Baby name consultation: Baby no. 8 needs a name in the established theme

(I just wanted to let you all know that yesterday’s book signing was such a wonderful event! My editor and a videographer from Marian Press came to interview me on camera and take some photos — once they’re available I’ll be sure to share them! In the meantime, here are two I shared on Instagram:

Such an awesome display as you first walked into the shop! My dear friend Jan, who owns my local Catholic shop, The Giver of Life Gift Shoppe, had it all set up for me and the bebe to stay nice and cool while chatting with customers and signing books. ❤ You can buy my book on The Giver of Life Gift Shoppe’s web site, if you’d like to support their efforts.)

I’ve had the great privilege of posting two consultations (here and here) and two birth announcements (here and here) for today’s family since I started the blog — so fun to be able to do another consultation for this growing family!

Josh and Mari are expecting their eighth baby — their third boy! He joins big sibs:

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

I just love all the names they’ve chosen, such a handsomely named bunch of kids!

Josh writes,

As we’ve discussed before, we have an A-C theme going with our girls, and the boys have C first names with family middle names (Caleb Daniel with my middle name, Charles Michael with Mari’s brother’s middle name).

We also like to pick names with a saintly connection in the birth month, although this is not a requirement.

Some thoughts we’ve had, some of which we previously considered with Charles:

First:
Christopher
Christian
Clement
Kolbe

Middle:
Gabriel
Emmanuel

Our kids have expressed a liking for Christian Gabriel, which we also like, but want to think on it.”

Of course I love the names they’re considering — Christopher and Christian are both great names for a Christmastime baby, and Christian Gabriel is an amazing combination, I really really like it. I also love that they’re considering Emmanuel for a middle name — not only does it follow the middle name theme they have with their other boys (and Gabriel) in that it ends in -el, but it’s obviously very Christmasy as well. Josh said they’d like to have a connection to a saint in the month of birth if possible, but with the month being December, it would be so neat to have a Christmas connection as well! (There’s also a St. Christian of Perugia with a feast day on Dec. 1.)

Clement and Kolbe are both wonderful also, and there are two Sts. Clement with feasts during December that I could find: St. Clement of Alexandria on Dec. 4 and St. Clemente Marchisio on Dec. 16. I know that St. Maximilian Kolbe’s feast is in August, but something like Kolbe Emmanuel would tie into December/Christmas nicely.

Since they have an ends-in-el theme going with their boys’ middle names, and they’ve already used Daniel and Michael and are considering Gabriel and Emmanuel, I just wanted to add the following to their list for the future, in case they’re helpful:

  • Samuel
  • Nathaniel
  • Raphael
  • Joel
  • Axel
  • Abel
  • Ezekiel
  • Reuel (like Tolkien — his name was John Ronald Reuel [J.R.R.] Tolkien)
  • Noel (for another Christmas option)

I know they’ve drawn from family names for their older boys’ middle names, so maybe ends-in-el isn’t something they care about continuing, but I thought it might be helpful to offer these ideas anyway.

In terms of first names, I turned to the Baby Name Wizard, as I always do, looking up all their older kiddos’ names and the names they’re considering to see if there are any other C names that are similar to their style. Then I went to CatholicSaints.info, and looked up each day in December to see which saints have December feast days, looking for those that begin with C. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this family beyond their already excellent list of Christopher, Christian, Clement, and Kolbe:

(1) Cassian
I really like the name Cassian and the nickname Cash, so cool! St. Cassian of Rome’s feast day is Dec. 1, and St. Cassian of Tangiers’ feast is Dec. 3.

(2) Colman
I like Colman since it’s got that same “kole” beginning sound as Kolbe, but begins with a C. St. Colman of Clonard and St. Colman of Glendalough both celebrate their feasts on Dec. 12.

(3) Cormac
Cormac’s an Irish name like Colman, and St. Cormac celebrates his feast day on the same day as the Sts. Colman mentioned above (Dec. 12)! I like that Cormac allows for the nickname Mac.

(4) Cyril
I’m not sure if going with a soft C sound is something Josh and Mari would like to consider, and there aren’t any Cyrils with feast days during December, but I wrote an article on names drawn from the O Antiphons — the antiphons said during Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours in the week before Christmas — and one of the names I included was Cyril, as it means “Lord,” which connects with the O Adonai (O Lord) antiphon.

(5) Colin or Cole
Both Colin and Cole can be nicknames for or variants of Nicholas — a pretty sneaky-cool way of honoring St. Nicholas (feast: Dec. 6) with a C name!

(6) Cooper (Cupertino?)
This is 100% inspired by my research in the BNW — I didn’t find the BNW to be terribly helpful for this family, but I did like the idea of Cooper, which is a style match for Colby (Kolbe doesn’t have its own entry, and I thought the matches for Colby could be helpful). I’ve seen at least two devout families use Cooper — one as a given name, and one as a nickname for Cupertino, both in honor of St. Joseph of Cupertino. I thought that was such a neat and unexpected idea! Since it doesn’t have a connection to December, the December connection could come through the middle name, like Cupertino Noel or Cooper Emmanuel.

Those are my new ideas for Josh and Mari’s little boy, but I wanted to repeat some from past consultations as well, specifically:

  • Conrad: St. Conrad of Offida’s feast day is Dec. 12.
  • Casper: Casper’s traditionally assigned to one of the Three Wise Men (or its variants Jasper and Gaspar, depending on where you’re looking), and the Wise Men’s feast is January 6 — this might be a good option if the baby is overdue and comes in early January. Even if the baby comes in December, if they liked the idea of a Christmas name, Casper might still suit, since their feast is during the season of Christmas (which ends on the feast of the Epiphany, which was Jan. 6 in the old calendar but has since changed in many places to the Sunday following, I believe.)

Speaking of early January, I also looked up the feast days through Jan. 6, just in case the baby comes past his due date, and would add that Sts. Colman mac Ronan and Colman Muillin of Derrykeighan also have their feast on Jan. 1.

There were also a few C names for saints in December that I didn’t think were really their style, but I thought I’d list them here just in case:

  • St. Crispin of Africa, Dec. 3
  • St. Cyran of Brenne, Dec. 4
  • St. Cyprian of Perigueux, Dec. 9 (I kind of like Cyprian actually …)
  • St. Peter Canisius, Dec. 21 (maybe Canisius as a first name?)

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Josh and Mari’s little guy! What do you all think? What other ideas would you offer them?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Advertisements

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs name that connects to both big brothers

(Be sure to check out the great piece Fr. Michael Rennier — husband, father of five, and an ordained Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen that was created by Pope St. John Paul II — wrote on naming babies over at Aleteia! He mentions Sancta Nomina! 😍)

(Also, don’t forget about my book signing this Sunday [July 29 from 1-3]! I know there aren’t many of you in my area, but I’d love to see any of you who live close by or happen to be passing through!)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! 🌱 He or she joins big siblings:

Peter William (“Peter is for Peter the Apostle, William for Dad“)
Damien Andrew (“Damien for St. Damien of Molokai, and Andrew for the apostle and also for St. Andre Bessette, recently canonized when hubby and I were both students at Notre Dame (he was the first saint to be canonized from the Holy Cross order, which established Notre Dame)“)

Loooove both of these names!! You know I have a particular soft spot for Damien. 🙂

Lauren writes,

My favorite thing about their names is that they link together: Peter and Andrew were brothers, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. I also found out after they were born that there is a St. Peter Damian who is a Doctor of the Church.

I like that both boys have great saints as their namesakes. I especially like that Peter hears about St. Peter frequently at Mass during the readings, especially during the Easter season, when he was born.

For New Baby (gender TBD, due on Christmas Day), we would love to find a name that links to at least one (preferably both) of the other kids’ names, looks up to a great saint or mystery … Because our last name is so common, we would like a first name that is somewhat more off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien).

Names we are considering for a girl:

Cora (for the Sacred Hearts: St. Damien was a priest in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Notre Dame basilica is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart [of Jesus] — is there a connection to Peter in there somehow? This is the front-runner)

Madeline (for St. Mary Magdalene, a favorite — but I don’t like the nickname “Maddy” and am afraid that people would call her that)

Bethany (maybe where Mary Magdalene lived, but at any rate it’s where Jesus’ friends lived)

Grace
Monica
Cecilia
Adelaide (I love this name but my husband is not sure)

Other favorite female saints include [Mother] Theodore Guerin (born Anne-Therese), Hildegard of Bingen, Veronica, and Mary of Egypt — but these names don’t seem to suit our taste.

