Baby name consultation: Establishing style with first baby’s name!

Happy Labor Day everyone! I read the U.S Bishops’ “Labor Day Statement 2021” this morning and really loved the way Pope Francis has called for “all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, [to become] islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference” — how beautiful! I’m also happy to post today’s consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams — please leave your ideas in the comments!

Also, I know I’m behind on replying to emails — I’m hoping to sit down and get through them all very soon! Thank you for your patience!

Today’s couple, Chris and Nina, gave me a wealth of information on themselves and what they’d like in a baby name. This is their first child, a little boy due in September, so they’re establishing their style for the first time! Among things they wanted to consider in a baby name was the following:

  • Somewhat important that a name isn’t too popular
  • Neutral for me about having a name connected with a particular ethnic/racial/religious background, somewhat important for Nina that it’s an American name or a Jewish name
  • Prefer a name that is male-specific
  • Somewhat important that the name is easy to spell and pronounce
  • Neutral about it having a particular linguistic meaning
  • Somewhat important that it’s unique in our social circle
  • Bonus if the name feels like a grounded masculine name

First, I thought I’d give a few thoughts on the names on their shortlist.

Emmet– It means “whole” or “universal”, though I know meanings don’t necessarily factor in for them. It has an up-and-coming yet grounded vibe.

Everett– This gives off the same kind of vibe as Emmet.

Emerson– This has a real cool vibe and it’s starting to climb in popularity. It seems they like names that begin Es and that have a warm, grounded feeling. I love this name for them, actually, and would have suggested it if it wasn’t already on their list.

James– A very grounded, everyman type name. I know this is probably on their list due to it being passed down on Chris’s side (many men in his family, including him, bear this name!) but, other than that, it didn’t strike me as “them”. It would be great in the middle spot, though!

Lincoln– This has the surname vibe that they seem to like and also reminds me of Emerson.

Leo– It means “lion” which, while not one of Chris’s favorite animals, is an animal name like some of his interests! (I told you they gave me a ton of information!) I like that it’s short and snappy but with a really friendly vibe. This name feels very much in their wheelhouse.

Eli– This name has some great Hebrew roots, which is important to Nina, and is short and snappy like Leo but less common. I love this for them!

Malakai (Kai)– Another name with great Hebrew roots and is not very common but isn’t weird. An unofficial suggestion, perhaps they’d also like Macaiah/Micaiah. This is the full name of the prophet Micah and the name of several other Old Testament players. They can still get to the super cool nickname Kai with this and it’s more unusual (while still not being weird!).

Samson– Another cool name with a surname vibe. This name actually means “sun” which brings in their love of nature.

Wilder– Another surname name! It means exactly what it says, too, and that’s a great name for a little boy. I love this. I’m seeing it ever so slightly more often these days (my new nephew was just named Wylder). I think this is a great name for them except that it might be too many -er’s with their last name (which ends in -er).

Theodore– I love that they love this longer form and not just Theo. It’s a great name climbing in popularity but still relatively uncommon. Great name.

Jay– You can’t get anymore short, sweet, and to the point than Jay!

Rafael– I was genuinely surprised and delighted to see this on their list! It’s such a great underused name and I’d love to see it get more love.

Wesley– This name reminds me of the 80s and 90s even though it’s seeing an uptick in popularity again. The feel of this name is very cool, calm, and grounded but it doesn’t feel quite like them.

Okay, on to new suggestions!

(1) Pax/Paxton

This has the cool, grounded vibe they seem to like a lot. It’s outside the top 100 names in the US, meaning it’s uncommon but not unfamiliar. Paxton has the surname vibe they tend towards and nickname Pax keeps it short and powerful. I really love this name for them, it feels like them.

(2) Fletcher

That surname vibe rises again! This one is even outside the top 500 names in the US meaning they probably won’t run into another one but it’s still familiar. The only drawback I see here is that it ends in -er like their last name.

(3) Bastian

I thought they’d prefer this short form over the full Sebastian and it has fun nickname Bash to go with it. Sebastian is in the top 20 names but Bastian moves away from that popularity. It’s very masculine and strong without being over the top, too common, or in your face.

(4) Ezekiel

I thought this was a great marriage of Hebrew roots, their affinity for names that begin with “E”, and the cool but grounded vibes they tend to like. It is in the top 100 but a nickname like cool Zeke might help with that, too. It also means, “God will strengthen”, and a sort of strength is what they want for their child. This might be a really great way to bring most of their personalities and affinities together in a name. This might be a home run.

(5) Silas

This name feels so much like them to me. It’s at 100 in the US and is rising in popularity. It’s short, snappy, and grounded, and actually has the nature meaning of “wood, forest”. For a family that prefers the outdoors and would like to show it but subtly, this name might just be a hit.

(6) Jonah

This has the cool, grounded vibes I get from them, has Hebrew roots, and means “dove” which technically makes it a nature name. It also begins with “J” which I saw plays a large part in their family life.

(7) Shepherd

Finally, another surname name. David was a shepherd and so were several other Old Testament characters, which made me think they might like this name. It has a soft feel but is definitely masculine and grounded. It sits at number 602 in the US and is slowly rising in popularity. This name says to me a person who will be the master of his own peace and strength, someone who is independent, and someone who is a gentle leader.

Those are my suggestions! What do you think?


Email Theresa at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 6 (boy no. 3) — biblical? Western? Other?

This week’s going to be another consultation-heavy week — I have three to post again for mamas who are due soon! I’m excited!

First up: Rachelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby — their third boy! Little Mister joins big sibs:

Samuel David (Sam, Sammy) (“Samuel came to me later in our pregnancy during Mass during the reading when God calls out to Samuel. David is my husband’s name“)

Adelaide Marie (Addy) (“Adelaide is my confirmation saint and Marie is my middle name and a tradition in my family for first girls of the family“)

Paul Thomas (Pauly) (“Paul was my husband’s grandpa’s name, my brother’s name, and after St. Paul. Thomas is after my late uncle Fr. Tom, and St. Thomas Aquinas“)

Veronica Therese (Nica, Nic) (“Veronica was my great-grandma’s name and after St. Veronica. Therese after St. Therese, I read I Believe in Love during her pregnancy and found a new devotion to St. Therese“)

Miriam Ann (Miri) (“Miriam after our Mother. My husband and I did our Marian consecration during her pregnancy and wanted to honor Mary. Ann after my mom and St. Anne“)

I absolutely love the names Rachelle and her hubby have given their older kids — Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam are all really wonderful names! They’re solid and saintly and traditional, but there’s an unexpectedness about them too that I just love. And you all know that I’m a big nickname girl — I love Sam/Sammy, Addy, Pauly, Nica/Nic, and Miri! I was excited to see what names and nicknames I could come up with for their new baby boy!

Rachelle writes,

I am pretty indecisive or maybe I just take a long time to really make up my mind, so with a baby’s name and firm date I need to decide by, it makes it tricky. My husband doesn’t ever seem to have an exceptionally strong liking to any name, but he knows when he doesn’t like a name. I think he also knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits :).

My style: In general, I like older names, classics. I would prefer them to have meaning — after someone we love, a saint, someone in the bible, or a great literary character. Girl names are for some reason a little easier for me to circle in on than boys. A lot of times I’m intrigued by a name but then when I imagine myself calling to the child in the backyard or at a sporting event, it just doesn’t seem right (it’s what ruled Henry out for us 9 years ago … it also happened with Desmond and a few other names — I love the names but they don’t seem to fit one of my sons, even though they aren’t born yet). So I have a larger running list of boy names that I’m intrigued by, but some of them are maybe too out there for them to fit well. Nicknames are also important for us and play a part in the decision process. I’d like there to be a good nickname. For all our children, we call them by their full name and nickname equally

We know his middle name! We had decided that if this is a boy, his middle name will be Joseph after David’s grandpa, his Dad’s middle name, my great uncle (a Jesuit priest) and my grandpa’s middle name. So many Joseph’s in our lives — we pretty much had to!  And now that it is the year of St. Joseph, it is even more special — though I’m sure he will be one of many many many boys born this year named after him.  

