Baby name consultation: How to name a Fifth (V)?

Christi and her husband are expecting their second baby and first son! Little Mister joins big sister:

Anastasia Therese (“We loved that her name means resurrection, and Therese is after both my grandmother that I was close with and St. Therese that we’ve entrusted our marriage to.”)

Such a gorgeous name!!

Christi writes,

My husband is a fourth (IV), as in — him, his dad, his grandpa, and great-grandpa all share the same name. We found out we are having a boy (due on Thanksgiving!), and now the pressure is on — will this baby be the fifth (V)?! 

My husband’s name is Domenick, spelled that way after some confusion at Ellis Island when his Italian great grandfather was immigrating here. His birth name was Amadeo, but couldn’t quite translate that to English, so he ended up with a uniquely spelled Domenick instead.

I would love to honor the family history in a special way. I don’t like the nicknames for Domenick that I’ve seen (Dom, Nick, Nico, etc), so a compromise that we are more or less settled on is naming the child Domenick but also giving him a middle name that he’d go by (none of the other Domenicks have middle names, so it wouldn’t be a true “fifth,” but I think the sentiment would be enough for his family to be pleased). So that kind of narrows down the options a lot; we *think* we are essentially looking for a middle name that fits with Domenick, that also is either a great standalone name or has a great nickname for our son to go by. We’re open to any other suggestions you have in this area!

In general, we find ourselves gravitating to more classic names that aren’t super popular (at least not in the top 100). We [obviously] love Italian names, but don’t want it to be too in-your-face. I think that’s why I love nicknames — they can take a super Italian name and make it more simple/ manageable. In terms of middle names that we’ve started considering for the baby boy, here’s the list (there’s not many!):

  • Gianni (“this is the front runner! We both love it, but it doesn’t have any special meaning to us which is a bit of a drawback. I also don’t know if we want a SUPER Italian first name paired with our SUPER Italian last name. Domenick and Anastasia both have a better balance I feel- they are easily translated/ pronounced in Italian, but they aren’t quite as in-your-face“)
  • Vincent, nicknamed — and would go by — Vio (“I got the nickname idea from reading your blog and thought it was genius! My dad’s middle name is Vincent, and I also liked that the V would be reminiscent of the fact that he’s the fifth male. I’m worried that Vio is so obscure that people wouldn’t know what I’m saying when I introduce him, as in, “Did you say B.O.? Veal?” haha“)
  • Malachi nn Chi or X pronounced “Ky” (“we like this but I don’t love it; there’s not really any significance behind the name for us“)
  • Amadeo (“love the family significance; the biggest drawback is that to us, there isn’t an obvious nickname to go by, and is slightly too Italian sounding by itself“)

Saints/ family members we’d like to honor:

  • St. Anthony
  • St. Ignatius
  • Henri Nouwen (“not a saint yet!“)
  • Joseph (“we found out we were pregnant on his feast day, and we both have Josephs in our families we’d love to honor; just not thrilled with a child going by Joseph, Joe, Joey, etc.“)

Names we have discussed but decided to cross off our list:

  • Sebastian (“close but not it“)
  • Pierre (“husband loves this, I think it sounds weird to have a super French first name with a super Italian last name. I love Peter but husband thinks it’s too often used as a euphemism“)
  • Attilio nn Lio (“this was the frontrunner if Anastasia was a boy, but family has since used the name so it’s off the table“)
  • Valentino (“no good nicknames, as we both dislike Tino“)
  • Romeo/ Roman (“I don’t think we’d actually choose one of these names, but they’re definitely in the right “name family”. My husband and I met in Rome, Italy, so it would be fun to honor that place. I think Romeo is too associated with Romeo & Juliet, and something about Roman just doesn’t fit. They’re both close though!“)”

I love how Christi described both Domenick and Anastasia as being not “too-in-your-face” and being more balanced Italian-wise — I totally agree. I also love that they’re planning on Domenick for a first name — no matter what they call their son on an everyday basis, I think it’s lovely that they’re going with Domenick as the first name on the birth certificate. The first thing I want to address is that Christi said she doesn’t like the nicknames for Domenick that she’s seen (Dom, Nick, Nico), so I wondered if I could come up with some others. Based on some of the other nicknames she and her hubby like, maybe one of these might appeal to them:

  • Deo: Since Christi mentioned Vio for Vincent and Lio for Attilio, I thought maybe Deo for Domenick would be perfect! They can say it to rhyme with Vio/Lio (and they can spell it Dio if they’d like), or they can say it more like Deo in Amadeo (and that spelling, no matter how they pronounce it, connects it double to great-grandpa Amadeo/Domenick). And Deo means “God” — Amadeo means “to love God” (amare plus Deus), making it basically the same as Theo.
  • Dino: Dino is another that I thought could be a nickname for Domenick, and it’s definitely an Italian-sounding nickname. I can see that it might possibly be *too* Italian, based on how Christi said she doesn’t want something too in-your-face? It could also be really cool! But then again, she said they don’t like Tino for Valentino …
  • V, Vio: I think V (“vee”) or Vio can work for Domenick the fifth! It’s like a third being called Trip.
  • Quin, Quinto: “Quinto” is “fifth” in Italian, so that could work as a nickname, or maybe they prefer Quin?

