Baby name consultation: Fike Baby no. 8!

I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!

Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)

Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)

John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)

Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)

Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)

Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)

Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)

Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.

Blythe writes,

I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)

Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.

Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”

I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.

When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:

  • A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
  • A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
  • An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.

Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.

Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:

(1) Tiber
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.

One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)

(2) Blaise
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.

(3) Nic-
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.

(4) Zac-
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.

(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).

(6) Cashel
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).

(7) Bram
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)

(8) Remy
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.

(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.

(10) Magnus
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.

(11) Tristan
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).

(12) Tobit
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!

(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.

(14) Pace
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace!  There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!

Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.

And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?

Birth announcement: Jane Marigold!

One of my longest-time readers has let me know that her fourth baby on earth has arrived — a little girl with the amazing and meaningful name … Jane Marigold!

Jen shared,

[Jane is] named for St. John Chrysostom. We also wanted a Marian name, so she’s ‘Mary’s Gold’ as well as the ‘gold’ reference to Chrysostom (‘golden-mouthed’ so called on account of his eloquence) … I’ve always preferred Día de los Muertos to Halloween. Another reason for using the name Marigold. It’s known as Flor de Muerto and since she was born after the loss of Felix [the baby Jen miscarried last year], it’s a connection to her brother. And Marigold in Spanish is ‘Maravilla’, which also translates to ‘wonder’. After a miscarriage, surgery, constant shots/blood tests, I now have my 🌟Wonder Baby🌟 … Her full name in Spanish is Juanita Maravilla, which my family in Argentina just adore … Also, my husband and I only recently realized after we picked Jane’s name, that we were confirmed at St. John Chyrostom parish in Los Angeles.”

Each name so carefully chosen, and with so many layers of meaning! Such a stunning combo!

Jane joins her equally amazingly named big sibs:

Polly Bloom (named for St. Polycarp!)
Linus Theodore
Augustine Basil “Gus”

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

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Jane Marigold

Birth announcement: Miriam Therese!

I did a private consultation for Liz and her husband a few months ago, and I’m delighted to share that her little girl has arrived and been given the beeaaauuutiful name … Miriam Therese!

Regarding Miriam, Liz wrote,

I really would love a Marian reference without going with just Mary and this feels like a good option. One of my great aunts (who was a professor of both mathematics and English at Seton Hill College) took the name Sr. Miriam Joseph … I feel like a good nickname is important and I LOVE Mimi.”

And Therese was chosen for wonderful reasons as well:

[St. Therese of Lisieux] was my parish and my grade school as a child and now it is our family parish again. My grandfather, dad, and uncles helped to build it in the 50’s. That church and the Saint shaped my faith life from a very early age.”

I just love the combination Miriam Therese! It’s just so lovely!

Congratulations to Liz and her husband and big sister Catherine Josephine/Catie (aren’t Catie and Mimi the sweetest names for sisters?!), and happy birthday Baby Miriam!!

Miriam Therese (Mimi) at birth (bottom), at 2.5 months (top left), and with big sister Catie (Catherine Josephine)

Birth announcement: Margaret Sophia!

A mama who I chatted with over email a few times has let me know her baby has arrived — her first! A lovely little girl with the lovely name … Margaret Sophia!

She writes,

Margaret Sophia was born on September 7. She came close to being Margaret Sophia May (sort of after me, as I was born in May and honoring the Virgin Mary), but it wasn’t meant to be … Attached is a photo of our little Margot, as we’ve decided to call her. 🙂 “

Margaret Sophia is SUCH a gorgeous combo!! I think Sophia is sort of unexpected in the middle spot, which makes me love it even more, and it’s just beautiful paired with Margaret. And I love Margot as a nickname!!

Congratulations to the new parents, and happy birthday Baby Margaret/Margot!!

