Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

Molly and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second girl! Their Little Miss joins big sister:

Margaret Clare (“I’ve always loved the name Maggie so picking her name was very easy. We decided on Clare as a middle name because we thought it flowed well with Margaret and we used the Irish spelling to honor our Irish roots.  If we hadn’t already used Clare, it might very well be the name we would have picked for this baby.”)

Margaret Clare is beautiful and timeless; Maggie is sweet and friendly; and Maggie Clare is a darling combo. I can see why it was an easy choice! I was determined to try and help Molly and her husband find a name they love just as much!

Molly writes,

This is our second rainbow baby girl and we are so very happy that she is joining us! I had started to think we wouldn’t be able to have another baby and I feel bad that the name is still up in the air.

Below are the names we are considering:

  • Elizabeth (nn Libby) — We thought we were set with this name but I am not sure if it’s quite right. We would love to use my maiden name (Christy) as the middle name. Maggie Clare is such a cute name and I don’t think Libby Christy has the same ring to it. Additionally, Elizabeth Christy LastName [a long Italian name] might be a mouthful. I do adore the name Elizabeth however, and the versatility it provides. I also think Libby is an adorable nickname. It may still be the frontrunner.
  • Nora — Nora has come in strong lately. I love the simplicity and think it flows better with Christy as a middle name. My concern is its current popularity. I feel like I hear the name a lot these days.  

Names we’ve discussed:

  • Bridget — a name I still really like but my husband does not. I’m also not a fan of the initials BM [last name begins with M].
  • Maeve — Love this name but doesn’t feel right.
  • Grace – Also considered this but again, not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora

As you can see, I like traditional, classic names with Irish roots — nothing funky but not too popular. I’d also love to incorporate my maiden name as the middle name.

Names we cannot use:

  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • Maureen
  • Patricia
  • Regan
  • Anne
  • Eleanor
  • Brianna
  • Riley
  • Rose

Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby is an absolutely fantastic choice for baby girl no. 2! I completely agree with Molly about Elizabeth’s versatility, as well as how adorable Libby is. This, to me, is the name to beat! And I personally don’t mind Elizabeth Christy LastName at all — it’s a beautiful, sophisticated name and not too much of a mouthful in my opinion. So let’s talk about Libby Christy for a minute. I love how Maggie Clare flows, and I agree that Libby Christy isn’t quite as pleasing. I spent some time trying to figure out why — the matching “ee” sound at the ends of the two names makes it seem too rhymey maybe? But then Mary Christy doesn’t bother me, nor does Ree Christy, nor does Molly’s own name Molly Christy, so I think with Libby it specifically has to do with the matching “short i” sound in the middle of both names as well. But then again, I was imagining myself naming a daughter Elizabeth Christine and could very easily see coming up with Libby Christy to use sometimes, especially in those early years when it’s so easy to use cutesy babytalk, so I don’t think it’s a total dealbreaker! My recommendation would be to go ahead with Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby and see what happens.

That said, I had some ideas about how to tweak this idea to maybe make it work better, one of which I included in my “official” suggestions below, and the other, which is less dramatic, is: Modify Libby when using it with Christy. I thought a name that didn’t end in the “ee” sound would sound better with Christy, and I thought that even if they call their little girl Libby most of the time, if they said “Libba Christy” every time they paired it with Christy, that flows a lot better. Another idea I had was inspired by a neighbor — her name is Elizabeth but she always (and still!) went by Libbett. Libbett Christy works nicely too, I think.

Before getting to my list of suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the other names on Molly’s list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora! I think it perfectly fits Molly’s preference for “traditional, classic names with Irish roots,” and I love how it sounds with Christy — it has a much more natural flow than Libby Christy. I personally wouldn’t worry about its popularity — it was no. 30 in 2020, and has hovered around there for the past few years, though it is remarkable that in 2000 it was no. 502 — it’s definitely had a steep increase in popularity in the last twenty years! But I think national popularity only really matters if it matches one’s local popularity, and it sounds like Molly lives in a place where Nora might be more popular than the national average, especially if she adds in any little Eleanors that also go by Nora. I think I do, too — my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter is Nora — but something else I love is that my parents’ neighbor is an older lady named Nora! Even with its current popularity, I think it still has that lovely vintage feel. Also, Nora’s popularity can’t even touch Elizabeth’s! Elizabeth was no. 16 in 2020, having dropped out of the top ten in 2014; before that, it was in the top ten just about every single year since 1980; and it’s been in the top 25 since forever. Elizabeth is a powerhouse! Which I’m sure is why so many nicknames for it have sprung up — to differentiate among all those Elizabeths! So I would say Molly’s concern probably isn’t popularity so much as it is a feeling of trendiness. It’s funny to think of a classic name like Nora being “trendy”! I definitely think Nora is one of those names that will endure, no matter its ups and downs on the popularity chart, which definitely sets it apart from the truly trendy names. Elizabeth is still my favorite for this baby, but if they go with Nora, I won’t be disappointed at all.
  • Bridget: I love Bridget too! BM-type initials are always an issue, though, I agree.
  • Maeve: Also a gorgeous name! And I like it with Christy! But if it doesn’t feel right, then I would suggest shelving it for now. They can always revisit it for a later baby, maybe.
  • Grace: So pretty and simple, but it’s telling that Molly said, “not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora.”

So I think Molly and her hubs have a fantastic list — Elizabeth rises to the top for me as the strong favorite with, perhaps, some tweaking; Nora is a fantastic second, which I could see overtaking the first place spot without too much effort. Great options! But I can always come up with more! Haha! I always hate to muddy the waters, but it was fun to look for more ideas for this family.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and as mentioned I also tried to think of other ways to work with Elizabeth. I also looked up “Irish immigrant names for girls,” as I felt like that best described Molly’s style, and I looked up two-syllable-ends-in-a names on babynamewizard.com. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Tess(a) (Elizabeth? Theresa?)

While I love Libby, and I love that Molly loves Libby, there are about a trillion Elizabeth nicknames, and some of them work better with Christy than others. I like how Ella Christy and Liza Christy sound, for example, and one of the more unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth is Tess (which is also one of my favorites, and if we’d ever had a second daughter she likely would have been Elizabeth nicknamed Tess) — Tess Christy and especially Tessa Christy have a really pleasing flow I think. Tess is actually a style match for Libby according to the Baby Name Wizard, which is one of the reasons I thought of it for Molly’s baby. Tess is also one of those “old timey Irish-y names” — names that seem to often be given to Irish girls/women in movies, like Nora (I immediately think of the grandmother in The Secret of Roan Inish, who was named Tess) — so even if Molly doesn’t care for it as a nickname for Elizabeth, perhaps she’d like to consider its “parent” name, Theresa (or Teresa or Therese) with the nickname Tess(a). (Tess and Tessa also have usage as given names in their own right, but using them as a nickname for a more formal name seems more Molly’s style.)

(2) Caroline

I really love Caroline for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret, Clare, and Elizabeth, and has some really sweet nicknames. One is Cara, which is also the Irish word for “friend” and works beautifully with Christy; others are Carly and Callie, which don’t work as well with Christy but aren’t terrible. The initials for Caroline Christy would be C.C., which could also lead to a nickname (like Cece for Cecilia, and they could spell C.C. as Cece, that totally works!). I could also see Cora working, if they want it to, which is so similar to Nora that it might be perfect.

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

I’m including these three together because they really feel like they could be replacements for Nora if Molly wants them to be. Sarah is a style match for Clare and Elizabeth, and was one of the top ten names for girls born in Ireland in 1864 according to this article. While Sarah works best with Christy when said together, they might also like Sarah’s traditional nickname Sadie. Sarah has been dropping in popularity from its top ten status from the late 70s to the early 2000s to no. 87 in 2020.

Maura and Moira are both Irish forms of Mary — I know Molly has both Mary and Maureen on the list of names she can’t use, but perhaps Maura and Moira are different enough? Maura rhymes with Nora and I’ve seen some people say Moira that way, too, though I think Moira is more often said like MOY-ra. Neither Maura nor Moira are in the top 1000.

