Fun Friday Question: What name “rules” have you heard?

ETA: I forgot to start out by wishing you all a happy feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim!! I just finished a novena to our wonderful patroness St. Anne, which I offered for all of you and your intentions. ❤ ❤ ❤

I regularly hear from parents that they can’t use this name or that name because of some name “rule” they’ve heard or created in their own minds. I don’t mind rules at all, if that’s what you’re into! Name rules can help narrow down a long list of possibilities, and help clarify for parents what characteristics are important for them in the names they end up choosing for their children. Sometimes rules are even best served by being broken — for a parent to break his or her own rule in choosing a name for their child shows some real love for the chosen name — how wonderful! For my husband and I, our rules include (1) strong, saintly name, (2) gender specific, (3) traditional spelling and pronunciation, (4) sounds nice with last name, (5) honors family, (6) hasn’t been used by our siblings for their children (though this is more because we don’t want to offend others and less because we don’t want first cousins to share names), (7) fits with our older boys’ names in terms of style and feel, and (8) has a good nickname.

But these are all very subjective. In fact, I’m not sure “rules” is the right term — “preferences,” even “strong preferences,” even “non-negotiable preferences,” might be better.

Then there are the Objective Rules, of which there are … none. I’m not talking about requirements of the faith, like how for Catholics there’s the rule against bestowing names that are “foreign to Christian sensibility,” or how most Ashkenazic Jews won’t name babies for living relatives (though I’m very interested in hearing about “rules” in other faiths and cultures!), I’m talking about objective American naming rules. There are recommendations, sure. Bits of wisdom, yes. Cautions and advice, plenty. But rules? I’m not talking about “computers won’t allow for accents on official documents,” I’m talking about rules like:

–> The first and last name can’t start with the same letter (alliteration).

–> The first name and last name can’t have the same number of syllables (especially when it comes to one syllable).

–> A daughter shouldn’t have the same name as her mother.

–> You can’t give your child the same name as your niece/nephew/cousin/cousin’s child/friend/neighbor/acquaintance’s pet.

Those are some that I’ve heard explicitly from parents, or sometimes they’re only alluded to when parents are explaining their name dilemmas, and it makes me feel badly because sometimes parents get themselves all tied up in knots over things that they really don’t need to worry too much about. Swistle deals with this regularly in the letters parents write to her, and Abby from Appellation Mountain has tackled this as well (I love this):

I stumble across rules for naming children all the time. Sing along with me: no invented names, spell things correctly, use names for the appropriate gender … and on and on and on.

But language is slippery, and rarely obeys our efforts to put it into a neat little box. The same person who insists that names must have roots and be spelled properly will love Ryan (a name new to the US Top 1000 in the 1940s) and Connor (a 1980s debut … and didn’t the single ‘n’ spelling come first?)

Just recently a worried mother asked me if it’s true that first names and last names can’t have the same number of syllables, which actually inspired this post, so I compiled a list of famous people (real and fictional) with such names, which I think is a good demonstration of how little such a thing matters.

I’d love to hear from all of you: What “rules” have you heard? Did they affect your naming process and decisions? What preferences do you have that are non-negotiable? Have you ever broken one of your own rules? Happy Friday!


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

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Fun Friday Question: What name pocket are you in (if any)?

Don’t forget to enter The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life giveaway if you haven’t already! You have until Sunday at midnight!

My dear friend KZG, who I’ve known for over twenty years, and with whom I lived and traveled while young, and who was a bridesmaid in my wedding and godmother to one of my boys, has also been one of my longest readers (in the beginning of the blog, she and my mom were my only two readers!) and biggest supporters/cheerleaders. She’s also the one who lets me know any time anyone in the Catholic blogosphere is pregnant — she has “introduced” me to so many of you! I gave her a special shout-out in my book for all the ways she’s been a bright light to Sancta Nomina (and always to me ❤ ).

