Baby name consultation: Whether and how to use an honor name for baby boy

Theresa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Mary Kathryn (“named after both grandmothers“)
John David (“named after St. John the Baptist and his Godfather is David, my husband’s brother“)
Lucy Marie (“named after St. Lucy“)
Joseph Stephen (“we liked Joseph and it was a J name to follow John, his middle name is after my brother Stephen and also his godfather“)

Beautiful names! Classic, solid, saintly.

Theresa writes,

I have had 3 miscarriages, 2 of them before our 4th child and then one just last year … NOW again we got a happy surprise and I conceived in Aug! I say surprise but I know its God’s plan and will, we are due May 4, it’s a boy! I never found out the gender before but with this one I just felt like I wanted to know to plan on names and at least get some clothes up from the basement sitting in boxes!

*** here is one more weird twist on this: My oldest brother died this past July at age 46. I conceived about one month after his death, and my due date is one week after his birthday! God took my brother away but also gave us new life! I am brought to tears just saying that.

So now we are stuck! Do I name this boy after my brother who died, Jeffrey Paul (my dad’s name is Paul) or would that be too weird for my parents and siblings to see a little Jeff run around, or use Jeff as his middle name? Or do we stick to another boy’s J name, like Jacob, Jason, Joshua, or do we choose a Saint name around when he is born May 4? My father-in-law’s name is Ronald Michael, and my grandfathers names were Anton or Andrew.

Anything you can do to help us or shed some light, advice at all would be so helpful!

I was so inspired by Theresa’s story! I love how the timing of this baby coincided so amazingly with the passing of her brother — what a light this little one is in such a dark time for her family!

I can see why naming this baby after Theresa’s brother is an appealing idea. I don’t know if it would be too weird or too difficult for her parents and siblings to have a new little Jeff in the family — every family’s different, and probably the only way to know whether it would be too painful or not is to ask them. But I cautioned Theresa to only ask the question if she’s ready to adjust her actions based on their answer, you know? If she asks the question and they respond enthusiastically and happily that they would love that, then she’ll probably feel required to do so, even if she wasn’t totally sure she wanted to use Jeffrey as the first name. If she really loves Jeffrey and it’s meaningful to her to use it but her family responds negatively, it might be hard for her to switch to something else, where if she didn’t ask them and just did it, they would probably eventually come around (I mean, they’d have to — they couldn’t just not call him by his name forever!). But I could see how Theresa might not want to put them in that position.

If Theresa and her hubs decided to use Jeffrey as a first name but were still worried about how it would be received, they could consider using a different nickname than Jeff. Jay is the first one that comes to mind as a fairly natural one as it’s Jeffrey’s initial spelled out. Or J.P., if they did Jeffrey Paul. Or even if they didn’t want to call him that all the time, it might be nice to give family members the option.

I do like the idea of using Jeffrey as a middle name — it’s the natural spot for honor names that maybe aren’t quite right for first-name use, and it would allow her to use her brother’s name without the issue of whether or not it would be too painful for her family to use/hear on a daily basis. I like the idea of Paul Jeffrey a lot, especially if Paul was her brother’s middle name.

In fact, if Paul was Theresa’s brother’s middle name, my very favorite idea for her is either Michael Paul or Paul Ronald/Michael, after the two grandfathers, like Mary Kathryn is for both grandmothers (I thought Michael was more Theresa and her hubs’ style than Ronald, hence my thought of Michael Paul if they were going to do the first name for her father-in-law. If they put a name for Theresa’s father-in-law in the middle, I think both Paul Ronald and Paul Michael are fine). How cool to be able to work in both grandfathers and Theresa’s brother in one name!

If Paul wasn’t Theresa’s brother’s middle name, I still love the idea of naming after both grandfathers with her little guy’s name, since both grandmothers were honored with her oldest. If Theresa still wanted to work in her brother, she could consider two middles: Michael Paul Jeffrey, or Paul Michael Jeffrey, or Paul Ronald Jeffrey, etc. I wrote about double middle names here: https://sanctanomina.net/2017/10/04/double-middle-names/.

Another way to honor Theresa’s brother without using his exact name is to give her son the same initials. If Jeffrey Paul is her brother’s full name, then maybe something like Jacob Peter, Jason Pierce, or Joshua Patrick would do the trick — any time she’d tell her son’s name story, Theresa could say that they started with J.P. initials for her brother (or whatever his initials were) and went from there, so her brother would be an integral part of her son’s name story. Some people love this approach, and others think it’s too much of a stretch; if it helps, I always think intention is the most important part of baby naming (I wrote about that here: https://nameberry.com/blog/good-intention-baby-naming).

Theresa mentioned her grandfathers’ names Anton and Andrew — of those two, I feel like Andrew fits the style of her other kiddos’ names pretty well.

If Theresa and her hubs decide not to give their son Theresa’s brother’s first name, nor one of the grandfathers’ or great-grandfathers’ names, the other ideas Theresa mentioned were using another J name or using the name of a saint born around her baby’s due date. Regarding using another J name, I would only do so if they had a J name they really love. We already discussed Jeffrey, which of course would qualify, but unless they love Jacob, Jason, or Joshua (or James, which seems a better match for their family to me than Jacob, Jason, or Joshua), I don’t think there’s any need to consider a J name just because their other boys have J names. In fact, if they only had two children — John and Joseph — I might recommend against another J name, because it would really seem to lock them into a theme. Since Theresa and her hubs have four children, two of whom don’t have J names, and the two J’s aren’t even next to each other in the lineup, it’s far less of an issue — I think they could choose to use a J name or to use a different initial with no problem whatsoever either way. All this just to say again, I wouldn’t choose a J name just because their other boys have J names. But if they want to, they should go right ahead.

I looked up the saints/blesseds with feast days around May 4 (which, incidentally, is Star Wars day! Haha! “May the 4th be with you” and all that! If he was actually born on the 4th, I would be really tempted to suggest they use Luke! What a fun nod to Star Wars day AND an amazing Saint’s name! And I consider Luke to be a Marian name too, since his gospel is the most Marian, as it contains the Annunciation and Magnificat! But then, Luke is probably too similar to Lucy anyway, oh well). Anyway, back to the Church calendar, I actually thought it was a better idea to find names that really fit their taste/style, and then see if there are any saints with feast days around their due date with those names — they likely won’t have to choose between using a family name/name they like and choosing a saint’s name whose feast is near the baby’s birthday — there are so many saints and blesseds that I’m sure they can find a match!

To find names that I thought Theresa and her hubs might like, I started by looking up the names they’ve used for their older children 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 research, these are names that were pretty big style matches for this family:

(1) Thomas
Theresa’s kiddos’ names are as classic and saintly as they come, and Thomas fits right in with that! He’s a natural brother to Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph — as soon as I saw what a big match Thomas is for their style, I knew it would make my final list of suggestions!

(2) Charles
I was interested to see that the Charles family of names showed up as style matches for almost all the names they’ve chosen so far and those they like as well! Of those (Charles and Carl), I thought Charles fits their style best, and its nickname Charlie was actually a match for Lucy!

(3) Edward, Robert, William
I’m including these three together because Thomas and Charles were really the big winners in terms of style matches for Theresa and her hubs, but Edward, Robert, and William also did fairly well for them, and they all have feast days within a week (before or after) of Theresa’s due date.

