Baby name consultation: First baby boy needs biblical + early saint name

Happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church! I’ll resume tales of my excursion in Ireland later in the week! 😀

MaryEllen and her hubby are expecting their first baby — a boy! She writes,

My name is MaryEllen Clare. The “Mary” half of my first name was chosen because my parents wanted to honor Our Lady and I was due December 8th but ended up being born on December 12th. The “Ellen” half of my first name was to honor a friend’s daughter. Clare was after St. Clare of Assisi.

My husband is Tyler Leandro. Leandro is his father’s name. Tyler is a convert to the faith from being a Protestant. He joined the Church 2 years ago!

We are hoping you can help give us some ideas for boy names. We both would love to use a Biblical and/or early Saint name. My husband was an Ancient History major in college and we both took Latin in high school/college. He would love to use a strong, Ancient Latin name. It’s a definite bonus if it’s a Saint from 400 AD or older.

We pray the Liturgy of the Hours and particularly like Matins, with the First Reading from the Bible and the Second Reading from Church fathers. You’ll see that in our list below.

Names on our (not so) short list:
Ambrose
Augustine (though we’re hesitant on the nickname, “Gus”)
Benedict
Clement
Isaac (is a patriarch okay? My husband and I like the story of Isaac and Rebecca)
Leo (awesome Pope)
Linus (we don’t agree on this one, the pagan history of the name bothers my husband but I really like that its part of the litany in Mass).
Maximus (we both love the movie Gladiator)
Nicholas (after the Saint, but mostly for the Council of Nicea)
Paul (husband’s confirmation saint)
Titus (again, we don’t agree — my husband likes it, me less so)

Names we’ve talked about but aren’t considering using:
Popular names (James, David, Jacob, Joshua, Thomas, Andrew, etc.)
Atticus (avoiding To Kill a Mockingbird)
Francis (my father’s name)
Jonathan (my brother’s name)
Michael (don’t like nickname “Mike”)
Xavier (cool saint, just don’t like the name)

Alrighty, so right off the bat I latched onto MaryEllen’s hubby’s middle name/her father-in-law’s first name — St. Leander comes from the right time period-ish (died about the year 600, so a little later than 400 … but not by much!) and was actually Spanish (older brother of St. Isidore) so his name was actually Leandro — it’s such a cool name!! If they can’t get on board with it for a first name, maybe it would make a great middle name? Could be great for grandfather, father, and son to all share a name, especially since it fits their criteria so well. It could also take the nickname Leo, which loops in a name on their list!

Speaking of their list, just some quick thoughts about some of the names on it, before getting to my suggestions (I love them all, and my hubby and I considered almost all of them at various points!):

Augustine can be Augie, which is fairly popular among parents of boys with August- names.

Clement is fantastic, but it makes me think of something that might be helpful when they’re whittling down their list: it would be good for MaryEllen and her hubby to think about what they plan to call their son on an everyday basis, i.e., are they big nicknamers? Or will they prefer to use the whole name? If they prefer the whole name, will they be okay with others using a nickname when he’s in high school, for example? Clem isn’t the kind of nickname that everyone likes, so Clement is a good name to think about this particular issue with. (Blogger Grace Patton just named her son Clement, SO cute!!)

Re: Isaac, yes, patriarchs are definitely okay! I even wrote about this issue here. And if they really want a non-biblical saintly connection, St. Isaac Jogues is pretty awesome.

I don’t know if Mary Ellen’s hubby would be swayed by seeing other Catholic babies named Linus, but I’ve been seeing it more and more! I posted this birth announcement in April, and this little guy has a brother named Linus (and a brother named Ambrose too!), just to give two examples.

When I asked my husband his impression of the name Titus, he said, “50% biblical, 50% ancient Latin” — he actually said “ancient Latin,” just like MaryEllen said in her email!

From Mary Ellen’s list of names they aren’t considering because they’re too popular, the ones she mentioned are in the top 50, but so is Leo (no. 50) and Isaac (no. 34) from the names they are considering, so I think maybe the names they’re not as interested in are those that are *familiar*: they don’t want to use the names that were the bastions of popularity in the past, that feel overdone and ubiquitous because we grew up hearing them, even though they aren’t nearly as popular now as they were. For example, Thomas was a top ten name basically from 1900 until 1966; currently, at no. 49, it’s less popular than names like Asher, Jaxon, Dylan, Wyatt, and Oliver, all of which I would guess feel fresh to those parents who think Thomas/Andrew/David are too popular for their taste. Not that this is either here or there, but reframing their requirements from “not popular” to “not familiar” might be helpful.

Regarding Michael, if the nickname Mike is what’s holding them up, I wonder if they would consider a different nickname? Something like Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, could nickname to Max. Or, I’ve sometimes suggested Miles as a nickname for Michael, which means “soldier” in Latin, which is kind of a cool way to get some Latin in there, and reinforces the Michael the Warrior Archangel idea. I’m not trying to convince MaryEllen and her hubs of a name they don’t care for, I promise! I just want to offer options in case they’re helpful.

Now for my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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 here, which was helpful, but I also looked at lists of biblical names (both Old and New Testament) and the Church Fathers and dug around in my own namey mind and book, and anything that seemed like it might be a name they’d like, I added to the list. I have a lot of suggestions!

(1) Tiberius
First, there’s a St. Tiberius who was martyred ca. 303 — perfect from a date perspective! Tiberius is also a Latin name — perfect from a Latin perspective! And it means “of the Tiber [River],” and many of you know that converts to Catholicism talk about “crossing the Tiber” or being part of the “Tiber Swim Team 2017” or whatever year they converted. So many levels of meaning for this family! Ty is a really cute, easy nickname, and I actually love that it mirrors Dad’s name — kind of like a Junior without doing a Junior! Tiberius Leandro?? ((heart eyes!)) If they prefer a simpler middle name though, to offset the heavier first name, I love Tiberius Paul — also another way of kind of Junioring without using Dad’s exact name, since Paul is Tyler’s Confirmation name, and the short-and-sweet Paul is a perfect balance to Tiberius (and it’s biblical! Biblical + pre-400 saint!).

