Baby name consultation: Twin boys to join two big brothers with Old Testament names

My brother’s best childhood friend, Tim, who’s a former Major League baseball player, and his wife, Rosie, are expecting their third and fourth babies — twin boys! They join big brothers:

Noah James
Levi Patrick

I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, so you know I love these brothers’ names!

Rosie writes,

Tim and I have been having a tough time agreeing on names so finding two boy names that work well together is going to be a challenge! … Info that I think will help: Our 5 year old is Noah James. Noah is a name that I instantly fell in love with at the start of my pregnancy with him. His gender was a surprise but I had a strong intuition that he was a boy and went to the hospital pretty set with that name, with Benjamin as a back up. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves the name as I just saw that it is still the most popular name in California. I would love to come up with names that are not as popular this time around. James is Tim’s middle name. He loves the name and wants to consider it as an option. While I love the name I feel like it has to be crossed off the list since it is Noah’s middle name.

Our 3 year old is Levi Patrick. We did find out the gender with him. We both agreed on his name early and didn’t have a back up. Patrick is my dad’s name.

If we were having a girl I had my heart set on Ruth Clementine or Ruby Clementine.

Boy names that I have always liked but Tim is not crazy about:
Ezra
Mattias — I’m not sure if the s ending works with our last name though?
Amos — ” “

Boy names that we both agree on:
Thomas — I like the combo of Thomas Everett, but again ends with an s
Nathan — my brother’s middle name
Luke — I feel like Luke may sound too similar to Levi?

The task of finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together feels overwhelming to me!

I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it. At the very least I want names that have a strong faith tie or meaning. I personally don’t have any emotional ties to Saint names as I was not raised Catholic.

Last thing — forgot to mention two names that Tim and I both like that we can add to our running list: Jeremiah and Julian (only hesitation with that name is that it does feel a bit feminine to me probably because we know someone by the name Jillian).”

I totally get how overwhelming it must be to do exactly what Rosie articulated so well: “finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together” — exactly! It was really fun to work on this.

I really love Noah and Levi as brothers—they’ve done a great job picking names that are similar in style, which helps mitigate the popularity of Noah, you know? If they’d named their boys Noah (no. 1) and Liam (no. 2), then it would be really obvious that they’re into super popular names (which even in itself isn’t the end of the world—I mean, names become popular because they’re great names!). But using Noah and Levi (no. 42) shows that they’re into biblical names more than popular names, and the biblical style is timeless and enduring. So I think they’ve done great!

I also love that Benjamin was the backup for Noah, and it perfectly fits the style they’ve got going so far. Unfortunately, it zoomed up from no. 10 to no. 6 on the national chart this year, which they probably won’t love, BUT it’s really important to keep in mind that popular names today aren’t nearly as popular as popular names in the past. That is, Noah, as the no. 1 name, isn’t given to nearly as many boys per year as Michael was during its longtime reign as no. 1. You can read more about that phenomenon here and here, it’s pretty interesting, and should soothe their worries about popularity a little bit.

I can understand not wanting to use Noah’s middle name as the first name for one of their twins. I know a lot of families who have done that kind of thing, and don’t mind it, and even like it (one example here), but there are so many great names that I’d love to try to find names that will be unique to each of their boys in their brother set. That said, I also know a family who used Catherine as the middle name for two of their three daughters — one was named after Grandma Catherine, the other after St. Catherine of Siena. So if Noah’s middle name was a nod to Tim, they could feasibly make the argument that naming one of their twins James is in honor of someone else. Is Tim’s dad’s middle name James maybe? If the same name is used for two different children, in order to honor two different people, it could start to feel like two different names, you know?

I also looooove Ruth Clementine and Ruby Clementine!! They have great taste in names!

As for the boy names Rosie said they like/are considering, Ezra was actually my first idea for them before I even got to that part of their email! It totally fits the feel of Noah and Levi, including the length of four letters! Mattias (and Matthias) is a favorite of mine, and Amos is another great four-letter name with Noah, Levi, and Ezra.

Thomas Everett is an amazing combo, but I totally get what Rosie means about its “s” ending (and that of Amos and Mattias) running into their last name. I have a similar sensitivity, but even still, because of family considerations and names we just love, half of our boys have first names ending in the same letter our last name starts with! It hasn’t been the end of the world — indeed, I love each one of their names — and honestly, I don’t even notice that same feature of other peoples’ names. I didn’t even really notice it about my own name—Kate Towne—til I was naming my own kids. So funny!

Nathan is also great, and I like that it has family significance for Rosie; it’s also nice that it’s a biblical name, but not as old-timey as Noah/Levi/Ezra/Amos, which allows them to move in a new direction while still sticking with their established theme. (Not that they have to stick with their established theme!) I think I agree with them regarding Luke … although, if they named twin no. 2 Luke, they’d have a child between Levi and Luke, which makes it a bit easier than if Luke followed Levi directly.

Jeremiah is very consistent with Noah/Levi/Amos/Ezra/Benjamin, a great name! And I can see their issue with Julian as well—a lot of people love it because it’s a “softer” boy name, but others don’t care for it specifically *because* it has a softer feel. Another name that’s similar, I think, is Micah—it’s a great Old Testament male name, but a lot of people have used it for their girls because it has that softer feel, which means less people are naming their boys Micah because they don’t want to give their boys girl names. (I still love it though.)

Anyway! All that said, I think Rosie and Tim have a lot of good ideas to work with, and I came up with a few more ideas that I think they might like (I’ll do ideas for twin combinations after I list my new ideas). You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already 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. Based on that research, and my own ideas, this is what I came up with:

(1) Adam
I was really taken with the fact that Rosie and Tim gave both their older boys four-letter Old Testament names, so I admit I was on the lookout for others that would match. Adam is one such, and I like that it’s both less “whiskery” (meaning “old man,” and I say that in a good way—it’s so in style right now!) than Noah and Levi, but it’s also less popular than both of them, while still feeling current and familiar.

(2) Seth
I’m not sure they’ll love this with their S last name—some people love alliteration, and some don’t, and some don’t mind certain examples but not others. I love Peter Parker, for example—when done right, I love that an alliterative name can have a little superhero feel to it.

(3) Jude
After Ezra, this was my second idea for them, before I’d even really gotten into the meat of Rosie’s email. Not only do I love that it’s four letters and biblical, but I also like that it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, just because it broadens their horizons a little bit (Levi has the cool distinction of being both Old Testament and New Testament, but I think it conveys more of an Old Testament feel). I also wondered if Jude might be helpful for them in their Julian discussions—the Beatles’ song Hey Jude was written for John Lennon’s son Julian, and I’ve seen parents use Jude as a nickname for Julian. Even if they don’t care for the idea of Jude as a nickname for Julian, maybe Jude mirrors the sounds of Julian enough to replace Julian on their list of possible names? It also has the extra bonus of being a nod to Tim’s mom (her first name is Judith, but she goes by her middle name) in a subtle way, if they wanted it to—only those who know her first name is Judith might get the connection!

If they like that idea, I wonder if there’s a way they could give the other twin a name that connects to Rosie’s mom’s name? Or they could also think of naming the other twin after Rosie herself, perhaps by using her maiden name as his middle name?

(4) Cole
Cole is an interesting idea, and I’m not sure what they’ll think of it. On the one hand, it’s listed as a style match in the BNW for Luke, and because it’s four letters I jumped right on it. It’s also a traditional nickname or variant of Nicholas, which is a biblical name, so if it’s important to them to have that connection between their boys, they have it. But of course, it doesn’t come across as biblical, so maybe that makes it a great choice or maybe that makes it a worse choice?

