Baby name consultation: Less popular first name + virtue middle for baby boy

Sam and her husband are expecting their third baby, their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Raleigh Justice (girl)
Dominic Valor (boy)

Aren’t the virtue middle names so cool? Sam and her hubs want to continue that for this baby too. She writes,

We’re stuck. I never thought it would happen. I think that it’s because we both just KNEW we were having a girl, so girls names were easy. We’re having a boy though, so we need a name for him. I’m stuck on Becket, but my husband isn’t into it … I have been wanting something with a Marian type devotion but [my hubs] doesn’t have the same devotion or leanings. I’d like saintly names, but again, he doesn’t care. I like older, less common names. Nothing difficult or anything … I think we often love Irish names, even though we have no Irish connections as far as I know … We are thinking of the virtue middle of Prosper, because it’s a family name on [hubby’s] side. We’re open to other virtue middles, but I think we’re kind of really liking it. *I* would love to make it more of a family name because this little one is due about the same time [my hubby’s dad] passed away last year. His dad’s name was Lambert Richard, though [my hubs] doesn’t want to use either of those. Just figured I’d mention it.”

Names they’ve discussed include:

Elliott
Becket (“best name ever to me“)
Galen
Logan
Ransom
Blythe
Conor (“we actually both like this one“)
Tyler
Tristan

And her Mister doesn’t like “sing songy or rhyme-y” names, nor John/James-type names, and Sam doesn’t care for Logan.

As I was reading Sam’s email, my very first idea before I got to the end was Ransom — and there it was on their list! So I hoped that was a good indication that I might be able to come up with some ideas they might like.

Okay, so first, I wanted to point out some things about the names they’ve used and like that helped me with coming up with ideas for them:

— Elliott and Becket both have that T ending, and Tyler and Tristan are T heavy
— Dominic, Beckett, and Conor all have a hard C
— Raleigh, Elliott, Becket, Logan, Blythe, Conor, and Tyler all have usage as surnames
— Logan and Blythe have decent use for girls as well (in fact, I only know Blythe for girls as a first name, though Gilbert Blythe is also a strong association) (Logan is still predominantly a boy’s name, at no. 18, but still top 500 for girls at no. 384)

I really latched onto the first three points (names with prominent T’s and C’s, and surnames) when coming up with ideas. I also took into account how they like Irish names and names that aren’t too popular.

Regarding popularity, I thought it would be good to rank their ideas by popularity, just to see where they all fall (these are the most recent stats—2016):

Logan: 18
Dominic: 72
Tyler: 91 (pretty steep decline from no. 10 in 2000; also no. 877 for girls)
Tristan: 108
Elliott: 192 (Elliot is 180)
Conor: 323 (but Connor is 54)
Becket: Not in the top 1000 (but Beckett is 213)
Galen: Not in top 1000
Ransom: Not in top 1000
Blythe: Not in top 1000 for boys or girls
Raleigh: Not in top 1000

They clearly like the rare names! I’m going to guess the 100–300 range is a comfortable one for them though.

Regarding Sam’s FIL’s name — I know she said her husband didn’t want to use either Lambert or Richard, but since Sam included them in her email I thought she might like some ideas of how to honor him by name, so I looked them both up just in case some variant seemed like it could work, and I found two that I kind of like for them:

Rico: I know this could be too Rico, Suave or mob-like/criminal, but otherwise it’s such a cool variant of Richard.

Baer: This was listed on Behind the Name as a short variant of Lambert, stemming from the “bert” part, which derives from the Germanic “beraht” (meaning “bright”) and becomes “bert” in some names and “baer” in others. It’s pronounced like “Bear” (the animal), and I have a fondness for animal names like Bear and Wolf for boys — they seem so rugged and masculine. The Baer spelling is really cool and a subtle but explicit nod to Sam’s FIL. (Read more about Baer here.)

For other ideas, you all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — it often gives me good direction. I also had some ideas of my own. Based on all that, I wondered what they would think of:

(1) Santino
I’m starting with one of my most out-there ideas! It was the first idea that came to me, and it was based on the softness of Raleigh and the masculinity of Dominic … I was trying to think of any names that I might consider both soft and muscular, and Santino came right to mind. It’s Italian for “little saint,” which is a sweet and faith-y meaning, but most guys (maybe most people in general?) will remember it as Sonny’s given name in The Godfather, which is where it gets its manly oomph from. Because of the movie association, I don’t think I would ever think of this name as possible for a little guy, except that one of my boys went to school with a Sonny, which I fell in love with as a name for a boy after seeing how adorable he was, and all year I was under the impression his given name was Sonny itself, and then when I saw his name on the school roster at the end of the year and saw it was actually Santino I just about died with happiness. Haha! (I totally get it if this is too much though 😉)

(2) Campion
In addition to the characteristics of the names Sam and her hubs like that I listed above, I also noticed that she said she’d love a Marian component — you all know I LOVE when parents want to use Marian names for boys! That definitely needs to happen more often! So based on their liking of names with a hard C, and surnames, I thought of Campion — it’s probably best known as the last name of St. Edmund Campion (and as a surname it actually means “champion”), which is an amazing connection in and of itself, but it also has a Marian connection: The rose campion flower was known in medieval times as Our Lady’s Rose! I love the nickname Cam for a boy.

(3) Roman
One of the things I love to do when I look up names in the BNW is see if there are any names listed as similar to more than one of the names on the parents’ list — I feel like it gives a really good sense of names that are likely to be on point, if they’re listed in more than one name’s list of similar boy/girl names. Roman is one such — it’s a style match for both Dominic and Elliott! I love that it’s connected to a place, which makes it go well with Raleigh in my opinion, and it’s got a heavy faith-y feel, like Dominic.

