — names with a twist are always fun, and I don’t hear Geo too often; additionally, I think it would strengthen the tie with Pier Giorgio, since Geo sounds like the end of Giorgio. Another idea that I’ve always loved is Geordie (said like Jordy) — it’s a traditional Scottish nickname for George.
  • Simon: I love Simon too, I wouldn’t cross it off their list! But definitely think on it for a while, because of the similarity with Samuel. One idea is that Sepp and Seppel are German diminutives of Joseph, and I feel like Simon Joseph would make even more sense of a nickname like that. Maybe Simon Joseph nicknamed Sepp? Another idea, which didn’t make my list of “official” suggestions below because it’s currently no. 3, which seems too popular for what Rachelle and her hubby like, is the name I mentioned above as the name we’d initially chosen for our third boy before changing our minds: Oliver. It has that same bookish, smart feel to me that Simon has, and I love Samuel, Paul, and Oliver as brothers. And how cute is Ollie??
  • Jesse: Aw I love the name Jesse too, but my husband also wouldn’t go for it either! It was good for me to know Rachelle likes it — it helped in my research.
  • Ezra: Era’s definitely a cool name — any name with an X or a Z is pretty cool I think! Ezzie is cute, but even more than that, if Rachelle and her husband BOTH like it, that’s huge! I think it should be moved to the top of the list!
  • Hugo: I feel exactly the same way as Rachelle does about Hugo! My husband and I had it high on our list for our last two boys, but like she said, we don’t have any personal connection to the name, so we could never fully commit. It is darling, though!
  • Casey: I love Bl. Solanus too! Casey is a great name, and I thought it was so cool to discover that Casey and Jesse are style matches for each other! I can see that — they both can have kind of a Western/cowboy vibe I think. One issue with Casey, that’s also an issue with Jesse for some people, is that Casey is used for girls as well — it’s no. 527 for boys and no. 897 for girls. (Jesse, that spelling, hasn’t been in the top 1000 for girls since the year 2000, while the spelling Jessie was no. 695 in 2019. Jesse is no. 201 for boys.)
  • Martin: St. Martin is great, and I think they could enforce the full Martin with no nickname if they wanted to, at least when he’s small. If that’s an unacceptable risk, St. Martin’s Wikipedia entry says his given name was Juan Martín — I wonder what they would think of John Martin as a double first name in his honor? I know Rachelle said no John/Jon, so this likely isn’t a good idea for them, but otherwise John Martin provides that sparkle that her other kids’ names have, I think, since double names are somewhat rare, and John Martin Joseph sounds fine together.
  • Adam: Hmm that is tricky … I’ve never actually heard of a nickname for Adam, and if I were to try to think of one, Addy’s probably what I’d come up with. But I’d really put Adam in the category of names that don’t have natural nicknames, so if they were okay with just Adam, I think it could work as Adelaide/Addy’s brother and brother to the other kids as well.
  • Ethan: Another great name, and one that, though biblical, I don’t think comes across as biblical — I sense that not a lot of people realize it’s a biblical name, do you all agree? That makes me like it more for this family rather than less, though.
  • Malachi: Like Ezra, Malachi is definitely a departure from Samuel and Paul’s style in the sense that it’s much more unusual, but I think Ezra and Malachi are similar in style to Miriam especially so I think it’s okay. I like Mac as a nickname for Malachi a lot.
  • Cassius/Cassian: I too love these names, and the nickname Cash! The definition is unfortunate, but there are a lot of beloved holy names that have unfortunate definitions, like Cecilia (blind) and Blaise (lisping), and I would definitely argue that their “meaning” goes beyond — and is more important than — their “definition” (I wrote more about that here). If it still bothers them but they want to find other ways to get to Cash, Cashel is the name of a place in Ireland — the Rock of Cashel — which is where St. Patrick is said to have conversated the King of Munster. Or maybe they’d like the rhyming Nash, which I’ve seen used as a nickname for Ignatius and Athanasius?
  • Malcolm: I’d love to see Malcolm used more! Like with Malachi, I love the idea of Mac as a nickname for Malcolm. And yes, there are great faith connections with the name! Malcolm literally means, “disciple of St. Columba” — St. Columba of Iona, also known as Columcille, is known as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland,” and is a great patron. Malcolm’s a great option!
  • Nicholas, Simeon, Matthew: I’m glad Rachelle included these as names they like! Though they can’t use them, they were helpful in my research. I had two ideas about Matthew — one is that I know someone named Matthew who goes by Mitty (at least he did when he was little), which I think is awesome (though they’d have to decide if Mitt Romney being the most familiar Mitt to the general public is problematic). Another idea is Matthias instead of Matthew — you could look to the end of it for nicknames — Ties and Thijs are Dutch diminutives which are said like TEES and TAYS, which leads me to think they could do something like that maybe as a nickname? Maybe Tice or something like that?

Okay! On to new ideas! I mentioned earlier that Jesse and Casey are style matches for each other — you all know that that refers to the research I always do for consultations in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I definitely went for a mix of biblical and non-biblical names, and I was happy to offer fun nickname options where applicable.

(1) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Samuel and Caleb, and Raphael is a match for Veronica and Simeon, so I thought one of these angelic names might be perfect! I like that Gabriel is in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which is a nice bridge for Rachelle’s Old- and New Testament-named kids, and I love the friendly nickname Gabe. If they don’t care for Gabe, I’ve seen Gib, Gil, and Eli used as nicknames for Gabriel. Raphael is much less used than Gabriel (it’s no. 521 compared to Gabriel’s no. 37), which can be really appealing, and I love the nickname Rafe. Ray is an even easier nickname.

(2) Nathan(iel)

The way I got to this idea was kind of a funny one — Nathaniel is a match for Nicholas, and Jonathan is a match for Matthew, and I know Rachelle loves Nicholas and Matthew, so I thought Nathaniel and Jonathan were meaningful since they connected to those other two names she loves, and since Nathan is contained within both Nathaniel and Jonathan, I thought Nathan might be the perfect answer, especially since Nathan itself is a match for Samuel! Or maybe they’d like the full Nathaniel with Nathan or Nate as a nickname? Or Nash! I could see Nash working as a nickname for Nathaniel! Also, Neal is a style match for Paul — Niel could totally be a nickname for Nathaniel! Some fun options here!

(3) Tobias

Rachelle’s girl names are a little more “exotic,” maybe, than the boy names they’ve used and most of those they like, so when I saw Tobias as a match for Simeon, I thought it went along nicely with how I think of Adelaide, Veronica, and Miriam as well! I think it’s so handsome.

(4) Oscar

Oscar is a match for both Adelaide and Hugo, I love that! Oscar is such a great name — I’ve been enjoying seeing it used more and more by the families I work with. This family welcomed an Oskar (that spelling) not too long ago has been calling the baby Ozzie, so cute!

(5) Milo

Milo is a match for Ezra and Hugo, isn’t that interesting? I normally wouldn’t think Ezra and Hugo had any overlapping characteristics, but there you have it — just one of the many reasons I lean on the Baby Name Wizard to help me out! An interesting thing about Milo is that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “disciple of the Virgin Mary” — just like Malcolm (Mael Coluim) means “disciple of St. Columba”! I love that! I’ve also sometimes suggested Milo and its cognate Miles as unusual nicknames for Michael, so if Rachelle and her hubby decide they’d like to use Michael after all, using Milo as a nickname could be perfect.

(6) Gregory

Gregory is a match for Veronica, and when I was briefly researching St. Martin, I saw that Pope Gregory XVI beatified him, which could be a way of nodding to St. Martin without using his name, so I thought those two things made me want to include Gregory here. I actually hear quite a bit from families I work with that Gregory is a favorite, but what usually stops people from using it in my experience is the nickname situation. While Gregory still sounds sort of stately and serious and handsome, Greg turns most current parents off. But I love Rory as a nickname for it — and in fact, Rory is a match for Casey and Jesse! I think Grey could also work, as well as Gus, especially if there’s a prominent S in the middle name, which Gregory Joseph does have.

(8) Charles

Rachelle said she loves the name Caleb (on their list of names they can’t use), so I wanted to see if I could come up with any names that might be feasible alternatives. I thought Charles was one, with the nickname Cal, which can also be a nickname for Caleb. I love Charles with Samuel and Paul — what a smart sounding trio of brothers! — and Cal is really cool. If they prefer Charlie as a nickname, that’s fine too, because I think one of the things that’s so great about Caleb is that it’s both masculine and sweet, and I think Charles nn Charlie fits that nicely. (Charles also has a bunch of other nickname possibilities that they might like to look through.)

(9) Jacob

This final idea is also inspired by Jacob — Jacob is usually the name that I see paired with Caleb as either an actual brother name or a name that people who like Caleb also like. I’ve even seen Cubby used as a nickname for both Caleb and Jacob for a little guy (probably not so much as he gets older)! If not Cubby, I always love Jake, and I’ve also seen Coby used as a nickname for Jacob. 

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam?


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

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 7 needs beautiful Latin name (Greek is ok too)

Is THREE consultation posts in one week a new Sancta Nomina record?? Could be! Don’t forget to check on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, if you haven’t already!

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

Sylvester George (“This entire name was dictated by a family tradition of my husband’s. The firstborn son gets named after his grandfather — first and middle name. What this effectively does is make two names — Thomas Louis, and Sylvester George — alternate every generation. My son is the 8th generation *that we know of* to receive his name via this tradition. I kind of like that our kids mostly have names with a tangible meaning, and a ‘symbol’ I can draw for them when I label their ‘stuff.’ Sylvester means, basically, woodsman (or, as we like to say ‘lumberjack’) — so I use a tree symbol for him. He goes by the nickname Sly.”)

Stella Maris (“We knew we wanted to honor Our Lady with our first daughter’s name. We loved the name Stella, and decided to just use the full Marian title, by giving her ‘Maris’ as the middle name. Since Stella means ‘star,’ this is the symbol I draw for her. She goes by her full name Stella.”)