My top first names: 

  • George (“after Pier Giorgio. I’m not sure I love the nicknames for this that I’ve heard [namely Georgie and Geo, thought the second could be ok]”) (“husband is on the fence on this one“)
  • Simon (“I really like the Simons in the bible, I feel like this would fit the name styles of our other 2 boys, but I don’t know if I like Si for a nickname, and I don’t think it’s too close Sam but maybe?“)
  • Jesse (“husband is a firm no on this one“)  

Names I’m intrigued by: 

  • Ezra (“I like the nickname Ezzie, it’s different enough from our kids nicknames, but it’s a little more unique than the current vibe we have going at least with our boy names … but my husband has been vocal about liking this one“)
  • Hugo (“I think it’s so cute, the nickname Hugh would grow on me, but I don’t have any personal connection to the name“) 
  • Casey (“Blessed Solanus Casey has been coming up a bit this pregnancy and I love his story“)  
  • Martin (“love St. Martin, but I don’t love Marty“)
  • Adam (“I could like this one a lot but the nickname situation is tricky. there isn’t one I like a lot I don’t think, and many of them are close to Addy“)
  • Ethan (“We don’t have a personal connection to the name“)
  • Malachi (“similar to Ezra, too uncommon for our boy names?“)
  • Cassian/Cassius (“Like the sound but is it too uncommon to fit? I like the nickname Cash fine. Big hold up is the meaning of the name!“)

Names I would have considered if not for my current children’s names/nicknames:

  • Nicholas
  • Simeon
  • Matthew

Names we can’t consider because they are our nephews:

  • Jerome
  • Elliot
  • Dominic
  • Thomas
  • Blaise
  • Henry
  • Noah
  • Benjamin
  • Lucas
  • Leo
  • Christopher
  • Levin
  • Graham
  • Theodore (Teddy)
  • Caleb
  • Matthew
  • Peter

Other names we’re not really considering:

  • John/Jon
  • Michael
  • Stephen
  • Timothy
  • James
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Isaiah
  • David
  • Aaron (“I could go through the whole bible and say yay or nay, but I won’t 🙂 

Just wanted to add my husband has expressed he really likes the name Malcolm as well. Wondering about any Christian/Catholic connections to the name?“)

It made me laugh to read about how Rachelle said her husband “knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits.” I like to stew about things too — I always love that there’s nine months to think about/talk about/decide on a name — and even change our minds! We’d decided on Oliver for our third and Augustin for our sixth, but then in my sixth month of pregnancy with my third and just a couple weeks before my sixth was born, we changed our minds, which I found kind of thrilling!

Joseph as the middle name is just perfect — the family connections and the Year of St. Joseph make it a total no-brainer, I agree!

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names that they like and are intrigued by, in case they’re helpful:

  • George: I like George a lot with Samuel and Paul, and since Rachelle currently has more biblical names than not in her older kids’ names, it would be nice to get another non-biblical name in there with this baby. (Not that it’s at all necessary — they have such a nice mix of names that it’s not at all a big deal to choose a biblical name for this baby, and I have both biblical and non-biblical names in my “official” suggestions below. It’s just something I was thinking about in regards to George and the other non-biblical names they have on their list.) Georgie is cute and I love Geo — names with a twist are always fun, and I don’t hear Geo too often; additionally, I think it would strengthen the tie with Pier Giorgio, since Geo sounds like the end of Giorgio. Another idea that I’ve always loved is Geordie (said like Jordy) — it’s a traditional Scottish nickname for George.
  • Simon: I love Simon too, I wouldn’t cross it off their list! But definitely think on it for a while, because of the similarity with Samuel. One idea is that Sepp and Seppel are German diminutives of Joseph, and I feel like Simon Joseph would make even more sense of a nickname like that. Maybe Simon Joseph nicknamed Sepp? Another idea, which didn’t make my list of “official” suggestions below because it’s currently no. 3, which seems too popular for what Rachelle and her hubby like, is the name I mentioned above as the name we’d initially chosen for our third boy before changing our minds: Oliver. It has that same bookish, smart feel to me that Simon has, and I love Samuel, Paul, and Oliver as brothers. And how cute is Ollie??
  • Jesse: Aw I love the name Jesse too, but my husband also wouldn’t go for it either! It was good for me to know Rachelle likes it — it helped in my research.
  • Ezra: Era’s definitely a cool name — any name with an X or a Z is pretty cool I think! Ezzie is cute, but even more than that, if Rachelle and her husband BOTH like it, that’s huge! I think it should be moved to the top of the list!
  • Hugo: I feel exactly the same way as Rachelle does about Hugo! My husband and I had it high on our list for our last two boys, but like she said, we don’t have any personal connection to the name, so we could never fully commit. It is darling, though!
  • Casey: I love Bl. Solanus too! Casey is a great name, and I thought it was so cool to discover that Casey and Jesse are style matches for each other! I can see that — they both can have kind of a Western/cowboy vibe I think. One issue with Casey, that’s also an issue with Jesse for some people, is that Casey is used for girls as well — it’s no. 527 for boys and no. 897 for girls. (Jesse, that spelling, hasn’t been in the top 1000 for girls since the year 2000, while the spelling Jessie was no. 695 in 2019. Jesse is no. 201 for boys.)
  • Martin: St. Martin is great, and I think they could enforce the full Martin with no nickname if they wanted to, at least when he’s small. If that’s an unacceptable risk, St. Martin’s Wikipedia entry says his given name was Juan Martín — I wonder what they would think of John Martin as a double first name in his honor? I know Rachelle said no John/Jon, so this likely isn’t a good idea for them, but otherwise John Martin provides that sparkle that her other kids’ names have, I think, since double names are somewhat rare, and John Martin Joseph sounds fine together.
  • Adam: Hmm that is tricky … I’ve never actually heard of a nickname for Adam, and if I were to try to think of one, Addy’s probably what I’d come up with. But I’d really put Adam in the category of names that don’t have natural nicknames, so if they were okay with just Adam, I think it could work as Adelaide/Addy’s brother and brother to the other kids as well.
  • Ethan: Another great name, and one that, though biblical, I don’t think comes across as biblical — I sense that not a lot of people realize it’s a biblical name, do you all agree? That makes me like it more for this family rather than less, though.
  • Malachi: Like Ezra, Malachi is definitely a departure from Samuel and Paul’s style in the sense that it’s much more unusual, but I think Ezra and Malachi are similar in style to Miriam especially so I think it’s okay. I like Mac as a nickname for Malachi a lot.
  • Cassius/Cassian: I too love these names, and the nickname Cash! The definition is unfortunate, but there are a lot of beloved holy names that have unfortunate definitions, like Cecilia (blind) and Blaise (lisping), and I would definitely argue that their “meaning” goes beyond — and is more important than — their “definition” (I wrote more about that here). If it still bothers them but they want to find other ways to get to Cash, Cashel is the name of a place in Ireland — the Rock of Cashel — which is where St. Patrick is said to have conversated the King of Munster. Or maybe they’d like the rhyming Nash, which I’ve seen used as a nickname for Ignatius and Athanasius?
  • Malcolm: I’d love to see Malcolm used more! Like with Malachi, I love the idea of Mac as a nickname for Malcolm. And yes, there are great faith connections with the name! Malcolm literally means, “disciple of St. Columba” — St. Columba of Iona, also known as Columcille, is known as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland,” and is a great patron. Malcolm’s a great option!
  • Nicholas, Simeon, Matthew: I’m glad Rachelle included these as names they like! Though they can’t use them, they were helpful in my research. I had two ideas about Matthew — one is that I know someone named Matthew who goes by Mitty (at least he did when he was little), which I think is awesome (though they’d have to decide if Mitt Romney being the most familiar Mitt to the general public is problematic). Another idea is Matthias instead of Matthew — you could look to the end of it for nicknames — Ties and Thijs are Dutch diminutives which are said like TEES and TAYS, which leads me to think they could do something like that maybe as a nickname? Maybe Tice or something like that?

Okay! On to new ideas! I mentioned earlier that Jesse and Casey are style matches for each other — you all know that that refers to the research I always do for consultations in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I definitely went for a mix of biblical and non-biblical names, and I was happy to offer fun nickname options where applicable.

