Baby name consultation: A Christmas-due-date baby is being born TODAY — help please!

Meredith from Daily Divine Mercy and Catholic Sticker Club is having her baby TODAY — her fifth baby and fourth boy! She and her husband are still trying to nail down a name and would love to hear your ideas! This little guy joins big sibs:

Jackson Solomon (Jack)
Theodore James (Teddy)
Clara Faye
William Harrison (Will)

Just a stunning bunch of names, right?! Jackson Solomon, Theodore James, and William Harrison are so handsome and sophisticated, and Clara Faye is so lovely. Nice job!

Meredith writes,

We thought we landed on a name but are second guessing now … Our top name at the moment is Lincoln David … This was almost 100% … But now hubby is second guessing. We disagree on a lot of names.

The names on Meredith’s list include:

Lawrence
Gabriel
Lincoln (hubby’s on the fence about this one)

Her husband’s list includes:

Abraham (Meredith isn’t a fan)

And they both like:

David
Joseph
John-David
George

Alright, so the first thing I tried to do was nail down what Meredith and her husband’s taste in names is, as evidenced by their other children’s names and those they like/are considering: I get a really strong Presidential vibe with Jackson, Theodore/Teddy, William, Harrison, Lincoln, and Abraham; a strong Old Testament vibe with Solomon, David, and Abraham; and a sort of colonial feel (I’m not sure that’s the right word … English? Pilgrim? There’s certainly some overlap there) from Theodore, Teddy, William, Clara, Faye, David, Joseph, George, and Abraham. I love all those styles, and I’m so impressed how they put them together in such great combinations!

I’m really taken with Lincoln David — I think it goes perfectly with their other boys’ names and their daughter’s as well. If they end up going with it, I’ll be thrilled! But if one or both of them are legitimately cooling on it, then I’m hoping some of my ideas here (and yours!) might be helpful.

Before listing my new ideas for this baby, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the names currently on Meredith’s and her hubby’s lists, in case they’re helpful:

  • Lawrence: I think maybe I’d consider Lawrence to be the outlier here. It doesn’t have an English feel and it’s not biblical or presidential, though it’s certainly handsome. I don’t love the nickname Larry with their other kids, but I’ve seen Lance used, which I think is a better fit with their others (though it still has a mismatched feel to me).
  • David: A handsome, classic, biblical name that fits in well with the names they’ve already used. It’s also Marian, via Our Lady’s title Tower of David — and Christmas-y too!
  • Joseph: I love Joseph!
  • Gabriel: Since hubby doesn’t care for Gabriel, I would recommend crossing it off the first-name list (maybe he’d be okay with it as a middle?).
  • Abraham: Similarly, since Meredith doesn’t care for Abraham, I would recommend crossing it off the first-name list (maybe she’d be okay with it as a middle?).
  • John-David: In general, I’m a big fan of double names for boys, as I love that they generally take two names that on their own aren’t unusual and give them an unexpected sparkle. However, in this case I’m not sure John-David is a good idea for this family, since Jack (and, by extension, Jackson) is a variant of John.
  • George: George is a great name! However, if I’m being nitpicky, I really like how their other boys have long names that trim down to friendly nicknames, which isn’t as easy with George. That said, Georgie is adorable, and I’ve always loved Geordie (said like Jordy) as well — it has traditional usage as a George nickname. I’ve seen Geo too, which is really cool.

Okay, now for my new ideas! You all know that I 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 offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research and my own namey mind, these are my ideas:

(1) Charles
Meredith didn’t mention whether or not they’re okay with repeating initials, so maybe they’d rather not have Clara and Charles, but otherwise Charles is a match for Clara, William, and George, and Charlie’s a match for Jack — a great fit for this family! Cal is another possibility as a nickname for Charles that I quite like with Jack, Teddy, and Will (though is Cal too similar to Clara?).

(2) Henry
Clara, William, and George are also style matches for Henry! I can see Henry fitting in really well with their boys (and Clara too), and I also like Hank, if they wanted to nickname Henry. One tiny hesitation that I feel I must mention, though, is that Will’s middle name, Harrison, means “Harry’s son,” and Harry is a variant of Henry.

(3) Francis
Francis is a match for Lawrence and Frank for George — I feel like Francis definitely has that gentlemanly feel of the other boys’ names, and Frankie’s an adorable nickname for a little guy! I also love Finn as a nickname for Francis.

(4) Oliver
Despite the fact that Oliver only showed up in my research as a match for Theodore, I’m loving it for this family! Jackson, Theodore, William, and Oliver are amazing together, and Jack, Teddy, Will, and Ollie are great as well.

(5) Bennett (or Benedict?) or Benjamin
I don’t normally include middle names in my research, but I thought Harrison really felt like their style, so I looked it up to see what names the BNW would list as similar and Bennett is one — Bennett is a variant of Benedict, so I like that saintly connection, and Bennett also has usage as a surname, which fits in with their Jackson/Harrison/Lincoln names. But maybe they’d like the full Benedict? I love that as well, and Benedict Cumberbatch has certainly given it a British sheen, which fits in nicely with the other kids’ names. Ben is a great match for Jack, Teddy, and Will as well. If they prefer Benjamin, though, I won’t be disappointed! Benjamin is such a great name, and it’s Old Testament like Solomon, David, Joseph, and Abraham.

(6) Jude
There are a bunch of super-Old Testament names that match the super-Old Testament names Meredith and her hubby have used (Solomon) and that her hubby likes (Abraham) like Ezekiel, Ezra, Judah, and Moses. While those names can fit in with a Pilgrim-type feel and I wouldn’t hate them as first names for their son, I sense that Meredith would rather put names like that in the middle. But Judah made me think that Jude might be a possibility for them for a first name. Like with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law and the Beatles have given Jude a Brit feel, and it’s certainly got a nice saintly connection.

(7) Gideon
Finally, Gideon’s a match for a name Meredith loves that her hubby doesn’t (Gabriel) and a name her hubby likes that she doesn’t (Abraham), which might make it the perfect bridge name between their two styles. It’s biblical, of course, and to me it also has a strong historical/colonial-type feel, as there’s a historic figure local to my area named Gideon Putnam who was born in 1763 and died in 1812. I’ve always loved the name, so I was excited to see it match up with this family’s style!

Those are my ideas for first names for this baby, and there were a couple names that I thought wouldn’t do as first names, but that they might like to consider for the middle spot: Frederick (Fred/Freddy wouldn’t do well as a brother to Teddy) and Emmanuel (perfect for a Christmas baby! And similar to Solomon and Abraham in style). I don’t know how they choose middle names (maybe they reserve that spot for family names?), but if they just choose names they like, then I thought I might offer some first+middle combos, in case they’re helpful. These are just combos that I thought went well together (using both names I suggested and names they’re already considering):

Charles Ezra
Charles Emmanuel
Charles Gabriel
Henry Abraham
Henry Emmanuel
Henry Gabriel
Francis Judah
Francis Jude
Francis Lincoln
Oliver Francis
Oliver Henry
Oliver Lawrence
Benedict Moses
Bennett Moses
Benjamin Oliver
Benjamin Lawrence
Jude Frederick
Jude Emmanuel
Gideon Joseph
Gideon Lawrence

I’ve also done a bunch of posts/articles on Advent and Christmas names that might offer some helpful inspiration — they’re all listed in this post.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Meredith’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jackson/Jack, Theodore/Teddy, Clara, and William/Will’s baby 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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Classic name, preferably with biblical and/or Marian ties, for baby no. 3

Thank you to all who took advantage of my Black Friday Specials! I have one more special, which is for today only: I’m offering ten Christmas Gift Certificates for Ordinary Consultations for $25 each! (Regular price: $50.) The first ten people who email me today for a gift certificate will receive an invoice from me via email for $25 by midnight tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 2. These gift certificates can be redeemed starting December 26th. I will work on them in the same way I do all consultation requests — first come, first served, and completed within three weeks of receiving the request (barring unforeseen circumstances). I will email you a gift certificate that you can print out and present to the person receiving it as a gift (I can send it to by Dec. 5 in case you want to give it as a St. Nicholas gift!). There’s no expiration date on the gift certificates.

