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. 🙂 ❤

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“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 ❤

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes 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 style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:

Girl

(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)

Boy

(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from behindthename.com (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?

Baby name consultation: B/g twins need complementary but not matchy names!

Ryan and Maggie are expecting twins — a boy and a girl! They join big brother:

Jay Anthony

Which I love for its masculine simplicity. Nice job!

Ryan writes,

So I’m not sure we have a style when it coming to names yet … maybe our style will become ‘Saintly Simplistic’ 🙂

Our first son we named Jay Anthony. Jay is a family name of several generations (also my middle name) and Anthony (St. of Padua, of course). We liked the flow of Jay Anthony [with our last name].

The first names of the twins won’t be quite as simple as Jay, but ideally they could be shortened to a simple nickname.

For the boy a middle name of Kolbe (for St. Maximilian, who I have a devotion to) is likely [although thinking about it as a first name also]

Boy first names we are considering include: Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian.

For the girl we are strongly considering Robyn as a middle name (after my wife’s father [Robin]) or Josephine (St Joseph)

Girl first names we like include: Mariella, Avila, Gianna, and Rosalia.

So that’s where we are. Confused and lacking creativity. If it was just one baby, I don’t think we would be asking for help/ideas; but the twins are presenting a unique challenge. We want the names to go together but not be “matchy“.”

I love working on twin consultations! And I like that Ryan and Maggie “want the names to go together but not be ‘matchy.'”

Since Ryan said he’s not sure they have a name style yet, I was really interested to see if I would see a style emerge after considering their son’s name and the names on their list. I think the first thing that’s pretty obvious is that they have different styles for boy names and girl names, which is really common.

In their boys’ names, I see Old Testament (Elijah, Samuel), Celtic (Ian), surnames (Kolbe and Bennet), and short names (Ian and Jay).

For their girls’ names, I’d say “Italian,” even though I know Avila is Spanish … so maybe “Latin-skewing-Italian” + “very feminine.”

With such different styles for their boy names vs. their girl names, finding names that go together is indeed a challenge! But such a fun one!

I don’t have any twins of my own, so anything I know about twin naming is learned from others’ experience. But you all know that I’ve done some twin consultations (e.g., here, here, here), and I love trying to come up with names that “go together without being too matchy.” I think there are a few ways a couple can do this:

  • Same first sound. This can definitely cross over into “too matchy,” and most twin parents I’ve talked to don’t care for same first initials (makes labeling things difficult), but doing something like G+J or C+K — where the twins have the same first sound but different initials — is an easy way to incorporate different styles of names but still help them feel like a unit
  • Same ending sound. This is probably easier for twins of the same gender, but not impossible for b/g twins
  • Balanced length. I like the idea of two short first names or two long first names — I think that makes for an obvious shared characteristic without being too matchy. Same number of letters always feels really pleasing to me, even if the names themselves are different styles. I also like a long-first+short-middle for one twin and short-first+long-middle for the other
  • Similar meanings. Some people really get into what names mean, and others don’t, but those who do could have some real fun choosing names that have similar or complementary meanings

Before getting into what names might pair up well though, I thought I’d share the name ideas I had for Ryan and Maggie beyond those on their list. This is based on research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists for each entry boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I looked up Jay, Cole (as a stand-in for Kolbe, as it doesn’t have its own entry), Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian, Mariella, Gianna, and Rosa (as a stand-in for Rosalia), and looked for overlap among their style matches. I also had my own ideas, which included creating my own list of similar names for Avila, as it doesn’t have an entry and Ava didn’t seem quite right. Based on all that, these are ideas I thought Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list:

Girl
(1) Cate (Caterina)
Since Jay is the only name they’ve actually chosen, I really wanted to be sure the twins’ names didn’t clash with his. I loved seeing that Kate was a style match for it, and it was listed as a match for Bennet as well, and it seemed like a great idea to me right away. Working with the style of name for girls that they seem to like, I thought Caterina with the nickname Cate would be a great idea, as Caterina is the Italian form of C/Katherine (indeed, St. Catherine of Siena’s first name was actually Caterina — Catherine is the Anglo/French form of it). They certainly don’t have to do the full name with the nickname — they can definitely give Cate as the given name (or Kate — Prince William’s wife Kate’s given name is Catherine — she does C for her formal name and K for her nickname), and take St. Catherine of Siena (or any of the Sts. Catherine) as patron — but I thought Caterina nicked Cate would be closer to their style.

