Baby name consultation: Looking for slightly more traditional than they’ve already used, but still uncommon

Hillary and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a girl! This little lady joins big siblings (who are “ecstatic,” according to Hillary — so cute!):

Gideon Charles (“Gideon was born while [hubby] and I were living and working in Ethiopia as missionaries. Gideon is a popular name in Ethiopia. His middle name, Charles, was [hubby’s] father’s middle name who died just before we married.”)

Chiri Patricia (“Chiri (pronounced Cheery) was named after the town we lived in in Ethiopia. Her middle name, Patricia, is named after my paternal grandmother Patricia who was a wonderfully generous and beautiful person.”)

Jasper Harrison (“Jasper was named after a friend of [hubby’s] in Kenya who was a camel rancher, who died just before Jasper was born. Harrison was my maternal grandfather’s name, and in addition we lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the time, so wanted to honor our town as we did for Chiri.”)

Aren’t these cool names?? I love them all! Not only do I love them just for themselves, but also all the meaning behind each one, such a great job!

Hillary writes,

For our little girl, we may be interested in a slightly more traditional, but still not too common, name. We have taken to calling her ‘Josie” short for Josephine, as we have a special love for St. Joseph, to whom we prayed a novena when we returned from Africa and Jeff was job hunting. St. Joseph has cared for our family in many ways. I am not crazy about another JJ name, however, as [their last name begins with J and Dad and Jasper’s names both begin with J], Josie J___ might be too much!

Jeff really likes Polly (Polly is a paternal aunt of mine) but I worry it will bring parrots to mind.

My middle name is Jane, and there are many generations of women before me on my father’s side with the middle name Jane, so that is a good possibility. Jane J___ is fraught with alliteration concerns, however! [Not only do they both begin with J, but Jane sounds quite similar to their last name.]

Some other names we have talked about: Grace, Susanna, Heidi, Marian, Polly; we also like the names Fern and Daisy

Other names with significant relatives in our family: Meredith, Ann, Dorothy, Joyce, Sandra, Elizabeth, Jennifer

I loved working on this! So many wonderful names! My first thought when reading Hillary’s email was to tackle the issue of Josie. I love that they’re already calling the baby Josie, and I love that it’s because of their love for St. Joseph and his care for their family! I had two idea of ways to work with this, if they were open to keeping St. Joseph in the baby’s name in some form (given name or nickname):

  • Since they’re already calling the baby Josie, I wondered if I could find names that Josie could possibly be a nickname for that don’t start with J. I know that doesn’t solve the Josie J___ dilemma, but it might help soften it. I searched for girl names that include “jo” somewhere in them on babynamewizard.com’s Name Finder, and was intrigued by Marjory/Marjorie and Marjolaine/Marjolein. I liked that Marjory/Marjorie is more of a “more traditional, but still not too common” kind of name, as Hillary mentioned they might prefer this time. It’s a variant of Margaret via Margaret’s medieval variant Margery, which was actually a style match for Marian from their list when I did research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard! (You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) Marjolaine/Marjolein are variants of “marjoram” (the herb), kind of a cool way to work in a flower-type/nature name without being too obvious. With Marjorie/Marjory/Marjolaine/Marjolein, they might like to pair it with an S-heavy middle name, to make sense of Josie as a nickname — Sandra from their list of family names might do perfectly!
  • If they didn’t like the idea of Josie being a non-conventional nickname for a different name as mentioned above, maybe they’d prefer to consider Josephine as a given name with a different nickname? Posie/Pos(e)y has traditional usage as a Josephine nickname, which is so sweet, and I’ve often thought Sophie could work as well, since all its letters are contained within Josephine.
  • Then I thought that Hillary and her hubs might like Posie/Pos(e)y as a given name on its own! It’s similar to Polly (in that Polly was a nickname in origin — a nickname for Mary) and rhymes with the Josie they’ve already been using; it’s a nickname for Josephine so the connection to St. Joseph is solid; and it doesn’t begin with J! Posie J___ is absolutely darling.

As for the other names they’re considering:

  • Polly is sweet! I can’t imagine the parrot connection being really problematic — I grew up with a Polly, and I don’t remember it ever being an issue with her, and names like Polly (sweet and vintage-y) are definitely back in style (though Polly itself hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 70’s). I wonder if they’ve considered Molly? Molly and Polly are both originally nicknames for Mary, arising about the same time, and Molly avoids the parrot association altogether.
  • If Jane is the middle name, which is an idea I love, I don’t think the alliteration is that big a deal — so few people know a person’s middle name as they go through life, you know? It’s not like they’d be saying her full name every time. And the middle spot is often where people put names that they want to use, or feel obligated to use, that don’t work as first names or that they don’t care for style-wise but want to fit in there anyway. Another possibility is to use a Jane variant — it won’t be quite as great as having Hillary’s exact middle name and that of her ancestors, but it could be pretty great nonetheless. If the long A of Jane and the surname is particularly problematic, maybe even switching to Joan or Jean would suffice? Otherwise, there are so many great options: Jane is a John variant, so any of the feminine John variants would work, like Gianna and Joanna, Hanne/Hanna, Yana and Siobhan. Another possibility is Ione, as some sites that argue that Ione is a feminine form of John. Nameberry says, “Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana” and apparently there are several places in literature (like Shakespeare!) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan — so cool, right?
  • Grace: Lovely, simple and sweet.
  • Susanna: The girl name we’ve hung on to through all our six boys! I love it, such a great name.
  • Heidi: Another that I would classify as simple and sweet, like Polly and Grace.
  • Marian: Marian always strikes me as one of the stronger Mary names, probably because of Maid Marian — I love that association!
  • Fern and Daisy: Fantastic names!
  • Regarding their family names, I assumed Hillary and her hubs would probably pull from them for the middle name, and didn’t consider them as first-name contenders, I hope that’s correct!

