Good name posts and beautiful Name products

I loved both of these recent posts on the Baby Name Wizard site:

Are Presidential Candidates Running Away From Their Own Names? (It’s all about nicknames! I was most intrigued by Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, Cara Carleton “Carly” Fiorina, and Piyush “Bobby” Jindal — Laura explains how each nickname came to be. The comments were good too.)

15 British Baby Names That Just Don’t Exist in America (Fascinating list! “The top 1,000 names lists from England and Wales include scores of names that don’t register in American stats at all. Let me emphasize that: these names aren’t just rare, they’re statistically nonexistent. Given that the most recent U.S. stats tally more than 30,000 names from Aaban to Zyyon, that’s saying something“)

And in light of my posts on the Holy Name of Jesus (here and here) I was loving these products from the Catholic Company:

An IHS Coffee Mug, where IHS is “the Holy Name of Jesus as it was written in the Gospels, is the first three letters of the Greek Spelling of the Holy Name of Jesus. The name “Jesus”, in Greek, is translated “ihsous.”” (Personalizable!)

IHS Coffee Mug

A Personalized IHS Prayer Card Holder, for all those holy cards we all have that “accumulate over time, often being stuffed in Bibles, missals, or prayer books which causes them be lost or forgotten.” (Personalizable!)

Personalized IHS Prayer Card Holder

These beautiful Jesus Beads, which I’d never heard of, but I loved this: “Jesus Beads originated in the tradition of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Called a chotki, the strand may have as many as 100 beads or as few as 25. The chotki is traditionally used as a silent “breath prayer”, with “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God” prayed on inhalation and “have mercy on me, a sinner” prayed on exhalation. This is known as the Jesus Prayer, or the Prayer of the Heart, which invokes the Holy Name of Jesus and implores His divine mercy. (You can read about the “Jesus Prayer” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2665-2669)”:

Prayer to Jesus

2665 The prayer of the Church, nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the liturgy, teaches us to pray to the Lord Jesus. Even though her prayer is addressed above all to the Father, it includes in all the liturgical traditions forms of prayer addressed to Christ. Certain psalms, given their use in the Prayer of the Church, and the New Testament place on our lips and engrave in our hearts prayer to Christ in the form of invocations: Son of God, Word of God, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, King, Beloved Son, Son of the Virgin, Good Shepherd, our Life, our Light, our Hope, our Resurrection, Friend of mankind. . . .

2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”16 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.17

2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.18 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.

2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases,19 but holds fast to the word and “brings forth fruit with patience.”20 This prayer is possible “at all times” because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.

2669 The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior’s steps. The stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world.

Jesus Beads

Finally, Devotion to the Holy Face by Mary Frances Lester. I know it’s not specifically about the Holy Name, but I just discovered today that St. Therese’s full religious name was Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, so how coincidental to see this!

Devotion to the Holy Face

Happy Thursday night y’all! (Does anyone else wish it was okay for non-Southerners to use y’all? It’s so useful! I find it creeping into my thoughts though I usually edit it out of my speech … but not tonight! Also, aren’t Thursdays the best? My dad always says that Thursday’s the best day of the week because no one really minds going to work on Friday, since it’s the last day of the week and has a party feel of its own, so Thursday night especially feels kind of like the beginning of the weekend. I suppose that’s the idea behind Thursday nights being Going Out nights in college? So then maybe consider this your happy hour. 🙂 )

(Okay, one more story — my husband went out for a brief drink after work tonight with colleagues, and when he got home I meant to say, “How was happy hour?” but what came out was, “How was holy hour?” Bahaha! I’m still laughing!) 😀

Baby name consultant: Saintly, different first initials, easy to spell

Caitlin and her husband are expecting their third little one, gender unknown (another green bean!). Their daughters are named:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (called Maggie)

Beautiful names! Caitlin writes,

Their middle names are our paternal grandmothers’ first names. We’d like to continue that tradition, so we have the following names left to work with:


We’d like all of our children’s first names to be their patron saints. We gravitate towards classic English/Irish/Scottish names to tie in with our cultural heritage and our last name — Burch … We would like to do different first initials for everyone … And it has to be easy to spell.”

