Nicknames: Bonaventure

I was working on a consultation recently where I’d suggested Bonaventure — an unusual suggestion, but I thought it made sense for the family — but I was stuck on nickname ideas! My first idea was Ben, which I think is probably my favorite idea, but I also thought Bona (said like BON-na, not BO-na) and Bo could work, and even Bonnie — it could have the same feel to me as Jackie (like Robinson) and Connie (like Mack). But that was all I came up with! Maybe Vinnie? From the -ven- part? Nate? Because the letters are all there?

Of course, I had to turn to my favorites for additional ideas: all of you! Do you know anyone named Bonaventure, and if so, does he go by a nickname? Have you ever considered Bonaventure for a son, and if so, did you consider nicknames? I’m all ears!


Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Italianish name that doesn’t end in a vowel and isn’t easily nicknamed for baby boy no. 2

Merry Christmas, everyone!! And happy feast of St. Stephen!!

I posted a consultation for Christi and her husband a year and a half ago for their son, and I’m excited to both give you all the update on his name and share my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for their new baby boy on the way! He joins his big sister and big brother:

Anastasia Therese

Domenick Vincent called Deo

I absolutely looooove these names!! Deo as a nickname for Domenick was my idea — I was so excited that Christi and her hubby loved it!

For this new baby boy, Christi writes,

I’m writing to you again for help as we are expecting another boy (due May 3) and I’m driving myself crazy obsessing over what we’ll name him! You were so helpful in naming our second, Domenick Vincent nn Deo, and I’m hoping that you can provide some thoughts/ feedback for baby #3. As a reminder, our daughter is Anastasia Therese.

As you might remember with Deo’s consultation, Gianni was/ still is at the top of our list. My husband is a little more sold on it than I am though (I can’t decide if it’s TOO Italian for us or not!). With a very overtly Italian last name, I feel like it’s hard to match both a non-Italian first name (for example, I really like Bennett or Brody, but they just don’t go with the naming style we’ve established) OR a suuuuper Italian first name (for example, Alessandro). None of our kids ‘look’ Italian (blonde/ light brown and blue eyes haha) so I feel like it just doesn’t fit.

We would love to use Joseph for the middle name (Joseph is a beloved family name and St. Joseph the worker’s feast is right around  my due date) though it’s not an official decision. I struggle with Gianni Joseph though, as it reminds me of G.I. Joe, haha! Am I overthinking that? That’s all I can hear now

Other names that we like/ are considering:

1) Romeo- I feel like this is Italian without being too Italian, but is it too bold? Any kid with that name has a lot of association coming in with his name. Also Joseph again doesn’t really flow with this for a middle (Ro Jo?! haha).

2) Sebastian

3) Malachi

4) Valentino- I really like this but I can’t decide if we can commit to calling him by his full name (we are trying to avoid nicknames this time around)

5) Angelo- I like this, husband not as much

6) Amelio/ Emilio- We were considering Amelia if it was a girl (Amelia is a family name), so we were throwing around the idea of making Amelia masculine (I’ve never seen it written Amelio though). I don’t like the traditional Emilio spelling as much

We’ve considered but won’t use:

Maxim/ Massimo, Adrian, Julian, Apollo, Gabriel 

I’m wondering if there are other names like Domenick/ Dominic that go well with an Italian last name but don’t end in a vowel? I think that might be the silver bullet we are looking for. Would love your thoughts on that!!

It was so fun for me to come up with name ideas for Christi’s new baby boy! It was definitely a challenge, which I LOVE!

