Birth announcement: Astrid Beatrice!

I posted a birth announcement for Natalie’s first baby a few years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had another beautiful baby girl! This little lady has been given the gorgeous name … Astrid Beatrice!

Natalie writes,

Astrid Beatrice was born last Friday. The nurses kept saying how perfect and ‘happy’ her heart rate was during labor and that got me back onto Beatrix/Beatrice which I’d previously moved on from. That, in combination with that she was born exactly a year after a pretty decelerating miscarriage, seemed like a good name. Plus Beatrice is a saint!

My husband preferred the “ice” ending over “ix” and I was fine with that. So she is our “beautiful bringer of blessings/happiness” to join older sister Margaret Sophia (our “pearl of wisdom”)

Thanks again for your thoughts and advice!

Aren’t Margaret Sophia (who goes by Margot 😍) and Astrid Beatrice the most amazing pair of sister names?? What a wonderful job Natalie and her husband have done! It’s particularly fun that, as Natalie told me, Beatrice as the middle name was “an eleventh hour compromise surfaced that pleased both” she and her husband. That’s happened for me as well, and I’ve loved the feeling of relief that comes with *finally* finding the name that works for both parents.

Congratulations to Natalie and her husband and big sister Margot, and happy birthday Baby Astrid!!

Astrid Beatrice with her big sister ❤

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from 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: Little brother needs a familiar+unexpected saintly name with an international feel

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! We did — my husband took a couple little videos of our boys’ reactions to opening their presents yesterday morning, and he and I watched them a couple of times last night. The sweetness, the anticipation, the innocence, the pure joy … I know you all know why I cried watching them each time. (Also, I’m re-opening my consultations today — details are here.)

Nikki and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their first boy! Little Mister joins big sisters:

Sonja Rose Marie
Zoie Ann
Viola Grace

Not only do I love these names (familiar but unexpected! I love that!), but Nikki specifically said,

We are recent Catholic converts so this is our first baby that we are naming with Saints in mind

So I love being able to say that, despite the fact that they didn’t name with saints in mind, she and her hubs did an amazing job saint-wise! Sonja is a variant of Sophia, which can be biblical (book of Wisdom) or Marian (Seat of Wisdom) or saintly (St. Sophia), and of course both Rose and Marie can nod to Our Lady, as well as St. Rose of Lima. Zoe was the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure (the Miraculous Medal saint), and St. Ann(e) is one of my faves. Viola is a Violet variant and violets are a symbol of Our Lady, and Grace can be for Our Lady of Grace or the concept of grace, which is so faith-filled. All in all, they did a wonderful job, and their girls’ names fit right in with the families I come across through the blog. So great!

Nikki continues,

We are very open to name suggestions. We want something that goes with our daughters’ names but is clearly Catholic. Some of our favorite Saints are St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina (although husband vetoed the name Faustina), St. Therese, St. Gianna Molla, and St. Catherine of Siena. We would like some kind of Marian name included.

The names that we can’t use because of family are Henry, Daniel, and Robert.”

What a fun thing, to find names that bridge the pre-conversion names with the post-! Though, as I said, it wasn’t too hard — it’s so fun revealing the faithiness of names to those who didn’t realize!

I heard Sonja (Sonia? Sonya?) on a little girl at my boys’ swimming lessons this summer and loved hearing it, such a pretty, unexpected name! We have a relative (Norwegian immigrant) named Sonja, same spelling as Nikki’s daughter, so it has a really Old World feel to me, and that style of name is really coming back. Nikki and her hubs are ahead of the curve! Viola fits in with that old, chic feel to me– it’s a bit more unexpected than Violet — and Zoie is so spunky and has a long history of use though it feels perfectly modern. Really nice job! I feel like each of the names has a distinct feel, but they all go together so nicely!

When I was trying to come up with ideas for their little boy (!!), I focused mostly on trying to find names that were similar to the style of names their girls have, though there are a lot of families that have different tastes in girls’ names and boys’ names, so if my ideas aren’t exactly on the mark, that could be why. Even though I think most people have girls in mind when they say they’d like some kind of Marian name, I included some thoughts in that vein for Nikki’s boy. And knowing their favorite saints was helpful! In fact, of them, I thought Maximilian was a great idea for them! It’s got good international usage and is definitely Catholicky Catholic. In addition, you all know that I use the Baby Name Wizard in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — Max was listed as a match for Zoie! And St. Maximilian Kolbe loved Our Lady so much, his name definitely loops in a Marian feel.

In terms of other ideas, in addition to the BNW, I also used the Name Matchmaker at the Baby Name Wizard web site for this family. Using their girls’ names as inspiration, as well as my own mental files, this is what I came up with (in addition to Maximilian!):

(1) Conrad
Because Sonja has such an ethnic feel to me (which I love!), I really tried to find names that had a similar European feel (Scandi/German/Eastern European) or even just “international” without being “too much.” Conrad was actually listed as a style match for Viola by the Name Matchmaker, and it immediately felt like a good idea to me! It was on our list for my youngest boy, I think it’s such a great name — unusual but not unfamiliar, easy to say and spell. We would have used the nickname Cord for it; Kurt/Curt is another traditional nickname/variant of it, and the mama of this family has told me she uses Kon for her Konrad, which I think is adorable. My only hesitation with Conrad is that I don’t think it comes across as obviously Catholic to most people, though there are loads of Saints and Blesseds named Conrad to choose from for a patron. But maybe Nikki and her hubs don’t need “obviously Catholic”? Just the fact that it *is* Catholic might be good enough?

