Spotlight on: Agatha

One of you readers asked me to spotlight Agatha, specifically nicknames for it. You know that nicknames are my jam! And I’ve seen Agatha being considered and used more and more, so I’m sure that one reader wasn’t the only one who has wondered about this.

So! St. Agatha is a great saint! She (St. Agatha of Sicily, to be precise) was a martyr who’s listed in the Canon of the Mass, and has a brave but terrible story, as martyrdom stories tend to go. (I will never understand why some people think women are weak.) (I know the terrible martyrdom stories put some people off of naming after those saints — fortunately, there are a bunch of other holy Agathas! And some other really interesting historical Agathas, which Abby from Appellation Mountain discusses in her post on the name.)

Many people think of it as an old name, and it’s not just their perception:

agatha
Screenshot from the Baby Name Wizard’s NameVoyager tool 

Here’s a different version of the same info:

agatha2
Screenshot from the SSA’s Popularity of a Name tool

It was never very popular — it peaked at no. 392 in 1913, and fell out of the top 1000 altogether in 1945. 1945! That’s why it feels like an old name — it has a “stuck in the early part of the 1900s” feel because it was exponentially more popular then than has been since.

But! It never totally disappeared, and is coming back a little bit! Here’s how it’s looked since 2000:

2018: 102 girls named Agatha
2017: 95
2016: 77
2015: 87
2014: 71
2013: 62
2012: 44
2011: 51
2010: 49
2009: 36
2008: 38
2007: 47
2006: 50
2005: 53
2004: 24
2003: 38
2002: 25
2001: 23
2000: 28

Since 2013, it’s been on an upswing! Which is good for those who don’t like names that have an outdated feel, but it’s still got rare enough usage that those who prefer uncommon names won’t be disappointed either.

So how about those nicknames? Aggie is the obvious — it’s adorable, with the same sounds as the super popular Maggie, but the lack of that initial M makes a big difference. And I think a lot of people who might consider Agatha would be thrilled to have such a sweet, spunky nickname for their girl to use on an everyday basis. However, the mama who asked for the Agatha spotlight specifically said that Aggie is a no-go for her because the Texas A&M association is “way too strong”! I do know some people who love that association and consider Aggie because of it (alumni maybe?), but for others, especially those from Texas, I can see Aggie being problematic.

One of the nickname ideas I found in my research that I thought had promise is Gatha. Maybe? I also saw Agatine — I thought that could be cute — nicknames/diminutives aren’t necessary shorter, after all (e.g., John/Jack, Thomas/Tommy, Mary/Molly, Ann/Nancy). And I could see Agatine becoming something like Tina as time goes on, and then people would be like, “Why does your sister Agatha go by Tina?” and you can send them this post. 😂

There was actually a thread on Nameberry with this exact dilemma (Texan family who likes Agatha but doesn’t like the A&M association), and some of the suggestions were brilliant:

I have considered Hattie or the even rarer, cuter Hatsy! I think it works cuz you have the name ending in “ha” and you sort of just transmute the t and there you go!

Hattie and Hatsy are cuuuute! Others that commenters listed included

Ace
Aga, Ags
Ath, Atha
Gats, Gatsby
Gatta, Gattie
Gigi
Hatha
Tag, Tags, Taggy

I think Taggy’s brilliant — it’s an old nickname for Agnes, I totally should have thought of that!

What do you all think of Agatha? Would you consider naming a daughter Agatha, or have you? What nickname would you use, if any? Do you know any Agathas in real life? Do they go by a nickname? Happy Friday!!


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!

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Fun Friday Question: How different are your parents’ taste?

I had so much fun with last week’s question and follow-up! It was so fun to read about your “almost names”!

Here’s another question for you: How different are your parents’ taste in names? If you were able to ask them right now what names they would have on their list if they didn’t have to take into account their spouse’s taste, what names would they be?

