Baby name consultation: Svellerella Baby No. 5!

Today’s consultation is for Carolyn, who you’ll know from her blog Svellerella (+Instagram) and her gorgeous hand-drawn-illustrations-and-lettering Etsy shop Brass & Mint Co. (+Instagram)! (Find her on Facebook too!) She was also on Haley and Christy’s podcast Fountain of Carrots last week talking about mothering her little boy with special needs — as she said, “They asked me about what it was like going through an Autism diagnosis and parenting a kid with autism, getting to church with Emmett’s challenges, and how I “do it all” (spoiler: I don’t.).” Such a beautiful, loving, pro-life mama witness!

Carolyn and her husband Craig are now expecting their fifth baby — fifth boy! I loooooove the names they’ve chosen so far:

Lexington Anthony (“We picked Lexington because we liked the phonetics, and the originality of it. At that time, neither of us cared about name meanings, and while we still love his name, it’s a little out of our scope of interest towards “originality” these days. Anthony was chosen for St. Anthony of Padua. And upon thinking about it later and knowing the story of St. Anthony’s ability to speak eloquently, it is a funny spiritual accident that we chose the first name Lexington — lexicon.”)

Emmett James (“We love the old timey feel of the name Emmett. And James was our Biblical/Christian pick.”)

Collin John Paul (“Honestly, It was the only name we agreed on. John Paul is after my patron saint JPII.”)

Jude Benedict (“We absolutely love the name Jude. It’s older, not overly popular, and while it breaks our streak of multiple syllable first names, it sounds strong to us. St. Benedict is my husband’s patron saint, and we love Benedict XVI.”)

What an interesting bunch of names! You all know I love bold naming, so seeing Lexington in the mix is so fun, and I love her other boys’ names as well.

Names they’re considering for this next little guy include:

Ambrose (“he’s due near St. Ambrose’s feast day … the only problem is that neither of us care for the double S sound when said with our last name Svellinger“)
Dominic
Edmund
Theodore (“we love Teddy, don’t love Theo“)
Gabriel (“This one is my top pick currently“)

And Carolyn explains,

We tend to be more creative with first names and choose a Christian based middle name [though note that she said above that Lexington is “a little out of our scope of interest towards ‘originality’ these days”] … Generally, neither of us care for nicknames, with the exception of Theodore. I’m a nerd and pay close attention to the phonetics of a name. For example, I don’t like if a name begins with a sound that starts from the back of the throat and drags with another sound from the same place: the sound that C + L makes when said together is an example. I know, it’s silly. Cluuhhh sounds and feels like I’m hawking a loogie … can’t handle it. Craig thinks I’m ridiculous.”

😂😂😂

Finally,

Last bit of info — I L O V E British literature and often think of Shakespeare, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Tolkien, and yes, Rowling — I adore nearly everything that comes from Brit lit and I’d love to draw from something there.”

My mind started clicking as soon as I read all this! I was particularly interested by the fact that Carolyn said Lexington is more unusual than where her and her husband’s current taste is — Emmett, Collin, and Jude really do have a similar feel to me, it’s pretty clear they backed off of really out-there names. That said, as you all know I really love coming up with “bridge” names that connect an outlier sibling name with the others, so I’d really love to come up with an idea that might loop Lexington back in while still fitting with their other boys’ names. I definitely focused on that to a good extent when looking for names that I thought Carolyn and Craig might like.

Backing up a bit for a minute, I wanted to comment on the names they already have on their list for their new little boy:

— Ambrose: We love Ambrose too! If they decide to use it, despite it ending in S and their last name beginning with S, one of its big benefits I think is that it swings their whole set back toward the more unusual.

— Dominic: One of my very favorites! I definitely think it fits well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

— Edmund: Narnia! St. Edmund Campion! Such a great name. And Teddy is a traditional nickname for all the Ed- names, so they could totally do Edmund nicked Teddy! I also love the idea of Campion for them — if they could move away from Teddy and Narnia, Campion seems more like Lexington’s style while still being super saintly. And, since Carolyn pointed out the similarity between Lexington and “lexicon,” she might also like to know that Campion means “champion”!

— Theodore: I like its length with Lexington, and it too seems a great fit with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. Teddy’s super cute too. In the interest of shifting a bit towards Lexington’s style (which I’m thinking of variously as “unusual,” “place name,” and “surname-y”), I wonder what they’d think of the more unusual Thaddeus? Teddy can be a nickname for Thaddeus (I know a grown-up Thaddeus who goes by Ted), and Taddy is a similar-but-different nickname for it as well. I also wondered if they’d be interested in getting Teddy as a nickname from mashing up a first+middle combo? I was thinking something like Tolkien Edmund, for example. Too weird? Or Titus Edmund (Titus is a Shakespeare name)?

— Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names, I love seeing it here on Carolyn’s list, and as much as I love the faith connection, I also love that it’s got good use in Ireland (actor Gabriel Byrne, for one, love him!), which is not dissimilar from her Brit lit love. Great name! I think it goes really well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

Carolyn’s “C+L” issue made me laugh! Also that her hubs thinks it’s ridiculous! We all have our quirks when it comes to naming, and I’m always so interested to hear other people’s. I purposely stayed away from suggesting Clive for them because of this. 😊

I also love names from British literature! So when I was thinking of names to suggest, I looked up all the male names from Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Charles Dickens (thank you internet!) (searches for Chesterton’s characters didn’t result in any other than Fr. Brown, but neither Father nor Brown seemed like their style 😉), as well as place names mentioned in those works. I wrote down all the ones that I thought might possibly fit their style, then cross-checked that list against my research in the Baby Name Wizard (you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). Because Lexington isn’t listed in the BNW, I used Lennox as a stand-in there, and then looked Lexington up in the Name Matchmaker tool on the BNW web site — it showed a bunch of names as being similar to Lexington that I already had on my list for them!

So here are my ideas, in no particular order:

(1) Garrick or Oliver
My original idea here was Garrick, as in Harry Potter character Garrick Ollivander (and actually, if Carolyn hadn’t said that Lexington was farther out than they would currently like, I’d probably be pushing Ollivander on them! I love it! I think it totally fits with Lexington in length and feel, and the nickname Ollie is so well matched with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. But then, they don’t like nicknames either …). But then I thought maybe Oliver would be good! There’s Oliver Twist and St. Oliver Plunket, who’s amazing, and Oliver totally fits with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

(2) Caspian
I definitely think Caspian can hang with Emmett, Collin, and Jude, and its unusual-ness pulls in Lexington a bit more. I also love that that both Lexington and Caspian are place names (Caspian Sea), and of course Caspian is a Narnia name!

