Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

(Thank you all so much for your excitement and prayers following my pregnancy announcement on Saturday!! You all are the best!! ❤ ❤ <3)

Megan and her husband are expecting their second little one, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This wee babe joins big brother:

Finnian Daniel

You know how much I love Irish names! Finnian Daniel’s so handsome! (And so sorry to all of my Italian readers for continuing the Irish theme on St. Joseph’s Day!)

Megan writes,

Our son’s name is Finnian Daniel. We wanted to honor our Irish heritage with a first name that is clearly Irish — we’d love to continue using Irish names for our children if we can, and I’m also open to Gaelic/Celtic/Scottish names as well. My husband’s family is German and Welsh, so I guess those names aren’t out of the question, either. Since we both have very common first names, and are one of “many” with the same name, we tend to like uncommon names more. We love longer names that can be shortened to nicknames. Finnian is really the perfect name to us: it’s not in the top 1,000, but easy to say and spell, and of course shortens to the adorable and more commonly known Finn — it’s clearly Irish; there are several amazing Catholic saints who bear the the name; and, in general — we like the sound of it — it is happy and carefree (just like his personality!). We like the idea of continuing to use Catholic saint names for our children, but it is not a requirement (we’ve had trouble finding female saints in particular…).

Finn’s middle name is after his grandfather/father. To us, middle names are an easy way to honor family. If we have another boy, we’ll most likely go with Thomas (my dad’s name) for the middle, or maybe Francis (grandfather) or Brendan (brother) or even Leo (another family name). For a girl, my mother and I share the middle name “Eileen,” so that may be a nice tradition to pass on, but also have Clara (grandmother who I was very close to), or May/Mae (both of grandmother’s middle names). If it’s a girl, I’m more open to a different middle name option than I would be for a boy.

We have many male names that we like, but are just not as in love with them as we were with Finnian! They are Declan, Cullen, Cormac (but really I just like nn Mac), Lachlan, Callum. I also like Henry which is clearly not Irish and way too popular but just to give you an idea on style … we love that Finn sounds like a little old man’s name.

The girl names we are a little all over the place on. One name that we both do really like is an Irish place name, Adair (or Adare) (which I read about first on your blog!) with the nn Ada? Other girl names we tossed around are Ailish, Saiorse (husband loves this one but way too hard to spell IMO), Arlen (I like unisex names for girls a lot), Arwen (think we nixed this one due to sounding too LOTR), and Nuala.

Really no names are off limits! Oh except for flower names.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I had loads of fun with this! Megan and her hubs have a really fun style!

It’s interesting to me that Leo is a family name for Megan — I’ve always thought of it as an “Irish” name because there are loads of them in the Irish side of my family, and I wondered if that was just my experience or if it does have exceptionally good usage among families of Irish descent. So I love seeing that it’s in her family tree too!

Some thoughts about the names on their list of considerations:

  • Declan: Great name, very Irish. In the movie Leap Year, which is mostly set in Ireland, the main guy is Declan and they call him Decko (Deco?) at one point, which is really cute. Dex could also be a cute nickname
  • Cullen: Love it
  • Cormac: Ditto, and the nickname Mac is great
  • Lachlan: Great name
  • Callum: I probably prefer this to Cullen, only because I don’t know how prominent the Twilight association would be with Cullen anymore, but they wouldn’t have to worry about that at all with Callum
  • Henry: I’m glad Megan included this on the list — I think it helped me understand their old-man taste! If they did decide to go with Henry, its traditional nickname Hank is definitely an old-man name and sooo cute
  • Adair/Adare is an awesome name, and I’m so pleased Megan found it on the blog! Ada as a nickname is cool too. Maybe also Dara?
  • Ailish I love, and the similar Eilis. Gorgeous! They also made me think of Aislin(g) (said ASH-lin or ASH-ling) and Ainsley. Also, Ailish and Eilis are saintly — I understand that Ailish is generally considered the Irish form of Alice, and Eilis is Elizabeth
  • I love the idea of Saoirse, and a friend of mine had her daughter on July 4 and seriously considered it because of its meaning “freedom,” but it’s SO hard to spell and no one will figure out the pronunciation! Because Megan and her hubs have such Irishy Irish ideas on their list, I thought I’d throw out some of my favorites: Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Aine, and Grainne. But all of them (except maybe Niamh? Maybe it’s got a little familiarity? I did a spotlight of it here) have the same problem as Saoirse
  • Arlen’s cool
  • Arwen is 100% LOTR to me, which I don’t think is terrible, but I can see they’d want to move away from that
  • I like Nuala! Another variant of Nuala is Nola, which is like Nora but with a twist, and is easy to spell and say

