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!

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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: Not-popular boy name or Italian girl name for baby no. 3

Allegra and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little bean joins big sibs:

Anthony David (“Anthony is for my late father, who passed away when I was about 3 years old, who in turn was named for St. Anthony of Padua. We are all Italian if that wasn’t clear 😉 My father went by Tony, which I like, but I just don’t see it in my son so he goes by Anthony. He’s also not even 3 yet, so we’ll see. David is my husband’s middle name“)

Giuliana Catherine (“Giuliana was my girl name choice for Anthony. I’ve liked the Italian spellings of the variants of Giulia/na for a while, so no other reasoning than I just like the name. I also (theoretically) like the nicknames for it, except G, but again we just still call her by her full name so far (she’s about 1.5). Catherine is a family name (my maternal grandmother) and one we both liked. For Giuliana’s patron we chose St. Catherine Laboure“)

Such great names! Yes, they’re not unusual, but they’re classic and saintly and so handsome/beautiful. And such great family connections for both of them!

Allegra writes,

For Anthony I never even considered popularity because I wanted to name him after my father, and then around when we had Giuliana I realized just how many Julianna’s there are, and how I accidentally gave both my kids popular names, even though I claim to like unusual ones.

This is the first time we’ve decided not to find out the sex until birth. My husband isn’t as passionate about baby name discussion as I am (huge shock, I’m sure!) so we’ve only had pretty casual conversations so far, but here are some names we have discussed.

For boys:
Luke (my second choice with Anthony, but I dislike how popular it is)
James (not Jim or Jimmy)
Max (for St. Maximilian Kolbe, but we don’t care for Maximus or Maximilian … any other formal name suggestions? I don’t like nicknames as legal names)

We are growing in our love for St. John Paul II as a family, but we aren’t crazy about the actual name, so any way to tie him in would be great. Overall I worry that our boy name ideas are too boring/popular/plain. I like how unusual my name is but I find it harder to come up with stuff for boys that I like without it being so popular.

For girls:
-Margaret (going by Maggie) — This was actually one of my top choices before I even had a due date, maybe before this pregnancy, and then I found out my due date is the feast of St. Margaret of Antioch! We also have a dear family friend Sister Mary Ann (“Aunt Sis”) whose birthday is 7-22 and initials are MAG and who has the nickname Mags or Maggie, so it’s kind of a subtle way to honor her.
-Maria (or other Blessed Mother names). My husband’s grandmother is also named Mary.
-Grace (again popularity concern)
-Teresa
-Thalia (I actually wouldn’t use this, because it feels too Greek and we are so Italian, but I really like it)
-Sabrina was on my list for Giuliana, but I’m not as crazy about it anymore.

Names we can’t use (niece/nephews) are Joseph, Peter, Filomena, and Angelo. Other saints we like (aside from JPII and Kolbe) are St. Thomas Aquinas (not crazy for Thomas), Sts. Therese/Zelie/Louis (but our dog is Zelda, hah), and St. Padre Pio.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Allegra said she would like to have a less popular name, but the names she likes (especially for boys) are more popular than she’d prefer. I thought this post might be helpful, which discusses how the popular names of today aren’t even close to being as popular as the popular names of the past were; this is also great.

I was really interested to see that in 2016, Anthony was no. 30 and Luke was no. 29. Very well matched!

James is also a great name, but I don’t think Allegra will love that it was no. 5 in 2016. It’s funny to me that she said she doesn’t care for Jim or Jimmy, but prefers James, because most of the little boys with James-type names that I know of go by the full James. That said, I do have a friend who named her son James and calls him Jimmy, and there’s a Jim on my 7yo’s basketball team and a Jim in my 3yo’s nursery school class! Jim! I chuckle every time I hear it, because it sounds like such a man’s name to me. Anyway, all that to say, I totally understand that Allegra prefers James to Jim or Jimmy, but Jim/Jimmy are actually a much more unusual choice (but maybe also starting to rise in popularity?).

