Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs a name with meaning and a cute “little brother” nickname

Kelly and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Patrick Robert
James Gregory
Peter Thomas

Such fantastic names! So classic and handsome!

Kelly writes,

I am so excited to have this consultation done as we have been at a total loss for names, even after prayer and extensive research of names. We are expecting baby boy number four … We love classic, strong, traditional names. We’d love to find a name that goes with our other boys but that also isn’t too popular and has meaning behind it. We have chosen Francis as the middle name after St. Francis De Sales … Andrew, Joseph and John are out … Names that we have considered are William, Edward (Teddy), George (doesn’t sound as great with our last name), Henry, Maximilian (doesn’t necessarily fit with the others). I’d love to find a name that also has a cute nickname given that he’ll be the youngest of the pack.”

Okay! *Rubs hands together* 😀 Kelly and her husband have a great list, but I’m eager to see if I can help them find a name they really love!

I love that they’ve chosen Francis as the middle name, for St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorites. I wonder if Kelly and her husband might like to consider it as a first name though? Especially since Kelly said they’d love to find a name that has a cute nickname since their little guy will be the youngest of a pack of boys. Frankie strikes me as that kind of nickname, so cute!

I do love the other the names they’re considering! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • William: Will, Liam, and Billy are all great nicknames that could go well with the other boys
  • Edward/Teddy: Super cute, I agree! I love St. Edward the Confessor
  • George: I agree that it’s not great with their last name
  • Henry: I love Henry, such a sweet name
  • Maximilian: I can see what Kelly means about Maximilian not being the best fit with Patrick, James, and Peter — if they’re considering it because they love St. Maximilian Kolbe, maybe they’d like to consider his birth name, Raymond, instead? Patrick, James, Peter, and Raymond go together a bit better I think, and Ray’s a cute nickname

I also noted that Kelly would prefer a name that isn’t too popular, so I looked up the popularity of the names they’ve already used and those they’re considering, to get a sense of what kind of popularity we’re talking about. These are the numbers based on the most recent data (2018):

Patrick: 189
James: 4
Peter: 211

William: 3
Edward: 169
George: 127
Henry: 16
Maximilian: 448

So Kelly and her hubs have a mix of names that are quite popular (James, William, Henry), and others that are outside the top 100 (Patrick, Peter, Edward George, Maximilian). In my suggestions below, I included a mix as well. Here are the numbers for the names I’ve already suggested:

Francis: 480
Raymond: 299

I didn’t forget that Kelly also wanted to have a name with meaning, so I definitely took that into account when looking for names that I thought she and her hubby might like. You all know that I always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did that research for Kelly, and looked for names among the results that had a good faith meaning. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Michael
I was pretty influenced by their oldest son’s name: Patrick with brothers James and Peter says “classic Irish Catholic,” which is the theme I had in my head the most when looking for names for this family (though not exclusively). Michael is one of those names! It’s no. 14, which is similar to Henry and less popular than James and William. Michael Francis is so handsome, and Mikey is an adorable nickname.

(2) Timothy
Timothy is one of my favorite names in the “classic Irish Catholic” theme. And being that it’s also a New Testament name, it seems like it can really strengthen the tie among all Kelly’s boys’ names. I love the nickname Timmy! Timothy is right in that sweet spot at no. 165.

(3) Charles
Because Patrick isn’t a biblical name and James and Peter are, I definitely wanted to include some names that aren’t biblical. Charles is a match for this family’s style, and has been used quite a bit recently by Catholics wishing to honor St. John Paul II (his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles). There are also loads of other Sts. Charles, it’s a great, saintly name! And Charlie is so darling. Charles is no. 52.

(4) Oliver
Oliver has shot up the charts recently and is currently at no. 5, which is nice for their James, since his name is so popular at no. 4. It’s also got that nice Irish connection like Patrick, with St. Oliver Plunkett being a great patron; they could also consider it to have biblical connections if they wanted, with the Mount of Olives and the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane being two prominent examples. I love Oliver Francis, that’s stunning. And is anything cuter than Ollie?!

(5) Martin
I like Martin quite a bit — I would definitely consider it classic, strong, and traditional. I love the nickname Marty too, I can definitely see a youngest brother being called Marty! Martin Francis sounds wonderful together. Martin is no. 272.

(6) Kenneth
I wonder what they would think of Kenneth? Kenny is such a great, friendly nickname, and there are two Sts. Kenneth — one Irish and one Welsh. Kenneth is no. 226.

(7) Kevin
I wasn’t surprised to see Kevin listed as a style match for Patrick — like Patrick, it’s a classic, strong, traditional Irish name, and it’s a saint’s name as well. I know of Kevins who go by Kev, which is pretty cool, and I could see Kevvy being a brother nickname when he’s small. Kevin’s no. 125.

(8) David
Finally, David is a style match for this family, which struck me as having a good feel because it’s biblical, like James and Peter, but Old Testament, which gives it its own thing. And my grandfather, who was born and raised in Ireland, was named David, so that felt like a great connection for Patrick (again, totally subjective here, but my consultations are always a mix of research and gut feeling!). Davy is one of my favorite nicknames, I love it. David is no. 122.

Those were all my ideas for Kelly’s baby boy, but after I sent them to her she responded with another question that she’d be delighted to get your thoughts on as well:

Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas! This truly has been so difficult, I never thought naming could be this tough! Hah We are leaning towards William given that it like Patrick, it isn’t biblical, it goes with the other boys, and it was a popular Irish immigrant name (my husband’s great-grandfather). There is another name that randomly came up that I was going to get your thoughts on, Grady. Grady seems unique, but not totally out there and also has the Irish attachment. It also has the meaning noble, like Patrick. Does William Grady (call him Grady) or Grady itself work with the other boys? Does it seem too far off the beaten path? I wish there was a saint association with it to tie it together.”

