Baby name consultation: Unusual name with great meaning needed for baby no. 5

Thank you again to all those who entered last week’s giveaway and suggested ideas for ways to honor St. Anne in a boy’s name! I’ll compile them into one post soon!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lynda’s fourth baby almost exactly two years ago, and I’m thrilled that today’s baby name consultation is for her fifth baby — a little girl!

This Little Miss joins big siblings:

Mirai Luna (“Mirai [meer-eye] means miracle in Basque and future in Japanese; middle name means moon in Spanish“)
Evander Sol (“Evander is greek and means “good man;” middle name means sun in Spanish“)
Aviva Estrella (“Hebrew name meaning innocence and springtime (she was born in April); middle name means star in Spanish“)
Taavi Orion [Taavi is the Finnish form of David, which means “beloved”; Orion continues the celestial theme]

Such cool names, right? Taavi was one of my suggestions in the private consultation I’d done for Lynda when she was pregnant with him, so I was so excited to see that she and her husband liked it!

Lynda writes,

As you can tell we like names that are not very common and also have a beautiful meaning … Middle name will likely be Cielo — Spanish for sky. I like Zelie, but can’t really find a strong meaning beside the connection with Saint Azelie. Which is great, but doesn’t really go along with the names with meanings of my other kids. My husband really likes Zazie (nickname for Isabelle in French — meaning consecrated to God I think?). I’m not completely sold though, so I’m eager to see what you find.”

I had so much fun with this, as I knew I would! I was looking back on my ideas for Lynda for when she was expecting Taavi, and apparently the Baby Name Wizard was helpful to me back then, which is funny because I didn’t find it at all helpful this time around! Instead, I tried to focus on names that have a great meaning, like her other kids’ names, and also names that are more … I’m not sure what the word is? Mirai is Basque, Evander is Greek, Aviva is Hebrew, and Taavi is Finnish, so I felt like Spanish/French/Latinate names or those from a more unexpected origin would be a better fit than those from an Anglo/Celtic background, for example. So I guess that’s what I would say — I just looked for names that are more unexpected, and generally ruled out Anglo/Celtic names.

I have a bunch of unusual options in my book of Marian names, which is actually where I started when looking for names for Lynda and her hubs. I also of course couldn’t help but notice that the two names they’re considering — Zelie and Zazie — are Z-heavy, so I tried to think of other Z names that might have good meanings for them.

Before I get into the ideas I thought they might like, though, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Zelie: Most people who offer opinions on what Zelie means argue that Azelie is French for azalea (the flower), and I’ve known parents who’ve considered Azalea as a name, in honor of St. Zelie. But since “azalea” comes from a Greek word meaning “dry,” I don’t think that’s the kind of meaning Lynda and her hubs would like. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a spotlight on Zelie a few years ago, and included possible connections to Celia and Solene, both of which were actually discussed in a comment here at Sancta Nomina as well. The Celia connection is interesting, since Celia and Cielo both mean sky/heaven, so if they thought the Celia-Zelie connection made the most sense, they probably wouldn’t want to do Zelie Cielo.
  • Zazie: I love learning new things about names! I’d never heard of Zazie as a nickname for Isabelle, how cool! As far as meaning, behindthename.com is my go-to for name meanings, and it lists “God is my oath” as the meaning of Elizabeth (Isabelle is a French variant of Elizabeth).

Okay, so based on the parameters that I thought would yield some interesting ideas for Lynda and her hubs, this is what I came up with:

(1) Janua or Ianua
One of Our Lady’s titles is “Gate of Heaven,” as listed in the Litany of Loreto, which in Latin is rendered both Ianua Caeli and Janua Coeli. Caeli and Coeli (generally pronounced CHAY-lee) are both related to Cielo, and refer to heaven, so I thought Janua Cielo or Ianua Cielo would be an interesting combo for Lynda’s little girl. A reader actually shared with me that her niece’s name is Ianua Caeli, so pretty! Janua and Ianua are pronounced the same, and can be said YAH-noo-ah; Ianua can also be said ee-YAH-noo-ah. Janua and Ianua are definitely different! I know “gate” isn’t the most interesting meaning, but when you consider the whole combo “Ianua/Janua Cielo/Caeli/Coeli, ‘gate of heaven’” and that it’s a title of Mary, it’s a really lovely meaning.

