Name data: U.S. and U.K.

I can’t believe I haven’t yet posted here on the blog about the 2019 name data that was (finally!) released by the Social Security Administration a couple of weeks ago! (The first few weeks of school always have me in a dither — it always takes me until Thanksgiving every year to finally feel like I have my bearings.)

You’ve probably already seen, but here are the new top ten names:

Screenshot from the SSA baby name site

Of note, Emma dropped down a spot from no. 1 (after 5 years in the top spot), and Ethan replaced Logan. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a few good posts that you’ll want to read (here, here, here for starters — and more! Scroll through her most recent posts to find them all!).

I did post on Instagram a quick thought after taking a first look through the new data, since I was delighted to see that 55 of the girl names that rose the most and 23 of the boy names that rose the most are in my book of Marian names! Here are a few that jumped out at me:

I keep meaning to spend more time with our own data — and I still plan to! — but I had cause to peruse the new data from the U.K. for a consultation I’m working on — you’ll definitely want to check that out too! Elea at British Baby Names discussed the top 100 names in England and Wales and the most popular names by mother’s age; she also shared the top 1000 names in England and Wales and the top 1000 names in Scotland. Such fun info! Here are the top ten for England and Wales:

Girl

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Sophia
  8. Grace
  9. Lily
  10. Freya

Boy

  1. Oliver
  2. George
  3. Noah
  4. Arthur
  5. Harry
  6. Leo
  7. Muhammad
  8. Jack
  9. Charlie
  10. Oscar

Similar to ours, and different, too! The two outliers — Freya and Muhammad (the most popular spellings of both names; Freyja, Mohammad, and Mohammed all made the top 1000 as well) — came in at no. 200 and 336, respectively, in our own data. There’s a little Freya in one of my boys’ classes this year, which is the first time I’ve ever encountered the name in real life.

I’m curious, though, about your perception of “British” names — what names would you say come across as the “most British”? On the above lists, Harry and Arthur are the only ones that I might put in that category, and only depending on what their siblings’ names are. Some others that fit that category for me (again, often dependent on siblings’ names) are Lewis, Alistair, Imogen, and Gillian. Do you agree? Happy Thursday!


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

Odds and ends: Marian edition

School started for my boys yesterday, and we’ve been praying the Litany of School Saints I compiled for CatholicMom last month — it’s been a source of peace for me, and I wanted to share it again in case it’s helpful to you!

Happy feast of Our Lady of Sorrows! I know several of you have a devotion to Mary under this title, and I included a few names connected to Our Lady of Sorrows in my book of Marian names. You can read more about this beautiful title and feast day here.

This past Saturday was the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, which you know is a special one for me! You may have seen over on Instagram, but I wanted to share here as well that I made a donation in honor of Our Lady’s name on behalf of the Sancta Nomina community to the Sisters of Life. Thank you all for joining me in my love for these beautiful names!

Finally, I’ve been meaning and meaning to write about kind of a big deal: Pope Francis added three titles to the Litany of Loreto! For those unfamiliar with the Litany of Loreto, here is a good explanation:

This litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed during the Middle Ages. The place of honor it now holds in the life of the Church is due to its faithful use at the shrine of the Holy House at Loreto. It was definitely approved by Sixtus V in 1587, and all other Marian litanies were suppressed, at least for public use. Its titles and invocations set before us Mary’s exalted privileges, her holiness of life, her amiability and power, her motherly spirit and queenly majesty.” (source)

Additionally,

The Litany owes many of its praises to the Greek Akathist Hymn, which was first translated into Latin in Venice around the year 800. The other titles and praises addressed to Mary are found extensively in the writings of the early Church Fathers of the first six centuries.

Over time a number of titles for our Lady were removed and added to the Litany. Originally the Litany had fifteen additional titles, such as Our Lady of Humility, Mother of Mercy, Temple of the Spirit, Gate of Redemption, and Queen of Disciples. Recent history has seen the addition of five titles. The last four titles of the Litany which refer to the the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Rosary and Mary as the Queen of Peace are of recent origin … The Litany is used especially during May services, the month traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also used at Benediction and some congregations use it in the Divine Office. The Litany is approved for public use and carries a partial indulgence.” (source)

Many of the names in my book of Marian names came from or were inspired by the Litany of Loreto, and when I heard that Pope Francis had added new titles, I was thrilled! (You can find the Litany in English and Latin here.)

The announcement was timed to coincide with the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 20), and was explained thusly:

According to directions, the invocation, ‘Mother of mercy’ is to be inserted after ‘Mother of the Church’, ‘Mother of hope’ after ‘Mother of Divine Grace’ and ‘Solace of migrants’ after ‘Refuge of sinners’

In an interview, Archbishop Roche explained that these invocations ‘respond to the realities of the time that we are living’.  Speaking to Vatican News, he said that many people across the world who are afflicted in many ways, not only by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also forced from their homes because of poverty, conflict and other reasons, are invoking Our Lady.” (source)

Archbishop Roche also made a point to say that these titles are not new — they’ve long been used by the faithful. I also discovered that St. John Paul II had added two himself! He added Mother of the Church in 1980 and Queen of families in 1995.

The new titles in Latin are:

Mater misericordiae (Mother of mercy)

Mater spei (Mother of hope)

Solacium migrantium (Solace of migrants)

Mercy, Mercedes, and Misericordia are already in my book for Our Lady of Mercy/Mercies, as is Hope and its variants for Our Lady of Hope, but I quite like the idea of adding Solace if I were to ever have the opportunity to do a second edition! Are there any other name possibilities that jump out to you?

Happy Tuesday!


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

Birth announcement: Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

I had the pleasure of posting a consultation for Josh and Mari back in March (the fourth I’ve done for them!) for their baby girl, and I’m delighted to share that she’s arrived and been given the stunning name … Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

Josh writes,

Well, she’s finally here! We had quite a time settling on a name for this little one. Your consultation in the comments were very helpful! We thought for sure she was going to be born yesterday, she held on until 1:20 a.m. this morning and so we decided to name her Aurelia-Rose Celeste. We loved the name and associations with Aurelia but wanted to add Rose for St. Rose of Lima, whose feast is today, as well as for its Marian associations. Thanks for giving us some good ideas!

How lovely is this name?! Aurelia-Rose is so beautiful and feminine, and I love it paired with Celeste. The names altogether have the meaning of “Golden Rose of Heaven” — so Marian! So amazing! I love that Rose also nods to the saint on whose feast the baby was born — so perfect!

Congratulations to Josh and Mari and big siblings Ariana, Audrey, Caleb, Amelia, Anne-Catherine, Charles, Anessa, and Christian, and happy birthday Baby Aurelia-Rose!!

IMG_8956

Aurelia-Rose Celeste


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

Baby name consultation: Tiebreaker baby needs not-too-popular, classic, Catholic name with a great nickname

We had the opportunity to go away for the weekend, so we took it! So I missed wishing you all a happy feast of St. Dominic (Saturday) — a big deal for this lay Dominican! — and of St. Edith Stein (Sunday) — a big deal for me because it’s my second oldest’s birthday (he turned 14)! Such a great couple of feast days!