Linus Joseph (“My husband wasn’t as crazy about the name Linus as I was, but I was able to use the fact that I had had no choice in our first son’s name to get him to let me have my choice on our second! We both have a devotion to St. Joseph, so this was a natural choice for the middle name. We liked the fact that both our sons had ‘Pope names.’  Linus means ‘flaxen (haired),’ so I draw a bundle of flax for him. He goes by his full name Linus.”)

Flora Therese (“We didn’t settle on her name until after she was born. We were toying with a lot of different Marian name options, as we thought it would be really nice to name all our girls for Our Lady (whether in their first or middle name). But there were just no other names we found that we loved as much as we had loved Stella Maris. We were also considering the name ‘Rose’ — the name of my husband’s grandmother, and also just a beautiful name. But we felt it didn’t fit well with the ‘Latin theme’ we had started to develop. We landed on Flora, which we both thought was pretty, and chose another favorite Saint, Therese, as her secondary patron. I really like that the two names go together, as Therese is known as ‘the Little Flower.’ I draw a flower symbol for her. She goes by her full name Flora [though occasionally gets called Flo or Flossie].”)

Felix Amadeus (“This was another one by husband wasn’t as wild about, but let me have my way on. I liked that Felix was another Pope name, and one of the rare Latin boy names that didn’t end in the typical ‘-us’ suffix. And really, I just loved the meaning of the two names: Felix (happy/fortunate) and Amadeus (love of God) — and his personality fits it well! I draw a happy face as his symbol. He goes by his full name Felix.”)

Anastasia Rose (“Again, we really deliberated over her name, and didn’t manage to pick it until hours after she was born. We kept mulling over ways we could use the name Rose, but have it “work” with our other kids’ names.  Our top contender when I went into labor was probably Rosalia, but neither of us loved it. While holding her later in the hospital room, my husband was reading choices off of a big list of possible names we had made. When he said ‘Anastasia,’ the name really struck me. I suggested making it Anastasia Rose, and calling her by the double name of ‘Annie Rose’ (definitely inspired by the Alfie and Annie Rose picture books!). Also, my husband’s mother is named Anne, and his grandmother, as I mentioned, is named Rose — so there were some good family connections there. We decided to go with it, and I only later found out that my husband had totally ad-libbed that name suggestion on the spot — it wasn’t one we had ever put on our list! While Anastasia is technically a Greek name, we felt like it had the same feel of our other name choices, and so fit well. Anastasia means resurrection, so I usually draw a cross symbol for her. Everybody calls her Annie Rose … except my husband! He later decided that while he loves the sound of her name, calling her by the full name ‘Anastasia’ was too many syllables and didn’t roll off the tongue well; and he also realized that he dislikes the idea of a double name. So he’s been trying out the nickname ‘Ressi’ [a local nickname used in my neighborhood for ‘Resurrection’] as his personal pet name for her, but I’m not sure if it will stick.”)

I absolutely love all these names! This family’s style is really fun — elegant and unusual and just as Christine said: “less-common but recognizable first names.” Her hubby’s family tradition of Sylvester George is intense! I can’t believe that there are eight generations *that they know of* of firstborn sons having the same first and middle of his grandfather! Thomas Louis is fairly easy to work with, but Sylvester George is certainly not to everyone’s taste — but it seems perfect for this family, which is fantastic! Stella Maris, Linus Joseph, Flora Therese, Felix Amadeus, and Anastasia Rose are each just really stunning combos. Nice job! And I love how Christine draws little symbols to represent each one, I definitely kept that in mind as I worked on this. I also love Anastasia’s name story — Annie Rose is a darling nickname (I love the literary and family significance!), and I’m so intrigued by Ressi as well!

Christine writes,

So, we’ve gotten ourselves sort of stuck into a naming theme now! We have chosen mostly Latinate names for our kids. This is probably partially because we attend the Traditional Latin Mass and so have a strong appreciation for the Latin language, and also because my husband is a big Roman history buff. Additionally, we have the world’s most common and boring last name, so I feel like we need to give our kids less-common but recognizable first names. I don’t have strong feelings about middle names — I mostly think of it as a good place to add another Saint whose name we wouldn’t necessarily use as a first name.

Unfortunately, we have always struggled more with our girl names! I’m really just looking for a pretty and feminine name that fits well with the others. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Latin, but it should have the right sound/feel. I’m not totally tied to the idea of her name having a meaning which is easily conveyed by a drawn symbol, but that could be considered a bonus. I think I care more about the sound of the name than the meaning, though I do usually consider both. I’m happy to learn about and develop a devotion to her name Saint *after* choosing the name. In light of my husband’s difficulties with Anastasia’s lengthy name, it’s probably best to stick with names which are less than four syllables, or that have a pretty and short nickname we could use.

Some names we have considered in the past:

  • Aurelia: I love this one, but my husband isn’t so sure. I think mostly because many people pronounce the ‘e’ differently.
  • Camilla: I don’t really love the sound of the name, but ‘Millie’ is one of my favorites for a nickname.
  • Cora: We love the sound, and the fact that it would evoke The Sacred Heart, which I have a devotion to. But it rhymes with Flora! I’m open to other names with a Sacred Heart meaning.
  • Cordelia/Cornelia: My husband and I each have fairly strong feelings about which we prefer, and I’m not sure if we can compromise!
  • Eucharistica: I don’t know if we’re brave enough to ever actually use this one, because it’s an intense name! We saw it once, years ago, on a gravestone and it’s stuck with us.
  • Fidelia
  • Gloria
  • Julia
  • Louisa: Another name I like more than my husband. Louis is his middle name, so I like this one especially.
  • Leora: My great-grandmother’s name, which I just think is unique.”

When I read Christine’s older children’s names, I was immediately eager to see what names she and her hubby are considering for this baby, and I wasn’t disappointed — what a great group of names! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each of them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Aurelia: Such a beautiful name! But yes, I’ve heard it said different ways, and some people are really baffled about how it should be said. I wonder if Aurea or Aurora would appeal?
  • Camilla: I totally latched onto the fact that the nickname Millie is what Christine loves about Camilla — I kept that in mind in my suggestions below!
  • Cora: Rhyming with Flora definitely presents a problem for Cora! It’s a beautiful name, and I love that they’d use it for the Sacred Heart (I often see it used for the Immaculate Heart of Mary — both such wonderful intentions!). I wonder if the longer Corinna might appeal? According to Behind the Name, which I consider to be one of the most trustworthy sites for name meanings, Cora and Corinna are both Latinized forms of the Greek for “maiden” (kore), which can given an extra Marian layer on top of the nods to the Immaculate Heart or the Sacred Heart because of cor meaning “heart” in Latin. I like that Corinna has both Latin and Greek connections, since they’ve used both Latin and Greek names!
  • Cordelia/Cornelia: How funny that Christine and her husband each prefer one of these and dislike the other! Perhaps my Corinna idea above would be a good alternative that they could both agree on?
  • Eucharistica: WOW! I’ve seen some intense names used by families I’ve worked with, but never Eucharistica! I’m with Christine — I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to use it as a first name, but I would LOVE it as a middle! It makes me think of the name Charis — a family I worked with named their daughter Charis because of it being contained in the word eucharist, which I thought was a very cool and accessible way to get a heavy dose of the faith in their child’s name. Charissa and Carissa are elaborated forms of Charis — would either of those appeal?
  • Fidelia: I love Fidelia! However, one thing that I noticed is that they have two kids with S names, two with F’s, and one each with L and A, so adding in a third F might be a bit much? Or not! It also reminded me of this birth announcement — I think Christine will like that family’s style!
  • Gloria: Until I encountered a little Gloria somewhat recently, I thought it was such an old lady name, haha! But I’ve come to love its beauty and faith connection!
  • Julia: Beautiful, timeless.
  • Louisa: I too love Louisa as a nod to Dad’s middle name, bummer that he doesn’t like it as much as Christine does!
  • Leora: How cool that Christine has Leora in her family tree! I would definitely agree that it’s a unique name — I haven’t ever seen it in real life — but something funny is that when I was doing research for this family (you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard [affiliate link] as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and I looked up Leora (not even expecting to find it — the rarer names don’t tend to have their own entries in the BNW), not only did it indeed have its own entry, but Flora and Aurelia are style matches for it! Wow! Christine and her hubs have such consistent taste!

So those are my thoughts on the names on their list — now on to my new ideas! As noted above, I did my usual research in the BNW, and I also went through the lists on Behind the Name of Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, and Late Roman names as well as names from Roman Mythology, and I had a couple ideas of my own for them as well:

(1) Caecilia, Caeli

Cecilia is much beloved by so many Catholic families that I feel like they must have already considered this one and decided they don’t like it, but it was the first one I thought of for them because of a family I worked with whose daughter’s name was spelled Caecilia, which is the “original Latin form of Cecilia,” according to Behind the Name. I love that! I don’t know how the family I worked with pronounces their daughter’s name, but Behind the Name says it’s pronounced kie-KEE-lee-a, which could be awesome, but I also think you could just use seh-SEE-lee-a. Or chay-CHEE-lee-a! Being into Latin and names, Christine probably knows that Cecilia means “blind,” which some parents who are particularly into name meanings really dislike (I addressed that here), but I would definitely focus on St. Cecilia’s connection to music, which would make a little musical note a perfect symbol for their baby!

Caecilia made me think of Caeli, which I see here and there in the families that I work with as a nod to Our Lady’s title Regina Caeli. Or they could spell it Coeli and really confuse everyone! On the one hand, I like that Caeli doesn’t end in A — I like how Christine noted that one of the things she liked about Felix was that it’s one of the few Latin boy names that doesn’t end in -us, and I thought similarly about Caeli. But then, all of her other girls have names that end in A, which makes me want them to continue it! Maybe Caeli could be a nickname for Caecilia? All sorts of layers of meaning in that!

