Spotlight on: Agatha

One of you readers asked me to spotlight Agatha, specifically nicknames for it. You know that nicknames are my jam! And I’ve seen Agatha being considered and used more and more, so I’m sure that one reader wasn’t the only one who has wondered about this.

So! St. Agatha is a great saint! She (St. Agatha of Sicily, to be precise) was a martyr who’s listed in the Canon of the Mass, and has a brave but terrible story, as martyrdom stories tend to go. (I will never understand why some people think women are weak.) (I know the terrible martyrdom stories put some people off of naming after those saints — fortunately, there are a bunch of other holy Agathas! And some other really interesting historical Agathas, which Abby from Appellation Mountain discusses in her post on the name.)

Many people think of it as an old name, and it’s not just their perception:

agatha
Screenshot from the Baby Name Wizard’s NameVoyager tool 

Here’s a different version of the same info:

agatha2
Screenshot from the SSA’s Popularity of a Name tool

It was never very popular — it peaked at no. 392 in 1913, and fell out of the top 1000 altogether in 1945. 1945! That’s why it feels like an old name — it has a “stuck in the early part of the 1900s” feel because it was exponentially more popular then than has been since.

But! It never totally disappeared, and is coming back a little bit! Here’s how it’s looked since 2000:

2018: 102 girls named Agatha
2017: 95
2016: 77
2015: 87
2014: 71
2013: 62
2012: 44
2011: 51
2010: 49
2009: 36
2008: 38
2007: 47
2006: 50
2005: 53
2004: 24
2003: 38
2002: 25
2001: 23
2000: 28

Since 2013, it’s been on an upswing! Which is good for those who don’t like names that have an outdated feel, but it’s still got rare enough usage that those who prefer uncommon names won’t be disappointed either.

So how about those nicknames? Aggie is the obvious — it’s adorable, with the same sounds as the super popular Maggie, but the lack of that initial M makes a big difference. And I think a lot of people who might consider Agatha would be thrilled to have such a sweet, spunky nickname for their girl to use on an everyday basis. However, the mama who asked for the Agatha spotlight specifically said that Aggie is a no-go for her because the Texas A&M association is “way too strong”! I do know some people who love that association and consider Aggie because of it (alumni maybe?), but for others, especially those from Texas, I can see Aggie being problematic.

One of the nickname ideas I found in my research that I thought had promise is Gatha. Maybe? I also saw Agatine — I thought that could be cute — nicknames/diminutives aren’t necessary shorter, after all (e.g., John/Jack, Thomas/Tommy, Mary/Molly, Ann/Nancy). And I could see Agatine becoming something like Tina as time goes on, and then people would be like, “Why does your sister Agatha go by Tina?” and you can send them this post. 😂

There was actually a thread on Nameberry with this exact dilemma (Texan family who likes Agatha but doesn’t like the A&M association), and some of the suggestions were brilliant:

I have considered Hattie or the even rarer, cuter Hatsy! I think it works cuz you have the name ending in “ha” and you sort of just transmute the t and there you go!

Hattie and Hatsy are cuuuute! Others that commenters listed included

Ace
Aga, Ags
Ath, Atha
Gats, Gatsby
Gatta, Gattie
Gigi
Hatha
Tag, Tags, Taggy

I think Taggy’s brilliant — it’s an old nickname for Agnes, I totally should have thought of that!

What do you all think of Agatha? Would you consider naming a daughter Agatha, or have you? What nickname would you use, if any? Do you know any Agathas in real life? Do they go by a nickname? Happy Friday!!


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

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Baby name consultation: Brother for Twiggs!

I posted a consultation for Lily and her hubs for their first baby a few years ago, and then posted the birth announcement for their baby girl, who was given a name full of meaning for Lily’s family (especially Lily’s dad, for whom his granddaughter is named). I’m delighted that they’re back again for Baby no. 2, a boy!

Lily writes,

My husband is a Jr. and he is wanting to possibly make this little guy a III … [But] I don’t think Jeffery Lee goes with Twiggs! Twiggs is a pretty hard name to top! And man does she fit her name!

[W]e would possibly like to use his same initials. Also we would be good with using his grandfathers name Leland Boyd as middle name options or Lee.

I would like a name that goes with Twiggs. I also like names that sound more like last names and not common. I really like Whitt, Tate, Miller, Carter. My number one name is Whitt … I really like Whitt Leland or Whitt Boyd.

My husband wasn’t too sure about names he likes he said other than a name like his he wasn’t sure. So is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?!?

I thought that last question — “Is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?” — was perfect! It perfectly articulated the naming dilemma!

