Spotlight on: Cecilia

Cecilia! You’re breaking my heart! You’re name meaning’s causing some problems! 🎶🎶🎶

Not for everyone, certainly — Cecilia’s definitely one of those names that’s generally favored by parents wanting an obvious saintly name (I included it my list of unmistakably Catholic girl names), and I know lots of Catholic families with little Cecilias. St. Cecilia was a martyr for refusing to sacrifice to false gods; she was the first incorruptible saint; she’s in the Canon of the Mass; and she’s the patroness of music, musicians, musical instrument makers, and singers (among other things), which makes her name perfect for a music-loving couple to consider for their daughter. She was a strong, holy woman, and her name is lovely and feminine. There’s a lot to recommend Cecilia! But I’ve heard from multiple parents who have a hard time getting past its definition of “blind.”

One reader emailed recently about this issue — she would very much like to consider the name, but said, “I just cannot get past the meaning of ‘blind.’ A positive meaning is a must for me … I was just thinking that knowing more about the origins of Cecilia might change my heart a bit.” Of course! Let’s get to the root of the problem! We know it derives from the Latin for “blind,” but why? Who was the first to be named “blind,” and why were they?

Based on my research, I’m going to argue that the definition of “blind” no longer applies to this family of given names. From what I can gather, Cecilia is the feminine form of a Roman gens (or “clan”) name, which originally — in ancient days — was taken from a mythological figure, Caeculus, who was a king mentioned in the Aeneid, and his name was indeed intended to mean “little blind one” (from the Latin word for blind) because part of his mythology was that he showed mastery over fire (and in fact his mother was said to have been impregnated by a spark of fire), but the smoke did affect his eyes, hence the name of “little blind one.” He was really a figure of divinity and strength, and I’m sure the Roman clan didn’t fuss about the meaning of “blind” (otherwise they would have changed their name, right? Or not chosen Caeculus as their “ancestor” in the first place?). (I’m getting this info from Wikipedia, hoping that it’s accurate!  I also read this.)

So really, I think the name originally persisted because of that clan, and that family doesn’t mean “blind,” they mean whatever would come to mind when those who were familiar with them would hear their name, you know? Like, my last name is Towne, but I’m sure when people see or hear my name they don’t think “town, village, enclosure,” which is what the name originally meant. Or if they do, it’s a fleeting thought that’s quickly replaced by whatever comes to mind when they think of *me.* This is all what I tried to articulate in the article I wrote about name “definitions” vs. name “meanings”.

So if the original people with this name were able to look past the meaning of “blind,” and be powerful despite their name’s origin (and there’s even a goddess [of sorts] known as Caia Caecilia), even more so can those who have no connection to them or their origins (mythological or otherwise), and in fact have new connotations that are intimately tied up in the name Cecilia. Because I’m sure it’s only name nerds (and Latin ones too, I suppose) who know that Cecilia means “blind” — other Catholics know that it means “patroness of musicians,” and non-Catholics might know that there’s a musical connection, or they might just know it as a pretty name.

Now that I’ve convinced you all that blindness has nothing to do with St. Cecilia, in an interesting twist I just read this post that says St. Cecilia was born blind, and this post, which says, “The name Cecilia means blind and so, although we don’t know if she herself couldn’t see, she is also the Catholic patron saint of the blind.” None of this info (her being blind, or her being patroness of those who are blind) is included anywhere on CatholicSaints.info (which is where I usually turn for my saint info). In fact, I’d assumed that she’s known as Cecilia because she was a member of that Roman gens, and The Catholic Encylopedia at New Advent seems to support that hypothesis when it refers to “the family of St. Cecilia (Gens Caecilia).”

Back to being able to look past the “definition of the name,” I love that Behind the Name argues, “Due to the popularity of the saint, the name became common in the Christian world during the Middle Ages.” It’s ultimately because of St. Cecilia, and no other bearer of the name (nor, of course, its meaning), that the name has the popularity it has had and continues to have! So great!

As for the name itself, isn’t Cecilia so sweet? So soft and lilting. It can be spelled Caecilia (like this family) or Cecelia, and has some great variants like Cecily, Cicely, and even Sheila! Sheila is an anglicization of Síle, which is the Irish form of Cecilia. I love the Russian Tsetsiliya, the Polish Cecylia, and the fact that Cecil and Cecilio are male variants — so cool! And lots of fun diminutives and nicknames, including the familiar Cece, as well as Lia, Celia (which can also stand on its own with separate origins), Cissy, Cila, Cilla, Cilka, Silke, Silja, and Zilla. Who knew?!

What do you all think of Cecilia? Have you, too, been bothered by the meaning? Has this post helped? Would you consider naming your daughter Cecilia, or have you? What do the Cecilias that you know go by?

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Birth announcement: Peter Paul! (and a name question)

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the handsome, significant name … Peter Paul!

She writes,

As usual my babies end up naming themselves in the end with a name I never considered until the last minute. A couple days before Peter Paul was born I was still obsessing about names and probably had about 20 names on the list. It was all decided when I went to confession and the priest asked what the baby’s name was so he could pray for him by name and I just blurted out Peter Paul! I like to think that Jesus himself was asking the name and basically having me decide at that moment so I would stop obsessing. Ha! So that’s what made it official for me and a couple days later he was born.

Thank you so much for all your name suggestions and help. Hugh and Cormac which you suggested were big contenders, as was Francis which I never imagined using either until the last minute!

What a cool story!! I’ve never heard one like it! And Peter Paul is such a great combo! It is SO cool that they share a feast day — June 29 is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul!

