Baby name consultation: Baby no. 5/boy no. 2 needs short saintly name

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Nash Michael (“His first name is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name and his mother’s middle name. His middle name is after St. Michael the archangel who is one of my favorite saints“)

Clare Ellaine (“Clare is after St. Clare, no real reason just really like the name Clare. Ellaine is my mom’s name and was my middle name“)

Holly Jane (“Jane is after my grandmother. Holly kind of came at the end a few days before she was born, someone was talking about a Holly they knew and the name just struck me and I asked my husband if he liked it and we ended up naming her Holly. This child is the only one who has just a random name that isn’t a saint or a family name, but we get around it by saying that Jane is a family name and there is a St. Jane de Chantal“)

Anna Mary (“We had always liked the name Anna and had seriously considered it for Baby #2, but it felt more right with this baby. My husband’s mom is also named Ann, so she is the family connection. We chose Mary because she was born on the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary. She was born 2 weeks early which very much surprised us and her name wasn’t set in stone. MY mom told me that day when I thought I was in labor about the feast day and it was just perfect to name her after Mary“)

I loooove these names! They make such a pleasing set to me! And I love that Anna’s middle name was because she was born on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary — one of my favorite feasts!

Ashley writes,

We always have a VERY difficult times with naming. And boys are especially hard. We do not name the child until they are born. We usually have a few top contenders, but it always just feels better for us to name them once they are here. We kind of have a bit of a theme with our kids of including saint/religious name and also a family name. One of our kids is a combo, but I think that I kind of want to continue that now that we have started it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. I would probably rather forgo the family name before I left off a religious or saint name.

All of their names have tended to be short, which I like and they aren’t shortened. We do call Anna, Annie and Anna. We use both names interchangeably.

Okay so now for the big dilemma on our hands. We are so stuck and don’t really like any names. Let me tell you briefly about this pregnancy though.

We were about ready to try for #5, about 2 years ago, when I had a series of health events that really drug me down. I ended up having chronic neck and back pain amongst other things. There was A LOT of stress, a lot of dr apps, physical therapy and sadness. I wondered if I would always be in pain for the rest of my life. We avoided pregnancy for a long time but in my deep part of my heart I wanted another baby so bad. But I was very very very scared. I was scared of what would happen to my body through a pregnancy, would my pain get worse, would I be able to do it … All of these fears. And at the beginning of this year I began to have improvements, but continued to hold off on pregnancy. My drs cleared me to get pregnant but I just could not get over the fear even though I really wanted another child. So I had been loosely but VERY conservatively using NFP to avoid and low and behold I became pregnant. I wasn’t being strict with NFP but I def didn’t think it was a fertile time either. The feeling that I had when I got the positive test was such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father. I felt like God was telling me, ”Ashley I know that you are scared to “try” for another baby so I am not going to make you make that decision.” I felt like he was saying, ”Ashley I am bigger and greater than your fears.” It was such an intense moment for me in my life! And this pregnancy has been awesome. I have felt great and I have felt like I have gotten a lot of clarity on my chronic pain condition and healing of mind body and soul!

So to say the least, I truly feel more than with any other child that this baby was so intended by God to not only be here in existence but also as a gift to me especially, one that has had great impact on my relationship with God and through this baby and pregnancy has brought about much healing.”

Isn’t this such a wonderful story?! I love how Ashley articulated that she felt “such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father,” what a gift. ❤

Ashley continues,

I mention all this because I had thought about some name that kind of represented some of that. I had looked up Theodore (Theo) because it means God s gift and it is on our maybe list because of that.”

Ashley explained to me that she doesn’t really care for a lot of traditional names (Matthew-type names), nor currently popular names (Aiden, Jaxon), nor country names (Colt, Cole, West).

My husband’s name is Jeffrey Locke and he doesn’t want a jr. On his side John is a very popular boy name. His nephew, brother, dad and grand dad are all John Locke. So John is a family name but we couldn’t use it as a 1st name. Locke could be used as a middle family name … Some family names on my side is my grandfather’s name was Leo. My great grandfather was Casper … my great grandfathers were Ray Rhymes and Ralph Harry; some other names on my side are McVea (but that has already been heavily used by my cousin) and my dad’s name is Rhymes but my sister already used it for her 1st daughters middle name. My maiden name is Oliver which is popular now but I don’t really like it and I don’t think it sounds good with my last name Wagner because of the -er at the end of both of the names. On my husband’s side there is a William Baumann and then John Locke.

Some names that have kind of made it on our list are Bruno, Leo, Ansel (my husband doesn’t like it though), Brock (but reminds me of 80’s), Ben, Raph/Raif, Theo, Abram, Owen, Sam, Isaac, Ford.

Ben has always been a name we liked, but my problem is that I don’t like Benjamin or Bennet, or Benedict. So I had said in the past I would just name my kid Ben. I feel like a lot of boy names have longer names and then there is the shortened version that the kid is called. (Benjamin/Ben, William/Will, Theodore/Theo) Problem is in most all of those situations I don’t like the long name and I wonder whether you can just name the kid the short name? Because I don’t want to name my kid Benjamin when I don’t like the name Benjamin just so I can call him Ben. Kind of like with Theodore, I don’t really like Theodore, but Theo is ok.

Abram has kind of struck me. You could call the kid Abe which is ok, but the longer name Abram isn’t that long and I actually kind of like it, but husband isn’t totally keen on it.

Leo is my grandfather name and I like it and am unsure about it all at the same time.

Bruno my son came up with after watching a movie about St. John Bosco, but I feel like with Bruno Mars it just kind of ruins it.

I think that we do not like names that are difficult for people to say or spell. That is why I like the name of my son Nash so much. It is different, not many people have that name, but no one ever asks how to spell it or for me to repeat it. It can’t be shortened or nicknamed. So I think we tend to lean towards those kind of names, especially looking at our other kids names, short, easy to say, can’t be nicknamed really.

