Catholicky Catholic boy names

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby name consultation: Patton Camper No. 6!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes! We’d love that!

We are always so undecided until the last minute!

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

I know, right?? SO EXCITED!! 😍😍😍

She continued,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benjamin William
Mae Elizabeth
Rose Elizabeth

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

Meghan writes,

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

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

Aaron
Adam
Connor
Ian
Brian
Mitchell

And names they can’t use:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Esther
Rebekah Rachel
Monica Magdalene
Andrew Athanasius

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

Joanne writes,

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

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

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

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

(Sing it, sister! 😀 )

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

Okay I think that pretty much does it.

I cannot wait to read what you come up with!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth announcement: à Kempis Exodus Praise!

You guys! I posted a spotlight of Katheryn’s family and her kiddos’ *amazing* names and her experience with adoption back in September, and I’m thrilled to announce they’ve welcomed another little one into their family — a little boy named … wait for it …. à Kempis Exodus Praise!

Katheryn writes,

It’s kinda funny, because after I did that post with you about naming with birth parents, we were matched with a birthmom who wanted to be super involved with naming.

à Kempis is after Bl. Thomas à Kempis who wrote “The Imitation of Christ.” Exodus is after the story of God bringing His people out of bondage into the promised land. To me it symbolizes the love of God for His people- a powerful love that protects, delivers, and provides. It reminds us that the God who is in love with us is a God who fights for us and will part the sea to make a way where there seems to be no way if we just trust Him. My favorite quote from the book of Exodus is, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14 “Praise” is in giving praise to God for him and is also after St. Prais.

His birthmom really, really wanted his name to match her daughters’ names and start with an “a” so her kids would all have the same first initials. The name we had originally picked before we were matched if we had a boy was Exodus Praise. I read every name book I could find to try to find an “a” name we liked enough to use as a first name. I read through online name sites and discussion threads, and the catholic encyclopedia and dictionary “a” sections. We found an “a” girl name we liked enough to use as a first but not a boy one. We had pretty much resolved to using an “a” name we were ok with but didn’t love as a first name, and then calling him by his middle name of Exodus, when Matt noticed Kempis on a list of other boy names that I had. I had always loved the name Kempis, but never thought we could use it because of the double alliteration it has with our last name. He suggested à Kempis, and right away we both just knew that was his name. It just felt right. His birthmom loved it because it also has three syllables like both her daughters’ names, and has the same meaning as they do! Kempis means “brave and strong warrior,” and her daughters’ names both mean “strong/powerful.” We loved both Kempis and Exodus and felt like we could wait and see as we got to know him which name we wanted to officially call him by. To make his name even more special, it turns out that his birthmom’s name means “beyond praise,” so Praise is now also after her, which she loved!

I’m blown away by this whole story! So many amazing connections to the birth mom and her other children and Katheryn and her husband’s name preferences — I mean, just that their solution to an “a” name was à Kempis — that is just amazing. Just amazing. Master Class naming for sure.

I wondered how it was dealt with on the birth certificate — if the full à Kempis went on there? Just like that, with the lowercase accented “a” as the first letter? Katheryn said,

We haven’t gotten a copy of his birth certificate yet, usually that comes a few months after finalization, so I’m not sure how they put it on there. We had to hand write what we wanted his name to be on a form for the lawyers and we put the full à Kempis Exodus Praise with a lowercase à, but I’m not sure if it will come printed out that way or not.”

And regarding St. Prais, because I’d never heard of him, she said:

I couldn’t find anything online about St. Prais besides this one line.

I saw him on a list of Black Saints, which is partly why we chose him as a patron since Exodus is African American.”

(Also note that here Katheryn calls him Exodus. Love love love.)

This little man joins his equally amazingly named big sibs:

Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne
Gethsemane Juniper Anne
Bosco Willis Yard
Hyacinth Clemency Veil

What a family! Congratulations to them all, and happy birthday Baby à Kempis Exodus Praise!! I know you’ll love to head over to Katheryn’s Instagram to catch a glimpse of his sweet little face! 😍😍😍

Spotlight on: Matthias

A reader asked for a spotlight on Matthias, one of my favorite favorite names! Specifically, she wrote,

Biblically, I have only seen it as Matthias, but when I ask my family members who are not as familiar with the biblical spelling, they think it is spelled Mathias. When I read the name, I pronounce it as ma-THIGH-as, whereas, in Germany, for example, where the name seems to be more popular than in the US, it is pronounced Ma-TEE-us. It has the same meaning as Matthew (gift from God), but the spelling of Matthew is far more prevalent than the use of Mathew, although there are some of those. Matthias, on the other hand, is much more uncommon than Matthew, so it seems as if there is more room for variance and not an assumed way to spell it.”