Mama also added,

I have a baby name question for you still though — when our baby was first born we were using Peter as the first name and Paul as the middle name. I’m starting to prefer Peter Paul as the double barrel first name. What is protocol for double barrel names? Do we add a new middle name? Do we hyphenate Peter-Paul? I’m trying to think of what will be easiest for him long term with social security cards, passports, etc. What do you think?

Such a great question! Fortunately we have John Paul as a frequent example of a double-barrel first name for a boy; unfortunately, even that doesn’t provide hard and fast rules. Certainly there has been Mary Kate and the like on the girl side for ages, and loads of people have hyphenated last names, and I think the way it’s handled on forms, etc., is to put both names whenever possible. So they can hyphenate, which will make more obvious that both names are part of the first name, or they can smoosh them together, a la Johnpaul/JohnPaul or Marykate/MaryKate. I don’t really know what will be easier in the long run! Whatever you put on the birth certificate should be exactly what goes on the Social Security card, and exactly what goes on the passport, but in terms of other forms — especially those ones with the boxes where one letter goes in each box — they might run into difficulty getting both Peter and Paul to fit, especially if they keep the space between or add a hyphen (as opposed to putting them together as PeterPaul). And I’ll bet that they’ll frequently find just Peter as his first name on various documents/in the doctor’s office, etc. But there are a lot of people who deal with issues with their names, and each person deals with it according to his/her personality (i.e., some people hate it and some people roll with it and are even really proud of it), you know?

I do know that some people find hyphens in boys’ names to be a bit fussy, if that’s at all helpful. But if they love it, they should do it! (And there’s Jean-Claude Van Damme as an example of a guy with a hyphen.)

As for middle names, probably the easiest of all the options would be to keep his first name Peter and his middle name Paul. I’ve known several people that go by their first+middle on a daily basis, as if it’s a double-barrel first name, so they could still call him Peter Paul in real life, and introduce him that way, and make sure that’s what he’s called at school, etc.

If they decide to add a middle name, they don’t have to do anything to Peter Paul (hyphenate etc.) unless they want to; they’d just add another name, which would go in the “middle name” spot on forms. Which means he might end up being Peter MiddleName sometimes, if whatever person or computer is dealing with his name can’t compute a double first name. Or Peter Paul with the middle name dropped, which often happens to second middle names.

I’ve often thought this mom handled the whole multiple-name thing well — it might inspire this family to come up with a creative idea as well.

Please share with this mom (and me!) what your thoughts are regarding her double-first-name question!

Congratulations to the whole family, including big siblings Niall Jude, Phoebe Rose, Linus Noel, and Johnny Blaise, and happy birthday Baby Peter Paul!!

Peter Paul

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9/girl no. 7 needs a saintly K name

First off, you guys! I’m so sorry I was so quiet last week! All week I kept thinking of posts I wanted to do, but it was one of those weeks where I was just trying to make sure each day had what it needed and then it was bedtime and what happened to the day? And I just caught up on the comments from last week’s consultation now! You guys are amazing!! I intend to be better this week — I have a bunch of birth announcements I want to post (so many of you have had babies!!) and a name spotlight … it’ll be a fun week, as long as my life cooperates!

Alrighty, for today: Amber and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — their seventh girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Kaydra Dean
Houston Michael
Kaitlyn Nichole
Kaydence Leigh
Carter Joseph
Kourtney Renae
Kimberly Elizabeth
Karly Jean

It’s clear they have a theme! I love seeing big families with an all-one-letter theme, or a certain-letter-for-certain gender theme (like this one) — it’s so fun to see what names they come up with! In high school I babysat a family with eight children whose names all began with C, and friends from college have eight children with all J names — I was always excited to hear what the new baby’s name was!

Amber writes,

Names I like:
Kateri Marie
Khloe Marie

My husband likes the name Kerry but I’m not totally sold on that name. We would like to use Marie as the middle name and the first name has to start with an K. We thought we would like to use a name of a Saint but my husband thinks Kateri doesn’t roll off his tongue very well. I thought we could call her ‘Kari’ for short.”

Also, Amber told me Katherine is not an option for them.

I think one of the most fun things about a one-letter theme is that the one letter trumps all other stylistic considerations, you know? You don’t have to worry about whether the names have the same style/feel/popularity, because their only requirement is that they begin with the same letter. And I’m amazed at all the ideas Amber and her hubs have come up with so far!

In general I would say that Kateri, Khloe, and Kerry are good possibilities for this baby girl — I especially like Kateri, and I think Amber’s idea of using Kari as a nickname for it, similar to her hubby’s pick of Kerry, is genius! But in looking through their older girls’ names, since they have a Kourtney already I would advise crossing Khloe off the list, otherwise they come across as very Kardashian. Of course, the fact that they have so many girls would water down the Kardashian connection, but I do think it would still be pretty obvious.

Also — and this is a bit nitpicky, but sometimes crossing names off the list helps to make the choice easier — Kaitlyn is a form of Katherine (Irish), as is Kateri (Mohawk). I know a Kateri who goes by Kate, and another who says Kateri as “KAY-ter-ee” so the similarity between Kaitlyn and Kateri is extra obvious to me. Maybe that doesn’t matter to this family, and that’s totally fine! I just wanted to be sure they knew so they could make an informed decision.

Re: Kerry, I wonder if the similar Kelly might appeal to them? I did a spotlight on it not too long ago.