So when I was coming up with new ideas for Megan and her hubs, I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (as you all know, I rely heavily on it in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), but I also went off-road as it were by just coming up with ideas that I thought might fit their style, especially based on nicknames and Irishness. Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby:

Girl

(1) Gwenfair or Mairwen
These names were inspired by their love of Celtic names, the fact that Megan’s husband is Welsh, and the fact that they have a LOTR name on their list (Tolkien’s names have some good connection with Welsh in particular, I believe). These gorgeous names are actually the same name, with the elements reversed: “gwen” (which is of course the “Gwen” in Gwenfair as well as the “wen” in Mairwen) means “fair, white, blessed,” and Mair (which is the “fair” part of Gwenfair, as well as of course the “Mair” in Mairwen) is the Welsh form of Mary. So these are gorgeous, unusual Marian names! I believe the “fair”/“Mair” parts are both said to rhyme with “tire” in Welsh, and the F is like a V, so gwen-vire and mire-wen, but I think they could legitimately say “fair”/“Mair” to rhyme with “care,” which makes it easier to live with in the U.S. I did hesitate that maybe Gwen and Finn are too similar sounding as nicknames? But I think they could be fine too.

(2) Brigid/Bridget nicked Bridie; Briege
When Megan said they like longer names that can be shortened to nicknames, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Irish girl nicknames: Bridie. So cute! I like both Brigid and Bridget for this family as longer forms. These names also made me think of Briege, which is a form of Bridget … it’s not a long name that can be shortened to a nickname, but it’s a pretty cool+unusual Irish name. You all might be familiar with Sr. Briege McKenna.

(3) Greer
One of the names I’d scribbled down for this family before I even cracked open the BNW is Greer, one of my favorites. It’s a Scottish feminine form of Gregory, and while I think it definitely has a unisex feel, it also has a Hollywood starlet feel to me, a la 40’s actress Greer Garson. Funny enough, her given name was Eileen, so Greer Eileen really goes together imo!

(4) Tierney
Another I’d written down for them before starting my research was Tierney, so I was delighted to see both Tierney and Greer as style matches for Adair according to the BNW! I was actually inspired to suggest both of them to Megan by sisters I knew growing up named Gr33r and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy). Like Greer, Tierney has a unisex feel, and I love its rhythm. I know neither Greer nor Tierney lend themselves to natural nicknames, but they seemed too good a match for this family to not suggest them!

(5) Rhiannon, Rowan
There were a few inspirations behind these names: Rhian was listed as a style match for Cormac, but I though Rhiannon was a better idea, since then they’d have a longer name that they could shorten to the unisex-feeling Rhian, or also Rhia. Rowan is a match for Cullen and Adair as a girl’s name, and Finn as a boy’s name, so it seemed a great idea for Megan and her hubs!

Boy

(1) Malachy
The Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) had a brother named Malachy, so I’ve always thought of it as an Irish old-man name. It’s the name of an Irish saint, and Mac is an easy nickname for it, which is what made me think of it for this family, since Megan said what she likes about Cormac is actually the nickname Mac. And Malachy’s definitely uncommon!

(2) Jameson
I thought Jameson felt similar to Finnian — definitely Irish, not unfamiliar, and a longer name that can be shortened. I can definitely hear “Jamie” being said in an Irish brogue, and Finn and Jamie sound like amazing Irish brothers.

(3) Cameron
Cameron might be too popular for them (no. 57 in 2016 compared to Finnian not even being in the top 1000 [though Finn was no. 175]), but it’s Scottish and Cam is one of my favorite nicknames.