Alrighty, so I already mentioned that I always do research in the Baby Name Wizard, and really enjoyed seeing what the results of it were for this family — I love seeing names emerge as matches for parents’ overall style. I also plugged Gideon, Jasper, Polly, Heidi, and Fern into the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com (it only lets you do three names at a time, so I tried to choose the girl names that I thought would give me the best results; I searched Gideon, Jasper, and Polly first; Gideon, Jasper, and Heidi second; and Heidi, Polly, and Fern third), which revealed some additional ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

(1) Naomi
The style matches for Gideon were really exciting to me, I felt like they nailed what I perceive to be Hillary and her hubs’ style pretty well. Naomi was one of them, and I love that Naomi is, in my mind, exactly the kind of name they’d be looking for with “slightly more traditional, but still not too common.” Although … when I looked it up I discovered it was actually no. 69 in 2017, which I’m so surprised by! But I still love it for this family, and I think it also matches up really well with the feel of Susanna (especially spelled Susannah).

(2) Lydia
If sisters are going to have names that seem different in style, I like for there to be some other thread that links them together. When I saw Lydia as a match for Gideon, Grace, and Susanna, I thought it might be perfect because, like Chiri, it’s a place name — the Lydia in the bible was so named because she was from Lydia.

(3) Eden
This, too, was influenced by Chiri’s name, as well as by the fact that it’s a match for Gideon — Eden is a place name, of course, and I think it goes really well with the other kiddos’ names. It was no. 139 in 2017, so I don’t think it’s too unusual (but not too common either). I also looove the nickname Edie!

(4) Mercy
As I said, I really felt like the style matches for Gideon were such great suggestions for this family, and Mercy was another one! Like Grace it’s a virtue-type name, and I saw quite a bit of it (and other names with the same meaning) during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I did think that it could also work as a nickname for Meredith, if Hillary liked the idea of using her family name Meredith as a first name … Meredith Joyce would even bring in the “cy” to add to the “Mer” of Meredith, making it all very pleasing!

(5) Violet, Rose, Lily, Poppy
None of these except for Poppy are unusual, being nos. 48, 141, and 33 for the first three in 2017 (though Rose’s no. 141 is pretty great!), and Poppy was no. 689 — a top 1000 name! I’m so surprised by that as well! They were all matches for this family’s style: Violet for Gideon, Jasper, and Daisy; Rose for Jane and Daisy, and Rosie for Polly; Lily for Grace; and Poppy for Polly and Daisy! And of course I mentioned Posie/Posey and Marjolaine/Marjolein above, which are floral (ish) as well. So I thought it made sense to offer a, ahem, bouquet of choices for Hillary and her hubs! Haha! And actually, Susanna means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew! I’m not sure how that ties in, but it’s too cool not to mention.

(6) Adelaide
This was one of the results of the search on the Name Matchmaker, and it caught my eye because it’s a place name like Chiri and it’s also a variant of Heidi! At no. 276, it’s a nice option for familiar but not too common.

(7) Felicity
My last idea for this family is Felicity, which, like Adelaide, was another of the results on the Name Matchmaker. It’s no. 347 and very much like Adelaide in terms of being familiar but not too common. I also like that its meaning is “happiness,” which is a great meaning for a baby whose siblings are “ecstatic” about her arrival! I also like that Chiri is pronounced like Cheery, which gives it a really happy, sunny feel to me, so that could be a subtle tie-in between the two girls’ names. I also recently did a post on “meaning” nicknames, and one of the ones I’d seen suggested elsewhere was Bliss for Felicity, because of Felicity’s meaning — sisters Chiri and Felicity nicknamed Bliss might be taking the happy connection too far, but on the other hand … it could be perfect! If they like the idea of Felicity, but would prefer more nickname options, I did a spotlight of the name here. One of the ideas is Lily, which is a nice connection to the floral names I suggested above; another is Liddy, which is like Lydia.

And those are my ideas for Hillary and her hubs’ new baby girl! ! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Gideon, Chiri, and Jasper?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Baby name consultation: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

Lauren and her husband are expecting their first baby — a girl!

Lauren writes,

We are are open to names of any ethnic origin, with partiality to Irish, Italian and Lebanese names (our heritage).

We are looking for a name with good nickname potential. It was a long journey (4+ years) to get to this pregnancy, so we want this name to be special, significant and point to God’s glory for giving us this gift. We are having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves. We are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc).

Top names we have so far:
1. Eliana – Translated from Hebrew means “God heard us”
2. Elizabeth – After St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Lauren’s patron saint and one who has interceded for us many times
3. Azelie (Zelie) – After St. Zelie, which kind of just “jumped out” when Lauren was reading about the life of St. Therese

Potential middle names:
1. Rose – [derived from Lauren’s maiden name]
2. Grace – Sweet reminder of God’s grace
3. Catherine – hubby’s beloved maternal grandmother
4. Elizabeth – See above

Names we will not want to use:
Marissa, Karen, Loretta, Annemarie, Maria, Kimberly, Sandra, Beth, Stella, Kelly, Brittany

I totally get their desire to have a special name, full of significance and pointing to God’s glory! I love reading hopeful stories like Lauren’s. ❤ I was also really interested that Lauren said they’re “having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves.” I appreciate their desire to break out of the box a little, and totally understand having a hard time doing so!

One of the ways I like to try to deal with that tension — one I often see with couples, usually with one parent liking more unique names and the other preferring more conservative options (ahem 😉 ) — is by either bestowing a more unique given name with a more familiar nickname, or a bestowing a more conservative first name with an unexpected nickname. The names Lauren and her hubs have on their list already lend themselves to this idea nicely, especially with Elizabeth as the anchor name. Consider:

  • Given name Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie: We’ve actually discussed this idea on the blog a couple of times! With Ellie being an obvious and traditional nickname for Elizabeth, it’s not a stretch at all to put Elizabeth’s Z in front of it. I love that this option allows them to have Lauren’s patron saint AND St. Zelie, all in their baby’s first name!
  • Given name Elizabeth paired with a middle name that makes sense of Eliana as a nickname: Elizabeth Anna, for example, could lead to Eliana as a nickname. With St. Anne being one of the patrons of childless couples, expectant mothers, and women in labor, her name (or a variant, like Anna, which helps move them away from the Annemarie on their “no” list) might provide the perfect meaning to their little girl’s name.

