Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


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

Baby name consultation: Easy to pronounce but uncommon name with maybe a gentle Brit feel for baby no. 6

Tahnee and her husband are expecting their sixth baby! This little green bean (=gender unknown) joins big siblings:

Simon Valentine (“we liked the name Simon because it’s easy to spell and people know how to pronounce it, but it’s not common, and I liked naming a first born son Simon, like Simon Peter. Valentine is my deceased father’s middle name“)

Margaret Dora (Maggie) (“we actually like the name Maggie and picked a full name that would work with it! She is named after St. Margaret Mary, but Margaret also happens to be my great-grandmother’s name. Dora is my husband’s grandmother“)

Louis Kolbe (twin of Benedict) (“Louis is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and St. Maximilian Kolbe is his patron saint, although he actually ended up being born on the feast day as well, but we had the name picked out long before he was born on that date. We found out relatively late in the pregnancy that I was pregnant with twins, so my original due date was nowhere near that feast day, but they ended up being born early on that day on their own which was a cool coincidence“)

Benedict Andrew (Ben, Benny) (twin of Louis) (“we were married at St. Benedict’s church and still attend there, so he is named for that. His patron is St. Andrew and his middle name is that because we actually had used the St. Andrew novena to pray for a baby, found out a few days after that I was pregnant, so when we found out we were having TWINS we knew it was the working of St. Andrew and had to name him after him“)

Theodore Joseph (Theo) (“I found out I was pregnant with Theo when the twins were only about 9 months old, which was a huge shock, and we definitely felt like this was God’s plan the whole way. So when I found out Theodore means “God’s Gift” we knew it was perfect. Joseph is my husband’s middle name, and we had planned to use that somewhere in the name whether the baby was a boy or a girl (either Joseph or Josephine)“)

Fantastic names!!

Tahnee writes,

We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side. Theo is more common than I would like but the meaning overtakes that for me in that particular case. [We have a common last name], so we don’t want them to have a similarly common first name. We like a good nickname, but we don’t have them for all our kids, so we can go either way. I’m kind of leaning toward no nickname for this baby just because the last two go by nicknames almost exclusively, but it depends on what we click with. We’d also like a different first initial than the other kids, though I would be ok with like an M name if it’s a girl, because then it would be just the two girls who match.

Names we’ve thrown around as contenders:

Perpetua (nn Poppy)

Eve

Gemma

Fulton (but I don’t know if this is a Midwest dialect thing or what, but I am worried about people saying “Fult’n” without actually saying the O sound)

Names we wouldn’t use because they belong to family/friends:

Stella

Katherine

Frances

Therese

Anne

Felicity

Timothy

Anthony

Stephen

Matthew

Olivia/Oliver

Dominic

James

Peter

Double first names (like John Paul)

I really love the names Tahnee and her husband chose for their older children. They’re certainly saintly, and they fit well with how Tahnee defined their style: “We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side.” I also felt that they can have a definite British feel — Simon almost always has that feel for me, and with brothers Benedict (like Cumberbatch) and Louis (like the little prince), I can see Margaret/Maggie and Theodore/Theo having a Brit feel as well. The fact that they’re considering Perpetua/Poppy and Gemma adds to that as well! It’s a subtle enough vibe that it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it did help me when I was trying to come up with name ideas that I thought they would like.

One thing that jumped out at me is that each of the names they picked for their kiddos, both first names and middle names, were chosen because of a personal connection — many are family names (Valentine, Margaret, Dora, Louis, Joseph), some they just liked (Simon, Maggie), others (Kolbe, Benedict, Andrew, Theodore) were chosen for Tahnee’s hubby’s patron saint/their church/the novena Tahnee said/the perfect meaning. These are all fantastic reasons to choose names, but I worry that my usual method of coming up with new ideas for parents — finding names that are style matches for the names they’ve already used and like per the (affiliate link) Baby Name Wizard’s suggestions of boy and girl names that are similar to each entry in terms of style/feel/popularity — won’t quite cut it. Hopefully I’m wrong! (Also, I’m astonished that their twins were born on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when they’d already planned to use Kolbe as a middle name and their due date was nowhere near his feast day. That’s amazing! As is the fact that it was later in pregnancy that Tahnee discovered she was expecting twins! Wow!)