Names we are considering for a boy:

We are having a harder time with this, and none of these feels quite right.
Adam
Thomas
Michael
Patrick
We like St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Augustine, John Paul II, etc.

Family names we can’t use:

Ann
Paul (love this name!)
Joan
Daniel
John
William, Willem
Matthew
Sebastian
Willem
Xavier
Annika
Charlotte
Janet

Names that have been floated that one of us has vetoed:

Clementine
Mary
Ruth
Gregory
Joseph
Nicholas
Theodore
Vera
Noel(le)
Stella
Gloria
Noah
Jacob
James
Anthony (I love this name and St. Anthony of the Desert, but my husband doesn’t like it)
Many of the most obvious Christmas names: Natalie/a, Emmanuel/la, Gabriel/la, Lucas. I like the idea of a Christmas name, but I just haven’t come across one that I really like

Some names that have come up recently on the blog that we don’t care for are Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel.

We also don’t really care if the style of the names match among our three kids. We are all about the meaning, namesake, history, spiritual significance. We want them to be spiritually inspired by their names and hopefully feel connected to their siblings by means of the spiritual (not necessarily stylistic) connections among their names.”

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge!

You should have seen me doing research for this family — I looked everywhere I could think of for connections between names, it’s such a fun thing they want to do, but hard! Wow! I think Lauren and her hubs will find it’s even more difficult the more children they have (if they’re so blessed), but it’s still a really fun thing to do. Honestly, I could probably spend months seeking out more ideas with connections to their Peter William and Damien Andrew. Hopefully the ideas I have here are helpful in some way!

I’ll start with thoughts on the list of names they’re considering:

  • Cora: A gorgeous name! I love that they’d be using it for the Sacred Hearts, and so cool that they already have a connection to Damien! The only connection to St. Peter I could find — which I think is a pretty great one — is that, in St. Peter’s Basilica, there’s the Altar of the Sacred Heart, whose altarpiece was blessed at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s canonization (she was *the* promoter of the Sacred Heart).
  • Madeline: I love Madeline, though I wonder if they might be interested in switching to one of its variants: Magdalen/Magdalene/Magdalyn/Magdalena? That way they bypass the Maddy issue, and they have a less common name, more in the vein of Damien (Damien is no. 266, while Madeline is no. 100 and none of the Magdalene variants I listed are in the top 1000 except Magdalena, which is no. 955) (note that the spelling Damian is no. 119, which is actually pretty similar to Madeline in terms of popularity. Funny enough, Peter’s no. 213!).
  • Bethany: Another nice connection here is that Bethany is where Jesus ascended from, and his apostles (including Peter and Andrew) were there: “Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50–51)
  • Grace: A beautiful name! It can be Marian, for Our Lady of Grace, and also in the Hail Mary, “full of Grace.” I didn’t find any connections between Grace and Peter/William/Damien/Andrew, except if they wanted to think of them as living grace-filled lives, or being open to the grace of God, etc.
  • Monica: I love St. Monica, I love that they have her name on their list!
  • Cecilia: Ditto, beautiful name and saint.
  • Adelaide: I love it too! I looked at the various blesseds/saints named Adelaide and found that St. Adela of Messines (also known as Adelaide) was the mother-in-law of William the Conqueror, but I’m thinking that’s probably not the kind of connection to their Peter William that Lauren and her hubs were hoping for …
  • Adam: I don’t see many parents considering Adam these days! Nice job to Lauren and her hubs picking something that feels fresh! Although … looking at the data, Adam’s actually no. 77, so it’s not as uncommon as I thought. I looked through the holy Adams I could find, and the only one I could find a connection to their older boys of any kind is with Adam the Patriarch in the sense that he was a biblical character like St. Peter and St. Andrew. Not the greatest connection, but a cool thing is that his memorial is celebrated on Dec. 24, which is nice for a Christmas baby.
  • Thomas: Thomas fits all of their criteria except being less common … he was an apostle like Peter and Andrew, and one of the connections I thought might be useful (especially moving forward with possible future children) is that there are holy Peters, Andrews, and Thomases in the listings of Martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland (there are a lot of martyrs in those countries, so I thought it might provide good fodder for the future as well).
  • Michael: There are loads of holy Michaels, too many for me to go through them all! Here’s the list in case it’s helpful. It’s a great name, but I suspect it’s more popular than Lauren and her hubs would like? It’s been a top 10 name since 1943, spending more than 40 years in the no. 1 spot, and only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 (it’s currently no. 12). One way to jazz it up, if they’d like to, is to consider an alternate nickname for everyday use … one of my favorite unexpected nickname ideas for Michael is Miles, and one of the English martyrs is Bl. Miles Gerard.
  • Patrick: I like it! And Ven. Patrick Peyton is a great patron that ties in with Andrew, since he was a member of the Holy Cross order like St. Andre Bessette.

I’m glad Lauren included the list of family names they can’t use (such a bummer about Paul!) and those that one of them has vetoed, this is such helpful info! I’m also glad to know they don’t care for Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel, as I almost certainly would have suggested Leo and Annabel to them otherwise! As for Christmas names, I’m glad they listed the ones they’ve considered and decided they don’t like, that’s very helpful. Here’s my latest Christmas-and-Advent-names post, which they might like to go through (lots of names!). I looked through it myself to find ideas for this family, some of which I incorporated in my official suggestions below.

Okay! On to those suggestions! I used a few different strategies to find ideas for Lauren and her hubs. My first one was to look up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I start all my consultations with, as it provides for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I know Lauren said they don’t care so much about their kiddos’ names matching each other in terms of style, but this kind of research gives me an idea of the kinds of names she and her hubby are likely to prefer. I then looked through the list of potential matches for the for any connections with their older boys’ names. I also looked up St. Peter, St. Damien, St. Andrew, and St. Peter Damian to find any possible connections between them that might be helpful. That’s where I came up with the idea of looking through the list of British Isles martyrs (here and here), which has several Peters, Andrews, and Thomases, as well as the holy people of the Holy Cross Order and the Dominican Order (as a Third Order Dominican, I kept being struck by how many names I remembered from the litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds that I thought might provide good connections for Lauren and her hubs).

All that said, these are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions:

Girl
(1) Susanna
I rarely suggest Susanna, which is funny since it’s the girl name we’ve held on to through all six of our boys! But I really like it for this family, for a few different reasons: it’s biblical, like Peter and Andrew; it’s saintly (there are several); it’s more unusual, like Damien (in fact, it’s not even in the top 1000!); and I consider it a Christmas name as well, via the movie It’s a Wonderful Life — Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names, so George Bailey’s little Zuzu was likely Susan, as Susan was popular at the time. Susan’s also one of the Narnia children, but while siblings Peter and Susan might possibly feel like too much, I don’t think Peter and Susanna would raise an eyebrow.

(2) Lucy
Speaking of Narnia, Lucy might be too much Narnia with brother Peter, or maybe they’ll love the connection! Lucy means “light,” which, in order to connect it to one of their older boys, they could think of as relating to the light of the Advent candles, and the first Sunday of Advent is set by St. Andrew’s feast day!

(3) Josephine
I know Joseph is on their vetoed list, but what about Josephine for a girl? I love that St. Damien’s birth name was Joseph, so Josephine would connect to him, as well as to their devotion to St. Joseph the Worker. It’s also, of course, a feminine variant of a biblical name, which loops in Peter as well.

(4) Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christiana
Lauren didn’t mention any of the Christ- names as possibilities for their Christmas baby, but Christina was a style match for them based on my research in the BNW, which made me think of all the gorgeous Christ- names for girls. I love Christine, Christiane, and Christiana as well as Christina.

(5) Margaret
There’s more than one Margaret in the list of martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland, which connects it to Peter and Andrew in that way. Since they have Madeline on their list, which made me think of the Magdalene names, I wondered if Margaret — which of course can also take Maggie as a nickname, like Magdalene can — would be appealing to them. There’s also the Sacred Heart connection with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and there are several Dominican saints/blesseds named Margaret (along with St. Peter of Verona and several Bls. Peter, Bl. Damien of Finale, and a few Bls. Andrew).

(6) Maura
A very cool connection I found is that St. Peter Damian lived for a time in Ravenna, Italy (in fact, he took the name Damian after a priest he was sent to live with in Ravenna AND St. Andrew the Apostle is one of the patrons of Ravenna!). On top of that, St. Maura of Ravenna was martyred in Ravenna, and as I’m a sucker for any Marian name, I thought Maura would be an amazing idea. As a variant of Mary, it even works as a Christmas-y name!