I told her that I love William, just because it’s great, but I love her reasons behind it too. And I love Grady! I had it on my own list back when I thought I could sway my husband toward more Irishy names, haha!

I took a quick look on CatholicSaints.info for any saintly connection for Grady, and found that one of the priests who is part of the Irish Martyrs was John O’Grady; here’s another entry that mentions him — he’s not canonized, but that could be a nice faith connection for Kelly and her husband to consider (and perhaps she and her family could take it on as a spiritual exercise to pray for his cause for canonization — it appears there isn’t much known about him, including the date he died — maybe their prayers could help bring his holiness to light!). I’m sorry I could find anything more direct!

As for fitting with the other boys, I think Patrick, James, Peter, and Grady sound fine together. Certainly Grady is a different style, which might feel a little jarring to people who really pay attention to those kinds of things (name nuts, mostly!), but the fact that it’s his middle name remedies that nicely — Patrick, James, Peter, and William are exactly perfectly matched. If any of Kelly’s older boys have offbeat nicknames for their names, that would loop Grady in a bit more too, but even if not I think it’s fine! And it opens up some more possibilities for future boys’ names, if they were so blessed.

And that’s all I got! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Patrick, James, and Peter? What do you think of Grady, either as a given name or as a middle name that he’d go by?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Nicknames for Lawrence (and some other ideas too)

M. and her husband are expecting their first baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 She writes,

We very recently found out we’re expecting again. I’ve had 3 previous losses, 2 very early and 1 at 11 weeks, so we are cautiously hopeful. I am a huge name nerd and we have been discussing names for years. We aren’t planning to find out gender so we want to have a name picked for each.

Our girl name is set — Maria Grace. My Mom and I are both variants of Mary and all of my Aunts and many cousins have the middle name Marie. I wanted to continue the Marian tradition with a little girl. I’m a chemist and my husband is in IT, so the name is also a nod to Marie Curie and Grace Hopper.

Boy names have been harder, with our last pregnancy, we had kind of settled on Nicholas Daniel, but neither of us were in love. Other names in the mix were Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard and James. We wanted something that as he grows up, has a lot of nickname opportunities to fit his personality. My worry was that Nicholas Daniel dated too much into the 90s when Nicholas was most recently popular.

While we were trying to conceive this little green bean, I had a dream about a little boy, Anthony James, and grew attached to the name. It’s still a contender, but it doesn’t feel perfect.

A bit randomly I was scrolling a list of names that have never been out of the top 1000, and saw Lawrence. We both really liked it immediately! It just felt right in a way other names hadn’t. But is it an old man’s name? I know ‘old’ names are coming back, but I’ve not heard Lawrence mentioned for a baby ever. We wanted a harder middle name sound and think Lawrence Kolbe had a great flow, with great patron saints as well. We’re about 94% certain this is our boy pick (and open to suggestions).

And after that novel of explanation, the main point of us wanting the consultation: I loathe the nickname Larry for Lawrence and it seems like that’s the most accepted one. I would love suggestions for nicknames! I’m trying to make Rory fit because I adore the name but it’s not intuitive. Does that matter?

I absolutely love their girl name — Maria Grace is a gorgeous combo and sounds perfect for this family, for the reasons mentioned and also, of course, its Marian-ness. Beautiful!

As for their previous boy names, I think Nicholas Daniel is very handsome! Nicholas is exactly as M. described it — lots of nicknames to fit any personality — and I would include “classic” and “saintly” as well. I wouldn’t let its 90s popularity bother them — it entered the top 100 in 1972 and hasn’t left since, coming it at no. 74 in 2018 (the most recent year the data is available), so even though its top ten years were in the 90s, it’s a consistent, solid favorite. I continue to hear of babies named Nicholas — my husband and I considered it as well!

The other names they considered — Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard, and James — are all similarly classic and saintly! Anthony was a top ten name from 2006-2008, and James has been since 2014 (no. 4 in 2018), which I think put them in good company with Nicholas. I love M.’s “dream name” as well — Anthony James is very handsome!

BUT! I mostly love Lawrence Kolbe!! What a fantastic name!! Please let me alleviate M.’s worries right away — I think Lawrence is wonderful for a little boy born in 2021! She’s right that it’s had an “old man” feel up until recently, but as she said, “old” names are definitely coming back. My eight-year-old actually had a Lawrence in his class in preschool — he went by the full Lawrence all the time, and his sister was Penelope, which is very popular currently, so I always felt like his parents had their fingers on the pulse of what’s up and coming.

I think M.’s question about nicknames for Lawrence is perfect, and so fun. As soon as she said Rory I LOVED it — I very much want them to name their son Lawrence Kolbe and call him Rory! That is simply wonderful!! I know that it might not seem intuitive, but when I was compiling a list of alternate nickname ideas, I remembered Laurie from Little Women, and Rory is absolutely not that big a leap from Laurie (or Lawrie). It reminds me of Bob for Robert, for example, or Daisy for Margaret, or Tony for Anthony, or Betsy/Lily/Buffy for Elizabeth — all traditional nicknames for the given names that don’t start with the same letter as the given name and in many cases aren’t intuitive at all. I say, go for it! (In fact, I’d included Lawrence as a possible patron saint for a little guy named Rory in this post!)