(1) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Samuel and Caleb, and Raphael is a match for Veronica and Simeon, so I thought one of these angelic names might be perfect! I like that Gabriel is in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which is a nice bridge for Rachelle’s Old- and New Testament-named kids, and I love the friendly nickname Gabe. If they don’t care for Gabe, I’ve seen Gib, Gil, and Eli used as nicknames for Gabriel. Raphael is much less used than Gabriel (it’s no. 521 compared to Gabriel’s no. 37), which can be really appealing, and I love the nickname Rafe. Ray is an even easier nickname.

(2) Nathan(iel)

The way I got to this idea was kind of a funny one — Nathaniel is a match for Nicholas, and Jonathan is a match for Matthew, and I know Rachelle loves Nicholas and Matthew, so I thought Nathaniel and Jonathan were meaningful since they connected to those other two names she loves, and since Nathan is contained within both Nathaniel and Jonathan, I thought Nathan might be the perfect answer, especially since Nathan itself is a match for Samuel! Or maybe they’d like the full Nathaniel with Nathan or Nate as a nickname? Or Nash! I could see Nash working as a nickname for Nathaniel! Also, Neal is a style match for Paul — Niel could totally be a nickname for Nathaniel! Some fun options here!

(3) Tobias

Rachelle’s girl names are a little more “exotic,” maybe, than the boy names they’ve used and most of those they like, so when I saw Tobias as a match for Simeon, I thought it went along nicely with how I think of Adelaide, Veronica, and Miriam as well! I think it’s so handsome.

(4) Oscar

Oscar is a match for both Adelaide and Hugo, I love that! Oscar is such a great name — I’ve been enjoying seeing it used more and more by the families I work with. This family welcomed an Oskar (that spelling) not too long ago has been calling the baby Ozzie, so cute!

(5) Milo

Milo is a match for Ezra and Hugo, isn’t that interesting? I normally wouldn’t think Ezra and Hugo had any overlapping characteristics, but there you have it — just one of the many reasons I lean on the Baby Name Wizard to help me out! An interesting thing about Milo is that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “disciple of the Virgin Mary” — just like Malcolm (Mael Coluim) means “disciple of St. Columba”! I love that! I’ve also sometimes suggested Milo and its cognate Miles as unusual nicknames for Michael, so if Rachelle and her hubby decide they’d like to use Michael after all, using Milo as a nickname could be perfect.

(6) Gregory

Gregory is a match for Veronica, and when I was briefly researching St. Martin, I saw that Pope Gregory XVI beatified him, which could be a way of nodding to St. Martin without using his name, so I thought those two things made me want to include Gregory here. I actually hear quite a bit from families I work with that Gregory is a favorite, but what usually stops people from using it in my experience is the nickname situation. While Gregory still sounds sort of stately and serious and handsome, Greg turns most current parents off. But I love Rory as a nickname for it — and in fact, Rory is a match for Casey and Jesse! I think Grey could also work, as well as Gus, especially if there’s a prominent S in the middle name, which Gregory Joseph does have.

(8) Charles

Rachelle said she loves the name Caleb (on their list of names they can’t use), so I wanted to see if I could come up with any names that might be feasible alternatives. I thought Charles was one, with the nickname Cal, which can also be a nickname for Caleb. I love Charles with Samuel and Paul — what a smart sounding trio of brothers! — and Cal is really cool. If they prefer Charlie as a nickname, that’s fine too, because I think one of the things that’s so great about Caleb is that it’s both masculine and sweet, and I think Charles nn Charlie fits that nicely. (Charles also has a bunch of other nickname possibilities that they might like to look through.)

(9) Jacob

This final idea is also inspired by Jacob — Jacob is usually the name that I see paired with Caleb as either an actual brother name or a name that people who like Caleb also like. I’ve even seen Cubby used as a nickname for both Caleb and Jacob for a little guy (probably not so much as he gets older)! If not Cubby, I always love Jake, and I’ve also seen Coby used as a nickname for Jacob. 

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Birth announcement: Matthias Daniel!

I did a private consultation for Maria and her husband earlier this year, and she’s let me know her baby boy has arrived! He’s been given the ah-mazing name … Matthias Daniel!

Maria writes,

Our sweet baby has arrived! Thank you for helping us with the name and your encouragement on Matthias! We love his name and love him! 😊 Matthias joins big brothers, Kolbe, Andrew, Isaac, and Benjamin, and big sister, Therese.”

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and their older children, and happy birthday Baby Matthias!!

Matthias Daniel ❤️


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Parents need fresh name ideas for boy no. 6

Mary and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their sixth boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

  • John Paul
  • Simon Joseph
  • Magdalen Therese nn Maggie
  • Mark Francis
  • Damian Bernard
  • Leo Abraham

Such great naaaames!! I love them all!!

Mary writes,

So here we are, needing a name for our 6th boy and I’m feeling tapped out. Part of the problem is that the more kids you have the more rules you have: I don’t really want another M name, or another that ends in the -an sound and it needs to feel like it matches with our other kids’ names. Our last name is also a bit of a problem — any final T or D especially gets swallowed up by beginning D of our surname. This takes some otherwise great names like Clement or Benedict out of consideration. Finally there’s my feeling that names we considered for previous kids are now reject names and I don’t want my baby to have a reject name. I recognize that this is pretty silly and that’s why I’m not going to share these names with you — I want a fresh perspective with no baggage!

Other names we don’t want to use for various reasons:

  • Thomas
  • Sebastian
  • Lawrence
  • Jerome
  • Augustine
  • Gregory

The current, extremely short list is:

  • Cosmas. Simon especially is really gunning for this and I do like it a lot but I wonder if it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. 
  • Matthias. But it’s an M name and we already have 3 of those. Also [Hubby] seems pretty ambivalent.”

I think Mary’s definitely come to the right place, because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about boy names! Haha! I really love the names Mary and her hubby have given their older boys — John Paul, Simon, Mark, Damian, and Leo are all really fantastic and really convey the faith well. (Magdalen too — one of my favorites! Such a beautiful name for a girl with so many brothers!) I’m excited to try to find some ideas for their sixth boy!

Before I get to my official suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the names that they’re considering and their name rules, in case they’re helpful:

  • Cosmas: I really love that Mary and her husband are willing to consider such a cool name! Its faith connections are impeccable, but her question about whether or not it’s “too weird outside of Catholic circles” is a valid one. It’s hard for me to tell, since I’m so deep in Catholicky Catholic names all the time, so I sometimes have a hard time looking in as from the outside. On the one hand, I immediately think of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (which in itself presents something for them to think about as well — do they like Damian having a brother named Cosmas, or is that a negative?) — Cosmas feels familiar to me because Cosmas and Damian is a familiar reference point for me. On the other hand, Cosmas wasn’t in the top 1000 names bestowed in 2019 (the last year that the Social Security Administration shared name stats), so I dug deeper to see how many baby boys were given the name in the U.S., and it doesn’t show up in the data at all in 2019 (the SSA reports all names given to five or more babies each year, so its absence on the list lets you know how very few babies were given the name — maybe even zero). I looked back each year until 2010, and it was given to five babies in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and less than five in the other years. So it’s a very very rare name, which is probably the best marker of whether or not it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. It’s variant Cosmo gets a bit more usage, maybe (probably?) because of the character of Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld — it was given to 49 boys in 2019. But even though Cosmo is a variant of Cosmas, and so can take the same saint as patron, I do think it has the added element of “the cosmos,” which could feel a little astrological maybe? In addition to the Seinfeld reference, which may or may not be a positive.
  • Matthias: Matthias was high on our list through several of our boys, I love it! But the fact that Mary really doesn’t want another M name, combined with the fact that her hubby doesn’t seem all that jazzed about it, tells me it would be best to keep looking.
  • “Reject” names: Mary’s perspective of not wanting to use names that they decided against for their other kids is one that’s new to me since starting the blog, but I’ve found that it’s not unusual at all! It might help to try to reframe their thinking as, “We didn’t reject that name because it was bad, we decided against it for *that* baby because it didn’t seem like the right name for him/her. But it might be the right name for *this* baby.” But if that doesn’t help, then hopefully some of my ideas here are new ones that will be helpful!
  • Their other rules: I like all their other rules! No M names seems right; no ends-in-the-an-sound sounds right; “needs to go with the other kids” sounds right. I did break Mary’s rule of no-ending-in-T-or-D, though, as there was one name that I thought they might like that I didn’t think was overly problematic that its ending sound runs into their last name. And for that matter, I don’t think Clement sounds bad with their last name, nor does Benedict. But then, my maiden name is Towne, so I was Kate Towne my whole growing up, and some people would mishear my name as Kay Towne, which I hated, but it really wasn’t a huge deal — I learned to enunciate the T in Kate, and I loved my name then and still do. So it’s definitely a preference, but if they don’t like it, they don’t like it!