Normally for a consultation I would start by looking up the names that the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, but since the here style is a certain letter rather than a “feel,” I just tried to come up with as many K names as I thought Amber and her hubs might like and would go well with their older kids. These are my ideas:

(1) Karoline
On the one hand, Karoline has some pretty great patron saints, so it’s a great option for a family who wants a saint’s name beginning with K. And, Kari/Karrie can be a nickname for it, so that might encourage Amber’s husband agree to it as well! On the other hand, I just offered that fact that Kaitlyn and Kateri are related as a possible reason to not choose Kateri, so it’s weird that I’m suggesting Karoline now even though it’s related to Karly! They’re both feminine forms of the Carl/Karl/Charles family of names, and in fact Karly can be a nickname for Karoline. So maybe Karoline’s not a great idea, but it seemed worthwhile to mention it.

(2) Kalista
I recently did a spotlight on the male name Callixtus, and Kalista is a feminine form of it. It means “most beautiful” in Greek, which makes it a really nice name for a little girl. Kali and Kallie are sweet nicknames too — maybe similar enough to Kerry/Kari that Amber’s hubs will be okay with it?

(3) Karis
This is another idea that could yield the nickname Kari. It’s similar to Karly in the fact that they share the first three letters, but they already have that with Kaydra and Kaydence, so I’m guessing that’s okay with them. Karis could be a variant of Carys, which is a Welsh name derived from the Welsh word for “love,” which is quite nice. Or, it could be a variant of Charis, which is derived from the Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word Eucharist.

(4) Kasey
Fr. Solanus Casey was a Capuchin Franciscan who was recently beatified — he’s very special to my family, as I wrote about here, and seems to be wildly popular in general. Such a wonderful man! I’ve seen people name their children Casey (and even one little Case) in his honor, so Kasey could be a great idea for this family.

(5) Kristina, Kristy
I have a friend from college named Kristina, and I’ve always thought her name is a pretty spelling. And you all know our reader Amy who has a daughter named Kristy Marie — those names specifically chosen to honor Jesus and Mary. I love that!

(6) Klara
I went back and forth on whether I thought this was too similar to Karly, and decided to leave it on the list. Karly and Klara aren’t at all related, which helps — Karly’s a member of the Charles family, while Klara/Clare/Claire mean “clear, bright.”

(7) Kara
This is another that’s similar to Kerry, so that hopefully Amber’s husband might like it. It’s from the Italian for “beloved,” which is a great meaning for a little one.

(8) Keira, Kira, Kyra
I say these three names the same way, and I think they’d all be great options for this family.

(9) Kyteria
My last idea is Kyteria, which I first learned about from this family — it’s an alternate spelling of Quiteria, which is the name of a saint! It’s a pretty great story!

And those are my ideas for Amber and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Kaydra, Houston, Kaitlyn, Kaydence, Carter, Kourtney, Kimberly, and Karly?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 5/boy no. 2 needs short saintly name

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Nash Michael (“His first name is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name and his mother’s middle name. His middle name is after St. Michael the archangel who is one of my favorite saints“)

Clare Ellaine (“Clare is after St. Clare, no real reason just really like the name Clare. Ellaine is my mom’s name and was my middle name“)

Holly Jane (“Jane is after my grandmother. Holly kind of came at the end a few days before she was born, someone was talking about a Holly they knew and the name just struck me and I asked my husband if he liked it and we ended up naming her Holly. This child is the only one who has just a random name that isn’t a saint or a family name, but we get around it by saying that Jane is a family name and there is a St. Jane de Chantal“)

Anna Mary (“We had always liked the name Anna and had seriously considered it for Baby #2, but it felt more right with this baby. My husband’s mom is also named Ann, so she is the family connection. We chose Mary because she was born on the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary. She was born 2 weeks early which very much surprised us and her name wasn’t set in stone. MY mom told me that day when I thought I was in labor about the feast day and it was just perfect to name her after Mary“)

I loooove these names! They make such a pleasing set to me! And I love that Anna’s middle name was because she was born on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary — one of my favorite feasts!

Ashley writes,

We always have a VERY difficult times with naming. And boys are especially hard. We do not name the child until they are born. We usually have a few top contenders, but it always just feels better for us to name them once they are here. We kind of have a bit of a theme with our kids of including saint/religious name and also a family name. One of our kids is a combo, but I think that I kind of want to continue that now that we have started it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. I would probably rather forgo the family name before I left off a religious or saint name.

All of their names have tended to be short, which I like and they aren’t shortened. We do call Anna, Annie and Anna. We use both names interchangeably.

Okay so now for the big dilemma on our hands. We are so stuck and don’t really like any names. Let me tell you briefly about this pregnancy though.

We were about ready to try for #5, about 2 years ago, when I had a series of health events that really drug me down. I ended up having chronic neck and back pain amongst other things. There was A LOT of stress, a lot of dr apps, physical therapy and sadness. I wondered if I would always be in pain for the rest of my life. We avoided pregnancy for a long time but in my deep part of my heart I wanted another baby so bad. But I was very very very scared. I was scared of what would happen to my body through a pregnancy, would my pain get worse, would I be able to do it … All of these fears. And at the beginning of this year I began to have improvements, but continued to hold off on pregnancy. My drs cleared me to get pregnant but I just could not get over the fear even though I really wanted another child. So I had been loosely but VERY conservatively using NFP to avoid and low and behold I became pregnant. I wasn’t being strict with NFP but I def didn’t think it was a fertile time either. The feeling that I had when I got the positive test was such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father. I felt like God was telling me, ”Ashley I know that you are scared to “try” for another baby so I am not going to make you make that decision.” I felt like he was saying, ”Ashley I am bigger and greater than your fears.” It was such an intense moment for me in my life! And this pregnancy has been awesome. I have felt great and I have felt like I have gotten a lot of clarity on my chronic pain condition and healing of mind body and soul!