Otherwise, I love Eliana, Elizabeth, and Azelie/Zelie — all lovely, meaningful options! I love their list of possible middle names too — how cool that Rose can nod to Lauren’s maiden name! Additionally, with St. Therese being so connected to roses, they could consider Rose a nod to St. Zelie through her daughter; Rose is also a Marian name. Grace is beautiful, and Catherine is a wonderful name as well, and so like Elizabeth in style — Elizabeth, Catherine/Katherine, and Margaret are considered the “classic English trio” — all of them weighty, substantial, feminine, strong, and saintly.

When coming up with new ideas for Lauren and her hubs, I took a few things into account: names with meanings that nod to their long journey to this baby and their gratitude to God; their partiality to Irish, Italian, and Lebanese names; good nickname potential, especially with the idea I mentioned above of a unique first name with an unexpected nickname, or vice versa; and matches with their style (Elizabeth, Eliana, Zelie) as revealed by the Baby Name Wizard, which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Mattea
Mattea is gorgeous and unusual — it’s never made it into the top 1000 in the U.S. according to the Social Security data — but it’s Italian and not unheard of (25 baby girls were named Mattea in 2016, and actress Mira Sorvino named her daughter Mattea in 2004). Additionally, Matthew (and therefore Mattea) means “gift of God,” which is a great meaning for them. Matty’s an easy nickname (I’ve seen it for Martha too, which is adorable), and fits right in with the very familiar Maddy/Addy names that are so popular right now. Mattea Rose, Mattea Grace, and Mattea Catherine have a beautiful flow, and Mattea Elizabeth isn’t terrible either (in general I don’t prefer a first name ending in a vowel followed by a middle name starting with a vowel, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and Lauren and her hubs may like it!).

(2) Hannah
I know I mentioned Anna above, as a nod to St. Anne (I chose Anna in that example in order to lead to Eliana as a nickname), but there were some other Ann names that I thought were good suggestions. The first is Hannah — one of the many Ann variants — and the story of Hannah in the bible has long resonated with mamas who struggled to conceive. Hannah/Ann means “grace,” so they’d have the “sweet reminder of God’s grace” that led them to add Grace to their middle name list included in Hannah, and like with Mattea, Hannah has a lovely flow with Rose and Catherine, and not a terrible flow with Elizabeth (in fact, thinking about it now, perhaps Elizabeth Hannah would be an even better idea than Elizabeth Anna to lead to nickname Eliana? Being that Eli was part of Hannah’s story, I extra-like the idea of Eliana being a nickname for Elizabeth Hannah.)

(3) Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella
I was definitely on an Anna kick, and when I was looking up names with good meanings, one meaning I was using was “beloved,” and when I saw Annabel I thought it was a great idea! It’s not technically an Anna name — it’s said to have arisen in the middle ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a feminine variant of Amabilis — the name of a male saint, and also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (usually translated as Mother Most Amiable, where amiable derives from the Latin for “to love”). But they can surely claim St. Anne as patron for an Annabel, as well as Our Lady. Annabel Rose, Annabel Grace (okay to use Grace here, since Annabel’s not technically an Ann name), Annabel Catherine, and Annabel Elizabeth all work well. Also, Annabel doesn’t really read as a Scottish name, so I don’t think they’d need to worry about that in terms of it not being Irish (unless “general British Isles area” speaks enough to their Irish ancestry … I know I’m playing with fire by suggesting such a thing!).

Annabelle is also a gorgeous variant — the extra “le” on the end lends it an extra feminine and French feel; Annabella makes it Italian and opens up the wonderful nickname Bella. Actually, all the Annabel variants could probably take Bella as a nickname, and of course Anna/Annie as well, and even Abby.

(4) Cara, Caramia, Carina
While looking up names having to do with “beloved,” the Cara names caught my eye. Cara means “beloved” in Italian, AND it means “friend” in Irish, also sometimes listed as “beloved.” So fun to find a name with a great meaning in two languages! Caramia is a not-uncommon Italian name meaning “my beloved,” and Carina is a Latin elaboration of Cara (retaining the “beloved” meaning), as well as, separately, a variant of the Swedish form of Katherine, so it could work for Grandma Catherine too! I thought all three were beautiful ideas for Lauren and her hubs to consider.

(5) Any of the feminine John names
Like so many of the names listed here, John has a great one too: “God is gracious.” There are a whole bunch of feminine variants that can work, including:

  • Jean, Joan, Jane (listed in order from least currently popular to most — I’ve seen a few Janes recently and I’ve been loving it. St. Joan of Arc is also amazing.)
  • Joanna, Johanna (the former is also biblical, the latter has more of a German/Scandi feel)
  • Gianna (one of my favorite ideas for Lauren and her hubs — it’s Italian, and it has the additional awesome connection to St. Gianna)

I also liked that Joanna/Johanna and Gianna have “anna” in them — they’re not Ann names, but the fact that they contain “anna” in them makes me think they can nod to St. Anne too. (In case any of you are wondering why I’m so much all about St. Anne, I just love her! She’s the patroness of my blog, and I’ve sought her intercession many times myself, both for loved ones who hoped to conceive and for my own hopes for another baby.)

(6) Majella, Maiella
Speaking of good intercessors, St. Gerard Majella is a patron of pregnant women, the unborn, and childbirth. Though not officially patron of those hoping to conceive (that I could find, anyway), he nevertheless has quite a few conceptions attributed to his intercession! I’ve been collecting the stories on my blog — here’s one. Many mothers have turned to him for help during their pregnancies and labor+delivery as well, and I thought he’d be a great patron for Lauren’s baby. Majella is actually a fairly traditional girl’s name, and behindthename.com even lists it as Irish! Of course it isn’t — St. Gerard was Italian — but how cool to find an Italian name that must have good enough usage in Ireland to be considered Irish by at least some! Majella is actually an anglicized version of his Italian last name, which was Maiella — a gorgeous name, and one that pulls in the “ella” of both Elizabeth and Eliana. Ella and Ellie would be easy nicknames for either Majella or Maiella.