Before getting into my new ideas, here are my thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Perpetua nn Poppy: This is a fantastic idea! It absolutely goes along with the gentle Brit feel of the rest of the kiddos’ names, and is a lovely Marian name. I’ve also seen Pippa as a nickname for Perpetua, and my friend who has a little Perpetua calls her Tua.
  • Eve: Lovely and trim, I love it! I really love short first names with longer middle names or vice versa (like Margaret Dora). Something like Eve Perpetua maybe?
  • Gemma: One of my favorites. It, too, has decent usage in England.
  • Fulton: What Tahnee described — Fult’n — is a problem for many people! It’s either called an elision or perhaps a glottal stop (or a combination — it was hard to figure out the difference for this example — if you know, please tell me!) and is very common — I’m not sure if it’s more common in some regions than others, but I do think it’s one of those things that they’ll encounter frequently, so if Tahnee really hates it, maybe Fulton isn’t the best first name for them — maybe better as a middle?

From the names they can’t use, I thought Felicity and Oliver were two names I almost certainly would have suggested otherwise, too bad!

I did do my usual research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, and felt somewhat disappointed by what I found. Not that they aren’t beautiful names! But I didn’t think any of the results really fit the “easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side” criteria Tahnee said she likes, nor did they have the sparkle of Perpetua nicknamed Poppy, for example (a truly unexpected name with an unexpected nickname, so fun!). So after compiling a list of names that the BNW says are style matches for this family, I also took some time to look through the birth announcements at British Baby Names, and got a couple of ideas from there, too. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Tahnee’s baby:

Girl

(1) Moira (or Maura)

My husband and I were actually brainstorming names that had a British feel to us (I also posed the question on the blog), and Moira was one that I thought had promise for this family. Though it’s technically an Irish name (a form of Mary), there are some English actresses with the name, and Wendy from Peter Pan’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I’ve mostly heard it said MOY-ra, but sometimes MOR-ah, which is also how the similar Maura is said (also an Irish form of Mary) — maybe they’d like to consider Maura instead? (This is the only name I’m suggesting that repeats an initial, and only because Tahnee said an M might be okay for a girl!) Here is a birth announcement I did for a little Moira, in case it’s helpful to see one in real life and what her siblings are named (not mentioned in that post is that she went on to have a sister named Genevieve Immaculee Grace). (Neither Moira nor Maura are in the top 1000.)

(2) Rosa/Rose/Rosamond

Rosa is a style match for Dora, Rose for Louis, and Rosamond for Benedict, and I thought all three had good potential for this family. I think they’re all easy to pronounce and on the uncommon side — Rose is the most popular, at no. 115, while Rosa is no. 650 and Rosamond isn’t in the top 1000. One of the families I’ve worked with who actually lives in England has a Rosamond, so that seemed to make it a good suggestion as well.

(3) Claire/Clare/Clara

Claire and Clara were both results of my research, and I liked that they’re short enough that they won’t get nicknamed, since Tahnee said she might prefer for this baby to not have a nickname. I know she said no double names, but I’ll admit I’ve been loving the idea of sisters Margaret and Mary Clare! (Claire is no. 55, Clare is 800, and Clara is 95.)

(4) Caroline

Margaret, C/Katherine, and Elizabeth are the classic English trio, so I was tempted to suggest both Catherine/Katherine and Elizabeth here. But Katherine’s on their no list, and while I love Elizabeth, if Tahnee doesn’t want a nickname, Elizabeth definitely isn’t for her. However, Caroline is often liked by people who like Catherine, and it’s an actual style match for Margaret. I love the full Caroline, but if Tahnee did decide she wanted a nickname, Callie is a style match for Maggie and is so pretty as a nickname for Caroline. (Caroline is no. 61.)

(5) Cecily

Cecily is the English form of Cecilia and was the usual form used during the Middle Ages. Such a cool background! It’s one of those names that comes across as particularly British to me, and I think it’s easy to pronounce but uncommon (it’s not in the top 1000!).

(6) Annabel

When I was looking through the birth announcements on British Baby Names, one of the first that caught my eye was for a little Annabel (Annabel Octavia Barbara!), and I thought that would be a great suggestion here. I certainly think it’s easy to pronounce and uncommon (Annabel was not in the top 1000 in 2019, but Annabelle was no. 170), but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s apparently a Scottish variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Lovable)! (For that reason, Annabel’s an entry in my book of Marian names.)