(3) Bartlett (or Bartholomew?) (or Bates?)
One of Great Expectations’ Pip’s brothers was named Bartholomew, and I thought that I like Bartholomew for them — it’s got that nice length that Lexington has. Then I was thinking about how the surname Bartlett is derived from Bartholomew, and decided I love Bartlett even more for them! I love it with all their boys’ names, and Bartlett’s Buildings is where Lucy Steele usually stayed when she was in London (Sense and Sensibility), so cool! But then, are Emmett and Bartlett too similar? (I actually had Garrett included in my first suggestion, with Garrick, and ended up deleting it because I thought Emmett and Garrett were probably too similar.) So maybe then the full Bartholomew is a better suggestion. Or maybe Bates? Bates is another surname derived from Bartholomew, which could also work — would Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey count as a Brit Lit character?? But Bates runs into their last name … Gah!

(4) Dig(g)ory
This is another more Lexington-esque name due to uniqueness, but it’s got so many cool literary connections, and I really love the sound of it, so I had to include it! There’s Cedric Diggory from HP, of course, and I’ve read that he was actually given the last name Diggory as a nod to Professor Digory Kirke from the Narnia Chronicles, which is another great reference. But the first time I ever heard the name was in high school when I read Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native — one of the main characters is Diggory Venn. (Also, I’m a huge nicknamer, so I can’t help but say that Dig is a really cool nickname and the name of one of the good guys in the current TV series Arrow).

(5) Sebastian
My last idea is Sebastian. It’s a Shakespeare name and a saint’s name; it’s long like Lexington and I think it also fits in well with their other boys. Some people don’t like alliteration, but I tend to, and Sebastian Svellinger sounds smashing imo. 😊

While those are my “official” suggestions, I did have a few others I considered when trying to whittle down the list, which I thought I’d include here just in case they’re helpful: Austen, Augustine (Austen’s actually a medieval variant of Augustine!), Chesterton (could be cute?), Orlando (Shakespeare and place name), Duncan (hmm … maybe I should have included this on my official list), Kingsley (Kingston was a style match for Lennox, which made me think of HP character Kingsley Shacklebolt), Quentin or Quinlan (for a fifth baby!), Jasper (a style match for Emmett and Jude), Brandon (I looooove Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility), Abel (two different Dickens characters named Abel), and Rider/Ryder (the former for the Riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings; the latter for Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited).

In looking back over my ideas, I feel like maybe I focused too much on connecting with Lexington, which is totally me inserting myself into Carolyn and Craig’s taste, which I really try not to do! (Not too much anyway!) So I hope that this was at least a little helpful!

What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lexington, Emmett, Collin, and Jude?

Baby name consultation: Fike Baby no. 8!

I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!

Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)

Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)

John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)

Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)

Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)

Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)

Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)

Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.

Blythe writes,

I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)

Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.

Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”

I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.

When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:

  • A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
  • A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
  • An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.

Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.

Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:

(1) Tiber
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.

One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)

(2) Blaise
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.

(3) Nic-
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.

(4) Zac-
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.

(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).

(6) Cashel
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).

(7) Bram
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)

(8) Remy
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.

(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.

(10) Magnus
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.

(11) Tristan
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).

(12) Tobit
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!

(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.

(14) Pace
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace!  There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!

Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.

And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?

Baby name consultation: Traditional name with cute nickname for baby no. 6 (boy)!

Ashley and John are expecting their fifth baby on earth (sixth overall) — a boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

George Charles
Caroline Renée
Joseph (in heaven)
Augustine David “Gus”
Madeline Mae

Such a classic, handsome set of names! Ashley writes,

Our girls are each named after their grandmothers and our boys are named after strong saints we liked, Charles is a nod to my husband’s mother (Carolyn) who died while I was expecting him. We love the idea of family names, but can’t quite find any relevant ones we like at this point. My husband has a decent extended family, some of which we don’t want to overlap, but I have a huge family (1 of 11) and have quite a few names we love but can’t use, I will list those below.”

(One of eleven!!)

We have realized that we love having a strong formal name for our Gus, with a planned nickname. I find it hard that we don’t have short nicknames that we like for Caroline and Madeline (not a fan of of the obvious Carrie, Lynn, Maddy), so I’d like to plan that in with this baby. For example, we recently met someone with a daughter named Bernadette Claire that they call Birdie Claire. We LOVE this, as the traditional name and cute newish nickname are a perfect combination. We would like to make sure it “fits” with all our others.”

Bernadette Claire nicknamed Birdie Claire is adorable!! I love that they want to try to find something with a similar feel for their little boy.

Lastly, I am an avid reader and re-reader of the Baby Name Wizard Book and would say (you probably already know this) but our favorite categories tend to be Antique Charm and Ladies and Gentlemen. We love French names like Jacque (we live in Cajun South Louisiana and they are very common here, but haven’t bitten the bullet on any and at #5 are uncertain they fit with the others).”

Names that they like but aren’t sure of:

Phillip (“don’t like Phil“)
Frederick (“my husband’s middle name and a family name but he likes Fritz, and I don’t really like Fred or Freddy… maybe I could come around on Fritz“)
Peter (“but don’t like Pete or Petey“)
Bernard (“don’t love but LOVE the idea of Bear for a nickname“)
John double names
Other double names
Raymond (“neither of us love Raymond, but it is John’s Dad’s middle name and we love St. Raymond Nonnatus… thought you may be able to come up with a creative way to use this“)
Blaise (“love this name, but aren’t sure it fits well with our others“)
Dominic (“maybe, again need a cute nickname“)
Benedict (“maybe, but don’t like Benny!“)
Jacque (“in Cajun French South Louisiana, these French names come up a lot and this is one we really like, but aren’t sure it fits with our others“)
Nicholas (“my middle name is Nicole, but again can’t find a good nickname we like… not a fan of Nick“)

Family names they could “maybe incorporate in a cute way”:

Richard
Donald
Raymond
James
Reginald
Wilbur
Daniel
John Henry

And names to avoid:

Anything ending in ‘ine’ as it was an accident that our middle 3 have that in common.”
Close family member names (“none of these are off limits for middle names!“):
Paul
Luke
Patrick
Christopher
Richard
Eric
Sean
Robert
Andrew
David
Michael
Benjamin
John Charles
Henry
Oliver
Jack
Isaac
Eli
William
Jules
Jonah
Charlie
Leo
Jude

Alrighty, before listing the ideas I have for Ashley and John, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names that are currently on their list, especially with the “Birdie Claire” style of nickname that they like:

Phillip: I love Phil(l)ip, and tried to get my husband on board with it, to no avail! The nickname idea I loved for it was Finn. I especially liked the idea of Philip paired with an N middle name to make sense of Finn as a nickname (like Philip Neri … Philip Nicholas would also be quite nice), and there’s precedent for a Ph- name going by an F- nickname in that actress Julia Roberts named her son Phinnaeus and he goes by Finn. Otherwise, Pip is a traditional nickname for Philip that’s adorable, and they could even do Pippin. They don’t grow so well into manhood I suppose, but Flip’s another fairly traditional nickname for Philip — I worked with a Philip/Flip for a while who’s older than me and I always thought it was a pretty cool nickname.

Frederick: I love Frederick because of it being John’s middle name! I think Fritz is cute, and the fact that Ashley doesn’t like Fred/Freddy reminds me of my parents’ neighbor who named their baby Frederick and insisted on the full Frederick because they didn’t care for the Fred nicknames, but when one too many people called him Fred(dy) anyway, they decided to nickname him Erick. So that’s an option too, as is Rick/Ricky, which are cute and retro.