Nicole and her husband Brenden both — separately — survived accidents which left them with severe traumatic brain injuries, then met each other in rehab and got married, became motivational speakers with the so-needed message that every life has a purpose, and are expecting their fifth baby — a tie-breaking boy! (Read more about their mission and ministry on their web site!) Each of their children is extra miraculous, since Nicole had been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. Such an inspiring couple and family!

Their littlest guy joins big sibs:

Faith Marie
Seth William
Veronica Kateri
Kieran James

Of course I love all these names! I love how they each have at least one name that’s a little more unexpected: Faith, Seth, Veronica, Kateri, and Kieran are all out of the top 100, coming in at numbers 122, 376, 357, not top 1000, and 497, respectively, in 2018. I like that a lot!

Nicole writes,

We like relatively classic names that are not unheard of but not super popular either … I think finding a name is so so so difficult for us for a few reasons:

(1) Our friends are almost completely Catholic and have pretty much chosen all of the best names

(2) I love nicknames and if there is a controversial nickname or one that I don’t care for it gets excluded

(3) So far baby names we’ve thought were “the one” but changed from are:

— Christian (I think it sounds redundant with big sister Faith)
— Maximilian (my husband has a cousin named Max)
— Kellan (I think the names Kieran & Kellan are too much next to each other and we would potentially like to use Cole as the middle name and [I don’t want to use the initials KC])

I would love it if you could find name options with either a -ca or -an ending [like Veronica or Kieran] of a letter in common with all of the [kids’ names] … we have a special devotion to the rosary … A Marian name might be good for this babe as I feel (like so many other people) a special devotion to Our Lady … [also] I was diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) [and] I was hoping you could offer a name option of someone that either lived with a sickness their entire life (similar to me), who cared for the sick, or a patron saint of respiratory, joint, arthritis.”

I love that Nicole let me know about their devotion to the rosary and Our Lady, as well as her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Those kinds of things are really meaningful to me as well, and I kept them in mind as I was working on this for her. I admit I couldn’t figure out a connection with EDS (I looked it up quickly, but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant — if any of you know of anything, please share!), but Marian and Rosarian connections are my specialty! (Or at least, one of my favorite inspirations for names!)

Before getting to my list of suggestions for this family, I want to address the names that they’ve considered (and even thought were “the one”) and decided against (they gave me good extra info to use in my research). I thought it might be helpful to hear my thoughts on those names:

  • Christian: Such a great name, one of my favorites! I can see what Nicole means about Christian being redundant with big sister Faith
  • Kellen: I totally agree that Kieran and Kellen are too similar, unfortunately, especially with Kellen immediately following Kieran
  • Maximilian: I love St. Maximilian Kolbe, so I love seeing this name on their list! If Max is the biggest reason that they don’t want to use it, I wonder if a different nickname would help? My favorite nickname suggestion for Maximilian is Miles — I’ve suggested it many times to parents in other consultations. Not only do I think Miles is a cool and totally possible nickname for Maximilian, but it has Marian connections of its own! I wrote a book of Marian baby names and included Miles in it for this reason:

Miles is an Anglicization of an old Irish name — in this case, Maolmhuire, meaning ‘servant of the Virgin Mary.’”

And Maximilian is in my book too! I wrote:

This name points to the greatness of Our Lady, as Maximilian means ‘greatest,’ as well as to St. Maximilian Kolbe … who had a great love for Our Lady

So I could see Maximilian nicknamed Miles being a great option for this baby! However, if Nicole still doesn’t want to go with Maximilian, I wonder what they would think of Miles as a given name, for the reasons I outlined above?

I love that they’re considering Cole as a middle name — in honor of Nicole, I’m assuming? I love the name Cole, and think honoring Mom in a son’s name is fantastic. However, I have a few ideas below that wouldn’t go so well with Cole as a middle name, so I offered some alternative ideas, in case they’re helpful.

In terms of finding a saint connected to Nicole’s autoimmune disease, St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of arthritis, and St. Bernardine of Siena is the patron of respiratory illnesses. I didn’t think either one is their style, though I included St. Alphonsus below in the list of “rosary saints” (and he’s got a bunch of amazing names included in his [very long] given name!). Nicole’s thought about a saint who lived with a sickness his/her entire life reminded me immediately of Bl. Margaret of Castello (she was a lay Dominican! And patroness of disabled/physically challenged people!), so I included a name connected to her below.

Alrighty, so when I was looking for names that Nicole and Brenden might like, I took into account how Nicole said she’d love name options with either a -ca ending, like Veronica, or an -an ending, like Kieran, or a letter in common with all the kids. I kept nicknames in mind, as well as the fact that they prefer more classic-sounding names, and the aforementioned devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Otherwise, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and then took a look at the list of results to see if any names jumped out as being similar to more than one of their children’s names, as well as those with great faith connections. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this baby boy:

(1) Gabriel
I noticed Gabriel immediately as it’s a style match for Faith and Christian! Additionally, Gabriel is incredibly Marian and Rosarian because of his role in the Annunciation. Its traditional nickname is Gabe, which I love because it’s so friendly, but I’ve also seen Gib and Gil, both of which I think are amazing. I quite like Gabriel Cole.

(2) Caleb
Though Nicole had suggested a -ca name or an -an name to match up with Veronica or Kieran, I focused more on the fact that both had strong K sounds (as do Kateri, Christian, and Kellen), and hoped to find names with a similar sound. Caleb seemed like a perfect candidate! I love that it not only has the strong K sound like Kieran, but also begins with the same Ca that Veronica ends with, is biblical like Seth, and was an actual style match for Faith per the BNW. Caleb Cole isn’t the best flow, perhaps, but maybe Caleb Maximilian? Caleb Francis, for St. Francis de Sales (Nicole told me in another message that she was born on the feast of St. Francis de Sales)? Caleb Brenden, for Dad?

(3) Kolbe
Very similar in sound to Caleb, I wonder what they would think of Kolbe as a first name? It’s got that strong K sound that ties Veronica and Kieran together, and is a non-Max way of honoring St. Maximilian Kolbe. It could also possibly nod to Nicole, because of the “Cole” sound at the beginning? Kolbe Francis and Kolbe Brenden are both nice options.

(4) Dominic
Maximilian has that heavy, monastery feel of names like Augustine, Benedict, and Dominic, and when I saw Dominic listed as a style match for it, I thought it could be awesome for this family. Not only is it a great name, but according to tradition, St. Dominic was given the rosary by Our Lady and the Dominicans have always promoted it. Additionally, it’s got Veronica’s and Kieran’s hard K sound, and the ending “nic” could be a nod to Nicole! Some nicknames include Dom/Dommy (like Tom/Tommy, so cute!) and Nic/Nicky/Nico. I quite like Dominic Cole, as well as Dominic Francis, Dominic de Sales, and Dominic Brenden. It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and I spotlighted it on the blog here (a big reason was to assure those who aren’t of Italian or Spanish heritage that Dominic is an amazing option!).