So I think maybe that wraps it up … or maybe this is all just a jumbled mess of words. I just feel very discouraged because I will go through and read 1000 boy names and not really like any of them and none of the names on our list do I really really like and I just worry this baby won’t have a name 😦 or that I will just have to settle on a name. I don’t have great expectations of absolutely LOVING and feeling totally connected to a name because I just never feel that way before hand which is part of why we don’t name until the baby is here. I think its hard for me to connect a baby I haven’t seen with a name … it’s just weird to me and I certainly could never call a baby a name until there are here. (I think I am weird like that)

But I hope that you can think of some possibilities, although I fear that every boy name out there is just going to be blah. But thank you so much in advance for your time and your talents and good luck!!!!!

I’m sure we can help Ashley and her husband! Even if only by sparking a conversation that leads them to the right name! Ashley also sent a photo of her beautiful family, in case it was helpful for inspiration:

IMG_4587

What a handsome/beautiful crew! 😍😍😍

So first off, I love that Theo(dore)’s on their list because of Ashley’s wonderful experience, and I think “just Theo” is a really nice fit with Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna. Theo Locke sounds pretty cool!

Speaking of Locke, I just have to say — it seems like a homerun for their son’s first name! With Nash having a surname feel — indeed, having been a surname in Ashley’s husband’s family before it was her son’s first name — I immediately thought when I started reading her email that another family surname would be a great idea for their second son, and then when I read about Locke it seemed so perfect! Something like Locke William (for the William on her husband’s side) or Locke Raymond (to lengthen her great-grandfather Ray’s name) would be so handsome (and both William and Raymond are saints’ names). I also like the idea of Rhymes and McVea — if they weren’t already used in Ashley’s family, I’d think they were great options.

Of the names on their list, a few thoughts:

  • Bruno—this is the second time in a month I’ve heard the name Bruno from a reader! I guess I wouldn’t have thought that Bruno Mars would ruin the name, but rather that he would make it seem extra feasible — do the rest of you agree? The fact that it was inspired by a St. John Bosco movie made me wonder if Ashley and her hubs would consider Bosco as a first name? Blogger Grace Patton has a Bosco, it’s such a cool name I think (she also has an Abe!)
  • Leo—great name, and I love that it’s a family name for them! It’s easy to say and spell, like Nash
  • Ansel—I’m not sure if this is helpful, but if Ashley’s husband doesn’t like Ansel, there’s the similar and very saintly Anselm
  • Brock—Ashley’s comment about Brock reminding her of the 80s made me laugh! I can see what she means, though it actually peaked in popularity in 2003
  • Ben—it’s funny that, though I think Theo can stand on its own as a name, I have a harder time getting there with Ben. I do see what Ashley means about not caring for the longer version and just preferring to name him Ben—it’s certainly not the end of the world, and I’m sure other parents have done it (in fact, checking the 2016 SSA stats, there were 347 baby boys named just Ben!). I had some other ideas for them on how to get to Ben though, if they were open to thinking of a formal name for it—all of these were bestowed on boys in 2016 per the SSA:

— Ruben/Reuben
— Eben
— Bento
— Robben
— Benz
— Benning
— Bence
— Benno

One that’s not on this list that I like is Bendt — it’s a Danish form of Benedict

  • Raph/Raif—I usually see these as nicknames for Raphael (I usually see the spelling Rafe, if that’s helpful), but Rafe (that spelling) is also a variant of Ralph, and reflects the way the name used to be said (it still is sometimes—actor Ralph Fiennes says it “Rafe”), so that could make it a nice nod to the Ralph Harry in their family. AND — the meaning of Raphael is “God has healed,” which is so perfect for this baby!
  • Abram—I like Abram a lot, and Abe is one of my favorite nicknames! Abel is another with similar sounds
  • Owen—I actually think Owen’s a great idea for this family, because it’s short like their other kids’ names, and it has usage as a surname, which fits in with the style of Nash—St. Nicholas Owen is one of my favorites!
  • Sam—If they’re thinking of Sam on its own, I feel like it’s similar to Ben for me, in that I have a hard time seeing it as a given name on its own (but who cares what I think, if they like it!). If Ashley and her hubs don’t care for Samuel or Samson, I’ve often thought Sam could work as a nickname for Ambrose, which is sort of similar to Abram and Ansel, and super saintly. Another nickname idea I’ve liked for Ambrose is Bram, and I actually love Bram on its own too—I should have thought of it when I was commenting on Abram above, as Bram is a form of Abraham
  • Isaac—love it
  • Ford—this would be a great brother name for Nash I think! Especially if it has family significance! There’s a Bl. Thomas Ford, which can give them a saintly tie-in
  • Casper and Oliver are both awesome—and Oliver would be particularly attractive to me, being Ashley’s maiden name—but I agree that they don’t sound great with the last name Wagner

I totally get that Ashley and her hubs like names that are easy to say and spell, so I focused on that when looking for name ideas for them, and I let Nash’s name influence me the most! I tried to find names that I thought felt like his—short and surnamey, or at least one or the other. I also tried to find faith connections for each of my ideas, though I wasn’t able to for all of them (but that can be easily remedied by the middle name).

That said, you all know that I start all my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, so I did look up Clare, Holly, and Anna too to see if there were any boy ideas that were similar in style to theirs, that would also work as a brother for Nash.

Based on that research, as well as some ideas that I had on my own, these are my suggestions:

(1) Grant
Weirdly, Clare doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but Claire and Clara do, so I looked them both up, as they have different style matches. Grant was a match for Claire, and it immediately felt like a good suggestion. I know a family with a Benjamin and a Grant, so Grant makes sense to me for someone who likes Ben. It’s easy to say and spell, just like they’re hoping for. (For what it’s worth, Benjamin is also a match for Claire, and Leo for Clara.) I looked up the popularity of each name I suggested here (as well as their older kids) to be sure they weren’t too popular, and Grant was no. 171 in 2016, which is a really comfortable place to be—not top 100, but not unheard of. (For reference, Nash was 286, Clare was 719 [but Claire was 40]), Holly was 527, and Anna was 51.)