Today’s mama and her hubby are expecting their third baby in April, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! He or she joins big siblings:

Magdalyn Rae (“Saint Magdalene’s feast day is on the day our daughter was released from the NICU. Rae is my middle name. We call her Maggie and I love how Rae paired nicely with both Magdalyn and Maggie. My husband … one day came home and said he liked this name. I liked Saint Magdalene’s story and “Maggie” was one of my top five names“)

Joseph James (“[Joseph is husband’s middle name] and Saint Joseph (is there a better saint to name your son after?!). James is my husband’s uncle. My husband lived with him painting houses for a summer and that’s how he bought my engagement ring. I also liked the alliteration of Joseph James“)

(I love that engagement ring story!)

For baby number three my husband hasn’t give me a lot. He likes the name Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy. I can’t tell if he’s joking 😉 I said Jim is a nickname for James (our son’s middle name) and he said “does that matter?” I said “fine, let’s just name the baby Jim Ray if it’s a boy so he has both our first and second born children’s names!” The ONLY preference I know is that my husband does not like names that sound too trendy. He’s all about classic.

For a girl we like the following names:

1. Stella Maris: I saw this on your site and love that it is a Marian name.
2. Margaret (Saint Margaret): Picked by husband. I love the nickname Etta but I’m not sure that my husband would go for a non-traditional nickname.
3. Juliet (husband’s pick): I would only go for this if NN could be Etta. I don’t like Jules or Julie and I’m afraid most people would go there.
4. Ava (Saint Ava): Too common? I feel like it could go great with Maggie and Joseph.
5. We have a favorite book where a little girl named Maple has a Maple tree and then one day a Willow tree is growing (you can guess her mom is pregnant and later has a baby Willow). I cried the first time I read that book when I was pregnant with baby #2 and wished I had named my first Maple and that I would have a second named Willow. Not sure my husband would go with either and they don’t really mesh with the first two!

For a boy:

1. Husband likes “Jim” (still don’t know if this is sarcasm)
2. I like Jack but can’t find a tie to a saint or biblical character
3. Henry
4. Truman (I like the alliteration of Truman Taylor) and the nickname “Tru” but my husband is iffy about how “trendy” it sounds. and I’m trying to find a “Catholic” tie.

Some things I would like to consider with baby naming:

1. A name that represents someone Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Magdalene. That’s why I’d love to find a Marian name for a boy or girl. Saints are good too but a reference to someone in the Bible would be great. It can be an alteration of a name since a lot of the “classic” names we’ve ruled out (see below)

2. We have a LOT of relatives. Like a lot. And although we are okay with shared names to some extent we have a long list of “no’s” including:

Josh, Luke, Lucas, Jacob, Jake, John, Andrew, Caleb, Matthias, Benjamin, Raymond, William, Nicholas, Donald, Mathew, Patrick, Sebastian, Theodore, Cyprian, Jasper, Jackson, Anderson, Nathaniel, August

Anna, Cecilia, Katherine, Hannah, Madeline, Brook, Brooklyn, Rebecca, Gianna

3. I don’t have a strong preference for middle names … I just want it to have SOME sort of meaning and sound great

4. Meaningful things to us: We LOVE Colorado. We actually decided on baby 3 on the way to Colorado. I tried to summon some names from that (Esten for Estes Park, Max for Maxwell Inn we stayed out) but nothing really stuck. My husband is an optometrist (patron saint Clare?) and I am a speech language pathologist. We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos? We were married on August 7th, my husband’s birth is 9-17, my daughter’s is 7-17, and my son’s is 10-17 so seven is a heavy number in our family if that gives you any fun ideas?

I love trying to incorporate things into babies’ names that are important to the parents in faith-filled ways, like patron saints for parents’ professions or connections to places they love. So fun!

Alrighty, so I loved that Maggie was one of Mama’s top five names and then Papa decided on his own that he liked Magdalyn — how perfect and amazing is that??! Magdalyn Rae is gorgeous. And of course I agree I agree that St. Joseph is such a perfect namesake for a little guy. Joseph James is so handsome!

As for Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy for this baby: hubby’s a funny guy! Sisters Magdalyn and Margaret would strike me as really unexpected, as I generally think of Magdalyn and Margaret as two sides of the same coin — those who like the nickname Maggie and have traditional taste go for Margaret, while those who like the nickname Maggie and like more unusual names go for Magdalyn. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since he wants to repeat their son’s middle name as their next son’s first! Hilarious!

I really like Mama’s solution of the nickname Etta — that makes it very doable, in my opinion. I don’t mind the idea of sisters with the more unusual Magdalyn with the familiar nickname Maggie, and the familiar Margaret with the more unusual nickname Etta. It’s true that Etta isn’t a traditional nickname for Margaret, so if that’s a real problem, Margaret does have loads of traditional nicknames and variants that could work, if that’s what would sell Papa:

  • Greta: This one rhymes with Etta, so it feels like the closest to Mama’s idea while still being a traditional short form of Margaret.
  • Maisie: Maisie is a diminutive of Margaret via Ireland and Scotland, so sweet!
  • Rita: This is technically a nickname for the Italian variant of Margaret, though of course it’s taken on a life of its own.
  • Peg, Peggy: Amazingly, Peggy is a medieval nickname for Margaret!
  • Molly: Molly is the only one on this list that isn’t technically a nickname for Margaret, in the sense that it’s actually a variant of Mary. But, it does have occasional usage as a nickname for Margaret, for example “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” who wasn’t actually known as Molly in life, only after she died was she called Molly. I’ve known families who have named daughters Margaret and call them Molly, and I’ve encountered many people who assume Molly is a nickname for Margaret, in the sense of it being etymologically related. Sisters Maggie and Molly sound like a natural pair.

As for the names on the list of those they’re considering:

  • Stella Maris: Isn’t it a gorgeous name? A variant of it is Maristella, which they might also like.
  • Margaret: See above.
  • Juliet: This is one of my very favorite names! Etta is a perfect nickname for it; the spelling Juliette could make it feel more natural (or even Julietta). I spotlighted the name here, and the comments are pretty great!
  • Ava: There’s a reason this name is so popular! It’s a gorgeous name! I particularly like that St. Ava was blind as a child and later miraculously healed — that could make a great connection to Papa’s occupation! Also, Ava is a variant of Eva/Eve, so it can be considered biblical. A different connection is that one of Our Lady’s titles is The New Eve, so it can be considered Marian in that sense; a different Marian connection comes from how “Ava Maria” sounds like “Ave Maria” (which means “Hail Mary” in Latin) — Ava Maria as a first/middle combo would really drive home that meaning.
  • Willow: Aw, this is a sweet story! I love it! Though it’s too late to have a Maple, they do have a daughter whose name starts with M, so maybe they’d want to consider a W name for a second girl? Then they could use Maple and Willow even as little code names or nicknames that just Mama uses for her girls? The first name that comes to mind in this vein is Willa — it’s so like Willow in appearance and sound, but more … serious maybe? Dignified? A better fit with sister Magdalyn? Wilhelmina’s another option — it’s kind of heavy, but it’s saintly (via William), and Willa and Willow can both be nicknames for it, as can Mina, which is sweet. And they’d be in good company with amazing namer Natalie Hanson, who has a daughter Wilhelmina who goes by Willa. Another option would be to put Mary in front of it — putting Mary in front of any name, from traditional names to mom’s maiden name or similar, automatically makes the combo seem classy and Catholic. Mary Willow and Mary Willa are both great options, and in fact, Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie’s given name is actually Mary Willa! One final thing is that I recently discovered the very cool fact that Willow Sunday is another name for Palm Sunday, especially in the East, and since their baby is due in April, and Palm Sunday in 2020 is also in April (April 5), Willow (or Willa) could be perfect for a baby girl for that reason too!
  • Jim: I’m not sure what to say about Jim! I hope it was sarcasm on Papa’s part!
  • Jack: I like Jack for this family! Jack is a diminutive of John, which is perfect for Mama’s hope to tie to a biblical character that Jesus would have interacted with! Many people name their sons John to get to the nickname Jack, but many also just name their son Jack. In fact, Jack as a given name has always been in the top 200, with its peaks of popularity being 1929 and 1930, when it was no. 14, and then in 1996 it entered the top 100 again and is currently at no. 28. So I’d say Jack is a great option! When I was researching saints/blesseds with speech problems (as a nod to Mama’s occupation), I found Giovanni Dominici, known in English as Bl. John Dominic — he had a speech impediment that was miraculously healed. That made me think that he would be a great patron for their little boy, and I love the combo Jack Dominic! (They have John on the list of family names they can’t use, but Jack Dominic means John Dominic anyway, so I think Jack Dominic is perfect! Also, Dominic has seven letters, and was traditionally given to boys born on Sunday [Dominic means “of the Lord,” and Sunday is the day of the Lord], which is the seventh day of the week! I love that connection to “seven” here!)
  • Henry: A great name, I love it. I spotlighted it here.
  • Truman: What a cool name! And I love the nickname Tru! As far as a faith connection, there isn’t a saint with that name or surname as far as I can tell, but its meaning is “true, trusty, or faithful man,” which seems like it could connect to Jesus Himself. And with the nickname Tru, truth is certainly a great faith connection (it reminds me of names like Verity, which means “truth,” and Veronica, which means “true image”). I think it works! They can also beef up the faithiness/saintliness with the middle name — something like Truman Emmanuel would really bring Jesus to mind, for example. As for it being trendy, it was actually much more popular from 1900-1954 than it is now!