(5) Caleb
Similar in appearance to Cole, but bringing it back to that Old Testament feel, Caleb is a sweet name that a lot of people love, but at no. 44 it’s not overly popular—in fact, it’s really similar in popularity to Levi.

(6) Ethan
I don’t think many people think “biblical” when they hear Ethan, but biblical it is, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “biblical” might make it a perfect choice for this family—in keeping with their theme but branching out a little too.

(7) Eli or Elias
In looking up names in the BNW, one of my favorite things is when I see the same name or family of names pop up over and over as a style match for a bunch of names on the parents’ list. Eli and Elias were those for this family! Eli’s a match for Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Luke, and the similar name Elias is a match for Mattias, Everett, and Julian! Wow! I love them both, though I can see Eli being a nice twin match for certain names, and Elias for others. Eli can also be a nickname for Elias, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to choose. (Elias is the Greek form of Elijah, and much less popular at no. 93 as compared to Elijah’s no. 9).

(8) Gabriel
One of my favorite name books — predating even my beloved BNW — is Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, and in it she describes a lot of the kinds of names that I’m calling “whiskery” as “flannel shirts”—cozy, familiar, old timey. I remember distinctly that Gabriel was one of those, and that the nickname Gabe especially brought with it an “old immigrant” feel. I personally love that, and both Gabriel and Gabe, and I think they fit in really well with Noah and Levi.

(9) Samuel
Not only is Samuel itself a style match for Luke, but its nickname Sam is a style match for both Ruby and Ruth—I love that! I feel like it’s really consistent with the kinds of names Rosie and Tim like overall, and Sam is one of the friendliest nicknames (which I also think of Gabe as). I actually really love Sam with their S last name—it has that superhero alter ego feel, and it feels like a solid man’s name.

(10) Andrew
I really liked seeing that Andrew is a style match for both Patrick and Nathan—pretty cool that it fits in with two such different styles of name! Like Thomas, Nathan, James, and Luke, it’s a great New Testament name that retains their biblical theme while still breaking out of it a little bit.

So those were all the ideas I had that were mostly based on my research, but when I started trying to pair up names into twin combos, I had just a couple more ideas, which I’ll explain below. I should also say that different parents prefer different approaches when naming twins—some want something very matchy; some want them to go together nicely but not be too matchy; and some just want to name them as if they were naming non-twins, with no intentional connection at all. It sounds like Rosie and Tim are in the middle: I still love how Rosie articulated that they want to find names that they “both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together,” so I mostly tried to find pairs that fit that.

No matter which way a couple decides to go, I do think it’s important for the names to be fair. That is, I imagine that if one twin were named for dad and the other twin wasn’t given a name with any family significance, that second twin might feel hurt as he grows up. You know? Another thing that I personally like—which Rosie and Tim may or may not care about—is balance. That is, I find it really pleasing when both twins have short first names or long first names. Or one has a short first and a long middle and the other has a long first and a short middle. Or they have the same first initial, even if (especially if) the names are different lengths, or the first initial has a different sound in each name rather than the same. So a lot of my ideas here are inspired by my own preferences, and I apologize to Rosie and Tim in advance if they hate my approach!

Ezra and Jude: When I first started reading Rosie’s email, and I was so struck by the fact that Noah and Levi both have four-letter biblical names, I immediately started trying to think of others, and Ezra and Jude were the two I immediately came up with and love. Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Jude are such a pleasing set of brothers! I also really like that it makes them all sound less like two singletons and a set of twins, and more just like four brothers.

Benjamin and Jeremiah: I love that these names are both long, Old Testament names AND they have the same number of letters! I get a little overly excited about twins having names with the same number of letters! My only hangup is that I don’t have any great ideas for nicknames for Jeremiah. I’ve seen Jem, which is super cute, but I don’t think it’s to everyone’s taste. Similarly, I’ve seen Miah, but I suspect that’s too feminine for their taste. Jer and Jerry are natural nicknames, maybe they’d like that? Ben is one of those great friendly nicknames.

Benjamin and Gabriel: This pairing is less matchy in length, but I know a few Benjamin and Gabriel brothers, so the names seem to go together really well. Also, Ben and Gabe both have that same friendly feel.

Benjamin and Jonathan: This is perhaps a less serious idea than the others—Benjamin and Jonathan are my brothers’ names, which could be kind of weird for them, given my brother and Tim’s friendship. But otherwise, I’ve always thought these two are amazing names for brothers. Jonathan can be Jon or Jack or Nate, all of which go great with Ben I think. If they wanted to get a little crazy, Jonty is also a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and I’ve seen Jamie used for Benjamin, and I’m kind of dying over Jamie and Jonty, cuuute! Jamie might also be an interesting way to approach Tim’s love of the name James without actually naming their son James.

Nathan and Andrew: Speaking of Nate, I’m also dying over brothers nicknamed Nate and Drew. I love that pairing! I love that Nate and Drew are both four letters, which is fun with big brothers Noah and Levi, while their given names are New Testament and longer, which breaks them out of their short Old Testament style (if they want to do so). (Andy is also a great nickname, but for whatever reason I’m loving Drew for them.)

Andrew and Adam: If they like the idea of matching initials, this might be a nice way to go. Andrew can be Drew, if they like the idea of the formal names having the same initials but the everyday names be different. Adam and Drew make a nice pair.

Eli and Ezra: Speaking of same initials but still having a bit of a difference, I like that the E’s of Eli and Ezra have different sounds—the long E of Eli and the short E of Ezra.

Gabriel and Samuel: I like that these names end in the same two letters, and I love Gabe and Sam together.

Caleb and Ethan: Same number of letters, both Old Testament names, I love this pairing.

Ethan and Elias: There are those matching initials again! When I was a little girl I loved coming up with matching-initial names for twins, haha! So maybe that should tell me that this approach isn’t a good one. But I love how they sound together, and I love that they have the same number of letters.

Benjamin and Nathaniel: This is another great pairing because of similar lengths—they’re just one letter different, and Nathaniel might be a cool way to nod to Rosie’s brother without using his exact name (some people like that kind of thing—honoring without using the exact name). Ben and Nate are great!

Thomas and James: If they decided to go with James as a first name, it might be nice to pair it with Thomas, as then they’d both end in S, thus taking something kind of annoying (the S running into the S) and making it a twin thing that they could share, while still having really handsome names. Thomas and James both have that really classic feel that’s biblical without feeling too biblical, and it would be cool to try to find a middle name for James that’s as great and somewhat unexpected as Everett.

Thomas and Andrew: This is another great pairing—two NT names, same number of letters.

Thomas and Nathan: Ditto the same number of letters, and both NT names. My only hesitation with this one is that Nathan has family significance and neither Thomas nor Everett do (as far as I know).

Those are my favorite pairings based on the ideas I came up with for Rosie and Tim, but I couldn’t help thinking of a few other biblical names that might be interesting additions to the mix. Specifically, Jared, Gideon, David, Jacob, Joshua, and Asher. I also really loved the idea of Samuel and Eli, since they share the same beautiful story in the bible, but then I wondered if that was over the top? Abel’s another one that’s been on my radar recently, as has Abram, and Grace’s Abe has me all 😍😍😍. I also love Thaddeus … it ends in S, but it has that nice length that could pair nicely with Nathaniel or Jeremiah or Benjamin …

I feel like I could go on and on! And looking back on my ideas, even though Rosie said, “I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it,” clearly I just couldn’t bring myself to move away from it. So sorry if they were hoping for non-biblical ideas!

I know Rosie and Tim would love to hear your ideas, as would I! What name(s) would you suggest for the twin brothers of Noah and Levi?