 

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Margaret Sophia

Baby name consultation: “Unique, foreign, vintage” name needed for no. 5 green bean

Amina and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown). 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Casimir Wesley “Cas”
Miette Faye “Mimi”
Errol Shepherd
Petra Frances

Aren’t these great names?! Casimir is one my husband and I considered for one of our boys, and I still have a soft spot for it. Miette is such a sweet, affectionate name! And Errol and Petra are both amazing as well … in fact, with Miette and Errol they’ve chosen two names I’ve never once seen any parent use or even consider. Well done!

Amina writes,

I would categorize our names as… unique, foreign, vintage.😬🤷🏽‍♀️

We weren’t Catholic when we named our oldest son, Casimir, but it happens to be a unique saint name, so hey hey! We actually got the name from a song and we loved it. We were dabbling into our conversion around the time and when we discovered it was a saint (and a famous polish general), that was cool too. It set the tone for the rest of the siblings. His middle name, Wesley, is after my husband.

Our second child, Miette, was not named after a saint, despite us being confirmed into the church during her pregnancy. We always loved the name, which is French for “little crumb.” A bit too endearing for some, but it works well for her. Her middle name, Faye, is also a family name. We figured there would be a Saint Faye, but alas, there isn’t, unless you count the Saint of Santa Fe, Saint Faith. We feel she has a strong connection to Saint Therese of Lisieux, French, and known as “the little flower”. Little crumb/ little flower, almost the same right? Her personality is spot on with what we’ve read about young Saint Therese.

Our third child, second son, Errol, just kinda got a name we agreed on. We love the soft but strong sound to it. His birthday falls near Christmas, so we decided on Shepherd as a middle name. We figured he doesn’t need a saint name with this duo as his name pays homage to Jesus.

Our fourth child, second girl, is Petra Frances. She was due around the feast of the assumption, and we almost named her Petra Remedios (I just love this Marian name, for our lady of Good Remedy), but I actually chickened out. Yep. I was eager to use Frances to pay homage to Pope Francis as well, and noticed she was due around a few Saint Francis/ Frances feast days. So, she didn’t get a Marian name, and she was born the 16th instead of the 15th.

So, the reason I am writing is that I am coming back to Remedios for a girl. After full on chickening out, we’d like to use it in the first name place. I think it just needs a super wear-able nickname. I’m not fond of Remy, which is the most obvious nickname. I have thought of Edie, Edda, Romy. Do you see any others?? We think she will be Remedios Inez, if that helps.

On our ongoing girl list we have names like Opal and Fig, as well as Phillipa, Perpetua, Simone, and Belen. (We probably won’t ever use Perpetua, as it’s too close to Petra.)

If we have a boy, we plan on naming him Aesop Junipero. I am finally letting my husband take the reigns on this one, as he’s been pushing Aesop for awhile. Junipero, we both love, after Junipero Serra. We were very moved by his canonization. My other contender is Ambrose, but my husband really wants Aesop.

I have Peregrine and Bonaventure on my boy list too, though I don’t think they will ever win my husband over. I love Arthur as well, to tone any names combos down.”

How cool is Aesop Junipero? I love it. So bold and offbeat but faithy and literary and familiar. I also love the categorization of their name taste as “unique, foreign, vintage.”

Re: nicknames for Remedios (awesome Marian name), I think the nicknames Amina has come up with (Edie, Edda, Romy) are pretty great. I did a quick search online for other ideas, and found this blog post, which explains that in Chamorro, the language of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands (including Guam), nicknames are usually taken from the end of the name, and it specifically gave the example of Remedios nicknaming to Medo. I like that! And I think Medi works too. But maybe they’re too similar to Miette? Other ideas I had were:

  • Rio or Rios
  • Ria
  • Rida
  • Dee or Didi
  • Emmy

And if Amina and her hubs were open to looking at nicknames using a mashup of first and middle names, Remedios Inez can result in:

  • Rina
  • Riz

As for additional girl names, it was fun to try to come up with some new ideas! Since their style encompasses names from various languages, as well as word names and literary nods, I felt almost like the sky’s the limit! I also didn’t limit myself to saints’ names, as I agree with Amina that as long as the middle name is a saint, or either of the names has a tie to the faith, they’re covered.