(2) Miles or Milo
You all know that I often suggest Miles/Milo on the blog, ever since I discovered that they have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I loooove Marian names for boys! I thought their popularity was pretty good for Ashley’s taste too—Miles was no. 105 in 2016, and Milo was 248, which I think makes it an extra good match for Nash, who was no. 286. Miles was also a style match for Clara, and Milo for Leo.

(3) Case
This is one of my own ideas, inspired by a family I did a consultation for a while ago who had a similar aesthetic as this family. One of their boys was Case, in honor of (now) Bl. Solanus Casey. I loved that! I love Casey (and it’s a style match for Holly!), but I get that some people don’t like that it has usage among both boys and girls, so I thought Case was a great solution. Nash and Case have a really similar feel, and I love any name that ties to Bl. Solanus! Case was no. 551 in 2016 (for reference, Casey was no. 560 for boys and 857 for girls).

(4) Jude
I’m actually surprised that Jude wasn’t already on their list, which makes me think maybe they considered it and decided against it? It’s actually a match for Anna and Leo, and it was no. 161 in 2016. I like that it starts with a J, so it can maybe be a nod to Ashley’s husband Jeffrey and the Johns in his family. Jude Locke has exactly the same rhythm as John Locke, which can be another connection to them.

(5) Blaise
This is really just because it’s a really saintly, short name. I also thought they might like a B suggestion, since they have Bruno, Brock, and Ben on their list (and Abram, which has a strong B sound). It was no. 903 in 2016.

(6) Kolbe
Speaking of really saintly, short names, Kolbe is that, and it’s also a surname! I know Ashley said she doesn’t like Cole (which, incidentally, was a match for Claire and Owen), but I think Kolbe has a different flavor all together. It wasn’t in the top 1000 in 2016, though there were 51 boys so named.

(7) Nico
I looove the name Nico! I think this might be a wild card suggestion, as some people think it has too much of a Latin feel to work well for families that aren’t Hispanic or Italian, but it’s listed on behindthename.com as a Dutch and German short form of Nicholas or Nicodemus (in addition to being an Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese short form), and the spelling Niko is a Finnish, Croatian, Slovene, Georgian, and German form. Nico was no. 496 in 2016, and Niko was no. 614. It’s definitely not trendy, or country, or Matt-esque, and I don’t consider it “wacky out there” either. So maybe?

(8) Evan
My last idea for Ashley and her hubs is Evan. It was a style match for Owen, which is what put it on my radar, and what encouraged me to list it here is that it’s a variant of John. Ashley said they can’t use John as a first name because of all the Johns in their family, but using a variant of John could be a cool way to work around that, and still nod to those relatives. I quite like the idea of Evan Locke. Evan was no. 69 in 2016, and I think it fits their criteria of “easy to say and spell.” (Other John variants are Sean, Shane, and Ian, and I’ve even seen an argument made for Owen having usage as a Gaelic form of John, so if they end up going with Owen, that could be a nice connection too).

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna?

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Baby name consultation: “Light,” “mercy” good meanings for baby no. 5, plus some other rules

Happy New Year!! I hope you all saw my Year In Review post yesterday — so many thanks to all of you for a wonderful 2017!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — a little green bean! This little one joins big sibs:

Caleb Michael
David Joseph
Isaac Matthew
Lucilia Faustina

I really love these names! Old Testament names are some of my favorites, and brothers Caleb, David, and Isaac are just so pleasing! As for Lucilia — how pretty! How unusual! So unusual, in fact, that I’ve never heard it before!

Erin writes,

Names we have considered for this baby:
Eloise or Eloisa Josephine, Magdalene/Magdalena– We like Eloise right now but I’m starting to have second thoughts. Not really sure why. Maybe not girly enough? My husband likes Josephine because he wants to honor his sisters Jean and Steph and he thinks this name works. And I’m not opposed to it.

Jude, Francis, Blaise (Probably leaning towards Francis for middle name). We love the name Jude. However, I don’t like its only one syllable. I would prefer 2 or more for a first name. We both like Blaise but it feels a little too unique for us.

Names on our no list:
Margaret, James, Theresa, Rosemary, no direct family names (Francis is ok), Sara, Jenna, Alicia, Alana, Louisa (we think its too close to Lucy), Heather, Paula, Dianna

People to honor:
Girls maybe a something honoring both Ellen and Evelyn without using either name or Jean and Steph again without using their actual name. I also am growing closer to St. Therese but my husband works with many Terry’s so he says that is out as a possibility.

Any saints or biblical characters. I am particularly connected with Light in particular. I love to say let your light shine or be the light as it means a lot to me. Which is why we decided on Lucilia (Loo-seal-ya). We didn’t like Lucille because it seemed too old and not feminine enough. Also strong devotion to Divine Mercy.

Requirements: Prefer 2 or more syllables (more than 4 letters). Girl I want something very feminine. Either ending in -a, -lyn- ette preferred. I think.
Saint or bible related. We like vintage names. Unique but not too bold. We like Ignatius and Blaise but we are afraid they are too bold. Oh and pronounciation can’t be too difficult. My husband wants Blaise to be pronounced Blay-ce not Blaze. Oh and nicknames. We are big on nicknames. We have Ca, D, Ike/Ikie, and Lu or Lulu. So preferrably names that we can shorten the beginning of to have a nickname. (This is our issue with Magdalene because although tons of nickname possibilities we’d probably end up nicknaming Mags and I don’t like Maggie/Mag etc) We are leaning towards Josephine for girl middle name and Francis for a boy.