Peter: I thought this was a great opportunity to research some of the non-English nicknames and variants of Peter, to see if there’s any good nickname inspiration there. Pier, Piers, and Pierce are all variants … Pero is a Serbian/Croatian/Macedonian nickname for it … Pierrick is a Breton diminutive, which is cute on its own or could lead to Rick(y) as a nickname, which would be a really unusual way to nod to the Richard in their family! People would be so confused! Haha!

Bernard nicked Bear: I actually can’t believe Ashley said she loves the nickname Bear because I recently decided I love it myself! But for me — and this might solve their Bernard/Benedict conundrum — I like it as a nickname for Benedict! Something like Benedict Richard or Benedict Raymond would provide a B+R sound that would make sense of Bear as a nickname AND honor family/saint!

John double: I LOVE John doubles!! I think it’s such a handsome way to name a boy! I love that Ashley’s husband is John too, that makes it extra meaningful. I did a massive consultation a while ago for a dad who was angsting over whether to name his son John + like he and his dad, or to go with the name he and his wife actually loved. There are loads of good ideas in there, if I do say so myself. 😉 They could also come up with nicknames based on John +, like … John Raymond could be Jay, which isn’t that creative I guess but I do like the nickname Jay … John Peter could be JP, which could also nod to John Paul II (or they could just do John Paul, of course!). A John Richard or John Raymond could nickname to Jordy, which is so cute (though one potentially weird thing for them is that Geordie — said the same as Jordy — is a traditional nickname for George, which is their oldest son’s name). They could do the full John Frederick, Jr. and call him something like Jed.

Raymond: I’ve actually struggled with Raymond myself! The best I’ve come up with is that Redmond/Redmund is an Irish variant of it, which is cool — I like the surname vibe, and the nickname Red is adorable! Actually, I think they could totally do Raymond nicknamed Red if they wanted. If their little guy has red hair no one will bat an eyelash; if not, they’ll just have to explain, but that’s kind of cool — a nice little opportunity for evangelization!

Blaise: I love it too! I definitely think it fits in with their other kiddos’ names — it’s got that super saintly feel that Augustine especially has, but also their others. I just did a birth announcement for a Blaise whose mom was worried it didn’t fit with the other kids, but they used it anyway and they’re thrilled with it.

Dominic: I looooove Dominic!! My dad grew up with a Dominic that they called Dommy, which I think is really cute — like Tommy with a twist. Nico is another that’s not unusual for Dominic, I love Nico.

Benedict: Not only can Bear work as a nickname for Benedict as I mentioned above, but I’ve also thought Buddy and Bede (two-for-one! St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) could work (how cute is Buddy!), and I’ve also seen Ned. Also I think Beck could work, which could be fun.

Jacque: I’m not sure how to say this name — in my head I keep saying Jake, but when I looked it up on forvo.com it sounded more like Jack. Either way, my hearty recommendation for Jacque is to use it as a nickname. It’s a variant of James/Jacob (they’re the same name, just different languages), and Ashley and John have their James family member, so if I were in this situation I’d probably totally name the baby James ___ and call him Jacque. James Frederick is quite handsome, and is a really explicit nod to Ashley’s husband (same initials and everything!) without being a Junior.

Nicholas: We considered Nicholas nicknamed Cole, and just Cole as a given name, for our youngest, so I can definitely recommend Cole as a nickname. Nico can also work, and also Colin, which sometimes derives from Nicholas.

Family names: As for their family names, one of my favorite favorite Richard names is Dickon — he’s a character in The Secret Garden and I think it’s such a great sounding name. Alas, anything that has those first four letters in it is not going to fly these days. If Ashley and John are into Irish names, I quite like Donal and Donnell as nods to Donald. I already mentioned James; interestingly Reginald, Reynold, and Ronald are all variants of each other! Not sure if that’s helpful though … William could possibly work as an honor name for Wilbur except that it’s on their No list. Daniel’s great, and I love John Henry too as a combo, and I love that there’s already a precedent in their family with both John Henry and John Charles to do the John double. Love it!

I love both the “Antique Charm” names and “Ladies and Gentleman” names in the Baby Name Wizard as well! So I’m hopeful that my ideas might hit the mark. I’m not as strong on French names, but I was inspired by the list in the BNW.

Okay, on to my new ideas! As you all know, these were mostly inspired by my research in the Baby Name Wizard, but also a bit by my own namey head:

(1) Arthur
This “Ladies and Gentleman” name was a style match for both George and Frederick, but I’m not sure I would have taken notice if it wasn’t for the fact that Ashley loves the nickname Bear. Arthur’s generally considered to be related to the word “bear,” and I’ve seen other families use Bear as a nickname for Arthur. And I actually started thinking about the nickname Bear recently after re-reading one of the Regina Doman’s The Shadow of the Bear — a retelling of Snow White — in which the main male character’s name is Arthur but he goes by Bear. One hesitation is that Ashley and John’s last name is quite a bit like Andersen, so Arthur might not be the best first name. But if they liked it, they could do John Arthur, and call him Bear as a nickname of his middle name.

(2) An Ed- name
Edward was a match for George and Joseph, Edmond for Frederick, and Edmund for Benedict. Add in the fact that Ned can be nicknames for all the Ed- names, as well as Benedict, and I thought they definitely deserved a spot on this list. (Ted’s also a traditional nickname for the Ed names.) I can’t tell which I like better — St. Edward the Confessor’s pretty amazing, and Edward fits so well with the royal feel of their older kids; Edmund is Narnia and St. Edmund Campion, which are both great; Edmond is Edmond Dantes in Count of Monte Cristo and I just die over Jim Caviezel in that role. 😊 Also, it’s French!

(3) Sebastian
Sebastian is a natural on any list that includes names like Augustine, Dominic, and Benedict, and it’s also on the French list (as Sebastien). Grace Patton introduced me to the nickname Bash for Sebastian and I love it so much! I’ve also seen Baz, and Seb and Sebby are probably the first nicknames people would think of. Lots of great options there!

(4) Theodore, Thaddeus
I find that people like Theodore, or they like Thaddeus, with a clear preference for one or the other. Theodore is a style match for August (which I used as a stand-in for Augustine, since there’s no entry for Augustine in the BNW) and Frederick, and Thaddeus is a match for Benedict. Both of them can take the nickname Ted; Theodore can also be Theo, which is kind of hot right now, and Thaddeus can be Tad and Taddy, which I think is adorable.

(5) Nickname Abe, or Ambrose as a given name
I looked up Gus to see what other nicknames were listed as similar to it, and Abe was the first one listed — I’ve been dying over Abe for a while, what a fabulous nickname!! There was a little towhead named Abram at our pediatrician’s recently, which I found pleasantly surprising, and Grace just named her youngest Abraham James with the nickname Abe. SO CUTE! I also really like Abel, and I think Abe can work as a nickname for Ambrose, which also makes me think maybe they’d like to consider Ambrose? It might be too much for Augustine’s little brother, but it’s been on our list for a while and I think that in addition to Abe, other nicknames that could totally work include Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially with a D middle … Ambrose Daniel? Or even a middle with a strong D, like Ambrose Frederick?). And I think Ace can work too!

