February CatholicMom column up, a Nameberry mention, and thanks for the fun!

I’ll start with the last bit of the post title — thanks for all your great ideas re: a sister for Reverie! That was so fun to read! You all have amazing ideas!

Secondly, our reader Clare, who has an awesome name site of her own (Name News) and is also my Welsh pronunciation expert, had a piece posted on Nameberry a couple days ago in which she mentioned Sancta Nomina — specifically the “Men Who Love Mary” category! If I’m ever remembered for one thing, having it be names for Mary would be one of my very top choices. 😍 Go check out her great post: Who Knew Victor Hugo was a Name Nerd?

Finally, my February CatholicMom column posted yesterday — a slight re-boot of this post from a couple years ago: Names for Miscarried Babies. Miscarriage was on my mind recently because my parish just started a miscarriage ministry and asked me to help with it (and you know I tapped into our reader Mandi’s great resources at A Blog About Miscarriage). I hope this is helpful for anyone who’s mourning a little one.

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Baby name consultation: Boy name needed for No. 4 in a fun, saintly sibset

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! He’s my very favorite Martin Luther. 😉 My favorite quote of his:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Amen!

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean! 🌱 (Although they only need help finding a boy name.) This wee one joins big sibs:

Micaela Ashley (“after St. Michael. Originally it was supposed to be Micaela Immaculata but as my husband was literally filling out the birth certificate he changed his mind and begged me to have my name as the middle name, I have regretted losing Immaculata ever since!“)

Dakota Grace (“We both always liked this name, it was a little outside the box, and named after my grandmother.”)

Kolbe James (“We have had a strong devotion to Maximilian Kolbe through our marriage and chose his surname as a first name.”)

What a fun set! I love all the faith connections intermingled with personal taste, great job! I’m also so interested in their change from Immaculata to Ashley as Micaela’s middle name — I’m all sweet on this couple over that! Ashley for being so sensitive to her husband’s preference, and her husband for so much wanting his wife’s name as part of his daughter’s. 💕

Ashley writes,

We tend to have different tastes in names and we can’t seem to agree on one this time around. We ‘think’ we have our girls name, but can’t seem to find a boys name we both like equally. My husband really likes Irish names, we want a Catholic Saint to be the inspiration for the name also.”

Names they’ve considered so far for boys:

Finn/Finian
Fulton
Ignatius (Nash)
Samuel
Nathaniel
Zeke
Jonathan
Blaise (“This was my favorite boys name but my husband veto’d it because he said a Firefighter can’t have a son named “Blaze” because all the guys at work would make fun of him ☹ “)

And for girls (for inspiration)

Charlotte (Charlie) (“so far #1“)
Avila
Keira
Felicity
Veronica
Zelie
Middle names: Rose, Anne, Quinn, Immaculata

And finally,

Because I come from a large catholic family I should probably give you all the sibling names and their kids names that we can’t use

Nicholas
Christina
Angela
Michael
Joseph
Maria
Theresa
Sarah
Christopher
Mark
Rachel
Quint
Colette
Rita
Jude
Joselynn (Josie)

What a great family!! Such wonderful names!!

So first off, I’m so sorry Blaise is off the table! I’d actually find Blaise simply perfect for a firefighter’s son! It sounds fiery AND it’s a saint’s name—perfect! 🔥

I do see the Irish feel Ashley’s hubs likes in Finn/Finian, Fulton, and Keira (and I actually think Fulton’s an amazing brother name for Kolbe in that it’s a surname [it was Fulton Sheen’s mom’s maiden name] and specifically and strongly tied to one particular saint. I did a post recently on Fulton nicknames that might be helpful; be sure to read the comments too, they were awesome!), as well as a biblical feel (Samuel, Nathaniel, Zeke, Jonathan, Veronica), which has a bit of overlap with a country & western feel (Dakota, Nash, Zeke). I used all these feels when trying to come up with new ideas for Ashley and her hubs.

