Baby name consultation: Baby girl no. 7 needs uncommon but not unfamiliar, feminine, French-sounding name

Shannon and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their seventh girl! Shannon writes,

We’re expecting a baby girl on the Feast of the Assumption! We have all girls and are struggling to find another name. We tend to gravitate to feminine, French sounding names that are more traditional, not too trendy, but also not unheard of. Here are our other names:

Annabelle Grace (6 1/2) Annabelle was my great grandmother’s favorite name, so I named her this in her honor. I like the Marian connotation — Mater Amabilis. Grace was chosen because it took us a few years and many prayers to conceive her, and we felt she was truly a gift from God.

Celeste Rose (nearly 5) Celeste is just a name I’ve always loved — probably hearkens back to my days reading the Babar books! I like the connection with Heaven and stars. Rose is after St. Rose of Lima, a beloved saint.

In 2015 we had identical twin girls who were sadly both stillborn on February 6 due to a heart problem. We named them:

Nora Catherine — I like the meaning “honor” for Nora and Catherine is my middle name as well as my other great-grandmother, who was very devout. As a woman who loves the academic side of the Church, I’ve always loved St. Catherine of Siena as well.

Mary Elizabeth — In honor of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth. Through the ordeal of a high risk pregnancy and the stillbirth, Our Lady was my constant companion and comfort. Though this tragedy brought suffering, it also has brought our family the most beautiful graces.

After the twins I suffered an early miscarriage where we had decided on the name Claire after St. Clare.

Noelle Evangeline (17 months) She was due near Thanksgiving but didn’t arrive until Dec. 11th, so she became our surprise Advent baby. We chose Evangeline because after our losses she was a welcome reminder of the good news and all that is wonderful in the world.

We’ve decided that we probably shouldn’t choose another “elle” name as we already have two. “Ette” names are difficult because we live in an area with many French speakers who pronounce our name the French way, so an “ette” name would rhyme. Which is a shame because Colette is one of my very favorite names. I also love Lucy but [it sounds weird with our last name]. We like Lucia but everyone pronounces it differently — my husband likes the pronunciation of the island and I prefer the Italian way. I also love Felicity but think that “Felicity LastName” sounds like a gunslinger in a western novel, like she would be friends with Calamity Jane. I have a sister with two beautiful daughters named Liliana (goes by Lily) and Camilla, so those are out. We are considering Elise Dominica but I’m just not feeling a hundred percent sold on it at this point. My husband loves the name Gwendolyn (would go by Gwen) and I like it too.

I tend to like names that are a bit more whimsical than my husband, or a bit more “extreme Catholic” such as Dominica and Benedicta. My husband doesn’t mind them for middle names as much but doesn’t love them for first names. He loves the names Olivia and Margaret but I don’t really care for them (even though Margaret was my confirmation name). I’m leaning toward something that honors Mary though it’s been tricky. I like Marigold but don’t think it’s a style-match for the other names. I’ve mentioned it to some friends and family and they’ve thought it sounded too whimsical/Bohemian considering our other daughters. Names like Mariana are too close to Annabelle and Stella Maris/Maristella has the dreaded “elle.”

I’m so excited for this consultation — please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.”

Wasn’t it amazing to read all this?! I’m so sorry to hear of the losses of Shannon’s babies, and so happy for her and her husband that this baby is on the way! I love their older girls’ names — each one is so gorgeous and meaningful! And I love the names they’re considering, they have wonderful taste!

I chuckled at Shannon’s comments about Lucy, and especially at Felicity LastName — “friends with Calamity Jane” is hilarious! I wonder if something like Lucille or Lucienne would do better for them?

Elise Dominica is beautiful, and I love how it combines a French name with a heavy-hitting Catholic name! Perhaps my one nitpicky thing, if I had to have one, is that their Mary Elizabeth already has an Elizabeth name. But certainly it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker — I only mention it in case it helps them make a decision one way or the other, since Shannon said she’s not feeling 100% on it.

