Baby name consultation: Unusual name with great meaning needed for baby no. 5

Thank you again to all those who entered last week’s giveaway and suggested ideas for ways to honor St. Anne in a boy’s name! I’ll compile them into one post soon!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lynda’s fourth baby almost exactly two years ago, and I’m thrilled that today’s baby name consultation is for her fifth baby — a little girl!

This Little Miss joins big siblings:

Mirai Luna (“Mirai [meer-eye] means miracle in Basque and future in Japanese; middle name means moon in Spanish“)
Evander Sol (“Evander is greek and means “good man;” middle name means sun in Spanish“)
Aviva Estrella (“Hebrew name meaning innocence and springtime (she was born in April); middle name means star in Spanish“)
Taavi Orion [Taavi is the Finnish form of David, which means “beloved”; Orion continues the celestial theme]

Such cool names, right? Taavi was one of my suggestions in the private consultation I’d done for Lynda when she was pregnant with him, so I was so excited to see that she and her husband liked it!

Lynda writes,

As you can tell we like names that are not very common and also have a beautiful meaning … Middle name will likely be Cielo — Spanish for sky. I like Zelie, but can’t really find a strong meaning beside the connection with Saint Azelie. Which is great, but doesn’t really go along with the names with meanings of my other kids. My husband really likes Zazie (nickname for Isabelle in French — meaning consecrated to God I think?). I’m not completely sold though, so I’m eager to see what you find.”

I had so much fun with this, as I knew I would! I was looking back on my ideas for Lynda for when she was expecting Taavi, and apparently the Baby Name Wizard was helpful to me back then, which is funny because I didn’t find it at all helpful this time around! Instead, I tried to focus on names that have a great meaning, like her other kids’ names, and also names that are more … I’m not sure what the word is? Mirai is Basque, Evander is Greek, Aviva is Hebrew, and Taavi is Finnish, so I felt like Spanish/French/Latinate names or those from a more unexpected origin would be a better fit than those from an Anglo/Celtic background, for example. So I guess that’s what I would say — I just looked for names that are more unexpected, and generally ruled out Anglo/Celtic names.

I have a bunch of unusual options in my book of Marian names, which is actually where I started when looking for names for Lynda and her hubs. I also of course couldn’t help but notice that the two names they’re considering — Zelie and Zazie — are Z-heavy, so I tried to think of other Z names that might have good meanings for them.

Before I get into the ideas I thought they might like, though, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Zelie: Most people who offer opinions on what Zelie means argue that Azelie is French for azalea (the flower), and I’ve known parents who’ve considered Azalea as a name, in honor of St. Zelie. But since “azalea” comes from a Greek word meaning “dry,” I don’t think that’s the kind of meaning Lynda and her hubs would like. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a spotlight on Zelie a few years ago, and included possible connections to Celia and Solene, both of which were actually discussed in a comment here at Sancta Nomina as well. The Celia connection is interesting, since Celia and Cielo both mean sky/heaven, so if they thought the Celia-Zelie connection made the most sense, they probably wouldn’t want to do Zelie Cielo.
  • Zazie: I love learning new things about names! I’d never heard of Zazie as a nickname for Isabelle, how cool! As far as meaning, behindthename.com is my go-to for name meanings, and it lists “God is my oath” as the meaning of Elizabeth (Isabelle is a French variant of Elizabeth).

Okay, so based on the parameters that I thought would yield some interesting ideas for Lynda and her hubs, this is what I came up with:

(1) Janua or Ianua
One of Our Lady’s titles is “Gate of Heaven,” as listed in the Litany of Loreto, which in Latin is rendered both Ianua Caeli and Janua Coeli. Caeli and Coeli (generally pronounced CHAY-lee) are both related to Cielo, and refer to heaven, so I thought Janua Cielo or Ianua Cielo would be an interesting combo for Lynda’s little girl. A reader actually shared with me that her niece’s name is Ianua Caeli, so pretty! Janua and Ianua are pronounced the same, and can be said YAH-noo-ah; Ianua can also be said ee-YAH-noo-ah. Janua and Ianua are definitely different! I know “gate” isn’t the most interesting meaning, but when you consider the whole combo “Ianua/Janua Cielo/Caeli/Coeli, ‘gate of heaven’” and that it’s a title of Mary, it’s a really lovely meaning.

