Baby name consultation: Philomena or Claire, Maximilian or Walter?

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiersloving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace

Today is also the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth! Such a beautiful feast day!

Alyssa and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) This little one joins big sister:

Felicity Rose

Such a gorgeous name — so feminine and pretty. I love it!

Alyssa writes,

[M]y husband and I just don’t feel as confident about names as we did for our daughter. We decided on Felicity for a girl before I was even pregnant!

Names we like are saint names that are a little bit different, but not weird and that are pretty easy to pronounce/spell. I definitely wouldn’t use any trendy names or very popular names. For example, I actually really like the name Sophia in itself, but it’s way too popular for our taste

Since our last name starts with M, all B names are out unfortunately. I don’t like the initials BM. And some other names we can’t use that are taken by family and friend’s kids that we would consider are Theodore, Henry, and Edward.
I also don’t particularly like very traditional/common names such as Matthew, Elizabeth, John, etc
.

I generally don’t like nicknames unless it’s very common (like Chris for Christopher, Ben for Benjamin, etc) or if it makes a kind of weird saint name into a more normal name or a very formal name into a less formal one. I can’t think of any examples of that weird saint name nicknames, but you probably know better than I do!

So now onto names my husband and I do like! I find myself liking longer names for some reason. I don’t know if I have a style necessarily, but I think I like very feminine sounding names for girls and I’m also drawn to french-ish sounding names (I think). Also, the flow of the first-middle-last name is very important to me. So I think I like a variation of syllables and sounds between the 3 names generally

We also are 2 for 2 conceiving after a novena to St Gerard so I think it would be cool to honor him somehow, but my husband isn’t totally sold on this. I think he’d come around though if he liked the name. I’m ok with Gerard as a middle name for a boy, but I dislike Geraldine for a first or middle name. I’ve heard of Majella, but if we did this I’d want to pronounce/spell it Mayella and only for a girl. I’m definitely ok with Mayella as a middle name and would consider it as a first name too. But if you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear them!

I have a list of names we’ve been brainstorming over the years that I’ll explain below.

  • Xavier (“Francis (for middle name potentially); my husband and I both really like Xavier, but I recently found out that people pronounce it differently. We would want to pronounce it ecks-zay-vyer, but I’m not sure if I want to deal with his name constantly getting pronounced zay-vyer or zay-vee-er or even Javier. I also would not particularly want him to have the nickname “X”. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on name pronunciations and correcting people are! My name is pronounced “uh-lih-sa” and I often have to correct people when they call me Alisa or Alicia and it gets old.”)
  • Vincent (“James for a potential middle name. James is my favorite boy middle name; My husband and I also both like Vincent. Vincent is my husband’s middle name. I don’t dislike Vince as a nickname, but I just feel like it sounds too old for a baby/young boy to be called Vince and Vincent sounds overly formal to call someone all the time. And I’m not fond of the nickname Vinny. I think I could get over Vince not sounding like a baby name, but idk it just doesn’t seem quite right.”)
  • Adeline (“Marie or Louise for potential middle names; I really like the name Adeline and my husband likes it too (but he is a little worried it sounds like Madeleine mispronounced), but I’m just not crazy about Addy. It’s fine, but it feels too plain/common and I feel like she would inevitably be called Addy and I’m not sure I want to deal with correcting people all the time and be “those people” who always corrects everyone. Again, I could get over it either by correcting people or just accepting Addy, but it just doesn’t feel perfect.”)
  • Claire (“Philomena?; my husband and I both like Claire and it is a little more on the common side, but for some reason I just feel like it sounds really good with our last name. And of course it’s after a great saint and I like the frenchness of it. I’m struggling a little bit with a middle name though. Originally I wanted Anastasia, but my husband didn’t want the initials CAM. I think I like Philomena as a middle name, but I’m not sure if I like the flow of it [with our last name].”)
  • John Paul (“I kind of like John Paul, but my husband isn’t sold. I don’t like either of these names separately, but for some reason together I do. I don’t dislike JP as a nickname, but it sounds way too informal with Felicity.”)
  • Dominic (“my husband and I both like Dominic, but he likes it more than me. The Dominicans hold a special place in our heart because we met at a Dominican run Newman center. I think like Vincent, Dominic just sounds a little formal and I’m not crazy about the nickname Dom or Nick.”)
  • Isaac (“I kind of like this name, but would probably never use it“)
  • Maximilian (“we both really like Maximilian and Max as a nickname (although I wonder if Max is too informal with Felicity), but we had some friends just name their baby Maximilian. We’re not very close with them, but my husband feels like it’s too weird to use that name right now, but maybe for a future child. I think it’s probably fine, but we both have to be on board.”)
  • Gianna (“I like Gianna, but my husband is so-so on it. And I’m not sure if it goes well with Felicity. But I really hate Gi-Gi.”)
  • Nathaniel (“I like Nathaniel but I don’t really love any nicknames for it, but I feel like just Nathaniel would be fine and wouldn’t necessarily be turned into a nickname by other people. But my husband isn’t super into it.”)
  • Walter (“I kind of like Walter and Walt, but my husband doesn’t. He says it’s an old man name.”)
  • Philomena (Fia?) (“I really like Philomena, but I feel like it’s too out there of a name to call her Philomena all the time and I don’t really like Mina as a nickname. I think I read you suggest the nickname Fia which I kind of like, but I worry it’s too out there and she’d always be correcting people because no one has heard of it.”)
  • Alice (“this name has really grown on me, but I wonder if it’s too vain since it’s so close to my name! (We also figured out after we named Felicity that my name sound is in her name! (Falyssa-tee)“)
  • Maggie (Margaret) (“Anne?; my husband really likes Margaret, but I hate it, but I think Maggie is kind of cute. So I’d potentially be open to naming a daughter Margaret and just always calling her Maggie.”)
  • Clara (“I’ve just always liked this name for some reason.”)
  • Jane (“Jane has grown on me, but my husband and I worry it’s too plain“)
  • Georgiana (“this name has really grown on me (definitely influenced by pride and prejudice!), I just think it’s so beautiful. But I don’t like Gi Gi, georgia, or Ana and I feel like this would be an inevitable nickname name. Also my husband’s late grandma was named Georgette, (but went by Bunny) and he feels a little weird that it’s so close to Georgette, but not that. However, he’s open to it.”)
  • Natalie (“both my husband and I like this name and it would be very fitting if we have a girl because I’m due in December! But idk, something about just doesn’t feel super exciting.”)
  • Finnian? (“my husband and I like this name and Finn as a nickname, but Finnian seems a little too out there/formal to always use and Finn seems too informal with Felicity.”)

Middle Names:

  • Gerard
  • Mayella
  • Francis (“St Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints, but I don’t like it as a first name“)
  • James
  • Elizabeth
  • Anastasia
  • Anne
  • Joseph
  • Marie
  • Rose
  • Louise
  • Bonaventure?

I apologize for my essay, but hopefully it’ll help you understand our taste/dilemmas and give you some good information! Thank you for your help!

(Just so you all know, no one ever has to apologize to me for sending “an essay” — I LOVE reading about name dilemmas and find each detail interesting and helpful!)