Lily provided a fuller list of names she likes:

Whitt
Sutton
Myers
Tate
Harris
Mack
Fitch
Finley
Asher
Jasper
Jensen
Johnson
Carter
Colt
Porter
Brick
Miller
Ward
Reade

As well as names they can’t use:

Josh (ua)
Joseph
Jefferson
Jacob
Jack
Jackson
Luke
Vincent
Robert
Henry
Owen
Andrew
Ross
William
Johnathan

This was definitely a challenge! Seeing that they’ve already named one child, normally I’d want to stick with names that are similar to it, but Twiggs isn’t an easy name to find style matches for, mostly because it’s a family name and one that was important to Lily, rather than necessarily being a “style” that they like. That said, though, it is clear that Lily prefers surnamey names! Whitt is very cool, and I also like both Whitt Leland and Whitt Boyd.

In trying to figure out what Lily’s hubby’s style is, just based on the fact that he’d like to consider Jeffery Lee III and isn’t sure what other names he likes other than “a name like his,” my sense is that he likes traditional boy names, preferably with a family tie. So I really wanted to try to find names that they would both like — “common ground between Whitt and Jeffery.”

One tactic would be to do something similar to what they did with Twiggs, whose given name is Lucy Twiggs — call their little boy by a name different from his given first name. They could have him go by his middle name, like Twiggs — maybe something like Jeffery Whitt would satisfy Lily’s husband’s desire to have his son named after him, while giving Lily an everyday call name that she loves. Lucy Twiggs and Jeffery Whitt sounds pretty great to my ear.

Another way to call him by a different name than his given name is with a nickname that he could go exclusively by. There are a few that are traditional for boys that are the Third, which might work nicely: Trip, Tripper, Trey, and Trace all have usage as nicknames that nod to the fact that the boy is a Third. I have a cousin who is a Third who has always and only gone by Trey; my sister had a classmate who is a Third and has always and only gone by Tripper. Trip and Trace are also great. So then Lily’s hubby could be happy with Jeffery Lee III on the birth certificate, and Lily could be happy with calling him Tripper all the time (or whichever she likes the best). Twiggs and Tripper/Twiggs and Trey/Twiggs and Trace/Twigs and Trip all sound great!

I like that they’re open to using Hubby’s initials, and I definitely looked for J names while I was doing my research because of it! I like the ones on Lily’s list — Jasper, Jensen, Johnson. I love the idea of Leland or Lee as the middle name, very meaningful for her husband!

Moving away from using Hubby’s actual name/initials, maybe he’d be happy with names from his family tree? Lily mentioned Boyd, and a good friend of mine recently named her son Boyd, so I wondered if that might appeal to the both of them, in honor of Lily’s hubby’s grandfather? Boyd Jeffery maybe? Boyd Lee?

From the list of names Lily likes, I thought names that have traditional usage as first names, rather than mostly last names, would be a good middle ground between her style and her hubby’s. Those include Mack, Asher, Jasper, Carter, and Colt. Does he dislike those?

I was bummed to see Jefferson on their “no” list! That’s definitely one I would have suggested!

I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this family, looking up names that are similar in style to Lucy and Jeffery, as well as any of the names on Lily’s list that I could find in the book: Tate, Carter, Asher, Jasper, Porter, Reid (in place of Reade), Lee, and Leland. I also looked through a book I have called A Dictionary of English Surnames, which has some really cool ideas, as well as the listing of English Martyrs, as their last names seemed like a good place to find meaningful names they might like. And of course, I looked through my book of Marian names. My goal was to find names that appealed somehow, whether they were as first names, middle names, or ways to get to nicknames. This is what I came up with:

(1) Leo
I’ll start with one that I don’t *think* Lily will love, but maybe she will? Leo is a style match for Lucy, and it’s a big name in my own family, and all the Leos go by Lee. So I thought maybe Leo nicknamed Lee would be a nice nod to her husband while still giving their son his own first name. Leo Jeffery maybe, as a way of sort of reversing Hubby’s name? Or Leo Boyd?

(2) Caleb
Caleb is actually a style match for both Carter and Asher, which made me think it might be a great compromise name for them. The nickname Cal seems like it might be the kind of nickname Lily’s husband could get on board with. It’s a great name for a boy.

(3) Everett
Everett isn’t a surname as far as I know, but I’ve always thought it has a surname feel. Such a handsome name! It’s a style match for Jasper.

(4) Bennett
Moving more toward Lily’s preferred style, I thought maybe surnamey names with “normal” nicknames could be another compromise. Bennett has long usage as a last name (as well as a first name), while Ben is a solid first name/nickname. Bennett is a match for Cooper and Reid.

(5) Evans
This is another idea of surnamey names with a first name feel — Evan is a first name, of course, but even just adding an S on the end makes it a last name and gives it an unexpected twist.