(Bonus) Other two-syllable names ending in the A sound like Nora, Tessa, Sarah, Maura/Moira

Two-syllable-ends-in-a names work really nicely with Christy, so I looked through the list of such names on babynamewizard.com to see if there were any other ideas. I like these:

  • Anna: From this list, I think Anna is the closest to the style Molly seems to favor, it’s a beautiful, traditional, classic name that has good usage in Ireland
  • Deirdre: Deirdre Christy sounds like quite the Irish-American lass!
  • Emma: I’m sure Molly won’t want to use Emma because of popularity, but it is a sweet name
  • Gemma: Gemma is like Emma with a twist and far less popular and with a more obvious patron saint. I love it with Christy!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Maggie Clare?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs a super-Irish name like her big sibs

Diana and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their third girl! Little Miss joins big siblings:

Lillian Nicole

Saoirse Irene

Aidan James

Which you know have me all 😍😍😍 — I love those Irish names!

Diana writes,

My husband and I are having a hard time naming this next child. I don’t like his suggestion and he doesn’t like mine or neither of us feel like it’s right. Our pattern so far has been an Irish name and a family name. We are trying to avoid names that start with the same letter as a sibling or sounding the same.”

The list of names that Diana likes includes:

  • Megan
  • Maighdlin
  • Brigit
  • Marjorie
  • Claire
  • Ellen*
  • Margaret*
  • Madelyn
  • Ester
  • Tamsyn
  • Rhea
  • Mary

And her husband’s list includes:

  • Bianca
  • Isabel
  • Isabella
  • Inis
  • Vera
  • Grace
  • Molly
  • Naomi
  • Amara
  • Talia
  • Natalia*

(Asterisks denote each of their favorites.)

Okay! So first off, Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan are fantastic names! I like Diana’s rules of avoiding using the same first initial for this baby girl, as well as names that sound similar to her older siblings’ names — that definitely helped to narrow down the field of names.

I was really interested to see what names were on their lists, since Lillian seems to me a different style than Saoirse and Aidan — I wondered if their lists be mostly Irishy Irish names, or less so? I was impressed by the range of names on Diana’s list and that of her husband! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Megan, Marjorie, Margaret: I grouped these together because they’re from the same name family — Megan is a diminutive of Margaret (and can be used as a nickname for it), and Marjorie is a medieval variant of Margaret. Margaret, Megan, and Maggie all have an Irish feel to them, so I think something here would be great. I wonder if the Gaelic version Mairead (rhymes with “parade”) might do the trick? Maisie is its traditional nickname, which is darling.
  • Brigit: I like that names like Margaret and Brigit are a nice middle ground between Lillian’s style and Saoirse’s. If they spelled it Bridget, they could consider using Bridie as a nickname, which I love.
  • Claire: Claire’s a great name! I wonder, though, if Clare might be the better spelling for this family? Like Co. Clare in Ireland?
  • Ellen: On the one hand, I was surprised by Ellen as it seems to have a different feel than the other names on Diana’s list. But then, my grandfather was born and raised in Ireland and his sister Eileen went by Ellen sometimes (or was it vice versa?), so I can see how Ellen can fit in with an Irish sensibility. I wondered if Eileen or Eleanor (nickname Nora, which has a nice Irish feel) are Ellen-ish names that might appeal to Diana’s husband?
  • Madelyn, Maighdlin: I’d never seen the Irish form of Madelyn (Maighdlin) before, I love it! I think finding the Irish variant of names they like is a good strategy.
  • Ester: Like Ellen, I was surprised by Ester on Diana’s list, but delighted to see that it’s similar in style to Naomi and Talia on her husband’s list — since they’re both having a hard time coming to a name they both like, it’s great to look for any commonality! However, I do think it would be a bit jarring to have a name that comes across as so Old Testament with Saoirse and Aidan as siblings, for example.
  • Tamsyn: I had Tamsin on my own list for my oldest if he’d been a girl, in honor of a Thomas — I liked that Tamsin is a feminine variant of Thomas via Thomasina. The fact that Diana has it on her list says to me that she’s okay expanding their names from strictly Irish to more broadly Celtic/British Isles, as I’m not familiar with its usage in Ireland, though I do think it has traditional usage in the U.K. (I could be wrong though!)
  • Rhea: Wow, another surprise! I think it fits with the “old lady” type names, like Ellen and Ester. One of my readers has a little Rhea.
  • Mary: I was excited to see Mary on Diana’s list, as there are so many pretty Irish Mary variants! Molly is one example, which I noted on her husband’s list — Mary as a given name with Molly as a nickname is how Molly arose as a name to begin with, and might be a nice option for this family. I also love Moira and Maura/Maureen.
  • Bianca, Isabella, Natalia: I’m grouping these together because they have a distinct Latinate feel that’s really beautiful but is at odds with the Irish style I think. But since Diana’s husband loves Natalia, I tried to think of some similar-ish names that would seem more natural with Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan, which I included in my “official” suggestions below.
  • Isabel: Isabel is lovely, and could fit better with their kids than Isabella I think, but even still, it doesn’t have that Irish sparkle.
  • Inis: Is this like “Inish,” like Inis Mor? I’ve never seen it considered as a name before!
  • Vera: Vera strikes me as similar to Ellen, Ester, and Rhea in the sense of it being kind of an “old lady” name, which are definitely back in style right now. But again, it feels like a mismatch with the other kids.
  • Grace: I love Grace, and I think it might normally go nicely with their other kids, but that I don’t love that it shares several sounds with their last name. The Irish variant Grainne takes it one step away, and normally I wouldn’t recommend it because its pronunciation is impossible to figure out for those who don’t know how to pronounce it, but I suspect Diana and her hubby deal with that all the time with Saoirse.
  • Molly: I think Molly’s a great option — see my comments re: Mary above.
  • Naomi, Talia: Naomi is a very Old Testament name, like Ester; I don’t think Talia is an Old Testament name, but it is a Hebrew name and I believe it’s most common among Jewish families? (Except when it’s used as a nickname for Natalia, for example.)
  • Amara: I’m having a hard time figuring Amara out — I thought it might be a Hebrew name like Talia, but what I’m finding is that it’s an Igbo name (from Nigeria) or also the name borne by multiple characters from a couple fantasy shows. So I’d recommend crossing this one off the list, as it’s pretty far away from the style they’ve already established. Maura is an Irish name that is similar in sound which might appeal to Diana’s husband.

So those are my thoughts on the names Diana and her husband have on their lists, which I hope they only find helpful — I don’t want to disparage any names they both really like or make the task of choosing a name for their little girl harder.

Now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this baby; Saoirse doesn’t have her own entry, but there is a list of Celtic names in the back of the book that includes Saoirse and also a nice mix of names that I think would fit well with their older kids, which I also looked through. Based on that, these are my new ideas for Diana’s baby girl:

(1) Catriona (Cait/Cate, Katie)

Catherine is a style match for Margaret; Catalina is a match for Natalia; and Caroline/Carolyn is a match for Margaret, Claire, and Ellen, so I thought Catriona, which is an Irish form of Catherine/Katherine and has similar sounds to Catalina and Caroline, might be perfect. Catriona can take the nickname Cait/Cate as well — Kate is a match for Claire and Katie for Molly, so I like this idea for them a lot.

(2) Isla

Isabel(la) and Inis from Diana’s husband’s list made me think of Isla, which I thought they might like. It’s got both Scottish and Spanish usage — pronounced EYE-la for the former and EES-la for the latter — and I included it as an entry in the book of Marian baby names I wrote, as “its Marian character comes from the title ‘Our Lady of the Isles’ (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), or any of the devotions in the U.S. and Canada to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle.” Isla is such a pretty name!

(3) Eilís/Eilish

I love these Irish variants of Elizabeth — they are definitely very Saoirse-ish but perhaps a little more accessible, which swings them a little more to the Aidan/Lillian side.

(4) Fiadh

Sophia is a style match for Lillian; Sophie is a match for Isabel and Grace; and Safiya is a match for Amara, but I didn’t think any of those were names Diana and her husband would really like, especially since they begin with S like Saoirse and they don’t want to repeat initials. But Fiadh is said just like the last syllable of Sophia, and like Saoirse it has a meaning of freedom: “wild, untamed.”

(5) Rosemary/Rosemarie, Róisín/Roisin

Rosemary is a style match for Marjorie, and as soon as I saw it I thought of my friend Rosemarie, who is native Irish and grew up in the Gaeltacht, speaking Irish as her co-first language, I believe, so I thought maybe they’d like to consider Rosemary or Rosemarie, especially since Diana has Mary on her list. Rosemary/Rosemarie made me think, too, of Róisín, which is Irish for “little Rose” and is the name of a girl I knew when I was younger. I’ve always loved it, such a pretty name!