I so enjoyed reading through the names on Alyssa’s list! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each one, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gerard: I absolutely love the idea of honoring St. Gerard in Alyssa’s baby’s name! And I love that she and her husband did novenas to him both times they conceived! I have a couple of stories on the blog of parents who similarly benefited from St. Gerard’s intercession, he’s awesome. I wanted to work St. Gerard into my last baby’s name as well, and while it’s easy enough to do so for a boy (Gerard as a middle name is perfect!), it was harder for a girl. I do love the idea of Mayella! I usually see Maiella, which is the Italian spelling and what St. Gerard’s actual spelling was (he was Italian: Gerardo Maiella); Mayella makes Alyssa’s preferred pronunciation more obvious (I think the first syllable in Maiella might be said more like “my,” so if you prefer “may” than Mayella is perfect!). The idea that I’d decided on if I had a girl (I had a boy) was Margaret, because of something one of my readers told me: she said that she knew a couple who had a devotion to St. Margaret, so they named their son Garrett (going off of the last few letters in Margaret); Garrett is actually derived from Gerard! So Margaret might be perfect for Alyssa for honoring St. Gerard in the first or middle name spot for a girl, but also maybe she’d like to consider Garrett as a first or middle name for a boy? Another idea for a boy, if she and her hubby are okay moving away from the obvious connection, is that Gerard is made of the elements ger (meaning “spear”) and hard (meaning “brave, hardy”), so I love Hardy as a possible honor name for St. Gerard. Oh, also — Alyssa said she wanted to avoid B first names, but since she has Bonaventure as a possible middle, then St. Gerard’s mom’s name might do well as a middle name for a girl: Benedetta (the Italian feminine of Benedict, equivalent to Benedicta). And in fact, my youngest son (the one who I wanted to work Gerard into) has Benedict as a middle name in part as a nod to the several Saints whose intercession I asked for (St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard), as Benedict means “blessed,” so I figured it could stand for all of them.
  • Xavier: Oh yes, the pronunciation debates over Xavier! I wrote an impassioned post about it here (with a related post here). I say it like Alyssa says it, as it was my grandfather’s middle name and that’s how he said it, which tells me that it has a very long history of being said like ecks-zay-vyer (he was born in Ireland in 1904). We live in the northeast, and most people we’ve encountered assume ecks-zay-vyer is the pronunciation, but I do think there is a regional aspect to which pronunciation people will default to. Those who are familiar with Xavier University in Cincinnati, for example, will default to zay-vyer, since that’s the way the University has chosen to pronounce it. Those who live in an area with a lot of native Spanish speakers might hear the Javier pronunciation more often. But lots of names have issues like that! If they’re firm and consistent about correcting people, it will be fine. But if that’s too annoying to think about, I get it! As for nicknames, I’ve seen Xav(e) and Xav(e)y (“Zave” and “Zavey,” rhymes with Dave/Davy), as well as Xave pronounced ecks-zave. Francis is a great middle, which really reinforces the St. Francis Xavier connection, but I also like Xavier James, since Alyssa said James is her favorite boy middle name.
  • Vincent: I love that Alyssa’s husband’s middle name is Vincent — using Dad’s middle name for a son is a great way to honor him without using Junior! Regarding Vince vs. Vinny, first I should say that they don’t have to use a nickname — they can plan to call their son by the full Vincent. That said, if they don’t choose a nickname, then it’s very possible someone else will somewhere along the way—even if Alyssa’s son grows up being called Vincent and being introduced as Vincent (which is awesome, btw), there will be someone who will want to shorten it (sports coaches, for example, and even her son’s friends), and if Alyssa and her hubs haven’t decided on a preferred short version, the coaches/teachers/friends will shorten it to what feels natural to them, whether Vince or Vinny. So if Alyssa prefers one over the other, she’ll probably want to decide right off the bat and call him that at least some of the time (not saying that will prevent a Vince from being called Vinny, for example, but I think it will help). She could also consider a different nickname — V, for example, or Vin, or Cent, or Cinco! (Because V is the Roman numeral for five!)
  • Adeline: Adeline is a gorgeous name! Alyssa’s husband’s worry that it sounds like Madeline mispronounced is hilarious — I can see that is the kind of thing that gets in a person’s head and sticks there! If they were to choose Adeline for their daughter, I think that he would quickly get over it. I wonder if switching to Adelaide might help him with that? Though doing so wouldn’t help with the nickname issue. Alyssa articulated exactly what I was trying to say above about Vincent — how it might be inevitable that people will nickname her Addy. And while I agree that “’those people’ who always correct everyone” can be annoying, the way it’s done is what makes it annoying or not. A person’s name is a person’s name! If a person can stick up for nothing else in life, at least stick up for one’s own name! For what it’s worth, I think Addy is sweet, but Alyssa and her hubby might like to consider other nicknames like Allie, Annie, or Del/Della.
  • Claire, Clara: I’m including these two together, since they’re variants of the same name. I actually love Claire Anastasia, and I actually love the initials CAM and the nickname Cam or Cammie, but I also like Alyssa’s idea of Claire Philomena, and I like Claire Philomena with their last name! Clara is also beautiful, and they probably wouldn’t want an ends-in-a middle name for Clara (Clara Anastasia and Clara Philomena might be too sing-song-y? Or maybe they like it!), but Clara Marie and Clara Louise are both really pretty. They could also do the French variant of Philomena, which might flow better: Clara Philomene. I wonder, too, given that Gianna is on Alyssa’s list, if she might like to consider the Italian variant of Clare: Chiara?
  • John Paul: I always love any nod to JP2! So Alyssa brings up a point here that she referenced other places, which I wanted to address — the idea of some nicknames sounding too informal with Felicity. I do know what Alyssa means — if Felicity is always Felicity, I can see how she might think that a sibling with a nickname might sound weirdly informal, but I promise that no one else will think so! (Though, again, I totally get it when something’s in your head and it’s hard to get out.) (Also, I tried really hard to find names for my list of “official” suggestions below that are not too likely to be nicknamed.)
  • Dominic: I love Dominic too, and I love that Alyssa and her husband share that Dominican connection! Dom/Dommy and Nick are definitely possible nicknames, but also Nico — I wonder if Alyssa would like that better?
  • Isaac: While I, too, love Isaac, and I think it could be great in Alyssa’s family, I’d probably want to shelve it for now to see how her children’s names shake out … it might feel right after a couple more kids! I love St. Isaac Jogues, and I love the nickname Zacky.
  • Maximilian: Oh man! I hate having to grapple with issues like that! Shelving it for possible use for a later child is a great idea — a good compromise I think. I love that Alyssa said “we both have to be on board” — the ideal totally is to find a name they both like for this baby.
  • Gianna: Again, if Alyssa’s husband is so-so, I’d suggest shelving it for now, though I want to assure her it goes great with Felicity! Felicity and Gianna are names I see used a LOT among Catholic families right now, so while Gianna might seem jarring to those unfamiliar with currently popular Catholic Saints, anyone who’s tuned into Church-y things will think Gianna’s a great choice for Felicity’s sister (same with Chiara, which I mentioned above). I don’t know how inevitable Gigi is — it feels very natural, but I don’t actually know many little Giannas, and the one I do know goes mostly by Gianna (but I think I’ve seen Gigi from time to time).
  •  Nathaniel: Unfortunately, the longer the name, the more likely people are to nickname it, so unless they’re firm and consistent with Nathaniel being called Nathaniel all the time (which I would 100% support, I love the name Nathaniel), I think Nate is sort of inevitable. I’ve seen Nash used as a nickname for Nathaniel, which is kind of cool; also Niel. But again, if Alyssa’s hubby doesn’t like it, let’s move on!
  • Walter: This one made me laugh! Walter is another name I see with some frequency among my readers, usually used for Servant of God Walter Ciszek (awesome story), which also reflects the fact that “old man/old lady” names are definitely back! My own husband wanted to consider Stan for our last son. Stan! (I totally think Bl. Stanley Rother is also awesome.) I actually suggested Walsingham with the nickname Walt to him, after Our Lady of Walsingham, and I thought Walt would be the kind of nickname he’d be right on board with because of Stan, but no.
  • Philomena: I love that Alyssa’s considering Philomena as a first name! I love it. Like with Nathaniel, I do think it’s likely to get shortened because it’s such a long name. Fia is awesome; I also like Pia and Pippa (not the same sounds, but I think they’re doable), and Finna, which is like Finnian that Alyssa likes.
  • Alice: First of all mama, it is NOT VAIN to name a child after yourself! Men have done it for centuries with their sons, and I LOVE seeing a woman honored in a little one’s name, whether it’s the mama or a grandmother or whoever. Boy or girl! Indeed, Alyssa is a variant of Alice originally (which is a variant of Adelaide! I mentioned Adelaide above as a possible replacement for Adeline — it could be a great way to nod to Alyssa!), so Alice could be awesome for her little girl, a nice connection between Alyssa and her daughter. And I NEVER would have figured out the fact that “Alyssa” is contained within Felicity — but that makes me love it more! How cool! I’m a little uppity about the whole “naming after a woman is bad” thing — first of all, it’s awesome, and also totally appropriate, and also it’s not at all a bad thing that men name their sons after themselves — I wrote more about all of it here. All of that said, I wonder what Alyssa would think of the similar but different name Elise? It’s a French diminutive of Elizabeth, so not related to Alyssa in any way (though, like Alice, has similar sounds).
  • Margaret: So I talked about Margaret above as being a possible way of honoring St. Gerard, so maybe that idea will help sell Alyssa on it? Especially since her husband really loves it? Maggie is a sweet nickname. Speaking of Maggie, I wonder what Alyssa and her husband would think of Magdalene? It could still take Maggie as a nickname if they wanted, and it’s a little rare/more offbeat than Margaret, which I think Alyssa would prefer? Or maybe the French version of Margaret: Marguerite?
  • Jane: Jane is certainly a simple name, but I’d also call it “trim” and “chic” and “sophisticated,” and I actually think it’s great with Felicity because they can both sort of have a gentle British feel, which I love. A short name like Jane also opens up lots of long-and-luscious middle name possibilities, similar to Claire: Jane Anastasia, Jane Philomena, Jane Magdalene/a, Jane Immaculata, etc.
  • Georgiana: I was so surprised to see this on Alyssa’s list — I LOVE being surprised by names! So fun! I love P&P too, and Georgiana is definitely my favorite of the George names for girls. It’s also funny that Alyssa’s hubby’s grandma was Georgette! I could see how that feels a little weird to use a name that’s so similar to Grandma’s name, but to not use her actual name. They could spin it as: they combined Grandma’s name with St. Anne or something. They could also do Georgiana nn Bunny! As with the long names on their list, I think a nickname here is inevitable — if they don’t like Gigi, Georgia, or Ana, maybe Jorie? Giana? Jana? Nina? (It’s totally okay to switch letters for nicknames, like Kate for Catherine — Jorie and Jana are fine for Georgiana.)
  • Natalie: I wonder if simply switching to Natalia would give this name more sparkle for Alyssa? It retains the Christmas meaning, and I love it with Felicity. Or they could switch the spelling to the super French Nathalie. Or, if they want a Christmas name, what would they think of Noelle? Also, Magali is a French (Occitan) variant of Magdalene and it rhymes with Natalie — maybe they’d prefer Magali to Margaret?
  • Finnian: I don’t think Finnian sounds too out there or too formal! It’s not any more formal than Felicity, and while Finnian itself isn’t in the top 1000 currently, the Finn names in general (Finley, Finnegan, Finn as a given name, etc.) have been rising in popularity, so I don’t think anyone else will think it’s “out there” either. And I go back to the fact that I don’t think a nicknamed sibling is overly informal with big sister Felicity. One idea I’ve suggested on the blog is Finn as a nickname for Francis — Alyssa said she doesn’t like Francis as a first name, but maybe she wouldn’t mind it if the nickname Finn was always used? One thing to consider is whether they want to follow Felicity with another F name (or Ph-, as in Philomena), or possibly save it for a future baby. There’s no right answer, whatever they’re comfortable with is fine!
  • Middle names: I don’t have any comment on the middle name ideas other than to say they’re all great, and I see Alyssa has Felicity’s middle name, Rose, on there — if they decided on Rose for all their girls’ middle names, that would be sweet!

Whew! Alyssa apologized for her essay, but you can see I don’t mind being long-winded, haha! Now on to new ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they love in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker took on babynamewizard.com for Georgiana, since it doesn’t have its own entry. Based on all that, and some ideas of my own, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Gemma

This was the very first idea I had for Alyssa when I read her email, before doing any research at all! Gemma is like Gianna, but I think loses the Gigi possibility, since it doesn’t have that “ee” sound at the beginning. And while it’s an Italian name, like Gianna, it actually has decent usage in the U.K., which plays off of Felicity’s bit of Pilgrim feel. Felicity and Gemma are tremendous sister names!

(2) Juliet(te)

This was my immediate second idea for them, and I was so pleased to see it show up in my research as a style match for them as well (Juliet is a match for Felicity and Vincent!). I thought Alyssa might like the French spelling, Juliette. Either way, this is one of my favorite names, and I did a spotlight post of it here.

(3) Caroline, Karoline

I’d already had these names in mind for Alyssa when I saw John Paul on her list, and I loved seeing that Caroline is a match for Claire and one of its nickname possibilities, Callie, is a match for Maggie. It’s a feminine variant of Charles, which is how it connects to John Paul, since his birth name, Karol, is the Polish for Charles. If they switch the spelling to Karoline, it both becomes more uncommon and connects even closer to JP.

(4) Josephine, Josefina, Josefa

I wanted to suggest a Joseph name to this family anyway, since their baby might be born in the Year of St. Joseph (it ends Dec. 8 and Alyssa is due near Christmas), and even if he or she isn’t, the Joseph names are always wonderful! Josefa is actually a match for Georgiana; Josefina is a bit longer and so pretty; and then of course Josephine, which is actually French, which I know Alyssa likes! Another thing that’s fun is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine, and since Alyssa likes Sophia but feel it’s too popular for her, maybe something like Josephine/Josefina/Josefa nicknamed Sophie would be perfect? (If she likes the idea of a Joseph name, but not the ones listed here, the Lily names can be for St. Joseph, since the lily is one of his symbols: Lily, Lillian, Lilia.)

(5) Lucy, Lucia

Lucy is such a great fit with Felicity, and is a style match for Alice and Max as well. Lucia, which can be nicknamed Lucy of course, is a match for Gianna and Clara. One of these names would be great! So beautiful!

Boy

(1) Simon

Simon is a match for Felicity, Claire, Alice, and Isaac! I love it! And Simon is another name that’s unlikely to be nicknamed, which I think Alyssa prefers.

(2) Colin

Colin is a match for Felicity, Claire, and Natalie — another fantastic boy name that’s unlikely to be shortened! It’s a short form of Nicholas, which is the Saint connection, so handsome.

(3) Roman

Continuing my unlikely-to-be-nicknamed list, I was delighted to see Roman as a match for Sophia, Dominic, and Maximilian, and the similar-sounding Ronan as a match for Finnian! I love Roman, it reminds me of all things Catholic — Rome, the Vatican, Roman Catholic.

