Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

Happy Labor Day! No better day to post a consultation! 😉

Sometimes parents will request a consultation when they’re in between babies — the planners among you (like me!) will understand! It’s fun to replenish/refresh name lists when there’s no baby on the way and no pressure. I always enjoy those kinds of consultations, and tend to view them as a chance to spread my wings a bit — to seek a bit farther afield for ideas and to suggest some that I might not suggest if a baby’s arrival is imminent and Mom and Dad just need to find “the” name.

Today’s consultation is one such! Monica and her hubby recently welcomed their second baby — second girl! — and wanted to add some names to their girl list and see if there are any boy names that I might suggest as well. They currently have:

Magdalene Eve-Marie “Maggie”
Genevieve Rose “Genny”

Gorgeous, right??

For reference, my name is Monica Marie, confirmation name Bridget (but it’s for St. Brigid of Ireland). My husband is Joseph Martin, confirmation name Cyril.

Our main ethnic heritage is — from my side — Italian, with some German, Irish, and Scottish — from his side — French, Irish, and Ukrainian. Tidbits of other stuff, but those are the major lines.

Other names that have been at the top of our girl list in the past are Miriam (still high) and Ramona (falling in favor). These days we mostly only like Ramona because we had paired it with Carmel as a middle name, which we still like. Perhaps we could do Miriam Carmel instead. It’s not bad, though I think I preferred Carmel with Ramona because it ended in -a.

We also like Grace quite a bit. I like Avila, Mercedes, Edith, Celine, Faith and Hope … Anne (I love Anne of Green Gables, like every girl…) … but my husband isn’t as keen on those. My husband has a thing for Russian names and likes Natasha, but I don’t. I would consider Nadia or Sonya instead. We’ve recently been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, and were intrigued by Sunniva, but it’s probably too Scandinavian for us.

Aside from the Marian requirement, I think our girl name style is very feminine, elegant, but not over the top frilly/sugary/sticky sweet … We like the names Rebecca and Susannah/Suzanna, both of which belong to sisters of mine, and have considered them as middle names for Miriam, since they match its Old Testament feel. We like a lot of religious significance, both saint connections and linguistic meaning, and maybe a sprinkle of literary and historical inspiration. I also tend to like a more complex religious significance than just a patron saint, although patron saints are great, and if I like the name that would be enough. But if it’s more complex, like a title of Mary rather than just her name, or a combination that evokes a religious event like the Visitation (I.e. any combo of Mary and Elizabeth names), or a name with double religious significance … I like it even better! It seems like we’ve gone for French-inspired names (I know we didn’t choose the Madeleine form, but I still think of St. Mary Magdalene in a French light via her sojourn there) that could take an Irish sounding nickname. This is perfect, as our last name … is actually Irish, but often mistaken for French, and my husband actually has a lot of French heritage through his mom’s side. That probably isn’t a necessary requirement, though, since it’s kind of unusual to find French names with Irish sounding nicknames. Both names we’ve chosen so far are not super common but familiar enough to be recognizable and fairly pronounceable. And … heavy on the “Eve” sound … though maybe we should NOT repeat that a third time.

Boy names are a whole different story. We tend to disagree a lot more. Some of the universal stuff about name significance I mentioned above applies to boy names as well, but I’m not sure we have as much of a definite style since we disagree a lot and only agree sort of randomly. I like some more Romance language names like Santiago and Giovanni and Enzo, thanks to my Italian heritage, and my husband likes Russian names … partly because he loves Russian novels and history, but he is actually 1/4 Ukrainian/Slovakian as well. He is always pushing for Vladimir or Dmitri. I don’t think any of the above ethnic options work well with our very every-day-American last name, though I could maybe reconcile with one if it had family significance (like Cosimo in my family … but then again, that would be more significant with my maiden name). I’ve always said if we were going to do an ethnic name it might be best if it were the same ethnicity as our last name, so we went looking for Irish names, and found we agreed on Finnian, which is probably #3 on our list. Maybe paired with Thomas as a middle name, for my husband’s dad. I also like Eamon, but my husband is less enthusiastic.

Probably #1 is Louis, which is actually French like the girls’ names. We’ve considered pairing it with Anthony for my dad or Martin for my husband (he doesn’t want a direct junior). It primarily would be for St. Louis of France, the king, but if we did Louis Martin that would be a cool double for St. Therese’s father as well.

#2 is John, because I love several saints John — especially John of the Cross and John the Evangelist, such beautiful contemplatives. My husband only consented to John (it is very plain, I admit, but the saints are so great!) with an “interesting” middle name. I pushed for Augustine, but he doesn’t like “A” boy names. So we have it paired with Maccabaeus on our list, which we both think is cool. Our family says they would call him “Johnny Mac.”