(2) Tobias or Tobit
Sticking with T names for a minute, I love both Tobias and Tobit! They’re variants of each other, and I can never decide which one I like better. Since they’re biblical, it would be great to pair them with a non-biblical saintly name — Tobias Leandro and Tobit Leandro are both pretty amazing! I also like Augustine with them both.

(3) Thaddeus
Another T name! I love the name Thaddeus — it’s biblical and saintly (St. Jude Thaddeus, among others), and the nickname Taddy is beyond adorable for a little guy. Tad is handsome for a teenager and a man, as is the full Thaddeus. Thaddeus Leandro and Thaddeus Paul are both great in my opinion; I also quite like Thaddeus Ambrose and Thaddeus Clement.

(4) Gregory
I’m actually surprised they don’t have Gregory on their list! Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzen are all Church Fathers; the name Gregory is serious but accessible; and at no. 408 it’s definitely not too popular. If they don’t care for Greg as a nickname — and a lot of parents I know who consider Gregory don’t care for Greg — Grey and Rory are two nicknames I’ve seen used. Gregory Clement sounds really nice! Or Gregory Nicholas — two Pope St. the Greats! I also like Gregory Maximus and Gregory Leandro.

(5) Ephraim/Ephrem
I was kind of excited to remember that St. Ephrem of Syria is considered one of the Church Fathers — he’s an early saint with a biblical name! In the bible it’s usually seen as Ephraim, while the saint is usually Ephrem, but since they’re variants of the same name, they can choose their favorite spelling! I like how Ephraim/Ephrem Leo, Ephraim/Ephrem Leandro, and Ephraim/Ephrem Isaac sound.

(6) Nicodemus
Nicholas on their list made me think of Nicodemus, which has a heavier, more ancient feel. They can still use the nicknames Nic and Nicky, or Nico, while having a more unexpected and less familiar name. Nicodemus Clement has a nice flow, I think, as does Nicodemus Leandro.

(7) Casper/Jasper/Gaspar
Though the Three Wise Men weren’t named in the bible, they’ve traditionally been known as Balthazar, Melchior, and Casper/Caspar/Jasper/Gaspar (they’re all variants of the same name). I could see MaryEllen and her hubs liking Casper/Caspar, Jasper, or Gaspar! I like Leo, Leandro, Clement, and Isaac as middle names for this family of names.

(8) Sebastian
Like Gregory, Sebastian is a name that I’m surprised isn’t already on their list! It’s got that heavy feel of Augustine and Benedict, but the nicknames Seb(by) and Bash lighten it up. He died ca. 288, making him date-appropriate! One caveat is that the name Sebastian is currently at no. 18. Sebastian Leo, Sebastian Leandro, Sebastian Paul, and Sebastian Isaac are all great combos.

(9) Callixtus (or Callistus)
It’s the name of a pope who is a saint, and he died in the third century, so he’s the right time period. I love the connection to the word “chalice,” and the nickname Cal. I spotlighted the name here. Callixtus Michael and Callixtus Paul are a nice mix of heavy and trim.

(10) Boethius
My last idea is Boethius, after St. Severinus Boethius, someone I never knew anything about until one of my readers asked me about the name Boethius, because her hubby is a philosopher and so was St. Boethius. Such a cool name! And I’ve seen him called “Last of the Romans,” which might be awesome for Tyler’s interests. I love Boethius Benedict, and Boethius Leandro sounds great too.

Those are all my main ideas, but there were a whole bunch of others that I considered putting on the list and ultimately left off for various reasons — I thought I’d include them here just in case: Bartholomew, Gabriel, Raphael, Matthias, Nathaniel, Cassius or Cassian, Zechariah, Ignatius, and Athanasius.

MaryEllen said they’d also really like some suggestions on how to pair names up in good first + middle combos:

The middle name for our little boy doesn’t need to be of family origin; mostly we’re looking for two names that flow well together with our M last name.”

The ones I mentioned above are:

Tiberius Leandro
Tiberius Paul
Tobias Leandro
Tobias Augustine
Tobit Leandro
Tobit Augustine
Thaddeus Leandro
Thaddeus Paul
Thaddeus Ambrose
Thaddeus Clement
Gregory Clement
Gregory Nicholas
Gregory Maximus
Gregory Leandro
Ephraim/Ephrem Leo
Ephraim/Ephrem Leandro
Ephraim/Ephrem Isaac
Nicodemus Clement
Nicodemus Leandro
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Leo
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Leandro
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Clement
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Isaac
Sebastian Leo
Sebastian Leandro
Sebastian Paul
Sebastian Isaac
Callixtus Michael
Callixtus Paul
Boethius Benedict
Boethius Leandro

As you can see, I went right for the family names! Haha! Leandro is just an amazing name to work with! Moving away from family names though, generally my personal preference is to pair a shorter first name with a longer middle or vice versa, or a medium length first with a medium length middle. From ME and T’s list, Paul is a perfect short name to balance out the longer names like Augustine, Benedict, Maximus, and Nicholas. I quite like Paul as a middle name for any of those names, and flipping to Paul Augustine or Paul Maximus is really nice too.

Middling names like Ambrose, Clement, Isaac, Leo (three letters but still two syllables!), and Linus sound nice together I think, like Ambrose Clement, Isaac Ambrose, Leo Clement, Linus Ambrose, Linus Clement.

Another tactic I like with first+middle combos is to balance an unusual name with a more familiar one. Callixtus Michael, for example, or Nicholas Ephraim. I also love alliteration, like Boethius Benedict and Casper Clement.

I also really like Leo Maximus (kind of cool that this pretty much means “Leo the Great”!), and Linus Paul.

Those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) — first and/or middle and combos — would you suggest for MaryEllen and Tyler’s baby boy?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

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Baby name consultation: Kendra from Catholic All Year!

(So sorry I’m posting this so late in the day — I meant to have it up ages ago! I’m running about eight hours behind schedule, of course. I blame the baby!)

I know you all know Kendra from the fabulous Catholic All Year — she of the so-creative ideas for celebrating each feast day and author of a bunch of other books and maker of cool things, wearer of the stunning outfits for the themed events she attends, and designer and painter of the AMAZING chapel she put together in her own home!

She’s also expecting her tenth baby, and I’m SO EXCITED that she wanted some ideas/thoughts/suggestions!