Even still, this was quite a challenging consultation! I love that their taste is so eclectic, but it does make me wonder if any of my ideas are good ones or if they’re totally off the mark. I can’t wait to hear what you all think and what your ideas are for this little one!

You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Using that research, and my own ideas, I came up with these ideas for Ashley and her hubs:

(1) Cashel
This was half inspired by her husband’s love of Irish names and half inspired by Nash as a nickname for Ignatius. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, “Cashel is offbeat and unusual but I love it so much for its meaning — ‘The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion’ and it’s ‘reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century’ — and for its possible nickname of Cash. Swoon!!!” Cash also has a Johnny Cash feel, which taps into that country & western thing, and Cashel is a place name like Dakota and Avila. All in all, a fun pick!

(2) Ronan or Rohan
St. Ronan is a great Irish saint with a cool name, I love it for this family! A similar name is Rohan (you could say it RO-han or RO-wen), which isn’t a saint’s name but it is an Irish surname, which ties it in with Kolbe and Fulton being surnames, and it can be a fun nod to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (Tolkien’s not a saint, but he was a great Catholic writer) where it’s a place name, which is a nice connection with Dakota’s name, as well as Avila.

(3) Beau
I was interested in the names that were similar in style to Blaise, since Ashley loves Blaise but her husband feels it’s unusable. Beau was one that I thought they might like—it’s got a country-western feel and also sounds sports-y like Bo Jackson. It’s not a saint’s name as far as I can tell, unfortunately, but a great saint middle would make up for that nicely—it’s a short name so it can take a longer middle name, like Beau Ignatius, Beau Nathaniel, or Beau Jonathan.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is also a style match for Blaise, and a saintly surname like Kolbe and Fulton, and it’s also got a great Z sound, like Blaise, Zeke, and Zelie. I also think it goes really well with Micaela and Dakota!

(5) Levi
Levi is biblical, certainly, but it’s also got a distinct country & western feel, and I really like that both of those styles converge in this one really cool name that also has a prominent Z sound.

(6) Isaac
Finally, Isaac, a nice style match for all the biblical names and super saintly as well—I love St. Isaac Jogues. It also has a great Z sound like Blaise, Zeke, and Zelie, and Zac and Ike are both traditional nicknames for it that are really cute.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Micaela, Dakota, and Kolbe?

Baby name consultation: Artistic, worldly, saintly names a plus for the third of three brothers

Carrie and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Owen Joseph
Julian Elias

I.Love.Those.Names! So sophisticated and handsome!

Carrie writes,

I love thinking and talking about baby names while my husband absolutely does not, and I desperately need some input! Hubby has actually said that he doesn’t think choosing baby names is that big of a deal, and that names in general aren’t that important (what!!!).”

What!!! 😲

We named our first son, Owen, after I made a list of my 5 favorite names, gave it to him, and he pointed to one and said “this one.” Our second son was basically named solely by me – Julian was my favorite name by far, and after a while I told my husband that I was going to just start considering the baby to be Julian unless he provided another suggestion. He never did, so Julian it was! The only real name suggestion my husband has given has been along the lines of “what about something like Bob?” Meaning – he thinks most of the names I like are too unusual for him.”

Um. He and my husband sound like brothers separated at birth.

So like I said, we currently have Owen Joseph and Julian Elias. Owen was actually born on the feast day of a St. Owen, which I did not realize until earlier this year. Owen is also a family name on my husband’s side. His middle name, Joseph, is after my dad and we consider St. Joseph to be his patron saint. I liked the name Julian for several reasons – I like the softer sound of it, and I think it sounds artistic and worldly. We do call him Jules a lot at home. We went back and forth about a family middle name for Julian but in the end nothing sounded right and we went with Elias (in part to give him cool initials [their last name begins with a T] – don’t judge! We were that desperate!) Julian’s birthday is in February which is also the month that St. Julian’s feast day is in. So I kind of like that both boys so far have birthdays in the same month as their saint’s feast day. (But not a requirement!)