However, I can always come up with more ideas! I looked through the entry for Lawrence on Behind the Name for ideas, and came up with the following:

(1) Lars
This is a Scandinavian and German form of Lawrence, and makes an easy nickname.

(2) Lenz
Another German variant of Lawrence, and cool with that ending “z.”

(3) Rens, Ren
Rens is a Dutch variant, and I’ve actually seen Ren used as a nickname for Lawrence.

(4) Enzo, Renzo
Enzo and Renzo are both Italian short forms, and Renzo has Spanish usage as well.

(5) Larkin
What a sweet name! It’s a Medieval English diminutive of Lawrence.

In addition to those, Rence, Law, Laz (I think this is a very Australian construct — giving nicknames that end in Z, like Baz for Barry, Shaz for Sharon, etc.), and Law are all doable. A crazy but maybe really cool idea could be Lolek — it’s the nickname St. John Paul II went by as a child, I believe it’s a diminutive of his name Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, but it makes total sense for Lawrence Kolbe, and gets an extra saint reference in there! (Here’s a little guy named Lolek whose [belated] birth announcement I posted to the blog.)

Those are my ideas for nicknames for Lawrence, but M. also said they were open to suggestions, and their name dilemma and taste, as well as M.s profession as a chemist and her hubby’s work in IT (and the fact that M. used “about 94%” to describe their level of certainty about Lawrence Kolbe as their frontrunner — 94% is very precise! I love it!), reminded me of two consultations I did previously: one for a family who loves science and technology (I’d suggested Charles for Babbage and Hopper for Grace for them!) and one for a family who wanted a science or nature reference included in each of their children’s names (I’d suggested Nicholas for them, after Tesla; this family specifically wanted alliterative first+middle combos, so Nicholas Neri was my full suggestion — it’s unexpected-but-saintly middle name reminds me of Lawrence Kolbe!). So I looked back at those consultations to see what other boy names I’d suggested and thought these might be nice additions to M.’s list:

(1) Gerard
This had actually been inspired by the character of Ged in the fantasy/sci-fi Earthsea series, and I’d previously seen Ged suggested as a nickname for Gerard, and St. Gerard is amazing, so I love the idea of Gerard nicknamed Ged — very like Lawrence nicknamed Rory! For reference, Gerard hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 2002 (I find that so surprising!).

(2) George
George is one of the first “old man” names I observed come back into fashion — a friend of mine named her son George ten years ago and I remember being surprised, and now I know so many little guys named George! Fr. George LeMaitre was the priest who came up with the Big Bang Theory, and the nicknames Geo and Geordie have that unexpectedness that Rory for Lawrence and Ged for Gerard have. George was no. 127 in 2018.

(3) Reginald
Reginald’s inspiration for that science+nature family was theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (they wanted a theologian’s name in addition to a science/nature name), and Reginald jumped out at me for M. and her husband when I was looking back through those consultations, as I think it has a really “Lawrence” feel. I don’t have any cool nickname ideas, but if they like Reginald, I could certainly try to come up with some! (And if any of you know of any, I’d love to hear them!) Reginald was no. 831 in 2018, which I find fascinating. Old is definitely new!

And those are all my ideas for this little bean! What do you all think? What nicknames for Lawrence and/or other name(s) would you suggest if they have a boy? Please keep M. and her baby in your prayers!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Tiebreaker baby needs not-too-popular, classic, Catholic name with a great nickname

We had the opportunity to go away for the weekend, so we took it! So I missed wishing you all a happy feast of St. Dominic (Saturday) — a big deal for this lay Dominican! — and of St. Edith Stein (Sunday) — a big deal for me because it’s my second oldest’s birthday (he turned 14)! Such a great couple of feast days!

Nicole and her husband Brenden both — separately — survived accidents which left them with severe traumatic brain injuries, then met each other in rehab and got married, became motivational speakers with the so-needed message that every life has a purpose, and are expecting their fifth baby — a tie-breaking boy! (Read more about their mission and ministry on their web site!) Each of their children is extra miraculous, since Nicole had been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. Such an inspiring couple and family!

Their littlest guy joins big sibs:

Faith Marie
Seth William
Veronica Kateri
Kieran James

Of course I love all these names! I love how they each have at least one name that’s a little more unexpected: Faith, Seth, Veronica, Kateri, and Kieran are all out of the top 100, coming in at numbers 122, 376, 357, not top 1000, and 497, respectively, in 2018. I like that a lot!

Nicole writes,

We like relatively classic names that are not unheard of but not super popular either … I think finding a name is so so so difficult for us for a few reasons:

(1) Our friends are almost completely Catholic and have pretty much chosen all of the best names

(2) I love nicknames and if there is a controversial nickname or one that I don’t care for it gets excluded

(3) So far baby names we’ve thought were “the one” but changed from are:

— Christian (I think it sounds redundant with big sister Faith)
— Maximilian (my husband has a cousin named Max)
— Kellan (I think the names Kieran & Kellan are too much next to each other and we would potentially like to use Cole as the middle name and [I don’t want to use the initials KC])

I would love it if you could find name options with either a -ca or -an ending [like Veronica or Kieran] of a letter in common with all of the [kids’ names] … we have a special devotion to the rosary … A Marian name might be good for this babe as I feel (like so many other people) a special devotion to Our Lady … [also] I was diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) [and] I was hoping you could offer a name option of someone that either lived with a sickness their entire life (similar to me), who cared for the sick, or a patron saint of respiratory, joint, arthritis.”