Gwendolyn/Gwen is such an interesting addition to their list! It’s a great name, and I was surprised by it at first, since I was so focused on French names, but its Celtic feel fits in well with Nora, Mary (from the perspective that Mary by itself and Mary double names have a particularly Irish feel to me), and Claire (even with Claire being the French spelling). Since Shannon said she’s leaning toward a Marian name this time, I wondered if she and her hubs would be interested in Gwenfair? In my [recently published] book of Marian names, Gwenfair’s one of the entries — like Gwendolyn, it’s a Welsh name, with the “gwen” part meaning “white, fair, blessed,” and the “fair” part being actually Mair (it changes to “fair” when added on to Gwen), which is the Welsh form of Mary. It’s a little more difficult than Gwendolyn, in that its Welsh pronunciation is something like GWEN-vire, but I think one could get away with GWEN-fair in the U.S. But I totally get that that pronunciation issue might make the name less appealing than Gwendolyn.

I too love Marigold, but I can see what Shannon’s friends/family mean about it seeming too “whimsical/Bohemian.” One argument in its favor is that it’s the name of Edith’s daughter on Downton Abbey — I wouldn’t consider any of the characters on the show to be whimsical or Bohemian (though Edith leans the most that way of all of them). Considering it in light of early-twentieth-century England makes it seem more “quaint English rose” and less whimsical/Bohemian I think. If it’s helpful, I’ve posted two birth announcements for babies with Marigold as part of their name — one as a middle name, one as a first name — Shannon and her hubs might like to see the style of their siblings’ names.

Though Shannon said she doesn’t care for Olivia, I wondered if the fact that it’s actually an entry in my book might help? Part of what I wrote about it is:

One of Mother Mary’s titles is ‘Our Lady of Olives,’ also known as Madonna of olives, which makes any of the Oliv- names doable in her honor. Under this title, Our Lady has been compared to an olive tree in this verse in the book of Sirach: ‘Like a fair olive tree in the field’ (24:14), and also remembered for a miraculous occurrence involving lightning in a town in France.”

[Note that I did explain in the book that Olivia may or may not be etymologically related to “olive,” but as always I think intention is what matters most, and there’s certainly a visual/audial connection between Olivia and “olive.”]

I’m certainly not trying to sway Shannon one way or the other, but I do love helping parents come to an agreement on names, so if this is helpful in doing so, great! I particularly like that this title of Our Lady has a connection to France; you can read more about it here.

I’d love to find a way for Shannon to like Margaret as well, since it’s got that great tie to her and her hubby loves it. What about the French Marguerite? Or Margo(t)? Marigold actually made me think of Marguerite anyway, because the name for the daisy flower in French is marguerite, so while the Margaret names aren’t exactly Marian, this is one way in which they can be considered so, as daisies have a connection to Our Lady: the common daisy has been known as Mary’s flower or Mary-Loves, and the oxeye daisy has been known as Mary’s Star. (Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret because of this connection.) Marguerite or Margo(t) nicknamed Daisy might be the perfect solution to Shannon’s hubby’s love of Margaret plus her affinity for more whimsical names.

One last Marian idea before moving on to the ideas suggested by my research for this family, is that, with their daughter due on the feast of the Assumption, maybe a name related to that feast would be fun to consider? Assumpta and Assunta were the first to come to mind; second were the Susan names — as I related in my book, it seems Italian women named Assunta often “anglicized” their name as Susan when they arrived in the US! However, the more I think about it, the more I think the Susan names don’t work … Suzette would be great except for the -ette, and Susanne/Suzanne and Susanna are too similar to Annabelle. But I could see Assumpta or Assunta being really cool, especially perhaps in the middle spot. As a first name, Susie could work as a nickname for either of them I think, and Amy for Assumpta.

Alrighty, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also consulted the Exotic Traditionals, Saints, and French lists at the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool since Marigold doesn’t have an entry in the BNW book. And I did a post a while ago about a family with French roots whose girls all have really French names, so I consulted that as well. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Shannon and her husband:

(1) Genevieve
No list of French-type girl names would be complete without Genevieve! She’s the patron saint of Paris, and Gwendolyn was actually what inspired me to put it on this list, as they’re both long G names (though I know the fact that one’s a hard G and one’s a soft G makes a difference to many).

(2) Em(m)eline
The family in the post I linked to above has an Emeline, and Emmeline was actually listed as a style match for Celeste in the BNW! There’s a St. Emilina of Boulancourt, and behindthename.com also says it’s related to Amelia, which offers two more options for patron saints.

(3) Elodie
Continuing with French E names, Elodie was in the list of French names, Saint names, and Exotic Traditionals in the BNW! I immediately thought it might make a nice replacement for Elise, if Shannon ended up deciding Elise was too repetitive with Mary Elizabeth or if she decided she doesn’t care for it for other reasons. Elodie Dominica is lovely.