So to say the least, I truly feel more than with any other child that this baby was so intended by God to not only be here in existence but also as a gift to me especially, one that has had great impact on my relationship with God and through this baby and pregnancy has brought about much healing.”

Isn’t this such a wonderful story?! I love how Ashley articulated that she felt “such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father,” what a gift. ❤

Ashley continues,

I mention all this because I had thought about some name that kind of represented some of that. I had looked up Theodore (Theo) because it means God s gift and it is on our maybe list because of that.”

Ashley explained to me that she doesn’t really care for a lot of traditional names (Matthew-type names), nor currently popular names (Aiden, Jaxon), nor country names (Colt, Cole, West).

My husband’s name is Jeffrey Locke and he doesn’t want a jr. On his side John is a very popular boy name. His nephew, brother, dad and grand dad are all John Locke. So John is a family name but we couldn’t use it as a 1st name. Locke could be used as a middle family name … Some family names on my side is my grandfather’s name was Leo. My great grandfather was Casper … my great grandfathers were Ray Rhymes and Ralph Harry; some other names on my side are McVea (but that has already been heavily used by my cousin) and my dad’s name is Rhymes but my sister already used it for her 1st daughters middle name. My maiden name is Oliver which is popular now but I don’t really like it and I don’t think it sounds good with my last name Wagner because of the -er at the end of both of the names. On my husband’s side there is a William Baumann and then John Locke.

Some names that have kind of made it on our list are Bruno, Leo, Ansel (my husband doesn’t like it though), Brock (but reminds me of 80’s), Ben, Raph/Raif, Theo, Abram, Owen, Sam, Isaac, Ford.

Ben has always been a name we liked, but my problem is that I don’t like Benjamin or Bennet, or Benedict. So I had said in the past I would just name my kid Ben. I feel like a lot of boy names have longer names and then there is the shortened version that the kid is called. (Benjamin/Ben, William/Will, Theodore/Theo) Problem is in most all of those situations I don’t like the long name and I wonder whether you can just name the kid the short name? Because I don’t want to name my kid Benjamin when I don’t like the name Benjamin just so I can call him Ben. Kind of like with Theodore, I don’t really like Theodore, but Theo is ok.

Abram has kind of struck me. You could call the kid Abe which is ok, but the longer name Abram isn’t that long and I actually kind of like it, but husband isn’t totally keen on it.

Leo is my grandfather name and I like it and am unsure about it all at the same time.

Bruno my son came up with after watching a movie about St. John Bosco, but I feel like with Bruno Mars it just kind of ruins it.

I think that we do not like names that are difficult for people to say or spell. That is why I like the name of my son Nash so much. It is different, not many people have that name, but no one ever asks how to spell it or for me to repeat it. It can’t be shortened or nicknamed. So I think we tend to lean towards those kind of names, especially looking at our other kids names, short, easy to say, can’t be nicknamed really.

So I think maybe that wraps it up … or maybe this is all just a jumbled mess of words. I just feel very discouraged because I will go through and read 1000 boy names and not really like any of them and none of the names on our list do I really really like and I just worry this baby won’t have a name 😦 or that I will just have to settle on a name. I don’t have great expectations of absolutely LOVING and feeling totally connected to a name because I just never feel that way before hand which is part of why we don’t name until the baby is here. I think its hard for me to connect a baby I haven’t seen with a name … it’s just weird to me and I certainly could never call a baby a name until there are here. (I think I am weird like that)

But I hope that you can think of some possibilities, although I fear that every boy name out there is just going to be blah. But thank you so much in advance for your time and your talents and good luck!!!!!

I’m sure we can help Ashley and her husband! Even if only by sparking a conversation that leads them to the right name! Ashley also sent a photo of her beautiful family, in case it was helpful for inspiration:

IMG_4587

What a handsome/beautiful crew! 😍😍😍

So first off, I love that Theo(dore)’s on their list because of Ashley’s wonderful experience, and I think “just Theo” is a really nice fit with Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna. Theo Locke sounds pretty cool!

Speaking of Locke, I just have to say — it seems like a homerun for their son’s first name! With Nash having a surname feel — indeed, having been a surname in Ashley’s husband’s family before it was her son’s first name — I immediately thought when I started reading her email that another family surname would be a great idea for their second son, and then when I read about Locke it seemed so perfect! Something like Locke William (for the William on her husband’s side) or Locke Raymond (to lengthen her great-grandfather Ray’s name) would be so handsome (and both William and Raymond are saints’ names). I also like the idea of Rhymes and McVea — if they weren’t already used in Ashley’s family, I’d think they were great options.