Since none of the other Domenicks have middle names, I thought the ideas above could allow them to choose “just Domenick” with no middle name and still have a nickname they like. But I also think the middle name idea is a great one, and I wanted to offer my thoughts on the ideas Christi and her hubby are discussing, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gianni: If they love it, I say they should go for it! In general, I think it’s nice to have at least one name (first or middle) that has significance, and then they can feel free to choose a name they just like for the other. Since they’re already choosing Domenick for the first name, I think it makes total sense to choose a name they love for the middle! I know popularity is an issue for Christi, but one way of working with not necessarily wanting a super Italian everyday name with their last name is to use John as the middle name. Domenick John called Johnny? Sounds like just Gianni but a bit easier maybe? Also, again with the Vio/Lio nicknames, maybe Gio as a nickname for Gianni?
  • Vincent called Vio: I love this! I love that Domenick is from Hubby’s side and Vincent would be from Christi’s side, and specifically her dad — that’s so special. I love that the V goes perfectly with her son being the fifth, and I think Vio is fantastic! People might not get his name at first, but that’s the case with a lot of names, especially ethnic ones. She’d probably get that a lot with Gianni too (mostly in how to spell it when heard, or say it when seen). Gianni tops my list for Christi because both she and her hubby love it, but Vincent tops my list because of the family significance (that I said a minute ago I wouldn’t worry about, haha!) — Gianni and Vincent are definitely tied for me. I also like that Vincent is one of those names that feels Italian without being in-your-face!
  • Malachi nn Chi or X: This is a very cool idea and if they were a different family I’d be all over it! But it seems out of place with the Italian theme they have going (overt, like Gianni, or more subtle, like Vincent), that I imagine they’ll probably want to go with going forward.
  • Amadeo: Annnd again, another tie for first place! Gianni, Vincent, and Amadeo are each amazing ideas!! I love how Amadeo just reinforces the whole connection to great grandpa, and I think Deo is the best nickname for it. Such a tough decision!!

I also really wanted to come up with ideas connected to their list of Saints … Anthony and Joseph both jump out right away as being not-too-in-your-face Italian, and I love this baby’s connection to St. Joseph … Ty is a cool, different nickname for Anthony … or Tio, to go along with the Vio/Lio/Deo/Gio ideas? I looked up Joseph too and the Italian variants could be good — Giuseppe could go by Gio, for example. I know a Giuseppe who goes by Peppe … If they like initial nicknames, maybe DJ for Domenick Joseph? And Italian forms of Henri (Henry) include Enrico/Rico, Arrigo, and Enzo — maybe there’s something there that they like?

I’m also glad Christi included the list of names they like but aren’t quite right! My thoughts:

  • Sebastian, Romeo, Roman: I love how she said these are so close but not quite right. They definitely gave me good info for my research!
  • Pierre: Oh man, this is another great option!! Not Pierre itself — I agree, very weird to have such a French name with a super Italian last name — but Pier! Pier is an Italian form, and there’s even a great patron: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati! If Pier isn’t quite right, I have a friend who has all Italian-named kids and named her youngest Piero. I love both Pier and Piero for this family! And also, in the post I did a while ago on names for St. Joseph, I’d suggested Stone, since CatholicSaints.info noted that St. Joseph was a “builder by trade; traditionally a carpenter, but may have been a stone worker” — and with Pier/Piero meaning “rock,” Christi could possibly think of it as a nod to St. Joseph! (Crazy Catholic baby namer strikes again!! Haha!)
  • Attilio nn Lio: I’m amazed that such an unusual name was already scooped up by family! I wonder if Leo on its own might appeal to Christi and her hubby?
  • Valentino: Vio could work here, too. And Tio (but too close to Tino?). And probably Lio, if they wanted!

Okay, now on to new ideas! So you all know that my usual method is to look up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, but I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be, since we’re basically sticking to Italian names. So I looked through the list of Italian boy names on Behind the Name to see if any really called to me. Based on that, these are my new ideas for baby Domenick’s middle name:

(1) Lucas, Luca, Luke

I loved seeing that Lucas is a match for Anastasia and Roman, and Luca is a match for Gianna! Luca could be awesome if they really want to lean into the Italian-ness, or if it’s too much, Lucas and Luke are great. Or Luca nicknamed Luc?

(2) Dante

I loooove the name Dante and rarely have a chance to suggest it, but it’s a style match for both Gianni and Romeo! I don’t know that much about the poet Dante except that he was Catholic and his Inferno was about heaven, hell, and purgatory, but I found this article about him with quotes from the Pope pretty cool. Domenick Dante is a lot of D’s, but I personally love alliteration.

(3) Orlando

I was looking for names that could fit in with an Italian theme but that aren’t your “usual” Italian names, so I thought it was cool that Orlando (the Italian form of Roland) is a match for both Valentino and Romeo. Those who are familiar with Shakespeare will recognize it right away as one of his character’s name, which helps take away from its Italian-ness a bit; I also had a friend growing up whose brother was Orlando and he went by Andy, which is pretty cool. Domenick Orlando is also D.O. initials, which again could make sense of Dio/Deo as a nickname.

(4) Pio

Christi’s probably sick of me suggesting -io names by now!! Haha! But come on — we’ve talked about Romeo/Vio/Lio/Deo/Gio/Tio/Leo, so I definitely need to suggest Pio, for St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina!

(5) Melchiorre

This is very much inspired by Malachi on the list of names Christi and her hubby like — Melchiorre is the Italian form of Melchior, which is the name traditionally given to one of the Wise Men. It’s also St. John Bosco’s middle name! (Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco.) Melchiorre would allow them to consider Chi as a nickname while still sticking with their Italian theme.

(6) Massimo, Massimiliano, Maximilian

Maximilian is a match for Anastasia, Domenick, and Sebastian; Maxim for Roman; and Massimo — the Italian for Maximus — was in the list of Italian boy names on Behind the Name. I thought maybe Massimo or Massimiliano (the Italian for Maximilian) might be appealing as a middle name with Max as the nickname, or maybe they’d prefer the non-Italian Maximilian (or Maxim or Maximus).

