Baby name consultation: Help pick the right combo for baby no. 5/boy no. 3!

(I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be away on vacation last week! So sorry for the quietness of the blog! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I got to meet and spend a few hours with Colleen from Martin Family Moments — it was so fun! She was so great! We talked and talked about all sorts of things, just like you do with your dear friends, and her hubby and kids hung out with my hubby and kids, and I got to meet two of her sisters, it was all just really familiar and family-like. It’s hard to make that happen when meeting someone for the first time — it’s a rare gift! Thanks again Colleen! 💕😘)

Christie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Kolbe David (“After Maximillian Kolbe and David of Wales“)
Isaac Austin (“after a more obscure saint named Isaac of Cordoba with a super cool and relevant story and Augustine of Canterbury“)
Eva Therese (“after Mary the New Eve and Therese of Lisieux“)
Alexis Chiara (“after OL of Perpetual Help – Alexis means help in Greek – and Bl. Chiara Badano“)

Great names, right? I really love all the significance in each one, I love how they’ve incorporated Marian names in unexpected ways, and I love that I’m posting this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of my very very favorites — happy feast day to Christie’s oldest!!

They have, as Christie put it, “a pretty specific naming schema” for their kiddos, and in fact “already have a list of names to consider, and just need help finding the winning combo” — I’m happy to participate in baby name conversations in any way that might be helpful! And I really love what Christie and her hubs have done so far, and the names on their list. As she explained,

Our kids’ names are like super-infused with meaning, Catholic dork style (and proud of it).”

(Yasssss!!! 👊👏😍)

Our boys are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and another saint who was a first evangelizer of the British Isles that honors their paternal heritage all over that region. Our girls are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and some sort of homage to Mary. We don’t care which name comes first of the two saints, just whatever sounds good.

A few other name preferences:
– We hate nicknames beyond infancy, and don’t want to give our kids names that they will never go by (just ask us: we’re a Christopher and a Christina). Obviously our kids do get nicknamed, but it’s things that won’t stick for forever.
– our last name is Collins, so no Phil, Tom, or other celebrity drinks/people ending in Collins!!! And my husband also threw out Nicholaus because that’s the origin of the last name Collins (I mean… ok, fine, hubs)
– I’m Italian/Cajun/Irish in heritage and we lived in Rome for two years and still study the Italian language and culture as a family. If only Marcellino Collins was, like, even okay-sounding LOL!
– not too obscure of a saint (minimum: must be able to find a holy card or book or something about the guy)

Finally, we want there to be some sort of pilgrimage that makes sense for their saint because our dream is that a high school or college graduation present will be a pilgrimage with just one parent and that child to “their” spot. For Kolbe, that will be Auschwitz, for Isaac it’ll be Cordoba (very southern Spain), for Eva it’ll be Lisieux, and for Alexis, Rome. So far that’s a pretty trans-European experience too.”

I loved reading all of this!! I laughed out loud in several spots, and I also think the pilgrimage idea is so cool.

Continuing,

For the heritage name: we’ve scoured all the early evangelizer saints and let’s be honest…we’re not naming a kid Cunegard or anything without vowels (or entirely composed of them), so it’s a bit restrictive. Here are the remotely good ones.

Aaron
Patrick
Aidan
Finnian
Andrew
Brendan
Kieran
Declan

For the saints-we-look-up-to name, there are lots. Some were tossed out because they were too out there for my husband (Ephrem, Cyril, Cyprian, Fulton). I’ve researched other ways to name a kid after each of them and I’ll include that info.

Augustine (Augustine, but we already used Austin…)
John the Apostle (John)
Gregory the Great (Gregory, Magnus)
Peter Damien (Peter, Damien)
John Paul (born Karol Jozef, Karol means Carl and Charles: John, Paul, Karol, Carl, Charles, Jozef, Joseph)
Ambrose (Gio and Giotto are Italian diminutives/derivatives: Ambrose, Gio, Giotto)
Benedict (established monastery at Monte Cassino: Benedict, Bennett, Monte)
Leo the Great (Leo, Magnus)
Bonaventure (born Giovanni, and he’s the Seraphic Doctor, if there’s anything there, Bonaventure)
Phillip Neri (darn you, Phil Collins, for being famous!: Neri?)
John Bosco (born Melchiorre, Forrest for a play on words – bosco = woods/forest, Bosco, John)
Thomas More (Thomas)
John Chrysostom (John)
Dominic (middle name was Felix after his father: Dominic, Felix)
Francis of Assisi (Francis)
Damien of Molokai (born Jozef: Damien, Jozef))
Francis de Sales (born Francis Bonaventura: Francis)
Peter Julian Eymard (Peter, Julian mayybbeeeee)
Louis Martin (we don’t like Louis, but maybe Martin)
Nathaniel (Nathaniel, Nathan)

Other names we like okay that are also saints:
Blaise
Basil
Luke/Lucas
Jude
Sebastian
Pio
Owen (St. Nicholas Owen)
Oliver

I love how Christie’s mind works! I loved reading all her ideas for naming after saints without using the exact name (who knew Gio and Giotto were Italian variants of Ambrose? So cool!).

I admit that at first I wasn’t sure what I could contribute, since Christie and her hubs have all their names pretty much figured out. But I did have some thoughts, both about the names they already have on their list, and even some new ideas that I think fit in well enough that they won’t hate them.

First off, I totally wouldn’t cross Italian names off their list just because they don’t have an Italian last name! Christie has Italian heritage, and as she said they lived in Rome and still study the language and culture as a family — to me, it would be kind of weird to not include Italian names in their considerations! Christie’s concern about it clashing with their last name reminded me of this post from Swistle, which discussed what her reader called the “Juan Pablo Jones problem,” and which I thought was spot-on. I especially like this bit:

I think it’s unnecessary for [your husband] to bring cultural appropriation into it when what you’re discussing is using names FROM YOUR OWN CULTURES. It sounds as if his concern is that other people will THINK it’s cultural appropriation: that is, if someone didn’t realize your cultural background, they might think you shouldn’t have used the name. I am generally on the side of worrying what other people think and of taking into account the society we live in (I don’t want to give a child a name that will make people think badly of her or of us), but this doesn’t seem like an issue here. First/last-name incompatibility could happen any time the parents didn’t come from the same cultural background, or any time a surname gets married out of usage. It seems like even (or especially) people hyper-aware of cultural appropriation issues would also be aware that the current particular surname doesn’t tell the story of the family background.”

So I’d say, use Marcellino with joy!

Secondly, working with the names they already have on their list, I felt like Finnian and Kieran from their British Isles list seemed like they’d fit well as first names with the other kids. I was also really struck by how many holy Johns they love, and if it were me, I would definitely take that as a sign that John is a slam dunk as a first name. I’ve also always loved that John goes in front of most any name for boys in a similar way as Mary for girls — I think a John ___ could easily go by John or a nickname of John, or the fn+mn as a double name (like John Paul), or the middle name, just like those girls with Mary ___ as a given name have traditionally found Mary, fn+mn, or just the middle name as options available to them that generally don’t raise eyebrows. I know I’ve said this a million times, but most of my dad’s first cousins who are women, as well as one of his sisters and his mom, are all Mary ___, and most of them go by their middle names in real life (signing their names as just their middles, or sometimes M. Middle), or by both Mary and the middle. And John is just the same in my opinion. Perhaps it doesn’t have the long history of use in that regard like Mary does, so maybe others might raise their eyebrows at a John ___ that goes by a double name or his middle name or whatever, but to me it’s an awesome option. I posted a huge John+ consultation post here, which might have some helpful info.

So I love the idea of John Aaron, John Patrick, John Aidan, John Finnian, John Andrew, John Brendan, John Kieran, and John Declan. I think they all sound just amazingly handsome and masculine but not overly macho or anything, just really nice combos. If it were me, I’d be tempted to call them by the double names because I’m so enamored of the John+ doubles! But even if he just went by John, I think they’d be pleased because John is an easy name to use and enforce that no nicknames are to be used. It’s great and solid for a man and increasingly unexpected on a little boy.

I also love the idea of going by the middle names, which I think might be more their style anyway, based on the names they’ve already used for their older kids — Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis don’t have the feel that a family that would choose John for a son would traditionally have, I think. So doing something unexpected with a little John’s name would be more expected in a family that uses a saint’s last name as a first, for example.

But even though I think John makes so much sense, because it honors all the Sts. John they love (and even St. Bonaventure, with Giovanni as his birth name), it does make choosing the patron saint and pilgrimage place difficult — which John would they focus on? Of course they could solve that by using the middle name as the patron and place, which is probably what I would recommend, especially since they don’t have any British Isles pilgrimage places represented yet among their kiddos.