(4) Ronan, Rohan
While Rowan started as a boy name and has become more unisex, Ronan — which is a match for Finnian, Declan, and Cormac — is firmly masculine, as far as I know. And Ronan (and Arwen) made me think of Rohan, like the Riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings — I think it’s maybe not as well known as a LOTR name as Arwen is? And Rohan is actually an Irish surname.

(5) Timothy or Thaddeus nicked Tadhg
I don’t think Megan and her hubs will love the familiar feel of Timothy (though it’s dropped in popularity, being no. 153 in 2016), though it does have an Irish feel — it’s one of those names that seems to be favored by Irish/Irish-American families of the past, and so it has a green sheen even though it’s biblical. Conversely, Thaddeus has the uncommonness I think they prefer (it was no. 641 in 2016), and though it does have traditional usage in Ireland, it doesn’t have an Irish feel like Timothy. But the reason I’m including them on my list of suggestions is because both have been used as the Anglo version of the super Irish name Tadhg. In fact, I have a devotion to one of the Irish martyrs, a Dominican priest named Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, and he’s sometimes listed as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty. I think Tadhg is one of the coolest Irish boy names —
it’s said like the first syllable of “tiger” — but like with Saoirse, its spelling is a challenge and no one will know how to say it. That’s why I suggested Timothy or Thaddeus as the given name, and Tadhg as the nickname — of the two, I think Timothy is a better match as a brother for Finnian.

And those are all my ideas for Megan and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Finnian Daniel?

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And some fun news to share! 💚☘️

Haaaaappy St. Paddy’s Day!! One of my favorite days of the year!! If you’re looking for Irish naming inspiration, I’ve got a bunch of posts from years past that might have just what you’re looking for. ☘️☘️☘️

I have an extra special reason for being excited for today this year, as I’d earmarked today as “share the news day” — I’m thrilled to share with you all that my family will be welcoming a new little wee Miss or Mister in the fall! 💚💚💚

I haven’t been posting much original content lately as a result, which you’ve probably all noticed — I’ve been feeling terrible and counting the days until I reach the point where I’ve felt better in past pregnancies, which I estimated to be another 3 to 5 weeks — but once I’m back to cracking, I’ve got a list of topics I’d love to write about, so stay tuned! (I know how blessed I am that my “morning” sickness isn’t HG and doesn’t last past 18 weeks — you ladies that suffer with bad sickness in pregnancy are warriors!)

Cheers to you all today! St. Patrick, pray for us! And any prayers you’d like to send in the direction of me and my little babe would be greatly appreciated. 💚☘️💚☘️💚☘️

 

Baby name consultation: Saintly and/or Marian connection for Rory

I received such a fun consultation request recently from Carey (we follow each other on Twitter) (I follow her husband too!)! Carey and her hubs already have one son:

Rory Nathaniel

I looooove the name Rory!! And Rory Nathaniel is a perfect combo. Love love love it.

They’re expecting their second baby, but the consultation request actually had to do with Rory! Carey writes,

I have a kind of unusual request for you. I was wondering if you could do a consultation on a baby I’ve already named? I was confirmed in the church while I was pregnant and I feel like we chose his name before we were truly immersed in the beauty and saintliness that is Catholic naming culture!

So anyway, would you be willing to look at my son’s name and share some Catholic connections we may not have thought of? I love your ability to connect names and intentions in unusual ways.

His name is Rory Nathaniel, and here’s the story: my husband and I both felt very picky about boy names, and we felt like we couldn’t use the ones we did like because they all belonged to family members or friends that would feel weird to name a baby after, if that makes sense.

We chose Rory because we love the show Doctor Who, in which Rory is a great (male) character, but I also binged Gilmore Girls while pregnant so I can’t deny the influence of that show, either. 😉 We tossed around the name Rory almost as a joke, but realized we actually liked the name and none of our other ideas stuck. By the time we found out he was a boy, it had been on top for a while.

We decided that with a two-syllable first and last name, we wanted a middle name with more musicality and narrowed our search to three-syllable saint names, but we were picky about a lot of them for one reason or another (several were vetoed because they would leave him with the initials/nicknames RB or RJ which I don’t like) until we settled on Nathaniel as good enough, since it is a saint name and also comes from Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, which was a book about sea navigation we both loved in school.