(2) Jasper or Casper
Viola doesn’t actually have its own entry in the BNW, so before I went over to the Name Matchmaker to plug it in over there, I used Violet in its place when I was looking up names in the BNW book, and Jasper was one of the style matches. I love Jasper! Such a cool name! And it immediately made me think of Casper, which is actually the same name — they’re variants of each other (as is Gaspar) — and Casper has more of a Scandi feel to me, which I thought might appeal to this family. Or not! Either way, I like this name family for them! One of the Three Wise Men has been traditionally known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (depending on where you look), and he’d be a great patron for a little boy; others are listed here.

(3) Clement
I might as well get all my C name ideas out of the way up front! Clement is 100% inspired by their devotion to St. Faustina — she’s the saint of Divine Mercy, and Clement means “merciful.” It’s one of the words used to describe Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” which also gives it a Marian character. I saw it pop up quite a bit in Catholic babies’ names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy last year, and it’s also the name of several saints (including a pope). Even if they don’t care for it for a first name, I think it would make a great middle name!

(4) Felix
I really like that each of their girls has a virtue-esque name — Sonja means “wisdom,” Zoie means “life,” Viola’s middle name literally means “grace” — so doing that for their son would be a cool tie-in among all the siblings. Clement (“mercy”) above qualifies, as does Felix — it means “happy” or “blessed,” and it also has that international feel that I think would fit in so well with the girls. There are loads of holy men with the name!

(5) August or Augustin(e)
Continuing the virtue-name theme, the August- names, which mean “great, venerable,” might appeal to Nikki and her hubs. Augustus is a style match for Viola and August for Violet; of those two, I thought August might be more their speed. But then, if they want something obviously Catholic, Augustine might be just the name. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most famous and influential saints in the history of Christianity! Spelling and pronunciation can be an issue, but I’m sure this family runs into pronunciation and spelling issues with both Sonja and Zoie, so they can probably pull it off with no problem! There are a bunch of other holy men with that name, too; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro is another great one who isn’t included in that list.

(6) Damian/Damien
Damon was listed as a style match for Sonja, which made me think of Damian and Damien. I love both! Damian is St. Damian, twin brother of St. Cosmas, and St. Peter Damian, who’s a Doctor of the Church; Damien is all St. Damien of Molokai, who was amazing. I love these names! I’ve done birth announcements for a couple little boys with this name recently: here and here,  and blogger Grace Patton considered Damian for her youngest (she ended up naming him Abraham).

(7) Luke or Lucas/Lukas
My last idea for Nikki and her hubs is one of the Luke names. Lucas and Lukas have more of an international feel (the Lukas spelling is the German and Scandinavian variant), while Luke is simple and solid and handsome. I also think Luke can be considered a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains the Annunciation and Visitation and Our Lady’s Magnificat — so it’s an easy way to work a Marian name in for their son.

And those are my ideas for Nikki’s little boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Sonja, Zoie, and Viola?

Spotlight on: Sunniva

Don’t forget to enter the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim giveaway — it ends tonight at midnight! I’ll announce the winners tomorrow!

A fellow name enthusiast recently told me her Confirmation name is Sunniva and I was like Sunniva! I knew next to nothing about the name or the saint and I knew I had to do a spotlight on it!

St. Sunniva of Bergen, also known as St. Sunniva of Norway and of Selje, and sometimes known under the variants Sunnifa and Synnöve, has a pretty interesting story: she was the daughter of an Irish king who fled to Norway to escape an arranged marriage, and died there in a cave; years later her body was found incorrupt. The Irish-Norwegian connection makes her name a perfect one for a family with Irish and Norwegian ancestry (like mine!), especially because her name, though used in Scandinavian countries (especially Norway and Sweden as far as I can tell), is actually Old English in origin.

Regarding pronunciation, I’ve seen sun-EE-va on behindthename (by a mom living in the U.S. who named her daughter Sunniva) and SOON-ee-va on Nameberry, and the four examples on Forvo sound more like sun-ee-VA to me. So it seems there are choices, but unless you all know which is the predominant pronunciation for native English speakers, I’m going to recommend the first, because it rhymes with Geneva, which I think makes for a really easy way to help others learn and remember it. I also like that it highlights the -iva part, which can lend itself so naturally to the nicknames Eva and Evie, Neva, and even Vivi. I also love the possibility of Sunni, so sweet! And Synne appears to be a Norwegian short form of the name, pronounced SIN-na according to Forvo.

Sunniva is pretty rare here, having been given to 9 girls in 2016, 10 in 2015, less than five in 2014, and 5 in 2013 (I didn’t go back farther than that). So a true rarity that has history and faith significance and some sweet and on-trend nicknames!

What do you all think of Sunniva? Would you name your daughter Sunniva, or have you? Do you know anyone named Sunniva? What does she think of her name, and does she go by a nickname?

Baby name consultation: New baby in the Huset!

(I’m cracking myself up over the title. 😂)

Yes! Today’s consultation is for Jenna and her hubby Daniel at the blog Wilber Huset! I was SO excited when Jenna asked me for a consultation because they have the BEST taste in names, so interesting and unexpected! In fact, their kiddos’ names are what caught my attention in the beginning! (And then, I always love “meeting” converts and hearing their stories, and my husband’s mom was 100% Norwegian but he doesn’t know much about his Scandi heritage, so I like that Jenna’s into that, and she’s just really fun to read [how we met stories are the best!] and posts gorgeous photos of her gorgeous kids on her blog and Instagram, so — lots of reasons to read/follow!)