We’ve batted around a lot of others. Alexander fits my husband’s Russian taste and I like it, but think it’s a bit common and overused. I’d consider Ivan, but he’s not that much of a fan of that particular Russian name. We both like Blaise, Judah, Isaac, and David, though Isaac is taken by a close friend. Owen, Henry, Nicholas, Dominic, Zachary, Jude, Paul, Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Elijah, Jacob, Sebastian, Damian, Martin, Alexei, Thomas, and are on our ok list, but not favorites due to various circumstances (close friends used them, or one of us isn’t as keen as the other). I like Old Testament names, but my husband doesn’t like boy names that end in the “-iah” sound, which rules out a lot. For example, I liked Isaiah Joseph, but … nope. Although we do both like Judah. We’ve considered maybe a David Judah before. We liked Lavrans from Kristin Lavransdatter (is it a form of Lawrence? Do you know?) but it flows poorly with [our last name]. I like Kenneth and Walter from the Anne of Green Gables series, but my husband thinks they’re too old man sounding.”

I love the names Monica and her hubs chose for their girls — Magdalene Eve-Marie and Genevieve Rose are both gorgeous, and Maggie and Genny are the sweetest nicknames!

St. Mary Magdalene being “the Perfect Image of the New Eve” is SO cool! And I laughed when Monica sheepishly admitted that she liked the name Genevieve first, then looked up the saint later — I’ve done that many many times myself! And I think that’s sometimes how saints “find” us, by using our God-given taste in names! (I wrote about that here.)

Genevieve Eleanor would have been gorgeous too, and as for that pesky Eleanor/Helen connection, maybe my most recent post on it would be helpful going forward.

But Rose is just perfect! The Marian connection and family connections are perfect. (And how cool is Rosamystica as a middle name??!) I love Lucie/Lucy too, I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady of Light is one of her titles, but I can see why Monica’s hubby might have a hard time thinking of it as Marian, since it’s got such a life and history of its own.

I had an idea for “a Marian name beginning with a vowel, preferably an E” for a middle name going forward: Edessa is a name in my book, after her title Our Lady of Edessa. Such a beautiful name!

I love Miriam from their current list, and Ramona! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Ramona! What a great name! Ramona Carmel is stunning, and Miriam Carmel is lovely too. Grace, Mercedes, Faith, and Hope all are Marian — OL of Grace/Mercy/Mercies/Faith/Hope are all titles of her, and all of these names are in my book. Anne is too! I figured, when people are trying to name a baby after a beloved someone, sometimes they might look to the relatives of that person for inspiration.

I love the Russian names! Natasha, Nadia, and Sonya are all gorgeous! And ooh, Sunniva! I did a spotlight on it once, such a cool name. And Belén! I probably would have normally thought it was too Spanish for a non-Hispanic family, but one of my favorite bloggers (who’s not Hispanic) named her daughter Belén and I just love it! Cecilia too, so beautiful.

Re: Rosemary, I wonder if its nicknames Romy or Roma might sway Monica’s hubby? They remind me of Ramona — Rosemary with one of those nicknames might be a nice balance of styles.

I admit I totally latched onto how Monica said “we’ve gone for French-inspired names … that could take an Irish sounding nickname,” especially the “Irish sounding nickname” bit — you’ll see that a few of my ideas are in that vein!

Oh man, I’d love to find some “eve” sounding names for this family, but I agree — repeating that a third time would really set them up to continue it! And that’s a much harder pattern to follow than a “Marie-something” middle!

So I felt pretty confident with my ideas for girls after reading Monica’s email up to this point. It’s definitely helped by the fact that they have two girls already, and their names automatically rule out whole groupings of girl names, you know? Their names are no longer hypothetical options on their long list; they are now the reality and the standard to be measured against.

But boys! Since they don’t have any boys yet, and since they’re not committed to the same style for boys that they have for girls, it’s a wide open playing field. I had fun really trying to poke around and find some good options in addition to the three Monica mentioned. Louis Anthony/Louis Martin, John Maccabaeus (Johnny Mac! LOVE it! I also think John Augustine is pretty awesome), and Finnian Thomas are all fantastic!

One of the strategies that I thought might be helpful would be to consider Russian/French/non-English variants or nicknames of names they like, as a way of  spicing up a “normal” name. Alexander’s nickname in Russian and Ukrainian is Sasha, for example, so while Alexander might feel “common and overused,” Sasha is so interesting and unexpected! Or Alastar, which is the Irish variant; Sandro, which is an Italian nickname for it; or the spelling Aleksandr, which is Russian. (But then, Monica’s hubs doesn’t like A names — would Alexander be okay with him?) Regarding her hubby’s devotion to St. Peter, maybe the Russian Pyotr, the Ukrainian Petro, or the Irish Peadar? Or the variant Pierce, which is also an entry in my book, for how Simeon prophesied that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced with a sword.