(7) Dorothy, Dorothea
My last idea is Dorothy or Dorothea. They’re the exact same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed, and they mean “gift of God.” Dorothy has an old feel, and also a bit of a starlet feel I think, because of Judy Garland’s Dorothy. There’s a family I follow on Instagram — @thebucketlistfamily — they have a trillion followers and they named their daughter Dorothy. So I’m sure it’s starting to come back — in fact, the SSA data shows that it was mostly out of the top 1000 from 2005–2010, and in the last eight years it’s risen from no. 933 to 652. Choosing a traditional name that hasn’t been used much recently can be another good way to marry their desire for a unique name with their more conservative natures.

Dorothea has a bit of a different feel from Dorothy — maybe a little more elegant? (Although Dorothy strikes me as pretty elegant!) The “A” ending fits with the current popular names, though it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970.

Both Dorothy and Dorothea can take the adorable Dory/Dorie as a nickname, as well as Dora; Dot/Dotty and Dolly are also traditional. Thea can be a nickname for Dorothea, which as a given name on its own dropped out of the top 1000 in 1965, then jumped back on in 2014 at no. 775, jumped to no. 460 in 2015, and was no. 290 in 2016 — that’s a crazy ascent! A little Thea would be very fashionable. (Theodora is another option, but I thought the Doro- ones would appeal to Lauren and her hubs more.)

I did look up Lebanese names, and while several of the ones I found had lovely meanings, the one that I thought would cross over the best — Sereena — is said to mean “princess, beautiful as a princess” (probably related to Sarah), which is a great meaning for a girl, but I didn’t think it fit in with the kinds of meanings Lauren and her hubs are looking for.

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

Baby name consultation: Baby My Love’s new baby!

Don’t miss my earlier post about the new prince’s name!

I’ve posted about Sharon’s beautiful family before, and her beautiful shop, Baby My Love (if we have a baby girl, I would totally want her to be outfitted in Baby My Love every single day), and I’m SO EXCITED to post this consultation for her sweet baby girl who’s due just a couple weeks before my little one!

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Sharon and her husband Zeb have the most incredible taste in names — check out their older kiddos:

Gemma Agnes
Felicity Anne
Nicodemus Joseph
+ Miriam Rose
Maximus Michael Patrick
Quintus Edmund
Francis Fulton
Evangeline Marie

Including their unborn babies that are with Jesus:

+ Nic
+ Joy
+ Carmyn

What I love about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they just go for it! They just choose names that they love! They’ve done an amazing job!

For their sweet Little Miss, they’re feeling stuck! Sharon and I have talked about names a bit the last few months, and she posted on Instagram the other day listing all the names they’re considering and the ones they can’t use (A LOT of names can’t be used!):

On their current list:

Lydia
Pauline
Madeleine
Gabriella nn Bella (Gabriel is Zeb’s middle name)
Charlotte
Olivia
Cassandra

Others they’ve considered/talked about/like:

Mercedes nn Mercy
Genevieve
Camille
Hope

And the names they can’t use (because of having SIXTY nieces and nephews!!):

Screenshot_20180427-110112

As well as (as mentioned by Sharon in other comments):

Tamara
Magdalena
Maggie
Lourdes (Zeb prefers no place names)
Beatrice
Zelie
Siena

Whew!! There were a lot of great suggestions on the Instagram post, and I read through them all and tried not to duplicate suggestions here.

One thing that really struck me about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they seem to really love very feminine names, so I definitely took that into account when I was compiling my list. Of course I used my trusty Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with similar style/feel/popularity—I looked up only their girl names and ideas (Gemma, Felicity, Bernadette [it was almost Felicity’s name], Miriam, Gwendolyn [considered for Miriam], Joy, Evangeline, Eden [considered for Evangeline], Clare, Lydia, Pauline, Madeleine, Gabriella, Bella, Charlotte, Olivia, Cassandra, Mercedes, Mercy, Genevieve, Camille, and Hope), since their boys follow an ends-in-the-“us”-sound theme, which wouldn’t necessarily reflect their taste in girl names. And I stayed away from all forms of Mary and Rose, as they’d prefer to have those be associated with their Miriam Rose.

So based on all that, and trying not to duplicate any of the ideas offered in the comments on Instagram, these are my ideas:

(1) Annabelle, Annabella
Anastasia, Anne Marie, Julianna, Hannah, and Marianna are all on the list of names that can’t be used, but Annabelle was listed as a style match for Evangeline, Madeleine, and Olivia and they’re already considering Bella (as a nickname for Gabriella), so I thought it deserved a mention! Annabel is said to be, in origin, a variant of Amabel, which stems from the Latin for “beloved,” and of course it can be connected to our girl St. Anne. Belle/Bella means “beautiful” in French/Italian, so Annabelle and Annabella can be all kinds of meaningful, and so feminine!

(2) Juliette
The Julia names actually did quite well for this family in my research—Juliet is a match for Felicity, Madeleine, Camille, and Hope; Julia for Lydia; and Juliana for Gabriella. But Julia and Julianna are on their can’t-use list, and I thought the French Juliette was more their style anyway, as the extra “te” adds such a feminine frill. Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee considered Juliette in honor of Servant of God Julia Greeley, and there are loads of other holy Julias and a Ven. Juliette who can serve as patron.

(3) Dahlia
Sharon mentioned to me a while ago that her older girls would love for this baby to have a D name, to go along with the alpha-sister set Evangeline, Felicity, and Gemma, but Dorothy, Deborah, Diane, and Damaris either couldn’t be used or didn’t feel quite right. I thought of that immediately when I saw Dahlia listed as a style match for both Gemma and Felicity! Wow! It’s a flower name, and according to this, dahlias signify “elegance and dignity,” which is so lovely. I’ve seen DAH-lia, DAL-ia, and DAY-lia given as pronunciations (apparently the latter is that used in the UK), all of which have their merits, but I’m loving the first pronunciation because I think Dolly is the cutest nickname! How perfect for a baby sister!