(6) Maximilian nicked Miles or Milo
I used to suggest this one all the time on here! I haven’t in a while, but I wonder if Ashley and John might be interested in it. Like Augustine, Dominic, Benedict, and Sebastian, Maximilian is heavy-duty Catholicky Catholic. Max is a great nickname, but if they want something a little different, I definitely think Miles and Milo can work as nicknames for it. An added bonus is that Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of the Virgin Mary” — an actual Marian name for a boy! So they’d get St. Maximilian Kolbe and Our Lady in one name! And Milo was actually a style match for Gus!

(7) Damien
My last idea for this family is Damien, and it’s solely because it was in the French list in the BNW and I love St. Damien of Molokai and I’d love to see more baby Damiens. But also, since I’ve had it on my own list I’ve thought of nickname possibilities and I think Denny is my favorite for Damien. It totally works, right? And Danny for Damian.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of George, Caroline, Joseph, Augustine (Gus), and Madeline?

Baby name consultation: Five-syllable, not-“harsh” name needed for boy no. 5

Two years ago I had the privilege of doing a consultation for Amanda and her husband, and then announcing the birth of her baby boy, and today I’m thrilled to post this new consultation for her new baby-on-the-way, another boy! This little guy joins lots of big brothers and one big sister:

Oliver Lawrence
Elizabeth Joan
Theodore William
Henry John Vincent
Adrian Leo

I’ve always loved their style, and also the precision with which Amanda and her husband have named their kiddos — each one has a five-syllable first+middle combo! This is something Amanda would love to continue if possible. She writes,

Vince really likes Conrad … I like Rodrick (or Roderick, but does that spelling make it three syllables?), Walter and Gregor. Trying to keep with the 5 syllables with middle name, and I realized after the last one that ALL of the boys have an “R”in their first name, which happens to be my maiden name initial, and I love that, so I’d like to continue it. And he needs his own first letter… O, E, T, H and A are out.

Conrad has still not grown on me. I’m ok with it for a middle name, but it is just too harsh sounding compared to the rest of our names (they all start with a vowel or very soft consonant).

Vince nixed Roderick, and he isn’t crazy about Walter or Gregor. However, he does like Gregory, and then I could always call him Gregor, or Rory. 😉

Sylvester has come back in… If you remember, my grandpa’s name was Sylvester Leo, and we named the last one Adrian Leo after him. Well, he passed away last year (about 8 months after Adrian was born). I asked Vince the other day, if I had no say, what he would name this baby. His answer was Sylvester Conrad. Lol! … He would want to call him Sly… My grandpa went by Slivy… And would want to call him Sully … I love it!

We both like Finnian, which is awesome because it’s so Irish, but it sounds a lot like Adrian to me….. What do you think? Finnian Conrad?

I kind of think there’s still something out there that I haven’t seen or thought of yet. And maybe it won’t come to me until I see his face. We’ll see, I guess!

 

I think they’ve done such a great job of finding fairly uncommon names that are still familiar! I love Rory for Gregory—Amanda and her hubs have some Irish interest in their names, and using this classic Irish name as a nickname for a heavy duty Catholic name is great. Finnian is a great name too—I’m a huge fan of the Finn names, and Finn as a nickname—and I do love Finnian Conrad—so handsome! But it does have the same ending as Adrian, and it doesn’t have an R in it, which Amanda had said was important to her. I wonder what they would think of Finbar instead? Finbar Sylvester works. Another idea I had is Francis with the nickname Finn—I suggested it quite a bit on the here for a while, I just love it—Francis has that same classic, saintly, old-man feel as so many of the names Amanda and her husband like, and it has an R, and Finn as a nickname for it makes it a bit easier to handle on a day-to-day basis.

And of course I came up with a few more ideas for them that I thought might be useful conversation starters for Amanda and her hubby! I started from scratch—I looked up all the names they’ve used and Amanda has mentioned liking (in recent emails and two years ago) in the Baby Name Wizard without looking at the names I suggested last time until after I’d formulated my list of ideas (when I checked I saw I don’t have any overlap between last time’s ideas and this time, interesting!). I then crossed off any names that didn’t have R’s in them (Simon, Sebastian, Bennett), or that sound weird with their last name (Jasper, Victor), or that I’d forgotten they considered previously (Raphael, which I still love for them—perhaps they’d reconsider?), and was left with these:

(1) Brennan
Last time I suggested Brendan and Brannock, but this time Brennan is inspired by Sullivan, which I looked up because of Sully, just to see if there might be any inspiration there. I like Brennan! It’s softer than Brendan, and it has an R in it.

(2) Roman
Roman’s a match for some of the names they considered last time (Ivan, Raphael, and Dominic), it’s got an R in it, and I love it with Sylvester.

(3) Frederick
Frederick’s a match for Conrad and Theodore; it’s long like Theodore, Sylvester, and Elizabeth; it’s got the same ending as Dominic and Aidric from their previous list and it has the cutest nickname options: Fred, Freddy, Fritz, Erick. Frederick Conrad could work, as could Frederick Gregor, Frederick Walter, and Frederick Ivan.

What do you all think? What other name(s) can you suggest for the little brother of Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian?

Baby name consultation: “Unique, foreign, vintage” name needed for no. 5 green bean

Amina and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown). 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Casimir Wesley “Cas”
Miette Faye “Mimi”
Errol Shepherd
Petra Frances

Aren’t these great names?! Casimir is one my husband and I considered for one of our boys, and I still have a soft spot for it. Miette is such a sweet, affectionate name! And Errol and Petra are both amazing as well … in fact, with Miette and Errol they’ve chosen two names I’ve never once seen any parent use or even consider. Well done!

Amina writes,

I would categorize our names as… unique, foreign, vintage.😬🤷🏽‍♀️

We weren’t Catholic when we named our oldest son, Casimir, but it happens to be a unique saint name, so hey hey! We actually got the name from a song and we loved it. We were dabbling into our conversion around the time and when we discovered it was a saint (and a famous polish general), that was cool too. It set the tone for the rest of the siblings. His middle name, Wesley, is after my husband.

Our second child, Miette, was not named after a saint, despite us being confirmed into the church during her pregnancy. We always loved the name, which is French for “little crumb.” A bit too endearing for some, but it works well for her. Her middle name, Faye, is also a family name. We figured there would be a Saint Faye, but alas, there isn’t, unless you count the Saint of Santa Fe, Saint Faith. We feel she has a strong connection to Saint Therese of Lisieux, French, and known as “the little flower”. Little crumb/ little flower, almost the same right? Her personality is spot on with what we’ve read about young Saint Therese.