So I looked up all the feast days from April 27 to May 11 — one week before Theresa’s due date to one week after — on CatholicSaints.info, which doesn’t have all the saints in its database but seems to be pretty darn close! It lists for each day the feasts of that day, both those that appear on the calendar and those that are minor feasts that don’t appear on the calendar. I thought these might of interest to Theresa:

April 27
Bl. Jacov Varingez (Jacov is a variant of Jacob, and James and Jacob are the same name [James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew], so this Blessed could be a patron for a Jacob or a James)

April 30
Bl. William Southerne

May 3
St. James the Lesser (this is the feast on the calendar for this day!)
Bl. Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz (Edoardo is a variant of Edward)
Bl. Tommaso Acerbis (Tommaso is a variant of Thomas)

May 4
Bl. Luca da Toro (I just listed this here for fun — an actual holy Luke with a feast on Star Wars day!)
Bl. Michal Giedroyc (Michal is a variant of Michael)
Bl. Paolini Bigazzini (Paolini is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Cologne (not too much known about him. Paulinus is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Senigallia (not much known about him either)
St. Robert Lawrence

May 5
Conversion of St. Augustine (I’m including this because it’s an amazing feast day! It seems like the kind of thing Theresa would like to know about. Augustine would make a great first or middle name)

May 6
Bl. Anthony Middleton (Theresa’s grandfather’s name, Anton, is a variant of Anthony)
Bl. Edward Jones
St. James of Numidia (for a James or a Jacob)
Bl. William Tandi

May 8
Apparition of Michael the Archangel (what an amazing feast day! It would be so neat to name a little boy born on this day Michael!)

May 9
Bl. Thomas Pickering

May 10
Feast of the Ascension (what an amazing feast day to be born on! It’s celebrated forty days after Easter, which, in 2018, falls on May 10. The apostles [minus Judas] witnessed the Ascension (Acts 1:6-9), so Thomas and James would be good names for a baby boy born on this day)
Bl. Antonio of Norcia (not much is known about him. Antonio is an Anthony variant, like Theresa’s Grandpa Anton)
Bl. William of Pontoise (; not much is known about him)

May 11
Bl. Diego of Saldaña (Diego is a Spanish form of James/Jacob)
Bl. James Walworth

Of course, even if Theresa and her hubs choose a name that corresponds to one of these feast days, they don’t have to feel bound to that Saint or Blessed if they don’t want to! There are so many great saints with these names! But if they like the idea of choosing a patron based on a birthday, there are some great ideas here I think. (Also, I didn’t include all the feasts on all the days — just the ones with names I thought they’d like — to check them all out, here’s the link for May 4, and then just go forward and back from there.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest and/or advice would you give Theresa and her husband in naming the little brother of Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph?

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Baby name consultation: Back again for baby no. 7 — lots of double names!

I had the great privilege of doing a consultation for Keri and her husband a couple of years ago for their fifth baby, and I’m delighted to post a consultation for their seventh baby today! They’re expecting a little girl who joins big sibs:

Keegan Thomas
Emma Claire (“and we do call her ‘Emma Claire’“)
Evan Jacob
Andrew Paul
John Paul Augustine (“John Paul”)
Mary Grace Elizabeth (“Mary Grace”)

I love all these names, and I have such a soft spot for double names! So fun that they have three kiddos with double names!

Keri writes,

You did a consult for me with Baby #5 (a boy) and I so enjoyed it! Since then we have added another sweet baby girl to our family and are now expecting #7, another girl! These last two girls (this will be our third daughter) are really blowing our minds as we had come to think of ourselves as a mostly boy family!

Obviously (and as you may remember from our previous consult), our names have become more Catholic in style. Keegan was named to honor my favorite cousin who passed away at the age of 20. His name was ‘Kevin Thomas.’ Back when we named Keegan we were more concerned with our names being ‘unique.’ The more kids we have the less we seem to care about that!

For years we said that if we ever had another girl after Emma Claire she would be ‘Elizabeth’ and we would call her ‘Libby’ or ‘Libby Jane’ (my mom’s middle name) or ‘Libby Kate.’ And then Mary Grace was even born on St Elizabeth Ann Seton’s feast day! But through a series of circumstances it became clear that she was to have a Marian name so we put ‘Elizabeth’ in the second spot, believing that we would never have another girl. We deeply regret that now and have even toyed with the idea of using the name anyway. I think I am starting to come to terms with the idea of something different, however. But … sigh …

Names we are tossing around currently include:
-Caroline
-Catherine (but I think we are getting close to ruling it out)
-Annaliese (nn Annie) or Annaliese Catherine (nn Annie Cate) OR
-Anna Catherine (full double name but prob would call her Anna Cate, at least for a while)
*the only problem with this is that I am not in love with Anna on its own. I do like Annaliese, though)
-Genevieve (nn Vivi? I don’t particularly like Evie and don’t like Ginny, etc)
-Isabel (could we call her “Libby?”)
-Cecilia (though I do have at least one friend with a Cecilia)
-Lucy (though I don’t think it’s long enough on its own. I think Lucia (Lu—SEE-uh) is gorgeous but not sure it fits in our family. Definitely considering it as a middle name as we LOVE St Lucy here!)
-Eloise (nn Lucy?) too little girlish? How will it age?
-Abigail
-Josephine (hubby is lukewarm and also have a friend with a Josie)

Other potential middles-
-Zelie or Azelie or even Azelie-Marie
-Jane (my mom’s middle name, though she didn’t like it. Sadly, she has early onset Alzheimer’s and can’t tell me what she thinks of it now)
-June
-Joy

I also love Evelyn (but too similar to Evan) and Imogen (similar to Emma). I like Eleanor but hubby doesn’t. We considered Cordelia for a few days but it doesn’t seem to quite fit (but it’s a lovely name). Something like Madeline or Adeline has also crossed our minds although I ruled out the former 7 years ago when I was first pregnant with a girl because it seemed so incredibly popular.

-Also worth noting: Emma Claire is OBSESSED with naming the baby Margaret. I think she got it from “Daniel Tiger.” 😂 It has seemed a bit old lady to me in the past but I do see the charm in it now and what amazing patrons! We are still not sure we would use it but it’s not as jarring to us as it was initially. We can’t use “Maggie”, however, which I do think is adorable.

Whew! That’s where we are now! Feminine names with strong patrons and probably either a double or at least 3 syllable first name? Also, if it helps at all had this baby been a boy I was thinking ‘Becket Ignatius.’

I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

Okay, so I’m totally with Keri on Libby Jane — I can see why she so regrets not having used it when they had the chance; I can see why she’s trying to let it go; and I too might also consider using Elizabeth again if I were in her shoes. It’s a pickle! But I had some ideas that I thought might be helpful regarding this particular dilemma:

  • Isabel nicknamed Libby was the first idea I had when I was reading Keri’s email, so the fact that they already have it on their list of possibles is good!
  • I was also surprised to see the fairly rare Lisbeth in my research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard — it’s a match for Annaliese! So that’s another Elizabeth variant that might interest them (you all know that I rely heavily on the BNW when doing consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity)
  • I also wondered if they’d be interested in creating a nickname from the first+middle combo? Something like Lillian Bernadette could allow for the nickname Libby … even Lillian Bernadette Jane for Libby Jane, or Lillian Bernadette Kate … Or Lauren Abigail … Or Laura Beatrice/Beatrix … with Kate or Jane as a second middle (all those names (firsts and middles) were either on Keri’s list or were results of my research)
  • In the same idea of making Libby out of an L first name and a B/B-heavy middle, I also thought maybe a first with a strong L that’s not necessarily the first letter could also do it? Like Zelie or Azelie as a first with Bernadette/Beatrice/Abigail as a middle. Or Olivia? Or Avila, which has “il” instead of “Li” contained in it, but I think something like Avila Beatrice would make Libby as a nickname very understandable

Some other thoughts about the names they’re considering:

  • Caroline: I love it, beautiful name. And its nickname Callie is so cute!
  • Catherine: Also wonderful, fits right in with their other kids
  • Annaliese [Catherine] nicked Annie or Annie Cate: Love! Great idea!
  • Anna Catherine nicked Anna Cate: Also beautiful!
  • Genevieve nicked Vivi: Totally works!
  • Cecilia: Such a pretty name
  • Lucy: See below
  • Eloise nicked Lucy: Definitely works (as does Louisa) … not sure what Keri means about Eloise not aging well though? I think it’s lovely and sophisticated for a woman!
  • Abigail: Very nice
  • Josephine: Also very nice

I think they have such great ideas! My favorite though is Lucy — Lucy is such a darling name, and it makes a double name so easily! Lucy Catherine can be Lucy Cate; Eloise Jane can be Lucy Jane. I don’t see any problem with Lucia in their family, but maybe Lucille is a better fit for them? I definitely love the Lucy idea!