I love that Nicole let me know about their devotion to the rosary and Our Lady, as well as her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Those kinds of things are really meaningful to me as well, and I kept them in mind as I was working on this for her. I admit I couldn’t figure out a connection with EDS (I looked it up quickly, but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant — if any of you know of anything, please share!), but Marian and Rosarian connections are my specialty! (Or at least, one of my favorite inspirations for names!)

Before getting to my list of suggestions for this family, I want to address the names that they’ve considered (and even thought were “the one”) and decided against (they gave me good extra info to use in my research). I thought it might be helpful to hear my thoughts on those names:

  • Christian: Such a great name, one of my favorites! I can see what Nicole means about Christian being redundant with big sister Faith
  • Kellen: I totally agree that Kieran and Kellen are too similar, unfortunately, especially with Kellen immediately following Kieran
  • Maximilian: I love St. Maximilian Kolbe, so I love seeing this name on their list! If Max is the biggest reason that they don’t want to use it, I wonder if a different nickname would help? My favorite nickname suggestion for Maximilian is Miles — I’ve suggested it many times to parents in other consultations. Not only do I think Miles is a cool and totally possible nickname for Maximilian, but it has Marian connections of its own! I wrote a book of Marian baby names and included Miles in it for this reason:

Miles is an Anglicization of an old Irish name — in this case, Maolmhuire, meaning ‘servant of the Virgin Mary.’”

And Maximilian is in my book too! I wrote:

This name points to the greatness of Our Lady, as Maximilian means ‘greatest,’ as well as to St. Maximilian Kolbe … who had a great love for Our Lady

So I could see Maximilian nicknamed Miles being a great option for this baby! However, if Nicole still doesn’t want to go with Maximilian, I wonder what they would think of Miles as a given name, for the reasons I outlined above?

I love that they’re considering Cole as a middle name — in honor of Nicole, I’m assuming? I love the name Cole, and think honoring Mom in a son’s name is fantastic. However, I have a few ideas below that wouldn’t go so well with Cole as a middle name, so I offered some alternative ideas, in case they’re helpful.

In terms of finding a saint connected to Nicole’s autoimmune disease, St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of arthritis, and St. Bernardine of Siena is the patron of respiratory illnesses. I didn’t think either one is their style, though I included St. Alphonsus below in the list of “rosary saints” (and he’s got a bunch of amazing names included in his [very long] given name!). Nicole’s thought about a saint who lived with a sickness his/her entire life reminded me immediately of Bl. Margaret of Castello (she was a lay Dominican! And patroness of disabled/physically challenged people!), so I included a name connected to her below.

Alrighty, so when I was looking for names that Nicole and Brenden might like, I took into account how Nicole said she’d love name options with either a -ca ending, like Veronica, or an -an ending, like Kieran, or a letter in common with all the kids. I kept nicknames in mind, as well as the fact that they prefer more classic-sounding names, and the aforementioned devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Otherwise, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book, 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, and then took a look at the list of results to see if any names jumped out as being similar to more than one of their children’s names, as well as those with great faith connections. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this baby boy:

(1) Gabriel
I noticed Gabriel immediately as it’s a style match for Faith and Christian! Additionally, Gabriel is incredibly Marian and Rosarian because of his role in the Annunciation. Its traditional nickname is Gabe, which I love because it’s so friendly, but I’ve also seen Gib and Gil, both of which I think are amazing. I quite like Gabriel Cole.

(2) Caleb
Though Nicole had suggested a -ca name or an -an name to match up with Veronica or Kieran, I focused more on the fact that both had strong K sounds (as do Kateri, Christian, and Kellen), and hoped to find names with a similar sound. Caleb seemed like a perfect candidate! I love that it not only has the strong K sound like Kieran, but also begins with the same Ca that Veronica ends with, is biblical like Seth, and was an actual style match for Faith per the BNW. Caleb Cole isn’t the best flow, perhaps, but maybe Caleb Maximilian? Caleb Francis, for St. Francis de Sales (Nicole told me in another message that she was born on the feast of St. Francis de Sales)? Caleb Brenden, for Dad?

(3) Kolbe
Very similar in sound to Caleb, I wonder what they would think of Kolbe as a first name? It’s got that strong K sound that ties Veronica and Kieran together, and is a non-Max way of honoring St. Maximilian Kolbe. It could also possibly nod to Nicole, because of the “Cole” sound at the beginning? Kolbe Francis and Kolbe Brenden are both nice options.

(4) Dominic
Maximilian has that heavy, monastery feel of names like Augustine, Benedict, and Dominic, and when I saw Dominic listed as a style match for it, I thought it could be awesome for this family. Not only is it a great name, but according to tradition, St. Dominic was given the rosary by Our Lady and the Dominicans have always promoted it. Additionally, it’s got Veronica’s and Kieran’s hard K sound, and the ending “nic” could be a nod to Nicole! Some nicknames include Dom/Dommy (like Tom/Tommy, so cute!) and Nic/Nicky/Nico. I quite like Dominic Cole, as well as Dominic Francis, Dominic de Sales, and Dominic Brenden. It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and I spotlighted it on the blog here (a big reason was to assure those who aren’t of Italian or Spanish heritage that Dominic is an amazing option!).

(5) Patrick
The more I think about Patrick, the more I like it for this family. It’s got the hard K sound, it’s Irish like Kieran and Brenden, and it’s got some really cool nickname ideas. If they like Pat, that’s great — I know a few men named Pat, and it works well. They could go the ultra Irish route with Paddy, which I also love! But I think they might prefer something like Packy or Pax, both of which I’ve seen used for Patrick, and I think they really help freshen up the name. Also, Pax means “peace”! They could use it as a nod to Our Lady of Peace, giving it a Marian spin. Patrick Cole, Patrick Francis, Patrick de Sales, and Patrick Brenden are all really handsome.