Our third child, second son, Errol, just kinda got a name we agreed on. We love the soft but strong sound to it. His birthday falls near Christmas, so we decided on Shepherd as a middle name. We figured he doesn’t need a saint name with this duo as his name pays homage to Jesus.

Our fourth child, second girl, is Petra Frances. She was due around the feast of the assumption, and we almost named her Petra Remedios (I just love this Marian name, for our lady of Good Remedy), but I actually chickened out. Yep. I was eager to use Frances to pay homage to Pope Francis as well, and noticed she was due around a few Saint Francis/ Frances feast days. So, she didn’t get a Marian name, and she was born the 16th instead of the 15th.

So, the reason I am writing is that I am coming back to Remedios for a girl. After full on chickening out, we’d like to use it in the first name place. I think it just needs a super wear-able nickname. I’m not fond of Remy, which is the most obvious nickname. I have thought of Edie, Edda, Romy. Do you see any others?? We think she will be Remedios Inez, if that helps.

On our ongoing girl list we have names like Opal and Fig, as well as Phillipa, Perpetua, Simone, and Belen. (We probably won’t ever use Perpetua, as it’s too close to Petra.)

If we have a boy, we plan on naming him Aesop Junipero. I am finally letting my husband take the reigns on this one, as he’s been pushing Aesop for awhile. Junipero, we both love, after Junipero Serra. We were very moved by his canonization. My other contender is Ambrose, but my husband really wants Aesop.

I have Peregrine and Bonaventure on my boy list too, though I don’t think they will ever win my husband over. I love Arthur as well, to tone any names combos down.”

How cool is Aesop Junipero? I love it. So bold and offbeat but faithy and literary and familiar. I also love the categorization of their name taste as “unique, foreign, vintage.”

Re: nicknames for Remedios (awesome Marian name), I think the nicknames Amina has come up with (Edie, Edda, Romy) are pretty great. I did a quick search online for other ideas, and found this blog post, which explains that in Chamorro, the language of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands (including Guam), nicknames are usually taken from the end of the name, and it specifically gave the example of Remedios nicknaming to Medo. I like that! And I think Medi works too. But maybe they’re too similar to Miette? Other ideas I had were:

  • Rio or Rios
  • Ria
  • Rida
  • Dee or Didi
  • Emmy

And if Amina and her hubs were open to looking at nicknames using a mashup of first and middle names, Remedios Inez can result in:

  • Rina
  • Riz

As for additional girl names, it was fun to try to come up with some new ideas! Since their style encompasses names from various languages, as well as word names and literary nods, I felt almost like the sky’s the limit! I also didn’t limit myself to saints’ names, as I agree with Amina that as long as the middle name is a saint, or either of the names has a tie to the faith, they’re covered.

These were my favorites for them:

(1) Hero
Hero is the kind of name only a certain kind of family can pull off, but I love it, and I think this family would be up to it! It was mostly influenced by Aesop on their list, and those who aren’t aware that the literary Heros were female might be confused, but otherwise it’s such a great name. There was a family on the BabyCenter name boards back when I was pregnant with my first (thirteen years ago!) who had a daughter named Hero, and I always thought that was so cool.

(2) Iona or Ione
These names are so similar in appearance, but totally different in background/meaning! Iona is Scottish, the name of the island where St. Columba founded a monastery, which provides a good saint connection. Ione is Greek and has the amazing meaning “violet flower,” which they could possibly consider to be Marian since violets are a symbol of Our Lady. They were particularly exciting because, as you all know, I usually use the Baby Name Wizard as my primary resource when doing consultations, but Petra, Simone, Ambrose, and Arthur were the only names from their list that it contained, so I didn’t think it was going to be too helpful BUT Iona was listed as a style match for Petra, and then when I took their names over to the NameMatchmaker, Ione was a match for Casimir!

Not only can Ione be possibly connected to Our Lady through its meaning, but there were also some sites that argued that Ione is a feminine form of John. Nameberry says, “Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana” and apparently there are several places in literature (like Shakespeare!) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan! You can read that here —  bottom of p. 156 and top of p. 157, the link takes you right to it. So St. Joan of Arc or Bl. Jane of Aza or any of the Sts. John could be patron for a little Ione!

(3) Annick
Annick was another result from my research on the NameMatchmaker—a match for Miette. I love that it’s a form of Anna, so St. Anne is an easy patron, and it’s certainly unique and I think it goes really well as a sister to Miette and Petra. I also love that it would give each girl her own name-ending (not that that matters at all! It’s just kind of cool).

Those were my top three suggestions—I tried to make them a mix of languages and inspiration—but there were a bunch of other names that I scribbled down for this family as I was doing my research as possibilities, like Zara, Stasia, Lorna, Aranza/Aranxa, Sonrisa, Annunziata, Immaculata, Jacinta, Iolanthe, Flora/Fleur, Cressida, Clio, and Greer, and Ines/Inez totally would have been on this list if they weren’t already planning to use it for a middle name.

Amina also said she was open to hearing ideas for boys, even though they’re pretty set on Aesop Juniper, so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on it, but the ones that caught my eye when doing my research as similar to names they’ve used and like were: Bertram, Cajetan, Nunzio, Pascal, Tycho, Bram, Homer, and Archimedes.

And those are my ideas for this little one! What do you all think? Do you have any other nickname ideas for Remedios, or other ideas for girl names in general? If any boy names come to mind, feel free to list those as well!

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for baby no. 7 (fifth girl)!

Anastatia and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — fifth girl! This little one joins big sibs:

Arthur James (“for Mike’s paternal grandfather and my paternal grandfather“)

Conall Henry (“for my maternal grandfather, surname O’Connell, and my paternal grandfather’s middle name“)

Aine Rose Brigid (“for me/my great-grandmother/Mike’s maternal grandmother, Mike loved Rose, and St. Brigid of Kildare, my Confirmation saint“)

Gianna Cara Maria (“called Gigi, twin to Jojo … for St. Gianna, Cara means friend in Irish and dear in Italian, so it flowed, my maternal grandmother’s middle name was Maria“)

Johanna Mary Clare (“called Jojo, twin to Gigi … for my paternal grandmother Joanne, baptized Johanna, our Holy Mother, County Clare/St. Clare — we found out that she didn’t have Edward’s Syndrome on St. Clare’s feast day“)

Abigail Faith Theresa (“with Jesus … Abigail means father’s joy, and Mike really liked the name. When we found out that we were probably losing her, I chose Faith [an Irish trait, at least] and Theresa for St. Therese, for whom I have a devotion, and St. Teresa of Calcutta who was canonized two months before our due date“)

I love these names!! I love all the family connections, and each combination is so attractive, even twins Gianna and Johanna — an amazing pair, with such significance for Anastatia and her hubs!

Anastatia writes,

I have developed a lot of rules about naming, just because I’m a rule person.

1. Not too common- I prefer not in the top 1000s, but certainly not very high
2. A real name, nothing made up.
3. A deceased family member must be honored
4. A saint must be honored
5. At least one name must be Irish/Celtic
6. Girls have two middle names (because we couldn’t agree with the first girl’s middle name)
7. No repeat names — in our family or cousins, etc.