(4) Helena
An H name would work in the alpha set as well, and I chuckled when I saw Sharon start her IG post with “Oh Nelly!” since Nell(y) can be a nickname for Helen(a)! Nella can also be used, which of course calls to mind the Bella they’re already considering.

(5) Calla (given or nickname)
Speaking of flower names, and inspired as much by Bella and Dahlia (and Nella) as by the fact that it’s a style match for Mercy, Calla is one of the loveliest flower names. It’s the name of the Calla lily, and it’s also related to the Greek word for “beauty.” I do love it on its own as a given name, but I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Caroline—Sharon and Zeb already have Charlotte on their list, which is a feminine variant of Charles as is Caroline (which is on their can’t-use list), so maybe they’d like to consider Calla as a nickname for Charlotte?

(6) Verity
My last idea is Verity, which means “truth.” It’s a virtue-esque name like Felicity, Joy, Mercy, and Hope, but I think it’s more unexpected. I love the character of Verity on Poldark, and I love how full of faith significance it is.

I also originally considered suggesting Avila, Junia, and Juniper, but place names are out (so no Avila), and I wasn’t sure enough about the biblical Junia (I thought Juliette was a closer fit) or the plant-y Juniper (Dahlia and Calla seemed better). But I wanted to put them here just in case.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Sharon and Zeb’s little lady?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

Baby name consultation: Unmistakably Catholic name needed for baby no. 5

I had the great privilege of posting a consultation for Jaclyn and her husband two years ago, which inspired my Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names and Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names articles, and then posting a birth announcement for her sweet baby girl. I’m delighted that she’s back again for another consultation, this time for a baby boy!

This little guy joins big siblings:

Lillian Charlotte (“sometimes goes by Lily“)
Olivia Kathryn
Henry Sullivan
Gemma Clare

I love all of those names, and though as you’ll read Jaclyn and her hubs have moved more toward distinctively Catholic names, I think the whole group works together so nicely.

Jaclyn writes,

Our first two are named after family members and also just names we loved! But as time has passed, it has become increasingly important to us to choose strong Saint names, and names with an authentically “Catholic feel”. But we still want them to flow with the others. That’s why we came to you for help with Gemma and now this little one (our second boy!) 💙

Names we are considering so far:

The front runners:
-Benedict: we love the Pope Emeritus, and also feel a connection to St. Benedict of Nursia. However, we wonder if it fits in with our other kids well. Maybe it’s a little “strong”/“weighty”sounding? I don’t know what word I’m looking for, lol. Also, it’s a long name but we don’t love Ben or Benny.

-Maximilian: how can you not love St. Maximilian Kolbe? An inspiration! Max is a cute nickname and I think it sounds good with our other kiddos. But Max is also becoming fairly popular (as is Maximus, Maxwell etc) so it doesn’t feel as decidedly Catholic in the current culture.

-Augustin: another wonderful saintly inspiration. His conversion story speaks to me, and I think it’s definitely a “Catholic” name. We love Gus as a nickname and feel that it fits in with the family. Side note, we want it pronounced a-GUS-tin if we use it. I’m thinking this spelling would be better than Augustine then? Thoughts??

-John Paul: another wonderful Pope. Also my father and grandfather are Paul, so that’s a neat association. We aren’t sure about the double name though, or flow with our other kids. We don’t want to shorten it to John (mmmaaayyybe JP?).

Others we have considered: Fulton (I love it but it’s the name of a neighboring town so my husband hates that aspect), Kolbe, Ambrose (cool name, no viable nickname that we’ve come up with, and the full name doesn’t feel right with the family).”

I so enjoyed reading Jaclyn’s email — so many of my own favorites are on her list! I have some thoughts on them, which might be helpful:

  • Benedict definitely fits their desire for an authentically Catholic name! I do know what Jaclyn means about weightiness I think, but at the same time Benedict also has a Brit feel thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think her crew could totally pass as a group of English children! It’s a vibe I love! I was going to say that Ben(ny) makes Benedict more relatable, but since they don’t care for it then that doesn’t work … I’ve also seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, which they might like?
  • I love St. Maximilian too! But I also know what Jaclyn means about the nickname Max and the Max- names in general.
  • We considered Augustin — that spelling — for our last three boys, and had decided on it for our youngest son until we changed our minds just a week before he was born! Gus as a nickname was one of its biggest selling points to us, too. I admit that we ended up deciding not to use it because we didn’t feel like we could guarantee the pronunciation we wanted, which is the same Jaclyn and her hubs want. I don’t know about where they live, but a lot of older people near me spend winters in Florida, and the city of St. Augustine there is pronounced au-gus-TEEN, so I hear that pronunciation a lot. Plus, there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s that uses the TEEN pronunciation. But whenever I hear the name at church, they use the GUS pronunciation, and there’s also a Catholic school named St. Augustine’s near me that says it the GUS way … BUT no one can ever remember! I’ve heard people say go back and forth between GUS and TEEN in the same conversation! So we decided it was too much of a hassle, especially since TEEN is also the feminine pronunciation and we’re sensitive to any of our boys being mistaken for girls because of their names. So that’s a lot of personal baggage I just dropped on Jaclyn and her hubs! Haha! So to be more objective, if they were to call their Augustin “Gus” all the time, there probably wouldn’t be any problem at all. It’s a great name and a great saint, and I think it definitely fits their criteria, though I do think it’s similarly weighty/strong as Benedict.
  • I actually think John Paul might fit the best with their other kids! I think the fact that it’s two short, traditional, not uncommon names makes it very accessible and easy to work with, while putting them together as a given name adds the super Catholic feel and makes the two names more unusual. I like that they have a family connection too! They’d have to decide if they could live with “John Paul” all the time, or if they wanted to do JP, but I do think that so many people are used to saying John Paul in regards to the Pope/Saint that no one would ever try to shorten it to John.
  • It’s funny and unfortunate that Fulton is a neighboring town for them! I can definitely see that that would be problematic.
  • I like Kolbe for them — it gets around the Max issue while still honoring the amazing saint.
  • We have also had Ambrose on our list through several of our boys! Nicknames were an issue for us too, so I came up with a few that I thought were interesting: I definitely think Sam can work, since there’s the “Am” at the beginning and the “S” within it. I also like the idea of Bram, which is a traditional nickname for Abraham but like with Sam, Ambrose contains all the sounds of Bram. Another is Brody, especially if Ambrose was paired with a “D” middle name. And I’ve seen real-life Ambroses nicknamed Amby and Brose. Of all those, I like Ambrose nicknamed Sam the best for this family.