So those are my thoughts on the names Mary and her husband are considering — now on to my new ideas! You all know that I 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 (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so for this family, with a particular eye toward finding names that are early-Church-ish and of course that go with their other kiddos’ names. Based on that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Thaddeus

One of the first names that jumped out at me as a name they might like was Jude — a style match for Simon — but with its D ending and the fact that his name would sound like Jew D___, I thought it probably wasn’t a great idea after all. But the other part of St. Jude’s name — Thaddeus — is a match for Magdalen, Matthias, and Benedict (which I used in my research since Mary called it an “otherwise great name”), and it has some great nicknames — Thad, Tad, and Taddy (which I guess don’t fit with Mary’s rule, oops!).

(2) Gabriel

Gabriel is such a fantastic name — it’s biblical and Marian and a great style match for Mary’s other kids’ names. Gabe is one of my very favorite nicknames — friendly and masculine — and I’ve also seen Gil, Gib, and Eli used as nickname for Gabriel.

(3) Tobias

I really wanted to find an alternative for Matthias for them — Matthias seems to me like the exact kind of name they’re looking for, but with it starting with an M, I agree that it’s probably not ideal (though if they decided to go for it, I wouldn’t be disappointed!). I wondered what they’d think of Tobias? It rhymes with Matthias but doesn’t have the problematic M, and just like I consider Matthias to be a particularly Catholic New Testament name (since he was basically chosen at the first Church Council! Haha!), so too do I consider Tobias to be a particularly Catholic Old Testament name, since it comes from the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in Protestant bibles. And Toby is such a darling nickname!

(4) Joachim

One of my very favorite names, which I tried to convince my husband of through all of my boys I think, is Joachim — the name we traditionally assign to Our Lady’s father and, due to that fact, another name that I consider to be particularly Catholicky Catholic. It’s not really well known in America (though it’s got more usage than Cosmas! It was given to 28 baby boys in 2019), but it’s got pretty good usage outside of America — I wrote more about that here. Joe is an easy nickname, and they could even think of it as a nod to St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph, which is a nice way to work him in without repeating Simon’s middle name. Or if Joe isn’t working for Mary, we would have used Jake as the nickname, which I still love.

(5) Luke/Lucas

Lucas is a style match for Matthias, and while I think that a Matthias-type name is the kind Mary and her hubs are looking for, I didn’t want to forget about Mark, who has a bit different style than his siblings’ names, which is funny since his name is a New Testament name and four of their other six have New Testament names! I wanted to include at least one name in this list that loops Mark in more, and Luke really struck me as being a great option. I would understand if they didn’t want to follow Leo with another L name, so maybe they want to hold on to Luke/Lucas for the future if they were to have another boy, but otherwise I think Leo and Luke are darling together — if this baby and Leo are particularly close in age, it might even be a perfect idea.

(6) Dominic

Dominic is such a natural idea for this family, to me, that I feel like they must have considered it and decided they don’t like it, so this might be a wasted suggestion, but I couldn’t not include it here! I considered whether or not I thought having two sons with D names, especially with their D last name, was too much, and decided that I kind of love it. I’m a big fan of alliteration anyway, so Damian D___ and Dominic D___ are awesome in my opinion! Dom, Dommy, and even Nic/Nicky/Nico are nickname possibilities for Dominic.

(7) Isaac

They could think of Isaac in the bible as patron for a little Isaac, or they could think of one of my favorite Saints, St. Isaac Jogues (I live quite close to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, where St. Isaac’s remains are said to be on the grounds somewhere, never found). I read a book years ago by Susie Lloyd I think — she has two: Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids — and she gave an example of the kids’ names in Catholic families by describing a boy who introduced himself as “Isaac Jogues Callahan” (or a similar last name) and it made me laugh then and it still does! Isaac Jogues as a first+middle combo would be so cool, and so clearly saintly to anyone who knows about St. Isaac! (But also Isaac just on its own, no pressure!) Ike and Zac are traditional nicknames for Isaac.

(8) Edmund, Campion

Finally, Edmund is a match for both Clement and Benedict (both of which I used as inspiration, since Mary indicated that she would like them but for their last letter), and like them, ends in one of her problematic letters. However, when I say “Edmund,” I rarely hear the D, or barely, so I don’t think Edmund D___ sounds bad! But then I saw that Abby from Appellation Mountain recently spotlighted Campion, and I immediately thought it sounded like a name Mary and her hubs would like, and could still take St. Edmund Campion as patron. I love the nickname Cam! I know St. Edmund is later than the Saints of their older kids’ names, but I wanted to include it here just in case.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of John Paul, Simon, Magdalen/Maggie, Mark, Damian, and Leo?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Old Testament, German/Dutch, and/or Irish-y for baby boy no. 2

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!! You know this is one of my favorite days, and you know Irish names are some of my favorites — check out my Irish names and Rose of Tralee tags for more!! I also read this piece that’s appropriate for today: “It’s not Happy St. Patty’s Day, but St. Paddy’s Day. Here’s why” by Amy Croffey — interesting to get an Irish person’s take!

Today’s consultation was meant to post on Monday, but as has been happening more and more to me as my kids get bigger (whoever said, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems” wasn’t joking! Not that we’re having problems, just life is so much bigger and busier when they’re big and busy!), the day got away from me, and then yesterday Hubby and I took a day trip, so Monday’s post is posting today, which ends up being great because what’s better on St. Paddy’s Day than a baby name consultation?!

Andrea and her husband are having their second baby — their second boy! Their little guy joins big brother:

Jonah John (“My dad, brother, brother in law, and grandfather in law are all named John“)

Which I love for its biblicalness, family ties, and alliteration (I love alliteration). Great job, Mom and Dad!

Andrea writes,

We thought this baby was going to be a girl and already had the name, Margot Ruth picked out. Obviously there is a chance that we could never have a daughter but would like to take this name into consideration. 

Our baby will be half Mexican, so ideally we would like a name that is pronounceable in Spanish but not too Mexican to be able to go with our German/Dutch last name. 

Overall, we like unique/biblical names but not too weird. We like names with meaningful meanings that are somewhat biblical like “peace”, “God’s gift”, etc.

Both of my grandfathers have passed… one this past August and I’m due around his birthday. His name was Isidro. We kind of like “I” names because of this, but not a must.”