Okay! Those are my thoughts on the names that these parents are considering. As for new ideas, you all know that I 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. I also researched patrons of Colorado, patrons of those with eye problems and speech problems, and patrons of peace, as well as Estes Park (to find the origin of its name), and I spent a while thinking of ways to work in the number seven. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for this baby:

Girl
(1) Seraphina
This was inspired by a few different things: first, Sadie is a style match for Stella according to the BNW, which is a traditional nickname for Sarah. I didn’t think Sarah was quite their style, but I thought of Seraphina, since Sera is commonly used as a nickname for it. Secondly, Seraphina can be considered a Marian name, since it refers to the seraphim (the order of angels who “stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court”) and one of Our Lady’s titles is Queen of the Angels; this fulfills Mama’s desire for a Marian name. Thirdly, Jesus surely interacts with the seraphim. 😊 It checks off a lot of their boxes! Seraphina is such a lovely name, and I love it as a sister to Magdalyn and Joseph.

(2) Veronica
I was inspired to add Veronica to the list when I was researching faith connections for Truman. It means “true icon,” and though St. Veronica isn’t specifically named in the bible, it’s the name that has traditionally been used to identify the woman who wiped Jesus’ face on his way to the cross, which fulfills Mama’s hope for a name of someone Jesus interacted with. I spotlighted it here, including nickname ideas.

(3) Colette
I discovered Colette when I was looking up patrons of those with eye problems, and immediately loved it for this family for a few reasons: first, it can take Etta as a nickname like Margaret and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a short form of Nicolette (which St. Colette is also known as), which is a feminine form of Nicholas, which is a biblical name (he’s mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the first seven deacons — seven!). Thirdly, St. Colette not only suffered from eye problems, but speech problems as well: “She had visions in which Saint Francis of Assisi ordered her to restore the Rule of Saint Clare to its original severity. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign to take action.” (source) I love that she nods to both Mama’s and Papa’s professions!

(4) Elizabeth/Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella
I looked up patron saints of peace, because of how Mama said, “We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos,” and was immediately drawn to St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She’s known as “The Peacemaker” and is a patron saint of peace; I also love that her name is the name of Our Lady’s cousin. The Visitation is one of my favorite Mysteries of the Rosary, when Mary visits Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at being in the presence of Jesus in His mother’s womb. If Elizabeth isn’t quite their style, maybe they’d like its variants Isabel, Isabelle, or Isabella (St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as Isabel and Isabella)? There’s also Elisabet (which St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as), Eliza, Elise, Elisa, Lisbeth, Lisette, and so many others, and a whole bunch of nicknames as well.

(5) Annabel
Annabelle is a style match for Juliet, and I love that it has the “Anna” in there, which connects it to St. Anne — the grandmother of Jesus — without using Anna by itself, which is on the list of family names they don’t want to use. It also has a separate, Marian meaning as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, and one of Our Lady’s titles is Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable”=“lovable”). How cool is that? I have the Annabel spelling listed here because it has seven letters, which I thought was pretty neat.

*(6) Bonus: Eleanora, Eleanor, Elinor
I couldn’t not include these names, as Eleanora is a style match for Magdalyn, Eleanor is a match for Henry, and Elinor is a match for Truman! They didn’t really seem this family’s style to me, but the BNW is rarely wrong, so I definitely had to list these here! The Eleanor names aren’t biblical, though it does have saintly connections (the comments are great too). I love its nicknames Ellie and Nell (which can both be for Elizabeth too, if they wanted) and Nora, so sweet!

Boy
(1) Elliott
Elliott is such a great name for this family, in my opinion, for a few different reasons: first, it’s a style match for both Stella and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a variant of Elias, which is biblical! Thirdly, though there are several ways to spell this name (two L’s or one, two T’s or one), Elliott has seven letters!

(2) Raphael
I was excited to see that Raphael is a style match for Juliet, because it’s biblical, it has seven letters (I was overly excited to find names with seven letters! Haha!), and St. Raphael the Archangel is patron of blind people and against eye disease and problems, a perfect nod to Papa’s profession!

(3) Samuel
Samuel is a match for Joseph and Henry, Sam is a match for Jack and Maggie, and Samuel is biblical! So many great reasons to love this name!

(4) Charles
Charles showed up so many times in my research for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret and Henry, and Charlie is a match for Maggie, Stella, and Jack. It’s such a great name! And it has seven letters! I know it’s not biblical, but it is saintly, and (this might be weird) my husband and I strongly considered the combo Charles Augustine for one of our boys, which I still love, and St. Augustine is a patron against sore eyes, so if they like that combo, it could be a great one for them!

(5) Bennett
I know Benjamin is on their no list, but Bennett is a different animal. It’s a match for Juliet, and Ben’s a match for Maggie, so I thought Bennett — which is a variant of Benedict — would be a great suggestion for them. (And it has seven letters! Woo! 😊 )

Finally, I wanted to share some info I found in my research that might be helpful to them:

  • I discovered that Estes Park in Colorado is named after Joel Estes, so I looked up his surname and it literally means “of the East” — so I wondered if they might like to consider Easton as a nod to Estes Park?
  • There’s also a Mary’s Lake in Estes Park, which I thought was a really nice connection to using Mary (like the Mary Willa idea above) in addition to Mary being for Our Lady.
  • The Immaculate Mary is actually the patron of Colorado, adding extra meaning to a Marian name for this baby. If they like the idea of Immaculata for a first name or a middle, it could also tie to Our Lady’s patronage of Colorado.
  • Francis of Assisi is another patron of Colorado — if they don’t care for Francis as a first name, maybe they’d like it as a middle? Or one of the feminine variants (Frances, Franca, Francesca) for a girl?
  • I loved that Mama mentioned Clare, because of Papa’s work, and think it would make a great first or middle name. Another patron of eye issues is St. Lucy, who had her eyes plucked out (in fact, she’s usually depicted holding a tray with her eyeballs on it!) and it’s said that her eyesight was restored before her death. Lucy/Lucia/Lucille might be names they’d like to consider for that reason.

And those are all my ideas! What do you think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Magdalyn/Maggie and Joseph?


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!

Baby name consultation: Little brother needs traditional + uncommon name

Jess and her husband are hoping to welcome a baby into their family via adoption this month! This baby will join big sister:

Josephine Jean (“a name that honors one grandpa and both grandmothers. We call her Josephine, Josie, and Posy.  I loved the Little Woman reference, the abundance of nicknames, and the strength/style of the name. I love that Jesus’ father is not quoted in the Bible and yet his actions speak his story. There are options for patron saints – Joseph, Josephine, and Joan of Arc“)

I love every bit of her name!!

Jess writes,

We are adopting a baby (prayers, please) in early October.  If this baby is a girl, we will name her Beatrice Louise or Magdalena Edith.  If the baby is a boy, we’re stuck.  We’d like to honor the remaining grandparent by including the name Edward or Anthony. We have a very Italian last name that starts with V and ends in LO. We gravitate towards strong, traditional, uncommon, and definitively masculine names. We used an app that synced the names that we both like and then narrowed it down. Our current list includes Alden, Cyrus, Everett, Roland, and Reuben.  We’ve considered Milo (sing song w/last name), Saul (too few syllables), Peregrine (patron saint of cancer), Gilbert, Vincent (Vinnie V-O sounds gangster), and Lucas (too popular).  

Alden. We like that it means old friend and that it was Neil Armstrong’s middle name. If we use Edward as a middle name, then the traditional initials aVe could be a slight Marian name harkening to Ave Maria! I read this in your book, but it seems like we are stretching it a bit. We are concerned that Alden may be confused with the more common Aiden.