(4) Sylvie
Sylvie’s a style match for Noelle, and as soon as I saw it I was reminded of a family I posted a consultation for who has a daughter named Sylvie Regina, specifically because it sounds like Salve Regina. I have thought about how clever that is so often! AND that little Sylvie has a sister named Marigold! Sylvie feels like a less popular Sophie to me, I love it.

(5) Madeleine, Magdalene
Speaking of Sophie, I always think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat when I think of French names. There’s a school near me called St. Madeleine Sophie’s, and I’ve always loved that they always say both names. Madeleine is the French form of Magdalene, and I wondered if Magdalene might appeal to Shannon and her husband? It’s so similar to Margaret in that it can take Maggie as a nickname, but it’s got a more unusual feel.

(6) Simone
When I do research in the BNW, I’m always looking for overlap — for names that are style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list of considerations. Simone was one of those names for this family! It’s a match for both Celeste and Noelle, as well as Dominique, which I looked up in place of Dominica, as Dominica didn’t have its own entry in the BNW. Simone is all gorgeousness to me, and St. Peter is an easy patron; there’s also a Bl. Simone who was beatified by St. JPII.

(7) Josephine
Finally, Josephine, listed as a specific a style match for Annabelle as well as being included in the list of French names and Saints names in the BNW. I love Josephine and all its possible nicknames, including Josie, Sophie, and Posy.

And those are my ideas for Shannon and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Annabelle, Celeste, Nora, Mary, Claire, and Noelle?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Baby name consultation: Green bean needs a name that evokes “hope” or “blessing”

I had the great privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lea’s little guy a little over two years ago, and I’m delighted to post this consultation for her newest baby today!

Lea writes,

We have 3 sons here and 4 children in heaven. Here are their names:

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon

Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

The boys are named with a first name that we liked and their middle names are after 3 of the 4 grandfathers of my husband and me. The final grandfather was named Victor and we’d like to use his name for the middle name of a boy.

Paul is after Bl Paul VI and Luke is a nod to Mary and St Gianna. James was simply a name we both liked.

I am looking for some names of each gender that are unique. I like Jude for a boy but my husband isn’t keen.

Some other info, we lost our Nicholas on December 6 2017, so a name meaning hope or blessing would also be good for either gender.

I’m not due until September and we won’t be finding out the gender before the birth.”

I so enjoyed working on a consultation for another of Lea’s babies! I love the name Victor, and think it makes a great middle name. I’ve always liked that it can nod to Jesus, as He is Victorious, and Lea and her husband can think of it having extra meaning for them in the sense of Jesus being a victor by conquering death, which is a nice meaning for this baby following the loss of their Nicholas.

I started the consultation by looking up names that mean “hope” or “blessed”/ “blessing, and in doing so came across some that meant “gift” and “rainbow” as well, which I thought they might like to consider. The ones that I thought were possible contenders for this family I’ve included in my “official” suggestions below, but I wanted to include the other ones I found here, just in case (these were found by searching for key terms on behindthename.com, which I trust as far as name meanings go):

Names meaning “hope”
Girl
Nadia, Nadine — Nadia is Slavic and Nadine is French, but they both mean “hope.”

None found for boys

Names meaning “blessed” or “blessing”
Girl
Beata — this comes from the Latin for “blessed,” and is used to describe Our Lady in some Latin prayers.

Benedicta — as with Beata, this means “blessed” and points to Our Lady (I’ve always been interested that beata is used to describe her sometimes, and benedicta others — I’m not sure what the difference is? If any of you know, I’d love to hear it!).

Gwenfair or Mairwen — these Welsh names are some of my favorite finds! They’re actually the same name, with the elements reversed: Gwenfair is “white, fair, blessed” + the Welsh form of Mary (Mair), while Mairwen starts with Mary and the “white, fair, blessed” part is on the end. I think both are so lovely, though I can understand they may not be quite to Lea’s taste.

Boy
Asher — means “happy, blessed.”

Baruch — Baruch was a companion of the prophet Jeremiah, and his name means “blessed.”

Macarius — means “happy, blessed.”

Names meaning “gift”
Girl
Dorothea, Dorothy — I was torn on whether or not to include this in my list of official suggestions, but I had a lot of girl suggestions, so I decided to put it up here. Dorothy is a variant of Dorothea, which means “gift of God.”