Zelie/Azelie/Azelie-Marie are all beautiful. Regarding Jane, it seems to be meaningful to Keri, even if it wasn’t her mom’s favorite, and if using it makes Keri think of her mom in a positive way, I could see it being a really nice choice. The fact that her mom didn’t care for it could even be like a funny family story that gets told when they relate how their daughter got her name.

June and Joy are both lovely as well.

So funny that Evelyn and Imogen are both favorites, but so similar to names they’ve chosen already! I’m glad Keri included them in her email though, as it gave me extra data to work with. I’m amazed that they seriously considered Cordelia! It gets a lot of love on name boards, but I’ve rarely seen anyone seriously consider it. Such a fun addition to my list of names to research!

Madeline and Adeline are both beautiful, and interestingly, Madeline’s held steady in the 80s/90s for the past seven years (down from the 50s/60s before that), but Adeline’s jumped up like crazy recently! From 2011–2014 it was in the 200s, then 135 in 2015, then 63 in 2016! Wow!

And that’s too funny about Baby Margaret on Daniel! I’ve heard that from more than one parent! There are other nicknames for Margaret that they might like, since they can’t use Maggie: Maisie and Daisy are both traditional nicknames for it, and Meg/Megan, Greta, Marta, and Rita are all Margaret variants that can work nicely as nicknames.

Okay, so using the names Keri and her husband have already bestowed on their kids, as well as the names they like/are considering, as inspiration in my research, with a preference for double names and/or 3-syllable names, these are my ideas for Keri’s little girl:

(1) Stella, Stellamaris
Stella’s a match for Lucy and Claire, and the “el” sound showed up in a lot of names they like (Elizabeth, Isabel, Eloise, Eleanor, Zelie/Azelie), so I thought Stella was a good suggestion! Stella Jane, Stella Kate/Cate, Stella Joy, Stella June are all really sweet! Or, maybe they’d like to consider the confection Stellamaris?

(2) Adelaide
Adeline made me think of Adelaide, which is such a beautiful name! I looked it up in the BNW to see what names are style matches for it, and loved seeing Anneliese, Genevieve, Josephine, and Louisa (like Eloise on their list) listed! There are a couple Sts. Adelaide. I also think they could maybe make Libby work with the right middle name?

(3) Clementine
Eleanor, Eloise, and Genevieve yielded Clementine, which I thought was sort of similar to Cordelia, Catherine, Caroline, Madeline, and Adeline sound-wise. Although … now that I think about it … Emma Claire and Clementine are sort of like mirrors of each other? Both have prominent “Em” and “Cl” sounds … gah! Well, I’ll leave it on here anyway in case it sparks something. It’s a Marian name, and can also be for the Divine Mercy, since it means “merciful.”

(4) Audrey
Audrey! I hardly ever think of the lovely Audrey! So it was fun to see it matching up with Evan, Claire, Evelyn, and Abigail! I love the ideas of Audrey Jane and Audrey Kate! There is a St. Audrey, though for this one I think I like the idea of her patron saint coming from her middle name instead (St. Jane de Chantal and St. Catherine of Siena or Laboure are all wonderful!).

(5) Charlotte
Charlotte showed up too many times in my research to ignore! It’s a match for Claire, Annaliese, Evelyn, Madeline, Eleanor, Genevieve, and Josephine! It’s a Charles variant like Caroline is, so using Charlotte now would knock out Caroline for the future, but I thought I needed to mention it. Lottie is a sweet nickname that has a similar feel to me as Lucy, and I love Lottie Jane and Lottie Kate/Cate! There are some great patrons.

(6) Julia
Between Julia and Juliet, this name family was quite a hit for this family. Of the two, I thought maybe Julia was more their speed, and while Jane/June/Joy don’t work so well with it, Julia Catherine is gorgeous, and Julia Cate or Julie Cate are great nicknames. There are lots of holy Julias.

(7) Lydia
This was actually inspired by the previous consultation I did for Keri and her hubs! Keri had said that “Alexander has been a runner-up for every boy we have,” so I looked it up and was pleased to see Catherine, Charlotte, and Abigail listed as matches, and Lydia was included as well. So then I looked Lydia up, just to be sure of its style, and Cecilia, Grace, Clara, Eliza, and Julia were all matches, all of which are either exactly their style or swirling around it! Since Liddy is so close in sound to Libby, I wonder what they’d think of Lydia Catherine or Lydia Jane nicknamed Liddy Cate or Liddy Jane? I’ve always loved that Lydia in the bible sold purple cloth — all the little Lydias I know have taken purple as their own color! There’s also another St. Lydia besides the biblical one.

(8) Magdalen(e)
Madeline is actually a variant of Magdalene, and since they like Maggie and are thinking about Margaret, I thought maybe Magdalen/Magdalene might be a great compromise! Maggie’s the most obvious nickname, but since they can’t use it, I think Maddy, Molly, and Lena (they could do the full Magdalena if they prefer, to get to Lena) are all fine as nicknames. And they all could double up with Cate/Jane nicely I think!

(9) Tessa
I know this idea probably won’t work since, as noted in Keri’s previous consultation, they’re considering adding Therese as Emma Claire’s second middle name, but Tessa seemed so perfect to use in a double name that I thought I’d add it here just in case. And they do have Paul twice in their boys’ names (though I know they’re for different men), and they’re considering using Elizabeth again or a variant, so maybe another Teresa name is okay? Teresa would be a perfect given name, since it’s different from Therese, and Teresa Catherine/Teresa Jane to result in Tessa Cate/Tessa Jane are amazing.

And those are my ideas for Keri and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Keegan, Emma Claire, Evan, Andrew, John Paul, and Mary Grace?

Baby name consultation: Saintly and/or Marian connection for Rory

I received such a fun consultation request recently from Carey (we follow each other on Twitter) (I follow her husband too!)! Carey and her hubs already have one son:

Rory Nathaniel

I looooove the name Rory!! And Rory Nathaniel is a perfect combo. Love love love it.

They’re expecting their second baby, but the consultation request actually had to do with Rory! Carey writes,

I have a kind of unusual request for you. I was wondering if you could do a consultation on a baby I’ve already named? I was confirmed in the church while I was pregnant and I feel like we chose his name before we were truly immersed in the beauty and saintliness that is Catholic naming culture!

So anyway, would you be willing to look at my son’s name and share some Catholic connections we may not have thought of? I love your ability to connect names and intentions in unusual ways.

His name is Rory Nathaniel, and here’s the story: my husband and I both felt very picky about boy names, and we felt like we couldn’t use the ones we did like because they all belonged to family members or friends that would feel weird to name a baby after, if that makes sense.

We chose Rory because we love the show Doctor Who, in which Rory is a great (male) character, but I also binged Gilmore Girls while pregnant so I can’t deny the influence of that show, either. 😉 We tossed around the name Rory almost as a joke, but realized we actually liked the name and none of our other ideas stuck. By the time we found out he was a boy, it had been on top for a while.

We decided that with a two-syllable first and last name, we wanted a middle name with more musicality and narrowed our search to three-syllable saint names, but we were picky about a lot of them for one reason or another (several were vetoed because they would leave him with the initials/nicknames RB or RJ which I don’t like) until we settled on Nathaniel as good enough, since it is a saint name and also comes from Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, which was a book about sea navigation we both loved in school.

Rory’s story might have hinted at some of our nerdiness (Doctor Who, navigation) so I like those connections in his name but since converting I’ve been wondering if there are more religious connections (even esoteric ones) that we can claim retroactively. I don’t know if it’s possible but I would love it to have a sort of connection to Our Lady!

P.S. we’re due with #2 in August and so far our top boy/girl contenders are Elanor Grace and Joseph Augustine, both of which I like in part because they echo Rory’s name. We call him Roso and that would be cute paired with ‘Joso’, but I could also see us nicknaming an Elanor ‘Nory’ so either way, they’d be a pair. 🙂 “

(Roso and Joso/Nory! I die!)

