Baby name consultation: “Slightly different” name needed for baby brother or sister

Cassandra and her husband are expecting their fourth living baby (fifth overall), a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Thomas Patrick (“this was the one name my husband was dead set on from before we were married. His late maternal grandfather was Thomas Patrick. Additionally, my husband’s father is Thomas and his brother is Patrick. So we’ve pretty much covered his side of the family with this name. Another note … our son mostly goes by Thomas. We have no issues with the name “Tommy” (or nicknames in general) but we know lots of other families with Tommy, Tom, etc so our son refers to himself as “Thomas”)”

Theresa Angeline (“when our daughter was born, we had a list of girl names, but it still took us a few hours to decide. We both loved Therese, but didn’t want her name to be constantly mispronounced. Once we chose Theresa (the hubs insisted on the “h” in there), we debated middle names. He liked Marie, but I told him that Theresa Marie was too common. I suggested Angeline which is my middle name (and my paternal grandmother’s middle name as well). I always liked my middle name because it was different. As for nicknames for her … we had every intention of calling her Tess. We told everyone that was the plan, but for some reason, it didn’t seem right to us as we got to know her. Now she goes by Theresa or the pet name TT (her best friend who is 9 days older than her called her this when they were toddlers and it stuck)“)

David Anthony (“for our next boy, we went with something from my side of the family. My paternal grandfather was David. We also have a very close friend in seminary whose name is David and we wanted to honor him as well. Anthony is my father and was my maternal grandfather. He mostly goes by the pet name “Day Day.” Not entirely sure how that happened, but it’s what most people call him“)

Nadia Rose (with Jesus) (“we had an early loss. I felt pretty strongly that she was a girl so we chose a girl’s name. My husband wanted something that meant “hope” but I am not a huge fan of the actual name “Hope.” I threw out “Nadia” as an alternative and he liked it. Rose was chosen because it’s the name I kept hearing in my head when I found out we had lost the baby“)

I love each of these, and the reasons behind each one! ❤

Cassandra writes,

We are Team Green and I feel like we need some new ideas for this baby. We have a lot of names on our list, but I’m not totally sold on any of them. Usually, I like to have two boy and two girl name combos chosen for the birth. I just feel like we need to make sure the name “fits” the baby …

If we have a boy, I’d like to honor my brother somehow. His name is Matthew so Matthias has been thrown around. He is also a huge fan of the name Victor so we could use that somehow.

If we have a girl, I’m toying with the idea of giving a nod to one of my college and grad school roommates. This is where is gets a bit tricky. Her name is Sarah Elizabeth, but I have a SIL named Sarah … I’ve mulled over using Seraphina as a possible nod. Or her initials are S.F. so I could use that as well. I have always called her “Franzie” (a play off her last name), but I’m not keen on using Frances. This one is not a necessity, but something I’d like to work in if possible.

My husband’s biggest thing is that our children need Saints’ names …

Names currently on our list …

Boys
Jonas Matthew seems to be my husband’s favorite so far. We both like the name Jonas slightly more than Jonah, but people seem to think of the Jonas brothers so I don’t know if that would be an issue.
Benedict
Brendan
Brennan
Nathan/Nathaniel
Vianney (I have wanted this as a middle name since high school. Hubs will only consider it as a middle name.)
Xavier (more likely as a middle name)
Raphael (again more likely as a middle name)

Hubs has nixed Beckett and Bennett because they are last names and not first names.

Girls
Clara
Anastasia
Seraphina
Felicity
Lily or Lila
Catherine (husband is not a fan of using just Katia)
Elizabeth
Evelyn
Cecilia

Other notes….
We do love Marian names, but our last name begins with “Mar…” So it can get to alliterative sometimes. We’ve debated doing BVM initials (ie Brennan Vianney M.) For a Marian name.

Too many “s” or “sh” sounds can be hard in a name with our last name.

Names we can’t use for one reason or another:
Michael
Jacob
Timothy
Hannah
Sarah

Husband doesn’t like place names (I.e. Avila, Siena, etc.) Or last names as first names.

I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

I’m really interested to see where Cassandra and her husband will land with a name for this baby! Thomas, Theresa, and David have a definite “feel” to me as all three peaked in popularity in the 1950s-ish, which gives them a mid-century feel, especially as a sibling set, and Brendan, Clara, Lily, Catherine, Elizabeth, Evelyn, and Cecilia from their list all feel like natural fits for that. And then, Nadia, Matthias, Victor, Jonas, Benedict, Nathaniel, Vianney, Xavier, Raphael, Anastasia, Seraphina, Felicity, and Lila have a much more exotic and perhaps more current feel, which is really fun to see a divergence in taste and the kinds of names they’re willing to consider for this baby!