To give you a further idea of their taste, for boys Caitlin and her husband have considered:


And for girls:


Lots of names to work with! After much thinking and musing and taking to my Baby Name Wizard book for ideas, I came up with several ideas for each gender — I always shoot for three, but I had four for each that seemed so spot on to me that I couldn’t narrow it down any further:

(1) Alice
I was so excited to see that Caitlin and her husband had discussed Alice! It was the first one I had on the list I’d made for her as I was reading her email! I love Alice as a sister to Claire and Margaret/Maggie, and from their family names, I really like the idea of Pauline for Paul — Alice Pauline has such a lovely ring to it, I love it.

(2) Lydia
Lydia is one of my favorite names, and I was delighted to see it pop up in my research. I love that it looks short-ish like Claire but has the same number of syllables as Margaret. I quite like Lydia Shirley or Lydia Jacqueline or Lydia Frances (for Francis of course).

(3) Louisa (nicked Lucy?)
Both Louisa and Lucy seemed like good options for this family — luckily I don’t think they have to choose! Lucy is such a natural nickname for Louisa in my opinion. Louisa totally has the Brit feel of Claire and Margaret, and Lucy is spunky and sweet. Louisa Jacqueline? Louisa Pauline? Louisa Frances?

(4) Eleanor or Violet
Charlotte and Eleanor were names that seemed spot on as sisters for Claire and Margaret, but Charlotte repeats the C initial, and at the time I did this consultation for Caitlin I was still of the opinion that Eleanor is not a saint’s name (I’ve since revised my thinking — there’s a good argument that it can be considered to be related to Helen(a), which was on the list of names Caitlin and her husband have discussed). Both Charlotte and Eleanor pointed me to Violet, and as soon as I saw it I thought it would work well — it can be considered Marian, which is so awesome. I really like Eleanor Frances, Eleanor Pauline, Violet Shirley, Violet Pauline, and Violet Frances.

(1) Henry
Like with Alice, Henry was my #1 suggestion for Caitlin even before I read that it’s one of the names they’ve discussed! Woo! I love Henry, and it seems a smashing brother name for Claire and Margaret. I like it best as Henry William, and Henry Francis has a really nice flow to it, but it always makes me think of Betty’s second husband in Mad Men (Henry Francis). I learned recently though that I’m dating myself by being influenced by Mad Men, so maybe it’s a non issue? It’s very handsome!

(2) Samuel or Benjamin
Samuel and Sam (Sam!) are great great names and a perfect fit for a brother of Claire and Margaret/Maggie. I like Samuel Francis best, but Samuel Warren works too. And Benjamin has a similar feel to me, and is a bit closer to the feel of Claire and Margaret than is Benedict (from their list), in my opinion. Benjamin Paul is nice because Benjamin is so long and Paul so short; I like Benjamin Francis a lot too.

(3) Edward or Edmund
I love Sts. Edward the Confessor and Edmund Campion — how to choose?! Haha! They’re both British-y, and they both have really cute nickname options (Ed/Eddie, Ted/Teddy, Ned … my dad even had a friend named Edward who went by Zeb!). Edward Francis, Edward William, Edward Warren, Edmund Francis all sound great to me.

(4) Joseph
What else to say? Joseph is classic, masculine, saintly, just. Joseph Paul, Joseph William, and Joseph Warren all work well; I’m not including Joseph Francis because of the ph and F running into each other, but I don’t hate it.

Those are my ideas! What do you all think? What other ideas do you have for a brother or sister to Claire and Maggie?

Baby name consultant: Ideas needed for #5 green bean

Laura and her husband are expecting their fifth baby! (“Green bean” because they don’t know if they’re having a boy or girl. Like “Team Green.” I’m kind of crushing on calling the babe a green bean! Is it weird? Or really cute? I’m thinking cute!)

She writes,

You must get tons of these requests all of the time, but if you have time, could you say a little prayer for our little one on the way and maybe even suggest a name or two?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it is nothing short of a privilege to play a role in naming a baby! You all have given me such joy by asking me for my thoughts/suggestions/ideas, and be assured I pray for each of you and your babies.