My parents did a phenomenal job naming me and my sibs (most of whom prefer to remain anonymous on here), but their lists are pretty different. I asked my mom last night for one or two of her favorite boy and girl names and she said:

Girl
— Róisín (Irish for “little rose”; said ro-SHEEN)
— Máirhín (the Irish “Mary” [Mair-] + “hín,” which is the ending syllable of the diminutive of her dad’s name — see Dáithín below; said mar-HEEN)
— Áine (used as the Irish equivalent of Anne, which is the name of Mom’s mom; said like the name Anya; Mom prefers this as a middle name, but then thought she preferred the sound of Áine Róisín and Áine Máirhín to Róisín Áine and Máirhín Áine )

Boy
— Fionn (“finn”)
— Dáithín (Mom’s dad was from Ireland and had the given name David, but he attended a St. Paddy’s Day event at my school once and introduced himself as Dáithín , which Mom had never heard before — he was apparently called that when he was small. [He also spoke with a brogue during that event, which he’d also never done.] Dáithí is used as the Irish equivalent of David)
— Mícheál (the Irish spelling of Michael, said MEE-haul)

It’s pretty clear what Mom’s taste in names is! 😂☘️

Dad wasn’t able to get back to me before this story went to press 😀 , but these are names I remember him talking about since I was little:

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

Boy
— Daniel (not sure about a nickname?)
— Sebastian, nicknamed Seb(by) (Dad often referenced former track and field Olympian [and current British politician] Sebastian Coe when he talked about this name; it was the nicknames Seb and Sebby that he really loved, I’m not convinced the full Sebastian is actually his style)

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

Mom’s Máirhín and Dad’s Maureen are pretty similar from their girl lists (though I don’t think Mom loves Mo and Dad probably wouldn’t go for an Irish spelling). Both my parents have biblical names on their boy list, which is what my brothers have, and if my sisters and I had been boys we would have had biblical names too, so there’s some common ground there. I love seeing that, though their lists look pretty different, there’s some points of possible overlap and compromise!

How about your parents? Happy Friday!


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!

Birth announcement: Perpetua Carolyn!

If you’re a mama due in May who would like a baby name consultation, check out this post.

I had an email conversation about names with Rebecca from Plotinus in the Jungle over the summer, and she let me know her baby was born — a little girl given the fantastic name … Perpetua Carolyn!

Rebecca writes,

[O]ur daughter was born a month ago and after back and forth of various names in the hospital room we named her Perpetua Carolyn nn Pippi. Her middle name is after my grandmother. Finding a cute nickname sealed the deal for us. She was baptised last week by the Abp. of Mt. Hagen and he said in his homily that the start of raising your child in the faith is giving them a Christian name, so I was extra glad we didn’t go with Persephone, ha.”

Perpetua nicknamed Pippi!! I LOVE it!! Rebecca posted both her birth story (amazing) and Pippi’s baptism (beautiful) on her blog, which I know you’ll extra love to check out because they’re such a cool family — they’re lay missionaries serving at a Catholic seminary in Papua New Guinea!

Congratulations to Rebecca and her husband and big sibs Anastasia, Tabitha, and Tobiah, and happy birthday Baby Perpetua!!


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!

Baby name consultation: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

Lauren and her husband are expecting their first baby — a girl!

Lauren writes,

We are are open to names of any ethnic origin, with partiality to Irish, Italian and Lebanese names (our heritage).

We are looking for a name with good nickname potential. It was a long journey (4+ years) to get to this pregnancy, so we want this name to be special, significant and point to God’s glory for giving us this gift. We are having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves. We are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc).

Top names we have so far:
1. Eliana – Translated from Hebrew means “God heard us”
2. Elizabeth – After St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Lauren’s patron saint and one who has interceded for us many times
3. Azelie (Zelie) – After St. Zelie, which kind of just “jumped out” when Lauren was reading about the life of St. Therese

Potential middle names:
1. Rose – [derived from Lauren’s maiden name]
2. Grace – Sweet reminder of God’s grace
3. Catherine – hubby’s beloved maternal grandmother
4. Elizabeth – See above

Names we will not want to use:
Marissa, Karen, Loretta, Annemarie, Maria, Kimberly, Sandra, Beth, Stella, Kelly, Brittany

I totally get their desire to have a special name, full of significance and pointing to God’s glory! I love reading hopeful stories like Lauren’s. ❤ I was also really interested that Lauren said they’re “having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves.” I appreciate their desire to break out of the box a little, and totally understand having a hard time doing so!