(4) Garrett
Noticing the end of Elliott and Becket (which can also be spelled Beckett), and also Galen and their affinity for Irish names and surnames, I wonder what they’d think of Garrett? It’s ranked at no. 308, which is such a sweet spot for names. It’s from a surname that derived from either Gerard or Gerald, and St. Gerard Majella is patron of pregnant mamas and childbirth, such a great patron. And I’ve heard of it used in honor of St. Margaret, which is so cool (and can also be for St. Rita, since Rita is a diminutive of Margaret, and in fact St. Rita’s given name was Margherita).

(5) Dermot or Declan
Again with the Irish names, and the T and C sounds that they seem to like, I wonder if they’ve considered either Dermot or Declan? Declan’s at no. 109, and Dermot’s not the in top 1000, so both seem to fall in their comfort zone popularity-wise.

(6) Kolbe
Kolbe feels similar to Raleigh to me — a softer surname — but it’s also for the amazing St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is one of the best patrons for a boy AND he had such a devotion to Our Lady that I think it could be considered Marian as well! Kole is a great nickname in my opinion, and Kolbe’s not in the top 1000 (the same-sounding Colby is at no. 530).

(7) Case or Casey or Cashel
Bl. Solanus Casey is an amazing guy — his beatification was just recently announced, and I believe he’s the first Irish-American blessed — and I know of a little boy named Case in his honor, which is really cool. The full Casey is an even closer option, and has that unisex usage that some of the names on their list have, and of course it’s also a surname. And both Case and Casey make me think of the place name Cashel — the Rock of Cashel in Ireland is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster, and it allows for the awesome nickname Cash.

(8) Kyler or Cuyler
Kyler/Cuyler (pronounced the same) were inspired by Tyler on their boy list and the fact that Sam told me they considered Skye and Skylar for a girl. Cuyler is a Dutch surname that Ancestry.com says is likely a variant of Nicholas, which is pretty cool, and Kyler gives it a more Celtic feel a la Kyle, which is from a Scottish surname.

(9) Tycho
My last idea is, like Santino, kind of a crazy out-there idea, but it has both the T and C sounds Sam and her hubs seem to like (pronounced TY-ko), and it’s a saint’s name too! I think it’s most known as the name of scientist Tycho Brahe, and it has the same sound as the Tyco Toy company, which always makes me think of toy trucks, which is a fun association for a little boy.

Finally, I wanted to offer some virtue name ideas in case Sam and her hubs decide not to use Prosper. This list at Nameberry and this one at Appellation Mountain inspired me to suggest:

— Brave/Bravery (a la actor Benjamin Bratt’s son Mateo Bravery)
— Clement (which is also Marian!)
— Loyal
— Merritt
— Noble
— Revere
— Sterling

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Raleigh and Dominic’s little brother? Any first name + middle (virtue) name combos jump out at you?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that’s not generally popular nor Catholic popular (and a few other rules!)

I hope all the dads had a wonderful Father’s Day yesterday!!

Kym and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — their fifth girl! She joins big sibs:

Alexandra Ruthmarie
Cassian William
Killian Michael
Bennett Jameson
Anneliese Francesca
Marigold Camillus
Miles Jonas
Sylvie Regina

Aren’t these amazing names?? I’ve actually referenced Kym’s little Sylvie Regina many times in posts and conversations because of how clever I think it is that it sounds like Salve Regina (“Hail Holy Queen”) — I love that!! And another really cool thing is that each first name has the same number of letters as its middle name. Didn’t they do a great job?!

Kym has a bunch of naming rules, and you know me — the more the merrier! I love a good challege! 😁 She writes,

First names that we cannot use:
Anything that infringes upon their middles or their nicknames. Examples:
No variations on Anne or Elizabeth since we already have Anneliese (Anne-Elizabeth).
Nothing Marian-that-starts-with-M since we already have a child often called Mary, etc.

No common first names or names often heard in Catholic circles:
Rose, Therese, Mary-Agnes, Bernadette, Zelie — all would be out.

Family and close friend names we cannot use include:
Gabriela, Sophia, Bridget, Rebekah, Anna, Felicity, Genevieve, Anastasia, Abigail, Azelie, Clare, Bernadette, Gianna, Emilia, Eleanor

I’d rather not have any more names that start with an A, M, S, or a hard C/K sound.

See how picky I am? And I haven’t even gotten to the rules yet! 🙂

Rules are:
First name must be a saint, or version of a saint’s name, or a holy association (like Marigold: Mary’s gold).
Middle name should be a family name.
Both first and middle should have the same number of letters. I noticed we had been doing this accidentally with kids 1-4, and when kids 5 and 6 also followed the pattern without intending it, we decided that’s just what we’d keep doing. Kids 7&8 worked out perfectly, too. We’ve never had to force a middle name we didn’t want just to make it work.

Potential family names we can use (feminize them or change them a bit to fit the same-number-of-letters rule) are: Luke, Rosa, DeeLane, Marcella …

First names that hubby really, really likes are Vianney and Juniper. So, Vianney Rosalie or Juniper Rosalie. Vianney is one of my favorite saints and has been on the list since our first child was conceived 13 years ago, but the name doesn’t suit me this time for some reason. And, while I really am drawn to Juniper Rosalie, I’m not sure if it’s too unisex of a name. I’m not thrilled with giving a daughter a name that isn’t easily recognized as being a female name. Alexandra, Anneliese, Marigold, and Sylvie just scream GIRL and Juniper ….doesn’t. Also, sometimes the “nipper” at the end bothers me. But the potential NN of Juni is pretty darn cute.

I really, really, REALLY like (but don’t love) the name Gemma and keep coming back to it. It’s delicate, girly, and sweet. Hubby proposed Gemma Lucia. We’ve wanted to name a baby after hubby’s godfather, Brother Luke, for a long time. Lucia works very well but I’m just not sold on it – Lucia to me right now seems so Catholic on-trend because of this being the year of the anniversary of Fatima, and Gemma sounds almost sounds too worldly/trendy. Maybe I’m being too picky. Argh! This is so tough!!!