I have to say I’m pretty impressed they didn’t let Gilmore Girls interfere with their love of the name Rory! I’ve seen it happen! Gah! Anyway, I applaud them — Rory’s a great name, and a great name for a boy. I also love that they’d love a connection to Our Lady through his name!

So I have a few ideas for saintly connections for their little man — hopefully one of them will strike the right chord!

(1) Connections from its “kingly” meaning
As far as I can tell, there’s no St. Rory (or Ruari/Ruaidhri), but since it means “red king, great king,” according to babynamesofireland.com (I know the rí part means king; I love the idea of “great king” but I’m not sure how that fits here? Ruadh means red), I think Jesus makes an excellent patron! There are loads of Jesus names like Christopher/Christina, Salvatore, Emmanuel, so it’s not unheard of to name a baby after Jesus, and a nod to His kingship is pretty great. Or maybe another notable king, like King David? Here’s a list of saints who were kings. If they wanted to tie into the “red” meaning, I did a spotlight on Ruby, which offers some good possible connections — the Precious Blood and the Passion both come right to mind.

(2) Could possibly think of it as a nickname for a male saint: Gregory, Lawrence, Robert
I’ve suggested Rory as a possible nickname many times for Gregory, and I recently posted a birth announcement for a little Gregory whose parents intend to call him Rory! I was so excited! Pope St. Gregory the Great is a cool patron for a little boy. I also think it could work as a nickname for Lawrence and Robert — St. Lawrence Brindisi and St. Robert Bellarmine are the ones I’m familiar with, but there are a bunch more Sts. Gregory, Lawrence, and Robert — Carey and her hubs might like to look through the lists and see if they make a connection with any? Sts. Gregory, Sts. Lawrence, Sts. Robert.

(3) Could possible think of it as a nickname for a Marian name: Aurora
I’ve seen Rory as a nickname for Aurora (I saw one birth announcement years ago where the parents had twin girls and named them Aurora and Therese, and called them Rory and Reese!), so they could possibly consider their son’s name to be a nod to that name. And Aurora can be Marian! I spotlighted its Marian connections here; if they feel like it’s just a bit too far to consider their son’s name Marian because of its connection to a girl name, I also wrote in that post how it can refer to Jesus as well.

(4) Maybe a connection to Rose or Rosary
The “red” meaning of Rory could maybe nod to roses, which is a symbol of Mary, and then I thought maybe they’d like it to nod to the full “Rosary,” which would be really interesting. The connection to Rosary can happen through the rose connection (based on the color meaning of Rory), or sound — I could see Rory being a natural nickname for Rosary, and I could also see parents coming up with Rory if they wanted to name a boy after the rosary (I did a birth announcement for a little Rosary here).

And those are all the ideas I came up with! What do you all think? Do you have any other ideas/suggestions for a saintly/Marian connection for Rory?

Baby name consultation: Nickname-as-given-name, plus charismatic name ideas

Ali and her husband are expecting their third baby! This little one joins big brothers:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph

I love both of those names! Using short-and-sweet names — including the way Ali and her hubs have done it, where the names are usually used as nicknames — is a really fun way to go.

Ali writes,

Max was a result of me and hubby not agreeing and finally he said “how about Max?” Zack, we chose because it was monosyllabic and had the ah sound like Max. Max’s middle name was chosen because hub’s grandma, Patricia, has just passed away. It was a nod to her and a nod to St Patrick. Zack was adopted and we had a particular affinity for St Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus during the long process.

We like the idea of a middle name being a saint name and the first name being a shortened saint name. So Max isn’t Maximilian and Zack isn’t Zachary or Zechariah or anything. Since my hubby is Andrew and goes by Andy and my name is Alison but I go by Ali, we wanted to give our children a short first name that was their actual name. I didn’t want a long name I was going to shorten anyways. So a cool nod, monosyllabic, to a saint for a first name with a saint or Marian middle name is the goal.

We will be finding out soon if it’s a boy or girl. I have really no clue what I want for a boy. All I know is what I don’t want — names ending in -ack or -ax and not starting with Ma-. I’m not a huge fan of Luke or Ben. I’m not completely opposed to two syllables if it’s a cool name. I kinda like Nate. Shortened form but stands alone fine, single syllable.

For girls, we really like the first name Kate, for my best friend Katherine (Katie) who passed away in college and a nod to St Catherine. We are not sold on it yet. We would love to somehow incorporate a Marian middle name because my mom is Mary.

My husband is a cradle catholic and I’m a convert. My confirmation Saint was St Stephen of MarSaba. I have a personal affinity for him, Joseph, and Francis of Assisi. We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome. [Ali offered the example of Jubilee.]

Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Besides Nate and Kate (didn’t realize they rhymed until now), we are completely stumped on names.”

I had a lot of fun working on this! I love that Kate is their frontrunner for a girl, and not just because it’s my name! 😊 I love the name Kate — if I had to choose my own name, I’m sure it’s the one I would pick. It can be spunky and serious, attorney and artist. Pairing it up with a Marian name for the middle, I think Kate Marie sounds fine, as does Kate Marian. Maybe Kate Rosemary? If they were open to branching out from Mary itself, I’m kind of digging the idea of Kate Rosary — I posted a birth announcement for a little Rosary when I first started the blog, and thought it was just the coolest idea. Or, to make the St. Catherine connection more obvious, Kate Siena? Or two middle names: Kate Siena Rose? Kate Siena Mary? Or, moving beyond Mary names, Kate Elizabeth would go quite nicely together.

It’s funny too that Ali said Nate is also a contender and that she didn’t realize they rhymed til she was emailing me — I know a sister and brother named Kate and Nate! They must feel like they go together!

Alrighty, so you all know that I normally start a consultation by looking up 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 Ali and her hubs — I looked up Max, Kate, Jack (as a stand-in for Zack), and Zachary, as I felt they would yield the best results — though I didn’t find it to be as helpful as usual. So I really just kind of went off in my own direction of trying to think of one-syllable nickname-type names that can stand on their own. I also consulted the “Short and Sweet” list in the back of the BNW. Based on all that, these are my ideas that I think fit in well with the feel of Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate:

Girl

(1) Tess
I looove the name Tess, and just like with Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate, it’s originally a nickname for a longer name — in fact, any of the Sts. Teresa/Therese can be patrons of a little Tess!

(2) Hope, Faith
I have some suggestions below that might fit in more with their charismatic sensibility, but I think Hope and Faith can kind of bridge the style of Max/Zack/Kate/Nate with that of some more out-there names like Jubilee (tangentially, this reminds me of this family, who has True, Brave, Soul, and Glow).

(3) Beth
Beth can certainly be for any of the Sts. Elizabeth, but I actually had Bethany more in mind when I added it to the list!

(4) Zoe
I know it’s two syllables, but you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s spunky and zippy, and it’s the birth name of a different St. Catherine — St. Catherine Laboure. (I should say, I assumed Ali’s St. Catherine is Siena! But maybe she meant Laboure?) But maybe they don’t care to repeat Zack’s initial?

(5) Liv, Viv
I almost included Eve as a suggestion, and ultimately decided it was a little too … staid? Serious? For what I perceive Ali’s and her husband’s taste to be? But Liv felt more like them, to me, and like Eve (and Zoe) it’s related to “life.” But to tie it to a saint, it’s used as a nickname for Olivia, so St. Oliver Plunkett can be patron, or Our Lady of Olives. It also made me think of the rhyming Viv, and it’s funny because just recently I was thinking again how disappointed I was in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they named their twins Knox and Vivienne, because, though I love Vivienne, I always felt like Knox and Viv would have gone together better, especially since the older sisters have the more-unusual-than-Vivienne names Shiloh and Zahara. (I know it’s weird that I have an opinion on it!) There’s a St. Vivian that can be patron.

(6) Mae, Rose
Mae is a Mary variant, so it can work to honor Ali’s Mom and Mother Mary! And Rose speaks for itself. I’m including them together because I did a consultation + birth announcement recently for a family who has girls Mae and Rose — those are their given names and I thought they were so pretty together.