One of the ways I like to try to deal with that tension — one I often see with couples, usually with one parent liking more unique names and the other preferring more conservative options (ahem 😉 ) — is by either bestowing a more unique given name with a more familiar nickname, or a bestowing a more conservative first name with an unexpected nickname. The names Lauren and her hubs have on their list already lend themselves to this idea nicely, especially with Elizabeth as the anchor name. Consider:

  • Given name Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie: We’ve actually discussed this idea on the blog a couple of times! With Ellie being an obvious and traditional nickname for Elizabeth, it’s not a stretch at all to put Elizabeth’s Z in front of it. I love that this option allows them to have Lauren’s patron saint AND St. Zelie, all in their baby’s first name!
  • Given name Elizabeth paired with a middle name that makes sense of Eliana as a nickname: Elizabeth Anna, for example, could lead to Eliana as a nickname. With St. Anne being one of the patrons of childless couples, expectant mothers, and women in labor, her name (or a variant, like Anna, which helps move them away from the Annemarie on their “no” list) might provide the perfect meaning to their little girl’s name.

Otherwise, I love Eliana, Elizabeth, and Azelie/Zelie — all lovely, meaningful options! I love their list of possible middle names too — how cool that Rose can nod to Lauren’s maiden name! Additionally, with St. Therese being so connected to roses, they could consider Rose a nod to St. Zelie through her daughter; Rose is also a Marian name. Grace is beautiful, and Catherine is a wonderful name as well, and so like Elizabeth in style — Elizabeth, Catherine/Katherine, and Margaret are considered the “classic English trio” — all of them weighty, substantial, feminine, strong, and saintly.

When coming up with new ideas for Lauren and her hubs, I took a few things into account: names with meanings that nod to their long journey to this baby and their gratitude to God; their partiality to Irish, Italian, and Lebanese names; good nickname potential, especially with the idea I mentioned above of a unique first name with an unexpected nickname, or vice versa; and matches with their style (Elizabeth, Eliana, Zelie) as revealed by the Baby Name Wizard, which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Mattea
Mattea is gorgeous and unusual — it’s never made it into the top 1000 in the U.S. according to the Social Security data — but it’s Italian and not unheard of (25 baby girls were named Mattea in 2016, and actress Mira Sorvino named her daughter Mattea in 2004). Additionally, Matthew (and therefore Mattea) means “gift of God,” which is a great meaning for them. Matty’s an easy nickname (I’ve seen it for Martha too, which is adorable), and fits right in with the very familiar Maddy/Addy names that are so popular right now. Mattea Rose, Mattea Grace, and Mattea Catherine have a beautiful flow, and Mattea Elizabeth isn’t terrible either (in general I don’t prefer a first name ending in a vowel followed by a middle name starting with a vowel, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and Lauren and her hubs may like it!).

(2) Hannah
I know I mentioned Anna above, as a nod to St. Anne (I chose Anna in that example in order to lead to Eliana as a nickname), but there were some other Ann names that I thought were good suggestions. The first is Hannah — one of the many Ann variants — and the story of Hannah in the bible has long resonated with mamas who struggled to conceive. Hannah/Ann means “grace,” so they’d have the “sweet reminder of God’s grace” that led them to add Grace to their middle name list included in Hannah, and like with Mattea, Hannah has a lovely flow with Rose and Catherine, and not a terrible flow with Elizabeth (in fact, thinking about it now, perhaps Elizabeth Hannah would be an even better idea than Elizabeth Anna to lead to nickname Eliana? Being that Eli was part of Hannah’s story, I extra-like the idea of Eliana being a nickname for Elizabeth Hannah.)

(3) Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella
I was definitely on an Anna kick, and when I was looking up names with good meanings, one meaning I was using was “beloved,” and when I saw Annabel I thought it was a great idea! It’s not technically an Anna name — it’s said to have arisen in the middle ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a feminine variant of Amabilis — the name of a male saint, and also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (usually translated as Mother Most Amiable, where amiable derives from the Latin for “to love”). But they can surely claim St. Anne as patron for an Annabel, as well as Our Lady. Annabel Rose, Annabel Grace (okay to use Grace here, since Annabel’s not technically an Ann name), Annabel Catherine, and Annabel Elizabeth all work well. Also, Annabel doesn’t really read as a Scottish name, so I don’t think they’d need to worry about that in terms of it not being Irish (unless “general British Isles area” speaks enough to their Irish ancestry … I know I’m playing with fire by suggesting such a thing!).