(2) Liesse
Another title of Our Lady is Our Lady of Joy, which in French is Notre Dame de Liesse. Liesse is such a pretty name! I love its femininity and rhythm. I’m not sure Lynda will love how Liesse Cielo flows — one possibility is to switch Cielo to Araceli, which is a Spanish name where the “celi” part means sky/heaven and “ara” means “altar” — it’s another Marian name, as Araceli means “altar of heaven.” Liesse Araceli?

(3) Lux or Luz
Both Lux (Latin) and Luz (Spanish) mean “light,” and refer to Our Lady of Light. I like that they have an X or a Z, depending on which version Lynda and her hubs like, which is similar to Zelie and Zazie. Lux Cielo and Luz Cielo work fine I think.

(4) Maylis
I know they haven’t repeated initials yet, so maybe an M name is off the table? But Maylis is such a pretty name, I really wanted to suggest it for them. Like Zazie and Liesse, it’s a French name, a mashup of Marie and lys/lis (=lily). Maylis Cielo is pretty.

(5) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen,” which is a fantastic meaning on its own, and also nods to Our Lady, Queen (of many things: Heaven, Angels, Apostles, the World, Ireland, Peace, etc.). Regina Caeli is one of her titles meaning “Queen of Heaven,” so Reina Cielo would be similar but unexpected, I really like it.

(6) Zara
This is one of my Z ideas for them. One of its possible etymologies is as a variant of Zahrah, which derives from the Arabic word meaning “blooming flower.” So pretty! Another, separate meaning that I really like is that Zara is a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is a feminine form of Zechariah! Zechariah is said to mean, “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew. I actually spotlighted Zara here.

(7) Zuzu (Susanna, Azucena)
If you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ll know that Zuzu is what one of George Bailey’s daughters is called, likely a nickname for Susan, as Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names and Susan was popular at the time the movie was made (“Zuzu’s petals” is the line from the movie). I like Zuzu on its own for this family, it really strikes me as similar to Zazie, and the Susan- names mean both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, so they have really lovely meanings. They could use Susanna itself (or any of its variants, including Zuzanna and Zuzia) with Zuzu as the nickname, or another idea is the name Azucena — it shares the same roots as Susanna, and is the Spanish name for the flower known as the Madonna lily; Zuzu can easily be a nickname for it.

(8) Zephyr(ine)
My last idea is Zephyr, which is usually a masculine name, meaning “the west wind,” but one of my readers recently named her daughter Zephyr, with the most amazing explanation. I love the meaning and I love its soft sound! I also thought I’d mention Zepherine, which was my great aunt’s name and one of the coolest! She went by Zee.

And those are my ideas for Lynda and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mirai, Evander, Aviva, and Taavi?


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

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Baby name consultation: Baby girl no. 7 needs uncommon but not unfamiliar, feminine, French-sounding name

Shannon and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their seventh girl! Shannon writes,

We’re expecting a baby girl on the Feast of the Assumption! We have all girls and are struggling to find another name. We tend to gravitate to feminine, French sounding names that are more traditional, not too trendy, but also not unheard of. Here are our other names:

Annabelle Grace (6 1/2) Annabelle was my great grandmother’s favorite name, so I named her this in her honor. I like the Marian connotation — Mater Amabilis. Grace was chosen because it took us a few years and many prayers to conceive her, and we felt she was truly a gift from God.

Celeste Rose (nearly 5) Celeste is just a name I’ve always loved — probably hearkens back to my days reading the Babar books! I like the connection with Heaven and stars. Rose is after St. Rose of Lima, a beloved saint.

In 2015 we had identical twin girls who were sadly both stillborn on February 6 due to a heart problem. We named them:

Nora Catherine — I like the meaning “honor” for Nora and Catherine is my middle name as well as my other great-grandmother, who was very devout. As a woman who loves the academic side of the Church, I’ve always loved St. Catherine of Siena as well.

Mary Elizabeth — In honor of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth. Through the ordeal of a high risk pregnancy and the stillbirth, Our Lady was my constant companion and comfort. Though this tragedy brought suffering, it also has brought our family the most beautiful graces.

After the twins I suffered an early miscarriage where we had decided on the name Claire after St. Clare.

Noelle Evangeline (17 months) She was due near Thanksgiving but didn’t arrive until Dec. 11th, so she became our surprise Advent baby. We chose Evangeline because after our losses she was a welcome reminder of the good news and all that is wonderful in the world.