(6) Nicholas or Nico
I’m guessing that maybe they’ve already considered Nicholas and decided they like Cole more? But it’s a style match for Veronica and Christian, it’s got the hard K sound, it’s a perfect way to name a boy after Nicole, and they can totally use Cole as a nickname. It’s also biblical like Seth. Nicholas Francis would be a really nice way to honor Nicole — the male version of her first name and the Saint whose feast day is the day she was born! If Nicholas is too popular for their taste, then maybe Nico as a given name? Nico Francis?

(7) Luke
Luke is a style match for Faith and Seth (!), it’s got the hard K of Veronica and Kieran, and it’s a super Marian name! Luke’s gospel is considered the most Marian, as it contains the accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat, which is why it’s in my book. Luke Cole doesn’t sound so great, but maybe Luke Nicholas? Luke Francis? Luke de Sales? Luke Brenden?

(8) Owen
Owen is a match for Faith, it has the -n ending of Kieran (not -an, but the -en has a similar sound), and it has that Irishy feel of Kieran and Brenden (and Kellan, to a certain extent). It’s also the last name of one of my favorite saints — St. Nicholas Owen — so something like Owen Nicholas or even Owen Cole would be extra meaningful. I also love Owen Francis and Owen Brenden.

(9) Isaac
Isaac is totally based on the fact that it’s biblical like Seth and has the hard K of Veronica and Kieran — it’s such a great name! Ike is a traditional nickname for it, as is Zac. Isaac Francis, Isaac Cole, Isaac Nicholas, and Isaac Brenden are all great.

(10) Garrett
Garrett is inspired by Bl. Margaret Castello — and I know of a little boy named in honor of a different St. Margaret, because his dad has a devotion to her, and the name they chose to honor her in a boy was Garrett (because of the -garet ending of Margaret). I love Garrett! It’s got an Irishy feel, and is actually derived from Gerard, which is another great patron — St. Gerard Majella is the patron of pregnant women and unborn children.

Those are all my “official” suggestions for first names for Nicole and Brenden’s little guy, but there are also a bunch of Saints and other names that relate to the Rosary that might be perfect as middle name contenders (or maybe first name ideas as well?), which I wanted to include in case one of them hits the right note (these are all from my book):

  • Bl. Alan de la Roche (also known as Alain de la Roche, Alan de Rupe, Alano de la Roca, and Alanus [de] Rupe)
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (his full name: Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori!)
  • Bl. Bartolo Longo (Bartolo is a variant of Bartholomew)
  • Benedict (it means “blessed” and as such can refer to Our Lady; there are of course a bunch of Sts. Benedict)
  • Clement (means “merciful” or “gentle,” and is used as an adjective for Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen)
  • Francis (can be used for St. Francisco, one of the children at Fatima)
  • St. Louis de Montfort (he’s a huge Marian saint and wrote the classic The Secret of the Rosary)
  • Rosario (means “rosary”)
  • Royce (as I wrote in my book: “This traditional male name is from a medieval variant of Rose, which makes Royce an entirely appropriate way to name a little boy for Our Lady”)

And those are my ideas for Nicole and Brenden’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Ideas for baby girl whose parents like names like Bridget, Rowan, and Saoirse

Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s second baby a couple of years ago, and the resulting birth announcement, and I’m excited to post this new consultation for baby no. 3 — another girl! This little lady joins big sibs (alt characters for privacy):

F!nni@n Dani3l
Gr33r E!leen

I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!

Megan writes,

At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”

(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)

I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.

Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.

We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”

I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.

I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.

(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)

I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!

As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).

Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Mabel
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?

(2) Edel
I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.

(3) Casey
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).

(4) Molly
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!

(5) Willa
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.

(6) Flannery
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)

(7) Isla
Pretty Isla is an entry in my book of Marian names; this is what I wrote about its Scottish connection:

Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … 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).”

It’s two syllables and Scottish!

(8) Tamsin
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.

(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!

(10) Sorcha
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.

There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Double first name for baby girl a priority to honor Grandma — lots of options!

Jenny and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, their third girl (on earth)! This little lady joins big siblings:

Lilyana Marie (“Marie is my middle name and I just liked the name Lilyana”)

Anthony Jay (“After my husband”)

Dominic Lucas John (“I went to our Parish’s “Traveling relics” and right after I picked up St Dominic’s relic I knew I was pregnant and I knew he was going to be a boy. Sure enough I tested the next week and I was pregnant and he was a a boy. I also have always loved the name Lucas and St Luke. John is after my Father-in-law.”)

Isabella Teresa Grace (“… so the whole time we were pregnant I was told she was going to be a boy. So the whole pregnancy her name was Benedict Emmanuel. Once we found out she was a girl we had to scramble to come up with a girls name. Her original name was Isabella Grace but after being born on Mother Teresa’s feast day we just had to add that in. I also love longer names. 🙂 And looove Mother Teresa!”)

Jameson Jude Ramiro (“Jameson was a little different for us. I wanted to go with Jude but my husband wasn’t so keen on it at first. We chose Jameson because it’s a variant of St James but a longer version. So we decided on Jameson Jude as first name but we ended up putting Jude on his BC as part of his middle name. We chose Ramiro because that is my Dad’s name”)

+Mary Irene (with Jesus; “Mary after Hubby’s Grandma who was very special to him. And Irene because my Mom used to say “Good night Irene” to me at night before bed when I was growing up”)

+Jesse Francis De Sales (with Jesus; “we picked a name that could be gender neutral because baby was 10 weeks and we didn’t know the gender yet but I felt like he was a boy”)

I love Jenny’s older living kiddos’ names! Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jameson are such a fun bunch of names — beautiful and handsome and with great faith connections. I love all the middle names, too, and the reasons for them. And Mary Irene and Jesse Francis De Sales are so perfect for her babies in heaven, as well — such a great job!