Indeed! It’s just as she said: according to Behind the Name there are two traditional spellings with the “th” (Matthias and Mathias), though Matthias is the one used in the  English Bible (not sure about other translations?), and it seems that both spellings have usage in a bunch of languages as listed on Behind the Name, with Matthias having broader usage:

Matthias: Greek, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, French, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Mathias:  French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronunciation-wise, it seems that Mathias is only pronounced ma-TEE-as (and there’s also the variant Mat(t)ias, which makes that pronunciation more obvious), while Matthias can be either ma-THIGH-as or ma-TEE-as. I looked both Matthias and Mathias up on SSA and was interested by the results:

matthias

mathias

Matthias is slightly more popular BUT 2003 is the first year it made it into the top 1000, while Mathias has been on and off since 1900. Also, I found this very telling:

matias

Over the same time period, Matias — which of course has that ma-TEE-as pronunciation — has been like 100 spots more popular than either Matthias or Mathias, so just from these charts Americans might be more familiar with the ma-TEE-as pronunciation and/or might be baffled by having an “h” in the name, never mind two “t”s. (The spelling Mattias has never been in the top 1000.)

So it’s definitely one of those names that requires some decisions, and then firm consistency when sharing the name with others.

I think it’s a name that’s totally worth it though. I mean, it’s a Matthew variant, so it has the same great meaning (“gift of God”), and it can take the same friendly, accessible nicknames (Matt, Matty), but names that are a twist on the familiar are some of my favorites, and Matthias totally fits that. Never mind that I always think of Matthias as a Catholicky Catholic name because he was chosen by Peter and “the brothers” to replace Judas in, dare I call it, the first Church Council??  😉

During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said … ‘Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.’

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.’ Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:15,21-26)

(I also need to point out, because it can be confusing, that the Apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, who was one of the original twelve, is not the same person as Matthias. I’m guessing that we use Matthew and Matthias (and also Levi for Matthew) to distinguish between the two, because they’re both more recent variants of the original Hebrew Mattiyahu via the Greek variant Matthaios.)

Anyway, I’ve always loved Matthias’ story, and I’ve always loved his name. Not only are Matt and Matty possible nicknames, but I’ve seen Mitt/Mitty for Matthew, which can work for Matthias as well, and the Dutch nickname Thijs and its variant Ties I find so appealing — Matt Lauer has a son named Thijs, pronounced TICE. Love it! (But that would probably interfere with getting everyone on board with the ma-THIGH-as pronunciation, huh?)

What do you all think of Matthias? Which pronunciation do you prefer? Do you like the spelling Matthias or Mathias better? Do you know anyone named Mat(t)hias? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname? All of which is my way of saying the same thing as the reader who requested the spotlight: “I would be interested in hearing your opinions on it and the opinions of your readers.”

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 3/baby no. 4 needs great first name with friendly nickname

Kim and her husband are expecting their fourth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles Patrick (Charlie)
Peter Augustine (Pete)
Magdalene Lucy (Maggie)

What a great set! I absolutely love how sophisticated each full first name is, and how friendly all the nicknames are!

Kim writes,

I love Henry and the cheerful ring of it, but that name is out for my husband. The following names have already been used in our family: Francis, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, Joseph, Dominic, Stephen, Matthew, Patrick, Nicholas, Anthony, Samuel … [also] we have the Baby Name Wizard and don’t like any of the sibling suggestions for the kids’ names.”

So you all had to know how excited I got to see that Kim and her hubs had already looked through the Baby Name Wizard — my go-to when starting a consultation, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — and didn’t like any of the ideas! The more challenging the name challenge, the more fun I have with it!

I also want to say that I really love the combo Magdalene Lucy … Lucy’s so unexpected to me in the middle spot, and it just flows really really well with Magdalene. Lovely! (Their boys’ names are great too! Magdalene Lucy just particularly struck me.)

So I took a couple of different routes when coming up with ideas for this baby boy. I actually did start with the BNW, as usual, in order to see what names Kim and her hubs don’t care for, and also to do some extended research, by which I mean I started looking up names that I thought felt like their style, and then looking up their style matches, etc. I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site, plugging in both their kiddos’ full names and nicknames, as well as looking at matches for just the boys’ names and for the sib set as a whole. There were definitely a few names that kept popping up over and over again, in all the different sites/sources I used, two of which were also listed as style matches for their kids’ names in the BNW (i.e., names Kim and her hubs don’t like), but I included them below anyway—sometimes a discussion about a name can sway parents one way or another. It’s worth a try!

I also gave good weight to names with “friendly” nicknames — when Kim said she loves the “cheerful” feel of Henry, I think it’s similar to the vibe I get from the nicknames of her kids. I definitely think of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie as having a real friendliness to them, and I thought it revealed the kinds of names Kim and her hubs would gravitate toward.