(7) Christian/Cristiano

Finally, Christian is a match for Roman and Cristiano is a match for Valentino. I think they’re both so handsome, and I really like that they could bestowed in Christi’s honor! I’d love to see more boys named after their mothers or other female family members (one of my boys’ first name is for my mother-in-law, and his middle name is a surname on my mom’s side — I’m still so pleased that he’s named for my mom and mother-in-law!). I could see Tio being an unexpected nickname for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Anastasia’s little brother’s middle name?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

Molly and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second girl! Their Little Miss joins big sister:

Margaret Clare (“I’ve always loved the name Maggie so picking her name was very easy. We decided on Clare as a middle name because we thought it flowed well with Margaret and we used the Irish spelling to honor our Irish roots.  If we hadn’t already used Clare, it might very well be the name we would have picked for this baby.”)

Margaret Clare is beautiful and timeless; Maggie is sweet and friendly; and Maggie Clare is a darling combo. I can see why it was an easy choice! I was determined to try and help Molly and her husband find a name they love just as much!

Molly writes,

This is our second rainbow baby girl and we are so very happy that she is joining us! I had started to think we wouldn’t be able to have another baby and I feel bad that the name is still up in the air.

Below are the names we are considering:

  • Elizabeth (nn Libby) — We thought we were set with this name but I am not sure if it’s quite right. We would love to use my maiden name (Christy) as the middle name. Maggie Clare is such a cute name and I don’t think Libby Christy has the same ring to it. Additionally, Elizabeth Christy LastName [a long Italian name] might be a mouthful. I do adore the name Elizabeth however, and the versatility it provides. I also think Libby is an adorable nickname. It may still be the frontrunner.
  • Nora — Nora has come in strong lately. I love the simplicity and think it flows better with Christy as a middle name. My concern is its current popularity. I feel like I hear the name a lot these days.  

Names we’ve discussed:

  • Bridget — a name I still really like but my husband does not. I’m also not a fan of the initials BM [last name begins with M].
  • Maeve — Love this name but doesn’t feel right.
  • Grace – Also considered this but again, not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora

As you can see, I like traditional, classic names with Irish roots — nothing funky but not too popular. I’d also love to incorporate my maiden name as the middle name.

Names we cannot use:

  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • Maureen
  • Patricia
  • Regan
  • Anne
  • Eleanor
  • Brianna
  • Riley
  • Rose

Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby is an absolutely fantastic choice for baby girl no. 2! I completely agree with Molly about Elizabeth’s versatility, as well as how adorable Libby is. This, to me, is the name to beat! And I personally don’t mind Elizabeth Christy LastName at all — it’s a beautiful, sophisticated name and not too much of a mouthful in my opinion. So let’s talk about Libby Christy for a minute. I love how Maggie Clare flows, and I agree that Libby Christy isn’t quite as pleasing. I spent some time trying to figure out why — the matching “ee” sound at the ends of the two names makes it seem too rhymey maybe? But then Mary Christy doesn’t bother me, nor does Ree Christy, nor does Molly’s own name Molly Christy, so I think with Libby it specifically has to do with the matching “short i” sound in the middle of both names as well. But then again, I was imagining myself naming a daughter Elizabeth Christine and could very easily see coming up with Libby Christy to use sometimes, especially in those early years when it’s so easy to use cutesy babytalk, so I don’t think it’s a total dealbreaker! My recommendation would be to go ahead with Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby and see what happens.

That said, I had some ideas about how to tweak this idea to maybe make it work better, one of which I included in my “official” suggestions below, and the other, which is less dramatic, is: Modify Libby when using it with Christy. I thought a name that didn’t end in the “ee” sound would sound better with Christy, and I thought that even if they call their little girl Libby most of the time, if they said “Libba Christy” every time they paired it with Christy, that flows a lot better. Another idea I had was inspired by a neighbor — her name is Elizabeth but she always (and still!) went by Libbett. Libbett Christy works nicely too, I think.

Before getting to my list of suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the other names on Molly’s list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora! I think it perfectly fits Molly’s preference for “traditional, classic names with Irish roots,” and I love how it sounds with Christy — it has a much more natural flow than Libby Christy. I personally wouldn’t worry about its popularity — it was no. 30 in 2020, and has hovered around there for the past few years, though it is remarkable that in 2000 it was no. 502 — it’s definitely had a steep increase in popularity in the last twenty years! But I think national popularity only really matters if it matches one’s local popularity, and it sounds like Molly lives in a place where Nora might be more popular than the national average, especially if she adds in any little Eleanors that also go by Nora. I think I do, too — my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter is Nora — but something else I love is that my parents’ neighbor is an older lady named Nora! Even with its current popularity, I think it still has that lovely vintage feel. Also, Nora’s popularity can’t even touch Elizabeth’s! Elizabeth was no. 16 in 2020, having dropped out of the top ten in 2014; before that, it was in the top ten just about every single year since 1980; and it’s been in the top 25 since forever. Elizabeth is a powerhouse! Which I’m sure is why so many nicknames for it have sprung up — to differentiate among all those Elizabeths! So I would say Molly’s concern probably isn’t popularity so much as it is a feeling of trendiness. It’s funny to think of a classic name like Nora being “trendy”! I definitely think Nora is one of those names that will endure, no matter its ups and downs on the popularity chart, which definitely sets it apart from the truly trendy names. Elizabeth is still my favorite for this baby, but if they go with Nora, I won’t be disappointed at all.
  • Bridget: I love Bridget too! BM-type initials are always an issue, though, I agree.
  • Maeve: Also a gorgeous name! And I like it with Christy! But if it doesn’t feel right, then I would suggest shelving it for now. They can always revisit it for a later baby, maybe.
  • Grace: So pretty and simple, but it’s telling that Molly said, “not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora.”