Roland. Mike’s mom was French and Josephine and Roland seem have an unintended but pleasant French theme. Our extended family has been surprisingly positive about this name; we assumed they would think it was a bit out there. A possible nickname of Roly Poly, if the kid is a bit hefty, gives us pause.

Cyrus. Mike thinks this name is a bit serious and I don’t love the meaning of “throne.” It keeps popping back on the list though.

Reuben.  Mike worries this name is trendy and fears it will be the next Noah or Oliver. Even though I’m the one that advocated for this name for years, I am a bit concerned with the number of spelling variations and the sandwich connection.

Everett. I don’t love the fact that girls are flocking towards this name.

How would you order our list? What are your favorite combos? Why don’t we feel the WOW factor with any boy name? We could also use help with nickname options and recommendations on patron saints.”

These parents have such fun taste in names! I love both Beatrice Louise and Magdalena Edith, they’re lovely! And their boy list was a delight! Alden, Roland, Cyrus, Reuben, and Everett are mostly unexpected and little used, at least among my readers (especially the first four; I see Everett from time to time and have suggested it many times).

First I’ll go through and offer my reactions to and thoughts about each name, and then I’ll take a stab at ranking them afterward:

Alden: I love the aVe thing! Alden Edward is very handsome. I can see what Jess means about it being confused for Aiden, but I think that will only happen in writing — the nurse at the doctor’s office calling his name, for example, after reading it on his chart, or a teacher mis-saying his name on the first day of school. But to me, that’s a minor issue — out loud, it doesn’t sound much like Aiden at all, I don’t think, and even with those who flub it based on seeing it written, all they need is to be firmly corrected, just like most people have to do with their names for one reason or another. One thing to note is that, when I looked it up on behindthename.com to see what it means, what nickname options there are, and what people think about it via the comments, it seems that it’s occasionally used for girls, and since that’s one of Jess’ hesitations about Everett, perhaps that will help her and her hubby cross it off their list. Nickname-wise, I immediately think Al, but the babynamewizard site lists Aldie, Ollie, and Denny as possible nicknames too, all of which I can see. I couldn’t find a patron saint for Alden, so it would come from the middle name — there are some great Sts. Edward and Anthony.

Roland: I like their reasoning here! The French connection is really cool, and the fact that their family likes it. I wouldn’t worry about the “roly poly” nickname  — kids will always come up with mean nicknames if they’re determined to do so, no matter the name. I could see Role, Rollo, Roldo as nicknames; they could also do Rolly (rhymes with Molly), which could remove it from the “roly poly” sound. It looks like there’s a Bl. Nicolas Roland and a Bl. Roland Chézery who could be patrons.

Cyrus: Behindthename.com says Cyrus means “lord,” though I don’t know if Jess and her hubs will like that better than “throne” or not? A name with a similar meaning is Dominic, meaning “of the Lord,” which reminds me of Vincent with its Italian feel (but like with Vincent, not exclusively Italian) and goes quite well with their girl names — maybe they’d like to consider Dominic? If so, I love Dominic Edward — using Anthony would reinforce the Italian connection, which Edward tempers it a bit, I think, which I sense Jess and her husband might like, since they like the French-ness of Josephine. Another that I thought might be perfect is Silas — it sounds like Cyrus and has a great meaning, including maybe being the Greek form of Saul, which would be like giving them Saul, but with more syllables! Additionally, I looked up all the names they like/are considering (both boy and girl names), as well as Josephine, in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Silas was listed as a match for Lucas; Peregrine and Magdalena weren’t in the BNW so I looked them up in the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site and matches for them also included Silas for Magdalena and Silvanus (which behindthename says Silas is probably a short form of) for Peregrine. Wow! If they like the Silas idea, I love both Silas Anthony and Silas Edward. Si is a really sweet nickname, I’ve always liked it. St. Silas is a pretty great patron I think!

Reuben: Interesting that Jess’ hubby thinks this name will be the next Noah or Oliver! I checked the stats on the SSA site and Reuben — that spelling — was at no. 927 and was on a downward trend after a small (very small) increase in popularity over the last couple of years (it increased from 961 in 2012 to a peak of 845 in 2014 before heading down again). The spelling Ruben, which is the French and Spanish spelling, among others, is much popular: it was no. 415 in 2018, but is also on a downward slope as it has been since its peak at 165 in 1980. Based on this info, it doesn’t look like it’ll become trendy any time soon. One of the families on the blog named their son Reuben, and he’s the cutest! Ben is such a great nickname and a natural one for Reuben; Rube is the most natural way to shorten it, I think, but a “rube” isn’t something most people want to be. They could do Roo though, especially at home and when he’s tiny, so cute! The only holy Reuben I could find is Bl. Rubén de Jesús López Aguilar, and of course it’s biblical too.

Everett: A great name. If they don’t like it being used by girls, though, I would recommend crossing it off the list — at this point, they have so many great names that I think whittling down the list would be helpful. Jess and her hubs might find that doing so allows *the* name to rise to the surface naturally. Otherwise, I like Ev as a nickname, and Rett. Everett is a variant of Everard, according to the behindthename, and there are some Sts. Everard that they could choose as patron. Another idea I had, based on Vincent and V sound in Everett is Victor — it’s a style match for Vincent, but doesn’t have the Vinnie problem. Victor/Vic has been on my own list for a long time. Victor Anthony and Victor Edward both sound quite nice. But maybe it’s too many V’s?

Alright, so after thinking a bit about these names, I think I would probably order them this way, with my favorite at the top:

Roland Anthony
Cyrus Anthony or Cyrus Edward (prefer Silas Anthony or Silas Edward)
Reuben Anthony or Reuben Edward
Alden Anthony or Alden Edward
Everett Anthony
(I didn’t think Edward went as well with Roland and Everett)

I also had a few other ideas based on the names they like — I mentioned that I looked up their names in the BNW, and I looked for names that were listed as similar to more than one of their names, and a few jumped out:

Emmett (Cyrus, Everett)
Jasper (Cyrus, Milo, Josephine)
August (Everett, Josephine)
Felix (Everett, Milo, Beatrice)
Oscar (Milo, Magdalena)
Ezra (Milo, Saul)

The names in parentheses are those that listed the name as style matches. Pretty great, right? I do think Alden, Roland, Cyrus, and Reuben are more distinctive, unexpected, and rare than the names here, but I love them all and if Jess and her husband did too I think they could be great for their little boy.

I also wondered if they considered Miles instead of Milo?

And those are my thoughts! What do you all think? How would you rank the names Jess and her husband are considering? What other name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Josephine/Josie/Posy?


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!

Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

Happy Labor Day! No better day to post a consultation! 😉

Sometimes parents will request a consultation when they’re in between babies — the planners among you (like me!) will understand! It’s fun to replenish/refresh name lists when there’s no baby on the way and no pressure. I always enjoy those kinds of consultations, and tend to view them as a chance to spread my wings a bit — to seek a bit farther afield for ideas and to suggest some that I might not suggest if a baby’s arrival is imminent and Mom and Dad just need to find “the” name.

Today’s consultation is one such! Monica and her hubby recently welcomed their second baby — second girl! — and wanted to add some names to their girl list and see if there are any boy names that I might suggest as well. They currently have:

Magdalene Eve-Marie “Maggie”
Genevieve Rose “Genny”

Gorgeous, right??

For reference, my name is Monica Marie, confirmation name Bridget (but it’s for St. Brigid of Ireland). My husband is Joseph Martin, confirmation name Cyril.

Our main ethnic heritage is — from my side — Italian, with some German, Irish, and Scottish — from his side — French, Irish, and Ukrainian. Tidbits of other stuff, but those are the major lines.

Other names that have been at the top of our girl list in the past are Miriam (still high) and Ramona (falling in favor). These days we mostly only like Ramona because we had paired it with Carmel as a middle name, which we still like. Perhaps we could do Miriam Carmel instead. It’s not bad, though I think I preferred Carmel with Ramona because it ended in -a.

We also like Grace quite a bit. I like Avila, Mercedes, Edith, Celine, Faith and Hope … Anne (I love Anne of Green Gables, like every girl…) … but my husband isn’t as keen on those. My husband has a thing for Russian names and likes Natasha, but I don’t. I would consider Nadia or Sonya instead. We’ve recently been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, and were intrigued by Sunniva, but it’s probably too Scandinavian for us.