Rory’s story might have hinted at some of our nerdiness (Doctor Who, navigation) so I like those connections in his name but since converting I’ve been wondering if there are more religious connections (even esoteric ones) that we can claim retroactively. I don’t know if it’s possible but I would love it to have a sort of connection to Our Lady!

P.S. we’re due with #2 in August and so far our top boy/girl contenders are Elanor Grace and Joseph Augustine, both of which I like in part because they echo Rory’s name. We call him Roso and that would be cute paired with ‘Joso’, but I could also see us nicknaming an Elanor ‘Nory’ so either way, they’d be a pair. 🙂 “

(Roso and Joso/Nory! I die!)

I have to say I’m pretty impressed they didn’t let Gilmore Girls interfere with their love of the name Rory! I’ve seen it happen! Gah! Anyway, I applaud them — Rory’s a great name, and a great name for a boy. I also love that they’d love a connection to Our Lady through his name!

So I have a few ideas for saintly connections for their little man — hopefully one of them will strike the right chord!

(1) Connections from its “kingly” meaning
As far as I can tell, there’s no St. Rory (or Ruari/Ruaidhri), but since it means “red king, great king,” according to babynamesofireland.com (I know the rí part means king; I love the idea of “great king” but I’m not sure how that fits here? Ruadh means red), I think Jesus makes an excellent patron! There are loads of Jesus names like Christopher/Christina, Salvatore, Emmanuel, so it’s not unheard of to name a baby after Jesus, and a nod to His kingship is pretty great. Or maybe another notable king, like King David? Here’s a list of saints who were kings. If they wanted to tie into the “red” meaning, I did a spotlight on Ruby, which offers some good possible connections — the Precious Blood and the Passion both come right to mind.

(2) Could possibly think of it as a nickname for a male saint: Gregory, Lawrence, Robert
I’ve suggested Rory as a possible nickname many times for Gregory, and I recently posted a birth announcement for a little Gregory whose parents intend to call him Rory! I was so excited! Pope St. Gregory the Great is a cool patron for a little boy. I also think it could work as a nickname for Lawrence and Robert — St. Lawrence Brindisi and St. Robert Bellarmine are the ones I’m familiar with, but there are a bunch more Sts. Gregory, Lawrence, and Robert — Carey and her hubs might like to look through the lists and see if they make a connection with any? Sts. Gregory, Sts. Lawrence, Sts. Robert.

(3) Could possible think of it as a nickname for a Marian name: Aurora
I’ve seen Rory as a nickname for Aurora (I saw one birth announcement years ago where the parents had twin girls and named them Aurora and Therese, and called them Rory and Reese!), so they could possibly consider their son’s name to be a nod to that name. And Aurora can be Marian! I spotlighted its Marian connections here; if they feel like it’s just a bit too far to consider their son’s name Marian because of its connection to a girl name, I also wrote in that post how it can refer to Jesus as well.

(4) Maybe a connection to Rose or Rosary
The “red” meaning of Rory could maybe nod to roses, which is a symbol of Mary, and then I thought maybe they’d like it to nod to the full “Rosary,” which would be really interesting. The connection to Rosary can happen through the rose connection (based on the color meaning of Rory), or sound — I could see Rory being a natural nickname for Rosary, and I could also see parents coming up with Rory if they wanted to name a boy after the rosary (I did a birth announcement for a little Rosary here).

And those are all the ideas I came up with! What do you all think? Do you have any other ideas/suggestions for a saintly/Marian connection for Rory?

Reader question: Is Patton too General?

A reader has asked an interesting question that I hope you’ll all weigh in on! She writes,

One name we’ve considered A LOT is Patton. I like the sound of it and it generally fits our criteria, but I have two concerns. One is that my husband picked it while thinking of General George Patton (history buff), but I’m a little concerned the connotation is too strong. Even if we’re not technically naming him after the General, there are so few Pattons that the link is obvious. And I don’t know how I feel about our son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family. We agree Patton was a great General, but he was known to be harsh and vulgar, and though he was quite religious (protestant) he supposedly opposed the marriage of his daughter to a Catholic and believed in reincarnation. Those concerns aside, I read that Patton can be a diminutive of Patrick, which is awesome (we’re Irish).”