 Some names they’re considering include: 

  • Benjamin 
  • Eli  (“we considered naming our first son this“)
  • Liam (“like it but too popular“)
  • Owen (“like it but too popular“)
  • Oliver (“like it but too popular“)
  • Ira (“husband thinks it’s too similar to Jonah. I feel like maybe an “I” name could honor my grandfather, but not a must“)
  • Peter (“uncle that passed away“)
  • Finn 
  • Otto
  • Sebastian
  • Otis
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul as possible middle name
  • Edsko (“family name [first/middle] of several of my husband’s Dutch/German family tree“)
  • German/Dutch names

Names they can’t/won’t use include:

  • James
  • Isaac
  • Michael
  • Elijah
  • Matthew
  • Levi
  • Luke
  • Mark
  • Ruben
  • Milo
  • Jude (“has always been a favorite“)
  • Max
  • Joshua
  • Christian
  • Henry
  • Hans
  • Ezra
  • Theodore

Alrighty! So one of the things I noticed first was Isaac and Luke on the list of names they can’t use — I likely would have suggested them otherwise, so it was great Andrea included her “no” list. As for her “yes” list, I love the names she and her hubby are considering! It was so interesting to me to see three solid styles emerge: biblical (Benjamin, Eli, Ira, Peter, Timothy, Daniel, Paul, and I would include Sebastian here, even though it’s not biblical, since I think it has a similar feel as the biblical names), Irish (Liam, Owen, Oliver, Finn), and German/Dutch (Edsko [wow!], Otto, and I would include Otis here, even though it’s English, since it’s related to Otto). I kept all three of those in mind as I looked for names that I thought this couple might like. First, though, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Benjamin: A great name! I’ve always loved the full Benjamin and the fantastic nickname Ben. I also like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but is popular enough among the general population that I think they could easily use non-biblical names going forward without it seeming too jarring, which is also like Jonah I think. However, since Andrea said that the like Owen and Oliver but they’re too popular, I should warn them that Benjamin is as well: according to the Social Security Administration it’s been a top ten name since 2015 and is currently no. 7. (Since popularity is important to Andrea, I included the ranking for all the names I discuss going forward.) (Jonah’s no. 141, which is a really nice sweet spot of familiar but not common.)
  • Eli: Like Jonah and Benjamin, I think Eli is used enough among the general public that it doesn’t come across as heavily biblical as it used to, which is good if they don’t necessarily intend all their sons (if they have more than these two) to have biblical names. Eli’s no. 62.
  • Liam, Owen, Oliver: I’m glad Andrea included these as names they like, even though they’re too popular for what they’re looking for. Liam has been the no. 1 name in America for the last three years, and no. 2 for three years before that! Owen is no. 21 and Oliver is no. 3. A funny thing about Oliver — my husband and I very nearly named our third son Oliver — he was born in 2008, when Oliver was just starting to not be a “weird” name at no. 118. Now it’s no. 3! Amazing ascent!
  • Ira: I was really surprised to see Ira on Andrea’s list, since I have always thought it to be a name exclusively borne by Jewish men! I’d never looked it up, but did so because of it being on her list, and was surprised that the Jewish element wasn’t mentioned in any of the places I looked — do you all think of it as a predominantly Jewish name, or is that just my experience? It was fun to discover it’s an Old Testament name — I didn’t know it was biblical before looking it up — and I like that it begins with an I, as Andrea said she might like to honor her grandfather Isidro with an I name. However, I agree with her hubby, too, that it’s very similar to Jonah in that it’s a two-syllable name ending in A. Maybe it would be good in the middle spot? But my favorite I idea for them is Isidro itself! I could understand Andrea not wanting to use Isidro in the first name spot, as she mentioned not wanting a name that was jarring with their German/Dutch last name, but it would be great as a middle name! A funny thing here is that one of my boys’ best friends is named Isidor, and his mom is from Germany, so I thought that might be perfect here — when I looked it up to check on spelling (Isidore is English and Isidor is a German spelling) its entry said Isidore “has historically been a common name for Jews, who have used it as an Americanized form of names such as Isaac, Israel and Isaiah.” That’s hilarious, given what my impression of Ira had been, and yet Ira’s entry doesn’t mention Jewish usage at all! My son’s friend goes by Isi (said like Izzy), which is just too cute. Ira is no. 875 (interestingly, after having been a top 500 name for most of the twentieth century and a top 200 name until 1934, it dropped out of the top 1000 in 1993 and only came back on in 2016; it’s been hovering in the mid-900s since, until 2019 when it jumped a little to 875); neither Isidro, Isidor, nor Isidore are in the top 1000.
  • Peter: Peter’s a good, solid name, and I like that it’s in honor of Andrea’s late uncle. It seems a bit different in style than the other names they’re considering, though — I think they might be happiest with it as a middle name rather than a first name? Peter is no. 212, which is very appealing.
  • Finn: I love the name Finn — it’s such a sweet name for a little guy, and so handsome for a man. It’s been used quite a bit in recent years, too, both as a given name on its own and as a nickname for names like Finnian and Finley, so it doesn’t feel as Irishy Irish as it used to. That said, this is a good place to mention that Old Testament, Irish, and German/Dutch are three pretty strong styles, and while one can certainly find overlap between them (I tried to do so in some of my ideas below), if Andrea and her hubs choose names for their children that are on the strong end of each of those style’s spectrums, they run the risk of losing the feeling of cohesiveness that most parents I work with would like for their kids’ names. That is, they tend to like their children’s names to sound like they go together. That’s certainly not a requirement! Every once in a while I work with a couple who prefer to have an eclectic mix among their children’s names, and that’s fun too! I just want Andrea and her husband to be aware of it. Finn is no. 172, a great place to be.
  • Otto: It’s so funny, I was so surprised when I first started hearing Oliver being given to babies fifteen years ago, then Owen followed right behind, then Oscar, which I thought was really the outer limits of the O names for American parents. But more recently I’ve been seeing Otto here and there, which is just tremendous! It was out of the top 1000 altogether from 1975 to 2010, and is currently at no. 427.
  • Sebastian: I love the name Sebastian — I love how sophisticated and saintly it is — and it still feels offbeat and unusual to me, even though it’s no. 18. No. 18! I’m always shocked by that!
  • Otis: I didn’t know until I looked it up that Otis is related to Otto! And like Otto, I would have thought that Otis would be beyond the limits of what American parents would consider for their children, and then I saw that actors Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde named their son Otis in April 2014 and in 2015 it came back into the top 1000 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1994. It’s amazing the power celebrities have! Otis has continued to rise since then, though slowly — it’s currently at no. 707.
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul: These are all wonderful names and perfect in the middle spot! Timothy is no. 188, Daniel is no. 15, and Paul is no. 245.
  • Edsko: This is a fascinating name! I looked it up to learn more about it, but I can’t find it — it’s so fun to have a truly unique name in their family tree! How meaningful for them!
  • Margot Ruth: I just have to say, I LOVE their girl name!! I definitely took Margot into consideration when I was doing my research!

So those are all my thoughts on the names Andrea and her hubby are currently considering, now on to new ideas! You all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also took a look through the list of German/Dutch names in the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool at babynamewizard.com for Ira, since it doesn’t have its own entry in the book. I certainly noted any names that were listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but I was also looking for names that I thought could be both biblical and German, for example, or biblical and Irish, or German-ish and Irish-y, that kind of thing. Based on that, these are my new ideas for this little guy:

(1) Gabriel

I mentioned that I kept a special eye out for names that are listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but of the names on her list, Jonah’s name is the most important since they’ve already chosen it and bestowed it on one of their children — whatever name they choose for this baby needs to be in consideration of Jonah. Not that they can’t choose a name that’s different in style! Just that, Jonah’s name needs to be consciously considered, since he’s already named. So seeing Gabriel listed as a style match for both Jonah and Sebastian — two names on their list, one of which is their older son’s name — definitely means that Gabriel needs a spot on this list! It’s one of my favorite names, and I really like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but it’s also in the New Testament, which provides a nice bridge between names like Jonah and Peter, and it’s a pan-European name, meaning it’s used by almost all of the European cultures, so it can fit with most any heritage, including German and Dutch. Gabriel’s Behind the Name entry doesn’t include Irish in its list of usage, but I always think of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as being a great example of how it’s got decent traditional usage in Ireland as well. Gabe is a great, friendly nickname, too, and if they don’t like Gabe, I’ve actually seen Eli used as a nickname for it! Gabriel is no. 37.

(2) Abel

I’m always surprised I don’t see Abel get more usage! I see Abraham from time to time, and Abel can take Abraham’s awesome nickname Abe, but Abel itself is so much lighter than Abraham. This family has an Abel, if you’d like to see what Abel’s siblings’ names are at least in one family. Abel is no. 157, which is a great match for Jonah’s 141.

(3) Bram

Speaking of Abraham’s nicknames, as much as I love honest Abe, Bram is the nickname that really has my heart, and I think it might be perfect for this family! Bram is in the German/Dutch list, and it’s also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker, who was Irish. Biblical, German/Dutch, and Irish-y in one name! Wow! Not only that, but it’s a style match for Margot! So many amazing things about this name! It seems that the Dutch pronunciation is BRAHM, rhymes with “bomb,” which I think is probably close to what the Spanish pronunciation would be as well, right? The English pronunciation is BRAM, rhymes with “gram,” and I suspect the rhymes-with-gram pronunciation is what they’ll mostly hear, so that’s something to consider before choosing this name. Either way, as long as they’re firm and consistent about their chosen pronunciation, it should be fine! Bram is not in the top 1000.