For a boy, we had decided on Bran Michael. Branwen is too out there for Mike. The other feminine of Bran is Branna. It would still honor St. Bran (there is one), and suggest the story of Bran the Blessed, who may have been the Fisher King in Arthurian legend. Branna also continues the -anna name theme for our girls on Earth. I was named for my great-grandmother Anastatia, Aine is often though of as the Irish Anne (it’s not, but the name suggests it, and we have Gianna and Johanna for St. Gianna and my grandmother Joanne, who was baptized Johanna). I’m not sure if Branna is trying to hard. At 38, I am not worried about saving the name for another child.”

Some names that Anastatia has suggested that her husband doesn’t care for include:

Niamh
Rhiannon
Madbh (“last week, Mike said that he might think about this. The Maeve spelling is too common. I prefer Irish spellings, but there may be more than one“)
Zara
Chiara
Beatrice

Names her husband has said that he doesn’t hate include:

Tara (“at 1,002 on the SSA list — this is uncommon enough for me“)
Clara (“at 97, I think it’s common. Our oldest daughter is pushing for this because she likes Clara Oswald from Doctor Who. I am fine with that connection“)
Maisie (“I don’t think this is ‘serious’ enough for a first name“)
Teagan (“a bit common, hard to find a nickname — we both like Tara more“)

The family member they’d like to honor is Anastatia’s maternal grandmother, Eugenia:

We are thinking of Jean as a middle name. She didn’t like Eugenia, and named her kids John, Anne, Mary and Dan so they wouldn’t get picked on.”

And names they can’t use due to family members with the names:

Kateri
Briella
Ryan
Arielle
Devon
Sydney
Sarah
Alicia
Killeen
Brianna
Kim
Jennifer
Emily
Isabella
Sophia
Tenley
Tiffany
Karin
Teresa
Victoria
Christina
Shannon

Saint’s name to be used:

Margaret for St. Margaret of Antioch, patroness of childbirth and St. Margaret of Scotland, patroness against the death of children. Mike does not want to use Margaret as a first name, but may be convinced of a Margaret variant as a first name, otherwise we will use a Margaret name as a middle.”

And a last few considerations:

My family has all Irish heritage (with maybe a bit of Welsh). Mike’s family is originally Basque and Norwegian. He has never shown any interest in using those types of names. Basque names seem hard for non-Spanish speakers like us.

Tara Jean Margaret? I like it, but it’s not love.

Mike is on board with Tara, but is pushing for Clara. I just think Clara is too common, then I would have to use an Irish version of Margaret. Clara Jean Mairead? I don’t know. Any suggestions? Good Margaret variants? Marita is a Norwegian one.

Mike finally will consider Molly, now I think it may be too common. Molly Jean Margaret is Irish, Marian and honors my grandmother and Sts. Margaret, but I’m not sure if Molly can be a ‘serious’ name. Is Molly a doctor, senator, President, etc.?

Gianna is 92 on the social security list and was 95 the year she was born, so I guess Clara being 97 isn’t that bad, but I just don’t love it right now, but I don’t love Tara either. Maeve isn’t too common either, in the 400s at that spelling.

Mike is leaning towards Clara. He also likes Arya, but the character on GOT is not so nice any more.

Arthur has moved from the 300s to the 200s.
Conall is not in the top 1,000.
Aine is not in the top 1,000.
Gianna is 92.
Johanna is in the 500s.
Abigail is 8, but Mike real loved the name Abby.

I guess we are all over the place with name popularity. I never meant to pick popular names, but I am glad that St. Gianna is getting recognized.

The twins each have a Marian middle name, and St. Brigid is called the Mary of the Gael, but I don’t think that we necessarily need another Marian name. He shot down Rosemary and Stella Maris.

Our last name is Ellis. So nothing that ends in ‘L.’ We have multiple ‘A’ names, so probably not another.

Mike was one of several Michaels in every class, so we don’t want that. I have an uncommon spelling, and it made me stick up for myself. Aine does it beautifully.”

Whew! Okay, so first First off, I want to talk about ways to honor Grandma Eugenia. I’m so sorry she didn’t like her name! I had a few thoughts and thought of a few ways they could honor her:

  • Jean would work for Eugenia, but I wonder if they really want another “John” name for one of their daughters?
  • If they don’t mind another John name, another that they might be interested in considering is Siobhan, which would get the Irish in there nicely.
  • Eugene is used as the anglicization of the Irish name Eoghan/Owen, so even though some make the connection between them and John, I think the connection is un-obvious enough that the Owen route might be an interesting way to go. I discovered in my research that Owena is a Welsh feminine form of Owen, which immediately interested me since Anastatia had mentioned Arya from Game of Thrones and Owena reminded me of Olenna. I assumed they rhymed, but when I listened to the pronunciation on Forvo it sounded more like Owen with an A on the end — stress on the first syllable. Anyway, that’s a possibility.
  • The -wen part of Owen reminded me of Wynne, which was actually a style match for my stand-in-for-Bran in my research (Brannock), and the “guin” part of Guinevere, which was a style match for Rhiannon, and which is the same as the “gwen” in the Gwen names — it means “fair, white, blessed” in Welsh. I’ve recently been loving the Welsh name Gwenfair, which means “fair/blessed Mary,” and the Welsh name Mairwen, which is exactly the same as Gwenfair with the elements reversed. How pretty! The fair/Mair part rhymes with “tire” in Welsh, but I think they could rhyme them with “care” if they’d like.
  • Funny enough, Teagan on their list made me think of Taryn, so I looked it up, and it’s the most amazing thing — Behind the Name says it was likely invented as a feminine form of Tyrone, and Tyrone is of course the county in Northern Ireland and also — Tyrone means “land of Eoghan”!!! WOW!!! So Taryn can be for Grandma Eugenia, and it’s similarly in sound to Tara is a bonus! Since it was an invented name, it might not pass Anastatia’s “no invented names” rule, but if it helps there are actually quite a lot of established names that were originally invented (Vanessa, Miranda, Evangeline, Pamela, Wendy … and actually, if you want to be nitpicky, all names were originally invented at one point or another. Not trying to talk Anastatia out of her rules! Just trying to give her options she and her hubs might like). Taryn’s at no. 855 and dropping.