That said, I do feel like going from Thomas, Theresa, and David to Seraphina, for example, is a bit jarring — not that that should be a deal breaker! Just that, when I was looking for new ideas for this family, I was trying to find names that straddled the line between Thomas and Seraphina, that acted as “bridge” names almost between the two styles. (I’m not forgetting their Nadia in this conversation, only that her name isn’t one that most people will hear when they encounter this family.) And maybe there’s no need for bridge names! They’ve already jumped in with both feet to the more “exotic” style with Nadia’s name (which I absolutely love), so maybe Anastasia, Seraphina, and Xavier are indeed where they want to go with this baby’s name! Actually, I think Cassandra put it best: “I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.”

From their list, I think Clara, Lila, Cecilia, Nathan, and Nathaniel are closest to that middle ground I’m thinking of — I can see them each being varying degrees of unexpected with Thomas, Theresa, and David, but none of them feel like a different style from what they’ve already done. But I really love all the names on their list!

There are some strategies that I like to employ when trying to bridging styles that Cassandra and her hubs might find helpful, including choosing a “normal” given name but using an offbeat nickname on an everyday basis, or conversely choosing an offbeat given name that can take a “normal” nickname; you’ll see that I used this strategy a bit in my ideas below. I’ve also always loved an unexpected middle name paired with a more normal first name — their idea of Brendan Vianney M___/BVM is a fantastic example of this! Xavier and Raphael would also be awesome middle names in this line of thinking.

I wanted to offer some other thoughts on the names they have on their list, in case they’re helpful:

— I love Matthias as an honor name for Cassandra’s brother Matthew. Another possibility would be Levi, as Matthew in the bible was also known as Levi.

— I love Victor too, and think it might actually be a great bridge-type name! But I wonder if, as Cassandra says her brother loves the name, would he be upset if they used it? Might he be saving it for his future son?

— Naming a daughter for Cassandra’s roommate is so sweet! I like Seraphina as a nod to Sarah, and I like C’s idea of using her roommate’s initials S.F. (or perhaps S.E., for her first and middle?). Franzie’s a fun nickname — I wonder what Cassandra would think about the French Francine? The Italian Francesca? The German Franziska? Or maybe, drawing from her list, something like Felicity Miranda, with Felicity providing the F and Miranda providing the RAN … ? Maybe? Or is that too crazy?

— Jonas Matthew is a really cool combo! I like that, like Matthias, Jonas is biblical like Thomas and David, which can provide a nice link between the brothers’ names. I mean, yes, there are the Jonas Brothers, but there’s also Jonas Salk … I guess currently the former is more recognized than the latter, but I only offer it to show that there are other Jonases people might think of, and honestly, the people who make up their circle will quickly associate Jonas primarily with their son, if Cassandra and her hubby end up naming a son so.

— I love Benedict, and I’m thinking it might be really good for this family — Thomas and David are obviously biblical, and I think most people would assume a Ben is Benjamin, and it would make total sense with Thomas and David. And I would be so excited to find out that someone I assumed was Benjamin was actually Benedict! (I love Benjamin too, I just really love being surprised by a name! Haha!) That said, I think Benedict goes really well with Thomas, Theresa, and David. I love it!

— Brendan and Brennan are so similar but just the tiniest bit different … Brendan has more of a classic feel to me while Brennan is more contemporary maybe?

— Nathan and Nathaniel are both awesome too, and like with Brendan/Brennan, they have a slightly different feel — Nathan feels sort of “normal” while Nathaniel’s a bit sparklier — which I think is what Cassandra’s looking for? I like Nathaniel a lot for them, and they can always use Nathan as a nickname, which makes Nathaniel a two-for-one name!

— Vianney, Xavier, Raphael are awesome names and fantastic middle name options. I really feel like using one of them in the middle might scratch that itch of having something a little different than what they’ve already done.

— Might Cassandra’s husband be swayed by the fact that the surname Bennett arose from the first name Bennett, and not the other way around? Bennett was actually the medieval diminutive of Benedict (as was Austin for Augustine).

— Clara’s such a sweet name, I like it with Thomas, Theresa, and David.

— I’m so interested that C and her hubs named a daughter Nadia and have Anastasia on the list — they both scream Russian to me (though they both of other uses), and especially since C also mentioned liking Katia. That’s a fun style, and influenced one of my ideas below. I also wondered if they’d be interested in considering Stasia (or Stacia) as the given name — it’s a short form of Anastasia, so would have St. Anastasia as patron, and it begins with S, so could be a nod to her friend Sarah.

