Ireland part 1: Edel

I have so much to tell you all about my fast four-day trip to Ireland for my sister’s wedding! I posted a bunch of photos over the last few days on Instagram, and had some longer things to write here, which I’m going to break up into a few posts.

I’ve written before about Ven. Edel Quinn — e.g., I posted a birth announcement for a little girl given Quinn as a middle in honor of her; I posted a family spotlight of three sisters, one of whom has Edel as a middle in honor of her; and I did a consultation for a mama who loves Ven. Edel and Edelweiss and would love to work them both in somehow — and she has a pretty incredible name story of her own. She was born in Co. Cork, which is where my sister’s wedding was, and I had the fun experience of seeing a twenty-something Irish girl in Dublin airport on my way home whose bag had her name stitched on it — and it was Edel! I heard her friends referring to her by name a couple times, and they said it like “Adele,” which is what I’d always assumed was the dominant pronunciation. BUT that same girl was paged several times during the several hours I was at the airport, and one of the times her name was said to rhyme with pedal (EH-del), and another time like the first part of Edelweiss (AY-del). How cool! Three different possibilities, all used by Irish natives (or so I assumed, given their brogues). Encountering names of the faith “out in the wild” — seeing them used in real life — is one of my very favorite things!


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!

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Fun Friday Question: What name pocket are you in (if any)?

Don’t forget to enter The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life giveaway if you haven’t already! You have until Sunday at midnight!

My dear friend KZG, who I’ve known for over twenty years, and with whom I lived and traveled while young, and who was a bridesmaid in my wedding and godmother to one of my boys, has also been one of my longest readers (in the beginning of the blog, she and my mom were my only two readers!) and biggest supporters/cheerleaders. She’s also the one who lets me know any time anyone in the Catholic blogosphere is pregnant — she has “introduced” me to so many of you! I gave her a special shout-out in my book for all the ways she’s been a bright light to Sancta Nomina (and always to me ❤ ).

So anyway, this past Tuesday she texted me, “Have you written about how popular Rocco is?” and went on to tell me that it’s super popular where she is (downstate NY), especially in the 4-6 year old age range (in her experience). So I responded how interesting that is, and that not only is it not terribly popular nationwide, it’s also on a downswing, so she must be in a pocket and I wondered why?

rocco

She reminded me that there’s a high population of families with Italian heritage where she lives, which makes sense, and we continued our text convo about other things and I mentally made a note to write about Rocco at some point in the future.

THE VERY NEXT DAY Laura Wattenberg, aka The Baby Name Wizard, who has a new web site called Namerology (she’s no longer at the Baby Name Wizard site), posted Maeve of Massachusetts, Meet Magnus of Minnesota, which was all about name pockets due to high concentrations of certain ethnicities (specifially Irish in Boston/Massachusetts, Swedish in Minnesota, and Italian in New Jersey [I would add downstate New York — Duchess and Westchester Counties, New York City, and Long Island — which borders New Jersey]).

SHE ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ROCCO!

The Swedish immigrants who flocked to Minnesota are recalled in the modern popularity of names like Ingrid and Henrik, and the Italian immigrants who helped shape New Jersey in names like Francesca and Rocco.”

Of course I texted her right away!! KZG is amazing!!

I can’t think of any names that are particular to my area as opposed to the rest of the country — I know loads of kids with the new top ten names, and the top names in New York State specifically (which KZG also sent me, name genius that she is) aren’t that different, and no names are coming to mind as those I hear that wouldn’t be as known to other places. (I will say that Sancta Nomina provides a Catholic name pocket though! 😂 The beautiful names of our faith are so familiar to me through interacting with all of you and the research I do for the blog/book/social media, etc. that I forget not everyone is as familiar!)

What about all of you? Do you hear names on the little ones in your town/area that aren’t common in other places? Happy Friday!


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

Fun Friday Question: How different are your parents’ taste?

I had so much fun with last week’s question and follow-up! It was so fun to read about your “almost names”!

Here’s another question for you: How different are your parents’ taste in names? If you were able to ask them right now what names they would have on their list if they didn’t have to take into account their spouse’s taste, what names would they be?