Their older kiddos are:

Oliver Henry (Ollie)
Atlas James
Primrose Lucia (Prim; Lucia pronounced the Italian way)

Amazing, right?! (The links go to their naming stories, which I have read many times and never stop loving.)

They’re expecting their fourth baby, a boy! Jenna writes,

We are so so so excited. Only problem is, we had a girl name decided already and can’t seem to land on a boy name but that means that I finally get to have your help, ha!

I think overall I’m hoping to find a name that will balance out how much of an outlier Atlas is in my sibset. I love his name so so so much, but I feel like anything similar to the commonness of Oliver will make it stick out even more so.

We tend to like Scandinavian-ish names for boys, but my husband is on a Spanish name kick that I’m struggling to get behind. I find it hard to name an almost inevitably fair baby boy Mateo, haha, but am open to suggestions!

Here is a list of names we can’t use for one reason or another:


Some Saints that are important in our family are:

Saint Anne
Saint James (both)
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Fatima (LOVE JACINTA! Plus Palm Springs is one of our favorite places and it’s at the bottom of the San Jacinto Mountains)
Saint Junipero Serra (our parish is one of the missions he founded)

According to Jenna’s name posts, these are the kinds of names she and her hubs have considered:



Alrighty, so from Jenna’s email, I really latched onto this: “I think overall I’m hoping to find a name that will balance out how much of an outlier Atlas is in my sibset.” I, too, would gravitate toward doing so — I don’t at all mind having a bunch of different styles at play in a family, but I love finding names that “bridge” the styles in subsequent children, to kind of make sense of it all. Not that it’s necessary at all, of course! I also love when parents’ love the names they’ve chosen for their children, whether they “go” together or not.

All that said, I thought maybe a little explanation of what I see when I look at the older Wilber kids’ names might help. I see a lot of nature and landscape: Oliver makes me think of olives, especially as a brother to Primrose, which is so lovely and flowery. Atlas makes me think of the earth, both because of the depictions of the Titan, and because of maps (and that was before I remembered that Jenna had majored in geography!). Apoline makes me think of apples every time I say it, Lilja certainly fits in with flowery Primrose, and Jasper is a kind of rock. Erlend seems a little bit of an outlier here, and I’d actually never heard of it until I read in Jenna’s Oliver post that he was in Kristin Lavransdatter – doh! I’ve started it at least twice and just cannot get through it! (If you know a better translation than the one I linked to, please let me know!) That said, I get a little bit of an old-man vibe from it, which may be how others perceive it as well if they’re not familiar with the literary reference. Not that that’s a bad thing!

I want to point out also that Oliver and Atlas share a theme of “strength,” with Jenna loving Oliver’s “leader of the elves” and “home ruler” meanings, and Atlas the Titan being strong enough to hold up the sky. Also, Jasper being a kind of rock, fits in with that, and even Apoline connects with that, as it’s related to Apollo, whose name might be derived from the actual word for “strength.” So many connections!

So I basically looked for names that I thought could fit with a nature and/or strength meaning or feel for this little guy. You all know I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard, with its lists of names that are similar to each other in terms of style/feel/popularity, but I knew it wasn’t going to be too helpful for for Jenna and Daniel, and I was right. I did take a look, but I relied more on my gut (a little risky!) as well as the list of Norwegian names at Behind the Name; I also used the Name Matchmaker and Nymbler as well; and I checked to see about Harry Potter connections with each name (from Jenna’s Oliver post: “In the back of my mind I thought it would be a cute homage to HP if all my kids names somehow came for the HP series…. how old was I!? ANYWAY. I already loved loved loved the name Oliver so it worked with that trend (Oliver Wood! yeow!) and I loved the name Apoline (Fleur Delacour’s mother, duh!)” haha!). I focused pretty heavily on trying to come up with ideas that had a nature feeling, or a “strong” feeling, which may be too narrow a focus, but it helped prevent me from winging all over the place. I hope it’s not overkill! These are my ideas:

(1) Orion
This might be too mythological for them, since Atlas is obviously so, and even though they want to loop Atlas in more I don’t suppose they want to go overboard with his style either, but Orion was my very first idea for Jenna’s baby boy, with the idea of bridging Oliver and Atlas. I like that it’s an O name like Oliver — to me, that links them pretty strongly — and that it’s a mythological name like Atlas. It’s also nature-y because of it being a constellation, and I love that it has a “strong” meaning as well: Orion’s a hunter! Also, while Oliver and Atlas seem very different at first blush (but not so much if you dig a little deeper into meanings), Atlas is not so unusual that it’s unfamiliar, so if their goal is balance (which I take to mean, bridging styles or making sense of how they all fit together, which to me means pulling Atlas closer to Oliver rather than going even farther out with an even more unusual name), I think a name like Orion is a good one, because it’s also not totally unusual or unfamiliar (though certainly on the more uncommon end of the spectrum).

