Baby name consultation: “Slightly different” name needed for baby brother or sister

Cassandra and her husband are expecting their fourth living baby (fifth overall), a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Thomas Patrick (“this was the one name my husband was dead set on from before we were married. His late maternal grandfather was Thomas Patrick. Additionally, my husband’s father is Thomas and his brother is Patrick. So we’ve pretty much covered his side of the family with this name. Another note … our son mostly goes by Thomas. We have no issues with the name “Tommy” (or nicknames in general) but we know lots of other families with Tommy, Tom, etc so our son refers to himself as “Thomas”)”

Theresa Angeline (“when our daughter was born, we had a list of girl names, but it still took us a few hours to decide. We both loved Therese, but didn’t want her name to be constantly mispronounced. Once we chose Theresa (the hubs insisted on the “h” in there), we debated middle names. He liked Marie, but I told him that Theresa Marie was too common. I suggested Angeline which is my middle name (and my paternal grandmother’s middle name as well). I always liked my middle name because it was different. As for nicknames for her … we had every intention of calling her Tess. We told everyone that was the plan, but for some reason, it didn’t seem right to us as we got to know her. Now she goes by Theresa or the pet name TT (her best friend who is 9 days older than her called her this when they were toddlers and it stuck)“)

David Anthony (“for our next boy, we went with something from my side of the family. My paternal grandfather was David. We also have a very close friend in seminary whose name is David and we wanted to honor him as well. Anthony is my father and was my maternal grandfather. He mostly goes by the pet name “Day Day.” Not entirely sure how that happened, but it’s what most people call him“)

Nadia Rose (with Jesus) (“we had an early loss. I felt pretty strongly that she was a girl so we chose a girl’s name. My husband wanted something that meant “hope” but I am not a huge fan of the actual name “Hope.” I threw out “Nadia” as an alternative and he liked it. Rose was chosen because it’s the name I kept hearing in my head when I found out we had lost the baby“)

I love each of these, and the reasons behind each one! ❤

Cassandra writes,

We are Team Green and I feel like we need some new ideas for this baby. We have a lot of names on our list, but I’m not totally sold on any of them. Usually, I like to have two boy and two girl name combos chosen for the birth. I just feel like we need to make sure the name “fits” the baby …

If we have a boy, I’d like to honor my brother somehow. His name is Matthew so Matthias has been thrown around. He is also a huge fan of the name Victor so we could use that somehow.

If we have a girl, I’m toying with the idea of giving a nod to one of my college and grad school roommates. This is where is gets a bit tricky. Her name is Sarah Elizabeth, but I have a SIL named Sarah … I’ve mulled over using Seraphina as a possible nod. Or her initials are S.F. so I could use that as well. I have always called her “Franzie” (a play off her last name), but I’m not keen on using Frances. This one is not a necessity, but something I’d like to work in if possible.

My husband’s biggest thing is that our children need Saints’ names …

Names currently on our list …

Boys
Jonas Matthew seems to be my husband’s favorite so far. We both like the name Jonas slightly more than Jonah, but people seem to think of the Jonas brothers so I don’t know if that would be an issue.
Benedict
Brendan
Brennan
Nathan/Nathaniel
Vianney (I have wanted this as a middle name since high school. Hubs will only consider it as a middle name.)
Xavier (more likely as a middle name)
Raphael (again more likely as a middle name)

Hubs has nixed Beckett and Bennett because they are last names and not first names.

Girls
Clara
Anastasia
Seraphina
Felicity
Lily or Lila
Catherine (husband is not a fan of using just Katia)
Elizabeth
Evelyn
Cecilia

Other notes….
We do love Marian names, but our last name begins with “Mar…” So it can get to alliterative sometimes. We’ve debated doing BVM initials (ie Brennan Vianney M.) For a Marian name.

Too many “s” or “sh” sounds can be hard in a name with our last name.

Names we can’t use for one reason or another:
Michael
Jacob
Timothy
Hannah
Sarah

Husband doesn’t like place names (I.e. Avila, Siena, etc.) Or last names as first names.

I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

I’m really interested to see where Cassandra and her husband will land with a name for this baby! Thomas, Theresa, and David have a definite “feel” to me as all three peaked in popularity in the 1950s-ish, which gives them a mid-century feel, especially as a sibling set, and Brendan, Clara, Lily, Catherine, Elizabeth, Evelyn, and Cecilia from their list all feel like natural fits for that. And then, Nadia, Matthias, Victor, Jonas, Benedict, Nathaniel, Vianney, Xavier, Raphael, Anastasia, Seraphina, Felicity, and Lila have a much more exotic and perhaps more current feel, which is really fun to see a divergence in taste and the kinds of names they’re willing to consider for this baby!

That said, I do feel like going from Thomas, Theresa, and David to Seraphina, for example, is a bit jarring — not that that should be a deal breaker! Just that, when I was looking for new ideas for this family, I was trying to find names that straddled the line between Thomas and Seraphina, that acted as “bridge” names almost between the two styles. (I’m not forgetting their Nadia in this conversation, only that her name isn’t one that most people will hear when they encounter this family.) And maybe there’s no need for bridge names! They’ve already jumped in with both feet to the more “exotic” style with Nadia’s name (which I absolutely love), so maybe Anastasia, Seraphina, and Xavier are indeed where they want to go with this baby’s name! Actually, I think Cassandra put it best: “I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

From their list, I think Clara, Lila, Cecilia, Nathan, and Nathaniel are closest to that middle ground I’m thinking of — I can see them each being varying degrees of unexpected with Thomas, Theresa, and David, but none of them feel like a different style from what they’ve already done. But I really love all the names on their list!

There are some strategies that I like to employ when trying to bridging styles that Cassandra and her hubs might find helpful, including choosing a “normal” given name but using an offbeat nickname on an everyday basis, or conversely choosing an offbeat given name that can take a “normal” nickname; you’ll see that I used this strategy a bit in my ideas below. I’ve also always loved an unexpected middle name paired with a more normal first name — their idea of Brendan Vianney M___/BVM is a fantastic example of this! Xavier and Raphael would also be awesome middle names in this line of thinking.

I wanted to offer some other thoughts on the names they have on their list, in case they’re helpful:

— I love Matthias as an honor name for Cassandra’s brother Matthew. Another possibility would be Levi, as Matthew in the bible was also known as Levi.

— I love Victor too, and think it might actually be a great bridge-type name! But I wonder if, as Cassandra says her brother loves the name, would he be upset if they used it? Might he be saving it for his future son?

— Naming a daughter for Cassandra’s roommate is so sweet! I like Seraphina as a nod to Sarah, and I like C’s idea of using her roommate’s initials S.F. (or perhaps S.E., for her first and middle?). Franzie’s a fun nickname — I wonder what Cassandra would think about the French Francine? The Italian Francesca? The German Franziska? Or maybe, drawing from her list, something like Felicity Miranda, with Felicity providing the F and Miranda providing the RAN … ? Maybe? Or is that too crazy?

— Jonas Matthew is a really cool combo! I like that, like Matthias, Jonas is biblical like Thomas and David, which can provide a nice link between the brothers’ names. I mean, yes, there are the Jonas Brothers, but there’s also Jonas Salk … I guess currently the former is more recognized than the latter, but I only offer it to show that there are other Jonases people might think of, and honestly, the people who make up their circle will quickly associate Jonas primarily with their son, if Cassandra and her hubby end up naming a son so.

— I love Benedict, and I’m thinking it might be really good for this family — Thomas and David are obviously biblical, and I think most people would assume a Ben is Benjamin, and it would make total sense with Thomas and David. And I would be so excited to find out that someone I assumed was Benjamin was actually Benedict! (I love Benjamin too, I just really love being surprised by a name! Haha!) That said, I think Benedict goes really well with Thomas, Theresa, and David. I love it!

— Brendan and Brennan are so similar but just the tiniest bit different … Brendan has more of a classic feel to me while Brennan is more contemporary maybe?

— Nathan and Nathaniel are both awesome too, and like with Brendan/Brennan, they have a slightly different feel — Nathan feels sort of “normal” while Nathaniel’s a bit sparklier — which I think is what Cassandra’s looking for? I like Nathaniel a lot for them, and they can always use Nathan as a nickname, which makes Nathaniel a two-for-one name!

— Vianney, Xavier, Raphael are awesome names and fantastic middle name options. I really feel like using one of them in the middle might scratch that itch of having something a little different than what they’ve already done.

— Might Cassandra’s husband be swayed by the fact that the surname Bennett arose from the first name Bennett, and not the other way around? Bennett was actually the medieval diminutive of Benedict (as was Austin for Augustine).

— Clara’s such a sweet name, I like it with Thomas, Theresa, and David.

— I’m so interested that C and her hubs named a daughter Nadia and have Anastasia on the list — they both scream Russian to me (though they both of other uses), and especially since C also mentioned liking Katia. That’s a fun style, and influenced one of my ideas below. I also wondered if they’d be interested in considering Stasia (or Stacia) as the given name — it’s a short form of Anastasia, so would have St. Anastasia as patron, and it begins with S, so could be a nod to her friend Sarah.

— Seraphina is gorgeous. Although, since they don’t want to use the name Sarah, would it bother them if others called her Sera? I know a little Seraphina who goes by Sera.

— I love Felicity, it’s such a lovely name, and it has a touch of Pilgrim feel to it, which goes especially well with Thomas and David I think.

— Lily and Lila are both beautiful, and along the lines of using an unexpected nickname for a normal given name, I wonder if they’d be intrigued by the fact that Lily (and Lila could work here too) is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth? What would they think of Elizabeth as a first name in honor of C’s roommate, with the nickname Lily/Lila? Or, Lilia (or they can spell it Lilya) is the Russian form of Lily — maybe they’d like that?

— Catherine absolutely fits really well. I think Cassandra could still use Katia as a nickname if she wanted to?

— Elizabeth: ditto, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names, because of the Mystery of the Visitation. Eliza was a big style match for this family in my research, I wonder if they might like to consider it instead of the longer Elizabeth?

— Evelyn is lovely, and I think it goes well with the others, though I think it comes across as less saintly than the others. Though it’s not technically related to Eve, they could use it in that way for the Marian connection.

