Lilibet Diana, and honor names

I posted briefly on Twitter and Instagram yesterday when I heard the news about the birth of Harry and Meghan’s daughter and quickly received the most IG likes and comments I’ve had in a while! Some people love the baby’s name, while others have been driven to deeper depths of anger at H and M than they were before the baby was born. I’d love to know what you think!

I’m also thinking quite a bit about what makes a name an honor name, and when an honor name does the exact opposite. If you have thoughts and/or personal experiences on that topic, I’d love to hear that too!

As for me, my initial reaction upon hearing the name was to be absolutely stunned at how very perfect I thought it was. I’m always delighted at being surprised by a name, and I was thoroughly and happily surprised by Lilibet Diana. Though I’ve since thought more about the possible negative aspects of it, I continue to love it.

Please share your thoughts!

Baby name consultation: Familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic (+English royalty?) name for baby boy

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Beth and her husband’s third baby a few years ago, and now they’re expecting their fifth baby/fourth baby on earth — a rainbow baby and their third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“Each of his are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo, and Charlie has a special affinity for St. John Paul II — such a fun Charles connection“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“There is lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 7 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as a fellow Protestant convert“)

Henry James (“Our first difficult naming! He was Samuel Benedict for most of his in utero life which led to a lot of confusion for our family! Henry for St. John Henry Newman, and James for my grandpa“)

Felicity Perpetua (“In heaven — her name came to me almost the day I found out I was pregnant. I knew in my heart from day 1 she was a girl, and I had never considered the name before, but it choose her. I miscarried her at 12 weeks, and we named her for the two best friend Saints who are remembered for not only their courageous martyrdom but also their tremendous motherhood“)

I love each of these combos and the reasons behind them, a really well-named bunch of kids!

Beth writes,

My husband and I just found out we are expecting a baby boy! And once again, we are a bit clueless about what to name him (you may remember doing our consultation for our third born, also a boy)

I had been concerned with Henry of continuing an English royalty theme, but in the end we just went with it, and he is very much Henry James. While I love all of my children’s names, I really love the beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua. I would love to find a boys name with similar resonance. It’s somehow a combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.

Boys names we have considered in the past include:

  • Leo
  • Luke
  • Benedict
  • Samuel
  • Julian
  • Gabriel

None of these names particularly stand out to me; I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before. Girls names we love include:

  • Teresa (Tessa)
  • Rosemary
  • Stella Maris

If this baby was a girl, she would have been one of the three above names for sure.

Names we cannot use due to family include:

  • William (I have always loved William)
  • Alexander
  • Vincent
  • David
  • Joseph
  • Jack
  • Daniel
  • John Paul
  • Isaac/Isaiah
  • Benjamin (this one makes Benedict problematic because he goes by Ben)
  • Matthew/Mathias
  • Eli/Elijah
  • Miles
  • Thomas
  • Nathan
  • Tobias

Thanks so much for your help! We have plenty of time (we aren’t due until October 13), but I would love to give this little boy a name. Let know if you need any more information or have any questions!

Alrighty! I read and re-read my most recent email conversation with Beth, and also the one she sent when I did the consultation for Henry, really trying to nail down exactly what she and her hubby are looking for, since the names that come to mind as a brother for Charles, Catherine, and Henry really do have a very English and/or royal feel to me, which is a vibe that I love, but I know that’s something Beth was hesitant to continue with Henry. The addition of their sweet Felicity Perpetua both strengthens the English feel (both Felicity and Perpetua can have a real Brit feel, depending on the context!) and also brings the whole crew more into “Catholicky Catholic” territory, which fits right in with how Beth said that she’d love to “find a boy’s name with similar resonance” to the “beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua” — a “combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.” So that’s really where I focused for this baby: I wanted to come up with some ideas that really conveyed the faith in an obvious way, but not at odds with the Brit feel (no Juan Diego, for example). Also, how Beth said, “I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before”: that’s tough, but I tried! I definitely cast a wider net because of that, so some of my ideas here might be a little crazy.