We’ve decided that we probably shouldn’t choose another “elle” name as we already have two. “Ette” names are difficult because we live in an area with many French speakers who pronounce our name the French way, so an “ette” name would rhyme. Which is a shame because Colette is one of my very favorite names. I also love Lucy but [it sounds weird with our last name]. We like Lucia but everyone pronounces it differently — my husband likes the pronunciation of the island and I prefer the Italian way. I also love Felicity but think that “Felicity LastName” sounds like a gunslinger in a western novel, like she would be friends with Calamity Jane. I have a sister with two beautiful daughters named Liliana (goes by Lily) and Camilla, so those are out. We are considering Elise Dominica but I’m just not feeling a hundred percent sold on it at this point. My husband loves the name Gwendolyn (would go by Gwen) and I like it too.

I tend to like names that are a bit more whimsical than my husband, or a bit more “extreme Catholic” such as Dominica and Benedicta. My husband doesn’t mind them for middle names as much but doesn’t love them for first names. He loves the names Olivia and Margaret but I don’t really care for them (even though Margaret was my confirmation name). I’m leaning toward something that honors Mary though it’s been tricky. I like Marigold but don’t think it’s a style-match for the other names. I’ve mentioned it to some friends and family and they’ve thought it sounded too whimsical/Bohemian considering our other daughters. Names like Mariana are too close to Annabelle and Stella Maris/Maristella has the dreaded “elle.”

I’m so excited for this consultation — please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.”

Wasn’t it amazing to read all this?! I’m so sorry to hear of the losses of Shannon’s babies, and so happy for her and her husband that this baby is on the way! I love their older girls’ names — each one is so gorgeous and meaningful! And I love the names they’re considering, they have wonderful taste!

I chuckled at Shannon’s comments about Lucy, and especially at Felicity LastName — “friends with Calamity Jane” is hilarious! I wonder if something like Lucille or Lucienne would do better for them?

Elise Dominica is beautiful, and I love how it combines a French name with a heavy-hitting Catholic name! Perhaps my one nitpicky thing, if I had to have one, is that their Mary Elizabeth already has an Elizabeth name. But certainly it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker — I only mention it in case it helps them make a decision one way or the other, since Shannon said she’s not feeling 100% on it.

Gwendolyn/Gwen is such an interesting addition to their list! It’s a great name, and I was surprised by it at first, since I was so focused on French names, but its Celtic feel fits in well with Nora, Mary (from the perspective that Mary by itself and Mary double names have a particularly Irish feel to me), and Claire (even with Claire being the French spelling). Since Shannon said she’s leaning toward a Marian name this time, I wondered if she and her hubs would be interested in Gwenfair? In my [recently published] book of Marian names, Gwenfair’s one of the entries — like Gwendolyn, it’s a Welsh name, with the “gwen” part meaning “white, fair, blessed,” and the “fair” part being actually Mair (it changes to “fair” when added on to Gwen), which is the Welsh form of Mary. It’s a little more difficult than Gwendolyn, in that its Welsh pronunciation is something like GWEN-vire, but I think one could get away with GWEN-fair in the U.S. But I totally get that that pronunciation issue might make the name less appealing than Gwendolyn.

I too love Marigold, but I can see what Shannon’s friends/family mean about it seeming too “whimsical/Bohemian.” One argument in its favor is that it’s the name of Edith’s daughter on Downton Abbey — I wouldn’t consider any of the characters on the show to be whimsical or Bohemian (though Edith leans the most that way of all of them). Considering it in light of early-twentieth-century England makes it seem more “quaint English rose” and less whimsical/Bohemian I think. If it’s helpful, I’ve posted two birth announcements for babies with Marigold as part of their name — one as a middle name, one as a first name — Shannon and her hubs might like to see the style of their siblings’ names.

Though Shannon said she doesn’t care for Olivia, I wondered if the fact that it’s actually an entry in my book might help? Part of what I wrote about it is:

One of Mother Mary’s titles is ‘Our Lady of Olives,’ also known as Madonna of olives, which makes any of the Oliv- names doable in her honor. Under this title, Our Lady has been compared to an olive tree in this verse in the book of Sirach: ‘Like a fair olive tree in the field’ (24:14), and also remembered for a miraculous occurrence involving lightning in a town in France.”

[Note that I did explain in the book that Olivia may or may not be etymologically related to “olive,” but as always I think intention is what matters most, and there’s certainly a visual/audial connection between Olivia and “olive.”]

