New SSA name stats! And some Mother’s Day goodies <3

(I have a memory of an email conversation that I had just recently where I told the mama I could fit her in in the next couple of days, but I forgot to write it down and I can’t find the email … if this sounds like you, please email me again! So sorry!)

(Also, did you listen to my spot on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary? If not, go do it! I’m on from about the 15 minute mark to about the 24 minute mark.)

Happy Mother’s Day!! Every year right before Mother’s Day the Social Security Administration (SSA) releases the data on the first names given to the babies born the following year. Yesterday, 2017’s data was released!

2017topten

My first thought was amazement on seeing Logan at no. 5! He didn’t creep in stealthily at no. 10, but jumped right to no. 5 from no. 18! Wow! This seems to be entirely due to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine movie Logan, which was released in March 2017.

From your comments on Instagram, Evelyn also seems to be surprising to some of you. As I mentioned on IG, when my 13yo was three, one of his classmates’ mom had a baby girl whom she named Evelyn, and back then I thought it sounded like such an old lady name. Turns out it entered the top 100 in 2002 for the first time since 1953 and in fact is now, at no. 9, the most popular it’s ever been — its previous highest was no. 10 in 1915. In my mind, it’s part of the Evangeline/Genevieve/Vivian-nicknamed-Evie/Vivi sisters. And in fact Evie increased in 2017 as well!

Besides the new top ten, I’m always interested to see which names increased and decreased in popularity. I haven’t been able to look through the decrease list as closely as I’d like to yet, but these things jumped out at me from the increase list:

From the boy names

I was interested to see that several names that are also used for girls increased. As the mom of all boys, I’m sensitive to how boys feel about having a name that’s also given to girls; the fact that all these rose in usage suggests to me that it’s not as big a deal as I might think: Rey, Jamie, Rowen/Rowan, Elliott/Elliot, Emory, Eden, Remy, Avery, Rory, Micah.

While Michael dropped out of the top ten for the first time since 1942 (!!), Mike increased in use! There were other classic male nicknames that rose in usage as well, including Tommy, Hank, Billy, and Jack.

It seems the letters “ax” are big, as evidenced by the increase in Jaxxon, Axton, Maxton, Jaxx, Dax, Axl/Axel, Jaxton, Daxton, Braxton (I only ever think “Hicks,” but it rose to no. 118, so it’s obviously not a deal breaker!), and Jaxson.

Through my Sancta Nomina glasses I noticed: Coleman, Magnus, Kyrie, Boone, Shepherd, Blaze, Thiago, Casey, Simeon (entered top 1000! Yesss!), Jasper, Milo/Myles, Agustin, Porter, Francis, Leo, Damien/Damian (woo!), Sebastian, Matias/Mathias/Matthias, Tadeo, and Sonny (which I love as a nickname for Solanus).

And just generally, these increases caught my eye: Caspian (no. 3 on the increase list! It entered top 1000), Lucian (a friend just named her son Lucian), Beau (this and Bo get some decent love here on the blog), Roger, Micheal (a misspelling of Michael? Or do that many people really love the Irish spelling?), Louis (note that it’s already on the rise — it’ll be interesting to see what little Prince Louis does for the name), Atticus (so glad to see the new Harper Lee book didn’t keep it down — it took a small hit the year after Go Set a Watchman came out, but in 2017 bounced back up to nearly the same spot in as it had been before all that), and Ledger (I’m currently digging word names, and while Ledger certainly brings actor Heath Ledger to mind, it’s also a noun).

From the girl names

I thought it was interesting that both Melania and Ivanna (that spelling) increased.

Also Oaklynn, Oaklyn, Oaklee, and Oakley!

Speaking of Oaklee and Oakley, the “lee” sound dominated the “increased in popularity” list! All of these increased in popularity in 2017: Ensley, Emberly, Paislee/Paisley, Everlee/Everleigh/Everly, Raylee, Zaylee, Kinslee/Kinsley, Kensley, Kenley, Kynlee, Harleigh, Journee, Hailee/Hayley/Haylee, Hallie/Halle, Charli/Charley/Charleigh/Charlie/Charlee, Emely, Novalee, Bexley, Finley, Marleigh/Marley, Callie/Kallie/Kali, Harley/Harlee, Rosalie, Brinley, Jolie, Blakely, Ryleigh/Rylee, Brynnlee, Bailee, Presley (interesting that Zaylee’s on this list but Zelie’s not!).

