Baby name consultation: New boy name needed asap!

I haven’t reopened consultations yet! This mama purchased a consultation during my Black Friday 2017 special and emailed me a few weeks ago to see if she could redeem it. I thought it would be a good way to see if I’m ready to accept consultation requests again — unfortunately, it took me several weeks to get this one done! So I’m still not there yet. Keep watching the blog for updates!

I posted a consultation for Genie from Barefoot Abbey over three years ago, and a birth announcement for that baby (a girl after five boys!) not long after. Since then, she’s had another baby (a boy), and has another baby (green bean=gender unknown) due very soon!

Genie writes,

We are expecting our 7th living baby in March and have run into a bit of a naming quandary … For the first time ever our family has not found out the gender of our baby before birth so we need both a boy an girl name at the ready for this Sweet Pea. We’ve had a running list of names from our courtship and picked the boy name that was the back up for our son born in 2017: Charles Edmund Jude.

Now herein lies our dilemma… last week my sister in law named our new nephew Charles Edward … It may not end up being an issue if this baby is a girl, but with our track record of 6 boys and 1 girl I think we should be prepared. What is the etiquette on repeat names in this situation and when they would only be together at holidays? I’d love to say that we still have a several boy name choices we like, but after 6 sons, our list is dwindling. Another thought early after their name announcement was to switch the order of the names and put Edmund as the first name and Charles as the second. Our issue with this swap is losing the nickname Charlie and not having a favored replacement for Edmund.”

Oof! I can understand the floundering feeling Genie and her husband must have, trying to figure out if their chosen name is still okay to use, and if not, what other name do they like as much. Fortunately, they have great taste! Check out their older kiddos’ names:

Our naming style has a lot of Saint, Anglo/Celtic, and literary influence. These are our children’s names:

Malachi Benedict Aquinas
• Malachi – first canonized saint of Ireland, “Carrots” is one of his nicknames
• Benedict – St. Benedict was a big part of our pre-marriage prep, Pope Benedict XVI
• Aquinas – Our courtship began on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Noah Oliver Francis
• Noah – my husband liked the sound & justified it as being close to the Gaelic word for saint
• Oliver – last canonized saint of Ireland, he usually goes by “Noah Oliver” or after the Gaelic pronounced “Ollibear”
• Francis – the patron of the parish we’d attended all our marriage. He took me there after the pub on our first date.

Liam Michael Damien
• Liam – Bl. Liam Tirry one of the 17 Irish martyrs, his nickname is the Scottish term of endearment “Ducky”
• Michael – St. Michael is one of my husband’s patrons along with St. Thomas Becket & St. John the Baptist.
• Damien – St. Damien of Molokai, my dad used to go build for the remainder of his colony.

Aelred Dominic John (this is the son we lost in 2013)
• Aelred – St. Aelred the English St. Bernard, Spiritual Friendship author
• Dominic – St. Dominic, OL of the Rosary, meaning (belonging to God)
• John – my husband’s brother (has all daughters), patron, meaning (God is gracious)

Henry Andrew James
• Henry – St. Henry Walpole, Bl. John Henry Newman
• Andrew – St. Andrew of Scotland, my husband’s middle name, our Christmas gift after praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena
• James – St. James the Great, my grandfather’s name, his nickname is “Camino” (he’s the path God chose for our family)

Moira Elizabeth Charlotte – “Mosy , Ladybird, or Birdie”
• Moira – Irish/ Scottish variant of Mary, for Our Lady of Lourdes, from Peter Pan
• Elizabeth – one of my patronesses and middle name
• Charlotte – JP II, Bl. Charlotte of the Resurrection a martyr of Compiegne, this was her brother’s choice from Charlotte’s Web

George Maximilian Joseph – “Joe-Joe,”
• George – St. George for one of our sons’ favorite feast days, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
• Maximilian – St. Maximilian Kolbe servant of Our Lady
• Joseph – St. Joseph and his Most Chaste Heart

Amazing, right? I love how thoughtful each combination is! These are the names on their list for this baby:

Boy Saint names left on our list but aren’t yet striking to us:
• Edmund – St. Edmund Campion reformation martyr
• Owen – St. Nicholas Owen reformation priest hole builder
• Becket – St. Thomas Becket on of DH’s patrons
• Sebastian – early church martyr
• Finnian – St. Finnian of Ireland
• Jude – saint of the impossible
• Blaise – my special patron in college as a voice major

• Samuel – like the name but won’t use without a related post Bible saint

For reference the top 3 names in the running for our last son were:
• George – what we used
• Charles
• Edmund

Ok now for girl names… We don’t have a top choice yet and are still looking at options.
We’ve had set combos on the list for many years and want something with a marian connection. I’ll separate them out by first and middle names we like to give you an idea of style.

First Names:
• Beatrix – “Beasy” Marian from the latin for blessed, l like Immaculee or Evangeline with it but that’s two Marian names back to back.
• Genevieve – patroness, my baptismal but not legal name, “Gigi or Evie”
• Josephine – for Bl. Josephine Leroux martyr of the French Revolution, like it with Felicity Marie as the middle names, “Josie”, not sure about the overlap with George
• Margaret – “Meg/Megsy” (Little Women), one of my patronesses, Ss. Margaret Clitherow & Margaret of Scotland, my 3rd name (baptismal).
• Emmelia – “Emmie/Mila” on of my patronesses, mother of saints, I like it with Magdalen Rose as the middle names.
• Lucy – St. Lucy day is one of our family’s favorite saints in Advent, Lucia of Fatima, C. S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery
• Penelope – for St. Penelope (baptismal name Irene) of Thessaloniki, missionary & virgin martyr of the 4th century

Middle Names:
• Evangeline – love the sound of this, Mary the new Eve
• Felicity – love the meaning of the name and Ss. Felicity & Perpetua
• Imelda – patroness, confirmation saint at my reception into the Church from Anglicanism in ’11
• Elinor – my husband was born in the Feast of St. Helena, Austen spelling (Sense & Sensibility)
• Gemma – love this modern saint’s story
• Magdalene – love that she was the first follower to see Jesus after the Resurrection, first son was due on Good Friday and was almost “Moira Magdalene Clare”

2nd Middle Names:
• Hope – meaning
• Anne – St. Anne (Mary’s mom) & St. Anna Maria Taigi, Green Gables spelling
• Marie – Marian derivative
• Therese – love the simplicity of her little way
• Faith – meaning
• Rose – Marian
• Clare – family name, great saint
• Jane – my husband’s grandmother & aunt, Jane Eyre

It was such a pleasure to read all these beautiful names!

Alrighty, so I’ll address Genie’s question about etiquette first. She asked, “What is the etiquette on repeat names in this situation and when they would only be together at holidays?” It’s important to note that there isn’t any official etiquette — each person and family is so unique in regards to the way they think about things, that Genie and her hubs really be more the experts here. Given what they know of them, how would the family, including Genie’s sister-in-law, respond to Genie’s son being given the same first name and a very similar middle as his 6-weeks-older cousin? If it’s something that’s likely to cause a family rift, I’d say that’s a good reason for them to come up with another name. If the family won’t mind too much, then they can do what they’d like. I think the fact that the children will only see each other at holidays is a good thing to remember. (I’ve posted a bit about this topic, which might be helpful both to Genie and to any of you dealing with a similar dilemma: Dibs on names? Sharing ok?, Miscarried baby’s name stolen?, and Name thieves.)

Other ways of working with this situation include Genie and her hubs coming up with a new nickname for Charles, so that their nephew is Charles Edward “Charlie,” and their son is Charles Edmund Jude “Cal,” for example. Charlie and Cal are different enough that they won’t get confused at family get togethers, and Genie would get to have her favorite given name combo. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a great post on new ideas for nicknames for Charles (Huck is particularly fun for parents who love literary names). Or they could do a nickname from his middle name — Charles Edmund Jude nicknamed Ed, Ned, Ted, or even Jude. St. John Paul’s brother’s name was Edmund, and he went by Mundek, which might appeal to Genie as a nickname. (I suspect she won’t like the idea of coming up with a new nickname, however, since she said Charlie was one of the things she loves about Charles.)

