Word names (Catholic edition)

I’ve been digging word names related to the faith lately, like Tiber, Shepherd, Vesper, and Rosary. This may or may not be due to my frantic desire to add some unexpected names to our short list for our baby (if a boy), which I really just need to calm down about. !!! I read about a baby with the middle name Banner yesterday, inspired by Psalms 60:6 (“Raise up a banner for those who revere you”), and it got me all fired up again!

Anyway, I’d love to hear what Catholic word names you would add to this list! For both boys and girls, because I love making lists of girl names I like as well, even though we’re set with a girl name. Happy Saturday!

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Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs less popular, sounds-like-it’s-spelled name

Gwen and her husband are expecting their third baby — a girl! Little Miss joins big sibs:

James Robert (“Named after my father, my husband, and his Father. LOVE James, [and] I used Robert because it’s a generations-old tradition.”)

Evelyn Blanche (“My first name was my father’s favorite girl name which is special because each of my siblings has two family names. We continued that with our Evie … Evelyn is hubby’s (and my) favorite girl name; Blanche is my middle name and I was named for a childless great-great-aunt who was an incredible self-made woman in the very late 1800s/early 1900s.”)

I love the stories behind these kiddos’ names! I love that James Robert honors Gwen’s dad, husband, and father-in-law, that’s a pretty amazing feat with one baby’s name! And Evelyn Blanche—what a cool combo with a great nickname, and Gwen’s great-great-aunt sounds amazing! I love that Blanche is her middle name as well, so nice for a girl to have a connection to her mama in that way.

Gwen writes,

Here are our parameters —

  • At least one family name (or variant of a family name) and the other must have a special story. We’d love to name this girl for my husband’s grandmother (Anna Katherine). We are strongly considering Katherine, but I don’t like any nicknames except “Ryn” and I just don’t know if that works? I honestly don’t love Katherine as a first name and would prefer to use it as a middle name … unless there is a variant or nickname (none of the Kathy/Katie/etc) that I don’t know of.

  • Girl Family Names: Anna, Katherine, Kjerstin (Swedish version but would consider variations), Vera, Juliana, Florentina,  Juliette, Elna, Leona, Elana, Philomena, AnnNancy, Rose, Bernadine, Loretta, Jane — names in red would have to be a variant of those names

  • Boy Family Names (perhaps a variant for a girl): Francis, Otto, Henry, Anders, Notley, Sebastian, Cosgrove, William, DeCourcy, Patrick, John, Charles

  • “Special Story” — if one name isn’t a family name we’d like there to be some connection. Perhaps it’s a traditional name that honors our heritage or has strong saintly connections

  • Our ancestral homes include: Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Sicily

  • Her first name should be a classic/traditional name that isn’t top 10-15. Evie ended up being WAY more popular than I like and it bugs me. I wouldn’t mind a name that’s popular in another country, but it can’t be going crazy here in the states. It needs to sound like it’s spelled which, unfortunately, eliminates most Irish names 🙂

  • Strong “No” names that we won’t use — Margaret/Margot, Karen, Kathleen, Clare, Mary, Rebecca, Aidan

  • Another name has come up that might be a really strong contender: Noelle. What do you think about nicknames, style fit, and spelling?! I’m not 100% and I’m not sure if we would do Noelle Katherine or Katherine Noelle (but call her Noelle). My husband is dead set on Katherine so we have to make that work

At first I thought it seemed that Gwen and her hubs were open to using a variant of Katherine, so you had to know that my mind immediately started clicking over their Katherine dilemma as soon as I read Gwen’s email! But then Gwen said her hubby has his heart set on using Katherine, so I’m assuming that’s what they’re going with and I didn’t spend too much time coming up with Katherine variants. If they would still like this option though, this site has all the ones I could possibly hope to share. Of those, some that jumped out at me included the spellings Kathryn, Katheryn, and Katheryne, which Gwen might like because they mirror the spelling of Ryn; Caitlin and Catriona because of their Irish heritage; Kasia (Polish) and Carina and Katja (both Swedish); Katia and Rina (Italian); and Kateri, for our St. Kateri.

I like Gwen’s idea of Katherine nicknamed Ryn a lot! I think it’s perfectly logical and a very cool twist on Katherine. Katherine definitely fits their criteria of not being in the top ten or fifteen names, as it was no. 105 in 2017, and using a nickname like Ryn makes it even less popular, since I think Kate and Katie are the more common nicknames for it.

I think Katherine Noelle is lovely, and I love Noelle Katherine as well. Their baby’s actually due in December, so Christmas names like Noelle work nicely and can provide the “special story.” As far as nicknames for Noelle, I know a little Noelle who goes by Nell and Nelly with her family, both of which I love. I’ve seen Noe as a nickname for it, and I think Noly/Noley could work too. There’s a former child actor named Noley Thornton who played Heidi in a 1993 version of the movie, and I remember thinking she was so sweet and her name was so cool. Noelle is no. 235, which is a great ranking—it’s familiar but not popular. I also think they could easily do Elle/Ellie if they wanted to as well.