This can go the other way too, which they’ve already considered: Ivan is the Russian for John, and they’ve already got John on their list! Monica is correct about Lavrans being a form of Lawrence (and blogger Haley Carrots considered it for her baby, if she’d been a boy!); Kenneth and Walter are both great too, and while they may have traditionally fallen into the old man category, I’ve heard them both (especially Walter, for Servant of God Walter Ciszek) on little guys over the past few years.

Blaise, Judah, Isaac, David (David Judah! So handsome!) are all wonderful. I love Old Testament names too! But there are so many that end in -iah! Gah!

When doing research for parents, you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book 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, using both their girls’ names and nicknames as well as all the other names Monica mentioned liking. Generally I look for overlap among the style matches for each name — are there names that show up as style matches for more than one of the names on their list, for example? That kind of thing. Also, a lot of it is really just gut feelings — do I *think* they’ll like this name? Based on all that, here are my ideas for Monica and her hubby to consider adding to their lists:

Girl
(1) Tess
I’m going to start off listing nicknames that I think fit their “Irish sounding nickname” idea, and then back into fuller given names for them. Tess is one of my favorites, and I think it’s darling with sisters Maggie and Genny. They could do a form of Teresa, but I didn’t think Monica would love that (although I knew a girl once named Marie-Therese and I thought she was so amazing and beautiful solely because of her name! Marie-Therese would go wonderfully with Magdalene and Genevieve, and Tess is so sweet for a daily nickname!). High up on my own list was Elizabeth with the nickname Tess (my reasoning being, if Betty, Bess, and Tetty can be traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — and they are — why not Tess?), but I thought Monica might like the spelling Elisabeth even better — it’s a French spelling, and the spelling of one of my favorite holy women: Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Or maybe they’d like to consider the more Italian Elisabetta? Despite it being so Italian, I think it can definitely work in their family, since they already have the long, lovely, and foreign-ish Magdalene and Genevieve.

(2) Annie
I know Monica mentioned loving Anne for Anne of Green Gables (I’m right there with her!) but she thought it might be too “boring.” I agree that Anne doesn’t feel like the right name for their family, with the weightier and longer Magdalene and Genevieve, but the nickname Annie is definitely one of those “Irish sounding nicknames,” and there are some pretty ways of getting to it, like the Italian Annunziata (what a name! I love it!) and the Russian Anastasia (a perfect fit for Magdalene and Genevieve’s sister, I think). I was toying with Anya as well, which is Russian, and how it has the exact same pronunciation as the Irish Áine — maybe they could consider one of those as a nickname for Anastasia or another Ann- name?. Another one I love is Annabelle (or Annabel) — it’s in my book because it’s a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis! How cool is that?? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love Annabelle for this family!

(3) Bridie
Bridie is one of my favorite Irish nicknames, and I’m extra loving it for a daughter for Monica because of her Confirmation name being Bridget! BUT, I didn’t think she’d want to consider Bridget or Brigid, but maybe the lovely French Brigitte? Or maybe the Slovak Brigita? Or Bernadette? I think all these could take the nickname Bridie!

(4) Josie
Josie is just as sweet as Maggie, Genny, Tess, Annie, and Bridie, and has a longer French name to boot in Josephine. Or they could consider Josefina or Josefa? I love all of these!

(5) Kate, Katie (or Cate, Cady)
Even though my name is Kate, I won’t be offended if they don’t like this idea! 😀 While Catherine might be too common for Monica’s taste, it’s got some gorgeous variants, like the Italian Caterina, the Russian Ekaterina (or just Katerina), and the Irish Catriona. They can all take the nicknames Kate/Katie (or Cate, Cady), which have a pretty good Irish feel to them!

(6) Vivienne
Vivian and Vivienne showed up a couple times in my research as being a style match for the names they like, and I totally agree! It shares some sounds with Genevieve, yes, but since they didn’t go the Evie/Vivi route with Genevieve’s nickname, they can with Vivienne (I thought Monica would prefer the French Vivienne over Vivian).

(7) Natalia
Natalia showed up a bunch of times in my research as similar to names Monica and her hubs like, AND it’s Russian! (They could also consider the Russian spellings Natalya and Nataliya [which is also Ukrainian].) In fact, it’s the formal name for the nickname Natasha, so while it’s not exactly the name her hubby likes, it’s pretty close (and he could use Natasha as a nickname if he wanted). Natalia is a gorgeous name!