If it might help to be given a reason why Charles isn’t a great idea, I’ll offer that Genie and her hubs already used Charlotte in Moira’s name. Repeating names among siblings isn’t a problem, of course, but it might help lessen the sting of not using Charles.

I love Genie’s list of possibilities — Edmund, Owen, Becket, Sebastian, Finnian, Jude, Blaise, and Samuel are all fantastic. Some thoughts: Would Campion as a first name interest them? They’d have the reference to the saint, with some cute nickname options (Cam, Camp), and Campion’s a Marian name as well — it’s an entry in my book! I love Marian names for boys! I also love Samuel, and I think it’s my favorite of those on Genie’s list. Not only is it biblical, like Malachi and Noah (and Moira, via Mary), but its nickname Sam is spot-on for the style and feel of Charlie (per the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I use in my consultations in looking for names that are similar in style/feel/popularity to the parents’ favorites), and pairing it with Becket would give a literary connection to the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. I don’t know much about him, so maybe that connection is an unsavory one to Genie or people of faith in general? But I do know that as soon as I thought of Samuel and Becket together, I thought, “Isn’t that a literary name?” Samuel Becket Jude is a great combo, in my opinion, as is Samuel Becket Blaise — I love that alliteration! If they prefer not to have that connection to Samuel Beckett, though, I also like Samuel Edmund Blaise, Samuel Edmund Owen, Samuel Sebastian Blaise, Samuel Finnian Blaise. (I love Jude as a second middle for all these combos as well.)

Speaking of Samuel’s biblical-ness vs. saintliness, there’s a fourth-century St. Samuel, but I quite liked the story of thirteenth-century Franciscan Friar and martyr, Bl. Samuele of Ceuta.

As for girl ideas, I love their list! They have some fabulous names on there! I love that each name has really great reasons for being on there. It seems like it’s just a matter of putting together the right combination! I love that they want a Marian connection — they have so many great ones on there already. I thought I might offer Daisy as a nickname for Margaret — you probably know it’s a traditional nickname for Margaret, and it’s also a Marian symbol (I discuss it more in my book of Marian names). Also Hope and Faith can be Marian, for Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Faith.

As for new ideas for Genie’s little one, I did my usual research — I looked up the names she and her hubs have already used (both boy and girl) as well as the names they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard in order to look for additional names that fit with their taste in terms of style/feel/popularity. I came up with ideas for both boys and girls, and usually I’d list the girl ideas first, but since boy names are where they’re particularly stuck, I’ll start with those.

First off, the boy names they were considering for Moira, had she been a boy, were George Ignatius Eliot and Charles/Maximilian Joseph Louis — pulling out names they haven’t already used (excluding Charles), I love the idea of Eliot Ignatius Jude, for example (see my suggestion of Eliot below!), or Louis Ignatius Blaise (but Louis following George [and even Moira’s second middle Charlotte] might be too “royal family” … or maybe that would make it perfect for this family?), or Samuel Ignatius Edmund, or Owen Ignatius Eliot … I could go on all day making up combos from these beautiful names! 😀

These are my new ideas:

(1) Nathaniel (or Hawthorn(e)?)
Despite the fact that Malachi is named for the Irish saint, it comes across as ultra-biblical to me, especially with Noah as a brother. So I’d love to find an idea that could loop them in more with the other boys, while still appealing to Genie’s style. I thought Nathaniel was one such — it’s biblical, but it has an English feel to me … or maybe more *New* England, like author Nathaniel Hawthorne, which provides a literary connection as well (also, fun fact: his daughter is Servant of God Rose Hawthorne [aka Mother Alphonsa]). They could also trick a Marian connection out of Nathaniel if they wanted, in that Hawthorn is actually an entry in my book of Marian names because of her title Our Lady of the Hawthorn (best known in Spanish, French, and Basque) — using Nathaniel in part because of the literary connection with Nathaniel Hawthorne might call Our Lady to mind? (Yes, I do realize this is one of my crazier suggestions! 😀 ) Or maybe they’d would like to consider Hawthorn(e) as a first or middle?