My parents did a phenomenal job naming me and my sibs (most of whom prefer to remain anonymous on here), but their lists are pretty different. I asked my mom last night for one or two of her favorite boy and girl names and she said:

Girl
— Róisín (Irish for “little rose”; said ro-SHEEN)
— Máirhín (the Irish “Mary” [Mair-] + “hín,” which is the ending syllable of the diminutive of her dad’s name — see Dáithín below; said mar-HEEN)
— Áine (used as the Irish equivalent of Anne, which is the name of Mom’s mom; said like the name Anya; Mom prefers this as a middle name, but then thought she preferred the sound of Áine Róisín and Áine Máirhín to Róisín Áine and Máirhín Áine )

Boy
— Fionn (“finn”)
— Dáithín (Mom’s dad was from Ireland and had the given name David, but he attended a St. Paddy’s Day event at my school once and introduced himself as Dáithín , which Mom had never heard before — he was apparently called that when he was small. [He also spoke with a brogue during that event, which he’d also never done.] Dáithí is used as the Irish equivalent of David)
— Mícheál (the Irish spelling of Michael, said MEE-haul)

It’s pretty clear what Mom’s taste in names is! 😂☘️

Dad wasn’t able to get back to me before this story went to press 😀 , but these are names I remember him talking about since I was little:

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

Boy
— Daniel (not sure about a nickname?)
— Sebastian, nicknamed Seb(by) (Dad often referenced former track and field Olympian [and current British politician] Sebastian Coe when he talked about this name; it was the nicknames Seb and Sebby that he really loved, I’m not convinced the full Sebastian is actually his style)

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

Mom’s Máirhín and Dad’s Maureen are pretty similar from their girl lists (though I don’t think Mom loves Mo and Dad probably wouldn’t go for an Irish spelling). Both my parents have biblical names on their boy list, which is what my brothers have, and if my sisters and I had been boys we would have had biblical names too, so there’s some common ground there. I love seeing that, though their lists look pretty different, there’s some points of possible overlap and compromise!

How about your parents? Happy Friday!


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

Birth announcement: Bridget Marie!

Thank you to all who entered the lottery for a baby name consultation! As long as it’s okay with the mama, I’ll post it here in a few weeks! Stay tuned for another “flash sale” next month or so. 

I’ve finished posting all the birth announcements that were emailed to me over the last few months — thank you to all the parents who did so! I’m now starting to work through the list of new babies I’ve seen in my Instagram feed over the fall and winter, and will be sharing their names and name stories as their mamas allow.

First up: the newest baby in a family whose names I’ve long loved! Kelsi’s older children are the swoony Finnian Doyle and Gemma Ruth, and when I saw she was expecting again, I couldn’t wait to see what she and her hubby chose! I wasn’t disappointed! Little Bridget Marie “Bridey” joined the family recently, and I just feel like sighing with contentment over these beautifully named children.

Kelsi writes,

1. Finnian Doyle — Doyle is my dad and my brother’s middle name. I wish I could ask my grandma where she got it, but we have no idea! I wanted to pass it on to my son and wanted a saint name as a first name. So after lots of suggestions from me and lots of vetoes from my husband, we landed on Finnian after St Finnian of Clonard. My husband’s grandmother has a strong connection to her Irish roots and the name seemed to honor that as well. We also liked the nickname “Finn” for its literary nod to Huckleberry Finn.

2. Gemma Ruth — When we were naming Gemma we decided we’d stick to the “formula” we had used for Finn: a saint first name and a family middle name. When I was pregnant with Finn, I was having terrible terrible headaches. Frustrated that I couldn’t take anything stronger than Tylenol and rubbing peppermint oil, I looked up Saints I could petition to pray for relief from my headache. St. Gemma Galgani came up. In truth, it was the first I had heard of her, but I loved her story and her name!! I asked her often to intercede for me. So when we found out I was pregnant with a girl, we decided to use Gemma. Ruth is my husband’s grandma’s name and just one of my biblical women.

3. Bridget Marie — We really like St. Brigid of Ireland and had heard the traditional nickname of “Bridey.” The nickname gave a literary nod to one of my husband’s and my favorite novels, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. But we decided we really liked the “-get” pronunciation better than “Brigid.” Marie is for my maternal grandmother and Mother Mary.”

How awesome is all of this?? I love it! I love each name, and the reason behind each one as well. How great is Kelsi’ love of Ruth: she’s “just one of my biblical women”?! Love it!

Congratulations to Kelsi and her husband and big sibs Finnian and Gemma, and happy birthday Baby Bridget!! Kelsi said it was okay to link to her Instagram — hope on over to see her beautiful babies!


