Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs strong name that can be shortened to something fun

Happy sixth day of Christmas, and the feast of the Holy Family!!

Today’s consultation was a fun one to work on because the parameters are pretty broad! Emily (middle name Jane, which is important) writes:

This is our first baby and we are having a baby girl … My husband and I want to make sure she has a strong name, one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life … We also are wanting her to have my grandmothers name, Ruenell, in there somewhere. I am southern so I am partial to traditional names that can be shortened to something fun, but that is by no means a must.”

When I asked if Emily could give me a sense of what names she and her hubby like or don’t like, so that I had a better idea of what part of the name universe to focus on, she replied,

I went back over the list of names we have compiled over the years and there is a good healthy mix of traditional and quirky so we are happy to stand back and let you do your thing!

SO EXCITING! And also terrifying! Haha!

To start, I really love Emily’s middle name, Jane, and thought it fit the exact kind of name she said she and her hubby are looking for: “strong … one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life.” Jane is gorgeous! So Jane Ruenell would be my first suggestion. It honors Emily by using her middle name (how nice for a mom and her daughter to have a connection like that!), which is a great name for a little girl and for a grown woman of all ages, and it includes Emily’s grandmother’s name. Janie is a sweet nickname too.

Ruenell is such an interesting name! I’m guessing that they don’t want to use Ruenell as a first name, but Rue and Nell are both such great nicknames that I thought something like Mary Ruenell nicknamed Rue or Nell might be a good option for them to consider.

Since Emily said she’s partial to names that can be shortened to something fun, I tried to come up with some interesting nicknames that combine sounds from my first name suggestions with sounds from Ruenell as a middle name — one of my favorite strategies for coming up with interesting nicknames — as I thought the middle name spot was where they’d prefer to put Ruenell. However, before I get to those ideas, I was also thinking that Ruenell could conceivably be a nickname that results from combining elements of two other names — which I’m sure is not the kind of idea they were hoping for, but I had fun coming up with some ideas in that vein, so I thought I would share them just in case. Like:

Ruth Penelope nn Ruenell
Ruby Eleanor nn Ruenell

But back to my other first-name ideas. You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. Since Emily and her hubs wanted to hear fresh ideas without providing parameters, my usual methodology wouldn’t be helpful, so I basically just combed through my mental files for names that I consider to be strong and able to grow with a girl into womanhood. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the ones that came to mind:

(1) Catherine/Katherine
I’m not starting with C/Katherine because it’s my own name (haha!) but because it’s definitely one of the names that I think works at all stages of a girl’s life. The full C/Katherine is serious, sophisticated, and dignified, and there are a bunch of nickname options that fit any kind of family and personality. Some of these are: Cate/Kate/Catie/Katie/Cady, Cass, Casey, Cat/Kat, Cathy/Kathy, and Kit/Kitty.

(2) Margaret
Like C/Katherine, Margaret is appropriate for all ages, and has a bunch of great nicknames as well, like Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Daisy, and Peg/Peggy. Variants that can be used as nicknames or given names on their own include Greta, Rita, and Margo/Margot. An unrelated name that nevertheless has some history of usage as a Margaret nickname is Molly. Lots of cool options here!

(3) Elizabeth
C/Katherine, Margaret, and Elizabeth are considered the classic English trio of girl names — they’ve been used by royals and non-royals alike for centuries in many different European countries and there are a bunch of patron saints for each one. Elizabeth is perhaps the mama of the nickname-rich girl names — there are SO MANY! Liz/Lizzy, Beth, and Ellie are probably the most expected, but I love some of the quirkier options like Elsa, Libby, Libbet, Lily, and Tess.

(4) Anna, Anne
Anna has a sweeter feel, I think, and Anne is maybe more stern — but then again, what girl doesn’t love Anne of Green Gables? Annie is a darling nickname.

(5) Julia
Julia is feminine and lovely while also passing the “Supreme Court Test” (that is, Julia would be fine and appropriate for a Supreme Court justice). Julie and Jules are familiar nicknames, but I’ve seen Jilly and Lia, and Juliet actually started as a diminutive of Julia, so it can be used as a nickname for Julia (though it’s rare to do so these days. I also love Juliet as a given name).

(6) Madeline, Madeleine
I love all variants of Magdalene, but I think Madeline and Madeleine are the ones that come across as the most “professional” maybe. Maddy is always a cute nickname for a little girl — whether she’s super feminine or a tomboy — and I think Molly can work too.

(7) Susanna
I love the name Susanna (the girl name we’ve saved through all our boys!) — I think it’s a strong, feminine name, and I love that it has a bunch of nickname options, like Susie/Sue and Anna/Annie as well as the quirkier and sweet Zuzu, Sassy, and Sunny! A reader just recently suggested Sam/Sammie as a nickname for Susanna(h) plus an M middle name, which I thought was great.

(8) Lydia
One of my favorite things about the name Lydia is that the Lydia in the bible was a seller of purple cloth — how cool that the name comes with its own color! I love the nickname Lyddie, SO charming!

(9) Frances
I think Frances could border on seeming too severe for everyday use for a little girl, but if so, its nicknames save it: Frannie, Francie, and Frankie are spunky and fun!

(10) Gemma
Gemma is probably the most offbeat of my suggestions, but it’s traditional and saintly and I think it fits in as well on the playground as it does in the boardroom.

(11) Cecilia
If Gemma is the most offbeat, Cecilia might be the softest of my suggestions, but it certainly works for any age and any kind of girl/woman, in my opinion. Cece and Celia are great nickname possibilities.

(12) Teresa
I can definitely see Teresa on both a little girl and a woman (and I know Teresas of both age groups!). I mentioned Tess earlier as a nickname for Elizabeth, which I do love, but Tess and Tessa are originally and usually nicknames for the Teresa names. Reese and Resa can also work.

(13) Bridget
I couldn’t end the list without adding Bridget — it’s such a familiar name, but I don’t hear it in real life too often. I’d be pleasantly surprised to hear it on a little girl, and it certainly has enough weight for a woman. Bridge/Bridgey and Bridey are adorable nicknames.

I think there’s a good bunch of styles and ideas above that fit Emily and her husband’s hope for a strong name that can fit their little girl at all stages of her life, and there are some really fun nickname options too. I mentioned above that I toyed with nickname ideas that involve combining first name elements with Ruenell as a middle — they include:

Catherine Ruenell nn Carly
Julia Ruenell nn Junie
Susanna Ruenell nn Zelie
Lydia Ruenell nn Lyra or Lynnie
Bridget Ruenell nn Bell or Bella
Madeline Ruenell nn Marnie or Marley
Katherine Ruenell nn Katie-Rue or Katie-Nell
Teresa Ruenell nn Tessa-Rue or Truly

It’s fun to try to come up with some fun and quirky options!