(5) Patrick
The more I think about Patrick, the more I like it for this family. It’s got the hard K sound, it’s Irish like Kieran and Brenden, and it’s got some really cool nickname ideas. If they like Pat, that’s great — I know a few men named Pat, and it works well. They could go the ultra Irish route with Paddy, which I also love! But I think they might prefer something like Packy or Pax, both of which I’ve seen used for Patrick, and I think they really help freshen up the name. Also, Pax means “peace”! They could use it as a nod to Our Lady of Peace, giving it a Marian spin. Patrick Cole, Patrick Francis, Patrick de Sales, and Patrick Brenden are all really handsome.

(6) Nicholas or Nico
I’m guessing that maybe they’ve already considered Nicholas and decided they like Cole more? But it’s a style match for Veronica and Christian, it’s got the hard K sound, it’s a perfect way to name a boy after Nicole, and they can totally use Cole as a nickname. It’s also biblical like Seth. Nicholas Francis would be a really nice way to honor Nicole — the male version of her first name and the Saint whose feast day is the day she was born! If Nicholas is too popular for their taste, then maybe Nico as a given name? Nico Francis?

(7) Luke
Luke is a style match for Faith and Seth (!), it’s got the hard K of Veronica and Kieran, and it’s a super Marian name! Luke’s gospel is considered the most Marian, as it contains the accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat, which is why it’s in my book. Luke Cole doesn’t sound so great, but maybe Luke Nicholas? Luke Francis? Luke de Sales? Luke Brenden?

(8) Owen
Owen is a match for Faith, it has the -n ending of Kieran (not -an, but the -en has a similar sound), and it has that Irishy feel of Kieran and Brenden (and Kellan, to a certain extent). It’s also the last name of one of my favorite saints — St. Nicholas Owen — so something like Owen Nicholas or even Owen Cole would be extra meaningful. I also love Owen Francis and Owen Brenden.

(9) Isaac
Isaac is totally based on the fact that it’s biblical like Seth and has the hard K of Veronica and Kieran — it’s such a great name! Ike is a traditional nickname for it, as is Zac. Isaac Francis, Isaac Cole, Isaac Nicholas, and Isaac Brenden are all great.

(10) Garrett
Garrett is inspired by Bl. Margaret Castello — and I know of a little boy named in honor of a different St. Margaret, because his dad has a devotion to her, and the name they chose to honor her in a boy was Garrett (because of the -garet ending of Margaret). I love Garrett! It’s got an Irishy feel, and is actually derived from Gerard, which is another great patron — St. Gerard Majella is the patron of pregnant women and unborn children.

Those are all my “official” suggestions for first names for Nicole and Brenden’s little guy, but there are also a bunch of Saints and other names that relate to the Rosary that might be perfect as middle name contenders (or maybe first name ideas as well?), which I wanted to include in case one of them hits the right note (these are all from my book):

  • Bl. Alan de la Roche (also known as Alain de la Roche, Alan de Rupe, Alano de la Roca, and Alanus [de] Rupe)
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (his full name: Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori!)
  • Bl. Bartolo Longo (Bartolo is a variant of Bartholomew)
  • Benedict (it means “blessed” and as such can refer to Our Lady; there are of course a bunch of Sts. Benedict)
  • Clement (means “merciful” or “gentle,” and is used as an adjective for Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen)
  • Francis (can be used for St. Francisco, one of the children at Fatima)
  • St. Louis de Montfort (he’s a huge Marian saint and wrote the classic The Secret of the Rosary)
  • Rosario (means “rosary”)
  • Royce (as I wrote in my book: “This traditional male name is from a medieval variant of Rose, which makes Royce an entirely appropriate way to name a little boy for Our Lady”)

And those are my ideas for Nicole and Brenden’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran?


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

Birth announcement: Iris Miriam!

I’ve emailed the five winners of the St. Anne giveaway, but have only heard back from three of you — Thalita and Anne, please check your email! 

I posted my predictions for Grace Patton’s baby back in February, and for those who haven’t already seen, I’m excited to finally share the birth announcement for said baby — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Iris Miriam!

Grace wrote in the birth announcement on her blog:

Iris Miriam has arrived! She was born on June 1st and I’ll save all the details for the birth story that should be up superdupersoon but she’s been a delightful addition to the family and I’m still SO surprised that she was a she! All of the older kids have been a huge help and Clement is pretty independent and hasn’t seemed bothered that there’s a new baby in town … yet. Abe finally started calling her, “Iris” instead of, “virus” and is always walking around closing the shutters in the house saying she doesn’t like the sunshine (??). Overall, we’re adjusting well and feel so fortunate to have her here safe and sound.”

(Abe calling her “virus” kills me! 😂😂😂)

And in her birth story post, Grace wrote:

Simon and I were SO sure that I was having a boy (her heart rate was super low throughout the pregnancy which isn’t a proven theory — it was proof enough for me and my late night Google searches) that we hadn’t nailed down a middle name in the event we had a girl.

We decided to toss around some girl middle names and decided we wanted to go the Marian route and I was super surprised Simon agreed to Miriam because he normally goes through a, “no way … maybe … I’ll think about … maybe … I don’t know … I guess … maybe … okay!” song and dance when I suggest any name at all. So, easy peasy.”

I just love the combo Iris Miriam so much! I know Iris was a longtime favorite of Grace’s, so I’m thrilled for her that she got to use it. And a Marian middle will never not be my favorite thing. So beautiful!

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big siblings Julia, Sebastian (Bash), Theodore (Theo), Phoebe, Bosco, Abraham (Abe), and Clement, and happy birthday Baby Iris!!

Check out Grace’s web site and her Instagram for pictures of her beautiful baby!


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

Baby name consultation: Ideas for baby girl whose parents like names like Bridget, Rowan, and Saoirse

Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s second baby a couple of years ago, and the resulting birth announcement, and I’m excited to post this new consultation for baby no. 3 — another girl! This little lady joins big sibs (alt characters for privacy):

F!nni@n Dani3l
Gr33r E!leen

I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!

Megan writes,

At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”

(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)

I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.

Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.

We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”

I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.

I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.

(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)

I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!

As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).

Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Mabel
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?

(2) Edel
I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.

(3) Casey
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).

(4) Molly
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!

(5) Willa
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.

(6) Flannery
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)

(7) Isla
Pretty Isla is an entry in my book of Marian names; this is what I wrote about its Scottish connection:

Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … its Marian character comes from the title “Our Lady of the Isles” (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).”

It’s two syllables and Scottish!

(8) Tamsin
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.

(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!

(10) Sorcha
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.

There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?


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

Baby name consultation: Double first name for baby girl a priority to honor Grandma — lots of options!

Jenny and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, their third girl (on earth)! This little lady joins big siblings:

Lilyana Marie (“Marie is my middle name and I just liked the name Lilyana”)

Anthony Jay (“After my husband”)

Dominic Lucas John (“I went to our Parish’s “Traveling relics” and right after I picked up St Dominic’s relic I knew I was pregnant and I knew he was going to be a boy. Sure enough I tested the next week and I was pregnant and he was a a boy. I also have always loved the name Lucas and St Luke. John is after my Father-in-law.”)

