How to name an entity

Good FRIDAY morning!! TGIF!!

I received an email from a reader asking,

Have you ever considered writing posts about other times we want to use a name that is dear to our Catholic faith … like naming a home, property, farm, homeschool, boat, etc.”

Such a fun question! I actually have had the privilege of working on names for businesses, projects, and ministries — they’ve all been private consultations except that I was able to share the results of this one:

One my dearest friends, who was one of my two original readers (the other being my mom) and has been so supportive and encouraging and helpful to me since I started the blog, referred a friend of hers to me when the friend was trying to come up with a name for a ministry she was starting. It was such fun to work on a project like this! And I was pretty pleased with the ideas I came up with, and she seemed to be too — I just recently read about her new ministry, sporting one of the names I’d suggested, and I’m really delighted to direct you all to her in case you have what she’s looking for. Check it out: The Madonna and Child Project by Alexandra Sullivan Photography (and be sure to check out her work, she’s so talented!).”

When I’m working on a project like this, I like to try to incorporate the family’s patron saint(s), or saints connected to the industry or topic — sometimes this might mean using the saint’s actual name (like “St. Joseph’s Carpentry Business”) or symbols associated with that saint (like “The Lily and the Square Carpentry Business”), that kind of thing. (CatholicSaints.info often has the symbols of the saints included in each saint’s entry, for example. Or you can google it, of course.) Sometimes an explicitly faithy or saintly name isn’t quite appropriate, as with a business that operates mostly in the secular world, which is when I love to “bury” the connection in a more creative name (like the “Lily and Square” idea above). I always remind such entities that they need to search online to be sure there aren’t other businesses with the same name that might cause a legal problem — if you were to hire an advertising/marketing agency or branding firm to come up with name ideas, they’ll include that as part of their service, but I don’t have the time or resources to do that and I wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble because of me!

For private naming (like homes, homeschools, etc.), you can go as crazy faith-wise as you want! I love to look to Sisters for inspiration, so many of their names are so perfectly suited to something like this! You can have a whole string of things you have a special devotion to! Like, Our Lady of the Holy Family and the Precious Blood, that kind of thing. Or something lighter and fun, like Our Lady of Small Children and Dirty Dishes! Haha! For Marian ideas, the Litany of Loreto is a good one to look through (in both English and Latin — English names are great and totally fine; Latin names up the Catholic ante). You can search for topics on CatholicSaints.info too (like “patron of artists” or just “artists”) for saint ideas, or just google the same.

I know several of our readers have named homesteads and homeschools, so I’d love to hear how they chose their names! And any other advice any of you have! Have a great weekend!


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

BIG NEWS!!

You guys! I am SO EXCITED to share with you a very special announcement:

I’m having a book published! A book of Marian names! Ahhhh!!

I’ve been researching and compiling Marian names for nearly ten years — with a good amount of help from all of you via our conversations on the blog! — and I’m so thrilled that Marian Press (publisher of Fr. Calloway’s and Fr. Gaitley’s books, among others) has agreed to publish it!

🎉🎉🎉🎉💃💃💃

It’s entitled Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady — yes indeed, names for boys too! It will be available for purchase in May (month of Our Lady!), and I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks. It has turned out amazingly well under the guidance of the team at Marian Press, if I do say so myself. 😊

Writing a book is one of the dreams of my life, and you have to know that writing one that honors Our Lady, and has to do with names, is a greater gift than I could ever have imagined.

This is such a big week, with the announcement of our baby-on-the-way followed by the announcement of my book! God is so good. ❤️

Flowers for Mary, part II

I posted a Flowers for Mary post ages ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to it since then in consultations and my own research for other things. And — breaking news! — I just now clicked on the link I refer to in the post, in order to give some examples of the great names there, and it says Forbidden! What! I’ll have to dig deeper on this, but in the meantime, the actual reason I started writing the post (providential timing!) was to direct your attention to this infographic:

MaryGarden

from Catholic Extension (infographic used with permission).