Okay, first off, my thoughts on the names Christi and her hubby are already considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gianni Joseph: Christi is too funny with her G.I. Joe reference!! I know they loved Gianni when they were expecting Deo as well. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have thought of G.I. Joe at all when seeing Gianni Joseph! Especially since I’m sure Joseph wouldn’t be part of his everyday name, and most people in his life won’t know his middle name, you know? That said, I totally understand having something in your head that’s “all you can hear now,” it’s a real thing! If they really want to know my thought, I would say naming their son John Giuseppe solves their problems! They’d have John, who they can call Johnny, thus retaining the sound of the name Christi and her hubby love; they’d have a super Italian name tucked in the middle so it’s not too much, and it honors the Saint they want to honor; and they’d avoid the G.I. Joe connotation. On paper, it seems like the perfect solution! However, I know that even if this all seems perfect on paper, Gianni and Johnny do feel like different names … that Italian spelling gives Gianni a certain something …
  • Romeo: I love that they’re considering Romeo! I have long loved Romeo for a Catholic baby, ever since I found out that Romeo and Roman both mean “from Rome,” and in medieval Italian also meant “pilgrim to Rome” — such beautiful meanings for a baby boy being raised in the faith! Of course, I do understand Christi’s worry about the associations with Romeo. Roman is a nice option, but although I know they were considering it last time, the fact that it’s not currently on their list makes me think they’ve decided they like Romeo more. Another option might be to use the original Latin form Romaeus. Romaeus introduces yet a third “feel” to the name, joining the feels of Romeo and Roman, which are different from each other while being such similar names. Christi mentioned the possible problem of Ro Jo for Romeo Joseph — I actually think Romeo Joseph sounds very handsome! And I would never think to land on Ro Jo! But thinking about nicknames for Romeo, and for Romaeus, I feel like it’s not at all crazy to consider Roman as a nickname for both Romeo and Romaeus, which could also help tone down the Shakespeare association with Romeo and the heaviness of Romaeus.
  • Sebastian: Christi had Sebastian on her list last time, so I know she loves it! It’s funny because on the surface of her email, it seems that she and her hubs are looking for an Italian name, but if I took the Italian part out of the equation, sibs Anastasia and Domenick would have me looking for similarly long, heavy-hitting, saintly names, and Sebastian would absolutely make that list. I wonder if they’ve considered the Italian variant Sebastiano? They could still use any of the Sebastian nicknames (Seb/Sebby, Bash), and they’d have the Italian feel they love. (Though, since they seem to want to have a little distance from “super Italian,” Sebastian might be the better way to go.)
  • Malachi: As with Gianni, Romeo, and Sebastian, Malachi was on their list last time. It’s a very cool name! Just so different from the other names they like — it doesn’t have that heavy Catholic feel of Anastasia/Domenick/Sebastian and it doesn’t have the heavy Italian of Gianni/Romeo, it’s sort of in its own category. If there were other names they liked that were similar in style to Malachi, I could see keeping it on the list or using it this time, but as it is, I guess I feel like this is a name they’ll always like but never use. I still like my alternative idea from last time that was inspired by Malachi: Melchiorre. It’s the Italian variant of Melchior, which is the name one of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known by, and it was one of St. John Bosco’s middle names. I think they could still do the Chi nickname that they like, or Mac, which is a nickname I always like for Malachi and I think it could do fine for Melchiorre.
  • Valentino: Another name from their list last time — it’s nice to see the consistency! It *is* a big name to not have a nickname for, but an awesome full name if they can commit to using the full name every time. I wonder if they’ve considered using the anglicized Valentine?
  • Angelo: I love the angel names, from their actual names (Gabriel, etc.) to the literal angel names (Angelo, Seraphino, etc.). I also love Angel as a nickname for it — I don’t see that on boys too much where I live, but it’s not unheard of among Spanish-speaking families, and the main male protagonist in the classic novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles was Angel, which I always thought was cool.
  • Amelio/Emilio: I’ve never seen the spelling Amelio either, though behindthename.com does have a user-submitted entry for Amelio, saying it’s an Italian masculine form of Amelia. Since they don’t like Emilio as much, I guess I’m hoping that they’ll have enough ideas between their own and any I offer that they like that they can save Amelia for a girl!
  • Maxim/Massimo, Adrian, Julian, Apollo, Gabriel: It’s helpful for me to know Christi and her husband have considered these and crossed them off their list!

Before getting to new ideas, I also want to discuss briefly two things that Christi said: (1) that they’re hoping not to use a nickname this time around, and (2) that they’re wondering about names like Domenick that go well with an Italian last name but don’t end in a vowel.

Regarding the first one, I think their best bet for a non-nicknamed name would be something shorter — I think it will be very hard to avoid nicknames for names like Sebastian and Valentino! Of course, if they’re firm and consistent, they can have a fair amount of success with that when their boy is small; much less so as he grows up, unfortunately (at least in my experience!). So my advice would be to not hold on too hard to the hope of no nickname, and certainly don’t let it sway them from choosing the name they love the most. (Gianni avoids this problem entirely!) And in fact, I kind of disregarded the no-nickname thing altogether when I was compiling my list of ideas for this family! I think the right given name/nickname combo might be exactly what sways Christi and her hubby toward one name or another (like Domenick/Deo).

