Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Literary/Irish-y/saintly name needed

Lindsey and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Lindsey writes,

Help! My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of June/beginning of July. We live in Boston and are having a ton of difficulty coming up with a name! We already had the name picked out if we were having a girl, so we are of course having a boy. We’re Catholic and would like to have a Catholic influence in the name, though we don’t necessarily require that it be the first name.

General criteria:

— We don’t want it to be a common or popular name, but we would like it to be a name that most people will have heard at some point. Ideally, we’d like it not to be in the top 100 or near that so that he won’t have to run into the issue of being “Matt LastInitial.”

— I tend to like old-fashioned/classic names and have somewhat of a preference for English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, though my husband doesn’t want anything too Irish. We also, however, tend to like some more unique, trendy sounding names like Sloan, Bligh/Bly, &c.

— We’d like something that would have the possibility of a nickname if that’s something he’d like or could stand on its own.

Likes but Not Requirements:

–I’m a huge bookworm and like the idea of having a literary inspiration in the name, but I’d rather the perfect name than to force this.

Below is a list of names that we like and have been considering:

Ambrose
Edmund
Simon
Blaise
Frederick
Calvin
Byron
Ciaran
Charles (I like the nickname Charlie more than I like Charles, but I question whether Charlie is appropriate for an adult)
Baron
Fulton
Sebastian (though it’s a bit too common for us to use)
Nathaniel (I feel it may be a bit too common for us to use)
Damian (may be a bit too common for us to use)

Of the above list, Ambrose and Edmund top out as our favorite right now (and though they continue to volley back and forth for top seed, Ambrose seems to be the current preference), but we are struggling with those and with them all:

–If we went with Ambrose, we can’t think of any middle names that would flow well with our last name. [Some family names include] (Daniel, Thomas, Benjamin, Joseph, Robert, Gabriel, Calvin, Francis).
–If we were to have a daughter in the future, we would likely name her Rosemary after my grandmother, and I wonder whether the “rose” in Ambrose and Rosemary would be harmonious or tacky. That being said, there’s no guarantee that we will have other children or that we would have a girl even if we did.
–While we like Edmund, I cannot stand “Ed” or “Eddie” as a nickname, and while I could consistently reiterate that his name is Edmund, I know I would likely be fighting a losing battle of him being called Ed or Eddie.

We are 31 weeks along and have been struggling with this for months and thought it was finally time to reach out for help since we’re not getting anywhere ourselves. We’re hoping for feedback on our top picks as well as any other name suggestions you may have for us to consider. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

I love working with first-time parents! I’m so excited for Lindsey and her hubby that they’re expecting their first baby, I remember those days well. ❤

I totally understand not wanting a common/popular name. It is true though that the popular names of today aren’t even a fraction as popular as the popular names of the past. Also, it’s possible to live in a “name pocket” where a particular name, which might not be popular according to the national Social Security data, is actually really popular where you live. There’s more info here.

I’m with Lindsey on loving English/Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Latin names, but I admit I’d never heard of Bligh/Bly before! So funny to me that she included it as an example of a “unique, trendy sounding name” — are any of you familiar with it? Maybe it’s a regional name?

Like Lindsey, I also love literary names, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was doing my research for her and her hubs.

Regarding the list of names they’re considering, a few thoughts:

  • Ambrose: Love it! We considered it for a couple of our boys, and I’ve spent some time thinking of nicknames as a result. Sam, Bram, and Brody are my favorites, and Bram would give them a literary tie-in. Brody would make extra sense if Ambrose was paired with a D middle name. I don’t hate Ambrose Daniel, and Ambrose David is another combo I quite like. Of the other family names that could possibly be used as a middle, in the interest of whittling down the list, I might cross off Gabriel (Ambrose Gabriel is a lot of “br,” though Gabriel is one of my very favorite names) and Calvin (all I think of is John Calvin, which is unfortunate, because it’s a cool name otherwise. With Ambrose being SO saintly and Catholic, if I were to see Ambrose Calvin it would make me scratch my head! But few people know others’ middle names, so it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker). I like some of the names on their list of first names as potential middles for Ambrose … Ambrose Ciaran is particularly appealing to me, because it’s got the Irish Lindsey likes but I’m assuming it’s not *too* Irish? I also love Ambrose Edmund, what a heavy hitting name! It might be a good way to work Edmund in if they can’t feel comfortable with it as a first name. As for Ambrose and Rosemary … I’m not sure! If Ambrose always went by a nickname that didn’t contain Rose, I’d say it’s fine. But if he was Ambrose or Brose all the time, then maybe that would be too much Rose? I do think Lindsey’s wise to remember that “there’s no guarantee that [they] will have other children or that [they] would have a girl.” I wrote more about the issue of whether to use a beloved name now or save it for later here.
  • Edmund: I think that if they called him Edmund all the time, it’s quite likely that he would eventually be shortened to Ed or Eddie by someone — maybe even himself! But if they picked a different nickname and enforced its use, they may be able to avoid Ed/Eddie. Ned and Ted are both traditional nicknames for the Ed- names, I wonder if either of those might appeal? Another idea, tapping into Lindsey’s love of Irish names, is Eamon — the Irish variant of Edmund. There would be no chance of Ed/Eddie with Eamon! But I also get that, while it’s technically the same name as Edmund, at the same time it isn’t (and likely too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby?).
  • Simon, Blaise, Frederick, Byron, Baron, Fulton: All pretty cool.
  • Calvin: See my comments in the Ambrose bullet point above. Although, since it’s a family name, I can see that it might just be too important to not use. I do love the nickname Cal.
  • Ciaran: Love it! So surprised it’s not too Irish for Lindsey’s hubby though!
  • Charles/Charlie: I think this is an excellent choice for a boy, specifically because Charles offers so many nickname possibilities to fit different personalities and stages in life. Charlie is adorable on a little boy, and I don’t think it’s inappropriate on an adult at all. In fact, I know a little boy whose given name is Charley, so he’s going to be Charley his whole life! But if Lindsey’s son feels like he’s not a Charlie when he grows up, he can be Cal or Chaz or Chuck or the full Charles. It’s a great name!
  • Sebastian, Nathaniel, Damian: The recently released 2017 name data might be helpful here. Sebastian rose two spots to no. 22, so I can see why Lindsey thinks it might be too popular for them. Nathaniel’s been steadily decreasing since 2000 though, and is currently at no. 112, and Damian has been going up and down but never more popular than no. 98 (in 2013) and is currently no. 119 (up five spots from 2016), so I don’t think either Nathaniel or Damian are too popular. I love them both!

So those are my thoughts on their current list — I think it’s a great list with loads of great contenders, and I’m not sure adding more ideas will be helpful! But I did do my usual research for them, in which I looked up all the names Lindsey and her hubs are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I looked up all the names on their boy list, as well as Rosemary, and have several ideas that might appeal to them (I hope they don’t muddy the waters rather than making things more clear!):

(1) Philip nicknamed Pip
I told Lindsey that I kept the idea of a literary name in mind while doing my research, and I was thrilled to see Philip as a result! It’s handsome and classic and not too popular at all — it’s currently no. 425 — and while it’s not popular, it is familiar. And isn’t Pip the cutest nickname for a little boy?? And literary! It’s probably not a nickname that can last his whole life, but the full Philip as well as Phil are Men’s Names. I even worked with a Philip who preferred to be called Flip, so not all men hate cute nicknames, and I like that Philip offers options.

(2) Atticus
Atticus was actually solely due to Lindsey’s liking of literary and Latin names, and wasn’t a result of my research at all, but I was looking up Atticus earlier for something different and it occurred to me that it might be perfect for this family. There’s a St. Atticus, and I’ve seen Atty, Gus, Kit, and Ace all used as nicknames for it. Atticus is no. 350.