How great is this resource?? I’ve suggested Lily, Rose, and Violet a million times as Marian names, and I love the descriptions of their Marian connections here.

And I was so excited to see Daisy as being a Marian flower — I hadn’t ever seen that, and I’m forever going on about how Daisy is such a great nickname for Margaret — I LOVE the idea of a Margaret nicked Daisy being able to claim St. Margaret and Our Lady as patrons!! (I’ve already made a Marian connection with the name Pearl, which is what Margaret means, and the Irish Margaret — Mairead — is so similar to the Irish Mary — Maire … I’m leaning really close to calling Margaret a Marian name!)

I’ve also seen Marigold connected to the Crowning of Our Lady (Mary’s Gold), and of course I love all these ideas for an actual garden of flowers and other plants (not just a garden of blooms of the baby variety ☺).

What’s your favorite floral Marian name?

Yummy tidbits, and a new page

Thank you all for your responses on FB to my earlier request for prayers for a mama in labor, and for all of you who prayed for her! You’re all wonderful! As soon as I have an update and am given the go-ahead to share it, I will.

As a special summer vacation treat for myself 😄 I’ve been reading through all of Swistle’s birth announcement posts. I’ve been doing it for weeks now and I’m on page 44 — going back to 2010 and 2011! As a side note, it’s really interesting to read which names were still considered kind of weird back then that are used regularly now (of course I’m blanking now on even one example … maybe Penelope?), but what I really wanted to post here were the couple that really jumped out to me as amazing or interesting. Like this sibset:

Baby Boy Finchlee, Brother to Wilhelmina, Calista, Zachariah, Theodore, and Philippa. They go by Willa and Calla (twins, love!), Zak, Ted, and Pippa. The name they ended up choosing for their little boy is PERFECT, beyond perfect, I’m dying over it! 👍👐👌 You just have to read the whole post to get the whole story and all the elements!

I love this one too, because of the first paragraph:

Our son is named Giovanni Paolo. I know- Italian overload- but his name has significant meaning to us. He was named after Pope John Paul II who wrote extensively on marriages and families and really inspired my husband and I in our Catholic faith, which is really important to us. I am not tied to sticking with Italian names; we were just attracted to name his Giovanni Paolo instead of John Paul, since John Paul just seemed too ordinary to us. We absolutely love his name, and call him G for short.”

(They didn’t continue the Catholic theme though.)

I also liked the idea in this one of Caia as a nickname for Caterina. Kinda cool! (Swistle did not agree — she’s distinctly anti-unusual nicknames and even usual ones — she even fusses about Ellie not being a traditional nickname for Elizabeth!)

This is actually a good opportunity to tell you about yet another new page I’ve recently started, somewhat inspired by my reading of the old Swistle posts — it’s the Helpful naming tips and info tab up at the top, and I’ve been slowly adding in there comments from here and posts from here and elsewhere that I think are helpful when naming a baby in general, and a Catholic baby in particular. It’s definitely a long-term, ongoing project, and will hopefully be of use to you all!

I’m sure I’ll have more to share from Swistle’s archives as I keep working through, stay tuned! 😀

 

Reading round-up

I have a lot of reading to share with y’all today! (Yes, y’all, and no I’m not from the South. It’s just so useful! More of the country needs to get on that.)

First off, our reader skimac has sent me some awesome recommendations, with her annotations in parentheses:

History of Christian Names by C.M. Yonge (1884) (this seems to be the older revised version)

History of Christian Names Vol. 2 by C.M. Yonge (1864) (seems to be second half of above book, but has some different chapter headings so not sure how different)

Girls’ Christian Names: Their History, Meaning, and Association by Helena Swan (1905)

What is Your Name? A popular account of the meanings and derivations of Christian Names by Sophy Moody (1863)

A List of Christian names: their derivatives, nicknames and equivalents in several foreign languages by United States-Adjutant General’s Office (1920) (all male names since it is a war department document) (my note: I’m totally starry eyed over this description! “derivatives, nicknames and equivalents in several foreign languages” ahhh!! A quick perusal revealed Vest and Vester as nicknames for Sylvester, I’d never thought of those!)