So I think Molly and her hubs have a fantastic list — Elizabeth rises to the top for me as the strong favorite with, perhaps, some tweaking; Nora is a fantastic second, which I could see overtaking the first place spot without too much effort. Great options! But I can always come up with more! Haha! I always hate to muddy the waters, but it was fun to look for more ideas for this family.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) 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, and as mentioned I also tried to think of other ways to work with Elizabeth. I also looked up “Irish immigrant names for girls,” as I felt like that best described Molly’s style, and I looked up two-syllable-ends-in-a names on babynamewizard.com. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Tess(a) (Elizabeth? Theresa?)

While I love Libby, and I love that Molly loves Libby, there are about a trillion Elizabeth nicknames, and some of them work better with Christy than others. I like how Ella Christy and Liza Christy sound, for example, and one of the more unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth is Tess (which is also one of my favorites, and if we’d ever had a second daughter she likely would have been Elizabeth nicknamed Tess) — Tess Christy and especially Tessa Christy have a really pleasing flow I think. Tess is actually a style match for Libby according to the Baby Name Wizard, which is one of the reasons I thought of it for Molly’s baby. Tess is also one of those “old timey Irish-y names” — names that seem to often be given to Irish girls/women in movies, like Nora (I immediately think of the grandmother in The Secret of Roan Inish, who was named Tess) — so even if Molly doesn’t care for it as a nickname for Elizabeth, perhaps she’d like to consider its “parent” name, Theresa (or Teresa or Therese) with the nickname Tess(a). (Tess and Tessa also have usage as given names in their own right, but using them as a nickname for a more formal name seems more Molly’s style.)

(2) Caroline

I really love Caroline for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret, Clare, and Elizabeth, and has some really sweet nicknames. One is Cara, which is also the Irish word for “friend” and works beautifully with Christy; others are Carly and Callie, which don’t work as well with Christy but aren’t terrible. The initials for Caroline Christy would be C.C., which could also lead to a nickname (like Cece for Cecilia, and they could spell C.C. as Cece, that totally works!). I could also see Cora working, if they want it to, which is so similar to Nora that it might be perfect.

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

I’m including these three together because they really feel like they could be replacements for Nora if Molly wants them to be. Sarah is a style match for Clare and Elizabeth, and was one of the top ten names for girls born in Ireland in 1864 according to this article. While Sarah works best with Christy when said together, they might also like Sarah’s traditional nickname Sadie. Sarah has been dropping in popularity from its top ten status from the late 70s to the early 2000s to no. 87 in 2020.

Maura and Moira are both Irish forms of Mary — I know Molly has both Mary and Maureen on the list of names she can’t use, but perhaps Maura and Moira are different enough? Maura rhymes with Nora and I’ve seen some people say Moira that way, too, though I think Moira is more often said like MOY-ra. Neither Maura nor Moira are in the top 1000.

(Bonus) Other two-syllable names ending in the A sound like Nora, Tessa, Sarah, Maura/Moira

Two-syllable-ends-in-a names work really nicely with Christy, so I looked through the list of such names on babynamewizard.com to see if there were any other ideas. I like these:

  • Anna: From this list, I think Anna is the closest to the style Molly seems to favor, it’s a beautiful, traditional, classic name that has good usage in Ireland
  • Deirdre: Deirdre Christy sounds like quite the Irish-American lass!
  • Emma: I’m sure Molly won’t want to use Emma because of popularity, but it is a sweet name
  • Gemma: Gemma is like Emma with a twist and far less popular and with a more obvious patron saint. I love it with Christy!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Maggie Clare?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Thea Noelle!

Christa and I emailed a bit about names a couple of years ago, and I was so excited to receive an email from her just recently letting me know what name she and her husband had ended up choosing for her baby! They welcomed a little girl and gave her the gorgeous name … Thea Noelle!

Christa writes,

We had a little girl on Dec 19, 2018. We decided to name her Thea Noelle. I really loved the name Therese … but was afraid that people would mispronounce her name for her whole life so when I heard a nickname for Therese being “Thea” I loved it! My husband wasn’t fond of this name … but I kept it on my list. We had come to the conclusion before delivery that our baby’s name (if she was a girl) would be Amelie Noelle. I loved the first name Amelie for all the reasons I discussed above in my email. But when the baby was born, she just was not an “Amelie” — it may have been her dark hair, or just something about her … but my husband looked at me and said “She is a Thea”. The final decider was that one of the Saints listed for December 19 was St. Thea of Alexandria. There couldn’t be a more clear sign in my head because I had went into labor on December 18 … but my baby girl had waited to be born just after midnight around 12:30am on December 19th. We loved “Noelle” because it was French and she was born so close to Christmas.

And there you have it… sorry this is such a delayed explanation of the name we chose. But…better late than never!

Thank you for the gift of this naming ministry! I’m so grateful for your assistance in our road to naming our sweet girl. And two years later we feel the name fits her perfectly!

Isn’t that such a great story?? And HOW COOL that she was born on the feast of St. Thea of Alexandria!! Wow!!

Congratulations to Christa and her husband and big siblings Elodie and Donald (on earth) and Olive, Alouette, Bennett, and Michel in heaven, and happy belated birthday Baby (Big Girl) Thea!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Patron Saint of nicknames? (!)

A reader sent me the following amazing email:

I just finished reading a biography on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and it turns out she comes from a family of nicknamers: ‘Catherine was a peaceful baby and like all the Seton children instantly received several nicknames.’