To start, here are her older kiddos’ names:

John Paul nn Jack (“named for Pope St. JPII“)
Elizabeth Jeanne nn Betty (“named for my grandmother and my sister in law“)
Robert Benedict nn Bobby (“named for three of Jim and my grandfathers and Pope Benedict XVI“)
Augustine James nn Gus (“named for St. Augustine and my father in law“)
Anita Camille (“named for my grandmother and my mother“)
Francis Patrick nn Frankie (“named for St. Francis and my brother in law“)
Louise Marita nn Lulu (“named for our neighbor/adopted great grandmother and my mother in law“)
Mary Jane nn Midge (“named for our Blessed Mother“)
George Curtis (“named for my uncle and my father“)

Which is all just so fun — her and her hubby’s often-midcentury taste is fun and fairly uncommon these days! And I love that it’s woven into a really Catholicky Catholic tapestry of given names.

Kendra writes,

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on both boys’ and girls’ names.

We’ve used lots of family names, as you can see, and names that have a straightforward patron saint.

[Hubby] likes very regular Catholic names. I like names that are familiar and spellable but little-used. I’ve always liked that I’m almost always the only Kendra in the room. (But I don’t like that it’s not a canonized saint name … yet 😉 )

We thought we had that familiar/unusual with Jack, but then a lot of people used that nickname. And there are currently three Guses in our Gus’ sixth grade class. 😬 But that’s more a function of how VERY Catholic the school is. 😂😂

Unused family name is my sister Kara, but it’s also not a saint name.

George would have been Liberty 🗽 Katherine if he’d been a girl (born on the 4th of July, I have hit my due date 5/9 times).

We have the special situation this time of [hubby’s] grave health issue, so I’d especially like to honor him in the names, to the point that we are considering ‘reusing’ James, even though it’s Gus’ middle name. He was a marine artillery officer and is a supernumerary of Opus Dei. He went to a Carmelite high school and has worn the brown scapular for over thirty years.

We have been asking for the intercession of St. Nuno and Bl. Alvaro del Portillo.”

I was so happy to do this for Kendra and her hubs, not only because I love helping expectant mamas, but also in hopes that it’s a fun little distraction for both of them in the midst of his diagnosis and treatment. (Please pray for him!!)

As far as coming up with ideas, I used their kiddos’ nicknames as inspiration in my research as much as their given names — Jack, Betty, Bobby, Gus, Frankie, Lulu, and Midge just evoke the most amazing bunch of sock-hoppers (also Anita and George!). In addition to the names they gave their older kids, I also used Barbara and Liberty (both previously considered by them for girls), Cyril (Kendra’s frontrunner, as she noted in the comments on this IG post, though her hubby doesn’t care for it), and Blythe Fike’s kids’ names (Kendra said her hubby loves Blythe’s kids’ names! See my consultation for Blythe and her birth announcement) as inspiration. I also considered how to work in hubby’s name and Kendra’s sister’s name, and also St. Nuno and Bl. Alvaro del Portillo.

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 book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so for both Kendra’s kids’ given names and nicknames. The BNW also has listings of names by category in the back of the book, so I looked at Guys and Dolls, Timeless, Nicknames, Midcentury, and Solid Citizens for additional ideas. I also used my own book of Marian baby names for ideas, and to cross reference with the BNW‘s results. The next task was to whittle all that down into a short-ish list of suggestions! 😅

Before I get to my official suggestions, however, I wanted to address Kendra’s desire to honor Jim in this baby’s name, to the extent they’re considering using James again, after having given it to Gus as his middle name. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that! I have a friend who gave Catherine as a middle name to two of her daughters — one was to honor Grandma Catherine, and the other was to honor St. Catherine of Siena. And I have another friend who has both a Charles and a Caroline. Repeating the exact name or different forms of the same name within a family is neither unheard of nor problematic, as long as the parents like it (and for big families, sometimes it’s necessary!). If Kendra and her hubs wanted to consider ideas that aren’t exactly James but could honor him nonetheless, I came up with:

  • Jameson: This is my favorite suggestion. It literally means “son of James” while being different from Gus’ middle name. It’s a sneaky nod to their Ireland trip last year too, by way of Jameson Whiskey! I’m guessing they’d like this best in the middle name spot.
  • Seamus: Speaking of Irish, they could consider the Irish variant of James — Seamus. This also could be a smashing middle name.
  • Jacob: James and Jacob are actually the same name — Jacob is the Hebrew and James is the Latin. Jacob is perhaps the option that feels least connected to Jim’s name, but the connection is there, strong and impeccable. This, too, might be best in the middle spot, as Jacob and Jake are so similar to Jack. (I spotlighted Jacob here.)

Those are my ideas for working “James” into a boy’s name without using James itself, and I also had some ideas for working his name into a daughter’s name:

  • Gemma: While the name Gemma we’re familiar with (St. Gemma Galgani) isn’t etymologically related to James, being instead from the Italian for “gem,” I’ve seen it (and the alternate spelling Jemma) used as a feminine form of James, as both Gem and Jem are old nicknames for James. (You can read more about that here.) Of course, St. Gemma adds that “straightforward patron saint” criteria that Kendra said they both like.
  • Jamesina: They could go right to the “girl James” name — I think it’s got a sweet vintage appeal!
  • Jacoba: As with Jamesina, they could go the “girl Jacob” route — could be interesting! (In case it’s helpful, actress Cobie Smulders’ given name is actually Jacoba Francisca Maria — could a name be any more faithy??)

Okay, on to first name suggestions!

Girl
(1) Margaret nn Peggy or Rita
Peggy is what caught my attention when I was doing my research — Peggy totally fits in with the older kids! And Margaret is an especially good match for Elizabeth, Louise, Mary Jane, and George. Rita is also a fine possibility for a nickname, and while there are lots of great Sts. Margaret to choose as patron, St. Rita of Cascia (whose given name was the Italian form of Margaret: Margarita or Margherita — I’ve seen both) is also a powerful intercessor.