Back to Laura! Her other kids are named:

Isabella Jane (called Bella)
Christian James
Gabriel Wayne
Quinn Michael

So many of my favorite notes are hit with this sib set!

Since Laura told me they’re “totally drawing blanks” and “kind of at a loss,” I tried to come up with some extra names for them (I always shoot for three, but was able to come up with four for girls and five for boys):

(1) Juliana
As you all know, I almost always start with the Baby Name Wizard book when coming up with suggestions, as it provides a list of boy and girl names similar in style/feel/popularity for each entry. Since Isabella is Laura’s only girl, I used the girl suggestions for her name as inspiration more than the boys’ names, and Juliana was a top suggestion for her. I love it for this family — I think it fits in so well with all the other kids.

(2) Hannah or Anna
Hannah was a match for a bunch of the names I looked up — both names they’ve used already and ones that seemed like a good fit. It’s soft and sweet, and Hannah’s story in the Bible is so great. Hannah is a form of Anna, and Anna popped up in my research as well, so it seemed a perfect suggestion.

(3) Lily
Lily reminds me a lot of Quinn — short and punchy; it’s also similar in style to a lot of names that seem like ones Laura and her husband would like. It’s also Marian, which you all know is probably my very favorite kind of name!

(4) Sofia/Sophie or Fiona
These two seem so similar in sound to me that I included them as part of the same suggestion. Sofia (or Sophia) or just Sophie as a given name is really similar to Isabella in my opinion — pretty, feminine, and popular — while Fiona brings in the Irish feel like Quinn. I like them both, a lot.

(1) Owen
Owen is far and away my first suggestion for this family for a boy. Quinn feels a little bit like an outsider, with a different style and feel from his brothers, and I feel like Owen bridges that gap really nicely.

(2) Nicholas (nicked Cole?)
Nicholas leans more toward the feel and style of Christian and Gabriel to me, which is great, but using a nickname like Cole brings Quinn right back in again. I love Nicholas nicked Cole (we seriously considered it for my youngest).

(3) Austin
Laura’s taste reminds me a lot of one of the consultations I did a while ago where the family has an Austin and a Christian and one of the daughter’s middle name is Isabel. Austin is fun because it started out as a contracted form of Augustine — so it’s heavy hitting saint-wise without hitting you over the head with it. And it’s got that British Isles feel that I could see Quinn fitting in easily with.

(4) Luke/Lucas
Luke and Lucas both showed up a lot in my research as similar to a lot of Laura’s picks and other names that I suspected might be ones she and her hubs might like. They’re great, solid names — Biblical like Christian and Gabriel, short and punchy like Quinn.

(5) Jude
I was particularly interested in the boy names that the Baby Name Wizard suggested as similar to Quinn, and one of my faves was Finn … but that’s out since it rhymes with Quinn, so I looked up Finn and saw Jude and immediately thought it made a lot of sense for this family. (In case it’s helpful, the others similar to Quinn are Donovan, Reid, Owen, Wyatt, and Griffin.)

I thought I’d share the other names I almost suggested but ended up deleting for whatever reason, in case they’re helpful: Abigail, Chloe, Colin, Caleb, and Charles nicked Charlie.

Those are my ideas! What do you all think? What else would you suggest for Laura’s new little baby-on-the-way?

Baby name consultant: Isabel, Maggie, Julia, Olivia, or … ?

Jennie and Matthew are expecting their fourth baby, a girl. Jennie writes,

We seem to be stuck at an impasse with a few names we like, but none that we can really agree on … We tend to like fairly traditional names. I really love a lot of the flowery vintage type names, but my husband tends to like the more classical names (not that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive).”

This baby girl will be joining three siblings:

Hannah Claire
Abigail Elizabeth (often goes by Abby, but not always)
Lucas Francis (called both Lucas and Luke)

I love their style! Currently, their top favorites for baby girl #3 are:

Margaret (we would most likely call her Maggie)
Julia (We also like Juliet, but wonder if she would get too many Romeo jokes)

Says Jennie,

Lately, I have been favoring Isabel, although one of my best friends has a daughter with the same name, so I am slightly hesitant to use it. I also wonder if it would fit with the style of our other children’s names?
My husband’s favorite of the list is Maggie. I like it and definitely think it would fit well with our other kids’ names, but I also think it is a tiny bit boring (no offense to any Maggies out there). We like the name Julia, but our kids have a cousin named Julia. She’s a little bit older than they are and lives in a different state, but nonetheless, I’m still unsure if we should use it.