Regarding the second point, I laughed when I read that Christi would love to know what names are like Domenick in terms of going well with an Italian last name but don’t end in a vowel, because they love so many names that end in a vowel!! At the same time, I thought it was a pretty brilliant thought (as Christi put it, “the silver bullet”), and I definitely went on the hunt to gather name ideas that fit.

One last thought before moving ahead — I just wanted to point out that several ideas I had last time I still love for this family! In fact, whenever I’m doing a second (or more) consultation for a family, I always try to come up with ideas without any interference from the previous consultations — I start fresh, as if it’s the first time I’m considering the family and their taste, and only after I come up with a list do I look back to make sure I’m not repeating any or anything like that. Very often, I’ll discover that my “fresh” ideas have a huge amount of overlap with the previous consultation(s), which is both encouraging and frustrating, haha! Anyway, when I made my list for Christi this time, feeling that I’d really come up with some great ideas, I later discovered that they were basically all names I’d suggested before. Gah! So anyway, I wanted to list them here again to make sure Christi didn’t forget and to share with all of you in case they’re helpful for your own naming:

  • Pier, Piero
  • Dante
  • Orlando
  • Christian (doesn’t end in a vowel, although Christi had said she likes Cristiano, which is also awesome, and I continue to love that these names would honor Christi nicely — as well as Jesus Himself!)
  • Anthony with the possible nickname Ty (doesn’t end in a vowel! I mean, not really. Not the way Christi meant, with all the ends-in-o Italian names. Anthony and Domenick and Johnny and Joseph and Vincent are all part of those super-Italian-but-not-Italian names!)

Ok! On to my new ideas! Unfortunately, I’m finding my trusty Baby Name Wizard book to be increasingly out of date, and since the author doesn’t seem to be intending to publish a new edition any time soon, I’ve been trying to go with my gut more. For Christi, I also looked up Italian Saints as well as (and I know you’ll all get a kick out of this!) characters’ names in The Godfather, Sopranos, and Mickey Blue Eyes to get a good sense of which non-Italian names nevertheless have a stereotypical Italian feel especially when paired with a very Italian last name (like Johnny). And I definitely considered Anastasia’s and Domenick’s names outside of the Italian sphere for inspiration. I’m excited about my ideas for this family!

(1) Benedict or Benedetto

One of the things I found is that the anglicized versions of names that also have an Italian variant are very common in Italian families. Their Domenick is a perfect example, as the Italian variant is Domenico. From that perspective, the heavy-hitting Catholic names are perfect! Benedict is absolutely a name I’d consider to fit with the feeling of Anastasia and Domenick, and St. Benedict of Nursia (the Original St. Benedict) was actually an Italian Saint! Benito is a short form of the Italian variant, Benedetto, that could be a great nickname for Benedict to pull in the Italian more. And/or they can use the full Italian Benedetto! Benedetto is great in that it can take the totally non-Italian nickname Ben/Benny, or the Italian Benito, OR Bennett!! Christi said she “really likes” Bennett but doesn’t feel like it goes with their naming style — Benedetto nicknamed Bennett could help solve that problem! And it’s totally not a stretch either, because Bennett is actually the medieval short form of Benedict! So much perfection here (if they want it to be)!

(2) Augustine or Agostino

Domenick/Dominic and Benedict would always be joined by Augustine in my mind as heavy-hitting, monastery-type names (which is a vibe I LOVE). If they were to choose Augustine, I would 100% try to sell them on using Gus as the nickname — not only is it totally adorable, but it has that Old World feel that I associate with very ethnic European names. That said, we have friends who have really leaned into their Italian heritage — like this family, they have a very Italian last name — and both the dad and the son are Agostino. The son goes by the full Agostino, so it’s totally possible! The dad goes by Auggie, which can help “hide” the Italian-ness if they want to. And I think Gus can work for Agostino as well!

(3) Francis, Francesco

One of the names that’s often given to Italian-American male characters is Frankie. Such a great nickname! They could certainly do Francis — saintly, heavy hitting, the name of an Italian Saint, doesn’t end in a vowel — or they could do the full Francesco with the nickname Frankie. Love love love.

(4) Salvatore

Salvatore is definitely an Italian name, and it definitely ends in a vowel, and in Italy you would hear that vowel, but in America, it’s as if the vowel doesn’t exist, so it might be perfect for this family! My sons have a friend named Salvatore whose parents call him the full Salvatore all the time, but my boys call him Sal. It’s a fanTAStic name! Very Old World, very faithy (I mean, “savior” — come on! Such a great Jesus name!), rare but easy and friendly. I love it.