(2) Clare/Clara/Chiara
Claire is a style match for Cole (standing in for Kolbe), Bennet, and Ian, and Clara is a match for Rosa (standing in for Rosalia)! So I thought one of the names from this family would be a good idea. Claire is a beautiful spelling, but since it’s the French spelling, I thought they’d prefer others better. Clare is the one traditionally associated with St. Clare of Assisi; Clara, with its “A” ending, gets closer to the feel of the Latinate names they like for girls; and Chiara is the Italian variant and the actual name of St. Clare of Assisi (like Caterina for St. Catherine of Siena). I also see a lot of families considering/using Chiara today with Bl. Chiara Luce Badano in mind.

(3) Lucy/Lucia
I thought Lucy felt more like Jay, but Lucia leans more toward the names on their girl list. Either way, I like one of these for this family. Lucy is a match for Rosa, and Lucia for Gianna. Pronunciation issues might bother them: the Italian Lucia is said loo-CHEE-ah, while I believe loo-SEE-ah is the Spanish/Portuguese pronunciation (like Lucia in Fatima); LOO-sha is like the island of St. Lucia; and I’ve heard loo-TSEE-ah as well. All they would need to do is be firm and consistent with their chosen pronunciation, but if that feels like too much of a hassle and they like the name, Lucy might be a better fit for them.

(4) Gabriel(l)a
If they decide to go with one of the biblical options from their boy list, perhaps a biblical girl’s name or feminine variant of a biblical boy’s name would be a good match for it. The boy’s name Gabriel is a style match for Elijah and Samuel, but I didn’t include it in my ideas for boys because I thought it echoed the sound of Jay too much. But Gabriella is a match for Gianna, and I thought that felt like a really good fit. Gabriella (or Gabriela, if they prefer) doesn’t feel biblical — rather, it has a nice Italian/Spanish feel —
but of course it is biblical, being the feminine form of Gabriel, so it would make a nice match for a biblical brother. (Mariella from their list would count as biblical+Italian too, since it’s an elaboration of Mary.)

(5) Leah
Leah was another match for Jay, and I really like it for this family because it’s biblical, like Elijah and Samuel, and they already have its sound at the end of Rosalia, which makes me think they might like it.

(6) Zoe or Zita
I admit that when I saw Jay’s name, my mind immediately went to similarly short names, whether one syllable (like Cate) or minimal letters — you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s a style match for Elijah and Ian, which I thought was really interesting. It’s St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, so she’s a good option for patron. Zoe’s zippy Z coupled with their Italian style made me also think of Zita — the traditional St. Zita’s a great patron, but I’ve also been loving Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria. This post might be helpful —
it’s a consultation I did for a family who was trying to find a name to match their son Ezra’s — they were welcoming a baby girl only ten months after Ezra, so they wanted the new baby’s name to go with his, almost like twins. They like their girls to have Italian names, and some of their boys have biblical names! Anyway, one of my suggestions for them was Zita, and I link to her story in that post. Funny enough, they have an Elijah, Gianna, and Samuel, and the mom’s name is Robyn! So many similarities to the names mentioned in Ryan’s email!

Boy
(1) Grant
I’m really interested to see what they think of Grant. It’s a style match for Cole, and Bennet, as well as Kate, and also Dean, which is only relevant because Dean is a match for Jay. So I think they might like it! We were actually talking about Grant on the blog recently in regards to this post (be sure to read the comments) — there’s a mom on there who has a Bennett and a Grant (and a Luke), and I know a family in real life who has a Benjamin and a Grant, so I think families that like Ben like Grant. As for a faith connection, one of my readers loved the connection to the words of the Mass dona nobis pacem, which translates as, “Grant us peace.”