A few names that we like, but that are out for various reasons: Genevieve, Josephine, Emma (and Emily), Amelia, Lily, Madeline, Catherine and any variation of Mary (sad, I know, but my husband has a sister named Mary and refuses to use the name because of her). I also want to try to stay away from another Old Testament girl’s name, despite the fact that there are a few I like.

We are also stuck on a middle name. I was rooting for Faustina, but my husband says “no way.” I also like the more common Grace and Rose, but we would prefer a strong feminine saint name. We were thinking of Avila or Siena. What do you think?

First off, some thoughts about Jennie and Matthew’s current ideas and answers to their questions about them:

Isabel is lovely! It’s my favorite of the Isabel(le/a) names, sweet and sophisticated all in one. Regarding whether it fits with the other kids’ names — you all know that I usually start my consultations with the Baby Name Wizard book as it offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. According to the BNW, Isabel definitely fits with the other kids! It’s listed as similar to both Lily and Madelyn, which are similar to all three of your kids’ names. Nice job, Jennie and Matthew! The other kids’ names are all biblical, but then Isabel is too, as it’s a form of Elizabeth. It’s a nice way to take their style in a new direction. I will just caution that since Elizabeth has already been used as Abby’s middle name, namiacs (like me) would notice that you technically used the name twice, but there’s certainly no rule against it, and most people will never know Abby’s middle (unless they/she tells them), and Elizabeth and Isabel look so different that many may never even notice.

Re: Margaret/Maggie, I agree Maggie is just adorable. I wonder, if Jennie worries that Maggie is too boring, if Magdalene or Magdalena would spice it up enough for her? It’s a New Testament name, so like with Isabel, it adheres to their established style while also taking it in a new direction. And Madeline is a variant of Magdalene, so it would kind of like be using Madeline (which Jennie said she liked) but not (since she said they couldn’t use it). Though Maggie could be the everyday nickname, Jennie would have the fun of knowing that the full first name is unexpected.

Re: Julia and Juliet, again, just lovely. Julia’s a New Testament name as well, and Juliet is a diminutive of Julia (though it’s true that it’s usually used on its own), so it’s possible to name the baby Julia and use Juliet as a nickname (which might help with cousins having the same given name), or they could name her Juliet knowing that they’re giving her a variant of a New Testament name, which all ties back into the established style. (And no, I don’t think Romeo makes Juliet un-doable. I love Juliet!)

So really, of their three current ideas, I don’t think they can go wrong!!!

I love Avila and Siena (and Faustina, Grace, and Rose) as middle names (or first names) for girls, absolutely wonderful, all! I like the sound of Isabel Avila, Margaret Avila or Margaret Siena, Magdalene Siena, Julia Siena, Juliet Siena. Some other strong feminine saints that they might like to consider include Therese (of Lisieux), Edith (Stein), Edel (Quinn), Chiara (Luce Badano), Maria (Goretti) … I’m sure I can think of a million more if none of these was quite right …

As for new suggestions – I basically just looked up all the names they’ve already used and those they said they like (including the ones that can’t be used) and tried to find names in the overlapping areas. These were the results (I always shoot for three suggestions, but came up with five):

(1) Olivia
Olivia was the only name that was listed as similar to Hannah, Abigail, and Lucas. How cool! It’s not biblical as a name, but certainly there are loads of lovely references to olives in the bible, which to me make a nice connection with the other kids’ names. A mama I did a consultation for recently named her daughter Olive in large part because of how much she loved Psalm 128:3: “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your home, Your children like young olive plants around your table.” (She actually used the middle name Faustina, and loved the connection between St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy, and the writings of St. Oliver Plunkett, who she took as the baby’s patron, which talked about divine mercy.)