(7) Alice

Finally, Alice also caught my eye on the British Baby Names site, and I thought that with the other kids it has that same gentle British vibe. Also, it’s short enough that it doesn’t need a nickname! (No. 73.)

Boy

(1) August

August is a match for Theodore, and while I think the longer Augustine would fit in really well with the other boys, I thought August might be better for avoiding a nickname. (August is no. 167.)

(2) Jude

Jude is a match for Simon and Gemma — what a wonderfully British trio of names! Jude is Catholicky Catholic as well, which is just perfect, and nickname-proof. (It’s no. 153.)

(3) Oscar

I really love Oliver for this family, but since they can’t use Oliver, I thought maybe one of the other O names, and one that is more uncommon. I’m seeing Oscar more and more among the families I work with (here’s one, and here’s another); it’s also a style match for Theo, is pretty nickname-proof, and is the no. 10 name in England and Wales (but no. 205 here).

(4) Henry

I’m guessing Henry might be too common for Tahnee, but it’s a darling name, is a style match for Margaret, Louis, and Theo, and doesn’t have any nicknames but Hank, which I feel like is one of those nicknames you have to make happen. Henry’s the most popular of my suggestions, at no. 12.

(5) Charles

Similar to Henry, Charles might be too common, but again — it’s a great match with the other kids. Charlie’s inevitable, but how cute is Charlie?? I love it! (Charles is no. 51.)

(6) Frederick

As with Annabel, Frederick and Freddie caught my eye in the British Baby Names birth announcements. I love how sophisticated Frederick is, and how sweet and friendly Freddie is. (Frederick is no. 475.)

(7) Hugo (or Hugh)

Finally, Hugo. My husband and I considered it for our last two sons and loved that it’s weighty but sweet at the same time, is familiar but uncommon (no. 460), and doesn’t have a nickname. Hugh is a variant that’s also quite nice! (It’s no. 795.)

And those are my ideas, a mix of research and gut feeling! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister or brother of Simon, Margaret/Maggie, Louis, Benedict/Ben, and Theodore/Theo?


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

Name data: U.S. and U.K.

I can’t believe I haven’t yet posted here on the blog about the 2019 name data that was (finally!) released by the Social Security Administration a couple of weeks ago! (The first few weeks of school always have me in a dither — it always takes me until Thanksgiving every year to finally feel like I have my bearings.)

You’ve probably already seen, but here are the new top ten names:

Screenshot from the SSA baby name site

Of note, Emma dropped down a spot from no. 1 (after 5 years in the top spot), and Ethan replaced Logan. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a few good posts that you’ll want to read (here, here, here for starters — and more! Scroll through her most recent posts to find them all!).

I did post on Instagram a quick thought after taking a first look through the new data, since I was delighted to see that 55 of the girl names that rose the most and 23 of the boy names that rose the most are in my book of Marian names! Here are a few that jumped out at me:

I keep meaning to spend more time with our own data — and I still plan to! — but I had cause to peruse the new data from the U.K. for a consultation I’m working on — you’ll definitely want to check that out too! Elea at British Baby Names discussed the top 100 names in England and Wales and the most popular names by mother’s age; she also shared the top 1000 names in England and Wales and the top 1000 names in Scotland. Such fun info! Here are the top ten for England and Wales:

Girl

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Sophia
  8. Grace
  9. Lily
  10. Freya

Boy

  1. Oliver
  2. George
  3. Noah
  4. Arthur
  5. Harry
  6. Leo
  7. Muhammad
  8. Jack
  9. Charlie
  10. Oscar

Similar to ours, and different, too! The two outliers — Freya and Muhammad (the most popular spellings of both names; Freyja, Mohammad, and Mohammed all made the top 1000 as well) — came in at no. 200 and 336, respectively, in our own data. There’s a little Freya in one of my boys’ classes this year, which is the first time I’ve ever encountered the name in real life.

I’m curious, though, about your perception of “British” names — what names would you say come across as the “most British”? On the above lists, Harry and Arthur are the only ones that I might put in that category, and only depending on what their siblings’ names are. Some others that fit that category for me (again, often dependent on siblings’ names) are Lewis, Alistair, Imogen, and Gillian. Do you agree? Happy Thursday!