Of the names on their list, a few thoughts:

  • Bruno—this is the second time in a month I’ve heard the name Bruno from a reader! I guess I wouldn’t have thought that Bruno Mars would ruin the name, but rather that he would make it seem extra feasible — do the rest of you agree? The fact that it was inspired by a St. John Bosco movie made me wonder if Ashley and her hubs would consider Bosco as a first name? Blogger Grace Patton has a Bosco, it’s such a cool name I think (she also has an Abe!)
  • Leo—great name, and I love that it’s a family name for them! It’s easy to say and spell, like Nash
  • Ansel—I’m not sure if this is helpful, but if Ashley’s husband doesn’t like Ansel, there’s the similar and very saintly Anselm
  • Brock—Ashley’s comment about Brock reminding her of the 80s made me laugh! I can see what she means, though it actually peaked in popularity in 2003
  • Ben—it’s funny that, though I think Theo can stand on its own as a name, I have a harder time getting there with Ben. I do see what Ashley means about not caring for the longer version and just preferring to name him Ben—it’s certainly not the end of the world, and I’m sure other parents have done it (in fact, checking the 2016 SSA stats, there were 347 baby boys named just Ben!). I had some other ideas for them on how to get to Ben though, if they were open to thinking of a formal name for it—all of these were bestowed on boys in 2016 per the SSA:

— Ruben/Reuben
— Eben
— Bento
— Robben
— Benz
— Benning
— Bence
— Benno

One that’s not on this list that I like is Bendt — it’s a Danish form of Benedict

  • Raph/Raif—I usually see these as nicknames for Raphael (I usually see the spelling Rafe, if that’s helpful), but Rafe (that spelling) is also a variant of Ralph, and reflects the way the name used to be said (it still is sometimes—actor Ralph Fiennes says it “Rafe”), so that could make it a nice nod to the Ralph Harry in their family. AND — the meaning of Raphael is “God has healed,” which is so perfect for this baby!
  • Abram—I like Abram a lot, and Abe is one of my favorite nicknames! Abel is another with similar sounds
  • Owen—I actually think Owen’s a great idea for this family, because it’s short like their other kids’ names, and it has usage as a surname, which fits in with the style of Nash—St. Nicholas Owen is one of my favorites!
  • Sam—If they’re thinking of Sam on its own, I feel like it’s similar to Ben for me, in that I have a hard time seeing it as a given name on its own (but who cares what I think, if they like it!). If Ashley and her hubs don’t care for Samuel or Samson, I’ve often thought Sam could work as a nickname for Ambrose, which is sort of similar to Abram and Ansel, and super saintly. Another nickname idea I’ve liked for Ambrose is Bram, and I actually love Bram on its own too—I should have thought of it when I was commenting on Abram above, as Bram is a form of Abraham
  • Isaac—love it
  • Ford—this would be a great brother name for Nash I think! Especially if it has family significance! There’s a Bl. Thomas Ford, which can give them a saintly tie-in
  • Casper and Oliver are both awesome—and Oliver would be particularly attractive to me, being Ashley’s maiden name—but I agree that they don’t sound great with the last name Wagner

I totally get that Ashley and her hubs like names that are easy to say and spell, so I focused on that when looking for name ideas for them, and I let Nash’s name influence me the most! I tried to find names that I thought felt like his—short and surnamey, or at least one or the other. I also tried to find faith connections for each of my ideas, though I wasn’t able to for all of them (but that can be easily remedied by the middle name).

That said, you all know that I start all my consultations by 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 terms of style/feel/popularity, so I did look up Clare, Holly, and Anna too to see if there were any boy ideas that were similar in style to theirs, that would also work as a brother for Nash.

Based on that research, as well as some ideas that I had on my own, these are my suggestions:

(1) Grant
Weirdly, Clare doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but Claire and Clara do, so I looked them both up, as they have different style matches. Grant was a match for Claire, and it immediately felt like a good suggestion. I know a family with a Benjamin and a Grant, so Grant makes sense to me for someone who likes Ben. It’s easy to say and spell, just like they’re hoping for. (For what it’s worth, Benjamin is also a match for Claire, and Leo for Clara.) I looked up the popularity of each name I suggested here (as well as their older kids) to be sure they weren’t too popular, and Grant was no. 171 in 2016, which is a really comfortable place to be—not top 100, but not unheard of. (For reference, Nash was 286, Clare was 719 [but Claire was 40]), Holly was 527, and Anna was 51.)

(2) Miles or Milo
You all know that I often suggest Miles/Milo on the blog, ever since I discovered that they have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I loooove Marian names for boys! I thought their popularity was pretty good for Ashley’s taste too—Miles was no. 105 in 2016, and Milo was 248, which I think makes it an extra good match for Nash, who was no. 286. Miles was also a style match for Clara, and Milo for Leo.

(3) Case
This is one of my own ideas, inspired by a family I did a consultation for a while ago who had a similar aesthetic as this family. One of their boys was Case, in honor of (now) Bl. Solanus Casey. I loved that! I love Casey (and it’s a style match for Holly!), but I get that some people don’t like that it has usage among both boys and girls, so I thought Case was a great solution. Nash and Case have a really similar feel, and I love any name that ties to Bl. Solanus! Case was no. 551 in 2016 (for reference, Casey was no. 560 for boys and 857 for girls).

(4) Jude
I’m actually surprised that Jude wasn’t already on their list, which makes me think maybe they considered it and decided against it? It’s actually a match for Anna and Leo, and it was no. 161 in 2016. I like that it starts with a J, so it can maybe be a nod to Ashley’s husband Jeffrey and the Johns in his family. Jude Locke has exactly the same rhythm as John Locke, which can be another connection to them.

(5) Blaise
This is really just because it’s a really saintly, short name. I also thought they might like a B suggestion, since they have Bruno, Brock, and Ben on their list (and Abram, which has a strong B sound). It was no. 903 in 2016.

(6) Kolbe
Speaking of really saintly, short names, Kolbe is that, and it’s also a surname! I know Ashley said she doesn’t like Cole (which, incidentally, was a match for Claire and Owen), but I think Kolbe has a different flavor all together. It wasn’t in the top 1000 in 2016, though there were 51 boys so named.