Christian Names and What They Mean: A Birthday Book (very simple but has nice literary reference to every name)

Look at those publication dates! I LOVE old name books, and I’ve seen Charlotte Yonge cited in some of the ones I have. I only read the first page of the first book listed here and a quick look through the fifth, but I’m basically already hooked. 🙂

She also sent me this article the other day, which I quite enjoyed: St. Bruno, Bravado, & Baby Names: A Father’s Guide by Richard Becker. Skimac noted how great it was that it was written from a dad’s perspective, and I agree — we do skew mostly female here, though we do have a couple dads who read and comment and email me, and I always love hearing their perspectives. Thanks guys!

Speaking of dads … my own dad emailed me this article recently, which was pretty fascinating: 49 Preppy Baby Names Destined for the Ivy League. Digby, Connery, Blaine (a family name for me), Yates, and Darcy were some that caught by eye …

And finally, I know you’ve all been dying to see a picture of the well-named Fr. Bede I wrote about the other day — here he is, teaching Finney the Leprechaun about Jesus! 😀 Fr. Bede is seriously one awesome dude.

Happy Friday y’all!

Irish census records

I’ve been meaning to share this here for ages and I’m finally remembering to! Maybe you already know about it? But it was quite the find for me: Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census fragments and substitutes, 1821-51. It has:

All thirty-two counties for 1901 and 1911, searchable by all information categories, are now available on this site. Corrections and improvements will be ongoing, and we are very grateful to all users who have submitted corrections to us. A small amount of material is missing from the site, and will be placed online as soon as possible” (emphasis as in original).

I found my grandfather’s family, which was awesome, and one of the other fun things was seeing other Irish names by way of seeing the names of the people who lived near his address. Happy searching!

On my bookshelf: A Dictionary of English Surnames

I saw A Dictionary of English Surnames (3rd Edition) by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson recommended in a thread on the Baby Name Wizard site a while ago, referred to as a source of info for first names, and maybe I was the tiniest bit skeptical (how does surname info translate into first name info?) but the person recommending it was a longtime reader/commenter on the site and one whose knowledge base I had come to find dependable, so I bought a used copy.

It took me a little while to get into it. I like to read name books — sit down and read — and this book initially didn’t seem to lend itself to that — the type is small and it has a very dictionary feel (where dictionary=small type, lots of words on a page, lots of technical abbreviations that you always feel like you’re supposed to understand without checking out the key at the beginning of the book, maybe a little overwhelming). But I kept at it, picking it up here and there for a couple minutes each time. I started out by looking up my own last name, and those of people I know, and I really started to get into it. For one thing, there are loads of surnames that are considered “English surnames” for the purposes of this book, that I would never have thought! Like Devereaux. Because “English surname”=surnames used by people living in England, and this book cites instances going back to the 1000s. So, using Devereaux as an example:

Deveraux, Devereaux, Devereu, Devereux, Deveroux, Deverose, Everix, Everiss, Everest, Everist: Roger de Ebrois 1086 DB (Nf); Walter de Eureus 1159 P (He); Stephen de Euereus 1199 MemR (Wo); Osmund de Deuereals ib. ( W); Eustace de Deueraus 1204 P (So); Thomas de Euereus, Deuereus 1279 AssSo; John de Ebroicis 1297 AssSt; John Deveros 1385 LLB H; Robert Everis 1495 GildY. From Evreux (Eure), from the Celtic tribal name Eburovices ‘dwellers on the Ebura or Eure River’.”

(See what I mean about the abbreviations? A little off-putting, right? Stay with me …)

Did you know that Devereaux and Everest are related? Me either! And did you see those dates? A Roger de Ebrois from Norfolk (Nf) was recorded in DB (Domesday Book) in 1086. 1086! The first fifty seven pages of the book discuss how the surnames used in England came to be, explaining a French name like Devereaux (lots of Norman influence).