So they have a great list! I think they’ve really nailed the names that come across as Catholicky Catholic! For additional ideas, I turned to my trusty Baby Name Wizard to see if any of the style matches for their other kiddos’ names might also fit in that category, and I re-read the article I’d written on unmistakably Catholic boys’ names for inspiration as well. Based on that, I think they might like:

(1) Dominic
Though Dominic can definitely hang with the heavies like Benedict and Augustin(e), I think it can also go really well with Jaclyn’s older kids because of that Brit thing again. The actor Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) is a great example, for one. It shortens easily to Dom(my), or they could use Nic(k) instead.

(2) Gabriel
I don’t know if they’re okay repeating initials, but I thought that since Gemma and Gabriel have different initial sounds, this might be okay. When I think of Gabriel, I think of Mary via the Annunciation, which is so Catholic of course! Gabe is its traditional nickname, but I also love the idea of Gil. The actor Gabriel Byrne is another British Isles-area example for them (he’s Irish, which I totally know is not British — you all know what I mean by “British Isles-area” right? No offense intended!).

(3) Joseph
Joseph is spot-on as a match for their other kids, and St. Joseph is just amazing. I know it’s not as exclusively Catholic as some names, but at the same time, it is, you know?

(4) Jude
I know some people tend to think of the Beatles or Jude Law in regards to the name Jude, but St. Jude is so popular that anyone familiar with Catholicism will think of him right away when they hear his name! I know a lot of Catholic families who have chosen Jude for their sons specifically because of its obviously Catholic connection.

(5) Leo
Leo is such a sweet name that’s also sophisticated at the same time, and the fact that there’s Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church makes it perfect for a family that wants a truly Catholic name!

(6) Luke
Like with Gabriel, when I hear the name Luke, I think of Mother Mary, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains her Magnificat, for one thing. It’s similar to Joseph in terms of having other associations that dilute the Catholic significance, but at the same time, it’s such a Catholic name.

(7) Thomas
I know that Joseph, Luke, and Thomas might be surprising on this list, since they’re so … “normal.” But even looking at them listed together like that screams “Catholic!” to me! There are so many great Sts. Thomas! I was thinking that one way they could increase the Catholic feel is to give a middle name that really cements it — like Thomas Aquinas or Thomas More. Wow!

(8) Simon, Simeon
My last idea for this family is Simon or Simeon (they’re variants of the same name). I think Simon on its own is a great Catholic name (not only Simon Peter, but St. Simon Stock as well), and I’m including Simeon mostly because I want to see it used more! Simeon is such a great character, and has that Marian connection as well!

Two others that I considered suggesting, but decided not to for whatever reason, are Blaise and Vincent. They’re such great names though that I thought they deserved at least this small mention, just in case.

And those are my ideas for Jaclyn and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lillian, Olivia, Henry, and Gemma?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:

Girl

(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)

Boy

(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from behindthename.com (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?

Birth announcement: Benjamin Peter!

I posted a consultation for Laura last summer, and an addendum a day later, and I’m delighted to share that she’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the so-handsome name … Benjamin Peter!

Laura writes,

Good morning, Kate!

I just wanted to let you know that we welcomed out little guy! He was born exactly six weeks ago today on January 12th. Name wise we went with out gut instinct — Benjamin Peter.

I’ve never really been one to name a baby in-utero, but this time around it’s almost as if he named himself. No matter what, we just kept coming back to Benjamin, and when I would talk to him I’d use his name. I just find Benjamin to be such a strong name but also so sweet. I love it’s Biblical roots and although it seems to be gaining popularity, I still feel like it’s not super common.

We chose Peter as the middle name as a nod to both my grandfather and father. My grandfather was born Pietro but when he came to the US everyone called him Peter, so when my dad was born they named him Louis Peter. And of course St. Peter is pretty awesome, so there’s that.

And just to refresh your memory, Benjamin (also called Ben and Benji — a fun nickname from his siblings) joins

Matthew Darren
Margaret (Maggie, Mags) Claire
Abigail (Abby, Abs) Regina

I looooove Benjamin, and I love it with Peter! What a handsome addition to this wonderful family!!

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and Matthew, Maggie, and Abby, and happy birthday Baby Benjamin!!

Benjamin Peter with his big siblings ❤ (and check out Laura’s Instagram for more photos of this sweet family!)

Baby name consultation: B/g twins need complementary but not matchy names!

Ryan and Maggie are expecting twins — a boy and a girl! They join big brother:

Jay Anthony

Which I love for its masculine simplicity. Nice job!

Ryan writes,

So I’m not sure we have a style when it coming to names yet … maybe our style will become ‘Saintly Simplistic’ 🙂

Our first son we named Jay Anthony. Jay is a family name of several generations (also my middle name) and Anthony (St. of Padua, of course). We liked the flow of Jay Anthony [with our last name].

The first names of the twins won’t be quite as simple as Jay, but ideally they could be shortened to a simple nickname.

For the boy a middle name of Kolbe (for St. Maximilian, who I have a devotion to) is likely [although thinking about it as a first name also]

Boy first names we are considering include: Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian.

For the girl we are strongly considering Robyn as a middle name (after my wife’s father [Robin]) or Josephine (St Joseph)

Girl first names we like include: Mariella, Avila, Gianna, and Rosalia.

So that’s where we are. Confused and lacking creativity. If it was just one baby, I don’t think we would be asking for help/ideas; but the twins are presenting a unique challenge. We want the names to go together but not be “matchy“.”

