Sara and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little boy! This little guy joins big sibs:
Adelaide Karen Noel (“Goes by Adelaide. Adelaide for St Adelaide, Karen is husband’s mother,my sister, and a nod to my mother and great grandmother, and she was born Dec 22. I also like that Noel is a mystery of the rosary and a long time friend of mine“)
(In heaven) Frances Xavier Fiat (“for Mother Cabrini, Mary, and the Rosary“)
Benedict Stanley Thomas (“Goes by Benny, Benedetto, and Detto. Benedict for St. Benedict of Nursia, Stanley is my father and Stanley Rother is cool, Thomas for multiple grandfathers and also Thomas More. Also born December. I like to think that Benedict is connected to the rosary because it means Blessed“)
Sara’s children’s names are absolutely stunning! I could imagine parents finding names like Karen and Stanley somewhat challenging to incorporate into the names of children born today (though I have seen Stanley popping up here and there — Bl. Stanley Rother has done wonders for the name, and my husband and I considered it ourselves), but both Adelaide Karen Noel and Benedict Stanley Thomas are amazing — both of the full combos done in such a way that the more dated names are given a new sparkle and create a pleasantly unexpected part of the whole. I’m terribly impressed! And Frances Xavier Fiat, oh my. What a perfect name for a baby in heaven. It’s not often that I’m surprised by names, but I found an element of surprise in all three of Sara’s babies’ names — such a joy for name lovers!
“Hello! I have been a fan of your blog for a few years now but I think we may need some extra help with baby #4. Nothing we have come up with has stuck 100%, and so I feel like we are reverting to second-favorite names and it would be cool to have a name we are sold on! Maybe we could grow into loving a name, but I’d like to pick your brain! I am also due in the Easter octave so running out of time for us to come up with something on our own.
- [Our last name] totally sounds like a first name. People never get my husband’s name right, since his first name is actually a surname … and it has led to his being mislabeled in college applications, background checks, and even the ER. So if we can pick a boy name that really sounds like a first name that would help.
- I was Sara in the 90’s and it always seemed that I wasn’t the Sarah someone was yelling for. So I’d like to avoid super popular names, and if they’re obvious to spell that’s also a bonus (I tell people I respond to both Sara and Sarah xp)
- My family has a tradition of 2 middle names, so that gives us both more options and more decisions to make!
- We accidentally have a bit of an ABC theme? So if we lean into that, a C or D name would be cool. Or now is our chance to break out of it!
- We like nickname options and also having cool long names that we can just use.
- Husband is adamant that first name must be a saint. Fictional saints or heroes do not count (couldn’t sell him on Caspian).”
“Mary and Joseph are our confirmation saints, thusly our family patron is the Holy Family.
We are pretty much American mutts, but have a bit of Norwegian and Irish Heritage. My suggestions to use some French names have not met with any success.
Here’s our short list and top picks currently that just don’t seem to be landing 100%:
- Joseph (“amazingly, no one else has used this in our parish. We do have one friend in our community due at the same time who will have a Joseph James IV. Neither of us really love Joey, but Jojo or Joe would be ok. Have felt like St Joseph has been stalking me so he definitely needs to be honored somehow, and husband has a strong devotion to him. Worried this might be too common“)
- Mark (“must be one of the middle names for husband’s late father“)
- Vincent (“for Easter. Would love more Easter options“)
- Abraham (“can a baby pull that off?“)
- Dominic (“rosary connection but not a current devotion to St Dominic“)
- Isaiah (“maybe too common“)
- Theodore (“maybe too common“)
So we have been bouncing between Dominic Mark Joseph or Joseph Mark Vincent. Neither one feels like a home run. Would love some thoughts and suggestions!“
So much of what Sara said resonated with me and I definitely tried to keep it all in mind: not wanting to feel like they’re “reverting to second-favorite names”; their last name sounding like a first name and her husband’s challenges with his own first name paired with his last name; Sara’s own “super popular” name; possibly wanting but maybe not wanting a C or D name; “cool long names” with nickname options; “Fictional saints or heroes do not count” (this one made me laugh! But I also get it. But I also love Caspian!); that they would “love more Easter options”; and the fact that all of their other kids have a connection to the rosary in their names.