(2) Katherine nn Kathy or Kate, or Karine
Kendra said that George would have been Liberty Katherine if he’d been a girl, and when I saw Kathy in the list of mid-century names, I wondered if they’d consider Katherine as a first name? With the nickname Kathy? But actually, even as I write that, I think I prefer the nickname Kate for their family (and not because I’m a Katherine/Kate!) — there was a fun discussion on Abby from Appellation Mountain’s Facebook page recently on what name or names are the female counterpart to Jack, and Kate did really well. Another idea is that Karine is considered an elaboration of Kara on the one hand, and has another life as being a Norwegian form of Katherine! So I love the idea of Karine for them as a nod to Kendra’s sister while still having a saintly connection.

(3) Susan or Suzette nn Susie/Suzy
Susie was another name included in the mid-century list, and I’m loving it for this family! It might be my favorite. Susie is so cute! Though I love the Susanna/Susanne/Suzanne options, the fact that they already have an Anne (Anita) makes me think Susan or Suzette would be the better full-name options. They’re both variants of Susanna, which has the cool distinction of meaning both “lily” and “rose,” which gives it a Marian twist (I included the Susanna names in my book of Marian names!).

(4) Carol/Carolyn/Caroline/Carla/Karoline
I’m not convinced they’ll love this idea, since my favorite saint idea for the Carol- names is always St. John Paul II and they’ve already named a child after him. But I think each of these variants would fit in well with the names they’ve already chosen, depending on how 30s-40s-mid-century they’re feeling, and Karoline has the additional aspect of possibly being an honor name for Kendra’s sister sound-wise and using the letter K (which is also extra JohnPaulian). There are other patron possibilities as well, of course, including St. Charles Borromeo, Bl. Karl of Austria (whom John Paul was actually named after, which is one of the namey things that has made me happiest in my life), and some lovely ladies like Bl. Karolina Kózka, Bl. Theresa Gerhardinger (born Caroline, and also known as Bl. Caroline Gerhardinger or Bl. Karolina Gerhardinger), Bl. Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (religious name: Sr. Charlotte of the Resurrection), Venerable Carla Barbara Colchen Carré de Malberg (also known as Ven. Caroline Barbara), Bl. Charlotte Davy, and Bl. Charlotte Lucas (especially if you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan 😉 ). Both Caro and Carrie (and even Cara/Kara, if they wanted to name more explicitly for Kendra’s sister) are sweet nicknames that I like with the other kids.

(5) Bernadette
I was excited to see Bernadette pop up in my research as a good match for this family! I saw on Kendra’s Instagram that they visited Lourdes a few years ago, so this could have extra special meaning for them because of their trip, but also, I thought, for the fact that Lourdes has healing water, which could sort of immortalize in name the hope for healing for Jim. Bernie is a fun nickname — Food Network personality Molly Yeh just named her new baby the incredible Bernadette Rosemary and they’re calling her Bernie (hmm … but maybe too political though?). Unfortunately, the other nicknames I’d suggest or that I’ve heard (Etta, Detta, Betsy) are too close to Betty.

(6) Dorothy/Dorothea/Theodora
Dorothy was my first thought, just based on that mid-century vibe. It’s got the great meaning of “gift of God” and some cute nicknames like Dora, Dory, Dodie, Dolly, Dot/Dottie, Thea, and Tea. The latter two made me think that Dorothea would also be a nice variant to consider, as would Theodora, which is the exact same name but with the elements reversed.

(7) Dolores
Dorothy also made me think of Dolores, which I might like for this family even better, since it’s a Marian name — Spanish for “sorrows,” it’s part of the Marian title Nuestra Señora de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows). I also really like that it’s similar to Anita in that they’re both Spanish names that were most popular earlier in the twentieth century. (Linda is another, for what it’s worth.) Dolly and Dory can be nicknames for Dolores, like for Dorothy, but Lulu knocks out its traditional nickname Lola.

(8) Gloria
Gloria did well in my research, and a friend of mine has a really cute little sister named Gloria (very important bit of scientific evidence there 😀 ), so I thought I’d include it in my suggestions here. But then it made me think about how Bl. Solanus Casey would say, “Thank God ahead of time” and Gloria kind of felt like that to me — a praising name for His goodness and His care for Kendra and Jim and their family in the midst of this health trial.

(9) Carmel
I wonder if they’ve ever considered Carmel? With Jim having gone to a Carmelite high school and having such a devotion to Our Lady and her brown scapular, this might be a really nice way to name a baby girl “after” him. I also stayed at a B&B in Dublin run by a woman named Carmel, so it’s always had an Irish sheen to me as well.

(10) Labouré (with or without the accent)
My last girl suggestion for Kendra and Jim is inspired by the fact that they’d chosen Liberty for George if he’d been a girl born on the 4th of July — Labouré has similar sounds as Liberty, and it’s got a linguistic connection to “work,” which is perfect for a Labor Day baby (I think it technically means “plows”). AND it has a straightforward patron saint! St. Catherine Labouré is a wonderful patron, and I love that the name also has a Marian connection via the Miraculous Medal. If they like the nickname Libby, which would be a natural one for Liberty, I think it can easily work for Labouré as well.

Boy
(1) Oliver
One of the bits of research I did in trying to find inspiration for ideas was to research St. Nuno and Bl. Alvaro del Portillo, and guys — what I found is a Catholic name nerd’s DREAM! I totally understand if no one’s as excited about this as I am, but check this out: St. Nuno’s full name is actually St. Nuno Álvares Pereira, so of course I noticed right away the Álvares of St. Nuno’s name and the Alvaro of Bl. Alvaro’s. Indeed, they’re variants of the same name, and while it’s not totally known for sure, both behindthename.com and dmnes.org make a possible connection between Alvaro/Álvares and Oliver. How cool! So I’ve decided that I love Oliver for this family. 😊 It’s got a straightforward patron saint (and an Irish one at that! St. Oliver Plunkett is great) and a nickname that I think fits right in with the Jack/Betty/Bobby/Gus/Frankie/Lulu/Midge nicknames: Ollie is just darling. And, if I may, Oliver Jameson has a particularly nice ring to it. (It’s also in my book!)