Family names:
Evelyn Gerada
David Lee
James
Jerry/Gerald
Scott Michael
Andy Thomas
Chad Garette
Valerie Nicole
MaryAnn Elizabeth
Lyle Francis
Pam
Jennifer
Steve
Ellen Jean
Michael Ralph
Jean Elizabeth
Stephanie Ann
Nataniel/Nat
Noah
Jenny
Grayson
Olivia
Owen
Zach
Tyler
Dennis
Molly
Brian
Amy
Ava
Maxwell
Adam
Lauren

I had fun working on this! Eloise, Eloisa, Magdalene, and Magdalena are all lovely. I’m also really interested in Josephine to honor Jean and Steph! That’s pretty clever! Because they used Joseph for David’s middle name, I thought I’d give some thought to some other possibilities to honor Jean and Steph (I assume Steph is Stephanie?), and came up with Jeanie (the “anie” from Stephanie), Phoebe (a stretch, visually, but I thought it could be for the “ph” in Steph plus the long E sound in Jean plus and ending all her own, resulting in a biblical name), and Fiona (similar to Phoebe with the “ph” sound from Steph and the long E sound from Jean; Fiona was a style match for Jude, which is what put it on my radar. But it’s not a saint’s name as far as I know). But I love Josephine too.

Ooh wait a minute, maybe Photine/Photini could be perfect! It’s the name traditionally given to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7), it means “light” (!!), and the “Ph” could be for Steph and the “ine/ini” (which I believe is said “eenie” in Greek) could be for Jean because of the long E? I know it’s unusual, but in the middle name spot anything goes!

Jude, Francis, and Blaise are great names for boys too! Regarding Jude being only one syllable, I had two ideas. One is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for Julian, so that’s a possibility; the other is to use Judah, which is a great style match for Caleb, David, and Isaac. Or, I wonder what they would think of switching Jude to a girl and using it as a nickname for Judith?

Also, I know Erin said she prefers names with more than four letters, but since Blaise is only one syllable, I wonder what they’d think of Boaz? Blaise and Boaz are kind of similar in that they start with B and end with the Z sound (I do think Erin’s husband’s preference for “blayce” is an uphill battle, and I love the “blaze” pronunciation for them anyway because of the light connection!), and Boaz is Old Testament like their other boys. It was high on my list of suggestions for Erin and her hubs until I remembered they don’t want four-letter names! Also, Lucilia was given to only 11 girls in 2016, while Blaise was given to 236 boys and it was in the top 1000 (no. 903), so it’s definitely not too unique for them! AND — I was just researching St. Therese a little, specifically because Erin said she’s growing closer to her, and I discovered that she was born on Rue Saint-Blaise! Wow! That could be a really neat way to nod to St. Therese with a boy’s name!

I also really tried to think of a good way to honor Ellen and Evelyn — I kept feeling like the perfect answer was within reach, I just hadn’t found it yet, but I never did end up feeling like I’d found it. For what it’s worth, the ones I scribbled down were Evangeline, Elena, and Avila.

As for St. Therese, I was immediately like, “Tess is the perfect answer!” and then I remembered again the four letter thing. But a few thoughts here: One is, it’s strange to me that Terry would turn Erin’s husband off of Therese — these days, I’d be shocked if anyone defaulted to Terry upon meeting a Therese. Terry’s definitely a nickname of the past, and I don’t believe it’s ready for revival just yet — I think it still feels pretty dated to most of today’s parents. Today’s Therese/Teresa nickname is Tess, which would be so great for this family! Secondly, if Erin’s husband just won’t go for Therese but they like the Tess idea, maybe they could do something like Marie-Tess? Marie is actually Erin’s middle name, so it would be a really nice nod to her, and also — St. Therese was Marie-Therese! Thirdly, what about Tessa as a given name? It’s such a sweet name, it’s more than one syllable and more than four letters; this post gives a lot more great info.

Regarding nicknames for Magdalene/a, I do get it that if they prefer to just use the beginning sound of a name as a nickname and they don’t like Mags/Maggie, then Magdalene/a would be difficult for them. But there are other nicknames they could consider, like Mae, Maddie, Magda, or Lena (though that’s using the end of the name, which I’m guessing they don’t want to do). Or maybe Meg? Maybe it’s different enough from Mag that Erin and her hubs would be okay with it? If Margaret can be Meg, than I think Magdalene could too.

Okay! On to my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, looking up Caleb, David, Isaac, Lucia and Lucy as stand-ins for Lucilia (I thought the matches for Lucy and Lucia seemed closer to what I perceive their style to be than the matches for Lucille), Eloise, Jude, Francis, and Blaise, and since Magdalene/a doesn’t have its own entry, I looked it up in the Name Matchmaker. Based on the results of all that, and my own ideas, these are my ideas:

Girl
(1) Clara, Claret (Clarette? Clairvaux?)
When I read Erin’s email and saw that she has a connection with light, I immediately thought of the Clare family of names. Clare comes from the Latin for “clear, bright,” which, while not exactly “light,” is close enough! In fact, this mama named her daughter Claire (the French spelling) because of its connection to light. Because Erin doesn’t care for one-syllable names, I thought Clara was an easy fix. If they wanted to be a bit more unusual, I also thought of Claret, as in St. Anthony Mary Claret, which made me think of Clarette, which I think I like even better for this family. It has the -ette ending Erin said she might like. Or Clairvaux! We see it a bit here on the blog (Lindsay’s girl and Amy’s girl), and I wasn’t sure if it had the “light, bright” meaning, but the Wiki entry for Clairvaux Abbey in France said its Latin name is Clara Vallis, which translates as “clear valley,” so I do think the Clair part is synonymous with the Clare family of names. Clare and Clair(e) are easy nicknames for Claret(te) and Clairvaux, like their other kids’ nicknames.

(2) Clementine
I had scribbled Clementine down for Erin before I did any research, because of her love of Divine Mercy. “Clement” means “merciful,” and Clementine is a style match for both Eloise and Magdalene! Clem and Clemmie are cute nicknames too.

(3) Mercy, Mercedes
These were also inspired by Erin’s devotion to the Divine Mercy. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I saw both of these names considered by families, and I think they could both be beautiful for this family! And in fact, Mercedes is a style match for Magdalena.

(4) Faith
Mercy made me think of other virtue-type names, especially those with a Puritan-type feel, as I think the Old Testament names of their boys fit in well with that style and I could see Lucilia doing so as well. Faith is actually a style match for Caleb, so I thought it needed a spot on this list! (And this just made me think of an addition to the Clara entry above: Clarity!)