I should also note that I mostly leaned into the British/royal-sounding names in this consultation, despite the fact that Beth has said before it’s not something she wants to continue. This is partly because of her wanting “something she hasn’t thought of before” and partly because I have a growing love for the English Catholic Church and its beautiful history (England used to be known as “Our Lady’s Dowry”!). And also because those names just go really well with her other kids! (I didn’t look through the list of English martyrs because I had enough ideas to work with already, but if Beth and her hubby decide that they might like to embrace this idea, there are so many who died for the faith in England.)

Before I get to my new ideas, I’ll start by offering my thoughts on the names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Leo: Great name, and definitely moving away from the Brit feel, while not feeling at odds with the older kids’ names.
  • Luke: I loved re-reading my previous emails with Beth, where she said Luke Benedict was one of the contenders for Henry before they landed on Samuel Benedict (my youngest is Luke Benedict). I think Luke’s a great option, and like Leo moves away from the Brit feel, while still sounding fine with the other kids.
  • Benedict: Even though I love both Leo and Luke, and for Beth I love that they move away from the Brit feel because that seems like something Beth would prefer, Benedict is actually the kind of name that is in my head as the ideal for them *because* it can have a Brit feel (Benedict Cumberbatch!) as well as being super Catholic. Beth said later in her email that Benjamin on her “no” list makes Benedict problematic because Benjamin goes by Ben, which makes me wonder if a different nickname would make the difference? I considered Benedict as a first name for Luke (Benedict Gerard as a first+middle combo, specifically), and I’d come up with a couple offbeat nickname ideas I thought could work: my favorite was Bear (so cute! And perfect for Benedict Gerard!); I also liked Boone for a while (similar sounds and meaning to Benedict); others are Bede (a two-for-one — St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) and Ned (super British-feeling!).
  • Samuel: I’d said in my last consultation that Samuel was great because it moved away from Charlie and Cate’s royal British feel, so that still remains — still such a great name!
  • Julian: I’m interested by Julian! It’s like Benedict for me — I think it has the Brit and Catholic qualities that would be great! Another thing I love about Julian is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which makes it like my idea of Benedict nn Bede — two saints in one!
  • Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names — I never tire of hearing it. Nicknames include Gabe, Gil, Gib, and Eli.
  • Lawrence/Laurence: Wow! Beth is the second mama in recent months to tell me that Lawrence is a real consideration! Here’s the consultation I posted for the other one — she was looking for nicknames besides Larry, and Rory and Lolek were my favorites of the ones I suggested to her. But I love Laurie too! In my experience, it’s getting Dad on board with a nickname like Laurie for his son that’s the challenge — is Beth’s husband okay with it? I love the special meaning Lawrence has for Beth and her hubby!

I’m glad she included the girl names she likes — Teresa, Tessa, Rosemary, and Stella were helpful in my research, as was William from their “no” list.

I started by doing my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard — whenever I work with a family for a second or third time, I always treat the current consultation as if it’s the first, and I do all the research anew. Then I look back at the previous consultation(s) to see what names I suggested back then, and cross them off my new list. I did so here, and before I list my new ideas below, I just wanted to mention again a few of the ones from before that I still think would be great:

  • Edmund: This was my number one choice for Beth and her hubs when I started doing this consultation, and was both thrilled and disappointed that I’d already suggested it to them! Edmund feels very British and it’s also a royal name so it would be really leaning into the style they’re trying to get away from! So Beth will probably hate this idea, but I just think it’s so stunning with her other kids. St. Edmund Campion is an amazing patron. Like with Benedict, Ned can be a nickname for Edmund; like with Thaddeus from their list when they were expecting Henry, Ted can be a nickname for Edmund.
  • Gregory: In one of the consultations I posted recently I discussed Gregory and how I see it a lot on lists of names that the parents I work with are considering. Pope St. Gregory the Great! Saintly and papal and so handsome! I also discussed nickname ideas other than Greg in that post, as I know that “Greg” is the reason a lot of parents don’t end up choosing Gregory.