A name that keeps popping into my head over and over is Goretti. I don’t even know where it came from since I’ve never before considered that to be a name, but it’s growing on me. I don’t know what would possibly work for a NN, though, and Retti and Retta are not something I’d like. Greta/Gretta could be used as a NN – and Greta it was a runner up with the last baby. But I’ve somewhat grown away from it.

I think Zoe(y) is precious but it’s so short and I don’t think it ages well. Hubby and I also like Savina but we aren’t convinced we want an S girl following another S girl. We’ve always liked the name Benedicta but we already have a Bennett. I like Isadora but hubby says no. I don’t think we can do any old lady names, as much as I like some of them. So no Imelda or Edith or Agatha or Leona/Leonie or Millicent. Gosh, I think Millicent is adorable though.”

Alright, I spent a lot of time on this, and I’m still not sure of my ideas! I actually had the privilege of doing a private consultation for Kym when Sylvie was on the way and, looking back at it, I had to cross three names off the list of ones I was going to recommend here because I’d suggested them before! I also found the rules about not wanting common names difficult because the names I’d usually go to for parents who don’t want top ten are the ones that are Catholic-common, which are also out per Kym’s rules! Amazing! I’m not being critical at all, it’ll be so satisfying if I can actually come up with something they might like!

I love both Vianney Rosalie and Juniper Rosalie, gorgeous! I see what Kym means though about Juniper feeling a bit too unisex next to her other girls’ names. Unfortunately, feel similarly about Vianney — though my major association with it as a current first name is Lindsay’s daughter from My Child I Love You, so it feels mostly feminine to me, a bunch of you have suggested it for boys on past posts, and one who said that because it’s exclusively male where she lives (France) using it for a girl would be akin to “a girl called John or Andrew.” I’m not campaigning against it! Just, if obviously feminine is their goal, neither Vianney nor Juniper might be quite right. On the other hand though … I so totally agree with Kym about Juni!!

Gemma Lucia is a fantastic combo! I definitely wouldn’t characterize Gemma as “too worldly/trendy” — sure, it has use outside of Catholic circles, and it has increased in popularity fairly rapidly since it entered the top 1000 in 2008 (it’s currently at no. 247), but I don’t see it as any different than their other kids’ names, all of which fit nicely into certain non-Catholic trends and popular sounds. I think it’s a great fit! As for Lucia being “Catholic on-trend,” I mean yes, it certainly is because of the Year of Fatima, but if you’re going to use it, using it during its big year is so great! But perhaps a different five-letter middle would be a better fit for them for Gemma? Tapping into the family names they want to use as middles, maybe Gemma Roser? Roser is a Catalan feminine form of Rosario, which points back to Rose (rosaries are so named because they’re meant to be thought of as a crown or bouquet of roses for Our Lady). Or Gemma Zella, where Zella is the German diminutive for Marcella?

I really like Goretti! And I do think Gret(t)a could work nicely as a nickname for it, or maybe Greer, especially as both Greer and Goretti come from Gregory. Etti (Eddy) could be cute too. I think there’s a chance that people they meet outside their Catholic circle might not be familiar, and so it might come across like Vianney and Juniper in the sense of not being very girly, but certainly Catholics should know it refers to a female saint. It reminds me of Cabrini, which I would have suggested to them if Kym hadn’t said no C/K names.

I love Zoe(y) too, and Savina’s cute too … Benedicta’s great, but Bennett … Isadora, Imelda, Edith, Agatha, Leona/Leonie, and Millicent are all a great bunch of names! And I actually don’t think of Leonie and Millicent as old lady names anymore — I have a cousin who’s 14 named Millicent/Millie, so it stopped being an old lady name to me ages ago, and while I know an old lady named Leona, I’ve only heard Leonie on more recent families wanting to honor St. Therese’s sister, so it too has a more youthful feel. And Edith’s coming back! I know a bunch of families who have considered it, and at least two who have named their babies Edith (here and here).

So those are my thoughts on the names Kym and her hubs have discussed/are considering; now on to my own ideas! I was mostly influenced by their seeming desire to have this baby girl have a name that’s as girly as their older girls’ names. I did use the Baby Name Wizard for inspiration, but I went more by my gut than anything. The names that I had on my final list that I crossed off because I’d suggested them last time were Verity, Juliet(te), and Elodie, all of which are consistent with this family’s style per the BNW, and all of which I still like for them in case they want to reconsider them. And I also really wanted to suggest Klaudia to them, as they were considering Klaus if the baby had been a boy, so if they wanted to reconsider their C/K rule I think it would be great! (Or Colette, if they like the idea of a Nicholas name for a girl. I love Colette.)

My new ideas are:

(1) Vesper
I think this name is unmistakably feminine, unlike Vianney and Juniper, and in sound it’s almost like a mashup of Vianney and Juniper. Its Catholic connection comes from “vespers” being the name for Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, but others might also know it as one of the Bond girls! I like the idea of Vesper Roisin (Roisin is an Irish Rose name, pronounced ro-SHEEN, and spelled in Irish as Róisín), and there’s actually a variety of rose called the Vesper Rose!

(2) Junia
This was actually the first idea I had for this baby, after seeing that Kym loves Juni but was uncertain about Juniper. Junia’s the name of a woman in the bible (some believe it was meant to be the man’s name Junius, others translated it as Julia, but the bible as presented by the U.S. bishops on their web site says Junia). One of the Hanson brothers (MMMBop) has a daughter named Junia Rosa Ruth, which is gorgeous. Junia Lucia would work, but maybe too matchy? Maybe Junia Lucie would work better? Junia Roser and Junia Zella are also fine.

(3) Delia
This was one of those gut-feeling names. It’s pretty and feminine and can be a short form of Adelia, which is a variant of Adela (several saints and blesseds so named), or Bedelia, which is an Irish diminutive of Bridget (but Kym said no to Bridget, not sure if this would count?) (there’s also Cordelia, which has no saint connections as far as I can tell). Like with Junia, Delia Lucia/Lucie, Delia Roser, and Delia Zella can all work. It also feels really close to DeeLane (from their list of potential middles) sound-wise, but I’m not sure what to do with that. (I also wondered if Delaney would make a do-able DeeLane tweak?)