(2) Gerard nn Jerry or Bernard nn Bernie/Ben
I’m including Gerard and Bernard together because they rhyme and they have a similar feel to me as well — saintly and vintage-y. I also love their friendly nicknames — Gerard is easily Jerry, and while Bernie for Bernard is easy, the issues mentioned above with Bernadette/Bernie make Ben a nice option as a nickname for Bernard (I know a Bernard who goes by Ben). I love St. Gerard Majella — a great intercessor for pregnant mamas and their babies — and Bernard is in honor of St. Bernadette for the reasons I mentioned above. (Of course, they could choose one of the Sts. Bernard instead! Just that it was St. Bernadette who inspired me to add Bernard to the list.)

(3) Henry nn Hank
I’m digging Henry for this family because of Hank. Hank! I love it! I spotlighted Henry and its great patrons here.

(3) Edward or Edmund nn Ed/Ted/Ned
As with Henry, it was the nickname ideas that grabbed me first — Ed, Ted, and Ned can all be used for the Ed- names, and they all have that friendly throwback feel that I get from Kendra’s older kids. St. Edward the Confessor is a great patron, as is St. Edmund Campion.

(4) Martin nn Marty
Ditto the nickname — I love Marty! And I love St. Martin de Porres.

(5) David nn Davey
Annnnd … the nickname. Davey is so great. There are loads of holy Davids, including King David himself. Also, David peaked in the 1950s! I have three Uncle Davids born during that time! It’s also Marian via her title Tower of David (it’s in my book!).

(6) Simeon
Simeon is totally inspired by the fact that Cyril is at the top of Kendra’s list — it’s a style match per the BNW, and seriously saintly and Marian (it’s in my book!).

(7) Stanley (or Stanislaus?) nn Stan
Frankie and Bob were two names my own husband frequently mentioned during our baby name discussions, so I’m thinking that my hubby’s taste might be similar to that of Kendra and Jim, and my hubs was pushing hard for Stan during my last pregnancy (he loves those friendly “old man” nicknames). Bl. Stanley Rother was beatified in September of 2017, and would make a great, fairly recent patron. St. Stanislaus is also a great patron with a cool link to St. John Paul. And I spotlighted both Stanley and Stanislaus here and I have to say, rereading that post has me all kinds of convinced! I think Stanley is tied with Oliver as my favorite idea for this baby! 😀

(8) Walter nn Walt (or Walsingham?)
Speaking of Stan-ish nicknames, I’ve seen Walt pop up here and there in Catholic families because of Servant of God Walter Ciszek. I’d actually suggested Walt to my husband for our youngest, but as a nickname for the given name of Walsingham, after Our Lady of Walsingham (it’s in my book!). (He gave me points for creativity! But that was way too far outside his comfort zone. 😀 ) I’m guessing Walter is more Kendra and Jim’s speed than Walsingham, but either way I like Walt for them.

(9) Charles nn Cal, Chip, Charlie
Ooh I like Chip for this family! What a cuuuute nickname! And it has a 1950s peak in popularity (as a given name)! Chip has good usage as a nickname for Charles, and I do love Charles for this family! There are so many great Charles-es, as noted in that article I linked to in the Carol/Carolyn/Caroline/Carla/Karoline discussion above — it’s a great classic name that fits in well with Kendra’s other kids’ given names. In fact, I’m kind of surprised they don’t have Charles in there somewhere already! If they don’t care for Chip, Cal’s another great Charles nickname that I think would be smashing in their family, and the familiar Charlie is always great as well.

And those are all my ideas for Kendra and her hubby’s tenth baby! I would be thrilled if any of these hit the right note, but even if it just provided fodder for a fun and maybe fruitful conversation, I’d feel like I did my job.

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas/thoughts/suggestions for this baby, and I know Kendra would too! And because it’s still May, month of Our Lady💙, AND today’s the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, who’s particularly special to me, AND it’s a month before my fifth (!) blogiversary💃, I’m going to loop in another giveaway! TWO lucky winners will each receive:

–> A copy of Kendra’s book The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life (Ignatius Press, 2018)

AND

–> A copy of my book Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018)

Woo!! 🙌🙌🙌

How to enter:

Each person who offers name suggestions for Kendra and her hubby here on this post will have their name added to the hat for one of the prizes (Kendra’s book + my book).

Each person who offers name suggestions on my Instagram post and who follow me will have their name added to the hat for the other of the prizes (Kendra’s book + my book).

Please only leave ideas on the blog OR Instagram — honor system!

I’ll then choose one name from the comments here on the blog, and one name from the comments on my IG, and announce the two winners on Saturday, May 18, which is the day of Our Lady (by virtue of being Saturday) and St. John Paul II’s birthday! (Also my miracle sister‘s birthday!) A great day!! ❤ ❤ ❤

So let’s hear your suggestions for the little brother or sister of Jack, Betty, Bobby, Gus, Anita, Frankie, Lulu, Midge, and George!


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultations: A soft reopening!

Happy feast of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary! His name is in my book because of his connection to her, and this is the feast that most celebrates his Marian connection (more than his feast as St. Joseph the Worker in May). A great feast day! St. Joseph is the man! A special shout out to my Italian/Italian-American readers — enjoy all your St. Joseph’s Day festivities!

You all have been amazingly patient with me as my previously tentative consultation reopen date of Christmas came and went and still, I didn’t feel able to give enough regular, dependable time to working on non-baby things (thanks to my Little Mister, who was declared to be “impatient and demanding” at his six-month appointment by our beloved pediatrician, who said it so matter-of-factly after listening to me give him all the updates on all the eating/sleeping/interacting things that I laughed out loud and realized how perfect that is! I’ve been calling the baby “high maintenance,” but “impatient and demanding” is more precise! 😀 ). I dipped my toe in with Genie’s consultation back in January/February, and was so glad I had several weeks to work on it, because it took me that long!

But here we are in the second half of March, and it’s probably because the baby’s past his six-month-birthday, as well as the spring breezes that are dancing with the remains of winter, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that I can handle a little more.

I’m going to start slow, hence the “soft” reopening: I’m opening up for ONE consultation, and I’m going to ask that only those mamas who are due in May put their name in the hat, as I can’t guarantee I can get it done before April 17 (Wednesday of Holy Week), and I want to give the mamas that are due soonest the first chance, as well as enough time before their due date for the consultation to actually be helpful.

If all goes well, then I’ll do the same next month as well, and just go monthly until I’m able to resume a busier schedule.