(6) Cort
This is one that caught my eye from the list of English Martyrs — Venerable Thomas Cort, a Franciscan — and it reminded me of some of the shorter names Lily likes, like Whitt, Tate, Mack, Colt, Ward, and Reade.

(7) Leeson
Leeson is actually an entry in the book of Marian names that I wrote — I’d discovered it in that book of English surnames and loved that it’s derived from the Latin Laetitia, which means “joy,” by way of the common medieval female variant of it, Lettice, and its short form, Lece; they all connect to Our Lady through her title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (“Cause of Our Joy”). For Lily, I particularly love that it’s a surname that has her hubby’s middle name right in it!

(7) Jebb, Jebson
Jebb and Jebson were listed in the book of English surnames, and were both said to have derived from Gepp, which derived from Geoffrey, which is where Jeffery comes from. So in that sense, Jebb and Jebson can be for her husband in the same way as Jefferson, but in a different way. Very cool!

I also looked through the surname book for more J names, in case they decide they want to stick with Hubby’s initials. I thought these might be appealing to them:

Jacoby (I know Lily said Jacob was on their No list, but maybe Jacoby would be ok? It’s derived from Jacob/James)
Judd, Judson (derived from Jordan)
Jerred (derived from Gerard or Gerald)
Jessop (derived from Joseph)
Jones (derived from John)
Jory (derived from George)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What other name(s) would you suggest for Twiggs’ little brother?


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

Name announcement: Your new favorite TV character!

I posted a consultation last month for screenwriter/actress Kathleen Jones — she was looking for help naming the main character in the show she’s writing, which she describes as “the first Catholic scripted comedy,” “a Parks and Rec style comedy about a failing Catholic parish and the laypeople that try to bring it back to life”!

Your new favorite TV show is called FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (follow it on Instagram and Twitter!) and Kathleen’s made her decision about the name of its main character! She writes,

I picked Tess!! Mother Teresa has always been a patron of mine (she was my confirmation saint, and my confirmation name is Teresa). I love her quote, ‘Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are.’ And where I am is a writer and actress in the arts! Something about the name Tess feels friendly, comedic and bright. And I think it matches well with her sister Molly. Thank you so much for your help, Kate!!

TESS!! I’m so excited!! Tess was my number one favorite suggestion for her!!💃💃💃

I also LOVE the connection to Mother Teresa!! Not only does it have personal significance for Kathleen, which is awesome, but Tess is just back from a trip to India in the pilot and there’s even a reference made to Mother Teresa, which gives it a really nice tie-in. And secondarily — but very cool — today is the feast of St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and Tess’ last name is Benny — Tess Benny! Teresa Benedicta! The Communion of Saints is everywhere! 😂🥰

Kathleen is going to be on Jen Fulwiler’s show on Sirius XM (Channel 129) on August 15 (feast of the Assumption!) at 2:00 talking about this awesome project!

kathleen&jen

I know you’re all excited as I am about this great show (I read the pilot, it’s hilarious!), and it’s SO FUN that we all were able to weigh in with our ideas for the main character!

Don’t forget to follow Kathleen on Instagram and Twitter for updates on FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!


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

Spotlight on: Cosima

A reader asked for a spotlight on Cosima, what a cool name! This was extra fun to work on because I didn’t really know anything about it until starting to do the research — how neat to discover it’s a feminine form of Cosmas! Like the twin saints, Cosmas and Damian!

In fact, let’s talk about Cosmas for a sec — I love that it’s a Catholicky Catholic name (in the Canon of the Mass, even!), and I love that it’s tailor-made for a twin (along with Cosmas’ actual twin, Damian — this mama did an awesome job incorporating both saints into her twin boys’ names! — and also Thomas, which means “twin”). I even love that Cosmo is one of its variants — who knew that Kramer has such a saintly name?? 😀

But of all the Cosmas variants — Kosmas, Cosmo, Kuzman, Cosimo, Côme, Cosma, Cosme, Cosmin, Kuzma — there’s only one feminine variant, isn’t that interesting?

Cosima is an Italian name, but I don’t think it comes across as overly Italian, do you? I mean, I think a family with no Italian heritage could consider it without raising eyebrows, do you agree? (Not that I think eyebrow-raising names are a bad thing!) In fact, Nameberry says it’s “the kind of elegant and exotic name the British upper classes love to use for their daughters” and that it’s “well used in Germany, Italy and Greece.”

Behind the Name says its pronunciation is KAW-zee-ma, but commenters said they’ve heard KO-zi-muh, KO-see-ma, ka-see-MAH, and cho-SEE-ma — if you’ve heard it in real life, what pronunciation(s) have you heard?

Based on those pronunciations, I can see Cosi (cozy), Cosi (kaw-zee), and Sima being doable as nicknames — can you think of others?

There are a few celebrity babies named Cosima, including the daughters of chef Nigella Lawson and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, as well as the daughter of supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who deserves a special shout-out because of the whole sibling set: Cosima Violet, Clementine de Vere, and Caspar Matthew. Ohhhhh my! ❤ ❤ ❤

I also saw several references to Cosima as a character’s name on the show Orphan Black, which I’m not familiar with, and the daughter of composer Franz Liszt; that Cosima was also the wife of composer Richard Wagner. I didn’t find any saints named Cosima, however.

What do you all think of Cosima? Would you consider it for a daughter? Do you know any Cosimas, and if so, do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?


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

Baby name consultation: Boy names needed for baby due today!!

A mama emailed me for help with naming her baby due today!! She writes,

My husband and I took about 2 days naming our daughter in the hospital and so we are hoping to be a little more prepared this time around. We ended up loving her name, Madeleine Virginia. Madeleine = we thought was pretty and I liked the French sound of it and I read somewhere that in French it relates to Mary Magdalene and my grandmother later told me my daughter’s patron saint is St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, of which 2 of my grandmother’s cousins were nuns. Which is interesting too because we liked Sophie and Sophia as a name for her as well but were worried they were too trendy at the time. We liked Virginia after my grandmother and I liked the reference to the Virgin Mary. I think it also flows nicely. We have never been big on nicknames so we still call her Madeleine. We didn’t really think of or mutually like any boy names so it was a good thing she was a girl!

Isn’t Madeleine Virginia gorgeous??

We do not know the gender of this baby either. My husband is not Catholic but has been very supportive of raising our children Catholic and has been interested in learning more about the faith and I would really like the baby’s name to have a reference to the faith. I have always liked more traditional names for boys but my husband having a very traditional name himself would like something a little different (but not TOO different!). He likes more hipster-ish names (like Hudson) … I am getting a little more on board with something being a bit different if it has staying power through the ages (i.e. Madeleine is a classic name but still not too common) … [We] also have lots of cousins so many of the traditional names are already taken (but maybe that shouldn’t matter?), so I’m thinking maybe something a little different could be good after all.

I’ve always loved the name Michael … [and] I really liked the name Dominic. I liked the Italian due to my Italian maiden name, but my brother just had a son and named him Dominic Michael so that’s out. I also don’t know how Italian sounding we want to get as my kids will all probably be so fair 🙂

At one point we kind of liked the name Brogan for a boy, after the Irish saint as that’s where I found the name. There is not a lot of history but I do like that it has a religious tie and that it’s different. But I was reading about it and some people say it’s a girls name? It seems masculine to me and I like names that are pretty gender specific and when I did a search I found some weird urban slang which may or may not be a thing because I had never heard of it. Also my husband knew someone with that last name so he’s not totally sold.

We also liked Brody when we were thinking of names but I don’t think there is anything religious there and I think it means mud which seems like a terrible meaning but the name sounds cute.

My husband likes the name Brooks and I want to like it because he does but I can’t seem to come fully on board (maybe because it’s one syllable or seems trendy, I have no idea) but also because I don’t think it has any religious meaning. I’ve considered Becket which was cute and has religious ties to St Thomas Becket but I’m still not totally in love with it. Brayden seems kinda cute too but again no religious ties that I know of. What are your thoughts on non-catholic first names, do you just find a strong Catholic middle name? Are there any loose ties to these names and the religion I could be missing? Also, we keep leaning towards B names for boys. I’m not sure why that is because that’s not a requirement at all, but it seems to be what we have been drawn to for some reason.

My husband started looking at Saint names and also liked Blaise. I knew someone growing up who’s dog was named Blaze so I need to get over that but I keep thinking of that dog and maybe again I’m not digging the one syllable which seems so picky of me! BUT I do like that it is a saint name and my mother-in-laws maiden name is Blaser so lots of meaning there.

For girls I am really drawn to Rosary (from your book) and although I’m not big on nicknames I do love the idea of calling her Rosie. I can’t help but worry with our secular culture how this name will influence her in the future whether she will love it or go through a phase where she won’t like it because it’s so unique and so Catholic or if she will get prejudice on college or job applications. My hope is that if it’s a girl she loves it. I wasn’t sure what I thought when I first heard it but I have become really drawn to it over the last couple of months.

We also like the name Emery for a girl. I thought it wasn’t tied to a saint but now I’m thinking it is tied to Saint Emeric who was male so I’m not sure. For a middle name I like Josephine which I’ve always found pretty. Another middle name could possibly be Patricia, after my mother in law and grandmother. We have considered other girl names but I think we have them narrowed to the above.”

I just think this mama and her hubby did a fantastic job with their daughter’s name, Madeleine Virginia is beautiful! She’s right about the connection to Mary Magdalene — Madeleine is the French variant of Magdalene. And how cool that two of her grandmother’s cousins were Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart! I love St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and a fun fact about her is that the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named after her!

I loved reading about her husband and how he’s interested in learning more about Catholicism — names of the faith are a great, easy, inoffensive way to do so! I’d love to help them find some names that fit his “more hipster-ish” style while having a connection to the faith and “staying power,” as Mama put it (love that!).

I agree with her thought that they should try to find a name that they both really like. Regarding the fact that a lot of traditional names have been used by their cousins, only they know what their family dynamic is like in the sense of, will the cousins (or their parents) be offended if this Mom and Dad give their baby the same name? Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it at all — traditional names like Michael, David, Thomas, James, and John have been used so much throughout history and in every generation of every family that there’s no reason at all for anyone to think they’re off limits (except in the case of a possible family rift, as I mentioned above).

I love Dominic too! I can see how Mama’s brother using it makes it unusable for them, but I just want to assure them (and all of you!) that Dominic can work for fair people too — I even wrote about it here!

I was really surprised to read that that this mama found Brogan to be used for both boys and girls — I would have said that it’s definitely a boy name! All the saints named Brogan were men, and St. Brogan of Mothil may have been St. Patrick’s nephew and secretary! But she’s right — behindthename.com lists it as both masculine and feminine. I looked to see how it breaks down in the Social Security stats: it’s a rare name — it’s not in the top 1000 for either boys or girls, though the last time it was, was in 2012, no. 933 for boys. In 2018, it was given to 21 girls and 101 boys … I don’t know, I’d still consider it a boy name — a boy name with some usage among girls. But if they don’t feel comfortable using it, I totally understand!

Brody, Brooks, Becket, Brayden, and Blaise are all good names that are both different from and similar to each other — similar in that they’re all surname-y and begin with B; different in that I think Brody and Brayden have that trendy feel that the mama said she’d like to stay away from, while Brooks feels both preppy and serious, and Becket and Blaise are saintly. (I did look up Brody, Brooks, and Brayden to see if there were any ties to the faith, but I didn’t find any.)

I’m very intrigued by Blaise for this family for four reasons: (1) it’s super saintly with a cool feast day — Feb. 3 is St. Blaise’s feast, which is when they do the Blessing of the Throats, as he’s patron against throat diseases (among other things); (2) it’s French, like Madeleine; (3) her mother-in-law’s maiden name is Blaser, which is amazing — I did some research and discovered Blas is the Spanish variant of Blaise, Blasius is the original Latin form of Blaise, and St. Blaise is also known as St. Blase — so many nice tie-ins to the mil’s name; and (4) her hubby identified it as one he likes from a list of saint names — that’s great! I would definitely encourage this mama to try to let Blaise grow on her! Though of course, if she doesn’t like it then she doesn’t like it, and I did note that she mentioned not liking the one-syllable-ness of both Brooks and Blaise, so maybe one-syllable names just aren’t her thing! I would definitely try to forget about the dog named Blaze! Maybe seeing some adorable little guys named Blaise would help?

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/08/17/birth-announcement-blaise-michael/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/06/07/birth-announcement-blaise-maximilian-kolbe/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/07/11/birth-announcement-felix-thomas/ (big brother is Blaise)

Also, I wonder what she and her hubby would think of using Blaser as a first name? It’s got that surname style they seem to like, it’s not one syllable, it can take Blase as a nickname and a patron saint, and it would honor her mother-in-law.

As for my thoughts on non-Catholic first names, I should first point out that though it used to be required that parents bestow a Christian name (saint, virtue, etc.) in either the first or middle spot (not even both!), current Canon Law only requires that the given names (first and middle) not be “foreign to Christian sensibility.” However, there’s a strong case to be made for bestowing a Christian name in the first or middle spot, and I think this mama would be happiest with a strong Catholic name somewhere in her son’s name.

That’s so funny that she read an article about names people regret the most and -en/-an names were mentioned! That seems very strange and arbitrary especially given that there are loads of great, traditional names that end in those letters and sounds. I wouldn’t worry about that at all!

For their girl ideas, I love so much that they’re considering Rosary!! I love it!! Rosie is so sweet too. It’s a fair point she brings up about how the name might affect her daughter in secular culture going forward; it might help to consider that she can go by Rose if she prefers, even on college and job applications, or go by her middle name (though it’s true that any time her legal name would be required, it would be seen) (I worked in Admissions in college and definitely saw applications of students applying under their nicknames). Here is a real-life Rosary, if it’s helpful, and here are her siblings’ names.