(6) Ríona/Ríonach/Ríoghnach

Speaking of pretty Irish names that begin with R, these names are all variants derived from the Irish for “queen,” making them cognates of Regina and therefore they’re Marian names as well, via her title as Queen. One of my readers used Ríonach for her baby’s middle name, it’s amazing!

(7) Nollaig

This might be a strange idea, since I haven’t seen it used as a name, but it’s Irish for “Christmas,” making it like Noelle and Natalia. The final G is said, but otherwise I think it sounds a lot like Molly, especially when said with their G last name, so maybe this would be a good compromise for Diana and her hubby?

(8) Niamh, Naomh

What about one of these names? Naomi on Diana’s husband’s list made me think of both Niamh and Naomh because of the similarities in spelling (though Naomi is said much differently than Niamh and Naomh of course), which I spotlighted here and discussed faith connections.

(9) Maeve/Medb/Méabh/Meadhbh

Finally, I had to suggest Maeve — it’s one of the easiest for those who aren’t familiar with Irish names to figure out, as long as the Maeve spelling is used. If they wanted to get more Irish, though, they can choose from Medb, Méabh, Meadhbh and there might be other spellings too — so many letters for such a little name, haha!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Old Testament, German/Dutch, and/or Irish-y for baby boy no. 2

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!! You know this is one of my favorite days, and you know Irish names are some of my favorites — check out my Irish names and Rose of Tralee tags for more!! I also read this piece that’s appropriate for today: “It’s not Happy St. Patty’s Day, but St. Paddy’s Day. Here’s why” by Amy Croffey — interesting to get an Irish person’s take!

Today’s consultation was meant to post on Monday, but as has been happening more and more to me as my kids get bigger (whoever said, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems” wasn’t joking! Not that we’re having problems, just life is so much bigger and busier when they’re big and busy!), the day got away from me, and then yesterday Hubby and I took a day trip, so Monday’s post is posting today, which ends up being great because what’s better on St. Paddy’s Day than a baby name consultation?!

Andrea and her husband are having their second baby — their second boy! Their little guy joins big brother:

Jonah John (“My dad, brother, brother in law, and grandfather in law are all named John“)

Which I love for its biblicalness, family ties, and alliteration (I love alliteration). Great job, Mom and Dad!

Andrea writes,

We thought this baby was going to be a girl and already had the name, Margot Ruth picked out. Obviously there is a chance that we could never have a daughter but would like to take this name into consideration. 

Our baby will be half Mexican, so ideally we would like a name that is pronounceable in Spanish but not too Mexican to be able to go with our German/Dutch last name. 

Overall, we like unique/biblical names but not too weird. We like names with meaningful meanings that are somewhat biblical like “peace”, “God’s gift”, etc.

Both of my grandfathers have passed… one this past August and I’m due around his birthday. His name was Isidro. We kind of like “I” names because of this, but not a must.”

 Some names they’re considering include: 

  • Benjamin 
  • Eli  (“we considered naming our first son this“)
  • Liam (“like it but too popular“)
  • Owen (“like it but too popular“)
  • Oliver (“like it but too popular“)
  • Ira (“husband thinks it’s too similar to Jonah. I feel like maybe an “I” name could honor my grandfather, but not a must“)
  • Peter (“uncle that passed away“)
  • Finn 
  • Otto
  • Sebastian
  • Otis
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul as possible middle name
  • Edsko (“family name [first/middle] of several of my husband’s Dutch/German family tree“)
  • German/Dutch names

Names they can’t/won’t use include:

  • James
  • Isaac
  • Michael
  • Elijah
  • Matthew
  • Levi
  • Luke
  • Mark
  • Ruben
  • Milo
  • Jude (“has always been a favorite“)
  • Max
  • Joshua
  • Christian
  • Henry
  • Hans
  • Ezra
  • Theodore

Alrighty! So one of the things I noticed first was Isaac and Luke on the list of names they can’t use — I likely would have suggested them otherwise, so it was great Andrea included her “no” list. As for her “yes” list, I love the names she and her hubby are considering! It was so interesting to me to see three solid styles emerge: biblical (Benjamin, Eli, Ira, Peter, Timothy, Daniel, Paul, and I would include Sebastian here, even though it’s not biblical, since I think it has a similar feel as the biblical names), Irish (Liam, Owen, Oliver, Finn), and German/Dutch (Edsko [wow!], Otto, and I would include Otis here, even though it’s English, since it’s related to Otto). I kept all three of those in mind as I looked for names that I thought this couple might like. First, though, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Benjamin: A great name! I’ve always loved the full Benjamin and the fantastic nickname Ben. I also like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but is popular enough among the general population that I think they could easily use non-biblical names going forward without it seeming too jarring, which is also like Jonah I think. However, since Andrea said that the like Owen and Oliver but they’re too popular, I should warn them that Benjamin is as well: according to the Social Security Administration it’s been a top ten name since 2015 and is currently no. 7. (Since popularity is important to Andrea, I included the ranking for all the names I discuss going forward.) (Jonah’s no. 141, which is a really nice sweet spot of familiar but not common.)
  • Eli: Like Jonah and Benjamin, I think Eli is used enough among the general public that it doesn’t come across as heavily biblical as it used to, which is good if they don’t necessarily intend all their sons (if they have more than these two) to have biblical names. Eli’s no. 62.
  • Liam, Owen, Oliver: I’m glad Andrea included these as names they like, even though they’re too popular for what they’re looking for. Liam has been the no. 1 name in America for the last three years, and no. 2 for three years before that! Owen is no. 21 and Oliver is no. 3. A funny thing about Oliver — my husband and I very nearly named our third son Oliver — he was born in 2008, when Oliver was just starting to not be a “weird” name at no. 118. Now it’s no. 3! Amazing ascent!
  • Ira: I was really surprised to see Ira on Andrea’s list, since I have always thought it to be a name exclusively borne by Jewish men! I’d never looked it up, but did so because of it being on her list, and was surprised that the Jewish element wasn’t mentioned in any of the places I looked — do you all think of it as a predominantly Jewish name, or is that just my experience? It was fun to discover it’s an Old Testament name — I didn’t know it was biblical before looking it up — and I like that it begins with an I, as Andrea said she might like to honor her grandfather Isidro with an I name. However, I agree with her hubby, too, that it’s very similar to Jonah in that it’s a two-syllable name ending in A. Maybe it would be good in the middle spot? But my favorite I idea for them is Isidro itself! I could understand Andrea not wanting to use Isidro in the first name spot, as she mentioned not wanting a name that was jarring with their German/Dutch last name, but it would be great as a middle name! A funny thing here is that one of my boys’ best friends is named Isidor, and his mom is from Germany, so I thought that might be perfect here — when I looked it up to check on spelling (Isidore is English and Isidor is a German spelling) its entry said Isidore “has historically been a common name for Jews, who have used it as an Americanized form of names such as Isaac, Israel and Isaiah.” That’s hilarious, given what my impression of Ira had been, and yet Ira’s entry doesn’t mention Jewish usage at all! My son’s friend goes by Isi (said like Izzy), which is just too cute. Ira is no. 875 (interestingly, after having been a top 500 name for most of the twentieth century and a top 200 name until 1934, it dropped out of the top 1000 in 1993 and only came back on in 2016; it’s been hovering in the mid-900s since, until 2019 when it jumped a little to 875); neither Isidro, Isidor, nor Isidore are in the top 1000.
  • Peter: Peter’s a good, solid name, and I like that it’s in honor of Andrea’s late uncle. It seems a bit different in style than the other names they’re considering, though — I think they might be happiest with it as a middle name rather than a first name? Peter is no. 212, which is very appealing.
  • Finn: I love the name Finn — it’s such a sweet name for a little guy, and so handsome for a man. It’s been used quite a bit in recent years, too, both as a given name on its own and as a nickname for names like Finnian and Finley, so it doesn’t feel as Irishy Irish as it used to. That said, this is a good place to mention that Old Testament, Irish, and German/Dutch are three pretty strong styles, and while one can certainly find overlap between them (I tried to do so in some of my ideas below), if Andrea and her hubs choose names for their children that are on the strong end of each of those style’s spectrums, they run the risk of losing the feeling of cohesiveness that most parents I work with would like for their kids’ names. That is, they tend to like their children’s names to sound like they go together. That’s certainly not a requirement! Every once in a while I work with a couple who prefer to have an eclectic mix among their children’s names, and that’s fun too! I just want Andrea and her husband to be aware of it. Finn is no. 172, a great place to be.
  • Otto: It’s so funny, I was so surprised when I first started hearing Oliver being given to babies fifteen years ago, then Owen followed right behind, then Oscar, which I thought was really the outer limits of the O names for American parents. But more recently I’ve been seeing Otto here and there, which is just tremendous! It was out of the top 1000 altogether from 1975 to 2010, and is currently at no. 427.
  • Sebastian: I love the name Sebastian — I love how sophisticated and saintly it is — and it still feels offbeat and unusual to me, even though it’s no. 18. No. 18! I’m always shocked by that!
  • Otis: I didn’t know until I looked it up that Otis is related to Otto! And like Otto, I would have thought that Otis would be beyond the limits of what American parents would consider for their children, and then I saw that actors Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde named their son Otis in April 2014 and in 2015 it came back into the top 1000 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1994. It’s amazing the power celebrities have! Otis has continued to rise since then, though slowly — it’s currently at no. 707.
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul: These are all wonderful names and perfect in the middle spot! Timothy is no. 188, Daniel is no. 15, and Paul is no. 245.
  • Edsko: This is a fascinating name! I looked it up to learn more about it, but I can’t find it — it’s so fun to have a truly unique name in their family tree! How meaningful for them!
  • Margot Ruth: I just have to say, I LOVE their girl name!! I definitely took Margot into consideration when I was doing my research!