(2) Luke
I mentioned the family above who has Bennett, Grant, and Luke, and I thought Luke might be a great idea for this family! It’s a style match for Cole and the Italian Luca is a match for Gianna. It’s one syllable like Jay, and loops in the biblical aesthetic they like.

(3) Miles
I don’t feel 100% confident about Miles, but I have it on here for a few reasons. One is that it’s a style match for Bennett. Also, it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love Marian names for boys! And the fact that it’s used in Ireland made me think of Ian on their list. Finally, I’ve often thought it can be used as a nickname for Maximilian (rather than the more ubiquitous Max), and since Ryan has a devotion to St. Maximilian and they’re considering Kolbe, maybe Miles would appeal to them. They might even consider Miles Kolbe to be a truncation of Maximilian Kolbe, which is pretty cool.

(4) Garrett
Like Grant, Garrett is a style match for Kate and Dean, both of which are matches for Jay. It’s also got a Celtic feel like Ian, and it’s a variant of Gerard, who’s not only a great saint, but an Italian one, which can be a cool, subtle connection between their boy and their girl.

(5) Xavier or Isaac
I’m including these two together because of the prominent “Z” sound they both have. Isaac seems like a great addition to their list, since it’s biblical like Elijah and Samuel, and is one of the few boy names that begins with “I,” like Ian. It’s a style match for Samuel and Miles. Additionally, its nickname Ike reminds me of Jay. Xavier is a saintly surname like Kolbe, with good first-name usage, and I would say it’s a style match for Avila as well. According to the BNW, it’s also a match for Mariella (in its Spanish version, Javier), Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), Gabriel (which matches up with Elijah and Samuel), and Maximilian.

So those are my ideas that Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list. Some pairings that I thought might go together include:

Kolbe and Cate(rina) — the shared first sound with different initials is great, I think

Kolbe and Clare/Clara/Chiara — not only do they share the same first sound, but Kolbe and Clare/Clara have the same number of letters! And if I met twins named Koble and Chiara, I would assume their parents were uber Catholic

Kolbe and Avila — same number of letters, and ditto the uber Catholic feel. Also, though Avila’s not technically a surname (it’s a place name — St. Teresa of Avila), it has that feel, which goes well with Kolbe.

Bennet and Chiara — same number of letters

Elijah and Lucia — same ending sound

Elijah and Mariella — same ending sound, and both biblical

Elijah and Avila — same ending

Samuel and Gabriella — both biblical, and both have “el” at the end

Samuel and Mariella — ditto

Ian and Zoe — not only are these both three letters, but Ian is a variant of the biblical John, and Zoe is a variant of the biblical Eve — a couple of great connections there!

Ian and Gianna — Ian is a variant of John, and Gianna is a feminine form of John, so normally I’d caution a family against using both. BUT, when we’re talking about boy/girl twins, my opinion is exactly the opposite. I think it could make the perfect connection without being matchy at all. Any of the Sts. John can be Ian’s patron, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla is perfect for Gianna.

Bennet and Mariella — I consider Benedict to be a Marian boy’s name, since it means “blessed,” so since Bennet is a variant of Benedict, it might pair perfectly with a Marian girl name.