(5) Capistran or Capistrano

I went to a Franciscan college and one of the dear friars that I loved was Fr. Capistran. What a cool name! It was for St. John of Capistrano, a Franciscan Italian Saint; my friar friend went by Fr. Cap — I LOVE Cap as a nickname!! They could do Capistran, like him, which would given them that doesn’t-end-in-a-vowel name that still has great Italian roots, or they could do the full Capistrano, which would also allow them to use Cap as a nickname.

(6) Cupertino

I was a little bit on a last-name kick (in which I include place names, like St. John of Cupertino, since the “of Cupertino” part basically acts as a surname), inspired by how Christi said she likes Bennett and Brody (they both have traditional usage as surnames) but they don’t fit her style — I was determined to find a couple of options that would! St. Joseph of Cupertino is the Saint that inspires this name, and I’ve seen him used as baby name inspiration before — I know of one couple who named their son Cupertino as a given name and calls him Cooper as a nickname, and another couple who named their son Cooper with St. Joseph of Cupertino as patron. I think Cupertino would be cool for this family, and Coop or Cooper would be such sweet nicknames!

(7) Bosco

I couldn’t not include one of my very favorite saintly Italian surname names, which has lots of good usage outside of Italian families, which starts with a B like Bennett and Brody, which might make it perfect (even though it ends in a vowel), and it’s short enough that it likely wouldn’t get nicknamed! I love Bosco, I think it’s such a fun and spunky name, and obvious to anyone who has a working knowledge of the Saints who it refers to. There are a few Sancta Nomina families who have sons named Bosco: here, here, here.

Those are my seven “official” suggestions, but I came across a few more in my research that I wanted to be sure to list, just in case:

  • Corrado is the Italian variant of Conrad, and St. Conrad of Piacenza is an Italian Saint. But Corrado! What a cool, cool name!
  • Cajetan is the English version of the Italian name Gaetano. I’ve always loved the name Cajetan, and St. Cajetan himself. Caj is a cool nickname!
  • Gennaro is the Italian for St. Januarius, and my sisters went to school with a boy named Gennaro — I grew up loooving his name and determined to name a son Gennaro, even though I have no Italian blood at all!
  • You probably know that Santino nicknamed Sonny is a Godfather character, so maybe a little too on the nose, but Santino means “little Saint” and Sonny is such a fantastic nickname, I just had to suggest it! One of my boys went to nursery school with a little Santino who went by Sonny and I absolutely loved it.

And those are all my ideas for Christi’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby brother of Anastasia and Domenick-called-Deo?


Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Namespotting, Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday/St. Nicholas Day, and St. Andrew

Just a couple fun things for you on this day after Thanksgiving:

Over the past couple of days I’ve seen Pete used as a nickname for Preston and Tas used as a nickname for Timothy. I thought those were so fun! I love creative nicknaming, especially when the nickname offers a familiar option for a more unusual given name or for a name that doesn’t have a natural nickname (like Pete for Preston), or when it spices up a common and familiar given name (like Tas for Timothy).

Simcha Fisher had a thread on her Facebook about musical name options — there were some great ideas in the comments! I keep thinking about how perfect Clare Annette is!

And a reminder about the importance of pronouncing others’ names correctly. This is not always easy! But the effort matters. Many of my students have names with unexpected/unfamiliar/difficult-for-my-ear pronunciations and I’ve loved the opportunity to learn about different naming choices and styles, as well as names from other cultures, and the fact that the way that I pronounce consonants/vowels/consonant-vowel clusters as a person for whom American English is my first language can’t necessarily be transferred to every name I come across.

When you’re all doing your Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday/St. Nicholas Day shopping, I just wanted to offer two friendly reminders:

  • My book of Marian names is perfect for anyone who loves names of our faith, whether they’re expecting or not! It’s available at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy Gift Shop (ShopMercy.org) and at Amazon as well (not affiliate links). (If you know any pre-teen/teen girls who like to make name lists, like I always did and so many of you have shared that you did as well, I know they would love my book!)

  • A baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself is always a fun gift to offer expecting parents! I can email you a gift certificate for you to print out for either a Mini Consultation ($25) or an Ordinary Consultation ($50) (descriptions here). If you’d like one, email me at sanctanomina at gmail dot com and I’ll send you an invoice.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Advent starts on Sunday — my house is so excited! Here is a compilation of my Advent and Christmas name posts (also includes some interesting ways to honor an Andrew — so many fun ideas!). And speaking of Andrew, the St. Andrew Novena starts on Nov. 30, which is one of my favorites — read more about it in my CatholicMom article here. Happy Friday!

