Baby name consultation: B/g twins need complementary but not matchy names!

Ryan and Maggie are expecting twins — a boy and a girl! They join big brother:

Jay Anthony

Which I love for its masculine simplicity. Nice job!

Ryan writes,

So I’m not sure we have a style when it coming to names yet … maybe our style will become ‘Saintly Simplistic’ 🙂

Our first son we named Jay Anthony. Jay is a family name of several generations (also my middle name) and Anthony (St. of Padua, of course). We liked the flow of Jay Anthony [with our last name].

The first names of the twins won’t be quite as simple as Jay, but ideally they could be shortened to a simple nickname.

For the boy a middle name of Kolbe (for St. Maximilian, who I have a devotion to) is likely [although thinking about it as a first name also]

Boy first names we are considering include: Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian.

For the girl we are strongly considering Robyn as a middle name (after my wife’s father [Robin]) or Josephine (St Joseph)

Girl first names we like include: Mariella, Avila, Gianna, and Rosalia.

So that’s where we are. Confused and lacking creativity. If it was just one baby, I don’t think we would be asking for help/ideas; but the twins are presenting a unique challenge. We want the names to go together but not be “matchy“.”

I love working on twin consultations! And I like that Ryan and Maggie “want the names to go together but not be ‘matchy.'”

Since Ryan said he’s not sure they have a name style yet, I was really interested to see if I would see a style emerge after considering their son’s name and the names on their list. I think the first thing that’s pretty obvious is that they have different styles for boy names and girl names, which is really common.

In their boys’ names, I see Old Testament (Elijah, Samuel), Celtic (Ian), surnames (Kolbe and Bennet), and short names (Ian and Jay).

For their girls’ names, I’d say “Italian,” even though I know Avila is Spanish … so maybe “Latin-skewing-Italian” + “very feminine.”

With such different styles for their boy names vs. their girl names, finding names that go together is indeed a challenge! But such a fun one!

I don’t have any twins of my own, so anything I know about twin naming is learned from others’ experience. But you all know that I’ve done some twin consultations (e.g., here, here, here), and I love trying to come up with names that “go together without being too matchy.” I think there are a few ways a couple can do this:

  • Same first sound. This can definitely cross over into “too matchy,” and most twin parents I’ve talked to don’t care for same first initials (makes labeling things difficult), but doing something like G+J or C+K — where the twins have the same first sound but different initials — is an easy way to incorporate different styles of names but still help them feel like a unit
  • Same ending sound. This is probably easier for twins of the same gender, but not impossible for b/g twins
  • Balanced length. I like the idea of two short first names or two long first names — I think that makes for an obvious shared characteristic without being too matchy. Same number of letters always feels really pleasing to me, even if the names themselves are different styles. I also like a long-first+short-middle for one twin and short-first+long-middle for the other
  • Similar meanings. Some people really get into what names mean, and others don’t, but those who do could have some real fun choosing names that have similar or complementary meanings

Before getting into what names might pair up well though, I thought I’d share the name ideas I had for Ryan and Maggie beyond those on their list. This is based on research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists for each entry boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I looked up Jay, Cole (as a stand-in for Kolbe, as it doesn’t have its own entry), Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian, Mariella, Gianna, and Rosa (as a stand-in for Rosalia), and looked for overlap among their style matches. I also had my own ideas, which included creating my own list of similar names for Avila, as it doesn’t have an entry and Ava didn’t seem quite right. Based on all that, these are ideas I thought Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list:

Girl
(1) Cate (Caterina)
Since Jay is the only name they’ve actually chosen, I really wanted to be sure the twins’ names didn’t clash with his. I loved seeing that Kate was a style match for it, and it was listed as a match for Bennet as well, and it seemed like a great idea to me right away. Working with the style of name for girls that they seem to like, I thought Caterina with the nickname Cate would be a great idea, as Caterina is the Italian form of C/Katherine (indeed, St. Catherine of Siena’s first name was actually Caterina — Catherine is the Anglo/French form of it). They certainly don’t have to do the full name with the nickname — they can definitely give Cate as the given name (or Kate — Prince William’s wife Kate’s given name is Catherine — she does C for her formal name and K for her nickname), and take St. Catherine of Siena (or any of the Sts. Catherine) as patron — but I thought Caterina nicked Cate would be closer to their style.

