Baby name consultation: Middle name for baby boy

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!


Gabrielle and her husband are expecting their third born baby and second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Catherine Immaculee (“I favored Catherine for our Loo (her nonsense nickname!), because it is strong (regal, feminine, dignified), I really admire and feel some shared attributes with Kate Middleton, and Catherine of Siena is such a bad-ass saint we would love to see our daughter imitate in any ways she can. The name is understandable in our culture and several others, and nicknameable in several directions as she chooses. When I think of her name, I think “power and grace”. Immaculee is because we love Mary and want all of Mary’s blessings and graces to fill her life, plus I got to have a bath in the Lourdes spring while I was pregnant with her, so she is marked with a Lourdes blessing.”)

John Francis (“[My husband] has had a call on his life from John the Baptist ever since I’ve known him. John the Baptist so clearly has his number (and his back), that we had to dedicate our first son to him. [Hubby’s] elderly friend, Johnny’s godfather, foretold Johnny’s full name before [hubby] even knew he was marrying me. The Francis part was a little random, except that’s what the godfather picked, and it sounds good. We love St. Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier, and our allegiance to the Church inspires us to honor the Pope. I also like John for the fact that it’s traditional, also regal, and sounds strong.”)

Don’t you just love both of those names?! I love Catherine Immaculee (love love love that they used Immaculee!) and John Francis—such strong, handsome, saintly names!

Gabrielle continues,

So, baby #3. We lost two in early pregnancy just before #3, and now this guy is healthy and due in April! Ever since I read about Maximilian Kolbe 3 or 4 years ago, I’ve been so moved by his testimony and martyrdom, and have loved learning more about his life. He has prayed for me, and taught me so much about who Mary is and how to relate to her (so important cause we’re pretty recent converts!). So the baby’s name is going to be Maximilian, cause I just love St. Maximilian so much, [hubby] likes him too, and likes the name a lot anyway (especially the X!). I regret that we probably can’t use his full name in everyday use (we’d use Max, but welcome your suggestions for other derivations and nicknames!), but I’m still super excited about it. 

FWIW, we named our miscarriage babies Jude and Kolbe. We didn’t know their genders.

For middle names, we most want to have a name in Maximilian’s spirit (overtly, effusively Marian), or Polish-y, or in some other way matching the first name. Maria/Marie seems like the most obvious choice … Our name-interested friend has suggested Josemaria, Reginald (for a Regina derivation), Rex (which is hilarious: Catherine, now 4, heard us bouncing these ideas around and came up with Max Reximilian!) I like Faustus (kind of Faustina-ish). I just love Marius, but it doesn’t get us out of [problematic initials] territory. Right now [hubby] is favoring Perpetua (he just likes St. Perpetua, and her name, and she’s another martyr), Raphael, who has often been a patron for our marriage, very appropriate, and John Paul, because we love him, and he and Maximilian are like brothers. I like Karol better, for honoring St. JPII. John Paul makes too many names, and we already have our John, but still, it’s a good idea. We’d probably use Immaculee, or Immaculate, or Immaculata, if we hadn’t already blown it on Catherine, but God knows what need she’ll have of it in her life. [We’ve also considered Benedict], and it now occurs to me that we could use Benedicta, turning it super Marian, [and helping with flow with last name]. Benedict is good too. We could use just straight Kolbe too, but it would be kind of wasting an opportunity.

So you see we have plenty of ideas, we just can’t figure out which is best, which one to really believe in, and agree on, and, for myself at least, want to ease any awkwardness in the flow of his name, and also compensate for leaving him out of the “British Royals” trend of our first two kids, which I’ve enjoyed while it lasted. We welcome all new suggestions from you or an evaluation of some of our own ideas. Thanks for taking the time!