— Seraphina is gorgeous. Although, since they don’t want to use the name Sarah, would it bother them if others called her Sera? I know a little Seraphina who goes by Sera.

— I love Felicity, it’s such a lovely name, and it has a touch of Pilgrim feel to it, which goes especially well with Thomas and David I think.

— Lily and Lila are both beautiful, and along the lines of using an unexpected nickname for a normal given name, I wonder if they’d be intrigued by the fact that Lily (and Lila could work here too) is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth? What would they think of Elizabeth as a first name in honor of C’s roommate, with the nickname Lily/Lila? Or, Lilia (or they can spell it Lilya) is the Russian form of Lily — maybe they’d like that?

— Catherine absolutely fits really well. I think Cassandra could still use Katia as a nickname if she wanted to?

— Elizabeth: ditto, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names, because of the Mystery of the Visitation. Eliza was a big style match for this family in my research, I wonder if they might like to consider it instead of the longer Elizabeth?

— Evelyn is lovely, and I think it goes well with the others, though I think it comes across as less saintly than the others. Though it’s not technically related to Eve, they could use it in that way for the Marian connection.

— Cecilia is a fantastic fit as well.

So I think Cassandra and her husband have some really great names on their list already! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the name they end up using is on their current list. But I can always come up with more ideas! 😂

You all know that I start my consultations 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, and in addition to Thomas, Theresa, David, Nadia, and the names on their list of considerations, I added Tess and Sarah (even though Cassandra said they wouldn’t use Sarah, it was a huge style match for them, so I thought I’d see what other names are style matches for it that I may not yet have come across). This is what I came up with:

Girl
(1) Natalia
Natalia was influenced both by the fact that it’s listed as a style match for Anastasia, and also that Natalie is a match for Nathan (and of course that it’s similar to Nathan/Nathaniel on their list). I like that it’s a Russian name that begins with an N, like Nadia — it might make for a nice connection between them. Natalia is a saint’s name, but it also ultimately comes from the Latin for Christmas (natale domini=birth of the Lord), which could be perfect for an almost-Advent baby.

(2) Susanna
This is actually my favorite suggestion for Cassandra and her hubs! I feel like Susanna fits the exact profile I’m thinking of when I talk about “bridge” names — it’s much rarer than Thomas, Theresa, and David, but I definitely think it fits in well with them. Anna was actually a good match for their style, being similar to Thomas, Clara, and Catherine, and the Russian Anna — Anya — is similar to Nadia, so Susanna gives them Anna but with a twist. I love it both as a sibling to Thomas, Theresa, and David, and specifically as a sister to Theresa, and I think it hangs equally well with Nadia. And it begins with an S, for C’s friend Sarah! It’s also an entry in my book, as Susanna means both “lily” and “rose”!

(3) Julia
Julia is a match for Elizabeth and Sarah and Juliet is a match for Felicity, so I liked the Julia family of names for this family, and thought Julia was more their speed than Juliet (though I love Juliet, so if they love it, I hope they go for it!). Julia is such a great name — perfect for a little girl and perfect for a grown woman, similar to how I think of Theresa.

(4) Lydia
Lydia is a match for Jonas, and as soon as I saw it I thought it felt like a good fit here. One of the things I’ve always loved about Lydia is that the biblical character was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia would have her own color!

(5) Veronica
Veronica was only a match for Theresa, but I thought that was great, for sisters to share a style like that! And certainly Veronica goes with Nadia as well — in fact, Theresa, Nadia, and Veronica make a very pleasing set of sisters!

(6) Molly
Molly was influenced both by the fact that they’d intended to call Theresa Tess — and Molly is a style match for Tess — but also that it’s a variant of Mary, so it’s a way to have a Marian name without using a Mar- name.

Boy
(1) Samuel
I know Cassandra said that she might like to name a daughter after her friend Sarah, but I found myself on the lookout for S names in general, and then thought maybe she’d like to do SF (or SE?) initials no matter whether they have a boy or a girl? Samuel is a great name that’s biblical like Thomas and David, and the story of Samuel in the bible is a great one for anyone longing for a baby — after the loss of their little Nadia, Samuel could be the perfect name.

(2) Simon
Another S name, but I’m really loving Simon as a brother to Thomas, Theresa, and David — it makes the whole group seem extra sophisticated!

(3) Stephen
Last S name, I promise! It’s just that, I know two brother sets who are two generations apart named David and Stephen! That’s some classic staying power! And then I have uncles who are brothers named Thomas and David, so in my mind Thomas, David, and Stephen are fantastic brother names.