Names that increased for girls that have a counterpart (exact same or perhaps a different spelling) on the boys’ increase list: Sunny, Remy/Remi, Rory, Rowan, Eden, Avery, Elliott/Elliot.

Both Ryan and Ryann increased for girls — this caught my attention because in the consultation I posted last Monday, the mama noted they “are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc)” and one of you commented on Facebook that you didn’t realize Ryan and Blake were now considered gender neutral. Funny enough, I mentioned a girl I know named Ryan yesterday and my 6yo goes, “What?! A *girl* named Ryan??” Despite its usage by girls it still feels like a boy name to me and I’m definitely not the only one. (Interestingly, Riaan was the no. 1 decreased boy’s name in 2017.)

I loved seeing Marianna, Giana, Evie, Magdalena, Maisie, Daisy, Dorothy, Juniper, Mercy, Regina, Genevieve on the increase list, as well as — Mary! Yessss!! She only increased one spot, but still! I’d said on the Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary segment (linked to above) that I didn’t think Mary itself would become more popular any time soon (it was recorded on Thursday), but I’d love to be proven wrong!

I feel really uncomfortable seeing Lilith on the increase list. I keep reminding myself that very few of those parents, if any, chose the name because of its dark background and instead probably like that it looks and sounds like an unusual Lily variant. Or perhaps they like the feminist angle to the story (which is why the Lilith Fair was so named). There’s a lot of evil lurking there though … Or maybe I’m giving the name too much power? On the lighter end, it’s not for nothing that Frasier’s wife on Frasier was named Lilith …

One name I’d never heard of increased: Yaretzi. It’s got a pretty great meaning according to Nameberry.

These struck me as the most recent members of the old-is-new club, all of them on the rise: Frida, Deborah, Eileen, Diana, and Nancy.

And these seemed too new to be back in fashion again, but they also rose in popularity: Jenny, Tara.

I’d love to hear what you all thought about the names that increased in popularity!

The one name that I did look into from the decrease list was thanks to one of you who commented on Instagram:

you mentioned in your most recent Nameberry post that Montserrat was skyrocketing in 2014. Now in 2017 it’s amongst the top decreases, falling 225 spots. Was there something cultural or in pop culture to cause that name to boom in 2014 and fall so quickly?

The 2014 increase of Montserrat, and its variant Monserrat, seems to have been due to a character by that name in the Mexican telenovela Lo que la vida me robó (What Life Took From Me). I wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly why it fell so much in 2017, but the story that kept showing up over and over again as I tried different search terms was that of the volcano on the island of Montserrat (different than the mountains in Spain from which Our Lady gets her title Our Lady of Montserrat) that leveled its capital city and left part of the island uninhabitable last time it erupted, and which may be showing signs of erupting again (here and here). Does anyone else have a better idea of why the name dropped?

Speaking of Marian names … One of my very favorite things this year was counting how many Marian names are in the top 100! Which gave me a great idea for a Mother’s Day giveaway! There are several names in the top 100 for both boys and girls that are included in my book of Marian names — the first three readers who email me at sanctanomina at gmail dot com with the most complete list of those names between now and next Saturday at midnight Eastern time will receive a copy of my book (signed by me if you’d like, though I totally get it if you’d rather not)! I hope you’re as excited to receive one of my books as I am to give them! I know you’ll all love it!

I also wanted to let you all know that I’m nearly done with a novena to St. Gerard that I started specifically for all of you. I’m asking him to pray for all of you readers, including those who are mothers or who want to be, and those who are hoping for a baby or are suffering from the loss of a baby or from infertility, as well as for all of your children, both living and deceased. St. Gerard has been close to us recently, and it seemed natural to pray a novena to him for you all. ❤

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother or not, and remember that Mary Our Mother loves you very much!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org (free shipping through today, May 12!) and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

 

 

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“Meaning” nicknames

I don’t have a consultation to post today, but I was wondering: What “meaning” nicknames can you think of?

In the name consultation Abby did for me, she suggested the name Arthur with the nickname Bear, since Arthur is generally considered to include an element meaning “bear” and since I had Benedict nicknamed Bear as a possibility on my list (in fact, I came to really love Bear as a nickname after reading Regina Doman’s The Shadow of the Bear, in which the male lead’s given name is Arthur, but he goes by Bear, so I loved seeing Arthur on Abby’s list of suggestions!).

My boys and I were watching the movie Home the other day, and I was reminded of how cool I thought it was that the main character Tip’s given name is Gratuity. Gratuity nicknamed Tip!