Grant and Avila — same number of letters

Miles and Avila — ditto

Ian and Avila — I like that they both start with a vowel

Isaac and Avila — ditto; and same number of letters

Grant and Gianna — though normally I’d say matching initials isn’t ideal, I like this pairing because the G’s say different sounds

Garrett and Gianna — ditto; also St. Gerard and St. Gianna were both Italian

Bennet and Rosalia — both Marian

Miles and Rosalia — ditto; also Miles ends in the “Z” sound, and the “S” in Rosalia makes the “Z” sound

Isaac and Rosalia — the shared “Z” sound

Isaac and Zoe — ditto; also Ike and Zoe have the same number of letters (they could also do Zac and Zoe but that’s probably too matchy)

Isaac and Zita — ditto the “Z” sound

Xavier and Zoe — the ZAY-vyer pronunciation would be especially pleasing to me here, and the coolest initials ever

Xavier and Zita — ditto

Ian and Lucy — there’s a nice British Isles feel going on here

Isaac and Leah — both biblical

Samuel and Leah — ditto

Elijah and Leah — ditto; if they did Eli instead of Elijah, then Eli and Leah are sort of the reverse of each other sound-wise (and Eli’s got three letters like Jay, which is a nice connection between brothers)

Grant and Clare/Clara — same number of letters

Miles and Clare/Clara — ditto

Garrett and Rosalia — ditto; also the Italian connection

Garrett and Majella — they didn’t have Majella on their list, but it’s so similar to Mariella, and is St. Gerard’s last name … would Garrett and Majella be amazing together? Or crazy? And also, Maiella is the Italian version of his last name, which they might like even better than both Mariella and Majella in honor of him. (I posted last year about a visiting priest who did a mission at my church last Lent, and he told us that he’s a twin, and his mother gave the name Gerard as a middle name to both he and his brother, for St. Gerard Majella, because she’d prayed to him throughout her whole pregnancy.)

Luke and Clare — both one syllable, like Jay

Luke and Cate — ditto

In general, I would say I prefer Robyn as a middle name for the longer girl names, and Josephine for the shorter ones …

And those are all my ideas and thoughts for Ryan and Maggie’s twins! What do you all think? What name(s) or combos would you suggest for Jay’s little brother and sister?

Baby name consultation: Whether and how to use an honor name for baby boy

Theresa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Mary Kathryn (“named after both grandmothers“)
John David (“named after St. John the Baptist and his Godfather is David, my husband’s brother“)
Lucy Marie (“named after St. Lucy“)
Joseph Stephen (“we liked Joseph and it was a J name to follow John, his middle name is after my brother Stephen and also his godfather“)

Beautiful names! Classic, solid, saintly.

Theresa writes,

I have had 3 miscarriages, 2 of them before our 4th child and then one just last year … NOW again we got a happy surprise and I conceived in Aug! I say surprise but I know its God’s plan and will, we are due May 4, it’s a boy! I never found out the gender before but with this one I just felt like I wanted to know to plan on names and at least get some clothes up from the basement sitting in boxes!

*** here is one more weird twist on this: My oldest brother died this past July at age 46. I conceived about one month after his death, and my due date is one week after his birthday! God took my brother away but also gave us new life! I am brought to tears just saying that.

So now we are stuck! Do I name this boy after my brother who died, Jeffrey Paul (my dad’s name is Paul) or would that be too weird for my parents and siblings to see a little Jeff run around, or use Jeff as his middle name? Or do we stick to another boy’s J name, like Jacob, Jason, Joshua, or do we choose a Saint name around when he is born May 4? My father-in-law’s name is Ronald Michael, and my grandfathers names were Anton or Andrew.

Anything you can do to help us or shed some light, advice at all would be so helpful!

I was so inspired by Theresa’s story! I love how the timing of this baby coincided so amazingly with the passing of her brother — what a light this little one is in such a dark time for her family!

I can see why naming this baby after Theresa’s brother is an appealing idea. I don’t know if it would be too weird or too difficult for her parents and siblings to have a new little Jeff in the family — every family’s different, and probably the only way to know whether it would be too painful or not is to ask them. But I cautioned Theresa to only ask the question if she’s ready to adjust her actions based on their answer, you know? If she asks the question and they respond enthusiastically and happily that they would love that, then she’ll probably feel required to do so, even if she wasn’t totally sure she wanted to use Jeffrey as the first name. If she really loves Jeffrey and it’s meaningful to her to use it but her family responds negatively, it might be hard for her to switch to something else, where if she didn’t ask them and just did it, they would probably eventually come around (I mean, they’d have to — they couldn’t just not call him by his name forever!). But I could see how Theresa might not want to put them in that position.