(2) Sirius
Speaking of Orion … Sirius (the star) is referred to as Orion’s dog in Homer’s Iliad — I love that it’s a star name, which fits in with the nature theme, and it’s a Harry Potter name, so I’m thinking this might be a really cool name for this family! Especially since their other kids don’t have *obvious* HP names — I mean, I wouldn’t suggest Sirius to a family who already has a Harry and a Hermione, but as a brother to Oliver, Atlas, and Primrose? I’m kind of loving Sirius!

(3) Rio
I’m really interested to see what they think of Rio. It means “river,” which fits in really well with a nature theme, and it totally ties in to the map/geography feel of Atlas! It’s also Spanish, which is a nod to Daniel’s recent interest in Spanish names, and it also makes me think some faith-y things, specifically the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and Pope Francis’ visit to Rio as well (especially since watching Pope Francis get elected seems like it was a catalyst for their conversion). And Rio’s just a fun name! One caveat is that I’ve seen it used for girls — there’s the Duran Duran song about a woman named Rio, and 38 girls were named Rio in the U.S. in 2015, but 103 boys were named Rio and the -o ending almost always is masculine.

(4) Ransom
I love love love the name Ransom — I love that it’s got a little bit of a pirate feel, which is so fun for a little boy, but it’s got a Marian connection too, in the title Our Lady of Ransom! That title is tied to Our Lady of Mercy —
in fact, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the Order of Mercy, or the Mercedarians, was originally called the Order of Our Lady of Ransom. Reader skimac told more about them here — they’re pretty amazing, and the title is an awesome inspiration for a boy’s name! It doesn’t have a nature meaning, but Ransom has that characteristic of “strength” to me that I see in Oliver’s and Atlas’ names.

(5) Romero (or Oscar?)
Speaking of interesting, masculine Marian names, I recently discovered that Romero is the Spanish word for the rosemary plant! So of course that makes it Marian to me, and Spanish, so Jenna’s hubs might like it. Also, I love Bl. Oscar Romero, which then made me think of Oscar, and I thought that might be more their speed anyway (and a nice compromise for the two of them because Oscar’s got good Scandinavian use *and* good Spanish use!). Like with Orion, I could see Oscar being a good bridge name between Oliver and Atlas — it’s kind of in the middle of the two unusual-wise I think.

(6) Rune
When I was going through the list of Norwegian names at behindthename, I came across Rune and immediately loved it for them — especially because it made me think of the class Ancient Runes in Harry Potter! I know in Norwegian it’s technically said like ROO-na, but I love the sound of ROON and I think that’s how people would probably say it anyway, so I’m going to say go with ROON. I love its meaning “secret lore,” which is so mysterious and otherworldly — I think for that reason it really fits in well with the mythological association of Atlas.

(7) Sten
I also found Sten when going through that Norwegian list, and not only do I think it has a cool sound, but its meaning is “stone,” which is great for a nature-y and “strong” theme!

(8) Viggo
The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that they don’t have Viggo on their list! It’s Scandinavian and is related to the meaning “war,” which isn’t great from a violence and killing perspective but does fit in with a theme of “strength” I think (and they could totally intend for it to refer to “spiritual warfare” or similar). Natalie Hanson (married to MMMBop Taylor Hanson) is an incredible namer, and a name nut like us, as well as a devout Christian, and she named one of their boys Viggo, which is a plus in my book.

(9) Campion
Speaking again of strength, Campion means “champion,” and is also of course the last name of St. Edmund Campion. even says it originated as a “status name for a professional champion,” which seems right up Atlas’ alley!

(10) Everest
I love that Everest immediately calls to mind Mt. Everest, which is such a great thing for the Wilbers, since it’s nature-y, geologic (geological?), and strong. It’s also familiar without being familiar, if that makes sense — a great bridge between Oliver and Atlas I think.

(11) Fox
At first I had Fennec here instead — a type of fox — I thought an animal name might be a fun way to have a nature-y name in a new category, and Fennec feels really name-y to me … and then I remembered why it feels namey, which is the reason I crossed it off the list: Finnick from Hunger Games (on its own, I love it, but as a brother to Prim, probably too much!). But then I thought, maybe just Fox? I know a guy named Fox (it’s not his given name — I don’t actually know what his given name is) and I love it — it’s like an outdoorsy Felix, and strikes me as both kind of hippie and also tough. Also, and this is a bit of a stretch, I say Fox almost the same way I say Fawkes, and while I don’t think Fawkes is workable for the same reason I wouldn’t recommend Faulkner or similar-sounding F- names, Fox is fine, and if it makes them think of Fawkes they could sort of count it as an HP name? Maybe?

(12) Caspian
Ooh I love this idea for them. The Caspian Sea provides all the nature-ness they could want, and Prince Caspian adds strength, chivalry, royalty, and Narnia!

So those are all my first-name ideas for Jenna and Daniel (or they could be middle name contenders of course, if they prefer)! Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with any HP connections for any names but Sirius and Rune and possibly Fox, but that’s what middle names are for, right?

I also wanted to address their special saints:

— St. Anne: I’ve known a couple of parents wanting to honor St. Anne in their sons’ names, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. If their intention is to honor her, I think all of these ideas are great! And in fact, Anne, that spelling (but pronounced like Anna), has use in the Frisian language as a male name — a short form of names beginning with Arn- (e.g., Arnold, Arnulf, and the Norwegian Arnt). Anne or Arnt could be interesting possibilities? Another is to use St Anne’s husband’s name, which could be really great for them anyway, even as a first name, since it’s got good use in Scandinavian countries: Joachim or Joakim. In English it’s said JO-ah-kim, so Joe is a natural nickname (though I’d use Jake, and I’ve tried to convince my husband of Joachim for ages). It’s probably even better as a middle name, where they don’t have to worry about pronunciation as much.