(2) Caroline or Charlotte (nicked Callie?)
Charlotte and Caroline were all over the spreadsheet I made of my research for this baby! They, as a name family, had hands down the most similarity to the names Jennie and Matthew like than any other name. Even the nickname Callie was included, showing up as similar to Maggie. I love these names because of their connection to St. John Paul (born Karol=Charles), and I know a bunch of people who have considered and/or used Karoline or Karolina, so that’s an option as well.

(3) Helen(a) or Eleanor (nicked Ellie or Ella?)
Helen, Helena, and Eleanor all share similar sounds and nicknames, so I’m grouping them together here. They all did quite well in my research, as did Ellie and Ella. St. Helena is a great patron saint for a little girl too, so if you didn’t care for it in the first name spot, maybe in the middle, since she was a strong female saint?

(4) Sofia/Sophia or Sophie
I started with Olivia, because it was the only name that fit all three of the other kids’ names’ style, and then listed the name that had the most similarity to Jennie and Matthew’s entire name list (Charlotte/Caroline), then the second most (Helena/Eleanor), and now the third most – both Sofia and Sophie scored high for this family, with Sophie being just a bit closer to their style. As with Olivia, Sophie isn’t a biblical name, but it is a biblical idea – there’s even a book of the bible named Wisdom. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat is also a great saint, so maybe Sophie as a middle name if they didn’t care for it as a first?

(5) Miscellaneous
There were a bunch of names that did well for Jennie and Matthew, but not well enough to include in my top suggestions. But I wanted to list them anyway:
— Chloe (New Testament)
— Cecilia/Celia (great saint)
— Lydia (New Testament)
— Evangeline (biblical idea, and has similar feel to the names they like but can’t use — Genevieve and Josephine)
— Violet (can be considered Marian, maybe a nice workaround for the Mary issue?)
— Grace (they’d thought of it as a middle, but maybe they’d like to consider it for a first name? Also Marian)

** Between when I emailed Jennie back with my ideas and today, she wrote me this:

One recent development is that the name Olivia is currently really growing on me. And I like the combination of Olivia Benedicta because “Benedicta” means blessing and I believe the Benedictine order has an olive on their crest, so the two names go together. Also, our daughter’s patroness would be St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) whom I really like and admire … my only reservation about Olivia is its huge popularity. Help!

I loooooove the idea of Olivia Benedicta!! What a great combo!! I would absolutely encourage Jennie and Matthew with this choice — I love the much-beloved and familiar Olivia paired with the heavy duty Benedicta, just wonderful!!

As for “much-beloved” — Olivia is indeed super duper uber popular right now — take a look:


So popularity is definitely an issue. My usual fallback in such cases is to suggest the name Livia. It’s so similar to Olivia, but much much less popular. Though it looks like Olivia with the O hacked off, it’s actually a name in its own right, with a long history of use going back to ancient Rome. It also has some Irish connection, in that the River Liffey, which flows through Dublin, has been personified in literature (a character in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake) and art (a sculpture in Dublin) as a woman named Anna Livia, a play on the river’s name in Irish: Abhainn na Life. Livia also allows for the great Olivia nicknames of Liv and Livvy. I think people might have a tendency to think I’m crazy when I suggest Livia instead of Olivia — like, will it really make that much of a difference?? — but it does to me, so … there you go! 🙂


Another name I sometimes to suggest to those who love Olivia but not the popularity is Avila — it’s got similar letters and sounds as Olivia and I think it could take the nicks Liv and Livvy AND it’s on Jennie and Matthew’s list as a possible middle! But it has a very different feel than Olivia, and while an argument can be made for Olivia having biblical connections via the abundance of olives in Scripture, there’s no biblical connection with Avila, and so it takes it that much farther away from the style of big sibs Hannah, Abigail, and Lucas. It’s also quite similar in appearance to Abigail. (It hasn’t been in the top 1000 in recent years, so no popularity graph to show.)

In this case, though, where one of the things that’s appealing about Olivia to Jennie is the olive connection, neither Livia nor Avila would likely work, since they have no connection to olives. So then I would suggest Olive itself. It’s risen somewhat rapidly in popularity over the last few years, but is still fairly uncommon:


It too can take the nicknames Liv and Livvy (you all know how I am about nicknames! And Liv/Livvy is my favorite part of Olivia — they’re just so sweet! So being able to retain the nicks even while using a different name would be a plus for me).