Birth announcement: Isabel Martha!

I posted a consultation for K and her husband back in January and I’m excited to share that their little girl has arrived and been given the GOR-geous name … Isabel Martha!

K writes,

Just wanted to let you know we welcomed Isabel Martha on 4/9. We’re calling her Libby and are totally in love. Thanks for the suggestion!

Isabel Martha!! Called Libby!! 😍😍😍 If you remember, K’s ideal was a given first name that didn’t repeat any of their (her, hubby’s, and big sister’s) given first names with a nickname that had a different first initial than the given first name, and Martha worked in somewhere. While I love a good challenge — and this was definitely a good challenge! — I was worried that K was setting herself up for disappointment (though she herself acknowledged it was a tall order and she wasn’t wedded to those hopes). But she did it!! What an absolutely beautiful and perfect choice!!

Congratulations to K and her husband and big sister Eleanor Lynn nn Nora, and happy birthday Baby Isabel!!

Isabel “Libby” with her big sister Eleanor “Nora”


I’m not currently doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Some initials-specific rules (hopes) for baby no. 2!

Happy last day of January! I always feel more hopeful when January is over — February brings with it the promise of spring, after all!

I start work again today after the Christmas break, so things will quiet down a bit around here. That said, I do have some posts already scheduled for later this week, and I hope (hope hope hope) that I can keep adding content each week — I’ll have consultations from Theresa to post as she has them (email her if you’d like one at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com!); hopefully more birth announcements; and I’m going to try to be better about doing meatier/nitty gritty posts too. We’ll see! My intentions are good, and hope springs eternal! I’ve so enjoyed my more frequent posting over January (maybe January isn’t so bad after all!), and reading all your comments, and doing some consultations. I will never not be so so grateful for this beautiful ministry and community!

Here is the fourth of the five consultations I opened up for January — I hope it makes your Monday a little brighter!

K and her husband are expecting their second baby and second girl! This little lady joins big sister:

Eleanor Lynn called Nora (Hubby “loved the name Nora but I prefer a more formal option which is how we eventually settled on Eleanor“)

I absolutely love their daughter’s name! Eleanor Lynn nn Nora is so lovely, and I love that Eleanor nn Nora was a way of marrying K’s husband’s preference with her own. Perfect!

K writes,

I may be a bit quirky with my name preferences … and that’s exactly where I think you’ll be so helpful! I don’t want to repeat any initials so J, K, E, and N are out as well as H as I don’t want to be alliterative with our last name. We’d like something that has formal options and a modern nickname for daily use. A true wish list is a name that, like Eleanor, starts with one initial but whose nickname has another. That feels kind of like a unicorn, so not a must. An obvious and common reference/tie to a saint is also preferred.” 

Family names that they would be open to using include:

  • Martha (husband “is not sold, but I would love to use this name somehow. It was my grandmother’s name and is my aunt’s name … I think I could convince him if it was in the middle, or masked a bit … like Emmy for Martha Elizabeth“)
  • Elizabeth
  • Katherine 
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony (for K’s father)

Names they can’t use include:

  • Madelyn/Maddy
  • Chloe
  • Ruby
  • Wren
  • Mary

And names that they like but can’t commit to include:

  • Gwendolyn (“I like nn Winnie, he’s not sold … Gwendolyn Martha is also the only name I’ve found where Martha fits in the middle“)
  • Margaret
  • Lydia (“doesn’t feel like it strikes the right balance of formal and nickname“)
  • Audrey (“same as Lydia“)
  • Claire (“same as Lydia“) 
  • Claudia (Hubby likes, “but it doesn’t fit with Nora in my mind and I can’t think of a good nickname“)
  • I like Teresa (Tess), Matilda (Tilly) and Vivian (Vivi) but haven’t been able to convince him on any

I’m just dying over K’s hope for a given name with a nickname that starts with a different initial. How fun! Such a great challenge and goal! I will say, though, that since she doesn’t want to repeat initials, having given names and nicknames with different initials will deplete the pool of acceptable initials pretty quickly — just something to keep in mind going forward. I do have to say — I would be completely blown away by a sibset that had all given first names with different-initial first names! That would be amazing! I would love to help K and her husband come up with names like that for all of their future children! But like she said, that would be a total unicorn, and probably not very realistic given that she and her hubby have different tastes in names. (Which is fine! And good! Not a problem at all!)