Baby name consultation: A, M, E name for baby no. 3

Amy is one of the very first mamas I ever did a consultation for, and I’m so excited that she and her husband have another little one on the way, a baby girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Kristy Marie
Martin Kane II (called Kane) (birth announcement here)

I love each of those names! Amy had explained that Kristy was named “after the two greatest people I could think of — Christ and Mary, giving honor to God first (and in our 1st born) and my love/connection to Mary,” which is just so amazingly beautiful. And Kane is named for his dad (Martin Kane) and his grandpa (Martin Craig; goes by Craig, like Kane goes by his middle), and the II is a nod not only to his dad, but to JP2 as well. What a cool way to do it! And Kane has dad’s middle name, and Kristy has Amy’s middle name — so many meaningful connections!

For this baby, Amy writes,

One thing I noticed later was, while common, we ended up picking names that actually have several different spellings and people get it wrong sometimes. This can bother me a tiny bit at times.

Another fun thing that unintentionally happened was we ended up with the initials KM and MK, opposites of each other. We use these sometimes as shorthand in text and Kane’s name sign is just MK finger spelled (my husband asked for that, to honor/include the Martin part and we are proud of it) [read more about name signs here]. Sometimes I call them by both their first and middle names together so they know them. So I kind of like the idea of maybe an M name, to keep a sort of pattern — K and K, then (technically) M and M, or K/MK/M. It might be fun, but not necessary.

I would also like to veer AWAY from K names. I am not sure I want to be stuck with that pattern, especially if we want have more kids (plus initials KKK???). I do like that my brother and I were Amy and Adam with matching first letters, and I had cousins Kelly/Karen/Katie. Husband, however, seems to only come up with K names. He wants the names to match somehow. I might consider a C name that has a K sound, like Catherine for example.

Interestingly enough, both my kids are names that I NEVER would have thought of, I don’t really consider ‘my style’ or ones that I even really like. But yet, I LOVE them because we ended up realizing that there were about 600 reasons to name them what we did, I LOVE the meanings and they just absolutely fit or feel right. They could be no other.”

(That’s one of my favorite parts of their name story! I love when parents love their kids’ names, even if they didn’t start out that way!)

I don’t really like nicknames or names that can easy hand themselves over to nicknames. I know, this makes you sad 😉 I would to just prefer to name my kid what I intend/want them to be called. But I did like your article on nick names as a first name vs a formal first name. Good thoughts and comments.

I would like to name after my family somehow. Kristy and Kane are both heavily from Marty’s side. He also named both of them (I kind of want a turn, wink)… after they were born (we went into the hospital with little to no firm ideas for both). So I am trusting in his instinct a little bit still. Mostly because I am lacking in ideas… again.”

Except she isn’t! Amy has some great ideas! I’m going to start with her middle name ideas, because they have bearing on what the first name might be:

Victoria (“after my mom … I think I might regret not using it if I don’t (What if we don’t have more kids or more girls?). Marty knows this and he is on board, knowing that will probably be her middle. But one ‘problem’ (if you can call it that) I might see with this is, it’s pretty long (one of the rare 4 syllable names) making it kind of hard to pair with other names. I feel like I would need something short/er (no one syllable names jumped out at me). Especially because the other kids names are pretty short and easy to say (KM is only 4 syllables combined, MK is only 3, combined“)

Elizabeth (for Grandma Betty)

Fiat (For “Mary’s yes,” of course [not the car!] — from the Latin for “let it be done” … “Now this I would ONLY pair with Marian … This is something that I have considered ever since my first pregnancy … I would want that as a reminder or for her to say yes to God’s will, whatever that may be for her“)

I just have to jump in here and say, ever since Amy suggested the combo Marian Fiat in a comment a while ago I’ve been smitten! What an ah-MAZ-ing idea!

For first names, Amy and her hubs’ list includes:

Molly (“So there is one name that is bothering me. It randomly popped into my head one day in daily Mass and I haven’t been able to shake it — Molly … Marty recently said that he thinking more about it too (a good sign he would agree to it). To me it has the same feel as Kristy and Kane — similar time period feel, a name I never considered or even really liked, but it seems to fit (when I picture her or saying her name). It’s short, and seems to fit with Victoria. I like that it has 5 letters (all the other cousins have 5 letter names, Kristy is 6, Kane is 4, not important, but a fun fact/connection). It’s common enough to be known as a real name and not something that is too ‘out there’. But it still seems sparse enough in use that it is not ‘top ten’ or even top 100 (I think). It is easy to say/spell and doesn’t have a nick name. It is sweet/cute, but I think it can be an adult name too. In my mind, this name would be my attribution to my inspirational grandmother Millie. I just changed one letter/sound. I figure if (for example) Bill can come from William (different letter), why not? I think about the nicknames you come up with a lot of times. Many of them seem like kind of jump to get to with maybe just 2 similar letters or something. Plus with Victoria it would come from both my paternal side (Millie, great grandmother) and maternal side (Victoria, grandmother)

Katie (“I mentioned my husband keeps thinking of K names. His main suggestion is Katie, and he said he was going to stick to that unless I/we came up with something better. He likes that it seems to match Kristy (starting K, ends in the e sound, both have a t and 2 syllables). I agree and I don’t think it is a bad suggestion. It’s just … we already have a Katie in the family (a cousin, and like I said, I have a cousin Katie) and we wouldn’t really be naming after her/them, we are not especially close. It is also a form of Katherine. A name he wanted forever with Kristy’s pregnancy (while I respect the name and think it is good, I don’t really like it and I already have a cousin who used it so I don’t feel comfortable using it) and the original form of his mom’s name (Kathleen — again, after his family)“)

AVE initials (“I like the idea of A names, but can’t seem to land on one I like.
This mostly came from your idea in Kane’s consult, that the initials would be AVE (a round about way to honor Mary) — cool! [Their last name begins with an E.] I might even consider using Ave as a nickname (!). It’s not the top ten Ava, but it might be mispronounced/misspelled all the time (and does it match Kristy and Kane?). If I went with this idea, I would actually want to avoid A names that also have a V in them and/or that end in A (cutting out some great ideas). This is because it would be specially paired with Victoria and it seems like too many of the same sounds/letters repeating, rhyming or too matchy matchy. I also like that an A would kind of be naming after me. We have the K in our current kids, but also an M for Marty. It might be nice to round out with an A for me. And A names tend to be pretty. I like Azelia/Zellie because it reminds me of my Aunt/Godmother (and Kristy’s) Lynelle, we always called her Nellie. She was just diagnosed with a rare heart cancer … That is a name that I feel is more my ‘style’ that I tend to be drawn to and like. Makes me think of a pretty white flower but without blatantly giving an obvious flower name like Rose/Lily. I doubt Marty would be on board for this one … [and] is it too long, ‘out there’ compared to KM & MK“)

Begins with E (“I also like the idea of E names. I really believe that I named Kristy with a K after an inspirational friend of mine, Kyla, who passed away when I was pregnant with her. I didn’t realize this until later as the Kristy spelling just jumped out at me and was the same one that Marty thought of (without discussing it with each other). Recently I have had another inspirational friend, Ellen, pass away and wouldn’t mind considering a mild honor name for her too. I remember really liking Evelyn when I was pregnant with Kristy. But like the A names is it too many of the same letters/sounds when paired with our last name (plus a v sound in there). Evelyn also recently became very top tenish. Marty’s mom’s middle name is Ellen and he has suggested it, but again, always his side never mine. I guess there is Elizabeth and my mom suggested Emily, which is not bad, but I have no connection to it“)

For reference, some of the boy names on their list include:

Adam Craig
James
Magnus
Lincoln
Calvin

Okay, so I reread the consultation I did for Kane before working on this one, which was a good refresher. I also really like Amy’s reasoning behind her ideas of an M name or an A name, and I really took those into consideration when trying to think of names for this baby.