— St. James: I know they’ve already used James, but this might be the perfect example of when it’s okay to use a variant form of a name they’ve already used. James is the Latin form of Jacob, so Jacob could be great, OR, since Jenna’s hubby is loving Spanish names and they love OL of Guadalupe, perhaps Diego? I’ve seen some academic disagreement over whether it’s actually a variant of James (via Santiago=St. James) or not, but I do believe it’s usually translated that way, and the impeccably researched Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources has Diego listed as “a contraction of Santiago.” I can see Jenna’s point about naming a blondie with a Spanish name, but I love putting names like that in the middle. Diego would be a super cool middle name!

— OL of Fatima and Jacinta: I’m so with them on this! I went on a pilgrimage to Fatima the summer I turned 13, and it was *the* turning point for me faith-wise; I also chose Jacinta as my Confirmation name because of my connection with Fatima. I love her and I’m so excited for her canonization IN TWO DAYS! I could see Jacinta being an awesome name for a future daughter or, more immediately, they could do the Spanish Jacinto for a boy, which would be kind of great because the baby’s being born in the year Jacinta is canonized. Either way, the name totally works with a nature theme because they’re the Spanish masculine and feminine versions of Hyacinth. You might be familiar with the Pioneer Woman’s best friend Hyacinth (a woman), whom she refers to on the show often as Hy; there are also a bunch of holy Hyacinths who are all male — not sure which one San Jacinto refers to, but it’s a pretty cool connection!

— St. Junipero Serra: As with Diego and Jacinto, I think a meaningful Spanish name would be smashing in the middle name spot, and I could see Junipero working perfectly. Or just Juniper, which has traditional use for boys. Also: nature name!

And those are all my thoughts for the new little Wilber man! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Oliver, Atlas, and Primrose?

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 2 (difficult last name and eclectic name taste)

It’s springtime, which apparently means alllll the babiessss!!! 💐💃💐💃💐💃 Buckle up, cause we’re in for a couple of weeks of a lot of consultation posts! Woo!! I have two or three scheduled to post every week until the end of May, and they’re each just as fun and fabulous as the next.

Today’s is for Nury and her husband — they’re expecting their second baby, and second boy! He joins big brother:

Alec Michael

Which I love. So handsome.

Nury writes,

Choosing the name of our first child was difficult, to say the least. Our last name … is long and difficult. All of the boys names in my husband’s family tend to be short and not too exotic (Michael, George, Steven, David, Daniel, Richard). My husband’s name is Sean and we do not want to use that. We also definitely do not want to use Michael. There are a large number of Michaels in both of our families, including Sean’s father and brother. We are open to relatively uncommon names, but they should be easy to say — we want him to have a name that people can recognize and say easily since [our last name] causes so much confusion!

We chose Alec as the first name for our son after months and months of discussion and debate. At the very end, we were nearly set on Thomas Michael (Thomas is the name of a dear friend and mentor to Sean and also two of my favorite saints). We settled on Alec after we met him and decided it would stand as a tribute to my grandfather (whose middle name was Alejandro). Michael was chosen as the middle name in honor of Sean’s father who passed in 2011.

The only name we have seriously considered for this new baby is Thomas again. But I also like the following names: Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, James, and Eric. We are also considering using my father’s name, Marcelo, as a middle name. He passed away last July, a month before we conceived this baby. However, that’s not a requirement.”

I was really impressed both with Alec’s name and with the names on Nury’s list of those they’re considering—they all fit perfectly into her desire to have a name “that people can recognize and say easily” despite being all different styles! Nice job! I also love the idea of Thomas Marcelo, it sounds like it’s full of meaning for them.

I’m going to guess that one of the reasons they had a hard time coming up with a name for their first son is exactly because their taste in names is all over the place—and I say that in a good way! I love eclectic namers—those who don’t fit into any one obvious style. It does make it hard to nail down name ideas though, since there’s no real “place” to go look for more, you know? Like, if a couple loved last-names-as-first-names, then I would know where to look for more. If they loved Irish names, I would know where to find those. You know? On the list of names Nury and her husband have used (Alec) and are considering (Thomas, Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, and Eric) I can see separating them out into the following categories: Scottish/English/Celtic (Alec, Becket, George, Patrick), traditional saintly (Thomas, Victor, George, Patrick), Spanish (Victor, Eric), last name (Becket), and Scandinavian (Eric). But even though I could see grouping a couple/few of them into categories, there was zero overlap in the suggested names in the Baby Name Wizard when I looked up all their names! (You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used/like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) This is so unusual, and extra challenging!

I don’t want any of you to think that any of this is bad though! And it seriously increases the fun for me, I love love a good challenge!! 😊 One thing I did notice in terms of a theme or style that, once I noticed, became really obvious to me, is that they really like names that have the K sound in them: Alec, Victor, Becket, Patrick, and Eric. Even Alec’s middle name, Michael. Out of the eight names that they’ve chosen or like, six have the K sound in them! I think that’s more than coincidence, and I used that idea to come up with a few names that I thought might fit into the various categories their names fall into:

(1) Dominic
Dominic has that K sound at the end, and can take nicknames that include it too, like Nick and Nico. It’s saintly, and I think it works well in Spanish as well as across all the European countries, including Ireland, the UK, and the Scandinavian countries.