Beth also had a longer list last time of names they couldn’t use, which caused me to cross Philip (Pip!), Ignatius, Dominic, and Maximilian off my list of new ideas, but if they’re actually okay to use this time, maybe they’d like to consider them?

In addition to the research in the BNW, I also went through the article I wrote for CatholicMom a while ago called “Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names,” and I went through my own mental files as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Francis

Francis is one of those ultimate Catholicky Catholic names for boys! There are so many great Sts. Francis to choose from, but if they were to pair Francis with the middle name Xavier, that would really be a one-two punch, similar to Felicity Perpetua. I occasionally see F.X. as initials, usually for an older man, and I immediately know that his given name must be Francis Xavier and that no matter where he is in his faith journey currently, he obviously comes from a Catholic family. I love that!

(2) Oliver

Oliver is a style match for Henry, Felicity, Leo, and Julian! I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a favorite of mine, and Ollie is such a darling nickname. I also love that, as a reader pointed out to me, St. Oliver Plunkett wrote about Divine Mercy centuries ago (it’s about a third of the way down at that link — do a “find” search for “Divine Mercy”), which gives him a really nice connection to St. Faustina and St. John Paul II and our current heightened awareness of Divine Mercy.

(3) Simon, Peter

In considering Samuel and how wonderful it is but perhaps doesn’t quite have that “Felicity Perpetua” feel Beth is looking for, I thought maybe Simon would be a good replacement? As with Felicity Perpetua and Francis Xavier, the right middle name could really send it over the edge into Catholicky Catholic territory: Simon Peter, for example. Which makes me think of Peter — the more I think about it, the more I like Peter as a first name for this baby! I have a friend who named his son after St. Peter Damian by giving him Peter as a first name and Damian as a middle, which I absolutely love.

(4) Damian/Damien

Speaking of Damian — it’s a style match for Perpetua, and not only do I love St. Damien of Molokai, but this family — who actually lives in the U.K. (the mom is American and the dad is English) — named one of their boys Damien (Damien Edmund, specifically), which I thought of right away when I saw Damian in the list of Perpetua’s matches.

(5) Augustine

It was fun looking through the style matches for Perpetua, because I knew a lot of them would be the heavy Catholic names, and of course they were! Ignatius, Aloysius, and Dominic were the kinds of boy names that were listed as matches for Perpetua, in addition to Damian; of them, I like Augustine best for Beth’s baby.

(6) Fulton

When I was looking through the list of names I included in the article I wrote on unmistakably Catholic boy names, I was drawn to Fulton right away for this family. I love it with the other kids! I did a post on nickname ideas for Fulton — be sure to read the comments too!

(7) Walsingham

This is definitely my craziest idea! But I felt very much like Beth when I was pregnant with my youngest — I spent a long time looking and looking for “something I haven’t thought of before” (which, also like Beth, is hard to do when you’ve read all the sites and books and discussions and comments available on baby names!) and Walsingham was one I tried to convince my husband of — it’s for the English apparition title Our Lady of Walsingham, and as my husband had strongly suggested Stanley with the nickname Stan, I thought maybe he’d be interested in Walsingham with the nickname Walt! (He wasn’t, oh well.) This name is one of those that really honors the English Catholic tradition in a very specific way.

(8) John, Joseph

In trying to come up with “Felicity Perpetua”-type names for a boy, I really felt like double names more than any others achieve the effect Beth is going for — for a boy, that’s probably generally most comfortable looking like a first+middle combo like Edmund Campion or Simon Peter or Peter Damian, but a double first name might also be perfect (John Paul is one of the most familiar examples, but it’s on their “no” list; John Henry’s totally one I would have suggested for them if they didn’t already have a Henry! I included the idea of double names in my article on unmistakably Catholic boy names). In this vein, I kept thinking that John might be perfect, whether as part of a double first name, or as a first name to pair with a heavier or more offbeat middle name, or as the perfect middle name. For example, using ideas discussed here already:

  • John Francis: I’m dying over John Francis, such a handsome combo! And John (Giovanni) was St. Francis of Assisi’s given name.
  • Peter John: This was actually Fulton Sheen’s given name — Fulton was his mother’s maiden name that he went by.
  • John Benedict, John Damien, John Augustine, John Walsingham: With these, I love John as the legal first name, so their son can always have the option to go by John if he prefers, but it also allows them to use the middle name or a nickname of it as the name he goes by if they want. John Benedict called Benedict or Bede; John Damien called Damien; John Augustine called Gus; John Walsingham called Walt. Fantastic!