(2) Regina

I mentioned Caeli, but what about the first part of that Marian title: Regina? Like with Cecilia, I feel like they must have considered Regina at some point and decided they don’t like it. But I was inspired to include it here because Christine said she’s “open to other names with a Sacred Heart meaning,” and I’d done a name spotlight a while ago on the name Ruby (which is a style match for Stella and Annie!) at the request of a reader who loved it and wanted to figure out some faith connections, and one of the main ones I made an argument for was in honor of the Sacred Heart! I think many people who might love the faith connections for Ruby might not love Ruby as a given name — which is my assumption about Christine and her hubby as well — so I’d offered several first+middle pairings in that post that I thought could nickname to Ruby, and Regina Kolbe was one, which Christine might like, but then I thought she might like Regina Beata even more! So that’s my suggestion here: Regina Beata, which translates as “blessed Queen” and is a clear reference to Our Lady, continuing the Marian nods they have in each of their girls’ names, with the nickname Ruby, which is for the Sacred Heart. Christine could draw a little crown for a symbol, or a little jewel, depending on her drawing skills!

(3) Aemilia, Emmelia, Emilia

Aemilia’s one of the first names on one of the lists of Latin names I looked through, which could be great — another A name, like Anastasia, which continues their pattern of having pairs of names with the same initial! One St. Amelia, also known as St. Amalburga of Mauberge, has her feast day on July 10, which is really close to Christine’s due date! Then I thought about Emmelia, which I think is said basically the same but I believe is Greek, so that could be nice for Anastasia — some of my readers with Eastern leanings (including this mama who’s actually Eastern Orthodox, and shared some more info about St. Emmelia in that post) often mention her as a Saint they love, and her feast day is May 30 — even closer to Christine’s due date! Or the spelling Emilia, which is the spelling of St. John Paul’s mom, whose cause for canonization is open. So many great options! (Though do know they apparently all have different etymologies: “rival” for Aemilia vs. “melodius” for Emmelia [according to the Eastern Orthodox mom, though Behind the Name didn’t offer a meaning] vs. “work” for Emilia.) But for all of them, the thing that excited me the most about including them for this baby is that they can all take Millie as a nickname! I couldn’t think of a little symbol for these names though — maybe it can come from the middle name?

(4) Helena

Speaking of holy mothers, I like Helena for this baby! I like that it, like Cora, is a Latinized form of a Greek name, which is a nice connection between Stella/Flora and Anastasia. I admit I was caught up in Christine’sa little symbols and so I love that Helena is thought to mean “torch” or related to the Greek for “moon,” both of which lend themselves nicely to little symbols!

(5) Perpetua, Pia

Perpetua’s probably pushing it in terms of length, but when I saw it in one of the Latin lists, my heart leapt. Perpetua! Such a great, Catholicky Catholic name that can nod to both Our Lady under title Our Lady of Perpetual Help and also the wonderful St. Perpetua! I’ve thought of Pep/Peppie, Pippa/Pippi, and Poppy as nicknames for Perpetua (probably not Peppa though, right? Because of Peppa the Pig? I’ve never seen it though, maybe that’s a fun association for a little girl?), and I also have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua and calls her Tua. AND Perpetua’s symbol could be the sign for infinity (sideways 8)! So easy and fun!

I’ve also thought Pia could work as a nickname for Perpetua, which is great, but it made me think that maybe they’d like to consider Pia as a given name! It seems like perfect balance to Anastasia’s length, being only three letters, but at the same time it’s two syllables like Stella and Flora, and it’s Marian as well — Our Lady is referred to as pia in the Salve Regina. I’m starting to see Pia here and there on parents’ lists of names, and the actor David Henrie and his wife, who are devout Catholics, named their daughter Pia! (Pia Philomena Francesca, to be exact. What a name! I love it!) (I’m assuming Christine’s not interested in Philomena, right? Too long, right? But if she could be swayed … Millie could work as a nickname for Philomena!)

(6) Lucia

This is another of those names that I feel like Christine and her hubby must have discussed and moved on from, since I feel like it’s a sort of obvious addition to a list of feminine Latin names, but not only do I love the name and its meaning (a Lucia’s symbol could be a light bulb or a flame or a torch like Helena), and also that it can be Marian via the title Our Lady of Light, and also that you could really go Latin and use Lux as a nickname, but also that Lucia starts with L like Linus! Continuing their pairs-of-same-initials pattern!

(7) Maria, Mariae

My last suggestion is another that I’m sure they’ve discussed, but hear me out. Maria is, I believe, both the Latin and Greek form of Mary, which is awesome, and it’s classic, straightforward, and ends in A like the other girls. Because of its familiarity, it can balance a more adventurous middle name nicely — maybe Maria Eucharistica? OR! Ooh! Maria Laetitia nicknamed Millie!!

If they’d like a Mary name but Maria’s a little too tame, a name that *feels* even more Latin is Mariae, which is the genitive form of Maria — it literally means “of/belonging to Mary,” which is such an incredible meaning! In fact, Mariae was a frontrunner for us for a middle name if we ever had a girl (seven boys and no girls!). I admit that, as much as I love Mariae, I don’t love that it doesn’t end in A like their other girls, but maybe that’s okay with them? For both Maria and Mariae, maybe Christine could do the Auspice Maria (AM intertwined) or another of the Marian monograms (this is the one on my book’s cover) for her symbol?

Those are my “official” suggestions, but there were some other names that were in the Roman/Latin lists of names that intrigued me, so I thought I’d include them here just in case:

  • Benedicta
  • Clara
  • Dominica
  • Donata
  • Justina
  • Katerina
  • Margarita
  • Matrona
  • Maura
  • Petronilla
  • Silvia
  • Veronica
  • Viviana

And I also thought about Zoe, too — a super-short-feeling name like Pia that’s Greek like Anastasia.

Those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Sylvester, Stella, Linus, Flora, Felix, and Anastasia?


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

Baby name consultation: Twin boys (babies no. 4 and 5) need good, strong names that go well together

Ohmygosh, a consultation posted on Monday, a birth announcement yesterday, and another consultation today?? Yes!! And I’ve got posts lined up for tomorrow and Friday too — springtime and babies, y’all!!

Today’s consultation is for parents who are expecting twin boys!! These little guys join big sibs:

  • Joseph Charles IV (patron St. Joseph; read about this family’s special connection to St. Joseph here)
  • Evelyn Lucille (patron St. Lucy)
  • Thomas Benedict (patron St. Thomas Aquinas [Benedict was after Pope Benedict])

Mama Carlin writes,

Our other boys were so easy to name and our daughter we had a unique experience to say the least, but still very easy to choose. Now that we have the twin boys, we feel at a loss for options. Nothing has really felt just right.

Names are a really big deal for my husband, funny enough. I feel like this is typically something that women tend to enjoy more, but my husband definitely has had a strong and thoughtful say on the names of each of our children.  My husband is very adamant about raising the boys to become the men that God intended them to be. He wants them to become great leaders of faith in their future households or vocations, or just out in the world, in general. These names, to him in particular, will help to empower them, especially by example of their patron, as they become men themselves

When we first started our family, the idea of twins was always a possibility. Identicals on both side, fraternals on my side.”

WOW!!

Things we are looking for in names for the twins:

  • Strong, masculine, and classic names
    • Completely open to all name suggestions, so please don’t get caught up on the “classic” part.
  • A great saint inspiring the name 
    • We celebrate their feast days! We are also 100% ok with the boys having different feast days too. It will give them a chance to be celebrated on their own!
  • We love a good meaning behind the name too.
    • Both boys were named after grandfathers we were very very close with. Joseph’s grandfather — Joe and my grandfather — Thomas.
    • We scoured family trees and nothing seemed to pop out at us … We decided that the twins do not need to be named after a family member, since they will have their patron and each other. 
  • Names that go well with Joseph, Evelyn, and Thomas  
    • I guess this is subjective, but I would really like to emphasize how at a loss we are picking out names and are open to any and all suggestions you may have! 
  • The Nickname factor: 
    • I’m usually calling everyone by their full name, who knows why, but we are both down for a really cool nickname too.

Names that have always sort have been on our running list:

  • Leo
  • Agustine/Augustin/Auggie

What we have thought about, but why we aren’t totally sold on these options:

  • Leo & Gregory 
    • Pope St. Leo the Great + Pope St. Gregory the Great
    • We both love the idea of the boys being named after the two Greats!
    • My husband has always been on the Leo train. His Great Grandpa Leonard was a pretty awesome dude and if we had a singleton, this would be a forerunner. 
    • My husband thinks Gregory is super strong sounding for a man, however, I am having a hard time with Gregory. I cannot imagine calling one of my babies Gregory or Greg. 
  • James & John
    • We only love these names because the two Apostles James and John were considered the “Sons of Thunder” and we love that! haha! Our boys have been so feisty at each ultrasound with perinatology. They already have such loud personalities already!
    • But as outright names – James and John do not do it for either of us

A little about the boys already!

We have had several appointments with perinatology and it has been so cool to see, even at 15, 17, 19 weeks, their personalities develop. They like to be silly when we do ultrasounds by tangling their legs and kicking around so we cannot get pictures of them. Early on, they would swim opposite directions and pinch the amniotic sac to make Baby A look like Baby B and vice versa. Ha! James and John haven’t been a real front runner for names, but the story of being called the Thunder Brothers has been told, a lot of family friends and even the sonographers are referring to them as the Thunder Brothers, because of their bold personalities. As silly as they are; they adore each other already, which is the most beautiful thing to watch in an ultrasound. They have yet to flip opposite directions, always keeping their heads side by side and hugging each other. Seriously?! In-utero baby hugs and loves?! I’m not crying, your crying… ok I cry every time. Just the best

Let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications, but I hope this is a good start for you! Thank you so much! Cannot wait to hear your suggestions!

I just love the joy and wonder that comes through when Carlin talks about the babies!!

I loved reading about Carlin’s husband’s interest in names — she’s right that that’s fairly rare, at least in my experience! His perspective on raising their sons to be strong men of God is just wonderful, and I agree with him about the role their names play, I felt similarly when naming each of my boys (I’m sure I would have about girls too, but I only have boys!).

I wanted to point out, too, that, while I don’t know the origin of Carlin’s name, I assume it’s a feminine variant of Charles — or certainly can be considered so, even if that wasn’t her parents’ intention — so Joseph Charles can also be thought of as incorporating both her and her husband, which is fantastic.