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

Birth announcement: Greer Eileen!

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s little green bean last year, and I’m delighted to share that they welcomed a little girl! They gave her the fantastic name … Greer Eileen!

Megan writes,

Since you so kindly did a consultation for us earlier this year, I wanted to make sure to send you an email and update you on what we ended up choosing for her name: Greer Eileen.

I loved your suggestion of Greer — it fit perfectly with our naming style. I was also glad that it had the saintly connection through Gregor/Gregory. When I was pregnant with my son, I remember seeing this name in a book and thinking that I liked it (for a girl), but then forgot about it until you brought it back to my attention. As soon as I saw it again I knew that I loved it. My husband took a little convincing, but once he warmed up to the name he was totally on board as well. It seems to be one of those names that you either love or don’t.

I realize that by using Eileen as the middle, we look like huge Greer Garson fans — in reality, we’ve never seen one of her films. Maybe I should. 🙂 Her initials spell “Gee” which I thought could maybe be a cute nickname when she’s little if it fits.

Thank you so much for your help, and spot on suggestion! We love our little Greer, and are feeling very blessed.”

How great is this?? I LOVE the name Greer, it’s one of my very favorites, and it’s gorgeous paired with Eileen. I’m so thrilled!

Congratulations to Megan and her husband and big brother Finnian Daniel, and happy birthday Baby Greer!!

IMG_1971

Greer Eileen


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!

Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Literary/Irish-y/saintly name needed

Lindsey and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Lindsey writes,

Help! My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of June/beginning of July. We live in Boston and are having a ton of difficulty coming up with a name! We already had the name picked out if we were having a girl, so we are of course having a boy. We’re Catholic and would like to have a Catholic influence in the name, though we don’t necessarily require that it be the first name.

General criteria:

— We don’t want it to be a common or popular name, but we would like it to be a name that most people will have heard at some point. Ideally, we’d like it not to be in the top 100 or near that so that he won’t have to run into the issue of being “Matt LastInitial.”

— I tend to like old-fashioned/classic names and have somewhat of a preference for English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, though my husband doesn’t want anything too Irish. We also, however, tend to like some more unique, trendy sounding names like Sloan, Bligh/Bly, &c.

— We’d like something that would have the possibility of a nickname if that’s something he’d like or could stand on its own.

Likes but Not Requirements:

–I’m a huge bookworm and like the idea of having a literary inspiration in the name, but I’d rather the perfect name than to force this.

Below is a list of names that we like and have been considering:

Ambrose
Edmund
Simon
Blaise
Frederick
Calvin
Byron
Ciaran
Charles (I like the nickname Charlie more than I like Charles, but I question whether Charlie is appropriate for an adult)
Baron
Fulton
Sebastian (though it’s a bit too common for us to use)
Nathaniel (I feel it may be a bit too common for us to use)
Damian (may be a bit too common for us to use)

Of the above list, Ambrose and Edmund top out as our favorite right now (and though they continue to volley back and forth for top seed, Ambrose seems to be the current preference), but we are struggling with those and with them all:

–If we went with Ambrose, we can’t think of any middle names that would flow well with our last name. [Some family names include] (Daniel, Thomas, Benjamin, Joseph, Robert, Gabriel, Calvin, Francis).
–If we were to have a daughter in the future, we would likely name her Rosemary after my grandmother, and I wonder whether the “rose” in Ambrose and Rosemary would be harmonious or tacky. That being said, there’s no guarantee that we will have other children or that we would have a girl even if we did.
–While we like Edmund, I cannot stand “Ed” or “Eddie” as a nickname, and while I could consistently reiterate that his name is Edmund, I know I would likely be fighting a losing battle of him being called Ed or Eddie.

We are 31 weeks along and have been struggling with this for months and thought it was finally time to reach out for help since we’re not getting anywhere ourselves. We’re hoping for feedback on our top picks as well as any other name suggestions you may have for us to consider. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

I love working with first-time parents! I’m so excited for Lindsey and her hubby that they’re expecting their first baby, I remember those days well. ❤

I totally understand not wanting a common/popular name. It is true though that the popular names of today aren’t even a fraction as popular as the popular names of the past. Also, it’s possible to live in a “name pocket” where a particular name, which might not be popular according to the national Social Security data, is actually really popular where you live. There’s more info here.