So first, I’ll offer my thoughts on the names K mentioned liking, in case they’re helpful:

  • Martha: I love this challenge as well — trying to find a way to work in Martha. It would be so great if K could find a way to use it that her husband is okay with! Her idea of Emmy for Martha Elizabeth is ah-MAZ-ing!! It seems to check all K’s boxes — this is definitely one of my favorite ideas for this family!
  • Elizabeth, Katherine: Both Elizabeth and Katherine are great names; I also thought K might like to consider Beth and Kate as middle names — they might flow better with certain first names than the longer Elizabeth/Katherine. I wanted to suggest Elizabeth as a first name, since it has a bazillion nickname options, most of which don’t start with the letter E, but not only does Elizabeth repeat Eleanor’s initial, it also repeats the first two letters of Eleanor — that does seem a little much. It’s fantastic as a middle name though (see Martha Elizabeth above!).
  • Feminized Thomas or Anthony: This is such a nice idea! Tamsin is my favorite feminized Thomas name — it’s a contracted form of Thomasina, and I actually love Tamsin with Eleanor, as Tamsin is a traditional Cornish name, which makes an Eleanor-and-Tamsin pair of sisters feel like characters in an English storybook. How fun! If they like the idea of Tamsin, Tammy’s an obvious nickname, though that doesn’t feel like their style … They could maybe do a mashup nickname, like Tamsin Elizabeth nn Tally? Tamsin Kate nn Tate? Tamsin Katherine nn Tarin? Or put Tamsin in the middle, like Martha Tamsin nn Missy? Or maybe they’d like the full Thomasina? Thomasina Kate or Thomasina Beth nn Tamsin, or nn Tommy/Tommie? Missy could work as a nickname for Thomasina too (I love Missy, I think it’s so sweet). I’ve also seen Sina as a nickname for Thomasina. As for Anthony, Antonia is actually a style match for Claudia on K’s husband’s list! It would be a really striking and unexpected middle name; as a first name, they could do Annie, Andi, Tia, or Toni as nicknames. I also have a friend named Antoinette (she goes by the full Antoinette) and a little girl in one of my boys’ class is Antonella — both of those are lovely options to honor a man with Anthony in his name. Or … Toinette is a short form of Antoinette (a legit name) and I’m just thinking that Martha Toinette is kind of gorgeous! Mette could work as a nickname, said like “met,” but also Mette is a Danish diminutive of Margaret and is said like “meta.” Kind of cool!
  • Gwendolyn: Like with Martha Elizabeth nicknamed Emmy, I think K’s Gwendolyn Martha is a fantastic combo! I love the rhythm — I agree with her that Gwendolyn and Martha really sound nice together. Winnie is a great option as a nickname; Wendy can also work. One thing I can’t figure out is if I love that it ends in -lyn, thus mirroring Nora’s middle name, or if I think it’s a bad thing to have Nora’s middle name Lynn and a first name for their second daughter that contains “lyn.”
  • Margaret: Margaret’s got some great different-initial nicknames, like Greta, Daisy, and Rita. I also like Meg, Maggie, and Molly as nicknames for Margaret (Molly isn’t actually related to Margaret, being that Molly is an Irish form of Mary, but I do hear of little Margarets called Molly from time to time. I really like Molly as a sister to Nora!).
  • Lydia: I can see what K means here … if it helps, I love the nickname Liddy and had it on my own list as a nickname for Elizabeth; it obviously works even better as a nickname for Lydia.
  • Audrey: Lydia doesn’t really feel like Eleanor’s sister to me (though if they love it, then who cares!), but Audrey does! There aren’t any obvious nicknames that I can think of for Audrey though … the work “tawdry” actually comes from the name Audrey (specifically St. Audrey) — it’s not a good word, but it makes me think of Tawny, which is kind of a cute name — maybe Audrey Katherine nn Tawny?
  • Claire: Yes, it is a bummer that Claire also doesn’t have any traditional nicknames! (Though there are some people who find that aspect of Claire perfect for them). I like how Martha Claire sounds — maybe a mashup nickname from that? Like … Maggie (like Mackey, but not), Molly (from the L), or Marley? I could see using a longer nickname like Clairey for Claire … or using a longer name with Claire/Clare as the nickname, like Clairvaux or Claret. Or even Martha Claire who goes by her middle name — I actually really like that idea!
  • Claudia: Claudia is such an intriguing name to me — it’s so classic and traditional but I almost never hear it in real life, and even less on a baby! I think maybe it’s because it’s got clunky sounds that haven’t recently been in style — but I think they’re coming back! Think Agatha and Barbara, for example — both names I’ve heard on babies recently. As for nicknames, I feel like the mashup idea could work. Maybe Claudia Katherine nn Cla(i)re or Carly?
  • Teresa/Tess: Tess is one of my favorites!! It was pretty certainly going to be our second girl’s name, as a nickname for Elizabeth (but we had all boys, so never even got to our first girl’s name!). Maybe it could be a nickname for Tamsin?
  • Matilda/Tilly: This is a brilliant option — I love Matilda as Eleanor’s sister, and I love Tilly as Nora’s sister. And it’s a given name with a different-initial nickname! Amazing!
  • Vivian/Vivi: I love Vivi, I think it’s such a cute nickname! I have some other Vivi ideas below.