Aside from the Marian requirement, I think our girl name style is very feminine, elegant, but not over the top frilly/sugary/sticky sweet … We like the names Rebecca and Susannah/Suzanna, both of which belong to sisters of mine, and have considered them as middle names for Miriam, since they match its Old Testament feel. We like a lot of religious significance, both saint connections and linguistic meaning, and maybe a sprinkle of literary and historical inspiration. I also tend to like a more complex religious significance than just a patron saint, although patron saints are great, and if I like the name that would be enough. But if it’s more complex, like a title of Mary rather than just her name, or a combination that evokes a religious event like the Visitation (I.e. any combo of Mary and Elizabeth names), or a name with double religious significance … I like it even better! It seems like we’ve gone for French-inspired names (I know we didn’t choose the Madeleine form, but I still think of St. Mary Magdalene in a French light via her sojourn there) that could take an Irish sounding nickname. This is perfect, as our last name … is actually Irish, but often mistaken for French, and my husband actually has a lot of French heritage through his mom’s side. That probably isn’t a necessary requirement, though, since it’s kind of unusual to find French names with Irish sounding nicknames. Both names we’ve chosen so far are not super common but familiar enough to be recognizable and fairly pronounceable. And … heavy on the “Eve” sound … though maybe we should NOT repeat that a third time.

Boy names are a whole different story. We tend to disagree a lot more. Some of the universal stuff about name significance I mentioned above applies to boy names as well, but I’m not sure we have as much of a definite style since we disagree a lot and only agree sort of randomly. I like some more Romance language names like Santiago and Giovanni and Enzo, thanks to my Italian heritage, and my husband likes Russian names … partly because he loves Russian novels and history, but he is actually 1/4 Ukrainian/Slovakian as well. He is always pushing for Vladimir or Dmitri. I don’t think any of the above ethnic options work well with our very every-day-American last name, though I could maybe reconcile with one if it had family significance (like Cosimo in my family … but then again, that would be more significant with my maiden name). I’ve always said if we were going to do an ethnic name it might be best if it were the same ethnicity as our last name, so we went looking for Irish names, and found we agreed on Finnian, which is probably #3 on our list. Maybe paired with Thomas as a middle name, for my husband’s dad. I also like Eamon, but my husband is less enthusiastic.

Probably #1 is Louis, which is actually French like the girls’ names. We’ve considered pairing it with Anthony for my dad or Martin for my husband (he doesn’t want a direct junior). It primarily would be for St. Louis of France, the king, but if we did Louis Martin that would be a cool double for St. Therese’s father as well.

#2 is John, because I love several saints John — especially John of the Cross and John the Evangelist, such beautiful contemplatives. My husband only consented to John (it is very plain, I admit, but the saints are so great!) with an “interesting” middle name. I pushed for Augustine, but he doesn’t like “A” boy names. So we have it paired with Maccabaeus on our list, which we both think is cool. Our family says they would call him “Johnny Mac.”

We’ve batted around a lot of others. Alexander fits my husband’s Russian taste and I like it, but think it’s a bit common and overused. I’d consider Ivan, but he’s not that much of a fan of that particular Russian name. We both like Blaise, Judah, Isaac, and David, though Isaac is taken by a close friend. Owen, Henry, Nicholas, Dominic, Zachary, Jude, Paul, Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Elijah, Jacob, Sebastian, Damian, Martin, Alexei, Thomas, and are on our ok list, but not favorites due to various circumstances (close friends used them, or one of us isn’t as keen as the other). I like Old Testament names, but my husband doesn’t like boy names that end in the “-iah” sound, which rules out a lot. For example, I liked Isaiah Joseph, but … nope. Although we do both like Judah. We’ve considered maybe a David Judah before. We liked Lavrans from Kristin Lavransdatter (is it a form of Lawrence? Do you know?) but it flows poorly with [our last name]. I like Kenneth and Walter from the Anne of Green Gables series, but my husband thinks they’re too old man sounding.”

I love the names Monica and her hubs chose for their girls — Magdalene Eve-Marie and Genevieve Rose are both gorgeous, and Maggie and Genny are the sweetest nicknames!

St. Mary Magdalene being “the Perfect Image of the New Eve” is SO cool! And I laughed when Monica sheepishly admitted that she liked the name Genevieve first, then looked up the saint later — I’ve done that many many times myself! And I think that’s sometimes how saints “find” us, by using our God-given taste in names! (I wrote about that here.)

Genevieve Eleanor would have been gorgeous too, and as for that pesky Eleanor/Helen connection, maybe my most recent post on it would be helpful going forward.

But Rose is just perfect! The Marian connection and family connections are perfect. (And how cool is Rosamystica as a middle name??!) I love Lucie/Lucy too, I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady of Light is one of her titles, but I can see why Monica’s hubby might have a hard time thinking of it as Marian, since it’s got such a life and history of its own.

I had an idea for “a Marian name beginning with a vowel, preferably an E” for a middle name going forward: Edessa is a name in my book, after her title Our Lady of Edessa. Such a beautiful name!

I love Miriam from their current list, and Ramona! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Ramona! What a great name! Ramona Carmel is stunning, and Miriam Carmel is lovely too. Grace, Mercedes, Faith, and Hope all are Marian — OL of Grace/Mercy/Mercies/Faith/Hope are all titles of her, and all of these names are in my book. Anne is too! I figured, when people are trying to name a baby after a beloved someone, sometimes they might look to the relatives of that person for inspiration.

I love the Russian names! Natasha, Nadia, and Sonya are all gorgeous! And ooh, Sunniva! I did a spotlight on it once, such a cool name. And Belén! I probably would have normally thought it was too Spanish for a non-Hispanic family, but one of my favorite bloggers (who’s not Hispanic) named her daughter Belén and I just love it! Cecilia too, so beautiful.

Re: Rosemary, I wonder if its nicknames Romy or Roma might sway Monica’s hubby? They remind me of Ramona — Rosemary with one of those nicknames might be a nice balance of styles.

I admit I totally latched onto how Monica said “we’ve gone for French-inspired names … that could take an Irish sounding nickname,” especially the “Irish sounding nickname” bit — you’ll see that a few of my ideas are in that vein!

Oh man, I’d love to find some “eve” sounding names for this family, but I agree — repeating that a third time would really set them up to continue it! And that’s a much harder pattern to follow than a “Marie-something” middle!

So I felt pretty confident with my ideas for girls after reading Monica’s email up to this point. It’s definitely helped by the fact that they have two girls already, and their names automatically rule out whole groupings of girl names, you know? Their names are no longer hypothetical options on their long list; they are now the reality and the standard to be measured against.

But boys! Since they don’t have any boys yet, and since they’re not committed to the same style for boys that they have for girls, it’s a wide open playing field. I had fun really trying to poke around and find some good options in addition to the three Monica mentioned. Louis Anthony/Louis Martin, John Maccabaeus (Johnny Mac! LOVE it! I also think John Augustine is pretty awesome), and Finnian Thomas are all fantastic!

One of the strategies that I thought might be helpful would be to consider Russian/French/non-English variants or nicknames of names they like, as a way of  spicing up a “normal” name. Alexander’s nickname in Russian and Ukrainian is Sasha, for example, so while Alexander might feel “common and overused,” Sasha is so interesting and unexpected! Or Alastar, which is the Irish variant; Sandro, which is an Italian nickname for it; or the spelling Aleksandr, which is Russian. (But then, Monica’s hubs doesn’t like A names — would Alexander be okay with him?) Regarding her hubby’s devotion to St. Peter, maybe the Russian Pyotr, the Ukrainian Petro, or the Irish Peadar? Or the variant Pierce, which is also an entry in my book, for how Simeon prophesied that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced with a sword.

This can go the other way too, which they’ve already considered: Ivan is the Russian for John, and they’ve already got John on their list! Monica is correct about Lavrans being a form of Lawrence (and blogger Haley Carrots considered it for her baby, if she’d been a boy!); Kenneth and Walter are both great too, and while they may have traditionally fallen into the old man category, I’ve heard them both (especially Walter, for Servant of God Walter Ciszek) on little guys over the past few years.

Blaise, Judah, Isaac, David (David Judah! So handsome!) are all wonderful. I love Old Testament names too! But there are so many that end in -iah! Gah!