(8) Veronica
Veronica is such a beautiful, weighty name like Magdalene and Genevieve, with loads of nickname options: Vera, Vero, Ronnie, Nica, and Nicky, and some less traditional ones like Vee, Via, and Vicka.

(9) Maristella
My last girl idea is Maristella or, if they preferred not to repeat Maggie’s initial, they could reverse the elements and do Stellamaris. Such a gorgeous name, either way! It’s for Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” as I’m sure they know, as Monica noted that neither of them care for Estelle, but Maristella and Stellmaris feel very different to me. Ooh, and I think Molly could work as a nickname for Maristella! Then they’d have their Irishy nickname! Or maybe Sadie for Stellamaris?

Boy
(1) Nicodemus, Nikolai
I felt a little all over the place with boy names — Santiago, Eamon, and Dmitri aren’t names I expect to encounter on a parent’s list at the same time! Additionally, when I looked at boy names that were matches for their girl names, I thought there were some great ideas there too. So we’ll start with one of my favorites: Nicodemus. I think it’s got a heavy, Old Testament feel, though it’s a New Testament name. It doesn’t end in -iah! And it can take the Nic- nicknames (Nico, Nic, Nick, Nicky), which make it really easy to live with on a day to day basis. While we’re talking about Nic- names, the Russian Nikolai is just such a swoony name, and while Nik etc. can be nicknames, I quite like the Russian Kolya.

(2) Nathaniel
Another long, biblical N name that I thought went great with their girls’ names is Nathaniel. I was really drawn to the longer, weightier boy names, and I thought Nathaniel fit that perfectly; I also love its friendly nickname Nate.

(3) Raphael
Here’s an Old Testament name that doesn’t end in -iah! Raphael appears in the book of Tobit, and the nickname Rafe is said just the way Ralph is in the U.K. (Ralph is a family name, according to Monica — maybe Raphael could be a different way of nodding to that Ralph?).

(4) Matthias
Matthias was the man chosen by the other Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, so one might even consider their discussion to be the first Church Council! 😊 Matthias’ ending is almost -iah, so if Monica likes the idea of this name but her hubby doesn’t like the pronunciation, maybe the variant Mattias, which is said ma-TEE-as, would be better?

(5) Benedict
Benedict’s got that great length and weightiness of Magdalene and Genevieve, and the great friendly nickname Ben, I just love it.

(6) Luka, Luca
The Luke names are great to look at if you want a name that travels well internationally. Luka is the Russian version, and Luca the Italian — I love that! I would think, though, that if they like this idea, they might want to cross Louis off their list, since Luka and Louis are so similar in sound.

(7) Adrian, Julian
Adrian and Julian are two of those great Catholic names — saintly, papal, and pan-European. I saw them both pop up in my research, and thought I’d combine them here because they’re so similar.

(8) Roman
Roman is listed as both a Russian and Ukrainian name (among others) on behindthename.com, and of course it refers to Rome, which is Italian, so I’m loving that Roman can nod to both Monica and her hubby in this way! This would knock Ramona off their list, but I think Roman’s a great option for them to consider.

(9) Santino
My last idea is a bit of a wild card, and I’m not sure it’s any better than the overly ethnic (according to Monica’s hubby) Santiago, but I looove the name Santino — I love that it means Little Saint, I love that Sonny is a nickname for it a la The Godfather, and I totally get if they hate it because of these things, but I had to put it on the list! (Fun fact: Mario Lopez and his wife just named their baby Santino Rafael, nicknamed Sonny!)

I also had two consultations in mind while working on this that I thought Monica might find inspiring as there was a lot of overlap with what I perceive to be her taste:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny?


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: Adventurous German or Irish name needed

I had such fun working on a consultation for Laura and her husband’s second baby a few years ago — they ended up giving the baby the middle name Caoilfhinn, just to give you an idea of the kinds of names they like! I’m so excited that they asked me for ideas/thoughts/suggestions for baby no. 3 — a third girl! This little lady joins big sisters:

Clara Louise
Rosalie Caoilfhinn

Such lovely, feminine names!

Laura writes,

You did a consultation for our second, and now we’re facing a similar problem with our third: a long list of boys’ names, and a tiny list of girls’. If you could help us finalize a third option, we’d really appreciate it!

We love our heritage as German/Irish and love European names, but especially ones in that vein. A saint name is preferred, but not necessary for both first and middle. So far, we have liked the name Liesel the best.”

Liesel!! I love it!!

Now we’re having a hard time picking *the* middle name. There are several that we like, and we were trying to avoid anything that sounded ‘sing-song.’ (Áine/Anya came up in our last consultation and was beloved by many readers, but Liesel Áine sounds like lasagna! Haha.)