— Cecilia is a fantastic fit as well.

So I think Cassandra and her husband have some really great names on their list already! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the name they end up using is on their current list. But I can always come up with more ideas! 😂

You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and in addition to Thomas, Theresa, David, Nadia, and the names on their list of considerations, I added Tess and Sarah (even though Cassandra said they wouldn’t use Sarah, it was a huge style match for them, so I thought I’d see what other names are style matches for it that I may not yet have come across). This is what I came up with:

Girl
(1) Natalia
Natalia was influenced both by the fact that it’s listed as a style match for Anastasia, and also that Natalie is a match for Nathan (and of course that it’s similar to Nathan/Nathaniel on their list). I like that it’s a Russian name that begins with an N, like Nadia — it might make for a nice connection between them. Natalia is a saint’s name, but it also ultimately comes from the Latin for Christmas (natale domini=birth of the Lord), which could be perfect for an almost-Advent baby.

(2) Susanna
This is actually my favorite suggestion for Cassandra and her hubs! I feel like Susanna fits the exact profile I’m thinking of when I talk about “bridge” names — it’s much rarer than Thomas, Theresa, and David, but I definitely think it fits in well with them. Anna was actually a good match for their style, being similar to Thomas, Clara, and Catherine, and the Russian Anna — Anya — is similar to Nadia, so Susanna gives them Anna but with a twist. I love it both as a sibling to Thomas, Theresa, and David, and specifically as a sister to Theresa, and I think it hangs equally well with Nadia. And it begins with an S, for C’s friend Sarah! It’s also an entry in my book, as Susanna means both “lily” and “rose”!

(3) Julia
Julia is a match for Elizabeth and Sarah and Juliet is a match for Felicity, so I liked the Julia family of names for this family, and thought Julia was more their speed than Juliet (though I love Juliet, so if they love it, I hope they go for it!). Julia is such a great name — perfect for a little girl and perfect for a grown woman, similar to how I think of Theresa.

(4) Lydia
Lydia is a match for Jonas, and as soon as I saw it I thought it felt like a good fit here. One of the things I’ve always loved about Lydia is that the biblical character was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia would have her own color!

(5) Veronica
Veronica was only a match for Theresa, but I thought that was great, for sisters to share a style like that! And certainly Veronica goes with Nadia as well — in fact, Theresa, Nadia, and Veronica make a very pleasing set of sisters!

(6) Molly
Molly was influenced both by the fact that they’d intended to call Theresa Tess — and Molly is a style match for Tess — but also that it’s a variant of Mary, so it’s a way to have a Marian name without using a Mar- name.

Boy
(1) Samuel
I know Cassandra said that she might like to name a daughter after her friend Sarah, but I found myself on the lookout for S names in general, and then thought maybe she’d like to do SF (or SE?) initials no matter whether they have a boy or a girl? Samuel is a great name that’s biblical like Thomas and David, and the story of Samuel in the bible is a great one for anyone longing for a baby — after the loss of their little Nadia, Samuel could be the perfect name.

(2) Simon
Another S name, but I’m really loving Simon as a brother to Thomas, Theresa, and David — it makes the whole group seem extra sophisticated!

(3) Stephen
Last S name, I promise! It’s just that, I know two brother sets who are two generations apart named David and Stephen! That’s some classic staying power! And then I have uncles who are brothers named Thomas and David, so in my mind Thomas, David, and Stephen are fantastic brother names.

(4) John Paul
John Paul was a name that came to me outside of research (the BNW doesn’t even have an entry for John Paul) — I was really thinking of that “bridge” name idea, and John Paul feels like such a perfect one. John and Paul are both really similar in style to Thomas and David, but putting them together gives the whole thing a little bit of an edge (a saintly edge) and is definitely more unexpected. His name is an entry in my book of Marian names because of what a huge devotion St. John Paul had to her!

(5) Lukas
Lucas, Lukas, and Luke did really well for this family in my research, and of those I thought Lukas went more along the lines of what they’re looking for — the K spelling gives it a really international feel (which it is), but it’s still biblical like Thomas and David. It’s also an entry in my book of Marian names because his gospel is the most Marian and contains her Magnificat.

(6) Thaddeus, Theodore/Theo, Maximilian
Each of these names seemed SO perfect for this family until I realized something about them at the last minute! I thought maybe they don’t want another Th- name after Thomas and Theresa? But Thaddeus and Theodore are both matches for them, and there’s a particular Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty who has a brother named Thomas! And Theo is a match for Tess as well! And then I couldn’t not suggest Maximilian! It’s a match for Benedict and Seraphina, and friendly Max goes with almost every name. And St. Maximilian Kolbe! And I actually love Maximilian M___, but then I thought maybe Max M___ was too much? But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love Thaddeus, Theodore, and/or Maximilian! I couldn’t not mention them!

I also had a bunch of names that *almost* made the cut for this list and ultimately I decided not to include them, for whatever reason, but I thought I’d list them here just in case: Alexandra, Evangeline, Philomena, Naomi, Chloe, Phoebe, Tobias, and Caleb.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Thomas, Theresa, David, and Nadia?


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

Baby name consultation: Little brother needs traditional + uncommon name

Jess and her husband are hoping to welcome a baby into their family via adoption this month! This baby will join big sister:

Josephine Jean (“a name that honors one grandpa and both grandmothers. We call her Josephine, Josie, and Posy.  I loved the Little Woman reference, the abundance of nicknames, and the strength/style of the name. I love that Jesus’ father is not quoted in the Bible and yet his actions speak his story. There are options for patron saints – Joseph, Josephine, and Joan of Arc“)

I love every bit of her name!!

Jess writes,

We are adopting a baby (prayers, please) in early October.  If this baby is a girl, we will name her Beatrice Louise or Magdalena Edith.  If the baby is a boy, we’re stuck.  We’d like to honor the remaining grandparent by including the name Edward or Anthony. We have a very Italian last name that starts with V and ends in LO. We gravitate towards strong, traditional, uncommon, and definitively masculine names. We used an app that synced the names that we both like and then narrowed it down. Our current list includes Alden, Cyrus, Everett, Roland, and Reuben.  We’ve considered Milo (sing song w/last name), Saul (too few syllables), Peregrine (patron saint of cancer), Gilbert, Vincent (Vinnie V-O sounds gangster), and Lucas (too popular).  

Alden. We like that it means old friend and that it was Neil Armstrong’s middle name. If we use Edward as a middle name, then the traditional initials aVe could be a slight Marian name harkening to Ave Maria! I read this in your book, but it seems like we are stretching it a bit. We are concerned that Alden may be confused with the more common Aiden.

Roland. Mike’s mom was French and Josephine and Roland seem have an unintended but pleasant French theme. Our extended family has been surprisingly positive about this name; we assumed they would think it was a bit out there. A possible nickname of Roly Poly, if the kid is a bit hefty, gives us pause.

Cyrus. Mike thinks this name is a bit serious and I don’t love the meaning of “throne.” It keeps popping back on the list though.

Reuben.  Mike worries this name is trendy and fears it will be the next Noah or Oliver. Even though I’m the one that advocated for this name for years, I am a bit concerned with the number of spelling variations and the sandwich connection.

Everett. I don’t love the fact that girls are flocking towards this name.

How would you order our list? What are your favorite combos? Why don’t we feel the WOW factor with any boy name? We could also use help with nickname options and recommendations on patron saints.”

These parents have such fun taste in names! I love both Beatrice Louise and Magdalena Edith, they’re lovely! And their boy list was a delight! Alden, Roland, Cyrus, Reuben, and Everett are mostly unexpected and little used, at least among my readers (especially the first four; I see Everett from time to time and have suggested it many times).

First I’ll go through and offer my reactions to and thoughts about each name, and then I’ll take a stab at ranking them afterward:

Alden: I love the aVe thing! Alden Edward is very handsome. I can see what Jess means about it being confused for Aiden, but I think that will only happen in writing — the nurse at the doctor’s office calling his name, for example, after reading it on his chart, or a teacher mis-saying his name on the first day of school. But to me, that’s a minor issue — out loud, it doesn’t sound much like Aiden at all, I don’t think, and even with those who flub it based on seeing it written, all they need is to be firmly corrected, just like most people have to do with their names for one reason or another. One thing to note is that, when I looked it up on behindthename.com to see what it means, what nickname options there are, and what people think about it via the comments, it seems that it’s occasionally used for girls, and since that’s one of Jess’ hesitations about Everett, perhaps that will help her and her hubby cross it off their list. Nickname-wise, I immediately think Al, but the babynamewizard site lists Aldie, Ollie, and Denny as possible nicknames too, all of which I can see. I couldn’t find a patron saint for Alden, so it would come from the middle name — there are some great Sts. Edward and Anthony.

Roland: I like their reasoning here! The French connection is really cool, and the fact that their family likes it. I wouldn’t worry about the “roly poly” nickname  — kids will always come up with mean nicknames if they’re determined to do so, no matter the name. I could see Role, Rollo, Roldo as nicknames; they could also do Rolly (rhymes with Molly), which could remove it from the “roly poly” sound. It looks like there’s a Bl. Nicolas Roland and a Bl. Roland Chézery who could be patrons.

Cyrus: Behindthename.com says Cyrus means “lord,” though I don’t know if Jess and her hubs will like that better than “throne” or not? A name with a similar meaning is Dominic, meaning “of the Lord,” which reminds me of Vincent with its Italian feel (but like with Vincent, not exclusively Italian) and goes quite well with their girl names — maybe they’d like to consider Dominic? If so, I love Dominic Edward — using Anthony would reinforce the Italian connection, which Edward tempers it a bit, I think, which I sense Jess and her husband might like, since they like the French-ness of Josephine. Another that I thought might be perfect is Silas — it sounds like Cyrus and has a great meaning, including maybe being the Greek form of Saul, which would be like giving them Saul, but with more syllables! Additionally, I looked up all the names they like/are considering (both boy and girl names), as well as Josephine, 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 Silas was listed as a match for Lucas; Peregrine and Magdalena weren’t in the BNW so I looked them up in the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site and matches for them also included Silas for Magdalena and Silvanus (which behindthename says Silas is probably a short form of) for Peregrine. Wow! If they like the Silas idea, I love both Silas Anthony and Silas Edward. Si is a really sweet nickname, I’ve always liked it. St. Silas is a pretty great patron I think!