(7) Ravenna
Just in case they want to have at least one far-out suggestion, what about Ravenna as a first name? I actually know of a devout family who named one of their daughters Ravenna (there are other saints associated with Ravenna, I’m not sure which one they chose the name for). Its rhythm reminds of Susanna, it’s a really cool idea for a certain kind of family.

Boy
(1) Dominic
Let’s kick off the boy names by going right to the source of the Dominican Order! Not only does Dominic have the Dominican connection like the Peters, Andrews, and Bl. Damien listed above, but I also included it in a list of Advent names having to do with the O Antiphons.

(2) Henry
Henry’s a big name in the lists of British Isles martyrs, including Sts. Henry Morse and Henry Walpole, and Bl. Henry Suso is a Dominican blessed. I liked that it seemed like yet a third, distinct style from Peter and Damien.

(3) Owen
St. Nicholas Owen is one of the English martyrs and one of my favorite saints. I might have suggested Nicholas to Lauren and her hubs, in order to loop in the Christmas theme, but since Lauren said Nicholas has been vetoed, then Owen it is! (Owen’s actually a style match for Madeline and Grace, which made me think they might like it).

(4) Edmund (or Campion?)
Sts. Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith are two of the English martyrs — Edmund’s a great name! If not Edmund, while Arrowsmith seems a bit much for a first name, I’ve seen Campion used from time to time, and I like it a lot. Campion might seem like an extra good option if Lauren and her hubs thought brothers Peter and Edmund were just too much Narnia (like with Lucy).

(5) Lewis
I was enjoying coming up with names that I thought were a different style from either Peter or Damien, and I thought Lewis was another one. St. David Lewis is one of the English Martyrs, and while I thought Damien and David were too similar in sound, I thought Lewis might be perfect. This family named their youngest Lewis in his honor.

(6) August
Lauren said they love St. Augustine, and there’s also a St. Augustine Webster who was one of the English Martyrs, but I thought maybe August might be more their speed (and could still nod to either/both of those men).

(7) Bartholomew
This is my farthest-out idea for a boy, and I love it for this family. Not only is Bartholomew an apostle, like Peter and Andrew, but it’s also the name of two Dominican blesseds: the male Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio and the female Bl. Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi. I would also consider Bartholomew “off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien),” as Lauren put it.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Peter and Damien?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs less popular, sounds-like-it’s-spelled name

Gwen and her husband are expecting their third baby — a girl! Little Miss joins big sibs:

James Robert (“Named after my father, my husband, and his Father. LOVE James, [and] I used Robert because it’s a generations-old tradition.”)

Evelyn Blanche (“My first name was my father’s favorite girl name which is special because each of my siblings has two family names. We continued that with our Evie … Evelyn is hubby’s (and my) favorite girl name; Blanche is my middle name and I was named for a childless great-great-aunt who was an incredible self-made woman in the very late 1800s/early 1900s.”)

I love the stories behind these kiddos’ names! I love that James Robert honors Gwen’s dad, husband, and father-in-law, that’s a pretty amazing feat with one baby’s name! And Evelyn Blanche—what a cool combo with a great nickname, and Gwen’s great-great-aunt sounds amazing! I love that Blanche is her middle name as well, so nice for a girl to have a connection to her mama in that way.

Gwen writes,

Here are our parameters —

  • At least one family name (or variant of a family name) and the other must have a special story. We’d love to name this girl for my husband’s grandmother (Anna Katherine). We are strongly considering Katherine, but I don’t like any nicknames except “Ryn” and I just don’t know if that works? I honestly don’t love Katherine as a first name and would prefer to use it as a middle name … unless there is a variant or nickname (none of the Kathy/Katie/etc) that I don’t know of.

  • Girl Family Names: Anna, Katherine, Kjerstin (Swedish version but would consider variations), Vera, Juliana, Florentina,  Juliette, Elna, Leona, Elana, Philomena, AnnNancy, Rose, Bernadine, Loretta, Jane — names in red would have to be a variant of those names

  • Boy Family Names (perhaps a variant for a girl): Francis, Otto, Henry, Anders, Notley, Sebastian, Cosgrove, William, DeCourcy, Patrick, John, Charles

  • “Special Story” — if one name isn’t a family name we’d like there to be some connection. Perhaps it’s a traditional name that honors our heritage or has strong saintly connections

  • Our ancestral homes include: Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Sicily

  • Her first name should be a classic/traditional name that isn’t top 10-15. Evie ended up being WAY more popular than I like and it bugs me. I wouldn’t mind a name that’s popular in another country, but it can’t be going crazy here in the states. It needs to sound like it’s spelled which, unfortunately, eliminates most Irish names 🙂

  • Strong “No” names that we won’t use — Margaret/Margot, Karen, Kathleen, Clare, Mary, Rebecca, Aidan

  • Another name has come up that might be a really strong contender: Noelle. What do you think about nicknames, style fit, and spelling?! I’m not 100% and I’m not sure if we would do Noelle Katherine or Katherine Noelle (but call her Noelle). My husband is dead set on Katherine so we have to make that work

At first I thought it seemed that Gwen and her hubs were open to using a variant of Katherine, so you had to know that my mind immediately started clicking over their Katherine dilemma as soon as I read Gwen’s email! But then Gwen said her hubby has his heart set on using Katherine, so I’m assuming that’s what they’re going with and I didn’t spend too much time coming up with Katherine variants. If they would still like this option though, this site has all the ones I could possibly hope to share. Of those, some that jumped out at me included the spellings Kathryn, Katheryn, and Katheryne, which Gwen might like because they mirror the spelling of Ryn; Caitlin and Catriona because of their Irish heritage; Kasia (Polish) and Carina and Katja (both Swedish); Katia and Rina (Italian); and Kateri, for our St. Kateri.

I like Gwen’s idea of Katherine nicknamed Ryn a lot! I think it’s perfectly logical and a very cool twist on Katherine. Katherine definitely fits their criteria of not being in the top ten or fifteen names, as it was no. 105 in 2017, and using a nickname like Ryn makes it even less popular, since I think Kate and Katie are the more common nicknames for it.

I think Katherine Noelle is lovely, and I love Noelle Katherine as well. Their baby’s actually due in December, so Christmas names like Noelle work nicely and can provide the “special story.” As far as nicknames for Noelle, I know a little Noelle who goes by Nell and Nelly with her family, both of which I love. I’ve seen Noe as a nickname for it, and I think Noly/Noley could work too. There’s a former child actor named Noley Thornton who played Heidi in a 1993 version of the movie, and I remember thinking she was so sweet and her name was so cool. Noelle is no. 235, which is a great ranking—it’s familiar but not popular. I also think they could easily do Elle/Ellie if they wanted to as well.

As far as spelling, I love the Noelle spelling—it’s so pretty and feminine and makes the pronunciation more obvious in my opinion. Noel is much more used for boys, though it has both male and female usage (no. 386 for boys vs. no. 870 for girls), and can be said like Noelle or like Nole. In terms of style, you all know that I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard (no link available because Amazon’s down due to Prime Day!) when doing consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity—I thought it was pretty cool that several of the style matches for Evelyn are French or French-ish (Charlotte, Claire, Madeline) like Noelle.

I actually think Gwen and her husband are really set with Katherine as a first name, with or without Noelle as a middle, or with Noelle Katherine as the given name—I feel like they hit all their hopes (family name, special story, etc.). It seems like they have a lot of great middle names for Katherine other than Noelle from their family list, if they decided not to use Noelle—I really like Katherine paired with a variant of Anne, which would honor the Anna, Ann, and Nancy that they have in their list of family names. Katherine Annika maybe? (Annika is Swedish.) Katherine Hannah? Katherine Aine, for an Irish twist, or Katherine Anja for a different Swedish twist? (Both Aine and Anja are said like Anya. I know Gwen said she wants names that are said like they’re spelled, but maybe it doesn’t matter so much in the middle spot?)