Mostly though, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of Molly Victoria!! Ohmygoodness I love it so much! Molly is a variant of Mary, so Amy would have her nod to Mary, but it’s kind of a sneaky one because not everyone knows it’s a Mary variant! I think it goes really well with Kristy and Kane, and Amy would have her M name, and it sounds amazing with Victoria! I love that it has five letters, and is so similar to her Grandma Millie. Amazing! So that one gets my very heartiest vote. (I also still love Marian Fiat!)

I’m also interested in Amy’s husband’s idea of Katie, as she’d said she’s not really into nicknames. Because of that, I wondered what she’d think of the spelling Cady? It sounds exactly like Katie, but is less nicknamey. It might make people think of suffragette and civil rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which isn’t terrible at all, and I also found that there’s a Blessed Madeleine Cady épouse Desvignes, which is pretty cool.

I still love the AVE idea for them, and I think Ave would be such a cool nickname! I’m not sure I would necessarily think of it as a style match for Kristy and Kane, but nicknames don’t really have to be similar in style I think. Azelia is unusual, but so pretty, and I have some other A ideas for them below.

I like Amy’s E ideas as well—Ellen, Evelyn, Elizabeth, and Emily are all beautiful, substantial names. I have some more E ideas below as well.

I’m intrigued by “just Betty”—I wonder if they would be interested in using that? Since it was the name Amy’s grandmother went by? Betty Victoria is really cute, and I’ve been seeing Betty pop up here and there (Kendra at Catholic All Year has one). Kristy, Kane, and Betty are cute! I know Amy said she doesn’t care for nicknames, but there are some that can stand on their own (like Molly started as a nickname), and I feel like there are some that would be a great fit for their family (I have some ideas below), especially with the mindset that Amy prefers to name her little ones what she intends/wants them to be called.

Okay! Without further ado, here are my ideas for Amy and her hubs, helped out as always by the Baby Name Wizard, but also a good deal of my own ideas:

(1) Alison or Allie
I started out looking for A names that I thought could fit their style, and I thought Alison Victoria sounded really great! I also thought that Allie also fit their style, mostly because of Katie being on the list, and also Kristy (which can be a nickname for the Kristin/Kristina names) and Molly, which a lot of those sweet nickname-type names are style matches for. I quite like Allie Victoria. With both Alison and Allie, Amy would have her AVE initials.

(2) Abbey
I’m using the Abbey spelling as I think it looks less nicknamey than Abby—they could think of it as a monastery-type abbey, a cool religious place name. I love Abbey Victoria, and Abby’s actually a style match for Katie, Molly, and Emily!

(3) Anna or Anne
Both Anna and Anne give the AVE initials Amy likes, while being full non-nicknamey names, and also—St. Anne! I also like just Annie actually—I have a cousin whose given name is Annie, it’s so sweet.

(4) Ella, Ellie, or Edith/Edie
Ellen and Elizabeth both made me think of Ella and Ellie, both of which I think would be great first names if they decide to go the E route. I like that Ella and Ellie can nod to both Elizabeth and Ellen, so they wouldn’t have to choose Marty’s side vs. Amy’s side, you know? And they’re shorter, like Amy likes, instead of the very long Elizabeth. Ella and Ellie also made me think of Edie, which I think could be really cute with Kristy and Kane, but since it’s nicknamey I thought I’d also mention Edith, which has a similar feel as Grandma Betty’s name grandmothers’ name but is coming back again, both because of St. Edith Stein (in Catholic circles) and the fact that Edie is one of the cutest nicknames. (If they did just Edie, they could totally claim St. Edith Stein as patron.)

(5) Elaine, Elaina, Alana, Alaina
Continuing with the E theme, Elaine is a style match for Calvin, and I wondered if Amy and her hubs would like it. I know a little Elaina, which is a pretty variant, and the similar names Alana and Alaina could give them the A name they might be looking for.

(6) Maggie
Like Katie and Molly, Maggie is another one of those names that started as a nickname and has evolved to have some good use as a given name on its own. It’s also a style match for Katie, Molly, and Emily (and Abby from above). It sounds really nice with Victoria, and it also gives them the M that’s a nice continuation for the M’s in Kristy Marie and Martin Kane’s names.

(7) Madelyn/Madeline/Madeleine
At one point I started flipping through the pages of the BNW looking for A, E, and M names that I thought they might like, and Madelyn jumped out at me. I like Madelyn Elizabeth and Madelyn Victoria, and I like that Madelyn has a Y in it like Kristy—maybe a nice connection for sisters? I like the Madeline and Madeleine spellings too.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Kristy and Kane? Is anything here helpful or inspiring?

The importance of names in this particular beatification case

Have any of you seen this article? On the road to sainthood: Family of 9 murdered for hiding Jews in Poland by Dominika Cicha, posted yesterday at Aleteia.

It was more horrifying than I anticipated: The Ulma family — the 44-year-old dad, his 32-year-old pregnant wife, and their seven children (ages 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and unborn) — were shot and killed for hiding eight Jews (father, mother, and four sons of the Szall family, and two daughters of the Goldman family), who were also killed. The Jews were murdered first, in front of the family; then the parents, in front of the children; then the children.

And some people don’t believe the devil exists. SMH.

This holy family consisted of:

Józef (dad)
Wiktoria (mom)
Stanisława “Stasia” (age 8)
Barbara “Basia” (age 6)
Władysław “Władzio” (age 5)
Franciszek “Franuś” (age 4)
Antoni “Antoś” (age 3)
Maria “Marysia” (age 1.5)
Unnamed baby, who was due not long after the killings, and was discovered partially born when a few men from the village secretly recovered the bodies for a proper burial

All I can think of when reading something like this is Jesus on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The particular detail of this story that caused me to want to post it here is this bit:

At the diocesan stage of the process a decision was made to add the Ulmas’ six children, because of their parents’ faith. There is dilemma concerning the child who died in mother’s womb. Provisions applying to canonizations and beatifications clearly stipulate that a candidate to be declared saint or blessed in the Catholic Church should be known by first and second name. The Vatican congregation will ultimately decide whether the youngest member of Józef and Wiktoria’s family will be considered a martyr, too.”

I did some research and couldn’t find that information anywhere — that a candidate needs to be known by first and and second name. Certainly the baby’s credentials are not based on disagreements about personhood, as the Church holds we are persons from the moment of conception. And of course not being beatified or canonized doesn’t mean the baby isn’t in heaven, just that the Church doesn’t have enough information to declare him or her to be so.

The fact that this comes down to his or her name is also really interesting from the perspective of choosing names for our babies before they’re born, and not just a boy name and a girl name, but the baby’s actual name, which would require finding out the sex during pregnancy. Are there some among us who might decide to find out our baby’s sex, in order to name him or her, so that if the worst happens our babies will be known by name and be able to be included among the list of Venerables/Blesseds/Saints? Given the wide range of personalities in the Church, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some who would do so!

I wonder, too, if “be known by first and second name” means more than just having a name, but also means that others must know it? That is, not just that there’s a name the parents have given or intend to give to the baby, but that it’s one that’s been shared with others, so much so that others would know and refer to the baby by that name?

I wonder, too, if the Church can name the baby. Though that right and privilege is given to parents, this is certainly an unusual situation that might require an unusual solution.