So those are all my thoughts on the names Andrea and her hubby are currently considering, now on to new ideas! You all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also took a look through the list of German/Dutch names in the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool at babynamewizard.com for Ira, since it doesn’t have its own entry in the book. I certainly noted any names that were listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but I was also looking for names that I thought could be both biblical and German, for example, or biblical and Irish, or German-ish and Irish-y, that kind of thing. Based on that, these are my new ideas for this little guy:

(1) Gabriel

I mentioned that I kept a special eye out for names that are listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but of the names on her list, Jonah’s name is the most important since they’ve already chosen it and bestowed it on one of their children — whatever name they choose for this baby needs to be in consideration of Jonah. Not that they can’t choose a name that’s different in style! Just that, Jonah’s name needs to be consciously considered, since he’s already named. So seeing Gabriel listed as a style match for both Jonah and Sebastian — two names on their list, one of which is their older son’s name — definitely means that Gabriel needs a spot on this list! It’s one of my favorite names, and I really like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but it’s also in the New Testament, which provides a nice bridge between names like Jonah and Peter, and it’s a pan-European name, meaning it’s used by almost all of the European cultures, so it can fit with most any heritage, including German and Dutch. Gabriel’s Behind the Name entry doesn’t include Irish in its list of usage, but I always think of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as being a great example of how it’s got decent traditional usage in Ireland as well. Gabe is a great, friendly nickname, too, and if they don’t like Gabe, I’ve actually seen Eli used as a nickname for it! Gabriel is no. 37.

(2) Abel

I’m always surprised I don’t see Abel get more usage! I see Abraham from time to time, and Abel can take Abraham’s awesome nickname Abe, but Abel itself is so much lighter than Abraham. This family has an Abel, if you’d like to see what Abel’s siblings’ names are at least in one family. Abel is no. 157, which is a great match for Jonah’s 141.

(3) Bram

Speaking of Abraham’s nicknames, as much as I love honest Abe, Bram is the nickname that really has my heart, and I think it might be perfect for this family! Bram is in the German/Dutch list, and it’s also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker, who was Irish. Biblical, German/Dutch, and Irish-y in one name! Wow! Not only that, but it’s a style match for Margot! So many amazing things about this name! It seems that the Dutch pronunciation is BRAHM, rhymes with “bomb,” which I think is probably close to what the Spanish pronunciation would be as well, right? The English pronunciation is BRAM, rhymes with “gram,” and I suspect the rhymes-with-gram pronunciation is what they’ll mostly hear, so that’s something to consider before choosing this name. Either way, as long as they’re firm and consistent about their chosen pronunciation, it should be fine! Bram is not in the top 1000.

(4) Ethan

Ethan is listed as a match for both Jonah (!) and Eli, and even though it’s a biblical name, I don’t think that fact is well known by American parents in general. Do you agree? Due to that, I think Ethan might be a great choice for Andrea’s second boy, since it shares Jonah’s biblical-ness, but in such a subtle way that they could easily branch out from biblical names going forward without too much of a fuss. Something that was really tickling me when I was working on this was the idea of Ethan Edsko — what an amazing complement to Jonah John! Both with great family meaning, and the alliterative thing is just so fun. I could see how that would really restrict them going forward, though … so this is probably a bad idea, but I do love it! Haha! Ethan is no. 10 after having spent 2002-2015 between nos. 2 and 7.

(5) Elliott (Eliot, Elliot)

Elliott is a match for Oliver, and it’s also a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is a variant of Elijah, which makes Elliott kind of a sneaky Old Testament name! Elliott could be a perfect way to connect to Jonah’s Old Testament-ness while opening up their style for non-biblical names going forward. They could also use Eli as a nickname for it, if they wanted. (I also love Elliott Edsko!) Spelling can be an issue — since there are three spellings, I think it might be hard for people to remember which spelling is the right one for this baby — Eliot has a literary feel, for poet T.S. Eliot; Elliott is the standard, I think — the one from which the others came; and Elliot kind of splits the difference. Elliott’s no. 160, Elliot’s no. 173, and Eliot’s not in the top 1000.

(6) Tobias

Tobias is a match for Margot and Sebastian, which is just perfect, because it’s also an Old Testament name like Jonah, AND it’s in the list of German/Dutch names, so Tobias would be a great connection between all those names! I don’t see a Spanish variant, but I think it’s pronounceable in Spanish, right? Tobias is no. 272.

(7) Mathias

Rhyming with Tobias and also on the German/Dutch list is Mathias, which I love for this family for those reasons, but also because it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, which is a nice way to expand their style, and because it’s a style match for Margot! Mathias is the German/Dutch spelling, which is no. 420; the spelling Matthias is the English spelling, and is no. 407.

(8) Oscar

Finally, I mentioned Oscar earlier, and I’d love for Andrea and her hubby to consider it! It’s got German/Dutch usage (the spelling Oskar would really reinforce that), it’s easily pronounceable in Spanish, and writer Oscar Wilde was Irish, so they have a lot of their boxes checked right there! One of my readers who has really embraced her husband’s German heritage recently named her son Oskar, so cute. Oscar is no. 205 and Oskar is not in the top 1000.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jonah’s little brother?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Cool, Catholic, and maybe Celtic for baby no. 4

Mollie and her husband are expecting their fourth baby! This little one joins big siblings:

  • Avila Mary
  • Jack Michael
  • Luke Gabriel

I looooove these names!! I love that Avila is so recognizable (among Catholics anyway), and feels familiar in that it’s similar appearance- and sound-wise to names like Ava and Evelyn, but it’s also surprising in the best way possible. I love, too, that they paired it with the sweet and simple Mary. Avila Mary is such a lovely combo! And Jack Michael and Luke Gabriel are fantastic combos as well! I love how masculine and saintly they are — great names for both boys and men. Mollie and her husband have done a fantastic job!

Mollie writes,

We’re struggling for both boy and girl names. For a girl name, Avila sets the bar that we need something somewhat (but not too) unique, feminine and vowel-y. We don’t want any repeated letters, so we can’t use another A name

Names we liked before we named Avila were Grace, Rosalie, and Natalie

Now that we are trying to coordinate with Avila, we like Vera and Fiona … We’re struggling with Fiona because it’s not a saint and there’s a cartoon character named Fiona that’s an ogre. We’ve always liked the name Magdalene for a middle name or Rosemary (but not sure if that fits since Avila has the middle name Mary). 

As for boy names, Jack and Luke were our top two boy names since we met. So, it was very easy to name them, but now we don’t have any names that we like. We’ve tossed around Mark, Ross, Fitzgerald (my husband’s [middle name is] Gerald, but we don’t like Gerald alone). But really aren’t pulled any particular way yet. Just that we want it to go well with Jack and Luke. We named them after the archangels, which puts us in a tough spot if this fourth baby is a boy because Raphael is harder to match with and who knows how to pronounce it?!