HERE’S HOW TO BE CONSIDERED FOR A BABY NAME CONSULTATION:

(1) Click here if you’re a mama due in May who would like me to do a baby name consultation and don’t mind receiving my ideas as late as April 17.

(2) Rafflecopter will ask you for your due date, and compile all the entries received between now and midnight on March 25, Feast of the Annunciation. (Note: “midnight on March 25” means at the end of March 24, not the end of March 25.) You can enter once a day, for each of the six days that the raffle will be live.

(3) I’ll have Rafflecopter randomly choose one name on March 25 and I’ll email the chosen one with the next steps. To be clear: as much as I’d like to I’m not giving away a consultation — I’ll ask that you pay via PayPal before I get started (all payment info is here).

(4) There’s also, of course, the chance that something will come up that will prevent me from completing the consultation as promised. I really hope that doesn’t happen — I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought there was a good chance it could — but if it does, I’ll refund the mama’s money.

If I don’t get any entrants for this consultation, I’ll try again in April.

As always, thank you all for your patience and enthusiasm! My prayers for all of you are ongoing, with a special request for St. Anne’s intercession! ❤ ❤ ❤


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: New boy name needed asap!

I haven’t reopened consultations yet! This mama purchased a consultation during my Black Friday 2017 special and emailed me a few weeks ago to see if she could redeem it. I thought it would be a good way to see if I’m ready to accept consultation requests again — unfortunately, it took me several weeks to get this one done! So I’m still not there yet. Keep watching the blog for updates!

I posted a consultation for Genie from Barefoot Abbey over three years ago, and a birth announcement for that baby (a girl after five boys!) not long after. Since then, she’s had another baby (a boy), and has another baby (green bean=gender unknown) due very soon!

Genie writes,

We are expecting our 7th living baby in March and have run into a bit of a naming quandary … For the first time ever our family has not found out the gender of our baby before birth so we need both a boy an girl name at the ready for this Sweet Pea. We’ve had a running list of names from our courtship and picked the boy name that was the back up for our son born in 2017: Charles Edmund Jude.

Now herein lies our dilemma… last week my sister in law named our new nephew Charles Edward … It may not end up being an issue if this baby is a girl, but with our track record of 6 boys and 1 girl I think we should be prepared. What is the etiquette on repeat names in this situation and when they would only be together at holidays? I’d love to say that we still have a several boy name choices we like, but after 6 sons, our list is dwindling. Another thought early after their name announcement was to switch the order of the names and put Edmund as the first name and Charles as the second. Our issue with this swap is losing the nickname Charlie and not having a favored replacement for Edmund.”

Oof! I can understand the floundering feeling Genie and her husband must have, trying to figure out if their chosen name is still okay to use, and if not, what other name do they like as much. Fortunately, they have great taste! Check out their older kiddos’ names:

Our naming style has a lot of Saint, Anglo/Celtic, and literary influence. These are our children’s names:

Malachi Benedict Aquinas
• Malachi – first canonized saint of Ireland, “Carrots” is one of his nicknames
• Benedict – St. Benedict was a big part of our pre-marriage prep, Pope Benedict XVI
• Aquinas – Our courtship began on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Noah Oliver Francis
• Noah – my husband liked the sound & justified it as being close to the Gaelic word for saint
• Oliver – last canonized saint of Ireland, he usually goes by “Noah Oliver” or after the Gaelic pronounced “Ollibear”
• Francis – the patron of the parish we’d attended all our marriage. He took me there after the pub on our first date.

Liam Michael Damien
• Liam – Bl. Liam Tirry one of the 17 Irish martyrs, his nickname is the Scottish term of endearment “Ducky”
• Michael – St. Michael is one of my husband’s patrons along with St. Thomas Becket & St. John the Baptist.
• Damien – St. Damien of Molokai, my dad used to go build for the remainder of his colony.

Aelred Dominic John (this is the son we lost in 2013)
• Aelred – St. Aelred the English St. Bernard, Spiritual Friendship author
• Dominic – St. Dominic, OL of the Rosary, meaning (belonging to God)
• John – my husband’s brother (has all daughters), patron, meaning (God is gracious)

Henry Andrew James
• Henry – St. Henry Walpole, Bl. John Henry Newman
• Andrew – St. Andrew of Scotland, my husband’s middle name, our Christmas gift after praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena
• James – St. James the Great, my grandfather’s name, his nickname is “Camino” (he’s the path God chose for our family)

Moira Elizabeth Charlotte – “Mosy , Ladybird, or Birdie”
• Moira – Irish/ Scottish variant of Mary, for Our Lady of Lourdes, from Peter Pan
• Elizabeth – one of my patronesses and middle name
• Charlotte – JP II, Bl. Charlotte of the Resurrection a martyr of Compiegne, this was her brother’s choice from Charlotte’s Web

George Maximilian Joseph – “Joe-Joe,”
• George – St. George for one of our sons’ favorite feast days, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
• Maximilian – St. Maximilian Kolbe servant of Our Lady
• Joseph – St. Joseph and his Most Chaste Heart

Amazing, right? I love how thoughtful each combination is! These are the names on their list for this baby:

Boy Saint names left on our list but aren’t yet striking to us:
• Edmund – St. Edmund Campion reformation martyr
• Owen – St. Nicholas Owen reformation priest hole builder
• Becket – St. Thomas Becket on of DH’s patrons
• Sebastian – early church martyr
• Finnian – St. Finnian of Ireland
• Jude – saint of the impossible
• Blaise – my special patron in college as a voice major

• Samuel – like the name but won’t use without a related post Bible saint

For reference the top 3 names in the running for our last son were:
• George – what we used
• Charles
• Edmund

Ok now for girl names… We don’t have a top choice yet and are still looking at options.
We’ve had set combos on the list for many years and want something with a marian connection. I’ll separate them out by first and middle names we like to give you an idea of style.

