Baby name consultation: Middle name to honor Grandma (or both grandmas?) as well as Mother Mary (or other Saint?)

Happy end of February, everybody! I hope your Lent starts out well and continues strong! Enjoy today’s consultation by Theresa Zoe Williams. ❤

Mama Ana writes in needing help with a middle name for her baby girl, Isabel, and their last name rhymes with “jewel”. She says,

For the middle name I would like to either honor one of my grandmothers or do a Marian name or a saint’s name. We don’t want any “R” or “B” names because of initial problems (IBS/IRS). I’ve listed some of the names we like, but I really want there to be meaning behind her middle name. My grandmother’s names are Mara Lucia and Margarida. (Not seriously considering Mara or Margarida though, just would maybe like a connection to those names/them).”

Her husband’s grandmothers’ names are both Mary.

Names they like but aren’t “the one”:

  • Mar (“I love this name, it’s the first three letters of all FOUR of our grandmothers’ names, and it means sea and I feel like there could be a connection to Stellamaris. Husband is concerned it’s too far out there“)
  • Marian
  • Maris
  • Marie (note: I think Mary and Maria are too traditional for us)
  • Lucia (my grandmother’s name is pronounced the Portuguese/Spanish way, but I love the Italian pronunciation)
  • May/Mae/Maeve
  • Rose/Lily (both suggestions from my mom, which I like but don’t want R and Lily is too many L’s with Isabel and Sewell)
  • Malia (my husband nixed this one, but I love Hawaiian everything so loved this when I saw it in your book)
  • Therese (not sold on my name, but love the saint)

Lastly, she mentions,

I am Brazilian so one of the reasons Isabel is a great name is because it works in both languages. I think I care less about the middle name working as well in both languages — mostly because I’m out of ideas, though.”

Some thoughts on ones they like but don’t feel like “the one”:

Mar– I love that this is the first three letters of all four of their grandmothers’ names! That makes it so special and connected. It means “sea” which is a beautiful meaning. I can understand why Ana’s husband thinks this is a little out there but I don’t think it is! The middle spot is also a great place to get a little wild and more out-there without going overboard. I think this name fits that niche nicely. This name really informed the rest of my choices for them.

Marian– Feels a little dated to me and maybe not as romance language inspired as Isabel. I love that this ties the child to all of her great-grandmothers and to Mary, though.

Maris– This is a great, underused name! Isabel Maris has a beautiful flow. I love that this connects directly to Mary, Maris Stella, too.

Marie– Seems a little bland for them. It’s a lot more common in the English speaking world as a middle name than it might seem. They said Mary and Maria were too traditional for them and I would lump Marie in there, as well.

Lucia– I love that this is another connection to a great-grandmother. Isabel Lucia has such a romantic flow and vibe. There are all kinds of saints Lucy and Lucia to choose from as patrons, too.

May/Mae– This is a contracted form of Mary and very much cool and on the rise. Isabel Mae is beautiful. (I’m only slightly biased here; my oldest daughter is Ruby Mae).

Maeve– I wanted to talk about this one separately because it’s actually not etymologically related to May/Mae at all! It’s an Irish name meaning “intoxicating”. It’s a really fantastic name on the rise! But it didn’t really strike me as them.

Rose/Lily– Beautiful names but I agree with Ana’s assessment of both. These did give me an idea, though.

Malia– I love that this is the Hawaiian form of Maria! Gives it such a fresh vibe. But, if Ana’s husband nixed it, then it’s out. This did give me a great feel for their style, though.

Therese– Great name, fantastic patron, but I feel like this pulls them out of their preferred style and wants and desires for a name.

On to some new suggestions! Most of these came as ideas from the names they already like and from all four grandmothers having Mar- names.

(1) Marissa/Maristella

I’m including these as one because they both came as ideas from Maris. Marissa is an embellishment of Maris that makes the name more romance language inspired. Isabel Marissa is very cute and flowy. Maristella is the smoosh name for Maris Stella and when Ana mentioned she likes that connection, I instantly thought of this name. Isabel Maristella is unmistakably Catholic cool. I really especially love Maristella for them. I think this is an embellishment Ana’s husband could get behind that ties in Ana’s love for Stella Maris and all four of their grandmothers.