(2) Liesse
Another title of Our Lady is Our Lady of Joy, which in French is Notre Dame de Liesse. Liesse is such a pretty name! I love its femininity and rhythm. I’m not sure Lynda will love how Liesse Cielo flows — one possibility is to switch Cielo to Araceli, which is a Spanish name where the “celi” part means sky/heaven and “ara” means “altar” — it’s another Marian name, as Araceli means “altar of heaven.” Liesse Araceli?

(3) Lux or Luz
Both Lux (Latin) and Luz (Spanish) mean “light,” and refer to Our Lady of Light. I like that they have an X or a Z, depending on which version Lynda and her hubs like, which is similar to Zelie and Zazie. Lux Cielo and Luz Cielo work fine I think.

(4) Maylis
I know they haven’t repeated initials yet, so maybe an M name is off the table? But Maylis is such a pretty name, I really wanted to suggest it for them. Like Zazie and Liesse, it’s a French name, a mashup of Marie and lys/lis (=lily). Maylis Cielo is pretty.

(5) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen,” which is a fantastic meaning on its own, and also nods to Our Lady, Queen (of many things: Heaven, Angels, Apostles, the World, Ireland, Peace, etc.). Regina Caeli is one of her titles meaning “Queen of Heaven,” so Reina Cielo would be similar but unexpected, I really like it.

(6) Zara
This is one of my Z ideas for them. One of its possible etymologies is as a variant of Zahrah, which derives from the Arabic word meaning “blooming flower.” So pretty! Another, separate meaning that I really like is that Zara is a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is a feminine form of Zechariah! Zechariah is said to mean, “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew. I actually spotlighted Zara here.

(7) Zuzu (Susanna, Azucena)
If you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ll know that Zuzu is what one of George Bailey’s daughters is called, likely a nickname for Susan, as Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names and Susan was popular at the time the movie was made (“Zuzu’s petals” is the line from the movie). I like Zuzu on its own for this family, it really strikes me as similar to Zazie, and the Susan- names mean both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, so they have really lovely meanings. They could use Susanna itself (or any of its variants, including Zuzanna and Zuzia) with Zuzu as the nickname, or another idea is the name Azucena — it shares the same roots as Susanna, and is the Spanish name for the flower known as the Madonna lily; Zuzu can easily be a nickname for it.

(8) Zephyr(ine)
My last idea is Zephyr, which is usually a masculine name, meaning “the west wind,” but one of my readers recently named her daughter Zephyr, with the most amazing explanation. I love the meaning and I love its soft sound! I also thought I’d mention Zepherine, which was my great aunt’s name and one of the coolest! She went by Zee.

And those are my ideas for Lynda and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mirai, Evander, Aviva, and Taavi?


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: Baby no. 9 needs a name that’s not generally popular nor Catholic popular (and a few other rules!)

I hope all the dads had a wonderful Father’s Day yesterday!!

Kym and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — their fifth girl! She joins big sibs:

Alexandra Ruthmarie
Cassian William
Killian Michael
Bennett Jameson
Anneliese Francesca
Marigold Camillus
Miles Jonas
Sylvie Regina

Aren’t these amazing names?? I’ve actually referenced Kym’s little Sylvie Regina many times in posts and conversations because of how clever I think it is that it sounds like Salve Regina (“Hail Holy Queen”) — I love that!! And another really cool thing is that each first name has the same number of letters as its middle name. Didn’t they do a great job?!

Kym has a bunch of naming rules, and you know me — the more the merrier! I love a good challege! 😁 She writes,

First names that we cannot use:
Anything that infringes upon their middles or their nicknames. Examples:
No variations on Anne or Elizabeth since we already have Anneliese (Anne-Elizabeth).
Nothing Marian-that-starts-with-M since we already have a child often called Mary, etc.

No common first names or names often heard in Catholic circles:
Rose, Therese, Mary-Agnes, Bernadette, Zelie — all would be out.

Family and close friend names we cannot use include:
Gabriela, Sophia, Bridget, Rebekah, Anna, Felicity, Genevieve, Anastasia, Abigail, Azelie, Clare, Bernadette, Gianna, Emilia, Eleanor

I’d rather not have any more names that start with an A, M, S, or a hard C/K sound.