It wasn’t so much Elizabeth’s family that gave nicknames, but her husband’s, so she became a huge nicknamer after she married him. She continued to nickname everyone she kept correspondence with and some of the Sisters of her order after his death, but these are her family nicknames that I thought were so fun.

Elizabeth Seton herself was called Betsy throughout her childhood and when she met her future husband he began calling her Eliza.

Their 5 children all had nicknames:

Anna Maria: Annina

William: Will, Willy, Bill

Richard: Dick, Ricksy

Catherine: Kit/Kitt/Kitty, Kate, Jo (short for Josephine, one of Catherine’s middle names, possibly Confirmation name)

Rebecca: Bec

Her husband’s sisters all went by nicknames:

Henrietta: Harriet, Hatch (She was never Henrietta, though, just Harriet, so Hatch was the nickname for Harriet)

Eliza: Zide

Cecilia: Cecil

One girl who was a student of SEAS was not given a nickname, however. Her name was always the full Mary Diana. For some reason that name has such a fun ring it’s been on repeat in my head for the last few days. I had never heard of Hatch or Zide, and love how spunky they are. I know how much you like nicknames, so I thought you’d enjoy this info! I think St. Elizabeth would make an amazing unofficial patron saint of nicknames 🙂 “

I did indeed enjoy this info! And I love the idea of St. Elizabeth being the “unofficial patron saint of nicknames”! Apparently coming up with nicknames is a holy endeavor. 😉 I can see what this reader means about Mary Diana too, that is a lovely combo.

Have a great Wednesday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Formal names for the nickname Sonny

A reader wrote to me asking:

I really love the name Sonny. But! I’ve yet to find a formal name I like that could be the official name… and now I’m wondering if I even need that? Especially if I can find a good spiritual connection to the name… apart from the obvious “son.” lol is this making sense? Do you have any thoughts?

Do I have any thoughts? Always!  😂😂😂

I LOVE the nickname Sonny!! The first name that comes to mind is Santino — Sonny on The Godfather was Santino nn Sonny, and Santino means “little saint,” which is fantastic! HOWEVER, I know some might be like, “Ew! The Godfather!” I get it! (Another funny reference: Mario Lopez and his wife named their youngest son Santino and call him Sonny!) For what it’s worth, there was a little guy in one of my boys’ preschool class named Santino nn Sonny, which I’d never seen in real life before then, and I just died of happiness, SO cute. (He was not obviously Italian.)

I’ve also thought that Sonny could be a great nickname for Solanus! I wrote about it here; I think it’s a fantastic option. Bl. Solanus Casey is amazing! There are some people who are hesitant about using Solanus as a given name because of the last four letters, so if you like this idea but not that detail, you could consider Solano instead — Bl. Solanus’ religious name was actually Francis Solanus, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Francis Solano, a 16th/17th century Franciscan.

I’m also thinking, since Jesus is THE Son, maybe Sonny would be a nice nickname for a Jesus name? Like Joshua, Christo, Emmanuel … I’ve always loved Christo/Cristo but thought it might be hard to work with and/or seen as disrespectful in English-speaking locales (though it’s used in other languages) — having a nickname like Sonny could make something like Christo/Cristo do-able as a legal name without the hassle maybe?

I really think Sonny could also work for any S name, especially if it has an N in it (Stephen, Solomon, Sebastian, Simon, Simeon), or any name containing or ending in -son (Samson or any number of surnames — maybe one in your family tree?), or really any name at all! Sonny is one of those Junior/Red/Chip-type nicknames that can be completely unrelated to the boy’s given name — it might be perfect if there’s some family member you’d love to honor but who has an unfortunate name, or a nickname for a Junior. Using Sonny as the exclusive call name means the given name can be anything at all. You know? 

Do you agree? What other names do you think would be good formal names for Sonny? Do you know anyone named Sonny, and if so — I’d love to know about his given name and how he got his nickname and whether he likes it!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Ann Margaret!

I did a private consultation for Kate and her husband in the fall, and I was so excited to hear that she’s given birth to her fifth baby — her fourth daughter! They gave her the simply wonderful name … Ann Margaret!

Kate writes,

I am happy to report that baby girl FINALLY arrived last weekend! (All of our babies have gone until 42 weeks, and it’s always a struggle at the end. My husband suggests the name Perpetua at the end each time 🤣)

Up until she was born we had the name Elise Hildegard picked out, but as soon as she was born she just was not an Elise! Funny how that works since I’ve never felt that way before! 

We settled on the name Ann Margaret, after her great grandma, and it just fits her bright eyed little face so well! And I love how it fits with her siblings: Jacob, Grace, Claire, Lucy and Ann! Bonus is that their names are all short enough that they all still fit on our Christmas card 🤣

We’ve been calling her Annie-Peg and it cracks me up but is also an adorable nickname!

Isn’t Ann Margaret just so sweet and sophisticated at once? Stunning! And I’m totally dying over Annie-Peg!! And, as I told Kate, I just love the name story — to be almost Elise Hildegard (also stunning!) but end up Ann Margaret, based on, as Kate said, her “bright eyed little face” — I love that so much! And I agree, her name goes so well with her siblings’ names!

Congratulations to Kate and her hubby and big brother and sisters Jacob, Grace, Claire, and Lucy, and happy birthday Baby Ann (Annie-Peg)!!

Ann Margaret

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Nicknames for Lawrence (and some other ideas too)

M. and her husband are expecting their first baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 She writes,

We very recently found out we’re expecting again. I’ve had 3 previous losses, 2 very early and 1 at 11 weeks, so we are cautiously hopeful. I am a huge name nerd and we have been discussing names for years. We aren’t planning to find out gender so we want to have a name picked for each.