I generally like to start by offering my thoughts on the names the parents are considering, in case they’re helpful:
- Joseph (Joseph Mark Vincent): I have quite a few thoughts about Joseph as a first name for Sara’s baby! First, I love that he’s Dad’s Confirmation Saint and that he has a strong devotion to St. Joseph. Beautiful! Based only on that, I agree with Sara that “he definitely needs to be honored somehow,” and the addition of her feeling that St. Joseph “has been stalking” her seals the deal! All that said, I do feel like the style of the name Joseph isn’t quite where this couple’s style preferences lie, as Sara noted that she worried it “might be too common” and she feels like they’re “reverting to second-favorite names.” Sara mentioned issues with the nickname possibilities, which could be key. Jojo is adorable and Joe is as solid as they come; some other possibilities include Sepp, Seppel, and Zef, which are inspired by international variants and diminutives of Joseph. I’d also posted once about variants of Joseph from A Dictionary of English Surnames and loved that Jessop is one, which makes me think that Jess might be doable as a Joseph nickname (I looove Jess for a boy). They could also consider Jay, which is easy for any “J” name. Joseph Vincent Mark is a very handsome combo! I also think (similar to the thinking of the possibility that breaking their A, B theme now, instead of leaning into the alphabet with a C or D name) that breaking their current pattern of less-common names with a more-common, but equally faithy, name will help them have more options going forward rather than less.
- Mark (middle name only): Great middle!
- Vincent: Did you all know that until I read Sara’s email, I had never known nor looked into what Vincent means?! “To conquer” is a great, meaningful name for an Easter baby! Per Sara’s request for more Easter options, I included more below.
- Abraham: I know of two little Abrahams — a five-year-old and an eight-year-old — so I can confidently say that, yes, a baby can pull it off! The five-year-old is “Catholic influencer” Grace Patton’s son, and he goes by Abe — I LOVE Abe!! The eight-year-old is a new friend of my own eight-year-old’s, and I’ve learned that he always went by Abe or the full Abraham, but never liked it because the kids at his old school would call him “Abraham Lincoln” (not sure why this is bad?? Kids!), so here at our school he goes by AJ (his full name is also Abraham James, like Abe Patton’s), which is also a possibility for Sara’s baby (Abraham Joseph Mark, maybe?).
- Dominic: I love Dominic! Definitely a perfect name for the brother of Benedict! The rosary connection is spot-on, too. Not having a current devotion isn’t a dealbreaker, either! Sara and her hubby can cultivate one, and indeed I think sometimes Saints call to us through our taste in names.
- Isaiah: Sara had mentioned popularity with Joseph, which I addressed above, so my thoughts are similar here — if they love it, use it! I did want to look at the rankings for the names that they like and those that they’ve used, to have an accurate overall view of the popularity of their ideas:
— Isaiah: 56
— Adelaide: 263
— Benedict: 991
— Joseph: 28
— Vincent: 117
— Abraham: 202
— Dominic: 99
— Theodore: 10
Indeed, the names that Sara worried might be too popular (Joseph, Isaiah, Theodore) are very popular (Theodore at number 10! These are the 2021 numbers, which are the most recent available from the Social Security Administration). Even Dominic is top 100, and Vincent not too far behind at 117. I get her hesitancy! But I’ll reiterate that I think they’ll be happier using a name they love, even if it’s popular. (I’m not forgetting that Sara said none of names that they’re considering are really feeling like “the one,” so I know popularity isn’t the only issue!)