As for Joseph, with this year being the Year of St. Joseph, I simply must suggest it to all the families I work with! I would have suggested it as a first name here but that it’s on Beth’s “no” list, but I’m hoping they can consider it for the middle name. Damien Joseph has the nice added layer of Joseph being St. Damien’s birth name. Fulton Joseph is amazing.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie, Catherine/Cate, Henry, and Felicity Perpetua?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (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!)

Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


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: First baby (girl) needs a classic, saintly, not-unusual name

Merry Christmas Eve’s Eve! (Or Christmas Adam, if that’s the way you roll. 😂) I hope your house is as full of joy and anticipation as mine is! A very happy and holy Christmas to you all! ❤ ❤ ❤

Today’s consultation is for a dad! Chris and his wife are expecting their first baby — a girl! He writes,

[W]e’re having a really hard time coming up with girls names that we love. We like classic names, and would like a strong saint connection. So no Kateri or Perpetua or Felicity or anything like that (too unusual). Also, no place names, no objects, no common nouns. Ana, Alexandria, Catherine, Lynn, Jennifer, and Madeleine are out due to them being in use by cousins already. The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day!

We had a boys name that we love, Nicholas Anthony, but that will have to wait for a future child, God willing.

For a girl, we’re toying with Victoria Nicole, nickname would be Tori because neither one of us likes Vickie, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger and say that’s definitely the one.”

Expecting your first baby is such a wonderful, exciting time! From a name perspective, I always think it’s fun to work with first-time parents because they have a blank slate –they can choose any kind of name they want, without any worries about it “going with” older children’s names. That said, it can be daunting to have so many options in front of you, and I do encourage parents in this position to give some thought to their future children’s names so that they don’t make a decision with their first baby’s name, style-wise, that they might regret with later children. For example, if Galaxy is your very favorite name, but other names on your list are Kate, Jane, and Mark, Galaxy probably isn’t the best name to choose.

I only explain this in case it’s helpful to any of you, but Chris and his wife actually seem to have a great handle on this already! Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole are well-matched style-wise, and they give me a good idea of what other kinds of names they might like.

Before discussing my additional ideas for them, I want to talk about Victoria Nicole for a minute. There are a bunch of Saints and Blesseds named Victoria, so they have a lot of options for a patron saint if they name their daughter Victoria, and it’s also a Marian name by virtue of the fact that one of Our Lady’s title is Our Lady of Victory. Chris said he and his wife are thinking of Tori for the nickname since neither of them likes Vickie, which makes me think that they might like to consider some of the other nicknames I’ve seen considered for Victoria: Vee, Via, Vicka, Cora, Tia, Ria, and Ree (like the Pioneer Woman! Though Ree for her is a nickname for Ann Marie). As for Nicole, while I quite like how it sounds with Victoria, I wonder if they want to have a daughter with the middle name Nicole and a son with the first name Nicholas? It doesn’t have to be a big deal and I know a lot of families who have done similar things, but I thought I should point it out, just in case they hadn’t realized that they’re basically the same name (Nicole being a feminine variant of Nicholas).

You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I then look for overlap among those results — a Venn diagram of names — to find names that the parents are most likely to like. It’s uncannily accurate most of the time! I also poke around in my own mind for ideas that feel like the parents’ style, and I’m a big fan of nicknames, so I liked that Chris said, “The nickname is just as important since that’s going to be what we hear every day” — you know I love coming up with nickname ideas!