(2) Nico
Speaking of Nico as a nickname for Dominic, why not Nico as a given name? It’s one of my favorites—short and snappy and masculine, and I like that it has four letters like Alec. I think it’s easy to say in various languages, and St. Nicholas can be patron.

(3) Nic(h)olas
And speaking of Nicholas, I wonder if they would consider it as a first name? I like both the Nicholas and Nicolas spellings, and I think most people think it’s easy to say.

(4) Cole or Colin
Still (unintentionally) continuing with the Nicholas theme, Cole is a traditional nickname for it, and it can also stand on its own as its own name. My husband and I actually considered it for one of our boys! Colin is also a traditional diminutive for Nicholas, though it’s most well known as a name in its own right. It was actually listed as a style match for Alec in the BNW, though I’m not sure it fits Nury’s “easy to say” criteria well enough? Most people I know say COLL-in, but others are more familiar with Colin Powell’s pronunciation: COLE-in.

(5) Kolbe
And jumping off of Cole, Kolbe is also inspired by Becket on their list in that it’s a saintly last name (St. Maximilian Kolbe). I’m just not sure if it’s as easy to say as they’d like? I mean, I don’t know if most people who see it know it’s said KOLE-bee right away?

(6) Mark, Marc, Marco, Marcus
I wondered if they’d be interested in using a variant of Nury’s dad’s name as their son’s first name, similar to how they did with Alejandro –> Alec? According to, Marcelo is a variant of Marcellus, which was originally a diminutive of Marcus. In light of that, any of the Marcus variants seem like they could work to honor Nury’s dad, if she felt like they were close enough to her dad’s name. And changing from Marcelo to Mark/Marc/Marco/Marcus pulls in that K sound that they seem to like. Marc was also listed as a style match for Eric.

(7) Kevin
Kevin was listed as a style match for Eric, but I would also say it’s similar to Patrick because of being an Irish name, which also makes it fit in well with the UK/Celtic feel of Alec, Becket, and George. It’s a saint’s name as well.

(8) Cooper
This is another one, like Kolbe, that was inspired by Becket—it was actually listed as a style match for it in the BNW. One of you readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, and he goes by Cooper—I think that’s so clever!

Those are all my suggestions based on the idea that Nury and her husband might prefer names with a K sound in them, but don’t worry, I have some other ideas too! Like:

(8) Andrew or just Drew
Though behindthename says Alec is an English short form of Alexander, babynamewizard and others say it’s the Scottish form of Alex(ander), which is definitely the vibe I get from it (not the only vibe—Alec works well with lots of different kinds of names I think). James on their list is another name that can have a Scottish feel to it, and I’m not really sure why—maybe because of King James?—but I have a friend who married a Scot and they named one of their boys James, which made so much sense to me. Anyway, all that to say, Andrew is another name that has a similar feel. St. Andrew is actually the patron of Scotland, and there’s St. Andrews University there, near the town of St. Andrews. If they didn’t like the full Andrew, I think its nickname Drew can stand on its own, and pairs really nicely with Alec.

(9) Charles, Carl(o)(s), Karl
Charles is a style match for Thomas, George, and James, and it’s one of those names that works in all different languages and cultures. Carlo is a nice option as well, as is Carlos (which was a style match for Victor), and Karl has that Scandinavian feel that I get from Eric. A nice bonus is that all these names can take St. John Paul for patron, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. (There are also lots of other Sts. Charles, if they want to go a non-JP2 route.)

(10) Miles or Milo
If you’ve been reading my blog long, you’ll likely know that I love the name Miles and push it on lots of parents! 😁 It’s used in Ireland as an anglicization of the Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”—so Miles is a Marian name! It’s also a style match for Alec, and is similarly nickname-proof. If they don’t love how the S in Miles runs into the S of their last name, but they like the idea of Miles, maybe they’d prefer Milo? It also has use as an anglicization of Maolmhuire (if that’s important to them). If they didn’t care for the double M of Miles Marcelo or Milo Marcelo, I quite like Miles Thomas and Milo Thomas.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Alec’s little brother?

Baby name consultation: No. 6 baby/No. 5 boy with some serious rules!

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday!! I think the joy of heaven must be similar to the joy of children on Christmas morning. 💕💕💕

And happy feast of St. Stephen! A perfect tie-in with one of my ideas for today’s family. 😉

Michelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby and fifth boy in January! This little guy joins:

Henrik Gaetano (“Henrik after the Scandinavian Saint, Gaetano after his great grandfather“)
Philip Llewellyn (“St. Philip the Apostle, Llewellyn after his great grandfather“)
Martin Sven (“St. Martin de Porres, Sven – great grandfather“)
Dennis Robert (“St. Denis, Robert – great grandfather“)
Brigit Catherine (“St. Birgitta of Sweden, St Catherine of Siena“)

We have lost two children and named them according to their days of their delivery so we also have Mary Sophia (after Our Lady of Wisdom and St Thomas Aquinas) and Vincent Marie (St Vincent Ferrer and Our Lady).

Such great names! All classic and saintly, but unexpected too, I love them! And all those Dominican saints! 👌

Michelle writes,

We are out of great grandfathers for middle names but are leaning towards Dominic or Guzman as possibilities (Dominican year of jubilee).

My favorite right now is Victor, for ‘Christus Victor’ but hubby isn’t thrilled. His top runner right now is Walter but I’m not feeling it and his connection is only that he likes the name.