That made me laugh about the pronunciation of Raphael! How do you all pronounce it?

Names that they can’t use include:

  • Nicholas
  • Aidan
  • Noah
  • Michael
  • Casey
  • Griffin
  • David
  • Bennett
  • Samuel
  • Isaac 
  • Allison
  • Caroline
  • Ella
  • Clara
  • Julia
  • Bridget
  • Elaine
  • Maeveen
  • Bonnie
  • Sonja
  • Maya

I was really interested to see what names are on their list for this baby, and was surprised by a few of them — I love being surprised! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Grace, Rosalie, Natalie: I was interested that Mollie and her hubby have a sense of names they liked before naming Avila versus names they’re considering now. I agree that Grace and Natalie have a different feel than Avila, but I wouldn’t cross Rosalie off just yet. Mollie described Avila as “unique, feminine and vowel-y,” but I would describe it as “unique, feminine, and Catholicky Catholic with a current feel.” That is, I wouldn’t worry about matching its sound so much (the “vowel-y” quality she mentioned), though I wouldn’t avoid doing so either — rather, in trying to find girl names that feel like natural sister names for Avila, I would look for “Catholicky Catholic names with a current feel.” The “current feel” Avila has is that it’s a place name, which is something I think was rarer for Catholic parents to use in the past but is much more in line with modern thinking. Rosalie has a “current feel” in a different sense I think — it was out of fashion for a while, but is coming back again. This is Rosalie’s popularity chart from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/ — I zoomed way out to get all the years from 1900 in, which unfortunately compromises the ability to read it clearly, but you get the idea:

Rosalie is currently at no. 208, which it hasn’t been at since the 1940s — in fact, it dropped off the chart altogether between 1989 and 2008! Its reemergence feels like a rediscovery — it’s vintage rather than dated. In contrast, Grace entered the top 100 in 1995 and Natalie in 1976, and both have been there ever since. Grace has the additional aspect of having very popular usage as a middle name, which adds to its feel of commonness — “common” is the opposite of Avila! All this to say, I’d suggest keeping Rosalie on the list! If they still do like it, but still don’t like it in the first name spot as a sister to Avila, maybe it can replace Rosemary as a middle name idea — that way they have the “rose” that can nod to Our Lady without the “Mary” that repeats Avila’s middle name.

If they want to find a way to make Grace and Natalie work, I might suggest making Grace part of an unexpected double first name, like Cora-Grace or Roma-Grace or Thea-Grace. Those names (Cora, Roma, and Thea) actually didn’t make the cut for my “official” suggestions below, so I’m happy to given them a mention here — they’re the kind of names I think of when I think of Avila. I’ve seen Cora used quite a bit in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (mostly, but also sometimes the Sacred Heart of Jesus … or both!), Roma is a nice nod to the Church and is place-y like Avila, and Thea means “God” and makes a pretty amazing “phrase” when paired with Grace (actually they all do) … these are all what I would call “Catholicky Catholic names with a current feel”: place names, noun names, “idea” names. And though they might seem overly long for everyday use, those three combos have the same number of syllables as Avila. And for a fresher take on Natalie, I’d suggest Natalia.

  • Vera: I’m not sure I’ve seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Vera, and the only one I know in real life is in her 70s, so I had to look the name up — it was pretty cool to find that it has a very similar popularity arc to Rosalie, having disappeared from the charts in 1984 and didn’t reappear again until 2009; it’s currently 252, which is where it was in the mid-50s. I really love its entry at Behind the Name: “Means ‘faith’ in Russian, though it is sometimes associated with the Latin word verus ‘true.’” How cool! I could see Vera-Grace also being a great combo. A related name that could be cool to consider is Verity, which means “truth.” My one hesitation with both Vera and Verity is that, since they have a prominent V like Avila, will Mollie and her hubs feel like they have to find a name with a prominent V for future daughters?
  • Fiona: I, too, love the name Fiona! Though I like its symmetry with Avila, in the sense that it’s a five-letter name ending in A, I wouldn’t have included it in the list of names that are similar to Avila, though — it’s missing that “Catholicky Catholic” element. That said, if they just love it and want to make it work, Behind the Name says it’s a feminine variant of the masculine name Fionn, from which comes the name Finnian, and there are a few Sts. Finnian, so they can serve as patron of a little Fiona. BtN also connects it to Gwen, which is a Welsh variant, and there are some Sts. Gwen as well. As for the Shrek connection, it’s interesting to note that The Baby Name Wizard book (affiliate link), which you all know I always use in my consultations, said Shrek was actually the reason that Fiona entered the pool mainstream names — it entered the top 1000 in 1990 and is currently no. 265, which is a pretty sweet-spot position — not too popular, but neither unfamiliar nor rare. It also lets you know that lots of families are using the name, despite the Shrek connection — like this family that I did a consultation for. Fiona really is a great name!
  • Magdalene: I was excited to see Magdalene on their list, since it’s the exact kind of name that I think of when I think of Avila! Magdalene is fantastic, and I’d love to see them bump it onto the first-name list.
  • Rosemary: It’s actually a really traditional thing to give all the daughters in a family a form of Mary in their names somewhere (first or middle). Some have interpreted it in the past as using Mary/Marie/Maria itself for all the daughters (St. Therese and her sisters all had Marie); other families have used variants of Mary (my sisters and I all have a different form of Mary in our names); others have used other Marian names like Rose (some fun examples of different options here; also, my book of Marian baby names is a compilation of all these ideas). So from that perspective, I don’t think there’s any problem with using Rosemary as a middle name for a girl, even with Avila’s middle name being Mary. It could be a nice connection between sisters, and easy enough to do for all the daughters they end up having.
  • Mark: Mark seems so perfect with brothers Jack and Luke — a four-letter name ending in the K sound! I have no quibble with Mark, except possibly that if their first three boys have four-letter names that end in the K sound, would they feel like they have to continue that with future boys? (This is not a big quibble on my part though — you’ll see I included a similar idea in my official suggestions below.)
  • Ross: I love this, too — I love that it continues their boys’ four-letter theme but in a new way and with new sounds. Like Fiona, it doesn’t have a Saint as far as I can tell, but it’s actually a place name that several Saints share, which makes it a nice complement for Avila’s style.
  • Fitzgerald: I love this idea! The connection to Hubby’s middle name and St. Gerard is great, and Fitz is a fun nickname that’s four letters like Jack and Luke, but the fact that it’s a nickname rather than the given name opens up more options for future sons. Other ideas related to Gerard include Garrett, which is derived from Gerard, and Hardy, since Gerard is a combo of the Germanic elements ger (“spear”) and hard (“brave, hardy”).
  • Raphael: It’s almost painful to think of them NOT using Raphael for a middle name for their next boy! Haha! After Jack and Luke’s middle names, it would be so fun! But I definitely don’t think it’s necessary — I think Michael and Gabriel are used so frequently, even together, without Raphael, that I think they can get away with not using it. If they did decide to use Raphael (and with it being the middle name, they can choose whatever pronunciation they like! They’re listed here), some options for future boys’ middle names can include Angel/Angelo/Angelus (Angelus has the nice added layer of being the name of the Angelus prayer) and Seraphim (referring to the order of angels called the seraphim and it’s used as a boy’s name). In terms of matching a name with Raphael, I like both Mark Raphael and Ross Raphael (I’m a big fan of alliteration, though I know not everyone is). Fitzgerald Raphael might be too many unusual names together though?

So those are my thoughts on the names Mollie and her husband are considering — now on to new ideas! I mentioned The Baby Name Wizard earlier — I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they’re considering in that book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/pronunciation. I did so for this family, keeping a particular eye out for names with a strong faith connection; I also rifled through my mental files for names like Avila, since her name doesn’t have its own entry in the book, and I used my book of Marian names as a resources as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for Mollie’s baby:

Girl

(1) Carys or Charis

These names, which are pronounced the same (CARE-iss), are the kinds of names I think of when I think of names like Avila. The former is a Welsh name that means “love”; the latter is from the Greek for “grace, kindness.” They’re such pretty names! I like that Carys, being Welsh, has the Celtic feel that they like, as evidenced by Fiona, Ross, and Fitzgerald, and I like that Charis is contained within the word eucharist, which gives it a beautiful added layer of meaning.