(4) Edessa
Our Lady of Edessa is one of Mary’s titles — Edessa is the old name for modern-day Urfa in Turkey, and the title refers to an old miraculous image. It’s a lovely, feminine, non-M Marian name! I like Edessa Roisin.

(5) Natalia
This was suggested by my research in the BNW and I love it for this family! It’s feminine and gorgeous and really saintly — there are two that I know of — and fun nickname options like Natty, Tally, Talia, Lia, and Nolly. Natalia Rosalie is so beautiful! Natalia Lucille can also work for their Br. Luke, and Natalia DeeLane (or Natalia Delaney) also works, letter-wise.

(6) Zara
I loooove this idea because of what I discovered about it recently! First off, it’s a style match for both Gemma and Zoe, which I thought was so interesting, and it’s definitely uncommon in all circles. I wasn’t sure about saintly connections though, and when I went looking I discovered that it’s a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!! (Hence the spotlight I put up here.) Zara Rose is pretty, but maybe too R heavy? Zara Lucy maybe, or Zara Luce (not only a nod to Br. Luke and Fatima but also Bl. Chiara Luce Badano)? Would Zara Lane work as a nod to their DeeLane?

(7) Esme
Esme’s a style match for Sylvie, and I’ve always thought it’s sweet and feminine. Being that it means “esteemed” or “loved” in Old French, they could make a holy association to Mater Amata (“Beloved Mother”). Esme Rose is gorgeous! It can also be spelled Esmee (Esmée), which could open up Lucia, Lucie, and Zella as middles.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister for this well-named crew?

Baby name consultation: Short, meaningful, unique, pronounceable name needed for baby girl no. 3

Emily and her husband are expecting their third baby — their third girl! This little lady joins big sisters:

Eden Holly (born at Christmas)
April Grace (born in April)

What beautiful names, and what a fun style!

Emily writes,

My first daughter is Eden Holly (born at Christmas), second daughter is April Grace (born in month of April), and third daughter we had intended to name Quinn Verity. My husband and I were so certain on the name. However, we just shared it with our in-laws and they say it sounds like “Queen Vanity, or Vanity Queen”. Now this is stuck in my head, and we’re at a loss on what to name her with just over 5 weeks to go.

We like short and meaningful names, which are unique but still pronounceable (we live in Asia, so we want to limit the opportunities for mispronunciations or mispellings).”

I love Quinn Verity, and I share Emily’s disappointment that her in-laws hear “Queen Vanity”! I don’t think I would have noticed it if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, and even still I don’t think it’s a huge problem, especially since she’ll mostly just be known by Quinn, or Quinn LastName, or Quinn LastInitial. Even if I were to hear a mom call out “Quinn Verity” as her daughter’s full name, like at the playground, or hear her full name said as her name is announced for her high school diploma, I think my initial reaction would always be, “Wow, Quinn Verity is such a great combo.” But I totally get having something stuck in your head and not being able to ignore it!

Anyway! I approached this consultation in two different ways: First, to find alternate middle names to go with the first name Quinn, and second, to find alternate first names to go with the middle name Verity. Here are my alternate middle name ideas (these are all based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard — I looked up the names Emily and her hubs used for their older girls, as well as Quinn and Verity, as the BNW lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; I also had some ideas of my own):

(1) Quinn Celeste or Quinn Caeli
I suspect that these middle names might not pass the “easily pronounceable” test in non-English- or non-Romance-language-speaking countries? But I kind of thought it might be cool to use the “queen” sound of Quinn to create a meaningful “queen” first+middle combo — it struck me as very Marian to do so! Celeste and Caeli both refer to heaven — Regina Caeli is a Latin title of Our Lady, meaning “Queen of Heaven,” and Caeli is said “CHAY-lee” in Church Latin, though you could say “KAY-lee” if you prefer. Celeste is a step away — though it means “heavenly,” I’ve not really seen it used for Our Lady. But “heavenly queen” certainly nods to her!

(2) Quinn Amata
This, too, is a Marian thought — another of her titles is Mater Amata (“Beloved Mother”), and Quinn Amata could nod to her in that way. Lovely!

(3) Quinn Juniper
Juniper is a style match for Verity, according to the BNW, and since Eden, April, and Holly have a nature feel, I thought Juniper fit right in.

(4) Quinn Edel
I should note that I found out after the fact that Quinn is actually for Ven. Edel Quinn, and so my first two middle name ideas, which mostly played on the “Queen” sound in order to make Marian combos, probably get a little too far from Ven. Edel connection (though I suppose they could think of them as “first name for Ven. Edel, middle name for Mother Mary”). I wondered if Quinn Edel might be a good solution?

As for new first name ideas to go with Verity as a middle name, I thought these might be good ideas:

(1) Wren Verity
I haven’t decided yet if I think Wren Verity is too close in sound to Quinn Verity — and thus doesn’t move it far enough away — but I love the idea of it for this family. It’s nature-y, like so many of the other names they like, and when I spotlighted Hope from Hope and Justin, I loved this beautiful explanation she had for her daughter Wren’s name: “Another thing that made this name special for me was this quote by St. Therese. ‘O Jesus, your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in your presence, to fall asleep in front of you.’ I had just discovered the Theresian book ‘I Believe in Love’, and was very moved by this quote and her message of littleness; with this in mind, she was named … Her birthday (October 3) is the old feast of St. Therese, and the eve of St. Francis, and I think the name Wren goes well with the spirit of both of these Saints.”

(2) Cara Verity or Kira Verity
I like the Irish feel of Quinn, so I wanted to find a name that might have that feel and be a meaningful choice as well. Though Cara’s an Italian name meaning “dear, beloved” it’s also used in Irish — the beautiful Irish phrase anam cara means “soul friend,” where cara means friend. Cara Verity could therefore be thought of as “true friend,” or “friend of truth,” or — using the Italian meaning, “beloved truth.” Lovely meanings!