(2) Marina/Mariana

These give off the same vibe to me, so I’m including them as one. They like Marian but I thought maybe the embellishment Mariana might fit them better. It’s a combination of Mary and Ann, so Mary and her mother, and I thought that was cool for this child. It still has the Mar- beginning to tie Isabel to her great-grandmothers. Since they like Stella Maris and names with connection to the sea, I thought they might like Marina. Isabel Mariana and Isabel Marina are both beautiful.

(3) Marigold

They like flower names Rose and Lily but they don’t quite fit and neither of them has the connections to their grandmothers. What about Marigold? Literally meaning “Mary’s gold” this is a flower name that doesn’t break any rules or repeat too many Ls. It’s hip and cool and brings a whole different spin into the game. Isabel Marigold is cool, covertly Catholic, and connected to everything they love.

(4) Mari

Mar may be too out there and Mary, Maria, and Marie are all too traditional, so what about Mari? Spunky and fun, this name is just another form of Mary but shorter, spunkier, and more romance language. Isabel Mari is spunky and fun.

(5) Marisol

This is a contraction name honoring the Spanish title for Mary, Maria de la Soledad. It also has the meanings of “sea” and “sun” which is fresh and fun. I love Isabel Marisol and I think it can still link back to Mary, Stella Maris, even if it seems like a little bit of a stretch.

(6) Mariae

This is a Latin form of Mary literally meaning “of Mary” or “belonging to Mary”. Their love for a Mary name and the name Mae reminded me of this name. It would make Isabel’s name very unmistakably Catholic, but that’s not a bad thing! My youngest daughter’s second middle name is Mariae and her patroness is Stella Maris. Isabel Mariae is gorgeous!

(7) Cristina

Something a little different for my last suggestion. I was researching Brazilian saints to get some inspiration and came across Venerable Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos. She was a young woman in college to be a doctor when a worker at her apartment attempted to rape her and then stabbed her fourteen times for refusing him. She is set to be beatified sometime this year. I thought that this was such a cool connection, since they’ve chosen the first name Isabel already and Ana is Brazilian. Cristina is a gorgeous name, meaning “Christian”. Isabel Cristina is beautiful and Cristina works in both languages seamlessly! If they’re going to stray from a Mar- name, this is my choice.

These are my thoughts. What do you think?


I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), 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!

Birth announcement: Tiago Luis!

I posted a consultation in July for Elizabeth and her husband, who were expecting their third boy, and Elizabeth has let me know her little one has been born and given the perfect name … Tiago Luis!

Elizabeth writes,

Hi Kate!

I am delighted to share the news and introduce my precious son, Tiago Luis!

I want to thank you for your research and wonderful information you provided along with suggestions of names. And the feedback and comments from the readers really helped solidify my decision. Tiago just seemed right!!

Tiago is very sweet and we feel so very blessed!

Thank you and all your readers!!

If you remember, Tiago was the idea Elizabeth and her husband had before emailing me, and I loved it so much and really hoped they would use it — I’m so glad they did! It has such perfect significance for them!

Congratulations to Elizabeth and Luis and big brothers Adriano and Mateo, and happy birthday Baby Tiago!!

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Tiago Luis

Baby name consultation: Third baby boy needs meaningful name that works in Spanish/Portuguese/English

Elizabeth and her husband are expecting their third baby—and third son! This little guy joins big brothers:

Adriano Luis
Mateo Luis

I love both names—not only are they handsome and masculine, but they’re really meaningful too—read what Elizabeth says about them:

It took my husband, Luis, and I many years to conceive. Our first son was named after my beloved grandfather, Adriano, whom my husband and I were always very fond of. We call him “Adri” (Ay-dree) sometimes. Not knowing if we would be blessed a second time, we decided on Mateo (which means gift from God) when we found out I was expecting our second gift.”

What a wonderful story! And now they’re expecting again! Elizabeth writes,

Now, after five years I am blessed a third time!

I am of Spanish descent and my husband is of Brazilian/Portuguese descent. We would like a name that is pronounceable in Spanish/Portuguese and of course English.

I have tossed around the idea of Tiago — Portuguese biblical name referring to St. James: St. James being the patron saint of Spain. But, I’ve heard mixed things about Tiago not being a proper translation or it being part of the full name Santiago. And there is confusion as to whether Santiago is Saint James or just James…I wonder if you would shed some light on this? And if you would help with other possible name suggestions? … our third will also carry dad’s name as a middle: ________ Luis.”