(7) Nico
I looove the name Nico! I think this might be a wild card suggestion, as some people think it has too much of a Latin feel to work well for families that aren’t Hispanic or Italian, but it’s listed on behindthename.com as a Dutch and German short form of Nicholas or Nicodemus (in addition to being an Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese short form), and the spelling Niko is a Finnish, Croatian, Slovene, Georgian, and German form. Nico was no. 496 in 2016, and Niko was no. 614. It’s definitely not trendy, or country, or Matt-esque, and I don’t consider it “wacky out there” either. So maybe?

(8) Evan
My last idea for Ashley and her hubs is Evan. It was a style match for Owen, which is what put it on my radar, and what encouraged me to list it here is that it’s a variant of John. Ashley said they can’t use John as a first name because of all the Johns in their family, but using a variant of John could be a cool way to work around that, and still nod to those relatives. I quite like the idea of Evan Locke. Evan was no. 69 in 2016, and I think it fits their criteria of “easy to say and spell.” (Other John variants are Sean, Shane, and Ian, and I’ve even seen an argument made for Owen having usage as a Gaelic form of John, so if they end up going with Owen, that could be a nice connection too).

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna?

Baby name consultation: “Light,” “mercy” good meanings for baby no. 5, plus some other rules

Happy New Year!! I hope you all saw my Year In Review post yesterday — so many thanks to all of you for a wonderful 2017!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — a little green bean! This little one joins big sibs:

Caleb Michael
David Joseph
Isaac Matthew
Lucilia Faustina

I really love these names! Old Testament names are some of my favorites, and brothers Caleb, David, and Isaac are just so pleasing! As for Lucilia — how pretty! How unusual! So unusual, in fact, that I’ve never heard it before!

Erin writes,

Names we have considered for this baby:
Eloise or Eloisa Josephine, Magdalene/Magdalena– We like Eloise right now but I’m starting to have second thoughts. Not really sure why. Maybe not girly enough? My husband likes Josephine because he wants to honor his sisters Jean and Steph and he thinks this name works. And I’m not opposed to it.

Jude, Francis, Blaise (Probably leaning towards Francis for middle name). We love the name Jude. However, I don’t like its only one syllable. I would prefer 2 or more for a first name. We both like Blaise but it feels a little too unique for us.

Names on our no list:
Margaret, James, Theresa, Rosemary, no direct family names (Francis is ok), Sara, Jenna, Alicia, Alana, Louisa (we think its too close to Lucy), Heather, Paula, Dianna

People to honor:
Girls maybe a something honoring both Ellen and Evelyn without using either name or Jean and Steph again without using their actual name. I also am growing closer to St. Therese but my husband works with many Terry’s so he says that is out as a possibility.

Any saints or biblical characters. I am particularly connected with Light in particular. I love to say let your light shine or be the light as it means a lot to me. Which is why we decided on Lucilia (Loo-seal-ya). We didn’t like Lucille because it seemed too old and not feminine enough. Also strong devotion to Divine Mercy.

Requirements: Prefer 2 or more syllables (more than 4 letters). Girl I want something very feminine. Either ending in -a, -lyn- ette preferred. I think.
Saint or bible related. We like vintage names. Unique but not too bold. We like Ignatius and Blaise but we are afraid they are too bold. Oh and pronounciation can’t be too difficult. My husband wants Blaise to be pronounced Blay-ce not Blaze. Oh and nicknames. We are big on nicknames. We have Ca, D, Ike/Ikie, and Lu or Lulu. So preferrably names that we can shorten the beginning of to have a nickname. (This is our issue with Magdalene because although tons of nickname possibilities we’d probably end up nicknaming Mags and I don’t like Maggie/Mag etc) We are leaning towards Josephine for girl middle name and Francis for a boy.

Family names:
Evelyn Gerada
David Lee
James
Jerry/Gerald
Scott Michael
Andy Thomas
Chad Garette
Valerie Nicole
MaryAnn Elizabeth
Lyle Francis
Pam
Jennifer
Steve
Ellen Jean
Michael Ralph
Jean Elizabeth
Stephanie Ann
Nataniel/Nat
Noah
Jenny
Grayson
Olivia
Owen
Zach
Tyler
Dennis
Molly
Brian
Amy
Ava
Maxwell
Adam
Lauren

I had fun working on this! Eloise, Eloisa, Magdalene, and Magdalena are all lovely. I’m also really interested in Josephine to honor Jean and Steph! That’s pretty clever! Because they used Joseph for David’s middle name, I thought I’d give some thought to some other possibilities to honor Jean and Steph (I assume Steph is Stephanie?), and came up with Jeanie (the “anie” from Stephanie), Phoebe (a stretch, visually, but I thought it could be for the “ph” in Steph plus the long E sound in Jean plus and ending all her own, resulting in a biblical name), and Fiona (similar to Phoebe with the “ph” sound from Steph and the long E sound from Jean; Fiona was a style match for Jude, which is what put it on my radar. But it’s not a saint’s name as far as I know). But I love Josephine too.

Ooh wait a minute, maybe Photine/Photini could be perfect! It’s the name traditionally given to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7), it means “light” (!!), and the “Ph” could be for Steph and the “ine/ini” (which I believe is said “eenie” in Greek) could be for Jean because of the long E? I know it’s unusual, but in the middle name spot anything goes!