Kira’s another one that I like for this family. The Irish variant is what I first thought of (Ciara, or Keira), but I thought Kira might be an easier spelling. The Irish Ciara means “black,” while the spelling Kira has been connected to the Greek for “Lord,” as in Kyrie eleison (“Lord have mercy”).

(3) Iris Verity
I like the nature-y feeling of Iris, as it’s a flower name, and it also means “rainbow,” which is pretty cool.

(4) Rowan Verity
Rowan is listed as a style match in the BNW for both Eden and Quinn, which I thought was pretty great! It’s a tree name and it has an Irish feel as well.

(5) Skye Verity
Skye was also listed as a style match for Eden and Quinn, and I thought they could think of “Skye Verity” as meaning “heavenly truth,” which is so pretty!

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Eden and April’s little sister?

Baby name consultation: Antique/exotic/saintly name for baby no. 6/boy no. 3

Amy and her husband Brandon are expecting their sixth baby! And how lucky is Amy — Brandon bought her this consultation for Mother’s Day!! 😍😍😍 Husbands, take note!!

This new baby is Amy and Brandon’s third boy! Brandon explained about their older children’s names:

Mason Douglas (“We like strong masculine names for our boys, and Mason fit the bill nicely. We don’t care for names that can be for boys or girls (Pat, Chris, etc), though I later had a co-worker with a daughter named Mason. We didn’t think it was too popular at the time, but I think it turned out to be very near the top of the list that year or shortly thereafter. Douglas is my middle name and my dad’s middle name and I’m also the oldest in my family.”)

Molly Marie (“So at this point I need to pause and explain that we found out ahead of time that Mason was a boy. At the time, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to find out the sex of the baby, so we ended up flipping a coin and agreeing to take turns. Amy won the first round, so we found out Mason was a boy at the 20-week ultrasound. For #2, it was my turn, so we waited until Molly was born to learn she was a girl. Not knowing what she was, we of course couldn’t choose a name for sure ahead of time, so we had a boy name (Isaac) and a girl name (Anna) picked out. Somewhere along the way very shortly before Molly’s birth we ended up at the hospital with pre-term labor, and one of the nurses had a daughter named Molly. We both fell in love with the name, and when Molly was born she got it. It fits her perfectly, we think. Since we used my middle name for our first boy, it only made sense to use Amy’s middle name, Marie, for our first girl.”)

Kateri Elizabeth (“Amy always wanted a daughter named Kateri. At first I thought it was a little “out there”, but we knew as soon as we found out we were having another girl (at the 20-week ultrasound again this time) that she would be our Kateri. Blessed (at the time) Kateri was Amy’s confirmation saint, and she’s always had a particular attachment to her. Elizabeth is my mom’s middle name, so we honored her by sharing it with Kateri.”)

Anthony Mark Benedict (“By the time Anthony was born, we’d formed a close friendship with the pastor at our church, Fr. Tony. We honored him by naming Anthony after him. Mark is Amy’s dad’s middle name, and Benedict was the Pope at the time.”)

Gianna Nicole Francesca (“We had a hard time getting pregnant with Anthony, and we had gone to a display of relics of St. Gianna and prayed for her intercession numerous times before we got pregnant with Anthony. We knew when we found out Gianna was a girl (odd number, so at the 20-week ultrasound again) that we needed to honor St. Gianna for her help in having our second son. At this point we had run out of eligible related godparents, so Gianna’s godparents are not family (#1-4 have aunts and uncles for godparents). Amy has a younger sister named Nicole who was too young to be a godmother when Gianna was born, so instead of choosing her as a godparent we gave Gianna her name as one of her middle names. We liked the two-middle-name arrangement with Anthony, and we had a new Pope, so Gianna also got Francesca as a second middle name.”)

I love how intentional and thoughtful each of the names is! I love each combo — both the names and the reasons (and I love Molly Marie’s Marian-ness, what a blessed little lady!).

Brandon continued,

Amy was so so so certain for the first part of this pregnancy that she was having a girl. She was so certain about it that I had to know if she was right, so I wanted to find out at the ultrasound what we were having. She was shocked to find out it is a boy.

Somewhere between babies #1 and #2 we rediscovered our Catholic faith and began learning and re-learning and growing in our love and knowledge of the Church and her wisdom. We didn’t pick Mason for any saint (the closest we know of in name is Blessed John Mason), but all the others have particular saints attached to them as well as family meaning.

Amy is currently hooked on the name Isaac for this baby, but I’ve cooled off on it a bit. We had Isaac picked out for baby #2 eight years ago, so I’m just not as attached now. We also agree on Titus, Oliver, Dominic, and Tobias for first names. St. Joseph as the patron saint of families has always been a particular love of ours; we have leaned on him many times for assistance through difficult situations. We’d like to include Joseph in this child’s middle name. However, my father passed away recently after a 2-year struggle with ALS, so we are considering his name, James, as a middle name also. My grandfather’s name was Thaddeus, which is also in the running for a first or middle name. Also in the running for middle names are Paul (Amy’s uncle) and Fulton. Other names we like for first or middle names, but don’t necessarily have full first-name agreement on are Ezekiel (Zeke is so cute!), Zechariah (also would be Zeke), Felix, Finian, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Nicholas, and Severin.

We’re open to suggestions, combinations, ideas, and we (obviously) like the “Catholicky-Catholic” (as I think you put it) names.”

And Amy also shared,

A friend told me about your blog, and I spent HOURS reading it, looking for names. I even bought the book you use, and discovered none of our names match any list together at all. I would say after reading that, I’m a fan of the “antique charm” category, and we also like the saint realm, obviously. I really like some Old Testament names, but prefer ones that are also now saints. Brandon made an excel spreadsheet of the names we like, so he’s correct in everything he sent. I think the only thing he didn’t mention was the definitely no category. We don’t want to use any of our siblings names as first names, so for that reason Michael, Stephen, Timothy, and Joseph can’t be first. They’re fine for middle names, though Joseph is the only one of them that really is on the table. We’ve obviously done the 2 middle name thing twice now, but I’m not set on doing it again. It will just depend on the name combination. We also don’t have any nicknames in our bunch, but we aren’t against that, it just hasn’t happened.”