(4) Leo

Leo is such a little name but it packs a big punch I think — not only is it a papal name, but a Pope St. the Great name (Pope St. Leo the Great), and a different Pope Leo is the one who composed the powerful St. Michael Prayer. It’s a great Catholic name, and it, too, is unlikely to be nicknamed — a formal name that doesn’t feel overly formal, a great match for Felicity.

(5) Gabriel

Gabriel is a match for Sophia, Xavier, and Dominic — it’s a heavy hitting saintly, angelic, and Marian name (I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation), and while I think it would be harder to prevent Gabriel from being nicknamed, I love the nickname Gabe — I think it’s so friendly and masculine, great for a boy and for a man — and I’ve also seen Gib, Gil, and Eli given as nickname possibilities.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity?


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

Expectation vs. Reality When Naming Children

Theresa Zoe Williams wrote a guest post for Sancta Nomina back in January, and I’m happy to share another piece by her! Theresa is a longtime member of the Sancta Nomina community and mother to three amazingly named children (read about her older two here, and the birth announcement for her youngest here). She is a freelance writer whose work can be found online at EpicPewCatholicSingles, and Where Peter Is, as well as at her personal blog Theresa Zoe Williams. Theresa has also contributed to the books The Catholic Hipster Handbook: The Next Level and Epic Saints: Wild, Wonderful, and Weird Stories of God’s Heroes. She hosts the comedy podcast Up Too Late and is writing her own book on fairytale princesses and virtue. Find her on Twitter @TheresaZoe

I have loved names since I was a little girl and named everything I could –– pets, stuffed animals and dolls, characters in my stories, our family’s vehicles, future children. Names meant possibilities and I loved all of the combinations, meanings, and styles. Suffice it to say, by the time I married, I had a long list of names and name combinations for our future children. Some names on this list were ones I loved on my own, like Chiara, Lux, Milo, Carmine, and Basil, and some were ones my now-husband, Jess, and I liked mutually, like Irrianna, Patrick, and Jack. Jess didn’t have nearly the history of loving names like I did but that doesn’t stop him from being opinionated! Even though I had a long list of personal favorites, none of these names ended up being the names of our three children, Ruby, Peter, and Penny.

Peter was an easy choice for us. We had both always liked the name Peter and so we knew that would be our first boy’s. His middle names, Leon and Gerard, are names of our fathers, so again, an easy choice. We never did agree on a second boy’s name, though. Girls’ names were much harder for us. When we were pregnant with Ruby, before we knew if she was a boy or a girl, we had two competing girl names: Ruby Mae Anastasia and Chiara Lucy Jeannette.

I am part Italian and I always wanted to give my children beautiful, flowy Italian names. I first heard Chiara when I was studying abroad in college and fell in love immediately. I later learned of Bl. Chiara Luce Badano and fell in love with her, so Chiara Lucy was my homage to my Italian heritage and to this beloved holy teen. Jeannette is the name of my mother who passed away before I met Jess. So, altogether, that name carried a lot of weight and meaning for me.

 Ruby and Mae were names I had once offhandedly said I liked and my husband fell in love! I reminded him that we agreed the children would all have two middle names like me (I was given two at birth and now legally have three, as I added my Confirmation name as another). Without hesitation, Jess said, “Ruby Mae Anastasia,” Anastasia being a name he liked and the Confirmation name of one of his sisters. It didn’t seem, at first, like this name had as much weight for us and, initially, I rebelled against using it for our first daughter. But it just wouldn’t leave us alone and we finally agreed that Ruby should be her name. We later discovered how rich in meaning for us Ruby Mae Anastasia really is and then it was clear why that was to be our daughter’s name. Our second daughter’s name, Penny Annalise Mariae, was less of a tribulation to choose, but was a whole different journey.

Both stories of my daughters’ names illustrate how different expectation versus reality really can be. Ruby and Penny are neither Italian nor flowy and nowhere near the spectrum of names I considered previously! And I have been sad that I’ve needed to pass on Chiara twice now, but that doesn’t negate how wonderful I think my children’s names are and how perfectly they fit them. If I had full reign over naming my children, they’d be named Chiara, Peter, Milo, Liliana, Sofia, Basil, and someone would have had the middle name Giuseppe. As wonderful as those names would be, they would represent only part of each child’s family and history. My personal naming style can probably be called “heavy-handed Italian” but when you add my husband and his family history and style into the mix, we come out as “grounded but spunky.” My proclivity for off-the-beaten path names with my husband’s for familiar but not overused names combine together to make this new, cool style that’s completely us.

Us. That’s really the long and short of it. Having children is an “us” endeavor and a beautiful sign of the inner reality of two lives becoming one. The names of our children should reflect that, also! There are all sorts of ways to do this, including finding ways to combine your styles (like we did), compromising (one style for first names and another for middle names, for instance), picking the names of favorite saints regardless of style, or asking for outside help (Sancta Nomina is fantastic at bridging styles and finding names with deep meanings for families!).

Do you and your spouse have this problem? How do you solve it? Are there any names you wanted to use but then didn’t for your children?

Copyright 2021 Theresa Zoe Williams

Baby name consultation: Marian names, Italian names, and family names in consideration for fourth baby girl

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. 🗽🇺🇸 This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiers, loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace. ❤ ❤ ❤

Jessie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby this month (!!) — their fourth girl! This little lady joins big siblings:

Leonard Edward (after his father)
Lillian Victoria (after two grandmothers)
Jude Thaddea (after St. Jude)
Majella Magdalene (after St. Gerard)

Aren’t these fantastic?! I was so surprised by Leonard — so unexpected on a little guy, I love that! And then to discover that their Jude is a girl — I LOVE Thaddea as a middle name with Jude for a girl! And Majella Magdalene! Of course I’m not forgetting Lillian Victoria, what a stunning combo! Jessie and her husband have done a great job!

Jessie writes,

We are having a hard time agreeing and coming up with a girls name for our fourth girl that is significant to family and also maybe had a little Catholic meaning.

We currently like:

Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes
Maribel (after mother Mary, my mother Maryanne and his mother Marie)
Francesca (Frankie as a nickname)
Rosie Jane (after his grandmother)
Giana (after St Giana)

I was really eager to see what names Jessie and her hubby are considering, and I wasn’t disappointed! These are my thoughts on those names, in case they’re helpful to them:

  • Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes: I actually know a little Lucciana! Her family calls her Lucci, and I’ve always been impressed that they used a Lucy name that’s much less familiar! Lucia is a gorgeous option too, and always brings Our Lady of Fatima to mind, to whom I have a special devotion. Our Lady of Fatima’s feast day is May 13, so a name connected to her — like Lucia (or Lucciana as a variant of it) — would be pretty cool for a baby born in May. And Lourdes! I love Lourdes! Fatima and Lourdes in one name is pretty great! I also love alliteration, so Lucciana/Lucia Lourdes (and Majella Magdalene) really sing to me. Also, I wonder if Jessie and her hubs have considered Lourdes as a first name? One of my readers has a little Lourdes, I love it!
  • Maribel: I really like the idea of a Marian name beginning in Mar- as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mother-in-law — so great to have that option! Of course, as you all know I’m a huge fan of Marian names in general, and I love the double Marian whammy of giving a May baby a Marian name! Maribel is beautiful, and I have some more ideas below, too.
  • Francesca: Italian girl names tend to be so gorgeous, and Francesca is one of the prettiest. Frankie as a nickname is adorable too!
  • Rosie Jane: I’m not sure if this would be a double name or the first+middle combo? Either way, Rosie Jane is so sweet! I wonder if it was Jessie’s husband’s grandmother’s given name? It has a little bit of a different feel than their older kids’ names and the other names they’re considering — a little lighter and more informal — which is totally fine! But something like Rosemary/Rosemarie Jane or Rosanne/Rosanna Jane or Rosa Jane or Rosary/Rosaria Jane as the given name, with Rosie or Rosie Jane as the nickname, feels a bit more stylistically similar to the other names they’ve used and like. Either way, Rose is a Marian name!
  • Gianna: St. Gianna’s awesome, and a big favorite among the Sancta Nomina families! I like how the “anna” part could be a nod to Jessie’s mom, if she wanted it to be. Also, Gianna is an Italian form of Jane, so they could consider it an honor name for Jessie’s husband’s grandmother too. Or they could even do a Rose first name with Gianna as a middle and still call her Rosie Jane!

So those are my thoughts on the names on Mom and Dad’s list. As for new ideas, you all know I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — this research gives me a great idea of the kinds of names that fit into the style(s) that the parents are most likely to like. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for this family (especially more Mar- ideas). Based on that research, these are my ideas:

(1) A Mar- name
I really liked what Jessie and her hubs were thinking with Maribel — honoring both Maryanne and Marie in one name. I have these names in my book that I thought might also be good contenders:

— Marienne: This is like a Marian/Maryanne mashup pronunciation-wise, but it’s French like Marie and actually contains Marie within it. It’s quite pretty and feminine to look at, it’s obviously Marian, and I like that it’s so much of an almost exact combo of Jessie’s mom’s and mil’s names.

— Mariae: I’m excited about this one for this family, as it’s one of the more unusual Mary names, and I think their taste runs to the more unusual. It’s pronounced MAR-ee-ay, and it’s actually a Latin version — it’s the genitive (possessive) form of Maria — it literally means, “of or belonging to Mary.” How amazing is that? Micaela Darr (who graciously endorsed my book!) bestowed it on her daughter. I LOVE seeing her write out her daughter’s name on Instagram, it’s so beautiful!

— Maristella: This one reminds me a lot of the ultra-feminine names Jessie and her hubby have used so far, I have a feeling they might like it! It’s a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). On that note, perhaps they’d rather consider just Stella? Or Stella as a first name and Maris as a middle? Or Stellamaris? Actually, now that I think about it, I might prefer Stellamaris for them, only because Maristella and Stella by itself both rhyme with Majella, where Stellamaris doesn’t, since it has a different ending.

— Madonna: Okay, I know this isn’t an Mar- name, but I wondered if they might like the idea of Madonna — which of course refers to Our Lady’s motherhood — as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mil (since they’re both mothers, and Madonna doesn’t begin with Mar- but it does begin with Ma-, like Maryanne and Marie)? I know it’s still really controversial as a first name (I hope Catholics can reclaim it one day!), but I LOVE it in the middle name spot, like this mama did for her daughter. It wouldn’t work as a middle name for Lucciana or Gianna, since it would rhyme with them, but something like Lucia Madonna or Rosa Madonna would be lovely!

(2) Jacinta
I’d actually already jotted down Jacinta for this family while reading Jessie’s email, even before doing my research (I was inspired by Lucia), and then I was excited to see it listed as a style match for Maribel in the BNW! I like that it’s a more unusual name, and relates to Our Lady of Fatima, so it has that nice connection for a May baby. It’s got similar sounds as Gianna, and it occurs to me that Jane or Janie/Janey could even be a nickname for Jacinta! (Or not, if they hate that idea! I always have lots of ideas, haha!) If they really prefer Italian names, they could spell it the Italian way: Giacinta, which also opens up Gia or Gigi and even Giana as nickname possibilities.