Reuben: Interesting that Jess’ hubby thinks this name will be the next Noah or Oliver! I checked the stats on the SSA site and Reuben — that spelling — was at no. 927 and was on a downward trend after a small (very small) increase in popularity over the last couple of years (it increased from 961 in 2012 to a peak of 845 in 2014 before heading down again). The spelling Ruben, which is the French and Spanish spelling, among others, is much popular: it was no. 415 in 2018, but is also on a downward slope as it has been since its peak at 165 in 1980. Based on this info, it doesn’t look like it’ll become trendy any time soon. One of the families on the blog named their son Reuben, and he’s the cutest! Ben is such a great nickname and a natural one for Reuben; Rube is the most natural way to shorten it, I think, but a “rube” isn’t something most people want to be. They could do Roo though, especially at home and when he’s tiny, so cute! The only holy Reuben I could find is Bl. Rubén de Jesús López Aguilar, and of course it’s biblical too.

Everett: A great name. If they don’t like it being used by girls, though, I would recommend crossing it off the list — at this point, they have so many great names that I think whittling down the list would be helpful. Jess and her hubs might find that doing so allows *the* name to rise to the surface naturally. Otherwise, I like Ev as a nickname, and Rett. Everett is a variant of Everard, according to the behindthename, and there are some Sts. Everard that they could choose as patron. Another idea I had, based on Vincent and V sound in Everett is Victor — it’s a style match for Vincent, but doesn’t have the Vinnie problem. Victor/Vic has been on my own list for a long time. Victor Anthony and Victor Edward both sound quite nice. But maybe it’s too many V’s?

Alright, so after thinking a bit about these names, I think I would probably order them this way, with my favorite at the top:

Roland Anthony
Cyrus Anthony or Cyrus Edward (prefer Silas Anthony or Silas Edward)
Reuben Anthony or Reuben Edward
Alden Anthony or Alden Edward
Everett Anthony
(I didn’t think Edward went as well with Roland and Everett)

I also had a few other ideas based on the names they like — I mentioned that I looked up their names in the BNW, and I looked for names that were listed as similar to more than one of their names, and a few jumped out:

Emmett (Cyrus, Everett)
Jasper (Cyrus, Milo, Josephine)
August (Everett, Josephine)
Felix (Everett, Milo, Beatrice)
Oscar (Milo, Magdalena)
Ezra (Milo, Saul)

The names in parentheses are those that listed the name as style matches. Pretty great, right? I do think Alden, Roland, Cyrus, and Reuben are more distinctive, unexpected, and rare than the names here, but I love them all and if Jess and her husband did too I think they could be great for their little boy.

I also wondered if they considered Miles instead of Milo?

And those are my thoughts! What do you all think? How would you rank the names Jess and her husband are considering? What other name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Josephine/Josie/Posy?


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

Baby name consultation: Name needed for a little sister in an established Mary+ theme

Dana and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! He or she joins big sister:

Mary Elise

Which I love — Mary Elise is so lovely and feminine and sweet, and I love that it ties together Mary and Elizabeth, which makes it a very “Visitation” name to me!

Dana writes,

We are expecting baby #2 at the end of January. We don’t know what the gender will be, but we know that if it’s a boy, we will name him after my husband, Michael Gabriel, so we don’t need boy names. But we are stuck on girl names! Our daughter is named Mary Elise, which we looved and agreed on right away, so other girl names don’t quite seem to measure up!

We also plan on naming all of our daughters “Mary (something)” as their first name, which is a Filipino tradition (my husband’s background) and I love it! Though we also plan on just calling each daughter by the second part of her name. All that to say, I guess the name should flow with Mary, but maybe not? Because she probably wouldn’t go by “Mary ” very often, if ever.

In general, I think we prefer traditional names, with an obvious Catholic/religious feel. We seem to like a lot of saint names or biblical names. Neither of us is very keen on modern names. We’re also hoping for something that isn’t too common but not unheard of (which is one of the reasons why I like Elise so much). And we’d love to have a name with nickname options! Anyway, I hope that’s helpful. Here are two names that we are leaning toward:

Madeleine- probably at the top of our list right now, has a French feel like Elise does, probably go by Maddie.
Theresa/Therese- I’m thinking Mary Therese sounds better than Mary Theresa? Probably call her Tess or Reese.
Catherine- has to be with a “C,” per husband’s request, would call her Catie/Cate. For some reason I much prefer it with a K, though!

Names that I like but my husband doesn’t:
– Christine/Christina
– Evangeline – love the meaning and the French sounding name
– Regina
– Grace- again, my husband knew a Mary Grace…
– Frances

Names that my husband likes but I’m not a huge fan of:
– Jane
– Bernadette

We’ve also considered Margaret but aren’t sure about it. Also Laura but not sure how it could be tied to the faith, or if it flows with Mary.

I was reading old blog posts of yours and came across the name Immaculee. We both really like the name, but it seems a little too Catholicky to me, if you know what I mean haha. Just thought I’d throw that in the mix. Maybe you have some nickname suggestions that would make it a little less obviously Catholic? Not a big fan of “Layla” and Leia is a little too reminiscent of Star Wars 😛

Names that are off the table for one reason or another:
– Claire
– Caroline
– Cecilia (this rhymes with our last name, haha!)
– Josephine
– Rose
– Zelie
– Elisabeth/Elizabeth (Elise is a derivative of this)
– Michaela (too close to Michael if we ever have a boy)

That’s about all I can think of! Also, I know I mentioned that we’ll name a boy after my husband, but even if this isn’t a boy, if we ever have a boy, the first one will be named Michael Gabriel (just as an fyi if that helps for sibling/style matching).”

I love so much that Dana and her husband want to continue the Mary + [something] theme with their daughters! It’s a traditional Catholic custom, so I’m not surprised that Filipino families have taken it as their own! I also love Michael Gabriel, such strong patrons!

Dana’s question about whether the given name should flow with Mary is a great one. Since she said her daughter will likely never go by Mary MiddleName, but always by MiddleName, it certainly isn’t as important. The question reminded me of a post I did a while ago called “Repeating Mary,” in which I included stories others had told me of families they knew (or sometimes their own families) where all/most/many of the daughters had a form of Mary in their names, and one of them said, “The obstetrician that delivered me had a very large, very Catholic family, and had six or seven daughters all named Mary. Of course, they weren’t JUST named Mary, they were Mary X, but one of them was Mary Mary!” I laughed and laughed over that one!

So yes, I think Dana and her hubs can be free of the worry that the chosen name might not “go” with Mary as well as they might like. Of the names she mentioned that they’re considering, I think Laura might be the only one that inches toward that issue (which Dana herself had mentioned), but even still, I actually think Mary Laura sounds fine.

As for the other names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

— Madeleine: Gorgeous, French, great patron saint, great nickname. I love it!

— Theresa/Therese: I actually like both Mary Therese and Mary Theresa! Tess is one of my favorite nicknames, and Reese is so sweet as well!

— Catherine: The “C” spelling is the French one, so I like Catherine as Elise’s sister (despite being a Katherine myself)! That said, Catherine called Kate is traditional: for two examples, Princess Kate is Catherine, and I grew up with a Catherine who went by Kate, so they could totally do Mary Catherine called Kate or Katie if they want! That might be a nice way of finding a compromise between Dana’s preferences and her hubby’s preferences?

— Christina/Christine: I love these as well.

— Evangeline: Ditto.

— Regina: I wonder if the Regina variants Reina (RAY-na) or Reine (REN) might appeal to Dana and her husband? They both mean “queen,” like Regina.

— Grace: If Grace is problematic from an association standpoint (is the Grace Dana’s husband knew an ex-girlfriend? A horrible boss?), it’s probably best to cross this one off the list?

— Frances: This one has been growing on me so much recently, it strikes me as both dignified and sweet (especially the nicknames).

— Jane: Mary Jane is certainly a classic!

— Bernadette: I love the French-ness with Elise.

— Margaret: Mary Margaret is another classic! I love Margaret’s many nicknames: Meg, Maggie, Maisie, Daisy, Greta, Rita.

— Laura: There are actually a few holy Lauras they can turn to as patron! Two saints and two blesseds. Alternately, I was wondering if they’ve considered Loretta? Behind the Name says Loretta may be a variant of Lauretta, which is an Italian diminutive of Laura, so Loretta could take the Laura patrons if they wanted. Or, I’ve always known Loretta to be a Marian name, after Loreto, where the Holy House of Nazareth is, as well as the name of the Marian prayer Litany of Loreto. My grandmother was Mary Loretta, and she went by Rett or Retta; I also recently did a consultation for a family who was considering Loretta with Lola as a nickname.

— Immaculee: I love this one too! Dana’s right, it *is* very Catholicky! Choosing a nickname that makes it less obvious is a perfect solution, and what I would have suggested if she didn’t already mention it. Imma is one I’ve seen — so similar to Emma, and maybe Imogens go by Imma as well? Or Immy? I actually think Dana’s idea of Layla is brilliant, I’m going to remember that one to suggest to other parents who might be interested in Immaculee! I could see Mae working, or Leah/Lea/Lia (rather than Leia; I think it can work even though the LEE-a pronunciation is different than im-mac-yoo-LAY … although — are Elise and Leah too much “lee” sound?), or Mac/Mackey (I have a girl cousin who goes by Mackey and it’s SO CUTE on her!). Figuring out a “mashup” nickname from Mary+Immaculee might be a great idea here too — maybe Mimi or Mim. Or ooh, maybe Molly? Molly’s a variant of Mary anyway — it started as a diminutive of Mary, and I do know someone named Mary who goes by Molly — and I especially like it with the M of Mary and the “lee” of Immaculee. And Molly is a style match for this family according to my research! (More on that below.) I’d love to know what other nickname ideas you all have, especially if you’ve heard them on Immaculees in real life.