Jude, Francis, and Blaise are great names for boys too! Regarding Jude being only one syllable, I had two ideas. One is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for Julian, so that’s a possibility; the other is to use Judah, which is a great style match for Caleb, David, and Isaac. Or, I wonder what they would think of switching Jude to a girl and using it as a nickname for Judith?

Also, I know Erin said she prefers names with more than four letters, but since Blaise is only one syllable, I wonder what they’d think of Boaz? Blaise and Boaz are kind of similar in that they start with B and end with the Z sound (I do think Erin’s husband’s preference for “blayce” is an uphill battle, and I love the “blaze” pronunciation for them anyway because of the light connection!), and Boaz is Old Testament like their other boys. It was high on my list of suggestions for Erin and her hubs until I remembered they don’t want four-letter names! Also, Lucilia was given to only 11 girls in 2016, while Blaise was given to 236 boys and it was in the top 1000 (no. 903), so it’s definitely not too unique for them! AND — I was just researching St. Therese a little, specifically because Erin said she’s growing closer to her, and I discovered that she was born on Rue Saint-Blaise! Wow! That could be a really neat way to nod to St. Therese with a boy’s name!

I also really tried to think of a good way to honor Ellen and Evelyn — I kept feeling like the perfect answer was within reach, I just hadn’t found it yet, but I never did end up feeling like I’d found it. For what it’s worth, the ones I scribbled down were Evangeline, Elena, and Avila.

As for St. Therese, I was immediately like, “Tess is the perfect answer!” and then I remembered again the four letter thing. But a few thoughts here: One is, it’s strange to me that Terry would turn Erin’s husband off of Therese — these days, I’d be shocked if anyone defaulted to Terry upon meeting a Therese. Terry’s definitely a nickname of the past, and I don’t believe it’s ready for revival just yet — I think it still feels pretty dated to most of today’s parents. Today’s Therese/Teresa nickname is Tess, which would be so great for this family! Secondly, if Erin’s husband just won’t go for Therese but they like the Tess idea, maybe they could do something like Marie-Tess? Marie is actually Erin’s middle name, so it would be a really nice nod to her, and also — St. Therese was Marie-Therese! Thirdly, what about Tessa as a given name? It’s such a sweet name, it’s more than one syllable and more than four letters; this post gives a lot more great info.

Regarding nicknames for Magdalene/a, I do get it that if they prefer to just use the beginning sound of a name as a nickname and they don’t like Mags/Maggie, then Magdalene/a would be difficult for them. But there are other nicknames they could consider, like Mae, Maddie, Magda, or Lena (though that’s using the end of the name, which I’m guessing they don’t want to do). Or maybe Meg? Maybe it’s different enough from Mag that Erin and her hubs would be okay with it? If Margaret can be Meg, than I think Magdalene could too.

Okay! On to my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, looking up Caleb, David, Isaac, Lucia and Lucy as stand-ins for Lucilia (I thought the matches for Lucy and Lucia seemed closer to what I perceive their style to be than the matches for Lucille), Eloise, Jude, Francis, and Blaise, and since Magdalene/a doesn’t have its own entry, I looked it up in the Name Matchmaker. Based on the results of all that, and my own ideas, these are my ideas:

Girl
(1) Clara, Claret (Clarette? Clairvaux?)
When I read Erin’s email and saw that she has a connection with light, I immediately thought of the Clare family of names. Clare comes from the Latin for “clear, bright,” which, while not exactly “light,” is close enough! In fact, this mama named her daughter Claire (the French spelling) because of its connection to light. Because Erin doesn’t care for one-syllable names, I thought Clara was an easy fix. If they wanted to be a bit more unusual, I also thought of Claret, as in St. Anthony Mary Claret, which made me think of Clarette, which I think I like even better for this family. It has the -ette ending Erin said she might like. Or Clairvaux! We see it a bit here on the blog (Lindsay’s girl and Amy’s girl), and I wasn’t sure if it had the “light, bright” meaning, but the Wiki entry for Clairvaux Abbey in France said its Latin name is Clara Vallis, which translates as “clear valley,” so I do think the Clair part is synonymous with the Clare family of names. Clare and Clair(e) are easy nicknames for Claret(te) and Clairvaux, like their other kids’ nicknames.

(2) Clementine
I had scribbled Clementine down for Erin before I did any research, because of her love of Divine Mercy. “Clement” means “merciful,” and Clementine is a style match for both Eloise and Magdalene! Clem and Clemmie are cute nicknames too.

(3) Mercy, Mercedes
These were also inspired by Erin’s devotion to the Divine Mercy. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I saw both of these names considered by families, and I think they could both be beautiful for this family! And in fact, Mercedes is a style match for Magdalena.

(4) Faith
Mercy made me think of other virtue-type names, especially those with a Puritan-type feel, as I think the Old Testament names of their boys fit in well with that style and I could see Lucilia doing so as well. Faith is actually a style match for Caleb, so I thought it needed a spot on this list! (And this just made me think of an addition to the Clara entry above: Clarity!)

(5) Estelle, Estella
Estelle is a match for Magdalene and Estella for one of Eloise’s matches, and since it means “star,” I thought it was a nice tie-in to Erin’s love of light-meaning names. It can also be Marian, for Our Lady Star of the Sea!

Boy
(1) Gabriel
Erin’s due in March, so I love the idea of Gabriel for this baby because the feast of the Annunciation is March 25! Gabriel’s also a style match for Caleb and Isaac, and he’s mentioned in both the Old Testament (Daniel 8:16) and the New (Luke), so it would be a good pick if they didn’t want to feel locked in to Old Testament boy names going forward.