Also, what is this “second name” business? Perhaps a new requirement? I’m just thinking of when people didn’t even necessarily have surnames, but we certainly have saints from back then. (Not that the second name matters here — the baby’s second name IS known:  Ulma.)

I’m not being argumentative, I’m just interested. I trust the Church’s process, and I know there is so often more to a story than what we know.

In trying to find out more, I was googling variations on “can children and babies be canonized” and I was getting pages and pages of results having to do with Jacinta and Francisco — I couldn’t get past them! I did find a couple things that I thought were helpful and/or interesting, though:

Divinis Perfectionis Magister is the 1983 Apostolic Constitution by Pope John Paul II that outlines the canonization process (no mention of names though)

Child saints have much to teach the Church on suffering, sacrifice by Charles Collins at Crux 

5 Child Saints Who Totally Put All of Us Adults to Shame at ChurchPOP

It’s important to note that with the Ulma children, there isn’t any controversy about whether they were old enough to have led lives of “heroic virtue” (as is sometimes argued in regards to children), as they’re being considered martyrs (though even then, it’s an unusual case I think, because they’re being considered martyrs “because of their parents’ faith” rather than because of their own).

If any of you can point me to any sources that explain or demonstrate that candidates for the canonization process need to be known by first and second name, please do! And also, the idea of children being considered by virtue of their parents’ faith (I’ll be musing on that for a while — it certainly adds an extra something to parents’ responsibilities in regards to their children!).

 

Baby name consultation: Antique/exotic/saintly name for baby no. 6/boy no. 3

Amy and her husband Brandon are expecting their sixth baby! And how lucky is Amy — Brandon bought her this consultation for Mother’s Day!! 😍😍😍 Husbands, take note!!

This new baby is Amy and Brandon’s third boy! Brandon explained about their older children’s names:

Mason Douglas (“We like strong masculine names for our boys, and Mason fit the bill nicely. We don’t care for names that can be for boys or girls (Pat, Chris, etc), though I later had a co-worker with a daughter named Mason. We didn’t think it was too popular at the time, but I think it turned out to be very near the top of the list that year or shortly thereafter. Douglas is my middle name and my dad’s middle name and I’m also the oldest in my family.”)

Molly Marie (“So at this point I need to pause and explain that we found out ahead of time that Mason was a boy. At the time, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to find out the sex of the baby, so we ended up flipping a coin and agreeing to take turns. Amy won the first round, so we found out Mason was a boy at the 20-week ultrasound. For #2, it was my turn, so we waited until Molly was born to learn she was a girl. Not knowing what she was, we of course couldn’t choose a name for sure ahead of time, so we had a boy name (Isaac) and a girl name (Anna) picked out. Somewhere along the way very shortly before Molly’s birth we ended up at the hospital with pre-term labor, and one of the nurses had a daughter named Molly. We both fell in love with the name, and when Molly was born she got it. It fits her perfectly, we think. Since we used my middle name for our first boy, it only made sense to use Amy’s middle name, Marie, for our first girl.”)

Kateri Elizabeth (“Amy always wanted a daughter named Kateri. At first I thought it was a little “out there”, but we knew as soon as we found out we were having another girl (at the 20-week ultrasound again this time) that she would be our Kateri. Blessed (at the time) Kateri was Amy’s confirmation saint, and she’s always had a particular attachment to her. Elizabeth is my mom’s middle name, so we honored her by sharing it with Kateri.”)

Anthony Mark Benedict (“By the time Anthony was born, we’d formed a close friendship with the pastor at our church, Fr. Tony. We honored him by naming Anthony after him. Mark is Amy’s dad’s middle name, and Benedict was the Pope at the time.”)

Gianna Nicole Francesca (“We had a hard time getting pregnant with Anthony, and we had gone to a display of relics of St. Gianna and prayed for her intercession numerous times before we got pregnant with Anthony. We knew when we found out Gianna was a girl (odd number, so at the 20-week ultrasound again) that we needed to honor St. Gianna for her help in having our second son. At this point we had run out of eligible related godparents, so Gianna’s godparents are not family (#1-4 have aunts and uncles for godparents). Amy has a younger sister named Nicole who was too young to be a godmother when Gianna was born, so instead of choosing her as a godparent we gave Gianna her name as one of her middle names. We liked the two-middle-name arrangement with Anthony, and we had a new Pope, so Gianna also got Francesca as a second middle name.”)

I love how intentional and thoughtful each of the names is! I love each combo — both the names and the reasons (and I love Molly Marie’s Marian-ness, what a blessed little lady!).

Brandon continued,

Amy was so so so certain for the first part of this pregnancy that she was having a girl. She was so certain about it that I had to know if she was right, so I wanted to find out at the ultrasound what we were having. She was shocked to find out it is a boy.

Somewhere between babies #1 and #2 we rediscovered our Catholic faith and began learning and re-learning and growing in our love and knowledge of the Church and her wisdom. We didn’t pick Mason for any saint (the closest we know of in name is Blessed John Mason), but all the others have particular saints attached to them as well as family meaning.

Amy is currently hooked on the name Isaac for this baby, but I’ve cooled off on it a bit. We had Isaac picked out for baby #2 eight years ago, so I’m just not as attached now. We also agree on Titus, Oliver, Dominic, and Tobias for first names. St. Joseph as the patron saint of families has always been a particular love of ours; we have leaned on him many times for assistance through difficult situations. We’d like to include Joseph in this child’s middle name. However, my father passed away recently after a 2-year struggle with ALS, so we are considering his name, James, as a middle name also. My grandfather’s name was Thaddeus, which is also in the running for a first or middle name. Also in the running for middle names are Paul (Amy’s uncle) and Fulton. Other names we like for first or middle names, but don’t necessarily have full first-name agreement on are Ezekiel (Zeke is so cute!), Zechariah (also would be Zeke), Felix, Finian, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Nicholas, and Severin.

We’re open to suggestions, combinations, ideas, and we (obviously) like the “Catholicky-Catholic” (as I think you put it) names.”

And Amy also shared,

A friend told me about your blog, and I spent HOURS reading it, looking for names. I even bought the book you use, and discovered none of our names match any list together at all. I would say after reading that, I’m a fan of the “antique charm” category, and we also like the saint realm, obviously. I really like some Old Testament names, but prefer ones that are also now saints. Brandon made an excel spreadsheet of the names we like, so he’s correct in everything he sent. I think the only thing he didn’t mention was the definitely no category. We don’t want to use any of our siblings names as first names, so for that reason Michael, Stephen, Timothy, and Joseph can’t be first. They’re fine for middle names, though Joseph is the only one of them that really is on the table. We’ve obviously done the 2 middle name thing twice now, but I’m not set on doing it again. It will just depend on the name combination. We also don’t have any nicknames in our bunch, but we aren’t against that, it just hasn’t happened.”

I just love hearing from both Amy and Brandon — I don’t usually get to hear from both parents! I love how much they’ve talked about all this, and seem to be on the same page in terms of which names are contenders.

I loved reading about how they rediscovered their faith after Mason was born — I often see families with less faithy-feeling names in the beginning, and they get more so as they have more kids, and I think it’s really cool to see a couple’s faith journey reflected in their kids’ names. And I love that they found Bl. John Mason! I’d never heard of him, but he’s totally my go-to now for any family that has a Mason! (Which is one of my very favorite of the occupational-surname names, love it!)