See how picky I am? And I haven’t even gotten to the rules yet! 🙂

Rules are:
First name must be a saint, or version of a saint’s name, or a holy association (like Marigold: Mary’s gold).
Middle name should be a family name.
Both first and middle should have the same number of letters. I noticed we had been doing this accidentally with kids 1-4, and when kids 5 and 6 also followed the pattern without intending it, we decided that’s just what we’d keep doing. Kids 7&8 worked out perfectly, too. We’ve never had to force a middle name we didn’t want just to make it work.

Potential family names we can use (feminize them or change them a bit to fit the same-number-of-letters rule) are: Luke, Rosa, DeeLane, Marcella …

First names that hubby really, really likes are Vianney and Juniper. So, Vianney Rosalie or Juniper Rosalie. Vianney is one of my favorite saints and has been on the list since our first child was conceived 13 years ago, but the name doesn’t suit me this time for some reason. And, while I really am drawn to Juniper Rosalie, I’m not sure if it’s too unisex of a name. I’m not thrilled with giving a daughter a name that isn’t easily recognized as being a female name. Alexandra, Anneliese, Marigold, and Sylvie just scream GIRL and Juniper ….doesn’t. Also, sometimes the “nipper” at the end bothers me. But the potential NN of Juni is pretty darn cute.

I really, really, REALLY like (but don’t love) the name Gemma and keep coming back to it. It’s delicate, girly, and sweet. Hubby proposed Gemma Lucia. We’ve wanted to name a baby after hubby’s godfather, Brother Luke, for a long time. Lucia works very well but I’m just not sold on it – Lucia to me right now seems so Catholic on-trend because of this being the year of the anniversary of Fatima, and Gemma sounds almost sounds too worldly/trendy. Maybe I’m being too picky. Argh! This is so tough!!!

A name that keeps popping into my head over and over is Goretti. I don’t even know where it came from since I’ve never before considered that to be a name, but it’s growing on me. I don’t know what would possibly work for a NN, though, and Retti and Retta are not something I’d like. Greta/Gretta could be used as a NN – and Greta it was a runner up with the last baby. But I’ve somewhat grown away from it.

I think Zoe(y) is precious but it’s so short and I don’t think it ages well. Hubby and I also like Savina but we aren’t convinced we want an S girl following another S girl. We’ve always liked the name Benedicta but we already have a Bennett. I like Isadora but hubby says no. I don’t think we can do any old lady names, as much as I like some of them. So no Imelda or Edith or Agatha or Leona/Leonie or Millicent. Gosh, I think Millicent is adorable though.”

Alright, I spent a lot of time on this, and I’m still not sure of my ideas! I actually had the privilege of doing a private consultation for Kym when Sylvie was on the way and, looking back at it, I had to cross three names off the list of ones I was going to recommend here because I’d suggested them before! I also found the rules about not wanting common names difficult because the names I’d usually go to for parents who don’t want top ten are the ones that are Catholic-common, which are also out per Kym’s rules! Amazing! I’m not being critical at all, it’ll be so satisfying if I can actually come up with something they might like!

I love both Vianney Rosalie and Juniper Rosalie, gorgeous! I see what Kym means though about Juniper feeling a bit too unisex next to her other girls’ names. Unfortunately, feel similarly about Vianney — though my major association with it as a current first name is Lindsay’s daughter from My Child I Love You, so it feels mostly feminine to me, a bunch of you have suggested it for boys on past posts, and one who said that because it’s exclusively male where she lives (France) using it for a girl would be akin to “a girl called John or Andrew.” I’m not campaigning against it! Just, if obviously feminine is their goal, neither Vianney nor Juniper might be quite right. On the other hand though … I so totally agree with Kym about Juni!!

Gemma Lucia is a fantastic combo! I definitely wouldn’t characterize Gemma as “too worldly/trendy” — sure, it has use outside of Catholic circles, and it has increased in popularity fairly rapidly since it entered the top 1000 in 2008 (it’s currently at no. 247), but I don’t see it as any different than their other kids’ names, all of which fit nicely into certain non-Catholic trends and popular sounds. I think it’s a great fit! As for Lucia being “Catholic on-trend,” I mean yes, it certainly is because of the Year of Fatima, but if you’re going to use it, using it during its big year is so great! But perhaps a different five-letter middle would be a better fit for them for Gemma? Tapping into the family names they want to use as middles, maybe Gemma Roser? Roser is a Catalan feminine form of Rosario, which points back to Rose (rosaries are so named because they’re meant to be thought of as a crown or bouquet of roses for Our Lady). Or Gemma Zella, where Zella is the German diminutive for Marcella?