So I think Dana and her hubs have a great list! If they were to choose a name from one of these, I think they’d be happy with it! But of course, I can always come up with more ideas! I did my usual research, where I look up the name the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Camille
Camille wasn’t as great a style match for this family as some of my other suggestions — in fact, it’s a match for only one of the names that they like — but that one name is Elise, so I thought that counted for a whole lot! Camille is such a pretty name, and it’s French, like Elise, which is so pleasing. Despite its feminine vibe, it’s actually both a masculine and feminine name in French, a form of Camilla, so patrons include both the male St. Camillus of Lellis and the female Bl. Camilla Gentili. Cammie is a sweet nickname.

(2) Annette (or Anne, Anna, Hannah)
I kept coming across Anne names in my research, and while Mary Anne is a classic, I felt like maybe they’re looking for something a little more … sparkly? I could be wrong! And Mary Anne is great! And Anne is the French spelling, and it’s a trim, sophisticated name with the awesome nickname Annie. But when I saw Annette listed as a match for Regina, it just felt pretty cool to me. Mary Elise and Mary Annette. They could still use Annie as a nickname, or just Anne. Anna and Hannah were other Anne names that were listed as similar to some of the names they like, and Mary Anna and Mary Hannah are both lovely as well.

(3) Abigail
Abigail is a match for Gabriel and Madeleine, and Abby is a match for Kate and Maddie, so it made sense to include Abigail in this list! I think Mary Abigail is an unexpected pairing, and Abby is such a sweet nickname. There is a St. Gobnata, who is also known as Abigail, and there’s Abigail the Matriarch from the Old Testament, who does have a memorial feast day according to the Church.

(4) Hope
A Mini consultation is normally for three names, but I wanted to be sure to include Hope in the list, so they got a bonus name! I was surprised at what a great match it is according to the BNW, being listed as similar to Elise (which is such a big deal I think), Kate, and Grace. My one tiny reservation is that Hope with their last name, which begins with a P, could run together if they’re not careful about enunciating. My name is Kate Towne, which has been heard as Kay Towne by more people than I can count through my life, so normally this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me when suggesting names to parents, except that Ho P___ could be problematic. Maybe not! Careful enunciation could solve the problem! (I introduce myself as KaTE [space] Towne, emphasizing that T in what feels like an unnatural way and offering just the slightest pause between first and last names, but it works!) I just want to be sure to warn the parents of that possibility.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mary Elise, who will go by her middle name exclusively?


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

Baby name consultation: Third consultation with all new name ideas for little green bean

Happy feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!! It’s such a great feast day!! (I have a bunch of names for this title of hers in my book, including Rosary itself — like this little lady!)

Today’s consultation is for a repeat customer! My friend Amy has been one of my longest readers and has contributed so much to my knowledge of the beautiful names of our faith through her comments on posts and emails to me over the years — in fact, I included one of her name ideas, Marian Fiat, in my book! I had the great privilege of doing a consultation for her second baby (and birth announcement) and a consultation for her third baby (and birth announcement), and I posted her explanation of how name signs are bestowed for those who use American Sign Language, and now I’m delighted to post this consultation for her fourth baby on earth, a little green bean!

This little joins big sibs:

Kristy Marie (after Jesus and Mary, with honor to God first in the firstborn)
Martin Kane II (goes by Kane)
Molly Victoria (speaking of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary — it used be known as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, and Amy loves that Molly’s middle name can also be for Our Lady of Victory!)
Joey Angel (died almost exactly a year ago at 9 weeks, miscarried at 11 weeks)

I love each one of these names and the reasons behind them, which Amy explained in her previous posts — she and her hubby have done an amazing job!!

Amy writes,

So we have a lot of hard hitting bases covered. Named after God, Mary, a saint, family, people we want honor/emulate, etc. So I feel like we are starting into territory that we may have more freedom to just pick something we like. However, I still really like having a name that has deep significance. In general, I feel like I have more criteria ideas than actual name ideas. But here is what I have so far.

For both a boy name and a girl name:

— I don’t want to start with a K or a hard C sound (like Catherine)

— After K, K, M, doing another K would leave Molly out and set us up for a pattern I don’t really want (all or a lot of Ks). I want to move away from it.

— I might want to avoid a y ending

— This is kind of opposite of the 1st criteria — Kane is pretty much the only one without a y ending (Marty, Amy, Kristy, Molly, Joey, even the dog Lucy). It would be nice to move away from this pattern too.

— Maybe start with M or A or even a J?

— Kristy and Kane, Molly and M____ have a nice ring. Or even teams on the initials — Kristy/Kane, Marty/Molly, Amy/A___. Or subtle, almost hidden patterns with the initials – K, K, M, M, J, J (Kristy Kane Martin Molly Joey J___)

— Normal/common/familiar name and spelling, that is not popular or rising in popularity. I like unique names and spellings! Plus the whole point of a name is to distinguish one person from another! But… I don’t want it to be a burden. I don’t want negative reactions to them (You named them what? Seriously? That is a weird name. etc.), always needing to correct people or spell it for them or being difficult for others to pronounce, and I don’t want them to be one of 4 kids in the same class/grade with the same name saddled with their last initial (Emma A. Emma B.). Besides I think I have seen research that shows people with more common names generally have better luck, they are hired more easily or considered for promotion more, taken more seriously, etc. I think try avoid top 100, maybe 200. In addition to this, we accidentally picked names that we realized have multiple spelling options (in Kristy and Kane, even Molly) and I don’t like how people can get them wrong.

— No gender neutral names — I reserve these for miscarried babies that we don’t know gender … It is similar to the familiar criteria point — I want it easier for my kid, not making people wonder or assume when they see the name in print if it matches the person (substitute at school: Jordan? Is he here today? No SHE is not)

— I tend to want a name you almost can’t nickname. I know this one makes you a bit sad 😉 But I want my babies to be called what we named them, that is why we picked that name. Granted, we kind of do this with Kane. Technically his first name is Martin and I am always correcting people like doctor’s offices and it’s a pain (breaking the common criteria point).

— My husband sent me an article where he found the patron saint of handgunners (Italian guy). We have never really considered patron saints before. That might be a good idea! I am a teacher of the deaf (and deaf myself), husband is a gunsmith and kung fu instructor. I don’t know if you would find anything down those lines… 🙂

For a boy name:

— Clearly masculine. Goes with the gender neutral point. A strong name, not soft

— [Husband] considers Craig for a middle, and maybe Adam Craig, after his dad Martin Craig, who goes by Craig. And sort of his brother, Andrew Craig. Plus we seem to have Craigs in the family — “gotta have it!” But I feel like we already named after his dad in Kane. However, I probably don’t mind it being in the more hidden middle spot. Besides he is a great man. The Adam Craig idea he came up with combining our 2 brothers (mine is Adam James) and makes for a cool nickname (ACE) from the initials, plus goes with the A initial criteria idea. 

— I have always considered Lincoln for a middle. It was my grandpa’s name on my mom’s side (Donald Lincoln) and I just think it sounds cool. Not sure I like it enough for the first name spot or if it matches our others for a first name plus it is rising in popularity pretty quick from what I see.

— James or Magnus? We considered James Magnus in the hospital with Kane and wanted to call him Magnus. Has the M or the J from the initial criteria point. James is my dad (and hero), but we already named after my mom (Vicky) in Molly … maybe a middle? There is already a James at the baby sitters. Magnus is strong, but is it too unfamiliar? Not sure if husband still likes this idea (he was the one who brought up Magnus before).

For a girl name:

— Clearly feminine. Goes with the gender neutral point. A pretty name. 

— I have always had Marian Fiat on my list, is it still there?? For reasons you know. Although, I am not feeling as strong about it this time around. But is still just so awesome! Fits the M criteria idea.

— Some form of Nell? After a dearly beloved person — Lynelle. She was my aunt, Godmother, confirmation sponsor, confidant, maid of honor and Kristy’s Godmother who passed away just after Christmas a few years ago. We called her Nellie … I would love to find a way to name after her, maybe in a middle spot? She was just so special to me and never had children of her own (although I gave her Joey). Husband isn’t feeling it (Nell).

— A form of Mary in there somewhere? Pretty sure you can help me out in this realm 😉 Both our girls have a form of Mary, might be fun to continue the trend if a girl, even if it isn’t obvious. Marian would tick that box

 

I liked how Amy said that they’ve already covered “a lot of hard hitting bases” and now she feels like they might have more freedom to pick something they like. But then again, Amy said she likes having names with deep significance, and that’s something I kept coming to as well — I feel like she wouldn’t be content with a name that merely fits her style, she’ll want it to have layers of meaning like her other kids’ names do. So that made it an extra challenge for me, and affected my strategy: I basically looked for names that seemed like they’d fit Amy and her hubby’s style and that start with M, J, or A and don’t end in the y sound (and that were Marian, for a girl), and then I tried to backfit meaning into them. It’s not a bad strategy — I’ve used it when naming my own kids — hopefully it works well in terms of offering Amy ideas that she likes!

I also loved that Amy stated that she likes unique names and spellings — good for her to just own it! But I also love that she acknowledges that choosing unique names/spellings could be hard for one’s child. I think she has a great, balanced mindset here.

I laughed when Amy said she’d prefer a name that can’t be nicknamed, and then followed it with “I know this one makes you a bit sad”! Haha! Well, you all know I do love a good nickname, but if parents prefer no nicknames, that’s fine with me! I only ever want to help parents find names *they* like, no matter what I think.

As for the names Amy and her hubs are considering:

— I like Adam Craig for all the positive reasons Amy listed, but if she doesn’t love it then I think it should be crossed off the list, in order to help them whittle it down.

— I loved James Magnus when Amy was pregnant with Molly, and I can see it having extra significance this time around, with the J matching up with Joey’s initial and the M with Molly’s — especially if he went by his middle name, like Kane does. Then they’d have Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Magnus, which has a really pleasing rhythm. If James is problematic, though, because popularity/there’s a James at the babysitter’s/they already honored Amy’s parents with her mom’s name as Molly’s middle, maybe a different J name? I have some ideas below.