I really enjoyed muddling through all of this! Okay, so first off, Gabrielle wondered about possible alternative nicknames for Maximilian. I’ve often suggested Miles or Milo as nickname possibilities for it, which I’d seen somewhere ages ago and I loved so much. That idea actually ties in quite nicely with their desire to have a middle name “in Maximilian’s spirit (overtly, effusively Marian)” (I love that!), since Miles/Myles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations for the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

They could also possibly use Ian as a nickname, though I don’t know if they would want people hearing John and Ian on an everyday basis, since Ian is a variant of John (even though technically for them it wouldn’t be a variant of John, but rather a truncation of Maximilian).

As for middles, of course Maria was my first thought! Maximilian Maria is St. Max through and through. I also think Marie, Marius (which Gabrielle already said she “just love[s]”), and even just Mary are great ideas.

I admit I was really surprised that they’re considering Perpetua and Benedicta, and would have considered Immaculee/Immaculate/Immaculata if they hadn’t already used it — using girl names on boys is just so unusual, and though we have strong precedence with the Mary variants, other girl names on boys are very rare indeed! Although I did see a religious brother take Therese as part of his religious name, which I thought was pretty amazing. Despite the fact that I really wish the tradition of giving Mary names to boys would come back, and I love every example I see of it, I admit that I’d be hesitant to do so with my boys—I’d feel much more comfortable with them making that decision for themselves at Confirmation, for example, or when taking a religious name. So I like the idea of Benedictus rather than Benedicta, if they wanted to do something more than Benedict. Maybe Perpetuus instead of Perpetua; Immaculatus instead of Immaculata. But at the same time, I really love that we have the grounding of our faith and the tradition of using boy names on girls and girl names on boys with the appropriate mindset. So if they ended up using Perpetua/Benedicta/Immaculata, I’d be pretty impressed with their faith and boldness.

Josemaria’s a neat idea, so heavy hitting. Reginald with Regina in mind is great; Rex is cool though I agree maybe a little X heavy with Maximilian (Max Reximilian is hilarious!), and also it makes me think of Jesus rather than Mary (which is certainly not problematic at all! Only, if they want a very Marian name, I’m not sure Rex is quite right). Faustus made me think of Faustinus, which is closer to Faustina.

I love Raphael and his connection to their marriage. I’d actually had Karol in mind for them when I started reading Gabrielle’s email, before I even got to the John Paul/Karol part — I think Maximilian Karol would be amazing. BUT they might like even better the idea of Maximilian Charles! Karol is the Polish version of Charles, and Charles is a British Royal name, so in my mind, Maximilian Charles would fall in nicely with Catherine Immaculee and John Francis in the sense that all of them would have one super Catholic name and one British Royal name (with even the British Royal name being super saintly). I also like how the MIL from Maximilian paired with the ES of Charles makes Miles—it makes the idea of Miles as a nickname even more understandable, if they decided they liked the idea of Miles as a nickname.

So out of the ideas already discussed, I think Maximilian Charles is my favorite, followed by Maximilian Karol, Maximilian Maria/Marius, and Maximilian Raphael, and I love both Max and Miles as nicknames. But all of their ideas are so beautifully faith-filled that their boy will have an incredible name, no matter which of these they choose.

I did do some research for Gabrielle and her hubs to see if I could come up with some more ideas that would fit their hopes for a Marian or Polish-y middle in Maximilian’s spirit. At first I was gung-ho on Franciszek—the Polish form of Francis, and the name of the man whose place St. Max took in Auschwitz; the fact that St. Max was a Conventual Franciscan made the name seem extra perfect to me. But then I remember that John’s middle name is Francis! Ah well. But I have several more ideas that they might like:

(1) Raymond
Raymond was St. Max’s birth name, and in his bio as presented on this site was a letter he wrote to his mom from the concentration camp, which he signed “Raymond,” even though he was known as Maximilian to everyone else.

(2) Assunto/Assundo
St. Maximilian died on August 14, and was cremated on the 15th — the Feast of the Assumption. Assunto and Assundo are both male variants of Assumpta/Assunta, which is of course in honor of the Assumption of Our Lady.