So those are all my ideas/thoughts/suggestions! What do you all think? What comments do you have about the current ideas (including Olivia Benedicta), and what other suggestions do you have for Jennie and Matthew?

Baby name consultant: Boy #3 needs a name!

Anna emailed with a dilemma I’d not yet encountered here! First, her other boys are named:

Theodore Randell (called Teddy)
William Gerald (called William or Will)

Such handsome combos! Anna writes,

We are drawn toward strong classic names that (hopefully) aren’t overly common and that have cute (but not cutesy) nicknames that can grow or evolve with the boys. Randell and Gerald are the first names of our fathers and fit with the strong classic name theme. We LOVE the names Charles Russell (Charlie) buuuuuut, we have a cat named Charlie. Try as we might, I don’t know that we can get past the association with our darn cat. 😉 “


I especially appreciate your ability to come up with alternate nicknames, as I am so NOT creative in that sense! … Russell is DH’s late grandfather’s name. At one point we considered it as a first name but were at a loss for suitable nicknames (Russ and Rusty are out and… that’s as far as my creativity goes with nicknames).”

My first thought was: Charles Russell is an amazing combination!! So handsome, and such a perfect match with brothers Theodore Randell and William Gerald. I’m so impressed!

Second, a cat named Charlie! Oof! That’s a really hard thing to work around! One possible way is to use a nickname for Charles that’s not Charlie. There was an Appellation Mountain post a while back with unusual nicknames for Charles — Cal is one of my favorites for it, and some other really offbeat ideas (I tend to love offbeat nicknames) like Chase or Huck (if Chuck, why not Huck?), which made me think Hutch might work too. I like all those, and I’ll also offer that one of my boys goes exclusively by a nickname for his middle name, so that’s a possibility too.

Which brings me to her question about Russell nicknames. I’m a little crazy about nicknames — I can almost always come up with some!! 🙂 A lot of times they’re just too out there for people, but … what about:

(1) Sully
This is hands down my favorite nickname idea for Russell! Sully is just taking the Russell letters and mixing them up a bit. Also, when I say Russell, the “ssell” ending sounds a lot like “sull” to my ear, so Sully seems a natural extension nickname for Russell. I love it!

(2) Rob(bie) or Rod(dy) or Rory
Another way I like to come up with nicknames is by combining elements of the first name with elements of the second. A combination like Russell Bernard or Russell Benedict might lend itself to a nickname like Rob or Robbie — the R from Russell and the B from the middle name. Or maybe something like Russell David or Russell Daniel? Which could lead to Rod or Roddy, both of which I think are really cute (like Roddy McDowell!). Or maybe Roddy’s too close to Teddy? I’m not sure what I think. I could also see Rory working as a nickname for Russell Bernard or Russell Robert, where there’s the R from the first name and R’s in the middle as well.

(3) Rudy or Ray
The idea of Russell David made me think of Rudy as well. It’s a more obvious nickname for Russell David (and really, I could see Rudy being a nickname for Russell anyway, regardless of middle name). Funny enough, I looked up Rudy in my Baby Name Wizard book, which I rely on a lot for inspiration in these consultations, and it said Teddy is similar in style and feel! So cool! And the movie Rudy would be so fun to show a little Rudy when he grew up. I also thought Ray could work — just because it seems like a short form of an R name. Ray could also be a firstname+middlename combo nickname, like from Russell Avery or Russell Aidan or similar.

So those are my thoughts for nicknames. As for other ideas for first names, I always shoot for three, and this is what I came up with:

(1) Louis
Going back to the Baby Name Wizard book, it has this awesome feature where it provides, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. It’s often pretty spot-on for predicting other names parents might like, based on the names they’ve already used and/or are considering. Louis was shown to be similar to both Theodore and Charles, which I thought was amazing. Louis is distinguished and saintly, and the nickname Louie is adorable. I know a little Louis nicked Louie, and he’s a great kid, so I have only positive associations for this name. Louis Russell?

(2) Henry
Henry also did quite well for this family in the BNW book — similar to Theodore, William, and Charles! And Harry, which is a traditional nickname for Henry, was shown to be similar to Charlie. I also like the nickname Hank. Henry Russell sounds quite nice to me.