A recent post by Swistle was for a family looking for a sibling for an Aurelia who goes by Goldie, since Aurelia comes from the Latin for “golden.” I love that! Her commenters had loads of great suggestions along these lines — some of my favorites were:

Alethea nn True
Amabel nn Love
Aurora nn Sunny
Carys nn Love
Clementine nn Mercy
Felicity nn Bliss
Ignatius nn Blaze
Jemima nn Dovie, Birdie
Lucia nn Lux
Margaret, Marguerite nn Daisy, Pearl
Melisande nicknamed Honey
Paloma nn Birdie
Roxanna nn Sunny
Vera, Verity nn True

I tried to think of other such examples — for a while, I really liked the idea of Boone as a nickname for Benedict, with Boon(e) meaning “good” and Benedict meaning “blessed” — close enough I think!

Going off of the Vera/Verity nn True idea above, Veronica (“true image”) could possibly be nicknamed True or even Truly (like in the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!). I’m kind of loving Truly for Veronica! The “ard” part of Gerard means “brave, hardy,” so maybe Gerard nicked Hardy?

This all reminded me of the Cakies family, who have kids True, Brave, Soul, and Glow — the strategy discussed here of choosing a more traditional given name and using a meaning nickname could satisfy the itch for a True/Brave/Soul/Glow name, while having a “safer” name on the birth certificate. Do you agree?

Anyway, I’d love to hear other ideas you have! And definitely check out the comments on that Swistle post, I was amazed by how many ideas her readers came up with!

My March CatholicMom column is up, and a question I need help with!

My March column posted today over at CatholicMom.com: To Mary Through Three March Saints!

catholicmom_screen_shot-03.21.18

(In case you were wondering what happened to February, it was the first time since starting to write for CatholicMom three years ago that I couldn’t get a piece done in time for my monthly slot, I was just not feeling well enough. So glad to be back at it!)

Also, I read an intriguing post over on the Baby Name Wizard recently, and though some of the comments on that post make some sense (my handle there is traleerose), and I’ve researched it a little to verify those comments and find more certain answers, I haven’t been satisfied with what I’ve found, and I wondered if you know the answer to the question: Why isn’t Jesus used as a given name in English?

I’m sure there are some instances of Jesus as a given name in English, and the SSA data shows that 3065 boys (and 8 girls [?]) were named Jesus in the U.S. in 2016, but their data doesn’t include accent marks, so I’m confident that most, if not all, of those are Jesús, which brings up the most interesting part of this question: Jesus isn’t well used in English, but Jesús is in Spanish.

I tried to find an official (or as close to as possible) Church stance on this, but didn’t come up with anything. The comments left on the BNW post suggest that the Muslim presence in Spain encouraged the use of Jesús as a given name, which I haven’t yet verified, but is interesting to consider. Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name, and Joshua is well used; the Christ- names are well used, certainly, including Christ itself; Emmanuel has good usage; even Messiah has been bestowed on babies, so I admit I’m a bit baffled as to why Jesus isn’t used in English.

I did have the thought when I bowed my head at the name of Jesus recently that if there were little ones running around named Jesus, I’d be constantly bowing my head out of cultivated habit! I don’t do so when I hear Jesús, though I should — it doesn’t trigger that automatic bow that hearing Jesus does.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the answer is simply that Jesus is considered too holy for common usage by those who speak English (at least here in the U.S.). The name of Mary has a history of being considered too holy for common usage in Ireland, for example — it was a temporary and culture-specific consideration — so perhaps it’s the same with Jesus? Perhaps for today, in English-speaking families, naming a baby Jesus is foreign to Christian sensibility, as the Code of Canon Law puts it?

If any of you have any info about this — any sources you can point me to that explain this — please share them! My ideal would be anything from the Church, but I’d be happy to read anything authoritative on this topic. Thank you for your help!

Reader question: Is Patton too General?

A reader has asked an interesting question that I hope you’ll all weigh in on! She writes,

One name we’ve considered A LOT is Patton. I like the sound of it and it generally fits our criteria, but I have two concerns. One is that my husband picked it while thinking of General George Patton (history buff), but I’m a little concerned the connotation is too strong. Even if we’re not technically naming him after the General, there are so few Pattons that the link is obvious. And I don’t know how I feel about our son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family. We agree Patton was a great General, but he was known to be harsh and vulgar, and though he was quite religious (protestant) he supposedly opposed the marriage of his daughter to a Catholic and believed in reincarnation. Those concerns aside, I read that Patton can be a diminutive of Patrick, which is awesome (we’re Irish).”