And those are all of my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Emily that fit her hope for “a strong name, one that will seem appropriate at all stages in life,” that might also be able to be shortened to “something fun”?


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

Baby name consultation: First baby (girl) needs a classic, saintly, not-unusual name

Merry Christmas Eve’s Eve! (Or Christmas Adam, if that’s the way you roll. 😂) I hope your house is as full of joy and anticipation as mine is! A very happy and holy Christmas to you all! ❤ ❤ ❤

Today’s consultation is for a dad! Chris and his wife are expecting their first baby — a girl! He writes,

[W]e’re having a really hard time coming up with girls names that we love. We like classic names, and would like a strong saint connection. So no Kateri or Perpetua or Felicity or anything like that (too unusual). Also, no place names, no objects, no common nouns. Ana, Alexandria, Catherine, Lynn, Jennifer, and Madeleine are out due to them being in use by cousins already. The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day!

We had a boys name that we love, Nicholas Anthony, but that will have to wait for a future child, God willing.

For a girl, we’re toying with Victoria Nicole, nickname would be Tori because neither one of us likes Vickie, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger and say that’s definitely the one.”

Expecting your first baby is such a wonderful, exciting time! From a name perspective, I always think it’s fun to work with first-time parents because they have a blank slate –they can choose any kind of name they want, without any worries about it “going with” older children’s names. That said, it can be daunting to have so many options in front of you, and I do encourage parents in this position to give some thought to their future children’s names so that they don’t make a decision with their first baby’s name, style-wise, that they might regret with later children. For example, if Galaxy is your very favorite name, but other names on your list are Kate, Jane, and Mark, Galaxy probably isn’t the best name to choose.

I only explain this in case it’s helpful to any of you, but Chris and his wife actually seem to have a great handle on this already! Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole are well-matched style-wise, and they give me a good idea of what other kinds of names they might like.

Before discussing my additional ideas for them, I want to talk about Victoria Nicole for a minute. There are a bunch of Saints and Blesseds named Victoria, so they have a lot of options for a patron saint if they name their daughter Victoria, and it’s also a Marian name by virtue of the fact that one of Our Lady’s title is Our Lady of Victory. Chris said he and his wife are thinking of Tori for the nickname since neither of them likes Vickie, which makes me think that they might like to consider some of the other nicknames I’ve seen considered for Victoria: Vee, Via, Vicka, Cora, Tia, Ria, and Ree (like the Pioneer Woman! Though Ree for her is a nickname for Ann Marie). As for Nicole, while I quite like how it sounds with Victoria, I wonder if they want to have a daughter with the middle name Nicole and a son with the first name Nicholas? It doesn’t have to be a big deal and I know a lot of families who have done similar things, but I thought I should point it out, just in case they hadn’t realized that they’re basically the same name (Nicole being a feminine variant of Nicholas).

You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I then look for overlap among those results — a Venn diagram of names — to find names that the parents are most likely to like. It’s uncannily accurate most of the time! I also poke around in my own mind for ideas that feel like the parents’ style, and I’m a big fan of nicknames, so I liked that Chris said, “The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day” — you know I love coming up with nickname ideas!

Based on my research and my own ideas, these are names that seem like they would be a good fit for Chris and his wife:

(1) Elizabeth, Isabella
Chris said they like classic names with a strong saint connection, and since Victoria also has such a strong royal vibe, I thought Elizabeth was a great suggestion, as it’s similarly classic, saintly, and royal. It’s a great name on its own, but one of the best things about Elizabeth is that it has so many nickname options! Liz/Lizzy, Beth, Betsy, Eliza, Ellie, Elsie, Libby, Libbet, Lily, and a whole bunch more all have traditional usage as nicknames for Elizabeth. Another Elizabeth variant that I thought Chris and his wife might like is Isabella. It’s currently popular, but it’s got a long history of usage, including several queens. Izzy, Isa, and Bella are sweet nicknames for it. Both Elizabeth and Isabella can have Our Lady’s cousin Elizabeth as patron, or any of a whole bunch of holy Elizabeths/Isabellas.

(2) Margaret
Like Victoria and Elizabeth (and Catherine, which is on their no list), Margaret is a classic, saintly, royal name. There are quite a few holy Margarets, and there are quite a few traditional Margaret nicknames, including Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Peg/Peggy, Rita, and Daisy. I’ve also seen Molly used as a nickname for Margaret, though they’re technically not linguistically related (Molly is a variant of Mary). That said, Margaret nicknamed Molly is a great way to have a Marian connection without naming your daughter a Mary variant.

(3) NatalieNatalia
Elizabeth, Isabella, and Margaret were my gut-reaction ideas before doing any research for Chris and his wife, but the rest of my ideas here are all based on the results I got from the BNW. Natalie is listed as a style match for Nicholas, Anthony, and Nicole! It’s a beautiful, traditional name that literally refers to Christmas (it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “birth of the Lord”), but of course it’s suitable for a baby girl born any time of year! Nat and Natty are sweet nicknames, and if they wanted to get a little creative, I could see Nolly working too. Natalie’s a variant of Natalia, which is also a lovely option, and opens up the nicknames Talia and Lia. Natalia is where a patron saint would come: there are two Saints and two Blesseds named Natalia.

(4) Caroline
Caroline is a style match for both Nicholas and Victoria per the BNW. I love the name Caroline — it’s so classy and elegant, and has some pretty great patron saints. It has a lot of nickname options too, like Callie, Carrie, Caro, and Carly. Carly’s actually a style match for Tori!

(5) Veronica
I often think of Victoria and Veronica as being similar, since they’re both long, feminine names starting with V and ending with A. But they have very different feels to me — Victoria has that royal English feel I mentioned before, while Veronica has a biblical feel (though she’s never named in the bible). I think many parents would think daughters Victoria and Veronica in the same family are too much, so if Chris and his wife like Veronica I could see them thinking Victoria is off their list — which will be a good litmus test for them. If it makes him and his wife really unhappy to cross Victoria off their list, then they should definitely forget Veronica! But if they like it, some nicknames include Nic/Nica/Nicky (like Nicole and Nicholas, so maybe not?), Ronnie, Vera, Evie, Nona, Ricki, and there are some that are shared with Victoria, like Vee, Via, and Vicka. Maybe even Nora? I spotlighted Veronica here.