(2) Clairvaux

Mollie said that Clara is off limits, but Claire showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Jack, Luke, and Grace — and it made me think of Clairvaux, which has more of Avila’s feel, especially since it’s a saintly place name like Avila (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Bernard of Clairvaux) and it has that prominent V that I think they like (in case they decide they want to go that route). I think Clairvaux would be great because it would bridge Avila’s name with their boys’ names in the sense that Clairvaux is very Avila-ish and the nickname Clair(e) is very Jack-and-Luke. I have a couple of readers with daughters named Clairvaux — here’s one and here’s another.

(3) Cassia

Cassie is a style match for Ross, and it’s one of my favorite nicknames for girls, so I was excited when I was thumbing through the BNW and saw that Livia — notable because it has all the same letters as Avila and also ends in A, so I thought it was a decent stand-in from that perspective — is a style match for Cassia. Cassia has a few fun layers: it’s the name of a form of cinnamon (a spice name! How fun!) and is also the English form of the biblical name Keziah, who was one of Job’s daughters. Biblical + spice with a sweet nickname sounds amazing! There are two possible pronunciations: KAS-see-a or KAH-sha.

(4) Elanor nicknamed Nora or Ella

Ella is a match for both Jack and Luke, but I worry that it’s too similar to the sounds of Avila? But then Nora is a match for Fiona, and since both Ella and Nora can be nicknames for Eleanor, I thought there was something there, but Eleanor itself seemed a little too tame next to Avila? I wondered if changing the spelling to Elanor — which is the spelling Tolkien used in Lord of the Rings — would help? The Tolkien names are often favored by Catholic parents because of Tolkien’s identity as a devout Catholic writer and the Catholic themes in his writing — they’re kind of sneaky Catholic names! I also thought Ella-Grace — like the double name idea with Grace that I mentioned earlier — could be an interesting option.

(5) Violet

Not to add more V names when I’ve suggested that maybe a name with a strong V wouldn’t be a great idea for their next girl, in order to not feel like they’re locked into a theme, but Violet could be lovely here! It’s an entry in my book of Marian names because the violet flower used to be called Our Lady’s Modesty, and represents her humility.

(6) Stella

Speaking of Marian names, and also of Ella above, I also love the idea of Stella for this baby! Stella Maris is one of Our Lady’s titles, meaning Star of the Sea, and I’ve seen Stella as a first name in honor of this title, as well as Stella Maris as a first+middle combo, and the long and lovely Stellamaris and Maristella. Of those, Stella seems like a great sister for Avila!

(7) Kate

Kate is a match for Jack, Luke, and Ross, which means I have to suggest it for this family! I don’t think that Kate is a great sister for Avila, though — they’re just so far apart style-wise. But some ideas to make this work can include Kateri with the nickname Kate, or maybe Kate as part of a double name like I suggested with Grace. Vera-Kate, Roma-Kate, Thea Kate, Ella-Kate, even Stella-Kate could all provide just the sparkle that Avila’s sister needs to match her sister’s stunning name.

(8) Isla

Isla is a match for Fiona, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names, since “its Marian character comes from the title ‘Our Lady of the Isles’ (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a state of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), or any of the devotions in the U.S. and Canada to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle, including churches and institutions in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Quebec, Canada. There’s also the church of Our Lady of the Isle in Croatia.” It’s such a pretty name! I could also see Isla-Grace and Isla-Kate as being really pretty combos. (One of the Clairvauxs that I mentioned above has a sister named Isla!)

Boy

(1) Becket(t)

Given that Jack and Luke both have that prominent ending K sound, as does Mark from the names Mollie and her hubs are considering, I thought Becket/Beckett might be right up their alley. I love that a Becket(t) could go by Beck, which is a great fit with Jack and Luke, but it’s also very Avila-esque, like St. Thomas a Becket. It’s a cool option!

(2) Kolbe

Cole is a match for Luke and Colin for Natalie, both of which are great and maybe Mollie would like to consider them? They’re variants of Nicholas, which is where the patron Saint would come from. But they both made me think of Kolbe, which has that Avila feel as well and could be a really great bridge name between their boys’ style and Avila’s style.

(3) Grant

Grant is a match for Ross, and as soon as I saw it I wanted to suggest it. I’ve actually seen it in a few families who also have a Luke, and one reader of the blog said she considered it because of the dona nobis pacem part of the Mass: “grant us peace.” I love that!

(4) Drew

I really like the idea of Drew with Jack and Luke — I feel like it has a similar feel — but I don’t so much feel that way about the full Andrew. Since they already used Jack — which of course has a long history of usage as a given name in its own right, but started as a nickname for John — I thought maybe they’d be okay just going with Drew as a given name?

(5) Ryan

I felt the same way about Ryan as I do about Drew with their boys — it just feels like it goes! I did a spotlight on Ryan a few years ago and came up with what I think are some great faith connections. I also like its Celtic background for this family.

(6) Owen

Owen is a match for Jack, Luke, and Grace, and I love that its Celtic feel goes along with the feel of Fiona, Ross, and Fitzgerald. Though it has both Irish and English/Welsh connections, I’m a huge fan of St. Nicholas Owen, who was one of the English Martyrs — he’s a great patron!

(7) Charles (Charlie)

How can I ignore the fact that Charlie is a match for Jack and Vera! Normally I would suggest the formal Charles with the nickname Charlie, but as I was thinking with Drew, maybe Charlie as a given name would be more their speed? I’ve also seen Charley bestowed as a given name by people who don’t want to use Charles — maybe the spelling Charley has more of a full-name feel?

(8) Finn(ian)

Finally, since they’re considering Fiona, which is a form of Fionn (Finn), and since Finn is a four-letter name like Jack and Luke, maybe Mollie and her hubby would like to consider this family of names for a boy! Finn as a given name is great, but I’m guessing they might like Finnian better, since it’s an actual Saint’s name. I love it for them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Avila, Jack, and Luke?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

The naming of Jesus, SN in Croatia, and Irish naming trends

Happy Wednesday! Less than ten days until Christmas, as my boys keep on (and keep on) reminding me!

When I was going through the posts and articles about Advent and Christmas names that I posted the other day, I realized that one I did about the naming of Jesus for CatholicMom a couple of years ago didn’t survive their site redesign, so I’m posting it below.

I also have the fun news that the article I wrote for CatholicMom in October — “Praying the Rosary with Children” — was reprinted (with permission) on a Croatian web site. How cool! Check it out!

Finally, Sara at the DMNES shared this article with me, it’s such a fun read!: Name that Child! at The Irish Times (Dec. 28, 1999).


Glory to the Newborn King

by Kate Towne for CatholicMom.com (December, 2017)

Our newly beatified Bl. Solanus Casey was known to have a great love for The Mystical City of God (affiliate link), a history of the life of Our Lady said to have been revealed by her to Ven. Mary of Agreda in the seventeenth century. Because of my mom’s great love for Bl. Solanus, she decided to read the book that was so dear to him, and she fell in love with it as well, and has talked about it ever since — well over thirty years. In fact, her tattered copy of it is a fixture in my memories of my childhood home.

(It’s important to note that the contents of The Mystical City of God consist of private revelation, and are therefore not required to be believed by the faithful. (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 67) . )

I was looking through the book recently for the first time, and discovered a section regarding the naming of Jesus. Thanks to the St. Andrew Novena, I’d already been meditating frequently this Advent on “the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold,” and because my own experiences with giving birth have included the naming of the baby as soon as he’s born, I’d forgotten (or perhaps hadn’t fully realized) that Jesus wouldn’t have been named until His circumcision eight days later. But also, I’d never thought about His actual naming, beyond simply the acknowledgment that He would be known as Jesus per God’s instruction, and I loved reading this bit:

Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in the Circumcision [in which they both shared that the name Jesus had been revealed to them both, separately] … While the great Mistress of Heaven and St. Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments, on which were woven red embroideries of wonderful beauty … The holy angels divided into two choirs in the cave, keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the arms of His virginal Mother. The chiefs of these heavenly cohorts were the two princes, St. Michael and St. Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction, the most holy name JESUS, written in larger letters on something like cards of incomparable beauty and splendor.