Boy
Jesse — I might have liked to suggest this for this family, except I thought maybe it’s too close to the sounds of James? Otherwise, its meaning of “gift” is a great one.

Name meaning “rainbow”
Iris — it’s just too perfect that Iris means “rainbow” — such a perfect name for a rainbow baby!

I like all of the names here, but I didn’t feel like they really fit their style … although, Lea did say they were looking for “unique,” so maybe they’ll be perfect for them!

As for my official suggestions, I went to my trusty Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for all of the names Lea listed in her email: James, Paul, Luke, Agnes, Eli, Isaac, Nicholas, and Jude. I tried to err on the side of more unique when I was whittling down the results, and I also tried to be careful not to repeat suggestions from the previous consultation I did for them (it was supposed to post here, but Luke came before the date the post was scheduled! From that consultation, Gabriel and Peter still feel like great ideas for this family). Based on that, these are my ideas for Lea and her hubs:

Girl
(1) Annabel(le)
The Anna family of names were big for them in my research — Anna is a style match for James and Jude, Anita for Paul, and Hannah for Isaac. While I love Anna names (and St. Anne!), I didn’t think the ones I mentioned would fit Lea’s “unique” designation, but I thought Annabel/Annabelle might. It’s not technically an Anna name, arising in the Middle Ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is contained in the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable), but of course the fact that Anna is contained in it can definitely be a nod to St. Anne. In fact, they could think of it as Anna + belle, where belle means “beautiful” in French. How lovely! I love that it’s also a Marian name. I don’t feel like I have a good sense of their taste in girl names, so I don’t know if they’ll love it, but I really like it for them.

(2) Faith, Hope
Faith is actually a style match for Luke, and I liked it right away for this family, especially since Lea said they specifically wanted a name with a good meaning. Of course, it also made me think of Hope, which was the meaning she specifically wanted — I think both Hope and Faith are such sweet names! I know little girls with both names, and always find them charming.

(3) Felicity
Felicity means “happiness,” which is just perfect! It’s a gorgeous name, and not terribly common while still being familiar.

(4) Edith
Edith is a style match for Agnes, and I actually had it in mind for this family before I even saw it in my research! St. Edith Stein has been inspiring Catholic families to use Edith for their baby girls — she’s an amazing saint, and I’ve loved seeing her name on little ones like these (here and here). And could the nickname Edie be any cuter??

(5) Mariae, Mariah, Molly, Marigold, Miriam
There are many meanings given for the name of Mary, from not great ones like “bitter” and “rebellious,” to much nicer ones including “wished for child” and “beloved.” Since no one really seems to know for sure (though the academic sources seem to lean toward “beloved”), you can really pick which meaning speaks to you the most. And of course, ultimately, Our Lady as patron gives the name all the good meaning you could want. That said, I thought maybe one of the more unique forms of Mary might be intriguing to Lea and her hubs. Blogger Micaela Darr recently named her baby Mariae, pronounced MAR-ee-ay, which is Latin for “belonging to Mary” — I love that so much! (She found it in my book!) I’ve always had a soft spot for Mariah too. Molly has an Irish flavor; Marigold is both English (Downton Abbey!) and floral; and Miriam is biblical like Lea’s boys (though all the Mary names can technically be considered biblical). And there are a million more!

Boy
(1) Bennett
I think Bennett is my no. 1 choice for Lea and her hubs! I considered suggesting Benedict, which I love and which means “blessed,” but I thought maybe it was too heavy for them? (I’d be delighted to discover I’m wrong!) So I thought Bennett was perfect — it’s actually a medieval variant of Benedict, so it has the same meaning of “blessed” and can take the same patron saints, and I know two different sets of brothers named Luke and Bennett, so I really feel like it fits in well with Lea’s boys!

(2) Samuel
Biblical like Lea’s other boys, Samuel also has the great connection to the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible. Samuel means “God has heard,” which of course is exactly in line with the Hannah and Samuel story and exactly in line with the blessing of this baby after Lea’s loss.

(3) Felix
Felix is the male variant of Felicity, which I listed above. It’s a pretty ancient name, so even though it’s not biblical, I think it can hang with the biblical names just fine.