Here are some of the ones we have on our list:

Amabel (though the two names ending in -el might be a bit much), Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, Kateri

Bronwyn may be my favorite because its sounds are so different from Liesel. But I also like one or three-syllable middles as I think they help the entire name flow. (Hubby will NOT consider a four-name moniker.)

Another name we’ve considered (as a middle) is Eilidh (AY-lee). My grandmother was Eleanor, but Aaron really dislikes that name. He likes Eilidh, which I’ve heard is the Gaelic version, but it doesn’t sound right with Liesel. My husband also likes Maisie, particularly as a nn for a Marian name (though we’re not sure which). I think it’s perfectly darling.

To help you out (and hopefully not confuse you), boy names that we (BOTH — lol) like are: William, Wolf, Arthur, Thomas, Becket, Edmund/Éamon, Frederick/Freidrich (nn Fritz), Bernhard/Bernard, Roger, Felix, Rórdán.

I love Laura and her hubby’s taste in names! I think Liesel is a great sister name to Clara and Rosalie, which also checks off Laura’s boxes of German and saintly. Her comment about Liesel Áine sounding like “lasagna” made me laugh out loud! I think they’re right to avoid it! As for their other middle name ideas:

— I love Amabel, but I agree with Laura that it doesn’t have the best flow with Liesel

— Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, and Kateri are all great options! I agree that the juxtaposition of the German Liesel and the Welsh Bronwyn is interesting and unexpected, I like it! But I think I agree with Laura that one- and three-syllable middles have the best flow with Liesel

— I too love Eilidh! But I agree that Liesel Eilidh isn’t ideal. I wonder if Laura and her hubs might consider the fuller Eilionoir? Liesel Eilionoir has the rhythm they like and is so similar to the sound of Laura’s grandmother’s name (though I think it’s Scottish instead of Irish) (although, I’m just seeing that Nameberry lists Eilidh as Scottish as well, so maybe Scottish is ok?). Or what about a Nora name? I like both Liesel Nora(h) and Liesel Noreen, even though Nora and Noreen are both two syllables

As for Maisie — I love it too!! SUCH a sweet name!! I love the idea of using it as a nickname for a Mary name. Mariazell is a name in my book that I love, that could definitely take Maisie as a nickname. Marie-Azelie, or any M- name with Zelie as a middle, could work to get to the nickname Maisie as well. And actually … Liesel has that same Z sound … so Mary Liesel, Marie-Liesel, Maura Liesel, Moira Liesel, etc. could lead to Maisie as a nickname as well. Or M + any name with a Z-ish sound!

One of the names that showed up a couple of times in my research for this family as being similar to their style — specifically similar to Arthur, Edmund, and Bernard — is Marian/Marion. I like Marian as a sister to Clara and Rosalie too! Or as a middle? Liesel Marian?

Another idea for Maisie is a Margaret name — Maisie is a diminutive of Mairead, which is the Irish Margaret, so Margaret, Marguerite, and Margot could all work as full names that use Maisie as a nickname. Or Mairead! I actually know a couple little Maireads, including the daughter of one of my best friends. She always says, “Rhymes with parade!” which makes it really easy to help others know how to say it. Margaret/Mairead isn’t Marian, but they could easily remedy that with a Marian middle.

Another name I adore, which is also an entry in my book, is Maylis (also spelled Maëlys) — it can be said may-LEES, may-LIS, or MAY-lis, and is generally considered to mean “Mary of the lily” in French. I could see Maisie working for it as a nickname! Though I admit Maylis is so short that maybe a nickname is silly.

I’m sure none of you are surprised that the “minute” I meant to spend on Maisie turned into quite a few minutes! Haha!

Back to the task at hand! You all know that I usually start consultation by looking up the names the parents like and have used in the Baby Name Wizard book, 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 looked through my Marian names book and my own mental files for ideas for Liesel’s middle name, which yielded some good ideas, I think!

(1) Alannah
I love that behindthename says Alannah as a given name “has been influenced by the affectionate Anglo-Irish word alannah, from the Irish Gaelic phrase a leanbh meaning ‘O child’ …” Isn’t that sweet? I love Liesel Alannah!

(2) Annika
Laura mentioned Anya/Áine, and when I saw Anna show up as a style match for a bunch of the names on her list, I thought maybe a different Anna variant would do. I love Annika for its German feel — I know Laura likes mixing ethnicities, but Liesel Annika was too gorgeous to not suggest! That said, if they were open to changing the first name, Annika Eilidh was striking me as a stunning option as well.

(3) Maeve
Maeve is Irish, one syllable, and Marian per my book! Baby Names of Ireland gives one of its meanings as “cause of great joy,” which is so similar to Our Lady’s title Causae Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy). Liesel Maeve has that two-syllable + one-syllable rhythm that Laura favors.