First Names:
• Beatrix – “Beasy” Marian from the latin for blessed, l like Immaculee or Evangeline with it but that’s two Marian names back to back.
• Genevieve – patroness, my baptismal but not legal name, “Gigi or Evie”
• Josephine – for Bl. Josephine Leroux martyr of the French Revolution, like it with Felicity Marie as the middle names, “Josie”, not sure about the overlap with George
• Margaret – “Meg/Megsy” (Little Women), one of my patronesses, Ss. Margaret Clitherow & Margaret of Scotland, my 3rd name (baptismal).
• Emmelia – “Emmie/Mila” on of my patronesses, mother of saints, I like it with Magdalen Rose as the middle names.
• Lucy – St. Lucy day is one of our family’s favorite saints in Advent, Lucia of Fatima, C. S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery
• Penelope – for St. Penelope (baptismal name Irene) of Thessaloniki, missionary & virgin martyr of the 4th century

Middle Names:
• Evangeline – love the sound of this, Mary the new Eve
• Felicity – love the meaning of the name and Ss. Felicity & Perpetua
• Imelda – patroness, confirmation saint at my reception into the Church from Anglicanism in ’11
• Elinor – my husband was born in the Feast of St. Helena, Austen spelling (Sense & Sensibility)
• Gemma – love this modern saint’s story
• Magdalene – love that she was the first follower to see Jesus after the Resurrection, first son was due on Good Friday and was almost “Moira Magdalene Clare”

2nd Middle Names:
• Hope – meaning
• Anne – St. Anne (Mary’s mom) & St. Anna Maria Taigi, Green Gables spelling
• Marie – Marian derivative
• Therese – love the simplicity of her little way
• Faith – meaning
• Rose – Marian
• Clare – family name, great saint
• Jane – my husband’s grandmother & aunt, Jane Eyre

It was such a pleasure to read all these beautiful names!

Alrighty, so I’ll address Genie’s question about etiquette first. She asked, “What is the etiquette on repeat names in this situation and when they would only be together at holidays?” It’s important to note that there isn’t any official etiquette — each person and family is so unique in regards to the way they think about things, that Genie and her hubs really be more the experts here. Given what they know of them, how would the family, including Genie’s sister-in-law, respond to Genie’s son being given the same first name and a very similar middle as his 6-weeks-older cousin? If it’s something that’s likely to cause a family rift, I’d say that’s a good reason for them to come up with another name. If the family won’t mind too much, then they can do what they’d like. I think the fact that the children will only see each other at holidays is a good thing to remember. (I’ve posted a bit about this topic, which might be helpful both to Genie and to any of you dealing with a similar dilemma: Dibs on names? Sharing ok?, Miscarried baby’s name stolen?, and Name thieves.)

Other ways of working with this situation include Genie and her hubs coming up with a new nickname for Charles, so that their nephew is Charles Edward “Charlie,” and their son is Charles Edmund Jude “Cal,” for example. Charlie and Cal are different enough that they won’t get confused at family get togethers, and Genie would get to have her favorite given name combo. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a great post on new ideas for nicknames for Charles (Huck is particularly fun for parents who love literary names). Or they could do a nickname from his middle name — Charles Edmund Jude nicknamed Ed, Ned, Ted, or even Jude. St. John Paul’s brother’s name was Edmund, and he went by Mundek, which might appeal to Genie as a nickname. (I suspect she won’t like the idea of coming up with a new nickname, however, since she said Charlie was one of the things she loves about Charles.)

If it might help to be given a reason why Charles isn’t a great idea, I’ll offer that Genie and her hubs already used Charlotte in Moira’s name. Repeating names among siblings isn’t a problem, of course, but it might help lessen the sting of not using Charles.

I love Genie’s list of possibilities — Edmund, Owen, Becket, Sebastian, Finnian, Jude, Blaise, and Samuel are all fantastic. Some thoughts: Would Campion as a first name interest them? They’d have the reference to the saint, with some cute nickname options (Cam, Camp), and Campion’s a Marian name as well — it’s an entry in my book! I love Marian names for boys! I also love Samuel, and I think it’s my favorite of those on Genie’s list. Not only is it biblical, like Malachi and Noah (and Moira, via Mary), but its nickname Sam is spot-on for the style and feel of Charlie (per the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I use in my consultations in looking for names that are similar in style/feel/popularity to the parents’ favorites), and pairing it with Becket would give a literary connection to the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. I don’t know much about him, so maybe that connection is an unsavory one to Genie or people of faith in general? But I do know that as soon as I thought of Samuel and Becket together, I thought, “Isn’t that a literary name?” Samuel Becket Jude is a great combo, in my opinion, as is Samuel Becket Blaise — I love that alliteration! If they prefer not to have that connection to Samuel Beckett, though, I also like Samuel Edmund Blaise, Samuel Edmund Owen, Samuel Sebastian Blaise, Samuel Finnian Blaise. (I love Jude as a second middle for all these combos as well.)

Speaking of Samuel’s biblical-ness vs. saintliness, there’s a fourth-century St. Samuel, but I quite liked the story of thirteenth-century Franciscan Friar and martyr, Bl. Samuele of Ceuta.

As for girl ideas, I love their list! They have some fabulous names on there! I love that each name has really great reasons for being on there. It seems like it’s just a matter of putting together the right combination! I love that they want a Marian connection — they have so many great ones on there already. I thought I might offer Daisy as a nickname for Margaret — you probably know it’s a traditional nickname for Margaret, and it’s also a Marian symbol (I discuss it more in my book of Marian names). Also Hope and Faith can be Marian, for Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Faith.

As for new ideas for Genie’s little one, I did my usual research — I looked up the names she and her hubs have already used (both boy and girl) as well as the names they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard in order to look for additional names that fit with their taste in terms of style/feel/popularity. I came up with ideas for both boys and girls, and usually I’d list the girl ideas first, but since boy names are where they’re particularly stuck, I’ll start with those.