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

Names of note on British Baby Names

Happy Monday y’all!! It’s eclipse day! Are your kids as excited as mine?? Since we haven’t been able to snag any of the sold-out eclipse glasses, we’ll probably watch most of it on NASA’s site, but we’re also going to make these eclipse viewers (just waiting for my coffee to brew).

In similarly earth-shaking news, for the first time in a verrrry long time I’m all caught up on consultations and don’t have any scheduled to post! What! So if you’ve been wanting one, now’s a great time!

In lieu of our normal Monday consultation fun, I want to talk about the British Baby Names blog. Are you as hooked on it as I am?? I’ve been keeping it up on my computer all summer and browsing through the birth announcements when I have a few minutes here and there, and there have been so many amazing names that I’ve been keeping a running list to share with you all! Like these amazingly Catholicky Catholic sib sets:

Clemency Jane Frances “Clemmie,” baby sister of Edward Blaise “Ned,” Beatrice Mary “Bea,” Christopher Ambrose Richard “Kit,” Josephine Alice “Posy,” & Mary Assumpta (from this post)

Sebastian Francis Bertram (from this post)

Matilda Agnes, baby sister of Hubert James Raphael, Beatrice Elizabeth, Emilia, Leo John Bartholomew & Helena Adelaide (from this post)

Rufus Benedict, baby brother of Theodora Verity & Harriet Cecily (from this post)

Theresa Eleanor “Tess,” baby sister of Robert John “Bobby” & Francis William “Frankie” (from this post)

I’m fascinated by these Irish and Welsh and names!

Liusaidh Hannah Lesley, baby sister of Ruairidh Joseph Henry & Eilidh Margaret Catriona (from this post)

Gwenlli Fflur, baby sister of Ynyr Alun & Gwern Rhisiart (from this post)

Beca Grug, baby sister of Aron Huw, Erin Gwen & Math Owen (the woman behind the blog, Eleanor, noted that Grug = GREEG “heather”) (from this post)

Nedw Lleu, baby brother of Liwsi Glwys (from this post)

Guto Lloyd & Elen Mair, twin sibs of Awen Mair (from this post)

I liked seeing Evelyn as a boy’s middle (a la Evelyn Waugh): Humphrey Evelyn (from this post).

These were just amazing, for one reason or another:

Henrietta Zillah Iris, baby sister of Xanthippe Phyllis Elizabeth (from this post)

Primrose Ophelia “Posy,” baby sister of Theodora Kate “Teddy” (from this post)

Zinnia Indigo, baby sister of Azalea Primrose (from this post)

Zsa Zsa Hermione Christobel, baby sister of Cressida Lucy Florence, Rocco & Aubrey (twins) (from this post)

Molly Jessica & Pippa Josephine, twin sisters — I love how their first and middles have the same number of syllables, and I love Molly and Pippa together! (from this post)

Tatiana Mary Alexandra, baby sister of Maximillian Randal James, Jemima Honey Frances & Willa Charlotte Moore (from this post)

And speaking of Jemima, beloved of every name lover, I also spotted Jemimas in these posts: here, here.

I really liked the nickname here: John Patrick Carnegy “Jock” (from this post), and was so surprised to see both a Jack and a Johnny in this family: Jack Oliver, baby brother of Johnny Robert, Harry Anthony & Joseph James (from this post). I was also surprised at the number of Montys (two of them here and here) and Jontys (as is, as both a first and middle, here, here, here) — Jonty’s a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and you might remember that I suggested it to Rosie and Tim in this consultation.

I’m barely scratching the surface with all the amazing names listed in the birth announcement posts, and there are also consultation posts too. Such a fun site!

Couple good “Anna” posts

Don’t forget to enter the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim giveaway — it ends tomorrow at midnight!

Continuing our theme of St. Anne, I read two posts today about the name Anna that I thought you all would enjoy as much as I did! There’s this one at British Baby Names: Name Help: Honouring Anna, which provides an awesome list of names that have a connection to Anna.

The second was this dilemma at Baby Name Wizard: Boy and Girl Name Help for Helena’s Sibling – can’t commit to any on the shortlist and due in 5 weeks! Extra fun for us is the fact that the mama wrote, “We also would like one of the names (first or middle) to be a saint name/religious in nature as we are practicing Roman Catholics.” Lots of names on their lists are ones we often love here!