(3) Clement
St. Faustina always makes me think of Divine Mercy, as does St. John Paul II, and Clement means “merciful.” Additionally, it’s a Marian name, as Our Lady is described as “clement” in the Hail Holy Queen.

(4) Gilmary
I think this might be one of the closest non-M Marian names — like Miles-for-Maolmhuire I mentioned above, Gilmary (and its more common variant Gilmore) is an anglicization of the old Irish name Gillamhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Other variants include Kilmary and Kilmurray. This is an interesting and unusual way to get an explicitly Marian name; it also gets closer (though of course not totally) to the British Royals feel of Catherine and John — Ireland is closer to England than Poland, after all! 😀

(5) Lolek
Lolek was the nickname St. JP went by as a boy — it’s a diminutive of Karol — and I’ve seen some families use it as a first name and a middle name for their boys.

(6) Louis
What about Louis? St. Louis de Monfort is known for his Marian devotion, and his writings had a significant influence on St. JP2 — he even took his motto from St. Louis’ Consecration to Our Lady (Totus tuus=Totally yours). It’s also a British Royal name!

(7) Pio
Pio is the masculine version of pia, which is also an adjective given to Our Lady in the Latin version of the Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina) — “o clemens, o pia, o dulcis, Virgo Maria.” Of course, it also calls St. Pio to mind as well. I really like the rhythm of a long first name with a short middle; Maximilian Pio has a nice flow I think.

(8) Leo
Speaking of short, three-letter middles that rhyme with Pio, they might also like to consider Leo! Pope Leo XIII was called the Pope of the Rosary because of his love for it and Our Lady, and his promotion of the rosary. I definitely think that fits in with Maximilian’s spirit. Like with Pio, I think Maximilian Leo sounds quite nice. Since they like the idea of something Polish-y, they might also like to consider the Polish variant Lew, which I believe is said like LEF.

(9) Royce
Finally, speaking of the rosary, Royce derives from the name Rose, which is the origin of “rosary” (a crown of roses). It’s an unusual choice for sure, and isn’t obviously faithy, but the Rose connection makes it Marian. Maximilian Royce is pretty handsome.

And those are all my ideas for Gabrielle and her husband! What do you all think? What middle name(s) would you suggest for Catherine and John’s little brother Maximilian?

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My book is available to order!!

You guys!! You can order my book!! Here’s the link at Shop Mercy — it will ship the week of April 23 — and though it’s not up on Amazon yet it will be soon!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

BIG NEWS!!

You guys! I am SO EXCITED to share with you a very special announcement:

I’m having a book published! A book of Marian names! Ahhhh!!

I’ve been researching and compiling Marian names for nearly ten years — with a good amount of help from all of you via our conversations on the blog! — and I’m so thrilled that Marian Press (publisher of Fr. Calloway’s and Fr. Gaitley’s books, among others) has agreed to publish it!

🎉🎉🎉🎉💃💃💃

It’s entitled Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady — yes indeed, names for boys too! It will be available for purchase in May (month of Our Lady!), and I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks. It has turned out amazingly well under the guidance of the team at Marian Press, if I do say so myself. 😊

Writing a book is one of the dreams of my life, and you have to know that writing one that honors Our Lady, and has to do with names, is a greater gift than I could ever have imagined.

This is such a big week, with the announcement of our baby-on-the-way followed by the announcement of my book! God is so good. ❤️

Baby name consultation: Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas!

You guys! I’m SO EXCITED to post today’s consultation! I know you’re all familiar with Haley Stewart from the blog Carrots for Michaelmas and podcast Fountains of Carrots — she and her hubby Daniel are expecting their fourth baby! Haley’s been struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum (please keep her in your prayers!), so I’m extra happy to provide this little fun little bright spot for her.