As far as spelling, I love the Noelle spelling—it’s so pretty and feminine and makes the pronunciation more obvious in my opinion. Noel is much more used for boys, though it has both male and female usage (no. 386 for boys vs. no. 870 for girls), and can be said like Noelle or like Nole. In terms of style, you all know that I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard (no link available because Amazon’s down due to Prime Day!) when doing consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity—I thought it was pretty cool that several of the style matches for Evelyn are French or French-ish (Charlotte, Claire, Madeline) like Noelle.

I actually think Gwen and her husband are really set with Katherine as a first name, with or without Noelle as a middle, or with Noelle Katherine as the given name—I feel like they hit all their hopes (family name, special story, etc.). It seems like they have a lot of great middle names for Katherine other than Noelle from their family list, if they decided not to use Noelle—I really like Katherine paired with a variant of Anne, which would honor the Anna, Ann, and Nancy that they have in their list of family names. Katherine Annika maybe? (Annika is Swedish.) Katherine Hannah? Katherine Aine, for an Irish twist, or Katherine Anja for a different Swedish twist? (Both Aine and Anja are said like Anya. I know Gwen said she wants names that are said like they’re spelled, but maybe it doesn’t matter so much in the middle spot?)

Rose from the list is a good option too—Katherine Rose is lovely. I love Katherine Loretta—Loretta was my grandmother’s name, and I don’t usually see it on little girls. I like the idea of Katherine Jane as well, but Gwen said it would have to be a variant—Jane is a feminine version of John, so any of the feminine John variants could honor Jane (as well as the John in their list of males family members): Joan, Jean, Gianna, Janina, Joanna (Joanna could maybe be for Jane, John, Anna, Ann, and Nancy all at the same time?) … St. Joan of Arc is an amazing patron for a little girl—strong, fearless, and faithful. St. Gianna is another great one—a modern saint, full of love and courage. Janina’s a Swedish AND Polish variant! If they were open to using the crazy Irish names in the middle, Sinead and Siobhan are both feminine John variants (and not even that crazy as far as Irish names go—I think most people are familiar with those two names).

Okay, on to additional ideas! As I mentioned, I really like so many of the options they have, like Noelle Katherine, Katherine Noelle, and Katherine + so many of the family names Gwen listed. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t offer some more ideas! As I mentioned, I use the Baby Name Wizard a lot in my consultations, and what I look for when doing that research are names that are style matches for more than one of the names on the parents’ list—that gives a pretty good indication that they might hit just the right notes. When there’s not a huge amount of overlap, as with this family, I then look through the style matches of the names on their list and any that *feel* right, on a gut level that I can’t explain, also make the list. So it’s partly a science, and partly emotional! James goes with most names, I would say—it’s so classic with so many varied associations that James can easily be a brother to children with names of all different styles. Similarly with Katherine I think. So I focused mostly on Evelyn, Blanche, and Noelle, as I thought they’d give me more distinctive ideas (though I didn’t disregard James and Katherine). Based on my research and my gut feelings, these are my ideas for Gwen and her hubs:

(1) Julia
I loved seeing Julia listed as a style match for both James and Katherine, especially after seeing Juliette and Juliana on their list of family names (and Juliette’s honor name needing to be a variant). Julia can easily be Evelyn’s sister, even while being so different in popularity (no. 93 in 2017). I also quite like Katherine Julia. I spotlighted the Julia names here, including patron saints.

(2) Rose
Rose is not only a style match for this family, but also a name on their list of family names. I mentioned it earlier as a possible middle name for Katherine, but I love it as a first name for them too. Rose is no. 141, well outside of the top ten or fifteen. Rosie is a sweet nickname with sister Evie; Rose Katherine is a lovely combo; and Rose can be for St. Rose of Lima or any of the other saints named Rose or with Rose in their names somewhere, as well as for Our Lady (roses are one of her symbols; the rosary literally refers to a crown of roses for her; and she has often had roses with her in her apparitions).

(3) Lucille
I know it might seem weird that I used Blanche as one of my inspirations, but it’s my experience that even when people choose a name for family reasons, thinking it has little to do with their style, it actually still tells about their style. If Gwen really hated Blanche, she wouldn’t have used it, no matter how cool her great-great-aunt was; if she hated it and still wanted to honor her aunt, she likely would have found a different way to do so. All that to say, when I saw that Lucille is a style match for Blanche, I liked it right away for Gwen’s little girl. Evelyn nicknamed Evie and Lucille nicknamed Lucy are so pleasing to me as sister names, and Lucille is no. 264. There are loads of great saints named a variant of Lucy that can serve as patron, and the Lucy names can also be Marian, as they mean “light” and Our Lady of Light is one of Our Lady’s titles. Lucille Katherine and Katherine Lucille are amazing.

(4) Camille
Camille’s a style match for Noelle, and I just thought it was a really pretty name that fit Gwen’s popularity criteria (it’s no. 251). Cami and Millie are adorable nicknames that feel like Evie to me, and there are both male and female holies that can be patron.