Our rules have been two syllables for the first name, a strong Patron Saint and Catholic story, not top 100 in popularity, no repeat first initials so names that start with H,P,M,D,B are out. We have gravitated toward more Scandinavian/Germanic sounding names, though Dennis doesn’t quite fit with that. There has also been a six letter trend, but hubby is willing to forgo that trend as long as it is two syllables! Deo Gratias!

I’d love to hear your ideas, if you get a chance!

This was so fun to work on! You know I love naming rules — the more the merrier! I love a good name challenge. 😁

First though, a few thoughts about their current ideas: I love Victor. I even wrote an article about it! And I’ve been hearing Walter here and there both secularly (my sister-in-law’s a huge fan!) and religiously (Servant of God Walter Ciszek, amazing story). They both fit Michelle’s criteria, I think either one would be great for her little guy!

As for other ideas, I looked up all the names Michelle and her hubs already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as you all know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; I then cross-checked my results against the Social Security info for name popularity to be sure they were out of the top 100; and I also used the NameFinder with their ideal parameters (no H, P, M, D, B; 6 letters; 2 syllables). Based on all that, these are my ideas for this family:

(1) Stephen
I noticed how Michelle singled Dennis out a little in terms of not really fitting into the Scandinavian/Germanic-sounding names of her other children (even though his name definitely fits with his sibs in terms of popularity arc), so I tried to give a little extra attention to the names that were particular similar to his. Stephen was one and I love it for them! Stephen Dominic is really handsome! (And today’s St. Stephen’s feast day! Woo!) (Did any of you catch that Stephen’s not six letters though? D’oh! I didn’t realize until way after the fact! But I’m keeping it on here because I love it. ☺ )

(2) Gregor
Gregory was another name that was listed as similar to Dennis, but it has the wrong number of letters and syllables. But Gregor is the German form, and it fits perfectly! Gregor Dominic is great, and I don’t mind Gregor Guzman either.

(3) Edward or Edmund
Edward is a style match for Henry (no entry for Henrik) and Walter, and is a great, handsome name. But I thought maybe Edmund would be more their speed? Edward was No. 158 in 2015, but Edmund hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1997, and the most popular it ever got was No. 130 in 1914. It derives from Old English elements (and St. Edmund Campion was English), but it has use elsewhere—there’s a German-Czech philosopher named Edmund Husserl for example, and Bl. Edmund Bojanowski was Polish — so there’s good evidence that it fits in well with the other kids’ names.

(4) Albert
I’m love love loving Albert for Michelle’s little boy, for the amazing Dominican St. Albert the Great! Albert Dominic would be amazing; I like Albert Guzman too; and if they were willing to be “Dominican” rather than St. Dominic specifically, they could do Albert Magnus! Magnus is Latin for “great” AND a Scandinavian name!

(5) Colman
This is neither Germanic nor Scandinavian—it’s the name of an Irish saint (which fits nicely with Brigit)—but I always (weirdly) think of Irishy names as having a similar feel to Scandinavian names (that Viking influence!), so it seems like it would fit for this family! I also took a picture when I was in Ireland of a sign on a wall that said, “Colman Rasmussen”—I took it because my husband is half Norwegian and his mom’s maiden name was Rasmussen—but it seems to reinforce my thought that an Irish name might be close enough to Scandinavian to appeal to Michelle and her hubs. (Yes, I’m a little nutty.)

(6) Gerald or Gerard
These are both Germanic names, and if I had to choose, I might favor Gerard because of St. Gerard Majella, but there are a bunch of holy Geralds as well.

(7) Casper
My last idea is Casper—a name I love and wish it would get more play! I love that it’s the name of one of the Three Wise Men (aka Jasper or Gaspar, depending on where you look—they’re all variants of the same name, with Casper being the Scandinavian form), and since Michelle’s due in January this might be particularly perfect, since the Three Kings’ feast is Jan. 6.

And those are my ideas for Michelle and her hubby! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Henrik, Philip, Martin, Dennis, and Brigit?

Baby name consultant: “Geek Catholics” need help naming No. 3

It’s always fun for me when I’m able to post a consultation for a frequent commenter, and today is such a day! Julia (whose handle here is ethelfritha!) and her husband Ben are expecting their third baby — a little boy! He joins big sibs:

Petra Jeanne
Corwin Matthias

Can you believe those names?! So great!!

Julia writes,

I’ve been a longtime reader and now I am so excited to ask you for advice myself! My name is Julia, but you may recognize me as commenter Ethelfritha, which is my internet alias for reasons that are very silly. Anyway, my husband Ben and I are hoping you (and your readers!) can help us out with names for our baby [boy], due in mid-January.

Ben and I have relatively similar naming tastes, or at any rate, we’ve come to understand each other’s tastes and have worked out a mutual style. First of all, we are HYUUUUUGE geeks. While I would love to say that we named Petra after one of the many wonderful St. Peters, that would not be 100% accurate in the sense of being true. In fact, we actually named her after Petra Arkanian from the sci-fi novel Ender’s Game (although of course we are thrilled that she has so many saintly patrons as well!). Her middle name, Jeanne, is for St. Joan of Arc, both mine and Ben’s confirmation saint.