I’m certainly not trying to sway Shannon one way or the other, but I do love helping parents come to an agreement on names, so if this is helpful in doing so, great! I particularly like that this title of Our Lady has a connection to France; you can read more about it here.

I’d love to find a way for Shannon to like Margaret as well, since it’s got that great tie to her and her hubby loves it. What about the French Marguerite? Or Margo(t)? Marigold actually made me think of Marguerite anyway, because the name for the daisy flower in French is marguerite, so while the Margaret names aren’t exactly Marian, this is one way in which they can be considered so, as daisies have a connection to Our Lady: the common daisy has been known as Mary’s flower or Mary-Loves, and the oxeye daisy has been known as Mary’s Star. (Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret because of this connection.) Marguerite or Margo(t) nicknamed Daisy might be the perfect solution to Shannon’s hubby’s love of Margaret plus her affinity for more whimsical names.

One last Marian idea before moving on to the ideas suggested by my research for this family, is that, with their daughter due on the feast of the Assumption, maybe a name related to that feast would be fun to consider? Assumpta and Assunta were the first to come to mind; second were the Susan names — as I related in my book, it seems Italian women named Assunta often “anglicized” their name as Susan when they arrived in the US! However, the more I think about it, the more I think the Susan names don’t work … Suzette would be great except for the -ette, and Susanne/Suzanne and Susanna are too similar to Annabelle. But I could see Assumpta or Assunta being really cool, especially perhaps in the middle spot. As a first name, Susie could work as a nickname for either of them I think, and Amy for Assumpta.

Alrighty, 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 with a similar style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also consulted the Exotic Traditionals, Saints, and French lists at the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool since Marigold doesn’t have an entry in the BNW book. And I did a post a while ago about a family with French roots whose girls all have really French names, so I consulted that as well. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Shannon and her husband:

(1) Genevieve
No list of French-type girl names would be complete without Genevieve! She’s the patron saint of Paris, and Gwendolyn was actually what inspired me to put it on this list, as they’re both long G names (though I know the fact that one’s a hard G and one’s a soft G makes a difference to many).

(2) Em(m)eline
The family in the post I linked to above has an Emeline, and Emmeline was actually listed as a style match for Celeste in the BNW! There’s a St. Emilina of Boulancourt, and behindthename.com also says it’s related to Amelia, which offers two more options for patron saints.

(3) Elodie
Continuing with French E names, Elodie was in the list of French names, Saint names, and Exotic Traditionals in the BNW! I immediately thought it might make a nice replacement for Elise, if Shannon ended up deciding Elise was too repetitive with Mary Elizabeth or if she decided she doesn’t care for it for other reasons. Elodie Dominica is lovely.

(4) Sylvie
Sylvie’s a style match for Noelle, and as soon as I saw it I was reminded of a family I posted a consultation for who has a daughter named Sylvie Regina, specifically because it sounds like Salve Regina. I have thought about how clever that is so often! AND that little Sylvie has a sister named Marigold! Sylvie feels like a less popular Sophie to me, I love it.

(5) Madeleine, Magdalene
Speaking of Sophie, I always think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat when I think of French names. There’s a school near me called St. Madeleine Sophie’s, and I’ve always loved that they always say both names. Madeleine is the French form of Magdalene, and I wondered if Magdalene might appeal to Shannon and her husband? It’s so similar to Margaret in that it can take Maggie as a nickname, but it’s got a more unusual feel.

(6) Simone
When I do research in the BNW, I’m always looking for overlap — for names that are style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list of considerations. Simone was one of those names for this family! It’s a match for both Celeste and Noelle, as well as Dominique, which I looked up in place of Dominica, as Dominica didn’t have its own entry in the BNW. Simone is all gorgeousness to me, and St. Peter is an easy patron; there’s also a Bl. Simone who was beatified by St. JPII.

(7) Josephine
Finally, Josephine, listed as a specific a style match for Annabelle as well as being included in the list of French names and Saints names in the BNW. I love Josephine and all its possible nicknames, including Josie, Sophie, and Posy.

And those are my ideas for Shannon and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Annabelle, Celeste, Nora, Mary, Claire, and Noelle?