There were a bunch of other names I considered but decided not to include in my “final” list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Clare, Shea, Elle, Abby, Molly, Jane, Rue.

Boy

(1) Sam
Funny that Sam is my first suggestion for Ali and her hubs on the boy list, when those two girls with the names that are the last on my girl list, Mae and Rose, have a brother Samuel! I love Sam with Max and Zack (and Kate/Nate if they do so later).

(2) Cole, Nico
Cole and Nico are both variants/nicknames of Nicholas, who’s a great patron!

(3) Leo, Theo
In my experience, parents who like shorter names like Leo and Theo. Leo’s a little different from their other ideas in that it’s a full name on its own and it didn’t start as a nickname (though it can be for Leopold/Leonard(o)), but Theo definitely has a similar feel as Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate.

(4) Hank
The name Hank makes me grin whenever I see it! What a fun name! It’s a traditional nickname for Henry, so any of the Sts. Henry can be patron.

(5) Tad
Tad is a nickname for Thaddeus, so they can choose St. Jude Thaddeus as patron, or Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican priest and martyr to whom I have a devotion.

(6) Eli
I think the biblical Eli ties nicely to Zack, which I think most people would connect with the longer biblical names, but it was actually listed as a style match for Max.

So those are my ideas for names that I think are similar enough to Ali and her hubs’ style that they might like them and feel comfortable with them. But I loved Ali’s comment, “We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome.” Keeping Jubilee in mind as inspiration, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Charis
Taken right from the word “charismatic” itself, and contained within the word Eucharist, Charis is a really pretty girl name. I’ve seen parents choose it because of the connection to the word Eucharist (and that part of Eucharist is the same as the “charis” in charism(atic)).

(2) Caeli
This could make a great middle name if they liked it but weren’t comfortable with it for the first name. It can be said CHAY-lee or KAY-lee, and it’s Latin for “of heaven,” as in the Marian title Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

(3) Halle
Not to talk football the day after the Superbowl 😀 , but Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers and his wife named their first baby Halle because Halle’s contained in Hallelujah. So cool, right?

(4) Roma
After Rome, like Roman Catholic!

(5) Pia
Pia means “pious,” and Our Lady is called “pia” in the Latin form of the Hail Holy Queen (O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria).

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

(7) Praise
One of the mamas I spotlighted on the blog because of her fantastically creative taste in names recently named a son à Kempis Exodus Praise, and I could see Praise being a really pretty name for a girl as well.

Boy

(1) Tiber
I love the name Tiber — this mama used it for her boy because of her conversion and her husband’s reversion. The Tiber is a river in Rome, so those that have converted are said to have “crossed the Tiber” — could be meaningful for Ali too!

(2) Blaise
Funny enough, that mom of Tiber also has a Cole (which I suggested above) and a Blaise, which also strikes me as a great charismatic name because of how it sounds like “blaze”!

(3) Cruz
Those who don’t have any Hispanic ancestry might feel weird about using this name, but that didn’t stop the Beckhams! Cruz means “cross” and refers to the Cross of Crucifixion.

(4) Pace
I totally would have suggested Pax if they didn’t already have Max, but Pace means the same: peace.

(5) Rio
When Pope Francis visited Rio de Janeiro, I immediately started thinking about Rio as a faithy name! It could be a nod to Pope Francis via his trip there, or the River Jordan, or John the Baptist because he baptized Jesus in the Jordan.

(6) Creed
Fans of The Office will probably laugh at this suggestion! But it’s a great name, full of faith significance.

I also did a post a while back on Holy Spirit names, which might interest Ali and her hubs.

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

Baby name consultation: Sister names for Henry and Eleanor

Happy Monday y’all!! I’m beyond overjoyed that it’s the last Monday of January!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sort of dread January. It’s so long and so cold. But February is short and March is spring! We’re almost there!

Corrie and her husband are hoping for baby number three! They already have:

Henry Layne (“My son Henry was easy to name. We both liked it. His middle name was picked by my husband after one of his favorite musicians Layne Stanley. We though he might be a Hank but it turns out he prefers Henry“)

Eleanor Grace (“We really struggled to name my daughter. We ended up in the hospital with a long list of names (she was born 4 weeks early) and spent the first 24 hours of her life considering possibilities. We chose Eleanor which “goes with” Henry. She has developed many nicknames (and she is only 10 months). We began calling her Ella, which has now morphed into Bella and Belle. Her middle name is Grace. It is my favorite virtue and has very powerful meaning to me“)

Henry and Eleanor are such a pleasing pair! I love both names on their own, and I love them together!

Corrie writes,

For a boy I really like Maxwell Caleb (nn Max) or George Crosby.

For a girl, I have many names that I like but not sure I can pick one. I really would like to use Charlotte in some way … first or middle.

I feel like a lot of my favorite names won’t work — no Eloise (close to Ella), Elise, Nora, Stella, Isabelle (or any -belles, Annabelle).

I hesitate using Jane because of “Layne.”

We cannot use Emily, Margaret, Abigail, Allison or Alice. For various reasons these are vetoed names.

Names I consider are Charlotte (nn Lottie) but struggle with finding a middle that flows and/or is meaningful … Madeleine, Lillian (Lilly), Margot, Louise, Avery (I know this is a different style … but I do love it), Olivia, Rose, Gemma, Colette, Adora, Cecelia, Annaliese, Katherine (nn Kate).

My husband has always loved Audrey Claire. Henry and Audrey sounded clunky to me. He also likes Evelyn, Lucy, Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Anne, Caroline, Wilhelmina, Gwen, Aveline.

Family/Honor names could be: Hazel, Elizabeth, Anne, Frances, Marie.

Henry likes Sophie.

We don’t shy from a name because it is popular. After all Henry is #2 in our state now. We love a good nickname too.

I prefer no first names starting with “H” or “E” as each child will have their own initial. I was intrigued by your blog post with 2 middles also … Like “Avery Marie Frances” … but then my heart does want to incorporate Charlotte and when I try I always get stuck. Hence my letter to you.”

So I love both Maxwell and George if they were to have a boy, I think both would fit in nicely with Henry and Eleanor.

I can see why they’re struggling with coming up with a girl name! It’s amazing to me all the names that they like that they can’t use because of being too close to Eleanor or one of her nicknames.

If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about Layne and Jane rhyming — middle names are rarely known by others unless you really make it a point to use first+middle all the time, so middle-name Layne and first-name Jane are no problem to me. I think they’re even less of a problem if they use Jane as a middle name as well! I am interested, though, in how much Corrie and her hubs love the long A sound, having considered Hank and used Layne and Grace for their existing children, and having Caleb, Avery, Kate, and Claire on their list of possibles. I’m not sure what to do with that though, just an interesting thing to be aware of.

Their style is very very consistent! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names that the parents have used and 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 usually look for overlap — names that are listed as style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list — and there was overlap all over the place for this family! So much so that there were several times when I saw a name and thought, “This is perfect for them!” and then I’d see that it’s already on their list. Amazing!

Even Avery, which Corrie noted is a different style, isn’t as different as I originally thought. According to the BNW, it’s a match for Audrey, which also includes Claire, Evelyn, and Charlotte as matches. Pretty great!

I was thinking about how Corrie said she loves Charlotte/Lottie but struggles with finding middle names that flow and/or are meaningful. Charlotte Avery immediately came to mind as a possibility, which I quite like — I think it has the spunk and unexpectedness of Henry Layne and George Crosby (which I think Eleanor Grace also has through her various nicknames). The fact that they like both Charlotte and Avery reminds me of this family, who have daughters named Josie, Brady, Mary, Charlotte, and Sloane — a good example of different styles in the same family. And honestly, I got a little swoony over Avery Marie Frances! That’s really one of my very favorite ways to name — an unexpected first name with a more familiar middle name, or a traditional first name with a surname middle, or a super saintly first or middle paired with a more contemporary name with a secular feel are all really fun ways of combining styles. Charlotte Avery and Avery Marie Frances (as well as Henry Layne and George Crosby) all do that.