(4) John Paul
John Paul was a name that came to me outside of research (the BNW doesn’t even have an entry for John Paul) — I was really thinking of that “bridge” name idea, and John Paul feels like such a perfect one. John and Paul are both really similar in style to Thomas and David, but putting them together gives the whole thing a little bit of an edge (a saintly edge) and is definitely more unexpected. His name is an entry in my book of Marian names because of what a huge devotion St. John Paul had to her!

(5) Lukas
Lucas, Lukas, and Luke did really well for this family in my research, and of those I thought Lukas went more along the lines of what they’re looking for — the K spelling gives it a really international feel (which it is), but it’s still biblical like Thomas and David. It’s also an entry in my book of Marian names because his gospel is the most Marian and contains her Magnificat.

(6) Thaddeus, Theodore/Theo, Maximilian
Each of these names seemed SO perfect for this family until I realized something about them at the last minute! I thought maybe they don’t want another Th- name after Thomas and Theresa? But Thaddeus and Theodore are both matches for them, and there’s a particular Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty who has a brother named Thomas! And Theo is a match for Tess as well! And then I couldn’t not suggest Maximilian! It’s a match for Benedict and Seraphina, and friendly Max goes with almost every name. And St. Maximilian Kolbe! And I actually love Maximilian M___, but then I thought maybe Max M___ was too much? But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love Thaddeus, Theodore, and/or Maximilian! I couldn’t not mention them!

I also had a bunch of names that *almost* made the cut for this list and ultimately I decided not to include them, for whatever reason, but I thought I’d list them here just in case: Alexandra, Evangeline, Philomena, Naomi, Chloe, Phoebe, Tobias, and Caleb.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Thomas, Theresa, David, and Nadia?


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: Name needed for a little sister in an established Mary+ theme

Dana and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! He or she joins big sister:

Mary Elise

Which I love — Mary Elise is so lovely and feminine and sweet, and I love that it ties together Mary and Elizabeth, which makes it a very “Visitation” name to me!

Dana writes,

We are expecting baby #2 at the end of January. We don’t know what the gender will be, but we know that if it’s a boy, we will name him after my husband, Michael Gabriel, so we don’t need boy names. But we are stuck on girl names! Our daughter is named Mary Elise, which we looved and agreed on right away, so other girl names don’t quite seem to measure up!

We also plan on naming all of our daughters “Mary (something)” as their first name, which is a Filipino tradition (my husband’s background) and I love it! Though we also plan on just calling each daughter by the second part of her name. All that to say, I guess the name should flow with Mary, but maybe not? Because she probably wouldn’t go by “Mary ” very often, if ever.

In general, I think we prefer traditional names, with an obvious Catholic/religious feel. We seem to like a lot of saint names or biblical names. Neither of us is very keen on modern names. We’re also hoping for something that isn’t too common but not unheard of (which is one of the reasons why I like Elise so much). And we’d love to have a name with nickname options! Anyway, I hope that’s helpful. Here are two names that we are leaning toward:

Madeleine- probably at the top of our list right now, has a French feel like Elise does, probably go by Maddie.
Theresa/Therese- I’m thinking Mary Therese sounds better than Mary Theresa? Probably call her Tess or Reese.
Catherine- has to be with a “C,” per husband’s request, would call her Catie/Cate. For some reason I much prefer it with a K, though!

Names that I like but my husband doesn’t:
– Christine/Christina
– Evangeline – love the meaning and the French sounding name
– Regina
– Grace- again, my husband knew a Mary Grace…
– Frances

Names that my husband likes but I’m not a huge fan of:
– Jane
– Bernadette

We’ve also considered Margaret but aren’t sure about it. Also Laura but not sure how it could be tied to the faith, or if it flows with Mary.

I was reading old blog posts of yours and came across the name Immaculee. We both really like the name, but it seems a little too Catholicky to me, if you know what I mean haha. Just thought I’d throw that in the mix. Maybe you have some nickname suggestions that would make it a little less obviously Catholic? Not a big fan of “Layla” and Leia is a little too reminiscent of Star Wars 😛

Names that are off the table for one reason or another:
– Claire
– Caroline
– Cecilia (this rhymes with our last name, haha!)
– Josephine
– Rose
– Zelie
– Elisabeth/Elizabeth (Elise is a derivative of this)
– Michaela (too close to Michael if we ever have a boy)

That’s about all I can think of! Also, I know I mentioned that we’ll name a boy after my husband, but even if this isn’t a boy, if we ever have a boy, the first one will be named Michael Gabriel (just as an fyi if that helps for sibling/style matching).”