Isabella Teresa Grace (“… so the whole time we were pregnant I was told she was going to be a boy. So the whole pregnancy her name was Benedict Emmanuel. Once we found out she was a girl we had to scramble to come up with a girls name. Her original name was Isabella Grace but after being born on Mother Teresa’s feast day we just had to add that in. I also love longer names. 🙂 And looove Mother Teresa!”)

Jameson Jude Ramiro (“Jameson was a little different for us. I wanted to go with Jude but my husband wasn’t so keen on it at first. We chose Jameson because it’s a variant of St James but a longer version. So we decided on Jameson Jude as first name but we ended up putting Jude on his BC as part of his middle name. We chose Ramiro because that is my Dad’s name”)

+Mary Irene (with Jesus; “Mary after Hubby’s Grandma who was very special to him. And Irene because my Mom used to say “Good night Irene” to me at night before bed when I was growing up”)

+Jesse Francis De Sales (with Jesus; “we picked a name that could be gender neutral because baby was 10 weeks and we didn’t know the gender yet but I felt like he was a boy”)

I love Jenny’s older living kiddos’ names! Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jameson are such a fun bunch of names — beautiful and handsome and with great faith connections. I love all the middle names, too, and the reasons for them. And Mary Irene and Jesse Francis De Sales are so perfect for her babies in heaven, as well — such a great job!

Jenny writes,

_______ Ann Is what we are really wanting. Not a must but we strongly want to use it. We’re open minded. My husband lost his Mom almost 2 years ago to cancer. Her name was Doris Ann. We really wanted to use her name with this next baby without copying Doris Ann. My husband doesn’t want to just use her whole name.
He likes the idea or using Dorothy Ann for a first name because Dorothy was the name of his Grandma, who was his Mom’s Mom and they were all very close.

So we are considering Dorothy Ann as a first name.

Other name we like that we are considering are:

Lucia Ann or using Lucia in there somewhere. But don’t really think it goes well with Dorothy Ann … Lucy was Hubby’s Grandma from his dad’s side.

We also have considered using Lorelei. I’m not really fond of the basic meaning but I don’t know too much about the history of the name. We just have a cute background story of that name. It is my nickname that my in-laws gave me early on. They said I looked more like a Lorelei and the name just stuck. So Hubby’s Uncles and Aunts still call me Lorelei as a nickname and my mother-in-law used to call me that as an endearing name. So it has a good feel.

We also really want a pretty Saint name. I like longer names but this would be a first time using Ann with a first name so I’m flexible. We like names that aren’t very common but aren’t too rare. We don’t like off the wall names like River or Sun or Apple. 🙂 something classic and beautiful.

We are really stuck on this name. We have tried to go with names like Francesca or Philomena but it hasn’t really stuck … I’m really into have a special meaning to the name so I would love to get your recommendations!

I really love that Jenny and her hubs originally intended Jameson Jude to be a double first name — how cool is that?! I love bold ideas like that! I’m totally on board with their wish to have a ___ Ann double first name for their baby girl in honor of Jenny’s mother-in-law, so I wanted to spend a few minutes exploring this idea. First, I love the idea of Dorothy Ann — I love that Dorothy honors both Jenny’s mother-in-law (I’m guessing maybe she was named Doris as a way of naming after her mom, without using the same name?) and her mother, and Dorothy Ann as a combo strengthens that connection by using Jenny’s mil’s middle name as well. I might normally think that Dorothy Ann isn’t a great fit with Jenny’s older kiddos’ names (not that that matters at all, I think family honor trumps style considerations every time in my opinion), but I’m so charmed by Dorothy on the daughter of the Bucket List Family that it’s taken on a more modern, chic feel for me. Its meaning of “gift of God” (same as Theodore — in fact, Dorothy is the same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed) is so great, too.

Working Jenny’s hubby’s other grandmother into the name as well via some form of Lucy is pretty great — the more the merrier! I agree with Jenny that Dorothy Ann Lucia doesn’t have the best flow, nor does Dorothy Ann Lucy, but I think Dorothy Ann Lucille sounds quite nice — I wonder if that would be a possible solution? Another possible solution would be to change the way they’re planning to honoring Jenny’s hubby’s mom and grandmother. I spent some time trying to come up with different options that might honor them just as well in a way they might like, and came up with:

  • Dora Susann Lucia: I like how saying “Dora Susann” (or Suzann, if they prefer that spelling; I dropped the “e” to highlight the “Ann” connection) together makes “Dora S-” sound like Doris. I thought Dora could easily nod to both Doris and Dorothy, and Susann/Suzann (or Susanne/Suzanne, if they wanted to spell it the more conventional way) brings in the Ann in a new way. And Dora Susann allows their preferred Lucia to fit in nicely, I think.
  • Doriann/DoriAnn/Dori Ann Lucia: I was interested to discover that Doris is from the Greek for “Dorian woman” (the Dorians were a Greek tribe), which made me think that Doriann might be an interesting way to mash up Doris (and Dorothy, through the shared Dor-) and Ann, and Doriann Lucia also sounds quite nice I think. They could also do DoriAnn or Dori Ann to make the “Ann” part more obvious.
  • Lucia Ann Dorothea: I thought Lucia Ann Dorothea flowed better than Lucia Ann Dorothy or Lucia Ann Doris (Dorothea and Dorothy are variants of each other). One hesitation I have about Lucia Ann as a double first name, though, is that Lilyana is Lily + Ana (a variant of Ann) — Lilyana and Lucia Ann seem really similar. (Again, though, not a dealbreaker if they love it!)
  • Lucia Doriann/DoriAnn: This option takes away the issue of Lilyana and Lucia Ann being possibly too similar, as it moves Ann to the middle spot, on the other side of Dori.
  • Lucia Dorothy Ann: This option uses all the names Jenny and her hubs wanted in an order that has a nice flow and rhythm to my ear. They lose the double-first-name option (unless they wanted to do Lucia Dorothy, which is unexpected and pretty [though long for everyday use]), but they have all the special ladies in one name.

(I also like Lucy in place of Lucia for these options.)

As for Lorelei, I absolutely love that Jenny’s in-laws have called her Lorelei from the beginning! What a sweet story! It would make an awesome honor name for her (and her in-laws, by extension) in her daughter’s name (either as a first name or a middle name). It does have a history that gives some people pause — in legend it’s the name of a siren that lured sailors to their death — but I think Gilmore Girls and other associations have diluted that association (and some people don’t even know about it). I never thought it had any saintly connection, but when I was doing a little research on it for this family, I discovered that Lorelei’s Wikipedia entry gives August 17 as its Czech name day. Name days almost always coincide with saint feast days, so I was really interested to see what saint was connected with Lorelei. Pretty clever: Petra is listed on the Czech calendar for that day, which is the feminine form of Peter, which means “rock,” and the “lei” part of Lorelei is thought to come from a Celtic word for “rock” — the siren is actually named for the rock headland on the Rhine River called Loreley. I loved discovering that any of the holy Peters or Petras can be patron for a Lorelei!