I just love hearing from both Amy and Brandon — I don’t usually get to hear from both parents! I love how much they’ve talked about all this, and seem to be on the same page in terms of which names are contenders.

I loved reading about how they rediscovered their faith after Mason was born — I often see families with less faithy-feeling names in the beginning, and they get more so as they have more kids, and I think it’s really cool to see a couple’s faith journey reflected in their kids’ names. And I love that they found Bl. John Mason! I’d never heard of him, but he’s totally my go-to now for any family that has a Mason! (Which is one of my very favorite of the occupational-surname names, love it!)

So after hearing from Amy that they already went through the Baby Name Wizard I was a little worried about what I could come up with that they don’t already have on their list or have decided they don’t like! I did take a look through the Antique Charm category, and Amy’s right, that seems right up their alley! The Saints category also has some great names (I love that the focus there is on more unusual names, rather than the ones everyone knows), and I thought another category fit pretty well for them too: Exotic Traditionals. I also looked up each name’s entry and looked at names listed there, and found some decent overlap with some of the names on their “definitely like” list (Isaac, Titus, Oliver, Dominic, Tobias) as well as their so-so list (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Severin, Thaddeus). So I think I have some decent ideas!

Just a couple thoughts about some of the names they’re currently considering:

Isaac: love it! It’s on my own list, such a great name. Amy and Brandon also like the Z names (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke) and Isaac fits right with that and can take the nickname Zac.
Titus: I know a little Titus (or not so little—I think he’s 14 now) and I always wonder why I don’t hear his name more!
Oliver: Such a great name and a great saint, and I really like the combo Oliver Thaddeus.
Dominic: Another of my faves!
Tobias: Another name I wish would see more play! I’m a big fan of pan-European names, and Tobias is definitely one.
Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke: Zeke is super cute and I’ve also considered it for Zechariah. In case it’s helpful to Amy and Brandon in making their decision, I can see Zechariah fitting in pretty well with a Catholicky Catholic theme, but Ezekiel feels a step away—do you agree?
Matthias: I love this name too, and I think it could fit in great with their family.
Maximilian: Definitely a Catholicky Catholic name!
Augustine: Ditto!
Emmett: This one surprised me! All the others have such saintly connections, and Emmett’s is a bit more difficult to see. It originated as a medieval diminutive of Emma, so any of the Sts. Emma can be patron, but I’m not sure a boy would love that? I do love the name Emmett though, so I’m not trying to sway them from it, and it fits the feel of Mason really well. I like the idea of pairing a name that’s less saintly in feel with a super saintly middle—Emmett Thaddeus, Emmett Joseph, and Emmett James are pretty great I think.
Severin: Wow! I really like the idea of the nickname Sev.
Thaddeus: I love it! I’m also loving that it was Brandon’s grandpa’s name, and if it was paired with Joseph and James, it would be all the dads together! Thaddeus Joseph James is pretty great!
Fulton: I actually love Fulton for them as a first name! I wonder if there’s any chance they’d consider it? Fulton James, Fulton Joseph, Fulton Joseph James are all great!
Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo: All great, all saintly. I’ve been seeing Fox suggested as a nickname for Felix recently, which is cute. Finn is awesome. Nicholas and Leo are both Pope Saint the Greats, which is fun.

Okay! So Amy and Brandon have a fantastic list of names, and if they end up using any of them, I won’t be disappointed! (Not that it matters if I’m disappointed or not!) But I had a few other ideas that might spark some conversation and maybe even hit the right note:

(1) Miles
One of the things I like to do when I see different styles of name in a family is come up with ideas that might help bridge them. Mason is a little bit of an outlier (I LOVED finding out about Bl. John Mason!), so I liked the idea of finding names that might have the same feel and be really saintly too—I probably had that more in mind than any other. Amy said she spent a while looking through the blog, so she probably saw that I often push Miles on parents! I discovered that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which literally means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Marian names are my favorite, and finding ones that work for boys are thrilling! Miles and Mason (and Emmett and Fulton) definitely have the same feeling to me; its variant Milo (which has also been used in Ireland for Maolmhuire) is a style match for Felix and Leo on their list; and Miles can also connect to the Irishness of Molly and Finnian. I like Miles Joseph, Miles Joseph James, Miles Paul, and Miles Fulton.

(2) Garrett
Garrett is also a style match for Mason, and a reader shared that she knows a family who named a son Garrett in order to honor St. Margaret! Wow! Even better for a boy though, is that Garrett is derived from either Gerald or Gerard—St. Gerard Majella is a great patron! There are a bunch of Sts. Gerald too. Garrett Paul has a nice ring … Garrett James …

(3) Becket
Since we’re talking about surnamey-type names, I wonder what they’d think of Becket? St. Thomas Becket would be patron, and it’s one of those saintly surnames that’s getting good use in Catholic families currently (like Fulton). Becket Joseph, Becket James, and Becket Joseph James are all great.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is also a saintly surname that’s had a lot of first-name use! It’s also heavy on that Z sound they like, and might even provide a way for them to get to Zeke in a different way … something like Xavier Michael, where there’s a Z sound in the first name and a K sound in the middle. (I get a little nutty with creative nicknames! 😂)

(5) Owen
Owen’s a style match for Mason, which is amazing, and it’s also the last name of one of my very favorite saint: St. Nicholas Owen! He built hidey holes to protect priests for persecution and death in England, and was tortured for his silence and he died from his wounds. Such a brave man! Amy and Brandon already have Nicholas on their list—a Nicholas Owen combo would be cool too! I wasn’t loving Thaddeus as a middle name for the first four names I suggested, but I kind of love Owen Thaddeus! Owen James is nice too.