I love so much that Dana and her husband want to continue the Mary + [something] theme with their daughters! It’s a traditional Catholic custom, so I’m not surprised that Filipino families have taken it as their own! I also love Michael Gabriel, such strong patrons!

Dana’s question about whether the given name should flow with Mary is a great one. Since she said her daughter will likely never go by Mary MiddleName, but always by MiddleName, it certainly isn’t as important. The question reminded me of a post I did a while ago called “Repeating Mary,” in which I included stories others had told me of families they knew (or sometimes their own families) where all/most/many of the daughters had a form of Mary in their names, and one of them said, “The obstetrician that delivered me had a very large, very Catholic family, and had six or seven daughters all named Mary. Of course, they weren’t JUST named Mary, they were Mary X, but one of them was Mary Mary!” I laughed and laughed over that one!

So yes, I think Dana and her hubs can be free of the worry that the chosen name might not “go” with Mary as well as they might like. Of the names she mentioned that they’re considering, I think Laura might be the only one that inches toward that issue (which Dana herself had mentioned), but even still, I actually think Mary Laura sounds fine.

As for the other names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

— Madeleine: Gorgeous, French, great patron saint, great nickname. I love it!

— Theresa/Therese: I actually like both Mary Therese and Mary Theresa! Tess is one of my favorite nicknames, and Reese is so sweet as well!

— Catherine: The “C” spelling is the French one, so I like Catherine as Elise’s sister (despite being a Katherine myself)! That said, Catherine called Kate is traditional: for two examples, Princess Kate is Catherine, and I grew up with a Catherine who went by Kate, so they could totally do Mary Catherine called Kate or Katie if they want! That might be a nice way of finding a compromise between Dana’s preferences and her hubby’s preferences?

— Christina/Christine: I love these as well.

— Evangeline: Ditto.

— Regina: I wonder if the Regina variants Reina (RAY-na) or Reine (REN) might appeal to Dana and her husband? They both mean “queen,” like Regina.

— Grace: If Grace is problematic from an association standpoint (is the Grace Dana’s husband knew an ex-girlfriend? A horrible boss?), it’s probably best to cross this one off the list?

— Frances: This one has been growing on me so much recently, it strikes me as both dignified and sweet (especially the nicknames).

— Jane: Mary Jane is certainly a classic!

— Bernadette: I love the French-ness with Elise.

— Margaret: Mary Margaret is another classic! I love Margaret’s many nicknames: Meg, Maggie, Maisie, Daisy, Greta, Rita.

— Laura: There are actually a few holy Lauras they can turn to as patron! Two saints and two blesseds. Alternately, I was wondering if they’ve considered Loretta? Behind the Name says Loretta may be a variant of Lauretta, which is an Italian diminutive of Laura, so Loretta could take the Laura patrons if they wanted. Or, I’ve always known Loretta to be a Marian name, after Loreto, where the Holy House of Nazareth is, as well as the name of the Marian prayer Litany of Loreto. My grandmother was Mary Loretta, and she went by Rett or Retta; I also recently did a consultation for a family who was considering Loretta with Lola as a nickname.

— Immaculee: I love this one too! Dana’s right, it *is* very Catholicky! Choosing a nickname that makes it less obvious is a perfect solution, and what I would have suggested if she didn’t already mention it. Imma is one I’ve seen — so similar to Emma, and maybe Imogens go by Imma as well? Or Immy? I actually think Dana’s idea of Layla is brilliant, I’m going to remember that one to suggest to other parents who might be interested in Immaculee! I could see Mae working, or Leah/Lea/Lia (rather than Leia; I think it can work even though the LEE-a pronunciation is different than im-mac-yoo-LAY … although — are Elise and Leah too much “lee” sound?), or Mac/Mackey (I have a girl cousin who goes by Mackey and it’s SO CUTE on her!). Figuring out a “mashup” nickname from Mary+Immaculee might be a great idea here too — maybe Mimi or Mim. Or ooh, maybe Molly? Molly’s a variant of Mary anyway — it started as a diminutive of Mary, and I do know someone named Mary who goes by Molly — and I especially like it with the M of Mary and the “lee” of Immaculee. And Molly is a style match for this family according to my research! (More on that below.) I’d love to know what other nickname ideas you all have, especially if you’ve heard them on Immaculees in real life.