So after hearing from Amy that they already went through the Baby Name Wizard I was a little worried about what I could come up with that they don’t already have on their list or have decided they don’t like! I did take a look through the Antique Charm category, and Amy’s right, that seems right up their alley! The Saints category also has some great names (I love that the focus there is on more unusual names, rather than the ones everyone knows), and I thought another category fit pretty well for them too: Exotic Traditionals. I also looked up each name’s entry and looked at names listed there, and found some decent overlap with some of the names on their “definitely like” list (Isaac, Titus, Oliver, Dominic, Tobias) as well as their so-so list (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Severin, Thaddeus). So I think I have some decent ideas!

Just a couple thoughts about some of the names they’re currently considering:

Isaac: love it! It’s on my own list, such a great name. Amy and Brandon also like the Z names (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke) and Isaac fits right with that and can take the nickname Zac.
Titus: I know a little Titus (or not so little—I think he’s 14 now) and I always wonder why I don’t hear his name more!
Oliver: Such a great name and a great saint, and I really like the combo Oliver Thaddeus.
Dominic: Another of my faves!
Tobias: Another name I wish would see more play! I’m a big fan of pan-European names, and Tobias is definitely one.
Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke: Zeke is super cute and I’ve also considered it for Zechariah. In case it’s helpful to Amy and Brandon in making their decision, I can see Zechariah fitting in pretty well with a Catholicky Catholic theme, but Ezekiel feels a step away—do you agree?
Matthias: I love this name too, and I think it could fit in great with their family.
Maximilian: Definitely a Catholicky Catholic name!
Augustine: Ditto!
Emmett: This one surprised me! All the others have such saintly connections, and Emmett’s is a bit more difficult to see. It originated as a medieval diminutive of Emma, so any of the Sts. Emma can be patron, but I’m not sure a boy would love that? I do love the name Emmett though, so I’m not trying to sway them from it, and it fits the feel of Mason really well. I like the idea of pairing a name that’s less saintly in feel with a super saintly middle—Emmett Thaddeus, Emmett Joseph, and Emmett James are pretty great I think.
Severin: Wow! I really like the idea of the nickname Sev.
Thaddeus: I love it! I’m also loving that it was Brandon’s grandpa’s name, and if it was paired with Joseph and James, it would be all the dads together! Thaddeus Joseph James is pretty great!
Fulton: I actually love Fulton for them as a first name! I wonder if there’s any chance they’d consider it? Fulton James, Fulton Joseph, Fulton Joseph James are all great!
Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo: All great, all saintly. I’ve been seeing Fox suggested as a nickname for Felix recently, which is cute. Finn is awesome. Nicholas and Leo are both Pope Saint the Greats, which is fun.

Okay! So Amy and Brandon have a fantastic list of names, and if they end up using any of them, I won’t be disappointed! (Not that it matters if I’m disappointed or not!) But I had a few other ideas that might spark some conversation and maybe even hit the right note:

(1) Miles
One of the things I like to do when I see different styles of name in a family is come up with ideas that might help bridge them. Mason is a little bit of an outlier (I LOVED finding out about Bl. John Mason!), so I liked the idea of finding names that might have the same feel and be really saintly too—I probably had that more in mind than any other. Amy said she spent a while looking through the blog, so she probably saw that I often push Miles on parents! I discovered that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which literally means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Marian names are my favorite, and finding ones that work for boys are thrilling! Miles and Mason (and Emmett and Fulton) definitely have the same feeling to me; its variant Milo (which has also been used in Ireland for Maolmhuire) is a style match for Felix and Leo on their list; and Miles can also connect to the Irishness of Molly and Finnian. I like Miles Joseph, Miles Joseph James, Miles Paul, and Miles Fulton.

(2) Garrett
Garrett is also a style match for Mason, and a reader shared that she knows a family who named a son Garrett in order to honor St. Margaret! Wow! Even better for a boy though, is that Garrett is derived from either Gerald or Gerard—St. Gerard Majella is a great patron! There are a bunch of Sts. Gerald too. Garrett Paul has a nice ring … Garrett James …

(3) Becket
Since we’re talking about surnamey-type names, I wonder what they’d think of Becket? St. Thomas Becket would be patron, and it’s one of those saintly surnames that’s getting good use in Catholic families currently (like Fulton). Becket Joseph, Becket James, and Becket Joseph James are all great.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is also a saintly surname that’s had a lot of first-name use! It’s also heavy on that Z sound they like, and might even provide a way for them to get to Zeke in a different way … something like Xavier Michael, where there’s a Z sound in the first name and a K sound in the middle. (I get a little nutty with creative nicknames! 😂)

(5) Owen
Owen’s a style match for Mason, which is amazing, and it’s also the last name of one of my very favorite saint: St. Nicholas Owen! He built hidey holes to protect priests for persecution and death in England, and was tortured for his silence and he died from his wounds. Such a brave man! Amy and Brandon already have Nicholas on their list—a Nicholas Owen combo would be cool too! I wasn’t loving Thaddeus as a middle name for the first four names I suggested, but I kind of love Owen Thaddeus! Owen James is nice too.

(6) Elias
Elijah was a style match for a bunch of names they like—Titus (the Titus I know has a brother Elijah!), Ezekiel, Tobias—but when I saw its variant Elias listed as a match for Matthias, I thought it seemed a better fit for this family. It’s also a match for Dominic, and funny enough Elliot, which I always think of as feeling similar to Emmett, is a medieval diminutive of Elias. I don’t think I realized how Catholicky Catholic it is, though, until I read an article Catholic writer Simcha Fisher did a year ago on Catholic baby names (she interviewed me for it!) in which her subhead read: “Fulton and Vianney, Felicity and Avila, Giorgio and Elias are all showing up in 21st century baptismal books.” What a great group of names, and so cool to see Elias in there! I like Elias Paul.

(7) Gabriel
Gabriel’s got that same biblical feel as Isaac, Tobias, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthias, and Thaddeus, while being a bit lighter; it’s also a style match for Dominic. I think Gabe is one of the best nicknames for a boy—friendly and masculine. Gabriel Joseph is quite handsome.

(8) Joachim
I’m including Joachim because Amy and Brandon have some heavy hitters on their list and they like Catholicky Catholic names. Even still, Joachim is a rare bird! He could go by Joe/Joey, to lighten it up, or Jake, which is my favorite idea for it. It’s an Exotic Traditional, like Ezekiel, Felix, Matthias, Maximilian, Severin, Thaddeus, Titus, and Zechariah. Joachim James has a nice ring, as does Joachim Paul.

(9) Cassian or Cashel
Speaking of Exotic Traditionals, and looping back around to the beginning of the list and names that are similar to Mason, I saw Cassian on the Exotic Traditionals list and thought it might be really cool for this little guy. I’ve seen it used in Catholic families, for St. John Cassian, and it’s said CASH-en—which allows for the awesome nickname Cash! Cash made me think of another Cash- names I’ve suggested to other families: Cashel, like the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster. Cashel taps into the Irishness of Molly and Finnian, and I think it would come across as sort of surnamey to people, which fits with Mason’s style. I like Cassian James, Cassian Paul, and Cashel James.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Mason, Molly, Kateri, Anthony, and Gianna’s little brother?

Birth announcement: Abraham James!

I’m working on today’s consultation post — I should have it up later this morning — but first, I’m so excited to share that Grace at Camp Patton has had her baby!! A handsome little BOY who has been given the fantastic name … Abraham James!

As with Phoebe and with Bosco, I’ve again been surprised with the new Patton baby’s name — and I love being surprised!! Abraham has that nice long length that Sebastian and Theodore have, and his nickname Abe is SO DARLING! Abe Patton. That is such a fun and friendly and perfect name for a little guy. (I’m also kind of tickled that I was *sort of* swirling in the right spot with my suggestions of Isaac and Nathaniel. 😊)

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big sibs Julia, Bash, Theo, Phoebe, and Bosco, and happy birthday Baby Abe!! Be sure to check out his sweet face on Grace’s blog or her Instagram!