Additionally,

I prayed for St. Rita’s intercession for the conception and healthy arrival of my children. Had this baby been a girl I was thinking of naming her Antonia Pearl — I was born on St. Anthony’s feast day, my husband is Luis Anthony. And we have MANY Antonios and Antonias in our family tree. And Pearl for the significance of Margarita.

I am an older mom.  As I stated before, it took my husband and I years to conceive. I was 38 when my first was born. I then had Mateo at 40. We continued trying for more and my doctor told me about a year ago that it was very unlikely I would conceive again. And here I am!  I’ve been blessed at 45 with another precious child!  This is also why I feel it’s so important to find the perfect name for him. ”

What an inspiring, hopeful story!! I’m so glad Elizabeth was okay with me sharing it with all of you. ❤

Also, all Chris- names are off the table.

Okay, first off—I LOVE Tiago. Love love love. What a cool name! And it’s got a great saintly connection—to answer Elizabeth’s question, it is a name that refers to St. James. One of the cool things about it is that it refers *specifically* to St. James, not to just James generically, as Tiago is a truncation of Santiago, which means St. James (Santo Iago, where Iago is a variant of James, has become Santiago; see both Behind the Name and the DMNES, both of which are trustworthy sources). Tiago is a Portuguese variant, and with St. James being patron of Spain, I think Elizabeth’s done an amazing job of combining her Spanish heritage with her husband’s Portuguese heritage. Well done!

I also want to loop in St. Rita here as well—she is such an amazing saint, and this isn’t the first story I’ve heard firsthand of her intercession leading to a baby! It would be amazing to find a name that could work for a boy that honors St. Rita—I have loved and shared many times the story julianamama told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well, since her given name was Margherita (the Italian Margaret). Unfortunately, I don’t think it would work in this case as Garrett doesn’t translate into Spanish or Portuguese except that it derives from Gerard, so Gerardo would work—but that seems a bit far from Rita, don’t you think? BUT, I did some research on her life, looking for any inspiration, and I discovered that one of her sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James). Additionally, when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci—and Jacob is a variant of James! So Tiago, being connected to James/Jacob, can also be a nod to St. Rita.

Are you feeling what I’m feeling? I’m feeling like Tiago is the perfect name for Elizabeth’s baby boy. Awesome name, perfect significance.

Of course I have more ideas though! If Elizabeth and her Mister just can’t get comfortable with Tiago, I wonder what they would think of:

(1) Antonio
Antonia was their girl name—a nod to the feast day on which Elizabeth was born and her husband’s middle name, as well as many family members with a variant of the name—Antonio seems a natural contender for a boy! Antonio Luis would be his dad’s name in reverse, which is a way of “junioring without junioring” that I’ve seen other people use (you can read allllll about “junioring” a non-firstborn here). In addition, St. Rita’s dad’s name was Antonio!

(2) Samuel (or Isaac)
When I read Elizabeth’s story, my first thought was Samuel! The story of Hannah and Samuel is one that often resonates with those who have hoped and struggled to conceive. Samuel is the Spanish and Portuguese form of the name, so it should work nicely for them. I wanted to suggest Isaac too, for the same reason, but I can’t tell if it’s usable in Spanish/Portuguese or if it has a Spanish/Portuguese variant?

(3) Nico or Nicolas
This goes back again to St. Rita, as she had three patron saints, one of which was St. Nicholas of Tolentino. I think the Portuguese Nicolau would be difficult for English-speakers, but either Nico or Nicolas would be great I think, especially since St. Nicholas of Tolentino’s parents were childless until they prayed at a shrine of St. Nicholas of Myra (the St. Nicholas we all know) and named their son after him in gratitude. He was an Augustinian, like St. Rita. Also, I looked up Adrian (there isn’t an entry for Adriano), Mateo, and Antonia in The Baby Name Wizard, which I usually do at the beginning of a consultation, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was a style match for Mateo and Nicholas for Antonia.

(4) Rafael
My last idea is totally inspired by the BNW as it lists Rafael as a style match for both Adrian and Mateo, which I thought was pretty amazing. Though I looked and looked for a holy Raphael that could connect to Elizabeth’s story in some way, all I could find were several that were martyred in the Spanish Civil War, and I don’t know if that connection would be meaningful to Elizabeth or not. The name itself means “God has healed,” which could nod to their suffering in their hopes to conceive and the answers to their prayers.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Adriano and Mateo’s little brother, taking into account all the details Elizabeth shared?