(5) Estelle, Estella
Estelle is a match for Magdalene and Estella for one of Eloise’s matches, and since it means “star,” I thought it was a nice tie-in to Erin’s love of light-meaning names. It can also be Marian, for Our Lady Star of the Sea!

Boy
(1) Gabriel
Erin’s due in March, so I love the idea of Gabriel for this baby because the feast of the Annunciation is March 25! Gabriel’s also a style match for Caleb and Isaac, and he’s mentioned in both the Old Testament (Daniel 8:16) and the New (Luke), so it would be a good pick if they didn’t want to feel locked in to Old Testament boy names going forward.

(2) John Paul (John-Paul, JohnPaul, Johnpaul)
John Paul is inspired mostly by Erin’s devotion to Divine Mercy — I went to a Catholic Women’s conference in October, and Fr. Gaitley was the keynote speaker (the 33 Days to Morning Glory guy), and he spoke all about how amazing Poland is in salvation history, and of course St. John Paul the Great is one of the reasons. He spoke about how, when JP2 was cardinal, he worked on getting a better translation of St. Faustina’s Diary (because the previous one was full of translational errors that caused it to be temporarily banned by the Vatican). Then of course he canonized St. Faustina, and instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, even dying the evening before it, after the Vigil Mass was celebrated. He is a huge Divine Mercy guy! And the fact that his papal name involves two biblical boy names, and that each one on its own would break Erin’s rules but together they’re okay, is pretty amazing.

(3) Jonas, Jonah
Jonas is simply the Greek form of Jonah, and it was listed as a style match for both Caleb and Lucia (standing in for Lucilia), so I definitely had to include it! I like what the BNW has to say about it: “Jonah is the form of this name that you’ll hear most often today, but the Greek Jonas has historically been the preferred English version. That gives Jonas a double punch: it’s less common and has a throwback pioneer style.” Although, I think Jonah Francis sounds better than Jonas Francis.

(4) Tobias, Tobiah, Tobit
Like Caleb and Isaac, Tobias has a heavy Old Testament feel (David has been so historically popular that I feel like it doesn’t come across as super biblical to many people), and like Jonas/Jonah, Tobias is the Greek form of Tobiah. I love that Tobias/Tobiah is a character in the Book of Tobit, which was removed from Protestant bibles after the Reformation, so it’s a rare bird: heavy-duty Old Testament as well as (within Christian circles) sort of specifically Catholic. I also like the name Tobit itself. Tobiah Francis and Tobit Francis both flow well.

(5) Abram, Abel
This last idea is mostly inspired by the nickname Abe, which I think is one of the best. I considered suggesting Abraham, but I like the shorter Abram better with Caleb, David, and Isaac — especially with Isaac. Or maybe Abram is even too much as a brother to Isaac? If so, I wonder what they would think of Abel? But it’s four letters! Gah! Maybe Abram *is* the better option?

And those are all my ideas for Erin and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia?

Birth announcement: Oscar Xavier!

I posted a consultation for Lisa and her husband just a week before Christmas, and Lisa let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the awesome name … Oscar Xavier!

Lisa writes,

We’re happy to announce the early and unexpected arrival of our little babe, Oscar Xavier, born 12/20 at 36w5d. Our little Ox wasn’t doing so well, so it was time to meet him. As we prayed for his safety and health, we realized we needed some strong intercessions. Upon seeing his face, he was most certainly an Oscar. It took us a bit to decide on a middle name, but found Xavier was the perfect fit. He has some very active saints (and soon-to-be saints) in his corner, and we’re sure God has big plans for our little Ox.”

Ox! I love it! 😍😍😍 Not only does this little guy have Bl. Oscar Romero and St. Francis Xavier watching out for him, but Ox reminded me right away of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was called The Dumb Ox by his classmates — I feel like it’s come to feel affectionate to the Dominicans (if you google “the dumb ox,” you get some pretty amazing results!). So this baby boy is SET!

Congratulations to Lisa and her husband and big sibs Eliette, Margot, and Quentin, and happy birthday Baby Oscar!!

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Oscar Xavier

Baby name consultation: Help needed to continue the French+family theme

Lisa and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and second boy! Little Mister joins big sibs:

Eliette Clare nn Elie or E Clare (“after my French maternal grandmother Eliette, and Clare because my husband proposed on St. Clare’s feast day“)

Margot Kateri nn Maggie (“after my husband’s paternal grandmother and St. Kateri“)

Quentin Louis nn Q (“for the “fifth” member of our family, and Louis for my husband’s maternal grandfather and St. Louis de Monfort“)

I LOVE THESE NAMES! How pretty is Eliette?? The boy name Elliott has been getting some recent play for girls, but Eliette is so lovely and feminine! And the fact that it’s Lisa’s grandmother’s name is amazing! I had to look it up to see what its derivation is, and behindthename has it basically as a feminization of Elijah (which Elliott is derived from as well) — SO cool! Eliette has officially become one of my new favorite names!

Margot Kateri and Quentin Louis are also both amazing! Lisa and her hubby did an amazing job!

Lisa writes,

We’ve tried to include names honoring our family and/or saints. We tend towards a French theme (my French grandmother was the matriarch of my maternal family until her passing). We also like unique names, and with this one, I’m all about fun nicknames. But, with this babe, we’ve struggled finding a name that grabs us. We were trying to find a family name on my dad’s side, but there aren’t any that we like. We’re at such a loss for a name this time, we’re willing to break from our French/family theme.”