I’m with Lindsey on loving English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, but I admit I’d never heard of Bligh/Bly before! So funny to me that she included it as an example of a “unique, trendy sounding name” — are any of you familiar with it? Maybe it’s a regional name?

Like Lindsey, I also love literary names, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was doing my research for her and her hubs.

Regarding the list of names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

  • Ambrose: Love it! We considered it for a couple of our boys, and I’ve spent some time thinking of nicknames as a result. Sam, Bram, and Brody are my favorites, and Bram would give them a literary tie-in. Brody would make extra sense if Ambrose was paired with a D middle name. I don’t hate Ambrose Daniel, and Ambrose David is another combo I quite like. Of the other family names that could possibly be used as a middle, in the interest of whittling down the list, I might cross off Gabriel (Ambrose Gabriel is a lot of “br,” though Gabriel is one of my very favorite names) and Calvin (all I think of is John Calvin, which is unfortunate, because it’s a cool name otherwise. With Ambrose being SO saintly and Catholic, if I were to see Ambrose Calvin it would make me scratch my head! But few people know others’ middle names, so it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker). I like some of the names on their list of first names as potential middles for Ambrose … Ambrose Ciaran is particularly appealing to me, because it’s got the Irish Lindsey likes but I’m assuming it’s not *too* Irish? I also love Ambrose Edmund, what a heavy hitting name! It might be a good way to work Edmund in if they can’t feel comfortable with it as a first name. As for Ambrose and Rosemary … I’m not sure! If Ambrose always went by a nickname that didn’t contain Rose, I’d say it’s fine. But if he was Ambrose or Brose all the time, then maybe that would be too much Rose? I do think Lindsey’s wise to remember that “there’s no guarantee that [they] will have other children or that [they] would have a girl.” I wrote more about the issue of whether to use a beloved name now or save it for later here.
  • Edmund: I think that if they called him Edmund all the time, it’s quite likely that he would eventually be shortened to Ed or Eddie by someone — maybe even himself! But if they picked a different nickname and enforced its use, they may be able to avoid Ed/Eddie. Ned and Ted are both traditional nicknames for the Ed- names, I wonder if either of those might appeal? Another idea, tapping into Lindsey’s love of Irish names, is Eamon — the Irish variant of Edmund. There would be no chance of Ed/Eddie with Eamon! But I also get that, while it’s technically the same name as Edmund, at the same time it isn’t (and likely too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby?).
  • Simon, Blaise, Frederick, Byron, Baron, Fulton: All pretty cool.
  • Calvin: See my comments in the Ambrose bullet point above. Although, since it’s a family name, I can see that it might just be too important to not use. I do love the nickname Cal.
  • Ciaran: Love it! So surprised it’s not too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby though!
  • Charles/Charlie: I think this is an excellent choice for a boy, specifically because Charles offers so many nickname possibilities to fit different personalities and stages in life. Charlie is adorable on a little boy, and I don’t think it’s inappropriate on an adult at all. In fact, I know a little boy whose given name is Charley, so he’s going to be Charley his whole life! But if Lindsey’s son feels like he’s not a Charlie when he grows up, he can be Cal or Chaz or Chuck or the full Charles. It’s a great name!
  • Sebastian, Nathaniel, Damian: The recently released 2017 name data might be helpful here. Sebastian rose two spots to no. 22, so I can see why Lindsey thinks it might be too popular for them. Nathaniel’s been steadily decreasing since 2000 though, and is currently at no. 112, and Damian has been going up and down but never more popular than no. 98 (in 2013) and is currently no. 119 (up five spots from 2016), so I don’t think either Nathaniel or Damian are too popular. I love them both!

So those are my thoughts on their current list — I think it’s a great list with loads of great contenders, and I’m not sure adding more ideas will be helpful! But I did do my usual research for them, in which I looked up all the names Lindsey and her hubs 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 looked up all the names on their boy list, as well as Rosemary, and have several ideas that might appeal to them (I hope they don’t muddy the waters rather than making things more clear!):

(1) Philip nicknamed Pip
I told Lindsey that I kept the idea of a literary name in mind while doing my research, and I was thrilled to see Philip as a result! It’s handsome and classic and not too popular at all — it’s currently no. 425 — and while it’s not popular, it is familiar. And isn’t Pip the cutest nickname for a little boy?? And literary! It’s probably not a nickname that can last his whole life, but the full Philip as well as Phil are Men’s Names. I even worked with a Philip who preferred to be called Flip, so not all men hate cute nicknames, and I like that Philip offers options.