Rose from the list is a good option too—Katherine Rose is lovely. I love Katherine Loretta—Loretta was my grandmother’s name, and I don’t usually see it on little girls. I like the idea of Katherine Jane as well, but Gwen said it would have to be a variant—Jane is a feminine version of John, so any of the feminine John variants could honor Jane (as well as the John in their list of males family members): Joan, Jean, Gianna, Janina, Joanna (Joanna could maybe be for Jane, John, Anna, Ann, and Nancy all at the same time?) … St. Joan of Arc is an amazing patron for a little girl—strong, fearless, and faithful. St. Gianna is another great one—a modern saint, full of love and courage. Janina’s a Swedish AND Polish variant! If they were open to using the crazy Irish names in the middle, Sinead and Siobhan are both feminine John variants (and not even that crazy as far as Irish names go—I think most people are familiar with those two names).

Okay, on to additional ideas! As I mentioned, I really like so many of the options they have, like Noelle Katherine, Katherine Noelle, and Katherine + so many of the family names Gwen listed. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t offer some more ideas! As I mentioned, I use the Baby Name Wizard a lot in my consultations, and what I look for when doing that research are names that are style matches for more than one of the names on the parents’ list—that gives a pretty good indication that they might hit just the right notes. When there’s not a huge amount of overlap, as with this family, I then look through the style matches of the names on their list and any that *feel* right, on a gut level that I can’t explain, also make the list. So it’s partly a science, and partly emotional! James goes with most names, I would say—it’s so classic with so many varied associations that James can easily be a brother to children with names of all different styles. Similarly with Katherine I think. So I focused mostly on Evelyn, Blanche, and Noelle, as I thought they’d give me more distinctive ideas (though I didn’t disregard James and Katherine). Based on my research and my gut feelings, these are my ideas for Gwen and her hubs:

(1) Julia
I loved seeing Julia listed as a style match for both James and Katherine, especially after seeing Juliette and Juliana on their list of family names (and Juliette’s honor name needing to be a variant). Julia can easily be Evelyn’s sister, even while being so different in popularity (no. 93 in 2017). I also quite like Katherine Julia. I spotlighted the Julia names here, including patron saints.

(2) Rose
Rose is not only a style match for this family, but also a name on their list of family names. I mentioned it earlier as a possible middle name for Katherine, but I love it as a first name for them too. Rose is no. 141, well outside of the top ten or fifteen. Rosie is a sweet nickname with sister Evie; Rose Katherine is a lovely combo; and Rose can be for St. Rose of Lima or any of the other saints named Rose or with Rose in their names somewhere, as well as for Our Lady (roses are one of her symbols; the rosary literally refers to a crown of roses for her; and she has often had roses with her in her apparitions).

(3) Lucille
I know it might seem weird that I used Blanche as one of my inspirations, but it’s my experience that even when people choose a name for family reasons, thinking it has little to do with their style, it actually still tells about their style. If Gwen really hated Blanche, she wouldn’t have used it, no matter how cool her great-great-aunt was; if she hated it and still wanted to honor her aunt, she likely would have found a different way to do so. All that to say, when I saw that Lucille is a style match for Blanche, I liked it right away for Gwen’s little girl. Evelyn nicknamed Evie and Lucille nicknamed Lucy are so pleasing to me as sister names, and Lucille is no. 264. There are loads of great saints named a variant of Lucy that can serve as patron, and the Lucy names can also be Marian, as they mean “light” and Our Lady of Light is one of Our Lady’s titles. Lucille Katherine and Katherine Lucille are amazing.

(4) Camille
Camille’s a style match for Noelle, and I just thought it was a really pretty name that fit Gwen’s popularity criteria (it’s no. 251). Cami and Millie are adorable nicknames that feel like Evie to me, and there are both male and female holies that can be patron.

(5) Caroline
Caroline is a Katherine match that seems exactly perfect to me. It’s got good popularity (no. 55), sweet nicknames from the familiar to the unexpected (Carrie, Callie, Carly, Caro, Clio), it goes really well with James and Evelyn in my opinion, AND it can honor the Charles on their list of family names! There are lots of patron saint options too. Another not listed there is Bl. Karl, Emperor of Austria, who I wrote about recently.

(6) Willa
This might strike Gwen as a really out-there suggestion, but I was trying to think of ways to make a nickname like Ryn feel more comfortable for her, and I thought of the name Wren, and thought how a W first name with Katherine as a middle could lead to the nickname Wren (W+the ending sound of Katherine). So then I tried to think of a W name that might work for them (you see how my mind works?? So crazy!) and thought of Willa for two reasons—first, because they have William in their list of family names, and second, because Evelyn and Willa are such a literary pair, which I love! (Evelyn Waugh and Willa Cather. And of course James can get right in there in a bunch of ways—James Joyce immediately came to mind because of their Irish heritage.) Then I thought I like Willa Katherine for them so much, whether or not they like the Wren idea. Willa’s so pretty! It’s no. 454, and there’s even a St. Willa of Nonnberg, as well as, of course, all the Sts. William.

(7) Elizabeth or Elisabeth
My last idea breaks Gwen’s popularity rule, as Elizabeth is no. 13, but it’s a match for James, Robert, and Katherine, and when I see a name that matches so many of those on the parents’ list, I feel like I have to include it! One way to get around that popularity is to use the Elisabeth spelling, which is no. 775, but really, I thought the million Elizabeth nicknames could really help. From the common and familiar Liz, Ellie, and Beth, to the lesser used Betsey, Bess, and Betty, to the surprising Tess, Libbett, and even Zelie (we’ve talked a bit here about how Zelie can be a nickname for Elizabeth, and honor St. Zelie at the same time), there are so many options to fit whatever kind of vibe they’re going for. (I personally don’t mind that Elizabeth/Elisabeth and Evelyn start with the same letter, though I would understand if Gwen and her hubs prefer not to do that.)

And those are all my ideas for this little girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of James and Evelyn/Evie?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Baby name consultation: Unusual name with great meaning needed for baby no. 5

Thank you again to all those who entered last week’s giveaway and suggested ideas for ways to honor St. Anne in a boy’s name! I’ll compile them into one post soon!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lynda’s fourth baby almost exactly two years ago, and I’m thrilled that today’s baby name consultation is for her fifth baby — a little girl!

This Little Miss joins big siblings:

Mirai Luna (“Mirai [meer-eye] means miracle in Basque and future in Japanese; middle name means moon in Spanish“)
Evander Sol (“Evander is greek and means “good man;” middle name means sun in Spanish“)
Aviva Estrella (“Hebrew name meaning innocence and springtime (she was born in April); middle name means star in Spanish“)
Taavi Orion [Taavi is the Finnish form of David, which means “beloved”; Orion continues the celestial theme]

Such cool names, right? Taavi was one of my suggestions in the private consultation I’d done for Lynda when she was pregnant with him, so I was so excited to see that she and her husband liked it!

Lynda writes,

As you can tell we like names that are not very common and also have a beautiful meaning … Middle name will likely be Cielo — Spanish for sky. I like Zelie, but can’t really find a strong meaning beside the connection with Saint Azelie. Which is great, but doesn’t really go along with the names with meanings of my other kids. My husband really likes Zazie (nickname for Isabelle in French — meaning consecrated to God I think?). I’m not completely sold though, so I’m eager to see what you find.”

I had so much fun with this, as I knew I would! I was looking back on my ideas for Lynda for when she was expecting Taavi, and apparently the Baby Name Wizard was helpful to me back then, which is funny because I didn’t find it at all helpful this time around! Instead, I tried to focus on names that have a great meaning, like her other kids’ names, and also names that are more … I’m not sure what the word is? Mirai is Basque, Evander is Greek, Aviva is Hebrew, and Taavi is Finnish, so I felt like Spanish/French/Latinate names or those from a more unexpected origin would be a better fit than those from an Anglo/Celtic background, for example. So I guess that’s what I would say — I just looked for names that are more unexpected, and generally ruled out Anglo/Celtic names.

I have a bunch of unusual options in my book of Marian names, which is actually where I started when looking for names for Lynda and her hubs. I also of course couldn’t help but notice that the two names they’re considering — Zelie and Zazie — are Z-heavy, so I tried to think of other Z names that might have good meanings for them.

Before I get into the ideas I thought they might like, though, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Zelie: Most people who offer opinions on what Zelie means argue that Azelie is French for azalea (the flower), and I’ve known parents who’ve considered Azalea as a name, in honor of St. Zelie. But since “azalea” comes from a Greek word meaning “dry,” I don’t think that’s the kind of meaning Lynda and her hubs would like. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a spotlight on Zelie a few years ago, and included possible connections to Celia and Solene, both of which were actually discussed in a comment here at Sancta Nomina as well. The Celia connection is interesting, since Celia and Cielo both mean sky/heaven, so if they thought the Celia-Zelie connection made the most sense, they probably wouldn’t want to do Zelie Cielo.
  • Zazie: I love learning new things about names! I’d never heard of Zazie as a nickname for Isabelle, how cool! As far as meaning, behindthename.com is my go-to for name meanings, and it lists “God is my oath” as the meaning of Elizabeth (Isabelle is a French variant of Elizabeth).