(6) Julia
Julia is a match for Victoria and is biblical like Nicholas, and has that same classiness and loveliness that all of these names have, in my opinion. Julie and Jules are the nicknames for Julia that most people are familiar with I think, but Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia and used to be used as a nickname for Julia so they could do that if they wanted. Other nickname possibilities for Julia include Lia, Lula/Lulu, and Jilly. I spotlighted Juliet here, which included a conversation about Julia patron saints.

(7) Rebecca
I’m not convinced that they’ll love Rebecca, but it’s a style match for Nicholas, and I liked that it’s classic and lovely in a different way than Victoria, Elizabeth, Isabella, Margaret, Natalie, Caroline, Veronica, and Julia, even though two of those are biblical like Rebecca. I think it’s because it’s such an Old Testament name — its echoes of the ancient past are inspiring and royal in their own way. Of course Becky is a very modern nickname, which, it occurs to me, might strike Chris and his wife as overly similar to Vickie, which they don’t like. I saw a birth announcement once for a baby Rebecca whose parents were calling Ruby as a nickname — I loved that! Because of that story, I was inspired to do a spotlight of Ruby (here). Other Rebecca nicknames include Becca, Bex, and Reba, and there are two saints to choose from as patron.

(8) Tessa
I feel like I have a good sense of Chris and his wife’s taste in given names based on Nicholas, Anthony, Victoria, and Nicole, but I don’t feel like I have a great sense of their  taste in nicknames. That they prefer Tori to Vickie says to me they like more modern nicknames, but I don’t know if they like (or at least don’t mind) creative nicknames (like some of the ones I mentioned above, that aren’t traditional for the given name) or if they prefer to stick with a formal name’s established nicknames and find creative nicknames to be irritating. But Tessa is a style match for Tori, per the BNW, and I immediately thought they might like it. It can work on its own as a given name, but as such I don’t think it has the “classic names” cachet Chris said he and his wife prefer. It originated as a diminutive of Teresa/Theresa/Therese, and I think it could also work as a nickname for Thomasina, so any of those can work as a given name, but I’m not convinced they’d like them (though Theresa is a style match for Anthony). So if they like Tessa, maybe they wouldn’t mind getting creative? I once saw Tess listed as a nickname for Elizabeth — Tess has a slightly different feel than Tessa, but this at least is one idea; the spellings Elisabeth and Elisabetta make the connection even stronger. Another way I like to come up with nicknames is by combining elements of the first and middle names — so maybe a first name with a strong T sound and a middle name with a strong S sound that ends in A? Like … Tara Susanna, Trinity Vanessa, Tegan Jessica, and Talia Marissa (or Natalia Marissa, because of how the T is stressed in Natalia …. OR, for that matter, Victoria! I could see something like Victoria Jessamine taking the nickname Tessa quite well!). (I know those combos aren’t Chris and his wife’s style, I’m just using them as examples.) (Don’t worry if you think I’m crazy! My poor husband has been tormented by my outside-the-box thinking through each of my pregnancies. 😂 😂 😂 I just like to make sure parents have lots of options.)

And those are my ideas for Chris and his wife’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents whose list consists of Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole?


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

Baby name consultation: Classic name, preferably with biblical and/or Marian ties, for baby no. 3

Thank you to all who took advantage of my Black Friday Specials! I have one more special, which is for today only: I’m offering ten Christmas Gift Certificates for Ordinary Consultations for $25 each! (Regular price: $50.) The first ten people who email me today for a gift certificate will receive an invoice from me via email for $25 by midnight tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 2. These gift certificates can be redeemed starting December 26th. I will work on them in the same way I do all consultation requests — first come, first served, and completed within three weeks of receiving the request (barring unforeseen circumstances). I will email you a gift certificate that you can print out and present to the person receiving it as a gift (I can send it to by Dec. 5 in case you want to give it as a St. Nicholas gift!). There’s no expiration date on the gift certificates.

Today’s mama and her hubby are expecting their third baby in April, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! He or she joins big siblings:

Magdalyn Rae (“Saint Magdalene’s feast day is on the day our daughter was released from the NICU. Rae is my middle name. We call her Maggie and I love how Rae paired nicely with both Magdalyn and Maggie. My husband … one day came home and said he liked this name. I liked Saint Magdalene’s story and “Maggie” was one of my top five names“)

Joseph James (“[Joseph is husband’s middle name] and Saint Joseph (is there a better saint to name your son after?!). James is my husband’s uncle. My husband lived with him painting houses for a summer and that’s how he bought my engagement ring. I also liked the alliteration of Joseph James“)

(I love that engagement ring story!)

For baby number three my husband hasn’t give me a lot. He likes the name Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy. I can’t tell if he’s joking 😉 I said Jim is a nickname for James (our son’s middle name) and he said “does that matter?” I said “fine, let’s just name the baby Jim Ray if it’s a boy so he has both our first and second born children’s names!” The ONLY preference I know is that my husband does not like names that sound too trendy. He’s all about classic.

For a girl we like the following names:

1. Stella Maris: I saw this on your site and love that it is a Marian name.
2. Margaret (Saint Margaret): Picked by husband. I love the nickname Etta but I’m not sure that my husband would go for a non-traditional nickname.
3. Juliet (husband’s pick): I would only go for this if NN could be Etta. I don’t like Jules or Julie and I’m afraid most people would go there.
4. Ava (Saint Ava): Too common? I feel like it could go great with Maggie and Joseph.
5. We have a favorite book where a little girl named Maple has a Maple tree and then one day a Willow tree is growing (you can guess her mom is pregnant and later has a baby Willow). I cried the first time I read that book when I was pregnant with baby #2 and wished I had named my first Maple and that I would have a second named Willow. Not sure my husband would go with either and they don’t really mesh with the first two!

For a boy:

1. Husband likes “Jim” (still don’t know if this is sarcasm)
2. I like Jack but can’t find a tie to a saint or biblical character
3. Henry
4. Truman (I like the alliteration of Truman Taylor) and the nickname “Tru” but my husband is iffy about how “trendy” it sounds. and I’m trying to find a “Catholic” tie.