Our girl name is set — Maria Grace. My Mom and I are both variants of Mary and all of my Aunts and many cousins have the middle name Marie. I wanted to continue the Marian tradition with a little girl. I’m a chemist and my husband is in IT, so the name is also a nod to Marie Curie and Grace Hopper.

Boy names have been harder, with our last pregnancy, we had kind of settled on Nicholas Daniel, but neither of us were in love. Other names in the mix were Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard and James. We wanted something that as he grows up, has a lot of nickname opportunities to fit his personality. My worry was that Nicholas Daniel dated too much into the 90s when Nicholas was most recently popular.

While we were trying to conceive this little green bean, I had a dream about a little boy, Anthony James, and grew attached to the name. It’s still a contender, but it doesn’t feel perfect.

A bit randomly I was scrolling a list of names that have never been out of the top 1000, and saw Lawrence. We both really liked it immediately! It just felt right in a way other names hadn’t. But is it an old man’s name? I know ‘old’ names are coming back, but I’ve not heard Lawrence mentioned for a baby ever. We wanted a harder middle name sound and think Lawrence Kolbe had a great flow, with great patron saints as well. We’re about 94% certain this is our boy pick (and open to suggestions).

And after that novel of explanation, the main point of us wanting the consultation: I loathe the nickname Larry for Lawrence and it seems like that’s the most accepted one. I would love suggestions for nicknames! I’m trying to make Rory fit because I adore the name but it’s not intuitive. Does that matter?

I absolutely love their girl name — Maria Grace is a gorgeous combo and sounds perfect for this family, for the reasons mentioned and also, of course, its Marian-ness. Beautiful!

As for their previous boy names, I think Nicholas Daniel is very handsome! Nicholas is exactly as M. described it — lots of nicknames to fit any personality — and I would include “classic” and “saintly” as well. I wouldn’t let its 90s popularity bother them — it entered the top 100 in 1972 and hasn’t left since, coming it at no. 74 in 2018 (the most recent year the data is available), so even though its top ten years were in the 90s, it’s a consistent, solid favorite. I continue to hear of babies named Nicholas — my husband and I considered it as well!

The other names they considered — Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard, and James — are all similarly classic and saintly! Anthony was a top ten name from 2006-2008, and James has been since 2014 (no. 4 in 2018), which I think put them in good company with Nicholas. I love M.’s “dream name” as well — Anthony James is very handsome!

BUT! I mostly love Lawrence Kolbe!! What a fantastic name!! Please let me alleviate M.’s worries right away — I think Lawrence is wonderful for a little boy born in 2021! She’s right that it’s had an “old man” feel up until recently, but as she said, “old” names are definitely coming back. My eight-year-old actually had a Lawrence in his class in preschool — he went by the full Lawrence all the time, and his sister was Penelope, which is very popular currently, so I always felt like his parents had their fingers on the pulse of what’s up and coming.

I think M.’s question about nicknames for Lawrence is perfect, and so fun. As soon as she said Rory I LOVED it — I very much want them to name their son Lawrence Kolbe and call him Rory! That is simply wonderful!! I know that it might not seem intuitive, but when I was compiling a list of alternate nickname ideas, I remembered Laurie from Little Women, and Rory is absolutely not that big a leap from Laurie (or Lawrie). It reminds me of Bob for Robert, for example, or Daisy for Margaret, or Tony for Anthony, or Betsy/Lily/Buffy for Elizabeth — all traditional nicknames for the given names that don’t start with the same letter as the given name and in many cases aren’t intuitive at all. I say, go for it! (In fact, I’d included Lawrence as a possible patron saint for a little guy named Rory in this post!)

However, I can always come up with more ideas! I looked through the entry for Lawrence on Behind the Name for ideas, and came up with the following:

(1) Lars
This is a Scandinavian and German form of Lawrence, and makes an easy nickname.

(2) Lenz
Another German variant of Lawrence, and cool with that ending “z.”

(3) Rens, Ren
Rens is a Dutch variant, and I’ve actually seen Ren used as a nickname for Lawrence.

(4) Enzo, Renzo
Enzo and Renzo are both Italian short forms, and Renzo has Spanish usage as well.

(5) Larkin
What a sweet name! It’s a Medieval English diminutive of Lawrence.

In addition to those, Rence, Law, Laz (I think this is a very Australian construct — giving nicknames that end in Z, like Baz for Barry, Shaz for Sharon, etc.), and Law are all doable. A crazy but maybe really cool idea could be Lolek — it’s the nickname St. John Paul II went by as a child, I believe it’s a diminutive of his name Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, but it makes total sense for Lawrence Kolbe, and gets an extra saint reference in there! (Here’s a little guy named Lolek whose [belated] birth announcement I posted to the blog.)

Those are my ideas for nicknames for Lawrence, but M. also said they were open to suggestions, and their name dilemma and taste, as well as M.s profession as a chemist and her hubby’s work in IT (and the fact that M. used “about 94%” to describe their level of certainty about Lawrence Kolbe as their frontrunner — 94% is very precise! I love it!), reminded me of two consultations I did previously: one for a family who loves science and technology (I’d suggested Charles for Babbage and Hopper for Grace for them!) and one for a family who wanted a science or nature reference included in each of their children’s names (I’d suggested Nicholas for them, after Tesla; this family specifically wanted alliterative first+middle combos, so Nicholas Neri was my full suggestion — it’s unexpected-but-saintly middle name reminds me of Lawrence Kolbe!). So I looked back at those consultations to see what other boy names I’d suggested and thought these might be nice additions to M.’s list:

(1) Gerard
This had actually been inspired by the character of Ged in the fantasy/sci-fi Earthsea series, and I’d previously seen Ged suggested as a nickname for Gerard, and St. Gerard is amazing, so I love the idea of Gerard nicknamed Ged — very like Lawrence nicknamed Rory! For reference, Gerard hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 2002 (I find that so surprising!).