I really like Goretti! And I do think Gret(t)a could work nicely as a nickname for it, or maybe Greer, especially as both Greer and Goretti come from Gregory. Etti (Eddy) could be cute too. I think there’s a chance that people they meet outside their Catholic circle might not be familiar, and so it might come across like Vianney and Juniper in the sense of not being very girly, but certainly Catholics should know it refers to a female saint. It reminds me of Cabrini, which I would have suggested to them if Kym hadn’t said no C/K names.

I love Zoe(y) too, and Savina’s cute too … Benedicta’s great, but Bennett … Isadora, Imelda, Edith, Agatha, Leona/Leonie, and Millicent are all a great bunch of names! And I actually don’t think of Leonie and Millicent as old lady names anymore — I have a cousin who’s 14 named Millicent/Millie, so it stopped being an old lady name to me ages ago, and while I know an old lady named Leona, I’ve only heard Leonie on more recent families wanting to honor St. Therese’s sister, so it too has a more youthful feel. And Edith’s coming back! I know a bunch of families who have considered it, and at least two who have named their babies Edith (here and here).

So those are my thoughts on the names Kym and her hubs have discussed/are considering; now on to my own ideas! I was mostly influenced by their seeming desire to have this baby girl have a name that’s as girly as their older girls’ names. I did use the Baby Name Wizard for inspiration, but I went more by my gut than anything. The names that I had on my final list that I crossed off because I’d suggested them last time were Verity, Juliet(te), and Elodie, all of which are consistent with this family’s style per the BNW, and all of which I still like for them in case they want to reconsider them. And I also really wanted to suggest Klaudia to them, as they were considering Klaus if the baby had been a boy, so if they wanted to reconsider their C/K rule I think it would be great! (Or Colette, if they like the idea of a Nicholas name for a girl. I love Colette.)

My new ideas are:

(1) Vesper
I think this name is unmistakably feminine, unlike Vianney and Juniper, and in sound it’s almost like a mashup of Vianney and Juniper. Its Catholic connection comes from “vespers” being the name for Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, but others might also know it as one of the Bond girls! I like the idea of Vesper Roisin (Roisin is an Irish Rose name, pronounced ro-SHEEN, and spelled in Irish as Róisín), and there’s actually a variety of rose called the Vesper Rose!

(2) Junia
This was actually the first idea I had for this baby, after seeing that Kym loves Juni but was uncertain about Juniper. Junia’s the name of a woman in the bible (some believe it was meant to be the man’s name Junius, others translated it as Julia, but the bible as presented by the U.S. bishops on their web site says Junia). One of the Hanson brothers (MMMBop) has a daughter named Junia Rosa Ruth, which is gorgeous. Junia Lucia would work, but maybe too matchy? Maybe Junia Lucie would work better? Junia Roser and Junia Zella are also fine.

(3) Delia
This was one of those gut-feeling names. It’s pretty and feminine and can be a short form of Adelia, which is a variant of Adela (several saints and blesseds so named), or Bedelia, which is an Irish diminutive of Bridget (but Kym said no to Bridget, not sure if this would count?) (there’s also Cordelia, which has no saint connections as far as I can tell). Like with Junia, Delia Lucia/Lucie, Delia Roser, and Delia Zella can all work. It also feels really close to DeeLane (from their list of potential middles) sound-wise, but I’m not sure what to do with that. (I also wondered if Delaney would make a do-able DeeLane tweak?)

(4) Edessa
Our Lady of Edessa is one of Mary’s titles — Edessa is the old name for modern-day Urfa in Turkey, and the title refers to an old miraculous image. It’s a lovely, feminine, non-M Marian name! I like Edessa Roisin.

(5) Natalia
This was suggested by my research in the BNW and I love it for this family! It’s feminine and gorgeous and really saintly — there are two that I know of — and fun nickname options like Natty, Tally, Talia, Lia, and Nolly. Natalia Rosalie is so beautiful! Natalia Lucille can also work for their Br. Luke, and Natalia DeeLane (or Natalia Delaney) also works, letter-wise.