I wanted to spend a minute thinking of combos that include Charlotte and middle names that might go together well. Using the names on Corrie and her hubs’ list and their family/honor names, maybe:

  • Charlotte Hazel Anne (this is extra nice because Anne is on the list of names Corrie’s husband likes)
  • Charlotte Marie Frances or just Charlotte Frances/Charlotte Marie
  • Charlotte Avery Marie
  • Charlotte Elizabeth (this is very similar in style to Eleanor Grace I think)
  • Charlotte Hazel (ditto Charlotte Elizabeth)
  • Charlotte Avery Hazel (could Hazel possibly work to honor both Hazel and Elizabeth? Since Elizabeth contains all the letters in Hazel …)
  • Charlotte Avery Jane (I like the idea of Avery-Jane as a first name too, the addition of Jane swings it closer to Henry and Eleanor in style, and adding Avery maybe reduces the issue of Layne and Jane rhyming? This also makes me think of Avery-Kate, which is sweet)

There are so many names from their lists that I was pleasantly surprised by! A few thoughts:

  • Louise is so close to the Eloise that they love, it’s a perfect solution if they really want Eloise but can’t
  • I’ve never heard of the name Adora! Gorgeous, and such amazing meaning!
  • Annaliese seems the perfect solution to honoring two of their family members, as it’s a combo of Anne and Elizabeth. It’s an even closer match if they use the Anneliese spelling. It reminds me too of Marieliese, which is a combo of Marie and Elizabeth. I like them both for this family. Charlotte Annaliese? Charlotte Marieliese? Even Anne-Elise and Marie-Elise could work, they’re both so pretty
  • I love that Corrie’s husband has always loved Audrey Claire! It’s a gorgeous combo, and exactly their (collective) style, based on my research. I guess I can see what Corrie means about not loving the sound of Henry and Audrey together, but if they were to say their kids’ names together, I think Henry, Eleanor, and Audrey, or Henry, Ella/Bella/etc., and Audrey sound fine!
  • Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Wilhelmina, Gwen, and Aveline are all surprising! I definitely think there are ways of working the idea of these in … like Poppy can be a nickname for something, even just an affectionate nickname that’s unrelated to the given name. It can certainly work as a nickname for Penelope and Persephone from Corrie’s husband’s list, as well as names like Perpetua and Apollonia. I wonder what they would think of Willa? It’s like Wilhelmina, and a style match for Gemma on Corrie’s list. Gwen is sweet, but I feel like the long Gwendolyn might be a better fit? And the fact that Corrie has Avery and Olivia on her list and her hubs has Evelyn and Aveline on his list really seems like there must be some name out there that combines what they both love, like Livia, Livian or Liviana/Livianna, Livienne, Avila, Genevieve (this also seems like maybe it could loop in Gemma and Gwen?), Evangeline, or Averil

I also love that Henry likes Sophie! So cute!

Alright, so I was pretty excited to do the research for Corrie and her hubs, since there are so many names on their lists — I was really interested to see what might result as new ideas for them. It was definitely challenging! As I mentioned before, so many times I would see a name and think, “Aha!” only to remember that that name was already on one of their lists! And really, I feel like, just based on what Corrie said, the choice is basically down to Charlotte or Avery. So maybe these extra ideas aren’t helpful at all! But it was fun to come up with them anyway:

(1) Josephine
I think this is my favorite idea for this family. It’s long and French like Charlotte, and I think Poppy as a nickname is totally feasible. I’ve also seen Posy/Posey as a nickname for it, which is adorable, and I’ve long thought that Sophie can even work as a nickname for Josephine, which might be a good way of working in Henry’s idea.

(2) Rosemarie
Rosemary is actually a style match for Penelope, but I thought it was similar enough to the feel of Henry and Eleanor that it was a good suggestion. I thought Rosemarie was a better variant because it incorporates the Marie from their family/honor list. But what really sealed the deal was the nickname Romy — Corrie said they love a good nickname, and Romy is actually a style match for Poppy! Of course, Rosie/Rosey is a natural nickname, and I’ve seen Rory too, as well as Roo (I think it was for Rosemary Olivia!), which is adorable. Or just Ro! Cute!

(3) Felicity
Felicity is a match for Gemma and Anneliese (as a stand-in for Annaliese) on Corrie’s list, and Penelope on her husband’s! I really like it as a sister to Henry and Eleanor! I know some families who hesitate because it doesn’t have a huge amount of traditional nicknames, but I did a spotlight post on Felicity that addressed that issue, and there are a bunch to consider, from the more demure Lily to the fun and spunky Flicka.

(4) Beatrice, Beatrix
Henry and Eleanor have a nice Brit feel to them, and Beatrice, which is a match for Eleanor and Eloise, and Beatrix for Penelope, have that same feel I think. Bea is a sweet nickname, and Trixie is traditional as well. I’ve also seen Betsy, and I wonder if they did Beatrice with the nickname Betsy, if that might work as an honor for their Elizabeth? Since Betsy is a traditional Elizabeth nickname?

(5) Phoebe
I was surprised at how well Phoebe did for them! It’s a match for Belle, Charlotte, Penelope, and Sophie! Phoebe’s a sweet name, and Grace Patton’s little Phoebe is such pip, she’s totally made me love the name even more (here,
here, etc.).

(6) Philippa, Pippa
Speaking of Pip, I’m kind of loving Pippa for them! It can totally hold its own with Henry and Eleanor, and it’s similar in sound/appearance to Poppy, Penelope, and Persephone. I also love Ella/Bella/Belle/Ella Grace/Bella Grace with Pippa — what a sweet pair of sisters! If they prefer something a bit more formal with Pippa as a nickname, Philippa’s the traditional choice, a la Princess Kate’s sister Pippa (given name Philippa Charlotte).

(7) Molly, Maisie, Daisy
These ideas are all really inspired by the fact that Corrie said they love a good nickname. Molly’s a match for Henry, Max, Nora, Lucy, Stella, Lily, Kate, and Sophie. Such a great fit for them! If they felt like they preferred a more formal given name, Molly’s origin is as a nickname for Mary, so maybe they could use the Marie on their family/honor list in its place. I’ve already offered a few Marie- names (Marieliese, Marie-Elise, Rosemarie), and Molly could be nicknames for all of them (maybe Marie-Rose more than Rosemarie if you wanted Molly as a nick?). I also like the idea of Madeleine nicked Molly, and Marie Lillian/Marie Louise/Marie Penelope/Marie Olivia/Marie Colette nn Molly.

Maisie’s similar in that it started as a nickname (for Margaret) and it’s a specific style match for Poppy. I know Corrie said Margaret was out (and I love the variant Margot that they have on their list), but I wondered if maybe they would consider something like Marie-Hazel and use Maisie as a nickname?

And Maisie made me think of Daisy, which is also a traditional Margaret nickname, and similar in style to Poppy. I’m not sure what to suggest as a formal name for Daisy, since Margaret’s out, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway, in case it sparks something.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Corrie and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry and Eleanor?

Baby name consultation: Post-conversion baby needs a saintly name!

Why don’t we kick off the weekend with a baby name consultation?! Hooray! 😄🎉

Arenda and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big sibs:

James Elias (“we both just loved the name James, and we thought it was neat it was the name of one of the apostles. We’re drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middle names, and we both liked the way the names James and Elias flowed together“)

June Adelle (“while we were on our honeymoon road-tripping across the USA, Jeremy and I read Johnny Cash’s autobiography aloud to each other. We both loved the name of Johnny Cash’s wife, June. She was known as a woman of great hospitality – so we agreed then that if we ever had a baby girl we’d name her June after June Carter. Plus, my birthday happens to be in June, so that’s a nice little connection, too. We both liked the way June + Adelle flowed together“)

Alice Genevieve (“we both really like simple, classic names. Alice is a sweet and feminine name — and our daughter totally fits her name that way! We both liked the flair/heft that Genevieve adds to Alice, and it turns out there’s a Saint Genevieve, which is lovely. Both Adelle and Genevieve sound French, which is funny seeing as my husband and I are both Dutch [though our heritage doesn’t factor heavily in our naming]“)

Gorgeous names, right?? I love each one!