Based on my research and my own ideas, these are names that seem like they would be a good fit for Chris and his wife:

(1) Elizabeth, Isabella
Chris said they like classic names with a strong saint connection, and since Victoria also has such a strong royal vibe, I thought Elizabeth was a great suggestion, as it’s similarly classic, saintly, and royal. It’s a great name on its own, but one of the best things about Elizabeth is that it has so many nickname options! Liz/Lizzy, Beth, Betsy, Eliza, Ellie, Elsie, Libby, Libbet, Lily, and a whole bunch more all have traditional usage as nicknames for Elizabeth. Another Elizabeth variant that I thought Chris and his wife might like is Isabella. It’s currently popular, but it’s got a long history of usage, including several queens. Izzy, Isa, and Bella are sweet nicknames for it. Both Elizabeth and Isabella can have Our Lady’s cousin Elizabeth as patron, or any of a whole bunch of holy Elizabeths/Isabellas.

(2) Margaret
Like Victoria and Elizabeth (and Catherine, which is on their no list), Margaret is a classic, saintly, royal name. There are quite a few holy Margarets, and there are quite a few traditional Margaret nicknames, including Maggie, Meg, Maisie, Peg/Peggy, Rita, and Daisy. I’ve also seen Molly used as a nickname for Margaret, though they’re technically not linguistically related (Molly is a variant of Mary). That said, Margaret nicknamed Molly is a great way to have a Marian connection without naming your daughter a Mary variant.

(3) NatalieNatalia
Elizabeth, Isabella, and Margaret were my gut-reaction ideas before doing any research for Chris and his wife, but the rest of my ideas here are all based on the results I got from the BNW. Natalie is listed as a style match for Nicholas, Anthony, and Nicole! It’s a beautiful, traditional name that literally refers to Christmas (it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “birth of the Lord”), but of course it’s suitable for a baby girl born any time of year! Nat and Natty are sweet nicknames, and if they wanted to get a little creative, I could see Nolly working too. Natalie’s a variant of Natalia, which is also a lovely option, and opens up the nicknames Talia and Lia. Natalia is where a patron saint would come: there are two Saints and two Blesseds named Natalia.

(4) Caroline
Caroline is a style match for both Nicholas and Victoria per the BNW. I love the name Caroline — it’s so classy and elegant, and has some pretty great patron saints. It has a lot of nickname options too, like Callie, Carrie, Caro, and Carly. Carly’s actually a style match for Tori!

(5) Veronica
I often think of Victoria and Veronica as being similar, since they’re both long, feminine names starting with V and ending with A. But they have very different feels to me — Victoria has that royal English feel I mentioned before, while Veronica has a biblical feel (though she’s never named in the bible). I think many parents would think daughters Victoria and Veronica in the same family are too much, so if Chris and his wife like Veronica I could see them thinking Victoria is off their list — which will be a good litmus test for them. If it makes him and his wife really unhappy to cross Victoria off their list, then they should definitely forget Veronica! But if they like it, some nicknames include Nic/Nica/Nicky (like Nicole and Nicholas, so maybe not?), Ronnie, Vera, Evie, Nona, Ricki, and there are some that are shared with Victoria, like Vee, Via, and Vicka. Maybe even Nora? I spotlighted Veronica here.

(6) Julia
Julia is a match for Victoria and is biblical like Nicholas, and has that same classiness and loveliness that all of these names have, in my opinion. Julie and Jules are the nicknames for Julia that most people are familiar with I think, but Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia and used to be used as a nickname for Julia so they could do that if they wanted. Other nickname possibilities for Julia include Lia, Lula/Lulu, and Jilly. I spotlighted Juliet here, which included a conversation about Julia patron saints.

(7) Rebecca
I’m not convinced that they’ll love Rebecca, but it’s a style match for Nicholas, and I liked that it’s classic and lovely in a different way than Victoria, Elizabeth, Isabella, Margaret, Natalie, Caroline, Veronica, and Julia, even though two of those are biblical like Rebecca. I think it’s because it’s such an Old Testament name — its echoes of the ancient past are inspiring and royal in their own way. Of course Becky is a very modern nickname, which, it occurs to me, might strike Chris and his wife as overly similar to Vickie, which they don’t like. I saw a birth announcement once for a baby Rebecca whose parents were calling Ruby as a nickname — I loved that! Because of that story, I was inspired to do a spotlight of Ruby (here). Other Rebecca nicknames include Becca, Bex, and Reba, and there are two saints to choose from as patron.