So anyway, this past Tuesday she texted me, “Have you written about how popular Rocco is?” and went on to tell me that it’s super popular where she is (downstate NY), especially in the 4-6 year old age range (in her experience). So I responded how interesting that is, and that not only is it not terribly popular nationwide, it’s also on a downswing, so she must be in a pocket and I wondered why?

rocco

She reminded me that there’s a high population of families with Italian heritage where she lives, which makes sense, and we continued our text convo about other things and I mentally made a note to write about Rocco at some point in the future.

THE VERY NEXT DAY Laura Wattenberg, aka The Baby Name Wizard, who has a new web site called Namerology (she’s no longer at the Baby Name Wizard site), posted Maeve of Massachusetts, Meet Magnus of Minnesota, which was all about name pockets due to high concentrations of certain ethnicities (specifially Irish in Boston/Massachusetts, Swedish in Minnesota, and Italian in New Jersey [I would add downstate New York — Duchess and Westchester Counties, New York City, and Long Island — which borders New Jersey]).

SHE ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ROCCO!

The Swedish immigrants who flocked to Minnesota are recalled in the modern popularity of names like Ingrid and Henrik, and the Italian immigrants who helped shape New Jersey in names like Francesca and Rocco.”

Of course I texted her right away!! KZG is amazing!!

I can’t think of any names that are particular to my area as opposed to the rest of the country — I know loads of kids with the new top ten names, and the top names in New York State specifically (which KZG also sent me, name genius that she is) aren’t that different, and no names are coming to mind as those I hear that wouldn’t be as known to other places. (I will say that Sancta Nomina provides a Catholic name pocket though! 😂 The beautiful names of our faith are so familiar to me through interacting with all of you and the research I do for the blog/book/social media, etc. that I forget not everyone is as familiar!)

What about all of you? Do you hear names on the little ones in your town/area that aren’t common in other places? Happy Friday!


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

Follow-up to yesterday’s post: My dad’s picks!

It appears I jumped the gun in yesterday’s post on listing the names my dad would like if he got to choose today, without my mom’s input! He texted me his faves today (not including the ones he’s already chosen with Mom, as he was sure to point out ❤ ), and I was so surprised — pleasantly so! I love being surprised with names!

Yesterday I’d said:

… these are names I remember him talking about since I was little:

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

Boy
— Daniel (not sure about a nickname?)
— Sebastian, nicknamed Seb(by) (Dad often referenced former track and field Olympian [and current British politician] Sebastian Coe when he talked about this name; it was the nicknames Seb and Sebby that he really loved, I’m not convinced the full Sebastian is actually his style)

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

But THESE are the girl names he texted me tonight!

Sabrina
Gabriella
Rafaella
Genevieve
Antoinette
Anastasia

How frilly! How gorgeous! And nary a nickname (boyish or otherwise) in sight! My favorite is Genevieve, because it’s my mom’s Confirmation name — she wasn’t given a middle name, so her Confirmation has a middle-name feel for her. I love it! If we’d had a bunch of girls, I would definitely have tried to work Genevieve in somewhere. ❤

For the boys, he had Daniel and Sebastian, as I’d expected, but he added:

Raphael
Hamilton

Wow! So much more adventurous than I’d expect! Hamilton is actually a family name for him — a first name of an ancestor — and he’d suggested it to me (with the nickname Hammy) when I was pregnant with Luke, but not only is it not really my taste, I admit I thought he was half joking (especially because of Hammy!). Apparently not! (Not even about Hammy, I’m sure!)

What a fun Saturday night!! 😀


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

Fun Friday Question: How different are your parents’ taste?

I had so much fun with last week’s question and follow-up! It was so fun to read about your “almost names”!

Here’s another question for you: How different are your parents’ taste in names? If you were able to ask them right now what names they would have on their list if they didn’t have to take into account their spouse’s taste, what names would they be?