… boy names are very challenging, since aside from Julian I had a hard time coming up with names I liked and could actually see us using the last time around. I am not sure how we will be able to name a third boy! When I try to think about boy names I like that are viable options, I come up with blanks. Nothing seems usable for us! I have even tried the Baby Name Wizard trick where I look at our current names or names I like and see if any of the brother names are possibilities, but so far that hasn’t helped me much. So as you can see, I feel that I need some fresh eyes on our boy naming situation.”

Honest to goodness, sometimes fresh eyes are all that are needed! It can be so helpful to just bounce ideas off of someone else.

Names they’ve considered that Carrie likes but aren’t sold on, or have been vetoed by her husband include:

Ames
Ansel
August
Arthur
Conrad
Dominic
Ezra
Felix
Frederick
Harry/Harris
Miles
Solomon

I have always like the name Blaise and feel connected to St. Blaise as my grandmother’s birthday was on St. Blaise day and I always loved the story behind the blessing of the throats, but not sure if its too “out there” for us. I also have always liked Silas but my husband has said it sounds evil (I think because the villain in the book the Da Vinci code was named Silas).

Middle name possibilities so far are Thomas (my husband’s confirmation name, he just converted to Catholicism at Easter), Henry after my grandfather (but could not use as a first because I have a cousin with that name already), or perhaps Blaise in the middle spot.”

Names that Carrie likes but they can’t use include:

Leo
Theo/Theodore
James
Asher
Leland
most names ending in T (Elliot) as our last name is very T heavy
Francis/Frank
Samuel
Ben
Jude (“it can be a nickname for Julian and its also just too close“)
Xavier

Girl names they like, for inspiration:

Isla
Beatrice
Vivian
Ada
Willa

Finally,

Aside from no names that end with T’s, and including a saint’s name in either first or middle spot, the only other rules I have is no top 20 names and no strong Irish names (I know Irish names are currently very popular) as my family has very strong German roots and it would just feel weird to me. I don’t mind repeating initials, and although I prefer 3 syllables or less I am open to a longer name.”

So first off, I think it’s amazing that Carrie’s successfully named two little boys with little help from her hubby—that would be some moms’ dream come true! But I totally get why it’s frustrating.

Second, I was really interested in trying to fit with the connection with Owen and Julian’s feast days both falling in the month they were born—I kept that in mind as I looked for ideas for this baby (due in early March, so I looked quickly through the feast days on CatholicSaints.info for both February and March).

Carrie and her hubs have a great list of names I think! I think Blaise is an awesome option—Feb feast day, great name, great saint, and Carrie has a connection to him as well! I personally don’t think it’s too out there for them, but of course they need to be comfortable with the name they choose.

As for Silas, if her husband can’t shake the negative association, I wonder what they’d think of Cyrus? It has a totally different feel to me; they could still use the sound-alike nickname Cy; and it’s a saint’s name. Or Cyril? There are several, with feast days Feb. 14 and March 18, 20, and 28.

Even though she said she’s already looked through the Baby Name Wizard, I did so as well, looking up the names she and her husband have used and those they like, as you know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that, and some ideas of my own, these are my ideas:

(1) Gabriel
I love when I see what seems to be a preference by parents for a certain sound—like, in this case, vowel couplets (Julian, Elias, Blaise, Leo, Theo/Theodore, Xavier). Gabriel barely makes the cut for Carrie’s preference for no top 20 names, being No. 22 in 2015, but otherwise it seems such a good match for them in my opinion. It’s kind of sophisticated and gentlemanly, which I get from Owen and Julian, and it totally fits Carrie’s description of why she likes Julian: “I like the softer sound of it, and I think it sounds artistic and worldly.” One of my favorite name books, Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, described Gabriel as “acceptably musical for a boy,” which always stuck with me! Gabe and Gil are both possible nicknames, I like them both! Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows’ feast day is Feb. 27; Gabriel Lalemant is March 17; the Annunciation (not St. Gabriel the Archangel’s feast day but associated with him) is March 25.