(8) Tessa
I feel like I have a good sense of Chris and his wife’s taste in given names based on Nicholas, Anthony, Victoria, and Nicole, but I don’t feel like I have a great sense of their  taste in nicknames. That they prefer Tori to Vickie says to me they like more modern nicknames, but I don’t know if they like (or at least don’t mind) creative nicknames (like some of the ones I mentioned above, that aren’t traditional for the given name) or if they prefer to stick with a formal name’s established nicknames and find creative nicknames to be irritating. But Tessa is a style match for Tori, per the BNW, and I immediately thought they might like it. It can work on its own as a given name, but as such I don’t think it has the “classic names” cachet Chris said he and his wife prefer. It originated as a diminutive of Teresa/Theresa/Therese, and I think it could also work as a nickname for Thomasina, so any of those can work as a given name, but I’m not convinced they’d like them (though Theresa is a style match for Anthony). So if they like Tessa, maybe they wouldn’t mind getting creative? I once saw Tess listed as a nickname for Elizabeth — Tess has a slightly different feel than Tessa, but this at least is one idea; the spellings Elisabeth and Elisabetta make the connection even stronger. Another way I like to come up with nicknames is by combining elements of the first and middle names — so maybe a first name with a strong T sound and a middle name with a strong S sound that ends in A? Like … Tara Susanna, Trinity Vanessa, Tegan Jessica, and Talia Marissa (or Natalia Marissa, because of how the T is stressed in Natalia …. OR, for that matter, Victoria! I could see something like Victoria Jessamine taking the nickname Tessa quite well!). (I know those combos aren’t Chris and his wife’s style, I’m just using them as examples.) (Don’t worry if you think I’m crazy! My poor husband has been tormented by my outside-the-box thinking through each of my pregnancies. 😂 😂 😂 I just like to make sure parents have lots of options.)

And those are my ideas for Chris and his wife’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents whose list consists of Nicholas Anthony and Victoria Nicole?


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 — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Name announcement: Prince Louis Arthur Charles!

The little prince’s name has been revealed! Is everyone else as surprised as I am?? I don’t remember seeing Louis listed as a possibility in any of the articles I read, and the French pronunciation is yet another unexpected bit! (Though adorable! I love the French pronunciation!) Edited to add: Turns out this pronunciation is not only French, but also an accepted English pronunciation and distinct from the French for those with discerning ears. According to Behind the Name, LWEE is the French pronunciation (I’ve also see loo-EE), and LOO-ee is one of the English pronunciations.

I’m very surprised by the re-use of Louis, as well as (though less so) a name in the Charles family. A straight copy of Prince George’s second middle as the new prince’s first name is so unexpected! Regarding the use of Charles after big sister Charlotte, I know several families who have this specific example in the first name spot — a Charles first name for a boy and a feminine Charles variant for his sister’s first name — and few people ever seem to really notice after a while (if ever, except us namiacs!), so really,  one child’s first name and one child’s second middle being the same isn’t that big a deal.

It’s kind of neat, really, that the new prince has one name shared by his brother (and dad) and one name shared by his sister — it’s a nice little connection between them all.

All in all, I love it! I love love love being surprised by names, so this was a really fun announcement the day after it seemed the name had accidentally been leaked (was the palace being cheeky, messing with those reporters? If so, I’m actually really impressed!).

Congratulations to Will (Prince William Arthur Philip Louis) and Kate (Catherine Elizabeth) and big sibs Prince George Alexander Louis and Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and happy birthday Prince Louis Arthur Charles!