(4) Ethan

Ethan is listed as a match for both Jonah (!) and Eli, and even though it’s a biblical name, I don’t think that fact is well known by American parents in general. Do you agree? Due to that, I think Ethan might be a great choice for Andrea’s second boy, since it shares Jonah’s biblical-ness, but in such a subtle way that they could easily branch out from biblical names going forward without too much of a fuss. Something that was really tickling me when I was working on this was the idea of Ethan Edsko — what an amazing complement to Jonah John! Both with great family meaning, and the alliterative thing is just so fun. I could see how that would really restrict them going forward, though … so this is probably a bad idea, but I do love it! Haha! Ethan is no. 10 after having spent 2002-2015 between nos. 2 and 7.

(5) Elliott (Eliot, Elliot)

Elliott is a match for Oliver, and it’s also a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is a variant of Elijah, which makes Elliott kind of a sneaky Old Testament name! Elliott could be a perfect way to connect to Jonah’s Old Testament-ness while opening up their style for non-biblical names going forward. They could also use Eli as a nickname for it, if they wanted. (I also love Elliott Edsko!) Spelling can be an issue — since there are three spellings, I think it might be hard for people to remember which spelling is the right one for this baby — Eliot has a literary feel, for poet T.S. Eliot; Elliott is the standard, I think — the one from which the others came; and Elliot kind of splits the difference. Elliott’s no. 160, Elliot’s no. 173, and Eliot’s not in the top 1000.

(6) Tobias

Tobias is a match for Margot and Sebastian, which is just perfect, because it’s also an Old Testament name like Jonah, AND it’s in the list of German/Dutch names, so Tobias would be a great connection between all those names! I don’t see a Spanish variant, but I think it’s pronounceable in Spanish, right? Tobias is no. 272.

(7) Mathias

Rhyming with Tobias and also on the German/Dutch list is Mathias, which I love for this family for those reasons, but also because it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, which is a nice way to expand their style, and because it’s a style match for Margot! Mathias is the German/Dutch spelling, which is no. 420; the spelling Matthias is the English spelling, and is no. 407.

(8) Oscar

Finally, I mentioned Oscar earlier, and I’d love for Andrea and her hubby to consider it! It’s got German/Dutch usage (the spelling Oskar would really reinforce that), it’s easily pronounceable in Spanish, and writer Oscar Wilde was Irish, so they have a lot of their boxes checked right there! One of my readers who has really embraced her husband’s German heritage recently named her son Oskar, so cute. Oscar is no. 205 and Oskar is not in the top 1000.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jonah’s little brother?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 12 (boy) needs a name that works in English and Spanish

Rebecca and her husband are expecting their twelfth baby (eleventh on earth) — their seventh son! This little guy joins big sibs:

Adam Joseph (“We chose Adam because it was very important to my husband that we choose names that can be said or translated to Spanish easily. His parents speak only Spanish. I liked that Adam wasn’t/isn’t a very popular name but wasn’t unheard of either. In Spanish it is Adan (emphasis on 2nd A) and it was appealing to me as well. I really wanted Joseph as a middle name for all my boys — because St. Joseph! Plus I think Joseph is the best boy name ever! We call him by his full name.”)

Nicholas Joseph (“We agreed on his name pretty quickly, keeping Joseph as a middle patron saint name. Nicolas in Spanish sounds awesome too. We call him Nick.”)

Madeline Marie Lucia (“Ever since I was in high school I wanted a daughter named Madeline. I totally dismissed my husband’s need for a name that can be said in Spanish! I really wanted Madeline! I figured her grandparents would find a name for her and that would be a special thing between them. They call her Madalena. Which I love too! Her middle names are for Our Lady and for Lucia, one of the children of Fatima [OLFatima is one of my favorites!]. We call her Maddy.”)

+ “baby in heaven (gender unknown). We named this baby Cesar.”

Isabella Marie Lucia (“I was hesitant to name her Isabella even though this was one of my favorite names since forever because she was born in the middle of all the Twilight hype and the name became crazy popular. But ultimately I didn’t care because I wanted this name before all that hype anyways! I figured since we named the boys with the same middle name, we should name the girls with the same middle name too Emoji. I really wanted her nn to be Izzy, but as much as I pushed for it, people call her Bella/Bells and now so do I. My adult niece calls her Bella-rina [which I adore!].”)

Marco Emilio Rafael (“Marco was one name my husband came up with … I liked that it was different, but not totally unheard of … His middle names are for his 2 grandmothers. We didn’t know the gender before he was born and had planned to name this baby after them either way. My MIL is Emilia and my mom is Rafaela … We figured Emilia and Rafaela could be easily switched to masculine names, so we went with it! … We call him Marco usually, I call him Mark sometimes.”)

Elias Joseph (“On the morning before he was born, we still didn’t have a name that we agreed on … during breakfast, I opened up the SSA list of names, scrolled past 500, and started reading names to my husband. As soon as I said Elias, I fell in love! And I love it in Spanish too [Eh-lee-as] Emoji. Luckily my husband agreed and our baby had a name! We decided to go with our classic Joseph for a middle name, it sounded so nice together! We call him Eli or Li-Li [Lie-Lie].”)

Josiah Thomas James (“This poor little guy went for 2 weeks without a name because we couldn’t agree on a name [and we knew we were having a boy too!]. He was our first home-birth so we had the “luxury” of not having to pick a name before we leave the hospitalEmoji. I was insisting on a name that is not popular and my husband and I couldn’t agree on any name. I don’t remember where we came up with Josiah but I loved it immediately. Again, luckily my husband did too and this guy had a name! His middle names are Thomas for his godfather and James after my godfather who passed away shortly after Josiah was born — both very strong, faithful Catholic men who will be amazing examples for our son! We call him Joe or Joe-Joe.”)

Theresa Maria Faustina (“At the beginning of this pregnancy, we were blessed to have spent our 10th anniversary in Poland & Rome with our very holy and close priest-friend and his family! His mom’s name is Teresa and we named her after this amazing woman! Maria is, of course, after Our Lady and Faustina is a nod to our time in Poland, plus how amazing to have a patron saint connected with Divine Mercy!! [We got to renew our wedding vows on the altar in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow!!! EmojiEmojiEmoji]. We call her Reese or Reesa.”)

Monica Lily Marie (“I have always loved Monica and love that it’s not super popular and am so in love with how it sounds in Spanish. My husband and kids agreed … so we went with Monica. Her middle names are Lily as a nod to St. Joseph. My dad passed away when I was 7 months pregnant on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, so I wanted something to honor his memory. Marie is, of course, after our Lady. We call her Moni [Moh-nee].”)

Andrew Edward (“We started looking for a name that began with an “X” because he is our 10th baby, we thought that would be cool! All we found was Xavier and Xander. But as much as I like Xavier (Ex-Zavier), I couldn’t commit to this name for this little guy! After about 5 days of searching, I kept coming back to Andrew but felt like we couldn’t use it [because it’s my nephew’s name]. I thought it was perfect since he was born during Advent and I had been searching for an Advent name. I had a conversation with my adult niece and we decided that … it was completely fine to use it … Edward is after St. Edward the Confessor. Cool side story about his name: The headmaster at my kids’ school knew we were looking for a name beginning with ‘X’ for this 10th baby and when he heard we named him Andrew, he reminded us about the way St. Andrew was martyred — on the X shaped cross! I was in tears when I heard this and it confirmed for me that this guy was meant to be Andrew! We call him Andrew or Drew-Drew.”)