(6) Zara
I loooove this idea because of what I discovered about it recently! First off, it’s a style match for both Gemma and Zoe, which I thought was so interesting, and it’s definitely uncommon in all circles. I wasn’t sure about saintly connections though, and when I went looking I discovered that it’s a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!! (Hence the spotlight I put up here.) Zara Rose is pretty, but maybe too R heavy? Zara Lucy maybe, or Zara Luce (not only a nod to Br. Luke and Fatima but also Bl. Chiara Luce Badano)? Would Zara Lane work as a nod to their DeeLane?

(7) Esme
Esme’s a style match for Sylvie, and I’ve always thought it’s sweet and feminine. Being that it means “esteemed” or “loved” in Old French, they could make a holy association to Mater Amata (“Beloved Mother”). Esme Rose is gorgeous! It can also be spelled Esmee (Esmée), which could open up Lucia, Lucie, and Zella as middles.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister for this well-named crew?

Spotlight on: Zara

I am so sorry that I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week and last! It’s the end of the year y’all, it gets me crazy every time. Only a couple of more weeks until summer!

I discovered the COOLEST thing the other day!! I love the name Zara — it’s familiar like Sara and zippy like Z and while an Arabic-sounding name might normally make Northern European me hesitate, Brit royal Zara Tindall, neé Phillips, brings it right back into my comfort zone (fun fact: her name was suggested by her uncle Prince Charles!).

Behind the Name describes Zara in a couple different ways: first, it’s said to be the English form of Zaïre — the name of the heroine in Voltaire’s play by the same name, which may have been based on the Arabic Zahrah (“blooming flower”) (it has Zaira listed as the Italian variant). And Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted Zara a year ago and has some other great info about possible origins (and she words in her characteristic lovely way that Prince Charles was probably not quite right about the meaning of Zara).

But I was always a little put off by the fact that I couldn’t figure out a patron saint for it — if you take it as a variant of Sarah then Sarah the Matriarch or St. Sara of Antioch can work, but I would have really loved to have come across a closer connection … and the other day I did! Behind the Name says it’s also a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!!

I LOVE the idea of Zara for Zechariah! John the Baptist, Elizabeth, and The Visitation are all wrapped up in the name Zechariah for me, as they’re all related in the first chapter of Luke, along with Our Lady’s Magnificat. Specifically for us, how cool his story is that it has to do with one of the only times God named a baby!

What do you all think of this fun find? Does it make Zara more appealing to you? Do you know any Zaras, and do they like their name? I wouldn’t tend to think of nicknames for Zara (maybe Zee) — do any of the Zaras you know go by a nickname?

 

Baby name consultant: Baby No. 11 (girl) (no repeating initials!)

Martha and her husband are expecting their eleventh (!) baby — their fourth girl! This Little Miss joins big sibs:

David Zachary
Caleb Daniel
Jesse Robert
Ethan Wyatt
Kathryn Cecilia
Aaron Mathias
Tobias Xavier
Bridget Darling
Phoebe Noelle
Levi Thaddeus

I looooove these names, each so great! You can see that the boys all have biblical first names, though the girls don’t follow suit. I really love sisters Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe — such great sister names, so chic!

Martha writes,

All first names must be saints … Middle names do not have to be saints though. No first name can start with the same letter as our other children. None of the children can be named after anyone we know, family or otherwise. We don’t want a name that is very common, but nothing way out there. We prefer traditional spellings … Dh loves Maewyn or Willow. I don’t think Maewyn fits as a saint name and am not keen on naming my girl after a tree … Our last baby was called “Poor Little No Name” until just weeks before he was born, so I hope you can help us avoid last minute naming stress this time.

We have some names we both like, but for some reason they just aren’t feeling like her to us.

We both like Sophia and Isabel or Isadora, but not as first names because they have become so popular lately.  Also, we do not like potential nicknames of Izzy or Dora.
My husband is suddenly leaning towards using variants of either my first name or middle name, Martha Lee.  I have no idea why.  I’ve never liked either myself.  But we were both sorta okay with the “lee” sounds in Leah or Lily (as a middle). And Iliana, which is not a saint.

The husband is still pitching hard for Maewyn Willow or Xena Isabella. (XI = 11) I am not even slightly fond of either.