When doing research for parents, you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book 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, using both their girls’ names and nicknames as well as all the other names Monica mentioned liking. Generally I look for overlap among the style matches for each name — are there names that show up as style matches for more than one of the names on their list, for example? That kind of thing. Also, a lot of it is really just gut feelings — do I *think* they’ll like this name? Based on all that, here are my ideas for Monica and her hubby to consider adding to their lists:

Girl
(1) Tess
I’m going to start off listing nicknames that I think fit their “Irish sounding nickname” idea, and then back into fuller given names for them. Tess is one of my favorites, and I think it’s darling with sisters Maggie and Genny. They could do a form of Teresa, but I didn’t think Monica would love that (although I knew a girl once named Marie-Therese and I thought she was so amazing and beautiful solely because of her name! Marie-Therese would go wonderfully with Magdalene and Genevieve, and Tess is so sweet for a daily nickname!). High up on my own list was Elizabeth with the nickname Tess (my reasoning being, if Betty, Bess, and Tetty can be traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — and they are — why not Tess?), but I thought Monica might like the spelling Elisabeth even better — it’s a French spelling, and the spelling of one of my favorite holy women: Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Or maybe they’d like to consider the more Italian Elisabetta? Despite it being so Italian, I think it can definitely work in their family, since they already have the long, lovely, and foreign-ish Magdalene and Genevieve.

(2) Annie
I know Monica mentioned loving Anne for Anne of Green Gables (I’m right there with her!) but she thought it might be too “boring.” I agree that Anne doesn’t feel like the right name for their family, with the weightier and longer Magdalene and Genevieve, but the nickname Annie is definitely one of those “Irish sounding nicknames,” and there are some pretty ways of getting to it, like the Italian Annunziata (what a name! I love it!) and the Russian Anastasia (a perfect fit for Magdalene and Genevieve’s sister, I think). I was toying with Anya as well, which is Russian, and how it has the exact same pronunciation as the Irish Áine — maybe they could consider one of those as a nickname for Anastasia or another Ann- name?. Another one I love is Annabelle (or Annabel) — it’s in my book because it’s a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis! How cool is that?? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love Annabelle for this family!

(3) Bridie
Bridie is one of my favorite Irish nicknames, and I’m extra loving it for a daughter for Monica because of her Confirmation name being Bridget! BUT, I didn’t think she’d want to consider Bridget or Brigid, but maybe the lovely French Brigitte? Or maybe the Slovak Brigita? Or Bernadette? I think all these could take the nickname Bridie!

(4) Josie
Josie is just as sweet as Maggie, Genny, Tess, Annie, and Bridie, and has a longer French name to boot in Josephine. Or they could consider Josefina or Josefa? I love all of these!

(5) Kate, Katie (or Cate, Cady)
Even though my name is Kate, I won’t be offended if they don’t like this idea! 😀 While Catherine might be too common for Monica’s taste, it’s got some gorgeous variants, like the Italian Caterina, the Russian Ekaterina (or just Katerina), and the Irish Catriona. They can all take the nicknames Kate/Katie (or Cate, Cady), which have a pretty good Irish feel to them!

(6) Vivienne
Vivian and Vivienne showed up a couple times in my research as being a style match for the names they like, and I totally agree! It shares some sounds with Genevieve, yes, but since they didn’t go the Evie/Vivi route with Genevieve’s nickname, they can with Vivienne (I thought Monica would prefer the French Vivienne over Vivian).

(7) Natalia
Natalia showed up a bunch of times in my research as similar to names Monica and her hubs like, AND it’s Russian! (They could also consider the Russian spellings Natalya and Nataliya [which is also Ukrainian].) In fact, it’s the formal name for the nickname Natasha, so while it’s not exactly the name her hubby likes, it’s pretty close (and he could use Natasha as a nickname if he wanted). Natalia is a gorgeous name!

(8) Veronica
Veronica is such a beautiful, weighty name like Magdalene and Genevieve, with loads of nickname options: Vera, Vero, Ronnie, Nica, and Nicky, and some less traditional ones like Vee, Via, and Vicka.

(9) Maristella
My last girl idea is Maristella or, if they preferred not to repeat Maggie’s initial, they could reverse the elements and do Stellamaris. Such a gorgeous name, either way! It’s for Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” as I’m sure they know, as Monica noted that neither of them care for Estelle, but Maristella and Stellmaris feel very different to me. Ooh, and I think Molly could work as a nickname for Maristella! Then they’d have their Irishy nickname! Or maybe Sadie for Stellamaris?

Boy
(1) Nicodemus, Nikolai
I felt a little all over the place with boy names — Santiago, Eamon, and Dmitri aren’t names I expect to encounter on a parent’s list at the same time! Additionally, when I looked at boy names that were matches for their girl names, I thought there were some great ideas there too. So we’ll start with one of my favorites: Nicodemus. I think it’s got a heavy, Old Testament feel, though it’s a New Testament name. It doesn’t end in -iah! And it can take the Nic- nicknames (Nico, Nic, Nick, Nicky), which make it really easy to live with on a day to day basis. While we’re talking about Nic- names, the Russian Nikolai is just such a swoony name, and while Nik etc. can be nicknames, I quite like the Russian Kolya.

(2) Nathaniel
Another long, biblical N name that I thought went great with their girls’ names is Nathaniel. I was really drawn to the longer, weightier boy names, and I thought Nathaniel fit that perfectly; I also love its friendly nickname Nate.

(3) Raphael
Here’s an Old Testament name that doesn’t end in -iah! Raphael appears in the book of Tobit, and the nickname Rafe is said just the way Ralph is in the U.K. (Ralph is a family name, according to Monica — maybe Raphael could be a different way of nodding to that Ralph?).

(4) Matthias
Matthias was the man chosen by the other Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, so one might even consider their discussion to be the first Church Council! 😊 Matthias’ ending is almost -iah, so if Monica likes the idea of this name but her hubby doesn’t like the pronunciation, maybe the variant Mattias, which is said ma-TEE-as, would be better?

(5) Benedict
Benedict’s got that great length and weightiness of Magdalene and Genevieve, and the great friendly nickname Ben, I just love it.

(6) Luka, Luca
The Luke names are great to look at if you want a name that travels well internationally. Luka is the Russian version, and Luca the Italian — I love that! I would think, though, that if they like this idea, they might want to cross Louis off their list, since Luka and Louis are so similar in sound.

(7) Adrian, Julian
Adrian and Julian are two of those great Catholic names — saintly, papal, and pan-European. I saw them both pop up in my research, and thought I’d combine them here because they’re so similar.

(8) Roman
Roman is listed as both a Russian and Ukrainian name (among others) on behindthename.com, and of course it refers to Rome, which is Italian, so I’m loving that Roman can nod to both Monica and her hubby in this way! This would knock Ramona off their list, but I think Roman’s a great option for them to consider.

(9) Santino
My last idea is a bit of a wild card, and I’m not sure it’s any better than the overly ethnic (according to Monica’s hubby) Santiago, but I looove the name Santino — I love that it means Little Saint, I love that Sonny is a nickname for it a la The Godfather, and I totally get if they hate it because of these things, but I had to put it on the list! (Fun fact: Mario Lopez and his wife just named their baby Santino Rafael, nicknamed Sonny!)

I also had two consultations in mind while working on this that I thought Monica might find inspiring as there was a lot of overlap with what I perceive to be her taste:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny?


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!

Baby name consultation: Biblical + Catholicky Catholic with maybe a Brit/royal feel?

Teresa and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! She writes,

We have 5 boys at home, a daughter in Heaven and this baby is going to be our first surprise gender. I ‘think’ it is a boy, but either way we are okay with girl names. We have several that we agree on and aren’t even discussing girl names because we will be able to pick one easily.

We have Benjamin Michael, Charles Thomas, Gianna Therese (stillborn), Dominic Paul, John Paul Augustine, and William Joseph. Part of what makes coming up with another boy name difficult is that we have quite a few nephews with Catholic names and I am trying to avoid copying first names at least since I already have done that once. I copied several middle names but am not too worried about that … First names that have been used are Joseph, Paul, Thomas, Isaac, Jude, Luke and Elias.”

I love all of the names Teresa and her hubby have used! Such handsome combos for their boys, and such a beautiful name for their little girl.

I’m a huge fan of bridging styles and trying to make a sibling set really hang together well. Not that all the names have to be the same style, but if there’s a mix of familiar and unexpected, for example, and there are more familiar names than unexpected names, then I like to try to balance it out again by suggesting some unexpected names. Does that make sense?

In this case, I see two what I’m calling Brit/royal names (Charles and William), three heavy hitting Catholicky Catholic names (Gianna, Dominic, and John Paul), and one biblical name (Benjamin). So I really wanted to find some biblical names to suggest that would loop Benjamin in a bit more, while still going nicely with the older kiddos’ names.