Some things I would like to consider with baby naming:

1. A name that represents someone Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Magdalene. That’s why I’d love to find a Marian name for a boy or girl. Saints are good too but a reference to someone in the Bible would be great. It can be an alteration of a name since a lot of the “classic” names we’ve ruled out (see below)

2. We have a LOT of relatives. Like a lot. And although we are okay with shared names to some extent we have a long list of “no’s” including:

Josh, Luke, Lucas, Jacob, Jake, John, Andrew, Caleb, Matthias, Benjamin, Raymond, William, Nicholas, Donald, Mathew, Patrick, Sebastian, Theodore, Cyprian, Jasper, Jackson, Anderson, Nathaniel, August

Anna, Cecilia, Katherine, Hannah, Madeline, Brook, Brooklyn, Rebecca, Gianna

3. I don’t have a strong preference for middle names … I just want it to have SOME sort of meaning and sound great

4. Meaningful things to us: We LOVE Colorado. We actually decided on baby 3 on the way to Colorado. I tried to summon some names from that (Esten for Estes Park, Max for Maxwell Inn we stayed out) but nothing really stuck. My husband is an optometrist (patron saint Clare?) and I am a speech language pathologist. We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos? We were married on August 7th, my husband’s birth is 9-17, my daughter’s is 7-17, and my son’s is 10-17 so seven is a heavy number in our family if that gives you any fun ideas?

I love trying to incorporate things into babies’ names that are important to the parents in faith-filled ways, like patron saints for parents’ professions or connections to places they love. So fun!

Alrighty, so I loved that Maggie was one of Mama’s top five names and then Papa decided on his own that he liked Magdalyn — how perfect and amazing is that??! Magdalyn Rae is gorgeous. And of course I agree I agree that St. Joseph is such a perfect namesake for a little guy. Joseph James is so handsome!

As for Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy for this baby: hubby’s a funny guy! Sisters Magdalyn and Margaret would strike me as really unexpected, as I generally think of Magdalyn and Margaret as two sides of the same coin — those who like the nickname Maggie and have traditional taste go for Margaret, while those who like the nickname Maggie and like more unusual names go for Magdalyn. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since he wants to repeat their son’s middle name as their next son’s first! Hilarious!

I really like Mama’s solution of the nickname Etta — that makes it very doable, in my opinion. I don’t mind the idea of sisters with the more unusual Magdalyn with the familiar nickname Maggie, and the familiar Margaret with the more unusual nickname Etta. It’s true that Etta isn’t a traditional nickname for Margaret, so if that’s a real problem, Margaret does have loads of traditional nicknames and variants that could work, if that’s what would sell Papa:

  • Greta: This one rhymes with Etta, so it feels like the closest to Mama’s idea while still being a traditional short form of Margaret.
  • Maisie: Maisie is a diminutive of Margaret via Ireland and Scotland, so sweet!
  • Rita: This is technically a nickname for the Italian variant of Margaret, though of course it’s taken on a life of its own.
  • Peg, Peggy: Amazingly, Peggy is a medieval nickname for Margaret!
  • Molly: Molly is the only one on this list that isn’t technically a nickname for Margaret, in the sense that it’s actually a variant of Mary. But, it does have occasional usage as a nickname for Margaret, for example “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” who wasn’t actually known as Molly in life, only after she died was she called Molly. I’ve known families who have named daughters Margaret and call them Molly, and I’ve encountered many people who assume Molly is a nickname for Margaret, in the sense of it being etymologically related. Sisters Maggie and Molly sound like a natural pair.

As for the names on the list of those they’re considering:

  • Stella Maris: Isn’t it a gorgeous name? A variant of it is Maristella, which they might also like.
  • Margaret: See above.
  • Juliet: This is one of my very favorite names! Etta is a perfect nickname for it; the spelling Juliette could make it feel more natural (or even Julietta). I spotlighted the name here, and the comments are pretty great!
  • Ava: There’s a reason this name is so popular! It’s a gorgeous name! I particularly like that St. Ava was blind as a child and later miraculously healed — that could make a great connection to Papa’s occupation! Also, Ava is a variant of Eva/Eve, so it can be considered biblical. A different connection is that one of Our Lady’s titles is The New Eve, so it can be considered Marian in that sense; a different Marian connection comes from how “Ava Maria” sounds like “Ave Maria” (which means “Hail Mary” in Latin) — Ava Maria as a first/middle combo would really drive home that meaning.
  • Willow: Aw, this is a sweet story! I love it! Though it’s too late to have a Maple, they do have a daughter whose name starts with M, so maybe they’d want to consider a W name for a second girl? Then they could use Maple and Willow even as little code names or nicknames that just Mama uses for her girls? The first name that comes to mind in this vein is Willa — it’s so like Willow in appearance and sound, but more … serious maybe? Dignified? A better fit with sister Magdalyn? Wilhelmina’s another option — it’s kind of heavy, but it’s saintly (via William), and Willa and Willow can both be nicknames for it, as can Mina, which is sweet. And they’d be in good company with amazing namer Natalie Hanson, who has a daughter Wilhelmina who goes by Willa. Another option would be to put Mary in front of it — putting Mary in front of any name, from traditional names to mom’s maiden name or similar, automatically makes the combo seem classy and Catholic. Mary Willow and Mary Willa are both great options, and in fact, Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie’s given name is actually Mary Willa! One final thing is that I recently discovered the very cool fact that Willow Sunday is another name for Palm Sunday, especially in the East, and since their baby is due in April, and Palm Sunday in 2020 is also in April (April 5), Willow (or Willa) could be perfect for a baby girl for that reason too!
  • Jim: I’m not sure what to say about Jim! I hope it was sarcasm on Papa’s part!
  • Jack: I like Jack for this family! Jack is a diminutive of John, which is perfect for Mama’s hope to tie to a biblical character that Jesus would have interacted with! Many people name their sons John to get to the nickname Jack, but many also just name their son Jack. In fact, Jack as a given name has always been in the top 200, with its peaks of popularity being 1929 and 1930, when it was no. 14, and then in 1996 it entered the top 100 again and is currently at no. 28. So I’d say Jack is a great option! When I was researching saints/blesseds with speech problems (as a nod to Mama’s occupation), I found Giovanni Dominici, known in English as Bl. John Dominic — he had a speech impediment that was miraculously healed. That made me think that he would be a great patron for their little boy, and I love the combo Jack Dominic! (They have John on the list of family names they can’t use, but Jack Dominic means John Dominic anyway, so I think Jack Dominic is perfect! Also, Dominic has seven letters, and was traditionally given to boys born on Sunday [Dominic means “of the Lord,” and Sunday is the day of the Lord], which is the seventh day of the week! I love that connection to “seven” here!)
  • Henry: A great name, I love it. I spotlighted it here.
  • Truman: What a cool name! And I love the nickname Tru! As far as a faith connection, there isn’t a saint with that name or surname as far as I can tell, but its meaning is “true, trusty, or faithful man,” which seems like it could connect to Jesus Himself. And with the nickname Tru, truth is certainly a great faith connection (it reminds me of names like Verity, which means “truth,” and Veronica, which means “true image”). I think it works! They can also beef up the faithiness/saintliness with the middle name — something like Truman Emmanuel would really bring Jesus to mind, for example. As for it being trendy, it was actually much more popular from 1900-1954 than it is now!