— I love the name Lincoln anyway, and the fact that it’s a family name for Amy is so great! As she noted, it has had a pretty steep rise in popularity and at no. 40 is far more popular than what Amy said she’d like. But as a middle name I think it’s perfect — unexpected and so cool.

— I still love Marian Fiat! I just love that it makes a phrase, while still being a name, you know? But maybe a different Marian name in the first name spot would be enough to freshen it up for Amy?

— I love Amy’s idea of honoring her Lynelle, and using Nell as the way to do so is a great idea. Some names that take Nell as a nickname or are contained within the name include Helen, Helena, Elena, Eleanor (which Amy had said in one of the previous consultations that her dad had suggested, along with Ellison), Ellen, and Elizabeth — in fact, “Nell” is a traditional nickname for any name beginning with El, as people used to say “mine El,” which shifted to “my Nell.” I remember from Molly’s consultation that Amy had a friend named Ellen who’d passed away, and Marty’s mom’s middle name is Ellen, and Amy also mentioned maybe Elizabeth for her Grandma Betty — Ellen or Elizabeth could be perfect candidates for middle names for all those reasons. I also came across Antonella and Marinella — both are Italian names, with the former being a feminine form of Anthony and the latter an elaboration of Marina. And Marianella is the name of the Italian town where St. Alphonsus Liguori was born. These three names seem bigger than what Amy would like as a first name, but they’d be great in the middle spot; additionally, Amy said in the past she might like a nod to her Italian heritage, and these would certainly do it! Both Marinella and Marianella would include the Marian element, and they’re also both similar to Marielle, which Amy had previously said Marty had suggested when she was pregnant with Kristy.

I spent quite a bit of time looking back at the consultations for Kane and Molly and the comments on the posts as well, and wanted to be sure to mention the following names as ones I think Amy and her hubs might like to revisit (some are ideas Amy mentioned before, and some are ones I previously suggested that I still think are good ideas):

— Alice or Elise: Amy had mentioned considering Alice for Kristy and the Spanish pronunciation ah-LEES — I like that Alice starts with an A, like Amy’s name and Joey’s middle, and I like that Elise is one of those El names that Nell could be a nickname for and has that same pronunciation as the Spanish Alice. Elise is a French form of Elizabeth, so that could be for Grandma Betty too.

— Samuel: I love the name Samuel, and the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible is a great one of a mother longing for a baby and having her prayer answered — it might be particularly meaningful after the loss of Joey. Additionally, Amy said she might like to work gunsmith info into the name — Samuel Colt is the guy for whom the firearm company is named, so Samuel could be a subtle but real nod to Marty’s profession!

— Vincent: I really like Vincent for them, as it has that Italian feel, and Amy had mentioned previously that they were close to a priest named Fr. Vince.

— Mandy: My favorite suggestion for Kane if he’d been a girl was Amanda Victoria — that was when Amy was thinking of AVE initials. I thought Mandy was a great fit as Kristy’s sister, and I continue to think it’s a great fit for Kristy, Kane, and Molly’s sister. The full Amanda means “beloved,” which is awesome — and is the same meaning as Amy’s name! — and Mandy also retains that meaning. I’m including Mandy here instead of Amanda because Amy doesn’t want a nicknameable name, if possible, and the M of Mandy fits with her hope for an A, J, or M name. I know it ends in Y, but they could use Manda instead if they prefer?

— Joanna/Johanna, Gianna: I’d previously suggested Joanna, and Amy said she prefers Johanna — I like them both! They’re J names, which fits what Amy’s looking for; they’re variants of John, which is Amy’s dad’s middle name; and they can nod to Marty’s grandmother Joan! I do wonder thought if the Jo- sound is too similar to Joey’s? Amy had also previously said she likes the name Gianna; while it doesn’t have the J initial, it does have the J sound, and it’s the Italian variant of Joanna/Johanna, and gets away from the possibly problematic Jo- sound, so it might be perfect!

— Jason: I suggested Jason for Kane and Amy didn’t love it then, but I continue to think it fits well with her other kids’ names, and I love that it’s biblical too. I know Amy doesn’t want nicknames, but Jay is a great one. (Ooh — I wonder if they would consider Jay as a given name?? I like that!!)

— Amelie, Emily, Amelia: A reader suggested Amelie for Molly, which Amy said she likes, and she also said she likes Amelia, as it could be a tribute to her, and Emily was a name that Amy had listed as a possibility in the past as well. Of these, only Amelia doesn’t end in the Y sound — it’s a beautiful A name!

— Jenna, Jemma: This was actually on my list of names to suggest this time around, and then I saw that Kristy’s favorite name for when Amy was pregnant with Molly (I think) was Jenna from Balto! Haha! I think it would be worth considering — it begins with a J and doesn’t end in a Y, I like it! Similarly, I’d suggested Gemma for them in the past, which Amy didn’t care for, but I thought maybe she’d changed her mind, especially if they spell it Jemma, so as to get that J in there.

— Calabria nn Callie: This was a name Amy had emailed me about outside of the previous consultations, which is an amazing name connected to her Italian heritage — I loved that she was considering it last time, and wondered if she still is? I love Callie with her kids’ names too, but is it too similar to Molly? And it begins with that hard K sound, so it’s probably off the table (at least for now), right?

Alrighty, on to new ideas! Coming up with new ideas was hard! Having done it twice already with similar criteria, I was starting to feel like I had nothing new to offer! But I came up with a few ideas that I’m kind of excited about:

Girl
(1) Justine (or Justina)
Justine is the name I’m most excited about for Amy and her hubs! I knew both a little Justina and a little Justine when I was younger and they were so darling, so I have all good associations with these otherwise pretty rare names (Justine dropped out of the top 1000 in 2009 and Justina dropped out in 2000). Of the two, Justine is my favorite for this family because it’s two syllables, like Kristy and Molly (kind of nice for sisters to share that! Thought certainly not necessary), and doesn’t have a natural nickname as far as I know. It begins with a J, has a great meaning (“just”), and there are actually several saints named Justina, who of course would be patron for a Justine. If they prefer Justina though, I love that too!

(2) Jillian (or Jill?)
For some of my research, I just perused the A, M, and J sections of the Baby Name Wizard to see if anything jumped out at me, and Jillian did! It’s actually a variant of Julian, which is where a patron saint would come from, but I think stylistically more the kind of name Amy would like. I’m hearing it a bit more here and there—Kristin from One Hail Mary at a Time named her baby Jillian Rose, for one example—but it ranked no. 735 in 2018 and is dropping. Lillian and Vivian were two names that did well for this family in my research, but I thought they were more popular than Amy would like — Jillian has their sounds without their popularity. Even as I write this though, I’m thinking Jill might be even more Amy’s style — not only does it have the same patron saint options as Jillian, but it dropped out of the top 1000 in 2001, which I know she’ll like!

(3) Maeve
This is another name that jumped out at me as I was looking through the BNW, because it begins with an M, because it’s one syllable (which I thought Amy might like, as a complement to Kane), because it has the long A sound like Amy and Kane, and because its meaning, given by Baby Names of Ireland as “the cause of great joy,” is why I included it in my book (because of Our Lady’s title “Cause of Our Joy”) — it seemed like the perfect meaning after the loss of Joey. It was no. 334 in 2018, so it fits Amy’s criteria of not in the top 100 or even 200.

(4) Megan
Kristy, Molly, and Megan seem like such perfect sister names to me — Megan was yet another one that jumped out at me. It was no. 545 in 2018 and is dropping, which makes it great popularity-wise for them, and it’s a form of Margaret, which is where the patron saint would come from. I think it’s a great option!

(5) Emilia
I didn’t include this with the Amelie/Emily/Amelia names above because I didn’t want it to get lost, and I don’t think we discussed it before. Emilia’s the Italian variant of Emily, and sounds like Amelia, I thought Amy might like it! It’s also John Paul’s mom’s name!

(6) Tess or Tessa
I know Tess and Tessa don’t start with the desired A, M, or J, but I really like them with Kristy, Kane, and Molly, so I thought I’d include them anyway, just in case. I like that Tess is one syllable, like Kane, and that Tessa is two syllables, like Kristy and Molly, and that neither one end in the Y sound. They’re derived from Theresa, so any of the holy Theresas can be patron.

(7) Barbara
I’m not sure if I think Amy will like Barbara or not, but St. Barbara is the patron of ammunition workers, artillerymen, and gunners, so I thought she might like to consider it, since she said she and Marty might like to consider patron saints of gunsmiths. Kendra Tierney just named her baby girl Barbara Josephine, and it’s actually never been out of the top 1000, though it’s at its all-time low right now at no. 930. Could be perfect for this family! If not as a first name, maybe as a middle?

(8) Mercy
My last girl idea for Amy and her hubs is Mercy, another one of the names that jumped out at me during my research because it begins with M and it’s got such great faith connections (Our Lady of Mercy, Divine Mercy). I know it ends in Y, and it’s a bit unusual for a first name, but not unheard of (Mercy and its variants were big among the Sancta Nomina families during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, for example).

Boy
(1) Jacoby (or Jake)
One of the things that constantly stymied me when I was compiling the list of names that I thought Amy might like was popularity — so many times I’d think I’ve found a perfect name, only to discover it’s way more popular than she’d like. Jacoby was actually inspired by Amy’s previous idea of James Magnus and how James would be for her dad, but even though in the James Magnus scenario they were intending to call him Magnus, I still thought Amy’s dad was good inspiration. I actually loved the idea of Jamie for this family, except that Amy said she wanted gender-specific names. James is way too popular, at no. 4, but its Hebrew counterpart Jacob only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 after years at no. 1, so that didn’t seem a good idea. Then I saw Jacoby in my research and thought maybe? It ends in Y unfortunately, but otherwise I think it’s pretty cool and unexpected. Or maybe they’d like just Jake as a given name? I love Jake, love love love, and as a given name it’s only no. 262.

(2) Justin
Justin is a pretty big style match for this family, and St. Justin Martyr is pretty cool. Whether they prefer Justine/a for a girl or Justin for a boy, I like this family of name for them!