(3) Edward
I was reluctant to suggest this, since Anna calls her Theodore “Teddy,” but Edward was shown to be similar to William and Charles (and Edmund to Theodore). It’s totally workable I think — Edward could go by the nickname Ward (which I’ve seen), or — and this is crazy! — my dad once worked with a man named Edward who went by Zeb! I like Edward Russell a lot.

So those are my ideas for this new little boy! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Theodore/Teddy and William/Will’s little brother?

I love to do name consultations! If you’d like me to give your name dilemma a go, check out my Baby name consultant tab.

Baby name consultant: Brother to Miles

Haley and her husband are expecting their second baby, and second boy! Their first little boy is:

Miles Howard

which I love, so handsome! She writes,

I love that Miles is a strong name, especially paired with Howard, named after my grandfather/father … Our last name … proves to make things a little more difficult as it is such a guttural, one-syllable name … I do think it’s important for a least one half of a name (whether first or middle), be connected to a family member whose character I would wish my child to look up to.”

Some family names they could consider include:


Other boy names they’ve discussed include:


although, according to Haley,

Thus far Henry is the only name still viable from that list, as Jake thinks Micah is a girl’s name … Lane is also one I really like, but I’m not sure how I like it with [our last name] … Donovan is Jake’s choice as of late (he likes that it has “Don,” as both our grandfathers were Donalds), but overall the name does not resonate with me at all. Philip is another one of my choices that Jake feels is too nerdy … where he gets that from, don’t ask me! Henry we both can agree on, although my hesitation is on its current popularity … For girls, we considered Sloane and Anna, but in the end I was completely set on Anna Louise.”

First off, Haley’s husband made me laugh — he sounds JUST LIKE mine! I’ve long loved Micah but it’s a no go, Philip was on my list for a long time, and Donovan! My hubs has bugged me about that name for years because he was a big fan of Dononvan McNabb when he played for the Eagles. (He’s sort of joking.) (Sort of.)

(I will admit though that I kind of love Donovan as an honor name for a Donald!)

I love their ideas, and Henry too (especially because it’s a family name!), and they all gave me a lot to work with inspiration wise. So I always shoot for three suggestions, but I came up with four for Haley’s second little guy:

(1) Colin
As you all know, I use the Baby Name Wizard book a lot when thinking of ideas/suggestions for people — it has this awesome feature where, for each entry, it lists boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. Colin was listed as a style match for Miles, and Cale as similar to Lane, and Charles as similar to Philip and Henry — Colin, Cale, and Charles all strike me as somewhat similar in that they visually look similar and if you consider that a viable nickname for Charles is Cal, there’s a sound similarity among the three as well. Colin was my favorite of them for Haley — I get a little bit of a fun vibe from Miles, and Charles doesn’t seem to fit that quite as well, and Cale doesn’t sound great with her last name. Using the family names she listed as possibles, I love Colin Francis, Colin James, and Colin Spencer.

(2) Isaac
Isaac was another that was listed as similar to Miles, and it seemed right in line with the feel of Micah as well (without the being-used-for-girls baggage). I love the name Isaac, and I think brothers Isaac and Miles sound awesome together. I quite like Isaac Francis, Isaac Bowen, Isaac James.

(3) Spencer
According to the BNW Spencer is a style match for Donovan! And it’s a family name! I can definitely see brothers Miles and Spencer, and Spencer sounds nice with a one-syllable last name. My favorite first-middle combos for Spencer would be Spencer Francis (two family names! So cool) and Spencer James.

(4) Samuel
Samuel fits the general areas Haley’s taste is swirling, and Sam is such a great nickname. And Miles and Samuel as brothers — so great! They sound like they just stepped off the Mayflower, in the best way possible. Samuel Francis, Samuel Bowen, and Samuel Jacob are all quite handsome.

Other names that seemed to fit but that didn’t make my final cut for whatever reason, are: Thomas, Asher, Emmett, Jasper, and Elliott.

Those are my ideas for Haley’s little boy! What do you all think? What names would you recommend for Miles’ baby brother?

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!