So I think Dana and her hubs have a great list! If they were to choose a name from one of these, I think they’d be happy with it! But of course, I can always come up with more ideas! I did my usual research, where I look up the name the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Camille
Camille wasn’t as great a style match for this family as some of my other suggestions — in fact, it’s a match for only one of the names that they like — but that one name is Elise, so I thought that counted for a whole lot! Camille is such a pretty name, and it’s French, like Elise, which is so pleasing. Despite its feminine vibe, it’s actually both a masculine and feminine name in French, a form of Camilla, so patrons include both the male St. Camillus of Lellis and the female Bl. Camilla Gentili. Cammie is a sweet nickname.

(2) Annette (or Anne, Anna, Hannah)
I kept coming across Anne names in my research, and while Mary Anne is a classic, I felt like maybe they’re looking for something a little more … sparkly? I could be wrong! And Mary Anne is great! And Anne is the French spelling, and it’s a trim, sophisticated name with the awesome nickname Annie. But when I saw Annette listed as a match for Regina, it just felt pretty cool to me. Mary Elise and Mary Annette. They could still use Annie as a nickname, or just Anne. Anna and Hannah were other Anne names that were listed as similar to some of the names they like, and Mary Anna and Mary Hannah are both lovely as well.

(3) Abigail
Abigail is a match for Gabriel and Madeleine, and Abby is a match for Kate and Maddie, so it made sense to include Abigail in this list! I think Mary Abigail is an unexpected pairing, and Abby is such a sweet nickname. There is a St. Gobnata, who is also known as Abigail, and there’s Abigail the Matriarch from the Old Testament, who does have a memorial feast day according to the Church.

(4) Hope
A Mini consultation is normally for three names, but I wanted to be sure to include Hope in the list, so they got a bonus name! I was surprised at what a great match it is according to the BNW, being listed as similar to Elise (which is such a big deal I think), Kate, and Grace. My one tiny reservation is that Hope with their last name, which begins with a P, could run together if they’re not careful about enunciating. My name is Kate Towne, which has been heard as Kay Towne by more people than I can count through my life, so normally this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me when suggesting names to parents, except that Ho P___ could be problematic. Maybe not! Careful enunciation could solve the problem! (I introduce myself as KaTE [space] Towne, emphasizing that T in what feels like an unnatural way and offering just the slightest pause between first and last names, but it works!) I just want to be sure to warn the parents of that possibility.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mary Elise, who will go by her middle name exclusively?


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: Genevieve Immaculee Grace!

Dear Genie from Barefoot Abbey (web site and Instagram) is a longtime reader for whom I posted two consultations for two different babies over the last few years (here and here), and a birth announcement for her first baby girl after five boys three years ago. I’m delighted to announce that she’s had her second baby girl — a sweet little lady named … Genevieve Immaculee Grace!

Genie writes,

Our little Sweet Pea, surprise baby girl was born on March 23rd … accidentally unassisted at home after a wild quick labor. I though it was my old back injury flaring up early in the morning but a couple hours later when I got up to take a shower it was baby time instead. I yelled for my husband and he got to the bathroom just in time to catch her. She was a planned homebirth but our third accidentally unassisted birth. 🤷‍♀️ (1 in the hospital & 2 at home) My husband and I are good catchers so at least we’ve got that going for us. 😂 “

(Ohmygoodness!!)

We named her Genevieve Immaculee Grace after the saints, with Immaculee for Our Lady of Fatima and Grace for the Blessed Mother as Mediatrix of all Graces. Her older sister’s patroness is Our Lady of Lourdes with Elizabeth as her second Marian name.

Even though my legal name is not Genevieve, my husband really liked it because of its similarity to mine. And it’s hard to go wrong with the saint who protected Paris from Attila the Hun by organizing a prayer and fasting campaign. St. Grace of Saragossa was also a providential patroness for her intercession with our rocky nursing journey through lip ties and poor latches. St. Grace was a 4th century saint that suffer a similar fate as St. Agatha — martyrdom by mastectomy. 😬

All the Bairns are smitten with her and have taken to calling her Evie Grace and Gigi. My favorite nickname for her though is Moon Pie, because she has the sweetest, little round moon face.”

Genevieve Immaculee Grace is such a stunning name! I love all the layers of meaning — I love how it connects her to her mother (Genie) and her Mother (Mary) and some great saints as well!

Congratulations to Genie and her husband big sibs Malachi, Noah, Liam, Aelred (with Jesus), Henry, Moira, and George, and happy birthday Baby Genevieve!!

Genevieve Immaculee Grace with her big brothers and sister ❤


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!

Happy feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary!!

I love Our Lady and I love her name (and all names relating to her) and I love all of you (!! ❤ ) and so for today’s feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary I’m delighted to do a giveaway of my book of Marian names!!