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

Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation 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. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

Birth announcement: Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

I had the great pleasure of posting a birth announcement for reader Isabelle’s second boy two years ago, and she’s let me know that she’s had a third baby — a little girl! She’s been given the gorgeous names Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

Isabelle writes,

So, we have two boys (you posted a birth announcement for our second, Gabriel Nicolas Peter, our eldest is Jude René Marc) and for both of them, the names were fairly easy to find. I had liked Gabriel since I was a teenager, and always intended to use it, but by the time I got pregnant with my first I was feeling more “Jude”. My husband was happy either way, and we pretended to ourselves for a while like we hadn’t decided (we totally had, we never seriously considered any alternative).

When we found out our second was a boy too, Gabriel was the obvious choice, and again although we told ourselves we were considering other options, we really weren’t. All the while, our girl name was all chosen and waiting for a future girl: Alice. But two months after Gabriel was born, my cousin had gorgeous twin girls: Madeleine and Alice.

Fast forward a few months and I am pregnant again. And we’re stumped. A few boys names are swimming about (Nicolas? Can we use a middle name as a subsequent sibling’s given name? Methink we can) but for girls, it was getting complicated fast. I suggested we go for Alice anyway, but it felt a bit too soon. We loved Juliette, but Jude-Gabriel-Juliette felt a bit repetitive, so again, we felt we needed a few more names in the middle before using Juliette. That’s when I contacted you about consultations, but we decided to wait to find out the gender and then ask you if we were still stumped.

We discovered we were expecting a girl shortly afterwards, and my husband (who normally leaves me to talk names at him) was suddenly pushing for Virginia, he’s grandmother’s name (with the intention of nicknaming her “Ginny”, like his grandmother was). Whilst I really liked Ginny, I didn’t want Virginia, or use a nickname as a given name (I’m helpful like that). Besides, Ginny broke our rule (We’re a French-English couple, so we really try to choose names which are the same, or near enough in both languages – Jude was a stretch for the French since it is vanishingly rare as a French given name, people are much more likely to use the “Thadée” form to honour that apostle, but Jude is in the Bible so we went for it).

My long-suffering husband then offered Genevieve as another way to get to Ginny and still honour his grandmother, and whilst I love the sound of it in English, and it is spelled exactly the same way (with added accent in French) I couldn’t really get over the “middle-aged woman” feel the name has for me (due to when the name was popular in France). So stumped again.

I was starting to remind him that you offered a very handy service for people in our situation, when, in a totally unrelated instance of spousal awesomeness, my husband took me to Vienna for a little getaway just the two (and a half) of us. So here I am, on the train from the airport, doing what any self-respecting former PhD candidate in history would do, reading up on the history of Vienna and the Habsburg family, when suddenly, in a random paragraph about the Holy Roman Empire, I come across saint Matilda (she’s awesome). And that’s it. My husband is fully on board (although he pretends like he still favours Elisabeth for a few days), but he wants to spell it the French way, but pronounce it the English way when we speak in English (so, spelled “Mathilde”, pronounced “Matilda”). I’m ok with that. We decide the middle names will be the grandmothers (Agnes and Julia) job done.

Except, not quite.

Plot twist: giantly pregnant by then and extremely overdue, I am given a date for my induction: 9 July. Simon’s sister’s birthday. His sister passed away at just sixteen – she had a brain tumour. Feeling like we can’t just ignore the coincidence, we think of ways to honour Hannah in our little girl’s name and decide to just add a third middle name, even though Simon’s other sister already used “Hannah” as a middle name for her daughter.

Plot twist again: the induction is pushed back to the 10th. What do we do? Without the same birthday, Simon doesn’t feel right about copying his niece’s middle name (I have no such qualms, but then I come from a giant Catholic family where repeats are a fact of life). So I push for Hannah’s middle name, Frances. (I am a big fan of Saint Frances of Rome, and was planning on using “Francesca” as a future middle name – as soon as the grandmothers had been dutifully honoured (another French thing here, people almost always honour family members with middle names, so grandparents would take offence)).

And that was finally that (well, after the quickest, most ridiculously eventful labour).

Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances. Born in 45 minutes on 10 July 2017. All the names, all the saints.”

Can you believe that story?! Amazing! And I love love love all of Mathilde’s names!!

Congratulations to Isabelle and her husband and big brothers Jude and Gabriel, and happy birthday Baby Mathilde!!

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Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances

Baby name consultation: Sister names for Henry and Eleanor

Happy Monday y’all!! I’m beyond overjoyed that it’s the last Monday of January!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sort of dread January. It’s so long and so cold. But February is short and March is spring! We’re almost there!