Baby name consultation: Saintly surname style for third brother

Christina, who has an Etsy shop called The Rushnyk Room (“Beautifully repurposed rushnyks and vintage goods”), and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! Little brother joins big brothers:

Shepherd Gerald (Shep)
Becket George (Beck)

I love them! They go together so well!

Christina writes,

We have decided to go ahead and use [husband’s middle name] Gray for this boy’s middle name … We (especially I) want there to be some kind of Catholic/Christian meaning. I loved Shepherd, because not only was it after The Good Shepherd, I also always loved the story of the shepherds at the nativity, and just thought it was a good name for a boy…a shepherd takes care of animals, lives in the outdoors, etc..we also love the nickname ‘Shep’ and our son goes by this often. Becket we got from St. Thomas Becket and we just liked the surname…a little more unique than just naming him Thomas and liked that he could go by ‘Beck’ as a nickname. We really like names that can be shortened, but this is not a total deal breaker….but I would prefer something that has a good nickname. So, we obviously like more unique names, but don’t want anything too strange…like we are trying too hard. ha

We already have a good list of names going, but hoping you can add to the mix.
Names we have been marinating on:

FISHER- After St. John Fisher, and again, similar to Shepherd, there are lots of fishermen references in the bible- Jesus, the apostles, etc..also, just a good ‘boy’ name. I really love this name … [but] really no good nickname for it. My husband thinks ‘Fin’ is just totally random and doesn’t make sense for Fisher, and Fish isn’t ideal.

AUSTIN- pretty common name, but we do like it. I googled that there actually is a St. Austin or is a nickname for Augustine (which I love bc I would love a baby Gus..but husband says no to that one…he is not down with the super Roman/formal/old sounding names…so no Maximilians, Boscos. etc), but I never knew that before…so doesn’t scream Catholic name to me…but maybe it is.

COOPER- I would like to spell it Cuper after St. Joseph Cupertino, but husband nixed that…so would it still be considered a saint’s name with this spelling? I am worried Cooper Gray would just be too secular for me…but I do like the name! We do love the nickname ‘Coop’.

FULTON- I love the idea of this name, but it just does not flow off the tongue that easily for me…if that makes any sense. Just wish it was a little more pleasing to my ears…but seeing if it grows on me.

PIERCE- this is actually also a family name as well, and I saw it is a form of Peter…similar to Fulton though…I really want to like it, but something about it just sounds harsh to my ears…but still in the running. We would also be using two family names if we did Pierce Gray, so not sure if that is totally kosher.

Other names we have thrown around…Cade, James, Patrick, Jack (a little common compared to his brother’s names, so not sure it would work, but we like those), Sawyer (not a saint’s name and too much ‘er’ with our last name, but it is a name we liked.

Um, I THINK that is everything! Do you think you would have anything to add? I feel like I have looked at so many name lists already!

Oh, and XAVIER! I love it, but husband is trying to come around on that one still…a little strange for him (he was not raised Catholic…I tried to tell him this isn’t really that strange of a name for Catholics!)

I so much enjoyed reading this whole thing! They just have such a great, fun style, while still being tied into the faith.

To start, some thoughts about the names on their list:

— I think Fisher nicked Fin is so clever!! Too bad Christina’s hubby doesn’t like it! I’m not sure what else there is as a nickname besides Fin and Fish though! Unless … they *could* call him Jack, since Fisher is for St. John Fisher, and Jack’s a nickname for John. That would cause a lot of questions from others (“Why did you name him Fisher if you’re going to call him Jack?”) but maybe that doesn’t bother them. Interestingly, it seems Fulton Sheen was named Peter John but called Fulton (his mom’s maiden name), so they have a precedent to follow!

— Christina’s absolutely right that Austin is a medieval variant of Augustine, just like Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so it does have impeccable credentials. I don’t think most people know that though, so I don’t think it comes across as obviously saintly. Which is fine, if they’re okay with that!

— I love Cooper for them, I think it’s my favorite of their ideas! I mean, I think the intention is the most important thing, and wrangling spellings to fit intentions doesn’t always work, so if they intend for Cooper to be for St. Joseph of Cupertino, then it is! I don’t suppose Christina’s hubs would go for the full Cupertino? I like it with Shepherd and Becket! And the Cooper as a nickname can be spelled whatever way. They could also look for another way to get to the nickname Coop — something like Colin Patrick or Conrad Pierce could make sense of it — but then you’d lose your Gray. Ooh! What about Joseph Gray — Joseph for St. Joseph Cupertino — nicknamed Coop? Sort of like my Fisher nicknamed Jack idea above? I’m kind of loving that!

— Fulton’s a great name! I think maybe a good nickname could make them feel better about it? I posted a bunch here (check the comments too); I think Fulton Xavier nicked Fox is my favorite! (They do lose their Gray, but maybe Christina’s husband would be okay with Xavier in the middle?)

— Ever since this reader shared with me that she knows a little Pierce named for Our Lady (her heart would be pierced with a sword), I’ve loved it! Yes, it’s a form of Peter, and as for using two family names — that’s totally up to them! I used two family names for most of my boys, but that kind of thing is important to my family. If Christina’s family would be upset, then they definitely shouldn’t!

— I’m laughing that Xavier is too strange for Christina’s hubs but Shepherd and Becket aren’t! in 2015, Shepherd wasn’t even in the top 1000 names given to boys in America, and Beckett (that spelling) was no. 218 (Becket wasn’t in the top 1000) … while Xavier was no. 90! It’s definitely not a strange name these days, Catholic or not, and I’m sorry to say it’s losing a bit of its Catholic-only cachet as it becomes more broadly popular. That said, I think it still has a lot of saintliness attached to it.

— I like Cade, James, Patrick, and Sawyer as well (and Sawyer is a style match for BOTH Becket and Shepherd, according to the Baby Name Wizard [which lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity]!! No wonder they like it!). I will say that using the more unusual Gray — which has more of the feel of Shepherd and Becket to me — as a middle name makes me really love the idea of a more traditional first name for the first name, so I’m interested to see James and Patrick on their list of names they like. James Gray and Patrick Gray are both really handsome, and mirror the style of Shepherd Gerald and Becket George, but flipped. I wonder if using a more unusual nickname for a common first name would help? James could be … Jay? Not that that’s all that unusual … hmm … I can’t think of any others! For Patrick, the surname Patton is derived from Patrick … which also sounds like paten … perhaps Patrick called Paten (for a Catholic feel) or Patton (if they just like the sound)! I’ve also seen Packy and Patch used as nicknames for Patrick — Pack is just like Jack, so I could see them liking that … but is it too similar to Beck? I also knew a Patrick called Trick. My idea above of Joseph Gray nicked Coop also fits in with this idea.

Additional ideas I had that I thought they might like are:

(1) Kolbe
Like Becket, this is a saintly surname (for St. Maximilian Kolbe), and both the last-name-as-first-name style and the natural nickname Kole seem perfect as a brother to Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck!

(2) Miles
I think Miles can have a surname-y feel, and I’ve talked a bit on the blog about its faith-y connections: it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love a masculine Marian name!

(3) Gilmore
Gilmore was actually inspired by one of the names the BNW said is a style match for Shepherd: Gibson. It means “son of Gilbert,” and I almost included it in my suggestions, but I was finding myself wishing the “Gil” part from Gilbert was included, and then I remembered Gilmore! Like Miles, it’s a Marian name — and it actually means the same thing! In this case, it’s an anglicization of Gillamhuire, and I love the nickname Gil! My only hesitation is Gilmore Gray — I don’t mind it objectively, but I do think it calls Gilmore Girls to mind pretty strongly.