Okay! Those are my thoughts on the names that these parents are considering. As for new ideas, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also researched patrons of Colorado, patrons of those with eye problems and speech problems, and patrons of peace, as well as Estes Park (to find the origin of its name), and I spent a while thinking of ways to work in the number seven. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for this baby:

Girl
(1) Seraphina
This was inspired by a few different things: first, Sadie is a style match for Stella according to the BNW, which is a traditional nickname for Sarah. I didn’t think Sarah was quite their style, but I thought of Seraphina, since Sera is commonly used as a nickname for it. Secondly, Seraphina can be considered a Marian name, since it refers to the seraphim (the order of angels who “stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court”) and one of Our Lady’s titles is Queen of the Angels; this fulfills Mama’s desire for a Marian name. Thirdly, Jesus surely interacts with the seraphim. 😊 It checks off a lot of their boxes! Seraphina is such a lovely name, and I love it as a sister to Magdalyn and Joseph.

(2) Veronica
I was inspired to add Veronica to the list when I was researching faith connections for Truman. It means “true icon,” and though St. Veronica isn’t specifically named in the bible, it’s the name that has traditionally been used to identify the woman who wiped Jesus’ face on his way to the cross, which fulfills Mama’s hope for a name of someone Jesus interacted with. I spotlighted it here, including nickname ideas.

(3) Colette
I discovered Colette when I was looking up patrons of those with eye problems, and immediately loved it for this family for a few reasons: first, it can take Etta as a nickname like Margaret and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a short form of Nicolette (which St. Colette is also known as), which is a feminine form of Nicholas, which is a biblical name (he’s mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the first seven deacons — seven!). Thirdly, St. Colette not only suffered from eye problems, but speech problems as well: “She had visions in which Saint Francis of Assisi ordered her to restore the Rule of Saint Clare to its original severity. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign to take action.” (source) I love that she nods to both Mama’s and Papa’s professions!

(4) Elizabeth/Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella
I looked up patron saints of peace, because of how Mama said, “We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos,” and was immediately drawn to St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She’s known as “The Peacemaker” and is a patron saint of peace; I also love that her name is the name of Our Lady’s cousin. The Visitation is one of my favorite Mysteries of the Rosary, when Mary visits Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at being in the presence of Jesus in His mother’s womb. If Elizabeth isn’t quite their style, maybe they’d like its variants Isabel, Isabelle, or Isabella (St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as Isabel and Isabella)? There’s also Elisabet (which St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as), Eliza, Elise, Elisa, Lisbeth, Lisette, and so many others, and a whole bunch of nicknames as well.

(5) Annabel
Annabelle is a style match for Juliet, and I love that it has the “Anna” in there, which connects it to St. Anne — the grandmother of Jesus — without using Anna by itself, which is on the list of family names they don’t want to use. It also has a separate, Marian meaning as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, and one of Our Lady’s titles is Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable”=“lovable”). How cool is that? I have the Annabel spelling listed here because it has seven letters, which I thought was pretty neat.

*(6) Bonus: Eleanora, Eleanor, Elinor
I couldn’t not include these names, as Eleanora is a style match for Magdalyn, Eleanor is a match for Henry, and Elinor is a match for Truman! They didn’t really seem this family’s style to me, but the BNW is rarely wrong, so I definitely had to list these here! The Eleanor names aren’t biblical, though it does have saintly connections (the comments are great too). I love its nicknames Ellie and Nell (which can both be for Elizabeth too, if they wanted) and Nora, so sweet!

Boy
(1) Elliott
Elliott is such a great name for this family, in my opinion, for a few different reasons: first, it’s a style match for both Stella and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a variant of Elias, which is biblical! Thirdly, though there are several ways to spell this name (two L’s or one, two T’s or one), Elliott has seven letters!

(2) Raphael
I was excited to see that Raphael is a style match for Juliet, because it’s biblical, it has seven letters (I was overly excited to find names with seven letters! Haha!), and St. Raphael the Archangel is patron of blind people and against eye disease and problems, a perfect nod to Papa’s profession!

(3) Samuel
Samuel is a match for Joseph and Henry, Sam is a match for Jack and Maggie, and Samuel is biblical! So many great reasons to love this name!

(4) Charles
Charles showed up so many times in my research for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret and Henry, and Charlie is a match for Maggie, Stella, and Jack. It’s such a great name! And it has seven letters! I know it’s not biblical, but it is saintly, and (this might be weird) my husband and I strongly considered the combo Charles Augustine for one of our boys, which I still love, and St. Augustine is a patron against sore eyes, so if they like that combo, it could be a great one for them!

(5) Bennett
I know Benjamin is on their no list, but Bennett is a different animal. It’s a match for Juliet, and Ben’s a match for Maggie, so I thought Bennett — which is a variant of Benedict — would be a great suggestion for them. (And it has seven letters! Woo! 😊 )

Finally, I wanted to share some info I found in my research that might be helpful to them:

  • I discovered that Estes Park in Colorado is named after Joel Estes, so I looked up his surname and it literally means “of the East” — so I wondered if they might like to consider Easton as a nod to Estes Park?
  • There’s also a Mary’s Lake in Estes Park, which I thought was a really nice connection to using Mary (like the Mary Willa idea above) in addition to Mary being for Our Lady.
  • The Immaculate Mary is actually the patron of Colorado, adding extra meaning to a Marian name for this baby. If they like the idea of Immaculata for a first name or a middle, it could also tie to Our Lady’s patronage of Colorado.
  • Francis of Assisi is another patron of Colorado — if they don’t care for Francis as a first name, maybe they’d like it as a middle? Or one of the feminine variants (Frances, Franca, Francesca) for a girl?
  • I loved that Mama mentioned Clare, because of Papa’s work, and think it would make a great first or middle name. Another patron of eye issues is St. Lucy, who had her eyes plucked out (in fact, she’s usually depicted holding a tray with her eyeballs on it!) and it’s said that her eyesight was restored before her death. Lucy/Lucia/Lucille might be names they’d like to consider for that reason.

And those are all my ideas! What do you think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Magdalyn/Maggie and Joseph?


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

Update: No nickname? Not happening.

*Update to my post of the other day regarding my sister’s nickname woes*

My sister said it’s fine to include the particulars, as I told her a bunch of you were curious about what nickname she has and how it could be butchered so badly: She’s always gone by Betsey (that spelling appears quite a bit in my dad’s genealogy), but at work she got Becky, Betty, and Beth instead of Betsey all the time! She also reminded me of adults calling her Liz when she was small, even though she’s never gone by Liz, which people at work are also now calling her, in addition to the nickname of her last name. Whether Betsey or Elizabeth, the poor girl just can’t win!