If Theresa and her hubs decided to use Jeffrey as a first name but were still worried about how it would be received, they could consider using a different nickname than Jeff. Jay is the first one that comes to mind as a fairly natural one as it’s Jeffrey’s initial spelled out. Or J.P., if they did Jeffrey Paul. Or even if they didn’t want to call him that all the time, it might be nice to give family members the option.

I do like the idea of using Jeffrey as a middle name — it’s the natural spot for honor names that maybe aren’t quite right for first-name use, and it would allow her to use her brother’s name without the issue of whether or not it would be too painful for her family to use/hear on a daily basis. I like the idea of Paul Jeffrey a lot, especially if Paul was her brother’s middle name.

In fact, if Paul was Theresa’s brother’s middle name, my very favorite idea for her is either Michael Paul or Paul Ronald/Michael, after the two grandfathers, like Mary Kathryn is for both grandmothers (I thought Michael was more Theresa and her hubs’ style than Ronald, hence my thought of Michael Paul if they were going to do the first name for her father-in-law. If they put a name for Theresa’s father-in-law in the middle, I think both Paul Ronald and Paul Michael are fine). How cool to be able to work in both grandfathers and Theresa’s brother in one name!

If Paul wasn’t Theresa’s brother’s middle name, I still love the idea of naming after both grandfathers with her little guy’s name, since both grandmothers were honored with her oldest. If Theresa still wanted to work in her brother, she could consider two middles: Michael Paul Jeffrey, or Paul Michael Jeffrey, or Paul Ronald Jeffrey, etc. I wrote about double middle names here: https://sanctanomina.net/2017/10/04/double-middle-names/.

Another way to honor Theresa’s brother without using his exact name is to give her son the same initials. If Jeffrey Paul is her brother’s full name, then maybe something like Jacob Peter, Jason Pierce, or Joshua Patrick would do the trick — any time she’d tell her son’s name story, Theresa could say that they started with J.P. initials for her brother (or whatever his initials were) and went from there, so her brother would be an integral part of her son’s name story. Some people love this approach, and others think it’s too much of a stretch; if it helps, I always think intention is the most important part of baby naming (I wrote about that here: https://nameberry.com/blog/good-intention-baby-naming).

Theresa mentioned her grandfathers’ names Anton and Andrew — of those two, I feel like Andrew fits the style of her other kiddos’ names pretty well.

If Theresa and her hubs decide not to give their son Theresa’s brother’s first name, nor one of the grandfathers’ or great-grandfathers’ names, the other ideas Theresa mentioned were using another J name or using the name of a saint born around her baby’s due date. Regarding using another J name, I would only do so if they had a J name they really love. We already discussed Jeffrey, which of course would qualify, but unless they love Jacob, Jason, or Joshua (or James, which seems a better match for their family to me than Jacob, Jason, or Joshua), I don’t think there’s any need to consider a J name just because their other boys have J names. In fact, if they only had two children — John and Joseph — I might recommend against another J name, because it would really seem to lock them into a theme. Since Theresa and her hubs have four children, two of whom don’t have J names, and the two J’s aren’t even next to each other in the lineup, it’s far less of an issue — I think they could choose to use a J name or to use a different initial with no problem whatsoever either way. All this just to say again, I wouldn’t choose a J name just because their other boys have J names. But if they want to, they should go right ahead.

I looked up the saints/blesseds with feast days around May 4 (which, incidentally, is Star Wars day! Haha! “May the 4th be with you” and all that! If he was actually born on the 4th, I would be really tempted to suggest they use Luke! What a fun nod to Star Wars day AND an amazing Saint’s name! And I consider Luke to be a Marian name too, since his gospel is the most Marian, as it contains the Annunciation and Magnificat! But then, Luke is probably too similar to Lucy anyway, oh well). Anyway, back to the Church calendar, I actually thought it was a better idea to find names that really fit their taste/style, and then see if there are any saints with feast days around their due date with those names — they likely won’t have to choose between using a family name/name they like and choosing a saint’s name whose feast is near the baby’s birthday — there are so many saints and blesseds that I’m sure they can find a match!

