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?

Birth announcement: Abraham James!

I’m working on today’s consultation post — I should have it up later this morning — but first, I’m so excited to share that Grace at Camp Patton has had her baby!! A handsome little BOY who has been given the fantastic name … Abraham James!

As with Phoebe and with Bosco, I’ve again been surprised with the new Patton baby’s name — and I love being surprised!! Abraham has that nice long length that Sebastian and Theodore have, and his nickname Abe is SO DARLING! Abe Patton. That is such a fun and friendly and perfect name for a little guy. (I’m also kind of tickled that I was *sort of* swirling in the right spot with my suggestions of Isaac and Nathaniel. 😊)

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big sibs Julia, Bash, Theo, Phoebe, and Bosco, and happy birthday Baby Abe!! Be sure to check out his sweet face on Grace’s blog or her Instagram!

Spotlight on: Zara

I am so sorry that I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week and last! It’s the end of the year y’all, it gets me crazy every time. Only a couple of more weeks until summer!

I discovered the COOLEST thing the other day!! I love the name Zara — it’s familiar like Sara and zippy like Z and while an Arabic-sounding name might normally make Northern European me hesitate, Brit royal Zara Tindall, neé Phillips, brings it right back into my comfort zone (fun fact: her name was suggested by her uncle Prince Charles!).

Behind the Name describes Zara in a couple different ways: first, it’s said to be the English form of Zaïre — the name of the heroine in Voltaire’s play by the same name, which may have been based on the Arabic Zahrah (“blooming flower”) (it has Zaira listed as the Italian variant). And Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted Zara a year ago and has some other great info about possible origins (and she words in her characteristic lovely way that Prince Charles was probably not quite right about the meaning of Zara).

But I was always a little put off by the fact that I couldn’t figure out a patron saint for it — if you take it as a variant of Sarah then Sarah the Matriarch or St. Sara of Antioch can work, but I would have really loved to have come across a closer connection … and the other day I did! Behind the Name says it’s also a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!!

I LOVE the idea of Zara for Zechariah! John the Baptist, Elizabeth, and The Visitation are all wrapped up in the name Zechariah for me, as they’re all related in the first chapter of Luke, along with Our Lady’s Magnificat. Specifically for us, how cool his story is that it has to do with one of the only times God named a baby!

What do you all think of this fun find? Does it make Zara more appealing to you? Do you know any Zaras, and do they like their name? I wouldn’t tend to think of nicknames for Zara (maybe Zee) — do any of the Zaras you know go by a nickname?

 

Catholicky Catholic boy names

A couple of weeks ago I posted my CatholicMom article for April in which I list the girl names I think are unmistakably Catholic (i.e., when people hear the name, they usually know right away that the child is Catholic), as well as those that are super duper Catholic but might not translate immediately that way due to other associations.

I’ve been trying to put together a similar list for boys — I’ve had my notebook open on the table all week, ready for me to jot down my ideas — but I feel like I’m falling short! Like my mind isn’t focusing the way I want it to! So you all definitely have to add your ideas in the comments.

This is what I have for obviously Catholic boy names (audience: USA broadly; northeast specifically [because that’s where I am and that’s what I know, but I’d love to hear all about your experiences]):

John Paul
Benedict
Francis, Francisco, Francesco
Anselm
Ambrose
Ignatius
Juan Diego
Rosario
Patrick
Dominic
Stanislaus

And these are names that ARE very, traditionally Catholic, but aren’t as obvious to as many people as the above names because they have decent usage in other areas:

Gabriel
Jude
Xavier (this one I wavered on … it might be better placed in the above list)
Augustine (mostly because there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s)
Clement
Michael
Joseph
Thomas
The other apostles’ names (and really, all the biblical names)

Some I thought of including in one list or the other but decided not to:

Joachim (most people don’t know what this name even is!)
Tiber (ditto)
Polycarp (same)
Tarcisius (same)
Athanasius (I almost included this on one of the other two lists …
thoughts?)

I feel like I’m missing a bunch of obvious ones and it’s driving me nuts! Help me out!

Baby name consultation: Patton Camper No. 6!

Happppppy Easter Monday y’all!!! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!! Doesn’t the world look extra sunny now that Lent is over and the tomb is empty? He is risen! Hallelujah!

I’m thrilled/delighted/dancing with joy 💃💃💃 to post today’s consultation! Funny enough, it was Easter Monday of 2015 when I posted the first consultation I did for this family (for Baby No. 5) — pretty cool that I get to post one for their newest little one on Easter Monday 2017!

So yes, as you’ve surely gleaned from the title, today’s consultation is for Grace over at Camp Patton — she’s one of my favorite favorite bloggers, not least because she posts lots of pictures of her beautiful children, and she are her husband have the BEST taste in names! Lest you’ve forgotten, this wee green bean (=gender unknown)  🌱 will join big sibs:

Julia Grace
Sebastian Xavier (Bash)
Theodore Augustine (Theo)
Phoebe Annika
Bosco Ignatius

(In calling this baby No. 6, I mean their sixth baby on earth — I don’t at all mean to forget their little Felipe, who’s surely interceding for them all, like so many of our babies.)

I’m ridiculously in love with the names Grace and her hubby Simon have chosen, and there’s not really a whole lot I feel like I can add — no matter what they end up naming their babe, I know it will be ah-mazing.

That said, when I asked Grace if she would mind if I offered some new suggestions, she said:

Yes! We’d love that!

We are always so undecided until the last minute!

Thank you Kate!!!! SO excited!!!

I know, right?? SO EXCITED!! 😍😍😍

She continued,

For boys we’ve tossed around Dominic or Damian (I think we should avoid a name ending in “o” as we’ve got Theo, Bosco, and now Diego and I’m constantly confusing their names!) and for girls I kind of like Caroline or Felicity but I’m not sure if Felicity is too similar to Phoebe and if it’s too long a name not to have a nickname for? (I’m not a huge fan of “lissy”) — I suggested Simon for a boy but Simon said that ship has sailed since we didn’t name our first born Simon but I disagree — ha!!!

As I’m sure you’re not surprised by, I have thoughts about this whole paragraph. First, I LOVE Dominic and Damian. Love! Dominic’s one of my very favorites (I spotlighted the name here), and I’m over the moon every time I see anyone considering Damian! (Here’s a little Damien I did a recent birth announcement for.) It’s such a great name with such a great saintly pedigree, I can’t say enough good things about it. (I’m not even going to acknowledge that movie. And I really hope you don’t know what I’m referring to.)

I also love Caroline and Felicity, both of which I included in my ideas in my first consultation post 😊. So let’s talk about Felicity. (1) Do I think it’s too similar to Phoebe? I do not. I considered this last time and decided it was perfect enough, even following immediately after Phoebe, to include it in my list of ideas. In a family with a bunch of kids, two of them sharing the same initial sound isn’t that big a deal at all, especially with having different first initials. Add in that, this time, there’s a Bosco in between Phoebe and this new baby, and I think it’s totally and completely fine. (2) What about nicknames? Nicknames! The nickname issue so often seems to be a sticking point in regards to choosing Felicity! But fear not — I did a spotlight on Felicity recently, and I included nickname ideas! A lot of the readers left great ideas too, including what they call their real-life little Felicitys, so be sure to check it out; some that I think could work well for the Pattons include:

  • Fliss(y)
  • Flick, Flicka (actress Felicity Huffman has a web site for women in general and moms in particular called What the Flicka)
  • Lily
  • Fin (especially maybe for something like Felicity Nora)
  • Zita is a Hungarian diminutive of the name, and Zyta a Polish short form
  • Felly
  • Cissy
  • Flitzi, Fitzi, Fitz
  • Cece
  • Liddy

So I would definitely keep Felicity on their list, and I know one little Felicity in real life who is always Felicity, so that’s an option too.

And what about Simon, after Dad? I’m glad brother Theodore isn’t interfering with Grace’s love of this idea, because Simon is a great name. But what about naming a non-firstborn son after dad? This could be the topic of a whole other post — in fact, I’ll plan to do that soon — but I’ll offer that though perhaps it’s more traditional to name a firstborn son after dad, if you’re going to do that kind of thing, it’s not UNtraditional nor unheard of to give Dad’s name to a subsequent son. I’ve got loads of personal examples: we named our firstborn after our two dads, and our second boy got my husband’s name as a middle, my brother’s second son is a Junior, my two brothers were named after my grandfathers, and if there was ever a third boy he would have gotten my dad’s name as a middle. There’s something really nice about naming a non-firstborn after Dad, actually — there are a lot of traditional firstborn “perks,” so saving Dad’s name for a second/third/fourth son could help even the playing field a bit. But if Simon can’t come around to the idea of Simon as a first name, I think it would make an amazing middle (for a boy or a girl! More on that below).

Really, I think Dominic, Damian, Simon, Caroline, and Felicity would all be amazing additions to the amazingly named Patton children, and I’d be thrilled if they named their baby any of them.

Despite the fact that the Patton Parents are expert namers and have some tremendous ideas, of course I can always come up with some more! First I just have to say, I still love all the ideas I suggested last time (for a girl: various ideas for backing into the nickname Lola, Elisabeth, Felicity, Stella; for a boy: Maximilian nicked Miles, Francis nicked Finn, Gregory nicked Rory or Gus [Gregory Simon=Gus so perfectly!]). And the arrival of Mr. Bosco opened up another whole area of possibilities with the last-name-as-first name thing, which really had already been there a little bit with Bash’s middle name being Xavier (I think Xavier’s mostly lost its last-naminess, but when there’s also a Bosco in the family, it comes to the fore a little more), so I was tempted to offer some more along those lines — Kolbe, Bennett, Becket, Siena, Serra — but I fought against it because I was feeling like following Bosco with another surname name might feel like a little too much. Do you agree? I did make two exceptions though, which I’ll explain below.

Okay! On to my ideas. You all know that I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard in my consultations, as it offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker this time around as well. I used both the names they’ve already used (first names only, except I also included Xavier and Annika, both of which Grace has said in the past that she sort of wished they’d saved for first names), and those they’re considering in my research. A lot of names spoke to me that didn’t last time, and I also took some chances and ventured farther afield. This is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Emmeline
I started out feeling like the Pattons had a Brideshead Revisisted feel going on with Julia, Sebastian, and Theodore, and while I initially felt a little bit like Phoebe threw me for a loop, all I had to do was remember that my own family tree on my dad’s side — which has a direct line back to 1600s England — has a bunch of girls named Phebe in it (that spelling), especially the closer you get to the family’s emigration from England, to make me think I wasn’t that far off with Brideshead Revisited. Add in Caroline and Felicity to the names they’re considering, and I’m feeling pretty good about suggesting the lovely Emmeline. Behind the Name says it’s a variant of Amelia, which is where patron saints can be found, or you could think of it as an elaboration of Emma, in which case these saints would suit. It can be said emma-LINE, emma-LYNN, and emma-LEEN, and can be spelled Emmaline and Emmalyn. Emma and Emmy are sweet nicknames.

(2) Magdalene
This is the first surname name I allowed myself to suggest, both because it’s a girl’s name rather than a boy’s, and because it doesn’t feel surnamey and has a long history of use as a first name. I also like that it’s long, like Sebastian and Theodore — until now the girls’ names have been short, and until Bosco the boys’ names were long, so it’s kind of cool to switch it up with a longer girl’s name. There are lots of nickname possibilities: Maggie, Maddie, Molly, and Magda are some that I’d consider (Magda has that Brit feel to me).

(3) Verity
Ever since watching Poldark (which I happen to know Grace is a little bit into), I’ve loved the name Verity. Not only is it uncommon but familiar, which is sort of a sweet spot with naming, it’s got great faith significance in the sense that it means “truth.” It also has a little of that Puritan feeling that I get from Phoebe and Felicity, which is a feel I love.

(4) Audrey
I was surprised to find Audrey listed as style match for Dominic, so I looked it up in the BNW and a good number of the names listed as similar to it are ones I could see fitting in really well at Camp Patton, like Claire, Evelyn, Charlotte, Elliott, and Luke. I thought about it for a bit, and since Audrey Hepburn is its overwhelming association for me, and she herself was British (not to keep harping on the British thing), I started to really feel it. It’s classy, and literary (Shakespearean, no less: As You Like It), and saintly (though it took me a few minutes to find a version of her story that was uplifting).

(5) Mary/Maria + _____
I mentioned the possibility of a Mary+ name in my last consultation, and it’s on the list again! I’m a big fan of balance in baby naming, which I realize works better on storybook families than those in the real world, and it’s so totally not a big deal whether sibling names have that aesthetic composition that makes me sigh with contentment, but as many of you know I do often find myself trying to come up with names that “bridge” different styles in the names of the already-born children. With Bosco’s name having a different feel than his big sibs, I wanted to offer an idea that might make sense of it beyond the [very real and awesome] “Catholic names all go together by virtue of them being Catholic names” idea (which I myself have happily employed in the naming of my own children). To that end, I thought a Mary+ double would be just the thing, as putting Mary in front of virtually any name makes it (1) totally doable for a girl and (2) gives it a Catholic oomph, and (3) there’s the added layer of a double first name being unusual enough that it can fit in with all sorts of unusual names. There were a few ideas I liked for this idea (and I liked Maria as much as or better than Mary in some examples):

  • Mary Simone or Maria Simone: I mentioned above that if Dad Patton can’t get on board with Simon for a boy’s first, maybe he wouldn’t mind it as a middle for a boy OR a girl. I really love the idea of Mary Simone or Maria Simone, *especially* if a nickname like Maisie is used! You know I’m a fan of those firstname+middlename mashup nicknames! I think Mary/Maria Simone nicked Maisie would be amazing. (And they could even go with the old English pronunciation of Maria if they wanted, which is like Mariah — I know a little girl who has Maria-pronounced-like-Mariah for a middle name.)
  • Mary Tess or Maria Tess: I like Tess for them anyway, but I don’t feel like Therese/T(h)eresa is exactly their style. But Mary Tess or Maria Tess are sweet! She could go by the double name, or just Tess on the day-to-day.
  • Mary Elliott, or Mary Emmett, or Mary Bennett: One of my favorite things to do with a Mary+ double is to pair it with a boy name or a surname (this is my second surname suggestion). It feminizes the second name without making it seem like a girl name, if that makes any sense, and gives the very Catholic & traditional Mary+ construction a little whimsy and unexpectedness while still staying grounded. Elliott, Emmett, and Bennett are all names I liked for them for a boy, but ultimately cut them from my final list — this would be a neat way to work them in in a different way. (Elliott is a variant of Elijah, Emmett is actually from a surname deriving from Emma, and Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so lots of patron saint options here.)

A last note about girl names: There were several that I considered last time that didn’t make the cut then or now, including Penelope, Imogen(e), Genevieve, Iris or Ivy, Lydia, Corinne, and Liv. This time around, the ones that I considered but ultimately decided not to include on this girl list include Alice, Zara, Lydia (for the second time … hmmm), and Natalia.

Boy

(1) Oliver
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t suggest Oliver last time — I love it for the Pattons!! It did tremendously well in my research, being similar to Julia, Sebastian, Phoebe, Felicity, and Simon. Wow! In this consultation from a couple months ago, a family (who already has a Dominic and a Kolbe — like Dominic on the Pattons’ list and Kolbe has a similar feel to Bosco to me) who was considering Oliver explained, “We like Oliver Plunkett’s story because in today’s culture it is hard to be a faithful Catholic. We’d like any name-sake to be an example of how to live out the faith when facing persecution or other challenges” — I love that! Additionally, though it seems that Oliver is not etymologically related to “olive,” it’s close enough that it could be a nod to Our Lady of the Olives, and you all know what a sucker I am for a Marian boy name! A reader also pointed this out to me from Psalm 128:

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your home,
Your children like young olive plants
around your table.”

Um, pretty accurate I’d say (in the very very best way!). 😉 In that same consultation, I also suggested middle names for Oliver and I thought some of the combos might appeal to the Pattons as well: Oliver Nathaniel, Oliver James, Oliver Matthias.

(2) Isaac
Isaac has been on my own list for a long time, I love it! I love that it’s biblical, which I’m sure it’s why it was listed as a style match for Julia and Phoebe, and I love that it’s saintly — St. Isaac Jogues is one of the North American Martyrs (their shrine is near me and a local church is named after him, so the name really has taken on more of a saintly feel than biblical for me). It’s got great nickname options in Ike and Zac.

(3) Gabriel
Gabriel is a fantastic name for a little boy. It’s biblical, saintly, angelic, and Marian, which covers all the bases! It’s a style match for Xavier, Simon, Dominic, and has great nickname options: Gabe is friendly and boyish; Gil is bookish and dreamy in a Gilbert Blythe sort of way.

(4) Alexander
Alexander is a long name name like Sebastian and Theodore; it’s papal and saintly and pan-European; but what really encouraged me to put it on the list was the nickname Xander. Grace lamented once that they didn’t save Xavier for a first name, and in my experience people who like Xavier often like Xander. BUT, if she and Simon don’t care for Xander but like Alexander, Sander’s my recent favorite nickname for it. There’s Alex too, of course, which is such a classic.

(5) Nathaniel
Finally, Nathaniel, a style match for Sebastian, Simon, Caroline, and Julia according to my research, but also having some of that Puritan/Pilgrim feel of Phoebe and Felicity. It’s such a handsome, serious name with the great nickname Nate.

The boy names that I considered but ultimately cut from my final list included Tobias (I really loved this one for them, but I just kept thinking that the long O and the B, especially if they used the nickname Toby, was too much with Bosco and Theo and Diego), Tristan (a name moms tend to like and dads tend to not, in my experience), Benedict/Bennett and Benjamin, Matthias (I’m trying to remember why I didn’t include it?), Samuel, Joseph, Henry, Elliott, Emmett, and Jude.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julia, Sebastian, Theodore, Phoebe, and Bosco?

Baby name consultation: Short call name would be great for baby no. 4/boy no. 2

Meghan and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, and second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Benjamin William
Mae Elizabeth
Rose Elizabeth

I really really love these names — classic and handsome for Benjamin, sweet and vintage-y with Mae and Rose, all so great together!

Meghan writes,

We are going to seem like the pickiest people! It took us 9 months to agree on my sons name. For some reason my husband and I can’t do boy names. We both also have a ton of male relatives we don’t want to duplicate. We want to avoid any name starting with S or ending with y or i. I think it sounds funny with our last name. For the middle name we want to use Paul (my father and brothers name) but we could also do William (shared middle name with brother Ben since the girls have shared middle names). It would be kind of nice if the name could have a shorter nickname like we have Ben, Mae, and Rose. No name that could be a boy or girl name like Cameron, Morgan etc. In general we don’t really want a top 25 name if we can avoid it (even though Benjamin is in the top 25, we were desperate) and nothing too trendy either.”

Names that they like but don’t love or agree on:

Aaron
Adam
Connor
Ian
Brian
Mitchell

And names they can’t use:

John
James
Leonard
Christopher
Matthew
Nicholas
Richard
Thomas
Andrew
Eric
Charles
Anthony
Joseph
Robert
Joshua
Daniel
Patrick
Dominic
Lucas
Vito
Ryan
Jackson
Walter
Carter
William
Mason
Paul
Michael
Alexander
Elijah
Everett

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge, and having all those names off-limits is challenging!

To start, I really love their one-syllable “call name” theme — Ben, Mae, and Rose are fabulous together, and remind me of my own family growing up —
the three oldest (I’m the oldest, then my two brothers) are Katherine, Benjamin, and Jonathan, but we always went by Kate, Ben, and Jeb. So of course, not only did we all go by one-syllable nicknames, but Benjamin’s also in the mix, so one of my very first suggestions for Meghan and her hubs is Jonathan! I’ll explain more below.

I also really like the names they’re considering — in particular, Aaron, Adam, and Connor seemed most similar to the vibe I get from Benjamin/Ben, and Ian, Connor, and Brian add an interesting touch of Irish/Celtic that I found inspiring.

You all know that I usually start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and came up with the following ideas:

(1) Jonathan
Not only did I immediately think of Jonathan because of my brothers, but also because, according to the BNW, Jonathan is a true style match for Benjamin, as well as Adam and Aaron. It’s long like Benjamin, and has a couple of one-syllable nicknames they could consider: I assume Jon is not an option, since John was on their list of names they can’t use (and I should note that John and Jonathan are not actually linguistically related), but they could do Jack, or Nate (“Nathan” is the last part of Jonathan), or take a page from my parents’ creative nicknaming book and call him Jeb! Jonty’s also a traditional nickname for it, which is kicky and fun. And if they went with Paul for the middle name, they could do JP, which are pretty amazing initials! 😉 Jonathan fits their “no top 25” rule as well, being #48 in 2015.

(2) Nathaniel (or Nathan)
I love Nathaniel for this family — it’s another style match for Benjamin, and similar in length, and it’s got the great nickname Nate. Its popularity is perfect for Meghan and her hubs too, being #97 in 2015. Nathan is a trimmer Nate name, and also biblical, and a little bit higher on the popularity charts (#38).

(3) Thaddeus
Thaddeus didn’t show up as a style match for any of their kiddos’ names or those on their list, but it’s long and biblical like Benjamin and has a bit of an old-timey feel like Mae and Rose, and can take the one-syllable nicknames Ted and Tad, so I thought it was worth a mention.

(4) Charles or Caleb
Charles is a style match for William and Rose (and was #50 in 2015), and Caleb (#37) is a match for Aaron, and though they don’t seem related they can both take the nickname Cal, which I’m loving with the other kids!

(5) Patrick
Connor, Ian, and Brian on Meghan’s list inspired me to add Patrick to my ideas. It was listed as a style match for Brian, and I’ve heard some really cute nicknames for it that can fit in with Ben, Mae, and Rose: certainly there’s Pat, but also Patch (like in this family), and I’ve seen Packy also, which can trim down to just Pack (like Jack) or even Pax.

I also had just another couple quick thoughts: If they were open to backing into a given name from a nickname, Gus was one of the names listed as a style match for Mae, and I loved it for this family right away! There are a few ways they can get to it: There’s August (#195), Augustine (#820), and Augustus (#467), as well as Angus and Fergus (neither in the top 1000), which tap into the Irish/Celtic feel of some of the names on their list. Or they could get crazy and just use Gus no matter what the given name! I know that’s probably too crazy for most people, but it’s fun to know that nicknames don’t have to have obvious ties to given names. I knew a little Gus growing up whose given name was actually John, and I know a little Gregory who goes by Duke and a Gerard who goes by Sam. Lots of possibilities!

There were also a few names I really wanted to suggest, but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, but just in case they’re helpful I wanted to list them here:

Gabriel (SO great as a brother to Benjamin imo, and the nickname Gabe is great! But at #22 it was just past their “no top 25 rule”)

Samuel (very similar in popularity to Gabriel, at #23, but I love it with Benjamin and I adore the nickname Sam! But it begins with S, boo)

Henry (it’s #29 and the nickname Hank was making me swoony with the other kids, but Henry breaks their “no ending in y or i” rule)

Timothy (I thought this was an amazing “bridge name” between their biblical style and Irishy style — it’s a style match for Patrick and Brian, and it’s biblical as well, and Tim is such a great nickname. Also, it’s #147! Alas, it ends with a y)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Ben(jamin), Mae, and Rose?

Baby name consultation: Traditional/theological/biblical/long-ish girl name needed

Joanne and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 He or she will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Esther
Rebekah Rachel
Monica Magdalene
Andrew Athanasius

I love each name anyway, but so cool that each first+middle combo has the same first letter!

Joanne writes,

I love patterns hence the double first and middle initials for each kid because i knew I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of names that start with the same letter like the Duggars. My husband was on board plus his dad was an RRK — he died in a plane crash when my husband was 13. My husband is open to lots of names but very opinionated about some. He prefers longer names with more than one syllable. He does pool construction by day and a deacon by weekend. He took the name Joseph when he was ordained which was also his confirmation name. He likes more traditional/theological/biblical names.

There are 1001 excellent boy names that we can mix and match:

Dominic/Daniel/Damien
Jeremiah/Justin/Joseph/Jacob/James/Jonah
Paul/Philip/Peter/Patrick
Michael/Matthew/Mark/Matthias
Nikolas/Nathaniel/Noah

We are pretty good with boy names but girl names are another story. I really like Gianna — (pronounced Gee-ana (like from Frozen) — not John-a) but my husband HATES it. We both like Hannah but Hannah Montana and other news stories involving Hannah are the first thing to come to mind — not out, just not a front runner. Lucy is excellent but too short — just like I think Luke would likely be out on the boy side. Sophia is a great one but it is super popular but it is Greek we are Ukrainian Catholic so that checks a Eastern Catholic box. That being said, we are open to alternative spellings Rebekah — if we had a Nikolas it’d be spelled with a K. I like Ivan for John. I don’t know I think I’m rambling because I love talking names.”

(Sing it, sister! 😀 )

[Their last name begins with a K so] all K names are out and I don’t think we want to repeat any EEK, RRK and MMK for girls — so we’d be open to a Matthew but not a Rose.

Okay I think that pretty much does it.

I cannot wait to read what you come up with!

I love working with “rules”! But before I get into it, I just have a few thoughts about the names on Joanne’s current list:

Their boy names are awesome. Lots of my personal faves in there, like Dominic, Damien, Jeremiah, Philip, Matthias, and Nathaniel. The others are great too! Solid, handsome, traditional. Great list!

I’m sorry her husband doesn’t like Gianna, as it’s a gorgeous name and an awesome saint, but it does seem a different style than their older girls. I wonder if he would be open to considering it in the middle name spot? Grace Gianna for example? If they were open to repeating sounds rather than initials, maybe something like Josephine Gianna?

Hannah’s beautiful, and I’m so sorry secular Hannahs are bothering them! For what it’s worth, Hannah Montana wouldn’t be my first association at all, and I have several friends who have used Hannah in recent years. Hannah Helene has a really pretty sound together. Or Hannah Hildegard! Wowww I LOVE that idea!!

And Lucy! I love Lucy! Now. If Lucy and Luke are too short, then they must cross off all four-letter names from their list, like Paul, Mark, and Noah. Also the other one-syllable names, like James. And the other two-syllable names, like Justin, Joseph, Jacob, Jonah, Philip, Peter, Patrick, Michael, and Matthew. And the Andrew they’ve already used! All this to say, of course, that I don’t think Lucy’s too short at all!! I think Noah’s actually a good parallel for it — a four-letter two-syllable name — and if they’re okay with Noah, then there’s nothing wrong with Lucy! It’s so sweet and wonderful — in fact, Joanne said it herself: it’s “excellent.” Lucy Lillian? Lucy Lourdes? Maybe a longer middle name would help them feel like it’s balanced better? Lucy Lillianna or Lucy Larissa/Larysa (I love this one because of the Ukrainian connection) or Lucy Lavender (joking! Sort of … it’s cute!) or Lucy Ludmila (not really joking! I spotlighted Ludmila here, she’d make a great patron!) or Lucy Liviana … there aren’t a huge amount of long L- names, but those there are would be fun to pair with a shorter more “normal” name like Lucy.

I wonder if they might be open to considering Lucia or Lucille as the given name and use Lucy as the nickname? I’ve also often thought that Lucy makes a natural nickname for Louisa, so that’s another possibility.

(Also, I do agree that Luke’s not a great fit for them, not because of length but because of the ending -k sound in Luke running into the beginning K- of their last name.)

Sophia’s also lovely and yes, super duper popular. Maybe a name like Sophronia or Seraphina/Serafina would appeal to them instead? Sophie could even be a nickname for them (more of a stretch for Seraphina, but doable I think if they really wanted it). And Josephine! I definitely think Sophie can be a nickname for Josephine! I’m dreaming of Josephine Juliet nicknamed Sophie. Ohhh my! 😀

Okay, now this isn’t a serious suggestion (unless Joanne and her hubs love it! Then it totally is!) but I was remembering a consultation I did for an Eastern Orthodox family, which meant no names of saints canonized after 1054 (unless they were also the names of saints canonized before then), unless the name could be connected to an Orthodox name via meaning — the example the mom gave was Claire (meaning “clear, bright”) for Photini (meaning “light”) — and I was thinking of biblical women because Joanne and her hubs seem to like those names, and had the idea of … Phoebe Photini!! I love it in the sense that it’s meaningful and biblical and SO clever that not only do they start with the same letter and sound, but they both start with the same consonant cluster! But I assume Joanne and/or her hubs would think it was a little much. But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love it! If so then I’ll continue to pat myself on the back! 😀

(If they like either Phoebe or Photini but not together, Philippa’s another Ph- name I love, and Philippine for St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. And actually, when I was looking it up, I saw that Filippa’s the Greek variant — that’s pretty! I’m imagining Frances Filippa, Filippa Fleur, Filippa Faith, Filippa Flannery if they’re into Flannery O’Connor … I could do this all day! Haha! I love same-initial combos, so fun! And Filippa’s making me think of Felicity, which is also gorgeous and could pair nicely with all these middle name ideas, and I see the Polish version is Felicyta, which is a pretty awesome Eastern variant.)

Alright, so I’ve suggested a bunch of new first name options already — Grace, Josephine, Lucia/Lucille, Sophronia, Seraphina/Serafina, Phoebe, Philippa/Filippa, Felicity/Felicyta — which had more to do with my train of thought than any actual research into Joanne and her hubs’ taste in names, but I did that too — as you all know I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have 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. Grace and Josephine actually *were* style matches for this family according to the BNW, with Grace being a style match for Hannah and Gracie for Lucy, and Josephine a match for Elizabeth. I have a few other ideas for them based on that research as well:

(1) Susanna(h)
Joanne likes Gianna and Hannah, which says to me that she likes the -anna sound (whether said AH-na, like Frozen, or AN-na). I considered suggesting Anna, since it’s the same name as Hannah and retains almost all the same sounds and loses the Hannah Montana association, but then I thought it might be too much with Andrew starting with the same AN- sound. But then Susanna(h) seemed perfect — sort of like a combo of Gianna and Hannah, in the sense that, like Gianna, it’s got Anna in it but it’s not actually an Anna name (i.e., it’s not linguistically related to Hannah/Anna), and like Hannah, it’s a biblical name. If they spelled it Susannah, they’d really bring out the biblical, and it has a closer tie to Hannah as well; if they spelled it Susanna, it has more of a saintly feel, as in St. Susanna of Rome and a whole bunch of others. Maybe Susanna(h) Sophia?

(I was going to suggest Anastasia and Anya as well, but I thought they both were too similar to Andrew’s sound … but maybe not?)

(2) Gemma
Gemma’s a style match for Gianna, and has such a similar sound that I think Joanne would like, and it’s less obviously ethnic, so maybe her husband will like it as well? Gemma Grace is gorgous, or Gemma Josephine if they prefer the same sound.

(3) Lydia
Lydia might be a nice alternative to Lucy — it’s biblical and a bit longer with a lovely appearance and sound. Lydia in the bible sold purple cloth, so the name also comes with its very own color! I love the idea of something like Lydia Lucille.

(4) Abigail
Abigail was a style match for several of the names they like: Rebekah, Rachel, Andrew, and Hannah! Though it starts with the same letter as Andrew, it’s got a much different sound (not like Anna), so I think it would be a great pick for them. Maybe something like Abigail Anastasia, to get an Eastern saint in there?

(5) Natalia (or Nataliya)
Natalia’s one of my favorites, such a pretty name! It’s a style match for Ivan and Dominic and can be spelled Nataliya to make its Eastern sensibility even more obvious. Maybe Natalia Naomi?

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What girl name(s) would you suggest?