Annabelle is also a gorgeous variant — the extra “le” on the end lends it an extra feminine and French feel; Annabella makes it Italian and opens up the wonderful nickname Bella. Actually, all the Annabel variants could probably take Bella as a nickname, and of course Anna/Annie as well, and even Abby.

(4) Cara, Caramia, Carina
While looking up names having to do with “beloved,” the Cara names caught my eye. Cara means “beloved” in Italian, AND it means “friend” in Irish, also sometimes listed as “beloved.” So fun to find a name with a great meaning in two languages! Caramia is a not-uncommon Italian name meaning “my beloved,” and Carina is a Latin elaboration of Cara (retaining the “beloved” meaning), as well as, separately, a variant of the Swedish form of Katherine, so it could work for Grandma Catherine too! I thought all three were beautiful ideas for Lauren and her hubs to consider.

(5) Any of the feminine John names
Like so many of the names listed here, John has a great one too: “God is gracious.” There are a whole bunch of feminine variants that can work, including:

  • Jean, Joan, Jane (listed in order from least currently popular to most — I’ve seen a few Janes recently and I’ve been loving it. St. Joan of Arc is also amazing.)
  • Joanna, Johanna (the former is also biblical, the latter has more of a German/Scandi feel)
  • Gianna (one of my favorite ideas for Lauren and her hubs — it’s Italian, and it has the additional awesome connection to St. Gianna)

I also liked that Joanna/Johanna and Gianna have “anna” in them — they’re not Ann names, but the fact that they contain “anna” in them makes me think they can nod to St. Anne too. (In case any of you are wondering why I’m so much all about St. Anne, I just love her! She’s the patroness of my blog, and I’ve sought her intercession many times myself, both for loved ones who hoped to conceive and for my own hopes for another baby.)

(6) Majella, Maiella
Speaking of good intercessors, St. Gerard Majella is a patron of pregnant women, the unborn, and childbirth. Though not officially patron of those hoping to conceive (that I could find, anyway), he nevertheless has quite a few conceptions attributed to his intercession! I’ve been collecting the stories on my blog — here’s one. Many mothers have turned to him for help during their pregnancies and labor+delivery as well, and I thought he’d be a great patron for Lauren’s baby. Majella is actually a fairly traditional girl’s name, and behindthename.com even lists it as Irish! Of course it isn’t — St. Gerard was Italian — but how cool to find an Italian name that must have good enough usage in Ireland to be considered Irish by at least some! Majella is actually an anglicized version of his Italian last name, which was Maiella — a gorgeous name, and one that pulls in the “ella” of both Elizabeth and Eliana. Ella and Ellie would be easy nicknames for either Majella or Maiella.

(7) Dorothy, Dorothea
My last idea is Dorothy or Dorothea. They’re the exact same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed, and they mean “gift of God.” Dorothy has an old feel, and also a bit of a starlet feel I think, because of Judy Garland’s Dorothy. There’s a family I follow on Instagram — @thebucketlistfamily — they have a trillion followers and they named their daughter Dorothy. So I’m sure it’s starting to come back — in fact, the SSA data shows that it was mostly out of the top 1000 from 2005–2010, and in the last eight years it’s risen from no. 933 to 652. Choosing a traditional name that hasn’t been used much recently can be another good way to marry their desire for a unique name with their more conservative natures.

Dorothea has a bit of a different feel from Dorothy — maybe a little more elegant? (Although Dorothy strikes me as pretty elegant!) The “A” ending fits with the current popular names, though it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970.

Both Dorothy and Dorothea can take the adorable Dory/Dorie as a nickname, as well as Dora; Dot/Dotty and Dolly are also traditional. Thea can be a nickname for Dorothea, which as a given name on its own dropped out of the top 1000 in 1965, then jumped back on in 2014 at no. 775, jumped to no. 460 in 2015, and was no. 290 in 2016 — that’s a crazy ascent! A little Thea would be very fashionable. (Theodora is another option, but I thought the Doro- ones would appeal to Lauren and her hubs more.)