(4) Riona, Rionach
Amazingly, this actually showed up in the Baby Name Wizard — it tends to not be the greatest source for unusual or ethnic names, but Riona was listed as a match for Eamon! It, or the name it derives from, Rionach, means “queen” — I included Riona in my Marian names book as a variant of Regina! The even more Irish Rionach might appeal to Laura and her hubs even more. Liesel Riona(ch) is pretty cool! (Though Baby Names of Ireland doesn’t include the fadas, Behind the Name lists them as Ríona and Ríonach, so that could be fun for someone like Laura.)

(5) Loretta
My last idea is Loretta, which is a style match for Bernard and was my own grandmother’s name — she was super Irish, and her given name was Mary Loretta, though she went by Loretta (or Rett). It’s a Marian name, after Our Lady of Loreto, or the Marian Litany of Loreto, and I looove how Liesel Loretta sounds. I love alliteration like that! (But I totally understand if Laura and her husband don’t!)

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


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

Ireland part 4: Thaddeus

Part 1: Edel

Part 2: Radek

Part 3: Anne

A funny little thing I do when looking through books of Saints’ names or Catholic names is to see if there’s a listing for Thaddeus — it’s one of my benchmarks to see how extensive the book is. If Thaddeus isn’t included as its own entry, I don’t usually think the book has much new to offer, that’s how rare it is for me to find Thaddeus listed as its own entry in a Catholic name book. It’s always included in the entry for Jude, which I find so frustrating — that doesn’t help someone rifling through the T section for interesting T saint names, for example, nor does it let parents know that Thaddeus can be used on its own without Jude attached (some parents need that reassurance — or even to be shown that it’s an option at all!).

(I also consider Thaddeus to be a sort of compromise benchmark — my true ideal is a name book that also includes names like Kolbe, Becket, and Campion as their own entries, but I’ve never come across that — those names are always only mentioned in the entries for Maximilian, Thomas [sometimes], and Edmund).

Anyway, I’d learned about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty several years ago — an Irish Dominican priest who was martyred for saying Mass during the time that priests were banned in Ireland (this says he was beatified in 1992, though the previous link from 2013 says they’re still praying for his beatification) — and I developed a devotion to him because of (1) his amazing courage and faith, (2) Irish, (3) Dominican, and (4) his name (I know, it’s always about names with me :p ). I also loved learning that he’s also known as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty — I discovered that Tadhg (pronounced like the first syllable of tiger) is used as the Irish version of both Thaddeus and Timothy. (It also has a history of being used as a derogatory term for Irish Catholics … which makes me love it even more. I know one Tadhg in real life, he’s my age and his mom is from Ireland.)

BUT this post isn’t about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty! It’s actually about ANOTHER Bl. Thaddeus I learned about on my recent trip to Ireland for my sister’s wedding: Bl. Thaddeus (Tadhg) McCarthy! So fun to learn about yet another Irish Thaddeus, who is also known as Tadhg!

I first saw info about him at North Cathedral (Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne) — you guys, there’s a bone of his in there that’s HUGE — it must be a leg bone, it’s so long! And I only just this morning discovered that there are relics of his in St. Colman’s Cathedral, which is where my sister’s actual wedding was! His story is kind of crazy: he was named bishop twice (by the Pope) of two different places (Ross, and Cork & Cloyne), but couldn’t assume his post either time because of politics regarding the previous bishops (one of whom refused to step down, the other had been chosen by the people rather than the Pope). He was also excommunicated! It was later revoked and he was cleared of all charges. Poor guy! He is known as the White Martyr of Munster, which “commemorates the mental and physical anguish he suffered while trying to do the Church’s work.”

Check Instagram later today for the photos I took! I hope your July has started off well!


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

Baby name consultation: Irish first + strong and saintly middle for baby boy

Moira and her husband are expecting their fifth baby on earth — their second boy!

She writes,

We have four kids on earth, two babies in heaven, and a little boy on the way. We’ve always been surprised about our babies gender until this time. I was getting the mama prick that we should find out in order to manage expectations.”

“In order to manage expectations” — well said!

Our oldest daughter is Anna Philomena. We both love the name Anna, and Philomena is my confirmation name.

Our next baby is one of the heaven babies. It was a very early miscarriage, so we decided to name the baby Marion John. John is a family name on both sides, and when you say the whole name quickly together it sounds like Mary and John. Also in honor of Mary.

Our second daughter is Carol Elizabeth. Carol is the name of her great grandmother, my maternal grandmother. It’s also in honor of John Paul the great. And Elizabeth is my middle name.