Because I like playing around with names and was already in that mindset with the Dorothy Ann/Dora Susann/Doriann ideas, I wondered if that might be a fun thing to do for Lorelei: come up with some name combos that could nickname to Lorelei for everyday usage but provide a more obvious saint connection. I came up with:

  • Laurel Isla
  • Laurel Eileen
  • Laura Lyla
  • Loretta Lyla

Both secularly and in the faith, laurel wreaths have been used as “crowns of glory”; another cool saintly connection is that the stories of Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna include two laurel trees. Isla is an entry in the book of Marian names I wrote, for Our Lady of the Isles. Eileen is generally considered an Irish form of Helen (St. Helen(a) is awesome). There are a few saints and blesseds named Laura. I couldn’t find any holy connection for Lyla though, so maybe the Laurel ideas are better from a saintly perspective. But also, if there’s a saint’s name in the middle spot (or in the first spot, if they use Lorelei as a middle name), then they’re covered saint-wise! Maybe Lorelei Ann (could also be a double first name, as Jenny was hoping for), Lorelei Dorothy Ann (double middle, like Jude Ramiro), Lorelei Doriann, etc. Or maybe something like Laurel Ann would sound enough like Lorelei to feel like a nod to that name, while providing a double first name with Ann that isn’t overly long (like Lorelei Ann might be). Laurel Ann Dorothea maybe?

Okay! Those are all my ideas/comments on the ideas Jenny and her husband already have — now onto to my new suggestions/ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already 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 this family, keeping in mind that they’d really like to have their chosen name pair up with Ann in a double first name, and also that Jenny said she’d like “a pretty Saint name” and “something classic and beautiful” (which I think she did really well with her older daughters). I also thought of Lilyana and Isabella as a pair and tried to think of names that went well naturally with them, without taking into account the brothers’ names or Jenny’s little ones in heaven. And finally, I thought of names that I thought would go well with Ann as the first element of the double name, instead of the second. I used the NameFinder and NameMatchmaker tools on babynamewizard.com to find additional ideas, and I also looked at the “Lacy and Lissome,” “Italian,” and “Short and Sweet” lists in the back of the Baby Name Wizard book. And I went through my own mental files for faithy names that I thought would go well.

Based on all that, these are my additional ideas (buckle up — there are lots of them! I actually did two consultations for Jenny, which I’ve condensed into this one post):

(1) Natalie or Natalia
Natalie is a style match for Anthony and Lucas (I included Lucas in my research since Jenny said she’s always liked it) and Natalia for Lilyana and Dominic, so it seemed like a great suggestion to start with! I think Natalie Ann flows better than Natalia Ann, but if they like Natalia they could consider doing Natalia Ann as her given name and a nickname + Ann for everyday usage, like Talia Ann or Tally Ann. I know a Natalie who goes by Natty, so that’s an option too — Natty Ann. There are some Sts. and Blds. Natalia (Natalie is the French form, so St. Natalia would be patron for a Natalie or Natalia), and Natalia also literally refers to Christmas Day — it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “the birth of the Lord.”

(2) Camille or Camila/Camilla
Camila/Camilla is a match for Lilyana, Jude, and Lucia, but like with Natalie and Natalia, I thought Camille Ann had a better flow than Camilla Ann. But again, they could do Camilla Ann as the given name and Cammie Ann or Callie Ann as an everyday nickname. There are some holy Camillas, which work for Camille as well.

(3) Sophia/Sofia or Sophie (or as a nickname?)
Sophia is a match for Dominic, and Sofia for Lucas and Lucia. Sophia/Sofia Ann is lovely, but again I feel like Sophie Ann has a better flow. While I love both Sophia/Sofia and Sophie, I’ve seen them (especially Sophie) used as nicknames for Seraphina/Serafina and Josephine/Josefina, which remind me of the Francesca and Philomena that Jenny said they’ve tried but haven’t felt quite right. So maybe one of those? Josephine Ann nicknamed Sophie Ann? Serafina Ann nicknamed Sofie Ann? On its own, Sophia means “wisdom” and is an entry in my book of Marian names because one of Our Lady’s titles is Seat of Wisdom.

(4) Olivia
Olivia’s a match for Lucas and Isabella, and Olivia Ann strikes me as similar to Sophia Ann — quite pretty, but maybe Olivia Ann with Livvy Ann as the everyday nickname would be easier? Olivia’s also in my book of Marian names, after Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Audrey or Aubrey
I was surprised by these names, as they’re a bit different than the ends-in-a names Jenny and her hubs gave Lilyana and Isabella, and are considering with Lucia, but Audrey’s a match for Dominic and Aubrey for Jameson, and since they’re so similar to each other I thought their shared sound and rhythm might be one that appeals to them. There’s a St. Audrey (her entry on CatholicSaints.info is for St. Etheldreda, which she’s also known by), and I quite like Audrey Ann — it has a bit of a Hollywood starlet feel to me, probably because of Audrey Hepburn. Its shorter length makes it easier with Ann as an everyday double name, too. Behind the Name (my go-to for name meanings) says Aubrey is a form of Alberich, and there are a few saints by that name — all male. I believe Aubrey was predominantly a male name until recently. If they love it, it’s certainly no problem for a girl to have a male saint as patron! Like with Audrey Ann, Aubrey Ann is quite easy enough for everyday use.

(6) Rosemary
My thought process behind Rosemary is a little funny. It’s a style match for Dorothy, which normally wouldn’t sway me because I don’t get the sense that Dorothy is really this family’s style, but rather their favorite option of the ways to honor Jenny’s hubby’s mom (and grandmother), but one of the nicknames I’ve seen used for Rosemary is Rory, which always makes me think of Lorelei because of Gilmore Girls. And then thinking about it more, I thought Rosemary Ann nicknamed Rory Ann might be a really cute idea, with that connection to Lorelei too if Jenny wants it to. Rosemary also has a little bit of that Hollywood feel I get from Audrey (e.g., Rosemary Clooney). I think Rosemary is classic and beautiful; it honors Our Lady; and not only is Rory a great possibility for a nickname, but so are Rosie and Romy — Rosie Ann and Romy Ann are both darling. (Just a note of caution that Rosie Ann, being “a flower + Ann,” is similar to Lilyana, being “a flower + Ana.”)

(7) Magdalena
Magdalena Ann is certainly long and difficult for everyday, but I love Maggie Ann! And St. Mary Magdalene is an awesome patron.

(8) Emilia
Emilia is an Italian name, and it’s also the name of St. John Paul II’s mom, whose cause for canonization has been opened! Emilia Ann isn’t terrible, and Emmy Ann is darling.

(9) Carys or Charis
Carys is Welsh for “love,” and Charis — which is said the same as Carys — is Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word “eucharist.” Carys Ann and Charis Ann are awesome!

(10) Vesper or Verity
Vesper is from the Latin for “evening” and in a Catholic context is used to refer to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (“Vespers”). Vesper Ann is lovely! Verity means “truth” and even thought it’s three syllables, I think Verity Ann is easy enough, and wonderful.