(2) Atticus
Atticus was actually solely due to Lindsey’s liking of literary and Latin names, and wasn’t a result of my research at all, but I was looking up Atticus earlier for something different and it occurred to me that it might be perfect for this family. There’s a St. Atticus, and I’ve seen Atty, Gus, Kit, and Ace all used as nicknames for it. Atticus is no. 350.

(3) Bennett or Benedict
I’m actually kind of surprised they didn’t have Benedict on their list! It’s got good familiarity in England (Benedict Cumberbatch) and it’s Latin for “blessed” and super saintly — it fits right in with so many of the names on their list! Its medieval diminutive Bennett, though, was an actual style match for them — per the BNW it’s similar in style to Edmund and Calvin, and I consider it to be similar to Fulton (Fulton doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but it’s a surname-turned-first-name with strong Catholic roots, and while Bennett started as a first name I believe, it’s also a common surname). And its literary! The Bennet sisters! Bennett is no. 123 and Benedict is not in the top 1000.

(4) Tristan
I’m interested to see what they think of Tristan! It’s a style match for Sebastian, it’s no. 121, and it’s literary — it’s got a lot going for it! It can also be considered a Marian name, as its meaning is related to “sorrow” and Our Lady of Sorrows is one of her titles.

(5) Pierce
Speaking of male Marian names, ever since one of my readers shared that she knew a little boy named Pierce after Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, I’ve loved the idea of it (and included it in my book of Marian names!). It’s actually a style match for Blaise, and has an English feel. If they didn’t feel tied to the Marian connection, it’s a form of Peter, so St. Peter can be patron. Pierce is no. 522.

(6) Neil (or Niall?)
I wonder what they would think of Neil? It’s a style match for Calvin, and comes from the Gaelic Niall (which itself could be a good option?). Could be cool! Neil is no. 619 and Niall’s not in the top 1000.

(7) Cormac, Colman
Cormac was actually the style match here, being listed with Kieran (standing in for Ciaran, as Ciaran doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), and I thought it was a great possibility for a couple who’s split between loving Irish/Gaelic/Celtic names and not wanting them to be too Irish. Mac is an awesome nickname possibility. Cormac made me think of Colman, which I think of the same way — it’s impeccably Irish, but isn’t hitting you in the face with it. Cole is an easy nickname. Neither Cormac nor Colman are in the top 1000.

(8) Conrad
Speaking of two-syllable C names, Conrad is a style match for Edmund and Frederick! We seriously considered Conrad for our youngest and intended to use the traditional nickname Cord (or Cordy). There are a couple Sts. Conrad, and it’s no. 577.

And those are my ideas for Lindsey and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for their little guy?


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: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

Lauren and her husband are expecting their first baby — a girl!

Lauren writes,

We are are open to names of any ethnic origin, with partiality to Irish, Italian and Lebanese names (our heritage).

We are looking for a name with good nickname potential. It was a long journey (4+ years) to get to this pregnancy, so we want this name to be special, significant and point to God’s glory for giving us this gift. We are having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves. We are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc).

Top names we have so far:
1. Eliana – Translated from Hebrew means “God heard us”
2. Elizabeth – After St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Lauren’s patron saint and one who has interceded for us many times
3. Azelie (Zelie) – After St. Zelie, which kind of just “jumped out” when Lauren was reading about the life of St. Therese

Potential middle names:
1. Rose – [derived from Lauren’s maiden name]
2. Grace – Sweet reminder of God’s grace
3. Catherine – hubby’s beloved maternal grandmother
4. Elizabeth – See above

Names we will not want to use:
Marissa, Karen, Loretta, Annemarie, Maria, Kimberly, Sandra, Beth, Stella, Kelly, Brittany

I totally get their desire to have a special name, full of significance and pointing to God’s glory! I love reading hopeful stories like Lauren’s. ❤ I was also really interested that Lauren said they’re “having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves.” I appreciate their desire to break out of the box a little, and totally understand having a hard time doing so!