(6) Elias
Elijah was a style match for a bunch of names they like—Titus (the Titus I know has a brother Elijah!), Ezekiel, Tobias—but when I saw its variant Elias listed as a match for Matthias, I thought it seemed a better fit for this family. It’s also a match for Dominic, and funny enough Elliot, which I always think of as feeling similar to Emmett, is a medieval diminutive of Elias. I don’t think I realized how Catholicky Catholic it is, though, until I read an article Catholic writer Simcha Fisher did a year ago on Catholic baby names (she interviewed me for it!) in which her subhead read: “Fulton and Vianney, Felicity and Avila, Giorgio and Elias are all showing up in 21st century baptismal books.” What a great group of names, and so cool to see Elias in there! I like Elias Paul.

(7) Gabriel
Gabriel’s got that same biblical feel as Isaac, Tobias, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthias, and Thaddeus, while being a bit lighter; it’s also a style match for Dominic. I think Gabe is one of the best nicknames for a boy—friendly and masculine. Gabriel Joseph is quite handsome.

(8) Joachim
I’m including Joachim because Amy and Brandon have some heavy hitters on their list and they like Catholicky Catholic names. Even still, Joachim is a rare bird! He could go by Joe/Joey, to lighten it up, or Jake, which is my favorite idea for it. It’s an Exotic Traditional, like Ezekiel, Felix, Matthias, Maximilian, Severin, Thaddeus, Titus, and Zechariah. Joachim James has a nice ring, as does Joachim Paul.

(9) Cassian or Cashel
Speaking of Exotic Traditionals, and looping back around to the beginning of the list and names that are similar to Mason, I saw Cassian on the Exotic Traditionals list and thought it might be really cool for this little guy. I’ve seen it used in Catholic families, for St. John Cassian, and it’s said CASH-en—which allows for the awesome nickname Cash! Cash made me think of another Cash- names I’ve suggested to other families: Cashel, like the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster. Cashel taps into the Irishness of Molly and Finnian, and I think it would come across as sort of surnamey to people, which fits with Mason’s style. I like Cassian James, Cassian Paul, and Cashel James.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Mason, Molly, Kateri, Anthony, and Gianna’s little brother?

Spotlight on: Niamh and Naomh

One of you wonderful readers requested a spotlight on Niamh — what a fun name to research! You all know how I feel about Irish names after all. 😉😍🍀 Specifically, this mom wants to know:

What I’m curious about is whether you can think of any Catholic roots or meanings to the name Niamh. As we are pretty conservative Catholics, we like our children to have saints’ names and I was somewhat surprised to find that there didn’t seem to be a Saint Niamh — with Ireland’s Catholic history, I’d just assumed there would be.”

Right? “[W]ith Ireland’s Catholic history, I’d just assumed there would be” — it’s so true, and I love love love that Ireland has that history and reputation.

So first, let’s discuss pronunciation: The “mh” in Gaelic is often (always?) a V sound, so Niamh can be said NEE-iv or NEEV (among native Irish this pronunciation will vary based on what part of Ireland they’re from; for us, we can choose which pronunciation we prefer).

Second, though I also couldn’t find any Saints or otherwise holy Niamhs, I think a faith connection can be made to its meaning, which Baby Names of Ireland says means, “radiance, lustre, brightness.” I don’t know about you, but that immediately gives me a mental image of the description of the Transfigured Jesus:

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:1-2)

It makes sense that the Transfiguration is one of the Luminous Mysteries, because the Luminous Mysteries as a whole also go along with the “radiance, lustre, brightness” meaning of Niamh (other Luminous Mystery names here), and really, the meaning of Niamh makes me think of holiness in general, both as a concept and as an artistic presentation.

Third, speaking of holiness, I wonder if this mom might be interested in a tweak in spelling? The Irish name Naomh is rarer than Niamh, I believe, but said the same (either NEE-iv or NEEV), and there also seems to be the additional possibility of NAYV or NAY-uv (you can hear several examples here). Naomh actually means “holy” or “saint,” so St. Patrick in Irish is Naomh Padraig, the Holy Spirit is Spiorad Naomh, etc. As I’ve written about before, naming a little girl Naomh would then be similar to other not-unheard of names like Toussaint (“all saints”), Sinclair (St. Clair), and Santino (“little saint”; a famous fictional Santino went by Sonny 😉), and can nod to any Saint or holy person the parents so wish, including Our Lady — in fact, in Don Quixote, Sancho Panza (whose first name also means “holy” or “saint”) has a daughter whose name is variously given as María Sancha, Marisancha, Marica, María, Sancha and Sanchica — all clearly referring to Our Lady, as Maria Sancha means “holy Mary.”

Do any of you know any other holy connections to the name Niamh? If you like Niamh, what do you think of Naomh? Do you know anyone with these names? What do they think of them, and do they have any other insights that would be helpful?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 4 needs first name for middle Shirley or Warren

Caitlin, who blogs at The Burch Book, and for whom I posted a consultation for her third little one nearly two years ago, is having another baby! She and her husband are expecting a little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱, a little brother or sister for big sisters:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)

Not only do I love this set of sisters, but aren’t you dying over Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice?? I love it!

Caitlin writes,

Our process has been to use a saint name for the first name and one of our grandparents’ names for the middle name. We have one grandmother’s name left to use – Shirley. So that will definitely be the middle name if we have a fourth girl. The two girls’ names we’ve talked the most seriously about are Alice and Helen. If we were to have a boy, we would use Warren as a middle name. That is my husband’s middle name as well as his grandfather’s name. The boys’ names at the top of our list are George, Patrick, Henry and James. We also kind of like Edmund and Benedict but those seem a little more daring somehow. I guess the only other thing I would mention is that we will probably stick to names from our own Irish/Scottish/British cultural heritage. I don’t see us naming someone Therese or Lucia (although we would use Theresa or Lucy) … [also] we call our younger daughters Maggie and Betsy and we are trying to avoid that same name ending this time (as much as we love Lucy, Rosie, Annie, etc.).”