Okay, without further ado, here are my ideas:

(1) Long and heavy hitting, like Augustine and Magdalene
I had so many ideas that I decided to group them into categories! I was struck by Peter’s middle name Augustine and Maggie’s full name Magdalene—I often see those names pop up in lists by families who love longer, heavy-hitting names (“heavy hitting”=catacombs + incense kinds of names), and I wondered if that might be a category Kim and her hubs would like to consider for their next baby. In particular, I thought of:

  • Sebastian—Sebastian’s actually a style match for Dominic, which is on Kim’s list of names they can’t use. But Dominic also goes along with the heavy-hitting feel of Augustine and Magdalene, so I was interested in its style matches, and Sebastian struck me as a good possibility. There are some really cute nickname possibilities: Seb and Sebbie are pretty traditional, and Bash is one I only heard of a few years ago (Grace Patton has a Sebastian nn Bash) and fell in love with. I’ve also heard Bas/Baz and even Ian!
  • Theodore—Theodore’s one of those names that kept showing up over and over in my research. According to the BNW it’s a style match for August (since the BNW doesn’t have an entry for Augustine, I’ve had pretty good luck with substituting August in the past), and the Name Matchmaker offered it as a match for all Kim’s kids’ names. The nicknames Ted/Teddy and Theo struck me as really great matches for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathaniel—Nathaniel has that really biblical feel of Magdalene, and it’s also the name of one of the Twelve Apostles, so it’s really saintly as well. But what really sold me is the nickname: Nate is a great, friendly nickname, similar in my mind to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Benedict—Ben is also a nickname that I think this family might like, based on the feel of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, as well as Lucy and Henry. Benedict is a great way to get to it if they wanted to channel the “long and heavy hitting” vibe of Augustine and Magdalene.

(2) Long and normal-ish
Augustine and Magdalene definitely have a different feel to me than Charles, Peter, Lucy, and Henry, though of course they do all go together by virtue of their saintliness, which is one of the things I love about Catholic naming. If this family didn’t want to go 100% the Augustine/Magdalene route for this little boy, a sort of compromise option might be a name that’s longer, like A and M, but not as weighty, if that makes any sense. In that vein, I thought of:

  • Alexander—Sebastian had a few style matches that I thought were swirling around the right area, like Nathaniel (suggested above) and also Alexander. Charles, Peter, and Alexander have a really royal feel to them, as brothers, and Alexander has loads of fun nickname options, like Xander/Zander/Xan/Zan, Sandy, Sander, and of course Alex. Given that their other kids go by Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, I’m guessing Alex is probably mostly their speed, though I think Sandy would fit in really well—a friend of mine named her son Sandy, which surprised me so much at first, but the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more it’s grown up me. Certainly it used to be used a lot more for boys and I’d love to see it come back again.
  • Benjamin—I listed Benedict above, as it has that monastery feel of Dominic and Augustine, but Benjamin comes across as a bit friendlier I’d say. And again, I’d say Ben is a great fit for this family, and I also love Benny and Benji.
  • William—William is absolutely a name I would have thought was spot-on for this little boy! When I saw it listed as a style match for Charles I thought Nooooo! I’m so worried that means Kim and her hubs don’t like it! But I’m just going ahead and listing it here anyway! I think William is such a great match as a brother to Charles and Peter, and the nickname Will seems perfect as a brother to Charlie, Peter, and Maggie, and a great match for the feel of Henry as well.

(3) Middling
Despite the fact that Augustine and Magdalene are so long, two-thirds of Kim’s kids’ first names as well as her favorite name for this little boy (Henry) are actually much shorter, so it would be silly to not include some names like that. A few rose to the top for me, including:

  • Oliver—I’m guessing they hate Oliver, since they surely saw it listed in the BNW as a match for Lucy and Henry, but in the off chance that they might come around, I had to include it! Oliver is such a great name, and St. Oliver Plunkett such a great saint. I also love the nickname Ollie—it has that same friendly feel to me as Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Bennett—Each of my categories here has contained a formal name for the nickname Ben! I really do love Ben for this family, and Bennet(t) is yet another name that they might like. It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, which gives it great saintliness, and it has long use as a last name (a la the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice).
  • Martin—Martin was strongly recommended by the Name Matchmaker as a good match for all their kids’ names as a set. I love Martin as a brother to Charles and Peter, and I love Marty as a brother to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathan—I suggested Nathaniel in the first category, and I want to include Nathan here — they’re both driven by the nickname Nate, which I love with the other kids, and Nathan’s biblical too.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie’s little brother, remembering that they have Augustine and Magdalene in the mix as well?