Emery is so different from Rosary in the sense that its faith connection isn’t obvious, and it’s also trendier than I think this mama would like? It entered the name charts for the first time in 2005 at no. 813 and has zoomed up the charts, entering the top 100 at no. 92 in 2018. That said, there is a holy woman it can connect to it: Mama is right that Emery is a form of Emeric, which is a form of Emmerich, and there is a Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich. I also noticed that both Rosary and Emery end in -ry — if they were to look for additional girl names, they might try looking for other names ending in -ry. (Speaking of Emeric/Emmerich, I wonder if either one would be a possibility for a boy?)

Rosary Josephine, Rosary Patricia, Emery Josephine, and Emery Patricia are all lovely!

In a separate email, the mama had asked about two-syllable first names paired with two-syllable last names (their last name has two syllables), and I assured her that I thought such a pairing was fine. That said, to go back to her -en/-an concern, first names that have the same number of syllables AND end in the same sound as the last name can sometimes sound sing-songy in a way some parents don’t like, which is something they’d have to contend with in regards to their last name. Brogan LastName and Brayden LastName have that feature, as their last name ends in the “in” sound, but if it doesn’t bother them, then they definitely shouldn’t worry about it! There are very few real “rules” when it comes to naming, and what some parents find jarring others may fine charming. Other considerations sometimes outweigh aesthetics as well — for example, if it’s important to the parents to use a particular family name, that might be more important to them then the fact that it sounds weird with their last name.

Now onto new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and like 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 for names that I thought they’d like that also had a connection to the faith. I also perused this post I’d done of Catholicky surnames, this post I did of “not-so-normal Catholic names,” and this article I wrote about surnames that derived from first names. I also looked through my book of Marian names. Based on all that research, these are my ideas:

(1) Other B names
I kept coming across B names with saintly connections, and I couldn’t decide which ones to include here, so I thought I’d list them all! I’ve linked to their saintly connections.

Bennett — Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict.

Bates, Batten, Bartlett — these are all variants of Bartholomew — the name of a bunch of saints as well as one of the twelve apostles.

Bosco — for St. John Bosco; one of my favorite bloggers named her son Bosco, as did another of my readers.

Brice — Brice is a style match for Brody, Brayden, and Blaise, per the Baby Name Wizard! Check out St. Brice of Tours.

Bram — Bram is a short form of Abraham, and I’ve actually had it on my own list for years! It can be pronounced to rhyme with “ram,” or to rhyme with “bomb,” which is how Dracula author Bram Stoker said it.

Brendan — Brendan is more traditional like the names the mama likes, while beginning with a B like so many of the names her hubby likes. St. Brendan’s a great patron.

Brannock — St. Brannock is a Welsh saint with a pretty cool name!

Britton, Bretton — Bl. John Bretton is also known as John Britton, and was one of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Bruno — I thought Bruno might represent an interesting marriage of Mama’s Italian heritage and the Br- names that are on their list. There are a bunch of Sts. Bruno!

Blake — Blake is a style match for both Brody and Brayden per the BNW. Bl. Alexander Blake would serve as patron.

(2) Cooper (Cupertino?)
One of my readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, who goes by Cooper, which I think is just genius! I think Cooper as a given name could be a tribute to St. Joseph of Cupertino, and Cooper is a specific style match for Becket per the BNW. If they wanted to use Cupertino as the given name though, with or without the nickname Cooper, that would be cool too!

(3) Bastian (Sebastian?)
Since Mama said she loves Dominic, I wanted to see if I could find a name or two similar in style that might fit her other criteria. Sebastian is actually a style match for both Dominic and Madeleine, and as soon as I saw it I thought the shortened form Bastian as a given name might hit the right note! The full Sebastian would be great too.

(4) Gabriel
Gabriel is another name that was inspired by Dominic, and by Michael too actually — Gabriel feels like a nice combination of both of their styles.

(5) Gratian
Since she’s familiar with my book, maybe she noticed this entry and didn’t care for it? But I thought I should mention it just in case. Gratian is basically the male version of the name Grace, and there was a St. Gratian who was a third-century Roman soldier and martyr.

(6) Kolbe
I’m interested to see what they would think of Kolbe! The same-sounding name Colby is a style match for Brody and Cooper, but spelling it Kolbe gives it lots of saintly cred via St. Maximilian Kolbe. I love him!