And there is indeed loads of info useful for choosing first names. Many of the surnames were patronymics, for one thing, identifying a person by his or her father, and some were metronymics, identifying a person by his or her mother — so those surnames began as first names. Other surnames were nicknames, pet names, or diminutives, either for a person’s characteristics, or for their actual given first name. Some of my favorite discoveries:

Fayle comes from the Irish Mac Giolla Phoil “son of Paul’s servant”

Fiddy, Fido, Fidoe come from the French fitz deu “son of God”

Filkin, Filkins, Filson are diminutives of Phil, which of course is from Philip

Pack, Packe, Paik, Pakes, Pash, Pashe, Paish, Pask, Paske, Pasque, Patch, Patchett, Patchin are all from various words (Old French, Middle English) for Easter; another example is given of William Paskessone, where Paskessone=son of Paske.

Scollas is a last name from the first name Scolace, which “appears to be the vernacular form of [Latin] Scholastica, the name of a saint who was the sister of St Benedict and the first nun of the order. It is found as a christian name in England from the late 12th century until the Reformation.”

Vivian, Vivians, Vivien, Vyvyan, Videan, Vidgen, Vidgeon, Vigeon, Fiddian, Fidgen, Fidgeon, Phethean, Phythian are all from the French Vivian, Vivien, which are from the Latin Vivianus, which is “a derivative of vivus ‘living,’ the name of a 5th-century martyr not uncommon in England from the 12th century. Its pronunciation appears to have caused difficulty and it is found in a bewildering variety of forms, not all of which have survived. In the south, the v was regarded as the normal southern pronunciation of f and was replaced by it. As the child says fum for thumb, and fevver for feather, and the dialect-speaker favver for father, Fivian became Fithian, and this, with the common interchange of intervocalic th and d, gave Fidian. The initial Ph is merely scribal. As Goodier becomes Goodger and Indian is often colloquially Injun, so Fidian became Fidgeon and Vidian, Vidgen. The normal Vivian is much more common than appears from the above forms.”

But my very very favorite discovery was this: Marriott is from “Mari-ot, a very common diminutive of Mary.”

Aren’t these amazing finds?? Can’t you see a baby Philip being called Filkins? What about the Easter names, like Pack, Patch, Pask, Pash, Patchett, and Patchin? I can see them all being used as given names, and what an awesome meaning — offbeat Catholic names are my favorite favorites!

Or wanting to honor Grandma Vivian but expecting a boy? I love Fiddian and Fithian, I see them as absolutely doable. (Also, I posted a fun thing the other day that shows what a full name looks like written out in different styles — like a name you’re considering for your baby, for example — and Laura commented that she found a perhaps unsettling disconnect between the sight and sound of some of her name ideas, so I found it particularly interesting that the Vivian quote above included the note, “The initial Ph is merely scribal.” It’s startling, to us parents who agonize over whether to name our daughters Sophia or Sofia, to think there was a time when the spelling of a name was a very distant afterthought — and maybe never even given a thought at all, until or unless it had to be written down for official reasons, and then only written down by officials, who probably decided how to spell what they heard. I guess it’s not that different from what happened to some at Ellis Island. Fascinating.)

(The Vivian example is also really timely in light of the awesome post up over at Appellation Mountain: 9 Creative Ways to Honor Loved Ones With Your Child’s Name. As I noted on FB, I’ve been wanting to write about this very topic for some time, but Abby did it so well! It’s an awesome resource, and the examples given in the comments are really helpful as well. This book could absolutely help with her first suggestion, “Use another form of the honoree’s name.”)

I am barely scratching the surface with the examples I give here — this book is over 500 pages of small-type info like what I shared above. It’ll take me ages to get through the whole thing, so if any of you read it and come across any other nuggets, please share them here!