(2) Clare/Clara/Chiara
Claire is a style match for Cole (standing in for Kolbe), Bennet, and Ian, and Clara is a match for Rosa (standing in for Rosalia)! So I thought one of the names from this family would be a good idea. Claire is a beautiful spelling, but since it’s the French spelling, I thought they’d prefer others better. Clare is the one traditionally associated with St. Clare of Assisi; Clara, with its “A” ending, gets closer to the feel of the Latinate names they like for girls; and Chiara is the Italian variant and the actual name of St. Clare of Assisi (like Caterina for St. Catherine of Siena). I also see a lot of families considering/using Chiara today with Bl. Chiara Luce Badano in mind.

(3) Lucy/Lucia
I thought Lucy felt more like Jay, but Lucia leans more toward the names on their girl list. Either way, I like one of these for this family. Lucy is a match for Rosa, and Lucia for Gianna. Pronunciation issues might bother them: the Italian Lucia is said loo-CHEE-ah, while I believe loo-SEE-ah is the Spanish/Portuguese pronunciation (like Lucia in Fatima); LOO-sha is like the island of St. Lucia; and I’ve heard loo-TSEE-ah as well. All they would need to do is be firm and consistent with their chosen pronunciation, but if that feels like too much of a hassle and they like the name, Lucy might be a better fit for them.

(4) Gabriel(l)a
If they decide to go with one of the biblical options from their boy list, perhaps a biblical girl’s name or feminine variant of a biblical boy’s name would be a good match for it. The boy’s name Gabriel is a style match for Elijah and Samuel, but I didn’t include it in my ideas for boys because I thought it echoed the sound of Jay too much. But Gabriella is a match for Gianna, and I thought that felt like a really good fit. Gabriella (or Gabriela, if they prefer) doesn’t feel biblical — rather, it has a nice Italian/Spanish feel —
but of course it is biblical, being the feminine form of Gabriel, so it would make a nice match for a biblical brother. (Mariella from their list would count as biblical+Italian too, since it’s an elaboration of Mary.)

(5) Leah
Leah was another match for Jay, and I really like it for this family because it’s biblical, like Elijah and Samuel, and they already have its sound at the end of Rosalia, which makes me think they might like it.

(6) Zoe or Zita
I admit that when I saw Jay’s name, my mind immediately went to similarly short names, whether one syllable (like Cate) or minimal letters — you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s a style match for Elijah and Ian, which I thought was really interesting. It’s St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, so she’s a good option for patron. Zoe’s zippy Z coupled with their Italian style made me also think of Zita — the traditional St. Zita’s a great patron, but I’ve also been loving Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria. This post might be helpful —
it’s a consultation I did for a family who was trying to find a name to match their son Ezra’s — they were welcoming a baby girl only ten months after Ezra, so they wanted the new baby’s name to go with his, almost like twins. They like their girls to have Italian names, and some of their boys have biblical names! Anyway, one of my suggestions for them was Zita, and I link to her story in that post. Funny enough, they have an Elijah, Gianna, and Samuel, and the mom’s name is Robyn! So many similarities to the names mentioned in Ryan’s email!

Boy
(1) Grant
I’m really interested to see what they think of Grant. It’s a style match for Cole, and Bennet, as well as Kate, and also Dean, which is only relevant because Dean is a match for Jay. So I think they might like it! We were actually talking about Grant on the blog recently in regards to this post (be sure to read the comments) — there’s a mom on there who has a Bennett and a Grant (and a Luke), and I know a family in real life who has a Benjamin and a Grant, so I think families that like Ben like Grant. As for a faith connection, one of my readers loved the connection to the words of the Mass dona nobis pacem, which translates as, “Grant us peace.”

(2) Luke
I mentioned the family above who has Bennett, Grant, and Luke, and I thought Luke might be a great idea for this family! It’s a style match for Cole and the Italian Luca is a match for Gianna. It’s one syllable like Jay, and loops in the biblical aesthetic they like.

(3) Miles
I don’t feel 100% confident about Miles, but I have it on here for a few reasons. One is that it’s a style match for Bennett. Also, it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love Marian names for boys! And the fact that it’s used in Ireland made me think of Ian on their list. Finally, I’ve often thought it can be used as a nickname for Maximilian (rather than the more ubiquitous Max), and since Ryan has a devotion to St. Maximilian and they’re considering Kolbe, maybe Miles would appeal to them. They might even consider Miles Kolbe to be a truncation of Maximilian Kolbe, which is pretty cool.

(4) Garrett
Like Grant, Garrett is a style match for Kate and Dean, both of which are matches for Jay. It’s also got a Celtic feel like Ian, and it’s a variant of Gerard, who’s not only a great saint, but an Italian one, which can be a cool, subtle connection between their boy and their girl.

(5) Xavier or Isaac
I’m including these two together because of the prominent “Z” sound they both have. Isaac seems like a great addition to their list, since it’s biblical like Elijah and Samuel, and is one of the few boy names that begins with “I,” like Ian. It’s a style match for Samuel and Miles. Additionally, its nickname Ike reminds me of Jay. Xavier is a saintly surname like Kolbe, with good first-name usage, and I would say it’s a style match for Avila as well. According to the BNW, it’s also a match for Mariella (in its Spanish version, Javier), Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), Gabriel (which matches up with Elijah and Samuel), and Maximilian.

So those are my ideas that Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list. Some pairings that I thought might go together include:

Kolbe and Cate(rina) — the shared first sound with different initials is great, I think

Kolbe and Clare/Clara/Chiara — not only do they share the same first sound, but Kolbe and Clare/Clara have the same number of letters! And if I met twins named Koble and Chiara, I would assume their parents were uber Catholic

Kolbe and Avila — same number of letters, and ditto the uber Catholic feel. Also, though Avila’s not technically a surname (it’s a place name — St. Teresa of Avila), it has that feel, which goes well with Kolbe.

Bennet and Chiara — same number of letters

Elijah and Lucia — same ending sound

Elijah and Mariella — same ending sound, and both biblical

Elijah and Avila — same ending

Samuel and Gabriella — both biblical, and both have “el” at the end

Samuel and Mariella — ditto

Ian and Zoe — not only are these both three letters, but Ian is a variant of the biblical John, and Zoe is a variant of the biblical Eve — a couple of great connections there!

Ian and Gianna — Ian is a variant of John, and Gianna is a feminine form of John, so normally I’d caution a family against using both. BUT, when we’re talking about boy/girl twins, my opinion is exactly the opposite. I think it could make the perfect connection without being matchy at all. Any of the Sts. John can be Ian’s patron, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla is perfect for Gianna.

Bennet and Mariella — I consider Benedict to be a Marian boy’s name, since it means “blessed,” so since Bennet is a variant of Benedict, it might pair perfectly with a Marian girl name.

Grant and Avila — same number of letters

Miles and Avila — ditto

Ian and Avila — I like that they both start with a vowel

Isaac and Avila — ditto; and same number of letters

Grant and Gianna — though normally I’d say matching initials isn’t ideal, I like this pairing because the G’s say different sounds

Garrett and Gianna — ditto; also St. Gerard and St. Gianna were both Italian

Bennet and Rosalia — both Marian

Miles and Rosalia — ditto; also Miles ends in the “Z” sound, and the “S” in Rosalia makes the “Z” sound

Isaac and Rosalia — the shared “Z” sound

Isaac and Zoe — ditto; also Ike and Zoe have the same number of letters (they could also do Zac and Zoe but that’s probably too matchy)

Isaac and Zita — ditto the “Z” sound

Xavier and Zoe — the ZAY-vyer pronunciation would be especially pleasing to me here, and the coolest initials ever

Xavier and Zita — ditto

Ian and Lucy — there’s a nice British Isles feel going on here

Isaac and Leah — both biblical

Samuel and Leah — ditto

Elijah and Leah — ditto; if they did Eli instead of Elijah, then Eli and Leah are sort of the reverse of each other sound-wise (and Eli’s got three letters like Jay, which is a nice connection between brothers)

Grant and Clare/Clara — same number of letters

Miles and Clare/Clara — ditto

Garrett and Rosalia — ditto; also the Italian connection

Garrett and Majella — they didn’t have Majella on their list, but it’s so similar to Mariella, and is St. Gerard’s last name … would Garrett and Majella be amazing together? Or crazy? And also, Maiella is the Italian version of his last name, which they might like even better than both Mariella and Majella in honor of him. (I posted last year about a visiting priest who did a mission at my church last Lent, and he told us that he’s a twin, and his mother gave the name Gerard as a middle name to both he and his brother, for St. Gerard Majella, because she’d prayed to him throughout her whole pregnancy.)