(2) Jasper
Jasper did really well for this family in my research, being listed as similar to Jude, Beatrix, Josephine, and Amelia (standing in for Emmelia). It’s the name traditionally given to one of the Three Wise Men, and it’s also a precious stone in the bible, and it has literary connections (it’s the name of a Thomas Hardy character).

(3) Thaddeus or Theodore
I love the idea of Thaddeus for this family — I think it has that gravitas that their other boys’ names have. It’s distinguished and sophisticated, biblical, and has Irish connections too — I have a special devotion to Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican priest and martyr. Plus, the nicknames Tad, Taddy, Ted, and Teddy are all so sweet. Actually, Thad’s been growing on me recently too. Theodore is similar to Thaddeus — I always think of them as two sides of the same coin in that they both have similar nicknames and a similar sound, but people who like Thaddeus tend to not like Theodore so much, and vice versa. And Theodore has Theo as a possible nickname as well, which I really like.

(4) Eliot/Eli
Elliott and Eli both did fantastically well for this family in my research, which doesn’t surprise me, since they’re related — Elliott is derived from Elijah. I love Elliott with Genie’s other boys, and I think it fits in really well with their parameters. Eli is a great nickname for it, and also a good fit with their family I think. Funny enough, I’d scribbled down this idea for them before remembering that Eliot was a contender for the second middle of one of the name combos they liked for Moira if she’d been a boy! So I definitely want to heartily suggest it here (Eliot being the literary spelling).

(5) Philip
I wonder if they’ve ever considered Philip? I don’t see many parents considering it, but I love it, and tried to get my husband on board with it for one of our boys. I thought Genie would especially like the nickname Pip, which gives it an immediate Anglo literary connection. St. Philip Neri is a great non-biblical patron as well.

(6) Simon
Simon is serious and bookish and has a definite literary and Brit feel. I love that it connects to Malachi and Noah biblically.

(7) Xavier
When I saw this name pop up in my research as a match for Genie’s style, it immediately felt like a good option. I always think of it as having Irish connections because it was my grandfather’s middle name (his first name was not Francis!), and he was Irish (born and raised). Even if they weren’t sure about it as a first name, it would make a fantastic middle.

(8) Isaac
I’ve known several parents with an Oliver or Owen who also have an Isaac. It seems like a great fit for this family!

(9) Pierce
Pierce fits right in with the Elliott, Simon, Nathaniel, Xavier, and Isaac-type names for me — not only does it have a similar feel, but it can also be Marian! It’s an entry in my book, after Simeon’s prophecy that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced by a sword — one of my readers knows a little Pierce so-named in honor of that particular Marian occurrence. How cool!

(10) Colman, Cormac
These were mostly inspired by this family’s Irishy Irish names: Malachi, Oliver, Liam, and Moira, and Finnian from the list of considerations. Colman and Cormac are both Irish saints with great nickname potential (Cole for the former, Mac for the latter). I love them both.

I thought each of the names on this list would fit in well with the big brothers in either the first name spot or either of the middles. I hope Genie and her hubs find some good inspiration there!

As for the girls, these are really just names that jumped out in my research as particularly good matches for them — I really think they have such a great list that they don’t need too much help in that regard. But it was fun to compile this list anyway!:

(1) Susanna (or Sosanna?)
Susanna means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which gives it a nice Marian connection. I love that it has a whole bunch of nickname options, from Susie to Suki to Anna to Zuzu, and others. It’s also biblical; it has that same New England/Pilgrim feel as Nathaniel; and it’s got a literary connection as well — Shakespeare’s daughter’s name was Susanna! To put an Irish spin on it, I’ve seen Sosanna listed as an Irish form of Susanna — that could be a pretty option! (Fun fact: the daughter of actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick is named Sosie Ruth!)