(11) Sunday
I posted a birth announcement for a little Sunday Josephine on the blog a while ago, and I love it for this family — it’s got that faith connection for the Lord’s day, and I love Sunday Ann as a combo!

(12) Elodie
This is a French name that I think sounds smashing with Ann! Elodie Ann!

(13) Caeli
Caeli is Latin for “of heaven” (like the Marian title Regina Caeli: Queen of Heaven) and would be really sweet and very Catholic with Ann: Caeli Ann. It’s said CHAY-lee in Church Latin, but you could say it KAY-lee if you wanted.

(14) Mercy
Mercy is a great and unexpected virtue name — I saw quite a bit of it as a baby name during the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016). Maybe Mercy Ann?

(15) Ann Catherine, Ann Madeline (or similar); something like Ann Seton?
My last ideas have to do with putting Ann first in the double-first-name idea. Catherine is a match for Anthony and Madeline is a match for Dominic, and both of those made me think of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Anne-Madeleine Remuzat — I think both of those combos are so lovely, and thought maybe Jenny would like to consider something like that? I particularly like that Ann Catherine could go by Annie Cate. I know a little AnnClare, which might also appeal to them. From their ideas, I like Ann Lucia quite a bit. If Jenny knows who her mother-in-law’s favorite saint was, that might be an option here too. Then I was noticing that the girl style matches for Jameson were mostly surname-type names, like Kendall, Larkin, and Harper, and wondered if they might like Ann with a saintly surname? Seton was the first that came to mind, because of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — Ann Seton would be a cool, unexpected first name that would immediately call to mind that particular saint without having to use Elizabeth. Some other surnames that might work in this way include Ann Kolbe, Ann Vianney, Ann Goretti (is it crazy that I just thought Annie Grey could be a doable nickname for Ann Goretti??), Ann Majella (St. Gerard Majella is a patron of expectant mamas!). Or maybe Ann + Jenny’s maiden name? Or Ann Lorelei? So many options!

(16) Ann Elise or Ann Elisa (Annelisa?)
I was staying away from Elizabeth names because of big sister Isabella, which is a form of Elizabeth, but then I realized that Lily and Lillian have a history of usage as nicknames for Elizabeth, so then I thought it might be cool if Jenny’s living daughters have that connection — just kind of lean into it, you know? But without using the full Elizabeth. So if you switch the elements, I think Ann Elise and Ann Elisa are quite pretty! Anneliese is a German mashup of Anne and Elizabeth, so I thought they could do the same with Annelisa if they wanted to combine them. But I quite like them separate too, and doing so highlights the Ann moreso.

(17) Ann Colette, Ann Juliette, Ann Corinne
I definitely found that I think French names go really well with Ann as a combo, especially if they’re in the second spot (like Ann Elise above). I love Colette, Juliette, and Corinne — so feminine!

(18) Alessandra, Carolina, Caterina or Catalina, Veronica
Finally, these ideas are just names I came across that I thought Jenny would like, since she said she likes longer names. I like them all with Lilyana and Isabella, though I’m not sure Ann goes as well with them. But I thought it would be fun to include them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jamison?


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

a Becket, a Kempis, a Cruce

St. Thomas a Becket, Thomas a Kempis (author of The Imitation of Christ), and St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein) all have that “a” in common — have any of you wondered what it means? I admit I’d only had a vague, noncommittal curiosity until today, when I decided to try to find out.

Basically, it means “of” or “from.” Thomas à Kempis , who is also known in German as Thomas von Kempen and in Dutch as Thomas van Kempen — “von” and “van” meaning “from” in their respective languages — is so called because Kempen was his home town. St. “Teresia Benedicta a Cruce” is simply “Teresa Benedict of the Cross” (isn’t Teresia a pretty variant? Behind the Name says T(h)eresia is a German, Dutch, and Swedish variant, and that Tessan is a Swedish diminutive and Trees a Dutch diminutive).

I’m sure the “a” in “a Becket” means the same thing, though the reason is less clear. Check out this rabbit hole I went down:

  • “Thomas Becket was the son of Norman settlers who lived in the city of London. His father was a merchant who traveled among the circles of French-speaking Norman immigrants. The name ‘Becket’ is likely a nickname, possibly meaning beak or nose, which was given to his father.” (source)
  • “Deeply influenced in childhood by a devout mother who died when he was 21, Thomas entered adult life as a city clerk and accountant in the service of the sheriffs. After three years he was introduced by his father to Archbishop Theobald, a former abbot of Bec, of whose household he became a member.” (source)
  • “Bec Abbey, formally the Abbey of Our Lady of Bec (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec), is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay. It is located in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France, and was the most influential abbey of the 12th-century Anglo-Norman kingdom.” (source)
  • “Like all abbeys, Bec maintained annals of the house but uniquely its first abbots also received individual biographies, brought together by the monk of Bec, Milo Crispin.” (ibid.)
  • “‘Bec’ is the name of the stream running through the abbey, Old Norse bekkr, in English place or river names Beck.” (ibid.)
  • “Becket” is from “Beckett,” which is from “an English surname that could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke meaning ‘beak’ or bekke meaning ‘stream, brook'” (source)

Becket could refer to a nickname of St. Thomas’ father because of his nose! Or it could be a reference to Bec Abbey, which was originally named Abbey of Our Lady of Bec! A famous monk of Bec (a Beccan  monk? A Becket monk?) was named Milo! Which has separate Marian connections! So many fun discoveries! (So many exclamation marks!)

Back to the “a” — tell me what you know! I see that “à” is French — are all the a’s really à’s? So all these have a French origin? But German seems a big factor here too — but then German has “von”? Is it Latin, maybe? And is there some more nuanced meaning I’m missing, since a Kempis means “from a certain place,” a Becket might mean the same or “son of the father with the nickname,” and a Cruce means “of” in the sense of possession? I’d love to spend more time researching but I have a deadline I should be working on!

I’m totally loving the “a” construction — I could see “a Cruce” being an amazing name in honor of both St. Edith and Jesus. And of course Katheryn has set an amazing example with giving her son the amazing first name “à Kempis.” I mean. So brilliant. And such a really cool addition to Kolbe, Avila, Siena, and other saintly surnames/place names.

What other saints have an “a” construction in their names? I guess we could do this with any “of” saint, right? St. Catherine a Siena? St. Teresa a Avila? St. Bernard a Clairvaux? Or am I misunderstanding how this works?

I look forward to reading your comments! Happy Thursday!


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

Spotlight on: Quinn

Happy Tuesday everybody! I’ve done a bunch of private consultations recently (which is totally fine and wonderful! There’s absolutely no requirement or pressure to have your consultation posted here for reader feedback!), so I don’t know when my next Monday consultation post will be — I just wanted to let you know, because I can see from my traffic stats (generally, and specifically yesterday) that a lot of people pop in on Mondays to see them!