(2) Matthias, Tobias, Gideon
Here are some more vowel-couplet names that I thought were slam dunks until I realized that Matthias and Tobias rhyme with Elias, and Gideon has the same ending sound as Julian. I don’t think any of the potential negatives are necessarily deal-breakers though—with Elias being a middle name, I don’t think it’s a huge deal to use a rhyming name for another child’s first name. And Owen and Julian also have the same ending sound, so adding in a third boy with the same ending sound in Gideon could actually be really cool. I knew three brothers growing up named Cam3ron, J0nathan, and G!deon, and I always loved those names together. Tobias Francisco Borras Roman’s feast is Feb. 11.

(3) Pierce, Simon, Henry
Pierce has been on my mind ever since one of you readers left a comment saying she knows someone who named her son Pierce after Mary’s Heart being pierced with a sword. Wow! It’s a form of Peter and I would definitely put it in the “sophisticated and gentlemanly” category, as I would also do with Simon. Kind of bookish and smart, just like Owen and Julian. Ditto for Henry, and St. Henry Morse’s feast day is Feb. 1! There are a bunch of holy Peters with feasts in Feb and March: Peter Cambiano is Feb. 2, Peter Igneus is Feb. 8, Pierre Fremond is Feb. 10, Peter Damian is Feb. 21, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter is Feb. 22. Additionally Simon of Saint Bertin is Feb. 24 and Henry of Austria is March 7.

(4) Beau
I did a consultation for my brother and sister-in-law a year ago, and they were so on my mind when I was working on this for Carrie and her hubs, as they have two boys named Leo and Owen and several of the other names Carrie likes are ones my SIL and I discussed. Beau is one of my SIL’s favorite names for a boy, and I think it has that “soft, artistic” feel Carrie likes (I think so much of Beau Wilkes in Gone With the Wind). So I was delighted to see it’s a style match for Blaise and Xavier!

(5) Hugo, Oscar
Carrie and her hubs have kind of a Germanic contingent on their list—Frederick, Conrad, Felix—all of which made me think of Hugo, which is a name we considered for our youngest. Can’t you just picture a toddler Hugo? Ohmygoodness! So cute! There is the literary connection to be aware of in regards to Julian’s name—Jules Verne and Victor Hugo—but I also think that could be really cool. Hugh of Fosse’s feast is Feb. 10, Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni is Feb. 17.

I normally wouldn’t suggest another O name for a family that’s already used an O name, since O is a somewhat distinctive and rarely used letter, but since Carrie specifically said she didn’t mind repeating initials and since I thought Oscar would be awesome, I decided to go for it. I spotlighted it here.

(6) Isaac, Micah
Isaac and Micah kind of remind me of each other—both have a long I and a hard C; they’re short-to-medium in length; they’re both Old Testament. Isaac falls right in that “sophisticated, gentlemanly, bookish” category that I think really fits Carrie’s taste, and is saintly as well (St. Isaac Jogues). Micah is more in the “soft, artistic” category I think, maybe even too much so, as it’s in the top 1000 for girls (#108 for boys, #834 for girls), but it’s a name I love and I’d be thrilled for it to see even more use among boys. Isaac the Patriarch’s feast is March 25.

(7) Kolbe
Finally, I was thinking how Carrie said her family has strong German roots, and I always always think of St. Nicholas Owen when I see the name Owen, so I had in mind German-ish surnames and Kolbe immediately came to mind. Owen, Julian, and Kolbe strike me as quite a cool set of brothers!

And those are my idea for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Owen and Julian’s little brother?