My parents did a phenomenal job naming me and my sibs (most of whom prefer to remain anonymous on here), but their lists are pretty different. I asked my mom last night for one or two of her favorite boy and girl names and she said:

Girl
— Róisín (Irish for “little rose”; said ro-SHEEN)
— Máirhín (the Irish “Mary” [Mair-] + “hín,” which is the ending syllable of the diminutive of her dad’s name — see Dáithín below; said mar-HEEN)
— Áine (used as the Irish equivalent of Anne, which is the name of Mom’s mom; said like the name Anya; Mom prefers this as a middle name, but then thought she preferred the sound of Áine Róisín and Áine Máirhín to Róisín Áine and Máirhín Áine )

Boy
— Fionn (“finn”)
— Dáithín (Mom’s dad was from Ireland and had the given name David, but he attended a St. Paddy’s Day event at my school once and introduced himself as Dáithín , which Mom had never heard before — he was apparently called that when he was small. [He also spoke with a brogue during that event, which he’d also never done.] Dáithí is used as the Irish equivalent of David)
— Mícheál (the Irish spelling of Michael, said MEE-haul)

It’s pretty clear what Mom’s taste in names is! 😂☘️

Dad wasn’t able to get back to me before this story went to press 😀 , but these are names I remember him talking about since I was little:

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

Boy
— Daniel (not sure about a nickname?)
— Sebastian, nicknamed Seb(by) (Dad often referenced former track and field Olympian [and current British politician] Sebastian Coe when he talked about this name; it was the nicknames Seb and Sebby that he really loved, I’m not convinced the full Sebastian is actually his style)

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

Mom’s Máirhín and Dad’s Maureen are pretty similar from their girl lists (though I don’t think Mom loves Mo and Dad probably wouldn’t go for an Irish spelling). Both my parents have biblical names on their boy list, which is what my brothers have, and if my sisters and I had been boys we would have had biblical names too, so there’s some common ground there. I love seeing that, though their lists look pretty different, there’s some points of possible overlap and compromise!

How about your parents? Happy Friday!


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

Follow-up to yesterday’s post: Opposite gender name?

Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post here on the blog and also on both Facebook and Instagram! It was so fun to read your responses! One thing several of you shared was the name you would have had if you’d been a boy (all my responders were women) — I didn’t think to share that part of my name story, but I wish I had! My parents planned to name me Joshua if I’d been a boy, which is a name both my husband and I quite like, but it doesn’t work with our last name. That would have been a fun way to name a boy after me though! I loved reading that too — that several of you considered names for your children that were names almost given to you. I’m a big fan of creativity in honor naming!

Happy Saturday, day of Our Lady and eve of Divine Mercy Sunday! (Notable fact: St. John Paul the Great died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.) ❤ ❤ ❤


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

Fun Friday Question: Who were you almost?

Happy Friday everyone! Is this — could this be — possibly — my *fifth* post of this week?? Did I put up a post every day since Monday?? I can’t even believe it myself!

I have more birth announcements coming for you (so! many! babies! 😍😍😍), but I thought I’d take a quick breather and ask a fun question. A while ago Abby from Appellation Mountain asked about your “pre-name” on Facebook — actually, I can’t remember what she called it, it was something like “pre-name” I think, but probably not because I searched several times for that term and similar ones to find the post and link to it and I can’t, so I must have it wrong — anyway, she meant the name you almost had, or the name(s) that your parents considered for you before deciding on the name they gave you. I’ve been meaning to pose the question here ever since!

I’ll start: My parents considered Tiffany for me! (Which I’ve come to sort of love since I discovered it’s medieval form of Theophania [=Epiphany] and was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany. How cool!) (I was not born on or near the Epiphany, though.) They settled on Katherine Marie before changing it to Katherine Morna immediately after I was born (my sweet dad acquiesced to my exhausted mom ❤ ). (Happy day! I don’t feel a bit like a Tiffany, but very very much like a Katherine Morna, and especially a Kate.) How about you? Who were you almost?


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