- Theodore: See my comments above re: Isaiah
While reading the list of names Sara and her husband are considering, I had several ideas that seemed “like” the ones they like, but just different enough that they might find them to be just right. I’ve never done an “Instead of … what about” list in a consultation before, but it seemed right to do so for this family! So:
- Instead of Vincent, what about Victor? It has that great meaning that’s so perfect for Easter! And its SSA ranking is 209, which is closer to what they like than Vincent’s 117. My post on nicknames for Victor remains, to this day, one of my most popular.
- Instead of Abraham, what about Abel? Popularity-wise, it’s a little *more* popular at no. 196, vs. Abraham’s 202, but might feel more baby-friendly to Sara? And can still take the fantastic Abe as a nickname! This mama has an Abel, if you’d like to read about one in real life (click on the link for the fifth baby’s birth announcement to see all her boys’ names).
- Instead of Isaiah, what about Isaias? It’s the Latin form of Isaiah and far less popular at no. 489 vs. Isaiah’s 56. I also thought Tobiah/Tobias/Tobit or Elias (Latin form of Elijah, which blows my mind that it’s no. 4!) might scratch this itch. (Rankings: Tobiah’s not in the top 1000; Tobias 277; Tobit not in the top 1000; Elias 48.)
- Instead of Theodore, what about Thaddeus? It’s thought they may be related, and can both take the nickname Ted(dy) (I know a Thaddeus who goes by Ted), but Thaddeus is no. 820 vs. Theodore’s 10. I wrote once about how there are some names that seem very similar but tend to be somewhat polarizing, with people pretty certainly preferring one over the other, and Theodore/Thaddeus was one of the pairs I included, but I thought I’d take the chance! Thaddeus has the nickname possibilities of Thad (I knew a Thaddeus called Thad once, and on “The Chosen” Thaddeus is called Thad sometimes), and also Tad/Taddy — I think Taddy is the most adorable name for a little guy!
- Instead of Caspian, what about Campion? St. Edmund Campion is real, and amazing! Also, Campion means “champion,” so it can have that nice meaning for Easter that Vincent and Victor share. Cam and Cap are adorable nickname options, and Campion isn’t even in the top 1000, being given to only 5 baby boys in 2021! (** I realized after I sent the consultation to Sara that Campion breaks the rule of “no surnames as first names” but I’m leaving it here in case it’s helpful to any of you readers. **)
So those are five new ideas, but they felt a little bit like cheating, since I’m thinking of them as twists on the names they were already considering, so I came up with a bunch more. I did consult the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link), but leaned as much on trying to find Easter names, C or D names, and more uncommon Saintly names in general. These are my additional ideas:
(1) Paschal nn Pax
This was my very first idea for this family, which I scribbled down as I was reading Sara’s email the first time, before I had done any research. Paschal means “Easter” — so perfect for an Easter baby! It’s also a Papal name and Saintly name, and I really love that it can take the nickname Pax, which in and of itself is amazing because it’s Latin for “peace.” Gah! So fab!! (I also quite like Joseph Paschal Mark, and the possibility of the nickname JP, which gives it a St. John Paul II vibe as well!) Neither Paschal nor Pascal are in the top 1000.
Clement seems like a great option for this family for a few reasons: it’s a C name; it means “merciful,” which is great for a baby born near Divine Mercy Sunday; it’s a great Papal and Saintly name (my favorite is my parish’s patron, St. Clement Mary Hofbauer); and the little Abraham I mentioned above (Grace Patton’s son) also has a brother named Clement (and a brother named Theodore!)! The only real nickname option is Clem, which is not to everyone’s taste; this family intended to call their Clement Joshua Samuel “CJ,” which is another option. Here’s another Clement-with-no-nickname. Clement isn’t in the top 1000.
Thinking of Catholicky Catholic C- names, Cosmas came to mind! With the C names, I like that Sara’s son would share initials with his dad, and Cosmas doesn’t have that surname-as-first name thing, so it should be a little easier, right? Cosmas isn’t in the top 1000.