(2) Jemima
I would love to see a couple give their daughter the name Jemima! I know it might not be comfortable in the first name spot, but especially since this family does two middles, it might be a perfect fit. Jemima is biblical, it has the lovely meaning “dove,” and its usage is far more British than American.

(3) Lydia
I actually can’t believe Lydia isn’t already on their list! It’s such a great name with a great biblical connection, and her own color too! The biblical Lydia sold purple cloth, so the little Lydias I know claim purple as their own, which is so cool.

(4) Sophie
Sophie was a HUGE match for this family in my research!! It can be Marian, as in Our Lady’s title Seat of Wisdom, and it’s got a similar sweetness to Moira.

(5) Catherine
Catherine’s another one that I’m surprised isn’t on their list somewhere! It was a pretty good style match for their taste in my research and would make a great first or middle. (But it might have the same “royal family” issue as Louis? Could the Katherine spelling help?)

(6) Alice
Similar to Catherine, Alice did really well in my research, and it has that same sweetness as Moira and Sophie to me.

(7) Violet
My final suggestion rivals Sophie as the girl name that is the biggest style match for this family. I particularly like that it has the V that Genie seem to like (Evangeline and Genevieve) (though Genevieve’s hard to beat with its connection to Genie herself!), and it’s an entry in my book, as it’s a symbol of Our Lady’s modesty and humility. How lovely!

And those are all my ideas for Genie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Malachi, Noah, Liam, Henry, Moira, and George?


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

Miscarried baby’s name stolen?

A friend sent me this story yesterday, and I’m still thinking about it: ‘Don’t Talk About the Baby’ #ShatterTheStigma

Long story short: The author and his wife named their just-conceived baby Lydia Rose, and then lost her at 8 1/2 weeks. I know, as so many of you do, the devastation of miscarriage; mine was even earlier than the author’s, and yet it’s still fresh nine years later. I know you know! Later on (not sure how long) the author’s brother and his wife informed them that they would be naming their soon-to-be-born baby Lydia, which crushed the author and his wife, and despite them begging the in-laws to reconsider, the in-laws went ahead with naming their baby Lydia. Which led to the author and his wife basically cutting off ties with their family and even moving several states away.

The author’s very very sensitive about this topic, which makes me hesitate to even discuss it here, but since he wrote about it on his Patheos blog (so public! eek!) and it has to do with Catholic baby naming and a friend (who’s also a reader) asked me about it, I thought it made sense to post it.

We’ve talked here before about “name stealing,” and the example given in that post was a pretty emotional one involving family relationships; I’ve also shared my own story about asking my brother and his wife if they minded if we used a name I thought they might have been hoping to use (and we were committed to foregoing the name if it meant a possible family rift). Even still, I’m sort of blown away by the depth of grief this couple is still going through, years after the loss of the baby. I tried to imagine being in the same spot, but I just can’t see myself being so upset if my brother and his wife had wanted to use the same name for their son as we’d given to our baby. Of course everyone grieves in their own way, and just because I can’t imagine myself reacting similarly doesn’t mean they’re reacting wrongly. But I can’t help but think that talking about it all with a priest or even a mental health professional would be helpful (and maybe they already have). Dear St. Anne, please pray for this couple and their whole family!

What do you all think of this? Do any of you feel like you can understand where they’re coming from? If Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage is reading, I wonder what your thoughts are and if you have any resources that might be helpful for a family in this situation?

Name thieves

Reader Anna posted a story to my Facebook wall today — one of Abby’s Name Sage posts on Nameberry that had gotten quite a bit of feedback: Baby Name Theft? Sibling rivalry over a name.

This is the issue:

I have always loved the name Josephine, called Josie or Jo. My sister likes it, too. She doesn’t have kids yet, but really wants them. To be considerate, I asked if she was okay with us using Josephine for this baby. She said it was fine.

My husband and I decided to use the name. [Their older daughter] calls her sister Josephine, and we’ve been referring to the baby by name, though we haven’t officially announced it.