Arenda writes,

My name is Arenda, and my husband Jeremy and I are expecting a baby in March. We’d love your input on naming this little one! A little bit about us: we’ve been married for nine years, have three kids, and are both major book nerds. 🙂 Jeremy and I grew up Protestant and just joined the Catholic Church this past April. He was attending seminary to become a Protestant pastor when we both felt the call to the Church. (Super lengthy blog post detailing our conversion here [by Arenda; this one‘s by Jeremy)].)

(I just want to jump in and say how much I love reading conversion stories, and how much regard I have for those who have to leave behind a whole network of friends and sometimes family members in order to enter the Church.)

When we were naming our children, we mostly chose names that appealed to us on an aesthetic level. But I do love that our kids ended up with names that have saintly connections, even if we didn’t intend it that way at the time! 

With this little one, we’d love to name him/her in a meaningful way after a saint or two, or to choose a name based on its meaning. My husband is really drawn to older names like Charles, Henry and George … I like classic names, too, but I find those a little much! He also loves the name Mary, while I find it rather plain. I love the idea of having a Marian name of some sort, though … and more specifically, a name associated with Our Lady of the Rosary.

Some names we’ve considered or are considering:

Boys
– Joseph ([my hubs] found a job after praying a novena to Saint Joseph)
– Matthias (maybe)
– Ambrose (too much?)
– Andrew (kinda plain)
– Xavier (I like the Zavier pronunciation better, but don’t want to have an unusual spelling)
– Patrick
– John Paul
– Pierce (I really like your suggestion of naming a boy Pierce because of Mary’s heart being pierce with a sword; also, Peter Kreeft’s books were integral in our conversion, and it seems like a neat way to honour that without actually using the name Peter. Could also use the name Simon …)

Girls
– Rosa (simple and sweet; quite love this!)
– Rosemary (I like this name, but don’t really like the herb, lol)
– Marigold (I really like this name, and it also reminds me of my grandma who always had lots of marigolds planted around her home – but it sort of seems like a name for a blonde baby? and we’re both brunettes)
– Rosetta (this was on our list when I was pregnant with Alice and I still really like it)
– Roma (to honour our joining the Church … except it always makes me think of Roma tomatoes)
– Gemma (but also has the J sound — too much having a James, June and Gemma?)
– I also quite like the name Francesca, but more as a middle name
– Catherine (I’m reading Sigrid Undset’s biography of Catherine of Siena and her life was one of such devotion to Christ! But, I tend to prefer softer names for girls)
– Dorothea (means ‘gift of God’, which is lovely)
– Josephine (love this name, but June has a doll named Josefina — maybe as a middle name?)
– my husband also really likes Gianna, and I find her story very compelling, but find the name a bit of a mouthful. And it’s a bit rhymey with our last name.

We haven’t had much time yet to get acquainted with the saints, but here are a handful who are meaningful to us…
– St. Thomas Aquinas (Jeremy’s a theology teacher and loves the writing of St. Thomas)
– St. Augustine (ditto)
– St. Catherine of Siena (so devoted to Christ)
– St. John Paul II (holy man)
– St. Joseph
– St. Anne
– Mary

We have quite a long list of names to avoid because we both come from bigger families and would like to avoid duplicates. For girls: Amber, Charlotte, Eden, Emerson, Everly, Georgia, Heidi, Ivy, Kelsey, Kim, Kristi, Leighton, Leila, London, Mackenzie, Michelle, Renae, Sadie, Skye, Tanya, Zara. And for boys: Aaron, Anthony, Austin, Brian, Calvin, Colin, Edward, Gabriel, Jake, Jonathon, Duane, Jaxon, Lucas, Matthew, Peter, Ron, Sawyer, Stan, Terry, Thomas, Timothy.

And we have a couple name requirements, too! One is that it be a name that’s recognizable and not going to be mispronounced. My name is Arenda (a Dutch name that rhymes with agenda) and people are often confused when I introduce myself. We also prefer classic spelling of names, names without awkward nicknames, names that aren’t super trendy, and names that are clearly boy/girl names. Also, [no names that rhyme with Anne, as they would also rhyme with their last name] (I quite adore the name Anne, for St. Anne and for Anne of Green Gables, but I just can’t do it!). I do quite like repeating initials in names — like Ruby Rosetta. So cute! And we don’t care for names that are rather a mouthful (Thaddeus, for example).”

Alrighty! So I laughed out loud when I read that names like Charles, Henry, and George are “a little much” for Arenda — according to the Baby Name Wizard (which, as you all know, I always use in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) they’re exactly this couple’s style! Henry especially is one I would have suggested to them if Arenda hadn’t said she doesn’t care for it.

Many Catholics find Mary too plain, but there are a million ways to honor her using different names! My first thought was, maybe a Mary double would be a nice compromise between Arenda’s hubs liking it and Arenda thinking it’s too plain? Mary doubles are a very Catholic naming tradition! If the second name was more adventurous, maybe that would appeal to her? Something like Mary Aquinas, for example. Or Mary Corinne, Mary Seraphina, Mary Sabine, Mary Paloma, Mary Esther, or Mary Fiona (I’m pulling all these ideas from style matches from some of the more unusual names on their list, like Adelle, Rosa, Matthias, Ambrose, Xavier, and Pierce). Or, because Arenda said she likes alliteration, Mary Margaret, which might be one of the quintessential Catholic combos! Or perhaps she’d prefer them to be first+middle combos, rather than double first names? Either way, they could do nicknames that come from the first and second names together, like Marin for Mary Corinne, Maisie for Mary Seraphina or Mary Sabine, Maple (to get really interesting!) from Mary Paloma, Missy from Mary Esther, or Mina from Mary Fiona. Mary Margaret could be Mimi. Or they could use the second name as the call name, which is also a very Catholic tradition! St. Therese and all her sisters and her mom had Marie as their first name, but they all went by their second names. My dad has four first cousins named Mary ___ and they go by their middle names; his mom was Mary Loretta and she went by Loretta. So lots of ways to work with Mary, if they wanted to try to figure something out that would appeal to both of them!

I was also interested to see that, according to the BNW, Mariana is a style match for Elias, Marian for June, and Marion for Adelle, so maybe they’d like to consider one of those as a nod to Our Lady?

In terms of Our Lady of the Rosary, any of the Rose names on their list can honor her, as Rosary arose as a term for a figurative “crown of roses” for Mary. Arenda also said she loves Rosa, which would totally do the trick, as would Rosemary and Rosetta. I also wondered what they’d think of Rosary itself? I did a consultation and birth announcement a while ago for a mama who wondered if it would be weird to name her baby Rosary as a first name; she ended up doing so, and I just love it. I subsequently discovered that Rosary is not uncommon as a given name in Louisiana!

Another possibility in regard to honoring OL of the Rosary is that she was formerly called Our Lady of Victory, since devotion to her in this way is due to her intercession in the battle of Lepanto, so Victoria (or Victor for a boy) could be a nod to her. (I think this wiki entry is pretty accurate.)