So after swooning over all the John+ possibilities, my attention shifted to Leo, because when I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I was really struck by what a good fit Leo is for this family based on the names Christie and her hubs have already chosen and those they like/are considering: In general, there wasn’t any real overlap among the names that were listed as similar to the names they’ve chosen, BUT Leo was listed as a style match for Eva as well as Oliver, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix — I thought that was pretty significant! I loved the combos Leo Patrick, Leo Finnian, Leo Brendan, Leo Kieran, and Leo Declan, and I didn’t know if they’d be interested in going full Irish, but if so I also love Leo Padraig (a combo I had on my list for a while). They could of course use the middle name to choose the pilgrimage spot, but I looked up St. Leo the Great and his Wiki entry said he was born in Tuscany, which is an amazing place to visit, but not sure *where* in Tuscany they’d go? He’s buried in Rome, but they already have Rome on the list for Alexis … A cool tidbit is that he played an important role in the Council of Chalcedon, and Chalcedon is in Turkey today, so that would be a good option I think.

Looking more through the list of saints they love, I was struck by these things/had these thoughts that might be helpful:

  • I agree about not using Augustine since they already used Austin (which you all probably know is a variant of Augustine)
  • I love that Gio and Giotto are Italian variants of Ambrose, how cool!
  • Love Monte as a nod to St. Benedict!
  • Seraphim is used as a masculine name, which could make a cool middle name as a nod to St. Bonaventure
  • We considered the full Philip Neri as a fn+mn and I really wanted to use Finn as the nickname! If Christie and her hubs didn’t hate nicknames, this could get around the Phil Collins issue, but as it is, I agree with them—no Philip! Neri would be interesting … I also wonder if they would consider Finnian to be a double nod to St. Finnian and St. Philip Neri because of the Finn thing I just mentioned? Or maybe they’re hating my idea of trying to double up saints in one name!! Haha! No worries if so, I never get offended about differences of opinion in naming! And I’m certainly under no illusion that I have all the right answers
  • I love Melchiorre/Melchior for St. John Bosco! I love the idea of naming for the Three Wise Men anyway, and knowing that it also is part of St. Bosco’s name is so cool! It also reminded me of Malachy—I don’t know if St. Malachy fits the criteria they’re using to define “early British Isles evangelizer,” but he was the first native-born Irishman to be canonized, which is pretty cool
  • I wonder if they would be interested in Morey for Thomas More? This family named their son Thomas More and call him Morey, which is also a nod to Great Grandpa Maury (genius!), but I think Morey is a great name on its own and fine as a nod to Thomas More
  • I’ve never seen Felix considered for St. Dominic, very cool!
  • St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, being both on their list, would make me want to use Francis as a nod to them both …
  • St. Francis de Sales has such great connections for this family—not only was Bonaventura his middle name, which could also nod to St. Bonaventure, but St. John Bosco was of course a devotee of St. Francis de Sales … again, I’m a fan of trying to tie together connections and honor lots of different people with one name, so I would find this all very inspiring—a way of checking several saints off their list of favorites with one child’s name. I’m not sure what name I would recommend though?
  • I thought of Christie on St. Peter Julian Eymard’s recent feast day; I discussed Julian a bit in my last consultation, which might be helpful?
  • I like Martin a lot, I always wonder why more people aren’t using it!
  • Love Nathaniel
  • I love Pio as a middle name! Ana at Time Flies When You’re Having Babies has a Joseph Pio, which I’ve always thought was an amazing combo
  • I would love to see them move Owen and Oliver from their “so-so” list to their “favorites” list! Oliver’s a style match for Eva, Leo, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix, and I know an Isaac who has a brother Oliver! I love St. Oliver Plunket. I also know an Isaac with a brother Owen (and a sister Olivia!), and St. Nicholas Owen is amazing!

One final thought I had was regarding an honor name for John Paul — I’ve seen Lolek considered a time or two as a first name, and we even discussed it as a possible “nickname” for Luke! So maybe Christie and her hubs would like to consider it as well? They seem to like the hard K sound (Kolbe, Isaac, Alexis, Chiara, and per their list Patrick, Kieran, Declan, Carl/Karol, Dominic, Felix, Luke/Lucas), and Lolek really does feel like an unexpected Luke.

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Christie’s littlest guy! What do you all think? Based on all this, what name(s) and/or combo(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis?

Baby name consultation: Twin boys to join two big brothers with Old Testament names

My brother’s best childhood friend, Tim, who’s a former Major League baseball player, and his wife, Rosie, are expecting their third and fourth babies — twin boys! They join big brothers:

Noah James
Levi Patrick

I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, so you know I love these brothers’ names!

Rosie writes,

Tim and I have been having a tough time agreeing on names so finding two boy names that work well together is going to be a challenge! … Info that I think will help: Our 5 year old is Noah James. Noah is a name that I instantly fell in love with at the start of my pregnancy with him. His gender was a surprise but I had a strong intuition that he was a boy and went to the hospital pretty set with that name, with Benjamin as a back up. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves the name as I just saw that it is still the most popular name in California. I would love to come up with names that are not as popular this time around. James is Tim’s middle name. He loves the name and wants to consider it as an option. While I love the name I feel like it has to be crossed off the list since it is Noah’s middle name.

Our 3 year old is Levi Patrick. We did find out the gender with him. We both agreed on his name early and didn’t have a back up. Patrick is my dad’s name.

If we were having a girl I had my heart set on Ruth Clementine or Ruby Clementine.

Boy names that I have always liked but Tim is not crazy about:
Ezra
Mattias — I’m not sure if the s ending works with our last name though?
Amos — ” “

Boy names that we both agree on:
Thomas — I like the combo of Thomas Everett, but again ends with an s
Nathan — my brother’s middle name
Luke — I feel like Luke may sound too similar to Levi?

The task of finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together feels overwhelming to me!

I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it. At the very least I want names that have a strong faith tie or meaning. I personally don’t have any emotional ties to Saint names as I was not raised Catholic.

Last thing — forgot to mention two names that Tim and I both like that we can add to our running list: Jeremiah and Julian (only hesitation with that name is that it does feel a bit feminine to me probably because we know someone by the name Jillian).”

I totally get how overwhelming it must be to do exactly what Rosie articulated so well: “finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together” — exactly! It was really fun to work on this.

I really love Noah and Levi as brothers—they’ve done a great job picking names that are similar in style, which helps mitigate the popularity of Noah, you know? If they’d named their boys Noah (no. 1) and Liam (no. 2), then it would be really obvious that they’re into super popular names (which even in itself isn’t the end of the world—I mean, names become popular because they’re great names!). But using Noah and Levi (no. 42) shows that they’re into biblical names more than popular names, and the biblical style is timeless and enduring. So I think they’ve done great!

I also love that Benjamin was the backup for Noah, and it perfectly fits the style they’ve got going so far. Unfortunately, it zoomed up from no. 10 to no. 6 on the national chart this year, which they probably won’t love, BUT it’s really important to keep in mind that popular names today aren’t nearly as popular as popular names in the past. That is, Noah, as the no. 1 name, isn’t given to nearly as many boys per year as Michael was during its longtime reign as no. 1. You can read more about that phenomenon here and here, it’s pretty interesting, and should soothe their worries about popularity a little bit.

I can understand not wanting to use Noah’s middle name as the first name for one of their twins. I know a lot of families who have done that kind of thing, and don’t mind it, and even like it (one example here), but there are so many great names that I’d love to try to find names that will be unique to each of their boys in their brother set. That said, I also know a family who used Catherine as the middle name for two of their three daughters — one was named after Grandma Catherine, the other after St. Catherine of Siena. So if Noah’s middle name was a nod to Tim, they could feasibly make the argument that naming one of their twins James is in honor of someone else. Is Tim’s dad’s middle name James maybe? If the same name is used for two different children, in order to honor two different people, it could start to feel like two different names, you know?

I also looooove Ruth Clementine and Ruby Clementine!! They have great taste in names!

As for the boy names Rosie said they like/are considering, Ezra was actually my first idea for them before I even got to that part of their email! It totally fits the feel of Noah and Levi, including the length of four letters! Mattias (and Matthias) is a favorite of mine, and Amos is another great four-letter name with Noah, Levi, and Ezra.

Thomas Everett is an amazing combo, but I totally get what Rosie means about its “s” ending (and that of Amos and Mattias) running into their last name. I have a similar sensitivity, but even still, because of family considerations and names we just love, half of our boys have first names ending in the same letter our last name starts with! It hasn’t been the end of the world — indeed, I love each one of their names — and honestly, I don’t even notice that same feature of other peoples’ names. I didn’t even really notice it about my own name—Kate Towne—til I was naming my own kids. So funny!

Nathan is also great, and I like that it has family significance for Rosie; it’s also nice that it’s a biblical name, but not as old-timey as Noah/Levi/Ezra/Amos, which allows them to move in a new direction while still sticking with their established theme. (Not that they have to stick with their established theme!) I think I agree with them regarding Luke … although, if they named twin no. 2 Luke, they’d have a child between Levi and Luke, which makes it a bit easier than if Luke followed Levi directly.

Jeremiah is very consistent with Noah/Levi/Amos/Ezra/Benjamin, a great name! And I can see their issue with Julian as well—a lot of people love it because it’s a “softer” boy name, but others don’t care for it specifically *because* it has a softer feel. Another name that’s similar, I think, is Micah—it’s a great Old Testament male name, but a lot of people have used it for their girls because it has that softer feel, which means less people are naming their boys Micah because they don’t want to give their boys girl names. (I still love it though.)

Anyway! All that said, I think Rosie and Tim have a lot of good ideas to work with, and I came up with a few more ideas that I think they might like (I’ll do ideas for twin combinations after I list my new ideas). You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, and my own ideas, this is what I came up with:

(1) Adam
I was really taken with the fact that Rosie and Tim gave both their older boys four-letter Old Testament names, so I admit I was on the lookout for others that would match. Adam is one such, and I like that it’s both less “whiskery” (meaning “old man,” and I say that in a good way—it’s so in style right now!) than Noah and Levi, but it’s also less popular than both of them, while still feeling current and familiar.

(2) Seth
I’m not sure they’ll love this with their S last name—some people love alliteration, and some don’t, and some don’t mind certain examples but not others. I love Peter Parker, for example—when done right, I love that an alliterative name can have a little superhero feel to it.

(3) Jude
After Ezra, this was my second idea for them, before I’d even really gotten into the meat of Rosie’s email. Not only do I love that it’s four letters and biblical, but I also like that it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, just because it broadens their horizons a little bit (Levi has the cool distinction of being both Old Testament and New Testament, but I think it conveys more of an Old Testament feel). I also wondered if Jude might be helpful for them in their Julian discussions—the Beatles’ song Hey Jude was written for John Lennon’s son Julian, and I’ve seen parents use Jude as a nickname for Julian. Even if they don’t care for the idea of Jude as a nickname for Julian, maybe Jude mirrors the sounds of Julian enough to replace Julian on their list of possible names? It also has the extra bonus of being a nod to Tim’s mom (her first name is Judith, but she goes by her middle name) in a subtle way, if they wanted it to—only those who know her first name is Judith might get the connection!

If they like that idea, I wonder if there’s a way they could give the other twin a name that connects to Rosie’s mom’s name? Or they could also think of naming the other twin after Rosie herself, perhaps by using her maiden name as his middle name?

(4) Cole
Cole is an interesting idea, and I’m not sure what they’ll think of it. On the one hand, it’s listed as a style match in the BNW for Luke, and because it’s four letters I jumped right on it. It’s also a traditional nickname or variant of Nicholas, which is a biblical name, so if it’s important to them to have that connection between their boys, they have it. But of course, it doesn’t come across as biblical, so maybe that makes it a great choice or maybe that makes it a worse choice?

(5) Caleb
Similar in appearance to Cole, but bringing it back to that Old Testament feel, Caleb is a sweet name that a lot of people love, but at no. 44 it’s not overly popular—in fact, it’s really similar in popularity to Levi.

(6) Ethan
I don’t think many people think “biblical” when they hear Ethan, but biblical it is, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “biblical” might make it a perfect choice for this family—in keeping with their theme but branching out a little too.

(7) Eli or Elias
In looking up names in the BNW, one of my favorite things is when I see the same name or family of names pop up over and over as a style match for a bunch of names on the parents’ list. Eli and Elias were those for this family! Eli’s a match for Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Luke, and the similar name Elias is a match for Mattias, Everett, and Julian! Wow! I love them both, though I can see Eli being a nice twin match for certain names, and Elias for others. Eli can also be a nickname for Elias, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to choose. (Elias is the Greek form of Elijah, and much less popular at no. 93 as compared to Elijah’s no. 9).

(8) Gabriel
One of my favorite name books — predating even my beloved BNW — is Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, and in it she describes a lot of the kinds of names that I’m calling “whiskery” as “flannel shirts”—cozy, familiar, old timey. I remember distinctly that Gabriel was one of those, and that the nickname Gabe especially brought with it an “old immigrant” feel. I personally love that, and both Gabriel and Gabe, and I think they fit in really well with Noah and Levi.

(9) Samuel
Not only is Samuel itself a style match for Luke, but its nickname Sam is a style match for both Ruby and Ruth—I love that! I feel like it’s really consistent with the kinds of names Rosie and Tim like overall, and Sam is one of the friendliest nicknames (which I also think of Gabe as). I actually really love Sam with their S last name—it has that superhero alter ego feel, and it feels like a solid man’s name.

(10) Andrew
I really liked seeing that Andrew is a style match for both Patrick and Nathan—pretty cool that it fits in with two such different styles of name! Like Thomas, Nathan, James, and Luke, it’s a great New Testament name that retains their biblical theme while still breaking out of it a little bit.

So those were all the ideas I had that were mostly based on my research, but when I started trying to pair up names into twin combos, I had just a couple more ideas, which I’ll explain below. I should also say that different parents prefer different approaches when naming twins—some want something very matchy; some want them to go together nicely but not be too matchy; and some just want to name them as if they were naming non-twins, with no intentional connection at all. It sounds like Rosie and Tim are in the middle: I still love how Rosie articulated that they want to find names that they “both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together,” so I mostly tried to find pairs that fit that.

No matter which way a couple decides to go, I do think it’s important for the names to be fair. That is, I imagine that if one twin were named for dad and the other twin wasn’t given a name with any family significance, that second twin might feel hurt as he grows up. You know? Another thing that I personally like—which Rosie and Tim may or may not care about—is balance. That is, I find it really pleasing when both twins have short first names or long first names. Or one has a short first and a long middle and the other has a long first and a short middle. Or they have the same first initial, even if (especially if) the names are different lengths, or the first initial has a different sound in each name rather than the same. So a lot of my ideas here are inspired by my own preferences, and I apologize to Rosie and Tim in advance if they hate my approach!

Ezra and Jude: When I first started reading Rosie’s email, and I was so struck by the fact that Noah and Levi both have four-letter biblical names, I immediately started trying to think of others, and Ezra and Jude were the two I immediately came up with and love. Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Jude are such a pleasing set of brothers! I also really like that it makes them all sound less like two singletons and a set of twins, and more just like four brothers.

Benjamin and Jeremiah: I love that these names are both long, Old Testament names AND they have the same number of letters! I get a little overly excited about twins having names with the same number of letters! My only hangup is that I don’t have any great ideas for nicknames for Jeremiah. I’ve seen Jem, which is super cute, but I don’t think it’s to everyone’s taste. Similarly, I’ve seen Miah, but I suspect that’s too feminine for their taste. Jer and Jerry are natural nicknames, maybe they’d like that? Ben is one of those great friendly nicknames.

Benjamin and Gabriel: This pairing is less matchy in length, but I know a few Benjamin and Gabriel brothers, so the names seem to go together really well. Also, Ben and Gabe both have that same friendly feel.

Benjamin and Jonathan: This is perhaps a less serious idea than the others—Benjamin and Jonathan are my brothers’ names, which could be kind of weird for them, given my brother and Tim’s friendship. But otherwise, I’ve always thought these two are amazing names for brothers. Jonathan can be Jon or Jack or Nate, all of which go great with Ben I think. If they wanted to get a little crazy, Jonty is also a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and I’ve seen Jamie used for Benjamin, and I’m kind of dying over Jamie and Jonty, cuuute! Jamie might also be an interesting way to approach Tim’s love of the name James without actually naming their son James.

Nathan and Andrew: Speaking of Nate, I’m also dying over brothers nicknamed Nate and Drew. I love that pairing! I love that Nate and Drew are both four letters, which is fun with big brothers Noah and Levi, while their given names are New Testament and longer, which breaks them out of their short Old Testament style (if they want to do so). (Andy is also a great nickname, but for whatever reason I’m loving Drew for them.)

Andrew and Adam: If they like the idea of matching initials, this might be a nice way to go. Andrew can be Drew, if they like the idea of the formal names having the same initials but the everyday names be different. Adam and Drew make a nice pair.

Eli and Ezra: Speaking of same initials but still having a bit of a difference, I like that the E’s of Eli and Ezra have different sounds—the long E of Eli and the short E of Ezra.

Gabriel and Samuel: I like that these names end in the same two letters, and I love Gabe and Sam together.

Caleb and Ethan: Same number of letters, both Old Testament names, I love this pairing.

Ethan and Elias: There are those matching initials again! When I was a little girl I loved coming up with matching-initial names for twins, haha! So maybe that should tell me that this approach isn’t a good one. But I love how they sound together, and I love that they have the same number of letters.

Benjamin and Nathaniel: This is another great pairing because of similar lengths—they’re just one letter different, and Nathaniel might be a cool way to nod to Rosie’s brother without using his exact name (some people like that kind of thing—honoring without using the exact name). Ben and Nate are great!

Thomas and James: If they decided to go with James as a first name, it might be nice to pair it with Thomas, as then they’d both end in S, thus taking something kind of annoying (the S running into the S) and making it a twin thing that they could share, while still having really handsome names. Thomas and James both have that really classic feel that’s biblical without feeling too biblical, and it would be cool to try to find a middle name for James that’s as great and somewhat unexpected as Everett.

Thomas and Andrew: This is another great pairing—two NT names, same number of letters.

Thomas and Nathan: Ditto the same number of letters, and both NT names. My only hesitation with this one is that Nathan has family significance and neither Thomas nor Everett do (as far as I know).

Those are my favorite pairings based on the ideas I came up with for Rosie and Tim, but I couldn’t help thinking of a few other biblical names that might be interesting additions to the mix. Specifically, Jared, Gideon, David, Jacob, Joshua, and Asher. I also really loved the idea of Samuel and Eli, since they share the same beautiful story in the bible, but then I wondered if that was over the top? Abel’s another one that’s been on my radar recently, as has Abram, and Grace’s Abe has me all 😍😍😍. I also love Thaddeus … it ends in S, but it has that nice length that could pair nicely with Nathaniel or Jeremiah or Benjamin …

I feel like I could go on and on! And looking back on my ideas, even though Rosie said, “I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it,” clearly I just couldn’t bring myself to move away from it. So sorry if they were hoping for non-biblical ideas!

I know Rosie and Tim would love to hear your ideas, as would I! What name(s) would you suggest for the twin brothers of Noah and Levi?

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 5 needs a name that fits with the very cool style of his siblings

Mary and her husband are hopeful adoptive parents, set to welcome a baby boy into their family this fall — their fifth son! Big sibs are:

Curtice Andrew (nicknamed Curt)
Leavitt Thomas
Hayden Matthew
Johnston James (nicked Johns)
Elizabeth Anne Larkin (called Larkin)

I love love love this family’s style, as all the boys have family surnames as first names and their daughter goes by a family surname as well! So well done!

Mary writes,

Our daughter joined our family through an open domestic adoption. We chose Elizabeth Anne with her birth mom as her first name as a nod to Larkin’s mom’s step mother who passed away and my beloved grandmother.

This little guy will also join our family through an open adoption, God willing. [A surname in his mom’s family] is Bennett so are tentatively planning to use that as his first name but are open to Duncan, Collins, and to a lesser extent Thomas as a first name only because we have used Thomas already and it doesn’t really fit with the others. Basically the only remaining suitable boy surnames.”

I love their whole mindset, and such great names to choose from!

One issue that Mary specifically noted is that all of their boys have apostles’ names as middle names, but there are issues with the remaining apostles’ names. As she writes,

We need help with a middle name.

We are considering Peter (my dad) or Michael (Chris’ dad) but don’t know if we want to use two middle names and my dad doesn’t really like his name, but it does follow the conventions we have followed thus far ie apostle middle name. Our thinking there is the first names are a little modern so we wanted strong middle names they can use,

We thought about Phillip but it doesn’t feel right.

I like the idea of a Marian boys name or perhaps even Joseph as a nod to my husband [it’s her husband’s middle name].

Or maybe Gabriel, my confirmation name? or Mark, Chris’ confirmation name. Maybe expand and consider Luke or Paul?

So my first thought regarding middle names for boys is to change from “apostles’ names” to “New Testament names” or even more broadly “biblical names.” My guess is that if they were to give this little guy the middle name Luke, for example, no one will look at the boys’ middle names and say, “Wait a minute. The first four all have names of the apostles while the fifth one doesn’t!” Rather, people will think, “New Testament names” if they even have a thought about their style at all. Andrew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Peter, Michael, Joseph, Philip, Luke, and Paul are all such common names (and I don’t mean “common” in any negative way) that I think they’re less thought of as “biblical names” and more thought of as “traditional, masculine boy names.” Certainly parents who are choosing names are tuned in to the nuances, and those who love names might notice, but I don’t think it would register to even me that the first four are specifically apostles’ names. So I hope that gives Mary and her hubs some peace about branching out! It wouldn’t be breaking from their tradition, it would be renaming it.

That said, I do have some ideas of how to retain their apostle theme while still working with the parameters and name ideas Mary provided.

Before I get into that though, I wanted to comment on the names they’re considering. I mentioned already that I love Bennett — how crazy awesome is it that a family surname in his mom’s family tree is so well suited to being a first name! I think it’s a slam dunk, truly.

If they wanted to be talked out of Bennett though, I can think of two little niggling points: (1) it ends in “tt” like Leavitt. This can be either a pro or a con — a pro in that it links his name in really closely to one of the older boys, which can be really sweet; a con in that they would have two with the same ending. But thinking about it more, Hayden, Johnston, and Larkin all end in the same sound, and I didn’t even realize until I checked to see, so I’m sure Bennett and Leavitt are fine. (2) While I really do love the connection to his mom in the name, I wonder if there’s something a little off about having this baby’s first name NOT be from Mary/Mary’s husband’s family tree, which all the other kids’ names do — might this new baby feel a little left out? I know this is a sensitive topic, and I don’t have answers — I just want to raise the questions so they’re sure they’ve thought it all through.

If they were to ask my opinion, I would definitely say to take Thomas off the table. It’s a great name! But there are lots of great names, and I’d love to see them choose a new one.

I like both Duncan and Collins, and I thought Collins a particularly promising choice because of another idea I had: considering surnames that are derived from biblical first names. Collins can be derived from Nicholas, which is a New Testament name, which — if Mary and her hubs could get on board with that idea — could free up the middle name spot to do something different than a biblical/New Testament/apostle name.

I love Gabriel, Joseph, and Luke — I would consider them all Marian (Gabriel and Joseph because of the significant roles they played in her life and motherhood, and Luke because his gospel is the most Marian and contains her Magnificat), and they’re all New Testament names, which fits in so nicely with the others. Luke especially has the same feel as the others, due to his being an evangelist like Matthew and John. I like that Joseph is Mary’s husband’s middle too, that’s a really nice thing for their new baby. Mark and Paul are fine names too, and also keep with the feel of the others — I bet a lot of people think Paul was one of the original twelve, and Mark being an evangelist gives him the feel of an apostle for many people.

Okay! Now on to new ideas. I know the reason Mary emailed is because she wants new middle name ideas, but honestly, I could only think of one: Simon! They’ve already considered Peter and Philip, and I don’t think Nathanael/Bartholomew or Jude/Thaddeus are quite right for them (in those forms anyway; see below). There were two Simons in the twelve — Simon Peter of course and Simon the Zealot — and it’s a great name, it’s got a bookish feel that I think goes well with surname first names. Bennett Simon would be quite nice. It doesn’t have a great flow with Duncan or Collins though. I wonder if Simon could also be used as a nod to Mary’s dad? I think most people think of Simon Peter when they think of Simon, so it could be a way of honoring him that doesn’t use his name.

But I did have a lot of ideas for first names that help grapple with their issues and maybe help them look at things in a new way and come up with some new ideas. For example:

(1) Pierce (or Piers)
I really really like Pierce for them. It certainly has use as a first name, but it’s also an English surname that really fits the vibe of their other kids I think. Best yet, it’s a variant of Peter, so it would be using Mary’s dad’s name in a new way (thus hopefully working around the fact that he doesn’t like his name), which is also an apostle’s name (so they’d be able to stick with what they’ve already done in the sense of giving each of their boys an apostle’s name; let’s leave for the moment the fact that the others all have the apostle’s name in the middle and this would be putting it up front), AND I’ve seen it used in honor of Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, which gives it a Marian character. They could also consider the variant Piers, which takes away the Marian element but is another cool way to honor a Peter. This is a slight departure from what they’ve done already in terms of the strict definition of using a family surname; but at the same time they can argue it’s the same as they’ve already done — used a surname as a first name that has heavy family ties.

If they used Pierce, they could put Michael in the middle and get both grandpas there in one name. Pierce Bennett feels perhaps too surname heavy, but Bennett is actually a medieval diminutive of Benedict, and I really like Pierce Benedict. Or would that take it too far from the connection to the mom? Benedict/Bennett means “blessed,” which can also point to Our Lady, which I love. I also love the idea of two middle names for this baby — different from his brothers but something he can share with Larkin, who came to their family in the same way, and would open up another slot for fitting in a name from his mom while still allowing Mary and her hubs to honor their family members.

(2) Miles or Mitchell
Anyone who’s been reading for a while knows that I push Miles a lot! I love it because it has traditional usage in Ireland as the anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I love that! But, I’ve also seen it connected to Michael — I’ve seen it as a nickname for Michael, which I think is so cool, and I’ve seen it suggested as possibly originating as a variant of Michael (read more about it here). So Miles can be another surname-type name that could work as a first name with their theme while also honoring Grandpa Michael.

Mitchell is another idea along these lines. You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in The Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Mitchell was listed as a style match for Curtis, which I thought was a reasonable stand-in for Curtice. Mitchell’s use as a first name comes from the surname Mitchell, which came from the first name Michael. So another way to use a name with a similar feel in the first name spot that nods to an important family member!

(Fun fact: Miles is also a style match for Bennett!)

(3) Elliott
When I saw Elliott listed as a style match for Bennett, I immediately thought it deserved a mention. Like Bennett, it’s a medieval diminutive of a different name — in this case, Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah. Elliott became a surname, and then a first name, so it’s got that surname history and biblical origin. Of course Elias/Elijah is Old Testament rather than New, but if they broaden their theme to “biblical” it works.

(4) Bates, or Bartlett
Two surnames that derive from Bartholomew are Bates (how cool!) and Bartlett. Bartlett might be too similar to Bennett? Like, if they’re going to consider Bartlett, let’s just go all the way and do Bennett? But Bates is awesome. It takes care of the apostle theme, and then they could do any of their family names in the middle. I love Bates Michael, Bates Joseph, and even Bates Benedict (how scholarly sounding!). I don’t even mind Bates Bennett, the pleasantness to me of the alliteration balances out the possible negativity of two surnames in a row. Or Bates Michael Bennett, for example, which is also really handsome.

(5) Judd
Judd isn’t as clean an idea as some of the others — my sources mostly say it’s a variant of (and surname derived from) the name Jordan, but the Surname Database, which usually matches up quite well with my reliable sources, says Judd has three possible origins, one of which is as a variant of Jude. So that can work for Jude Thaddeus. I like Judd Michael, Judd Simon, Judd Benedict/Bennett, etc.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest that fit with the names and theme they’ve already used?

Baby name consultation: Italian (+ biblical?) name for little girl that complements big brother

Robyn and her husband will be adopting their sixth baby on earth — second girl! — this fall! This little lady will join big sibs:

Robert Noah (who goes by Noah)
Elijah Christian (nn is Eli)
Aaron Joseph
Gianna Marie
Ezra Benedict

+Gabriel William
+Mary Patrice (MaryPat)
+Samuel Peter

Aren’t they just wonderful names? I love each one!!

Robyn writes,

After our losses [Gabriel, MaryPat, and Samuel were miscarried after Noah, Eli, and Aaron] we looked to adoption to continue to grow our family. In 2013 we were blessed to adopt a beautiful baby girl. [We named her] Gianna Marie — named after St. Gianna, a name I have always loved since first hearing of dear St. Gianna. Marie of course after our Blessed Mother and also a beloved grandmother. Also, I loved the meaning of Gianna — God is gracious, so appropriate for that time in our lives.

Last summer we felt called to start the adoption process again and in November we were blessed once again! This time a beautiful boy. [We named him] Ezra Benedict — Ezra to continue the old testament theme and Benedict after St. Benedict. We had just taken an amazing trip to Italy and one of our favorite places was Norcia the birthplace of Benedict. Also, we loved the meaning of his name. Ezra meaning helper and Benedict a blessing.

[They recently found out they’ve been selected by a birth mom to adopt her baby girl] Now we will have two babies 10 months apart as this baby comes in Sept and Ezra doesn’t turn one until November. Almost like twins!

(What an amazing story!! God is so good!!)

We like names that are saints, or variations of saint names. And it has to be an Italian name as my husband’s family is Italian and he would really like for his girls to have his heritage in their names. (Could be the middle name though) We love names that aren’t overly popular but unique and fairly easy to pronounce and spell. The meaning of the name is important to us, so something that means, blessing, gift, loved, happiness, peace along those lines. The middle name would be great if it was after family, but it doesn’t have to be. We also love Italian place names like Assisi or Siena. Perhaps a virtue for the middle name as well.”

What a fun challenge, to come up with an Italian name that goes well with Ezra!

Names on their list include:

Philomena (“Have always liked this but everyone we tell it to gets a funny look on their face. I like the nn Mena“)
Serafina (“So pretty but don’t like the nn options, don’t like Sera“)
Chiara (“Love this one, as well as the saint behind it but afraid that it will be mispronounced her whole life. Also what nn go with it?“)
Gemma (“Too close to Gianna“)
Kateri (“So pretty but not Italian so hubby’s not a fan. Love the nn Kat“)
Zelie (“I liked it but hubby nixed because it won’t age well“)

Additionally,

Some other names we looked at because they are family names were Patricia, Patrice, Eleanor, Alice, Ann, Renee, Lucille, Sadie.

Our whole family has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart and to our Blessed Mother. Don’t know if that helps or not! 😉

We really have no front runner names right now and we are completely stumped as nothing sounds right. We would like it to be a nice compliment to Ezra since they are so close [in age]. But we don’t want it to be too matchy.”

This was so much fun to work on, I LOVE Italian girl names, they’re so pretty and feminine! And so many super saintly ones! I also love that their family has a devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Mother Mary — I took both of those into account when thinking of names for them. Another big thing that informed my ideas was their hope that the name be “a nice compliment to Ezra” but not “too matchy.” As well as, of course, biblical + Italian.

First though, I thought I’d give some feedback on the (gorgeous) names they have on their list:

— Philomena: I love Philomena! I’m not sure why people get a funny look on their face? I think it’s a great name! I might think of changing to Filomena though, as that’s the Italian spelling (as I understand it). Mena’s a great nickname.

— Serafina: a gooorgeous name!! If nicknames are the only thing holding them up, I can think of a bunch more besides Sera, like Fina, Fia, Sofie, and Sunny. Some fun options!

— Chiara: I love this one too, and I tend not to worry too much about pronunciation with a name like this — with Gianna and Giada part of our vernacular now, it’s not a huge stretch to add in Chiara — a quick correction is all it takes. As for nicknames, the only ones I’ve come up with are Key (I read an article when I was a teen about a girl named Key and thought it was THE coolest name!) or Kiki, which is cute (it’s actually the name I called myself when I was little, not being able to say Katie correctly).

— Gemma: I agree it’s too close to Gianna, and such a bummer, because otherwise it’s perfect!

— Kateri: I love Kateri and Kat too, and this seems an easy fix to me — St. Catherine of Siena (for whom St. Kateri was named) was actually Caterina (Catherine is our anglicization of her name), and Caterina’s so similar to Kateri! And Cat is an obvious nickname, really cute.

— Zelie: I would have thought Robyn’s hubby nixed it because it’s not Italian! I mean, obviously it *does* age well, because St. Zelie was a grown woman with the name, but even for her Zelie was a nickname — since her given name was Marie-Azelie, maybe they could do something like Maria-Zelie, to give it an Italian touch? If they did that, they could even use Zelie as the everyday call name, and when she’s an adult she can choose to go just by Maria if she prefers. I searched and searched for the Italian variant of Azelie, but since Azelie’s origin is unclear, there wasn’t any Italian variant offered. Some think it’s a variant of the flower name Azalea, so I looked up what the Italian variant of azalea is and just got … azalea! So I think Maria-Zelie might be the best Italianate option (and I love it! What a cool name Maria-Zelie would be! And I love the Z of Zelie with the prominent Z of Ezra — that to me suggests complementary without being too matchy). Also, both other girls (MaryPat and Gianna Marie) have a form of Mary in their names, so something like Maria-Zelie would continue that theme AS WELL AS the biblical connection! I’m dying. So swoony.

Okay, as for new ideas, first I tried to think of Italian names that I thought would complement Ezra, and the biggest characteristics I had to go on (not having yet done research to see what names are actually similar to Ezra’s style) was that it’s four letters, followed by the fact that it has a prominent Z. A few names that came immediately to mind were:

(1) Zita
I can’t think of any name that has more of an Italian feel than Zita! St. Zita’s an awesome saint too. I love that, like Zelie, Zita has that prominent Z, as well as four letters, and ends in A. I don’t think Ezra and Zita are too matchy, especially because one is super duper Old Testament and the other is super duper non-biblical Italian! I’ve also been crushing lately on a more recent holy Zita: Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria (her full name was Zita Maria delle Grazie Adelgonda Micaela Raffaela Gabriella Giuseppina Antonia Luisa Agnese! Wow!).

(2) Rosa
This is another four-letter, Italian name that ends in A, and has a Z sound even though there’s no Z in the name. And it’s Marian! Ezra and Rosa are sweet together!

(3) Cora
Cora is 100% inspired by their love of both the Sacred Heart and Our Lady! I’ve seen families use it to honor both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because of its similarity to the Latin for heart, “cor.” I don’t think Cora is Italian, but it’s similar in spelling and rhythm to other Italian girl names (especially since it ends in A), and I love that it’s four letters and ends in A, which is nice with Ezra.

(4) Dora
This too is because of its meaning — “gift” — as well as the fact that it’s four letters and ends in A. This isn’t an Italian name either, and has a bit of baggage because of Dora the Explorer, but the meaning can’t be beat.

I then tried to think of other names that I thought could connect to Ezra that might be more do-able for the middle name, and I thought of these:

(1) Norcia
Robyn said she loves Italian place names, and Norcia has special meaning to them because they loved their visit there, and it helped inspire Ezra’s middle name. It would make a cool connection to give their daughter Norcia as a middle name!

(2) Schola, Scola, Scholastica
Continuing with the St. Benedict theme, Benedict and Scholastica are famous saintly twins, and while I love the full Scholastica — especially as a middle with a shorter first name like the four-letter ones I list above (Zita Scholastica, Rosa Scholastica, Cora Scholastica, Dora Scholastica … ohhh my!) — I thought they could legitimately shorten it if they felt more comfortable with that. Scola is a Sicilian surname that means “school” or “retreat” according to Ancestry.com, a nice way to shorten Scholastica.

(3) Benedetta or Bettina
Both Benedetta and Bettina are Italian feminine variants of Benedict (Bettina’s a diminutive of Benedetta). Could be cool to give Ezra’s sister the feminine Italian variant of his middle name for her middle name! It also means “blessed,” so it can be for Our Lady too (“blessed among women”).

After coming up with these ideas, I then looked up all the names they’ve used for their older kiddos and those they have on their list in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I looked through the results for names that I thought particularly complemented Ezra. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Eva or Ava (or Ave?)
Obviously they have a super biblical theme with their boys, and even with the girls — Mary is biblical of course, and so is Gianna by the fact that it’s a John and Joanna variant. So I really liked finding other biblical names that were also Italian and even Marian if I could. Both Eva and Ava fit the bill! They’re both variants of Eve, and Mary is the New Eve — how lovely! I particularly like Eva with Ezra — though I probably wouldn’t usually suggest the same initials to actual twins, the fact that Ezra and the new baby are so close in age seems to validate the idea of same initials, to me anyway. But then, maybe they’re done with E’s because they already have Elijah as well?

If they like the idea of an Eve name but not an E initial, Ava is great, and I’ve seen Ava paired with Maria as a middle name in order to mimic the Ave Maria. And really, I see no reason why Ave itself couldn’t work! Though it’s not technically an Eve variant, there is that beautiful stanza in the Ave Maris Stella that says about Our Lady:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Such a cool connection between “Ave” and Eve! So they could consider Ave a Marian name, especially when paired with Maria.

(2) Stella (or Maristella)
Speaking of the Ave Maris Stella, what about Stella? It’s Italian and Marian and ends in A like Ezra, but is decidedly non-matchy with it. If they wanted to up both the Marian and Italian aspect, they could use the lengthier Maristella, which is such a confection of a name! I’ve done two birth announcements for baby Maristellas, here and here.

(3) Sofia
I know the Sophia/Sofia/Sophie names are popular right now, but it’s a style match for Noah, Elijah, and Gabriel, and given that it means “wisdom,” it’s also the name of a book of the bible. The Sofia spelling is Italian, and it can also be considered Marian, via her titles Our Lady of Wisdom and Seat/Throne of Wisdom (which of course points to Jesus — a great two-for-one name!).

(4) Isabella, Bella, or Elisabetta
Going along with the biblical theme, the Italian variants of Elizabeth are so beautiful! Isabella and Bella are both lovely, and with Bella meaning “beautiful” in Italian, it’s a great nickname for a girl, or even a given name, which can take any of the Sts. Elizabeth as patron. Elisabetta ratches it up a notch, what a gorgeous Italian name! And as with Eva, I like that it begins with an E as a sister to Ezra. But also, it’s another E name, and on top of that another El- name, like Elijah, so maybe too much?

(5) Lidia
Another great Italian variant of a biblical name is Lidia. Lydia/Lidia’s such a great name for a girl not only because it’s the name of a Christian woman in the New Testament, but also because she was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia/Lidia would have her own color, so fun!

(6) Lucia
With this year being the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, Lucia would be a pretty great name for a little girl born this year! And though Lucia of Fatima was Portuguese, of course Lucia is the Italian variant as well, said loo-CHEE-ah. This would tie in nicely with the Lucille on their list of family names.

(7) Carmela
The Mount Carmel referenced in the Marian title Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a mountain mentioned in the bible, which they probably already know from their Elijah, as it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah defeated the pagans. The Carmelite Order traces its origin back to Elijah on Mount Carmel, which is so cool! So I love that Carmela, which is such a traditional Italian name, is also biblical! I did a post on nicknames for Carmela here — there are some good ideas both in the post itself and in the comments.

(8) Maddalena
Finally, since I was already in the biblical place name frame of mind, I thought of Maddalena — the Italian form of Magdalene. What a beautiful name Maddalena is! I like both Maddy and Lena as nicknames for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What Italian name would you suggest for Robyn’s little girl, taking into account earth-side sibs Noah, Elijah, Aaron, Gianna, and especially Ezra, who will be less than a year older than her?

Birth announcement: Fisher Gray!

In May I posted a consultation for Christina (who has an Etsy shop called The Rushnyk Room), as she and her husband were expecting her third baby boy. I’m excited to share that her little guy has arrived and been given the awesome and meaningful name … Fisher Gray!

Christina writes,

We actually put the scripture from Matthew 4:18-22 on our birth announcement we sent out to people which is the ‘fishers of men’ scripture … I actually am calling him ‘Fish’ or ‘Fishy’ a little bit and it doesn’t bother me like I thought it would. Ha!

If you remember, Fisher’s middle name Gray is the same as his dad’s, and Fisher itself had been at the top of their list, both for St. John Fisher and for all the fishermen references in the Bible. Nickname possibilities were worrying though, so I’m really glad that Fish and even Fishy (soo cute!) have naturally arisen and that Christina’s okay with them. 🐟

Congratulations to Christina and her husband and big brothers Shepherd (Shep) and Becket (Beck), and happy birthday Baby Fisher!! To see his sweet little face be sure to check out this newborn photo on Christina’s IG as well as the more recent ones she’s posted (this family one is so great!).

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 7 needs uncommon+recognizable+not-too-difficult name

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July tomorrow! God bless America! 🗽

Colleen and her husband are expecting their seventh baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Jonathan Paul
Elizabeth Bernadette
Augustine Luke
Clara Marie
Simon Joseph
Catherine Gregory (miscarried at 13 weeks in 2016)

I’m a big fan of all these names!! And it was funny to see so much overlap with my family as well — I’m Katherine and I have a brother Jonathan and a sister Elizabeth! And we very nearly named our youngest Augustin. I love Clara and Simon too!

Colleen writes,

In theory I like nicknames but in practice we almost exclusively call our kids by their full given name … When we lost Catherine Gregory we were not prepared with a name and so we chose my confirmation name and my husband’s confirmation name together.

All our children have different first initials (with the exception of Catherine Gregory) and I would like to continue that, though I would be willing to break that rule for a really great name. For this baby we are looking for names that are not too common yet are recognizable and not too difficult to spell or pronounce … We love biblical and saintly names and I’m really drawn to names that instill a strong connection with a virtue or admirable characteristic. For instance, I associate Jonathan (the biblical Jonathan) with friendship and loyalty, Bernadette (St. Bernadette) with humility, Augustine (St. Augustine of Hippo) with willingness to repent and using one’s gifts to serve the Church, Clara (St. Clare) with a love for the poor, Joseph (St. Joseph) with fatherhood, etc. I have a similar association with each one of my children’s names and we talk with the kids about their saints and their corresponding attributes often.

We’ve settled on a middle name for a girl but that is it. If we have a daughter her middle name will be Jane after St. Jane de Chantal (and it’s also a nod to one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen, and one of my favorite books, Jane Eyre). I would love it as a first name but my husband is not a fan.

Some names I am considering include:
For a girl: Lucy, Helena, Teresa (nicknamed Tess or Tessa)
For a boy: Oliver, Asher, Blaise

My husband likes the options I proposed for a boy but doesn’t love any of the girls’ names. His favorites are Margaret (not nicknamed) and Charlotte, but both of those belong to family members and when he hears those names he wants to always think of those individuals first and doesn’t want them replaced in his memory.

Other names I love but can’t use for various reasons: Maura (too rhymey with Clara), Margaret nicknamed Greta (LOVE it but we have a niece named Gretchen), Abram (I love it but my husband does not).

For a girl’s name we are also considering calling her by both her first and middle names, for instance, Lucy Jane, Helena (or Nella) Jane, Tessa Jane.

Possible middle names for a boy are Thomas (St. Thomas Aquinas), George (my husband’s grandfather’s name and Blessed Pier Giorgio) or Louis (my husband’s other grandfather’s name, St. Louis Martin)

We unintentionally gave all our boys names with the same ending sound. I would prefer to break that trend this time around.

Names we can’t use or don’t like:
Michael
Charles
Genevieve
Benjamin
Timothy
Rachel
Daniel
Sebastian
Theodore
Miles
Henry
Owen

Thanks for helping us find the perfect name for our newest little blessing!