I love working on twin consultations! And I like that Ryan and Maggie “want the names to go together but not be ‘matchy.'”

Since Ryan said he’s not sure they have a name style yet, I was really interested to see if I would see a style emerge after considering their son’s name and the names on their list. I think the first thing that’s pretty obvious is that they have different styles for boy names and girl names, which is really common.

In their boys’ names, I see Old Testament (Elijah, Samuel), Celtic (Ian), surnames (Kolbe and Bennet), and short names (Ian and Jay).

For their girls’ names, I’d say “Italian,” even though I know Avila is Spanish … so maybe “Latin-skewing-Italian” + “very feminine.”

With such different styles for their boy names vs. their girl names, finding names that go together is indeed a challenge! But such a fun one!

I don’t have any twins of my own, so anything I know about twin naming is learned from others’ experience. But you all know that I’ve done some twin consultations (e.g., here, here, here), and I love trying to come up with names that “go together without being too matchy.” I think there are a few ways a couple can do this:

  • Same first sound. This can definitely cross over into “too matchy,” and most twin parents I’ve talked to don’t care for same first initials (makes labeling things difficult), but doing something like G+J or C+K — where the twins have the same first sound but different initials — is an easy way to incorporate different styles of names but still help them feel like a unit
  • Same ending sound. This is probably easier for twins of the same gender, but not impossible for b/g twins
  • Balanced length. I like the idea of two short first names or two long first names — I think that makes for an obvious shared characteristic without being too matchy. Same number of letters always feels really pleasing to me, even if the names themselves are different styles. I also like a long-first+short-middle for one twin and short-first+long-middle for the other
  • Similar meanings. Some people really get into what names mean, and others don’t, but those who do could have some real fun choosing names that have similar or complementary meanings

Before getting into what names might pair up well though, I thought I’d share the name ideas I had for Ryan and Maggie beyond those on their list. This is based on research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists for each entry boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I looked up Jay, Cole (as a stand-in for Kolbe, as it doesn’t have its own entry), Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian, Mariella, Gianna, and Rosa (as a stand-in for Rosalia), and looked for overlap among their style matches. I also had my own ideas, which included creating my own list of similar names for Avila, as it doesn’t have an entry and Ava didn’t seem quite right. Based on all that, these are ideas I thought Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list:

Girl
(1) Cate (Caterina)
Since Jay is the only name they’ve actually chosen, I really wanted to be sure the twins’ names didn’t clash with his. I loved seeing that Kate was a style match for it, and it was listed as a match for Bennet as well, and it seemed like a great idea to me right away. Working with the style of name for girls that they seem to like, I thought Caterina with the nickname Cate would be a great idea, as Caterina is the Italian form of C/Katherine (indeed, St. Catherine of Siena’s first name was actually Caterina — Catherine is the Anglo/French form of it). They certainly don’t have to do the full name with the nickname — they can definitely give Cate as the given name (or Kate — Prince William’s wife Kate’s given name is Catherine — she does C for her formal name and K for her nickname), and take St. Catherine of Siena (or any of the Sts. Catherine) as patron — but I thought Caterina nicked Cate would be closer to their style.

(2) Clare/Clara/Chiara
Claire is a style match for Cole (standing in for Kolbe), Bennet, and Ian, and Clara is a match for Rosa (standing in for Rosalia)! So I thought one of the names from this family would be a good idea. Claire is a beautiful spelling, but since it’s the French spelling, I thought they’d prefer others better. Clare is the one traditionally associated with St. Clare of Assisi; Clara, with its “A” ending, gets closer to the feel of the Latinate names they like for girls; and Chiara is the Italian variant and the actual name of St. Clare of Assisi (like Caterina for St. Catherine of Siena). I also see a lot of families considering/using Chiara today with Bl. Chiara Luce Badano in mind.

(3) Lucy/Lucia
I thought Lucy felt more like Jay, but Lucia leans more toward the names on their girl list. Either way, I like one of these for this family. Lucy is a match for Rosa, and Lucia for Gianna. Pronunciation issues might bother them: the Italian Lucia is said loo-CHEE-ah, while I believe loo-SEE-ah is the Spanish/Portuguese pronunciation (like Lucia in Fatima); LOO-sha is like the island of St. Lucia; and I’ve heard loo-TSEE-ah as well. All they would need to do is be firm and consistent with their chosen pronunciation, but if that feels like too much of a hassle and they like the name, Lucy might be a better fit for them.

(4) Gabriel(l)a
If they decide to go with one of the biblical options from their boy list, perhaps a biblical girl’s name or feminine variant of a biblical boy’s name would be a good match for it. The boy’s name Gabriel is a style match for Elijah and Samuel, but I didn’t include it in my ideas for boys because I thought it echoed the sound of Jay too much. But Gabriella is a match for Gianna, and I thought that felt like a really good fit. Gabriella (or Gabriela, if they prefer) doesn’t feel biblical — rather, it has a nice Italian/Spanish feel —
but of course it is biblical, being the feminine form of Gabriel, so it would make a nice match for a biblical brother. (Mariella from their list would count as biblical+Italian too, since it’s an elaboration of Mary.)

(5) Leah
Leah was another match for Jay, and I really like it for this family because it’s biblical, like Elijah and Samuel, and they already have its sound at the end of Rosalia, which makes me think they might like it.

(6) Zoe or Zita
I admit that when I saw Jay’s name, my mind immediately went to similarly short names, whether one syllable (like Cate) or minimal letters — you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s a style match for Elijah and Ian, which I thought was really interesting. It’s St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, so she’s a good option for patron. Zoe’s zippy Z coupled with their Italian style made me also think of Zita — the traditional St. Zita’s a great patron, but I’ve also been loving Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria. This post might be helpful —
it’s a consultation I did for a family who was trying to find a name to match their son Ezra’s — they were welcoming a baby girl only ten months after Ezra, so they wanted the new baby’s name to go with his, almost like twins. They like their girls to have Italian names, and some of their boys have biblical names! Anyway, one of my suggestions for them was Zita, and I link to her story in that post. Funny enough, they have an Elijah, Gianna, and Samuel, and the mom’s name is Robyn! So many similarities to the names mentioned in Ryan’s email!