(4) Pierce
Pierce is a form of Peter, and though I said above that I thought Peter was still a good idea for Lea and her hubs, I thought this different form deserved its own spot on the list. In fact, it’s not on this list because it’s a form of Peter, but because of its Marian meaning — I know of at least one little boy who was named Pierce because his mother had a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and how Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword.” I love that meaning so much — at first it might seem overly sad, but upon reflection, it really nods to Jesus’ victory over death, which gives the combo Pierce Victor extra meaning.

(5) Theodore
Finally, Theodore. Like Dorothea, Theodore means “gift of God” — so perfect! I like both Theo and Ted(dy) as nicknames.

There were a few I considered including but ultimately cross off my list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Martin, Phoebe, Abigail, Veronica, and Gemma.

And those are all my ideas for Lea and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for both a boy and a girl?

We have some winners!!

You guys! You blew me away with your entries to the Mother’s Day giveaway! I loved reading each one!

The first three people to email me with the most complete list of names from the 2017 top 100 that also appear in my book are: Carrollann, Christina, and Katie! Congratulations to them all!

One of the best things to come out of this giveaway was all the new ideas I got from your emails! As I was telling Jon Leonetti when I was on his show the other morning, despite having spent nearly ten years of my life — including the last four (!) with all of you sharing your ideas — digging into every nook and cranny of the internet and books I have and compiling the names that ended up in my book, I’m STILL finding new Marian names and titles that I never came across/thought of/heard of. You all have provided several new ones, and I’ve added them to the list I’ve started for the book’s second edition! 😉

I haven’t responded to anyone’s entries but those of the winners, so don’t get concerned if you didn’t hear from me … I plan to and want to reply to each of you, as I truly loved each one of your emails. Hopefully today! I hope you all have a great Sunday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Celebrity guest: Amy, mom of 11!

Don’t forget to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I announced at the end of my previous post! You have until midnight (Eastern) on Saturday (May 19) to email me your entry. And if you haven’t listened to my interview on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary on Mater Dei Radio, you still can!

I’ve followed Amy Laddbush on Instagram for a while, and as I told her, I just love seeing the joy that comes through the pictures of life with her six boys (like me) … and five girls! (Not like me! Wow!) Yes, ELEVEN children! And they all have amazing names too! Though I’d picked up some of their names here and there through various posts, it wasn’t until I read this article about her and her family that I was able to see them all. Ever since then I’ve wanted to contact Amy to see if she would mind telling me about the namesof her kiddos so I could share with you all here, and I’m so glad I finally did! I know you’re going to love reading this. 🙂 ❤

laddbush_family
Photo credit: Annie Norton

Our oldest, Ray, is 20. His full name is Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. We had him when we were young. We were both 20 when I was pregnant, and 21 when he was born. I remember I had a baby name book that we looked through. After finding out we were having a boy, I wrote down all of my top boy names in the book. I let Ryan pick out of those choices. Ray is a family name, my great grandfather was named Ray — not Raymond. I let Ryan pick the middle name Tucker. He liked that name a lot, and I thought it was cute. Shourds is my maiden name. Because we were unmarried at the time, at birth, I named him Ray Tucker Laddbush Shourds. After we were married less than a year later, we had his name legally changed to Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. (Confirmation name St. Padre Pio).

Josie is 17. Her full name is Josie Layne Laddbush. We liked the name Josie from the song “Josie” by Steely Dan. Layne was just something cute we came up with. I don’t know why we spelled it that way! Like Ray, it’s just Josie — not Josephine. (Confirmation name St. Joan of Arc).

After Josie is our daughter, Brady Ann. She is 14. I liked the meaning of Brady because it means “spirited”. She was very active in the womb. She is still a very active young lady. The name suits her, even though it is predominately male. Ann is a middle name/family name on Ryan’s side of the family that we thought sounded cute. (Confirmation name St. Patrick).

Next is Sean Patrick Whetzell, age 12. I liked Sean because it was the Irish form of John. Patrick just had to go with a Sean. Whetzell is my husband’s second middle name (he is Ryan Francis Whetzell Laddbush). We wanted to pass down the Whetzell name which is Ryan’s grandfather’s last name. He has 3 daughters (one being Ryan’s mom), and Ryan was the only grandson in the whole family. This was a nod keeping with the theme of the men/boys having 4 names (2 middle names). Also keeping with somewhat of a theme of having last names as middle and first names! (like Brady).

Next is Evan Matthew, age 10. At this point we decided 2 names was enough. I liked the name Evan, I can’t remember why, and Matthew is my brother’s middle name. I thought it sounded good so we went with it.