I think their criteria for names for the twins is perfect. I love how Carlin said they want “strong, masculine, and classic names” but also “don’t get caught up on the ‘classic’ part.” I love that they celebrate their feast days, that’s such a fun thing. I think their reasoning behind being okay with them not having family names — “they will have their patron and each other” — is great. “Names that go well with Joseph, Evelyn, and Thomas” is speaking my language — although I certainly know it’s not necessary, it’s so pleasing to hear of sib sets that sound like they belong together style-wise. And I’m always good with nicknames!

So first, I’m going to offer my thoughts on the names Carlin and her hubby have thought about/considered, in case they’re helpful:

  • Leo: I think Leo is a great option for them! I love that Joseph is biblical, that Thomas is biblical but actually in their Thomas’ case is for a non-biblical Saint, and Leo would be a non-biblical name for a non-biblical Saint, so it sort of rounds it all out nicely, if that makes sense, and loops Evelyn in even more since neither of her names are biblical. The fact that Carlin’s hubby’s great-grandfather Leonard was “a pretty awesome dude” and also, especially, that if they had a singleton “this would be a frontrunner” tells me that Leo is definitely the name to beat!
  • Agustine/Augustin/Auggie: I love this name — my husband and I very nearly named our sixth boy Augustin Francis! In fact, that was the name we’d decided on for him but when I was eight months pregnant we changed our minds, and it was almost a hundred percent because of pronunciation issues, so I thought I’d mention that just in case. We strongly preferred the au-GUS-tin pronunciation and it drove us crazy that the Augustine spelling tripped people up — we heard au-gus-TEEN at least half the time, which we didn’t care for. So we’d chosen the Augustin spelling because of that but eventually decided it was all too fussy for us. I only share that so Carlin and her hubs can be sure to have thought about all that — if they’re okay with it, that’s great!
  • Leo and Gregory: I, too, love the idea of the boys being named after two Pope St. the Greats! And I think Leo and Gregory are fantastic together. But it’s funny about Gregory — even though it pops up a LOT on the lists of names the families I work with are often considering, it’s rarely chosen, and I think it’s because we’re all dealing with a little bit of 70s fallout or something — I hear “Greg Brady” a lot when people tell me why Gregory isn’t feeling quite right, “Greg” is just not doing is for parents these days. In the past, I’ve suggested Rory, Grey, and even Gus (for like Gregory Stephen or similar, where there’s a strong S in the middle name) as possible alternative nicknames — maybe that would help? I’ve also liked considering the variant Gregor — it can still take Pope St. Gregory the Great as patron, but losing the final Y makes it feel less Greg-ish I think. Do you all agree? Something like Gregor Magnus, where Magnus means “great,” could reinforce that, if they like Gregor but worried that it was veering too far from Gregory the Great.
  • James and John: Oh man. Carlin had me at Leo, and then to read about the “Sons of Thunder” and how they’re being referred to by family and friends as the Thunder Brothers makes me think that James and John are also basically requirements at this point! I always like the idea of connecting twins in their names somehow, whether it’s having the same first initial, or variants of the same name somehow (e.g., one with the first name Sean and the other with the middle name John), so having James and John present in their names because of the Thunder Brothers connection is amazing. Since Carlin said that “as outright names — James and John do not do it for either of” them, I might suggest using them as middle names. Leo John and Gregory James, for example, or Leo James and Augustin John. Or one as a first name and one as a middle name, like Leo James and John Augustin nn Auggie. And I’m just now thinking — since Leo would have a family connection to Great Grandpa Leonard, a way to incorporate a family tie for their other son might be using the Italian form of Augustine: Agostino. Then it would be a nod to Carlin’s husband’s family via heritage. Leo James and John Agostino? And something like John Agostino nn Auggie could totally work. And putting the “more complicated” name in the middle can make it feel more comfortable for Carlin. You’ll also see more ideas from me below that include John as a first name, whether or not they use John as the everyday call name, as I’ve often thought that John can work like Mary does for girls — it works in front of most names to make them feel really faithy and traditional, even if the second name isn’t so faithy and traditional, or is a little more offbeat or complicated. Or just as a really handsome combo. For this family, I love the idea of John Augustin or John Agostino. Or John Gregory. Oh gosh, now Agostino has me thinking about the Italian for John and James, Giovanni and Giacomo … Leo Giovanni and James Agostino? Leo Giacomo and John Agostino? Am I going way too far down the Italian path??? Haha!

Alright, those are my thoughts on the names Carlin and her husband have discussed, now on to my new suggestions! You all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those they’re considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. This very much ties into Carlin’s hope that the boys’ names go with Joseph, Evelyn, and Thomas. I certainly kept an eye out for names with great faith connections, and I also approached the naming of the twins in two ways: names that seemed like great twin names (same initial, for example), and those that would make great singleton suggestions for this family if these babies were born two years apart from each other, for example (and then they could use the middle names as the twin connection if they wanted). I also have some suggestions below that are based on gut feeling rather than research (always tricky! But maybe perfect!). Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Luke

As soon as I saw Leo on their list I had to suggest Luke, for a totally subjective reason: I had Leo and Luke on my list for twin boys for years! Haha! Specifically Leo Maximilian (I loved the “Leo the Great” layer here too with Maximilian, as well as the Kolbe connection) and Luke Emmanuel. But also, Luke is totally a name I would suggest to them if they were having just one boy. I love that it’s biblical like Joseph and Thomas, and I included it as an entry in the book of Marian names I wrote because his gospel is the most Marian, containing within it the Annunciation, Visitation, the prophecy that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced by a sword, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat. I personally like that Leo and Luke would share the same initial — a nice twin thing — but I can also see how that might not be appealing, since I know very well how easy it is to mix up kids’ names that don’t even sound the same! I will note that I spent some time thinking about whether or not Evelyn’s middle name of Lucille takes away some of the appeal of Luke and decided that I would be okay with it if it were me because the Lucy names and the Luke names aren’t actually etymologically related (though many people will name a girl Lucy after a Luke and vice versa, understandably).

(2) Henry (and Edmund?)

Years ago I read this post on naming twins by Meg Hunter-Kilmer (awesome on her own, but also sister of Rosie from A Blog for My Mom, and it was Rosie’s twins that inspired the post) that I’ve referred to it often, and one of the combos she suggested was Henry and Edmund because “Henry Walpole was converted when Edmund Campion’s blood spattered on him and went on to be ordained and martyred in England, just like Edmund.” That’s quite a connection! Henry is actually a style match for Evelyn, and I think it’s great with Joseph and Thomas. Maybe Leo Edmund and Henry Augustin? Or do they like Edmund enough as a first name? Henry James and Edmund John? (Obviously I hope they feel free to ignore my first+middle combo ideas! It’s just so fun to play around with the names and come up with ideas!)

(3) Oliver (and Owen?)

Joseph and Thomas are so familiar that I think they can really take lots of different styles of names as brothers, while Evelyn’s style is a little more distinct, so I enjoyed trying to find names that I thought would be really great as Joseph and Thomas’ brothers while also connecting with Evelyn’s style. Oliver is a match for Evelyn, and St. Oliver Plunkett’s one of my favorites! I like that Oliver is a match for Evelyn, and Ollie is such a cute nickname, and I definitely think Joseph, Thomas, and Oliver sound great together, and if they go with Leo for the other twin, I like that Leo ends in O and Oliver starts with O. Leo and Oliver, Leo and Ollie. Leo John and Oliver James? I also want to include that Owen is a match for Evelyn as well, and while I don’t see Owen being their style for a first name so much (though Oliver and Owen would be adorable!), some people take Owen as a form of John, and in fact, St. Nicholas Owen, who I LOVE, was also known as Little John, so there could be something there — another way to connect the boys, like Leo John and Luke Owen, or Augustin John and Gregory Owen.

(4) Nicholas

This is totally due to how Carlin said she and her hubby both “love the idea of the boys being named after the two Greats,” because Pope St. Nicholas the Great is another one! I like Nicholas for them! Leo and Nicholas, Leo and Nick/Nicky, Leo and Nico (that last one is nice because of the shared O ending).

(5) John Paul (Jack?)

There are four Popes who are Pope St. the Great and we’ve already talked about three of them — Leo, Gregory, Nicholas — but what about the fourth and most recent, Pope St. John Paul the Great?! This is kind of not a new idea, since they already have John on their list, but maybe John Paul is the way to incorporate John in a way that they like? Leo James and John Paul? Two Pope St. the Greats AND the Sons of Thunder? John Paul can be a first name, where they might want to add a middle, or they can use John as the first name and Paul as the middle, even if they intend to call him John Paul all the time. Length-wise, Leo James and John Paul are very balanced, which is pleasing … John Paul itself is one of those names that has the monastery + incense names as style matches — Augustine, Benedict, etc. — and can also fit in really well with the Joseph/Thomas names (I would put Leo in the middle between those two styles, which is awesome), so choosing John Paul for one of their twins would also help keep options open for them both now and going forward. John Paul and Leo go great together, John Paul and Augustin go great together, John Paul and Luke go great together, etc. If they like the idea of John Paul, but not the idea of calling him John Paul, or John, or JP, then maybe Jack is the perfect nickname for them? Jack is a style match for both Evelyn and Leo!

(6) Gabriel (and Michael?)

Gabriel’s on this list because of Carlin’s husband’s desire that their sons become great leaders of the faith — Gabriel is made of the Hebrew elements for “strong man, hero” and “God” and while some sites will say that means “God is my strong man,” I prefer to think of it as “strong man of God,” which is amazing. Leo and Gabriel would be great together, and Luke and Gabriel as well. And John Paul and Gabriel. Or John Gabriel as a first+middle combo. Ooh! Leo Michael and Luke Gabriel! A different Pope Leo — Pope Leo XIII — composed the St. Michael Prayer, which would make Leo and Michael a cool combo, and Luke’s Gospel has the Annunciation in it, which would make Luke and Gabriel a cool combo, and Leo Michael and Luke Gabriel would both have Archangel middles and L first names, ahh! Or Michael James and John Gabriel, where they’d both have an Archangel name but in different spots? Michael is actually a style match for Joseph and Thomas, and Michael and John as brothers are sweet. And Michael is such a soldier/warrior name, which is right in line with Carlin’s husband’s hopes for their sons.