What a fantastic bunch of names, and all with great stories! For her newest little guy, Rebecca writes,

St. Thomas More was really calling to me during the first half of this pregnancy and I was convinced this should be his name, despite Thomas being Josiah’s middle name. Then suddenly I felt a huge draw towards St. Paul and his conversion story. I love how he had a huge change of heart and was able to totally transform from who he used to be, to the person God intended for him to be. Then Benjamin caught my attention and I love how this is Jacob’s 12th son since this is technically our 12th baby. I am hesitant for Benjamin because I feel as an adult what would he go by? Ben sounds a little bit juvenile (or maybe it just sounds like a sweet, gentle guy??) and Benjamin is such a mouthful to go by your full name all the time. My husband is not totally feeling Pablo as the Spanish name for Paul, even though I loooove Pablo!

I’m thinking:
Paul Thomas
Benjamin Paul

I also love Matthias but I’m not totally convinced. I like that he could go by Matt but then surprise people with his full name not being Matthew. I think in Spanish it would be Mat-ee-as and I like it too.

I am interested in names that sound like the cute little baby of the family but that can also be grown-up and mature sounding. Maybe that’s Benny with full name Benjamin?

My husband likes Samuel — it would have to grow on me, I’m not totally digging this name. I do like how it sounds in Spanish though! Diego has been on our list a few times, both my husband and I like it. Hubs likes Mario but that’s so similar to Marco. I STILL love Benicio! haha!

Names we can’t use (there are more than 50 grandkids on my side of the family!)

  • Joshua*
  • Michael*
  • Vincent*
  • Daniel*
  • David*
  • Nathan*
  • Steven
  • John (my dad’s and FIL’s name, but there are 3 grandkids with John as their 1st name)
  • Anthony
  • Jesse*
  • Cameron
  • Hector*
  • Robert
  • Fernando*
  • Martin*
  • Ricardo
  • Gustavo*
  • Matthew
  • Alan
  • Richard
  • Christopher
  • Jacob
  • Luke
  • Noah

(I starred the ones who are completely out. The others are similar to Andrew’s name, if it’s meant to be, it doesn’t matter to double up, ha!)

I loved reading Rebecca’s thought process regarding names for this baby — first Thomas, then Paul/Pablo, then Benjamin, all so great! Here are my thoughts on those, and the others she mentioned, in case my thoughts are helpful to her and any of you who might also be considering these names:

  • Thomas: Thomas is fantastic name and St. Thomas More is a fantastic saint, so if they chose Thomas as a first name, Rebecca and her hubby can be sure their little guy would have a good, solid name that would always serve him well. However, the fact that it’s already Josiah’s middle name makes me really want to find a name that they haven’t already used (despite the fact that I know they’re not opposed to doing so and have done so before). I do like it as a middle name, and it would be a neat connection between Josiah and this baby, which could be great!
  • Paul: I agree, St. Paul’s story is amazing! Paul does feel a little different in style to me than the other kids’ names — I mean, it does fit, since it’s biblical and classic, but it’s different at the same time. I love it as a middle name for as listed by Rebecca — Benjamin Paul is my favorite! (Benjamin Pablo would be amazing too! I wonder if her hubby would be okay with Pablo if it was in the middle?)
  • Benjamin: Okay, let’s talk about Benjamin. This is what I’ve been waiting to do since I first read Rebecca’s email, haha! I have a lot to say, so I’m going to jump out of bullet points for a second.

First of all, let me put Rebecca’s mind at ease about all her concerns about Benjamin and Ben! I have an adult Benjamin in my life and I have nothing but good things to say about his name! While it is a long name, his dad loves it so much that he almost always calls him by the full Benjamin, but everyone else in life calls him Ben, and I think Ben is just the best nickname — so friendly but solid at the same time. This same Benjamin named his son Benjamin Jr., and he goes by Ben(ny), so that should tell you that at least one Benjamin thinks it’s a great enough name to pass on!

Not only is there my own personal story about the amazingness of the name Benjamin, it’s also amazing that Benjamin is a style match for Rebecca and her husband! You all know that I always start a baby name consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and discovered that Benjamin is a style match for Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, and Andrew! And Samuel too! Wow!

There are also several holy Benjamins, including St. Benjamín Julián, Bl. Benjamín Fernández de Legaria Goñi, and Bl. Benjamín Ortega Aranguren — there are others, but I loved seeing the Spanish variants for Rebecca and her hubs!

So I wholeheartedly agree that Benjamin is the *best* name for their son!! I love that this baby is their twelfth baby, and that Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob. What a great connection! I really have no job here, since they already have the perfect name!

(If they’re still not convinced about Benjamin, I’ve also seen Ben as a nickname for Bernard, and its variant Bernardino reminded me of how Rebecca likes Benicio.)

  • Matthias: Despite the fact that I’m convinced Benjamin is the best name for this family, I also love Matthias for exactly the reasons Rebecca mentioned.
  • Samuel: Samuel is a great name! Sam and Sammy are great.
  • Diego: Love it.
  • Mario: I agree that it’s similar to Marco — I didn’t think so at first, just looking at them printed, but then I said them out loud — oh boy! Very similar indeed!

I also took note of other names Rebecca said she liked/considered in the past, and I noticed Xavier — while that X initial would be great for a tenth baby, the initials XI would be perfect for an eleventh! I wonder what she would think of Xavier Isaac or Xavier Ignatius/Ignacio or Xavier Isidore?

As for the list of names that they can’t use, I was bummed out by Daniel (“Danny Boy” seemed such a sweet name for the baby of the family), David (similar to Benjamin, I was thinking how King David was the youngest of his brothers), and Luke (it’s a style match for their taste), but never fear, I was able to come up with a bunch of other ideas!

(1) Gabriel

I wasn’t surprised to see Gabriel show up as a style match for a bunch of their names, since I often see Gabriel on parents’ lists that also include Benjamin and Samuel. And it works in Spanish too, right? Rebecca’s husband represents St. Michael in his name, and Marco has St. Raphael — it would be great to round out the angelic trio with a Gabriel!

(2) Jonathan

Jonathan is a big style match for this family as well! There are a few nickname options — Jon and Jack, and if they did something like Jonathan Paul or Jonathan Pablo, then they could do JP initials (like St. John Paul!). I know this might seem like splitting hairs, but John and Jonathan are not the same name, so the fact that John is on their “no” list shouldn’t technically prevent them from considering Jonathan! (Unless their family thinks it’s too close to John, which I would understand.)

(3) C(h)ristian

Christian is one of my favorite names, and I enjoyed seeing that it’s a style match for this family. Cristian is the Spanish spelling, so handsome! I’m hoping that since Matthias isn’t too close to Matthew on their “no” list, C(h)ristian isn’t too close to Christopher on their “no” list.

(4) Tadeo or Tobias

Tobias is actually the name that’s the style match for them — it’s a match for Elias and Josiah, and I do love it … but maybe too close to both Elias and Josiah? I wanted to include it anyway, just in case. Thaddeus is a style match for Benedict, and I love the Spanish version Tadeo, what a cool name!

(5) Sebastian

Sebastian is long like Nicholas, Isabella, Benedict, and Benjamin, and St. Sebastian tends to be a favorite with boys — what boy doesn’t love a gruesome story about being shot to death with arrows?? Haha! Seb, Bash, Baz, Bastian, and even Ian are all nicknames I’ve seen.

(6) Damien or Damian

Damien’s a match for Cesar — I included their little one in heaven’s name in my research because it was yet another data point for showing their style, and I kind of love including a name on this list that is specifically tied to that baby — what a sweet connection! I mentioned above that I really liked the idea of Danny Boy for their “cute little baby of the family,” and when I saw Damien, I thought it might be perfect because I had it on my own list and had Denny as a nickname for it … change the spelling to Damian and Danny could easily work! In fact, Damián is the Spanish variant!

(7) Caleb

Speaking of “cute little baby of the family” names, Caleb has always struck me as having a snuggly feel. It’s certainly manly and strong, like the biblical character, but I think I get that cozy, cute feel from the fact that I saw Cub/Cubby as a nickname for it once and thought that would be so sweet for a little boy! Cal is also a possibility, which is so wholesome and boyish. Caleb goes right along with Rebecca’s Old Testament boys Adam, Elias, and Josiah, but I admit I don’t know how it does in Spanish.