Okay, on to my thoughts on the names on their list:

  • Tara surprised me! I think a lot of people think of it as somewhat dated at this point, but looking at it from its original Irish perspective definitely gives it a fresher feel. Tara Jean Margaret hits all the honors they want, but it feels a bit utilitarian, which I wonder might be the reason Anastatia likes it but don’t love it. Maybe switching up the variants? Tara Margaret Siobhan, for example. Tara Jean Mairead. I wonder if they’d consider a double name? Jane feels a bit fresher, and like Jean is a John variant — what about something like Tara-Jane as a first name? Tara-Jane Mairead is pretty. Tara-Jane Margaret doesn’t flow quite as well to my ear, but still doable of course. Using the Taryn idea above, they wouldn’t have to use Jean, as Taryn would be the honor name for Anastatia’s grandmother, so they could add in another name they like. Taryn Margaret Chiara, Taryn Margaret Madbh (love that), Taryn Margaret Niamh.
  • Clara’s beautiful — clearly they like the -ara names, as they have Tara, Clara, Zara, and Chiara, and even Arya sort of fits into that! I personally would stay away from Clara because they already have Clare in Johanna’s middle name (same with Chiara), but of course it’s not the end of the world if they go with it. Perhaps changing the spelling to Klara could help with popularity? I know it sounds like the same name, but that spelling has never been in the top 1000.
  • Maisie I love, such a sweet name! I too think it works better as a nickname — Margaret nicknamed Maisie seems perfect — I wonder if Anastatia can talk her husband around? Or perhaps Mairead as a first name with the nickname Maisie? Funny enough, since Anastatia said her husband is Norwegian, my mother-in-law was 100% Norwegian, and her mother and her aunt (sisters) were Margaret and Jean (daughters of Norwegian immigrants).
  • Teagan is a cute name, and I could see Tee being a natural nickname, I like it! I wonder, if Teagan isn’t quite right, maybe something like Tierney would feel like a better fit? I know sisters named Tierney and Bryn, and Bryn could work too, being so similar to their Bran/Branna idea.
  • Zara and Beatrice are great
  • I love love love the name Molly! I have a sister and a sister-in-law named Molly, both successful adult women, so in my experience it can definitely work for a doctor/senator/President, but at the same time I do know what Anastatia means when she wonders if it’s serious enough. So my favorite way to deal with this is to use it as it was originally used — as a nickname for Mary, which also has the added benefit of making it much more unusual. My sister and SIL are both given-name Molly, but I know a little Molly whose given name is Maura, and Molly’s her nickname, so that’s a possibility too. A few other possibilities re: Molly are that “Unsinkable Molly Brown”’s given name was actually Margaret. In fact, she wasn’t called Molly during her life, but after her death she became immortalized as Molly after a Broadway musical and movie were made of her life and called her that. So I’ve seen people use Molly as a nickname for Margaret. I’ve also thought it could easily be a nickname for Magdalene and Madeline/Madeleine.

Okay, moving on to Margaret variants: I love Mairead and Greta and even Gretel — it strikes me as really sweet and affectionate, though I know the fairy tale has probably irrevocably tainted it. Margaret means Pearl, so that’s an option; it’s also the word used for the daisy plant in French and Italian (marguerite and margharita, respectively, which are variants I also love for names), which leads to the traditional nickname Daisy for Margaret (like Maisie), and even Daisy’s use as a given name on its own. I saw recently a little one named Martha Daisy and I thought that combo was stunning — the serious of Martha combined with the lightness of Daisy — I love it! Meg and Megan are Margaret variants as well; I also love Margo and Rita; Marit, Mette, and Meta are other Norwegian ones, which are cool. Lots of possibilities!

Alrighty, now for new ideas. I found myself getting hung up on coming up with Irish possibilities, and kept having to remind myself that the first name doesn’t have to be Irish! This is all based mostly on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity for each entry:

(1) Moira, Maura, Mara
I know Anastatia said they don’t necessarily have to have another Marian name for this little girl, but I love them, and these three struck me as good possibilities. I mentioned Maura already; Moira’s also lovely; Mara isn’t Irish but is similar to the Tara/Clara/Zara/Chiara/Arya family of names they have going on. I think each of these could take Molly as a nickname if they wanted it to. Moira hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1968; Maura hasn’t been since 2006; Mara’s at no. 686 (I’m sure Anastatia would love this birth announcement for a little Niamh, sister of Mara!).

(2) Mila
Mila’s a style match for both Arya and Zara, which I thought was pretty interesting, and it reminded me of a name spotlight I did a while ago on the name Ludmila, because St. Ludmila’s story was so inspiring. I thought that Mila was probably the easiest way to name a baby after St. Ludmila these days, and I even suggested Mila could be an interesting way to honor a grandmother, because of its connection to Ludmila, since St. Ludmila was an amazing and holy grandmother. Mila’s at no. 48, not great, not terrible.

(3) Sosanna or Mariana
These were 100% inspired by the fact that all Anastatia’s daughters on earth either have a connection to Anne/Anna in their names or have “anna” actually in their names. I was trying to think of other names that have a similar connection without being too close to what they’ve already done, and Sosanna was the one that came to mind first — it’s an Irish version that I’ve never seen used and always been intrigued by. Actor Kevin Bacon’s daughter is Sosie Ruth, which is the closest I’ve seen, though she was named after a woman with a non-Irish last name and I can’t find any info on her heritage. But there is an Irish name Sósaidh, which I think would probably be said like Sosie. They could also just do Susanna as well — like Gianna and Johanna, the -anna part isn’t actually related to the name Anne, but of course gives it the appearance of being so. Sosanna’s never been in the top 1000; Susanna’s at 980; Sosie’s never been in the top 1000.

Mariana was another I liked for this family, mostly because it combined Mary with Anne and using the “ana” spelling makes it different from the ending of the twins’ names. I also liked that Marion was listed as a style match for Arthur! I think they could also legitimately use Molly as a nickname for it. Mariana’s at no. 291, very respectable!

(4) Zoe
Zoe was a style match for Zara, and it just struck me as a name they might like, and one that’s easy to work with their rules and their middle name ideas. I think it’s sweet and spunky like Molly and Maisie, and its saintly connection comes from the fact that it was St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, and there’s also a St. Zoe who was an early martyr. It also means “life” and as a result has been used as a variant of Eve. It’s in the mid-30s, which I know is more popular than Anastatia likes, but after seeing how her other kids’ names rank, I thought it wasn’t terrible (and honestly I was shocked to see it that high — I’ve never known anyone named Zoe in real life!).

(5) Ciara (or Keira)
Finally, Ciara, which is so similar to Clara and Chiara and the Tara/Zara names and it’s Irish — I think it could be great for this family! If they’re worried about pronunciation, Keira’s a fine alternative. Ciara’s at no. 882 and Keira at no. 313.

And those are all my ideas for Anastatia and her hubs! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Arthur, Conall, Aine, Gianna, Johanna, and Abigail?

Baby name consultation: Brit/Italian(/French?) name for no. 4 green bean

Please keep the Cronin family in your prayers, and if you can donate to their post-Harvey rebuilding efforts, they would be so grateful!

Francine and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big siblings:

Grace Christine
Sophia Rose (frequently called Sophie)
Gemma Catherine

I love these names! Grace and Sophia are gorgeous, feminine names that everyone’s currently loving, so I might have expected their third girl to be something like Ava or Emma, and really loved being surprised by Gemma! Such a beautiful sibling set!