(7) Landon
Brooks has enough of a different feel to me from the Brody/Brayden names that I wanted to find one or two options that are similar to it. I remembered a consultation I did for a family who had big brothers Landon and Brooks, and thought Landon might be great! It’s the only name here that doesn’t have a saintly connection, though it does have a papal one—Pope Lando was the 121st pope (year 913), and is also known as Landon; not much is known of him, but he was described as “a worthy man.”

(8) Grant
Another style match for Brooks that I thought they might be interested in is Grant — we’ve discussed it a bit on the blog recently as being bestowed in honor of St. Anne or after the English translation of the Latin dona nobis pacem: “Grant us peace.” I know this is one syllable like Brooks and Blaise (and my other suggestions Bates, Brice, Bram, and Blake), but I included it (and other one-syllable names) in case the mama doesn’t dislike all one-syllable names.

(9) Garrett
My last idea mixed the surname style with the mama’s more traditional taste pretty well, I thought. Garrett is actually derived from either Gerard or Gerald, of which there are many saints so-named, and it has traditional usage as a last name.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for a brother for Madeleine?


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

Baby name consultation: Adventurous German or Irish name needed

I had such fun working on a consultation for Laura and her husband’s second baby a few years ago — they ended up giving the baby the middle name Caoilfhinn, just to give you an idea of the kinds of names they like! I’m so excited that they asked me for ideas/thoughts/suggestions for baby no. 3 — a third girl! This little lady joins big sisters:

Clara Louise
Rosalie Caoilfhinn

Such lovely, feminine names!

Laura writes,

You did a consultation for our second, and now we’re facing a similar problem with our third: a long list of boys’ names, and a tiny list of girls’. If you could help us finalize a third option, we’d really appreciate it!

We love our heritage as German/Irish and love European names, but especially ones in that vein. A saint name is preferred, but not necessary for both first and middle. So far, we have liked the name Liesel the best.”

Liesel!! I love it!!

Now we’re having a hard time picking *the* middle name. There are several that we like, and we were trying to avoid anything that sounded ‘sing-song.’ (Áine/Anya came up in our last consultation and was beloved by many readers, but Liesel Áine sounds like lasagna! Haha.)

Here are some of the ones we have on our list:

Amabel (though the two names ending in -el might be a bit much), Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, Kateri

Bronwyn may be my favorite because its sounds are so different from Liesel. But I also like one or three-syllable middles as I think they help the entire name flow. (Hubby will NOT consider a four-name moniker.)

Another name we’ve considered (as a middle) is Eilidh (AY-lee). My grandmother was Eleanor, but Aaron really dislikes that name. He likes Eilidh, which I’ve heard is the Gaelic version, but it doesn’t sound right with Liesel. My husband also likes Maisie, particularly as a nn for a Marian name (though we’re not sure which). I think it’s perfectly darling.

To help you out (and hopefully not confuse you), boy names that we (BOTH — lol) like are: William, Wolf, Arthur, Thomas, Becket, Edmund/Éamon, Frederick/Freidrich (nn Fritz), Bernhard/Bernard, Roger, Felix, Rórdán.

I love Laura and her hubby’s taste in names! I think Liesel is a great sister name to Clara and Rosalie, which also checks off Laura’s boxes of German and saintly. Her comment about Liesel Áine sounding like “lasagna” made me laugh out loud! I think they’re right to avoid it! As for their other middle name ideas:

— I love Amabel, but I agree with Laura that it doesn’t have the best flow with Liesel

— Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, and Kateri are all great options! I agree that the juxtaposition of the German Liesel and the Welsh Bronwyn is interesting and unexpected, I like it! But I think I agree with Laura that one- and three-syllable middles have the best flow with Liesel

— I too love Eilidh! But I agree that Liesel Eilidh isn’t ideal. I wonder if Laura and her hubs might consider the fuller Eilionoir? Liesel Eilionoir has the rhythm they like and is so similar to the sound of Laura’s grandmother’s name (though I think it’s Scottish instead of Irish) (although, I’m just seeing that Nameberry lists Eilidh as Scottish as well, so maybe Scottish is ok?). Or what about a Nora name? I like both Liesel Nora(h) and Liesel Noreen, even though Nora and Noreen are both two syllables

As for Maisie — I love it too!! SUCH a sweet name!! I love the idea of using it as a nickname for a Mary name. Mariazell is a name in my book that I love, that could definitely take Maisie as a nickname. Marie-Azelie, or any M- name with Zelie as a middle, could work to get to the nickname Maisie as well. And actually … Liesel has that same Z sound … so Mary Liesel, Marie-Liesel, Maura Liesel, Moira Liesel, etc. could lead to Maisie as a nickname as well. Or M + any name with a Z-ish sound!