(8) Stephen

My last idea for is Stephen — a style match for Mark (standing in for Marco for this example), Theresa, and Paul. I know a Stephen Paul and a Paul Stephen! While St. Stephen the Martyr is the first one I think of, and top of mind at this time anyway because of his feast day being the day after Christmas, I looked through the feast days starting with Rebecca’s due date and working backward, looking for anything that jumped out at me, and I saw that St. Stephen of Murat is on Feb. 8. Could be cool if her baby was born that day! (And only right now, as I’m putting this post together, do I realize that Steven is on the “no” list. Gah! I’m leaving this here in case it’s helpful to any of you.)

(For reference, other feast days that I noted were St. Matthias of Jerusalem on Jan. 30, St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28, Conversion of Paul the Apostle on January 25 [!!], and St. Sebastian on Jan. 20.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, Isabella, Marco, Elias, Josiah, Theresa, Monica, and Andrew?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Judah Abraham!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope to post again tomorrow, but just in case I’m not able to, I want to be sure you know to check back in on Friday to see my Black Friday deals!

I posted a consultation for Monica and her husband last year when they were between babies, and I’m so happy to share that they’ve just welcomed a baby boy and given him the tremendous name … Judah Abraham!

Monica writes,

I wanted to let you know that we just had our first boy! Judah Abraham was born earlier this week.

Judah had been in the mix, but not as a front-runner until this baby came into existence and we couldn’t settle on one of our other front runners.

We also officially found out about this baby on the feast of the Annunciation, and he was due in Advent, so I wanted a name with a Joyful Mystery/Advent connection. Judah fit the bill and suited our taste — less common but not totally unheard of, strong sound, multiple great faith connections. Although the biblical character of Judah himself is not the strongest patron, we like that the name represents the faithful line of Judah, Jesus himself, and then also Judas Maccabaeus and St. Jude. We have chosen Judas Maccabaeus as his primary patron. Ironically, he was born early and missed Advent altogether, but we liked the name anyway. :-).

We waffled a LOT on his middle name. It wasn’t settled until after his birth. We … considered several other names, mostly either “strong” sounding options like Alexander or Blaise, or other Hebrew names like Daniel or Isaac, because my husband likes the way they flow with Judah.

Abraham wasn’t on our radar for a middle name at all. It had been thrown onto our list as a curveball first name option that we didn’t consider very seriously, but that was the only time it had come up. (My list is over 100 combinations long, so it was never a serious contender.) After Judah was born we were revisiting options, and my husband threw out Abraham. We liked it and it was a fresh, bold option, so we just went for it! Abraham is both of our favorite patriarch, a strong father in faith, and we think it’s a pretty strong combo. It fits both the “strong” and the “biblical/Hebrew” sounding criteria.

Thanks for your consultation! A couple options from it were on my radar.  I liked Roman, but couldn’t sell my husband on it. Judah was due near the feast of St. Nicholas, and if he was born then I was pushing for Nikolai as a middle name. 🙂 “

Such a fantastic name story for this little guy!! I really love all the reasoning behind Judah, and I always love hearing about a last minute name decision, like what happened here with Abraham — so fun to come up with a new “fresh, bold option,” as Monica put it!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big sisters Magdalene (Maggie) and Genevieve (Genny), and happy birthday Baby Judah!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Magdalen Gianna!

I posted a consultation for Laura and her husband last January, before they were even expecting their hoped-for ninth baby. They found out shortly after that a new little one was on the way, and I’m thrilled to share that the baby has arrived! They welcomed their third daughter and gave her the amazing name … Magdalen Gianna!

Laura writes,

Baby made her safe arrival this afternoon!

So when no name was clicking I went back to calling her baby girl and decided to see what name felt right calling her. 

One name that I felt really good calling her was Maggie. [Hubby] and I were married at St. Mary Magdalen and that’s also where I came into the church and I have so many wonderful memories of attending the early daily Mass there with my husband when we were engaged 20 years ago. The name Magdalen was a bit out of [his] comfort zone but I so wanted something special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name for this baby girl. [He] was smitten with Maggie, Mags, and even Magda. 

St. Gianna … was an unbelievable intercessor for me this past year.”

Not only is Magdalen Gianna an amazing name, but it departs from a lot of the preferences Laura has had when naming her babies: she preferred that everyone have their own initial (now Magdalen joins big brother Mark with her M initial); she wasn’t as much a fan of nicknames as her husband (but she’s loving Maggie for Magdalen); she loved one-syllable names (Magdalen is the opposite!). As I told her, it’s so fun for me when parents completely change course and/or go back to the drawing board — I never would have foreseen her using Magdalen, but I think it’s so perfect! And paired with Gianna! And Maggie/Mags/Magda! I’m so delighted by this beautiful, unexpected name that’s definitely “special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name”!

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and big siblings Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas, and happy birthday Baby Magdalen!!

Magdalen Gianna

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Titus Joseph!

I’ve had a few namey conversations with Kaylene — owner of Azalea Rose Shop on Etsy (fantastic faithy things!!) and the lady behind Magnify 90 (feminine genius, baby!) — and she’s let me know her baby has arrived — a boy, given the simply wonderful name … Titus Joseph!

She writes,

He was born last night and he was a surprise but the closer we got to deliver the more I felt he was a boy and he was 😍😍😍 I cried such happy tears for my son to get a little brother and me to have a healthy baby chunk! 10 lb 3.1 Oz 21.5 in long

The meaning of Titus is perfect for him, and I love the book of Titus, and I felt like it went with all our other names. My dad’s initials are TJ and our older son’s are JT so it’s fun 💙

Joseph as a middle came to us later in pregnancy because of growing devotion to St. Joseph plus the OT connection with Joseph. My husband is amazing at caring for our family so it’s another nod to him being the St. Joseph to our family (my husband can fall asleep like nobody else as well LOL — recall the sleeping St. Joseph!) And my hubby finished out our basement with his construction skills so baby had a space upstairs! And my grandpa’s middle name is Joseph and my dad’s middle is Joe. Strong name for a big strong baby!

I just love that! “Strong name for a big strong baby!” Yes indeed! I love all the layers of meaning as well!

But wait: there’s more! Titus Joseph joins:

Gianna Clare (“my sister’s Confirmation saint — so a clever way to name a baby after her without being obvious and my husband’s legal name is Clarence so we took the Clare — plus I love Franciscan spirituality“)

Jackson Thomas (“two family names, both sides grandpa and great grandpa were either a Jackson or a Thomas — and we’ve taken Thomas the Apostle as his patron for Divine Mercy and “My Lord and My God” connection“)

Zelie Kay (“I had a great gramma Zella, and St. Zelie was a major player in my spiritual maturing, and it’s just so cute! Plus Kay for me — which my Kaylene comes from my grandma Darlene Kay“)

+Beatrice Rita (“We also have a little saint Beatrice Rita whose name just appeared from the Holy Spirit when we lost her last May 😭 Titus and Beatrice couldn’t have coexisted had she been born. Titus is beyond blessed to have his sister intercessor“)

What wonderful names, all! I love the reasons for choosing each one, they’ve done a wonderful job!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Titus!!

Titus Joseph with his sisters and brother ❤ (They’re all wearing shirts from Azalea Rose Shop!)


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

Birth announcement: Noah Anthony!

I posted a consultation for Breanna and her husband back in December, and Breanna’s let me know their baby has arrived — a little man given the handsome name … Noah Anthony!

Breanna writes,

For this little boy we decided on Noah Anthony! Noah was not originally on our radar but it did fit the bill of a biblical name and a person that Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Mary Magdalene. I like that it’s not likely to have a shortened nickname (I don’t like when people call Joseph “Jo” or “Joey.” ) And finally, I felt Noah was so fitting during this world wide pandemic Noah had to trust in God during an unbelievable time. Right now, we are all being asked to trust in God to help us through this pandemic that none of us expected when we started 2020.

Our Noah’s middle name “Anthony” is daddy’s first name. Although daddy already shared his middle name with our son Joseph, he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes!

I love the significance of the name Noah during this pandemic! How perfect! And I love that Breanna said, regarding her husband’s names being shared by both of his sons, “he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes” — what a wonderful thing to say!

Congratulations to Breanna and her husband and big sibs Magdalyn and Joseph, and happy birthday Baby Noah!!

Noah Anthony with his big sister and brother ❤


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