The two princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the name of thy Son (Matt. 1:21), which was written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the Blessed Trinity has given to thy Only-begotten Son and Our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race …” (pp. 243–244)

I’ve written before about the power of names, and specifically the power of the Name of Jesus, at which mention every “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10), and in which “whatever you do, in word or in deed” should be done, “giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17), so I don’t have a hard time at all believing that the revelation of His Name would be accompanied by such heavenly fanfare and celebration!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby brother needs name that fits well with big brother (and also big sisters)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

Charlotte Jude

Finn Douglas

Stella Grace

+Francis Raphael (in heaven)

Aren’t these great names?! Each combo is put together so well — I love the unexpectedness of Jude as Charlotte’s middle name, and Charlotte, Finn, and Stella are a wonderful set of names. (Of course I’m not forgetting their little Francis Raphael! It’s such a saintly and meaningful name, just beautiful.)

They’re set on Daniel for the middle name, and don’t want to repeat these family names:

Ryan

Michael

Alex

Benjamin

Dominic

Alrighty, you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, with Finn kept particularly in mind, as I think it’s always nice for brothers to feel like they go together (and sisters with sisters). I used Charlotte, Finn, and Stella as my inspirations, but I also included Jude, since it has a specific style that I thought was revealing of the kinds of names Lauren and her hubby like. It was a pretty easy job, as their older kids’ names are very consistent style-wise! Based on that research, these are my ideas for their little boy:

(1) Owen (or Oliver)

Owen is a style match for both Charlotte and Finn, and I absolutely love it specifically as Finn’s brother, too. Not only do Finn and Owen go together really well, as well as Charlotte, Finn, Stella, and Owen, but St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints. Owen Daniel is so handsome!

Before I’d even started my research, I’d actually had Oliver in mind as a possibility for this family, so I was happy to see that it’s a style match for Charlotte. I think it could also be a good brother name for Finn, as they both have that Irishy feel, and I like it with Charlotte and Stella, too. Since Owen and Oliver are similar in that they both start with O, have an Irish feel, and are actually style matches for each other, I thought I’d include them both here. St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and Oliver Daniel sounds great together.

(2) Emmett (or Elliott)

I always love when I see names listed as style matches for more than one of the names that the parents have used or like — like with Owen being a match for both Charlotte and Finn — and Emmett is another one, being listed as similar to both Charlotte and Stella. I knew an Emmett in college whose mom was from Ireland, so I’ve always thought of it as a sort of Irish name, so it goes well with Finn, too, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are no saints named Emmett as far as I could find, but since it derives from Emma, then any of the Sts. Emma can be patron. Or they can just look to the middle name and choose any of the Sts. Daniel as patron! Emmett Daniel is great.

Like with including Oliver in the Owen suggestion, I wanted to include Elliott in the Emmett suggestion, since it’s a similar name that is also a style match for Stella, and its saintliness is more obvious since Elliott’s derived from Elijah. Elliott Daniel is wonderful.

(3) Cole

I’m excited to include Cole here for two reasons: first, it’s a specific style match for Finn, which I think is significant, since I really want Finn and his brother to have names that go together. Secondly, Cole has usage as both a short form of Nicholas and a nickname of Nicholas, and their baby’s due on the feast of St. Nicholas! Cole could be the perfect way to nod to his feast day (even cooler if he was actually born on that day!) and/or the Christmas season more broadly. I like Cole Daniel quite a bit!

(Bonus) Henry

Though a Mini Consultation is for three ideas, since Henry’s a match for both Charlotte and Stella, I couldn’t not include it! It’s not one of my favorite suggestions, since it’s closer to Lauren’s girls’ style than Finn’s, but I don’t hate it with Finn either, and Henry Daniel is a really nice combo. And there are lots of great Sts. Henry!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charlotte, Finn, and Stella?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: William Daniel!

I posted a consultation for Kelly and her husband over the summer for their fourth baby boy, and I’m so happy to let you all know that their little guy has arrived and been given the “classic, strong, traditional” name … William Daniel!

Kelly writes,

Sweet baby William Daniel was born this past Tuesday, October 13, the feast of St. Edward the Confessor and the miracle of the sun at Fatima!

I love how exactly his name fits the “classic, strong, traditional” vibe Kelly and her hubby favor, and while I don’t know if the baby’s going by his middle name (Kelly had asked about the idea of the middle name as the call name), given that they wanted a cute nickname for their youngest boy and they also have an Irish sensibility, Danny Boy is a perfect fit for that, too. I also love Will/Billy/Liam and the full William — this baby has some great options! And what a great feast day to be born on!

Congratulations to Kelly and her hubby and big brothers Patrick, James, and Peter, and happy birthday Baby William!!

William Daniel


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs a name with meaning and a cute “little brother” nickname

Kelly and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Patrick Robert
James Gregory
Peter Thomas

Such fantastic names! So classic and handsome!

Kelly writes,

I am so excited to have this consultation done as we have been at a total loss for names, even after prayer and extensive research of names. We are expecting baby boy number four … We love classic, strong, traditional names. We’d love to find a name that goes with our other boys but that also isn’t too popular and has meaning behind it. We have chosen Francis as the middle name after St. Francis De Sales … Andrew, Joseph and John are out … Names that we have considered are William, Edward (Teddy), George (doesn’t sound as great with our last name), Henry, Maximilian (doesn’t necessarily fit with the others). I’d love to find a name that also has a cute nickname given that he’ll be the youngest of the pack.”

Okay! *Rubs hands together* 😀 Kelly and her husband have a great list, but I’m eager to see if I can help them find a name they really love!

I love that they’ve chosen Francis as the middle name, for St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorites. I wonder if Kelly and her husband might like to consider it as a first name though? Especially since Kelly said they’d love to find a name that has a cute nickname since their little guy will be the youngest of a pack of boys. Frankie strikes me as that kind of nickname, so cute!

I do love the other the names they’re considering! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • William: Will, Liam, and Billy are all great nicknames that could go well with the other boys
  • Edward/Teddy: Super cute, I agree! I love St. Edward the Confessor
  • George: I agree that it’s not great with their last name
  • Henry: I love Henry, such a sweet name
  • Maximilian: I can see what Kelly means about Maximilian not being the best fit with Patrick, James, and Peter — if they’re considering it because they love St. Maximilian Kolbe, maybe they’d like to consider his birth name, Raymond, instead? Patrick, James, Peter, and Raymond go together a bit better I think, and Ray’s a cute nickname

I also noted that Kelly would prefer a name that isn’t too popular, so I looked up the popularity of the names they’ve already used and those they’re considering, to get a sense of what kind of popularity we’re talking about. These are the numbers based on the most recent data (2018):

Patrick: 189
James: 4
Peter: 211

William: 3
Edward: 169
George: 127
Henry: 16
Maximilian: 448

So Kelly and her hubs have a mix of names that are quite popular (James, William, Henry), and others that are outside the top 100 (Patrick, Peter, Edward George, Maximilian). In my suggestions below, I included a mix as well. Here are the numbers for the names I’ve already suggested:

Francis: 480
Raymond: 299

I didn’t forget that Kelly also wanted to have a name with meaning, so I definitely took that into account when looking for names that I thought she and her hubby might like. You all know that I always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they 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 that research for Kelly, and looked for names among the results that had a good faith meaning. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Michael
I was pretty influenced by their oldest son’s name: Patrick with brothers James and Peter says “classic Irish Catholic,” which is the theme I had in my head the most when looking for names for this family (though not exclusively). Michael is one of those names! It’s no. 14, which is similar to Henry and less popular than James and William. Michael Francis is so handsome, and Mikey is an adorable nickname.

(2) Timothy
Timothy is one of my favorite names in the “classic Irish Catholic” theme. And being that it’s also a New Testament name, it seems like it can really strengthen the tie among all Kelly’s boys’ names. I love the nickname Timmy! Timothy is right in that sweet spot at no. 165.

(3) Charles
Because Patrick isn’t a biblical name and James and Peter are, I definitely wanted to include some names that aren’t biblical. Charles is a match for this family’s style, and has been used quite a bit recently by Catholics wishing to honor St. John Paul II (his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles). There are also loads of other Sts. Charles, it’s a great, saintly name! And Charlie is so darling. Charles is no. 52.