Regarding the names they’re considering:

  • They can’t go wrong with Joseph! (But too many J’s?)
  • I love Matthias
  • Ambrose is a heavy name from the sense that it’s not popular and might also be totally unfamiliar to some people. My husband and I have considered it for a few of our boys, and really like the ideas of Sam and Bram as nicknames for it. One caution is that one of my readers has an Ambrose, and she said doctors’ offices and such are constantly mistaking him for a girl (Amber Rose) (but her son loves his name)
  • Regarding Andrew, something that might help is that Fr. Andrew Apostoli was a great priest who recently passed away, and I remember when I heard him speak once he referred to Andrew the Apostle as his patron, which is such a no-brainer but it really struck a chord with me — I’ve never known anyone named Andrew who’d really connected with any of the Sts. Andrew. So I thought that was pretty cool
  • They can totally do the Zavier pronunciation with the Xavier spelling! Both ZAY-vyer and ek-SAY-vyer are acceptable and traditional pronunciations! I wrote about the pronunciations of Xavier here (and got a little uppity!)
  • Patrick and John Paul are great, solid, saintly names
  • I love Pierce for them! And Simon too!
  • Rosa is lovely
  • Regarding Rosemary, since the herb association is problematic, I wonder if the variant Rosemarie would strike Arenda as a better fit? Roma could be a nickname for either Rosemary or Rosemarie, which would allow them to use two of the names on their list!
  • I don’t think Marigold is only for blondies! My friend recently named her baby Marigold, and all of her kids have darker hair
  • Rosetta’s such an unexpected Rose name, really pretty
  • Roma I love … maybe also Roman for a boy?
  • I can see what Arenda means about James, June, and Gemma. Another consideration is that Gemma is sometimes used as a feminine form of James
  • I think I agree with Arenda about Francesca being better as a middle name
  • St. Catherine of Siena is great! If not Catherine, maybe Siena as an unusual middle? She was also called Euphrosyne as a child — Greek for “joy” — so maybe Joy as a middle name? (Or Euphrosyne!)
  • I do love the meaning of Dorothea
  • Being the mom of boys, I’ve never had to worry about baby doll names interfering with naming my babies! Josephine would be lovely in the middle
  • St. Gianna is pretty awesome … her name is the Italian form of Joanna/Joan/Jean/Jane, so any of those could work in her honor, though Jane is too close to James and Joanna has the “Ann” problem with their last name, bummer

Regarding their list of saints, I had two thoughts I’d like to add: One is that the Charles family of names is often used to honor JP2, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. I know Arenda said her husband likes Charles and she doesn’t; maybe she’d like to consider Carl/Karl? I also know several boys with Karol as a first or middle — one is Joseph Karol, which would be nice since they have Joseph on their list (though, that’s a lot of J’s!). I’ve even seen a Lolek or two! Lolek was his childhood nickname, which is a Polish diminutive of Karol. For girls, I know little Charlottes (which I know they can’t use), Carolines, Karolines, and Karolinas named in his honor.

The second idea I had, re: St. Anne, is that I’ve thought that Stanislaus could work because of the first four letters being the same first four letters of “St. Anne.” Arenda said she’s drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middles, so maybe Stanislaus could qualify? Another neat thing about Stanislaus is that I think it could honor JP2 too, because he had a devotion to him. I relate an awesome story about the connection between JP2 and St. Stanislaus here, and I did a spotlight of the name here.

Alrighty, so I’ve already offered a bunch of ideas based off of the names Arenda and her hubs are considering, but I have a few more. These are based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, as well as ideas I had that just felt like good suggestions (very scientific, I know! Haha!). I tried to make sure I didn’t list any names that were on the list of names they can’t duplicate, and also that the names are recognizable and not likely to be mispronounced, and that don’t sound weird with their last name. These are my ideas:

Girl

(1) Molly
I scribbled this down on my list for them before I even cracked open the BNW! I was initially inspired by St. Gianna — I’ve seen people use Molly in her honor, since her name is Gianna Beretta Molla. Additionally, Molly is a Mary variant — in fact, its origin is as a nickname for Mary, though it’s come to be a name in its own right. They could still use it as a nickname — maybe even for Mary Gianna, where Molly works as both a nickname for Mary and a nod to St. Gianna? I like it both ways for them: as a nickname, or as a given name.

(2) Clare, Clara (Chiara?)
I think my favorite here for them is Clara, but Clare (or Claire) is certainly lovely. St. Clare of Assisi is a wonderful patron, and actually, her name was really Chiara, which is the Italian form of Clare, and I love the idea of Mary Chiara for this family! I also know several little Chiaras named for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano. But I wonder if this family of names is similar to Catherine for them in being not soft enough?

(3) Lucy
I know of a little Lucy June (she goes by both, SO CUTE!), so I actually already had Lucy in mind for this family when I saw they have a June, and then my research revealed that Lucy’s a match for their style. I love it! And the Ruby Rosetta that Arenda mentioned loving (as do I!) made me think of Lucy Loretta — Loretta’s a Marian name by virtue of the fact that it’s generally considered by Catholics to be a variant of Loreto, as in the Holy House of Loreto.

(4) Nora
I’ve seen Nora used as a nickname for Eleanor, Honora, and Annora (which is technically an Honora variant but could be a cool way to name a baby after St. Anne), but it’s also a name on its own, and has that same classic, sweet feel of James, June, and Alice. There’s a Ven. Honora Nagle, and they could also connect it to St. Helena via Eleanor, and also (a closer fit, I think) to Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name is rendered as both Eleanor and Elanor. And actually, Elanor is fun for two “major book nerds” as it’s a Tolkien character name! I know a little girl named Elanor for that reason.

(5) Beatrice
I felt really good about Molly, Clara, Lucy, and Nora for this family, but I’m less sure about Beatrice — if it hadn’t been listed as a style match for Alice, Genevieve, and Dorothea, I probably wouldn’t think to mention it. But Bea is a fantastic nickname, and Beatrice can actually be considered Marian, as its “mother” name, Beatrix, means “she who blesses, makes happy, delights” in Latin, which points to the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy).

Boy

(1) Leo
I was far less confident in my ideas for boys than for girls! Leo’s the one that I think Arenda and her hubs might be most likely to like. Pope St. Leo the Great is a, ahem, great patron 😊; I have a nephew Leo — I love hearing it on him, such a great name!

(2) Owen, Oliver, Oscar
My favorite of these for this family is Oliver, after St. Oliver Plunkett — I love how James, June, Alice, and Oliver sound together! But I listed Owen first because my nephew Leo’s little brother is Owen! St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints, so courageous! And Oscar’s a style match for Alice, Josephine, and Rosa; Bl. Oscar Romero would be patron.

(3) Dominic
Not only is Dominic a style match for Elias, Genevieve, Matthias, and Gianna, and a great saint in my humble and unbiased opinion 😊, but I also think Dominic can honor Our Lady of the Rosary — tradition holds that Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic and asked him to promulgate it. I have this lovely image of Our Lady, Baby Jesus, St. Dominic, and St. Catherine on a medal I wear always. Also, since they love OL of the Rosary, they’d probably love Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary (Marian Press, 2016) — it’s an amazing historical and faith-filled account of the history of the rosary, and the Dominicans are HUGE in it — in fact, in the beginning are pages and pages of endorsements from top Dominicans all around the world.

(4) Louis
Speaking of Dominicans and Our Lady, St. Louise de Montfort is one of the most Marian saints, and his name is a style match for Adelle, Alice, Catherine, and Rosa, and Louie is the most darling nickname!

(5) Benedict, Bennett
I was going to end with Theodore, but since it’s the same name as Dorothea (but masculine, and with the elements reversed), I thought I’d end with Benedict and its variant Bennett. Benedict’s a style match for Genevieve, Matthias, and Dorothea, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is so so wonderful. St. Benedict of Nursia is also the father of western monasticism. And I think Benedict can also be considered Marian because of its meaning, “blessed.” But I wonder if Benedict is too much of a mouthful like it’s style match Thaddeus? In which case, maybe Bennett would suit their taste better? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict.

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

Baby name consultation: Short+sweet, easy to pronounce, Celtic feel

Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:

Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)

Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)

You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!

Caitlin writes,

First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.

There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?

On to some lists!

Names we do like, for inspiration:
Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla
Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver

Names we do like but can’t use:
Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice
Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)

Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat:
Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc)
Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen

Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉
Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey

Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow:
Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady

My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”

Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.

I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.

I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:

  • Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
  • Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
  • Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!

Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):

  • I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
  • I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
  • Malachy is an Irish saint’s name and an anglicized form of some heavy-duty old Irish names
  • Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
  • Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
  • I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
  • For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
  • I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
  • Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
  • St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
  • Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
  • Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below

Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

Girl

(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)

(2) Eva
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

(3) Maisie
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.

(4) Tess(a)
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)

(5) Grace
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).

Boy

(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.

(2) Henry
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.

(3) Colin
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.

(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).

(5) Casey
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.

There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.

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