Their little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱 joins big sibs:

Benjamin Daniel
Lucy Elanor
Gwen Stellamaris

Which are amazing names, all of them. I love the handsome Benjamin (who I understand is only and always Benjamin, not Ben), and Lucy and Gwen are the sweetest! And those middle names! The Tolkien Elanor and the Marian Stellamaris! 😍😍😍

Haley writes,

So we’ve been brainstorming baby names for baby #4 (I’m 14 weeks, so we’ve got another 5 weeks before we find out the gender).

We are pretty settled on a girl’s name, but not the middle name and not quite settled on a boy’s name.

We do tend toward names from the British Isles because of the Scottish last name.

For a girl we both really like Evangeline. (nickname Eva)

Other favorites have been Rosemary Catherine (after Our Lady and Catherine of Siena, shortened to Rosie Cate — which I like despite it’s sugary southern feel.)

Other favorites;
Marigold, Felicity, Genevieve, Mairwen, Dorothy, Margaret (shortened to Greta–and after my mom Margot), Magdalena (Lena), Marietta (Etta), Josephine, Imogen(e), and Beatrice (or Beatrix).

Middles we like are Catherine, Carole (after Daniel’s mom), Elizabeth, Anne, Jane, Alice, Miriam, Aurora, Ivy, Violet, Daisy, Helena/Helen, Rose, Mary

For Boys we aren’t in 100% agreement. While I’ve typically been the one that pushes for more “out there” names, this time Daniel is the one pushing for unusual names. I think I can get on board but … I’m not quite there yet.

Daniel likes: Beowulf, Cynewulf, and Merlin for first names. I could live with any of these and I do love the idea of calling a little guy “Wulfie.”

I like:

Sebastian Luke

St. John (Sinjin) — Daniel likes this one, too, but everyone thinks of St John Rivers from Jane Eyre and that’s probably not great and no one will pronounce it right. But … LOVE

Joseph Romero after St. Joseph and Bl. Oscar Romero

Arthur — This is probably my favorite. I think it sounds great with Benjamin and it’s a classic.

I also love Gilbert (Gil) but Daniel has vetoed this one — MAYBE I could sneak it in as a middle.

Middles we like: Solanus, Luke, Joseph, Anselm, Romero, Ignatius, Kolbe, Gawain, William, Seamus, Basil

Oh! And Daniel came up with a few more names he likes (that miraculously don’t have the syllable “wulf” lol):
Llywelyn, Beorn, Abel

I should preface my thoughts by saying Haley and her co-host Christy had invited me to be on their podcast two years ago, in which I offered name ideas for both of them for future babies, so I listened to it again as research for this post — I refer to it quite a bit below. (If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommended it! It was so fun to listen to again!) Also, Haley loves literature and frequently writes about Austen and Anne and so forth, so I loved including literary names as well.

So first off, I love Evangeline nicked Eva. When I was doing my standard research in the Baby Name Wizard for Haley (you all know that, for each entry, it offers boy and girl ideas that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I looked up both Evangeline and Eva for inspiration, and loved seeing that Lucy is a style match for Eva, as is Lena (on Haley’s list as a nickname for Magdalena) and Clara (Haley mentioned in the podcast that Clara was a contender for Gwen’s middle name). And I love that Evangeline is long like Benjamin. I think Evangeline/Eva is great for this baby!

I also love Rosemary Catherine nicked Rosie Cate — Haley mentioned it in the podcast as well, and I loved it then and still do! It’s funny because I think Haley must be more sensitive to the southern influence, being that she lives close to it — for me, being from the northeast and living here my whole life, my first thought when hearing double names isn’t southern (though I know it’s certainly a thing down there) … maybe more like Irish? Like Mary Clare, Mary Kate … actually I guess the Mary doubles are what I’m mostly thinking of, which always make me think of Ireland. But for me other double names have that similar feel too, especially if they’re sweet names like Rosie and Cate. They also have a sophisticated feel to me — like country-club-pearls-and-cardigan. Which, comes to think of it, is kind of my idea of “southern” too! Anyway, all that to say, I love Rosemary Catherine/Rosie Cate and I wouldn’t not use it because it feels too southern (but Haley — and many of you — would know better whether that would be an issue or not).