Interesting question, right?

I told her that I’m not really sure what I think about the General Patton connection. For me, General Patton wouldn’t have been my first connection at all! First, I would have thought of Patton being a diminutive of Patrick (I love that this mama knows that!); second, I would have thought of the paten at church. You can see where my head’s at! Haha! Names and faith all the time! A distant third would be the actor Patton Oswalt. But I did ask my husband what his gut reaction was when hearing the name Patton, and he thought about it for a minute (so much for gut reaction!) and said, “Well, there’s General Patton,” but he didn’t seem to think it was a negative or a dealbreaker.

As for her “son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family,” if I named my son Patton and someone asked about his name, I would always start with, “It’s a variant of Patrick that we really like.” This would tie the name closely to St. Patrick, both in the parents’ minds and those who they talk to, and of course St. Patrick would be his patron. Then if they brought up the General they could also say, “Yeah, he’s pretty cool,” and move on. Do you all agree?

Another option is to use Patrick as the given name, and use Patton as the nickname, which I also quite like. Do you agree that’s a good option, or do you think Patton as the given name is a better idea?

Please let me know how you would advise this mom?

Birth announcement: Peter Paul! (and a name question)

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the handsome, significant name … Peter Paul!

She writes,

As usual my babies end up naming themselves in the end with a name I never considered until the last minute. A couple days before Peter Paul was born I was still obsessing about names and probably had about 20 names on the list. It was all decided when I went to confession and the priest asked what the baby’s name was so he could pray for him by name and I just blurted out Peter Paul! I like to think that Jesus himself was asking the name and basically having me decide at that moment so I would stop obsessing. Ha! So that’s what made it official for me and a couple days later he was born.

Thank you so much for all your name suggestions and help. Hugh and Cormac which you suggested were big contenders, as was Francis which I never imagined using either until the last minute!

What a cool story!! I’ve never heard one like it! And Peter Paul is such a great combo! It is SO cool that they share a feast day — June 29 is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul!

Mama also added,

I have a baby name question for you still though — when our baby was first born we were using Peter as the first name and Paul as the middle name. I’m starting to prefer Peter Paul as the double barrel first name. What is protocol for double barrel names? Do we add a new middle name? Do we hyphenate Peter-Paul? I’m trying to think of what will be easiest for him long term with social security cards, passports, etc. What do you think?

Such a great question! Fortunately we have John Paul as a frequent example of a double-barrel first name for a boy; unfortunately, even that doesn’t provide hard and fast rules. Certainly there has been Mary Kate and the like on the girl side for ages, and loads of people have hyphenated last names, and I think the way it’s handled on forms, etc., is to put both names whenever possible. So they can hyphenate, which will make more obvious that both names are part of the first name, or they can smoosh them together, a la Johnpaul/JohnPaul or Marykate/MaryKate. I don’t really know what will be easier in the long run! Whatever you put on the birth certificate should be exactly what goes on the Social Security card, and exactly what goes on the passport, but in terms of other forms — especially those ones with the boxes where one letter goes in each box — they might run into difficulty getting both Peter and Paul to fit, especially if they keep the space between or add a hyphen (as opposed to putting them together as PeterPaul). And I’ll bet that they’ll frequently find just Peter as his first name on various documents/in the doctor’s office, etc. But there are a lot of people who deal with issues with their names, and each person deals with it according to his/her personality (i.e., some people hate it and some people roll with it and are even really proud of it), you know?

I do know that some people find hyphens in boys’ names to be a bit fussy, if that’s at all helpful. But if they love it, they should do it! (And there’s Jean-Claude Van Damme as an example of a guy with a hyphen.)

As for middle names, probably the easiest of all the options would be to keep his first name Peter and his middle name Paul. I’ve known several people that go by their first+middle on a daily basis, as if it’s a double-barrel first name, so they could still call him Peter Paul in real life, and introduce him that way, and make sure that’s what he’s called at school, etc.

If they decide to add a middle name, they don’t have to do anything to Peter Paul (hyphenate etc.) unless they want to; they’d just add another name, which would go in the “middle name” spot on forms. Which means he might end up being Peter MiddleName sometimes, if whatever person or computer is dealing with his name can’t compute a double first name. Or Peter Paul with the middle name dropped, which often happens to second middle names.

I’ve often thought this mom handled the whole multiple-name thing well — it might inspire this family to come up with a creative idea as well.