An idea for James, if Allegra and her hubs liked the idea of a nickname other than Jim/Jimmy, is Jake. Jacob is the Hebrew form of James, so Jake for James has an actual linguistic connection. But then I was thinking how they like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and I thought something like James Kolbe would be very handsome, and would make even more sense of the nickname Jake. (This is assuming that they even like the nickname Jake, which maybe they don’t! And maybe they prefer a Max first name to Kolbe as a middle! So I hope they just ignore these suggestions if that’s the case. 😊 )

As for Max, the formal Max names I know of besides Maximus and Maximilian are Maxim and Maxwell. I have some other ideas for formal names for Max below in my official suggestions as well.

There are several ways to honor St. John Paul that don’t involve using John Paul. His birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, so any of the names of that family can work: Charles, Carl, Carlo, Karl, Karol for boys and Caroline, Karoline, Karolina for girls. If they use the K spelling, those who are familiar with JP2 would like get it right away, which is fun. I actually really like the idea of Karolina for this family — it’s long and feminine like Giuliana. But I think Carolina is the Italian variant, so maybe they’d prefer that.

His childhood nickname was Lolek, which I believe is a Polish diminutive of Karol, and I’ve seen Lolek used by some families! We even had a discussion of the possibility of Lolek as a nickname of sorts for Luke in this comment; since Allegra has Luke on her list and doesn’t love its popularity, maybe using Lolek as a nickname for Luke will give it that unusualness she hopes for? That same comment suggests Emilia as a nod to JP2, as it was his mom’s name. That could be lovely for this family too! Emilia also has Italian usage! I actually know a super Italian family who named their daughter Emilia because it’s so Italian.

I love the girl names on Allegra’s list, and I’m amazed by all the Margaret/Maggie connections!! It seems like such a great fit for them!! My only thought was, would they like to consider the Italian variant Margarita? Either way, Margaret/Maggie sounds like *the* name for Allegra and her hubs!

Maria, Grace, Teresa are all beautiful, and Thalia and Sabrina surprised me! I like being surprised! I have an idea regarding Thalia in my ideas below.

As for saints Allegra and her hubs like, I have seen boys named Aquinas, and I know one of them goes by Quin. I know they have Teresa on their list, which certainly counts as an honor for St. Therese; I’ve also seen Rose names given in her honor. I could see some Rose names being nice for this family! Rosa and Rosalia are two Italian versions that they might like. Louis for a boy is not popular (no. 289), so they might like to consider it for a first or middle name, or maybe Louisa for a girl? Zelie and Zelda do seem too similar! St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azelie, so maybe some version of that instead? Many people say that Azelie is the French for the azalea flower; if they like the azalea idea, maybe they could do an Italian version? The dictionary says the Italian for azalea is azalea, so maybe Maria-Azalea? I love coming up with nicknames formed from the first and middles — Maria-Azalea could be Maizie or Mariza or Malea or Mia …

The blogger Ana Hahn has a Joseph Pio, and I thought putting Pio in the middle was so interesting! It could help “liven up” a first name that Allegra thinks is otherwise too popular/common? Luke Pio? James Pio? Ooh, if they’re into initials, James Pio could be JP, which could also be a nod to JP2!

Alrighty, on to my suggestions. You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for Allegra, looking up Anthony, Juliana (standing in for Giuliana), Luke, James, Max, Margaret, Maggie, Maria, Grace, Teresa, Talia (standing in for Thalia, which wasn’t as close a match as I’d hoped), and Sabrina. Based on that research, and my own ideas, these are my suggestions for Allegra and her hubs:

Girl

(1) Gabriella
So my original first idea here was Caterina, which I was super psyched about and thought it was perfect for this family,* and then I re-read Allegra’s email and saw that Giuliana’s middle name is Catherine! Gah! I’d totally forgotten! So I changed my first suggestion to Gabriella. Though I was very influenced by Giuliana’s name when coming up with girl ideas — the Italian-ness of it makes it hard for me to think of non-Italian names! — and Gabriella certainly fits in with that, I also like that Gabriella isn’t *uber* Italian, I know a bunch of Gabriellas that aren’t Italian. So it might be a really nice way to start moving their girl style away from “super Italian” without it feeling out of place.

*I thought I’d include what I’d written about Caterina, just in case they’re okay using it for a first name even though they already used Catherine as a middle: “When I saw Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn as style matches for Anthony, Margaret, and Teresa, and Kate as a match for Maggie, I thought Caterina (possibly with the nickname Cate) was perfect! St. Catherine of Siena’s name was actually Caterina, as she was Italian, which makes for a really nice saintly connection.”