I love Haley and her hubby’s other favorite girl names too, there are so many great ones on their list! As for middles, I tried playing around with Evangeline with some of the middles on their list, just to see which ones I like the best (not that it matters what I like!). My favorite combos, based mostly on how they sound together, were:

Evangeline Elizabeth (long, but they sound so pretty together I think)
Evangeline Alice
Evangeline Aurora (wow)
Evangeline Rose

I also like the idea of double names with Evangeline … like Evangeline Rose –> Eva Rose; Evangeline Catherine –> Eva Cate; Evangeline Elizabeth –> Eva Tess (I think I saw Tess in a list of Elizabeth nicknames only once, but if Betty and Tetty are both traditional nns for Elizabeth [they are], and so is Bess, then it makes sense that Tess would be. Elizabeth/Tess is at the top of my own list).

For their boy ideas, I’m totally blown away by Daniel’s list! Beowulf, Cynewulf, Merlin, Llewelyn, Beorn, and Abel! Truly, it’s almost always the moms who have the more adventurous taste, I’m super impressed with Daniel’s outside-the-box thinking!

In fact, it was so outside the box that I wasn’t quite sure where to start with research for them. None of Daniel’s names are included in any of my name-matchmaking resources (I used Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com in addition to the BNW book) except Merlin, Llewellyn (that spelling) and Abel (which I love as Benjamin’s brother). I did sub in Bjorn for Beorn, just to have some additional ideas, but of course most of them were Scandinavian, which didn’t turn out to be terrible — there were a couple that I thought really felt like their style, like Freya for a girl and Torin for a boy, but mostly I tried to stick to names that were at least Celtic/British, if not specifically Scottish, in my official suggestions below.

One of the things I was also surprised by with Daniel’s list is how not-Catholic the names are (besides the biblical Abel). Which is totally fine! But I did try to think of names with maybe a similar feel that had a faithy connection, and the only one I really came up with as sort of similar (in spelling anyway) to Beowulf is Boethius, aka St. Severinus Boethius — he was a philosopher some of my readers have mentioned from time to time, which prompted me to do this post. One of those readers had actually decided on Robert Boethius for her son, but she ended up having a girl (whose got an equally amazing name).

As for the names on Haley’s list, Sebastian Luke has been a longtime fave — she mentioned it in the podcast. Great combo. Haley’s right that St. John will never be said correctly, but I have to say that my primary association isn’t Jane Eyre but Four Weddings and a Funeral! I asked my husband too — he’s the one who introduced me to Brideshead Revisited and loves all those BBC productions like Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, etc., so he’d definitely have a sense of whether a name is too tied to a Bronte character, and he also didn’t remember St. John from Jane Eyre! So I’m thinking maybe the Jane Eyre association isn’t as bad as they think. But definitely yes to lots of pronunciation issues. If they can’t get past that, it would make a smashing middle name! Pronunciations don’t matter so much in the middle.

Joseph Romero’s awesome, and Benjamin and Joseph are great brother names, being that they were brothers in the bible!

Arthur’s great. Benjamin and Arthur together are great.

Haley raved about Gilbert/Gil in the podcast too, but she said her hubby disliked Gilbert and hated Gil even more! Gah! We also talked on the podcast about Gabriel, which Haley said she liked, but she didn’t care for Gabe — I’ve often liked the idea of Gil as a nickname for Gabriel, which I would totally push for Haley except that Daniel doesn’t like Gil!

I love all their ideas for boy middle names too!

I know Haley said they’re set on Evangeline/Eva, or possibly Rosemary Catherine, and if they decide not to do either of those they have an amazing list of other girl names they like, but there were some names that popped up in my research that, like Freya mentioned above, just felt like their style. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on girl ideas, but I did just want to mention these few here before listing my boy ideas:

(1) Zelda
Zelda’s a style match for Merlin per the BNW, and it screams “literary” to me, never mind that it’s got the cool Z initial.