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

Sancta Nomina

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because…

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No nickname? Not happening.

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because of the chosen nickname, which is used quite a bit in our family tree. But something that’s driven her crazy as an adult is that her nickname is constantly misheard by others at work, causing her to constantly correct her coworkers and other people she interacts with in a professional setting (with varying degrees of success), so she decided to go by the full Elizabeth in her professional life, and she just started a new job, so it was the perfect time to make the change.

Since starting her job, she’s been firm and consistent about introducing herself as Elizabeth, never once letting on that she goes by a nickname. However, more than one person has said that Elizabeth is “too long” and doesn’t she go by a nickname? She tells them no, every time — that her name is Elizabeth, no nickname.

Some of her new coworkers have refused to accept this! They told her that they’re not going to call her Elizabeth, but instead are going to call her by a nickname of her last name. They’re definitely doing it in a jovial buddy-buddy kind of way, like teammates would — and her husband has cheerfully told her that nicknames like this mean she’s being accepted and that she should just go with it (“If they call you Bob, you go with it!” he said 😂😂😂) — but she’s just shaking her head over the whole thing. After all the frustration about her actual nickname being butchered all the time, and making the deliberate decision to go by her full name, only to have her new coworkers pooh-pooh that and come up with their own nickname (which, incidentally, is the same nickname her husband always goes by) … what can you do but shake your head??


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

Baby name consultation: Fresh options needed for girls and boys

Happy Labor Day! No better day to post a consultation! 😉

Sometimes parents will request a consultation when they’re in between babies — the planners among you (like me!) will understand! It’s fun to replenish/refresh name lists when there’s no baby on the way and no pressure. I always enjoy those kinds of consultations, and tend to view them as a chance to spread my wings a bit — to seek a bit farther afield for ideas and to suggest some that I might not suggest if a baby’s arrival is imminent and Mom and Dad just need to find “the” name.

Today’s consultation is one such! Monica and her hubby recently welcomed their second baby — second girl! — and wanted to add some names to their girl list and see if there are any boy names that I might suggest as well. They currently have:

Magdalene Eve-Marie “Maggie”
Genevieve Rose “Genny”

Gorgeous, right??

For reference, my name is Monica Marie, confirmation name Bridget (but it’s for St. Brigid of Ireland). My husband is Joseph Martin, confirmation name Cyril.

Our main ethnic heritage is — from my side — Italian, with some German, Irish, and Scottish — from his side — French, Irish, and Ukrainian. Tidbits of other stuff, but those are the major lines.

Other names that have been at the top of our girl list in the past are Miriam (still high) and Ramona (falling in favor). These days we mostly only like Ramona because we had paired it with Carmel as a middle name, which we still like. Perhaps we could do Miriam Carmel instead. It’s not bad, though I think I preferred Carmel with Ramona because it ended in -a.

We also like Grace quite a bit. I like Avila, Mercedes, Edith, Celine, Faith and Hope … Anne (I love Anne of Green Gables, like every girl…) … but my husband isn’t as keen on those. My husband has a thing for Russian names and likes Natasha, but I don’t. I would consider Nadia or Sonya instead. We’ve recently been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, and were intrigued by Sunniva, but it’s probably too Scandinavian for us.

Aside from the Marian requirement, I think our girl name style is very feminine, elegant, but not over the top frilly/sugary/sticky sweet … We like the names Rebecca and Susannah/Suzanna, both of which belong to sisters of mine, and have considered them as middle names for Miriam, since they match its Old Testament feel. We like a lot of religious significance, both saint connections and linguistic meaning, and maybe a sprinkle of literary and historical inspiration. I also tend to like a more complex religious significance than just a patron saint, although patron saints are great, and if I like the name that would be enough. But if it’s more complex, like a title of Mary rather than just her name, or a combination that evokes a religious event like the Visitation (I.e. any combo of Mary and Elizabeth names), or a name with double religious significance … I like it even better! It seems like we’ve gone for French-inspired names (I know we didn’t choose the Madeleine form, but I still think of St. Mary Magdalene in a French light via her sojourn there) that could take an Irish sounding nickname. This is perfect, as our last name … is actually Irish, but often mistaken for French, and my husband actually has a lot of French heritage through his mom’s side. That probably isn’t a necessary requirement, though, since it’s kind of unusual to find French names with Irish sounding nicknames. Both names we’ve chosen so far are not super common but familiar enough to be recognizable and fairly pronounceable. And … heavy on the “Eve” sound … though maybe we should NOT repeat that a third time.

Boy names are a whole different story. We tend to disagree a lot more. Some of the universal stuff about name significance I mentioned above applies to boy names as well, but I’m not sure we have as much of a definite style since we disagree a lot and only agree sort of randomly. I like some more Romance language names like Santiago and Giovanni and Enzo, thanks to my Italian heritage, and my husband likes Russian names … partly because he loves Russian novels and history, but he is actually 1/4 Ukrainian/Slovakian as well. He is always pushing for Vladimir or Dmitri. I don’t think any of the above ethnic options work well with our very every-day-American last name, though I could maybe reconcile with one if it had family significance (like Cosimo in my family … but then again, that would be more significant with my maiden name). I’ve always said if we were going to do an ethnic name it might be best if it were the same ethnicity as our last name, so we went looking for Irish names, and found we agreed on Finnian, which is probably #3 on our list. Maybe paired with Thomas as a middle name, for my husband’s dad. I also like Eamon, but my husband is less enthusiastic.

Probably #1 is Louis, which is actually French like the girls’ names. We’ve considered pairing it with Anthony for my dad or Martin for my husband (he doesn’t want a direct junior). It primarily would be for St. Louis of France, the king, but if we did Louis Martin that would be a cool double for St. Therese’s father as well.

#2 is John, because I love several saints John — especially John of the Cross and John the Evangelist, such beautiful contemplatives. My husband only consented to John (it is very plain, I admit, but the saints are so great!) with an “interesting” middle name. I pushed for Augustine, but he doesn’t like “A” boy names. So we have it paired with Maccabaeus on our list, which we both think is cool. Our family says they would call him “Johnny Mac.”