To find names that I thought Theresa and her hubs might like, I started by looking up the names they’ve used for their older children and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, these are names that were pretty big style matches for this family:

(1) Thomas
Theresa’s kiddos’ names are as classic and saintly as they come, and Thomas fits right in with that! He’s a natural brother to Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph — as soon as I saw what a big match Thomas is for their style, I knew it would make my final list of suggestions!

(2) Charles
I was interested to see that the Charles family of names showed up as style matches for almost all the names they’ve chosen so far and those they like as well! Of those (Charles and Carl), I thought Charles fits their style best, and its nickname Charlie was actually a match for Lucy!

(3) Edward, Robert, William
I’m including these three together because Thomas and Charles were really the big winners in terms of style matches for Theresa and her hubs, but Edward, Robert, and William also did fairly well for them, and they all have feast days within a week (before or after) of Theresa’s due date.

So I looked up all the feast days from April 27 to May 11 — one week before Theresa’s due date to one week after — on CatholicSaints.info, which doesn’t have all the saints in its database but seems to be pretty darn close! It lists for each day the feasts of that day, both those that appear on the calendar and those that are minor feasts that don’t appear on the calendar. I thought these might of interest to Theresa:

April 27
Bl. Jacov Varingez (Jacov is a variant of Jacob, and James and Jacob are the same name [James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew], so this Blessed could be a patron for a Jacob or a James)

April 30
Bl. William Southerne

May 3
St. James the Lesser (this is the feast on the calendar for this day!)
Bl. Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz (Edoardo is a variant of Edward)
Bl. Tommaso Acerbis (Tommaso is a variant of Thomas)

May 4
Bl. Luca da Toro (I just listed this here for fun — an actual holy Luke with a feast on Star Wars day!)
Bl. Michal Giedroyc (Michal is a variant of Michael)
Bl. Paolini Bigazzini (Paolini is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Cologne (not too much known about him. Paulinus is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Senigallia (not much known about him either)
St. Robert Lawrence

May 5
Conversion of St. Augustine (I’m including this because it’s an amazing feast day! It seems like the kind of thing Theresa would like to know about. Augustine would make a great first or middle name)

May 6
Bl. Anthony Middleton (Theresa’s grandfather’s name, Anton, is a variant of Anthony)
Bl. Edward Jones
St. James of Numidia (for a James or a Jacob)
Bl. William Tandi

May 8
Apparition of Michael the Archangel (what an amazing feast day! It would be so neat to name a little boy born on this day Michael!)

May 9
Bl. Thomas Pickering

May 10
Feast of the Ascension (what an amazing feast day to be born on! It’s celebrated forty days after Easter, which, in 2018, falls on May 10. The apostles [minus Judas] witnessed the Ascension (Acts 1:6-9), so Thomas and James would be good names for a baby boy born on this day)
Bl. Antonio of Norcia (not much is known about him. Antonio is an Anthony variant, like Theresa’s Grandpa Anton)
Bl. William of Pontoise (; not much is known about him)

May 11
Bl. Diego of Saldaña (Diego is a Spanish form of James/Jacob)
Bl. James Walworth

Of course, even if Theresa and her hubs choose a name that corresponds to one of these feast days, they don’t have to feel bound to that Saint or Blessed if they don’t want to! There are so many great saints with these names! But if they like the idea of choosing a patron based on a birthday, there are some great ideas here I think. (Also, I didn’t include all the feasts on all the days — just the ones with names I thought they’d like — to check them all out, here’s the link for May 4, and then just go forward and back from there.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest and/or advice would you give Theresa and her husband in naming the little brother of Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph?