Baby name consultation: Baby no. 6 (boy no. 3) — biblical? Western? Other?

This week’s going to be another consultation-heavy week — I have three to post again for mamas who are due soon! I’m excited!

First up: Rachelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby — their third boy! Little Mister joins big sibs:

Samuel David (Sam, Sammy) (“Samuel came to me later in our pregnancy during Mass during the reading when God calls out to Samuel. David is my husband’s name“)

Adelaide Marie (Addy) (“Adelaide is my confirmation saint and Marie is my middle name and a tradition in my family for first girls of the family“)

Paul Thomas (Pauly) (“Paul was my husband’s grandpa’s name, my brother’s name, and after St. Paul. Thomas is after my late uncle Fr. Tom, and St. Thomas Aquinas“)

Veronica Therese (Nica, Nic) (“Veronica was my great-grandma’s name and after St. Veronica. Therese after St. Therese, I read I Believe in Love during her pregnancy and found a new devotion to St. Therese“)

Miriam Ann (Miri) (“Miriam after our Mother. My husband and I did our Marian consecration during her pregnancy and wanted to honor Mary. Ann after my mom and St. Anne“)

I absolutely love the names Rachelle and her hubby have given their older kids — Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam are all really wonderful names! They’re solid and saintly and traditional, but there’s an unexpectedness about them too that I just love. And you all know that I’m a big nickname girl — I love Sam/Sammy, Addy, Pauly, Nica/Nic, and Miri! I was excited to see what names and nicknames I could come up with for their new baby boy!

Rachelle writes,

I am pretty indecisive or maybe I just take a long time to really make up my mind, so with a baby’s name and firm date I need to decide by, it makes it tricky. My husband doesn’t ever seem to have an exceptionally strong liking to any name, but he knows when he doesn’t like a name. I think he also knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits :).

My style: In general, I like older names, classics. I would prefer them to have meaning — after someone we love, a saint, someone in the bible, or a great literary character. Girl names are for some reason a little easier for me to circle in on than boys. A lot of times I’m intrigued by a name but then when I imagine myself calling to the child in the backyard or at a sporting event, it just doesn’t seem right (it’s what ruled Henry out for us 9 years ago … it also happened with Desmond and a few other names — I love the names but they don’t seem to fit one of my sons, even though they aren’t born yet). So I have a larger running list of boy names that I’m intrigued by, but some of them are maybe too out there for them to fit well. Nicknames are also important for us and play a part in the decision process. I’d like there to be a good nickname. For all our children, we call them by their full name and nickname equally

We know his middle name! We had decided that if this is a boy, his middle name will be Joseph after David’s grandpa, his Dad’s middle name, my great uncle (a Jesuit priest) and my grandpa’s middle name. So many Joseph’s in our lives — we pretty much had to!  And now that it is the year of St. Joseph, it is even more special — though I’m sure he will be one of many many many boys born this year named after him.  

My top first names: 

  • George (“after Pier Giorgio. I’m not sure I love the nicknames for this that I’ve heard [namely Georgie and Geo, thought the second could be ok]”) (“husband is on the fence on this one“)
  • Simon (“I really like the Simons in the bible, I feel like this would fit the name styles of our other 2 boys, but I don’t know if I like Si for a nickname, and I don’t think it’s too close Sam but maybe?“)
  • Jesse (“husband is a firm no on this one“)  

Names I’m intrigued by: 

  • Ezra (“I like the nickname Ezzie, it’s different enough from our kids nicknames, but it’s a little more unique than the current vibe we have going at least with our boy names … but my husband has been vocal about liking this one“)
  • Hugo (“I think it’s so cute, the nickname Hugh would grow on me, but I don’t have any personal connection to the name“) 
  • Casey (“Blessed Solanus Casey has been coming up a bit this pregnancy and I love his story“)  
  • Martin (“love St. Martin, but I don’t love Marty“)
  • Adam (“I could like this one a lot but the nickname situation is tricky. there isn’t one I like a lot I don’t think, and many of them are close to Addy“)
  • Ethan (“We don’t have a personal connection to the name“)
  • Malachi (“similar to Ezra, too uncommon for our boy names?“)
  • Cassian/Cassius (“Like the sound but is it too uncommon to fit? I like the nickname Cash fine. Big hold up is the meaning of the name!“)

Names I would have considered if not for my current children’s names/nicknames:

  • Nicholas
  • Simeon
  • Matthew

Names we can’t consider because they are our nephews:

  • Jerome
  • Elliot
  • Dominic
  • Thomas
  • Blaise
  • Henry
  • Noah
  • Benjamin
  • Lucas
  • Leo
  • Christopher
  • Levin
  • Graham
  • Theodore (Teddy)
  • Caleb
  • Matthew
  • Peter

Other names we’re not really considering:

  • John/Jon
  • Michael
  • Stephen
  • Timothy
  • James
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Isaiah
  • David
  • Aaron (“I could go through the whole bible and say yay or nay, but I won’t 🙂 

Just wanted to add my husband has expressed he really likes the name Malcolm as well. Wondering about any Christian/Catholic connections to the name?“)

It made me laugh to read about how Rachelle said her husband “knows that if we find the name earlier in the pregnancy, I still hem and haw over it so he just waits.” I like to stew about things too — I always love that there’s nine months to think about/talk about/decide on a name — and even change our minds! We’d decided on Oliver for our third and Augustin for our sixth, but then in my sixth month of pregnancy with my third and just a couple weeks before my sixth was born, we changed our minds, which I found kind of thrilling!

Joseph as the middle name is just perfect — the family connections and the Year of St. Joseph make it a total no-brainer, I agree!

So I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names that they like and are intrigued by, in case they’re helpful:

  • George: I like George a lot with Samuel and Paul, and since Rachelle currently has more biblical names than not in her older kids’ names, it would be nice to get another non-biblical name in there with this baby. (Not that it’s at all necessary — they have such a nice mix of names that it’s not at all a big deal to choose a biblical name for this baby, and I have both biblical and non-biblical names in my “official” suggestions below. It’s just something I was thinking about in regards to George and the other non-biblical names they have on their list.) Georgie is cute and I love Geo — names with a twist are always fun, and I don’t hear Geo too often; additionally, I think it would strengthen the tie with Pier Giorgio, since Geo sounds like the end of Giorgio. Another idea that I’ve always loved is Geordie (said like Jordy) — it’s a traditional Scottish nickname for George.
  • Simon: I love Simon too, I wouldn’t cross it off their list! But definitely think on it for a while, because of the similarity with Samuel. One idea is that Sepp and Seppel are German diminutives of Joseph, and I feel like Simon Joseph would make even more sense of a nickname like that. Maybe Simon Joseph nicknamed Sepp? Another idea, which didn’t make my list of “official” suggestions below because it’s currently no. 3, which seems too popular for what Rachelle and her hubby like, is the name I mentioned above as the name we’d initially chosen for our third boy before changing our minds: Oliver. It has that same bookish, smart feel to me that Simon has, and I love Samuel, Paul, and Oliver as brothers. And how cute is Ollie??
  • Jesse: Aw I love the name Jesse too, but my husband also wouldn’t go for it either! It was good for me to know Rachelle likes it — it helped in my research.
  • Ezra: Era’s definitely a cool name — any name with an X or a Z is pretty cool I think! Ezzie is cute, but even more than that, if Rachelle and her husband BOTH like it, that’s huge! I think it should be moved to the top of the list!
  • Hugo: I feel exactly the same way as Rachelle does about Hugo! My husband and I had it high on our list for our last two boys, but like she said, we don’t have any personal connection to the name, so we could never fully commit. It is darling, though!
  • Casey: I love Bl. Solanus too! Casey is a great name, and I thought it was so cool to discover that Casey and Jesse are style matches for each other! I can see that — they both can have kind of a Western/cowboy vibe I think. One issue with Casey, that’s also an issue with Jesse for some people, is that Casey is used for girls as well — it’s no. 527 for boys and no. 897 for girls. (Jesse, that spelling, hasn’t been in the top 1000 for girls since the year 2000, while the spelling Jessie was no. 695 in 2019. Jesse is no. 201 for boys.)
  • Martin: St. Martin is great, and I think they could enforce the full Martin with no nickname if they wanted to, at least when he’s small. If that’s an unacceptable risk, St. Martin’s Wikipedia entry says his given name was Juan Martín — I wonder what they would think of John Martin as a double first name in his honor? I know Rachelle said no John/Jon, so this likely isn’t a good idea for them, but otherwise John Martin provides that sparkle that her other kids’ names have, I think, since double names are somewhat rare, and John Martin Joseph sounds fine together.
  • Adam: Hmm that is tricky … I’ve never actually heard of a nickname for Adam, and if I were to try to think of one, Addy’s probably what I’d come up with. But I’d really put Adam in the category of names that don’t have natural nicknames, so if they were okay with just Adam, I think it could work as Adelaide/Addy’s brother and brother to the other kids as well.
  • Ethan: Another great name, and one that, though biblical, I don’t think comes across as biblical — I sense that not a lot of people realize it’s a biblical name, do you all agree? That makes me like it more for this family rather than less, though.
  • Malachi: Like Ezra, Malachi is definitely a departure from Samuel and Paul’s style in the sense that it’s much more unusual, but I think Ezra and Malachi are similar in style to Miriam especially so I think it’s okay. I like Mac as a nickname for Malachi a lot.
  • Cassius/Cassian: I too love these names, and the nickname Cash! The definition is unfortunate, but there are a lot of beloved holy names that have unfortunate definitions, like Cecilia (blind) and Blaise (lisping), and I would definitely argue that their “meaning” goes beyond — and is more important than — their “definition” (I wrote more about that here). If it still bothers them but they want to find other ways to get to Cash, Cashel is the name of a place in Ireland — the Rock of Cashel — which is where St. Patrick is said to have conversated the King of Munster. Or maybe they’d like the rhyming Nash, which I’ve seen used as a nickname for Ignatius and Athanasius?
  • Malcolm: I’d love to see Malcolm used more! Like with Malachi, I love the idea of Mac as a nickname for Malcolm. And yes, there are great faith connections with the name! Malcolm literally means, “disciple of St. Columba” — St. Columba of Iona, also known as Columcille, is known as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland,” and is a great patron. Malcolm’s a great option!
  • Nicholas, Simeon, Matthew: I’m glad Rachelle included these as names they like! Though they can’t use them, they were helpful in my research. I had two ideas about Matthew — one is that I know someone named Matthew who goes by Mitty (at least he did when he was little), which I think is awesome (though they’d have to decide if Mitt Romney being the most familiar Mitt to the general public is problematic). Another idea is Matthias instead of Matthew — you could look to the end of it for nicknames — Ties and Thijs are Dutch diminutives which are said like TEES and TAYS, which leads me to think they could do something like that maybe as a nickname? Maybe Tice or something like that?

Okay! On to new ideas! I mentioned earlier that Jesse and Casey are style matches for each other — you all know that that refers to the research I always do for consultations in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I definitely went for a mix of biblical and non-biblical names, and I was happy to offer fun nickname options where applicable.

(1) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Samuel and Caleb, and Raphael is a match for Veronica and Simeon, so I thought one of these angelic names might be perfect! I like that Gabriel is in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which is a nice bridge for Rachelle’s Old- and New Testament-named kids, and I love the friendly nickname Gabe. If they don’t care for Gabe, I’ve seen Gib, Gil, and Eli used as nicknames for Gabriel. Raphael is much less used than Gabriel (it’s no. 521 compared to Gabriel’s no. 37), which can be really appealing, and I love the nickname Rafe. Ray is an even easier nickname.

(2) Nathan(iel)

The way I got to this idea was kind of a funny one — Nathaniel is a match for Nicholas, and Jonathan is a match for Matthew, and I know Rachelle loves Nicholas and Matthew, so I thought Nathaniel and Jonathan were meaningful since they connected to those other two names she loves, and since Nathan is contained within both Nathaniel and Jonathan, I thought Nathan might be the perfect answer, especially since Nathan itself is a match for Samuel! Or maybe they’d like the full Nathaniel with Nathan or Nate as a nickname? Or Nash! I could see Nash working as a nickname for Nathaniel! Also, Neal is a style match for Paul — Niel could totally be a nickname for Nathaniel! Some fun options here!

(3) Tobias

Rachelle’s girl names are a little more “exotic,” maybe, than the boy names they’ve used and most of those they like, so when I saw Tobias as a match for Simeon, I thought it went along nicely with how I think of Adelaide, Veronica, and Miriam as well! I think it’s so handsome.

(4) Oscar

Oscar is a match for both Adelaide and Hugo, I love that! Oscar is such a great name — I’ve been enjoying seeing it used more and more by the families I work with. This family welcomed an Oskar (that spelling) not too long ago has been calling the baby Ozzie, so cute!

(5) Milo

Milo is a match for Ezra and Hugo, isn’t that interesting? I normally wouldn’t think Ezra and Hugo had any overlapping characteristics, but there you have it — just one of the many reasons I lean on the Baby Name Wizard to help me out! An interesting thing about Milo is that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “disciple of the Virgin Mary” — just like Malcolm (Mael Coluim) means “disciple of St. Columba”! I love that! I’ve also sometimes suggested Milo and its cognate Miles as unusual nicknames for Michael, so if Rachelle and her hubby decide they’d like to use Michael after all, using Milo as a nickname could be perfect.

(6) Gregory

Gregory is a match for Veronica, and when I was briefly researching St. Martin, I saw that Pope Gregory XVI beatified him, which could be a way of nodding to St. Martin without using his name, so I thought those two things made me want to include Gregory here. I actually hear quite a bit from families I work with that Gregory is a favorite, but what usually stops people from using it in my experience is the nickname situation. While Gregory still sounds sort of stately and serious and handsome, Greg turns most current parents off. But I love Rory as a nickname for it — and in fact, Rory is a match for Casey and Jesse! I think Grey could also work, as well as Gus, especially if there’s a prominent S in the middle name, which Gregory Joseph does have.

(8) Charles

Rachelle said she loves the name Caleb (on their list of names they can’t use), so I wanted to see if I could come up with any names that might be feasible alternatives. I thought Charles was one, with the nickname Cal, which can also be a nickname for Caleb. I love Charles with Samuel and Paul — what a smart sounding trio of brothers! — and Cal is really cool. If they prefer Charlie as a nickname, that’s fine too, because I think one of the things that’s so great about Caleb is that it’s both masculine and sweet, and I think Charles nn Charlie fits that nicely. (Charles also has a bunch of other nickname possibilities that they might like to look through.)

(9) Jacob

This final idea is also inspired by Jacob — Jacob is usually the name that I see paired with Caleb as either an actual brother name or a name that people who like Caleb also like. I’ve even seen Cubby used as a nickname for both Caleb and Jacob for a little guy (probably not so much as he gets older)! If not Cubby, I always love Jake, and I’ve also seen Coby used as a nickname for Jacob. 

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Samuel, Adelaide, Paul, Veronica, and Miriam?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: First baby is coming soon!

I know we’re all horrified by the effects of the winter storm on Texas — Sancta Nomina has many readers from Texas, and I’ve been praying for them and everyone who is suffering from the snow and cold, power outages and food shortages. Being from the snowy northeast, I know well how scary winter weather can be, even in a place with the infrastructure and familiarity to deal with it, never mind for those who don’t have the same experience and resources. Please continue to pray for them! I also made a donation in the name of the Sancta Nomina community to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston with the request that it be used where it’s needed most. 🙏🙏🙏

Courtney and her husband are due next week (!!) with a little green bean 🌱 (gender unknown)! Courtney writes,

We like simple and classic names. Ordinary spellings and names that will age well as they grow up. I am a teacher, so finding names is challenging. Ha! And my husband comes from a huge extended family who tries not to repeat names. So as you can see, we are kind of stumped. We don’t know what the gender is

Girl names we like:

  • Emma Catherine
  • Lucy Ann
  • Charlotte (Charlie) (“we don’t typically like ‘boy names’ for girls but that’s the exception”)

Boy names we both don’t say no to (ha!):

  • Lane
  • Miles
  • Jack

Names we like but can’t use:

  • Leo
  • Milo
  • Cora
  • Gemma
  • Sophie
  • Wyatt
  • John
  • Jacob
  • Nolan
  • Annie/Annabell
  • Max

I agree, this was a challenge! “Simple and classic names” is a great category, and “ordinary spellings” is a kind thing to think of for one’s baby! At the same time, it’s the simple, classic, ordinarily spelled names that are perennially popular, and with Courtney being a teacher, my expectations are very low that I’ve actually been able to come up with an idea that she and her hubby haven’t already considered and decided against. But I’m always happy to try!

First, I love their ideas of Emma Catherine, Lucy Ann, and Charlotte nicknamed Charlie — they’re all lovely and feminine, and even Charlie has taken on more of a spunky feel to me these days, rather than boyish, since it’s used so much currently as a nickname for the ultra-feminine (even princess-y!) Charlotte. Similar ideas in the Charlotte/Charlie vein that they might like to consider for the future include Madeline nicknamed Maddy and Georgia nicknamed Georgie.

Jack and Miles are fantastic boy names, and I was so surprised by Lane! I LOVE being surprised by names on parents’ lists! The Baby Name Wizard (affliate link) — which you all know I always use in my consultations — categorizes it as Country & Western, which is similar to Wyatt on the list of names they like but can’t use, and also reminded me of the feel I get from Jack and Miles, Emma and Lucy, Charlie for a girl, and Annie/Annabelle on the list of names they like but can’t use — it all makes sense! Two of my ideas in my list of “official” suggestions below were inspired in part by this feel, and another that was on the Country & Western list that doesn’t feel quite right for this family as an official suggestion for this baby (but maybe for the future?) that I’d like to mention anyway is Casey (Bl. Solanus Casey would be a great patron!).

I thought, too, since Courtney and her hubby are first-time parents that it would be good to include the most recent (2019) rankings for each name, as compiled by the Social Security Administration, so that Courtney can see how likely it will be to encounter a child with the name in the classroom, for example (though also note that popularity is not nearly what it used to be, and I would hope they wouldn’t let popularity discourage them from choosing a name they really love!). Here are the names mentioned so far:

  • Emma: no. 2 (after 5 years at no. 1 and being in the top 3 since 2003)
  • Lucy: 48
  • Charlotte: no. 6 for the second year in a row (entered the top ten in 2014)
  • Madeline: no. 97
  • Georgia: no. 205
  • Lane: no. 258
  • Jack: no. 19 (John no. 28 and Jackson no. 17)
  • Miles: no. 75
  • Casey: no. 527 for boys (no. 897 for girls)

As for my list of official suggestions, I’ve already mentioned the Baby Name Wizard — you all know that I lean on it heavily in consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I looked up the names Courtney and her hubs are considering and the additional ones they like but can’t use, and came up with this list, none of which are on their lists of names they can’t use:

Girl

(1) Claire, Clara

Claire is a match for Emma, Charlotte, Miles, and Jack, so I think it’s a good bet they might like it! Clara is a pretty variant that’s a match for Cora, so I wanted to be sure to suggest it as well. Claire is no. 55 and Clara is no. 95.

(2) Molly (or Mary?)

Molly’s a match for Lucy, Jack, Annie, and Max — such a sweet name! You might already know that Molly started as a nickname for Mary, and is still sometimes used that way, so they could consider that route as well. Molly is no. 161 and Mary is no. 126.

(3) Elizabeth (Elsie, Elise, Eliza, etc.), Isabel(le)

There were so many Elizabeth names in the results for this family that I definitely wanted to include them! Elizabeth itself is a match for John; its nicknames/short forms Elsie is a match for Charlie, Elise for Miles, and Eliza for Cora; and the Elizabeth variants Isabelle is a match for Charlotte and Isabel for Sophie. So many Elizabeth names! One of the nice things about Elizabeth is that it’s such a “simple, classic name” but has so many nicknames and short forms that you can easily choose one to fit your taste. Others that I love for Elizabeth include Ellie, Libby, Lizzie, Lily, Betsy, and Beth, and there are loads of others. Elizabeth is no. 14, Elsie no. 247, Elise no. 207, Eliza no. 119, Isabelle no. 117, and Isabel no. 135.

(4) Sadie

Like Molly, Sadie started its life as a nickname of another name — in this case, Sarah — but has come to be used as a given name in its own right. I enjoyed seeing it listed as a match for similarly sweet names Lucy, Cora, and Sophie. Sadie is no. 87, Sarah is no. 81, and Sara is no. 163.

(5) Faith

The only name Faith was a match for was Wyatt, but I really loved that, since Wyatt is one of those quintessential Country & Western names, and Faith is one of my favorite, underused Catholic names. It’s familiar but not even in the top 100 at no. 125 (though it was a top 100 name from 1999 to 2016).

Boy

(1) Owen

Owen is a style match for Emma, Charlotte, Miles, and Sophie! Owen can be a form of Eugene and its soundalike Eoin is a form of John, so some people take Owen to be a form of John, but my favorite patronage is the amazing St. Nicholas Owen! Owen is no. 21.

(2) Benjamin

Benjamin is a match for Emma and Charlotte and Ben is a match for Annie. I love the name Benjamin! Lots of other people do, too — it’s no. 7 and has been in the top 10 since 2015.

(3) Luke

I’m interested to see what Courtney and her hubby think of Luke, as I think it straddles different styles they like! It’s a match for Lane and Jack, and its variants Luca for Gemma and Lucas for Jacob. It’s Country & Western while also biblical and saintly, a great option! Luke is no. 32, Luca no. 87, and Lucas no. 8.

(4) Samuel

Samuel’s a match for Emma, and Sam — one of the best, friendliest nicknames for boys in my opinion — is a match for Lucy, Charlie-for-a-girl, Jack, Cora, and Annie. Such a great name! Samuel’s no. 22 and has always been a top 100 name.

(5) Elliot(t)

My last idea is a little more of a risk, maybe — Elliot (that spelling, though I also love the literary Eliot and the longer Elliott) is a match for Miles and Milo. I love that Elliot is a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is the form of Elijah used in many languages. A biblical name that doesn’t come across as biblical! Elliot is no. 173, Eliot is not in the top 1000, and Elliott is no. 160.

And those are all my ideas for Courtney’s little bub! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Courtney and her husband’s first baby?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)