You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; it’s so helpful in trying to pin down parents’ style or come up with ideas that are likely to appeal to them. I also look through the book of Marian names I wrote (there are names for both boys and girls), and I also checked out my entries for both Kateri (as a stand-in for Gianna, since the BNW entry for Gianna only lists super Italian names as style matches, while Kateri has the Catholicky Catholic feel of Gianna) and John Paul (since it doesn’t have its own BNW entry) in the Sibling Project I started on the blog. Based on all that, this is what I came up with:

(1) Gabriel
This is my favorite idea for this family, and one I’d scribbled down in my notes before even starting my research. As mentioned, I was really using Benjamin as my main source of inspiration, and Gabriel is such a great brother name, both because it’s biblical (he’s mentioned in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel, so that’s an extra nice tie-in with Benjamin), and because its nickname Gabe is just as friendly and easygoing as Ben. In fact, I’ve seen several Benjamin-Gabriel/Ben-Gabe brother sets in real life. Beyond that, though, Gabriel is a style match for Dominic, John Paul, and Gianna as well, and is an entry in my book of Marian names! Finally, not to leave Charles and William out, I’ve often referred to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of how well and easily Gabriel fits with the Irish/British Isles feel. I really love it for this baby!

(2) Samuel
Second only to Gabriel is Samuel — I like it almost as much as Gabriel for Teresa and her hubs! I love that it’s an Old Testament name, like Benjamin, and it has that great friendly nickname Sam, like Ben. I think it can also have a serious, bookish feel — especially as the full Samuel — that fits nicely with Charles, Dominic, and William. And it certainly isn’t out of place with John Paul. Samuel/Sam is a great name.

(3) Peter, Philip
For my last idea, I really wanted to bring a little more of Charles and William into it, without losing Benjamin or the super-Catholic names. I initially thought Peter was the perfect name for this purpose — it’s biblical, it’s Catholic and papal, and it can easily have a Brit/royal feel. And I still do think it’s a great idea! But then, just as I was about to be done gathering ideas, Philip caught my eye, and I couldn’t shake it. So I thought I’d include them together! I think Philip has even more of the Brit/royal feel, while still being biblical. And St. Philip Neri is a great patron!

And those are my ideas for this babe! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Benjamin, Charles, Gianna, Dominic, John Paul, and William?


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!

Ireland part 4: Thaddeus

Part 1: Edel

Part 2: Radek

Part 3: Anne

A funny little thing I do when looking through books of Saints’ names or Catholic names is to see if there’s a listing for Thaddeus — it’s one of my benchmarks to see how extensive the book is. If Thaddeus isn’t included as its own entry, I don’t usually think the book has much new to offer, that’s how rare it is for me to find Thaddeus listed as its own entry in a Catholic name book. It’s always included in the entry for Jude, which I find so frustrating — that doesn’t help someone rifling through the T section for interesting T saint names, for example, nor does it let parents know that Thaddeus can be used on its own without Jude attached (some parents need that reassurance — or even to be shown that it’s an option at all!).

(I also consider Thaddeus to be a sort of compromise benchmark — my true ideal is a name book that also includes names like Kolbe, Becket, and Campion as their own entries, but I’ve never come across that — those names are always only mentioned in the entries for Maximilian, Thomas [sometimes], and Edmund).

Anyway, I’d learned about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty several years ago — an Irish Dominican priest who was martyred for saying Mass during the time that priests were banned in Ireland (this says he was beatified in 1992, though the previous link from 2013 says they’re still praying for his beatification) — and I developed a devotion to him because of (1) his amazing courage and faith, (2) Irish, (3) Dominican, and (4) his name (I know, it’s always about names with me :p ). I also loved learning that he’s also known as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty — I discovered that Tadhg (pronounced like the first syllable of tiger) is used as the Irish version of both Thaddeus and Timothy. (It also has a history of being used as a derogatory term for Irish Catholics … which makes me love it even more. I know one Tadhg in real life, he’s my age and his mom is from Ireland.)

BUT this post isn’t about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty! It’s actually about ANOTHER Bl. Thaddeus I learned about on my recent trip to Ireland for my sister’s wedding: Bl. Thaddeus (Tadhg) McCarthy! So fun to learn about yet another Irish Thaddeus, who is also known as Tadhg!

I first saw info about him at North Cathedral (Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne) — you guys, there’s a bone of his in there that’s HUGE — it must be a leg bone, it’s so long! And I only just this morning discovered that there are relics of his in St. Colman’s Cathedral, which is where my sister’s actual wedding was! His story is kind of crazy: he was named bishop twice (by the Pope) of two different places (Ross, and Cork & Cloyne), but couldn’t assume his post either time because of politics regarding the previous bishops (one of whom refused to step down, the other had been chosen by the people rather than the Pope). He was also excommunicated! It was later revoked and he was cleared of all charges. Poor guy! He is known as the White Martyr of Munster, which “commemorates the mental and physical anguish he suffered while trying to do the Church’s work.”

Check Instagram later today for the photos I took! I hope your July has started off well!


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: First baby boy needs biblical + early saint name

Happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church! I’ll resume tales of my excursion in Ireland later in the week! 😀

MaryEllen and her hubby are expecting their first baby — a boy! She writes,

My name is MaryEllen Clare. The “Mary” half of my first name was chosen because my parents wanted to honor Our Lady and I was due December 8th but ended up being born on December 12th. The “Ellen” half of my first name was to honor a friend’s daughter. Clare was after St. Clare of Assisi.

My husband is Tyler Leandro. Leandro is his father’s name. Tyler is a convert to the faith from being a Protestant. He joined the Church 2 years ago!

We are hoping you can help give us some ideas for boy names. We both would love to use a Biblical and/or early Saint name. My husband was an Ancient History major in college and we both took Latin in high school/college. He would love to use a strong, Ancient Latin name. It’s a definite bonus if it’s a Saint from 400 AD or older.

We pray the Liturgy of the Hours and particularly like Matins, with the First Reading from the Bible and the Second Reading from Church fathers. You’ll see that in our list below.

Names on our (not so) short list:
Ambrose
Augustine (though we’re hesitant on the nickname, “Gus”)
Benedict
Clement
Isaac (is a patriarch okay? My husband and I like the story of Isaac and Rebecca)
Leo (awesome Pope)
Linus (we don’t agree on this one, the pagan history of the name bothers my husband but I really like that its part of the litany in Mass).
Maximus (we both love the movie Gladiator)
Nicholas (after the Saint, but mostly for the Council of Nicea)
Paul (husband’s confirmation saint)
Titus (again, we don’t agree — my husband likes it, me less so)

Names we’ve talked about but aren’t considering using:
Popular names (James, David, Jacob, Joshua, Thomas, Andrew, etc.)
Atticus (avoiding To Kill a Mockingbird)
Francis (my father’s name)
Jonathan (my brother’s name)
Michael (don’t like nickname “Mike”)
Xavier (cool saint, just don’t like the name)

Alrighty, so right off the bat I latched onto MaryEllen’s hubby’s middle name/her father-in-law’s first name — St. Leander comes from the right time period-ish (died about the year 600, so a little later than 400 … but not by much!) and was actually Spanish (older brother of St. Isidore) so his name was actually Leandro — it’s such a cool name!! If they can’t get on board with it for a first name, maybe it would make a great middle name? Could be great for grandfather, father, and son to all share a name, especially since it fits their criteria so well. It could also take the nickname Leo, which loops in a name on their list!

Speaking of their list, just some quick thoughts about some of the names on it, before getting to my suggestions (I love them all, and my hubby and I considered almost all of them at various points!):

Augustine can be Augie, which is fairly popular among parents of boys with August- names.

Clement is fantastic, but it makes me think of something that might be helpful when they’re whittling down their list: it would be good for MaryEllen and her hubby to think about what they plan to call their son on an everyday basis, i.e., are they big nicknamers? Or will they prefer to use the whole name? If they prefer the whole name, will they be okay with others using a nickname when he’s in high school, for example? Clem isn’t the kind of nickname that everyone likes, so Clement is a good name to think about this particular issue with. (Blogger Grace Patton just named her son Clement, SO cute!!)

Re: Isaac, yes, patriarchs are definitely okay! I even wrote about this issue here. And if they really want a non-biblical saintly connection, St. Isaac Jogues is pretty awesome.