Corrie and her husband are hoping for baby number three! They already have:

Henry Layne (“My son Henry was easy to name. We both liked it. His middle name was picked by my husband after one of his favorite musicians Layne Stanley. We though he might be a Hank but it turns out he prefers Henry“)

Eleanor Grace (“We really struggled to name my daughter. We ended up in the hospital with a long list of names (she was born 4 weeks early) and spent the first 24 hours of her life considering possibilities. We chose Eleanor which “goes with” Henry. She has developed many nicknames (and she is only 10 months). We began calling her Ella, which has now morphed into Bella and Belle. Her middle name is Grace. It is my favorite virtue and has very powerful meaning to me“)

Henry and Eleanor are such a pleasing pair! I love both names on their own, and I love them together!

Corrie writes,

For a boy I really like Maxwell Caleb (nn Max) or George Crosby.

For a girl, I have many names that I like but not sure I can pick one. I really would like to use Charlotte in some way … first or middle.

I feel like a lot of my favorite names won’t work — no Eloise (close to Ella), Elise, Nora, Stella, Isabelle (or any -belles, Annabelle).

I hesitate using Jane because of “Layne.”

We cannot use Emily, Margaret, Abigail, Allison or Alice. For various reasons these are vetoed names.

Names I consider are Charlotte (nn Lottie) but struggle with finding a middle that flows and/or is meaningful … Madeleine, Lillian (Lilly), Margot, Louise, Avery (I know this is a different style … but I do love it), Olivia, Rose, Gemma, Colette, Adora, Cecelia, Annaliese, Katherine (nn Kate).

My husband has always loved Audrey Claire. Henry and Audrey sounded clunky to me. He also likes Evelyn, Lucy, Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Anne, Caroline, Wilhelmina, Gwen, Aveline.

Family/Honor names could be: Hazel, Elizabeth, Anne, Frances, Marie.

Henry likes Sophie.

We don’t shy from a name because it is popular. After all Henry is #2 in our state now. We love a good nickname too.

I prefer no first names starting with “H” or “E” as each child will have their own initial. I was intrigued by your blog post with 2 middles also … Like “Avery Marie Frances” … but then my heart does want to incorporate Charlotte and when I try I always get stuck. Hence my letter to you.”

So I love both Maxwell and George if they were to have a boy, I think both would fit in nicely with Henry and Eleanor.

I can see why they’re struggling with coming up with a girl name! It’s amazing to me all the names that they like that they can’t use because of being too close to Eleanor or one of her nicknames.

If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about Layne and Jane rhyming — middle names are rarely known by others unless you really make it a point to use first+middle all the time, so middle-name Layne and first-name Jane are no problem to me. I think they’re even less of a problem if they use Jane as a middle name as well! I am interested, though, in how much Corrie and her hubs love the long A sound, having considered Hank and used Layne and Grace for their existing children, and having Caleb, Avery, Kate, and Claire on their list of possibles. I’m not sure what to do with that though, just an interesting thing to be aware of.

Their style is very very consistent! You all know that I always start a consultation 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. I usually look for overlap — names that are listed as style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list — and there was overlap all over the place for this family! So much so that there were several times when I saw a name and thought, “This is perfect for them!” and then I’d see that it’s already on their list. Amazing!

Even Avery, which Corrie noted is a different style, isn’t as different as I originally thought. According to the BNW, it’s a match for Audrey, which also includes Claire, Evelyn, and Charlotte as matches. Pretty great!

I was thinking about how Corrie said she loves Charlotte/Lottie but struggles with finding middle names that flow and/or are meaningful. Charlotte Avery immediately came to mind as a possibility, which I quite like — I think it has the spunk and unexpectedness of Henry Layne and George Crosby (which I think Eleanor Grace also has through her various nicknames). The fact that they like both Charlotte and Avery reminds me of this family, who have daughters named Josie, Brady, Mary, Charlotte, and Sloane — a good example of different styles in the same family. And honestly, I got a little swoony over Avery Marie Frances! That’s really one of my very favorite ways to name — an unexpected first name with a more familiar middle name, or a traditional first name with a surname middle, or a super saintly first or middle paired with a more contemporary name with a secular feel are all really fun ways of combining styles. Charlotte Avery and Avery Marie Frances (as well as Henry Layne and George Crosby) all do that.