(2) George
George is one of the first “old man” names I observed come back into fashion — a friend of mine named her son George ten years ago and I remember being surprised, and now I know so many little guys named George! Fr. George LeMaitre was the priest who came up with the Big Bang Theory, and the nicknames Geo and Geordie have that unexpectedness that Rory for Lawrence and Ged for Gerard have. George was no. 127 in 2018.

(3) Reginald
Reginald’s inspiration for that science+nature family was theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (they wanted a theologian’s name in addition to a science/nature name), and Reginald jumped out at me for M. and her husband when I was looking back through those consultations, as I think it has a really “Lawrence” feel. I don’t have any cool nickname ideas, but if they like Reginald, I could certainly try to come up with some! (And if any of you know of any, I’d love to hear them!) Reginald was no. 831 in 2018, which I find fascinating. Old is definitely new!

And those are all my ideas for this little bean! What do you all think? What nicknames for Lawrence and/or other name(s) would you suggest if they have a boy? Please keep M. and her baby in your prayers!


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

Spotlight on: Quinn

Happy Tuesday everybody! I’ve done a bunch of private consultations recently (which is totally fine and wonderful! There’s absolutely no requirement or pressure to have your consultation posted here for reader feedback!), so I don’t know when my next Monday consultation post will be — I just wanted to let you know, because I can see from my traffic stats (generally, and specifically yesterday) that a lot of people pop in on Mondays to see them!

I’ve been wanting to do a spotlight on Quinn for a while, ever since I posted this baby name consultation back in January, where I stated confidently: “Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys” and reader VEL gently pointed out in the comments: “I’m pretty sure Quinn ranked #84 for girls for 2018:)”. She was right, of course — I have no idea how I got that wrong, since I looked up Quinn for both girls and boys in the SSA data — could I have spelled it wrong? Who knows, but the point remains that I was 100% completely wrong and that Quinn is currently a top 100 name for girls, and it’s got a great faith connection that lots of parents of have been loving: Ven. Edel Quinn.

I’ve written about the Irish Ven. Edel before, including my encounter with an actual real-life Edel in Ireland, in several baby name consultations (including the one mentioned above), and these Sancta Nomina babies who were named after her: Kyteria Quinn and Harper Edel. She’s pretty amazing! And totally my go-to for a holy patron for a Quinn, girl or boy. I don’t know of any other Ven./Bl./St. with the name Quinn, but I’ve also seen Quinn suggested as a nickname for Aquinas for a boy, which is pretty awesome, and there’s also the girl name Aquinnah (like one of Michael J. Fox’s daughters), which can take Quinn as a nickname and St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron. The spelling Quin might feel more natural as a nickname for Aquinas and Quintus, and doing so moves it a bit away from the Irish surname feel, which some parents might prefer.

Here on the blog, I’ve seen Quinn suggested for a fifth baby because of its similarity in sound to “quint,” as a namesake for St. Quentin, and in honor of Our Lady because of its similarity in sound to “queen.” I totally think they work! (Though Quinn has no etymological connection to any of these, being instead from the anglicization of an Irish surname meaning “descendant of Conn,” where Conn means “head” or “chief.” So then maybe using it to mean “queen” is pretty accurate after all!)

As a given name, I first heard it on a little boy years ago, before I was married, and I thought it was so cool. These days, I mostly hear it on girls (even though I claimed in that consultation I mentioned above that it wasn’t nearly as popular for girls as for boys, I really just don’t know where my head was). We have a little friend who’s just a couple months older than Luke named Quinn, and her family calls her Quinnie and so does my 6yo, and it’s the cutest thing ever. I will also say that with at least one of the little Quinns I know, I spent months thinking her name was Gwen before realizing it’s actually Quinn (and I try to be really careful about names!). But I don’t think that’s a big deal at all — both Quinn and Gwen are beautiful!

What do you all think of Quinn? Do you like it better for a boy or a girl? Would you ever consider the name Quinn for your son or daughter, or have you? If not as a given name, maybe Quinn or Quin as a nickname for something else? Do you know any Quinns? Do they like their name?


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

 

Feminine-feeling nicknames for boys

Last week’s birth announcement for little Magnus Craig, in which his mama said her daughter calls him Maggie sometimes, which “always makes us cringe and correct her because it’s a girl name, sigh,” reminded me of other examples of natural nicknames for boy names that sound like girl names — especially those that have old usage. Like:

Christy, as in Christy Mahon (given name: Christopher), a character in J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World

Connie, as in baseballer Connie Mack (given name: Cornelius McGillicuddy)

Gabby, the nickname an older man I know insists on calling a Gabriel he knows (who I know goes only by Gabe)

Gussie, the nickname my dad always called his friend Augustus growing up

Jackie, as in segregation-smashing baseballer Jackie Robinson (given name: Jack Roosevelt Robinson) and a boy I know named Jack whose dad has called him Jackie affectionately since he was little

Jody, Josey, and Joss all have usage as nicknames for Joseph (here’s a list of male Jodys, though not all have the given name Joseph; I was sure the title [fictional] character in the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales was baptized Joseph, but I can’t find any evidence to support that; producer/director/etc. Joss Whedon‘s given name is Joseph) (funny story about Josey — years ago, before my hubby had a chance to absorb name info via my constant chattering at him about it, and him not having given names any real thought otherwise, I mentioned that someone’s baby girl was named Josie and he said, “But that’s a boy’s name!” He had only ever heard it in the Josey Wales movie, and for him, Josey was all masculinity and ruggedness because of Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of the character. Hilarious!)