(7) Robert

My last idea for this family is Robert, which is a style match for both Joseph and Thomas. As with Leo, I like that it’s a non-biblical Saint’s name, which allows for more options now and in the future. St. Robert Bellarmine is a great patron! Because Robert has that familiarity that Joseph and Thomas have, it can easily take a more unexpected/complicated middle — Robert Augustin has a very pleasing symmetry with Thomas Benedict, for example. Rob/Robbie and Bob/Bobby are the traditional nicknames, but you could also do Rory, Bert, and Bo. Leo James and Robert John are very handsome, or Leo Dominic and Robert Augustin, or John Henry and Robert James.

Those are my “official” suggestions, which you can see I really only used as an attempt to categorize my otherwise sort of scattered thoughts — I could feel my mind pinging all over the place as I was doing this, so many fun options! Lots of ways to mix and match! I wanted to include a few more things that might be helpful. These names go naturally together in the sense of being “famous” pairs or having shared elements:

  • Peter and Paul
  • Daniel and Samuel (both Old Testament names ending in -el and neither one Archangel names)
  • David and Jonathan
  • Ambrose and Augustine
  • Francis and Dominic
  • Damian and Cosmas (this mama named her twin boys after Sts. Damian and Cosmas, but in an unexpected and awesome way!)
  • John Bosco and Dominic Savio (that link to Meg’s twin article above explains)

I did this post on the whole idea of John + something, that might have some appealing ideas for them to work John in somehow. Also, another idea that might work if they use Leo, and thus have a family connection to Great Grandpa Leonard, is to consider John + Carlin’s maiden name maybe? Or another surname from her side?

Though there are only four Pope St. the Greats, CatholicSaints.info lists a bunch of non-pope Saints that have “the Great” added to their names — they might like to look through them if they decide on Leo for one of the twins.

I wrote an article for CatholicMom a while ago on naming twins and multiples — they’ve since done a site redesign and the article is sort of jumbled together, but they might find it helpful, with this addition.

And my “Naming twins” tag on the blog brings up all the posts I’ve done on the topic for both boys and girls, which might be fun to look through.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the twin brothers of Joseph, Evelyn, and Thomas?


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

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for Baby no. 4’s name!

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their fourth girl! Baby Sister joins:

Emma Grace

Kennedy Faith

Lillian Hope

Which I would love anyway — I love the femininity of Emma and Lillian and the spunkiness of Kennedy, and I love that their middle names tie them together so nicely — but then Ashley pointed out that they all have a double letter in the middle, which I hadn’t seen before she said it — how cool! And not only would she ideally like to continue that, but she’s got some other preferences as well — I LOVE a good name challenge! The more rules the merrier!

Ashley writes,

We know the middle name will be Joy. For the first name, I’m a little weird where right now our names go in alphabetical order (E, K, L) so the name would need to be after L. We also want to continue the tradition of having two letters in the middle of the name preferably, but if need be, it could be at the end of the name. I’m also not opposed to starting at the beginning of the alphabet, but would love for it to be from M to Z

Names we cannot do:

  • Noelle
  • Zellie (even though I like it, I don’t want it to rhyme with Jelly)

Names we have thought of, but don’t really like:

  • Molly
  • Nellie 
  • Maree
  • Savannah 
  • Poppy

A name we like:

  • Rosalee (although in this case, I would rather it be Rosalie)

Especially in the year of St. Joseph, my husband would love a name that is in honor of him, but all I could think of was Josaphina or Lilly (which couldn’t do that).”

I’m glad Ashley included the names they can’t use or don’t care for — I likely would have suggested a bunch of them! Before I get to my new suggestions for her little girl, I wanted to comment on a couple things she mentioned, in case they’re helpful:

  • Rosalee: I tried to think of different ways this could work in a way Ashley and her hubs might like better, and the only names I could think of were the similar Rosaleen and Rosheen.
  • Names for St. Joseph: I also really wanted to think of a St. Joseph name for them!! None of the Josephine names have a double letter that I could find except for Josée, which is said like jo-SAY (or zho-ZAY, to be more authentically French) and isn’t in the second half of the alphabet. But then there’s the Italian variants Giuseppa and Giuseppina, which made me think maybe Seppa? As a short form of Giuseppa? I know Seppel is a German diminutive of Joseph, so even though I’ve never seen Seppa used in this way (Seppä is an unrelated Finnish surname that means “smith”), I think an argument could be made for it. If Ashley and her hubby like it, that would be awesome because it would check all their boxes! Seppa Joy could be pretty cool for a little girl born during the Year of St. Joseph!
  • Another way to honor St. Joseph: I looked up Saints who had a special devotion to St. Joseph, in case there was anything there, and found that St. Teresa of Avila took him for a particular patron — Tessa is a diminutive of Teresa that fits with their rules! AND her feast day is October 15, which is close to Ashley’s due date! Wow! Ven. Margaret of the Most Holy Sacrament is another who is known to have had a special devotion to St. Joseph — Mette (pronounced like Meta) is a Danish and Norwegian diminutive of Margaret … Maggie and Peggy are nicknames for Margaret too, but neither seems this family’s style to me … Maybe Reeta, which is a Finnish diminutive?
  • Alternative to Poppy: I know they have Poppy on their list of names they don’t really like — I wonder if that extends to the similar-but-different Pippa? I love Pippa! It can certainly be used on its own, but if they want something longer, it arose as a diminutive of Philippa (like Kate Middleton’s sister), which also fits their rules.

Okay, so Seppa, Tessa, and Pippa are my favorites for this family of the names I mentioned above, but of course I can always come up with more ideas! Haha! It was SO FUN to try to find more names with double letters in the middle — I used the NameFinder tool on babynamewizard.com and just went through the alphabet (bb, cc, etc.) and made a list of those names that I thought had promise. I looked them up on CatholicSaints.info to see if there were any saintly connections, and I also did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard book (affiliate link), looking up Emma, Kennedy, Lillian, and Rosalie to see if any of their style matches sparked anything. I will say that I was heavily skewed toward Kennedy’s style, since Emma, Lillian, and Rosalie are all of the same basic universe and I thought it would be nice to loop Kennedy in more, so I paid attention to the names that are “surname-y names,” which in my mind includes place names. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for Ashley’s baby girl:

(1) Merryn, Perrin

There are actually two Saints known as Merryn! Both male, but I think Merryn totally works for a girl. Merryn Joy is pretty!

The rhyming Perrin is a diminutive of Peter, and one of my readers named her daughter Perrin! If I were to get nitpicky, I guess my ideal preference would be to have a name that sounds different from Ashley’s other girls — I like that Emma, Kennedy, and Lillian have their own initials, own endings, and own double letters — and Merryn and Perrin have the same ending sound as Lillian. But otherwise, I think they’re both great choices.

(2) Quinn

I’ve had a couple readers who have included Quinn in their daughters’ names in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. It’s a great match for Kennedy because it’s an Irish surname that has unisex first name usage!

(3) Reilly

Reilly is another Irish surname with unisex first name usage, like Kennedy, and there’s an Irish Dominican martyr named James O’Reilly that could be patron. One of my readers has a daughter named Reilly (her sister was almost Quinn!).

(4) Salette

I think this is my favorite of my suggestions here. It’s in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and I never would have thought of it but that one of my readers had it on her list of names she was considering. I like that it’s from a place name, so I’d include it in the “surname-y style,” like Kennedy, and of course I always love a good Marian name.

(5) Sienna

St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernardine of Siena inspired this idea — I’ve seen many people spell it Sienna (even those who know it’s spelled Siena), which would fit perfectly with Ashley’s rules.

Those are my “official suggestions, but there were also a bunch of other names that I considered including but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another — I wanted to list them here, just in case:

  • Carrigan
  • Corinne
  • Maddalena
  • Mallory
  • Merrigan
  • Prentiss
  • Reece/Reese
  • Rooney
  • Sutton
  • Vivienne
  • Wells/Welles
  • Wynne

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Emma, Kennedy, and Lillian?


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

Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs a super-Irish name like her big sibs

Diana and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their third girl! Little Miss joins big siblings:

Lillian Nicole

Saoirse Irene

Aidan James

Which you know have me all 😍😍😍 — I love those Irish names!

Diana writes,

My husband and I are having a hard time naming this next child. I don’t like his suggestion and he doesn’t like mine or neither of us feel like it’s right. Our pattern so far has been an Irish name and a family name. We are trying to avoid names that start with the same letter as a sibling or sounding the same.”

The list of names that Diana likes includes:

  • Megan
  • Maighdlin
  • Brigit
  • Marjorie
  • Claire
  • Ellen*
  • Margaret*
  • Madelyn
  • Ester
  • Tamsyn
  • Rhea
  • Mary

And her husband’s list includes:

  • Bianca
  • Isabel
  • Isabella
  • Inis
  • Vera
  • Grace
  • Molly
  • Naomi
  • Amara
  • Talia
  • Natalia*

(Asterisks denote each of their favorites.)

Okay! So first off, Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan are fantastic names! I like Diana’s rules of avoiding using the same first initial for this baby girl, as well as names that sound similar to her older siblings’ names — that definitely helped to narrow down the field of names.