Okay, so based on the parameters that I thought would yield some interesting ideas for Lynda and her hubs, this is what I came up with:

(1) Janua or Ianua
One of Our Lady’s titles is “Gate of Heaven,” as listed in the Litany of Loreto, which in Latin is rendered both Ianua Caeli and Janua Coeli. Caeli and Coeli (generally pronounced CHAY-lee) are both related to Cielo, and refer to heaven, so I thought Janua Cielo or Ianua Cielo would be an interesting combo for Lynda’s little girl. A reader actually shared with me that her niece’s name is Ianua Caeli, so pretty! Janua and Ianua are pronounced the same, and can be said YAH-noo-ah; Ianua can also be said ee-YAH-noo-ah. Janua and Ianua are definitely different! I know “gate” isn’t the most interesting meaning, but when you consider the whole combo “Ianua/Janua Cielo/Caeli/Coeli, ‘gate of heaven’” and that it’s a title of Mary, it’s a really lovely meaning.

(2) Liesse
Another title of Our Lady is Our Lady of Joy, which in French is Notre Dame de Liesse. Liesse is such a pretty name! I love its femininity and rhythm. I’m not sure Lynda will love how Liesse Cielo flows — one possibility is to switch Cielo to Araceli, which is a Spanish name where the “celi” part means sky/heaven and “ara” means “altar” — it’s another Marian name, as Araceli means “altar of heaven.” Liesse Araceli?

(3) Lux or Luz
Both Lux (Latin) and Luz (Spanish) mean “light,” and refer to Our Lady of Light. I like that they have an X or a Z, depending on which version Lynda and her hubs like, which is similar to Zelie and Zazie. Lux Cielo and Luz Cielo work fine I think.

(4) Maylis
I know they haven’t repeated initials yet, so maybe an M name is off the table? But Maylis is such a pretty name, I really wanted to suggest it for them. Like Zazie and Liesse, it’s a French name, a mashup of Marie and lys/lis (=lily). Maylis Cielo is pretty.

(5) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen,” which is a fantastic meaning on its own, and also nods to Our Lady, Queen (of many things: Heaven, Angels, Apostles, the World, Ireland, Peace, etc.). Regina Caeli is one of her titles meaning “Queen of Heaven,” so Reina Cielo would be similar but unexpected, I really like it.

(6) Zara
This is one of my Z ideas for them. One of its possible etymologies is as a variant of Zahrah, which derives from the Arabic word meaning “blooming flower.” So pretty! Another, separate meaning that I really like is that Zara is a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is a feminine form of Zechariah! Zechariah is said to mean, “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew. I actually spotlighted Zara here.

(7) Zuzu (Susanna, Azucena)
If you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ll know that Zuzu is what one of George Bailey’s daughters is called, likely a nickname for Susan, as Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names and Susan was popular at the time the movie was made (“Zuzu’s petals” is the line from the movie). I like Zuzu on its own for this family, it really strikes me as similar to Zazie, and the Susan- names mean both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, so they have really lovely meanings. They could use Susanna itself (or any of its variants, including Zuzanna and Zuzia) with Zuzu as the nickname, or another idea is the name Azucena — it shares the same roots as Susanna, and is the Spanish name for the flower known as the Madonna lily; Zuzu can easily be a nickname for it.

(8) Zephyr(ine)
My last idea is Zephyr, which is usually a masculine name, meaning “the west wind,” but one of my readers recently named her daughter Zephyr, with the most amazing explanation. I love the meaning and I love its soft sound! I also thought I’d mention Zepherine, which was my great aunt’s name and one of the coolest! She went by Zee.

And those are my ideas for Lynda and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mirai, Evander, Aviva, and Taavi?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Looking for slightly more traditional than they’ve already used, but still uncommon

Hillary and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a girl! This little lady joins big siblings (who are “ecstatic,” according to Hillary — so cute!):

Gideon Charles (“Gideon was born while [hubby] and I were living and working in Ethiopia as missionaries. Gideon is a popular name in Ethiopia. His middle name, Charles, was [hubby’s] father’s middle name who died just before we married.”)

Chiri Patricia (“Chiri (pronounced Cheery) was named after the town we lived in in Ethiopia. Her middle name, Patricia, is named after my paternal grandmother Patricia who was a wonderfully generous and beautiful person.”)

Jasper Harrison (“Jasper was named after a friend of [hubby’s] in Kenya who was a camel rancher, who died just before Jasper was born. Harrison was my maternal grandfather’s name, and in addition we lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the time, so wanted to honor our town as we did for Chiri.”)

Aren’t these cool names?? I love them all! Not only do I love them just for themselves, but also all the meaning behind each one, such a great job!

Hillary writes,

For our little girl, we may be interested in a slightly more traditional, but still not too common, name. We have taken to calling her ‘Josie” short for Josephine, as we have a special love for St. Joseph, to whom we prayed a novena when we returned from Africa and Jeff was job hunting. St. Joseph has cared for our family in many ways. I am not crazy about another JJ name, however, as [their last name begins with J and Dad and Jasper’s names both begin with J], Josie J___ might be too much!

Jeff really likes Polly (Polly is a paternal aunt of mine) but I worry it will bring parrots to mind.

My middle name is Jane, and there are many generations of women before me on my father’s side with the middle name Jane, so that is a good possibility. Jane J___ is fraught with alliteration concerns, however! [Not only do they both begin with J, but Jane sounds quite similar to their last name.]

Some other names we have talked about: Grace, Susanna, Heidi, Marian, Polly; we also like the names Fern and Daisy

Other names with significant relatives in our family: Meredith, Ann, Dorothy, Joyce, Sandra, Elizabeth, Jennifer

I loved working on this! So many wonderful names! My first thought when reading Hillary’s email was to tackle the issue of Josie. I love that they’re already calling the baby Josie, and I love that it’s because of their love for St. Joseph and his care for their family! I had two idea of ways to work with this, if they were open to keeping St. Joseph in the baby’s name in some form (given name or nickname):

  • Since they’re already calling the baby Josie, I wondered if I could find names that Josie could possibly be a nickname for that don’t start with J. I know that doesn’t solve the Josie J___ dilemma, but it might help soften it. I searched for girl names that include “jo” somewhere in them on babynamewizard.com’s Name Finder, and was intrigued by Marjory/Marjorie and Marjolaine/Marjolein. I liked that Marjory/Marjorie is more of a “more traditional, but still not too common” kind of name, as Hillary mentioned they might prefer this time. It’s a variant of Margaret via Margaret’s medieval variant Margery, which was actually a style match for Marian from their list when I did research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard! (You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) Marjolaine/Marjolein are variants of “marjoram” (the herb), kind of a cool way to work in a flower-type/nature name without being too obvious. With Marjorie/Marjory/Marjolaine/Marjolein, they might like to pair it with an S-heavy middle name, to make sense of Josie as a nickname — Sandra from their list of family names might do perfectly!
  • If they didn’t like the idea of Josie being a non-conventional nickname for a different name as mentioned above, maybe they’d prefer to consider Josephine as a given name with a different nickname? Posie/Pos(e)y has traditional usage as a Josephine nickname, which is so sweet, and I’ve often thought Sophie could work as well, since all its letters are contained within Josephine.
  • Then I thought that Hillary and her hubs might like Posie/Pos(e)y as a given name on its own! It’s similar to Polly (in that Polly was a nickname in origin — a nickname for Mary) and rhymes with the Josie they’ve already been using; it’s a nickname for Josephine so the connection to St. Joseph is solid; and it doesn’t begin with J! Posie J___ is absolutely darling.