Our next child is our first boy, and his name is Brendan Athanasius. Brendan sounds strong and Irish, and I LOVE the sound of Irish boy names combined with our last name. We really love strong names, especially strong saint names. His first name has the family connection to my mother whose name is Brenna. And we both really enjoyed studying Saint Athanasius’ writings on the infant Jesus in college.

Our next baby is another heaven baby. I had a very strong feeling that it was a girl, I have no idea if I’m correct, but we did get to see her tiny little body. We buried her next to my uncle who died at only a day old. Her name is Beatrice Rose.

Our last child is a girl, and her name is Natalie Thérèse. I have always loved the name Natalie, I think it sounds really beautiful. Thérèse has the family connection to my husband’s mother who goes by Therese (pronounced Ter-eeece).

We considered the name Killian if Natalie were a boy. We thought about Killian Daniel. I was a little nervous though that it sounded like killing.

We literally have no boy names we currently agree on. 🙈 Boy names have been hard for us. We really like to choose a whole combination, a first and middle name all together.

My husband‘s full name is Michael Patrick Stephen. My full name is Moira Elizabeth Margaret Philomena.

Michael and Daniel are both family names and we would consider them for middle names. We would also consider Joseph as a middle name. I don’t really care for Patrick. I do like Cyprian (I think I like the -AN endings) but if I remember right, I think Mike didn’t love that one. Often it helps when I can suggest a whole combination, and that’s been harder with boy names. I do kind of like long and strong middle names (most of my kids middles names fall into this). Also we are both open to Edmund … with the right middle name.

We don’t usually use nicknames that correspond to the child’s name. Our oldest was called Squeaky, our second is usually Carol-E. Our son is Mr. Buddy. And Natalie is simply Natalie.”

First off, I love Moira’s older kiddos’ names — it’s so fun to be surprised by names! Philomena and Athanasius as middles are delightful surprises, as is Carol as a first name! Wow! I also loved how she and her hubby worked in family names in a creative way — Brendan for her mom Brenna, Thérèse for her mother-in-law. Marion John and Beatrice Rose are so perfect for their little ones with Jesus — and I love the “Mary and John” sound-alike. Beautiful job, all around!

I love the name Killian, and Killian Daniel is a very handsome combo! However, Moira’s not the first parent who has written to me considering the name Killian but worrying that it sounds too much like “killing.” Also, there’s usually the issue of — what nickname would a Killian go by? They’ve circumvented that by not using nicknames related to their children’s given names, but for other parents “Kill” or similar is problematic, of course. In general though, I think Killian’s a fine name, and I think it will be obvious to most (all?) people that his name isn’t “Killing.” It’s also no. 286 according to the Social Security Administration, so there are a lot of parents who felt it was fine to use.

That said, some names that are similar but avoid the “killing” issue that might appeal to Moira and her hubs include:

  • Kian: This is said like Ian with a K in front of it, and I always think of it as the perfect solution to any issue with Killian because it’s just Killian without the “ill” in the middle! For that reason, I’ve also thought Kian could make a good nickname for Killian, for those parents looking for a nickname. Kian is no. 446 according to the SSA — a top 500 name, but not super common either. Like with Killian/Cillian, Kian is a variant of Cian, and there is a St. Cian. There’s actually also a Bl. Thomas Kian, though he wasn’t Irish or Celtic. My cousin actually recently named her son Kian, I really love it.
  • Kieran: I had thought Kieran was a bit more mainstream than Killian and Kian, but I discovered it’s actually less popular than both, at no. 497. There are two Sts. Kieran.
  • Kiernan: Kiernan is the least popular of all these, not even being in the top 1000. One of the Sts. Kieran is also known as Kiernan, though they’re not related names as far as I know. This gives an interesting bit about St. Kiernan.

She also mentioned Edmund as a name that they both like, with the right middle name. I love how Edmund Daniel and Edmund Joseph sound! I wondered if they also might like to consider the Irish variant of Edmund: Eamon. It’s said like AY-men, and has the sound of the -AN ending, though the spelling is different. Like with Edmund, I quite like Eamon Daniel and Eamon Joseph.

I thought I’d also suggest a few middle name ideas along the lines of Philomena and Athanasius — “long and strong” names, as Moira put it, and I’d add “super saintly” to their description. Some that are similar in style include:

Aloysius
Augustine
Balthazar
Bartholomew
Dominic
Emmanuel
Ignatius
Leander
Leopold
Matthias
Maximilian
Nicodemus
Sebastian
Stanislaus
Thaddeus
Zechariah

Right off the bat, Edmund Aloysius strikes me as a pretty amazing combo. Also Kian Emmanuel, Kiernan Aloysius, Kieran Dominic, and Eamon Ignatius all have really nice flows in my opinion.