Jenny writes,

_______ Ann Is what we are really wanting. Not a must but we strongly want to use it. We’re open minded. My husband lost his Mom almost 2 years ago to cancer. Her name was Doris Ann. We really wanted to use her name with this next baby without copying Doris Ann. My husband doesn’t want to just use her whole name.
He likes the idea or using Dorothy Ann for a first name because Dorothy was the name of his Grandma, who was his Mom’s Mom and they were all very close.

So we are considering Dorothy Ann as a first name.

Other name we like that we are considering are:

Lucia Ann or using Lucia in there somewhere. But don’t really think it goes well with Dorothy Ann … Lucy was Hubby’s Grandma from his dad’s side.

We also have considered using Lorelei. I’m not really fond of the basic meaning but I don’t know too much about the history of the name. We just have a cute background story of that name. It is my nickname that my in-laws gave me early on. They said I looked more like a Lorelei and the name just stuck. So Hubby’s Uncles and Aunts still call me Lorelei as a nickname and my mother-in-law used to call me that as an endearing name. So it has a good feel.

We also really want a pretty Saint name. I like longer names but this would be a first time using Ann with a first name so I’m flexible. We like names that aren’t very common but aren’t too rare. We don’t like off the wall names like River or Sun or Apple. 🙂 something classic and beautiful.

We are really stuck on this name. We have tried to go with names like Francesca or Philomena but it hasn’t really stuck … I’m really into have a special meaning to the name so I would love to get your recommendations!

I really love that Jenny and her hubs originally intended Jameson Jude to be a double first name — how cool is that?! I love bold ideas like that! I’m totally on board with their wish to have a ___ Ann double first name for their baby girl in honor of Jenny’s mother-in-law, so I wanted to spend a few minutes exploring this idea. First, I love the idea of Dorothy Ann — I love that Dorothy honors both Jenny’s mother-in-law (I’m guessing maybe she was named Doris as a way of naming after her mom, without using the same name?) and her mother, and Dorothy Ann as a combo strengthens that connection by using Jenny’s mil’s middle name as well. I might normally think that Dorothy Ann isn’t a great fit with Jenny’s older kiddos’ names (not that that matters at all, I think family honor trumps style considerations every time in my opinion), but I’m so charmed by Dorothy on the daughter of the Bucket List Family that it’s taken on a more modern, chic feel for me. Its meaning of “gift of God” (same as Theodore — in fact, Dorothy is the same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed) is so great, too.

Working Jenny’s hubby’s other grandmother into the name as well via some form of Lucy is pretty great — the more the merrier! I agree with Jenny that Dorothy Ann Lucia doesn’t have the best flow, nor does Dorothy Ann Lucy, but I think Dorothy Ann Lucille sounds quite nice — I wonder if that would be a possible solution? Another possible solution would be to change the way they’re planning to honoring Jenny’s hubby’s mom and grandmother. I spent some time trying to come up with different options that might honor them just as well in a way they might like, and came up with:

  • Dora Susann Lucia: I like how saying “Dora Susann” (or Suzann, if they prefer that spelling; I dropped the “e” to highlight the “Ann” connection) together makes “Dora S-” sound like Doris. I thought Dora could easily nod to both Doris and Dorothy, and Susann/Suzann (or Susanne/Suzanne, if they wanted to spell it the more conventional way) brings in the Ann in a new way. And Dora Susann allows their preferred Lucia to fit in nicely, I think.
  • Doriann/DoriAnn/Dori Ann Lucia: I was interested to discover that Doris is from the Greek for “Dorian woman” (the Dorians were a Greek tribe), which made me think that Doriann might be an interesting way to mash up Doris (and Dorothy, through the shared Dor-) and Ann, and Doriann Lucia also sounds quite nice I think. They could also do DoriAnn or Dori Ann to make the “Ann” part more obvious.
  • Lucia Ann Dorothea: I thought Lucia Ann Dorothea flowed better than Lucia Ann Dorothy or Lucia Ann Doris (Dorothea and Dorothy are variants of each other). One hesitation I have about Lucia Ann as a double first name, though, is that Lilyana is Lily + Ana (a variant of Ann) — Lilyana and Lucia Ann seem really similar. (Again, though, not a dealbreaker if they love it!)
  • Lucia Doriann/DoriAnn: This option takes away the issue of Lilyana and Lucia Ann being possibly too similar, as it moves Ann to the middle spot, on the other side of Dori.
  • Lucia Dorothy Ann: This option uses all the names Jenny and her hubs wanted in an order that has a nice flow and rhythm to my ear. They lose the double-first-name option (unless they wanted to do Lucia Dorothy, which is unexpected and pretty [though long for everyday use]), but they have all the special ladies in one name.

(I also like Lucy in place of Lucia for these options.)