 

Finney’s family part 2

Finney the Leprechaun introduced some more family members in today’s post — gorgeous names, all, but my very favorite is Áine Roísín. Oh my!

And a word of name wisdom from our little God-loving leprechaun:

I, Finney, then, would like to say,

‘Choose your names in a joyful way.

Think of the Saints and holy things,

And then just watch how your heart sings

When the name meant for you to choose

Comes to your mind, as you do muse!‘”

Alumni mag namespotting

Alumni magazines are one of my very favorite guilty pleasure, and when I received one of my alma mater’s last night, I put it in my very-necessary-things-to-do pile and dove right in after the boys were in bed.

Though I usually turn right to 1990 or so, to the people most likely to list their kiddos’ names, I decided to start from the beginning (in this case, 1932), and found a lot of names of interest, names that I thought looked more like preschool rosters of today, or at least of much younger people (it was originally an all-girls’ college, I don’t remember when it switched to co-ed but the first male alumnus mentioned in this issue was Class of ’77).

I used alternate characters in the names that I thought might be particularly identifying:

Ila (’36)
Phoebe (’43)
Libby (’44)
Genevieve (’44)
Claire (’47, ’56)
Isabelle (’47)
Evelyn (’48, ’54)
Katey (’48)
Leah (’49)
Catherine (’50)
Margot (’50, ’56)
Margaret (’51)
Charlotte (’51, ’55)
Gabr!elle (’53) (twin of G3rda!) (alternate character for privacy)
Natalie (’53)
Josephine (’53)
Adelaide (’54)
Jessica (’56)
Emily (’56)
Evie (’59), Evy (’59)
Mollie (’62), Molly (’64, ’75, ’79) (I wonder how many, if any, of these were born Mary?)
R0rry (’65)
Cor!nne (’67)
Penelope (’68, ’72)
K@rra (’78)
G3mma (’79)
M@ura (’79)

Some really interesting nicknames:

D0tsy (Dorothy?), and D0tsie (Z!lpha)
Fuzzy (Fl0ra)
T3x (B3tty)
Jo (J0an)
J0d0 (J0sephine)
M!bs (M@ryAnn3)
M!ckey (Myr@n)
B@mbi (Marl3n3)
Ch!ck (M@ry)
R0xie (Car0lyn)
Andy (Aur3l)
C0rky (C0r!nne)
N0ni (N0r33n)

And interesting given names:

Fl0ra x2 and a Fl0ranna (I’ve heard Flora recently as of interest to today’s namers)
D0e
Fa!th H0pe (first name/middle name or double first name, as far as I can tell)
Myr@n (a different woman named Myrna was on the same page, which makes more sense to me — maybe Myr@n was a typo?)
Aur3l
Vall!e
Charl0n
Tha!s

Interesting men’s names, or gender unknown (’98 and more recent):

R3mc0 (m)
J0n0 (m)
F!tzhugh (m)
Crest0n (gender unknown)

Interesting children’s names of the older- to mid- generations:

L!nden (daughter of ’67 alumna)
Av!s (daughter of ’71)
Pack3r (son of ’75)
Th0r (son of ’79)
Cab3l (son of ’81, brother of Tyl3r and Isab3ll3)
Z!ggy (daughter of ’81)
Ol!ve (daughter of ’86)

Grandchildren of olders or children of younger generations that jumped out at me:

R0rke (b) (grandson of ’67)
Ma!z!e, Lucy, and L!la (cousins, grandchildren of ’71)
Warr3n (grandson of ’78)
T0b!n (son of ’90)
Ya3l (daughter of ’90)
V!enna (daughter of ’93)
Ele@n0r and Cl@ra (daughters of ’98)
S3nna (daughter of ’99)
Penel0pe (daughter of ’08)

Were you surprised by any of these? Do you have any insight about some of the more unusual ones? Do you also (please say yes) scour your alumni mag(s)/those of others for baby names??