(4) Oliver
Oliver has shot up the charts recently and is currently at no. 5, which is nice for their James, since his name is so popular at no. 4. It’s also got that nice Irish connection like Patrick, with St. Oliver Plunkett being a great patron; they could also consider it to have biblical connections if they wanted, with the Mount of Olives and the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane being two prominent examples. I love Oliver Francis, that’s stunning. And is anything cuter than Ollie?!

(5) Martin
I like Martin quite a bit — I would definitely consider it classic, strong, and traditional. I love the nickname Marty too, I can definitely see a youngest brother being called Marty! Martin Francis sounds wonderful together. Martin is no. 272.

(6) Kenneth
I wonder what they would think of Kenneth? Kenny is such a great, friendly nickname, and there are two Sts. Kenneth — one Irish and one Welsh. Kenneth is no. 226.

(7) Kevin
I wasn’t surprised to see Kevin listed as a style match for Patrick — like Patrick, it’s a classic, strong, traditional Irish name, and it’s a saint’s name as well. I know of Kevins who go by Kev, which is pretty cool, and I could see Kevvy being a brother nickname when he’s small. Kevin’s no. 125.

(8) David
Finally, David is a style match for this family, which struck me as having a good feel because it’s biblical, like James and Peter, but Old Testament, which gives it its own thing. And my grandfather, who was born and raised in Ireland, was named David, so that felt like a great connection for Patrick (again, totally subjective here, but my consultations are always a mix of research and gut feeling!). Davy is one of my favorite nicknames, I love it. David is no. 122.

Those were all my ideas for Kelly’s baby boy, but after I sent them to her she responded with another question that she’d be delighted to get your thoughts on as well:

Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas! This truly has been so difficult, I never thought naming could be this tough! Hah We are leaning towards William given that it like Patrick, it isn’t biblical, it goes with the other boys, and it was a popular Irish immigrant name (my husband’s great-grandfather). There is another name that randomly came up that I was going to get your thoughts on, Grady. Grady seems unique, but not totally out there and also has the Irish attachment. It also has the meaning noble, like Patrick. Does William Grady (call him Grady) or Grady itself work with the other boys? Does it seem too far off the beaten path? I wish there was a saint association with it to tie it together.”

I told her that I love William, just because it’s great, but I love her reasons behind it too. And I love Grady! I had it on my own list back when I thought I could sway my husband toward more Irishy names, haha!

I took a quick look on CatholicSaints.info for any saintly connection for Grady, and found that one of the priests who is part of the Irish Martyrs was John O’Grady; here’s another entry that mentions him — he’s not canonized, but that could be a nice faith connection for Kelly and her husband to consider (and perhaps she and her family could take it on as a spiritual exercise to pray for his cause for canonization — it appears there isn’t much known about him, including the date he died — maybe their prayers could help bring his holiness to light!). I’m sorry I could find anything more direct!

As for fitting with the other boys, I think Patrick, James, Peter, and Grady sound fine together. Certainly Grady is a different style, which might feel a little jarring to people who really pay attention to those kinds of things (name nuts, mostly!), but the fact that it’s his middle name remedies that nicely — Patrick, James, Peter, and William are exactly perfectly matched. If any of Kelly’s older boys have offbeat nicknames for their names, that would loop Grady in a bit more too, but even if not I think it’s fine! And it opens up some more possibilities for future boys’ names, if they were so blessed.

And that’s all I got! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Patrick, James, and Peter? What do you think of Grady, either as a given name or as a middle name that he’d go by?


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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Celebrity guest: Pauline, who started reading as a daughter and continues as a mama!

On Thanksgiving 2015, I posted such a fun consultation — a pseudo consultation, really, because it was commissioned by the eldest daughter of the parents in question, who wrote,

I don’t see my parents having more but they always joke that they would have absolutely no more name ideas if God were to send us a #10. If you want a project, even though there truly is no baby coming (that I know of!) I thought it might be fun to see some name suggestions that you might come up with!

There haven’t been any more babies for her parents, BUT that daughter is now a mama herself! And she still reads the blog! And I was so excited to talk names with her! Scroll down to read all about Pauline and her beautiful family!

Kate: Tell me about yourself! Hubby’s name (if he doesn’t mind), are you home with your kids and/or do you work? Anything you want us to know?

Pauline: My husband’s name is Ian and we met at Benedictine College. We have been married for 3 years. Ian works in surgical technologies and he is Army National Guard. I am home with our boys full-time, so life is a hot mess but I couldn’t imagine it any other way 🙂

Kate: What are your boys’ names (first and middle) and how did you and your husband choose them?

Pauline: Our boys are Rowan Michael (2) and Fulton Patrick (5 months). We joke that we are lucky we had two boys first because those were the two baby names we were sold on from the start — after this we are in trouble!

Rowan Michael is after St. Rowan of Lorrha, who is known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland and studied under St. Finian. We didn’t know any of this until researching the name and we loved what we learned! Michael is after St. Michael, Ian Michael and Rowan’s grandpa Mike.

Fulton was actually a name my parents almost used but they thought it might be confusing because they already had a Fintan! Ian and I babysat the sweetest kids when we were just dating and one of them was named Fulton. We have talked about it ever since! Ven. Fulton Sheen has always been a favorite of ours and we liked the unique Irish style of the name. Patrick is after St. Patrick and my dad, Patrick.

Ian and I cherish the opportunity to find out our babies’ genders at their anatomy scans during pregnancy. We named both boys soon after we found out and prayed throughout the pregnancies for the intercession of their Patron Saints. I have difficult pregnancies so this really helped me to have hope and to bond with our little ones long before they were born. I love the identity and personhood a name gives.

Kate: I know your parents were really influenced by their French and Irish heritage in choosing their children’s names — did you or your husband have a theme in mind?

Pauline: We are drawn to the idea of Irish names for boys and French names for girls, just like my family. I think Ian and I both like less traditional/more unique Catholic names. I love that it is becoming more common to get creative with Catholic baby naming!

Kate: Since both of your little ones are boys, do you mind sharing the names you guys discussed for girls? Or, if you don’t want to get specific, maybe just broadly: is your taste in girl names similar or different than your taste in boy names?

Pauline: It’s so fun to talk about French girl names! Rowan would have been Caroline if he was a girl, but we probably won’t be using that name. We had a discussion when I was pregnant with Fulton about whether or not we wanted to give our daughters “normal” French names (names that would pass as “normal” here in the States like Caroline, Genevieve, Sophie) or if we wanted to use more uniquely French names (like my sisters’ names — Florie, Domitille, etc.). Ian really liked the latter and sold me on it so even though we still love Caroline, we are going to use names that are much less popular here. We have two that we love. We will see what God has in store for our family and if we ever get to use our girl names!

I am honored that anyone might even want to read our crazy baby naming thoughts. Isn’t it funny that we put so much thought into it all?! 

Sancta Nomina was so special for me to find years ago because I couldn’t believe someone else was as interested in names as I was! So thank you for your amazing work on the blog and thank you for thinking of our family!

Isn’t this all just so wonderful?? I absolutely loved reading Pauline’s answers to my questions, and then going back and reading my previous post about Pauline’s parents and her siblings (I’ve actually referred to it many times when doing consultations, as there are some really great French names for girls in it!). This is an extended family with great taste in names! I also love that her parents are Patrick and Beatrice and she and her husband are Ian and Pauline — Irish + French, both. So cool to see that reflected in their children’s names!

Thank you so much to Pauline for introducing us to her family and talking names! I’m sure you’ll love to follow her: here’s her web site and her Instagram.

pauline_taylor

Pauline with her husband Ian and their sons Rowan and Fulton ❤


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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Ideas for baby girl whose parents like names like Bridget, Rowan, and Saoirse

Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s second baby a couple of years ago, and the resulting birth announcement, and I’m excited to post this new consultation for baby no. 3 — another girl! This little lady joins big sibs (alt characters for privacy):

F!nni@n Dani3l
Gr33r E!leen

I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!

Megan writes,

At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”

(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)

I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.

Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.

We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”

I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.

I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.

(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)

I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!

As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).

Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Mabel
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?

(2) Edel
I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.

(3) Casey
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).

(4) Molly
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!

(5) Willa
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.

(6) Flannery
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)

(7) Isla
Pretty Isla is an entry in my book of Marian names; this is what I wrote about its Scottish connection:

Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … its Marian character comes from the title “Our Lady of the Isles” (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).”

It’s two syllables and Scottish!

(8) Tamsin
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.

(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!

(10) Sorcha
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.

There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?


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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!