As for Lorelei, I absolutely love that Jenny’s in-laws have called her Lorelei from the beginning! What a sweet story! It would make an awesome honor name for her (and her in-laws, by extension) in her daughter’s name (either as a first name or a middle name). It does have a history that gives some people pause — in legend it’s the name of a siren that lured sailors to their death — but I think Gilmore Girls and other associations have diluted that association (and some people don’t even know about it). I never thought it had any saintly connection, but when I was doing a little research on it for this family, I discovered that Lorelei’s Wikipedia entry gives August 17 as its Czech name day. Name days almost always coincide with saint feast days, so I was really interested to see what saint was connected with Lorelei. Pretty clever: Petra is listed on the Czech calendar for that day, which is the feminine form of Peter, which means “rock,” and the “lei” part of Lorelei is thought to come from a Celtic word for “rock” — the siren is actually named for the rock headland on the Rhine River called Loreley. I loved discovering that any of the holy Peters or Petras can be patron for a Lorelei!

Because I like playing around with names and was already in that mindset with the Dorothy Ann/Dora Susann/Doriann ideas, I wondered if that might be a fun thing to do for Lorelei: come up with some name combos that could nickname to Lorelei for everyday usage but provide a more obvious saint connection. I came up with:

  • Laurel Isla
  • Laurel Eileen
  • Laura Lyla
  • Loretta Lyla

Both secularly and in the faith, laurel wreaths have been used as “crowns of glory”; another cool saintly connection is that the stories of Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna include two laurel trees. Isla is an entry in the book of Marian names I wrote, for Our Lady of the Isles. Eileen is generally considered an Irish form of Helen (St. Helen(a) is awesome). There are a few saints and blesseds named Laura. I couldn’t find any holy connection for Lyla though, so maybe the Laurel ideas are better from a saintly perspective. But also, if there’s a saint’s name in the middle spot (or in the first spot, if they use Lorelei as a middle name), then they’re covered saint-wise! Maybe Lorelei Ann (could also be a double first name, as Jenny was hoping for), Lorelei Dorothy Ann (double middle, like Jude Ramiro), Lorelei Doriann, etc. Or maybe something like Laurel Ann would sound enough like Lorelei to feel like a nod to that name, while providing a double first name with Ann that isn’t overly long (like Lorelei Ann might be). Laurel Ann Dorothea maybe?

Okay! Those are all my ideas/comments on the ideas Jenny and her husband already have — now onto to my new suggestions/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 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 in mind that they’d really like to have their chosen name pair up with Ann in a double first name, and also that Jenny said she’d like “a pretty Saint name” and “something classic and beautiful” (which I think she did really well with her older daughters). I also thought of Lilyana and Isabella as a pair and tried to think of names that went well naturally with them, without taking into account the brothers’ names or Jenny’s little ones in heaven. And finally, I thought of names that I thought would go well with Ann as the first element of the double name, instead of the second. I used the NameFinder and NameMatchmaker tools on babynamewizard.com to find additional ideas, and I also looked at the “Lacy and Lissome,” “Italian,” and “Short and Sweet” lists in the back of the Baby Name Wizard book. And I went through my own mental files for faithy names that I thought would go well.

Based on all that, these are my additional ideas (buckle up — there are lots of them! I actually did two consultations for Jenny, which I’ve condensed into this one post):

(1) Natalie or Natalia
Natalie is a style match for Anthony and Lucas (I included Lucas in my research since Jenny said she’s always liked it) and Natalia for Lilyana and Dominic, so it seemed like a great suggestion to start with! I think Natalie Ann flows better than Natalia Ann, but if they like Natalia they could consider doing Natalia Ann as her given name and a nickname + Ann for everyday usage, like Talia Ann or Tally Ann. I know a Natalie who goes by Natty, so that’s an option too — Natty Ann. There are some Sts. and Blds. Natalia (Natalie is the French form, so St. Natalia would be patron for a Natalie or Natalia), and Natalia also literally refers to Christmas Day — it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “the birth of the Lord.”

(2) Camille or Camila/Camilla
Camila/Camilla is a match for Lilyana, Jude, and Lucia, but like with Natalie and Natalia, I thought Camille Ann had a better flow than Camilla Ann. But again, they could do Camilla Ann as the given name and Cammie Ann or Callie Ann as an everyday nickname. There are some holy Camillas, which work for Camille as well.

(3) Sophia/Sofia or Sophie (or as a nickname?)
Sophia is a match for Dominic, and Sofia for Lucas and Lucia. Sophia/Sofia Ann is lovely, but again I feel like Sophie Ann has a better flow. While I love both Sophia/Sofia and Sophie, I’ve seen them (especially Sophie) used as nicknames for Seraphina/Serafina and Josephine/Josefina, which remind me of the Francesca and Philomena that Jenny said they’ve tried but haven’t felt quite right. So maybe one of those? Josephine Ann nicknamed Sophie Ann? Serafina Ann nicknamed Sofie Ann? On its own, Sophia means “wisdom” and is an entry in my book of Marian names because one of Our Lady’s titles is Seat of Wisdom.

(4) Olivia
Olivia’s a match for Lucas and Isabella, and Olivia Ann strikes me as similar to Sophia Ann — quite pretty, but maybe Olivia Ann with Livvy Ann as the everyday nickname would be easier? Olivia’s also in my book of Marian names, after Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Audrey or Aubrey
I was surprised by these names, as they’re a bit different than the ends-in-a names Jenny and her hubs gave Lilyana and Isabella, and are considering with Lucia, but Audrey’s a match for Dominic and Aubrey for Jameson, and since they’re so similar to each other I thought their shared sound and rhythm might be one that appeals to them. There’s a St. Audrey (her entry on CatholicSaints.info is for St. Etheldreda, which she’s also known by), and I quite like Audrey Ann — it has a bit of a Hollywood starlet feel to me, probably because of Audrey Hepburn. Its shorter length makes it easier with Ann as an everyday double name, too. Behind the Name (my go-to for name meanings) says Aubrey is a form of Alberich, and there are a few saints by that name — all male. I believe Aubrey was predominantly a male name until recently. If they love it, it’s certainly no problem for a girl to have a male saint as patron! Like with Audrey Ann, Aubrey Ann is quite easy enough for everyday use.