Great reads from the name world if you want to know more:

PRINCE LOUIS ARTHUR CHARLES OF CAMBRIDGE: A ROYAL NAME ANALYSIS by Elea at British Baby Names

Welcome Prince Louis Arthur Charles by Abby at Appellation Mountain

Royal Baby Name: It’s Louis Arthur Charles! by Linda at Nameberry

Prince Louis, and the Subtle Art of Traditional Naming by Laura at Baby Name Wizard

(Also, stay tuned — I’ll be posting a really fun baby name consultation later today! You won’t want to miss it!)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

A prince is born!

I haven’t been able to connect with the mama of the consultation scheduled to post today, so instead I’m going to blog about the baby prince!

Several people texted and messaged me today wondering what my prediction of his name is, so I felt I had to put a stake in the ground:

Albert.

This was decided upon after discussing with those much more in the know than I (including Abby at Appellation Mountain). We’ll see!

If you’re interested, here is my post predicting the name of baby no. 2 (who turned out to be Princess Charlotte), and the birth announcement post I did for her.

Birth announcement: Luke David!

One of you dear readers emailed me recently asking if I ever post birth announcements for babies who haven’t had a consultation done and I told her YES! I’m delighted to post a birth announcement for any of your babies! So she wonderfully shared the recent birth of her son, was has been given the so handsome (and so seasonally appropriate) name … Luke David!

He joins his gorgeously named big sister:

Miryam Isabel

The mama, Elizabeth, writes,

I’m thrilled to share the news of the birth of our son, Luke David! He was born Saturday 12/10/16 at 2:37am. Everyone is healthy.

Luke is after the Evangelist. David is my husband’s middle name. And as a reference to King David we like the possible whole-name-meaning “king of light.”

Also, your posts about Christmas and Advent names helped us settle with determination on Luke for our Advent baby. We had Luke picked out if Miryam had been a boy, but tossed around a few other first names this pregnancy. You called the due date’s timing to my attention, and we agreed that Luke was still the right name. So thanks for that! (:

Big sister is Miryam Isabel. Miryam is the Aramaic spelling of Miriam, my husband’s favorite/”most beautiful”/”the original” (his words) variation of Mary. Isabel is the Spanish for Elizabeth after me.”

Isn’t that a wonderful name story?! I just love how appropriate Luke David is for an Advent baby! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Luke!!

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Luke David

Catholic royals

LOOK at these goooooorgeous (!!!!!!) names from Bree over at The Beauty of Names:

Maria Josepha, of Saxony, Dauphine of France, also known as Marie Josèphe, was born Maria Josepha Karolina Eleonore Franziska Xaveria to Augustus III of Poland and Maria Josepha of Austria. She married Louis, Dauphin of France, who was born Louis Ferdinand.
Their children were:

Marie Zéphyrine, “Marie Zéphyrine of France“, “Madame Royale”, or “la Petite Madame” (Died at age 5)

Louis Joseph Xavier, “Louis, Duke of Burgundy” (Died at age 9)

Xavier Marie Joseph, “Xavier, Duke of Aquitaine” (Died at 6 months)

Louis-Auguste, “Louis-Auguste, Duke of Berry“, later “Louis XVI of France

Louis Stanislas Xavier, “Louis, Count of Provence“, later “Louis XVIII of France

Charles Philippe, “Charles, Count of Artois“, later “Charles X

Marie Adélaïde Clotilde Xavière, “Marie Clotilde of France“, “Gros-Madame”, or “Madame Clotilde”

Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène, “Princess Élisabeth of France“, or “Madame Élisabeth”

I’m in love! They’re so beautiful! And so very very Catholic! THREE Xaviers! And one Xavière! And the first name-middle name(s) combinations! I think I would be completely content if someone told me I had to name my children using only these names.

I looked up Maria Josepha/Marie Josèphe on Wikipedia, and loved this: “Politically reserved, she exerted herself only once, in 1762, in vain, for the preservation of the Society of Jesus in France. The Society had been dissolved by order of the Parlement of Paris, inspired by Jansenist magistrates, against the will of the King.”

What do you think of these names? Any that jump out at you as particularly appealing? Or are they too over-the-top for your taste?