Interesting question, right?

I told her that I’m not really sure what I think about the General Patton connection. For me, General Patton wouldn’t have been my first connection at all! First, I would have thought of Patton being a diminutive of Patrick (I love that this mama knows that!); second, I would have thought of the paten at church. You can see where my head’s at! Haha! Names and faith all the time! A distant third would be the actor Patton Oswalt. But I did ask my husband what his gut reaction was when hearing the name Patton, and he thought about it for a minute (so much for gut reaction!) and said, “Well, there’s General Patton,” but he didn’t seem to think it was a negative or a dealbreaker.

As for her “son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family,” if I named my son Patton and someone asked about his name, I would always start with, “It’s a variant of Patrick that we really like.” This would tie the name closely to St. Patrick, both in the parents’ minds and those who they talk to, and of course St. Patrick would be his patron. Then if they brought up the General they could also say, “Yeah, he’s pretty cool,” and move on. Do you all agree?

Another option is to use Patrick as the given name, and use Patton as the nickname, which I also quite like. Do you agree that’s a good option, or do you think Patton as the given name is a better idea?

Please let me know how you would advise this mom?

Baby name consultation: Short+sweet, easy to pronounce, Celtic feel

Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:

Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)

Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)

You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!

Caitlin writes,

First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.

There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?

On to some lists!

Names we do like, for inspiration:
Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla
Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver

Names we do like but can’t use:
Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice
Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)

Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat:
Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc)
Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen

Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉
Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey

Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow:
Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady

My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”

Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.

I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.

I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:

  • Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
  • Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
  • Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!

Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):

  • I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
  • I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
  • Malachy is an Irish saint’s name and an anglicized form of some heavy-duty old Irish names
  • Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
  • Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
  • I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
  • For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
  • I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
  • Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
  • St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
  • Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
  • Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below

Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

Girl

(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)

(2) Eva
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

(3) Maisie
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.

(4) Tess(a)
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)

(5) Grace
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).

Boy

(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.

(2) Henry
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.

(3) Colin
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.

(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).

(5) Casey
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.

There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Liam and Clare?

Birth announcement: Finn Douglas!

I received such a fun email the other day! Cheri is a reader who wanted to let me know about the birth of her baby, and to tell me a little about the names she and her husband have chosen for all their kiddos! I fell in love with all of the names and the stories behind them, and of course I was all, “Can I post this on the blog??” and I’m so delighted Cheri said yes!

She and her hubs recently welcomed their sixth baby — and sixth boy! (My mom-of-six-boys heart always sings upon meeting another!) They gave their littlest guy the swoon-worthy name … Finn Douglas!

Cheri writes,

I just wanted to say thank you for your website!! I was SO close to getting a consultation. I even started typing up an email to send. I think the process of writing it all out in an email helped us narrow down our choices. And reading through consultations was incredibly insightful. It helped us look at the names we had given our children with fresh eyes and helped us articulate why we’ve chosen the ones we did. You helped without even knowing you were doing so!

We had our 6th baby at the end of September. We did not find out the gender at the ultrasound. Probability said that would be a boy since we had already been blessed with 5! Ha! But it was still exciting not finding out until the birth.

We were very happy to welcome Finn Douglas into our family! As soon as the doctor said, “It’s a boy!”, the first thing that I though was, “well of course it is!”

We had a really hard time coming up with a name that fit our criteria, wasn’t used by someone close to us, and fit with our other sons’ names.

I think your website was where I first saw the name Finn. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every consultation where you’ve mentioned it.

[Re: Finn Douglas] Our last name is Irish and we like the stories of Saint Finnian and Saint Finbar. Douglas is both my brother’s middle name and the first name of my grandpa. I was very close to him. He passed away 16 years ago. He LOVED babies! I wish he could have met mine. There is also a Blessed George Douglas who has a very interesting story.”

I’m a HUGE fan of the name Finn, and Finn Douglas is such a great combo! And isn’t this such a great email? I’m so so so happy that the blog helped this beautiful family choose a name! You all have helped me create such a great resource!!

Before sharing Cheri’s older boys’ names, I’ll share the criteria she and her hubs have used:

So our naming philosophy: we like names that are easy to spell, familiar, masculine, and have some Christian/ Old Testament/ Saint connection, with no obvious nicknames (so maybe we’re a little boring? Ha!). We also did not want any first initial duplicates (I’m a homeschooler & list lover and usually label & list things by each kid’s first initial). We kind of have an Irish/Old-Fashioned thing going on. We also seem to have a knack for picking names that rise dramatically in popularity 2-3 years after we use them. Ha!! Oh well…”

I don’t think their taste is boring at all! I love it! These are the names of their older five boys:

Isaac James (“We love the story of Abraham and Isaac, and that Isaac means God laughs. James is both his grandfather and godfather’s name“)

Aidan Xavier (“We were hesitant to use this name because it was fairly popular. But we kept coming back to it. Someone told us at the time, “God names our children, we just have to listen.” Once he was born, we KNEW God had named him. Aidan means “little fire” and he was born with a full head of beautiful auburn hair. We love the stories of Saint Aidan & his generosity. During college, my husband lived with 5 amazing Catholic men in a house named after St. Francis Xavier. This is a nod to them and to Saint Francis Xavier“)

Owen Dean (“Owen was born at 33 weeks & was tiny. It is fitting that he was named after St. Nicholas Owen I read that he was a very small man, under 5 feet – it seemed perfect for preemie. He was such an amazing & heroic Saint! Dean is his Grandpa’s middle name“)

Liam John (“We loved the name and unfortunately the only Saint Liam we could find is a race horse. Ha! But it’s a variation of William so Saint William works. We found out that he was a boy on the feast of Saint John Vianney and his great grandpa’s name is John“)

Eli Anthony (“We like the OT story of Eli and Samuel and how Eli told Samuel to respond to the Lord, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!” We chose Anthony after our family prayed a Novena to Saint Anthony when this son was in utero and diagnosed with some serious growth problems. He was born perfectly healthy so we chose this middle name in thanksgiving to Saint Anthony“)

Amazing, right?? I love each one, and I love them all together!

Congratulations to Cheri and her husband and big brothers Isaac, Aidan, Owen, Liam, and Eli, and happy birthday Baby Finn!!

Finn Douglas with his big brothers ❤

Birth announcement: Gregory Conrad!

I posted a consultation for Amanda and her hubs a couple of months ago, and she’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the amazingly perfect name … Gregory Conrad!

Amanda writes,

Gregory Conrad was born yesterday, the feast of St Cecilia (patron saint of musicians) and the anniversary of when this sweet little guy’s daddy asked me to marry him 13 years ago.

Our Little “Rory” is named after Pope St Gregory the Great, who was also a wonderful musician and created the Gregorian Chant, and his daddy, Vincent Conrad, who was named after a grandfather Conrad as well. 🙂

I thought you would also like to know that on the way to the hospital, we looked up male patron saints of musicians and Gregory was at the top of the list. That kind of made up our minds, even before we saw his face, because Gregory and Sylvester were our top two at that point!! If that’s not a sign from Heaven, I don’t know what is 🙂

We let [daughter] Ellie pick his middle name when the kiddos met him, giving her the choices of Lucas, Conrad, or Jonah (because it means stubborn!). She was pretty tickled to get to help. We will also shorten it to “Rory” or even ‘Gregor’ … but not ‘Greg,’ as I’m just not crazy about one syllable. Please keep baby and I in your prayers, as it was a very long and difficult labor and delivery. So thankful he is here and healthy!

Gregory with the nickname Rory was on Amanda’s initial list this time around, and it’s an option I’ve long loved and suggested on the blog! I love it! There’s so much meaning in this little guy’s name and birth, from the connection to music (Amanda’s a musician), to his birthday being the anniversary of the day Amanda and her hubs got engaged, to his name being a five-syllable combo, just like his big brothers and sister, wow!

Please do keep Amanda and her baby boy in your prayers! Congratulations to the whole family, including big sibs Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian, and happy birthday Baby Gregory!!

Gregory Conrad with his mama and big brothers and sister