I like Helen or Zelie Sophia, he does not like Helen at all and doesn’t like Zelie because he likes a name with clear pronunciation and thinks people will be confused about whether it is ZEL-ee or Zay-lee.  He also quibbles that if I dislike naming our girl after a tree, it makes no sense to be okay with naming her first name after a flowery bush. Got me on that I suppose. lol

I was telling the husband the other day that I like Seraphina but it is a hard one to find a middle name for!  He likes Danae, but I think that sounds harsh and too close to deny.  I like Roux, but dh says he isn’t naming her after sauce starter.”

Did you chuckle as much as I did when reading Martha’s dilemma? She and her Mister sound like quite the funny pair!

This was a lot of fun to work on—big families with lots of naming rules/restrictions are seriously so fun for me!

So first off, regarding Zelie, yes, its pronunciation isn’t set—they can choose their own and as long as they’re firm and consistent I don’t think it (or any name with various pronunciations) is an issue. (I wrote about Zelie’s pronunciation here and here.) I also wanted to point out that Lindsay’s daughter at My Child I Love You who’s named after St. Zelie has the spelling Zellie, which makes their desired pronunciation really obvious — maybe that spelling would be a good idea for this family?

And good news! (Maybe?) Iliana *can* be considered a saint’s name! I don’t know how exact it has to be for Martha and her hubs (some people are okay with variants of saints’ names and some aren’t), but my trusty go-to source for name meanings (behindthename.com) says Iliana is a variant of Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), and the spelling Ileana may be a variant of Helen. Cool right?!

Maewyn is interesting to me as a first name as well—I’d never heard of it so I looked it up and learned that it was St. Patrick’s birth name!! Wow! It does strike me as more feminine for our modern sensibilities—it has a really pretty sound, and I keep seeing the “Mae,” which on its own is generally considered a variant of Mary (which I love—Marian names are my favorite!).

And Xena Isabella for the XIth baby?? Pretty genius!! 😀 I looked it up and discovered it’s a variant of Xenia, which I actually do quite like, and she’s revered as a saint in the Eastern Church, but as far as I can tell she’s not recognized in ours? BUT I did a little more digging and discovered St. Xantippa, who *is* one of our saints—feast day Sept. 23 with St. Polyxena (Xena could work for Polyxena, no?)—both first-century Spanish martyrs. So they definitely have some options if they  want to use an X name! If they used such a long name as Xantippa though, I might suggest going shorter than Isabelle for the middle? Maybe Ivy or Iris?

Regarding Helen, I wonder what they’d think of Nell or Nellie? Maybe Martha’s husband would like them better than Helen? They’re traditional nicknames for Helen, so St. Helen can still be patron; they’re also style matches (according to the Baby Name Wizard which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) for Mae, which is one of the names I looked up for inspiration (since Maewyn wasn’t listed).
Regarding Willow, it’s important to note that this is only a middle name contender, and though I really loved the idea of changing it to Willa for a first name, as a nod to any of the Sts. William, William variants are on the no-go list.

And Seraphina! It was a later addition to Martha’s list, and one I’d written down for them before I’d known they were considering it! Woo! I love it, such a gorgeous name! For a middle name, Ruth has a similar sound to Roux and loses the cooking element (haha! 😂 ). I love Ruth in the Bible. There’s also Rue, like the awesome + tragic character in the Hunger Games and/or the Golden Girls’ Rue McClanahan (whichever they prefer!). (Rue was an actual given name for McClanahan—her given middle name, not a nickname for another name.)

I really like the rhythm of Martha’s husband’s middle name idea of Danae with Seraphina, and tried to think of others that a similar rhythm (two syllables with stress on the second) to appeal to him (and hopefully Martha might like them too):

  • Seraphina Mairead (Mairead is the Irish for Margaret, rhymes with parade)
  • Seraphina Therese
  • Seraphina Corinne
  • Seraphina Pilar (a sneaky Marian name!)
  • Seraphina Renee
  • Seraphina Celeste

And other unusual one-syllable names like Martha’s Roux might be:

  • Seraphina Wren
  • Seraphina Lark
  • Seraphina Vale
  • Seraphina Paige
  • Seraphina Tru(e)
  • Seraphina Viv
  • Seraphina Liv
  • Seraphina Greer

Regarding the idea of using a variant of Martha’s name, I was intrigued by connecting to it somehow. There really aren’t any variants of the name itself other than Marta, which is sweet and I do like it, but if they didn’t like that I thought of some others that might do the trick. Like Margaret, which has the same first three letters of her name. Maite has the same first two letters as Martha and  the same total number of letters—it’s got French and Spanish usage and is a contraction of Maria Teresa so it’s used both as a nickname and a given name (I’ve heard it said MY-tay).