Boy
(1) Grant
I’m really interested to see what they think of Grant. It’s a style match for Cole, and Bennet, as well as Kate, and also Dean, which is only relevant because Dean is a match for Jay. So I think they might like it! We were actually talking about Grant on the blog recently in regards to this post (be sure to read the comments) — there’s a mom on there who has a Bennett and a Grant (and a Luke), and I know a family in real life who has a Benjamin and a Grant, so I think families that like Ben like Grant. As for a faith connection, one of my readers loved the connection to the words of the Mass dona nobis pacem, which translates as, “Grant us peace.”

(2) Luke
I mentioned the family above who has Bennett, Grant, and Luke, and I thought Luke might be a great idea for this family! It’s a style match for Cole and the Italian Luca is a match for Gianna. It’s one syllable like Jay, and loops in the biblical aesthetic they like.

(3) Miles
I don’t feel 100% confident about Miles, but I have it on here for a few reasons. One is that it’s a style match for Bennett. Also, it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love Marian names for boys! And the fact that it’s used in Ireland made me think of Ian on their list. Finally, I’ve often thought it can be used as a nickname for Maximilian (rather than the more ubiquitous Max), and since Ryan has a devotion to St. Maximilian and they’re considering Kolbe, maybe Miles would appeal to them. They might even consider Miles Kolbe to be a truncation of Maximilian Kolbe, which is pretty cool.

(4) Garrett
Like Grant, Garrett is a style match for Kate and Dean, both of which are matches for Jay. It’s also got a Celtic feel like Ian, and it’s a variant of Gerard, who’s not only a great saint, but an Italian one, which can be a cool, subtle connection between their boy and their girl.

(5) Xavier or Isaac
I’m including these two together because of the prominent “Z” sound they both have. Isaac seems like a great addition to their list, since it’s biblical like Elijah and Samuel, and is one of the few boy names that begins with “I,” like Ian. It’s a style match for Samuel and Miles. Additionally, its nickname Ike reminds me of Jay. Xavier is a saintly surname like Kolbe, with good first-name usage, and I would say it’s a style match for Avila as well. According to the BNW, it’s also a match for Mariella (in its Spanish version, Javier), Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), Gabriel (which matches up with Elijah and Samuel), and Maximilian.

So those are my ideas that Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list. Some pairings that I thought might go together include:

Kolbe and Cate(rina) — the shared first sound with different initials is great, I think

Kolbe and Clare/Clara/Chiara — not only do they share the same first sound, but Kolbe and Clare/Clara have the same number of letters! And if I met twins named Koble and Chiara, I would assume their parents were uber Catholic

Kolbe and Avila — same number of letters, and ditto the uber Catholic feel. Also, though Avila’s not technically a surname (it’s a place name — St. Teresa of Avila), it has that feel, which goes well with Kolbe.

Bennet and Chiara — same number of letters

Elijah and Lucia — same ending sound

Elijah and Mariella — same ending sound, and both biblical

Elijah and Avila — same ending

Samuel and Gabriella — both biblical, and both have “el” at the end

Samuel and Mariella — ditto

Ian and Zoe — not only are these both three letters, but Ian is a variant of the biblical John, and Zoe is a variant of the biblical Eve — a couple of great connections there!

Ian and Gianna — Ian is a variant of John, and Gianna is a feminine form of John, so normally I’d caution a family against using both. BUT, when we’re talking about boy/girl twins, my opinion is exactly the opposite. I think it could make the perfect connection without being matchy at all. Any of the Sts. John can be Ian’s patron, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla is perfect for Gianna.

Bennet and Mariella — I consider Benedict to be a Marian boy’s name, since it means “blessed,” so since Bennet is a variant of Benedict, it might pair perfectly with a Marian girl name.

Grant and Avila — same number of letters

Miles and Avila — ditto

Ian and Avila — I like that they both start with a vowel

Isaac and Avila — ditto; and same number of letters

Grant and Gianna — though normally I’d say matching initials isn’t ideal, I like this pairing because the G’s say different sounds

Garrett and Gianna — ditto; also St. Gerard and St. Gianna were both Italian

Bennet and Rosalia — both Marian

Miles and Rosalia — ditto; also Miles ends in the “Z” sound, and the “S” in Rosalia makes the “Z” sound

Isaac and Rosalia — the shared “Z” sound

Isaac and Zoe — ditto; also Ike and Zoe have the same number of letters (they could also do Zac and Zoe but that’s probably too matchy)

Isaac and Zita — ditto the “Z” sound

Xavier and Zoe — the ZAY-vyer pronunciation would be especially pleasing to me here, and the coolest initials ever

Xavier and Zita — ditto

Ian and Lucy — there’s a nice British Isles feel going on here

Isaac and Leah — both biblical

Samuel and Leah — ditto

Elijah and Leah — ditto; if they did Eli instead of Elijah, then Eli and Leah are sort of the reverse of each other sound-wise (and Eli’s got three letters like Jay, which is a nice connection between brothers)

Grant and Clare/Clara — same number of letters

Miles and Clare/Clara — ditto

Garrett and Rosalia — ditto; also the Italian connection

Garrett and Majella — they didn’t have Majella on their list, but it’s so similar to Mariella, and is St. Gerard’s last name … would Garrett and Majella be amazing together? Or crazy? And also, Maiella is the Italian version of his last name, which they might like even better than both Mariella and Majella in honor of him. (I posted last year about a visiting priest who did a mission at my church last Lent, and he told us that he’s a twin, and his mother gave the name Gerard as a middle name to both he and his brother, for St. Gerard Majella, because she’d prayed to him throughout her whole pregnancy.)

Luke and Clare — both one syllable, like Jay

Luke and Cate — ditto

In general, I would say I prefer Robyn as a middle name for the longer girl names, and Josephine for the shorter ones …

And those are all my ideas and thoughts for Ryan and Maggie’s twins! What do you all think? What name(s) or combos would you suggest for Jay’s little brother and sister?