I wanted to spend a minute thinking of combos that include Charlotte and middle names that might go together well. Using the names on Corrie and her hubs’ list and their family/honor names, maybe:

  • Charlotte Hazel Anne (this is extra nice because Anne is on the list of names Corrie’s husband likes)
  • Charlotte Marie Frances or just Charlotte Frances/Charlotte Marie
  • Charlotte Avery Marie
  • Charlotte Elizabeth (this is very similar in style to Eleanor Grace I think)
  • Charlotte Hazel (ditto Charlotte Elizabeth)
  • Charlotte Avery Hazel (could Hazel possibly work to honor both Hazel and Elizabeth? Since Elizabeth contains all the letters in Hazel …)
  • Charlotte Avery Jane (I like the idea of Avery-Jane as a first name too, the addition of Jane swings it closer to Henry and Eleanor in style, and adding Avery maybe reduces the issue of Layne and Jane rhyming? This also makes me think of Avery-Kate, which is sweet)

There are so many names from their lists that I was pleasantly surprised by! A few thoughts:

  • Louise is so close to the Eloise that they love, it’s a perfect solution if they really want Eloise but can’t
  • I’ve never heard of the name Adora! Gorgeous, and such amazing meaning!
  • Annaliese seems the perfect solution to honoring two of their family members, as it’s a combo of Anne and Elizabeth. It’s an even closer match if they use the Anneliese spelling. It reminds me too of Marieliese, which is a combo of Marie and Elizabeth. I like them both for this family. Charlotte Annaliese? Charlotte Marieliese? Even Anne-Elise and Marie-Elise could work, they’re both so pretty
  • I love that Corrie’s husband has always loved Audrey Claire! It’s a gorgeous combo, and exactly their (collective) style, based on my research. I guess I can see what Corrie means about not loving the sound of Henry and Audrey together, but if they were to say their kids’ names together, I think Henry, Eleanor, and Audrey, or Henry, Ella/Bella/etc., and Audrey sound fine!
  • Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Wilhelmina, Gwen, and Aveline are all surprising! I definitely think there are ways of working the idea of these in … like Poppy can be a nickname for something, even just an affectionate nickname that’s unrelated to the given name. It can certainly work as a nickname for Penelope and Persephone from Corrie’s husband’s list, as well as names like Perpetua and Apollonia. I wonder what they would think of Willa? It’s like Wilhelmina, and a style match for Gemma on Corrie’s list. Gwen is sweet, but I feel like the long Gwendolyn might be a better fit? And the fact that Corrie has Avery and Olivia on her list and her hubs has Evelyn and Aveline on his list really seems like there must be some name out there that combines what they both love, like Livia, Livian or Liviana/Livianna, Livienne, Avila, Genevieve (this also seems like maybe it could loop in Gemma and Gwen?), Evangeline, or Averil

I also love that Henry likes Sophie! So cute!

Alright, so I was pretty excited to do the research for Corrie and her hubs, since there are so many names on their lists — I was really interested to see what might result as new ideas for them. It was definitely challenging! As I mentioned before, so many times I would see a name and think, “Aha!” only to remember that that name was already on one of their lists! And really, I feel like, just based on what Corrie said, the choice is basically down to Charlotte or Avery. So maybe these extra ideas aren’t helpful at all! But it was fun to come up with them anyway:

(1) Josephine
I think this is my favorite idea for this family. It’s long and French like Charlotte, and I think Poppy as a nickname is totally feasible. I’ve also seen Posy/Posey as a nickname for it, which is adorable, and I’ve long thought that Sophie can even work as a nickname for Josephine, which might be a good way of working in Henry’s idea.

(2) Rosemarie
Rosemary is actually a style match for Penelope, but I thought it was similar enough to the feel of Henry and Eleanor that it was a good suggestion. I thought Rosemarie was a better variant because it incorporates the Marie from their family/honor list. But what really sealed the deal was the nickname Romy — Corrie said they love a good nickname, and Romy is actually a style match for Poppy! Of course, Rosie/Rosey is a natural nickname, and I’ve seen Rory too, as well as Roo (I think it was for Rosemary Olivia!), which is adorable. Or just Ro! Cute!

(3) Felicity
Felicity is a match for Gemma and Anneliese (as a stand-in for Annaliese) on Corrie’s list, and Penelope on her husband’s! I really like it as a sister to Henry and Eleanor! I know some families who hesitate because it doesn’t have a huge amount of traditional nicknames, but I did a spotlight post on Felicity that addressed that issue, and there are a bunch to consider, from the more demure Lily to the fun and spunky Flicka.