Okay! So those are my comments on the names they’re considering, and I have new ideas for Martha and her hubs as well. As I mentioned, I used the Baby Name Wizard and relied heavily on its suggestions of names similar in style/feel/popularity to the names they’ve used and like, but I also added in some ideas of my own:

(1) Susanna(h)
I love that Susanna(h) is biblical, like the boys’ names; I love that if it’s spelled Susanna it loses a little of the biblical feel and fits in really well with the older girls’ names. Zuzu is a Susanna nickname I’ve been crushing on lately, and Anna, Annie, and Susie are all possibilities, as well as the full Susanna just on its own. St. Susanna’s also an early saint, and the American Catholic Church in Rome is St. Susanna’s.

(2) Faith or Hope or Mercy
Faith is a style match for Levi, and as soon as I saw it I loved it as an idea for this little girl. It does repeat the sound of Phoebe’s name but not the initial … I also know a little Faith Immaculata and I just die over her name, soooo gorgeous.

Hope’s a match for Leah, and I think it’s a really sweet name that, like Faith, can take a nice long middle name (lots of fun possibilities there!). And Mercy has been on my radar for months because of the Jubilee Year of Mercy—if they didn’t like Mercy as a first name, I love it as a middle for them.

(3) Nora
I love love love Nora—it’s a traditional nickname for both Honora and Eleanor, and there’s a Venerable Honora Nagle, and Eleanor has often been taken as a variant of Helen, but there are some quibbles about that, so it can also refer to Bl. Archangela Girlani whose birth name was Eleanor.

(4) Zoe
I recently discovered that St. Catherine of Laboure’s birth name was Zoe, and I’m really loving it! Especially since Martha and her hubs have been discussing names that begin with the end of the alphabet (Willow, Xena, Zelie), they might be interested in this Z name, which is also a style match for Phoebe.

(5) Inessa, Ines, Inez
At a certain point I just started going through the alphabet and trying to come up with names for the letters that haven’t used yet, and when I got to I, I thought of this family who has a daughter named Inessa, which is a form of Agnes. So pretty right?! Ines and Inez are more familiar variants — I’m interested to hear feedback on them because I can’t tell if they’re revival ready or still a bit too old?

(6) Genevieve
Genevieve is such a long gorgeous name, and has a similar feel to Seraphina, I love it and its nickname options Evie and Vivi and Neve, beautiful!

(7) Rosalie or Rosaleen
Rosalie is fast becoming one of my favorite names, and I love it as a sister to Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe. And I was thinking about Rosaleen the other night and how it has such a similar sound to Rosalie, but Irish-ed up. Very sweet name!

(8) Rowan
I suspect Rowan is too unisex for this family, but it’s another nature name (like Willow) with a Celtic feel and a [male] saint’s name (like Maewyn), and it begins with the as yet unused letter R.

(9) Verity
I’ve totally been digging Verity recently — I love that it means “truth,” and is definitely one of the more underused virtue-esque names. So pretty!

(10) Zara
Having Z for an initial is so cool, and Zara has a really sophisticated feel to me (like Brit royal Zara Phillips Tindall) — I can see it being awesome with sisters Kathryn, Bridget, and Phoebe. At first I wasn’t going to include it because I didn’t think there was a saint associated with it, but I loved the idea of it so much that I did some digging and discovered that it’s a diminutive of Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian feminine form of Zechariah. Wow! Zechariah makes me think of St. Elizabeth and the Joyful Mystery of the Visitation, which is all kinds of wonderful to me.

(11) Zephyrine
My last idea (eleven ideas for the eleventh baby! 😄 ) is a little out there, but there’s a Pope St. Zephyrinus, and Zephyrine is a French feminine variant of the name (I just read that a sister of French Kings Louis XVI and XVII and Charles X was Marie Zephyrine, so named because she was born on the feast of Pope St. Zephyrinus). It’s long and lovely and elegant and saintly, and — fun fact! — I had a great-great Aunt Zepherine (I think that was how she spelled her name) and she went by Zee. So. Cool. (My only hesitation for this family is — are the endings of Kathryn and Zephyrine too similar? )

And those are all my ideas for this sweet little Baby Eleven! What do you all think? What would you suggest?