To enter, just comment on this post with the Marian names you’ve given your kiddos or — as some did on the Instagram post I did for this giveaway — with your own Marian name or the coolest Marian name you’ve heard in real life. Guaranteed I’ll love them all! I’ll choose one winner from the commenters here, and one from those on Instagram — it’ll close tomorrow (Friday) night at midnight eastern time, and I’ll randomly choose the winners on Saturday. Mother Mary for the win!! ❤ ❤ ❤


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: Abigail Violet!

I got the best email from a mama the other day! She wrote:

I just wanted to write and thank you for the part you played in naming our newest arrival. I’ve been reading your blog for several years hoping to someday have a third child but didn’t think it would ever happen. We were surprised to learn last fall that we were expecting again after 10 years, and I was so excited to get your new book to help me name this little one. You mentioned toward the end of the book the possibility of honoring Mary through a child’s initials, and when I saw that one of the options was AVE, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Our sweet Abigail Violet was born three months ago, and we love that we get to honor Mary in two ways with her name — through both her initials and her middle name.

Again, thank you for the work you do with your blog and your book, both of which have helped us give our precious Abby such a meaningful name.”

How great is that?!! What a hopeful, happy story!! Indeed this family’s last name starts with an E, and I’m so happy that little Abby’s parents found my book helpful in choosing a beautiful name with her with such wonderful Marian connections! I think using Marian initials is such a great way to work Our Lady into a name. I love it!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Abigail!!

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Abigail Violet, whose middle name and initials (AVE) honor Our Lady (as well as her amazing OL of Guadalupe swaddle from Be A Heart!)


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: Adventurous German or Irish name needed

I had such fun working on a consultation for Laura and her husband’s second baby a few years ago — they ended up giving the baby the middle name Caoilfhinn, just to give you an idea of the kinds of names they like! I’m so excited that they asked me for ideas/thoughts/suggestions for baby no. 3 — a third girl! This little lady joins big sisters:

Clara Louise
Rosalie Caoilfhinn

Such lovely, feminine names!

Laura writes,

You did a consultation for our second, and now we’re facing a similar problem with our third: a long list of boys’ names, and a tiny list of girls’. If you could help us finalize a third option, we’d really appreciate it!

We love our heritage as German/Irish and love European names, but especially ones in that vein. A saint name is preferred, but not necessary for both first and middle. So far, we have liked the name Liesel the best.”

Liesel!! I love it!!

Now we’re having a hard time picking *the* middle name. There are several that we like, and we were trying to avoid anything that sounded ‘sing-song.’ (Áine/Anya came up in our last consultation and was beloved by many readers, but Liesel Áine sounds like lasagna! Haha.)

Here are some of the ones we have on our list:

Amabel (though the two names ending in -el might be a bit much), Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, Kateri

Bronwyn may be my favorite because its sounds are so different from Liesel. But I also like one or three-syllable middles as I think they help the entire name flow. (Hubby will NOT consider a four-name moniker.)

Another name we’ve considered (as a middle) is Eilidh (AY-lee). My grandmother was Eleanor, but Aaron really dislikes that name. He likes Eilidh, which I’ve heard is the Gaelic version, but it doesn’t sound right with Liesel. My husband also likes Maisie, particularly as a nn for a Marian name (though we’re not sure which). I think it’s perfectly darling.

To help you out (and hopefully not confuse you), boy names that we (BOTH — lol) like are: William, Wolf, Arthur, Thomas, Becket, Edmund/Éamon, Frederick/Freidrich (nn Fritz), Bernhard/Bernard, Roger, Felix, Rórdán.

I love Laura and her hubby’s taste in names! I think Liesel is a great sister name to Clara and Rosalie, which also checks off Laura’s boxes of German and saintly. Her comment about Liesel Áine sounding like “lasagna” made me laugh out loud! I think they’re right to avoid it! As for their other middle name ideas:

— I love Amabel, but I agree with Laura that it doesn’t have the best flow with Liesel

— Paulina, Mariana, Josephine, Bronwyn, Joan, Hildi, and Kateri are all great options! I agree that the juxtaposition of the German Liesel and the Welsh Bronwyn is interesting and unexpected, I like it! But I think I agree with Laura that one- and three-syllable middles have the best flow with Liesel

— I too love Eilidh! But I agree that Liesel Eilidh isn’t ideal. I wonder if Laura and her hubs might consider the fuller Eilionoir? Liesel Eilionoir has the rhythm they like and is so similar to the sound of Laura’s grandmother’s name (though I think it’s Scottish instead of Irish) (although, I’m just seeing that Nameberry lists Eilidh as Scottish as well, so maybe Scottish is ok?). Or what about a Nora name? I like both Liesel Nora(h) and Liesel Noreen, even though Nora and Noreen are both two syllables

As for Maisie — I love it too!! SUCH a sweet name!! I love the idea of using it as a nickname for a Mary name. Mariazell is a name in my book that I love, that could definitely take Maisie as a nickname. Marie-Azelie, or any M- name with Zelie as a middle, could work to get to the nickname Maisie as well. And actually … Liesel has that same Z sound … so Mary Liesel, Marie-Liesel, Maura Liesel, Moira Liesel, etc. could lead to Maisie as a nickname as well. Or M + any name with a Z-ish sound!