Just recently, my sister told me that she’d changed her mind, and she wants to keep Josephine for herself. Now she’s not speaking to me.

We don’t want to change the name. It fits for many personal reasons, and it’s the name we both love. Yet now when I hear it, I feel frustrated and sad.”

Oof! So maddening! So unfair! So ridiculous! I’m certain all of us can understand the mama’s perspective (who’s actually pregnant, actually expecting an actual baby who actually needs an actual name in the actual near future), but I’m sure even the most laid-back among us can imagine the sister’s perspective as well. What a dilemma!

I love that the expecting parents showed consideration and asked the sister for her permission (for lack of a better word) — we did this also with one of our boys. I hate that the sister said okay, and then changed her mind after the decision was already made. I hate that the sister isn’t speaking to the mom. I hate that the once-beloved, perfect name now evokes anger, frustration, and sadness.

I posted once about naming “dibs” and included a bunch of links that I thought were useful. Given that we add the element of faith to our name discussions, I think we might all agree that relationships are, objectively, more important than names? This is something I try to keep in mind myself, though I know I’m more laid back about this particular issue than a lot of other namiacs. I also feel like we can all intellectually agree that no one owns a particular name, so the idea of “name theft” is somewhat misleading. There are also a zillion other names (and Abby had some awesome suggestions for this couple). I also don’t at all mind the idea of first cousins having the same name, and I think I would love the challenge of coming up with different nicknames.

But. I also know that this can be a hugely emotional topic (especially for emotional pregnant ladies! I’m sacrificing my body, my hormones, my sleep, and my comfort for this baby, let me have my name!), which can override any objective understandings of anything. And relationships are more important than names, but it doesn’t sound like the sister in this situation agrees, and it’s hard to have a good relationship with someone who refuses to play by loving-relationship rules, and who insists on behaving in a way that feels traitorous, petty, and selfish (and I can see how both the sister and the mama could feel this way about the other). But then we’re supposed to rise above and do the right thing regardless. Gah! What a mess.

My dibs post is almost two years old, so let’s revisit it — what are your thoughts/reactions to the Nameberry post? Any personal stories you’d like to share?

Dibs on names? Sharing okay?

A reader mentioned to me the difficulty she and her husband have finding names for their children that haven’t already been given to one of their 20+ nieces and nephews, or are the names of their own siblings or siblings-in-law. Sharing already-used names isn’t something she cares to do — she wants her children to have his or her *own* name within the family.

Sound familiar?

I’ve read and heard other discussions about how to deal with this, and whether, as my reader asked me, it’s ever appropriate to give your child a name that’s already been used, and if so, how to do it without offending anyone. We had to deal with it ourselves: We wanted to give one of our boys a name that my brother could argue he had a prior claim to. The name was my grandfather’s name, but it’s also my brother’s middle name, and a distinctive one — so it would really feel like we were taking a name that was rightfully his. Though I’ve always appreciated the opinion that there are no dibs in baby naming, I do think sometimes there are. At least if you want to be a good sister/brother/aunt/uncle etc. So we asked my brother and sister-in-law (married but no children yet at the time) if it would be okay if we used the name, and we told them that if they preferred that we didn’t, we wouldn’t.

They were lovely about it, and assured us it was okay for us to use the name. Whew!

So that’s what I would recommend, if there was a particular name parents wanted to give to their child that was already used or potentially claimed by someone else: Just ask. But sometimes it’s not that easy, and I’ve liked the thoughtful ways in which the question was handled by some of the naming experts I admire:

Swistle: Naming Etiquette: Who Has Dibs on a Family Name?

Baby Name Wizard: page 8

Name Candy:

Particularly for big families, as Laura Wattenberg says, “In a really big family, something’s gotta give. Among your ten brothers and sisters and thirty nieces and nephews, you may have to accept an occasional duplicate name.” I would just heartily recommend that you go about the whole thing as respectfully as possible.

Have any of you had to deal with this? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?