I don’t know if Mary Ellen’s hubby would be swayed by seeing other Catholic babies named Linus, but I’ve been seeing it more and more! I posted this birth announcement in April, and this little guy has a brother named Linus (and a brother named Ambrose too!), just to give two examples.

When I asked my husband his impression of the name Titus, he said, “50% biblical, 50% ancient Latin” — he actually said “ancient Latin,” just like MaryEllen said in her email!

From Mary Ellen’s list of names they aren’t considering because they’re too popular, the ones she mentioned are in the top 50, but so is Leo (no. 50) and Isaac (no. 34) from the names they are considering, so I think maybe the names they’re not as interested in are those that are *familiar*: they don’t want to use the names that were the bastions of popularity in the past, that feel overdone and ubiquitous because we grew up hearing them, even though they aren’t nearly as popular now as they were. For example, Thomas was a top ten name basically from 1900 until 1966; currently, at no. 49, it’s less popular than names like Asher, Jaxon, Dylan, Wyatt, and Oliver, all of which I would guess feel fresh to those parents who think Thomas/Andrew/David are too popular for their taste. Not that this is either here or there, but reframing their requirements from “not popular” to “not familiar” might be helpful.

Regarding Michael, if the nickname Mike is what’s holding them up, I wonder if they would consider a different nickname? Something like Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, could nickname to Max. Or, I’ve sometimes suggested Miles as a nickname for Michael, which means “soldier” in Latin, which is kind of a cool way to get some Latin in there, and reinforces the Michael the Warrior Archangel idea. I’m not trying to convince MaryEllen and her hubs of a name they don’t care for, I promise! I just want to offer options in case they’re helpful.

Now for my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, which was helpful, but I also looked at lists of biblical names (both Old and New Testament) and the Church Fathers and dug around in my own namey mind and book, and anything that seemed like it might be a name they’d like, I added to the list. I have a lot of suggestions!

(1) Tiberius
First, there’s a St. Tiberius who was martyred ca. 303 — perfect from a date perspective! Tiberius is also a Latin name — perfect from a Latin perspective! And it means “of the Tiber [River],” and many of you know that converts to Catholicism talk about “crossing the Tiber” or being part of the “Tiber Swim Team 2017” or whatever year they converted. So many levels of meaning for this family! Ty is a really cute, easy nickname, and I actually love that it mirrors Dad’s name — kind of like a Junior without doing a Junior! Tiberius Leandro?? ((heart eyes!)) If they prefer a simpler middle name though, to offset the heavier first name, I love Tiberius Paul — also another way of kind of Junioring without using Dad’s exact name, since Paul is Tyler’s Confirmation name, and the short-and-sweet Paul is a perfect balance to Tiberius (and it’s biblical! Biblical + pre-400 saint!).

(2) Tobias or Tobit
Sticking with T names for a minute, I love both Tobias and Tobit! They’re variants of each other, and I can never decide which one I like better. Since they’re biblical, it would be great to pair them with a non-biblical saintly name — Tobias Leandro and Tobit Leandro are both pretty amazing! I also like Augustine with them both.

(3) Thaddeus
Another T name! I love the name Thaddeus — it’s biblical and saintly (St. Jude Thaddeus, among others), and the nickname Taddy is beyond adorable for a little guy. Tad is handsome for a teenager and a man, as is the full Thaddeus. Thaddeus Leandro and Thaddeus Paul are both great in my opinion; I also quite like Thaddeus Ambrose and Thaddeus Clement.

(4) Gregory
I’m actually surprised they don’t have Gregory on their list! Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzen are all Church Fathers; the name Gregory is serious but accessible; and at no. 408 it’s definitely not too popular. If they don’t care for Greg as a nickname — and a lot of parents I know who consider Gregory don’t care for Greg — Grey and Rory are two nicknames I’ve seen used. Gregory Clement sounds really nice! Or Gregory Nicholas — two Pope St. the Greats! I also like Gregory Maximus and Gregory Leandro.

(5) Ephraim/Ephrem
I was kind of excited to remember that St. Ephrem of Syria is considered one of the Church Fathers — he’s an early saint with a biblical name! In the bible it’s usually seen as Ephraim, while the saint is usually Ephrem, but since they’re variants of the same name, they can choose their favorite spelling! I like how Ephraim/Ephrem Leo, Ephraim/Ephrem Leandro, and Ephraim/Ephrem Isaac sound.

(6) Nicodemus
Nicholas on their list made me think of Nicodemus, which has a heavier, more ancient feel. They can still use the nicknames Nic and Nicky, or Nico, while having a more unexpected and less familiar name. Nicodemus Clement has a nice flow, I think, as does Nicodemus Leandro.

(7) Casper/Jasper/Gaspar
Though the Three Wise Men weren’t named in the bible, they’ve traditionally been known as Balthazar, Melchior, and Casper/Caspar/Jasper/Gaspar (they’re all variants of the same name). I could see MaryEllen and her hubs liking Casper/Caspar, Jasper, or Gaspar! I like Leo, Leandro, Clement, and Isaac as middle names for this family of names.

(8) Sebastian
Like Gregory, Sebastian is a name that I’m surprised isn’t already on their list! It’s got that heavy feel of Augustine and Benedict, but the nicknames Seb(by) and Bash lighten it up. He died ca. 288, making him date-appropriate! One caveat is that the name Sebastian is currently at no. 18. Sebastian Leo, Sebastian Leandro, Sebastian Paul, and Sebastian Isaac are all great combos.

(9) Callixtus (or Callistus)
It’s the name of a pope who is a saint, and he died in the third century, so he’s the right time period. I love the connection to the word “chalice,” and the nickname Cal. I spotlighted the name here. Callixtus Michael and Callixtus Paul are a nice mix of heavy and trim.

(10) Boethius
My last idea is Boethius, after St. Severinus Boethius, someone I never knew anything about until one of my readers asked me about the name Boethius, because her hubby is a philosopher and so was St. Boethius. Such a cool name! And I’ve seen him called “Last of the Romans,” which might be awesome for Tyler’s interests. I love Boethius Benedict, and Boethius Leandro sounds great too.

Those are all my main ideas, but there were a whole bunch of others that I considered putting on the list and ultimately left off for various reasons — I thought I’d include them here just in case: Bartholomew, Gabriel, Raphael, Matthias, Nathaniel, Cassius or Cassian, Zechariah, Ignatius, and Athanasius.

MaryEllen said they’d also really like some suggestions on how to pair names up in good first + middle combos:

The middle name for our little boy doesn’t need to be of family origin; mostly we’re looking for two names that flow well together with our M last name.”

The ones I mentioned above are:

Tiberius Leandro
Tiberius Paul
Tobias Leandro
Tobias Augustine
Tobit Leandro
Tobit Augustine
Thaddeus Leandro
Thaddeus Paul
Thaddeus Ambrose
Thaddeus Clement
Gregory Clement
Gregory Nicholas
Gregory Maximus
Gregory Leandro
Ephraim/Ephrem Leo
Ephraim/Ephrem Leandro
Ephraim/Ephrem Isaac
Nicodemus Clement
Nicodemus Leandro
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Leo
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Leandro
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Clement
Casper/Jasper/Gaspar Isaac
Sebastian Leo
Sebastian Leandro
Sebastian Paul
Sebastian Isaac
Callixtus Michael
Callixtus Paul
Boethius Benedict
Boethius Leandro

As you can see, I went right for the family names! Haha! Leandro is just an amazing name to work with! Moving away from family names though, generally my personal preference is to pair a shorter first name with a longer middle or vice versa, or a medium length first with a medium length middle. From ME and T’s list, Paul is a perfect short name to balance out the longer names like Augustine, Benedict, Maximus, and Nicholas. I quite like Paul as a middle name for any of those names, and flipping to Paul Augustine or Paul Maximus is really nice too.

Middling names like Ambrose, Clement, Isaac, Leo (three letters but still two syllables!), and Linus sound nice together I think, like Ambrose Clement, Isaac Ambrose, Leo Clement, Linus Ambrose, Linus Clement.

Another tactic I like with first+middle combos is to balance an unusual name with a more familiar one. Callixtus Michael, for example, or Nicholas Ephraim. I also love alliteration, like Boethius Benedict and Casper Clement.

I also really like Leo Maximus (kind of cool that this pretty much means “Leo the Great”!), and Linus Paul.

Those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) — first and/or middle and combos — would you suggest for MaryEllen and Tyler’s baby boy?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!