As for the other names they’re considering:

  • Polly is sweet! I can’t imagine the parrot connection being really problematic — I grew up with a Polly, and I don’t remember it ever being an issue with her, and names like Polly (sweet and vintage-y) are definitely back in style (though Polly itself hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 70’s). I wonder if they’ve considered Molly? Molly and Polly are both originally nicknames for Mary, arising about the same time, and Molly avoids the parrot association altogether.
  • If Jane is the middle name, which is an idea I love, I don’t think the alliteration is that big a deal — so few people know a person’s middle name as they go through life, you know? It’s not like they’d be saying her full name every time. And the middle spot is often where people put names that they want to use, or feel obligated to use, that don’t work as first names or that they don’t care for style-wise but want to fit in there anyway. Another possibility is to use a Jane variant — it won’t be quite as great as having Hillary’s exact middle name and that of her ancestors, but it could be pretty great nonetheless. If the long A of Jane and the surname is particularly problematic, maybe even switching to Joan or Jean would suffice? Otherwise, there are so many great options: Jane is a John variant, so any of the feminine John variants would work, like Gianna and Joanna, Hanne/Hanna, Yana and Siobhan. Another possibility is Ione, as some sites that argue that Ione is a feminine form of John. Nameberry says, “Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana” and apparently there are several places in literature (like Shakespeare!) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan — so cool, right?
  • Grace: Lovely, simple and sweet.
  • Susanna: The girl name we’ve hung on to through all our six boys! I love it, such a great name.
  • Heidi: Another that I would classify as simple and sweet, like Polly and Grace.
  • Marian: Marian always strikes me as one of the stronger Mary names, probably because of Maid Marian — I love that association!
  • Fern and Daisy: Fantastic names!
  • Regarding their family names, I assumed Hillary and her hubs would probably pull from them for the middle name, and didn’t consider them as first-name contenders, I hope that’s correct!

Alrighty, so I already mentioned that I always do research in the Baby Name Wizard, and really enjoyed seeing what the results of it were for this family — I love seeing names emerge as matches for parents’ overall style. I also plugged Gideon, Jasper, Polly, Heidi, and Fern into the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com (it only lets you do three names at a time, so I tried to choose the girl names that I thought would give me the best results; I searched Gideon, Jasper, and Polly first; Gideon, Jasper, and Heidi second; and Heidi, Polly, and Fern third), which revealed some additional ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

(1) Naomi
The style matches for Gideon were really exciting to me, I felt like they nailed what I perceive to be Hillary and her hubs’ style pretty well. Naomi was one of them, and I love that Naomi is, in my mind, exactly the kind of name they’d be looking for with “slightly more traditional, but still not too common.” Although … when I looked it up I discovered it was actually no. 69 in 2017, which I’m so surprised by! But I still love it for this family, and I think it also matches up really well with the feel of Susanna (especially spelled Susannah).

(2) Lydia
If sisters are going to have names that seem different in style, I like for there to be some other thread that links them together. When I saw Lydia as a match for Gideon, Grace, and Susanna, I thought it might be perfect because, like Chiri, it’s a place name — the Lydia in the bible was so named because she was from Lydia.

(3) Eden
This, too, was influenced by Chiri’s name, as well as by the fact that it’s a match for Gideon — Eden is a place name, of course, and I think it goes really well with the other kiddos’ names. It was no. 139 in 2017, so I don’t think it’s too unusual (but not too common either). I also looove the nickname Edie!

(4) Mercy
As I said, I really felt like the style matches for Gideon were such great suggestions for this family, and Mercy was another one! Like Grace it’s a virtue-type name, and I saw quite a bit of it (and other names with the same meaning) during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I did think that it could also work as a nickname for Meredith, if Hillary liked the idea of using her family name Meredith as a first name … Meredith Joyce would even bring in the “cy” to add to the “Mer” of Meredith, making it all very pleasing!

(5) Violet, Rose, Lily, Poppy
None of these except for Poppy are unusual, being nos. 48, 141, and 33 for the first three in 2017 (though Rose’s no. 141 is pretty great!), and Poppy was no. 689 — a top 1000 name! I’m so surprised by that as well! They were all matches for this family’s style: Violet for Gideon, Jasper, and Daisy; Rose for Jane and Daisy, and Rosie for Polly; Lily for Grace; and Poppy for Polly and Daisy! And of course I mentioned Posie/Posey and Marjolaine/Marjolein above, which are floral (ish) as well. So I thought it made sense to offer a, ahem, bouquet of choices for Hillary and her hubs! Haha! And actually, Susanna means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew! I’m not sure how that ties in, but it’s too cool not to mention.

(6) Adelaide
This was one of the results of the search on the Name Matchmaker, and it caught my eye because it’s a place name like Chiri and it’s also a variant of Heidi! At no. 276, it’s a nice option for familiar but not too common.

(7) Felicity
My last idea for this family is Felicity, which, like Adelaide, was another of the results on the Name Matchmaker. It’s no. 347 and very much like Adelaide in terms of being familiar but not too common. I also like that its meaning is “happiness,” which is a great meaning for a baby whose siblings are “ecstatic” about her arrival! I also like that Chiri is pronounced like Cheery, which gives it a really happy, sunny feel to me, so that could be a subtle tie-in between the two girls’ names. I also recently did a post on “meaning” nicknames, and one of the ones I’d seen suggested elsewhere was Bliss for Felicity, because of Felicity’s meaning — sisters Chiri and Felicity nicknamed Bliss might be taking the happy connection too far, but on the other hand … it could be perfect! If they like the idea of Felicity, but would prefer more nickname options, I did a spotlight of the name here. One of the ideas is Lily, which is a nice connection to the floral names I suggested above; another is Liddy, which is like Lydia.

And those are my ideas for Hillary and her hubs’ new baby girl! ! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Gideon, Chiri, and Jasper?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Baby girl no. 7 needs uncommon but not unfamiliar, feminine, French-sounding name

Shannon and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their seventh girl! Shannon writes,

We’re expecting a baby girl on the Feast of the Assumption! We have all girls and are struggling to find another name. We tend to gravitate to feminine, French sounding names that are more traditional, not too trendy, but also not unheard of. Here are our other names:

Annabelle Grace (6 1/2) Annabelle was my great grandmother’s favorite name, so I named her this in her honor. I like the Marian connotation — Mater Amabilis. Grace was chosen because it took us a few years and many prayers to conceive her, and we felt she was truly a gift from God.

Celeste Rose (nearly 5) Celeste is just a name I’ve always loved — probably hearkens back to my days reading the Babar books! I like the connection with Heaven and stars. Rose is after St. Rose of Lima, a beloved saint.

In 2015 we had identical twin girls who were sadly both stillborn on February 6 due to a heart problem. We named them:

Nora Catherine — I like the meaning “honor” for Nora and Catherine is my middle name as well as my other great-grandmother, who was very devout. As a woman who loves the academic side of the Church, I’ve always loved St. Catherine of Siena as well.

Mary Elizabeth — In honor of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth. Through the ordeal of a high risk pregnancy and the stillbirth, Our Lady was my constant companion and comfort. Though this tragedy brought suffering, it also has brought our family the most beautiful graces.

After the twins I suffered an early miscarriage where we had decided on the name Claire after St. Clare.

Noelle Evangeline (17 months) She was due near Thanksgiving but didn’t arrive until Dec. 11th, so she became our surprise Advent baby. We chose Evangeline because after our losses she was a welcome reminder of the good news and all that is wonderful in the world.

We’ve decided that we probably shouldn’t choose another “elle” name as we already have two. “Ette” names are difficult because we live in an area with many French speakers who pronounce our name the French way, so an “ette” name would rhyme. Which is a shame because Colette is one of my very favorite names. I also love Lucy but [it sounds weird with our last name]. We like Lucia but everyone pronounces it differently — my husband likes the pronunciation of the island and I prefer the Italian way. I also love Felicity but think that “Felicity LastName” sounds like a gunslinger in a western novel, like she would be friends with Calamity Jane. I have a sister with two beautiful daughters named Liliana (goes by Lily) and Camilla, so those are out. We are considering Elise Dominica but I’m just not feeling a hundred percent sold on it at this point. My husband loves the name Gwendolyn (would go by Gwen) and I like it too.

I tend to like names that are a bit more whimsical than my husband, or a bit more “extreme Catholic” such as Dominica and Benedicta. My husband doesn’t mind them for middle names as much but doesn’t love them for first names. He loves the names Olivia and Margaret but I don’t really care for them (even though Margaret was my confirmation name). I’m leaning toward something that honors Mary though it’s been tricky. I like Marigold but don’t think it’s a style-match for the other names. I’ve mentioned it to some friends and family and they’ve thought it sounded too whimsical/Bohemian considering our other daughters. Names like Mariana are too close to Annabelle and Stella Maris/Maristella has the dreaded “elle.”

I’m so excited for this consultation — please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.”