Mandy, as in actor Mandy Patinkin (given name: Mandel)

Sally, as in Sally Tessio (given name: Salvatore), a character in The Godfather (a funny tidbit is that there’s a character in PBS’ Curious George named Sally Tessio! She’s a restaurant critic!)

Steph, as in NBA player Steph Curry (given name: Wardell Stephen Curry; in this case, the nickname Steph reveals his pronunciation of Stephen)

Sue, the nickname of the grandfather of one of our readers (Grandpa’s given name was Assundo, after the Assumption!) (I’ve written before about Susan being used as an “anglicization” of the feminine Italian name Assunta, including in my book) (unrelated, but fascinating: the song “A Boy Named Sue” may have been based on Sue K. Hicks, a prosecutor in the Scopes Trial, who was named after his mother, Susanna)

I love how affectionate some of these feel — adding an “ee” sound on the end of a name automatically makes it feel more intimate, I think — very like something parents or siblings would do to their baby/baby sibling’s name (our Luke gets called Lukey by all of us a good part of the time!). I also think this was more common with older generations (almost all of the examples above are of old or deceased men of another era) — I quite liked the idea of Joseph nicknamed Jody when I was expecting one of our older boys, and one of the reasons was because it had an old timey feel to me.

Do you agree? Can you think of other examples like this?


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

Saintly nickname names

There are a few names that started as nicknames, by which here I mean short forms or diminutives of other names, but have come to be considered formal names in their own rights. Some examples are Jack (diminutive of John), Pippa (diminutive of Philippa), Alison (diminutive of Alice) and Alice itself (a short form of Adalheidis [Adelaide]), Nancy (originally a diminutive of Agnes’ variant Annis, and later of Anne as well), Emmett (diminutive of Emma) and Elliott (diminutive of Elias [Elijah]), Molly (diminutive of Mary), Robin (diminutive of Robert), Austin (contracted form of Augustine), and Bennett (short form of Benedict). Many of these date back to the medieval period.

I was reading about Mickey Mantle recently and the fact that Mickey was his given name, not a nickname for Michael (which is how I’m most familiar with it). (Funny enough, Mickey Mantle was named for Mickey Cochrane, whose given name wasn’t Michael — it was Gordon! But he’d been nicknamed “Black Mike” because of his “fiery, competitive nature,” which I’m assuming is where Mickey came from?) Other names that started as nicknames (diminutives or short forms) that we often see bestowed as given first names include Jake, Maggie, Sadie, Archie (hello, little prince), Liam, and Mia.

There’s another set of nicknames that have taken on a life of their own as given names, which a recent consultation post reminded me of. It included a discussion of Nell as a given name and the parents’ preference for it to be a nickname for a more formal, saintly given name:

Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.

In this case, the hesitancy to use Nell as the given name is less about style (its nicknaminess) and more about the saintly connection being less obvious. A couple of you suggested Little Nellie of Holy God for the saintly connection* — she’s mostly known as Nellie, even though her baptismal name was Ellen, and I can see parents naming daughters Nellie with her in mind, since that’s the name mostly attached to the stories of her holiness. In this same vein, I thought it would be fun to compile a listing of saintly names that are actually nicknames (I don’t mean religious names). These include:

St. Rose of Lima
Rose’s birth name was Isabel! According to this site, “Isabel del Flores y del Olivia, known to history as St. Rose of Lima … was baptized on the day of her birth, with her aunt, Isabel de Herrara, acting as her godmother. The baby was named after her aunt, Isabel. Because the child was so beautiful, she was nicknamed Rosa or Rose. History and her family would call her by this name.”

St. Francis of Assisi
Francis’ birth name was John! According to his Wikipedia entry, “[His dad] Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and [his mother, a Frenchwoman named] Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco (“the Frenchman”), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French.” (cited as the source: Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1924). “St. Francis of Assisi” (14 ed.). Garden City, New York: Image Books: 158.)

St. Zelie
It’s perhaps not as unfamiliar that St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azélie, but she went by Zelie — and that’s the name I see her called and bestowed in her honor most often.

St. Bernadette
St. Bernadette’s given name was actually Marie-Bernarde! This site even refers to her as Marie, which I find kind of hilarious. As with so many of these nicknames, once you know that Bernadette (“little Bernarde,” where Bernarde is the French feminine form of Bernard) is a diminutive of her name, it takes on a such a sweet, affectionate feel.

Juanito (St. Juan Diego)
This one isn’t exactly like my previous examples, because I haven’t heard of lots babies being named Juanito when wanting to honor St. Juan Diego — in fact, I only know of one Juanito (the pastor of my parish), but I asked him about his name and it is, indeed, his given name, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Juan Diego, as Our Lady called him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito, the most humble of my sons …” ❤

Lolek (St. John Paul II)
Like with Juanito, it’s rare to hear of a little Lolek, but I have heard it from time to time from Catholic parents looking for a different way to honor St. John Paul the Great, as it was his childhood nickname.

Can you think of other examples of Saints being known as a name that was not their given name (and not their religious name), which would be the name parents would be most likely to choose in their honor? Do you know of any little ones named in the style of Juanito and Lolek — nicknames that aren’t as well known and aren’t necessarily the names the Saints are known as, but are absolutely connected to them?

* As far as I can tell, Little Nellie’s cause for canonization has not been opened, though it’s pretty amazing that she was the reason Pope St. Pius X lowered the age of Communion for children: “‘There! That is the sign for which I was waiting.’ — Pope St Pius X after hearing about the holy life of little Nellie. A few months later in 1910 he issued “Quam Singulari” which significantly lowered the age of Holy Communion for children.”


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