(4) Hawthorn(e)
My last idea is Hawthorn (or Hawthorne), which can also be considered Marian —
one of Our Lady’s French titles is Notre Dame de l’Aubépine (Our Lady of the Hawthorn)! I think Hawthorn’s a really cool, unusual name for a boy, and I know of one family who used it and decided on Hawk as a nickname, and I also love the idea of Thorn(e).

And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck’s little brother?

Baby name consultation: Traditional, timeless, saintly name needed for boy no. 5

I have this group of girlfriends from college that make up most of my inner circle — girls I lived with, laughed with, cried with, had as bridesmaids in my wedding, and still to this day count as sisters. I’m so excited that today’s consultation is for one of them! Rosey and her husband Brian are expecting their sixth born baby — and fifth boy! (This makes seventeen boys [and only three girls!] among us! Boy no. 16’s birth announcement is here.)

This little guy joins big sibs:

Kenneth Brian
Paul Vincent
Clare Patricia Rose
James Emanuel
Henry Joseph

An amazingly named bunch of kids, don’t you think? 😍

Brian got the ball rolling by writing,

Kate! Help! This baby is never going to be named!

You know our existing names as a starting point. First name should be a fairly traditional, timeless catholic saint name, the middle name can be a little more ‘catholicy catholic’ but not all the way out there (Augustine, Blaise, Benedict OK; but Polycarp or Athanasius would be too much)

We don’t seek to nickname, unless there’s an obvious, traditionally accepted nickname for a particular name, we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name. We do use diminutives at home currently: Kenny, Paulie, Jamie, but we like that each son can take their full first name out into the world ‘as is’ with no problem.”

(This part made me laugh, regarding nicknames: “we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name.” They know me too well! 😂)

Brian continues:

I have some combos I really like, but Rosey is ‘meh’ with (at the moment) 🙂:

Charles Augustine
Mark Augustine
Andrew (w Benedict, Charles or Thomas as middle)

Other first names I think could work, but also not grabbing Rosey:

Thomas
Jude
Anthony
John
George
Steven
Francis

Names excluded for various reasons:

Luke [doesn’t work with last name]
Peter
Michael (though could possibly be used as a middle name)
David

And because it’s hilarious and I’m still laughing about it, there’s this too:

Also, FTR, I gave Rosey a spreadsheet of 73 ‘acceptable to me’ FN/MN combos and asked her to check her top 10-20, but she just put it in the junk drawer and said to skip straight to you. She never likes to take the engineering approach. *sigh*

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

As for Rosey, she said,

I really don’t care for Charles. But I guess names that I don’t totally hate are (in no specific order) blaise, George, mark, jude, Matthew and of course I love the names of the kids we have. I am OK with Augustine as a middle name and I guess Charles would be fine for a middle name too. I probably would go for almost any middle name.”

This is such a fun challenge! I’ve loved watching Rosey and Brian name each of their children, and being able to offer some thoughts/ideas/suggestions for one of them is such a privilege!

So of course there are lots of great ideas here. I’m a big fan of mixing safe with adventurous, like with James Emanuel, Charles Augustine, and Mark Augustine … if they used something like Blaise or Jude for first names, I could see something more staid like Michael or Francis balancing them out really nicely and making them feel more comfortable with the overall effect (not saying Blaise and Jude are crazy, just a little more adventurous than their other ideas and and their other kids’ names … and actually, I love the idea of Blaise for them because they’re into track/cross country — you know, Blaise … like blaze … like super speedy! 😁) But of course none of that is necessary either — safe + safe, and adventurous + adventurous are fine and fabulous!

I admit I tried to think a *tiny* bit outside the box since Henry’s name was a surprise to them last time — it wasn’t even on the list until the end. One of my ideas in particular doesn’t fit their “traditional and timeless” criteria, but I had to throw in at least one like that, just in case!

You all know that I rely pretty heavily on the Baby Name Wizard when doing consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s uncannily accurate! But of course it doesn’t always nail a couple’s style, and the lists of similar names it offers aren’t comprehensive, and it doesn’t always do so great with heavy Catholicky Catholic names. (Which is where I come in. 😊)

Okay, without further ado! Based on all my research as well as names I’d come up with for Rosey and Brian before I even cracked the BNW book open, here are my ideas for their newest little guy:

(1) Timothy
I don’t know if it was intentional (and certainly not with Kenny, since his is a straight honor name), but their older kids’ first names all have a distinctly (to me) Irish/Scottish/Brit feel to them (I know they have other associations as well, I just mean as a group), which is one of the reasons I love Timothy for them. Like their other kids, it doesn’t hit you over the head with Celtic-y feeling, but it’s a popular name in Ireland and with Irish and Irish-American families, so it’s taken on a green sheen. It’s also biblical, saintly, traditional, and timeless. I really love this one for them. And since it’s longer, a shorter middle would make a nice rhythm: Timothy Jude, Timothy Blaise, and Timothy George are all really nice imo.

(2) Fulton
This is the idea I mentioned earlier as being the one outside-the-box name I allowed myself to include. I don’t even know what made me think of it for Rosey and Brian initially, but it came to me the other day and I rolled it around a few times with their last name … I love it! And Ven. Fulton Sheen, who was actually baptized Peter John but called Fulton, which was his mom’s maide name, is such a great patron! I’m loving the idea of Fulton Peter or Fulton John, especially if they want to highlight the connection to him, or Fulton Anthony or even Fulton Francis (I don’t mind the alliteration, though I know some people don’t care for it.

(3) Robert
Robert’s been on my radar for a while now (I think it was Downton Abbey that did it!) — I’ve been loving how handsome and traditional it is, and the nicknames Bobby and Robby have been striking me as really adorable. And St. Robert Bellarmine!

(4) Martin
Martin’s totally traditional and timeless, but you rare hear Martin anymore! It really fits in nicely with Kenny’s name, I think, which I would describe similarly.

(5) Philip
I’m actually not sure how Rosey and Brian feel about repeating initials, but Philip has long been one of my favorite favorites. I love the traditional nickname Pip for it, but I think it’s one of those nicknames that doesn’t grow really well with a boy, so their mindset — nickname at home/with the family, but not outside — is perfect for Philip/Pip.

(6) Gregory
This is another favorite of mine — I always like to quote what the BNW says about it: “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” I love that! Pope St. Gregory the Great is an amazing patron, and the full Gregory is so handsome.

(7) Theodore
I’ll end with seven ideas, and this last one is fun because it reminds me a lot of Henry — Theodore’s an older name that’s popping up more and more, including among parents who also like Henry, and is on a similar curve as Henry in the SSA stats (though Henry’s a bit ahead of it). Theo’s an easy nickname for home, or Ted/Teddy, and the full Theodore is smart and serious.

Though those seven are my main suggestions, I sometimes find it helpful to list the names that didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason, just in case. David was my no. 1 for them for a long time, until they said it’s on the no list! I almost included Daniel (Danny Boy!), Tobias (maybe too out there?), and Nicholas (I’m still thinking it might be a good idea), and Andrew was another on my mind for them before I even saw that it was a contender.

And those are all my ideas for Rosey and Brian’s littlest guy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kenny, Paul, Clare, James, and Henry?

ETA: I was given permission to include their girl name ideas after I’d already posted, woo! If this baby had been a girl, they planned to use Gemma Katharine, and other girl name combos they like include MaryAlice Veronica, Mary Alice, Veronica Mary, and Veronica Rose.