Honoring St. Anne in a boy’s name

Happy feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim!! As you all know, St. Anne is the patroness of my blog and I’ve asked for her intercession many many times over the past few years, for all of your intentions and for my own. In fact, I just finished another novena to her, in which I included all of you. ❤ Such a great saint, and such a great day!

You guys had so many good ideas when I asked in last month’s giveaway for possible ways of honoring St. Anne in a boy’s name! Several of you asked for the results, which I’d planned to compile into one post anyway, and her feast day seemed the best day to do it! Here they are, culled from the comments left on the blog post and those left in the entries on Rafflecopter — you guys had so many great ideas!

Names starting with An-

This is generally where my mind goes as well, when trying to think of boy names that could honor St. Anne. These are the ones you all suggested (the quotes in parentheses are comments left by the commenter):

Ananias

Andrew, Andre, Anselm, Anthony, Antonio, Antonin, Anton

Anders and Anderson (“from Anne-dear’s and Anne-dear’s-son“)

Anne (Dutch boy’s name)

Anno (“It’s got a hip feel with the “-o” at the end (like Milo or Hugo). And easy to spell“)

Anson (“Our son is named in her honor. Anson means son of Anne. We credit him to her direct intercession“)

Antioch

 

Names containing “Stan” (St. An-) or that mean St. Anne

Santana (“(used for both boys or girls) but is in the top 1000 for boys. Literally St. Ann meaning name“)

Stanislaus, Stanley

 

Names containing “an” or “han” (from Hannah, which is a cognate of Anne)

Amantius (“Latin for loving“)

Ambrose (not technically An-, but sounds like it!)

Athanasius

Daniel, Danny

Ferdinand

Francis

Grant (“another one with “an” in it, and as a word could reference all the graces and blessings one would hope to be granted through such a wonderful patron’s intercession!“)

Hanan (“masc. form of Hannah*“) (*my note: Hanan means “gracious” and is the name of some minor Old Testament characters)

Giovanni, Hans, Ian, Johannes (“Etymologically related,* plus contains “Anne” right in there“) (*my note: the John names ARE etymologically related! Anne means “favor, grace” and the John names mean “Yahweh is gracious.” I would add in Evan here as well.)

Julian

Manuel, Manny

Marian

Nathan

Roman

Rowan

Santiago

Sebastian

Stefan

Xander

 

Names whose meanings (etymological and otherwise) are connected to St. Anne

Armo (“It shares some sounds with Anne (the initial a, the nasal n/m), fits in with the popular ‘two-syllable, ends in ‘o” trend for boys and, while rare, it’s easy to spell and pronounce … According to behindthename.com (and Google Translate), Armo means ‘grace’ (or perhaps ‘mercy’) in Finnish, which links it through meaning to the name Anne … For an added St Anne connection, Armo is also the name of a commune in Italy. The parish church of Armo is dedicated to the Natività di Maria – the birth of Mary … One possible drawback – a google search of ‘Armo’ seems to indicate that it is sometimes used as slang referring to Armenian people. I’ve never heard of that term where I live, but it would be something to consider and research to ensure it’s not an offensive term where the parents live“)

Augustine (“great, venerable”)

Chariton (“grace, kindness”)

Esmond (“grace” + “protection”)

Gracen/Grayson/Greyson, Gratian (“because of the first syllable being “grace” – the name meaning of Ann/Anne“) (my note: I have Gratian in my book as it’s basically the male version of grace — works perfectly for St. Anne!)

Graham (“I’m taking this as a name-ization of “Gram” short for grandmother names, since St Anne was Jesus’s grandma. My sisters and I call our grandma Grammy and often shorten it to Gram, and graham crackers have been referenced jokingly over the years too. (: “)

Porter, Durward (“Porter means “gatekeeper,” and I first learned of this name from the porter character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I think it is perfect for honoring St. Anne, St. Joachim, and Mary. A famous wood etching called Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate depicts St. Joachim and pregnant St. Anne meeting at the Golden Gate of Israel upon both learning that St. Anne has finally conceived. (This account is not in the Gospel but is in the Protoevangelium of James.) Thus, tying in the “gate” theme and honoring St. Anne. I think it has cute nickname potential of Port or Ports“) (“drawing on Anne’s iconography, perhaps Porter or Durward (‘door guard’) would work as a reference to Anne’s association with doors“)

Sulo (“apparently means ‘grace’ (in the sense of charm) in Finnish“)

Valentine (“as a nod to her role as ‘health of the sick’“)

 

Names of people important to St. Anne

Joachim (husband)

Mary and all Marian variants (daughter)

 

Can you believe this amazing bunch of names?? You guys did great! I’d love to know which of these is your favorite way to honor St. Anne, and if you’d ever consider any of them for a son in her honor. Have a wonderful feast day!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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Word names (Catholic edition)

I’ve been digging word names related to the faith lately, like Tiber, Shepherd, Vesper, and Rosary. This may or may not be due to my frantic desire to add some unexpected names to our short list for our baby (if a boy), which I really just need to calm down about. !!! I read about a baby with the middle name Banner yesterday, inspired by Psalms 60:6 (“Raise up a banner for those who revere you”), and it got me all fired up again!

Anyway, I’d love to hear what Catholic word names you would add to this list! For both boys and girls, because I love making lists of girl names I like as well, even though we’re set with a girl name. Happy Saturday!

Latest CatholicMom column, and a namey question

My July column is up at CatholicMom.com! It’s the winning essay of the second year of the St. Francis de Sales Writing Contest I instituted at my alma mater, in which the student discussed his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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This student won first place last year as well! The judges were the editor of my diocesan newspaper, the superintendent of schools for my diocese, and the campus chaplain at Siena College. Very impressive!

I’ve also been thinking about something a couple of you mentioned on a post last month — Sarah said,

My aunt was born the day after the Assumption so her grandmother named her Mary Virginia, but my grandma didn’t like her mother naming her baby so she re-named her Carole Jean

and Annie said,

My parents technically named me, but did so after my grandma’s wishes after she made her wishes very clear

and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how grandparents got to have such a strong say? It sounds like Sarah’s great-grandmother especially wasn’t merely voicing an opinion, but was actually naming the baby — I’ve seen references to this kind of thing from time to time and always wondered about it. I think it’s likely an older custom, which explains a lot; I can also see this being a cultural custom. Do any of you have examples of this happening in your family? Do you have any insight into how this happened, including from a generational or cultural perspective?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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!

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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. 🙂 ❤

 

 

“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!

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(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?