(5) Caroline
Caroline is a Katherine match that seems exactly perfect to me. It’s got good popularity (no. 55), sweet nicknames from the familiar to the unexpected (Carrie, Callie, Carly, Caro, Clio), it goes really well with James and Evelyn in my opinion, AND it can honor the Charles on their list of family names! There are lots of patron saint options too. Another not listed there is Bl. Karl, Emperor of Austria, who I wrote about recently.

(6) Willa
This might strike Gwen as a really out-there suggestion, but I was trying to think of ways to make a nickname like Ryn feel more comfortable for her, and I thought of the name Wren, and thought how a W first name with Katherine as a middle could lead to the nickname Wren (W+the ending sound of Katherine). So then I tried to think of a W name that might work for them (you see how my mind works?? So crazy!) and thought of Willa for two reasons—first, because they have William in their list of family names, and second, because Evelyn and Willa are such a literary pair, which I love! (Evelyn Waugh and Willa Cather. And of course James can get right in there in a bunch of ways—James Joyce immediately came to mind because of their Irish heritage.) Then I thought I like Willa Katherine for them so much, whether or not they like the Wren idea. Willa’s so pretty! It’s no. 454, and there’s even a St. Willa of Nonnberg, as well as, of course, all the Sts. William.

(7) Elizabeth or Elisabeth
My last idea breaks Gwen’s popularity rule, as Elizabeth is no. 13, but it’s a match for James, Robert, and Katherine, and when I see a name that matches so many of those on the parents’ list, I feel like I have to include it! One way to get around that popularity is to use the Elisabeth spelling, which is no. 775, but really, I thought the million Elizabeth nicknames could really help. From the common and familiar Liz, Ellie, and Beth, to the lesser used Betsey, Bess, and Betty, to the surprising Tess, Libbett, and even Zelie (we’ve talked a bit here about how Zelie can be a nickname for Elizabeth, and honor St. Zelie at the same time), there are so many options to fit whatever kind of vibe they’re going for. (I personally don’t mind that Elizabeth/Elisabeth and Evelyn start with the same letter, though I would understand if Gwen and her hubs prefer not to do that.)

And those are all my ideas for this little girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of James and Evelyn/Evie?


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Spotlight on: Shepherd

Happy feast of St. Kateri! I did a spotlight on her name back when I first started the blog, and she’s the first entry in my Sibling Project. I’ve also mentioned the Auriesville Shrine a few times, which is where St. Isaac Jogues and companions were martyred, and where it is believed St. Kateri was born — the Shrine is close to where I live, and I grew up going there and have brought my boys many times. And also, today’s my brother’s birthday and the birthday of my best childhood friend! A great day!

Given all this, it’s funny that I should be doing a post today that doesn’t have anything to do with Kateri! But I promised a spotlight on the name Shepherd to Theresa ages ago, and I woke up this morning full of determination to finally get it done, so here we are. A spotlight on Shepherd on the feast of St. Kateri. 😀

I’ve been digging word names recently, and Shepherd is one of the best for Catholic namers! We can use it to refer, of course, to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Shepherd and its variant Shep(p)ard literally mean “shepherd, sheep herder,” and the Good Shepherd is one of my favorite portrayals of Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) — such a strong and comforting reassurance! In addition, as far as a feast day goes, Good Shepherd Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Easter, and in “1963, Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday  as World Day of Prayer for Vocations as those called to the priesthood are shepherds of the faithful” (source). I love that! There’s also a pretty great list of patrons of shepherds, if you’d rather go that route to find a feast day.

In addition to being a word name, it’s also a surname, so it can fit in with other saintly surnames (incidentally, speaking of St. Kateri and St. Isaac, Jogues is on that list of saintly surnames!) — this family has three boys with names in this style, including Shepherd — I love them!

Shep is one of the best nicknames too! It’s good for a boy and a man, and it has that friendly vibe that I always like so much in nicknames. I could also see Sheppy, which is a-dorable, and I’m not opposed to Herd as a nickname either, if Shep(py) isn’t quite right — it reminds me of Hart, which I see from time to time and like quite a bit, and in fact the surname Herd appears to be a variant of Hart, which I don’t know quite what to do with but it’s too interesting to not include! (Note that the first link to Hart is for its use as a nickname for Gerhardt, which is a variant of Gerard, and in that case means “hardy,” while the latter link to Hart as a variant of Herd refers to its meaning as a male deer [stag]. Both of them cool meanings, but neither refer to sheep!).

What do you think of the name Shepherd? Would you consider it for a son, or have you? Do you know anyone named Shepherd? Does he go by a nickname? Happy feast day to all the little Kateris that are part of the Sancta Nomina community!


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Birth announcement: Tiber Augustine!

I posted such a fun consultation for Ali and her husband back in February, and Ali’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the fantastic name … Tiber Augustine!

If you remember, Ali had said, ““We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome,” and Tiber was one of my ideas — so fun that it hit the right note for them!

Congratulations to Ali and her hubs and big brothers Max and Zack, and happy birthday Baby Tiber!!

tiber_augustine

Tiber Augustine

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the other names they’re considering:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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