I love the names Colleen and her hubs are considering for this baby, and I especially love the idea of calling a girl by first name + Jane — Lucy Jane, Nella Jane, Tessa Jane are all so sweet. I love Oliver and Blaise for them too, but I was surprised by Asher — it’s a great name, but it strikes me as so different from the feel of their other kids and the other names they’re thinking of. I also wondered if they’d considered Thomas, George, or Louis as first name ideas? Thomas and George particularly struck me as good fits.

I also feel Colleen’s pain over Margaret and Greta! I wonder what they’d think of Rita? Like Greta, it’s a diminutive of Margaret, so can take any of the Sts. Margaret as patron, or St. Rita (whose birth name was Margherita). I also wondered if they’d be interested in something like Goretti? It’s so similar in sound to Greta, but of course it’s a completely different name.

So you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and also had some of my own ideas:

Girl
(1) Martha
I like Martha for this family because it’s got the same beginning sound as Margaret, so I thought it might hit a similar note. Additionally, it’s actually a style match for Margaret per the BNW. I’ve heard it on a couple little girls recently, and Martha Jane is charming.

(2) Hannah
Hannah is a match for all their biblical names, especially the Old Testament ones. Not only that, but the story of Hannah in the bible is such a beautiful one! They could also use St. Anne as patron, as Hannah and Anne/Anna are variants of each other. I love Hannah Jane.

(3) Naomi
Of course this is another Old Testament name, and another wonderful model for a girl. I think Naomi really fits Colleen’s hope for a name that’s “not too common” yet is “recognizable and not too difficult to spell or pronounce” — do you agree?

(4) Veronica
I love Veronica because it’s so beautiful, but I also love that, though it’s not biblical, it *feels* biblical — though Veronica’s not mentioned by name in the bible, she’s there. It also strikes me as an exclusively Catholic name — I know non-Catholics use it, but the Church gave the name to the woman in the bible. Veronica Jane is lovely.

(5) Molly
Molly was mostly inspired by Maura — Molly’s a great way to use an Irish form of Mary without it rhyming with Clara. Additionally, I have a sister Molly! So to me it fits in perfectly with Jonathan, Elizabeth, and Catherine. It’s also listed in the BNW as a style match for Lucy and Tess. They could also use Mary as the given name and Molly as a nickname if they like, as Molly’s origin is as a nickname for Mary. Mary Jane nicked Molly, and Molly Jane are both great. (Also, regarding Maura, I wonder if Maureen appeals to them at all?)

Boy
(1) Isaac
Isaac seemed spot on to me — a heavy biblical name that also has a great saint association (St. Isaac Jogues), and it’s also a style match for Simon — perfect! I like Isaac Thomas, Isaac George, and Isaac Louis, all.

(2) Bennett or Benedict
I really wanted to suggest Benjamin, which is my other brother’s name, but since Colleen doesn’t want to have the “an/in/on” ending for a boy, obviously Benjamin’s out. But both Benedict and Bennett (which is a medieval form of Benedict) seemed like they might be their style. I like that Benedict is long like Jonathan, Elizabeth, Augustine, and Catherine, and I like that Bennett is shorter like Clara and Simon and has some of the Brit feel I get from them (the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice are an example of the Brit feel I mean). Bennett’s actually a style match for Greta, and Benedict for Augustine! Benedict Thomas, Benedict George, Benedict Louis, Bennett George, and Bennett Louis all sound quite handsome to me.

(3) Leo
Leo’s a style match for Clara, Simon, Lucy, and Oliver, and I think it fits in really well with the other kids as well. It’s also the name of a Pope St. the Great, like Gregory. Leo Thomas and Leo George are great combos.

(4) Konrad
Conrad is inspired mostly by Greta — it’s a style match for it — but also by the fact that it’s a match for August, which I often look to for inspiration for style matches for Augustine (as Augustine isn’t included in the BNW). I’m suggesting the Konrad spelling in order to avoid repeating initials — it’s a totally legit spelling, a German, Scandinavian, Polish, and Slovene form of the name (according to behindthename.com). Kord and Kurt are both traditional nicknames for it, which are cool. Konrad Thomas, Konrad George, and Konrad Louis are all fine.

(5) Philip
Philip’s a style match for all their New Testament names, as well as Teresa. I’ve long loved Philip, and one of the most fun things about it is the nickname Pip, which I think is darling for a little boy, and gets at that same feel I get from Clara, Simon, Lucy, and Oliver. I love the full Philip for an older boy/man as well. Philip Thomas, Philip George, and Philip Louis go nicely together.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Jonathan, Elizabeth, Augustine, Clara, Simon, and Catherine?

Baby name consultation: Antique/exotic/saintly name for baby no. 6/boy no. 3

Amy and her husband Brandon are expecting their sixth baby! And how lucky is Amy — Brandon bought her this consultation for Mother’s Day!! 😍😍😍 Husbands, take note!!

This new baby is Amy and Brandon’s third boy! Brandon explained about their older children’s names:

Mason Douglas (“We like strong masculine names for our boys, and Mason fit the bill nicely. We don’t care for names that can be for boys or girls (Pat, Chris, etc), though I later had a co-worker with a daughter named Mason. We didn’t think it was too popular at the time, but I think it turned out to be very near the top of the list that year or shortly thereafter. Douglas is my middle name and my dad’s middle name and I’m also the oldest in my family.”)

Molly Marie (“So at this point I need to pause and explain that we found out ahead of time that Mason was a boy. At the time, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to find out the sex of the baby, so we ended up flipping a coin and agreeing to take turns. Amy won the first round, so we found out Mason was a boy at the 20-week ultrasound. For #2, it was my turn, so we waited until Molly was born to learn she was a girl. Not knowing what she was, we of course couldn’t choose a name for sure ahead of time, so we had a boy name (Isaac) and a girl name (Anna) picked out. Somewhere along the way very shortly before Molly’s birth we ended up at the hospital with pre-term labor, and one of the nurses had a daughter named Molly. We both fell in love with the name, and when Molly was born she got it. It fits her perfectly, we think. Since we used my middle name for our first boy, it only made sense to use Amy’s middle name, Marie, for our first girl.”)

Kateri Elizabeth (“Amy always wanted a daughter named Kateri. At first I thought it was a little “out there”, but we knew as soon as we found out we were having another girl (at the 20-week ultrasound again this time) that she would be our Kateri. Blessed (at the time) Kateri was Amy’s confirmation saint, and she’s always had a particular attachment to her. Elizabeth is my mom’s middle name, so we honored her by sharing it with Kateri.”)

Anthony Mark Benedict (“By the time Anthony was born, we’d formed a close friendship with the pastor at our church, Fr. Tony. We honored him by naming Anthony after him. Mark is Amy’s dad’s middle name, and Benedict was the Pope at the time.”)

Gianna Nicole Francesca (“We had a hard time getting pregnant with Anthony, and we had gone to a display of relics of St. Gianna and prayed for her intercession numerous times before we got pregnant with Anthony. We knew when we found out Gianna was a girl (odd number, so at the 20-week ultrasound again) that we needed to honor St. Gianna for her help in having our second son. At this point we had run out of eligible related godparents, so Gianna’s godparents are not family (#1-4 have aunts and uncles for godparents). Amy has a younger sister named Nicole who was too young to be a godmother when Gianna was born, so instead of choosing her as a godparent we gave Gianna her name as one of her middle names. We liked the two-middle-name arrangement with Anthony, and we had a new Pope, so Gianna also got Francesca as a second middle name.”)

I love how intentional and thoughtful each of the names is! I love each combo — both the names and the reasons (and I love Molly Marie’s Marian-ness, what a blessed little lady!).

Brandon continued,

Amy was so so so certain for the first part of this pregnancy that she was having a girl. She was so certain about it that I had to know if she was right, so I wanted to find out at the ultrasound what we were having. She was shocked to find out it is a boy.

Somewhere between babies #1 and #2 we rediscovered our Catholic faith and began learning and re-learning and growing in our love and knowledge of the Church and her wisdom. We didn’t pick Mason for any saint (the closest we know of in name is Blessed John Mason), but all the others have particular saints attached to them as well as family meaning.

Amy is currently hooked on the name Isaac for this baby, but I’ve cooled off on it a bit. We had Isaac picked out for baby #2 eight years ago, so I’m just not as attached now. We also agree on Titus, Oliver, Dominic, and Tobias for first names. St. Joseph as the patron saint of families has always been a particular love of ours; we have leaned on him many times for assistance through difficult situations. We’d like to include Joseph in this child’s middle name. However, my father passed away recently after a 2-year struggle with ALS, so we are considering his name, James, as a middle name also. My grandfather’s name was Thaddeus, which is also in the running for a first or middle name. Also in the running for middle names are Paul (Amy’s uncle) and Fulton. Other names we like for first or middle names, but don’t necessarily have full first-name agreement on are Ezekiel (Zeke is so cute!), Zechariah (also would be Zeke), Felix, Finian, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Nicholas, and Severin.