(2) Naomi
Biblical like Benjamin, it’s also a style match for Daniel’s Abel. Naomi’s gorgeous! And I love her story in the bible.

(3) Edith
St. Edith Stein is one of the best, and her name’s a match for Arthur. How sweet is the nickname Edie??

(4) Annabel
Given that Haley specifically mentioned their Scottish last name, and Annabelle’s a style match for Evangeline, I thought it was worth pointing out that Annabel is actually a Scottish name! A variant of Amabel, which points to Our Lady!

(5) Iona, Isla
Iona’s a match for Llewellyn, and like Annabelle I thought it was worth a mention because of its specifically Celtic feel (St. Columba founded a monastery on the Isle of Iona). Ditto for Isla.

As for boy’s names, I basically just tried to find names that I thought would bridge the names on Haley’s list with those on Daniel’s, hopefully coming up with ideas that they both might like. This is what I came up with:

(1) Wilfrid
It was Haley’s love of the idea of calling a little guy “Wulfie” that make me think of Wilfrid. There’s a mom on a name discussion board I follow who has a little Wilfrid, and Wolf is his occasional nickname, so I thought Wilfrid could combine the “wulf” aspects of the names Daniel loves with the St. John/Arthur/Gilbert names on Haley’s list — I think Wilfrid could fit in well with them, and in fact the similar sounding Willis was also listed as a style match for Gilbert. AND there are a few Sts. Wilfrid!

(2) Malcolm
I had planned to listen to the podcast again anyway, to see if there were any ideas in it I’d missed, but I was particularly compelled to do so when I was doing my research (I did all of it except the podcast first) and saw Malcolm in a list of Celtic names I was looking through. It felt so familiar, like I’d already suggested it to Haley, but it wasn’t in the podcast so I wonder where I got that feeling? Anyway, as soon as I saw it I thought it felt like a really good suggestion. Not only is it a good Celtic name — Scottish, in fact — but it’s got a great meaning: “disciple of St. Columba.” (Compare this to a name I reference on the blog quite a bit: Miles, an anglicization of the old Irish name Maelmhuire, meaning “disciple/servant of the Virgin Mary.” Malcolm is from the Scottish Mael Colium.) Mac would make a great nickname for a Malcolm!

(3) Roald
Roald is a style match for Bjorn, but despite being a Norwegian name of course we know it as the British author Roald Dahl. I don’t know if Haley and her hubs like Dahl as an author or not, but with Cynewulf in play I didn’t think anything was out of bounds to suggest! And Roald is a bit more Arthur than Cynewulf.

(4) Tavish
This was in the same list of Celtic names as Malcolm, and I totally had Scottish names on the brain, so I thought it was a fun suggestion. It’s the Scottish form of Thomas!

(5) Giles
What’s more British than Giles? Though it sounds different than Gil, Gil was my inspiration for it. On the podcast Haley had said, in response to my suggestion of Henry, that she and Daniel had been talking about George, and that Henry and George have such a Brit feel, especially with the last name Stewart. Giles fits that to a T! There are a few Sts. Giles.

(6) Magnus
Also on the podcast, Haley said that at that time John Paul Ignatius was Daniel’s favorite name, which added to my surprise at his current list. But Magnus — a style match for Bjorn and a name on the Celtic list as well — might be a way to nod to St. John Paul the Great (and other Greats: St. Gregory and St. Leo, as well as even St. Maximilian Kolbe if they want, since Maximilian and Magnus share meanings) in a new way, and in a style closer to the names they both have on their lists. Since they have Carole on their girl middle name list for Daniel’s mom, they could consider using a male variant like Karol/Karl/Carl as a middle name for Magnus and have it refer even closer to St. John Paul the Great (since his birth name was Karol — the Polish form of Charles). (Magnus Karol/Karl/Carl is also Charlemagne’s name reversed, which may or may not appeal to them.)