These were my favorites for them:

(1) Hero
Hero is the kind of name only a certain kind of family can pull off, but I love it, and I think this family would be up to it! It was mostly influenced by Aesop on their list, and those who aren’t aware that the literary Heros were female might be confused, but otherwise it’s such a great name. There was a family on the BabyCenter name boards back when I was pregnant with my first (thirteen years ago!) who had a daughter named Hero, and I always thought that was so cool.

(2) Iona or Ione
These names are so similar in appearance, but totally different in background/meaning! Iona is Scottish, the name of the island where St. Columba founded a monastery, which provides a good saint connection. Ione is Greek and has the amazing meaning “violet flower,” which they could possibly consider to be Marian since violets are a symbol of Our Lady. They were particularly exciting because, as you all know, I usually use the Baby Name Wizard as my primary resource when doing consultations, but Petra, Simone, Ambrose, and Arthur were the only names from their list that it contained, so I didn’t think it was going to be too helpful BUT Iona was listed as a style match for Petra, and then when I took their names over to the NameMatchmaker, Ione was a match for Casimir!

Not only can Ione be possibly connected to Our Lady through its meaning, but there were also some sites that argued that Ione is a feminine form of John. Nameberry says, “Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana” and apparently there are several places in literature (like Shakespeare!) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan! You can read that here —  bottom of p. 156 and top of p. 157, the link takes you right to it. So St. Joan of Arc or Bl. Jane of Aza or any of the Sts. John could be patron for a little Ione!

(3) Annick
Annick was another result from my research on the NameMatchmaker—a match for Miette. I love that it’s a form of Anna, so St. Anne is an easy patron, and it’s certainly unique and I think it goes really well as a sister to Miette and Petra. I also love that it would give each girl her own name-ending (not that that matters at all! It’s just kind of cool).

Those were my top three suggestions—I tried to make them a mix of languages and inspiration—but there were a bunch of other names that I scribbled down for this family as I was doing my research as possibilities, like Zara, Stasia, Lorna, Aranza/Aranxa, Sonrisa, Annunziata, Immaculata, Jacinta, Iolanthe, Flora/Fleur, Cressida, Clio, and Greer, and Ines/Inez totally would have been on this list if they weren’t already planning to use it for a middle name.

Amina also said she was open to hearing ideas for boys, even though they’re pretty set on Aesop Juniper, so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on it, but the ones that caught my eye when doing my research as similar to names they’ve used and like were: Bertram, Cajetan, Nunzio, Pascal, Tycho, Bram, Homer, and Archimedes.

And those are my ideas for this little one! What do you all think? Do you have any other nickname ideas for Remedios, or other ideas for girl names in general? If any boy names come to mind, feel free to list those as well!

Name story: Meriam Joyce

Every once in a while I get an email from a reader simply because she wants to share the story of her child’s name. I LOVE those emails! So fun! Zoe emailed me recently to tell me about how her daughter got her name, Meriam Joyce, and I thought her strategy might be helpful for some of you:

Meriam is almost a year old now. She is my only child (so far) and originally finding a name we both liked was tough. We decided that I would get to choose the girl name and my husband could choose the boy name. At fourteen weeks, we agreed on Mia for a girl and Jack for a boy. Shortly after, we found out we were expecting a girl. But something about Mia just didn’t feel complete.

When I was 6 months pregnant, my mom was visited by Mother Mary in a dream. My mom already had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, especially when she was immigrating to the United States by herself as a young adult in the 1970s. This has been passed on to me as well; there are many times in my life that Our Lady has intervened on my behalf. In the dream, Mother Mary told my mom that the baby should be given a Marian name, specifically the name Miriam. I have since read that “Maryam” is probably one of the most accurate forms of her name during the time of Jesus.

My mom brought this to me and I liked the significance of the name. We decided to stick with Miriam instead of Mia and changed the spelling to Meriam. My grandmother is Melinda and my sister is Ria Melinda. So ME from Melinda combined with RIA M from Ria Melinda spells Meriam. Joyce is after my mom, who originally had the dream.

We were going to eventually incorporate Mia as a nickname, but it never stuck. We usually call her Mer (pronounced “mare”), Meri (like Mary), or Blueberry (because during our first ultrasound, she was the size of blueberry). Meriam is named after many special women and we are delighted to be her parents.”

Isn’t this such a great story?! I love Marian names anyway, but with this little Meriam having the extra significance of ME from Great-Grandma Melinda and RIA+M from her aunt is ah-MAZ-ing! And Joyce for her Grandma! All the important women in one beautiful little girl’s name!

Thanks to Zoe for sharing her daughter’s name story, and for sharing this adorable picture!

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Meriam Joyce

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for baby no. 7 (fifth girl)!

Anastatia and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — fifth girl! This little one joins big sibs:

Arthur James (“for Mike’s paternal grandfather and my paternal grandfather“)

Conall Henry (“for my maternal grandfather, surname O’Connell, and my paternal grandfather’s middle name“)

Aine Rose Brigid (“for me/my great-grandmother/Mike’s maternal grandmother, Mike loved Rose, and St. Brigid of Kildare, my Confirmation saint“)

Gianna Cara Maria (“called Gigi, twin to Jojo … for St. Gianna, Cara means friend in Irish and dear in Italian, so it flowed, my maternal grandmother’s middle name was Maria“)

Johanna Mary Clare (“called Jojo, twin to Gigi … for my paternal grandmother Joanne, baptized Johanna, our Holy Mother, County Clare/St. Clare — we found out that she didn’t have Edward’s Syndrome on St. Clare’s feast day“)

Abigail Faith Theresa (“with Jesus … Abigail means father’s joy, and Mike really liked the name. When we found out that we were probably losing her, I chose Faith [an Irish trait, at least] and Theresa for St. Therese, for whom I have a devotion, and St. Teresa of Calcutta who was canonized two months before our due date“)

I love these names!! I love all the family connections, and each combination is so attractive, even twins Gianna and Johanna — an amazing pair, with such significance for Anastatia and her hubs!

Anastatia writes,

I have developed a lot of rules about naming, just because I’m a rule person.

1. Not too common- I prefer not in the top 1000s, but certainly not very high
2. A real name, nothing made up.
3. A deceased family member must be honored
4. A saint must be honored
5. At least one name must be Irish/Celtic
6. Girls have two middle names (because we couldn’t agree with the first girl’s middle name)
7. No repeat names — in our family or cousins, etc.

For a boy, we had decided on Bran Michael. Branwen is too out there for Mike. The other feminine of Bran is Branna. It would still honor St. Bran (there is one), and suggest the story of Bran the Blessed, who may have been the Fisher King in Arthurian legend. Branna also continues the -anna name theme for our girls on Earth. I was named for my great-grandmother Anastatia, Aine is often though of as the Irish Anne (it’s not, but the name suggests it, and we have Gianna and Johanna for St. Gianna and my grandmother Joanne, who was baptized Johanna). I’m not sure if Branna is trying to hard. At 38, I am not worried about saving the name for another child.”

Some names that Anastatia has suggested that her husband doesn’t care for include:

Niamh
Rhiannon
Madbh (“last week, Mike said that he might think about this. The Maeve spelling is too common. I prefer Irish spellings, but there may be more than one“)
Zara
Chiara
Beatrice

Names her husband has said that he doesn’t hate include:

Tara (“at 1,002 on the SSA list — this is uncommon enough for me“)
Clara (“at 97, I think it’s common. Our oldest daughter is pushing for this because she likes Clara Oswald from Doctor Who. I am fine with that connection“)
Maisie (“I don’t think this is ‘serious’ enough for a first name“)
Teagan (“a bit common, hard to find a nickname — we both like Tara more“)

The family member they’d like to honor is Anastatia’s maternal grandmother, Eugenia:

We are thinking of Jean as a middle name. She didn’t like Eugenia, and named her kids John, Anne, Mary and Dan so they wouldn’t get picked on.”

And names they can’t use due to family members with the names:

Kateri
Briella
Ryan
Arielle
Devon
Sydney
Sarah
Alicia
Killeen
Brianna
Kim
Jennifer
Emily
Isabella
Sophia
Tenley
Tiffany
Karin
Teresa
Victoria
Christina
Shannon

Saint’s name to be used:

Margaret for St. Margaret of Antioch, patroness of childbirth and St. Margaret of Scotland, patroness against the death of children. Mike does not want to use Margaret as a first name, but may be convinced of a Margaret variant as a first name, otherwise we will use a Margaret name as a middle.”

And a last few considerations:

My family has all Irish heritage (with maybe a bit of Welsh). Mike’s family is originally Basque and Norwegian. He has never shown any interest in using those types of names. Basque names seem hard for non-Spanish speakers like us.

Tara Jean Margaret? I like it, but it’s not love.

Mike is on board with Tara, but is pushing for Clara. I just think Clara is too common, then I would have to use an Irish version of Margaret. Clara Jean Mairead? I don’t know. Any suggestions? Good Margaret variants? Marita is a Norwegian one.

Mike finally will consider Molly, now I think it may be too common. Molly Jean Margaret is Irish, Marian and honors my grandmother and Sts. Margaret, but I’m not sure if Molly can be a ‘serious’ name. Is Molly a doctor, senator, President, etc.?

Gianna is 92 on the social security list and was 95 the year she was born, so I guess Clara being 97 isn’t that bad, but I just don’t love it right now, but I don’t love Tara either. Maeve isn’t too common either, in the 400s at that spelling.

Mike is leaning towards Clara. He also likes Arya, but the character on GOT is not so nice any more.

Arthur has moved from the 300s to the 200s.
Conall is not in the top 1,000.
Aine is not in the top 1,000.
Gianna is 92.
Johanna is in the 500s.
Abigail is 8, but Mike real loved the name Abby.

I guess we are all over the place with name popularity. I never meant to pick popular names, but I am glad that St. Gianna is getting recognized.

The twins each have a Marian middle name, and St. Brigid is called the Mary of the Gael, but I don’t think that we necessarily need another Marian name. He shot down Rosemary and Stella Maris.

Our last name is Ellis. So nothing that ends in ‘L.’ We have multiple ‘A’ names, so probably not another.

Mike was one of several Michaels in every class, so we don’t want that. I have an uncommon spelling, and it made me stick up for myself. Aine does it beautifully.”

Whew! Okay, so first First off, I want to talk about ways to honor Grandma Eugenia. I’m so sorry she didn’t like her name! I had a few thoughts and thought of a few ways they could honor her:

  • Jean would work for Eugenia, but I wonder if they really want another “John” name for one of their daughters?
  • If they don’t mind another John name, another that they might be interested in considering is Siobhan, which would get the Irish in there nicely.
  • Eugene is used as the anglicization of the Irish name Eoghan/Owen, so even though some make the connection between them and John, I think the connection is un-obvious enough that the Owen route might be an interesting way to go. I discovered in my research that Owena is a Welsh feminine form of Owen, which immediately interested me since Anastatia had mentioned Arya from Game of Thrones and Owena reminded me of Olenna. I assumed they rhymed, but when I listened to the pronunciation on Forvo it sounded more like Owen with an A on the end — stress on the first syllable. Anyway, that’s a possibility.
  • The -wen part of Owen reminded me of Wynne, which was actually a style match for my stand-in-for-Bran in my research (Brannock), and the “guin” part of Guinevere, which was a style match for Rhiannon, and which is the same as the “gwen” in the Gwen names — it means “fair, white, blessed” in Welsh. I’ve recently been loving the Welsh name Gwenfair, which means “fair/blessed Mary,” and the Welsh name Mairwen, which is exactly the same as Gwenfair with the elements reversed. How pretty! The fair/Mair part rhymes with “tire” in Welsh, but I think they could rhyme them with “care” if they’d like.
  • Funny enough, Teagan on their list made me think of Taryn, so I looked it up, and it’s the most amazing thing — Behind the Name says it was likely invented as a feminine form of Tyrone, and Tyrone is of course the county in Northern Ireland and also — Tyrone means “land of Eoghan”!!! WOW!!! So Taryn can be for Grandma Eugenia, and it’s similarly in sound to Tara is a bonus! Since it was an invented name, it might not pass Anastatia’s “no invented names” rule, but if it helps there are actually quite a lot of established names that were originally invented (Vanessa, Miranda, Evangeline, Pamela, Wendy … and actually, if you want to be nitpicky, all names were originally invented at one point or another. Not trying to talk Anastatia out of her rules! Just trying to give her options she and her hubs might like). Taryn’s at no. 855 and dropping.

Okay, on to my thoughts on the names on their list:

  • Tara surprised me! I think a lot of people think of it as somewhat dated at this point, but looking at it from its original Irish perspective definitely gives it a fresher feel. Tara Jean Margaret hits all the honors they want, but it feels a bit utilitarian, which I wonder might be the reason Anastatia likes it but don’t love it. Maybe switching up the variants? Tara Margaret Siobhan, for example. Tara Jean Mairead. I wonder if they’d consider a double name? Jane feels a bit fresher, and like Jean is a John variant — what about something like Tara-Jane as a first name? Tara-Jane Mairead is pretty. Tara-Jane Margaret doesn’t flow quite as well to my ear, but still doable of course. Using the Taryn idea above, they wouldn’t have to use Jean, as Taryn would be the honor name for Anastatia’s grandmother, so they could add in another name they like. Taryn Margaret Chiara, Taryn Margaret Madbh (love that), Taryn Margaret Niamh.
  • Clara’s beautiful — clearly they like the -ara names, as they have Tara, Clara, Zara, and Chiara, and even Arya sort of fits into that! I personally would stay away from Clara because they already have Clare in Johanna’s middle name (same with Chiara), but of course it’s not the end of the world if they go with it. Perhaps changing the spelling to Klara could help with popularity? I know it sounds like the same name, but that spelling has never been in the top 1000.
  • Maisie I love, such a sweet name! I too think it works better as a nickname — Margaret nicknamed Maisie seems perfect — I wonder if Anastatia can talk her husband around? Or perhaps Mairead as a first name with the nickname Maisie? Funny enough, since Anastatia said her husband is Norwegian, my mother-in-law was 100% Norwegian, and her mother and her aunt (sisters) were Margaret and Jean (daughters of Norwegian immigrants).
  • Teagan is a cute name, and I could see Tee being a natural nickname, I like it! I wonder, if Teagan isn’t quite right, maybe something like Tierney would feel like a better fit? I know sisters named Tierney and Bryn, and Bryn could work too, being so similar to their Bran/Branna idea.
  • Zara and Beatrice are great
  • I love love love the name Molly! I have a sister and a sister-in-law named Molly, both successful adult women, so in my experience it can definitely work for a doctor/senator/President, but at the same time I do know what Anastatia means when she wonders if it’s serious enough. So my favorite way to deal with this is to use it as it was originally used — as a nickname for Mary, which also has the added benefit of making it much more unusual. My sister and SIL are both given-name Molly, but I know a little Molly whose given name is Maura, and Molly’s her nickname, so that’s a possibility too. A few other possibilities re: Molly are that “Unsinkable Molly Brown”’s given name was actually Margaret. In fact, she wasn’t called Molly during her life, but after her death she became immortalized as Molly after a Broadway musical and movie were made of her life and called her that. So I’ve seen people use Molly as a nickname for Margaret. I’ve also thought it could easily be a nickname for Magdalene and Madeline/Madeleine.

Okay, moving on to Margaret variants: I love Mairead and Greta and even Gretel — it strikes me as really sweet and affectionate, though I know the fairy tale has probably irrevocably tainted it. Margaret means Pearl, so that’s an option; it’s also the word used for the daisy plant in French and Italian (marguerite and margharita, respectively, which are variants I also love for names), which leads to the traditional nickname Daisy for Margaret (like Maisie), and even Daisy’s use as a given name on its own. I saw recently a little one named Martha Daisy and I thought that combo was stunning — the serious of Martha combined with the lightness of Daisy — I love it! Meg and Megan are Margaret variants as well; I also love Margo and Rita; Marit, Mette, and Meta are other Norwegian ones, which are cool. Lots of possibilities!

Alrighty, now for new ideas. I found myself getting hung up on coming up with Irish possibilities, and kept having to remind myself that the first name doesn’t have to be Irish! This is all based mostly on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity for each entry:

(1) Moira, Maura, Mara
I know Anastatia said they don’t necessarily have to have another Marian name for this little girl, but I love them, and these three struck me as good possibilities. I mentioned Maura already; Moira’s also lovely; Mara isn’t Irish but is similar to the Tara/Clara/Zara/Chiara/Arya family of names they have going on. I think each of these could take Molly as a nickname if they wanted it to. Moira hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1968; Maura hasn’t been since 2006; Mara’s at no. 686 (I’m sure Anastatia would love this birth announcement for a little Niamh, sister of Mara!).

(2) Mila
Mila’s a style match for both Arya and Zara, which I thought was pretty interesting, and it reminded me of a name spotlight I did a while ago on the name Ludmila, because St. Ludmila’s story was so inspiring. I thought that Mila was probably the easiest way to name a baby after St. Ludmila these days, and I even suggested Mila could be an interesting way to honor a grandmother, because of its connection to Ludmila, since St. Ludmila was an amazing and holy grandmother. Mila’s at no. 48, not great, not terrible.

(3) Sosanna or Mariana
These were 100% inspired by the fact that all Anastatia’s daughters on earth either have a connection to Anne/Anna in their names or have “anna” actually in their names. I was trying to think of other names that have a similar connection without being too close to what they’ve already done, and Sosanna was the one that came to mind first — it’s an Irish version that I’ve never seen used and always been intrigued by. Actor Kevin Bacon’s daughter is Sosie Ruth, which is the closest I’ve seen, though she was named after a woman with a non-Irish last name and I can’t find any info on her heritage. But there is an Irish name Sósaidh, which I think would probably be said like Sosie. They could also just do Susanna as well — like Gianna and Johanna, the -anna part isn’t actually related to the name Anne, but of course gives it the appearance of being so. Sosanna’s never been in the top 1000; Susanna’s at 980; Sosie’s never been in the top 1000.

Mariana was another I liked for this family, mostly because it combined Mary with Anne and using the “ana” spelling makes it different from the ending of the twins’ names. I also liked that Marion was listed as a style match for Arthur! I think they could also legitimately use Molly as a nickname for it. Mariana’s at no. 291, very respectable!

(4) Zoe
Zoe was a style match for Zara, and it just struck me as a name they might like, and one that’s easy to work with their rules and their middle name ideas. I think it’s sweet and spunky like Molly and Maisie, and its saintly connection comes from the fact that it was St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, and there’s also a St. Zoe who was an early martyr. It also means “life” and as a result has been used as a variant of Eve. It’s in the mid-30s, which I know is more popular than Anastatia likes, but after seeing how her other kids’ names rank, I thought it wasn’t terrible (and honestly I was shocked to see it that high — I’ve never known anyone named Zoe in real life!).

(5) Ciara (or Keira)
Finally, Ciara, which is so similar to Clara and Chiara and the Tara/Zara names and it’s Irish — I think it could be great for this family! If they’re worried about pronunciation, Keira’s a fine alternative. Ciara’s at no. 882 and Keira at no. 313.

And those are all my ideas for Anastatia and her hubs! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Arthur, Conall, Aine, Gianna, Johanna, and Abigail?