(3) Bennett or Benedict
I’m actually kind of surprised they didn’t have Benedict on their list! It’s got good familiarity in England (Benedict Cumberbatch) and it’s Latin for “blessed” and super saintly — it fits right in with so many of the names on their list! Its medieval diminutive Bennett, though, was an actual style match for them — per the BNW it’s similar in style to Edmund and Calvin, and I consider it to be similar to Fulton (Fulton doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but it’s a surname-turned-first-name with strong Catholic roots, and while Bennett started as a first name I believe, it’s also a common surname). And its literary! The Bennet sisters! Bennett is no. 123 and Benedict is not in the top 1000.

(4) Tristan
I’m interested to see what they think of Tristan! It’s a style match for Sebastian, it’s no. 121, and it’s literary — it’s got a lot going for it! It can also be considered a Marian name, as its meaning is related to “sorrow” and Our Lady of Sorrows is one of her titles.

(5) Pierce
Speaking of male Marian names, ever since one of my readers shared that she knew a little boy named Pierce after Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, I’ve loved the idea of it (and included it in my book of Marian names!). It’s actually a style match for Blaise, and has an English feel. If they didn’t feel tied to the Marian connection, it’s a form of Peter, so St. Peter can be patron. Pierce is no. 522.

(6) Neil (or Niall?)
I wonder what they would think of Neil? It’s a style match for Calvin, and comes from the Gaelic Niall (which itself could be a good option?). Could be cool! Neil is no. 619 and Niall’s not in the top 1000.

(7) Cormac, Colman
Cormac was actually the style match here, being listed with Kieran (standing in for Ciaran, as Ciaran doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), and I thought it was a great possibility for a couple who’s split between loving Irish/Gaelic/Celtic names and not wanting them to be too Irish. Mac is an awesome nickname possibility. Cormac made me think of Colman, which I think of the same way — it’s impeccably Irish, but isn’t hitting you in the face with it. Cole is an easy nickname. Neither Cormac nor Colman are in the top 1000.

(8) Conrad
Speaking of two-syllable C names, Conrad is a style match for Edmund and Frederick! We seriously considered Conrad for our youngest and intended to use the traditional nickname Cord (or Cordy). There are a couple Sts. Conrad, and it’s no. 577.

And those are my ideas for Lindsey and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for their little guy?


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?

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. 🙂 ❤

Birth announcement: Magnus Xavier!

I posted a consultation for Katie and her husband back in March, and Katie has let me know that their baby has been born — a little boy! They gave him the incredible name … Magnus Xavier!

Katie writes,

Matt and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our third child, a BOY (who I was convinced was a girl the entire pregnancy, ha!). We decided to name him Magnus Xavier, with the possible nickname Max. Someone commented on your consultation with the idea of Magnus and we both loved it. When he arrived on Holy Thursday, March 29th, at 9lbs 13oz and our eyes met, he struck my husband and I as a Magnus! We are naming him in honor of the Blessed Mother, and the Magnificat more specifically. Xavier is in honor of St. Francis Xavier, and we’re going with the “egg-ZAY-vee-ur” pronunciation. He joins big sister Julianna Marie, and big brother Matthew Aurelius.

Thank you so much for your ministry!

Magnus Xavier! Possibly nicknamed Max! And they found Magnus in the comments on the post!! mbmom7 and Mary-Agnes both suggested it, with Mary-Agnes specifically mentioning the Magnificat connection. How wonderful!! You guys rock!! If you remember, they specifically wanted a “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name, and I think they totally nailed it.

Congratulations to Katie and Matt and big sibs Julianna and Matthew, and happy birthday Baby Magnus!!

MagnusXavier

Magnus Xavier


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 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. 🙂 ❤

Review of my book at Epic Pew!

My friend Theresa wrote a review of my book for Epic Pew! It’s amazing! How to Pick a Name to Honor the Blessed Virgin Mary!

I wrote the book I wish existed, and since we all have so much of the same mindset, I know you’re all going to love it. There’s a name for every kind of namer in there! Mother Mary for the win! ❤ ❤ ❤

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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?