Spotlight on: Joan

One of you recently requested a spotlight on Joan and I’d been thinking about it and looking up bits and pieces here and there and then I read this on the DMNES blog:

Joan: Many people may not realize that this is in fact a Biblical name, the name of a woman healed by Jesus and who later accompanied him as a disciple. She was later venerated as a saint, but it was the use of this name by many medieval queens, in addition to the “Maid of Orleans”, Joan of Arc, that helped the name maintain its place as one of the most popular women’s names throughout history.” (emphasis mine)

And knew it was time for the spotlight. 🙂

So Joan is a feminine form of John, which is a great way to start — any of the Sts. John could be honored with a little Joan. But there are loads of amazing Joans (in various forms — I’ll get to that in a minute) that are great patrons for a little girl.

First off, the biblical Joan mentioned above is, I believe, the woman whose name is usually given as Joanna; she’s mentioned briefly in Luke 8:3 as one of the women who accompanied Jesus as He “went on through cities and villages, preaching bringing the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:1):

And the Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” (Lk 8:1-3)

The footnote in my Bible (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition RSV) is particularly awesome regarding those verses (Lk 8:1-3):

Jesus’ urgent mission left no time for him and the disciples to settle into a trade. Several women thus accompanied them to offer provisions and financial assistance. This challenged Jewish custom, which discouraged men from associating with women in public (Jn 4:27).”

(That reference to Jn 4:27 is this: “Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman …”) (The woman was the Samaritan woman; interesting that they marveled that He was talking with a woman, rather than with a Samaritan.)

Then of course there’s St. Joan of Arc — a totally awesome warrior woman! She’s also known as Jean/Jeanne/Jehanne.  A personal favorite of mine is the mother of St. Dominic, known variously as Bl. Joan/Jane/Joanna/Juana of Aza. There are a whole bunch of others (lots of Sts. John included in that list as well).

Speaking of variants, these are all listed in the DMNES entry on Joan — they all had medieval use (I’m not listing all the variants — there are tons! But these were either my favorites or the ones I was most surprised by):

Genne, Genet
Ione
Jana
Jane, Jayn, Jayne, Jeyne, Jaen, Jaine
Janet
Janne
Jean, Jeanne, Geane
Jehanne, Jehenne, Jehanette
Jenna
Jenne
Joana, Joanna, Johanna
Joane, Jone
Johanetta
Jonet
Juana, Juanita
Vana
Vannella
Zoana, Zoanna

Awesome list, right? So many great ways to honor a Joan! Re: Ione, I’d recently come across this book, which lists several places in literature (like Shakespeare) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan (read the bottom of p. 156 and top of p. 157 — the link takes you right to it).

As for Joan itself, I’ve always thought the nickname Joanie is sweet, and Jo/Joey could also work; I’ve also seen Nonie. In this case, of course, the nicknames would be more affectionate or spunky rather than true diminutives or need for something shorter — you can’t get much shorter than the one-syllable Joan! There are a million nicknames for its variants too (Jane et al.), but I won’t get into them here.

What do you all think of Joan? Would you consider it for your daughter, or have you? Do you prefer one of its variants? Do you know any Joans (big or little), and if so, what do they think of their name? Do they go by nicknames?

More about names from Billie Letts

I posted a little the other day from Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts, and there’s another passage from it that I thought you’d all enjoy:

“… Two months had passed since Willy Jack had dumped her — and she had done nothing. She hadn’t looked for a place to live, hadn’t figured out how to make a living. She hadn’t even picked out a name for her baby.

Then she remembered a list of names she had started on the day she and Willy Jack left Tellico Plains. She pulled the spiral notebook out of her beach bag and flipped to the back. The list was still there — one page for girls, one for boys. Felicia, Brook, Ashley. Novalee made a face as she read them. Rafe, Thorne, Hutch, Sloan. Names she had taken from soap operas. Blain, Asa, Dimitri. Moses Whitecotton had told her to find a strong name, but the names on her list weren’t strong. They just sounded silly.”

(Also: Willy Jack. Fantastic name for his mostly despicable character.)

(I have a hard time hating the name Novalee though, I love the character too much.)