Names they’re considering for this baby include:

Oscar (“hat tip to Bl. Oscar Romero”)
Samuel
Simeon
Henry
Milo (“likely as a middle name; I adore this name, after seeing one of your consultations, plus it was the name of one of my husband’s favorite bands. The huz isn’t sure we can pull it off as a first name“)
Xavier
Sebastian (“as a middle name, it sounds too heavy as a first name with our last name“)
Becket (“as a middle name, too similar to Bennett [see below] for a first name“)

Names that they can’t use include:

Bennett
Lucas
Anthony
Alexander
Declan
Paul
John
Phillip
Christopher
Dennis
Max
Wendell
Brannon
Isaac
Charles
Jude
Matthew
Raymond
Richard

And names they don’t like or don’t agree on include:

Bruno (“husband likes, but I don’t“)
Bernard (“husband likes, but I don’t“)
Dominic (“I like but my husband doesn’t“)
Jasper (“I like but my husband doesn’t“)
James, Gregory, Gilbert (“my paternal family names, but we’re not fans“)
Ian
Brian/Ryan
Stephen
Blaise
Francis
Martin
Peter
Thomas
Edward
Oliver
Daniel
David
Jack

Alrighty, so not only do I love all the names they’ve given to their older kiddos, but I love all the names on their list too. Oscar, Samuel, Simeon, Henry, Milo, Xavier, Sebastian, and Becket have each been on my own list at one time or another. I’m surprised that Lisa’s husband isn’t sure they can pull off Milo as a first name? I’m trying to figure out why, and I can’t! It’s been in the top 1000 almost every year since 1900, and is currently at no. 248 — a really great place to be in that it’s familiar but not overly common. Even then, it’s currently more popular than all of their other kiddos’ names: Eliette has never been in the top 1000, Margot is no. 433, and Quentin is no. 486. Popularity-wise, Milo is one of the best fits of all those on their list. Henry, Samuel, and Sebastian are top 25 names (though I think Sebastian specifically — maybe with the French spelling Sebastien? — would be great for them). Oscar’s a bit more popular than Milo, Xavier’s top 100, and Simeon and Becket aren’t in the top 1000. Not that any of this matters — if they like/don’t like a name, then they like/don’t like a name — but I often find it’s helpful to see where in the U.S. naming landscape the names parents are considering land, and also how they match up to the names they’ve already chosen.

Also, you all know that I always use 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; for Lisa and her hubs I also used the Name Matchmaker, and interestingly, Milo kept showing up as a style match for them! Not that I’m pushing Milo on them at all, I just want to reassure them that, as far as I can see, there isn’t any reason they can’t pull it off.

I was interested by their list of names they don’t like or don’t agree on —
Dominic and Blaise specifically were names I had on my final list of suggestions for them until I double checked it against Lisa’s email. Dominic because it’s a style match for them per my research and because they could use the nickname Nico, which I thought might fit their openness to fun nicknames for this baby; Blaise because it’s also a match for their style and it’s specifically French. But again, if Lisa and/or her husband don’t like them, they don’t like them! I was surprised by Bruno and Bernard on Mister’s list — those are some pretty old school names! I did try to take that sensibility into account when coming up with ideas, as well as Lisa’s taste of course.

I’m also sorry that their family names are problematic for them! Of James, Gregory, and Gilbert, I think James is the easiest one to figure out an acceptable way to use. Jacob is the Hebrew variant of James, and names like Jacoby and Jacobson could also be cool ways to work that in in a way they might like. Diego is a Spanish form of James, which actually showed up a lot in my research! I could see it being too much for a first name, but maybe as a middle? Jameson/Jamison, Jamie, Iago, and Seamus are all James variants as well, but I thought for Lisa and Paul the French variant would be best: Jacques. You can say it like ZHOCK, which is the authentic French pronunciation, but I’ve seen it said like JACKS and JAKES by Americans who have it as a surname. I probably wouldn’t recommend Jacques as a first name to them, but putting it in the middle would satisfy their desire for family + French names, and might hopefully also circumvent whatever it is about James that they don’t care for.

The only suggestion I have for Gregory is Gregor, which isn’t that different but is maybe different enough? (If they thought they might have more children in the future, Greer is a feminine variant of Gregory that I love, that I could see fitting in with their kiddos’ names!) And re: Gilbert, I love the nickname Gil, and I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time over the years figuring out ways (besides Gilbert) of getting to Gil. If Lisa and her hubs like that idea (they seem to be open to crazy suggestions, which is fun for me!), my two main ideas are Gabriel with the nickname Gil, and Gideon + a middle name with a heavy L sound to lead to the nickname Gil. (Gilead also works, but I’m not sure that’s their style.) Both Gabriel and Gideon showed up in my research as matches for this family, but not as much as the names I’ve included on my final list below, so I’m happy to mention them here as possibilities. I especially like Gideon for them — maybe Gideon Samuel would make sense of Gil as a nickname? I like Milo too much as a first name idea for them to suggest Gideon Milo, though that could work too. Gideon Luke? Gideon Leo? This is assuming of course that the nickname Gil would be sufficient as a nod to their family member Gilbert …

Alright, based on all my research and my own namey mind, these are my ideas for Lisa and her hubs’ little guy:

(1) Tristan
I love Tristan for them! It’s actually an Old French name, and when I saw it in my research for them, I knew I had to include it. I’ve actually been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows, since Tristan has a connection to the Latin for “sad.” That might not sound like a great meaning for a little guy, but Dolores is from the Spanish for Our Lady of Sorrows, so the idea is quite traditional. And Tristan is just such a cool name! I was trying to think of cool nicknames for it (Tris isn’t great, since there’s that girl character in Divergent named Beatrice/Tris), and I just recently got an email from a mama who wanted to share with me that one of her favorite names, which had been vetoed by her husband, was Tristan Peter, and that she’d intended the nickname Tripp! She loved it so much that she wanted me to know about it specifically so I could pass it on to any other family that might love the idea. So funny that I was in the middle of working on this for Lisa and already had Tristan on my list! Tripp is often used as a nickname for a Third (James III, that kind of thing), and I know another Third who has only ever been known as Tripper, which is also super cute. Since Lisa and her hubs used Quentin for the “fifth” member of their family, I thought they could think of Trip(per) as perfect for the “third” boy in their family! (Husband, Quentin, and new baby.) Any middle name with a strong P could work: Tristan Patrick, Tristan Jasper, Tristan Rupert.