Wasn’t it amazing to read all this?! I’m so sorry to hear of the losses of Shannon’s babies, and so happy for her and her husband that this baby is on the way! I love their older girls’ names — each one is so gorgeous and meaningful! And I love the names they’re considering, they have wonderful taste!

I chuckled at Shannon’s comments about Lucy, and especially at Felicity LastName — “friends with Calamity Jane” is hilarious! I wonder if something like Lucille or Lucienne would do better for them?

Elise Dominica is beautiful, and I love how it combines a French name with a heavy-hitting Catholic name! Perhaps my one nitpicky thing, if I had to have one, is that their Mary Elizabeth already has an Elizabeth name. But certainly it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker — I only mention it in case it helps them make a decision one way or the other, since Shannon said she’s not feeling 100% on it.

Gwendolyn/Gwen is such an interesting addition to their list! It’s a great name, and I was surprised by it at first, since I was so focused on French names, but its Celtic feel fits in well with Nora, Mary (from the perspective that Mary by itself and Mary double names have a particularly Irish feel to me), and Claire (even with Claire being the French spelling). Since Shannon said she’s leaning toward a Marian name this time, I wondered if she and her hubs would be interested in Gwenfair? In my [recently published] book of Marian names, Gwenfair’s one of the entries — like Gwendolyn, it’s a Welsh name, with the “gwen” part meaning “white, fair, blessed,” and the “fair” part being actually Mair (it changes to “fair” when added on to Gwen), which is the Welsh form of Mary. It’s a little more difficult than Gwendolyn, in that its Welsh pronunciation is something like GWEN-vire, but I think one could get away with GWEN-fair in the U.S. But I totally get that that pronunciation issue might make the name less appealing than Gwendolyn.

I too love Marigold, but I can see what Shannon’s friends/family mean about it seeming too “whimsical/Bohemian.” One argument in its favor is that it’s the name of Edith’s daughter on Downton Abbey — I wouldn’t consider any of the characters on the show to be whimsical or Bohemian (though Edith leans the most that way of all of them). Considering it in light of early-twentieth-century England makes it seem more “quaint English rose” and less whimsical/Bohemian I think. If it’s helpful, I’ve posted two birth announcements for babies with Marigold as part of their name — one as a middle name, one as a first name — Shannon and her hubs might like to see the style of their siblings’ names.

Though Shannon said she doesn’t care for Olivia, I wondered if the fact that it’s actually an entry in my book might help? Part of what I wrote about it is:

One of Mother Mary’s titles is ‘Our Lady of Olives,’ also known as Madonna of olives, which makes any of the Oliv- names doable in her honor. Under this title, Our Lady has been compared to an olive tree in this verse in the book of Sirach: ‘Like a fair olive tree in the field’ (24:14), and also remembered for a miraculous occurrence involving lightning in a town in France.”

[Note that I did explain in the book that Olivia may or may not be etymologically related to “olive,” but as always I think intention is what matters most, and there’s certainly a visual/audial connection between Olivia and “olive.”]

I’m certainly not trying to sway Shannon one way or the other, but I do love helping parents come to an agreement on names, so if this is helpful in doing so, great! I particularly like that this title of Our Lady has a connection to France; you can read more about it here.

I’d love to find a way for Shannon to like Margaret as well, since it’s got that great tie to her and her hubby loves it. What about the French Marguerite? Or Margo(t)? Marigold actually made me think of Marguerite anyway, because the name for the daisy flower in French is marguerite, so while the Margaret names aren’t exactly Marian, this is one way in which they can be considered so, as daisies have a connection to Our Lady: the common daisy has been known as Mary’s flower or Mary-Loves, and the oxeye daisy has been known as Mary’s Star. (Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret because of this connection.) Marguerite or Margo(t) nicknamed Daisy might be the perfect solution to Shannon’s hubby’s love of Margaret plus her affinity for more whimsical names.

One last Marian idea before moving on to the ideas suggested by my research for this family, is that, with their daughter due on the feast of the Assumption, maybe a name related to that feast would be fun to consider? Assumpta and Assunta were the first to come to mind; second were the Susan names — as I related in my book, it seems Italian women named Assunta often “anglicized” their name as Susan when they arrived in the US! However, the more I think about it, the more I think the Susan names don’t work … Suzette would be great except for the -ette, and Susanne/Suzanne and Susanna are too similar to Annabelle. But I could see Assumpta or Assunta being really cool, especially perhaps in the middle spot. As a first name, Susie could work as a nickname for either of them I think, and Amy for Assumpta.

Alrighty, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also consulted the Exotic Traditionals, Saints, and French lists at the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool since Marigold doesn’t have an entry in the BNW book. And I did a post a while ago about a family with French roots whose girls all have really French names, so I consulted that as well. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Shannon and her husband:

(1) Genevieve
No list of French-type girl names would be complete without Genevieve! She’s the patron saint of Paris, and Gwendolyn was actually what inspired me to put it on this list, as they’re both long G names (though I know the fact that one’s a hard G and one’s a soft G makes a difference to many).

(2) Em(m)eline
The family in the post I linked to above has an Emeline, and Emmeline was actually listed as a style match for Celeste in the BNW! There’s a St. Emilina of Boulancourt, and behindthename.com also says it’s related to Amelia, which offers two more options for patron saints.

(3) Elodie
Continuing with French E names, Elodie was in the list of French names, Saint names, and Exotic Traditionals in the BNW! I immediately thought it might make a nice replacement for Elise, if Shannon ended up deciding Elise was too repetitive with Mary Elizabeth or if she decided she doesn’t care for it for other reasons. Elodie Dominica is lovely.

(4) Sylvie
Sylvie’s a style match for Noelle, and as soon as I saw it I was reminded of a family I posted a consultation for who has a daughter named Sylvie Regina, specifically because it sounds like Salve Regina. I have thought about how clever that is so often! AND that little Sylvie has a sister named Marigold! Sylvie feels like a less popular Sophie to me, I love it.

(5) Madeleine, Magdalene
Speaking of Sophie, I always think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat when I think of French names. There’s a school near me called St. Madeleine Sophie’s, and I’ve always loved that they always say both names. Madeleine is the French form of Magdalene, and I wondered if Magdalene might appeal to Shannon and her husband? It’s so similar to Margaret in that it can take Maggie as a nickname, but it’s got a more unusual feel.

(6) Simone
When I do research in the BNW, I’m always looking for overlap — for names that are style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list of considerations. Simone was one of those names for this family! It’s a match for both Celeste and Noelle, as well as Dominique, which I looked up in place of Dominica, as Dominica didn’t have its own entry in the BNW. Simone is all gorgeousness to me, and St. Peter is an easy patron; there’s also a Bl. Simone who was beatified by St. JPII.

(7) Josephine
Finally, Josephine, listed as a specific a style match for Annabelle as well as being included in the list of French names and Saints names in the BNW. I love Josephine and all its possible nicknames, including Josie, Sophie, and Posy.

And those are my ideas for Shannon and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Annabelle, Celeste, Nora, Mary, Claire, and Noelle?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Literary/Irish-y/saintly name needed

Lindsey and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Lindsey writes,

Help! My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of June/beginning of July. We live in Boston and are having a ton of difficulty coming up with a name! We already had the name picked out if we were having a girl, so we are of course having a boy. We’re Catholic and would like to have a Catholic influence in the name, though we don’t necessarily require that it be the first name.

General criteria:

— We don’t want it to be a common or popular name, but we would like it to be a name that most people will have heard at some point. Ideally, we’d like it not to be in the top 100 or near that so that he won’t have to run into the issue of being “Matt LastInitial.”

— I tend to like old-fashioned/classic names and have somewhat of a preference for English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, though my husband doesn’t want anything too Irish. We also, however, tend to like some more unique, trendy sounding names like Sloan, Bligh/Bly, &c.

— We’d like something that would have the possibility of a nickname if that’s something he’d like or could stand on its own.

Likes but Not Requirements:

–I’m a huge bookworm and like the idea of having a literary inspiration in the name, but I’d rather the perfect name than to force this.