(7) Sinclair
Of course you have to know this was almost 100% inspired by St. John. It’s got a similar sound and also refers to a saint (St. Clare), but in a much easier way spelling- and pronunciation-wise. It’s also a style match for Llewellyn, and Haley said in the podcast that she loves the name Clara. So maybe?

(8) Felix
I was pretty aware of the fact that several names I thought they might like are also the names of children of fairly well known mamas in the Catholic world (e.g., Naomi — Ana Hahn; Edith — Rosie Hill), and Felix is one such (Jenna Wilber and Arwen Mosher, to name two), so I know that might reduce its appeal, but there weren’t too many names that were style matches for more than one name on Haley’s and Daniel’s lists (except for the Leo/Henry/Oliver names, which is where their girl style tends to lean), but Felix was a match for both Eva and Merlin. So I thought I had to mention it!

(9) Tristan
Tristan is a style match for Sebastian and Gavin (in place of Gawain), it’s literary, and it can be bestowed it in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. I love it!

(10) Oisin/Ossian
Interestingly, Ossian was listed as match for Bjorn, which is a variant of Oisín — which was included in the list of Celtic names. It’s definitely out there and has some pronunciation issues (o-SHEEN is, I believe, the correct way to say Oisín, and O-see-en for Ossian, and Forvo concurs [here and here], as does babynamesofireland.com, but I’m sure some people would come up with “Ocean”). I see the evolution of the O names happening thusly: Oliver was a big hit for a while, then became overly popular for some people’s tastes; then Owen; I’m currently seeing Otis and Oscar more and more; so using Oisin/Ossian might be getting in on the ground floor of The Next Big Name.

(11) Gareth/Garrett
This is my last idea, and it’s inspired both by Haley’s mom and grandmother’s names (Margot and Margaret), as well as the fact that Gareth and Garrett have a Celtic feel. One of you shared about a family with a devotion to St. Margaret of Antioch, so they named a son Garrett in her honor (so similar to Greta on Haley’s list). I love that! And Gareth was on the Celtic list, and Margarethe is a German and Danish form of Margaret, so Gareth definitely still works for Margaret and Margot.

I think I’ll stop at eleven ideas! But I thought these posts might have some additional ideas that are similar to those Haley and Daniel might like:

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/11/14/baby-name-consultant-geek-catholics-need-help-naming-no-3/

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/03/09/birth-announcement-winifred-esme/

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/10/30/celebrity-guest-meghan-literarycatholic-namer/

And I’m assuming it wasn’t their favorite, but my idea of Jonathan with the traditional Brit nickname Jonty from the podcast is still one of the ones I love for them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What do you think about Haley and Daniel’s ideas for girl names? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Benjamin, Lucy, and Gwen?

Baby name consultation: Saintly and/or Marian connection for Rory

I received such a fun consultation request recently from Carey (we follow each other on Twitter) (I follow her husband too!)! Carey and her hubs already have one son:

Rory Nathaniel

I looooove the name Rory!! And Rory Nathaniel is a perfect combo. Love love love it.

They’re expecting their second baby, but the consultation request actually had to do with Rory! Carey writes,

I have a kind of unusual request for you. I was wondering if you could do a consultation on a baby I’ve already named? I was confirmed in the church while I was pregnant and I feel like we chose his name before we were truly immersed in the beauty and saintliness that is Catholic naming culture!

So anyway, would you be willing to look at my son’s name and share some Catholic connections we may not have thought of? I love your ability to connect names and intentions in unusual ways.

His name is Rory Nathaniel, and here’s the story: my husband and I both felt very picky about boy names, and we felt like we couldn’t use the ones we did like because they all belonged to family members or friends that would feel weird to name a baby after, if that makes sense.

We chose Rory because we love the show Doctor Who, in which Rory is a great (male) character, but I also binged Gilmore Girls while pregnant so I can’t deny the influence of that show, either. 😉 We tossed around the name Rory almost as a joke, but realized we actually liked the name and none of our other ideas stuck. By the time we found out he was a boy, it had been on top for a while.