So I think K and her hubby have a lot of good ideas already, and a lot of good potential ideas as well! Now on to new ones!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, keeping an eye out for any different-initial firstname-nickname ideas, and of course avoiding repeating any of the initials they already have in their family. I actually really love when there are a lot of rules — it makes for a really fun challenge! I’m excited to see what K and her hubby think of the following:

(1) Amelia nn Amy, Lia, Mia, Millie, Melia

Amelia is a specific match for Eleanor, as well as for Matilda, and has a bunch of non-A nicknames (as well as an A nickname, if they decide not to worry about that particular thing): Amy, Lia, Mia, Millia, and Melia. They could do Ally/Allie, too, if they like. Of those, I particularly like Millie as Nora’s sister, and its similarity to Tilly and Winnie makes me think K will like it! Unfortunately, it does mean that Tilly would be out for the future, which K will have to come to terms with if she likes this idea …

(2) Penelope nn Penny, Pippa, Polly, Posy

Penelope is a match for Gwendolyn and Matilda, so great! I’ve seen Lola offered as a nickname for it, which fits K’s different-initial hope, but I’m not sure Lola feels like this family to me? (Though I love Lola!) Nell is another different-initial nickname, which feels a lot more like them, but repeats Nora’s initial. So maybe the P nicknames are best to consider — there are some great ones! I love Penny, Pippa, Polly, and Posy as ideas, so sweet! Abby from Appellation Mountain did a whole post on unexpected Penelope nicknames here. I also love how Penelope Martha sounds!

(3) Caroline/a

Caroline is a match for Katherine, Margaret, and Claire — such a beautiful, classic name! I love it as Eleanor’s sister. Carrie and Carly are C nicknames; I’ve suggested Lola to other parents as a nickname for Caroline; and if they do Carolina, they could consider Lina as well. Or — maybe Caroline nn Clare could work? And Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter’s name is Claire Caroline Wren and she goes by Clio! I don’t mind Caroline Martha — it doesn’t sound bad at all!

(4) Isabel

I’d actually already scribbled down Isabel for this family when I was reading K’s email, before doing any research, because her Martha Elizabeth/Emmy idea reminded me of a little girl I heard about once whose name is Isabelle Verity and she goes by Ivy (I.V.) — I thought that was cool! (I posted other ideas like that here.) And then I discovered Isabel is a match for Claire! I really love it as a sister to Eleanor, too — there’s a sophistication with the pair that is lovely! I still like the Ivy idea; they could also consider Belle/Bella (even with the Isabel spelling), or Isa. I don’t think Isabel Martha sounds terrible!

(5) Veronica

I was surprised (pleasantly so!) to see that Veronica is a match for Claudia, Teresa, and Vivian! It’s such a beautiful name, and so Catholic, and it can take the nickname Vivi that they’re already considering! Other nickname ideas include Ronnie and Ricky, which don’t repeat initials; Nica and Nicky, which do; and Vera, Vero, and Vica.

(6) Genevieve

I wonder if K and her husband might be interested in Genevieve with the nickname Vivi? I like Eleanor and Genevieve together, and I know of several Genevieves who go by Vivi. I don’t hate Genevieve Martha together — the rhythm isn’t quite as good as Gwendolyn Martha, but I don’t think it’s terrible either.

(7) Annabelle nn Anna, Annie, Belle

Annabelle is a style match for Eleanor! I looove the name Annabel(le) — I included Annabel in my book of Marian names because I discovered that it arose in Scotland in the Middle Ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis. I love that! The spelling Annabelle adds in the Anna+Belle idea, which is lovely. Nicknames include the same-initial ones like Anna, Annie, and even Abby, and the different-initial ones like Belle/Bella. I also love Annabelle Martha — a very cool combo! — and it could also allow for the nickname Amy (like Missy, I love Amy — such a sweet, old-fashioned nickname that is dropping in popularity after a huge resurgence, which makes it perfect in my opinion).