One of the ways I like to try to deal with that tension — one I often see with couples, usually with one parent liking more unique names and the other preferring more conservative options (ahem 😉 ) — is by either bestowing a more unique given name with a more familiar nickname, or a bestowing a more conservative first name with an unexpected nickname. The names Lauren and her hubs have on their list already lend themselves to this idea nicely, especially with Elizabeth as the anchor name. Consider:

  • Given name Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie: We’ve actually discussed this idea on the blog a couple of times! With Ellie being an obvious and traditional nickname for Elizabeth, it’s not a stretch at all to put Elizabeth’s Z in front of it. I love that this option allows them to have Lauren’s patron saint AND St. Zelie, all in their baby’s first name!
  • Given name Elizabeth paired with a middle name that makes sense of Eliana as a nickname: Elizabeth Anna, for example, could lead to Eliana as a nickname. With St. Anne being one of the patrons of childless couples, expectant mothers, and women in labor, her name (or a variant, like Anna, which helps move them away from the Annemarie on their “no” list) might provide the perfect meaning to their little girl’s name.

Otherwise, I love Eliana, Elizabeth, and Azelie/Zelie — all lovely, meaningful options! I love their list of possible middle names too — how cool that Rose can nod to Lauren’s maiden name! Additionally, with St. Therese being so connected to roses, they could consider Rose a nod to St. Zelie through her daughter; Rose is also a Marian name. Grace is beautiful, and Catherine is a wonderful name as well, and so like Elizabeth in style — Elizabeth, Catherine/Katherine, and Margaret are considered the “classic English trio” — all of them weighty, substantial, feminine, strong, and saintly.

When coming up with new ideas for Lauren and her hubs, I took a few things into account: names with meanings that nod to their long journey to this baby and their gratitude to God; their partiality to Irish, Italian, and Lebanese names; good nickname potential, especially with the idea I mentioned above of a unique first name with an unexpected nickname, or vice versa; and matches with their style (Elizabeth, Eliana, Zelie) as revealed by the Baby Name Wizard, which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Mattea
Mattea is gorgeous and unusual — it’s never made it into the top 1000 in the U.S. according to the Social Security data — but it’s Italian and not unheard of (25 baby girls were named Mattea in 2016, and actress Mira Sorvino named her daughter Mattea in 2004). Additionally, Matthew (and therefore Mattea) means “gift of God,” which is a great meaning for them. Matty’s an easy nickname (I’ve seen it for Martha too, which is adorable), and fits right in with the very familiar Maddy/Addy names that are so popular right now. Mattea Rose, Mattea Grace, and Mattea Catherine have a beautiful flow, and Mattea Elizabeth isn’t terrible either (in general I don’t prefer a first name ending in a vowel followed by a middle name starting with a vowel, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and Lauren and her hubs may like it!).

(2) Hannah
I know I mentioned Anna above, as a nod to St. Anne (I chose Anna in that example in order to lead to Eliana as a nickname), but there were some other Ann names that I thought were good suggestions. The first is Hannah — one of the many Ann variants — and the story of Hannah in the bible has long resonated with mamas who struggled to conceive. Hannah/Ann means “grace,” so they’d have the “sweet reminder of God’s grace” that led them to add Grace to their middle name list included in Hannah, and like with Mattea, Hannah has a lovely flow with Rose and Catherine, and not a terrible flow with Elizabeth (in fact, thinking about it now, perhaps Elizabeth Hannah would be an even better idea than Elizabeth Anna to lead to nickname Eliana? Being that Eli was part of Hannah’s story, I extra-like the idea of Eliana being a nickname for Elizabeth Hannah.)

(3) Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella
I was definitely on an Anna kick, and when I was looking up names with good meanings, one meaning I was using was “beloved,” and when I saw Annabel I thought it was a great idea! It’s not technically an Anna name — it’s said to have arisen in the middle ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a feminine variant of Amabilis — the name of a male saint, and also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (usually translated as Mother Most Amiable, where amiable derives from the Latin for “to love”). But they can surely claim St. Anne as patron for an Annabel, as well as Our Lady. Annabel Rose, Annabel Grace (okay to use Grace here, since Annabel’s not technically an Ann name), Annabel Catherine, and Annabel Elizabeth all work well. Also, Annabel doesn’t really read as a Scottish name, so I don’t think they’d need to worry about that in terms of it not being Irish (unless “general British Isles area” speaks enough to their Irish ancestry … I know I’m playing with fire by suggesting such a thing!).