(2) John Paul (John-Paul, JohnPaul, Johnpaul)
John Paul is inspired mostly by Erin’s devotion to Divine Mercy — I went to a Catholic Women’s conference in October, and Fr. Gaitley was the keynote speaker (the 33 Days to Morning Glory guy), and he spoke all about how amazing Poland is in salvation history, and of course St. John Paul the Great is one of the reasons. He spoke about how, when JP2 was cardinal, he worked on getting a better translation of St. Faustina’s Diary (because the previous one was full of translational errors that caused it to be temporarily banned by the Vatican). Then of course he canonized St. Faustina, and instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, even dying the evening before it, after the Vigil Mass was celebrated. He is a huge Divine Mercy guy! And the fact that his papal name involves two biblical boy names, and that each one on its own would break Erin’s rules but together they’re okay, is pretty amazing.

(3) Jonas, Jonah
Jonas is simply the Greek form of Jonah, and it was listed as a style match for both Caleb and Lucia (standing in for Lucilia), so I definitely had to include it! I like what the BNW has to say about it: “Jonah is the form of this name that you’ll hear most often today, but the Greek Jonas has historically been the preferred English version. That gives Jonas a double punch: it’s less common and has a throwback pioneer style.” Although, I think Jonah Francis sounds better than Jonas Francis.

(4) Tobias, Tobiah, Tobit
Like Caleb and Isaac, Tobias has a heavy Old Testament feel (David has been so historically popular that I feel like it doesn’t come across as super biblical to many people), and like Jonas/Jonah, Tobias is the Greek form of Tobiah. I love that Tobias/Tobiah is a character in the Book of Tobit, which was removed from Protestant bibles after the Reformation, so it’s a rare bird: heavy-duty Old Testament as well as (within Christian circles) sort of specifically Catholic. I also like the name Tobit itself. Tobiah Francis and Tobit Francis both flow well.

(5) Abram, Abel
This last idea is mostly inspired by the nickname Abe, which I think is one of the best. I considered suggesting Abraham, but I like the shorter Abram better with Caleb, David, and Isaac — especially with Isaac. Or maybe Abram is even too much as a brother to Isaac? If so, I wonder what they would think of Abel? But it’s four letters! Gah! Maybe Abram *is* the better option?

And those are all my ideas for Erin and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia?

Birth announcement: Zelie Grace!

Our girl Jenny Uebbing had her baby!! I posted a consultation for her less than a month ago, and she’s let me know that her little green bean turned out to be a Little Miss whose been given the gorgeous name … Zelie Grace!

Jenny writes,

I know you probably saw on social media but wanted to tell you that Zelie Grace arrived yesterday at 5:10 am on the feast of St Thomas Becket and King David, a cool coincidence for her daddy, David, the chancellor.

We named her something else, called her that for the first few scary minutes of her life (very blue high altitude baby) and so I started praying for the intercession of St Zelie Martin who lost so many of her own babies. I didn’t think we were going to lose her, but I did think she was going to need to go to the NICU. Happily she perked up and has been doing great ever since. Her birth was so different and so much more peaceful than her older siblings’ were that at once point Dave leaned over and said ‘if she’s a girl, grace should be part of her name, because there’s so much if it here.’ So there you have it, Zelie (zay-lee) Grace Uebbing. 7 lbs 11 oz and sweet as can be.”

I’m so happy for Jenny!! I know the end of her pregnancy was tough (I just about died when I read her description on Instagram of her Christmas Eve, when she thought she might be in labor: “Santa may or may not be upstairs barfing and Mrs Claus is hunched over her contraction timer app”), so for her to say this birth was so much more peaceful than her others is such a gift. And the fact that, in the first consultation I did for her (for the baby before this one), she’d said about the name Zelie:

Dave will never let me get away with this one but I’ve loved it for years … And yes, I’m aware there is going to be a Catholic ghetto baby boom of little Z’s running around as a result [of St. Zelie’s canonization]. But I still love.”

Dreams do come true! ❤

Congratulations to Jenny and Dave and big sibs Joseph, John Paul, Genevieve, and Luke, and happy birthday Baby Zelie!!

Zelie Grace with Mom, Dad, and big brother

(Be sure to check out Jenny’s Instagram for more yummy baby pics!)

Birth announcement: Oscar Xavier!

I posted a consultation for Lisa and her husband just a week before Christmas, and Lisa let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the awesome name … Oscar Xavier!

Lisa writes,

We’re happy to announce the early and unexpected arrival of our little babe, Oscar Xavier, born 12/20 at 36w5d. Our little Ox wasn’t doing so well, so it was time to meet him. As we prayed for his safety and health, we realized we needed some strong intercessions. Upon seeing his face, he was most certainly an Oscar. It took us a bit to decide on a middle name, but found Xavier was the perfect fit. He has some very active saints (and soon-to-be saints) in his corner, and we’re sure God has big plans for our little Ox.”

Ox! I love it! 😍😍😍 Not only does this little guy have Bl. Oscar Romero and St. Francis Xavier watching out for him, but Ox reminded me right away of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was called The Dumb Ox by his classmates — I feel like it’s come to feel affectionate to the Dominicans (if you google “the dumb ox,” you get some pretty amazing results!). So this baby boy is SET!

Congratulations to Lisa and her husband and big sibs Eliette, Margot, and Quentin, and happy birthday Baby Oscar!!

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Oscar Xavier