I love all the names they’re considering! Alice and Helen seem really well matched as sisters to the older girls, and George, Patrick, Henry, and James are all solidly in the Irish/British/Scottish saintly name category. It’s such a great list of names that I wondered what I’d be able to come up with! Especially since I wanted to suggest names that are new, not just the ones I’d suggested in their last consultation (though I do still love them: Alice, Lydia, Louisa, Eleanor, Violet, Henry, Samuel, Benjamin, Edward/Edmund, Joseph). (Speaking of their last consultation, Caitlin had said back then that they wanted to avoid repeating initials — she didn’t specify that as a rule this time around, and they do have Benedict is on their list, which repeats Beatrice’s B, but I tried to stick to that just in case.)

As usual, I looked up all the names Caitlin and her hubs have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker. Based on all that research, these are my ideas for this little baby:

Girl
(1) Jane
I think Jane is my favorite idea for them for a girl — Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Jane strike me as such a perfect bunch of sister names! I think Jane Shirley sounds smashing.

(2) Katherine nicked Kate
This is my second favorite idea for them, and not because it’s my own name! Haha! Katherine was a big style match for them per the BNW, usually spelled Catherine, but the Katherine spelling avoids repeating initials. Additionally, Kate is a great match for Claire, Maggie, and Betsy in my opinion, and doesn’t end in the “ee” sound.

(3) Anna
Anne would have been a natural fit for this family I think, if they didn’t want to avoid Annie. But Anna’s a beautiful alternative, and I think people are far less likely to nickname Anna as Annie than they would with Anne. I kind of like how Anna Shirley echoes Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame, of course) without being exact. I considered whether Anna was too Latinate for their taste, but it has good use in England and Ireland, so I figured it would be okay.

(4) Frances
Frances did well for them in my research, and I really like it as a name, but I’m a little hesitant about it for this baby because I’m not sure Caitlin and her hubs would be able to avoid an “ee” nickname (Francie, Franny, Frankie). If they wanted to be firm and consistent about using the full name though, Frances is elegant and lovely.

(5) Julia or Juliet
I probably would have thought that between Julia and Juliet, Julia was more their speed, but Juliet was a style match for Claire, so I thought I’d list them together. Juliette is very French, but Juliet is actually the anglicized spelling, and I love it with the older girls! I suspect that Caitlin and her hubs might not love that it’s not obviously saintly, but since it’s a variant of Julia, it can take any of the Sts. Julia as patron. I spotlighted the name here, including faith connections. I love Julia too, though I think it might be more likely to nickname to Julie than Juliet would? Or they could do Julia as the given name and Juliet as the nickname (since Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia), which would allow them to avoid another “ee” nickname.

(6) Eleanor (Nora, Nell), or just Nora
My last idea for a girl is a repeat from last time, but it just kept popping up in my research so I had to include it! They’re already considering Helen, and some people use Eleanor as a variant of Helen (read more about that here), and both Eleanor and Helen can use the sweet nickname Nell, so they might think it’s kind of redundant, except for the fact that Eleanor can also allow for the nickname Nora — I love Nora! Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Eleanor/Nora are wonderful together! If they prefer just Nora on its own, I love that too, it’s such a great name.

Boy
(1) Robert
There aren’t too many more boy names to add to a list of Irish/British/Scottish-feeling names besides the ones Caitlin has put together already! But Robert immediately came to mind — watching Downton Abbey definitely put it on my radar, and though I’ve previously rolled my eyes at my husband telling me that “Bob” is his name style, I’ve really been feeling the full Robert recently. It’s easy to say, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s a great patron saint. If they wanted to do a nickname, Robbie, Bobby, Rory, and Bert are all possibilities, or maybe something cute like Roo when he’s little.

(2) Oliver
Oliver’s a style match for both Beatrice and Henry, and I feel like both of those names are pretty good representatives of this family’s style as a whole, so I thought Oliver was a great one to suggest! St. Oliver Plunkett’s awesome, and while I love the nickname Ollie, I don’t think it’s necessarily inevitable — the full Oliver is so handsome.

(3) Theodore
Theodore’s a style match for Beatrice and Alice — perfect! It’s handsome and gentlemanly, and the nicknames Theo and Ted(dy) are both great (Teddy can also be a nickname for the Edmund on their list).

(4) Louis
I was so surprised by how well Louis did for them in my research! It’s a match for Beatrice, Alice, Helen, and George! St. Louis de Montfort is great, as is St. Louis Martin.

(5) Timothy
Timothy actually only showed up in the list of names similar in style to Patrick, but I thought it fit their Irish/Scottish/English sensibility so well that I thought I’d include it. It does end in the “ee” sound, as does Timmy, but maybe it’s okay when we’re talking about formal names? And them could do just Tim as a nickname, or even Ty.

(6) Thomas
Finally, Thomas. St. Thomas More and St. Thomas a Becket are notable English Sts. Thomas, and most little boys I know named Thomas go by the full Thomas, so there’s very little risk of Tommy. I think it’s great for this family!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister to Claire, Margaret/Maggie, and Beatrice/Betsy?

Birth announcement: Fiona Therese!

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Fiona Therese!

She writes,

You did a consult for me a few mos ago. Our children are Cecilia Rose, Ian Michael, Anneliese (pronounced the German way) Claire, Aidan John, Eva Marie, Francis Martin. We didn’t know the sex of the baby … We narrowed it down to Josiah Patrick for a boy. Aaaaand: we welcomed a baby sister, Fiona Therese. Fiona is a cute name I have liked, but had forgotten til you reminded me! Celtic but spellable and pronounce-able. Therese for the Little Flower, which also allows us to use flower or rose nicknames. (Rosemary was top in the running for a long time.)

Such an amazing sibling set!! I love all the names, and Fiona Therese is such a fabulous addition to the family!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Fiona!! 🎉🌹