Below is a list of names that we like and have been considering:

Ambrose
Edmund
Simon
Blaise
Frederick
Calvin
Byron
Ciaran
Charles (I like the nickname Charlie more than I like Charles, but I question whether Charlie is appropriate for an adult)
Baron
Fulton
Sebastian (though it’s a bit too common for us to use)
Nathaniel (I feel it may be a bit too common for us to use)
Damian (may be a bit too common for us to use)

Of the above list, Ambrose and Edmund top out as our favorite right now (and though they continue to volley back and forth for top seed, Ambrose seems to be the current preference), but we are struggling with those and with them all:

–If we went with Ambrose, we can’t think of any middle names that would flow well with our last name. [Some family names include] (Daniel, Thomas, Benjamin, Joseph, Robert, Gabriel, Calvin, Francis).
–If we were to have a daughter in the future, we would likely name her Rosemary after my grandmother, and I wonder whether the “rose” in Ambrose and Rosemary would be harmonious or tacky. That being said, there’s no guarantee that we will have other children or that we would have a girl even if we did.
–While we like Edmund, I cannot stand “Ed” or “Eddie” as a nickname, and while I could consistently reiterate that his name is Edmund, I know I would likely be fighting a losing battle of him being called Ed or Eddie.

We are 31 weeks along and have been struggling with this for months and thought it was finally time to reach out for help since we’re not getting anywhere ourselves. We’re hoping for feedback on our top picks as well as any other name suggestions you may have for us to consider. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

I love working with first-time parents! I’m so excited for Lindsey and her hubby that they’re expecting their first baby, I remember those days well. ❤

I totally understand not wanting a common/popular name. It is true though that the popular names of today aren’t even a fraction as popular as the popular names of the past. Also, it’s possible to live in a “name pocket” where a particular name, which might not be popular according to the national Social Security data, is actually really popular where you live. There’s more info here.

I’m with Lindsey on loving English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, but I admit I’d never heard of Bligh/Bly before! So funny to me that she included it as an example of a “unique, trendy sounding name” — are any of you familiar with it? Maybe it’s a regional name?

Like Lindsey, I also love literary names, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was doing my research for her and her hubs.

Regarding the list of names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

  • Ambrose: Love it! We considered it for a couple of our boys, and I’ve spent some time thinking of nicknames as a result. Sam, Bram, and Brody are my favorites, and Bram would give them a literary tie-in. Brody would make extra sense if Ambrose was paired with a D middle name. I don’t hate Ambrose Daniel, and Ambrose David is another combo I quite like. Of the other family names that could possibly be used as a middle, in the interest of whittling down the list, I might cross off Gabriel (Ambrose Gabriel is a lot of “br,” though Gabriel is one of my very favorite names) and Calvin (all I think of is John Calvin, which is unfortunate, because it’s a cool name otherwise. With Ambrose being SO saintly and Catholic, if I were to see Ambrose Calvin it would make me scratch my head! But few people know others’ middle names, so it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker). I like some of the names on their list of first names as potential middles for Ambrose … Ambrose Ciaran is particularly appealing to me, because it’s got the Irish Lindsey likes but I’m assuming it’s not *too* Irish? I also love Ambrose Edmund, what a heavy hitting name! It might be a good way to work Edmund in if they can’t feel comfortable with it as a first name. As for Ambrose and Rosemary … I’m not sure! If Ambrose always went by a nickname that didn’t contain Rose, I’d say it’s fine. But if he was Ambrose or Brose all the time, then maybe that would be too much Rose? I do think Lindsey’s wise to remember that “there’s no guarantee that [they] will have other children or that [they] would have a girl.” I wrote more about the issue of whether to use a beloved name now or save it for later here.
  • Edmund: I think that if they called him Edmund all the time, it’s quite likely that he would eventually be shortened to Ed or Eddie by someone — maybe even himself! But if they picked a different nickname and enforced its use, they may be able to avoid Ed/Eddie. Ned and Ted are both traditional nicknames for the Ed- names, I wonder if either of those might appeal? Another idea, tapping into Lindsey’s love of Irish names, is Eamon — the Irish variant of Edmund. There would be no chance of Ed/Eddie with Eamon! But I also get that, while it’s technically the same name as Edmund, at the same time it isn’t (and likely too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby?).
  • Simon, Blaise, Frederick, Byron, Baron, Fulton: All pretty cool.
  • Calvin: See my comments in the Ambrose bullet point above. Although, since it’s a family name, I can see that it might just be too important to not use. I do love the nickname Cal.
  • Ciaran: Love it! So surprised it’s not too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby though!
  • Charles/Charlie: I think this is an excellent choice for a boy, specifically because Charles offers so many nickname possibilities to fit different personalities and stages in life. Charlie is adorable on a little boy, and I don’t think it’s inappropriate on an adult at all. In fact, I know a little boy whose given name is Charley, so he’s going to be Charley his whole life! But if Lindsey’s son feels like he’s not a Charlie when he grows up, he can be Cal or Chaz or Chuck or the full Charles. It’s a great name!
  • Sebastian, Nathaniel, Damian: The recently released 2017 name data might be helpful here. Sebastian rose two spots to no. 22, so I can see why Lindsey thinks it might be too popular for them. Nathaniel’s been steadily decreasing since 2000 though, and is currently at no. 112, and Damian has been going up and down but never more popular than no. 98 (in 2013) and is currently no. 119 (up five spots from 2016), so I don’t think either Nathaniel or Damian are too popular. I love them both!

So those are my thoughts on their current list — I think it’s a great list with loads of great contenders, and I’m not sure adding more ideas will be helpful! But I did do my usual research for them, in which I looked up all the names Lindsey and her hubs 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 looked up all the names on their boy list, as well as Rosemary, and have several ideas that might appeal to them (I hope they don’t muddy the waters rather than making things more clear!):

(1) Philip nicknamed Pip
I told Lindsey that I kept the idea of a literary name in mind while doing my research, and I was thrilled to see Philip as a result! It’s handsome and classic and not too popular at all — it’s currently no. 425 — and while it’s not popular, it is familiar. And isn’t Pip the cutest nickname for a little boy?? And literary! It’s probably not a nickname that can last his whole life, but the full Philip as well as Phil are Men’s Names. I even worked with a Philip who preferred to be called Flip, so not all men hate cute nicknames, and I like that Philip offers options.

(2) Atticus
Atticus was actually solely due to Lindsey’s liking of literary and Latin names, and wasn’t a result of my research at all, but I was looking up Atticus earlier for something different and it occurred to me that it might be perfect for this family. There’s a St. Atticus, and I’ve seen Atty, Gus, Kit, and Ace all used as nicknames for it. Atticus is no. 350.

(3) Bennett or Benedict
I’m actually kind of surprised they didn’t have Benedict on their list! It’s got good familiarity in England (Benedict Cumberbatch) and it’s Latin for “blessed” and super saintly — it fits right in with so many of the names on their list! Its medieval diminutive Bennett, though, was an actual style match for them — per the BNW it’s similar in style to Edmund and Calvin, and I consider it to be similar to Fulton (Fulton doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but it’s a surname-turned-first-name with strong Catholic roots, and while Bennett started as a first name I believe, it’s also a common surname). And its literary! The Bennet sisters! Bennett is no. 123 and Benedict is not in the top 1000.

(4) Tristan
I’m interested to see what they think of Tristan! It’s a style match for Sebastian, it’s no. 121, and it’s literary — it’s got a lot going for it! It can also be considered a Marian name, as its meaning is related to “sorrow” and Our Lady of Sorrows is one of her titles.

(5) Pierce
Speaking of male Marian names, ever since one of my readers shared that she knew a little boy named Pierce after Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, I’ve loved the idea of it (and included it in my book of Marian names!). It’s actually a style match for Blaise, and has an English feel. If they didn’t feel tied to the Marian connection, it’s a form of Peter, so St. Peter can be patron. Pierce is no. 522.

(6) Neil (or Niall?)
I wonder what they would think of Neil? It’s a style match for Calvin, and comes from the Gaelic Niall (which itself could be a good option?). Could be cool! Neil is no. 619 and Niall’s not in the top 1000.

(7) Cormac, Colman
Cormac was actually the style match here, being listed with Kieran (standing in for Ciaran, as Ciaran doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), and I thought it was a great possibility for a couple who’s split between loving Irish/Gaelic/Celtic names and not wanting them to be too Irish. Mac is an awesome nickname possibility. Cormac made me think of Colman, which I think of the same way — it’s impeccably Irish, but isn’t hitting you in the face with it. Cole is an easy nickname. Neither Cormac nor Colman are in the top 1000.

(8) Conrad
Speaking of two-syllable C names, Conrad is a style match for Edmund and Frederick! We seriously considered Conrad for our youngest and intended to use the traditional nickname Cord (or Cordy). There are a couple Sts. Conrad, and it’s no. 577.

And those are my ideas for Lindsey and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for their little guy?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!