We’ve batted around a lot of others. Alexander fits my husband’s Russian taste and I like it, but think it’s a bit common and overused. I’d consider Ivan, but he’s not that much of a fan of that particular Russian name. We both like Blaise, Judah, Isaac, and David, though Isaac is taken by a close friend. Owen, Henry, Nicholas, Dominic, Zachary, Jude, Paul, Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Elijah, Jacob, Sebastian, Damian, Martin, Alexei, Thomas, and are on our ok list, but not favorites due to various circumstances (close friends used them, or one of us isn’t as keen as the other). I like Old Testament names, but my husband doesn’t like boy names that end in the “-iah” sound, which rules out a lot. For example, I liked Isaiah Joseph, but … nope. Although we do both like Judah. We’ve considered maybe a David Judah before. We liked Lavrans from Kristin Lavransdatter (is it a form of Lawrence? Do you know?) but it flows poorly with [our last name]. I like Kenneth and Walter from the Anne of Green Gables series, but my husband thinks they’re too old man sounding.”

I love the names Monica and her hubs chose for their girls — Magdalene Eve-Marie and Genevieve Rose are both gorgeous, and Maggie and Genny are the sweetest nicknames!

St. Mary Magdalene being “the Perfect Image of the New Eve” is SO cool! And I laughed when Monica sheepishly admitted that she liked the name Genevieve first, then looked up the saint later — I’ve done that many many times myself! And I think that’s sometimes how saints “find” us, by using our God-given taste in names! (I wrote about that here.)

Genevieve Eleanor would have been gorgeous too, and as for that pesky Eleanor/Helen connection, maybe my most recent post on it would be helpful going forward.

But Rose is just perfect! The Marian connection and family connections are perfect. (And how cool is Rosamystica as a middle name??!) I love Lucie/Lucy too, I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names, since Our Lady of Light is one of her titles, but I can see why Monica’s hubby might have a hard time thinking of it as Marian, since it’s got such a life and history of its own.

I had an idea for “a Marian name beginning with a vowel, preferably an E” for a middle name going forward: Edessa is a name in my book, after her title Our Lady of Edessa. Such a beautiful name!

I love Miriam from their current list, and Ramona! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Ramona! What a great name! Ramona Carmel is stunning, and Miriam Carmel is lovely too. Grace, Mercedes, Faith, and Hope all are Marian — OL of Grace/Mercy/Mercies/Faith/Hope are all titles of her, and all of these names are in my book. Anne is too! I figured, when people are trying to name a baby after a beloved someone, sometimes they might look to the relatives of that person for inspiration.

I love the Russian names! Natasha, Nadia, and Sonya are all gorgeous! And ooh, Sunniva! I did a spotlight on it once, such a cool name. And Belén! I probably would have normally thought it was too Spanish for a non-Hispanic family, but one of my favorite bloggers (who’s not Hispanic) named her daughter Belén and I just love it! Cecilia too, so beautiful.

Re: Rosemary, I wonder if its nicknames Romy or Roma might sway Monica’s hubby? They remind me of Ramona — Rosemary with one of those nicknames might be a nice balance of styles.

I admit I totally latched onto how Monica said “we’ve gone for French-inspired names … that could take an Irish sounding nickname,” especially the “Irish sounding nickname” bit — you’ll see that a few of my ideas are in that vein!

Oh man, I’d love to find some “eve” sounding names for this family, but I agree — repeating that a third time would really set them up to continue it! And that’s a much harder pattern to follow than a “Marie-something” middle!

So I felt pretty confident with my ideas for girls after reading Monica’s email up to this point. It’s definitely helped by the fact that they have two girls already, and their names automatically rule out whole groupings of girl names, you know? Their names are no longer hypothetical options on their long list; they are now the reality and the standard to be measured against.

But boys! Since they don’t have any boys yet, and since they’re not committed to the same style for boys that they have for girls, it’s a wide open playing field. I had fun really trying to poke around and find some good options in addition to the three Monica mentioned. Louis Anthony/Louis Martin, John Maccabaeus (Johnny Mac! LOVE it! I also think John Augustine is pretty awesome), and Finnian Thomas are all fantastic!

One of the strategies that I thought might be helpful would be to consider Russian/French/non-English variants or nicknames of names they like, as a way of  spicing up a “normal” name. Alexander’s nickname in Russian and Ukrainian is Sasha, for example, so while Alexander might feel “common and overused,” Sasha is so interesting and unexpected! Or Alastar, which is the Irish variant; Sandro, which is an Italian nickname for it; or the spelling Aleksandr, which is Russian. (But then, Monica’s hubs doesn’t like A names — would Alexander be okay with him?) Regarding her hubby’s devotion to St. Peter, maybe the Russian Pyotr, the Ukrainian Petro, or the Irish Peadar? Or the variant Pierce, which is also an entry in my book, for how Simeon prophesied that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced with a sword.

This can go the other way too, which they’ve already considered: Ivan is the Russian for John, and they’ve already got John on their list! Monica is correct about Lavrans being a form of Lawrence (and blogger Haley Carrots considered it for her baby, if she’d been a boy!); Kenneth and Walter are both great too, and while they may have traditionally fallen into the old man category, I’ve heard them both (especially Walter, for Servant of God Walter Ciszek) on little guys over the past few years.

Blaise, Judah, Isaac, David (David Judah! So handsome!) are all wonderful. I love Old Testament names too! But there are so many that end in -iah! Gah!

When doing research for parents, you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, using both their girls’ names and nicknames as well as all the other names Monica mentioned liking. Generally I look for overlap among the style matches for each name — are there names that show up as style matches for more than one of the names on their list, for example? That kind of thing. Also, a lot of it is really just gut feelings — do I *think* they’ll like this name? Based on all that, here are my ideas for Monica and her hubby to consider adding to their lists:

Girl
(1) Tess
I’m going to start off listing nicknames that I think fit their “Irish sounding nickname” idea, and then back into fuller given names for them. Tess is one of my favorites, and I think it’s darling with sisters Maggie and Genny. They could do a form of Teresa, but I didn’t think Monica would love that (although I knew a girl once named Marie-Therese and I thought she was so amazing and beautiful solely because of her name! Marie-Therese would go wonderfully with Magdalene and Genevieve, and Tess is so sweet for a daily nickname!). High up on my own list was Elizabeth with the nickname Tess (my reasoning being, if Betty, Bess, and Tetty can be traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — and they are — why not Tess?), but I thought Monica might like the spelling Elisabeth even better — it’s a French spelling, and the spelling of one of my favorite holy women: Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Or maybe they’d like to consider the more Italian Elisabetta? Despite it being so Italian, I think it can definitely work in their family, since they already have the long, lovely, and foreign-ish Magdalene and Genevieve.