(2) Natalia
I was so excited when I started looking up the names included in Allegra’s email and discovered that Natalie is a match for Anthony and Natalia for Juliana! I thought Natalia was such a great suggestion for this family, not only because it’s a style match for their older two children, but also because it nicknames neatly and easily to Talia! Like Thalia on Allegra’s list! Perfect!

(3) Chiara
Claire is a match for Luke and Grace, but of course I felt like I had to Italian it up! Chiara is the Italian form, and like with St. Catherine being originally Caterina, St. Clare of Assisi was actually Chiara, so she can be patron. But more recently, there’s Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who I often see parents naming daughters for — she’s a great, modern patron for a little girl. I did a spotlight on the name here.

(4) Veronica
Veronica’s a match for Anthony, and its long femininity makes it a great sister for Giuliana I think! Such a gorgeous name, and one that I consider exclusively Catholic (though I know it has non-Catholic usage), since she’s never named in the bible but rather her name has come down through tradition. I did a spotlight on it here.

(5) Maristella
This is inspired by the “Maria (or other Blessed Mother names)” on their list, as well as, of course, Giuliana’s Italian-ness. Maristella is from Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” which is rendered as Stella Maris and Maris Stella, which can be used as-is for a girl’s name, but I usually see Maristel(l)a and Stellamaris. Maristella is so lovely!

Boy

(1) Michael
I know Allegra said she doesn’t love that the names she likes tend to be fairly popular, and Michael’s one of those names that sounds uber popular because it was the no. 1 boy name for so long. It’s still a top ten name (no. 8 in 2016, less popular than James), but as that article I linked to above shows, it’s not nearly as huge as it was. It’s a style match for Anthony and Maria, but beyond that, I thought it could get them to Max as a nickname. Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, make the nickname Max really obvious. (Any M name paired with Xavier or Alexander could get them to Max, of course — Matthew comes to mind as another great example.)

(2) Nicholas
Like Natalia, Nicholas is a match for both Anthony and Giuliana! I love that! And its diminutive Cole is a match for Luke. I think Nicholas has that same Italian feel that Anthony has (by which I mean, Anthony and Nicholas can be used by any heritage, but there’s something about them that feels really right on a boy of Italian heritage). As mentioned, Cole could be a nickname, or Nico (which was actually a match for Talia), or of course Nick/Nicky.

(3) Dominic
Dominic also has that Italian feel of Anthony and Nicholas, and like Nicholas can take Nic(o) as a nickname. Or, Dom(my) can work — my dad had a friend Dominick nicknamed Dommy growing up, and I always thought that was really cute.

(4) Nathaniel
Moving away from the Italianate names, Nathaniel is a style match for Giuliana and Nathan for Luke! I like them both, though I like Nathaniel for this family better because its length is nice with Anthony and Giuliana (though of course Luke and James are short and I think they’d go fine too).

(5) Victor
My last idea for Allegra and her hubs is Victor. It’s a match for Anthony and Maria, and is a name I’ve had on my own list for a long time. I wrote about it being a great Jesus name here, and the post I did on nicknames for Victor has always been — and continues to be — my second most-viewed post ever! Every single day I have visitors that reach my blog because of some variation of the search term “nicknames for victor.” Isn’t that crazy?

And those are all my ideas for Allegra and her hubs! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Anthony and Giuliana?

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?

New ideas for yesterday’s consultation

Sandra left a comment on yesterday’s baby name consultation that I thought brought up a good point. The part I was struck by was this:

To me Rocco and Kolbe, whilst lovely, are not really in line with the classic style of their other children.”

I know what she means — Rocco is a very Italian name, classic and saintly, certainly, but a different style from Timothy, Emma, Matthew, Margaret, and Abigail (although I know a Rocco who has a brother Daniel, so maybe not that far off!). Kolbe isn’t as classic in the sense that it has fairly new usage as a first name, though of course it has loads of saintly cred.