I was really interested to see what names were on their lists, since Lillian seems to me a different style than Saoirse and Aidan — I wondered if their lists be mostly Irishy Irish names, or less so? I was impressed by the range of names on Diana’s list and that of her husband! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Megan, Marjorie, Margaret: I grouped these together because they’re from the same name family — Megan is a diminutive of Margaret (and can be used as a nickname for it), and Marjorie is a medieval variant of Margaret. Margaret, Megan, and Maggie all have an Irish feel to them, so I think something here would be great. I wonder if the Gaelic version Mairead (rhymes with “parade”) might do the trick? Maisie is its traditional nickname, which is darling.
  • Brigit: I like that names like Margaret and Brigit are a nice middle ground between Lillian’s style and Saoirse’s. If they spelled it Bridget, they could consider using Bridie as a nickname, which I love.
  • Claire: Claire’s a great name! I wonder, though, if Clare might be the better spelling for this family? Like Co. Clare in Ireland?
  • Ellen: On the one hand, I was surprised by Ellen as it seems to have a different feel than the other names on Diana’s list. But then, my grandfather was born and raised in Ireland and his sister Eileen went by Ellen sometimes (or was it vice versa?), so I can see how Ellen can fit in with an Irish sensibility. I wondered if Eileen or Eleanor (nickname Nora, which has a nice Irish feel) are Ellen-ish names that might appeal to Diana’s husband?
  • Madelyn, Maighdlin: I’d never seen the Irish form of Madelyn (Maighdlin) before, I love it! I think finding the Irish variant of names they like is a good strategy.
  • Ester: Like Ellen, I was surprised by Ester on Diana’s list, but delighted to see that it’s similar in style to Naomi and Talia on her husband’s list — since they’re both having a hard time coming to a name they both like, it’s great to look for any commonality! However, I do think it would be a bit jarring to have a name that comes across as so Old Testament with Saoirse and Aidan as siblings, for example.
  • Tamsyn: I had Tamsin on my own list for my oldest if he’d been a girl, in honor of a Thomas — I liked that Tamsin is a feminine variant of Thomas via Thomasina. The fact that Diana has it on her list says to me that she’s okay expanding their names from strictly Irish to more broadly Celtic/British Isles, as I’m not familiar with its usage in Ireland, though I do think it has traditional usage in the U.K. (I could be wrong though!)
  • Rhea: Wow, another surprise! I think it fits with the “old lady” type names, like Ellen and Ester. One of my readers has a little Rhea.
  • Mary: I was excited to see Mary on Diana’s list, as there are so many pretty Irish Mary variants! Molly is one example, which I noted on her husband’s list — Mary as a given name with Molly as a nickname is how Molly arose as a name to begin with, and might be a nice option for this family. I also love Moira and Maura/Maureen.
  • Bianca, Isabella, Natalia: I’m grouping these together because they have a distinct Latinate feel that’s really beautiful but is at odds with the Irish style I think. But since Diana’s husband loves Natalia, I tried to think of some similar-ish names that would seem more natural with Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan, which I included in my “official” suggestions below.
  • Isabel: Isabel is lovely, and could fit better with their kids than Isabella I think, but even still, it doesn’t have that Irish sparkle.
  • Inis: Is this like “Inish,” like Inis Mor? I’ve never seen it considered as a name before!
  • Vera: Vera strikes me as similar to Ellen, Ester, and Rhea in the sense of it being kind of an “old lady” name, which are definitely back in style right now. But again, it feels like a mismatch with the other kids.
  • Grace: I love Grace, and I think it might normally go nicely with their other kids, but that I don’t love that it shares several sounds with their last name. The Irish variant Grainne takes it one step away, and normally I wouldn’t recommend it because its pronunciation is impossible to figure out for those who don’t know how to pronounce it, but I suspect Diana and her hubby deal with that all the time with Saoirse.
  • Molly: I think Molly’s a great option — see my comments re: Mary above.
  • Naomi, Talia: Naomi is a very Old Testament name, like Ester; I don’t think Talia is an Old Testament name, but it is a Hebrew name and I believe it’s most common among Jewish families? (Except when it’s used as a nickname for Natalia, for example.)
  • Amara: I’m having a hard time figuring Amara out — I thought it might be a Hebrew name like Talia, but what I’m finding is that it’s an Igbo name (from Nigeria) or also the name borne by multiple characters from a couple fantasy shows. So I’d recommend crossing this one off the list, as it’s pretty far away from the style they’ve already established. Maura is an Irish name that is similar in sound which might appeal to Diana’s husband.

So those are my thoughts on the names Diana and her husband have on their lists, which I hope they only find helpful — I don’t want to disparage any names they both really like or make the task of choosing a name for their little girl harder.

Now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this baby; Saoirse doesn’t have her own entry, but there is a list of Celtic names in the back of the book that includes Saoirse and also a nice mix of names that I think would fit well with their older kids, which I also looked through. Based on that, these are my new ideas for Diana’s baby girl:

(1) Catriona (Cait/Cate, Katie)

Catherine is a style match for Margaret; Catalina is a match for Natalia; and Caroline/Carolyn is a match for Margaret, Claire, and Ellen, so I thought Catriona, which is an Irish form of Catherine/Katherine and has similar sounds to Catalina and Caroline, might be perfect. Catriona can take the nickname Cait/Cate as well — Kate is a match for Claire and Katie for Molly, so I like this idea for them a lot.

(2) Isla

Isabel(la) and Inis from Diana’s husband’s list made me think of Isla, which I thought they might like. It’s got both Scottish and Spanish usage — pronounced EYE-la for the former and EES-la for the latter — and I included it as an entry in the book of Marian baby names I wrote, as “its Marian character comes from the title ‘Our Lady of the Isles’ (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), or any of the devotions in the U.S. and Canada to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle.” Isla is such a pretty name!

(3) Eilís/Eilish

I love these Irish variants of Elizabeth — they are definitely very Saoirse-ish but perhaps a little more accessible, which swings them a little more to the Aidan/Lillian side.

(4) Fiadh

Sophia is a style match for Lillian; Sophie is a match for Isabel and Grace; and Safiya is a match for Amara, but I didn’t think any of those were names Diana and her husband would really like, especially since they begin with S like Saoirse and they don’t want to repeat initials. But Fiadh is said just like the last syllable of Sophia, and like Saoirse it has a meaning of freedom: “wild, untamed.”

(5) Rosemary/Rosemarie, Róisín/Roisin

Rosemary is a style match for Marjorie, and as soon as I saw it I thought of my friend Rosemarie, who is native Irish and grew up in the Gaeltacht, speaking Irish as her co-first language, I believe, so I thought maybe they’d like to consider Rosemary or Rosemarie, especially since Diana has Mary on her list. Rosemary/Rosemarie made me think, too, of Róisín, which is Irish for “little Rose” and is the name of a girl I knew when I was younger. I’ve always loved it, such a pretty name!

(6) Ríona/Ríonach/Ríoghnach

Speaking of pretty Irish names that begin with R, these names are all variants derived from the Irish for “queen,” making them cognates of Regina and therefore they’re Marian names as well, via her title as Queen. One of my readers used Ríonach for her baby’s middle name, it’s amazing!

(7) Nollaig

This might be a strange idea, since I haven’t seen it used as a name, but it’s Irish for “Christmas,” making it like Noelle and Natalia. The final G is said, but otherwise I think it sounds a lot like Molly, especially when said with their G last name, so maybe this would be a good compromise for Diana and her hubby?

(8) Niamh, Naomh

What about one of these names? Naomi on Diana’s husband’s list made me think of both Niamh and Naomh because of the similarities in spelling (though Naomi is said much differently than Niamh and Naomh of course), which I spotlighted here and discussed faith connections.

(9) Maeve/Medb/Méabh/Meadhbh

Finally, I had to suggest Maeve — it’s one of the easiest for those who aren’t familiar with Irish names to figure out, as long as the Maeve spelling is used. If they wanted to get more Irish, though, they can choose from Medb, Méabh, Meadhbh and there might be other spellings too — so many letters for such a little name, haha!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan?


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

Baby name consultation: Parents need fresh name ideas for boy no. 6

Mary and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their sixth boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

  • John Paul
  • Simon Joseph
  • Magdalen Therese nn Maggie
  • Mark Francis
  • Damian Bernard
  • Leo Abraham

Such great naaaames!! I love them all!!

Mary writes,

So here we are, needing a name for our 6th boy and I’m feeling tapped out. Part of the problem is that the more kids you have the more rules you have: I don’t really want another M name, or another that ends in the -an sound and it needs to feel like it matches with our other kids’ names. Our last name is also a bit of a problem — any final T or D especially gets swallowed up by beginning D of our surname. This takes some otherwise great names like Clement or Benedict out of consideration. Finally there’s my feeling that names we considered for previous kids are now reject names and I don’t want my baby to have a reject name. I recognize that this is pretty silly and that’s why I’m not going to share these names with you — I want a fresh perspective with no baggage!

Other names we don’t want to use for various reasons:

  • Thomas
  • Sebastian
  • Lawrence
  • Jerome
  • Augustine
  • Gregory

The current, extremely short list is:

  • Cosmas. Simon especially is really gunning for this and I do like it a lot but I wonder if it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. 
  • Matthias. But it’s an M name and we already have 3 of those. Also [Hubby] seems pretty ambivalent.”

I think Mary’s definitely come to the right place, because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about boy names! Haha! I really love the names Mary and her hubby have given their older boys — John Paul, Simon, Mark, Damian, and Leo are all really fantastic and really convey the faith well. (Magdalen too — one of my favorites! Such a beautiful name for a girl with so many brothers!) I’m excited to try to find some ideas for their sixth boy!