(2) Annie
I know Monica mentioned loving Anne for Anne of Green Gables (I’m right there with her!) but she thought it might be too “boring.” I agree that Anne doesn’t feel like the right name for their family, with the weightier and longer Magdalene and Genevieve, but the nickname Annie is definitely one of those “Irish sounding nicknames,” and there are some pretty ways of getting to it, like the Italian Annunziata (what a name! I love it!) and the Russian Anastasia (a perfect fit for Magdalene and Genevieve’s sister, I think). I was toying with Anya as well, which is Russian, and how it has the exact same pronunciation as the Irish Áine — maybe they could consider one of those as a nickname for Anastasia or another Ann- name?. Another one I love is Annabelle (or Annabel) — it’s in my book because it’s a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis! How cool is that?? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love Annabelle for this family!

(3) Bridie
Bridie is one of my favorite Irish nicknames, and I’m extra loving it for a daughter for Monica because of her Confirmation name being Bridget! BUT, I didn’t think she’d want to consider Bridget or Brigid, but maybe the lovely French Brigitte? Or maybe the Slovak Brigita? Or Bernadette? I think all these could take the nickname Bridie!

(4) Josie
Josie is just as sweet as Maggie, Genny, Tess, Annie, and Bridie, and has a longer French name to boot in Josephine. Or they could consider Josefina or Josefa? I love all of these!

(5) Kate, Katie (or Cate, Cady)
Even though my name is Kate, I won’t be offended if they don’t like this idea! 😀 While Catherine might be too common for Monica’s taste, it’s got some gorgeous variants, like the Italian Caterina, the Russian Ekaterina (or just Katerina), and the Irish Catriona. They can all take the nicknames Kate/Katie (or Cate, Cady), which have a pretty good Irish feel to them!

(6) Vivienne
Vivian and Vivienne showed up a couple times in my research as being a style match for the names they like, and I totally agree! It shares some sounds with Genevieve, yes, but since they didn’t go the Evie/Vivi route with Genevieve’s nickname, they can with Vivienne (I thought Monica would prefer the French Vivienne over Vivian).

(7) Natalia
Natalia showed up a bunch of times in my research as similar to names Monica and her hubs like, AND it’s Russian! (They could also consider the Russian spellings Natalya and Nataliya [which is also Ukrainian].) In fact, it’s the formal name for the nickname Natasha, so while it’s not exactly the name her hubby likes, it’s pretty close (and he could use Natasha as a nickname if he wanted). Natalia is a gorgeous name!

(8) Veronica
Veronica is such a beautiful, weighty name like Magdalene and Genevieve, with loads of nickname options: Vera, Vero, Ronnie, Nica, and Nicky, and some less traditional ones like Vee, Via, and Vicka.

(9) Maristella
My last girl idea is Maristella or, if they preferred not to repeat Maggie’s initial, they could reverse the elements and do Stellamaris. Such a gorgeous name, either way! It’s for Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” as I’m sure they know, as Monica noted that neither of them care for Estelle, but Maristella and Stellmaris feel very different to me. Ooh, and I think Molly could work as a nickname for Maristella! Then they’d have their Irishy nickname! Or maybe Sadie for Stellamaris?

Boy
(1) Nicodemus, Nikolai
I felt a little all over the place with boy names — Santiago, Eamon, and Dmitri aren’t names I expect to encounter on a parent’s list at the same time! Additionally, when I looked at boy names that were matches for their girl names, I thought there were some great ideas there too. So we’ll start with one of my favorites: Nicodemus. I think it’s got a heavy, Old Testament feel, though it’s a New Testament name. It doesn’t end in -iah! And it can take the Nic- nicknames (Nico, Nic, Nick, Nicky), which make it really easy to live with on a day to day basis. While we’re talking about Nic- names, the Russian Nikolai is just such a swoony name, and while Nik etc. can be nicknames, I quite like the Russian Kolya.

(2) Nathaniel
Another long, biblical N name that I thought went great with their girls’ names is Nathaniel. I was really drawn to the longer, weightier boy names, and I thought Nathaniel fit that perfectly; I also love its friendly nickname Nate.

(3) Raphael
Here’s an Old Testament name that doesn’t end in -iah! Raphael appears in the book of Tobit, and the nickname Rafe is said just the way Ralph is in the U.K. (Ralph is a family name, according to Monica — maybe Raphael could be a different way of nodding to that Ralph?).

(4) Matthias
Matthias was the man chosen by the other Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, so one might even consider their discussion to be the first Church Council! 😊 Matthias’ ending is almost -iah, so if Monica likes the idea of this name but her hubby doesn’t like the pronunciation, maybe the variant Mattias, which is said ma-TEE-as, would be better?

(5) Benedict
Benedict’s got that great length and weightiness of Magdalene and Genevieve, and the great friendly nickname Ben, I just love it.

(6) Luka, Luca
The Luke names are great to look at if you want a name that travels well internationally. Luka is the Russian version, and Luca the Italian — I love that! I would think, though, that if they like this idea, they might want to cross Louis off their list, since Luka and Louis are so similar in sound.

(7) Adrian, Julian
Adrian and Julian are two of those great Catholic names — saintly, papal, and pan-European. I saw them both pop up in my research, and thought I’d combine them here because they’re so similar.

(8) Roman
Roman is listed as both a Russian and Ukrainian name (among others) on behindthename.com, and of course it refers to Rome, which is Italian, so I’m loving that Roman can nod to both Monica and her hubby in this way! This would knock Ramona off their list, but I think Roman’s a great option for them to consider.

(9) Santino
My last idea is a bit of a wild card, and I’m not sure it’s any better than the overly ethnic (according to Monica’s hubby) Santiago, but I looove the name Santino — I love that it means Little Saint, I love that Sonny is a nickname for it a la The Godfather, and I totally get if they hate it because of these things, but I had to put it on the list! (Fun fact: Mario Lopez and his wife just named their baby Santino Rafael, nicknamed Sonny!)

I also had two consultations in mind while working on this that I thought Monica might find inspiring as there was a lot of overlap with what I perceive to be her taste:

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Magdalene/Maggie and Genevieve/Genny?


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

Cool nickname sites

When I was researching nicknames for Agatha, I came across the site England Female Nicknames (National Institute), which has loads of traditional nicknames for both common and unusual names — I’m sure you’d all like to check it out!

It also notes,

Alan Bardsley’s First Name Variants should be consulted for a much more extensive selection. He lists over 230 for Elizabeth alone!

Guess what went right in my Amazon cart?! 😍😍😍

There’s the boy version as well, England Male Nicknames (National Institute). I haven’t perused either of these as deeply as I’d like to — a fun project for the rest of the summer!

Do any of these jump out to you as particularly perfect? Do you have any other insights? Happy Tuesday, feast of St. Monica!


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