I’ve been wanting to do a spotlight on Quinn for a while, ever since I posted this baby name consultation back in January, where I stated confidently: “Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys” and reader VEL gently pointed out in the comments: “I’m pretty sure Quinn ranked #84 for girls for 2018:)”. She was right, of course — I have no idea how I got that wrong, since I looked up Quinn for both girls and boys in the SSA data — could I have spelled it wrong? Who knows, but the point remains that I was 100% completely wrong and that Quinn is currently a top 100 name for girls, and it’s got a great faith connection that lots of parents of have been loving: Ven. Edel Quinn.

I’ve written about the Irish Ven. Edel before, including my encounter with an actual real-life Edel in Ireland, in several baby name consultations (including the one mentioned above), and these Sancta Nomina babies who were named after her: Kyteria Quinn and Harper Edel. She’s pretty amazing! And totally my go-to for a holy patron for a Quinn, girl or boy. I don’t know of any other Ven./Bl./St. with the name Quinn, but I’ve also seen Quinn suggested as a nickname for Aquinas for a boy, which is pretty awesome, and there’s also the girl name Aquinnah (like one of Michael J. Fox’s daughters), which can take Quinn as a nickname and St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron. The spelling Quin might feel more natural as a nickname for Aquinas and Quintus, and doing so moves it a bit away from the Irish surname feel, which some parents might prefer.

Here on the blog, I’ve seen Quinn suggested for a fifth baby because of its similarity in sound to “quint,” as a namesake for St. Quentin, and in honor of Our Lady because of its similarity in sound to “queen.” I totally think they work! (Though Quinn has no etymological connection to any of these, being instead from the anglicization of an Irish surname meaning “descendant of Conn,” where Conn means “head” or “chief.” So then maybe using it to mean “queen” is pretty accurate after all!)

As a given name, I first heard it on a little boy years ago, before I was married, and I thought it was so cool. These days, I mostly hear it on girls (even though I claimed in that consultation I mentioned above that it wasn’t nearly as popular for girls as for boys, I really just don’t know where my head was). We have a little friend who’s just a couple months older than Luke named Quinn, and her family calls her Quinnie and so does my 6yo, and it’s the cutest thing ever. I will also say that with at least one of the little Quinns I know, I spent months thinking her name was Gwen before realizing it’s actually Quinn (and I try to be really careful about names!). But I don’t think that’s a big deal at all — both Quinn and Gwen are beautiful!

What do you all think of Quinn? Do you like it better for a boy or a girl? Would you ever consider the name Quinn for your son or daughter, or have you? If not as a given name, maybe Quinn or Quin as a nickname for something else? Do you know any Quinns? Do they like their name?


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

 

Baby name consultation: “Short and cute” vs. “flowery” for a girl, surname-style for a boy

Happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church! And at the same time, in sorrow I share this Prayer for Racial Justice, and the call to participate in this 19-day period of prayer and fasting (from today to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) as an act of reparation to God for the sin of racism in all its forms. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us. St. Michael, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless us and keep us close to You.

Trish and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Donovan Kolbe (“we liked last names that were first names for boys and Kolbe had special significance since my husbands grandfather escaped from the Warsaw ghetto as a boy“)

Genevieve Louise (“I love very feminine names for girls, while my husband likes short and cute. I sold it to him by saying we could call her Evie, which we did for a few years but she is now asking to be called Genevieve (YAY). Louise was after my husbands grandmother“)

Veronica Caeli (“we call her Caeli … we knew we wanted a Caeli, but didn’t want her to forever be spelling it … so made it a middle name so she can choose“)

Are you as swoony as I am over these names?! 😍😍😍

Trish writes,

My husband and I have different tastes and had a VERY difficult time coming up with our son’s name … I have a list of names for this baby but my husband pretty much doesn’t like any of them because they are “too flowery.” He would like Emma or Claire but they’re too common for me. I think Gemma is a good compromise and he likes it, but is Gemma a different name than Genevieve? I really don’t like super common names. Even Mary! Sorry to Our Lady but every other family has a Mary and I just can’t.”

(“and I just can’t” — haha!)

Names Trish and her hubby have discussed include:

Xavier
Leo
Oliver
Jerome
Gemma
Eloise Grace (“but can we do an Eloise with an Evie Louise??“)
Emmeline
Annalise
Seraphina

And Trish specifically said, “I hope you can bridge the gap!!!” which, as I told her, is one of my very favorite things to do! (In fact, my very first CatholicMom.com column [five years ago!] was about this exact issue!)

First off, I’ll say that I really love that they both like Gemma, and normally I’d think it would be a perfect compromise, but for Genevieve! I mean, Genevieve starts with the sound *jenna*, and Gemma is *jemma* — they’re SO close! If they always called Genevieve “Evie,” then perhaps it wouldn’t be too problematic, at least on an everyday basis. Of course, that said, if Trish and her hubby just really love Gemma and the similarity between Gemma and Genevieve doesn’t bother them, then it’s certainly not the end of the world to choose Gemma!

I’m interested in the divide between Trish and her husband over girl names — he likes feminine, shorter names (Evie, Caeli, Emma, Claire), while Trish has feminine, longer names on her list (Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina). I see a lot of potential here!

I actually think Emmeline is a perfect compromise name here — it’s got Emma in it, from Trish’s hubby’s list, and a little Emmeline could easily and naturally go by Emma and/or Emmy. Annalise and Seraphina are similarly good I think, because Anna/Annie and Sera are less “flowery” names and I think they would qualify as “short and cute,” as Trish described her husband’s taste (I also think Sophie could work as a nickname for Seraphina, which I also suspect Trish’s husband might like). Another name that might also be a good compromise is Clairvaux. It’s pronounced clair-VO, like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and having the Clair- at the beginning means a little Clairvaux can go by Claire with no problem. Two of my readers have daughters named Clairvaux! I definitely think Trish should check them out (here and here) as both families have name taste similar to hers, I think.

As for Eloise Grace, I wouldn’t think it would be a problem unless they regularly tack Louise onto whatever they’re calling Genevieve. That is, do they regularly call her Evie Louise? Or even the full Genevieve Louise? If so, I do feel like Eloise might be too similar. But if Louise rarely shows up when they’re referring to Genevieve, then I think it’s fine. It also reminds me of a friend of mine who gave both her first and second daughters the middle name Catherine, but the older daughter’s middle name was for her grandmother Catherine, and the second daughter’s middle name was for St. Catherine of Siena. And I know more than one family who used a certain name as a middle name for one child, and liked that name so much they used it as the first name for a subsequent child. I say all this to say, even if Trish and her hubby use Louise with some regularity and still want to use Eloise for their next daughter, other families have done similar and even crazier things and the world didn’t fall apart. They can easily say for those who wonder that Louise was for Hubby’s grandmother and Eloise is just because they like it, or whatever. And actually, Louise and Eloise aren’t linguistically related! Louise is a feminine form of Louis, while Eloise is a variant of Heloise.

Another name that I thought they might like to consider is Elise — very similar to Eloise but even more different from Louise than Eloise is. It’s a short French form of Elizabeth, which opens up lots of great patron saints. Or Elisa, which flows better with Grace than Elise, I think. Or Elodie? That’s also a really pretty name.