(3) Phillip
Philip is a style match for Martin, and even though Kane doesn’t go by his first name, I still thought it would be interesting to include a Martin match. I love Philip! St. Philip Neri is pretty awesome. Then, when I was looking back at mine and Amy’s emails and the other consultations I did for her, I saw that Phillip is a relative’s name — a grandfather’s name, I believe. I also liked that PJ is a family nickname for Amy — maybe something like Phillip James for the grandfather and Amy’s dad would be perfect, with that extra nod to Amy herself?

(4) Gabriel (or Gabe?)
Amy said Marty told her about the patron saint of handgunners, and after doing some research I think he must have discovered St. Gabriel Possenti, also known as St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. As far as I can tell, he’s not actually the patron saint of handgunners — there’s been a push to have him so named, but the Church has not complied — but he’s a great saint regardless! The connection to Our Lady of Sorrows might be a nice nod to Joey, I really like that. I love the name Gabriel and think it could work with Kristy, Kane, and Molly, but if they wanted to use just Gabe, I actually like that too! Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Gabe … I like that Gabe is one syllable like Kane and has that long A like Kane and Amy.

(5) Francis (Frank?)
In addition to handgunners/gunsmiths (and kung fu or martial arts, neither of which I could find patron saints for), Amy also asked about patron saints of the deaf  — there are a few, with St. Francis de Sales being the most well known I think. AND the birth name of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows is Francis Possenti! Two for one patron saints! They could certainly use Francis as a first or a middle, but maybe Frank is more their speed?

(6) Jay
Finally, I know I mentioned this above, but I wanted to mention it again so it doesn’t get lost in the conversation: The more I think about it, the more I like the name Jay for this family! I like that it’s one syllable like Kane, with the long A like Kane and Amy. There’s no possible nickname, and though it ends in Y it doesn’t end in the Y sound. It can cover all the J-named people they might like to honor too!

And those are all my ideas for Amy’s little one! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Joey, taking into account all the things Amy both likes and dislikes?


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

Baby name consultation: Studio Senn’s little lady!

I’m so excited to post a consultation for one of my favorite artists: Kortnee at Studio Senn (web site and Instagram)!! I’ve posted about her and her beautiful things before, so much so that she has her own tag here on the blog! I was so excited when she emailed me for help with naming her baby girl, little sister to two big brothers!

Kortnee writes,

I am so excited to ask your expertise in suggestions for naming this new baby! We recently found out the baby we are expecting in early January is a girl! We had a few boy names picked out but no girl names that we are in love with or feel fit with our current naming style.

Current kiddos:

Fulton Douglas: Named after Ven. Fulton Sheen (we have a great love for this man) and my FIL’s first name.

Becket Raymond: Named after Saint Thomas Becket (we thought he was a great intercessor for religious freedom in this day and age) and both my Dad and Grandpa have Raymond as their middle name.”

I looooove their style of naming!!

I am pretty picky about girl names unfortunately and am feeling really discouraged in the naming department. I think would be fun to continue our current trend of Surnames but I’m not strict about it. I am not a huge fan of places as names (like Sienna, Avila, etc) or most well known Saint names/more common names (Theresa, Mary, Catherine, etc). However, I really want to have a Saint name or Saint surname or a derivative of a Saint for the first name (or blessed). I like the idea of her having a nickname but didn’t really give any to our boys.

We would like the middle name to be Fae. My grandma’s middle name is Mae, my mom’s is Kae and mine is Rae so I thought it would be fun to continue the odd tradition. And I’ve always thought Fa(y)e was a pretty name. We also need her name to work with our last name (Senn), so with single syllable middle and last names I don’t think she can have a single syllable first name.

Names I currently like for a girl:
Lucia (Lucy)
Connelly (after Bl. Cornelia Connelly)
Peregrine (nn Peren)
Greer (looove this one but husband not the biggest fan (yet!) and not sure it goes well with Fae Senn)
Scarlett (I’ve read your connection to the Precious Blood but wondering if there is any Saintly connection (so she can have a feast/name day)?)

Names my Husband likes (although he usually isn’t the one to suggest names):
Lydia
Also, Peregrine!

Names I like but can’t imagine naming our child or has already been used by someone close to us:
Vivian
Josephine
Edith (Edie)
Juniper (June)
Cora
Perpetua (Poppy or Pippa)

Names I like but don’t go well with Fae Senn (or too many F’s for me)
Felicity
Fiona
Wren
Quinn

Looking forward to hearing all of your suggestions!

This was so much fun to work on! Even though Kortnee said it’s not strictly necessary to continue the surname theme, I agree with her that it would be so cool to continue it, so I focused almost exclusively on finding ideas that fit the surname style.

I love that Fae will be this baby girl’s middle name! What a cool connection to Kortnee’s grandmother, mother, and herself!

Of the names on the list of those Kortnee and her husband like for a girl:

— I love Lucia and Lucy! So sweet!
— I’d never heard of Ven. Cornelia Connelly — what a great connection! Connelly’s a cool name! (And she even has her own Tiny Saint!)
— Peregrine nn Peren was such a surprise to me! I love the meaning of Peregrine, and Peren is a fun nickname! It reminds me of Perrin, which is an old nickname for Pierre (Peter) — that would also be an interesting name to consider.
— Greer is one of my favorites as well! I love it! Greer Fae Senn is a lot of single syllables, but that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker — there are loads of famous people with one syllable first and last names, and they’re fine! Examples include Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and others. The one-syllable middle name makes it extra, but few people know others’ middle names as they go through life, so most of the time she’d been Greer Senn or Greer F. Senn, neither of which are bad at all.
— Scarlett is a great name, and there is a feast of the Most Precious Blood: July 1 — I wonder if that makes the name feel more doable?
— Felicity, Fiona, Wren, and Quinn were great additions to the list of names I wanted to include as inspiration in my research. I actually had a thought about Quinn — I’ve seen it used as a nickname for Aquinas, maybe Kortnee would like to include Aquinas on their list of possibilities?

As for her hubby’s list, I’m interested that Kortnee’s Lucia/Lucy and hubby’s Lydia are not that far off from each other, and also that they both like Peregrine! I’m tempted to say that must be the name! It’s such a big deal when both parents like the same name! However, I’m happy to continue with new ideas! 😀

I looked up Kortnee’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like, including the ones they can’t use, 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 also looked through the list of English martyrs, as I’ve often found them to be a good source of saintly surnames. And I combed through my own mental files and some particular consultations I’ve done in the past that I thought might provide some good ideas, including:

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/06/19/baby-name-consultation-baby-no-9-needs-a-name-thats-not-generally-popular-nor-catholic-popular-and-a-few-other-rules/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/08/09/celebrity-guest-lindsay-from-my-child-i-love-you/

Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Talbot
I love the story of Ven. Matt Talbot, and Lindsay from My Child I Love You (the second link above) used his last name in one of her daughter’s name, but the real reason I was convinced to put it on the list is because Kortnee said she might like to use a nickname and Talbot nicknames so easily to the sweet Tally/Tali.

(2) Cabrini
I’ve suggested Cabrini to a few parents in the past — I think it’s such a fun name to say and Mother Cabrini is a great saint.

(3) Vianney
Both of the families I linked to above have daughters named Vianney — it’s a gorgeous name that has a very feminine feel, even though it’s the last name of a male saint.

(4) Goretti
Goretti might be the perfect idea for this family, since I think that Greer can be used as a nickname for it, not only because of the letters involved, but also because both Goretti and Greer are derived from Gregory! I love St. Maria Goretti.

(5) Gibson
One of the English martyrs is Bl. William Gibson, and Gibson always makes me think of the Gibson Girl, which I think adds a really nice touch of femininity to the name.

(6) Holland
I know a little girl named Holland, which I love because it’s kind of like Holly but with a twist — I love when names feel familiar and unexpected at the same time. Holly can be a nickname, which is perfect for the Christmas season! Also, one of the English martys is Bl. Thomas Holland, whose feast is Dec. 22 — right near Kortnee’s due date.

(7) Rowan
Fulton, Connelly, Greer, Fiona, and Quinn all have Irish connections, so when I saw Rowan pop up in my research as similar in style to Fiona and Quinn, I thought it might be perfect! Though it has decent usage as a first name, it’s also a surname. I love the nickname Ro! And St. Rowan (or Ruadhán) is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, and their feast day is January 6 — right near Kortnee’s due date!

(8) Casey or Carey
Bl. Solanus Casey is one of my favorites, and I love the name Casey! Then I found Bl. John Carey in the list of English martyrs, and I thought Carey was great too.

(9) Ruby
Ruby was inspired both by its similarity to Scarlett color-wise, and I also did a spotlight on Ruby a while ago in which I connected it to the Precious Blood, as well as Jesus’ Passion and Death, and also the tongues of fire the Holy Spirit took the form of when He descended on the apostles, which gives feast days of July 1 (as noted above for Scarlett), Holy Thursday or Good Friday, and Pentecost. Ruby is so sweet! It could also work great as a nickname for something, though I haven’t come up with anything brilliant for Kortnee (I gave a few ideas in that Ruby spotlight, but nothing surnamey. I keep thinking Robertson or Robinson, but those don’t feel right!)

(10) Molly
My last idea isn’t a surname, but Molly is a style match for Lucy and Ruby, and I’ve seen it used at least once in honor of St. Gianna because of its similarity to her last name, Molla. So maybe it could be perfect?

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


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

Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

Happy Labor Day! No better day to post a consultation! 😉

Sometimes parents will request a consultation when they’re in between babies — the planners among you (like me!) will understand! It’s fun to replenish/refresh name lists when there’s no baby on the way and no pressure. I always enjoy those kinds of consultations, and tend to view them as a chance to spread my wings a bit — to seek a bit farther afield for ideas and to suggest some that I might not suggest if a baby’s arrival is imminent and Mom and Dad just need to find “the” name.

Today’s consultation is one such! Monica and her hubby recently welcomed their second baby — second girl! — and wanted to add some names to their girl list and see if there are any boy names that I might suggest as well. They currently have:

Magdalene Eve-Marie “Maggie”
Genevieve Rose “Genny”

Gorgeous, right??

For reference, my name is Monica Marie, confirmation name Bridget (but it’s for St. Brigid of Ireland). My husband is Joseph Martin, confirmation name Cyril.