Francine writes,

[For girls we] tend to like names that are somewhat traditional, obviously feminine names (no Taylors or Jordans), and something that could be tied to saint names. You’ll see from our older girls we tend toward British or Italian-sounding names. I do have Italian heritage, but with our family name and the fact that we’re now living in the Midwest it’s not very common around here, so I’m less likely to lean toward those since I don’t want our kid having to explain the spelling/pronunciation of her name to everyone for the rest of her life! We don’t mind nicknames, but prefer to keep them pretty close to the original name, and to call them by their first name. When we were deciding on our oldest’s name, we had a hard time coming up with a middle name that worked well — it seemed like everything sounded better with Grace as the middle name, but we knew we wanted to call her Grace. We also prefer names that will wear well over time … I hear so many names that sound cute for a little girl, but it’s hard to think of it when she’s 40 or 80, you know?

I’m sure you’ll notice that we ended up repeating initials with our first and third… it was coincidence only, and we’re not looking to repeat the pattern. We just liked Gemma’s name enough to not change it. We also don’t mind very much if the name tends to be popular (like Sophia’s), because we figured that if we loved the name our kid can be unique enough on her own!

I love that! I totally agree with Francine that “if we loved the name our kid can be unique on her own” — perfect!! That’s the best mindset!!

[For boys we] do have a front-runner from our last time around, but it’s not set in stone and we thought it would be fun to see what you come up with. 🙂

I have a really big extended family that tends to not reuse names, which also complicates things slightly. This isn’t exhaustive, but here are a few that we’ve ruled out:
Charlotte
Celine
Monica
Magdalene
Theresa/Therese
Victoria
Ava
Bridget
Isabelle
Lucia/Lucy
Marian
Cora

Joseph
Jacob
Michael
Leo
Gregory
Clive
Benjamin
David
Joel
Thomas
John
Caleb
Samuel
Lucas
Joshua
Matthew

This was fun to work on! In particular, Gemma adds a twist that was fun to include when I was trying to think of names that I thought might work for this family. I also don’t mind the repeated initials of Grace and Gemma at all, since they have different sounds.

So first I’m going to mention the two girl names that I decided not to suggest (but I think they’re helpful to mention, just in case). This is based on my research (you all know that I look up the names the parents have used and like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and my own ideas. They are: Tessa (too close to Theresa/Therese? But such a cool way to nod to either saint without repeating a family name) and Charlotte (on their No list, but it was listed as a style match for both Grace and Sophia!). I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Tessa, and I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Charlotte! But I can see why they’d say no to both. And Leo and Lucas both made my final cut for boys before I went back and realized that they were on the No list.

Now on to the names that I actually am suggesting!

Girl
(1) Clare
I really like how Francine said they like British or Italian sounding names — I really kept that in mind when I was thinking of names for them. When I saw Claire listed as a style match for Grace, and Clare for Gemma, I thought it was a winner! It’s a similar length to their other girls’ names, and doesn’t repeat an ending, which isn’t the end of the world if it did, but it’s kind of cool it doesn’t (I mean, yes, it ends in E like Grace, but has a totally different ending sound). It’s the variant traditionally used for St. Clare of Assisi, which is where the Italian comes in (her actual name was Chiara, which would be so gorgeous too! And in fact, both Gemma and Chiara are styles matches for each other in that they’re both listed as matches for Gianna), and it’s the English variant (as opposed to Claire, which is the French. Also gorgeous! But if they want English or Italian, I think Clare’s their best best. Although, Grace’s middle name, Christine is also a French variant, and and so is Gemma’s middle name, Catherine, and even though they use Sophie as a nickname, it too is French, which is a nice nod to Francine’s name and a nice theme to carry throughout). (I also love Clara, if they wanted to go with an A ending.)

(2) Anna (or -anna) or Annabel
This was actually my first idea, before I’d started doing any research for them. Anna is one of those beautiful pan-European names that can be Italian as well as having good usage in English-speaking countries, and it’s got that lovely vintagey feel that Grace and Sophia have. I’m just not entirely sure it’s a great match with Gemma — maybe they sound too similar? If so, I wonder if any of the -anna names would be more appealing? Susanna and Julianna come to mind — both beautiful! Or perhaps Annabel?

(3) Felicity
I took special notice of the names that were similar to Gemma, since her style is a little bit different than her sisters’ — not in a bad way at all! They go together so well! Just a little less popular. One that jumped out to me was Felicity — I love Felicity with Francine’s older girls! I did a spotlight of it, including nickname ideas, here.

(4) Juliet(te)
This is another one that’s a style match for Gemma, and I love it because like Clare it’s an anglicization of an Italian name, so it combines Italian and English pretty well I think. If they liked the idea of continuing the French theme, Juliette’s a beautiful spelling too. I did a spotlight of it and its faith connections here.

(5) A Lily name, or Violet
I loved seeing Lily as a style match for Grace, Lillian for Sophia, Lillie for Sophie, and Lilia for Sofia (I looked up Sophia, Sophie, and Sofia, because I thought it gave me the most complete view of its style and similar names). All those variants are amazing! I was really feeling like a flower name would fit in well with the older girls — a Rose name probably would have been my first thought, except that Sophia’s middle name is Rose — but a Lily name is perfect too, and actually Violet was a style match for Gemma, and I love that too.

Boy
(1) Maxwell
I always love seeing names that are listed as similar to more than one name on the parents’ list. Maxwell is one such, being a match for Grace and Sophia. Max is such a great nickname too!

(2) Henry (or John Henry?) (or Jack?)
Henry’s another that’s a match for more than one name — in this case, Grace and Sophie. It’s definitely got that British feel, and there are lots of holy Henrys. When I looked up the spotlight that that link brings you to, I was reminded of John Henry, which is such a darling combo! I know John is on their No list, but maybe a double name would be okay? And all this makes me think of Jack, which I think would also fit in nicely with their girls, either as a given name or as a nickname for John or a John+ double.

(3) Owen or Oliver
Owen is a match for Grace and Sophie, and you know I love it because of St. Nicholas Owen! Oliver is a match for Sophie and Felicity from my suggestions above, and St. Oliver Plunket is awesome. Both Owen and Oliver are great names that I think would go really well with all the girls, including Gemma, since her name has that British vibe as well.

(4) Nicholas or Colin
Nicholas is a match for Sophia and Colin for Gemma and since Colin can be a variant of (or even a nickname for!) Nicholas, I thought they were both swirling around the right area. I especially liked finding a name that was a match for Gemma — I really like Colin. Using the nickname Nico can also skew Nicholas more Italian-ish, if they’d like to do so.

(5) Tobias
I was so interested to see Tobias as a match for their Gemma’s name, and also for Juliet on my list of suggestions for them. I love it! I feel like it’s kind of unexpected, and the nickname Toby is amazing.

Bonus: Timothy
Timothy didn’t show up in any of my research, but it was my first thought for this family for a boy’s name, before cracking open the BNW. It isn’t Italian or French — in fact, it always strikes me as having an Irish feel, as well as of course biblical — but it seemed to have the boy equivalent of the sweetness I get from Francine’s girls’ names. The full Timothy is so handsome; Timmy and Tim are great, traditional nicknames; and I like the idea of Ty as a nickname for it as well.

And those are my ideas for Francine and her hubs! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Grace, Sophia, and Gemma?