After Evan is Bennett Francis, age 9. He was supposed to be Francis Bennett. Francis after Ryan’s middle name and I don’t know where we got Bennett, but we liked it. After he was born, I thought he looked more like a Bennett, so Bennett Francis it is.

Number 7 is Mary Catherine, age 8. Mary is named after Ryan’s grandmother Mary Laddbush and Catherine is his other grandmother Catherine Whetzell. Easy peasy. At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.

Number 8 is Finnian Fritz, age 6. We call him Finn. Ryan came up with Finnian after researching saint names and found a St. Finnian. Fritz is named after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz.

Number 9 is Charlotte Jones, age 5. I don’t know how we got Charlotte, but we loved it. Jones is my grandmother’s maiden name. We thought we would call her Charlie Jones, or CJ, or something cool like that. Somehow she got the nickname Kitty and we’ve been calling her that since she was a baby. We try to call her Charlotte but she likes the name Kitty.

Number 10 is Sloane Stewart (Mary), age 3. I remember being pregnant and watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and hearing the name Sloane. I thought it was a cool name. Stewart is named after Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name. Her name on her birth certificate is Sloane Stewart. When she got baptized, our associate pastor at the time, Fr. Lewis, asked if he could throw a Mary in there, so we said sure. Her baptismal name is Sloane Stewart Mary.

And finally number 11 is John Paul Nicholas, age 2. When I was pregnant with him, I read the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves. Saint John Paul became my best friend after that, so I had to honor him by naming my son after him. The December before he was born, there was a tragic car accident involving in my cousin’s best friend’s death. His name was Nicholas Cassidy (Nick). He was only 22. Also at this point we had a family devotion to St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately we have not been able to get pregnant since John Paul. We will be 42 this summer, it’s been a good ride. If we are blessed with another baby, I like the name Karol Józef, named after my good friend, Karol Józef Wojtyła.”

How wonderful is all this?? There’s so much here that I love! I love how Amy and her hubs just chose names they loved, I love what an eclectic bunch of names they used, and how many family names are woven into the first+middle combos. I love that they were like, “At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.” I love that Finn’s middle name is “after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz” (I love those kinds of name stories! I’d love to know how George came to be known as Fritz!) and that Charlotte has always gone by Kitty (and prefers it). I love that Sloane has Mary added on her baptismal certificate. And of course, I love that St. John Paul II is Amy’s “best friend.” ((sighing with happiness))

Thank you to Amy for such a lovely, intimate look at her beautiful children’s names!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

New SSA name stats! And some Mother’s Day goodies <3

(I have a memory of an email conversation that I had just recently where I told the mama I could fit her in in the next couple of days, but I forgot to write it down and I can’t find the email … if this sounds like you, please email me again! So sorry!)

(Also, did you listen to my spot on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary? If not, go do it! I’m on from about the 15 minute mark to about the 24 minute mark.)

Happy Mother’s Day!! Every year right before Mother’s Day the Social Security Administration (SSA) releases the data on the first names given to the babies born the following year. Yesterday, 2017’s data was released!

2017topten

My first thought was amazement on seeing Logan at no. 5! He didn’t creep in stealthily at no. 10, but jumped right to no. 5 from no. 18! Wow! This seems to be entirely due to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine movie Logan, which was released in March 2017.

From your comments on Instagram, Evelyn also seems to be surprising to some of you. As I mentioned on IG, when my 13yo was three, one of his classmates’ mom had a baby girl whom she named Evelyn, and back then I thought it sounded like such an old lady name. Turns out it entered the top 100 in 2002 for the first time since 1953 and in fact is now, at no. 9, the most popular it’s ever been — its previous highest was no. 10 in 1915. In my mind, it’s part of the Evangeline/Genevieve/Vivian-nicknamed-Evie/Vivi sisters. And in fact Evie increased in 2017 as well!

Besides the new top ten, I’m always interested to see which names increased and decreased in popularity. I haven’t been able to look through the decrease list as closely as I’d like to yet, but these things jumped out at me from the increase list:

From the boy names

I was interested to see that several names that are also used for girls increased. As the mom of all boys, I’m sensitive to how boys feel about having a name that’s also given to girls; the fact that all these rose in usage suggests to me that it’s not as big a deal as I might think: Rey, Jamie, Rowen/Rowan, Elliott/Elliot, Emory, Eden, Remy, Avery, Rory, Micah.

While Michael dropped out of the top ten for the first time since 1942 (!!), Mike increased in use! There were other classic male nicknames that rose in usage as well, including Tommy, Hank, Billy, and Jack.

It seems the letters “ax” are big, as evidenced by the increase in Jaxxon, Axton, Maxton, Jaxx, Dax, Axl/Axel, Jaxton, Daxton, Braxton (I only ever think “Hicks,” but it rose to no. 118, so it’s obviously not a deal breaker!), and Jaxson.

Through my Sancta Nomina glasses I noticed: Coleman, Magnus, Kyrie, Boone, Shepherd, Blaze, Thiago, Casey, Simeon (entered top 1000! Yesss!), Jasper, Milo/Myles, Agustin, Porter, Francis, Leo, Damien/Damian (woo!), Sebastian, Matias/Mathias/Matthias, Tadeo, and Sonny (which I love as a nickname for Solanus).

And just generally, these increases caught my eye: Caspian (no. 3 on the increase list! It entered top 1000), Lucian (a friend just named her son Lucian), Beau (this and Bo get some decent love here on the blog), Roger, Micheal (a misspelling of Michael? Or do that many people really love the Irish spelling?), Louis (note that it’s already on the rise — it’ll be interesting to see what little Prince Louis does for the name), Atticus (so glad to see the new Harper Lee book didn’t keep it down — it took a small hit the year after Go Set a Watchman came out, but in 2017 bounced back up to nearly the same spot in as it had been before all that), and Ledger (I’m currently digging word names, and while Ledger certainly brings actor Heath Ledger to mind, it’s also a noun).

From the girl names

I thought it was interesting that both Melania and Ivanna (that spelling) increased.

Also Oaklynn, Oaklyn, Oaklee, and Oakley!

Speaking of Oaklee and Oakley, the “lee” sound dominated the “increased in popularity” list! All of these increased in popularity in 2017: Ensley, Emberly, Paislee/Paisley, Everlee/Everleigh/Everly, Raylee, Zaylee, Kinslee/Kinsley, Kensley, Kenley, Kynlee, Harleigh, Journee, Hailee/Hayley/Haylee, Hallie/Halle, Charli/Charley/Charleigh/Charlie/Charlee, Emely, Novalee, Bexley, Finley, Marleigh/Marley, Callie/Kallie/Kali, Harley/Harlee, Rosalie, Brinley, Jolie, Blakely, Ryleigh/Rylee, Brynnlee, Bailee, Presley (interesting that Zaylee’s on this list but Zelie’s not!).

Names that increased for girls that have a counterpart (exact same or perhaps a different spelling) on the boys’ increase list: Sunny, Remy/Remi, Rory, Rowan, Eden, Avery, Elliott/Elliot.

Both Ryan and Ryann increased for girls — this caught my attention because in the consultation I posted last Monday, the mama noted they “are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc)” and one of you commented on Facebook that you didn’t realize Ryan and Blake were now considered gender neutral. Funny enough, I mentioned a girl I know named Ryan yesterday and my 6yo goes, “What?! A *girl* named Ryan??” Despite its usage by girls it still feels like a boy name to me and I’m definitely not the only one. (Interestingly, Riaan was the no. 1 decreased boy’s name in 2017.)

I loved seeing Marianna, Giana, Evie, Magdalena, Maisie, Daisy, Dorothy, Juniper, Mercy, Regina, Genevieve on the increase list, as well as — Mary! Yessss!! She only increased one spot, but still! I’d said on the Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary segment (linked to above) that I didn’t think Mary itself would become more popular any time soon (it was recorded on Thursday), but I’d love to be proven wrong!

I feel really uncomfortable seeing Lilith on the increase list. I keep reminding myself that very few of those parents, if any, chose the name because of its dark background and instead probably like that it looks and sounds like an unusual Lily variant. Or perhaps they like the feminist angle to the story (which is why the Lilith Fair was so named). There’s a lot of evil lurking there though … Or maybe I’m giving the name too much power? On the lighter end, it’s not for nothing that Frasier’s wife on Frasier was named Lilith …

One name I’d never heard of increased: Yaretzi. It’s got a pretty great meaning according to Nameberry.

These struck me as the most recent members of the old-is-new club, all of them on the rise: Frida, Deborah, Eileen, Diana, and Nancy.

And these seemed too new to be back in fashion again, but they also rose in popularity: Jenny, Tara.

I’d love to hear what you all thought about the names that increased in popularity!

The one name that I did look into from the decrease list was thanks to one of you who commented on Instagram:

you mentioned in your most recent Nameberry post that Montserrat was skyrocketing in 2014. Now in 2017 it’s amongst the top decreases, falling 225 spots. Was there something cultural or in pop culture to cause that name to boom in 2014 and fall so quickly?

The 2014 increase of Montserrat, and its variant Monserrat, seems to have been due to a character by that name in the Mexican telenovela Lo que la vida me robó (What Life Took From Me). I wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly why it fell so much in 2017, but the story that kept showing up over and over again as I tried different search terms was that of the volcano on the island of Montserrat (different than the mountains in Spain from which Our Lady gets her title Our Lady of Montserrat) that leveled its capital city and left part of the island uninhabitable last time it erupted, and which may be showing signs of erupting again (here and here). Does anyone else have a better idea of why the name dropped?

Speaking of Marian names … One of my very favorite things this year was counting how many Marian names are in the top 100! Which gave me a great idea for a Mother’s Day giveaway! There are several names in the top 100 for both boys and girls that are included in my book of Marian names — the first three readers who email me at sanctanomina at gmail dot com with the most complete list of those names between now and next Saturday at midnight Eastern time will receive a copy of my book (signed by me if you’d like, though I totally get it if you’d rather not)! I hope you’re as excited to receive one of my books as I am to give them! I know you’ll all love it!

I also wanted to let you all know that I’m nearly done with a novena to St. Gerard that I started specifically for all of you. I’m asking him to pray for all of you readers, including those who are mothers or who want to be, and those who are hoping for a baby or are suffering from the loss of a baby or from infertility, as well as for all of your children, both living and deceased. St. Gerard has been close to us recently, and it seemed natural to pray a novena to him for you all. ❤

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother or not, and remember that Mary Our Mother loves you very much!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org (free shipping through today, May 12!) and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

 

 

New post up at Nameberry!

I’ve got a post up at Nameberry today on Marian names! Marian Names Way Beyond Mary, Marie and Maria!

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(Nameberry co-founder Linda Rosenkrantz gave my book a wonderful endorsement, chose this beautiful picture for the post, and has just generally been wonderful and supportive, I’m so grateful to her!)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org (it ships free through May 12!) and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

My book cover: The Marian monogram

Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker! I love that his feast day is on the first day of the month of Mary — it’s not for nothing that Joseph has its own entry in my book. ❤

Speaking of my book, and the month of Mary, I really want to focus in a special way on my book this month. There are so many elements of it that are so wonderful! (Said with all modesty. 😉 Seriously though, so much of what I love about it was done by other people, like the graphic designer.)

One of the things I love the most about it is the Marian monogram on the cover. I posted on Instagram a while ago about the holy card that inspired me through the writing of my book — I kept it with me every time I went to the library for the many, many day-long Saturday work sessions I put in over the last couple of years, seeking to finish and polish my book. This is the holy card:

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“Mariae” at the top is Latin for “of/belonging to Mary”; “S.S. Nomen Mariae” underneath is the Latin Sanctissima Nomen Mariae, which means “the most holy name of Mary”; and in the middle is the Marian monogram — the fancy M topped with the crown. I really wanted to have this card be part of the cover of my book, but though I tried and tried to find out whether it was in the public domain, or, if it was copyrighted, who owned the rights, I was never successful. So my book cover designer, Catherine Shirley, set about to make one that we could own.

When I first saw it, I was absolutely blown away. Look at this gorgeous monogram:

monogram

I love everything about it! The crown! The blue for Our Lady! The roses! The way “Mary” is spelled out within the M! Or, alternately, I learned recently that in Marian art “MRA” can mean “Maria” (like IHS means “Jesus”), or it can stand for something like Maria Regina Angelorum (Mary, Queen of the Angels). So much meaning in this beautiful symbol! And it’s even more striking when you see it in person on the cover — it’s big and bold, it’s so perfect.

I wanted this book to be an ode to Our Lady as much as a tool for use by those looking to honor her by name. I really love that this monogram helps accomplish that!

Updated to add: I found this post, that explains a bit more about how Marian monograms have been used in the past. So cool!

(I hope you all got to see the post I did on Instagram the other day about the Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest that my book received — I might post the information on the blog as well in the next couple of days if you don’t have access to Instagram.)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!