I feel like I didn’t do a great job of suggesting ideas that acknowledged the fact that Laura and her hubs love names outside of the style of the names they’ve already chosen. I’ve definitely seen parents’ name taste evolve and change the more kids they have, so the fact that their list departs from what they’ve done a bit isn’t that unusual.

I do think, from their current list, that John Paul is definitely a good fit, since it’s a combo of two biblical names, which goes so nicely with the other kids’ names. Maximilian leans a little weightier than their other kids, and is a lot of Ma- with Matthew and Margaret, but otherwise I could see a little Max fitting in well. But since Laura and her hubs love Rocco and Kolbe, I thought I’d do this quick post with some more ideas that are more along those lines. This is what I came up with:

(1) Christian
Christian fits with lots of different styles, I think. It’s certainly biblical, but not in the traditional sense; definitely faith-y and beyond saintly (!); and it feels more contemporary, like Kolbe, all of which I think might make it appealing to Laura and her hubs.

(2) Gabriel
Gabriel is one of my favorite favorite names. It’s biblical and saintly, and while it has a long history of use, I think it feels like an unexpected addition to a list of “classic” names, which I quite like.

(3) Garrett
I tried to think of same saintly surnames or names with a surname feel that I thought fit in well with their older kids, besides Kolbe on their list and Bennett, which I suggested in yesterday’s consultation. I thought of Becket, Kapaun, Fulton, Campion, and Savio, but when I thought of Garrett (which was originally a surname and derived from Gerard or Gerald, both saint names), I thought it was a slam dunk. I know brothers Matthew and Garrett, so it feels like a good fit to me!

(4) Roman
Finally, Roman — a style match for Maximilian and pretty clearly Italian without being overly so. I’ve always loved that Roman points to Rome, and you can’t get much more Catholic than that.

I know it’s unusual for me to revisit a consultation like this! But I felt like I’d let Laura down a bit, and wanted to remedy it. What do you all think? Do you have any other ideas along these lines?

Spotlight on: Mina

Kathryn requested a spotlight on the name Mina, which is such a sweet name — I’m happy to do so! Specifically she asked,

Could you do a spotlight on Mina (as a nickname and/or on its own)? I’m really digging the name lately, but curious about catholic/saintly connections.”

Firstly, Mina can definitely stand on its own, though I’m pretty sure it started as a nickname. Behind the Name says Mina is the “Short form of WILHELMINA and other names ending in mina,” like Giacomina (!), but also includes names that don’t end in mina as possibilities:

Zhaklina
Jacobina
Jamesina
Jacqueline

I can definitely see Mina being used as a nickname for Jamesina, and I assume Jacobina and Jacqueline are on the list because James, Jacob, and Jacques are the same name, even though Mina as a nickname for Jacobina and Jacqueline would be unexpected. Giacomina is also related to James, via its Italian form Giacomo. And Zhaklina’s definitely unexpected! Though I just looked it up, and it’s actually a variant of Jacqueline. I think Mina could work for Thomasina too, since, like Jamesina, it ends in ina and has that M in there. And the saintly connections there are obvious, any of the Sts. James, Jacob, and Thomas, and in fact, because James/Jacob is so well represented in this entry, I’m feeling like an argument could be made that Mina could honor Grandpa James or Uncle Jacob?

But I think Wilhelmina is the name that most people would think of as the most natural fit for Mina-as-a-nickname or variant. Wilhelmina is clunky-chic, used by such amazing namers as Natalie Hanson (though they use the nickname Willa), and Mina trims Wilhelmina down for everyday use really nicely. I wasn’t able to find any holy Wilhelminas (unless they use a different spelling?), but there are a bunch of Sts. William to choose for patron.

I could also see Mina working really well as a nickname for something like Minerva or Mary Christina, or any of the names Minnie can be used as a nickname for (for example, actress Minnie Driver was born Amelia, and Nameberry argues Minnie can be used as a nickname for any M name — so Mina too?). There’s also an Italian singer that goes by Mina, but her given name is Anna Maria. I love that!

What do you all think of Mina? Do you prefer it as a given name or a nickname, and if a nickname, what is your favorite formal name for it? Do you know any Minas, and if so what do you know of their name story?

Updated to add: How could I forget Philomena?? Such a great given name to get to the nickname Mina/Mena!