Our main ethnic heritage is — from my side — Italian, with some German, Irish, and Scottish — from his side — French, Irish, and Ukrainian. Tidbits of other stuff, but those are the major lines.

Other names that have been at the top of our girl list in the past are Miriam (still high) and Ramona (falling in favor). These days we mostly only like Ramona because we had paired it with Carmel as a middle name, which we still like. Perhaps we could do Miriam Carmel instead. It’s not bad, though I think I preferred Carmel with Ramona because it ended in -a.

We also like Grace quite a bit. I like Avila, Mercedes, Edith, Celine, Faith and Hope … Anne (I love Anne of Green Gables, like every girl…) … but my husband isn’t as keen on those. My husband has a thing for Russian names and likes Natasha, but I don’t. I would consider Nadia or Sonya instead. We’ve recently been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, and were intrigued by Sunniva, but it’s probably too Scandinavian for us.

Aside from the Marian requirement, I think our girl name style is very feminine, elegant, but not over the top frilly/sugary/sticky sweet … We like the names Rebecca and Susannah/Suzanna, both of which belong to sisters of mine, and have considered them as middle names for Miriam, since they match its Old Testament feel. We like a lot of religious significance, both saint connections and linguistic meaning, and maybe a sprinkle of literary and historical inspiration. I also tend to like a more complex religious significance than just a patron saint, although patron saints are great, and if I like the name that would be enough. But if it’s more complex, like a title of Mary rather than just her name, or a combination that evokes a religious event like the Visitation (I.e. any combo of Mary and Elizabeth names), or a name with double religious significance … I like it even better! It seems like we’ve gone for French-inspired names (I know we didn’t choose the Madeleine form, but I still think of St. Mary Magdalene in a French light via her sojourn there) that could take an Irish sounding nickname. This is perfect, as our last name … is actually Irish, but often mistaken for French, and my husband actually has a lot of French heritage through his mom’s side. That probably isn’t a necessary requirement, though, since it’s kind of unusual to find French names with Irish sounding nicknames. Both names we’ve chosen so far are not super common but familiar enough to be recognizable and fairly pronounceable. And … heavy on the “Eve” sound … though maybe we should NOT repeat that a third time.

Boy names are a whole different story. We tend to disagree a lot more. Some of the universal stuff about name significance I mentioned above applies to boy names as well, but I’m not sure we have as much of a definite style since we disagree a lot and only agree sort of randomly. I like some more Romance language names like Santiago and Giovanni and Enzo, thanks to my Italian heritage, and my husband likes Russian names … partly because he loves Russian novels and history, but he is actually 1/4 Ukrainian/Slovakian as well. He is always pushing for Vladimir or Dmitri. I don’t think any of the above ethnic options work well with our very every-day-American last name, though I could maybe reconcile with one if it had family significance (like Cosimo in my family … but then again, that would be more significant with my maiden name). I’ve always said if we were going to do an ethnic name it might be best if it were the same ethnicity as our last name, so we went looking for Irish names, and found we agreed on Finnian, which is probably #3 on our list. Maybe paired with Thomas as a middle name, for my husband’s dad. I also like Eamon, but my husband is less enthusiastic.

Probably #1 is Louis, which is actually French like the girls’ names. We’ve considered pairing it with Anthony for my dad or Martin for my husband (he doesn’t want a direct junior). It primarily would be for St. Louis of France, the king, but if we did Louis Martin that would be a cool double for St. Therese’s father as well.

#2 is John, because I love several saints John — especially John of the Cross and John the Evangelist, such beautiful contemplatives. My husband only consented to John (it is very plain, I admit, but the saints are so great!) with an “interesting” middle name. I pushed for Augustine, but he doesn’t like “A” boy names. So we have it paired with Maccabaeus on our list, which we both think is cool. Our family says they would call him “Johnny Mac.”

We’ve batted around a lot of others. Alexander fits my husband’s Russian taste and I like it, but think it’s a bit common and overused. I’d consider Ivan, but he’s not that much of a fan of that particular Russian name. We both like Blaise, Judah, Isaac, and David, though Isaac is taken by a close friend. Owen, Henry, Nicholas, Dominic, Zachary, Jude, Paul, Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Elijah, Jacob, Sebastian, Damian, Martin, Alexei, Thomas, and are on our ok list, but not favorites due to various circumstances (close friends used them, or one of us isn’t as keen as the other). I like Old Testament names, but my husband doesn’t like boy names that end in the “-iah” sound, which rules out a lot. For example, I liked Isaiah Joseph, but … nope. Although we do both like Judah. We’ve considered maybe a David Judah before. We liked Lavrans from Kristin Lavransdatter (is it a form of Lawrence? Do you know?) but it flows poorly with [our last name]. I like Kenneth and Walter from the Anne of Green Gables series, but my husband thinks they’re too old man sounding.”

I love the names Monica and her hubs chose for their girls — Magdalene Eve-Marie and Genevieve Rose are both gorgeous, and Maggie and Genny are the sweetest nicknames!

St. Mary Magdalene being “the Perfect Image of the New Eve” is SO cool! And I laughed when Monica sheepishly admitted that she liked the name Genevieve first, then looked up the saint later — I’ve done that many many times myself! And I think that’s sometimes how saints “find” us, by using our God-given taste in names! (I wrote about that here.)

Genevieve Eleanor would have been gorgeous too, and as for that pesky Eleanor/Helen connection, maybe my most recent post on it would be helpful going forward.

But Rose is just perfect! The Marian connection and family connections are perfect. (And how cool is Rosamystica as a middle name??!) I love Lucie/Lucy too, I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady of Light is one of her titles, but I can see why Monica’s hubby might have a hard time thinking of it as Marian, since it’s got such a life and history of its own.

I had an idea for “a Marian name beginning with a vowel, preferably an E” for a middle name going forward: Edessa is a name in my book, after her title Our Lady of Edessa. Such a beautiful name!

I love Miriam from their current list, and Ramona! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Ramona! What a great name! Ramona Carmel is stunning, and Miriam Carmel is lovely too. Grace, Mercedes, Faith, and Hope all are Marian — OL of Grace/Mercy/Mercies/Faith/Hope are all titles of her, and all of these names are in my book. Anne is too! I figured, when people are trying to name a baby after a beloved someone, sometimes they might look to the relatives of that person for inspiration.

I love the Russian names! Natasha, Nadia, and Sonya are all gorgeous! And ooh, Sunniva! I did a spotlight on it once, such a cool name. And Belén! I probably would have normally thought it was too Spanish for a non-Hispanic family, but one of my favorite bloggers (who’s not Hispanic) named her daughter Belén and I just love it! Cecilia too, so beautiful.

Re: Rosemary, I wonder if its nicknames Romy or Roma might sway Monica’s hubby? They remind me of Ramona — Rosemary with one of those nicknames might be a nice balance of styles.

I admit I totally latched onto how Monica said “we’ve gone for French-inspired names … that could take an Irish sounding nickname,” especially the “Irish sounding nickname” bit — you’ll see that a few of my ideas are in that vein!

Oh man, I’d love to find some “eve” sounding names for this family, but I agree — repeating that a third time would really set them up to continue it! And that’s a much harder pattern to follow than a “Marie-something” middle!

So I felt pretty confident with my ideas for girls after reading Monica’s email up to this point. It’s definitely helped by the fact that they have two girls already, and their names automatically rule out whole groupings of girl names, you know? Their names are no longer hypothetical options on their long list; they are now the reality and the standard to be measured against.

But boys! Since they don’t have any boys yet, and since they’re not committed to the same style for boys that they have for girls, it’s a wide open playing field. I had fun really trying to poke around and find some good options in addition to the three Monica mentioned. Louis Anthony/Louis Martin, John Maccabaeus (Johnny Mac! LOVE it! I also think John Augustine is pretty awesome), and Finnian Thomas are all fantastic!

One of the strategies that I thought might be helpful would be to consider Russian/French/non-English variants or nicknames of names they like, as a way of  spicing up a “normal” name. Alexander’s nickname in Russian and Ukrainian is Sasha, for example, so while Alexander might feel “common and overused,” Sasha is so interesting and unexpected! Or Alastar, which is the Irish variant; Sandro, which is an Italian nickname for it; or the spelling Aleksandr, which is Russian. (But then, Monica’s hubs doesn’t like A names — would Alexander be okay with him?) Regarding her hubby’s devotion to St. Peter, maybe the Russian Pyotr, the Ukrainian Petro, or the Irish Peadar? Or the variant Pierce, which is also an entry in my book, for how Simeon prophesied that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced with a sword.

This can go the other way too, which they’ve already considered: Ivan is the Russian for John, and they’ve already got John on their list! Monica is correct about Lavrans being a form of Lawrence (and blogger Haley Carrots considered it for her baby, if she’d been a boy!); Kenneth and Walter are both great too, and while they may have traditionally fallen into the old man category, I’ve heard them both (especially Walter, for Servant of God Walter Ciszek) on little guys over the past few years.

Blaise, Judah, Isaac, David (David Judah! So handsome!) are all wonderful. I love Old Testament names too! But there are so many that end in -iah! Gah!

When doing research for parents, you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, using both their girls’ names and nicknames as well as all the other names Monica mentioned liking. Generally I look for overlap among the style matches for each name — are there names that show up as style matches for more than one of the names on their list, for example? That kind of thing. Also, a lot of it is really just gut feelings — do I *think* they’ll like this name? Based on all that, here are my ideas for Monica and her hubby to consider adding to their lists:

Girl
(1) Tess
I’m going to start off listing nicknames that I think fit their “Irish sounding nickname” idea, and then back into fuller given names for them. Tess is one of my favorites, and I think it’s darling with sisters Maggie and Genny. They could do a form of Teresa, but I didn’t think Monica would love that (although I knew a girl once named Marie-Therese and I thought she was so amazing and beautiful solely because of her name! Marie-Therese would go wonderfully with Magdalene and Genevieve, and Tess is so sweet for a daily nickname!). High up on my own list was Elizabeth with the nickname Tess (my reasoning being, if Betty, Bess, and Tetty can be traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — and they are — why not Tess?), but I thought Monica might like the spelling Elisabeth even better — it’s a French spelling, and the spelling of one of my favorite holy women: Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Or maybe they’d like to consider the more Italian Elisabetta? Despite it being so Italian, I think it can definitely work in their family, since they already have the long, lovely, and foreign-ish Magdalene and Genevieve.