(3) Gemma
When doing my research in the BNW, I really look for names that are listed as a style match for more than one of the names on the parents’ list. Gemma is one! It’s a match for both Jude and Gianna, and St. Gemma Galgani is a saint much loved by many. Additionally, Gemma means “gem” (as in “precious stone”) in Italian, which is such a sweet meaning for a little girl.

(4) Chiara
Chiara was actually a match for three of the names they like: Lucia, Francesca, and Gianna! It’s the Italian form of Clare, and it’s a name I see considered quite a bit by families I work with, not only for St. Clare of Assisi, but also for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano and Servant of God Chiara Corbella Patrillo.

(5) Loretta
Finally, when I saw Loretta listed as a style match for Leonard, I knew I wanted to suggest it! Though I think most people might think of it as either an old lady name or a Hollywood starlet name (since it peaked in popularity in 1938, and was the name of beautiful 40’s Hollywood actress Loretta Young), which may or may not appeal to Jessie and her hubs, it’s actually an Italian name! It could be a form of Lauretta (an Italian elaboration of Laura), but Catholics consider it to be a nod to Loreto, “the name of a small town in Italy where stands a small house, held by tradition to be the house in which Our Lady was born and grew up, and in which the Annunciation and the Incarnation took place (known as the Holy House of Nazareth). Angels are said to have carried the house there in the 13th century. The Litany of Loreto (Litaniae Lauretanae in Latin), also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lists many of Our Lady’s beautiful titles” (quote taken from my book).

And those are all my ideas for Jessie and her husband! What do you think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister of Leonard, Lillian, Jude, and Majella?


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

Baby name consultation: Third consultation with all new name ideas for little green bean

Happy feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!! It’s such a great feast day!! (I have a bunch of names for this title of hers in my book, including Rosary itself — like this little lady!)

Today’s consultation is for a repeat customer! My friend Amy has been one of my longest readers and has contributed so much to my knowledge of the beautiful names of our faith through her comments on posts and emails to me over the years — in fact, I included one of her name ideas, Marian Fiat, in my book! I had the great privilege of doing a consultation for her second baby (and birth announcement) and a consultation for her third baby (and birth announcement), and I posted her explanation of how name signs are bestowed for those who use American Sign Language, and now I’m delighted to post this consultation for her fourth baby on earth, a little green bean!

This little joins big sibs:

Kristy Marie (after Jesus and Mary, with honor to God first in the firstborn)
Martin Kane II (goes by Kane)
Molly Victoria (speaking of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary — it used be known as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, and Amy loves that Molly’s middle name can also be for Our Lady of Victory!)
Joey Angel (died almost exactly a year ago at 9 weeks, miscarried at 11 weeks)

I love each one of these names and the reasons behind them, which Amy explained in her previous posts — she and her hubby have done an amazing job!!

Amy writes,

So we have a lot of hard hitting bases covered. Named after God, Mary, a saint, family, people we want honor/emulate, etc. So I feel like we are starting into territory that we may have more freedom to just pick something we like. However, I still really like having a name that has deep significance. In general, I feel like I have more criteria ideas than actual name ideas. But here is what I have so far.

For both a boy name and a girl name:

— I don’t want to start with a K or a hard C sound (like Catherine)

— After K, K, M, doing another K would leave Molly out and set us up for a pattern I don’t really want (all or a lot of Ks). I want to move away from it.

— I might want to avoid a y ending

— This is kind of opposite of the 1st criteria — Kane is pretty much the only one without a y ending (Marty, Amy, Kristy, Molly, Joey, even the dog Lucy). It would be nice to move away from this pattern too.

— Maybe start with M or A or even a J?

— Kristy and Kane, Molly and M____ have a nice ring. Or even teams on the initials — Kristy/Kane, Marty/Molly, Amy/A___. Or subtle, almost hidden patterns with the initials – K, K, M, M, J, J (Kristy Kane Martin Molly Joey J___)

— Normal/common/familiar name and spelling, that is not popular or rising in popularity. I like unique names and spellings! Plus the whole point of a name is to distinguish one person from another! But… I don’t want it to be a burden. I don’t want negative reactions to them (You named them what? Seriously? That is a weird name. etc.), always needing to correct people or spell it for them or being difficult for others to pronounce, and I don’t want them to be one of 4 kids in the same class/grade with the same name saddled with their last initial (Emma A. Emma B.). Besides I think I have seen research that shows people with more common names generally have better luck, they are hired more easily or considered for promotion more, taken more seriously, etc. I think try avoid top 100, maybe 200. In addition to this, we accidentally picked names that we realized have multiple spelling options (in Kristy and Kane, even Molly) and I don’t like how people can get them wrong.

— No gender neutral names — I reserve these for miscarried babies that we don’t know gender … It is similar to the familiar criteria point — I want it easier for my kid, not making people wonder or assume when they see the name in print if it matches the person (substitute at school: Jordan? Is he here today? No SHE is not)

— I tend to want a name you almost can’t nickname. I know this one makes you a bit sad 😉 But I want my babies to be called what we named them, that is why we picked that name. Granted, we kind of do this with Kane. Technically his first name is Martin and I am always correcting people like doctor’s offices and it’s a pain (breaking the common criteria point).

— My husband sent me an article where he found the patron saint of handgunners (Italian guy). We have never really considered patron saints before. That might be a good idea! I am a teacher of the deaf (and deaf myself), husband is a gunsmith and kung fu instructor. I don’t know if you would find anything down those lines… 🙂

For a boy name:

— Clearly masculine. Goes with the gender neutral point. A strong name, not soft

— [Husband] considers Craig for a middle, and maybe Adam Craig, after his dad Martin Craig, who goes by Craig. And sort of his brother, Andrew Craig. Plus we seem to have Craigs in the family — “gotta have it!” But I feel like we already named after his dad in Kane. However, I probably don’t mind it being in the more hidden middle spot. Besides he is a great man. The Adam Craig idea he came up with combining our 2 brothers (mine is Adam James) and makes for a cool nickname (ACE) from the initials, plus goes with the A initial criteria idea. 

— I have always considered Lincoln for a middle. It was my grandpa’s name on my mom’s side (Donald Lincoln) and I just think it sounds cool. Not sure I like it enough for the first name spot or if it matches our others for a first name plus it is rising in popularity pretty quick from what I see.

— James or Magnus? We considered James Magnus in the hospital with Kane and wanted to call him Magnus. Has the M or the J from the initial criteria point. James is my dad (and hero), but we already named after my mom (Vicky) in Molly … maybe a middle? There is already a James at the baby sitters. Magnus is strong, but is it too unfamiliar? Not sure if husband still likes this idea (he was the one who brought up Magnus before).

For a girl name:

— Clearly feminine. Goes with the gender neutral point. A pretty name. 

— I have always had Marian Fiat on my list, is it still there?? For reasons you know. Although, I am not feeling as strong about it this time around. But is still just so awesome! Fits the M criteria idea.

— Some form of Nell? After a dearly beloved person — Lynelle. She was my aunt, Godmother, confirmation sponsor, confidant, maid of honor and Kristy’s Godmother who passed away just after Christmas a few years ago. We called her Nellie … I would love to find a way to name after her, maybe in a middle spot? She was just so special to me and never had children of her own (although I gave her Joey). Husband isn’t feeling it (Nell).

— A form of Mary in there somewhere? Pretty sure you can help me out in this realm 😉 Both our girls have a form of Mary, might be fun to continue the trend if a girl, even if it isn’t obvious. Marian would tick that box

 

I liked how Amy said that they’ve already covered “a lot of hard hitting bases” and now she feels like they might have more freedom to pick something they like. But then again, Amy said she likes having names with deep significance, and that’s something I kept coming to as well — I feel like she wouldn’t be content with a name that merely fits her style, she’ll want it to have layers of meaning like her other kids’ names do. So that made it an extra challenge for me, and affected my strategy: I basically looked for names that seemed like they’d fit Amy and her hubby’s style and that start with M, J, or A and don’t end in the y sound (and that were Marian, for a girl), and then I tried to backfit meaning into them. It’s not a bad strategy — I’ve used it when naming my own kids — hopefully it works well in terms of offering Amy ideas that she likes!

I also loved that Amy stated that she likes unique names and spellings — good for her to just own it! But I also love that she acknowledges that choosing unique names/spellings could be hard for one’s child. I think she has a great, balanced mindset here.

I laughed when Amy said she’d prefer a name that can’t be nicknamed, and then followed it with “I know this one makes you a bit sad”! Haha! Well, you all know I do love a good nickname, but if parents prefer no nicknames, that’s fine with me! I only ever want to help parents find names *they* like, no matter what I think.

As for the names Amy and her hubs are considering:

— I like Adam Craig for all the positive reasons Amy listed, but if she doesn’t love it then I think it should be crossed off the list, in order to help them whittle it down.

— I loved James Magnus when Amy was pregnant with Molly, and I can see it having extra significance this time around, with the J matching up with Joey’s initial and the M with Molly’s — especially if he went by his middle name, like Kane does. Then they’d have Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Magnus, which has a really pleasing rhythm. If James is problematic, though, because popularity/there’s a James at the babysitter’s/they already honored Amy’s parents with her mom’s name as Molly’s middle, maybe a different J name? I have some ideas below.

— I love the name Lincoln anyway, and the fact that it’s a family name for Amy is so great! As she noted, it has had a pretty steep rise in popularity and at no. 40 is far more popular than what Amy said she’d like. But as a middle name I think it’s perfect — unexpected and so cool.

— I still love Marian Fiat! I just love that it makes a phrase, while still being a name, you know? But maybe a different Marian name in the first name spot would be enough to freshen it up for Amy?

— I love Amy’s idea of honoring her Lynelle, and using Nell as the way to do so is a great idea. Some names that take Nell as a nickname or are contained within the name include Helen, Helena, Elena, Eleanor (which Amy had said in one of the previous consultations that her dad had suggested, along with Ellison), Ellen, and Elizabeth — in fact, “Nell” is a traditional nickname for any name beginning with El, as people used to say “mine El,” which shifted to “my Nell.” I remember from Molly’s consultation that Amy had a friend named Ellen who’d passed away, and Marty’s mom’s middle name is Ellen, and Amy also mentioned maybe Elizabeth for her Grandma Betty — Ellen or Elizabeth could be perfect candidates for middle names for all those reasons. I also came across Antonella and Marinella — both are Italian names, with the former being a feminine form of Anthony and the latter an elaboration of Marina. And Marianella is the name of the Italian town where St. Alphonsus Liguori was born. These three names seem bigger than what Amy would like as a first name, but they’d be great in the middle spot; additionally, Amy said in the past she might like a nod to her Italian heritage, and these would certainly do it! Both Marinella and Marianella would include the Marian element, and they’re also both similar to Marielle, which Amy had previously said Marty had suggested when she was pregnant with Kristy.