One of the names that showed up a couple of times in my research for this family as being similar to their style — specifically similar to Arthur, Edmund, and Bernard — is Marian/Marion. I like Marian as a sister to Clara and Rosalie too! Or as a middle? Liesel Marian?

Another idea for Maisie is a Margaret name — Maisie is a diminutive of Mairead, which is the Irish Margaret, so Margaret, Marguerite, and Margot could all work as full names that use Maisie as a nickname. Or Mairead! I actually know a couple little Maireads, including the daughter of one of my best friends. She always says, “Rhymes with parade!” which makes it really easy to help others know how to say it. Margaret/Mairead isn’t Marian, but they could easily remedy that with a Marian middle.

Another name I adore, which is also an entry in my book, is Maylis (also spelled Maëlys) — it can be said may-LEES, may-LIS, or MAY-lis, and is generally considered to mean “Mary of the lily” in French. I could see Maisie working for it as a nickname! Though I admit Maylis is so short that maybe a nickname is silly.

I’m sure none of you are surprised that the “minute” I meant to spend on Maisie turned into quite a few minutes! Haha!

Back to the task at hand! You all know that I usually start consultation by looking up the names the parents like and have used 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 here, and I also looked through my Marian names book and my own mental files for ideas for Liesel’s middle name, which yielded some good ideas, I think!

(1) Alannah
I love that behindthename says Alannah as a given name “has been influenced by the affectionate Anglo-Irish word alannah, from the Irish Gaelic phrase a leanbh meaning ‘O child’ …” Isn’t that sweet? I love Liesel Alannah!

(2) Annika
Laura mentioned Anya/Áine, and when I saw Anna show up as a style match for a bunch of the names on her list, I thought maybe a different Anna variant would do. I love Annika for its German feel — I know Laura likes mixing ethnicities, but Liesel Annika was too gorgeous to not suggest! That said, if they were open to changing the first name, Annika Eilidh was striking me as a stunning option as well.

(3) Maeve
Maeve is Irish, one syllable, and Marian per my book! Baby Names of Ireland gives one of its meanings as “cause of great joy,” which is so similar to Our Lady’s title Causae Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy). Liesel Maeve has that two-syllable + one-syllable rhythm that Laura favors.

(4) Riona, Rionach
Amazingly, this actually showed up in the Baby Name Wizard — it tends to not be the greatest source for unusual or ethnic names, but Riona was listed as a match for Eamon! It, or the name it derives from, Rionach, means “queen” — I included Riona in my Marian names book as a variant of Regina! The even more Irish Rionach might appeal to Laura and her hubs even more. Liesel Riona(ch) is pretty cool! (Though Baby Names of Ireland doesn’t include the fadas, Behind the Name lists them as Ríona and Ríonach, so that could be fun for someone like Laura.)

(5) Loretta
My last idea is Loretta, which is a style match for Bernard and was my own grandmother’s name — she was super Irish, and her given name was Mary Loretta, though she went by Loretta (or Rett). It’s a Marian name, after Our Lady of Loreto, or the Marian Litany of Loreto, and I looove how Liesel Loretta sounds. I love alliteration like that! (But I totally understand if Laura and her husband don’t!)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Liesel’s middle 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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

It’s May! (Baby name consultations are now open!)

Happy May! Month of Our Lady! Feast of St. Joseph the Worker! (Which was instituted as a counter to the Communists’ “May Day,” as my historian friend shared with me today. Did you know that? I didn’t! How cool!)

Being that this is the month of Our Lady, I have a few goodies for you all! First up: I’m reopening baby name consultations! Details, including cost info, are here.

I’m also dedicating my site and its associated social media to Our Lady. We’ve been under the patroness of good St. Anne for so long, which is so wonderful and isn’t changing, but Mother Mary needs an official shout-out! (I mean, beyond alllll the Marian posts and of course my book of Marian names!) I’m adding wording to this effect under my roses (under my menu, to the right).

Be sure to check in frequently during the month for other fun things I have planned! (I’ll also be posting a birth announcement later this evening!)


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