(4) Damian, Damien nn Danny or Denny
How could I suggest Cosmas without Damian? I actually think Damian is more their speed than Cosmas, and fits in nicely with Adelaide and Benedict. I love the spelling Damien too, and the different spellings bring different people to mind, for me: Damian is St. Damian, brother of St. Cosmas; Damien is St. Damien de Veuster (also known as St. Joseph de Veuster), the leper priest. Both wonderful! (Here are all the holy Damians/Damiens.) Damian is no. 113 and Damien is no. 280. These were on my own list and I thought Danny would work nicely as a nickname for Damian and Denny for Damien. Also, see this amazingly named sib set that includes a Damien!
I’m writing this on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, so Gabriel is on my mind — which I also love for this family! An Annunciation name is great for a baby born near Easter (very “full circle” feeling), and I also consider Gabriel to be a rosary name, since the Annunciation is the First Joyful Mystery. Its nickname Gabe rhymes with Abraham’s Abe, too, which might mean that Sara and her hubby will like it! Gabriel is no. 38.
I started to venture farther afield for these last two ideas, and for this one — Nicodemus — I almost put it as an “Instead of Dominic, what about Nicodemus?” idea. I decided not to since Sara said that the appeal of Dominic was the rosary, which Nicodemus doesn’t have, but I’ve always loved the person of Nicodemus in the Bible (he’s considered a Saint too!) and I’ve always loved his name. And Nico is such a great nickname! (Dominic can take Nico as a nickname as well.) It’s really perfect for an Easter baby, too. Nicodemus isn’t in the top 1000.
My last idea is the name I could never convince my husband of, try as I might! I absolutely love the name Joachim, and since Sara said Norwegian is part of their family heritage, I thought I’d offer that I really leaned on its relative popularity in the Scandinavian countries when pitching to my husband, as he’s half Norwegian! (It didn’t work, alas.) Tradition holds that it’s the name of Our Lady’s dad, and while it can take the Joe nicknames (which I might normally suggest, except that St. Joseph is such a dear friend to Sara and her husband, so his name really needs to be used), I always wanted to use the nickname Jake (which *almost* convinced my husband, because he loves the nickname Jake too). I spotlighted the name here, which has a lot of great info. Joachim isn’t in the top 1000.
Besides these ideas, I also wanted to offer some names that are specifically tied to the rosary in case they’re helpful for this baby or in the future. I wrote a book of Marian names, and many of the entries were because of their connection to the rosary, including Leo (for Pope Leo XIII who has been called “The Pope of the Rosary”; Leo is also the name of many Saints); Louis and Montfort for St. Louis de Montfort who wrote The Secret of the Rosary (affiliate link) (Monty as a nickname for Montfort!); Peyton for Ven. Patrick Peyton, known as “The Rosary Priest”; and Pius, for Pope St. Pius V “who asked Christendom to pray for the Rosary for protection against the Muslims in the Battle of Lepanto” and then established the feast of Our Lady of Victory on Oct. 7 — which has become the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (another reason that Victor could be great!). (Pio is the Italian variant of Pius, which could add an extra great layer for St. Pio!)
I also looked through the posts I did on names for the Mysteries of the Rosary and though I didn’t include Pierce and Simeon in my post on the Joyful Mysteries, they’re connected to the Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple (because it was then that Simeon prophesied that Mary’s heart would be pierced with a sword), so you they can be thought of as rosary names … and from my post on the Sorrowful Mysteries there’s Simon (from Simon of Cyrene), Dismas (the repentant thief), and Rex (meaning “king”) and are related to the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Crowning with Thorns, respectively. Not everyone likes to give names with sorrowful or difficult stories to their babies (I wrote more about that here), but others find spiritual comfort and power in doing so, so it made sense to include these, just in case! (Here are my posts on the Luminous Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries as well; be sure to read the comments for more ideas!)
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of siblings-on-earth Adelaide and Benedict?
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!