(6) Rosemary
My thought process behind Rosemary is a little funny. It’s a style match for Dorothy, which normally wouldn’t sway me because I don’t get the sense that Dorothy is really this family’s style, but rather their favorite option of the ways to honor Jenny’s hubby’s mom (and grandmother), but one of the nicknames I’ve seen used for Rosemary is Rory, which always makes me think of Lorelei because of Gilmore Girls. And then thinking about it more, I thought Rosemary Ann nicknamed Rory Ann might be a really cute idea, with that connection to Lorelei too if Jenny wants it to. Rosemary also has a little bit of that Hollywood feel I get from Audrey (e.g., Rosemary Clooney). I think Rosemary is classic and beautiful; it honors Our Lady; and not only is Rory a great possibility for a nickname, but so are Rosie and Romy — Rosie Ann and Romy Ann are both darling. (Just a note of caution that Rosie Ann, being “a flower + Ann,” is similar to Lilyana, being “a flower + Ana.”)

(7) Magdalena
Magdalena Ann is certainly long and difficult for everyday, but I love Maggie Ann! And St. Mary Magdalene is an awesome patron.

(8) Emilia
Emilia is an Italian name, and it’s also the name of St. John Paul II’s mom, whose cause for canonization has been opened! Emilia Ann isn’t terrible, and Emmy Ann is darling.

(9) Carys or Charis
Carys is Welsh for “love,” and Charis — which is said the same as Carys — is Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word “eucharist.” Carys Ann and Charis Ann are awesome!

(10) Vesper or Verity
Vesper is from the Latin for “evening” and in a Catholic context is used to refer to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (“Vespers”). Vesper Ann is lovely! Verity means “truth” and even thought it’s three syllables, I think Verity Ann is easy enough, and wonderful.

(11) Sunday
I posted a birth announcement for a little Sunday Josephine on the blog a while ago, and I love it for this family — it’s got that faith connection for the Lord’s day, and I love Sunday Ann as a combo!

(12) Elodie
This is a French name that I think sounds smashing with Ann! Elodie Ann!

(13) Caeli
Caeli is Latin for “of heaven” (like the Marian title Regina Caeli: Queen of Heaven) and would be really sweet and very Catholic with Ann: Caeli Ann. It’s said CHAY-lee in Church Latin, but you could say it KAY-lee if you wanted.

(14) Mercy
Mercy is a great and unexpected virtue name — I saw quite a bit of it as a baby name during the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016). Maybe Mercy Ann?

(15) Ann Catherine, Ann Madeline (or similar); something like Ann Seton?
My last ideas have to do with putting Ann first in the double-first-name idea. Catherine is a match for Anthony and Madeline is a match for Dominic, and both of those made me think of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Anne-Madeleine Remuzat — I think both of those combos are so lovely, and thought maybe Jenny would like to consider something like that? I particularly like that Ann Catherine could go by Annie Cate. I know a little AnnClare, which might also appeal to them. From their ideas, I like Ann Lucia quite a bit. If Jenny knows who her mother-in-law’s favorite saint was, that might be an option here too. Then I was noticing that the girl style matches for Jameson were mostly surname-type names, like Kendall, Larkin, and Harper, and wondered if they might like Ann with a saintly surname? Seton was the first that came to mind, because of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — Ann Seton would be a cool, unexpected first name that would immediately call to mind that particular saint without having to use Elizabeth. Some other surnames that might work in this way include Ann Kolbe, Ann Vianney, Ann Goretti (is it crazy that I just thought Annie Grey could be a doable nickname for Ann Goretti??), Ann Majella (St. Gerard Majella is a patron of expectant mamas!). Or maybe Ann + Jenny’s maiden name? Or Ann Lorelei? So many options!

(16) Ann Elise or Ann Elisa (Annelisa?)
I was staying away from Elizabeth names because of big sister Isabella, which is a form of Elizabeth, but then I realized that Lily and Lillian have a history of usage as nicknames for Elizabeth, so then I thought it might be cool if Jenny’s living daughters have that connection — just kind of lean into it, you know? But without using the full Elizabeth. So if you switch the elements, I think Ann Elise and Ann Elisa are quite pretty! Anneliese is a German mashup of Anne and Elizabeth, so I thought they could do the same with Annelisa if they wanted to combine them. But I quite like them separate too, and doing so highlights the Ann moreso.

(17) Ann Colette, Ann Juliette, Ann Corinne
I definitely found that I think French names go really well with Ann as a combo, especially if they’re in the second spot (like Ann Elise above). I love Colette, Juliette, and Corinne — so feminine!

(18) Alessandra, Carolina, Caterina or Catalina, Veronica
Finally, these ideas are just names I came across that I thought Jenny would like, since she said she likes longer names. I like them all with Lilyana and Isabella, though I’m not sure Ann goes as well with them. But I thought it would be fun to include them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jamison?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trish writes,

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

(“and I just can’t” — haha!)

Names Trish and her hubby have discussed include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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

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

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

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

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

Margie writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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

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

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

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

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

Jessie writes,

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

We currently like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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

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

Ali’s older kiddos are:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph
Tiber Augustine

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

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

What a moving story!! Ali continues,

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

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

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

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

Oh man! Challenge accepted! 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

How to name an entity

Good FRIDAY morning!! TGIF!!

I received an email from a reader asking,

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!