I spent quite a bit of time looking back at the consultations for Kane and Molly and the comments on the posts as well, and wanted to be sure to mention the following names as ones I think Amy and her hubs might like to revisit (some are ideas Amy mentioned before, and some are ones I previously suggested that I still think are good ideas):

— Alice or Elise: Amy had mentioned considering Alice for Kristy and the Spanish pronunciation ah-LEES — I like that Alice starts with an A, like Amy’s name and Joey’s middle, and I like that Elise is one of those El names that Nell could be a nickname for and has that same pronunciation as the Spanish Alice. Elise is a French form of Elizabeth, so that could be for Grandma Betty too.

— Samuel: I love the name Samuel, and the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible is a great one of a mother longing for a baby and having her prayer answered — it might be particularly meaningful after the loss of Joey. Additionally, Amy said she might like to work gunsmith info into the name — Samuel Colt is the guy for whom the firearm company is named, so Samuel could be a subtle but real nod to Marty’s profession!

— Vincent: I really like Vincent for them, as it has that Italian feel, and Amy had mentioned previously that they were close to a priest named Fr. Vince.

— Mandy: My favorite suggestion for Kane if he’d been a girl was Amanda Victoria — that was when Amy was thinking of AVE initials. I thought Mandy was a great fit as Kristy’s sister, and I continue to think it’s a great fit for Kristy, Kane, and Molly’s sister. The full Amanda means “beloved,” which is awesome — and is the same meaning as Amy’s name! — and Mandy also retains that meaning. I’m including Mandy here instead of Amanda because Amy doesn’t want a nicknameable name, if possible, and the M of Mandy fits with her hope for an A, J, or M name. I know it ends in Y, but they could use Manda instead if they prefer?

— Joanna/Johanna, Gianna: I’d previously suggested Joanna, and Amy said she prefers Johanna — I like them both! They’re J names, which fits what Amy’s looking for; they’re variants of John, which is Amy’s dad’s middle name; and they can nod to Marty’s grandmother Joan! I do wonder thought if the Jo- sound is too similar to Joey’s? Amy had also previously said she likes the name Gianna; while it doesn’t have the J initial, it does have the J sound, and it’s the Italian variant of Joanna/Johanna, and gets away from the possibly problematic Jo- sound, so it might be perfect!

— Jason: I suggested Jason for Kane and Amy didn’t love it then, but I continue to think it fits well with her other kids’ names, and I love that it’s biblical too. I know Amy doesn’t want nicknames, but Jay is a great one. (Ooh — I wonder if they would consider Jay as a given name?? I like that!!)

— Amelie, Emily, Amelia: A reader suggested Amelie for Molly, which Amy said she likes, and she also said she likes Amelia, as it could be a tribute to her, and Emily was a name that Amy had listed as a possibility in the past as well. Of these, only Amelia doesn’t end in the Y sound — it’s a beautiful A name!

— Jenna, Jemma: This was actually on my list of names to suggest this time around, and then I saw that Kristy’s favorite name for when Amy was pregnant with Molly (I think) was Jenna from Balto! Haha! I think it would be worth considering — it begins with a J and doesn’t end in a Y, I like it! Similarly, I’d suggested Gemma for them in the past, which Amy didn’t care for, but I thought maybe she’d changed her mind, especially if they spell it Jemma, so as to get that J in there.

— Calabria nn Callie: This was a name Amy had emailed me about outside of the previous consultations, which is an amazing name connected to her Italian heritage — I loved that she was considering it last time, and wondered if she still is? I love Callie with her kids’ names too, but is it too similar to Molly? And it begins with that hard K sound, so it’s probably off the table (at least for now), right?

Alrighty, on to new ideas! Coming up with new ideas was hard! Having done it twice already with similar criteria, I was starting to feel like I had nothing new to offer! But I came up with a few ideas that I’m kind of excited about:

Girl
(1) Justine (or Justina)
Justine is the name I’m most excited about for Amy and her hubs! I knew both a little Justina and a little Justine when I was younger and they were so darling, so I have all good associations with these otherwise pretty rare names (Justine dropped out of the top 1000 in 2009 and Justina dropped out in 2000). Of the two, Justine is my favorite for this family because it’s two syllables, like Kristy and Molly (kind of nice for sisters to share that! Thought certainly not necessary), and doesn’t have a natural nickname as far as I know. It begins with a J, has a great meaning (“just”), and there are actually several saints named Justina, who of course would be patron for a Justine. If they prefer Justina though, I love that too!

(2) Jillian (or Jill?)
For some of my research, I just perused the A, M, and J sections of the Baby Name Wizard to see if anything jumped out at me, and Jillian did! It’s actually a variant of Julian, which is where a patron saint would come from, but I think stylistically more the kind of name Amy would like. I’m hearing it a bit more here and there—Kristin from One Hail Mary at a Time named her baby Jillian Rose, for one example—but it ranked no. 735 in 2018 and is dropping. Lillian and Vivian were two names that did well for this family in my research, but I thought they were more popular than Amy would like — Jillian has their sounds without their popularity. Even as I write this though, I’m thinking Jill might be even more Amy’s style — not only does it have the same patron saint options as Jillian, but it dropped out of the top 1000 in 2001, which I know she’ll like!

(3) Maeve
This is another name that jumped out at me as I was looking through the BNW, because it begins with an M, because it’s one syllable (which I thought Amy might like, as a complement to Kane), because it has the long A sound like Amy and Kane, and because its meaning, given by Baby Names of Ireland as “the cause of great joy,” is why I included it in my book (because of Our Lady’s title “Cause of Our Joy”) — it seemed like the perfect meaning after the loss of Joey. It was no. 334 in 2018, so it fits Amy’s criteria of not in the top 100 or even 200.

(4) Megan
Kristy, Molly, and Megan seem like such perfect sister names to me — Megan was yet another one that jumped out at me. It was no. 545 in 2018 and is dropping, which makes it great popularity-wise for them, and it’s a form of Margaret, which is where the patron saint would come from. I think it’s a great option!

(5) Emilia
I didn’t include this with the Amelie/Emily/Amelia names above because I didn’t want it to get lost, and I don’t think we discussed it before. Emilia’s the Italian variant of Emily, and sounds like Amelia, I thought Amy might like it! It’s also John Paul’s mom’s name!

(6) Tess or Tessa
I know Tess and Tessa don’t start with the desired A, M, or J, but I really like them with Kristy, Kane, and Molly, so I thought I’d include them anyway, just in case. I like that Tess is one syllable, like Kane, and that Tessa is two syllables, like Kristy and Molly, and that neither one end in the Y sound. They’re derived from Theresa, so any of the holy Theresas can be patron.

(7) Barbara
I’m not sure if I think Amy will like Barbara or not, but St. Barbara is the patron of ammunition workers, artillerymen, and gunners, so I thought she might like to consider it, since she said she and Marty might like to consider patron saints of gunsmiths. Kendra Tierney just named her baby girl Barbara Josephine, and it’s actually never been out of the top 1000, though it’s at its all-time low right now at no. 930. Could be perfect for this family! If not as a first name, maybe as a middle?

(8) Mercy
My last girl idea for Amy and her hubs is Mercy, another one of the names that jumped out at me during my research because it begins with M and it’s got such great faith connections (Our Lady of Mercy, Divine Mercy). I know it ends in Y, and it’s a bit unusual for a first name, but not unheard of (Mercy and its variants were big among the Sancta Nomina families during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, for example).

Boy
(1) Jacoby (or Jake)
One of the things that constantly stymied me when I was compiling the list of names that I thought Amy might like was popularity — so many times I’d think I’ve found a perfect name, only to discover it’s way more popular than she’d like. Jacoby was actually inspired by Amy’s previous idea of James Magnus and how James would be for her dad, but even though in the James Magnus scenario they were intending to call him Magnus, I still thought Amy’s dad was good inspiration. I actually loved the idea of Jamie for this family, except that Amy said she wanted gender-specific names. James is way too popular, at no. 4, but its Hebrew counterpart Jacob only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 after years at no. 1, so that didn’t seem a good idea. Then I saw Jacoby in my research and thought maybe? It ends in Y unfortunately, but otherwise I think it’s pretty cool and unexpected. Or maybe they’d like just Jake as a given name? I love Jake, love love love, and as a given name it’s only no. 262.

(2) Justin
Justin is a pretty big style match for this family, and St. Justin Martyr is pretty cool. Whether they prefer Justine/a for a girl or Justin for a boy, I like this family of name for them!

(3) Phillip
Philip is a style match for Martin, and even though Kane doesn’t go by his first name, I still thought it would be interesting to include a Martin match. I love Philip! St. Philip Neri is pretty awesome. Then, when I was looking back at mine and Amy’s emails and the other consultations I did for her, I saw that Phillip is a relative’s name — a grandfather’s name, I believe. I also liked that PJ is a family nickname for Amy — maybe something like Phillip James for the grandfather and Amy’s dad would be perfect, with that extra nod to Amy herself?

(4) Gabriel (or Gabe?)
Amy said Marty told her about the patron saint of handgunners, and after doing some research I think he must have discovered St. Gabriel Possenti, also known as St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. As far as I can tell, he’s not actually the patron saint of handgunners — there’s been a push to have him so named, but the Church has not complied — but he’s a great saint regardless! The connection to Our Lady of Sorrows might be a nice nod to Joey, I really like that. I love the name Gabriel and think it could work with Kristy, Kane, and Molly, but if they wanted to use just Gabe, I actually like that too! Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Gabe … I like that Gabe is one syllable like Kane and has that long A like Kane and Amy.

(5) Francis (Frank?)
In addition to handgunners/gunsmiths (and kung fu or martial arts, neither of which I could find patron saints for), Amy also asked about patron saints of the deaf  — there are a few, with St. Francis de Sales being the most well known I think. AND the birth name of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows is Francis Possenti! Two for one patron saints! They could certainly use Francis as a first or a middle, but maybe Frank is more their speed?

(6) Jay
Finally, I know I mentioned this above, but I wanted to mention it again so it doesn’t get lost in the conversation: The more I think about it, the more I like the name Jay for this family! I like that it’s one syllable like Kane, with the long A like Kane and Amy. There’s no possible nickname, and though it ends in Y it doesn’t end in the Y sound. It can cover all the J-named people they might like to honor too!

And those are all my ideas for Amy’s little one! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Kristy, Kane, Molly, and Joey, taking into account all the things Amy both likes and dislikes?


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

Spotlight on: Cosima

A reader asked for a spotlight on Cosima, what a cool name! This was extra fun to work on because I didn’t really know anything about it until starting to do the research — how neat to discover it’s a feminine form of Cosmas! Like the twin saints, Cosmas and Damian!

In fact, let’s talk about Cosmas for a sec — I love that it’s a Catholicky Catholic name (in the Canon of the Mass, even!), and I love that it’s tailor-made for a twin (along with Cosmas’ actual twin, Damian — this mama did an awesome job incorporating both saints into her twin boys’ names! — and also Thomas, which means “twin”). I even love that Cosmo is one of its variants — who knew that Kramer has such a saintly name?? 😀

But of all the Cosmas variants — Kosmas, Cosmo, Kuzman, Cosimo, Côme, Cosma, Cosme, Cosmin, Kuzma — there’s only one feminine variant, isn’t that interesting?

Cosima is an Italian name, but I don’t think it comes across as overly Italian, do you? I mean, I think a family with no Italian heritage could consider it without raising eyebrows, do you agree? (Not that I think eyebrow-raising names are a bad thing!) In fact, Nameberry says it’s “the kind of elegant and exotic name the British upper classes love to use for their daughters” and that it’s “well used in Germany, Italy and Greece.”

Behind the Name says its pronunciation is KAW-zee-ma, but commenters said they’ve heard KO-zi-muh, KO-see-ma, ka-see-MAH, and cho-SEE-ma — if you’ve heard it in real life, what pronunciation(s) have you heard?

Based on those pronunciations, I can see Cosi (cozy), Cosi (kaw-zee), and Sima being doable as nicknames — can you think of others?

There are a few celebrity babies named Cosima, including the daughters of chef Nigella Lawson and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, as well as the daughter of supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who deserves a special shout-out because of the whole sibling set: Cosima Violet, Clementine de Vere, and Caspar Matthew. Ohhhhh my! ❤ ❤ ❤

I also saw several references to Cosima as a character’s name on the show Orphan Black, which I’m not familiar with, and the daughter of composer Franz Liszt; that Cosima was also the wife of composer Richard Wagner. I didn’t find any saints named Cosima, however.

What do you all think of Cosima? Would you consider it for a daughter? Do you know any Cosimas, and if so, do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?


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

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

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

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

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

rocco

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

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

SHE ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ROCCO!

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

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

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

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


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

Baby name consultation: Name for baby no. 3/boy no. 2 that ideally moves away from the English theme

Beth and her husband are expecting their third baby and second boy! He joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“each are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo so it was a win win“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 4 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as Protestant convert“)

I love both Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate — they’re so classic and sort of sophisticated, but also sweet. ❤

Beth writes,

I love both of [my children’s] names and knew the minute the ultrasound revealed their gender that that would be their name. Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them. Both are strongly English names, which was not intentional. I feel like this has pigeonholed us into having to keep the English theme up, even though it wasn’t important to us. In fact we would rather that not be a consideration at all. Also, both start with “C” as does my husband’s name, and that was also not intentional and not at all something we want to continue. Lastly, I have a thing about nicknames — since my name is just Beth, I have always been sensitive to naming my children with a longer name and then nicknaming them the shorter name we use. But also I love their longer name if they want to use it or a variation some day.

For a girl, we were going to use either Rosemary or Teresa (Tessa). I love both of these names (both have Saint and deep family connection for us), but I don’t love any of our boy names. We are out of family boy names and Saints that would work for naming.

First, names I can’t/won’t use for various reasons (I put a * by ones I really like and would consider if possible):

James* (I love James largely because it was my grandpa’s name, but it’s already in the family this generation and, in addition, my husband doesn’t care for it or my nickname, Jamie)
Jack*
Benjamin (Ben)*
Will (William)*
Caleb (C name)*
John
Alexander*
Matthew
Vincent
Daniel
Eli/Elijah
Isaac/Isaiah
Aaron
David
Brian
Graham
Adam
Levi
Joseph (family name I would consider for a middle name)
Augustine
Micah
Timothy
Max (all its forms)
Dominic
George
Ignatius
Jude
Peter
Paul
Philip
Thomas
Nathan
Sebastian
Michael
Zachary
Arthur

Names we like (none that really stand out to us):
Henry
Samuel
Gabriel (Gabe)
Leo (I’m leaning away from this one)
Benedict (I love this for a middle due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom my husband and I both like a lot, but I’m afraid it’s too heavy for a first name)
Andrew (my husband doesn’t care for the nicknames Andy or Drew which seem to rule this out)
Theodore (Theo) (probably not)
Thaddeus (Thad) (again, probably not)

Saints in our heavenly family (and reasons why this list isn’t helpful):
St. Raymond Nonnatus (notable that my grandpa’s name was James Raymond, and he went by Raymond, but I don’t actually like Raymond despite loving the man dearly)
St. David (My husband’s dad’s name coincidentally; we don’t really want to do first names for grandparents though)
St. Catherine of Siena (honored with my daughter’s name)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (ditto)
St. Charles Borromeo (Son’s name)

I feel like I have read every baby name book and consultation you’ve done, and I just can’t come up with what this little boy’s name is. The hardest part are the names we can’t use that I love. We need help!

While reading Beth’s email, I was struck by how she said, “Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them,” which is such an amazing thought, isn’t it?

I was also interested that Beth said she feels a bit pigeonholed into keeping up the English theme, and that she’d rather that not be a consideration. Unfortunately, a lot of the names that seem like good ideas for her and her hubs fit very nicely into an English theme! Fortunately both Charles and Catherine — and the names on my list of suggestions below — have saintly ties that really pull them out of the realm of strictly English names and place them in the “saint’s name” category, which really opens up their possibilities. In fact, I would encourage them to start trying to re-categorize Charlie and Cate’s names in their minds as “super saintly” rather than “English” — I think that will help them moving forward. Both St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena were Italian saints, after all! And Catherine is also the French spelling of her name (as well as an English spelling, of course), so focusing on those characteristics will be helpful I think. If they’re just feeling very tied to the English feel, they could try reframing them as “royal” — Charles and Catherine would fit in with the royalty of many countries!

I’m with Beth on no more C names, at least not for this baby — three really does seem to make a definitive statement, so doing a non-C name for baby no. 3 would probably be best if they don’t want to continue with C names. I also love that they’d prefer a longer name with an everyday nickname — I too am a huge fan of options!

I love both Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa and used both of those as additional inspiration when doing research for this family, though I focused more heavily on trying to find names that were similar to the boy names that they like. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having any more saints that they’d like to honor — I often find that parents are introduced to a saint through the naming of their baby, almost as if the saint found them! (I wrote about saints finding us here.)

I had a couple thoughts about the names they like but can’t or won’t use that might be helpful:

  • James: I wonder if a different nickname than Jamie would both help Beth’s husband warm up to the name and differentiate their son’s name enough from the other family member(s) with the name? My first thought was Jake — James and Jacob are the same name (James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew), so there’s an actual connection between James and Jake; additionally, Jake is so similar to the Jack that they like but can’t use that it might really be a good option for them. To make Jake as a nickname for James even stronger, they could consider a middle name with a strong K sound — I’ve been crushing on James Kolbe for a while, for example. Or James paired with hubby’s hard-C first name! What a nice nod to both Beth’s hubby and her grandpa!
  • Because they have Benjamin on the list of names they like but won’t use, and Benedict on the list of names they’re considering but think it might be too heavy for a first name, I wonder what they’d think of Bennett? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it can absolutely be a nod to our Pope Emeritus (I love him too!), but it’s not heavy like Benedict and of course it can take the nickname Ben like both Benjamin and Benedict.

Regarding the names on their list:

  • Henry: Love it, such a sweet name and there are so many great Sts. Henry (I spotlighted it here). If they really want to move away from the English feel, this is perhaps not a great option (but it would fit in so well!).
  • Samuel: This is a great option from the perspective that it doesn’t have an overly English feel, and I love the nickname Sam, it’s a great fit with Charlie and Cate.
  • Gabriel: One of my very favorites, I love it!
  • Leo: Another one I love, and one we strongly considered. St. Leo the Great is an amazing patron saint.
  • Benedict: Discussed above.
  • Andrew: If Andy and Drew are the obstacles to this name, maybe considering a different nickname would help? I’ve see Ace used for Andrew, for example. Or maybe something with the middle name … Andrew Benedict nicknamed Abe? Andrew Joseph nicknamed AJ?
  • Theodore: The Leo/Theo names are rising in popularity, so I’m not surprised to see Theo(dore) on their list! Though I love Leo, I can see how Theodore might appeal to Beth more, since it’s longer and provides more options.
  • Thaddeus: I love the name Thaddeus, and Tad/Taddy is my favorite nickname for it, though I do know a Thaddeus nicknamed Thad, and another who goes by Ted.

And a thought about St. Raymond: I wonder what Beth and her hubs would think of Redmond? It’s a variant of Raymond (via the Irish variant Reamann, which Redmond is an anglicization of), so it can nod to Beth’s grandpa and St. Raymond, but I think it feels a bit fresher, and I personally think Red is one of the cutest nicknames.

Okay! On to my additional suggestions. I looked up all the names Beth and her husband have used and like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) in the Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also went through my own mental files, and came up with a list of possibilities that I then cross-checked against their list of names they can’t/won’t use. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Louis
Okay, I’m just going to jump right out there with an overtly English name! Louis just did so well for this family in my research that I can’t not suggest it, and although it’s the new prince’s name (I know! I totally get why they might not want to use it!), it’s more a French name I would think, and St. Louis de Montfort is awesome, as is St. Louis Martin.

(2) Luke
Luke did really well for this family in my research, being similar to Cate, Gabriel, and Jack. I consider Luke to be a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian, which I love. One fairly big negative in this case is that it’s not a long name, like Beth would prefer, but it is a full name in its own right.

(3) Nicholas
I really like Nicholas for this little guy. It’s not obviously English, and it has the great nicknames Nick, Nicky, and Nico, as well as Cole, which is adorable but since it starts with a C, I can see why they might not prefer it. They can certainly use St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus) as patron, and he’s wonderful, but I love St. Nicholas Owen, and the fact that he was English is, I think, a selling point here rather than a negative, because if Beth and her hubs ever decided they love the English feel after all, Nicholas can fit right in. At the same time, I don’t think people think “English/British” when they hear it at all. A nice option! There’s also Pope St. Nicholas the Great.

(4) Edmund, Edward
I know, these are probably too English for Beth, but they’re amazing matches for their style! Edward is a match for Charles, Catherine, Henry, and William, and Edmund for Benedict and Theodore. St. Edmund Campion is amazing; St. Edward the Confessor is amazing; and the traditional nicknames for both Edmund and Edward — Ed(die), Ned, and Ted — are really sweet (and Ted can also be used for Theodore and Thaddeus, which makes me feel even more that they might like this idea). I’ve also seen Ward used as a nickname for Edward, which is a fun, unexpected twist.

(5) Bartholomew
Bartholomew is similar in feel to Benedict and Thaddeus, and one of the interesting things about it is that when I was reading A Dictionary of English Surnames (by Reaney & Wilson), it seemed to me that Bartholomew was a strong contender for the name from which came more English surnames than any other. There are so many! And many of them would work wonderfully as given names, or as nicknames for Bartholomew. Bart is the most familiar choice these days, but Bartlett, Batten, and Bates are all variants that I love as possible nicknames (though probably not Bates as a brother to Cate, right?). (I wrote more about my findings from that book here.)

(6) Robert
Robert is a style match for both James and William, and it really came on my radar when I encountered a couple of people, unrelated to each other, who loved the nickname Bo and wanted to find a formal name for it. Both considered Robert, and I thought Robert nicknamed Bo was a really cute idea! I also like both Robbie and Bobby, they’re such sweet nicknames. St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian saint, like St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena, which is a cool connection.

(7) Gregory
As I mentioned, I didn’t give as much weight to the style matches for Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa as I did the boys’ names, but when I saw Gregory listed as a style match for Teresa, I thought it was a great suggestion. St. Gregory the Great is an awesome saint and was a pope (just like St. Leo the Great and St. Nicholas the Great), and while Greg has fallen somewhat out of fashion as a nickname, others have arisen in its place, like Grey and Gus (especially if paired with an S-heavy middle name — Gregory Stephen? Gregory Samuel? Gregory James? Gregory Joseph?) and Rory.

(8) Nathaniel or Jonathan
I’m including these two together, at the end, because they both have issues that might be insurmountable, but I like them both for this family. I know they have Nathan on the list of names they can’t/won’t use, but I wondered how they’d feel about Nathaniel? It’s a match for Gabriel, Thaddeus, Benjamin, and Alexander, and if they dislike the nickname Nate, there’s also Nat and I’ve seen Nash as well, which is fun. Jonathan also contains “Nathan,” and starts with Jon, and John is on their can’t use list, so I can see why they might not like it, but it’s a long biblical name like Benjamin, Alexander, and Thaddeus, and — Beth will probably hate me for saying this! — one of its traditional nicknames (which has mostly British use! So sorry!) is Jonty, which I’ve just been dying over — SO cute!!

And those are my ideas for Beth and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

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

Lauren writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

Baby name consultation: Uebbing Baby Cinque/Cinq

I’m super excited to post today’s consultation!! Our girl Jenny Uebbing — so called because I had the privilege of doing a consultation for her when she was expecting her fourth baby, and then posting his birth announcement, and she interviewed me for this post on her blog Mama Needs Coffee over at the Catholic News Agency last spring — is expecting her fifth baby in only a few weeks, a little green bean (=gender unknown)!

This little bebe will join big sibs:

Joseph Kolbe
John Paul Francis
Genevieve Therese nicked Evie
Luke Maximilian

Which, I love, of course. So many great names! So many amazing saints represented!

An interesting development between last time, when I really focused on Italian-ish names, because I know Jenny loves all things Italian (and Francesca Rose was a serious contender if Luke had been a girl), is this:

[W]e’ve refined our naming style to be ‘super manly traditional saint names’ for boys and over the top girly, exotic French names (bonus points if it’s a saint we have a devotion to).”

I love the Italian vibe, but I love the French vibe too! Not a problem at all! And it’s very common for parents to have a different taste in names for boys vs. girls, so “super manly traditional saint names” for boys and “over the top girly, exotic French names” for girls is awesome. I love both of those styles!

Jenny continues,

This baby is sex unknown, so for a boy we’ve tossed around Anthony, Benedict, Nicholas, for first names and Blaise, Reid, or Augustine for middles.

For a girl it’s harder. Yesterday I was dead set on Cosette (a feminized diminutive for Nicholas, swoon) Marie-Azelie, but it was a bridge too far for Dave. He suggested Colette as a compromise, but I don’t love it. Other girl possibilities: Isobel/Isabel/Isabelle, Elizabeth/Elisabeth, Zelie, Azelie, Caroline, Grace, Emilia/Emiliana, or some form of Julia/na/ette (for Denver’s own Servant of God, Julia Greeley).

Here are our remaining favorite saints we’ve either yet to use, or whose names we just aren’t crazy about: Mother Angelica, Rose of Lima, Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Calcutta, Augustine, Scanlan (some kind of nod to Fr. Mike), and Patrick. oh, and Our Lady, of course!

Names we can’t use:

Gianna
Josephine
Margaret
Mary
Philomena
anything that starts with an F, last name probs 🙂
Gabriel
Veronica
Stephen
Mark
James
Leah
Anne

I LOVE Cosette, and Cosette Marie-Azelie is amazing! Oh what names we’d all use if we didn’t have to deal with husbands!! Haha! 😀 My very first thought was, “What about Colette?” as it’s also a feminine diminutive of Nicholas, but then of course Jenny addressed it in the next sentence! I wanted to make an argument in favor of Colette anyway, though. A friend of mine named her daughter Maria Colette a while ago because she had a devotion to St. Colette — it was the first time I’d heard of her, so I had to look her up, and I was really taken with her story. Here are a couple that are good: here and here, but neither mention what I really love about her (and why my friend has the devotion to her), which is that she’s the patron of stillbirth, women seeking to conceive, expectant mothers, and sick children, due to her role in stories related here. Anyway, if Jenny doesn’t care for it, then she doesn’t care for it! But it does check off her boxes of “over the top girly” and “French.”

I also love her and her hubs’ ideas of Isobel/Isabel/Isabelle and Elizabeth/Elisabeth (I’m a huge fan of the Elisabeth spelling, both because it’s just a little more unusual than Elizabeth and more French, and also because of Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur), Zelie and Azelie, Caroline (more JP2 love!), Grace, Emilia/Emiliana (for JP2 also, I believe, as his mom’s name was Emilia), and Julia/na/ette (Juliet is one of my all-time faves, and Juliette is so French and lovely! I did a Juliet(te) spotlight here). I’m also still loving the idea we discussed last time of Zelie as a nickname for Elizabeth! And they also might like to consider Elise (a French short form of Elizabeth) or Lisette, which is basically “little Elisabeth,” which is so sweet — really, all the -ette names are just so darling, and so French!

Their boy ideas are great too! Anthony, Benedict, and Nicholas are all wonderful and fit their “super manly traditional saint names” criteria perfectly, and I like the more unusual Blaise, Reid, and Augustine for middles.

As for their saints whose names they maybe aren’t crazy about, some ideas I had include:

  • Though Anthony is on their list is because of St. Anthony of Padua, I thought they could possibly think of it nodding to Mother Angelica as well, since her birth name was Rita Antoinette. Additionally, her Order is a branch of the Poor Clares, founded by Marie Claire Bouillevaux, so Clare/Claire could possibly be used in Mother’s honor as well?
  • You all probably already know that St. Rose of Lima’s birth name was Isabel, so that would of course be a great way to nod to her! She also had a great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, so maybe a name in honor of her could also be considered in honor of St. Catherine?
  • This could be considered a really huge stretch for Cosette, or it might be just perfect to convince Jenny’s hubby: Cosette in Les Miserables’ name was actually Euphrasie (Cosette was a nickname, meaning “little thing,” separate from its use as a variant of Nicholas; Euphrasie is the French form of the Greek name meaning “joyful”), and St. Catherine of Siena was nicknamed Euphrosyne because she was so joyful, sooo … maybe Cosette could be for St. Catherine of Siena?? (It’s this kind of convoluted thinking that makes husbands nervous to hear my ideas I think! Haha!) As a bonus, I actually included Catherine in a list of Advent names I put together last year because of the “joy” connection, so using this same crazy train of thought, Cosette could be good for an Advent baby?
  • I know Therese usually makes people think of St. Therese, but since it’s simply the French form of T(h)eresa, maybe Jenny could think of Evie’s middle name as already nodding to Mother Teresa? And so be able to cross her off the list? Otherwise, her birth name was Agnes, which doesn’t strike me as Jenny’s style for a first name, but would make a smashing middle name
  • Patrick is interesting — it’s definitely a “super manly traditional saint name”! I wonder if Jenny and her hubs would consider it for a first name?
  • Re: Fr. Mike Scanlan and Our Lady, I wonder if they would ever consider something like Marie-Scanlan for a girl? Jenny said they can’t use Mary as a first name (otherwise I would have suggested Mary Scanlan, which really skews very Irish, so probably not a great suggestion anyway), but Marie-Scanlan retains the French tradition of hyphenating, and using Scanlan as the second part of it is so unexpected! If I were to do Marie-Scanlan, I’d consider something like Maisie as a nickname, looove!!

And speaking of hyphenating names, an additional thought about girl’s names before getting into my suggestions: in my opinion, it’s so easy to come up with “over the top girly, exotic French names” by hyphenating one’s favorites! It’s such a French thing to do! Something like Grace-Azelie, for example, would be amazing, and Grace or Gracie could be the everyday call name. It’s fun to come up with different combinations! (Some included below.) And specifically using Marie- as the first part just cements the Frenchiness. Marie-Grace, Marie-Caroline, Marie-Emilia, Marie-Juliette are so beautiful, AND they could consider doing so as a way of nodding to St. Zelie since she herself was Marie-Azelie and she named all her daughters Marie-[something]. Oh, and Marie-Elise could be for St. Elizabeth+SOG Elisabeth Leseur+St. Rose of Lima (Isabel)! I’ve also seen it rendered Marielise, which is beautiful and unusual and maybe easier to deal with than a hyphenated name?

Okay! These are the ideas I came up with (making a point not to duplicate ideas I offered last time, which meant I had to cross Bernadette off my list, which otherwise would have been my no. 1 idea for them this time! Or maybe, in light of the previous paragraph, Marie-Bernarde? Which, as I understand it, was St. Bernadette’s actual given name? Bernadette could be a nickname, or a different nickname altogether); also I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard, but for the girl’s names I found myself going through the list of French names at the back of it rather than sticking to actual style matches for the names Jenny and Dave have used so far:

Girl
(1) Madeleine and/or Sophie
I have these names together in one idea because of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (also called St. Sophie). I have always loved “Madeleine Sophie” (first + middle) or “Madeleine-Sophie” (double first name) because of her, and like with my idea of Marie-Scanlan above, I would have so much fun coming up with nicknames for it, like Maisie. Evie and Maisie! I also love both Madeleine and Sophie on their own for the Uebbings — they’re both gorgeous, girly, saintly French names (though admittedly not very exotic). Madeleine Azelie, Madeleine Grace, Madeleine Isabel, Madeleine Julia, Sophie Eliz/sabeth, Sophie Emilia(na), Sophie Caroline are all just so lovely. And Sophie lends itself so easily to the hyphenated idea! Sophie-Grace (for Grace on their list, which is Marian, as is Sophie — Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom!) or Sophie-Claire (Mother Mary and Mother Angelica together in one!) are amazing! Also, fun fact: the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named for St. Madeleine Sophie!!

(2) Nat(h)alie (or Noelle or Emmanuelle)
How about Natalie (or the extra-French-spelling-but-same-pronunciation Nathalie)? So perfect for a Christmas baby, since Natalie literally refers to Christmas! (Latin natale domini: birth of the Lord.) I also thought maybe they’d like to consider Noelle for the same reason. The Maria Colette I mentioned above has a sister named Noelle, and she’s the sweetest. I also really like the idea of Marie-Noelle or even Marie-Emmanuelle — both so feminine, French, Marian, and Christmasy!

(3) Corinne
Corinne doesn’t come across as super saintly as some other names, but it’s the French form of Corinna, which comes from the Greek for “maiden,” which is kore, which to me screams “Marian”! Also, we’ve seen families using Cora in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and/or the Sacred Heart of Jesus (like this little lady, whose middle name and sisters’ names are right up Jenny’s alley! Also this sweet girl, who also has three big brothers on earth and whose French middle name is also amazing and a great idea for Jenny), so Corinne can be for that as well.

(4) Elodie
Maybe Evie and Elodie is too much E+ee? But I love the name Elodie, it’s so beautiful! It’s the French form of Alodia, and St. Alodia is a pretty great saint for our times.

(5) Rosalie
I offered some other Rose ideas last time (Rosa, Rosanna) as a nod to St. Rose of Lima, but I didn’t suggest Rosalie and I’m thinking it might be a great idea! It’s the French form of Rosalia, which of course is derived from Rose, and it’s one of my current favorite Rose names.

I also thought these posts, which focus on or discuss really French girl names, might be helpful: here, here, here, here.

Boy
(1) Michael
So Michael was specifically listed as a style match for Anthony and Joseph, but I also know a ton of Nicholas and Michael brothers, so I’d say it’s definitely a match for Nicholas too. I know it was the no. 1 boy name every year but one from 1954 to 1998, and it’s still in the top ten and has been since 1943, but it’s certainly a “super manly traditional saint” name, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because of St. Michael and how very powerful he is and how very needed his protection is needed these days. In fact, even though I prefer less popular names, I’ve added Michael to my own list specifically for that reason. Though I don’t think Jenny and her hubs are into unusual nicknames for boys, since I am I’ve been thinking of options for Michael, and Miles and Milo are my favorites. This post by Abby at Appellation Mountain acknowledges a possible connection between Miles and an Old French form of Michael (Mihel), as well as possible connections to words meaning “soldier” and “gracious,” which add some great layers of meaning. In addition, as I’ve mentioned a bunch of times here on the blog, Miles (and Myles and Milo) has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means, “servant of the Virgin Mary,” which I think is amazing. So! Lots to think about it, much of which may not be appealing to the Uebbings, but I can see them liking Michael.

(2) Vincent
Vincent’s a style match for Anthony AND it was Fr. Mike’s real first name! It’s super manly, traditional, and saintly, and thought it’s not necessarily explicitly Italian, it has that feel (like Anthony and Nicholas can also have), which is kind of cool since Jenny likes the Italian vibe.

(3) Thomas
Thomas is a natural brother to Jenny’s older boys! Sts. Thomas More, Aquinas, a Becket, and the Apostle are all amazing, and it’s because of them (and the scads of other holy Thomases) that the name is so traditional and saintly.

(4) Nathan
I really liked the idea of tying in the baby’s name with the fact that he or she is due during the Christmas season. They already have Nicholas on their list, and I would have suggested Andrew (I saw on Facebook that Jenny’s a fan of his novena, which started Nov. 30 and goes until Christmas Eve, the first Sunday of Advent is set according to his feast day) except that sound-wise it’s just not different enough from Anthony (who I know her family has a special devotion to), so I went and scoured my posts on Advent and Christmas names for ideas and while most of them were no good (not their style, or already used by them, or on their “no list”), Nathan jumped out at me from this post I’d done on Jesus’ genealogy as presented in the Gospel of Luke (different than that presented in Matthew, and it’s suggested that Matthew’s might be Joseph’s lineage while Luke’s is Mary’s!). Nathan is one of the ancestors of Jesus who’s not included in Matthew’s list, and the reason it jumped out at me is because Nathaniel was listed as a style match for Nicholas in the BNW and Nathan was listed as a match for Luke. So I definitely thought Nathan was a good idea! It’s certainly manly and traditional and biblical, and it’s SO cool to be able to say he was an ancestor of Jesus, as well as the possible Marian connection.

(5) Miscellaneous
I had a hard time coming up with a fifth boy idea for this little one! I considered Peter, Martin, and Robert, but they all seemed to lack … *something.* I’m not sure what and maybe I’m way off — maybe Jenny and Dave would love one of those names! So I thought I’d put them together as my fifth idea.

And those are all my ideas for Jenny’s fifth baby! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Joseph, John Paul, Genevieve/Evie, and Luke, taking into account their criteria?

Baby name consultation: Brit/Italian(/French?) name for no. 4 green bean

Please keep the Cronin family in your prayers, and if you can donate to their post-Harvey rebuilding efforts, they would be so grateful!

Francine and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big siblings:

Grace Christine
Sophia Rose (frequently called Sophie)
Gemma Catherine

I love these names! Grace and Sophia are gorgeous, feminine names that everyone’s currently loving, so I might have expected their third girl to be something like Ava or Emma, and really loved being surprised by Gemma! Such a beautiful sibling set!

Francine writes,

[For girls we] tend to like names that are somewhat traditional, obviously feminine names (no Taylors or Jordans), and something that could be tied to saint names. You’ll see from our older girls we tend toward British or Italian-sounding names. I do have Italian heritage, but with our family name and the fact that we’re now living in the Midwest it’s not very common around here, so I’m less likely to lean toward those since I don’t want our kid having to explain the spelling/pronunciation of her name to everyone for the rest of her life! We don’t mind nicknames, but prefer to keep them pretty close to the original name, and to call them by their first name. When we were deciding on our oldest’s name, we had a hard time coming up with a middle name that worked well — it seemed like everything sounded better with Grace as the middle name, but we knew we wanted to call her Grace. We also prefer names that will wear well over time … I hear so many names that sound cute for a little girl, but it’s hard to think of it when she’s 40 or 80, you know?

I’m sure you’ll notice that we ended up repeating initials with our first and third… it was coincidence only, and we’re not looking to repeat the pattern. We just liked Gemma’s name enough to not change it. We also don’t mind very much if the name tends to be popular (like Sophia’s), because we figured that if we loved the name our kid can be unique enough on her own!

I love that! I totally agree with Francine that “if we loved the name our kid can be unique on her own” — perfect!! That’s the best mindset!!

[For boys we] do have a front-runner from our last time around, but it’s not set in stone and we thought it would be fun to see what you come up with. 🙂

I have a really big extended family that tends to not reuse names, which also complicates things slightly. This isn’t exhaustive, but here are a few that we’ve ruled out:
Charlotte
Celine
Monica
Magdalene
Theresa/Therese
Victoria
Ava
Bridget
Isabelle
Lucia/Lucy
Marian
Cora

Joseph
Jacob
Michael
Leo
Gregory
Clive
Benjamin
David
Joel
Thomas
John
Caleb
Samuel
Lucas
Joshua
Matthew

This was fun to work on! In particular, Gemma adds a twist that was fun to include when I was trying to think of names that I thought might work for this family. I also don’t mind the repeated initials of Grace and Gemma at all, since they have different sounds.

So first I’m going to mention the two girl names that I decided not to suggest (but I think they’re helpful to mention, just in case). This is based on my research (you all know that I look up the names the parents have used and like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and my own ideas. They are: Tessa (too close to Theresa/Therese? But such a cool way to nod to either saint without repeating a family name) and Charlotte (on their No list, but it was listed as a style match for both Grace and Sophia!). I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Tessa, and I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Charlotte! But I can see why they’d say no to both. And Leo and Lucas both made my final cut for boys before I went back and realized that they were on the No list.

Now on to the names that I actually am suggesting!

Girl
(1) Clare
I really like how Francine said they like British or Italian sounding names — I really kept that in mind when I was thinking of names for them. When I saw Claire listed as a style match for Grace, and Clare for Gemma, I thought it was a winner! It’s a similar length to their other girls’ names, and doesn’t repeat an ending, which isn’t the end of the world if it did, but it’s kind of cool it doesn’t (I mean, yes, it ends in E like Grace, but has a totally different ending sound). It’s the variant traditionally used for St. Clare of Assisi, which is where the Italian comes in (her actual name was Chiara, which would be so gorgeous too! And in fact, both Gemma and Chiara are styles matches for each other in that they’re both listed as matches for Gianna), and it’s the English variant (as opposed to Claire, which is the French. Also gorgeous! But if they want English or Italian, I think Clare’s their best best. Although, Grace’s middle name, Christine is also a French variant, and and so is Gemma’s middle name, Catherine, and even though they use Sophie as a nickname, it too is French, which is a nice nod to Francine’s name and a nice theme to carry throughout). (I also love Clara, if they wanted to go with an A ending.)

(2) Anna (or -anna) or Annabel
This was actually my first idea, before I’d started doing any research for them. Anna is one of those beautiful pan-European names that can be Italian as well as having good usage in English-speaking countries, and it’s got that lovely vintagey feel that Grace and Sophia have. I’m just not entirely sure it’s a great match with Gemma — maybe they sound too similar? If so, I wonder if any of the -anna names would be more appealing? Susanna and Julianna come to mind — both beautiful! Or perhaps Annabel?

(3) Felicity
I took special notice of the names that were similar to Gemma, since her style is a little bit different than her sisters’ — not in a bad way at all! They go together so well! Just a little less popular. One that jumped out to me was Felicity — I love Felicity with Francine’s older girls! I did a spotlight of it, including nickname ideas, here.

(4) Juliet(te)
This is another one that’s a style match for Gemma, and I love it because like Clare it’s an anglicization of an Italian name, so it combines Italian and English pretty well I think. If they liked the idea of continuing the French theme, Juliette’s a beautiful spelling too. I did a spotlight of it and its faith connections here.

(5) A Lily name, or Violet
I loved seeing Lily as a style match for Grace, Lillian for Sophia, Lillie for Sophie, and Lilia for Sofia (I looked up Sophia, Sophie, and Sofia, because I thought it gave me the most complete view of its style and similar names). All those variants are amazing! I was really feeling like a flower name would fit in well with the older girls — a Rose name probably would have been my first thought, except that Sophia’s middle name is Rose — but a Lily name is perfect too, and actually Violet was a style match for Gemma, and I love that too.

Boy
(1) Maxwell
I always love seeing names that are listed as similar to more than one name on the parents’ list. Maxwell is one such, being a match for Grace and Sophia. Max is such a great nickname too!

(2) Henry (or John Henry?) (or Jack?)
Henry’s another that’s a match for more than one name — in this case, Grace and Sophie. It’s definitely got that British feel, and there are lots of holy Henrys. When I looked up the spotlight that that link brings you to, I was reminded of John Henry, which is such a darling combo! I know John is on their No list, but maybe a double name would be okay? And all this makes me think of Jack, which I think would also fit in nicely with their girls, either as a given name or as a nickname for John or a John+ double.

(3) Owen or Oliver
Owen is a match for Grace and Sophie, and you know I love it because of St. Nicholas Owen! Oliver is a match for Sophie and Felicity from my suggestions above, and St. Oliver Plunket is awesome. Both Owen and Oliver are great names that I think would go really well with all the girls, including Gemma, since her name has that British vibe as well.

(4) Nicholas or Colin
Nicholas is a match for Sophia and Colin for Gemma and since Colin can be a variant of (or even a nickname for!) Nicholas, I thought they were both swirling around the right area. I especially liked finding a name that was a match for Gemma — I really like Colin. Using the nickname Nico can also skew Nicholas more Italian-ish, if they’d like to do so.

(5) Tobias
I was so interested to see Tobias as a match for their Gemma’s name, and also for Juliet on my list of suggestions for them. I love it! I feel like it’s kind of unexpected, and the nickname Toby is amazing.

Bonus: Timothy
Timothy didn’t show up in any of my research, but it was my first thought for this family for a boy’s name, before cracking open the BNW. It isn’t Italian or French — in fact, it always strikes me as having an Irish feel, as well as of course biblical — but it seemed to have the boy equivalent of the sweetness I get from Francine’s girls’ names. The full Timothy is so handsome; Timmy and Tim are great, traditional nicknames; and I like the idea of Ty as a nickname for it as well.

And those are my ideas for Francine and her hubs! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Grace, Sophia, and Gemma?