We’re open to suggestions, combinations, ideas, and we (obviously) like the “Catholicky-Catholic” (as I think you put it) names.”

And Amy also shared,

A friend told me about your blog, and I spent HOURS reading it, looking for names. I even bought the book you use, and discovered none of our names match any list together at all. I would say after reading that, I’m a fan of the “antique charm” category, and we also like the saint realm, obviously. I really like some Old Testament names, but prefer ones that are also now saints. Brandon made an excel spreadsheet of the names we like, so he’s correct in everything he sent. I think the only thing he didn’t mention was the definitely no category. We don’t want to use any of our siblings names as first names, so for that reason Michael, Stephen, Timothy, and Joseph can’t be first. They’re fine for middle names, though Joseph is the only one of them that really is on the table. We’ve obviously done the 2 middle name thing twice now, but I’m not set on doing it again. It will just depend on the name combination. We also don’t have any nicknames in our bunch, but we aren’t against that, it just hasn’t happened.”

I just love hearing from both Amy and Brandon — I don’t usually get to hear from both parents! I love how much they’ve talked about all this, and seem to be on the same page in terms of which names are contenders.

I loved reading about how they rediscovered their faith after Mason was born — I often see families with less faithy-feeling names in the beginning, and they get more so as they have more kids, and I think it’s really cool to see a couple’s faith journey reflected in their kids’ names. And I love that they found Bl. John Mason! I’d never heard of him, but he’s totally my go-to now for any family that has a Mason! (Which is one of my very favorite of the occupational-surname names, love it!)

So after hearing from Amy that they already went through the Baby Name Wizard I was a little worried about what I could come up with that they don’t already have on their list or have decided they don’t like! I did take a look through the Antique Charm category, and Amy’s right, that seems right up their alley! The Saints category also has some great names (I love that the focus there is on more unusual names, rather than the ones everyone knows), and I thought another category fit pretty well for them too: Exotic Traditionals. I also looked up each name’s entry and looked at names listed there, and found some decent overlap with some of the names on their “definitely like” list (Isaac, Titus, Oliver, Dominic, Tobias) as well as their so-so list (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Severin, Thaddeus). So I think I have some decent ideas!

Just a couple thoughts about some of the names they’re currently considering:

Isaac: love it! It’s on my own list, such a great name. Amy and Brandon also like the Z names (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke) and Isaac fits right with that and can take the nickname Zac.
Titus: I know a little Titus (or not so little—I think he’s 14 now) and I always wonder why I don’t hear his name more!
Oliver: Such a great name and a great saint, and I really like the combo Oliver Thaddeus.
Dominic: Another of my faves!
Tobias: Another name I wish would see more play! I’m a big fan of pan-European names, and Tobias is definitely one.
Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke: Zeke is super cute and I’ve also considered it for Zechariah. In case it’s helpful to Amy and Brandon in making their decision, I can see Zechariah fitting in pretty well with a Catholicky Catholic theme, but Ezekiel feels a step away—do you agree?
Matthias: I love this name too, and I think it could fit in great with their family.
Maximilian: Definitely a Catholicky Catholic name!
Augustine: Ditto!
Emmett: This one surprised me! All the others have such saintly connections, and Emmett’s is a bit more difficult to see. It originated as a medieval diminutive of Emma, so any of the Sts. Emma can be patron, but I’m not sure a boy would love that? I do love the name Emmett though, so I’m not trying to sway them from it, and it fits the feel of Mason really well. I like the idea of pairing a name that’s less saintly in feel with a super saintly middle—Emmett Thaddeus, Emmett Joseph, and Emmett James are pretty great I think.
Severin: Wow! I really like the idea of the nickname Sev.
Thaddeus: I love it! I’m also loving that it was Brandon’s grandpa’s name, and if it was paired with Joseph and James, it would be all the dads together! Thaddeus Joseph James is pretty great!
Fulton: I actually love Fulton for them as a first name! I wonder if there’s any chance they’d consider it? Fulton James, Fulton Joseph, Fulton Joseph James are all great!
Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo: All great, all saintly. I’ve been seeing Fox suggested as a nickname for Felix recently, which is cute. Finn is awesome. Nicholas and Leo are both Pope Saint the Greats, which is fun.

Okay! So Amy and Brandon have a fantastic list of names, and if they end up using any of them, I won’t be disappointed! (Not that it matters if I’m disappointed or not!) But I had a few other ideas that might spark some conversation and maybe even hit the right note:

(1) Miles
One of the things I like to do when I see different styles of name in a family is come up with ideas that might help bridge them. Mason is a little bit of an outlier (I LOVED finding out about Bl. John Mason!), so I liked the idea of finding names that might have the same feel and be really saintly too—I probably had that more in mind than any other. Amy said she spent a while looking through the blog, so she probably saw that I often push Miles on parents! I discovered that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which literally means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Marian names are my favorite, and finding ones that work for boys are thrilling! Miles and Mason (and Emmett and Fulton) definitely have the same feeling to me; its variant Milo (which has also been used in Ireland for Maolmhuire) is a style match for Felix and Leo on their list; and Miles can also connect to the Irishness of Molly and Finnian. I like Miles Joseph, Miles Joseph James, Miles Paul, and Miles Fulton.

(2) Garrett
Garrett is also a style match for Mason, and a reader shared that she knows a family who named a son Garrett in order to honor St. Margaret! Wow! Even better for a boy though, is that Garrett is derived from either Gerald or Gerard—St. Gerard Majella is a great patron! There are a bunch of Sts. Gerald too. Garrett Paul has a nice ring … Garrett James …

(3) Becket
Since we’re talking about surnamey-type names, I wonder what they’d think of Becket? St. Thomas Becket would be patron, and it’s one of those saintly surnames that’s getting good use in Catholic families currently (like Fulton). Becket Joseph, Becket James, and Becket Joseph James are all great.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is also a saintly surname that’s had a lot of first-name use! It’s also heavy on that Z sound they like, and might even provide a way for them to get to Zeke in a different way … something like Xavier Michael, where there’s a Z sound in the first name and a K sound in the middle. (I get a little nutty with creative nicknames! 😂)

(5) Owen
Owen’s a style match for Mason, which is amazing, and it’s also the last name of one of my very favorite saint: St. Nicholas Owen! He built hidey holes to protect priests for persecution and death in England, and was tortured for his silence and he died from his wounds. Such a brave man! Amy and Brandon already have Nicholas on their list—a Nicholas Owen combo would be cool too! I wasn’t loving Thaddeus as a middle name for the first four names I suggested, but I kind of love Owen Thaddeus! Owen James is nice too.

(6) Elias
Elijah was a style match for a bunch of names they like—Titus (the Titus I know has a brother Elijah!), Ezekiel, Tobias—but when I saw its variant Elias listed as a match for Matthias, I thought it seemed a better fit for this family. It’s also a match for Dominic, and funny enough Elliot, which I always think of as feeling similar to Emmett, is a medieval diminutive of Elias. I don’t think I realized how Catholicky Catholic it is, though, until I read an article Catholic writer Simcha Fisher did a year ago on Catholic baby names (she interviewed me for it!) in which her subhead read: “Fulton and Vianney, Felicity and Avila, Giorgio and Elias are all showing up in 21st century baptismal books.” What a great group of names, and so cool to see Elias in there! I like Elias Paul.

(7) Gabriel
Gabriel’s got that same biblical feel as Isaac, Tobias, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthias, and Thaddeus, while being a bit lighter; it’s also a style match for Dominic. I think Gabe is one of the best nicknames for a boy—friendly and masculine. Gabriel Joseph is quite handsome.

(8) Joachim
I’m including Joachim because Amy and Brandon have some heavy hitters on their list and they like Catholicky Catholic names. Even still, Joachim is a rare bird! He could go by Joe/Joey, to lighten it up, or Jake, which is my favorite idea for it. It’s an Exotic Traditional, like Ezekiel, Felix, Matthias, Maximilian, Severin, Thaddeus, Titus, and Zechariah. Joachim James has a nice ring, as does Joachim Paul.

(9) Cassian or Cashel
Speaking of Exotic Traditionals, and looping back around to the beginning of the list and names that are similar to Mason, I saw Cassian on the Exotic Traditionals list and thought it might be really cool for this little guy. I’ve seen it used in Catholic families, for St. John Cassian, and it’s said CASH-en—which allows for the awesome nickname Cash! Cash made me think of another Cash- names I’ve suggested to other families: Cashel, like the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster. Cashel taps into the Irishness of Molly and Finnian, and I think it would come across as sort of surnamey to people, which fits with Mason’s style. I like Cassian James, Cassian Paul, and Cashel James.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Mason, Molly, Kateri, Anthony, and Gianna’s little brother?