(2) Tobias
Continuing with the T names, I really like Tobias for them as well. It doesn’t seem to have much French usage unfortunately, according to behindthename, but it was a style match for them nonetheless. I love that it comes from the book of Tobit in the bible, which isn’t included in Protestant bibles, so it has a little extra Catholic cred I think.

(3) Porter
Porter’s a name that I’ve never given much thought to until recently — our newly blessed Solanus Casey was a porter (the doorman at his monastery), and I suggested it here as a possibility for honoring him, so when I saw it in my research as a style match for this family, I was happy to include it! I looked it up on behindthename.com to find out more about it, and get this: it’s “ultimately from Old French porte ‘door’”!

(4) Roman, Remy
I love the name Roman, and I love it for this family. The French variant Romain is cool too, if they prefer. Cate Blanchett has a Roman, and so does blogger Kate Rhodes, both of whom are great examples of great naming. Roman also made me think of the name/nickname Remy, which I thought could be great for them too. Remy is a great French name! Such a cool name for a little guy! It’s a variant of Remigius, which is the name of several saints. One caveat is that I’ve seen some girls named Remy, but the Social Security stats show it’s almost twice as popular for boys as it is for girls.

remy

I recommended it to this family, who seems like they might have some overlap with Lisa and her hubs style-wise, and this family has a Remy, and Lisa might also like their style.

(5) Damien
Damian and Damien are both good matches for this family, but I love the French Damien for them, and also because it’s the spelling of St. Damien of Molokai, who’s awesome.

(6) Felix
Felix is a cool, saintly name that’s been getting increased usage among Catholic families recently (here and here, for two examples), and it’s a French name! I love the story of Felix and Elisabeth Leseur, and there are a bunch of Sts. Felix, including popes!

(7) Rocco
Finally, Rocco is a great connection between Lisa’s husband’s Bruno and Lisa’s Dominic, as it’s a style match for them both. There’s a St. Rocco who was a Frenchman — he’s also known as Roch and Rock — so that provides a cool connection for them and some fun nicknames.

And those are all my ideas for Lisa and her husband! What do all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Eliette, Margot, and Quentin?

Birth announcement: Matthias Victor

I did a spotlight on Matthias back in the spring for a reader who’d requested it, and lo and behold the reader has let me know that she’s given birth to a little boy and given him the fantastic combo … Matthias Victor!

Laura writes,

I just wanted to let you know I had my baby about a month ago. Thanks again for doing the Matthias name spotlight. We did in fact name him Matthias … Matthias Victor. He is a very sweet baby and we are all doing well.”

When I asked her if I could post a birth announcement, she provided this additional information:

My children’s names are as follows:

Jude Thaddeus
Augustine Thomas (nn Augie)
Matthias Victor

Andrew and I have dubbed our naming-style as “old school Catholic”. We love the meanings behind our children’s names as we feel they proclaim that this child belongs in our family. So far, with each of our boys, we have been able to honor a family patriarch and an apostle. This pattern might be hard to maintain in the future if we keep having boys, but it has worked for us so far.

Jude Thaddeus – My husband, Andrew Thad, was named after his grandfather Thaddeus. We like that Jude is named after the apostle, but also after his father and great-grandfather. We don’t know any other Jude’s in our circle, but we definitely feel the name is due for a comeback.

Augustine Thomas – Our second boy was named after my grandfather August who went by Augie. We modified it to Augustine to honor St. Augustine of Hippo and we chose Thomas after the apostle. We also love that Augie’s initials match my husband’s initials. Like Jude, Augie is named both after his father, an apostle, and a great-grandfather.

Matthias Victor – We chose Matthias (pronounced ma-THIGH-us) because we simply loved this apostolic name, but as it happens, it was first brought to my notice because “Mathias” is an ancestral name on my side. We ultimately chose to spell his name with two t’s as we felt this was the more common spelling that is seen in terms of our Catholic faith. Victor was chosen to honor my grandfather, Victor, but it is also my father’s middle name and the first name of my brother, who is both a priest and this child’s godfather. His two names together mean, “a gift from our victorious Lord”.

Since this is a name blog, we have silly pet names for our boys too. We often refer to Jude as Juderbug, Augie as Aug-Dog or Augie Doggie, and Matthias has recently been dubbed MaTiger.”

I love all this! What a great set of brothers! I love the reasoning behind all of the names as well, and also Laura’s articulation of their style as “old school Catholic” — right up my alley!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Matthias!!

 

Matthias Victor and his big brothers

Birth announcement: Gregory Conrad!

I posted a consultation for Amanda and her hubs a couple of months ago, and she’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the amazingly perfect name … Gregory Conrad!

Amanda writes,

Gregory Conrad was born yesterday, the feast of St Cecilia (patron saint of musicians) and the anniversary of when this sweet little guy’s daddy asked me to marry him 13 years ago.

Our Little “Rory” is named after Pope St Gregory the Great, who was also a wonderful musician and created the Gregorian Chant, and his daddy, Vincent Conrad, who was named after a grandfather Conrad as well. 🙂

I thought you would also like to know that on the way to the hospital, we looked up male patron saints of musicians and Gregory was at the top of the list. That kind of made up our minds, even before we saw his face, because Gregory and Sylvester were our top two at that point!! If that’s not a sign from Heaven, I don’t know what is 🙂

We let [daughter] Ellie pick his middle name when the kiddos met him, giving her the choices of Lucas, Conrad, or Jonah (because it means stubborn!). She was pretty tickled to get to help. We will also shorten it to “Rory” or even ‘Gregor’ … but not ‘Greg,’ as I’m just not crazy about one syllable. Please keep baby and I in your prayers, as it was a very long and difficult labor and delivery. So thankful he is here and healthy!

Gregory with the nickname Rory was on Amanda’s initial list this time around, and it’s an option I’ve long loved and suggested on the blog! I love it! There’s so much meaning in this little guy’s name and birth, from the connection to music (Amanda’s a musician), to his birthday being the anniversary of the day Amanda and her hubs got engaged, to his name being a five-syllable combo, just like his big brothers and sister, wow!