(8) Susanna nn Zuzu (or Anna/Annie)

I spent some time trying to think of names that have different-initial nickname possibilities, and after weeding out the ones that repeat K’s family initials (like Josephine nn Sophie or Posy and Julia nn Lia) or that don’t seem their style (Dolores nn Lola; Magdalena nn Lena or Dolly), one of the ones that was left that I love for this family is Susanna with the nickname Zuzu. While I’m nervous for K and her hubby that going down the path of trying to stick with different-initial nicknames while not repeating any initials already used will set them up for running out of names, Zuzu is the kind of nickname that is unlikely to cause problems because there are so few names that begin with Z — I don’t think using a Z name now will reduce their future possibilities at all! Zuzu is a traditional nickname for the Susan names (and the name of George Bailey’s daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life!). If they like Susanna but not Zuzu, they could also do Anna or Annie as different-initial nicknames (Susie/Suzy/Sue are also possibilities of course).

(9) Lucille or Louisa nn Lucy

My last idea is 100% inspired by Nora — Lucy is a style match for her, and since K specifically said that Lydia, Audrey, and Claire don’t “strike the right balance of formal and nickname,” I thought she might like the idea of Lucille nn Lucy or Louisa nn Lucy. I particularly like Louisa as a sister to Eleanor, though I know that Lucy is not a traditional nickname for it (I think it’s brilliant though!).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) and nickname(s) would you suggest for Eleanor/Nora’s little sister?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Lawrence Joseph David!

I posted a consultation for Beth and her husband back in May (after posting a consultation and birth announcement for their third baby a few years ago — I love watching the Sancta Nomina families grow!), and am so happy to share that they’ve welcomed their baby boy and given him the tremendous name … Lawrence Joseph David! And they’re calling him Laurie!

Beth writes,

Lawrence Joseph David was born October 17, and we couldn’t be happier! This baby was such a hard one to name; even as we filled out his birth certificate application at the hospital, we were still a bit uncertain! But what really decided it for us was hearing his 3 siblings calling him “baby Laurie” as we FaceTimed them from the hospital. So far we call him Laurie almost exclusively, but some extended family call him Lawrence. We figure with 3 such strong names, he’ll have his choice of names and nicknames as he grows 🙂 we ultimately went with the 2 middle names to honor both grandpas (Brian Joseph and David) and also St. Joseph for the year of St. Joseph and King David, my husband’s confirmation saint. And as described in my original post, St. Lawrence has a particular connection to us because I entered the Church on his feast day: receiving my first communion, being confirmed, and having my and my husband’s marriage blessed (so it’s a second anniversary for us). Also in our research before this baby was born, we found out he is one of the patron Saints of librarians, which made us laugh because my husband and I met while working at a library and we actually got engaged in that same library! With all of those invitations from St. Lawrence, we felt like it was time to name a baby for him 🙂 “

I agree with Beth — it definitely seems like one of her babies had to be named after St. Lawrence!! And I LOVE that they’re calling him Baby Laurie — I’ve heard from many of you that you would love to get your husbands/families on board with a Lawrence nn Laurie, it’s so fun to see it actually happen!

Congratulations to Beth and her husband and big sibs Charlie, Cate, and Henry (and Felicity in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Lawrence (Laurie)!!

Lawrence Joseph David


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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

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

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

Such a gorgeous name!!

Christi writes,

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

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

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

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

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

Saints/ family members we’d like to honor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) Lucas, Luca, Luke

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

(2) Dante

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

(3) Orlando

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

(4) Pio

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

(5) Melchiorre

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

(6) Massimo, Massimiliano, Maximilian

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

(7) Christian/Cristiano

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

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


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

Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

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

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

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

Molly writes,

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

Below are the names we are considering:

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

Names we’ve discussed:

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

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

Names we cannot use:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(2) Caroline

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

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Birth announcement: Thea Noelle!

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

Christa writes,

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

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

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

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

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


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

Patron Saint of nicknames? (!)

A reader sent me the following amazing email:

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

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

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

Their 5 children all had nicknames:

Anna Maria: Annina

William: Will, Willy, Bill

Richard: Dick, Ricksy

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

Rebecca: Bec

Her husband’s sisters all went by nicknames:

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

Eliza: Zide

Cecilia: Cecil

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

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

Have a great Wednesday!


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