We decided that with a two-syllable first and last name, we wanted a middle name with more musicality and narrowed our search to three-syllable saint names, but we were picky about a lot of them for one reason or another (several were vetoed because they would leave him with the initials/nicknames RB or RJ which I don’t like) until we settled on Nathaniel as good enough, since it is a saint name and also comes from Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, which was a book about sea navigation we both loved in school.

Rory’s story might have hinted at some of our nerdiness (Doctor Who, navigation) so I like those connections in his name but since converting I’ve been wondering if there are more religious connections (even esoteric ones) that we can claim retroactively. I don’t know if it’s possible but I would love it to have a sort of connection to Our Lady!

P.S. we’re due with #2 in August and so far our top boy/girl contenders are Elanor Grace and Joseph Augustine, both of which I like in part because they echo Rory’s name. We call him Roso and that would be cute paired with ‘Joso’, but I could also see us nicknaming an Elanor ‘Nory’ so either way, they’d be a pair. 🙂 “

(Roso and Joso/Nory! I die!)

I have to say I’m pretty impressed they didn’t let Gilmore Girls interfere with their love of the name Rory! I’ve seen it happen! Gah! Anyway, I applaud them — Rory’s a great name, and a great name for a boy. I also love that they’d love a connection to Our Lady through his name!

So I have a few ideas for saintly connections for their little man — hopefully one of them will strike the right chord!

(1) Connections from its “kingly” meaning
As far as I can tell, there’s no St. Rory (or Ruari/Ruaidhri), but since it means “red king, great king,” according to babynamesofireland.com (I know the rí part means king; I love the idea of “great king” but I’m not sure how that fits here? Ruadh means red), I think Jesus makes an excellent patron! There are loads of Jesus names like Christopher/Christina, Salvatore, Emmanuel, so it’s not unheard of to name a baby after Jesus, and a nod to His kingship is pretty great. Or maybe another notable king, like King David? Here’s a list of saints who were kings. If they wanted to tie into the “red” meaning, I did a spotlight on Ruby, which offers some good possible connections — the Precious Blood and the Passion both come right to mind.

(2) Could possibly think of it as a nickname for a male saint: Gregory, Lawrence, Robert
I’ve suggested Rory as a possible nickname many times for Gregory, and I recently posted a birth announcement for a little Gregory whose parents intend to call him Rory! I was so excited! Pope St. Gregory the Great is a cool patron for a little boy. I also think it could work as a nickname for Lawrence and Robert — St. Lawrence Brindisi and St. Robert Bellarmine are the ones I’m familiar with, but there are a bunch more Sts. Gregory, Lawrence, and Robert — Carey and her hubs might like to look through the lists and see if they make a connection with any? Sts. Gregory, Sts. Lawrence, Sts. Robert.

(3) Could possible think of it as a nickname for a Marian name: Aurora
I’ve seen Rory as a nickname for Aurora (I saw one birth announcement years ago where the parents had twin girls and named them Aurora and Therese, and called them Rory and Reese!), so they could possibly consider their son’s name to be a nod to that name. And Aurora can be Marian! I spotlighted its Marian connections here; if they feel like it’s just a bit too far to consider their son’s name Marian because of its connection to a girl name, I also wrote in that post how it can refer to Jesus as well.

(4) Maybe a connection to Rose or Rosary
The “red” meaning of Rory could maybe nod to roses, which is a symbol of Mary, and then I thought maybe they’d like it to nod to the full “Rosary,” which would be really interesting. The connection to Rosary can happen through the rose connection (based on the color meaning of Rory), or sound — I could see Rory being a natural nickname for Rosary, and I could also see parents coming up with Rory if they wanted to name a boy after the rosary (I did a birth announcement for a little Rosary here).

And those are all the ideas I came up with! What do you all think? Do you have any other ideas/suggestions for a saintly/Marian connection for Rory?