Please do keep Amanda and her baby boy in your prayers! Congratulations to the whole family, including big sibs Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian, and happy birthday Baby Gregory!!

Gregory Conrad with his mama and big brothers and sister

Spotlight on: Stanley and Stanislaus

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!! Today’s the last day of a novena to St. Anne I’ve been praying, in which I included all of your intentions; your children both living and deceased; those of you who are hoping for babies and those of you struggling with your motherhood; and in thanks for all of you. ❤ Be sure to check in again on Friday — I’ll have a special Black Friday gift for you all!!

Meghan asked for a spotlight on Stanley in light of the recent beatification of Bl. Stanley Rother, and Natalie had previously mentioned considering Stanley because of that same Blessed, and Annie said she *couldn’t wait* for this spotlight, and I heard Bl. Stanley mentioned quite a bit in the press for Bl. Solanus’ beatification this past weekend including in this article (in which my sister is also mentioned! Nbd), so! I think we need a Stanley spotlight!

I’m coupling it with Stanislaus because of their shared first four letters and nickname; because Stanislaus is another name and holy man I’ve had on my mind for a while because of the JP2 story included in this post; and because Stanley has been used as an anglicization of Stanislaus/Stanislaw (but they’re actually two totally separate names).

First, Stanley: from an Old English surname meaning “stone clearing” (according to behindthename). According to the SSA it was a top 100 name from 1900 until 1960, peaking at no. 34 in 1915, 1916, and 1917. I did some brief research into what might have inspired that peak, and found this comment on this post:

Stanley was extremely popular among Polish-Americans at the turn of the century. It was used as an Anglicization for Stanislaw. In fact, it was so common among them, that some areas refered to any Polish guy as Stan or Stanley.”

I looked for events in 1914 that might have contributed to the first year of the Stanley peak of popularity and found the 1914 naval Battle of the Falkland Islands that involved its capital, Stanley, and the 1914 Stanley Cup Finals, which is described as “the first officially sanctioned series for the Stanley Cup between” the champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association. I don’t know enough about either historical battles or hockey to know if either/both of these events might have really inspired the peak, though. Do any of you?

One of the interesting things about Stanley is that, until Bl. Stanley, it wasn’t a holy name — not the kind of name Catholic parents might have considered (unless it was a family name, or a nod to Stanislaus, etc.). It reminds me of this sentence from this post by a Canon Lawyer on whether today’s Catholic children need to be given saints’ names:

Perhaps if we all raise our children as committed Catholics, names like ‘Ashley’and ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Curtis’ and ‘Todd’ may some day in the future indeed be the names of saints.”

And now Stanley! (It’s important to note that his middle name was Francis, which satisfied the then-requirement for a Christian name; this article about him noted, “When he arrived at the mission, the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the village took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.” So if Stanley isn’t your style but you love Bl. Stanley, Francis is a good alternative. Or Rother, if you prefer more unusual names? I’ve heard RO-ther, is that how you say it? Or RAW-ther?)

Now for Stanislaus: “Slavic stan ‘to stand, to hold, to become’ + Slavic sława, slava ‘glory, fame'” (according to the DMNES), and also known in variants Stanislav, Stanislaw, and Stanislas. Besides the St. Stanislaus of the JP2 story I linked to above (St. Stanislaus of Cracow, patron saint of Poland), another one that I love is St. Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, also known as Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA (they call him Father Founder) who was canonized in 2016. I’ve also seen Kostka used as a name in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. There are a few other holy men with this name, and I even included Stanislaus in my CatholicMom article Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names.

Whether Stanley or Stanislaus, Stan is an easy, natural nickname. It’s funny too, because before I’d ever heard of Bl. Stanley or had Stanley/Stanislaus on my radar anywhere, my husband told me he kind of likes the nickname Stan! At first I was like Stan?? But I’ve been thinking about it, and I can totally see it! Stan is a familiar, friendly nickname — easy to say and spell and with that old-man feel that’s currently so appealing. In fact, when I was researching this name, I saw a couple different places online where people likened Stan to Max and Gus, so clearly it’s the next Big Thing. Like Max and Gus, it also has usage as a given name on its own — Stan was a top 1000 name from 1933 to 1973. If Stan isn’t your thing, there are other nicknames that are traditional to Stanislaus that are kind of cool, like  Stas and Stane (I’m assuming it’s not actually said to rhyme with rain — Forvo has the Czech pronunciation more like “stah-NEH” — but rhymes-with-rain is do-able here in America I think). (I might advise American parents to stay away from the traditional Stanko though).

Stan- has some pop culture references that may or may not be interesting to parents, like Stan Lee (stealth way to name for a Blessed AND your comic book obsession!) and Stannis on Game of Thrones (which is a [nick]/name I would find SO COOL if it wasn’t for GoT), and the Stanley Cup mentioned above (holy+hockey!). I’ve always been interested in the fact that Obama’s mom’s given name is Stanley, and by her name story as presented on Wikipedia: “According to [her], she was named after her father because he wanted a son, though her relatives doubt this story and her maternal uncle recalled that her mother named Dunham after her favorite actress Bette Davis’ character in the film In This Our Life because she thought Stanley, as a girl’s name, sounded sophisticated” (in that movie, Bette Davis’ character was Stanley and the character of her sister, played by Olivia de Havilland, was named Roy!).

You all know about my devotion to St. Anne, and because I have all boys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to honor St. Anne with a boy’s name — I’ve known a couple of parents who have also wanted to do so, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. But more recently I’d thought that the Stan- names could do it — you know, ST ANne! So Stanley/Stanislaus could nod to her as well. (I love getting lots of saints into one name!)

What do you all think of Stanley and Stanislaus? Would you consider either one for your son, or have you? Do any Stanleys or Stanislauses that you know like their name? Do they go by a nickname other than Stan? Do you think Stanley is the next Big Thing, both secularly and Catholicly?