Annabelle is also a gorgeous variant — the extra “le” on the end lends it an extra feminine and French feel; Annabella makes it Italian and opens up the wonderful nickname Bella. Actually, all the Annabel variants could probably take Bella as a nickname, and of course Anna/Annie as well, and even Abby.

(4) Cara, Caramia, Carina
While looking up names having to do with “beloved,” the Cara names caught my eye. Cara means “beloved” in Italian, AND it means “friend” in Irish, also sometimes listed as “beloved.” So fun to find a name with a great meaning in two languages! Caramia is a not-uncommon Italian name meaning “my beloved,” and Carina is a Latin elaboration of Cara (retaining the “beloved” meaning), as well as, separately, a variant of the Swedish form of Katherine, so it could work for Grandma Catherine too! I thought all three were beautiful ideas for Lauren and her hubs to consider.

(5) Any of the feminine John names
Like so many of the names listed here, John has a great one too: “God is gracious.” There are a whole bunch of feminine variants that can work, including:

  • Jean, Joan, Jane (listed in order from least currently popular to most — I’ve seen a few Janes recently and I’ve been loving it. St. Joan of Arc is also amazing.)
  • Joanna, Johanna (the former is also biblical, the latter has more of a German/Scandi feel)
  • Gianna (one of my favorite ideas for Lauren and her hubs — it’s Italian, and it has the additional awesome connection to St. Gianna)

I also liked that Joanna/Johanna and Gianna have “anna” in them — they’re not Ann names, but the fact that they contain “anna” in them makes me think they can nod to St. Anne too. (In case any of you are wondering why I’m so much all about St. Anne, I just love her! She’s the patroness of my blog, and I’ve sought her intercession many times myself, both for loved ones who hoped to conceive and for my own hopes for another baby.)

(6) Majella, Maiella
Speaking of good intercessors, St. Gerard Majella is a patron of pregnant women, the unborn, and childbirth. Though not officially patron of those hoping to conceive (that I could find, anyway), he nevertheless has quite a few conceptions attributed to his intercession! I’ve been collecting the stories on my blog — here’s one. Many mothers have turned to him for help during their pregnancies and labor+delivery as well, and I thought he’d be a great patron for Lauren’s baby. Majella is actually a fairly traditional girl’s name, and behindthename.com even lists it as Irish! Of course it isn’t — St. Gerard was Italian — but how cool to find an Italian name that must have good enough usage in Ireland to be considered Irish by at least some! Majella is actually an anglicized version of his Italian last name, which was Maiella — a gorgeous name, and one that pulls in the “ella” of both Elizabeth and Eliana. Ella and Ellie would be easy nicknames for either Majella or Maiella.

(7) Dorothy, Dorothea
My last idea is Dorothy or Dorothea. They’re the exact same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed, and they mean “gift of God.” Dorothy has an old feel, and also a bit of a starlet feel I think, because of Judy Garland’s Dorothy. There’s a family I follow on Instagram — @thebucketlistfamily — they have a trillion followers and they named their daughter Dorothy. So I’m sure it’s starting to come back — in fact, the SSA data shows that it was mostly out of the top 1000 from 2005–2010, and in the last eight years it’s risen from no. 933 to 652. Choosing a traditional name that hasn’t been used much recently can be another good way to marry their desire for a unique name with their more conservative natures.

Dorothea has a bit of a different feel from Dorothy — maybe a little more elegant? (Although Dorothy strikes me as pretty elegant!) The “A” ending fits with the current popular names, though it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970.

Both Dorothy and Dorothea can take the adorable Dory/Dorie as a nickname, as well as Dora; Dot/Dotty and Dolly are also traditional. Thea can be a nickname for Dorothea, which as a given name on its own dropped out of the top 1000 in 1965, then jumped back on in 2014 at no. 775, jumped to no. 460 in 2015, and was no. 290 in 2016 — that’s a crazy ascent! A little Thea would be very fashionable. (Theodora is another option, but I thought the Doro- ones would appeal to Lauren and her hubs more.)

I did look up Lebanese names, and while several of the ones I found had lovely meanings, the one that I thought would cross over the best — Sereena — is said to mean “princess, beautiful as a princess” (probably related to Sarah), which is a great meaning for a girl, but I didn’t think it fit in with the kinds of meanings Lauren and her hubs are looking for.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for this baby girl?


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 Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