Before I get to my official suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the names that they’re considering and their name rules, in case they’re helpful:

  • Cosmas: I really love that Mary and her husband are willing to consider such a cool name! Its faith connections are impeccable, but her question about whether or not it’s “too weird outside of Catholic circles” is a valid one. It’s hard for me to tell, since I’m so deep in Catholicky Catholic names all the time, so I sometimes have a hard time looking in as from the outside. On the one hand, I immediately think of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (which in itself presents something for them to think about as well — do they like Damian having a brother named Cosmas, or is that a negative?) — Cosmas feels familiar to me because Cosmas and Damian is a familiar reference point for me. On the other hand, Cosmas wasn’t in the top 1000 names bestowed in 2019 (the last year that the Social Security Administration shared name stats), so I dug deeper to see how many baby boys were given the name in the U.S., and it doesn’t show up in the data at all in 2019 (the SSA reports all names given to five or more babies each year, so its absence on the list lets you know how very few babies were given the name — maybe even zero). I looked back each year until 2010, and it was given to five babies in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and less than five in the other years. So it’s a very very rare name, which is probably the best marker of whether or not it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. It’s variant Cosmo gets a bit more usage, maybe (probably?) because of the character of Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld — it was given to 49 boys in 2019. But even though Cosmo is a variant of Cosmas, and so can take the same saint as patron, I do think it has the added element of “the cosmos,” which could feel a little astrological maybe? In addition to the Seinfeld reference, which may or may not be a positive.
  • Matthias: Matthias was high on our list through several of our boys, I love it! But the fact that Mary really doesn’t want another M name, combined with the fact that her hubby doesn’t seem all that jazzed about it, tells me it would be best to keep looking.
  • “Reject” names: Mary’s perspective of not wanting to use names that they decided against for their other kids is one that’s new to me since starting the blog, but I’ve found that it’s not unusual at all! It might help to try to reframe their thinking as, “We didn’t reject that name because it was bad, we decided against it for *that* baby because it didn’t seem like the right name for him/her. But it might be the right name for *this* baby.” But if that doesn’t help, then hopefully some of my ideas here are new ones that will be helpful!
  • Their other rules: I like all their other rules! No M names seems right; no ends-in-the-an-sound sounds right; “needs to go with the other kids” sounds right. I did break Mary’s rule of no-ending-in-T-or-D, though, as there was one name that I thought they might like that I didn’t think was overly problematic that its ending sound runs into their last name. And for that matter, I don’t think Clement sounds bad with their last name, nor does Benedict. But then, my maiden name is Towne, so I was Kate Towne my whole growing up, and some people would mishear my name as Kay Towne, which I hated, but it really wasn’t a huge deal — I learned to enunciate the T in Kate, and I loved my name then and still do. So it’s definitely a preference, but if they don’t like it, they don’t like it!

So those are my thoughts on the names Mary and her husband are considering — now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so for this family, with a particular eye toward finding names that are early-Church-ish and of course that go with their other kiddos’ names. Based on that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Thaddeus

One of the first names that jumped out at me as a name they might like was Jude — a style match for Simon — but with its D ending and the fact that his name would sound like Jew D___, I thought it probably wasn’t a great idea after all. But the other part of St. Jude’s name — Thaddeus — is a match for Magdalen, Matthias, and Benedict (which I used in my research since Mary called it an “otherwise great name”), and it has some great nicknames — Thad, Tad, and Taddy (which I guess don’t fit with Mary’s rule, oops!).

(2) Gabriel

Gabriel is such a fantastic name — it’s biblical and Marian and a great style match for Mary’s other kids’ names. Gabe is one of my very favorite nicknames — friendly and masculine — and I’ve also seen Gil, Gib, and Eli used as nickname for Gabriel.

(3) Tobias

I really wanted to find an alternative for Matthias for them — Matthias seems to me like the exact kind of name they’re looking for, but with it starting with an M, I agree that it’s probably not ideal (though if they decided to go for it, I wouldn’t be disappointed!). I wondered what they’d think of Tobias? It rhymes with Matthias but doesn’t have the problematic M, and just like I consider Matthias to be a particularly Catholic New Testament name (since he was basically chosen at the first Church Council! Haha!), so too do I consider Tobias to be a particularly Catholic Old Testament name, since it comes from the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in Protestant bibles. And Toby is such a darling nickname!

(4) Joachim

One of my very favorite names, which I tried to convince my husband of through all of my boys I think, is Joachim — the name we traditionally assign to Our Lady’s father and, due to that fact, another name that I consider to be particularly Catholicky Catholic. It’s not really well known in America (though it’s got more usage than Cosmas! It was given to 28 baby boys in 2019), but it’s got pretty good usage outside of America — I wrote more about that here. Joe is an easy nickname, and they could even think of it as a nod to St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph, which is a nice way to work him in without repeating Simon’s middle name. Or if Joe isn’t working for Mary, we would have used Jake as the nickname, which I still love.

(5) Luke/Lucas

Lucas is a style match for Matthias, and while I think that a Matthias-type name is the kind Mary and her hubs are looking for, I didn’t want to forget about Mark, who has a bit different style than his siblings’ names, which is funny since his name is a New Testament name and four of their other six have New Testament names! I wanted to include at least one name in this list that loops Mark in more, and Luke really struck me as being a great option. I would understand if they didn’t want to follow Leo with another L name, so maybe they want to hold on to Luke/Lucas for the future if they were to have another boy, but otherwise I think Leo and Luke are darling together — if this baby and Leo are particularly close in age, it might even be a perfect idea.

(6) Dominic

Dominic is such a natural idea for this family, to me, that I feel like they must have considered it and decided they don’t like it, so this might be a wasted suggestion, but I couldn’t not include it here! I considered whether or not I thought having two sons with D names, especially with their D last name, was too much, and decided that I kind of love it. I’m a big fan of alliteration anyway, so Damian D___ and Dominic D___ are awesome in my opinion! Dom, Dommy, and even Nic/Nicky/Nico are nickname possibilities for Dominic.

(7) Isaac

They could think of Isaac in the bible as patron for a little Isaac, or they could think of one of my favorite Saints, St. Isaac Jogues (I live quite close to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, where St. Isaac’s remains are said to be on the grounds somewhere, never found). I read a book years ago by Susie Lloyd I think — she has two: Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids — and she gave an example of the kids’ names in Catholic families by describing a boy who introduced himself as “Isaac Jogues Callahan” (or a similar last name) and it made me laugh then and it still does! Isaac Jogues as a first+middle combo would be so cool, and so clearly saintly to anyone who knows about St. Isaac! (But also Isaac just on its own, no pressure!) Ike and Zac are traditional nicknames for Isaac.

(8) Edmund, Campion

Finally, Edmund is a match for both Clement and Benedict (both of which I used as inspiration, since Mary indicated that she would like them but for their last letter), and like them, ends in one of her problematic letters. However, when I say “Edmund,” I rarely hear the D, or barely, so I don’t think Edmund D___ sounds bad! But then I saw that Abby from Appellation Mountain recently spotlighted Campion, and I immediately thought it sounded like a name Mary and her hubs would like, and could still take St. Edmund Campion as patron. I love the nickname Cam! I know St. Edmund is later than the Saints of their older kids’ names, but I wanted to include it here just in case.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of John Paul, Simon, Magdalen/Maggie, Mark, Damian, and Leo?


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

Baby name consultation: Old Testament, German/Dutch, and/or Irish-y for baby boy no. 2

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!! You know this is one of my favorite days, and you know Irish names are some of my favorites — check out my Irish names and Rose of Tralee tags for more!! I also read this piece that’s appropriate for today: “It’s not Happy St. Patty’s Day, but St. Paddy’s Day. Here’s why” by Amy Croffey — interesting to get an Irish person’s take!

Today’s consultation was meant to post on Monday, but as has been happening more and more to me as my kids get bigger (whoever said, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems” wasn’t joking! Not that we’re having problems, just life is so much bigger and busier when they’re big and busy!), the day got away from me, and then yesterday Hubby and I took a day trip, so Monday’s post is posting today, which ends up being great because what’s better on St. Paddy’s Day than a baby name consultation?!

Andrea and her husband are having their second baby — their second boy! Their little guy joins big brother:

Jonah John (“My dad, brother, brother in law, and grandfather in law are all named John“)

Which I love for its biblicalness, family ties, and alliteration (I love alliteration). Great job, Mom and Dad!

Andrea writes,

We thought this baby was going to be a girl and already had the name, Margot Ruth picked out. Obviously there is a chance that we could never have a daughter but would like to take this name into consideration. 

Our baby will be half Mexican, so ideally we would like a name that is pronounceable in Spanish but not too Mexican to be able to go with our German/Dutch last name. 

Overall, we like unique/biblical names but not too weird. We like names with meaningful meanings that are somewhat biblical like “peace”, “God’s gift”, etc.

Both of my grandfathers have passed… one this past August and I’m due around his birthday. His name was Isidro. We kind of like “I” names because of this, but not a must.”

 Some names they’re considering include: 

  • Benjamin 
  • Eli  (“we considered naming our first son this“)
  • Liam (“like it but too popular“)
  • Owen (“like it but too popular“)
  • Oliver (“like it but too popular“)
  • Ira (“husband thinks it’s too similar to Jonah. I feel like maybe an “I” name could honor my grandfather, but not a must“)
  • Peter (“uncle that passed away“)
  • Finn 
  • Otto
  • Sebastian
  • Otis
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul as possible middle name
  • Edsko (“family name [first/middle] of several of my husband’s Dutch/German family tree“)
  • German/Dutch names

Names they can’t/won’t use include:

  • James
  • Isaac
  • Michael
  • Elijah
  • Matthew
  • Levi
  • Luke
  • Mark
  • Ruben
  • Milo
  • Jude (“has always been a favorite“)
  • Max
  • Joshua
  • Christian
  • Henry
  • Hans
  • Ezra
  • Theodore