Luke and Clare — both one syllable, like Jay

Luke and Cate — ditto

In general, I would say I prefer Robyn as a middle name for the longer girl names, and Josephine for the shorter ones …

And those are all my ideas and thoughts for Ryan and Maggie’s twins! What do you all think? What name(s) or combos would you suggest for Jay’s little brother and sister?

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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?

New post up at Nameberry!

I have a new post up at Nameberry today! Some Surprising Surnames to Consider: From Ames to Wilkie.

nameberry-screen-shot-10.24.17

I had a lot of fun putting together this post — as you’ll read, it was the result of research I spent last winter doing, and I have a bunch more topics to write about from that same research! The book I refer to, A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, is a treasure trove of interesting tidbits about surnames used in England over the last ten centuries (I wrote a little about it here).

I’m interested to hear what you think about the post, and whether you would consider or have considered any of the surnames as first names for your own children!

Baby name consultation: Fike Baby no. 8!

I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!

Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)

Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)

John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)

Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)

Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)

Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)

Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)

Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.

Blythe writes,

I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)

Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.

Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”

I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.

When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:

  • A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
  • A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
  • An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.

Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.

Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:

(1) Tiber
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.

One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)

(2) Blaise
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.

(3) Nic-
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.

(4) Zac-
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.

(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).

(6) Cashel
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).

(7) Bram
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)

(8) Remy
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.

(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.

(10) Magnus
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.

(11) Tristan
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).

(12) Tobit
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!

(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.

(14) Pace
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace!  There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!

Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.

And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?

Birth announcement: Vianney Violett!

I posted a consultation for Kym and her husband back in June, and Kym’s let me know their little girl has arrived and been given the GORgeous name … Vianney Violett!

She writes,

Hi Kate! Finally! Here’s our girlie with a name I just didn’t expect!

We went back and forth with this one and struggled with every name not feeling like the right one. Gemma Lucia — loved it — but it just seemed wrong.

Then we thought of Solana Emilia to honor Father Solanus Casey, but we couldn’t commit to it. I even had her nickname all planned: Sunshine! (Solana means sunshine. Perfect for an eclipse and Fatima year! Lol) But it wasn’t the one either…

At one point, hubby even brought up a whole new name we’d never considered: Violet — and thought it was perfect, and even asked his mother if it was a name on his side of the family. It wasn’t — but it *was* his mom’s favorite flower! Still… I hesitated over having another flower girl and wasn’t completely sold on it. Hubby didn’t really want to let it go, though….

Then one day, it hit us. Go back to the one name we always liked from the very beginning — one that I mentioned in our consult — the name that thirteen years ago was on our “girl” list and has been on the list for EVERY SINGLE GIRL since, but just haven’t used because I never thought it was quite feminine enough.

But suddenly, it was perfect! It seemed familiar, sweet, lovely, and cozy. Can a name feel cozy?

So here she is…our sweet three day old Vianney Violett.”

Ahhh! I love it so much!! “Familiar, sweet, lovely, and cozy” is such a perfect description — it’s so obviously the name that was meant for this little girl! And I love the name story too — from Gemma Lucia (gorgeous!), to Solana Emilia (amazingly beautiful and I love Sunshine as a nickname! And the Fatima/eclipse significance!), to Violet, which they’d never considered but has a great connection to Mister’s mom, and back again to the original list of names from all those years ago. WOW. I also love how adding the extra T on the end of Violet was all that was needed to make it match Vianney in length — a pattern shared by all of the older kids.

Congratulations to Kym and her husband and big sibs Alexandra, Cassian, Killian, Bennett, Anneliese, Marigold, Miles, and Sylvie, and happy birthday Baby Vianney!!

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Vianney Violett