One of the names that showed up a couple of times in my research for this family as being similar to their style — specifically similar to Arthur, Edmund, and Bernard — is Marian/Marion. I like Marian as a sister to Clara and Rosalie too! Or as a middle? Liesel Marian?

Another idea for Maisie is a Margaret name — Maisie is a diminutive of Mairead, which is the Irish Margaret, so Margaret, Marguerite, and Margot could all work as full names that use Maisie as a nickname. Or Mairead! I actually know a couple little Maireads, including the daughter of one of my best friends. She always says, “Rhymes with parade!” which makes it really easy to help others know how to say it. Margaret/Mairead isn’t Marian, but they could easily remedy that with a Marian middle.

Another name I adore, which is also an entry in my book, is Maylis (also spelled Maëlys) — it can be said may-LEES, may-LIS, or MAY-lis, and is generally considered to mean “Mary of the lily” in French. I could see Maisie working for it as a nickname! Though I admit Maylis is so short that maybe a nickname is silly.

I’m sure none of you are surprised that the “minute” I meant to spend on Maisie turned into quite a few minutes! Haha!

Back to the task at hand! You all know that I usually start consultation by looking up the names the parents like and have used in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and I also looked through my Marian names book and my own mental files for ideas for Liesel’s middle name, which yielded some good ideas, I think!

(1) Alannah
I love that behindthename says Alannah as a given name “has been influenced by the affectionate Anglo-Irish word alannah, from the Irish Gaelic phrase a leanbh meaning ‘O child’ …” Isn’t that sweet? I love Liesel Alannah!

(2) Annika
Laura mentioned Anya/Áine, and when I saw Anna show up as a style match for a bunch of the names on her list, I thought maybe a different Anna variant would do. I love Annika for its German feel — I know Laura likes mixing ethnicities, but Liesel Annika was too gorgeous to not suggest! That said, if they were open to changing the first name, Annika Eilidh was striking me as a stunning option as well.

(3) Maeve
Maeve is Irish, one syllable, and Marian per my book! Baby Names of Ireland gives one of its meanings as “cause of great joy,” which is so similar to Our Lady’s title Causae Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy). Liesel Maeve has that two-syllable + one-syllable rhythm that Laura favors.

(4) Riona, Rionach
Amazingly, this actually showed up in the Baby Name Wizard — it tends to not be the greatest source for unusual or ethnic names, but Riona was listed as a match for Eamon! It, or the name it derives from, Rionach, means “queen” — I included Riona in my Marian names book as a variant of Regina! The even more Irish Rionach might appeal to Laura and her hubs even more. Liesel Riona(ch) is pretty cool! (Though Baby Names of Ireland doesn’t include the fadas, Behind the Name lists them as Ríona and Ríonach, so that could be fun for someone like Laura.)

(5) Loretta
My last idea is Loretta, which is a style match for Bernard and was my own grandmother’s name — she was super Irish, and her given name was Mary Loretta, though she went by Loretta (or Rett). It’s a Marian name, after Our Lady of Loreto, or the Marian Litany of Loreto, and I looove how Liesel Loretta sounds. I love alliteration like that! (But I totally understand if Laura and her husband don’t!)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Liesel’s middle name?


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

Birth announcement: Hildegard Edna Marie!

I had the great pleasure and privilege of doing a consultation for Monica and her husband for their fourth baby three years ago, then posting a birth announcement for that baby, and then one for their next baby, and now I’m delighted to post a birth announcement for their sixth baby! I’d actually done a consultation for them for this baby, but only for boy names, and then they ended up having a girl — the extraordinarily named … Hildegard “Hildie” Edna Marie!

Monica wrote in the email for her consultation,

“… my husband’s dear/saintly Granny was named Hilda. He mentioned since then that he thinks her full name was Hildegard (he has now confirmed with his mom). We would have named the boys Hilda had either been a girl and with the intention of using the NN Hildie (even though hubby is typically anti nick names). With this new knowledge we are leaning strongly toward the name Hildegard Marie Edna. Edna was my grandmother’s name. We both had the unique experience of having our saintly grandmas live with our families growing up.”

And then I received this!

I wanted to let you know our baby arrived on 7/7 and it’s a girl! I’m thankful we did the consult even though you were only providing boy name suggestions as I surely would have been having anxiety over a potential boy name the whole time I was in labor if we hadn’t! Her siblings could not be more delighted about their new sister! Hildegard “Hildie” Edna Marie.”

Hildegard Edna Marie!! Hildie!! I loooove it!!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big sibs:

Cora Marie
Levi Alphonsus (with Jesus)
Regina Marie
Fulton Michael
Edmund Alphonsus

And happy birthday Baby Hildie!!

Hildegard “Hildie” Edna Marie with her brothers and sisters ❤


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