First off, the boy names they were considering for Moira, had she been a boy, were George Ignatius Eliot and Charles/Maximilian Joseph Louis — pulling out names they haven’t already used (excluding Charles), I love the idea of Eliot Ignatius Jude, for example (see my suggestion of Eliot below!), or Louis Ignatius Blaise (but Louis following George [and even Moira’s second middle Charlotte] might be too “royal family” … or maybe that would make it perfect for this family?), or Samuel Ignatius Edmund, or Owen Ignatius Eliot … I could go on all day making up combos from these beautiful names! 😀

These are my new ideas:

(1) Nathaniel (or Hawthorn(e)?)
Despite the fact that Malachi is named for the Irish saint, it comes across as ultra-biblical to me, especially with Noah as a brother. So I’d love to find an idea that could loop them in more with the other boys, while still appealing to Genie’s style. I thought Nathaniel was one such — it’s biblical, but it has an English feel to me … or maybe more *New* England, like author Nathaniel Hawthorne, which provides a literary connection as well (also, fun fact: his daughter is Servant of God Rose Hawthorne [aka Mother Alphonsa]). They could also trick a Marian connection out of Nathaniel if they wanted, in that Hawthorn is actually an entry in my book of Marian names because of her title Our Lady of the Hawthorn (best known in Spanish, French, and Basque) — using Nathaniel in part because of the literary connection with Nathaniel Hawthorne might call Our Lady to mind? (Yes, I do realize this is one of my crazier suggestions! 😀 ) Or maybe they’d would like to consider Hawthorn(e) as a first or middle?

(2) Jasper
Jasper did really well for this family in my research, being listed as similar to Jude, Beatrix, Josephine, and Amelia (standing in for Emmelia). It’s the name traditionally given to one of the Three Wise Men, and it’s also a precious stone in the bible, and it has literary connections (it’s the name of a Thomas Hardy character).

(3) Thaddeus or Theodore
I love the idea of Thaddeus for this family — I think it has that gravitas that their other boys’ names have. It’s distinguished and sophisticated, biblical, and has Irish connections too — I have a special devotion to Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican priest and martyr. Plus, the nicknames Tad, Taddy, Ted, and Teddy are all so sweet. Actually, Thad’s been growing on me recently too. Theodore is similar to Thaddeus — I always think of them as two sides of the same coin in that they both have similar nicknames and a similar sound, but people who like Thaddeus tend to not like Theodore so much, and vice versa. And Theodore has Theo as a possible nickname as well, which I really like.

(4) Eliot/Eli
Elliott and Eli both did fantastically well for this family in my research, which doesn’t surprise me, since they’re related — Elliott is derived from Elijah. I love Elliott with Genie’s other boys, and I think it fits in really well with their parameters. Eli is a great nickname for it, and also a good fit with their family I think. Funny enough, I’d scribbled down this idea for them before remembering that Eliot was a contender for the second middle of one of the name combos they liked for Moira if she’d been a boy! So I definitely want to heartily suggest it here (Eliot being the literary spelling).

(5) Philip
I wonder if they’ve ever considered Philip? I don’t see many parents considering it, but I love it, and tried to get my husband on board with it for one of our boys. I thought Genie would especially like the nickname Pip, which gives it an immediate Anglo literary connection. St. Philip Neri is a great non-biblical patron as well.

(6) Simon
Simon is serious and bookish and has a definite literary and Brit feel. I love that it connects to Malachi and Noah biblically.

(7) Xavier
When I saw this name pop up in my research as a match for Genie’s style, it immediately felt like a good option. I always think of it as having Irish connections because it was my grandfather’s middle name (his first name was not Francis!), and he was Irish (born and raised). Even if they weren’t sure about it as a first name, it would make a fantastic middle.

(8) Isaac
I’ve known several parents with an Oliver or Owen who also have an Isaac. It seems like a great fit for this family!

(9) Pierce
Pierce fits right in with the Elliott, Simon, Nathaniel, Xavier, and Isaac-type names for me — not only does it have a similar feel, but it can also be Marian! It’s an entry in my book, after Simeon’s prophecy that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced by a sword — one of my readers knows a little Pierce so-named in honor of that particular Marian occurrence. How cool!

(10) Colman, Cormac
These were mostly inspired by this family’s Irishy Irish names: Malachi, Oliver, Liam, and Moira, and Finnian from the list of considerations. Colman and Cormac are both Irish saints with great nickname potential (Cole for the former, Mac for the latter). I love them both.

I thought each of the names on this list would fit in well with the big brothers in either the first name spot or either of the middles. I hope Genie and her hubs find some good inspiration there!

As for the girls, these are really just names that jumped out in my research as particularly good matches for them — I really think they have such a great list that they don’t need too much help in that regard. But it was fun to compile this list anyway!:

(1) Susanna (or Sosanna?)
Susanna means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which gives it a nice Marian connection. I love that it has a whole bunch of nickname options, from Susie to Suki to Anna to Zuzu, and others. It’s also biblical; it has that same New England/Pilgrim feel as Nathaniel; and it’s got a literary connection as well — Shakespeare’s daughter’s name was Susanna! To put an Irish spin on it, I’ve seen Sosanna listed as an Irish form of Susanna — that could be a pretty option! (Fun fact: the daughter of actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick is named Sosie Ruth!)

(2) Jemima
I would love to see a couple give their daughter the name Jemima! I know it might not be comfortable in the first name spot, but especially since this family does two middles, it might be a perfect fit. Jemima is biblical, it has the lovely meaning “dove,” and its usage is far more British than American.

(3) Lydia
I actually can’t believe Lydia isn’t already on their list! It’s such a great name with a great biblical connection, and her own color too! The biblical Lydia sold purple cloth, so the little Lydias I know claim purple as their own, which is so cool.

(4) Sophie
Sophie was a HUGE match for this family in my research!! It can be Marian, as in Our Lady’s title Seat of Wisdom, and it’s got a similar sweetness to Moira.

(5) Catherine
Catherine’s another one that I’m surprised isn’t on their list somewhere! It was a pretty good style match for their taste in my research and would make a great first or middle. (But it might have the same “royal family” issue as Louis? Could the Katherine spelling help?)

(6) Alice
Similar to Catherine, Alice did really well in my research, and it has that same sweetness as Moira and Sophie to me.

(7) Violet
My final suggestion rivals Sophie as the girl name that is the biggest style match for this family. I particularly like that it has the V that Genie seem to like (Evangeline and Genevieve) (though Genevieve’s hard to beat with its connection to Genie herself!), and it’s an entry in my book, as it’s a symbol of Our Lady’s modesty and humility. How lovely!

And those are all my ideas for Genie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Malachi, Noah, Liam, Henry, Moira, and George?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

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! 🙂).

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?


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