Alrighty! So one of the things I noticed first was Isaac and Luke on the list of names they can’t use — I likely would have suggested them otherwise, so it was great Andrea included her “no” list. As for her “yes” list, I love the names she and her hubby are considering! It was so interesting to me to see three solid styles emerge: biblical (Benjamin, Eli, Ira, Peter, Timothy, Daniel, Paul, and I would include Sebastian here, even though it’s not biblical, since I think it has a similar feel as the biblical names), Irish (Liam, Owen, Oliver, Finn), and German/Dutch (Edsko [wow!], Otto, and I would include Otis here, even though it’s English, since it’s related to Otto). I kept all three of those in mind as I looked for names that I thought this couple might like. First, though, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Benjamin: A great name! I’ve always loved the full Benjamin and the fantastic nickname Ben. I also like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but is popular enough among the general population that I think they could easily use non-biblical names going forward without it seeming too jarring, which is also like Jonah I think. However, since Andrea said that the like Owen and Oliver but they’re too popular, I should warn them that Benjamin is as well: according to the Social Security Administration it’s been a top ten name since 2015 and is currently no. 7. (Since popularity is important to Andrea, I included the ranking for all the names I discuss going forward.) (Jonah’s no. 141, which is a really nice sweet spot of familiar but not common.)
  • Eli: Like Jonah and Benjamin, I think Eli is used enough among the general public that it doesn’t come across as heavily biblical as it used to, which is good if they don’t necessarily intend all their sons (if they have more than these two) to have biblical names. Eli’s no. 62.
  • Liam, Owen, Oliver: I’m glad Andrea included these as names they like, even though they’re too popular for what they’re looking for. Liam has been the no. 1 name in America for the last three years, and no. 2 for three years before that! Owen is no. 21 and Oliver is no. 3. A funny thing about Oliver — my husband and I very nearly named our third son Oliver — he was born in 2008, when Oliver was just starting to not be a “weird” name at no. 118. Now it’s no. 3! Amazing ascent!
  • Ira: I was really surprised to see Ira on Andrea’s list, since I have always thought it to be a name exclusively borne by Jewish men! I’d never looked it up, but did so because of it being on her list, and was surprised that the Jewish element wasn’t mentioned in any of the places I looked — do you all think of it as a predominantly Jewish name, or is that just my experience? It was fun to discover it’s an Old Testament name — I didn’t know it was biblical before looking it up — and I like that it begins with an I, as Andrea said she might like to honor her grandfather Isidro with an I name. However, I agree with her hubby, too, that it’s very similar to Jonah in that it’s a two-syllable name ending in A. Maybe it would be good in the middle spot? But my favorite I idea for them is Isidro itself! I could understand Andrea not wanting to use Isidro in the first name spot, as she mentioned not wanting a name that was jarring with their German/Dutch last name, but it would be great as a middle name! A funny thing here is that one of my boys’ best friends is named Isidor, and his mom is from Germany, so I thought that might be perfect here — when I looked it up to check on spelling (Isidore is English and Isidor is a German spelling) its entry said Isidore “has historically been a common name for Jews, who have used it as an Americanized form of names such as Isaac, Israel and Isaiah.” That’s hilarious, given what my impression of Ira had been, and yet Ira’s entry doesn’t mention Jewish usage at all! My son’s friend goes by Isi (said like Izzy), which is just too cute. Ira is no. 875 (interestingly, after having been a top 500 name for most of the twentieth century and a top 200 name until 1934, it dropped out of the top 1000 in 1993 and only came back on in 2016; it’s been hovering in the mid-900s since, until 2019 when it jumped a little to 875); neither Isidro, Isidor, nor Isidore are in the top 1000.
  • Peter: Peter’s a good, solid name, and I like that it’s in honor of Andrea’s late uncle. It seems a bit different in style than the other names they’re considering, though — I think they might be happiest with it as a middle name rather than a first name? Peter is no. 212, which is very appealing.
  • Finn: I love the name Finn — it’s such a sweet name for a little guy, and so handsome for a man. It’s been used quite a bit in recent years, too, both as a given name on its own and as a nickname for names like Finnian and Finley, so it doesn’t feel as Irishy Irish as it used to. That said, this is a good place to mention that Old Testament, Irish, and German/Dutch are three pretty strong styles, and while one can certainly find overlap between them (I tried to do so in some of my ideas below), if Andrea and her hubs choose names for their children that are on the strong end of each of those style’s spectrums, they run the risk of losing the feeling of cohesiveness that most parents I work with would like for their kids’ names. That is, they tend to like their children’s names to sound like they go together. That’s certainly not a requirement! Every once in a while I work with a couple who prefer to have an eclectic mix among their children’s names, and that’s fun too! I just want Andrea and her husband to be aware of it. Finn is no. 172, a great place to be.
  • Otto: It’s so funny, I was so surprised when I first started hearing Oliver being given to babies fifteen years ago, then Owen followed right behind, then Oscar, which I thought was really the outer limits of the O names for American parents. But more recently I’ve been seeing Otto here and there, which is just tremendous! It was out of the top 1000 altogether from 1975 to 2010, and is currently at no. 427.
  • Sebastian: I love the name Sebastian — I love how sophisticated and saintly it is — and it still feels offbeat and unusual to me, even though it’s no. 18. No. 18! I’m always shocked by that!
  • Otis: I didn’t know until I looked it up that Otis is related to Otto! And like Otto, I would have thought that Otis would be beyond the limits of what American parents would consider for their children, and then I saw that actors Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde named their son Otis in April 2014 and in 2015 it came back into the top 1000 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1994. It’s amazing the power celebrities have! Otis has continued to rise since then, though slowly — it’s currently at no. 707.
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul: These are all wonderful names and perfect in the middle spot! Timothy is no. 188, Daniel is no. 15, and Paul is no. 245.
  • Edsko: This is a fascinating name! I looked it up to learn more about it, but I can’t find it — it’s so fun to have a truly unique name in their family tree! How meaningful for them!
  • Margot Ruth: I just have to say, I LOVE their girl name!! I definitely took Margot into consideration when I was doing my research!

So those are all my thoughts on the names Andrea and her hubby are currently considering, now on to new ideas! You all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also took a look through the list of German/Dutch names in the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool at babynamewizard.com for Ira, since it doesn’t have its own entry in the book. I certainly noted any names that were listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but I was also looking for names that I thought could be both biblical and German, for example, or biblical and Irish, or German-ish and Irish-y, that kind of thing. Based on that, these are my new ideas for this little guy:

(1) Gabriel

I mentioned that I kept a special eye out for names that are listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but of the names on her list, Jonah’s name is the most important since they’ve already chosen it and bestowed it on one of their children — whatever name they choose for this baby needs to be in consideration of Jonah. Not that they can’t choose a name that’s different in style! Just that, Jonah’s name needs to be consciously considered, since he’s already named. So seeing Gabriel listed as a style match for both Jonah and Sebastian — two names on their list, one of which is their older son’s name — definitely means that Gabriel needs a spot on this list! It’s one of my favorite names, and I really like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but it’s also in the New Testament, which provides a nice bridge between names like Jonah and Peter, and it’s a pan-European name, meaning it’s used by almost all of the European cultures, so it can fit with most any heritage, including German and Dutch. Gabriel’s Behind the Name entry doesn’t include Irish in its list of usage, but I always think of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as being a great example of how it’s got decent traditional usage in Ireland as well. Gabe is a great, friendly nickname, too, and if they don’t like Gabe, I’ve actually seen Eli used as a nickname for it! Gabriel is no. 37.

(2) Abel

I’m always surprised I don’t see Abel get more usage! I see Abraham from time to time, and Abel can take Abraham’s awesome nickname Abe, but Abel itself is so much lighter than Abraham. This family has an Abel, if you’d like to see what Abel’s siblings’ names are at least in one family. Abel is no. 157, which is a great match for Jonah’s 141.

(3) Bram

Speaking of Abraham’s nicknames, as much as I love honest Abe, Bram is the nickname that really has my heart, and I think it might be perfect for this family! Bram is in the German/Dutch list, and it’s also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker, who was Irish. Biblical, German/Dutch, and Irish-y in one name! Wow! Not only that, but it’s a style match for Margot! So many amazing things about this name! It seems that the Dutch pronunciation is BRAHM, rhymes with “bomb,” which I think is probably close to what the Spanish pronunciation would be as well, right? The English pronunciation is BRAM, rhymes with “gram,” and I suspect the rhymes-with-gram pronunciation is what they’ll mostly hear, so that’s something to consider before choosing this name. Either way, as long as they’re firm and consistent about their chosen pronunciation, it should be fine! Bram is not in the top 1000.

(4) Ethan

Ethan is listed as a match for both Jonah (!) and Eli, and even though it’s a biblical name, I don’t think that fact is well known by American parents in general. Do you agree? Due to that, I think Ethan might be a great choice for Andrea’s second boy, since it shares Jonah’s biblical-ness, but in such a subtle way that they could easily branch out from biblical names going forward without too much of a fuss. Something that was really tickling me when I was working on this was the idea of Ethan Edsko — what an amazing complement to Jonah John! Both with great family meaning, and the alliterative thing is just so fun. I could see how that would really restrict them going forward, though … so this is probably a bad idea, but I do love it! Haha! Ethan is no. 10 after having spent 2002-2015 between nos. 2 and 7.

(5) Elliott (Eliot, Elliot)

Elliott is a match for Oliver, and it’s also a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is a variant of Elijah, which makes Elliott kind of a sneaky Old Testament name! Elliott could be a perfect way to connect to Jonah’s Old Testament-ness while opening up their style for non-biblical names going forward. They could also use Eli as a nickname for it, if they wanted. (I also love Elliott Edsko!) Spelling can be an issue — since there are three spellings, I think it might be hard for people to remember which spelling is the right one for this baby — Eliot has a literary feel, for poet T.S. Eliot; Elliott is the standard, I think — the one from which the others came; and Elliot kind of splits the difference. Elliott’s no. 160, Elliot’s no. 173, and Eliot’s not in the top 1000.

(6) Tobias

Tobias is a match for Margot and Sebastian, which is just perfect, because it’s also an Old Testament name like Jonah, AND it’s in the list of German/Dutch names, so Tobias would be a great connection between all those names! I don’t see a Spanish variant, but I think it’s pronounceable in Spanish, right? Tobias is no. 272.

(7) Mathias

Rhyming with Tobias and also on the German/Dutch list is Mathias, which I love for this family for those reasons, but also because it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, which is a nice way to expand their style, and because it’s a style match for Margot! Mathias is the German/Dutch spelling, which is no. 420; the spelling Matthias is the English spelling, and is no. 407.

(8) Oscar

Finally, I mentioned Oscar earlier, and I’d love for Andrea and her hubby to consider it! It’s got German/Dutch usage (the spelling Oskar would really reinforce that), it’s easily pronounceable in Spanish, and writer Oscar Wilde was Irish, so they have a lot of their boxes checked right there! One of my readers who has really embraced her husband’s German heritage recently named her son Oskar, so cute. Oscar is no. 205 and Oskar is not in the top 1000.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jonah’s little brother?


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