I did look up Lebanese names, and while several of the ones I found had lovely meanings, the one that I thought would cross over the best — Sereena — is said to mean “princess, beautiful as a princess” (probably related to Sarah), which is a great meaning for a girl, but I didn’t think it fit in with the kinds of meanings Lauren and her hubs are looking for.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for this baby girl?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

“Meaning” nicknames

I don’t have a consultation to post today, but I was wondering: What “meaning” nicknames can you think of?

In the name consultation Abby did for me, she suggested the name Arthur with the nickname Bear, since Arthur is generally considered to include an element meaning “bear” and since I had Benedict nicknamed Bear as a possibility on my list (in fact, I came to really love Bear as a nickname after reading Regina Doman’s The Shadow of the Bear, in which the male lead’s given name is Arthur, but he goes by Bear, so I loved seeing Arthur on Abby’s list of suggestions!).

My boys and I were watching the movie Home the other day, and I was reminded of how cool I thought it was that the main character Tip’s given name is Gratuity. Gratuity nicknamed Tip!

A recent post by Swistle was for a family looking for a sibling for an Aurelia who goes by Goldie, since Aurelia comes from the Latin for “golden.” I love that! Her commenters had loads of great suggestions along these lines — some of my favorites were:

Alethea nn True
Amabel nn Love
Aurora nn Sunny
Carys nn Love
Clementine nn Mercy
Felicity nn Bliss
Ignatius nn Blaze
Jemima nn Dovie, Birdie
Lucia nn Lux
Margaret, Marguerite nn Daisy, Pearl
Melisande nicknamed Honey
Paloma nn Birdie
Roxanna nn Sunny
Vera, Verity nn True

I tried to think of other such examples — for a while, I really liked the idea of Boone as a nickname for Benedict, with Boon(e) meaning “good” and Benedict meaning “blessed” — close enough I think!

Going off of the Vera/Verity nn True idea above, Veronica (“true image”) could possibly be nicknamed True or even Truly (like in the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!). I’m kind of loving Truly for Veronica! The “ard” part of Gerard means “brave, hardy,” so maybe Gerard nicked Hardy?

This all reminded me of the Cakies family, who have kids True, Brave, Soul, and Glow — the strategy discussed here of choosing a more traditional given name and using a meaning nickname could satisfy the itch for a True/Brave/Soul/Glow name, while having a “safer” name on the birth certificate. Do you agree?

Anyway, I’d love to hear other ideas you have! And definitely check out the comments on that Swistle post, I was amazed by how many ideas her readers came up with!

Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation 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. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

Birth announcement: Francis Leo!

I posted a consultation for Erin and her husband back in January, and Erin has let me know that her little green bean has arrived — a baby boy given the handsome name … Francis Leo!

Erin writes,

I wanted to just let you know baby is here!
We have another BOY!

Francis ‘Finn’ Leo was born February 22, 2018 weighing 8lbs 10oz and 22inches long!

After you sent the consult I went [and] looked more around your blog and came across a post about Francis and using the nickname Finn instead of the common Frank. It immediately spoke to me and I told my husband and he loved it! Since we loved Francis and really wanted that as a middle name because Frank just wasn’t our style Finn being a nickname option pushed us to make that his first name. (Francis is my paternal grandfathers middle name.) Then we thought about middle name. We wanted something to refer to my husband because our other boys all have a strong tie to my husband. My husband decided Leo would be perfect. Leo is his maternal grandfathers middle name. His grandfather passed away when his mom was young so my husband never met him.

Both Francis and Leo are such strong catholic names too. So many Saints to look up to!

He has such a special name. Thank you for helping us find the perfect name for our little man!

I’m SO EXCITED that Erin and her hubs are using Finn as a nickname for Francis! I love it so much! And Francis Leo is just such an amazing, saintly combo!

Congratulations to Erin and her husband and big sibs Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia, and happy birthday Baby Francis “Finn”!!

Francis Leo with his family ❤