(4) Beatrice, Beatrix
Henry and Eleanor have a nice Brit feel to them, and Beatrice, which is a match for Eleanor and Eloise, and Beatrix for Penelope, have that same feel I think. Bea is a sweet nickname, and Trixie is traditional as well. I’ve also seen Betsy, and I wonder if they did Beatrice with the nickname Betsy, if that might work as an honor for their Elizabeth? Since Betsy is a traditional Elizabeth nickname?

(5) Phoebe
I was surprised at how well Phoebe did for them! It’s a match for Belle, Charlotte, Penelope, and Sophie! Phoebe’s a sweet name, and Grace Patton’s little Phoebe is such pip, she’s totally made me love the name even more (here,
here, etc.).

(6) Philippa, Pippa
Speaking of Pip, I’m kind of loving Pippa for them! It can totally hold its own with Henry and Eleanor, and it’s similar in sound/appearance to Poppy, Penelope, and Persephone. I also love Ella/Bella/Belle/Ella Grace/Bella Grace with Pippa — what a sweet pair of sisters! If they prefer something a bit more formal with Pippa as a nickname, Philippa’s the traditional choice, a la Princess Kate’s sister Pippa (given name Philippa Charlotte).

(7) Molly, Maisie, Daisy
These ideas are all really inspired by the fact that Corrie said they love a good nickname. Molly’s a match for Henry, Max, Nora, Lucy, Stella, Lily, Kate, and Sophie. Such a great fit for them! If they felt like they preferred a more formal given name, Molly’s origin is as a nickname for Mary, so maybe they could use the Marie on their family/honor list in its place. I’ve already offered a few Marie- names (Marieliese, Marie-Elise, Rosemarie), and Molly could be nicknames for all of them (maybe Marie-Rose more than Rosemarie if you wanted Molly as a nick?). I also like the idea of Madeleine nicked Molly, and Marie Lillian/Marie Louise/Marie Penelope/Marie Olivia/Marie Colette nn Molly.

Maisie’s similar in that it started as a nickname (for Margaret) and it’s a specific style match for Poppy. I know Corrie said Margaret was out (and I love the variant Margot that they have on their list), but I wondered if maybe they would consider something like Marie-Hazel and use Maisie as a nickname?

And Maisie made me think of Daisy, which is also a traditional Margaret nickname, and similar in style to Poppy. I’m not sure what to suggest as a formal name for Daisy, since Margaret’s out, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway, in case it sparks something.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Corrie and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry and Eleanor?

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?

Birth announcement: Zelie Grace!

Our girl Jenny Uebbing had her baby!! I posted a consultation for her less than a month ago, and she’s let me know that her little green bean turned out to be a Little Miss whose been given the gorgeous name … Zelie Grace!

Jenny writes,

I know you probably saw on social media but wanted to tell you that Zelie Grace arrived yesterday at 5:10 am on the feast of St Thomas Becket and King David, a cool coincidence for her daddy, David, the chancellor.

We named her something else, called her that for the first few scary minutes of her life (very blue high altitude baby) and so I started praying for the intercession of St Zelie Martin who lost so many of her own babies. I didn’t think we were going to lose her, but I did think she was going to need to go to the NICU. Happily she perked up and has been doing great ever since. Her birth was so different and so much more peaceful than her older siblings’ were that at once point Dave leaned over and said ‘if she’s a girl, grace should be part of her name, because there’s so much if it here.’ So there you have it, Zelie (zay-lee) Grace Uebbing. 7 lbs 11 oz and sweet as can be.”

I’m so happy for Jenny!! I know the end of her pregnancy was tough (I just about died when I read her description on Instagram of her Christmas Eve, when she thought she might be in labor: “Santa may or may not be upstairs barfing and Mrs Claus is hunched over her contraction timer app”), so for her to say this birth was so much more peaceful than her others is such a gift. And the fact that, in the first consultation I did for her (for the baby before this one), she’d said about the name Zelie:

Dave will never let me get away with this one but I’ve loved it for years … And yes, I’m aware there is going to be a Catholic ghetto baby boom of little Z’s running around as a result [of St. Zelie’s canonization]. But I still love.”

Dreams do come true! ❤

Congratulations to Jenny and Dave and big sibs Joseph, John Paul, Genevieve, and Luke, and happy birthday Baby Zelie!!

Zelie Grace with Mom, Dad, and big brother

(Be sure to check out Jenny’s Instagram for more yummy baby pics!)