Please share with this mom (and me!) what your thoughts are regarding her double-first-name question!

Congratulations to the whole family, including big siblings Niall Jude, Phoebe Rose, Linus Noel, and Johnny Blaise, and happy birthday Baby Peter Paul!!

Peter Paul

Some more literary stuff

I’ve loved our recent literary conversations — you all had great additions to the Catholic Literary Names post (both book recs and name ideas), and it was fun to spotlight Meghan’s girls’ literary names. Little Lewis’ birth announcement fit right in as well!

Abby from Appellation Mountain re-posted her Imaginary Place Names post yesterday, and I love so many of the ideas. I’d be interested to see if you have any additions to her list — the only one I could think of was Tara, which isn’t quite right, since it’s the name of an existing place (Hill of Tara in Ireland), but sort of fits, since I’m sure it entered baby-naming consciousness as a result of Gone With the Wind and Scarlett’s plantation home, Tara. In fact, Tara didn’t even appear on the SSA’s annual list of names given to five children or more until 1939 — the book was published in 1936 and the movie was released in December 1939 after a two-year-long production process that included the pursuit of Clark Gable and a public search for Scarlett.

This would probably have been more helpful before Christmas, but I also wanted to share with you all the books we’ve gotten for my husband’s elderly great-aunt, in case you might be interested (it’s on my mind because we just got her some new books, and I’m feeling like we’re running out of ideas). She’s a good Christian (though not Catholic) lady who loves love stories (but nothing too spicy!) and dislikes murder mysteries (which rules out Mary Higgins Clark, which I’d initially thought would be perfect — so many books! Set for life!). These are some that we’ve gotten for her:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (this is bordering on too spicy for her, though I loved it)

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (this is a series, and I think we only gave her the first one — I’m adding the rest to my list for her now!) (the first is free with Kindle Unlimited!)

Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Emma by Jane Austen

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (one of my personal favorites) by Alexander McCall Smith

And a bunch from the large-print fiction section of ChristianBooks.com (The Amish of Apple Grove series by Lori Copeland was our gift this year, and it sounds like she’s enjoying it. I’ve never read them, I’m just trusting that any romance novels from ChristianBooks.com aren’t inappropriate!)

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! She loves to read, but can only read large print books and won’t consider Kindle or similar, nor audio books.

Finally, since we’re talking about books, guessss what was under the tree this year for me?? A new Baby Name Wizard!! I totally needed one!! It’s my third copy — my previous two fell apart over time through use! Having a brand new one is such a pleasure!

I hope you’re all enjoying this Christmas season!


Amazon affiliate links used in this post.

 

Name update: Molly’s name sign!

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception!! What a wonderful, holy day!! I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week! Advent has me scurrying around like a (very happily) busy bee … or elf … 😉 Also, I’m continuing to work away on the consultations for all those who took advantage of the Black Friday deal — I’m still on track to get them to you within the time frame I told you I would, but certainly feel free to email you if you’d like a status update!

I posted a birth announcement for our devoted reader Amy’s baby girl, Molly Victoria, back in July, and I’d previously posted a write-up Amy did on name signs for users of American Sign Language, so I was thrilled that she gave me permission to post this new information about Baby Molly’s name sign:

We have found Molly’s name sign. M hand shape twisting on the side of the jaw/cheek. M obviously for Molly ([big sister] Kristy’s uses a K, [big brother] Kane’s uses both M and K [his given name is Martin Kane]) and in the area for female signs. It mimics the sign for candy, or how you would put your finger to your cheek and twist to tell someone to smile (something my husband would do to me when we were dating, sort of a game with deep meaning/feelings because it’s how we knew we were falling in love). It also resembles the sign for sweet and/or sugar, which brushes off the cheek in that spot with a hand shape similar to M. This is because whenever anyone asks ‘how’s the baby?’ the answer always seems to be ‘so sweet.’ It describes her: always sweet, smiling, happy, delight.”

I love all the layers to Molly’s name sign! The “sweet”ness and the connection to Amy and her husband’s courtship is so wonderful! And I love that her name sign was “found” — such a cool thing to think of waiting and observing until it becomes obvious. Amy had said as much in her previous post where she explained,

Culturally, a name sign should only be given to you by a Deaf person (you can’t just make up your own) and they are also not always bestowed right away. Sometimes it can takes months or longer while you wait for the right one to come along … for the most part name signs are given based on a characteristic unique that person.”

Thanks to Amy for sharing this with all of us!! ❤