(2) Annie
I know Monica mentioned loving Anne for Anne of Green Gables (I’m right there with her!) but she thought it might be too “boring.” I agree that Anne doesn’t feel like the right name for their family, with the weightier and longer Magdalene and Genevieve, but the nickname Annie is definitely one of those “Irish sounding nicknames,” and there are some pretty ways of getting to it, like the Italian Annunziata (what a name! I love it!) and the Russian Anastasia (a perfect fit for Magdalene and Genevieve’s sister, I think). I was toying with Anya as well, which is Russian, and how it has the exact same pronunciation as the Irish Áine — maybe they could consider one of those as a nickname for Anastasia or another Ann- name?. Another one I love is Annabelle (or Annabel) — it’s in my book because it’s a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis! How cool is that?? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love Annabelle for this family!

(3) Bridie
Bridie is one of my favorite Irish nicknames, and I’m extra loving it for a daughter for Monica because of her Confirmation name being Bridget! BUT, I didn’t think she’d want to consider Bridget or Brigid, but maybe the lovely French Brigitte? Or maybe the Slovak Brigita? Or Bernadette? I think all these could take the nickname Bridie!

(4) Josie
Josie is just as sweet as Maggie, Genny, Tess, Annie, and Bridie, and has a longer French name to boot in Josephine. Or they could consider Josefina or Josefa? I love all of these!

(5) Kate, Katie (or Cate, Cady)
Even though my name is Kate, I won’t be offended if they don’t like this idea! 😀 While Catherine might be too common for Monica’s taste, it’s got some gorgeous variants, like the Italian Caterina, the Russian Ekaterina (or just Katerina), and the Irish Catriona. They can all take the nicknames Kate/Katie (or Cate, Cady), which have a pretty good Irish feel to them!

(6) Vivienne
Vivian and Vivienne showed up a couple times in my research as being a style match for the names they like, and I totally agree! It shares some sounds with Genevieve, yes, but since they didn’t go the Evie/Vivi route with Genevieve’s nickname, they can with Vivienne (I thought Monica would prefer the French Vivienne over Vivian).

(7) Natalia
Natalia showed up a bunch of times in my research as similar to names Monica and her hubs like, AND it’s Russian! (They could also consider the Russian spellings Natalya and Nataliya [which is also Ukrainian].) In fact, it’s the formal name for the nickname Natasha, so while it’s not exactly the name her hubby likes, it’s pretty close (and he could use Natasha as a nickname if he wanted). Natalia is a gorgeous name!

(8) Veronica
Veronica is such a beautiful, weighty name like Magdalene and Genevieve, with loads of nickname options: Vera, Vero, Ronnie, Nica, and Nicky, and some less traditional ones like Vee, Via, and Vicka.

(9) Maristella
My last girl idea is Maristella or, if they preferred not to repeat Maggie’s initial, they could reverse the elements and do Stellamaris. Such a gorgeous name, either way! It’s for Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” as I’m sure they know, as Monica noted that neither of them care for Estelle, but Maristella and Stellmaris feel very different to me. Ooh, and I think Molly could work as a nickname for Maristella! Then they’d have their Irishy nickname! Or maybe Sadie for Stellamaris?

Boy
(1) Nicodemus, Nikolai
I felt a little all over the place with boy names — Santiago, Eamon, and Dmitri aren’t names I expect to encounter on a parent’s list at the same time! Additionally, when I looked at boy names that were matches for their girl names, I thought there were some great ideas there too. So we’ll start with one of my favorites: Nicodemus. I think it’s got a heavy, Old Testament feel, though it’s a New Testament name. It doesn’t end in -iah! And it can take the Nic- nicknames (Nico, Nic, Nick, Nicky), which make it really easy to live with on a day to day basis. While we’re talking about Nic- names, the Russian Nikolai is just such a swoony name, and while Nik etc. can be nicknames, I quite like the Russian Kolya.

(2) Nathaniel
Another long, biblical N name that I thought went great with their girls’ names is Nathaniel. I was really drawn to the longer, weightier boy names, and I thought Nathaniel fit that perfectly; I also love its friendly nickname Nate.

(3) Raphael
Here’s an Old Testament name that doesn’t end in -iah! Raphael appears in the book of Tobit, and the nickname Rafe is said just the way Ralph is in the U.K. (Ralph is a family name, according to Monica — maybe Raphael could be a different way of nodding to that Ralph?).

(4) Matthias
Matthias was the man chosen by the other Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, so one might even consider their discussion to be the first Church Council! 😊 Matthias’ ending is almost -iah, so if Monica likes the idea of this name but her hubby doesn’t like the pronunciation, maybe the variant Mattias, which is said ma-TEE-as, would be better?

(5) Benedict
Benedict’s got that great length and weightiness of Magdalene and Genevieve, and the great friendly nickname Ben, I just love it.

(6) Luka, Luca
The Luke names are great to look at if you want a name that travels well internationally. Luka is the Russian version, and Luca the Italian — I love that! I would think, though, that if they like this idea, they might want to cross Louis off their list, since Luka and Louis are so similar in sound.

(7) Adrian, Julian
Adrian and Julian are two of those great Catholic names — saintly, papal, and pan-European. I saw them both pop up in my research, and thought I’d combine them here because they’re so similar.

(8) Roman
Roman is listed as both a Russian and Ukrainian name (among others) on behindthename.com, and of course it refers to Rome, which is Italian, so I’m loving that Roman can nod to both Monica and her hubby in this way! This would knock Ramona off their list, but I think Roman’s a great option for them to consider.

(9) Santino
My last idea is a bit of a wild card, and I’m not sure it’s any better than the overly ethnic (according to Monica’s hubby) Santiago, but I looove the name Santino — I love that it means Little Saint, I love that Sonny is a nickname for it a la The Godfather, and I totally get if they hate it because of these things, but I had to put it on the list! (Fun fact: Mario Lopez and his wife just named their baby Santino Rafael, nicknamed Sonny!)

I also had two consultations in mind while working on this that I thought Monica might find inspiring as there was a lot of overlap with what I perceive to be her taste:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny?


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

Baby name consultation: Biblical + Catholicky Catholic with maybe a Brit/royal feel?

Teresa and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! She writes,

We have 5 boys at home, a daughter in Heaven and this baby is going to be our first surprise gender. I ‘think’ it is a boy, but either way we are okay with girl names. We have several that we agree on and aren’t even discussing girl names because we will be able to pick one easily.

We have Benjamin Michael, Charles Thomas, Gianna Therese (stillborn), Dominic Paul, John Paul Augustine, and William Joseph. Part of what makes coming up with another boy name difficult is that we have quite a few nephews with Catholic names and I am trying to avoid copying first names at least since I already have done that once. I copied several middle names but am not too worried about that … First names that have been used are Joseph, Paul, Thomas, Isaac, Jude, Luke and Elias.”

I love all of the names Teresa and her hubby have used! Such handsome combos for their boys, and such a beautiful name for their little girl.

I’m a huge fan of bridging styles and trying to make a sibling set really hang together well. Not that all the names have to be the same style, but if there’s a mix of familiar and unexpected, for example, and there are more familiar names than unexpected names, then I like to try to balance it out again by suggesting some unexpected names. Does that make sense?

In this case, I see two what I’m calling Brit/royal names (Charles and William), three heavy hitting Catholicky Catholic names (Gianna, Dominic, and John Paul), and one biblical name (Benjamin). So I really wanted to find some biblical names to suggest that would loop Benjamin in a bit more, while still going nicely with the older kiddos’ names.

You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and 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; it’s so helpful in trying to pin down parents’ style or come up with ideas that are likely to appeal to them. I also look through the book of Marian names I wrote (there are names for both boys and girls), and I also checked out my entries for both Kateri (as a stand-in for Gianna, since the BNW entry for Gianna only lists super Italian names as style matches, while Kateri has the Catholicky Catholic feel of Gianna) and John Paul (since it doesn’t have its own BNW entry) in the Sibling Project I started on the blog. Based on all that, this is what I came up with:

(1) Gabriel
This is my favorite idea for this family, and one I’d scribbled down in my notes before even starting my research. As mentioned, I was really using Benjamin as my main source of inspiration, and Gabriel is such a great brother name, both because it’s biblical (he’s mentioned in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel, so that’s an extra nice tie-in with Benjamin), and because its nickname Gabe is just as friendly and easygoing as Ben. In fact, I’ve seen several Benjamin-Gabriel/Ben-Gabe brother sets in real life. Beyond that, though, Gabriel is a style match for Dominic, John Paul, and Gianna as well, and is an entry in my book of Marian names! Finally, not to leave Charles and William out, I’ve often referred to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of how well and easily Gabriel fits with the Irish/British Isles feel. I really love it for this baby!

(2) Samuel
Second only to Gabriel is Samuel — I like it almost as much as Gabriel for Teresa and her hubs! I love that it’s an Old Testament name, like Benjamin, and it has that great friendly nickname Sam, like Ben. I think it can also have a serious, bookish feel — especially as the full Samuel — that fits nicely with Charles, Dominic, and William. And it certainly isn’t out of place with John Paul. Samuel/Sam is a great name.

(3) Peter, Philip
For my last idea, I really wanted to bring a little more of Charles and William into it, without losing Benjamin or the super-Catholic names. I initially thought Peter was the perfect name for this purpose — it’s biblical, it’s Catholic and papal, and it can easily have a Brit/royal feel. And I still do think it’s a great idea! But then, just as I was about to be done gathering ideas, Philip caught my eye, and I couldn’t shake it. So I thought I’d include them together! I think Philip has even more of the Brit/royal feel, while still being biblical. And St. Philip Neri is a great patron!

And those are my ideas for this babe! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Benjamin, Charles, Gianna, Dominic, John Paul, and William?


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