Okay! On to my new suggestions for this family! You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Since my book of Marian names was published, I also look through that as well for names that I think fit the parents’ taste. I admit I also latched a bit onto the fact that Moira likes Irish boy names that end in -an, so my list of suggestions is heavy on both Irish names and names that end in -an (or at least the -an sound), and most of them fit both of those criteria:

(1) Declan
This is one of the first names that came to mind when I saw that they’d considered Killian and that Moira likes -an endings. Declan is a saint’s name, and is at no. 101 on the SSA list. Middle names I might pair with it include Declan Daniel (I love alliteration, though I know not everyone does), Declan Michael, Declan Joseph, Declan Matthias.

(2) Colman
Colman is another Irish saint, and in fact my sister got married in Ireland at the beginning of June in St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Co. Cork — it was the church my grandfather had been baptized in and had been an altar boy in before leaving for America, so Colman is near and dear to my heart. And it fits the kinds of names Moira likes! Colman Daniel, Colman Dominic, Colman Augustine, Colman Ignatius are all quite nice.

(3) Roman or Ronan
At first I was thinking Ronan for this family, since it’s an Irish boy name ending in -an, but then I saw Roman as a style match for Cyprian, and I liked that a lot for them too! So I thought I’d include them both here. I think they give off very different feels — Roman feels ancient and strong to me, while Ronan is lighter and obviously Celtic, maybe a bit wild — I like them both. Daniel, Joseph, Emmanuel, Leander, Leopold, Stanislaus, and Thaddeus all seem to go well with either one, I think. I also like Ronan Michael and Ronan Matthias, though Roman Michael/Matthias might feel too M heavy? Or maybe not? There are several Sts. Roman, and I also like that it can refer to being a Roman Catholic. There are also a few Sts. Ronan.

(4) Colin
Colin is such a great, Irish name. It’s got the -an ending sound, though not the spelling, which could also be nice in the sense that it doesn’t box them into feeling like they have to choose a name ending in -an for possible future boys, and it also gives them Marion, Brendan, and Colin — three ending spellings that give the same sound without the same spelling. It’s not a big deal at all, of course, just one of those things my namey sense enjoys. Colin Augustine is a really nice companion to Brendan Athanasius. I also like Colin Daniel, Colin Michael, Colin Joseph, Colin Matthias, Colin Sebastian. Colin is a form of Nicholas, which is where its saintliness comes from.

(5) Fulton
Ven. Fulton Sheen is well on his way to becoming beatified, and his name is a great one for a Catholic family to consider! Fulton was actually his mother’s maiden name — it’s an Irish surname — and it fits right in with the kind of names Moira likes, being Irish and ending in the -an sound. Fulton Joseph is probably my favorite, so handsome! I also like Fulton Michael, Fulton Dominic, Fulton Emmanuel, Fulton Ignatius, Fulton Leander, and Fulton Matthias.

(6) Quentin
Quentin isn’t Irish (I think it’s French) and is actually more a style match for Anna and Brendan’s middle names Philomena and Athanasius than the rest of the names Moira and her hubs have used, but it is a saint’s name, it has that ending sound Moira likes, and even more fun, it means “fifth,” which is so great for a fifth-born baby! (Fifth-born, not fifth-conceived — I’m not forgetting Marion and Beatrice!) I like Quentin Michael, Quentin Joseph, Quentin Aloysius, Quentin Ignatius, Quentin Leander, Quentin Matthias, and Quentin Sebastian.

(7) Garrett
Obviously Garrett doesn’t have the -an ending, but I was loving that Moira’s first name is represented in Marion (as Moira is a Mary variant), her first middle is Carol’s middle name, and her Confirmation name is Anna’s middle name. Margaret isn’t yet represented, and I know of a family who named a son Garrett because of their devotion to St. Margaret (Garrett from the last five letters of Margaret), which I thought was beyond cool, and Garrett has an Irishy feel and is an awesome brother name to Brendan in my opinion (and Garrett is a style match for Brendan per the BNW!). If they didn’t care for the Margaret connection, or wanted a boy saint, Garrett is derived from Gerard, so any of the Sts. Gerard can suit (St. Gerard Majella is one of my favorites). Garrett Michael, Garrett Augustine, Garrett Bartholomew, Garrett Dominic, Garrett Emmanuel, Garrett Ignatius, Garrett Leander are all lovely.

Those are my “official” suggestions for this family, but I came across a few others that I didn’t think fit their criteria well enough, but that I wanted to include here just in case: Tristan, Sebastian (I have this in my middle name list of ideas too), Julian, Adrian. I mostly wanted to suggest them because they end in -an!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Anna, Carol, Brendan, and Natalie?


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

Ireland part 1: Edel

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

rocco

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

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

SHE ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ROCCO!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

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

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

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

How about your parents? Happy Friday!


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