There’s no problem at all about not liking the name Mary! Many Catholic families feel similarly, both because of name fatigue from all those years of Mary as the Number One Girl’s Name as well as a preference for more unexpected names (and not at all because of any disrespect toward Our Lady), which is in large part why I wrote my book of Marian baby names! There are so many gorgeous, legitimately Marian names that aren’t Mary — names that fit all different tastes in names! I included some in my list of suggestions below.

As for boy names, I think they’ve got a great list! I’m surprised there aren’t more surname-type names on there, since Trish had said that she and her hubs like last names that are first names for boys. Xavier is the only name on their list that fits that criteria, though it’s been used as a first name for so long that many people don’t know that it started as a last name. Leo and Oliver are great, and I regularly see them on lists of names considered by parents I do consultations for, but I rarely see Jerome! I admit though, when I was looking for boy names for this baby, I focused mostly on finding last name type names.

Okay, on to my suggestions! You all know that I start each consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for both boys and girls. These are what I came up with (a few extra for girls, given that girl names are particularly problematic for this couple):

Girl
(1) Ave
I feel like Ava is the kind of name Trish’s hubby would like — “short and cute” — but changing it slightly to Ave makes it both much more uncommon and more obviously faithy. It’s said like AH-vay, like in Ave Maria. I’d love to see such a short first name paired with a longer middle — because Ave means “Hail” (Ave Maria=Hail Mary), it might be weird to put it with a non-Marian middle, so maybe something like Ave Immaculata? That strikes me as a combo Trish might really like, and I think Ave might be the kind of name her husband would be okay with. I could also see putting Ave and Maria together as Avemaria, that would be amazing.

(2) Isla
I was actually inspired to add Isla by one of the Clairvaux families I linked to above — they have another daughter named Isla, and Isla’s an entry in my book for the Marian title Our Lady of the Isles. It’s “short and cute,” and so pretty!

(3) Pia
This is another name in my book, it’s the feminine form of Pius/Pio, and in the Salve Regina Our Lady is specifically referred to as pia, which is translated in the English version as “loving,” though it’s technical translation is more along the lines of “pious, devout, dutiful.” Actor David Henrie (of Wizards of Waverly Place fame, which I never watched but he’s got loads of followers), who’s actually a devout Catholic, recently named his daughter Pia, and I love seeing her sweet face and name in my Instagram feed! If Trish could convince her husband to use a longer name, I think Pia could also work as a nickname for Seraphina and Philomena and Phillippa.

(4) Liesse
This is yet another name in my book — it’s French for “joy” and refers to Notre Dame de Liesse (Our Lady of Joy). Isn’t it such a pretty name? It can definitely be used on its own, and if Trish wanted to lengthen it, Marie-Liesse isn’t uncommon (especially in France).

(5) Maristella
I know Trish said she doesn’t care for Mary, but what about something like Maristella? It reminds me of Genevieve and Veronica (and Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina) because of its length and femininity (which probably means her hubby won’t care for it, oh dear), but both Maris and Stella can be nicknames for it, as well as some other creative options like Mia, Mari, Molly, Missy, Milla and Mella (I could see Trish’s husband particularly liking Mia and Molly). Maristella is a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). Two Sancta Nomina readers have daughters named Maristella: here and here.

(6) Mercedes
I know Trish’s husband is freaking out at this point that I’m including all these ideas he won’t like! So sorry! I just really love the idea of compromising by using a longer, less familiar name like Trish likes with a familiar, “short and cute” nickname more like her husband’s taste. Mercedes is in my book — it means “mercies,” and is for Our Lady of Mercy or Our Lady of Mercies. It’s a Spanish name with quite an interesting (and very Catholic!) history — I posted more about it here. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, quite a few of my readers chose names related to Mercy for their children, and not only did Mercedes get some usage, but so did Mercy itself. I thought maybe Trish’s husband might like Mercy? It can stand on its own, or it can be a nickname for Mercedes. Sadie can also be a nickname for Mercedes, which I also thought her hubby might like. Lots of options!

(7) Tessa
Again, Tessa seems to me like the kind of name Trish’s husband would like — I would definitely call it “short and cute.” I actually thought Trish might like it too! Or maybe this could be another possible compromise, where they could use the given name Therese or Teresa and call her Tess or Tessa. I mentioned Marie-Liesse above, which makes me also think of Marie-Therese — I just love how the French do that! And I think doing a double first name (with or without the hyphen) automatically gives the name a more unusual character, which Trish prefers. So maybe Marie-Therese plus a middle name, called Tess or Tessa?

(8) Zara
Finally, Zara: in my research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, I actually didn’t find a whole lot of ideas that I thought would work for them. But Zara is a style match for both Gemma and Xavier, and it’s short and cute while also being uncommon, so I thought I should definitely include it in my suggestions. I actually did a spotlight post on it a while ago, as I’d discovered that it’s a feminine short form of Zechariah — I loved finding that connection! Zechariah is a name I’ve often thought would be great for a boy as a sort-of nod to the Visitation, since he was Elizabeth’s husband and John the Baptist’s father; a little Zara could claim that same connection.

Boy
(1) Tiber
Okay, moving on to boy ideas. So I totally latched onto the fact that Trish said she and her husband like last-names-as-first-names for boys, and I always include place names in that category (especially since so many last names started as place names, and so many saintly place names have a last name feel, like St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, etc.). And any time I know one of the parents is a convert, I immediately think of Tiber! Tiber is for the Tiber River in Rome, and many of you know that when someone converts to Catholicism a fun thing to say is that they “crossed the Tiber.” (There are even t-shirts that say “Tiber Swim Team” with the year the person entered the Church, like these.) Anyway, two of my readers have used Tiber for their boys and I love it! I think it’s so cool and so meaningful, but in kind of a stealthy way! Check them out here and here.

(2) Fulton
Another name that came right to mind when seeing Donovan Kolbe’s name is Fulton! Fulton was actually Fulton Sheen’s mom’s maiden name, so a legit last name, even thought it’s so tied to him as a first name.

(3) Owen
A name that did well for this family in my research was Owen, which I love because of course it’s a first name, but it’s also St. Nicholas Owen’s last name (he’s amazing)! So it reminds me a lot of Donovan in that they both have good usage as first names.

(4) Elliott
Elliott’s another one that did quite well for them in my research, and like Donovan and Owen, I love that it has usage as a last name (poet T.S. Eliot is one example) while still being a familiar but not too common first name. It’s actually a variant of Elijah, which gives it both a faith connection and a specifically Marian connection (via Elijah’s connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which I discuss in my book).

(5) Campion
Camden was listed as a style match for Donovan, which made me think of the similar and saintly Campion, for St. Edmund Campion. Isn’t Campion a cool name? I’ve always had a soft spot for the nickname Cam, and I love St. Edmund Campion, and I love how brothers Donovan and Campion sound!

I also encourage Trish and her hubby to check out my posts on saintly surnames — there are so many great options for those who love the surname style!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Donovan, Genevieve (sometimes nicknamed Evie), and Veronica Caeli (called Caeli)?


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