Corwin is an old English name (in the same family as Edwin and Godwin), but Ben actually found it in the fantasy series The Chronicles of Amber. I haven’t read it, so we can’t really say we named him AFTER that character, but it was certainly the inspiration. Matthias is from the Redwall character (and the 13th apostle.)

I have to admit I read Julia’s email with a big ol’ grin on my face — what a cool couple, I love that they just own their geekiness! 😎

Names that they’re considering for their little guy include:

Victor (“our top for a boy, but we’re only meh about it“)
Theo (“we don’t like Theodore and do like Theo, but are hesitant to give a nickname as a given name. We don’t really like Leo, which otherwise might be a good alternative“)
Christian (“we like this so I included it, but we probably won’t go this route since Corwin has a very similar sound“)


We definitely need more boy name ideas! We’re just not crazy about any of the ones we’ve come up with.

In general we like shorter names with strong consonants, and usually prefer a harsher (for lack of a better word) sound (Ruth, Victor, Sigrid) over a softer, more Latin-inspired sound (Isabella, Sophie, Francis).

We don’t typically go for traditional Irish names (Liam, Patrick, etc.) Not that we don’t like those names, they’re just not really our style.

The names don’t have to be saints’ names, but we’d like at least one of the names (either first or middle) to be connected to the faith in some way.

Names with a geeky connotation are a plus, but hardly necessary!

We are willing to go pretty far out there with middle names.

No names beginning with a J, please.”

Also, it’s worth noting for inspiration purposes that some of the girl names they like are Ruth, Sigrid, and Ada (for the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace).

So first off, how great is it that St. Joan of Arc is the confirmation saint for both Julia and Ben!! I love that!!

Second, I had a total blast working on this—looking up “geek names” was so fun! I love the Catholicky Catholic names—obviously!—but I started the blog because there was a hole in regards to Catholic names, not because I don’t love other names—I looooove other names too! And Julia and Ben are great examples of one of things I think is so great about blogging about Catholic names—people who think “I hate the names Mary and Joseph and will never give those kinds of names to my kids so that’s one more thing about the Catholic Church that’s irrelevant and outdated and uncool and one more reason for me to turn my back on the faith” are shown that actually, that’s one impediment that doesn’t exist! Names of ALL kinds can have saintly connections! And if your favorite name doesn’t, that’s what middle names are for!

Okay! Rant over! Haha! 😀

I do just have to say that as much as I love names of all kinds, I don’t feel as confident in coming up with names outside of the names connected to the faith, so I’m not sure my ideas will be quite right!

That said, based on the names Julia and Ben have used and like and their science fiction, fantasy, and computer programming connections, I did lots of research on names having to do with those areas and found some amazing sites! Between A History of Computer Programming Languages, An Overview of Computer Programming, and A Brief History of Computer Programming Languages (#Infographic), I gave myself a quick education on the people involved with the history of computer programming and Ada’s confreres and came up with what I thought were some great ideas. Then I looked up fantasy names (being familiar with some—LOTR, A Wrinkle in Time, e.g.—but not sure which works Julia and Ben consider appealing [is Star Wars too mainstream? Harry Potter? Game of Thrones? Too recent? Comic books/superheroes? Video games? Are they a fan of Big Bang?]) and found some brilliant resources!! Like:

Fantasy Name Generators (this site is ah-MAZ-ing!! So! Many! Names! And all sorts of ways to search for just what you’re looking for! I actually found it really overwhelming, especially since I wasn’t totally sure what I was looking for)

What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to fantasy

Sci-Fi Names (another that requires a lot of time to sift through, but otherwise seems great!)

Geek Names (I love this one too and have used in the past. Great resource!)

Geek and fandom mamas!!!

Geek Chic Names for Boys (there’s also Geek Chic Names for Girls)

Geeky Baby Names That Won’t Scar Your Kid for Life

Uncommon Baby Names: Classic And Quirky Ideas For Geeky Parents

Fairytale/Fantasy Names

So if my thoughts aren’t quite right, Julia and Ben have a lot of good resources for their own hunting! The last one there is a post on the babynamewizard discussion forums, which would also be a great resource for Julia and Ben — I think the readers there would know exactly the right names to suggest for them—the only reason I know Ender’s Game, for example, is because I see it pop up in the comments over there from time to time. There are computer scientists there too and scientists of all kinds really—they happily think of themselves as geeks, which I just love! (But they’re not so great with the faith connections.)

I also did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard book to see what suggestions it had for siblings of Petra and Corwin, taking Ruth, Ada, Sigrid, Victor, Theo, Christian, Jeanne, and Matthias into consideration. That’s where it became clear to me that Julia and Ben definitely seem to love Scandinavian-type names! Some that were suggested as good matches for them that I didn’t think were quite right included Astrid, Casper, Elsa, Gunnar, Ingrid, Lisbeth, Konrad, and Pim. Great names all! But too similar to Corwin or Petra/too soft/too weapon-y, etc.

But I came up with a bunch of other ideas that might work — like, a lot of other ideas. I maybe went a little crazy. But it was so fun to find each new name that I thought might be perfect, and my list just kept getting longer … and since it was just for boys and not for both girls and boys I’m just going to go ahead and include them all here!

(1) Theoden, Theodred
They love Theo but don’t care for Theodore … Theo can stand on its own, but Julia and Ben might be interested in Theoden or Theodred? From LOTR? I really wanted to suggest Theon too—I was reading about Sr. Thea Bowman recently and discovered she chose her religious name after her dad, Theon. It was the first time I saw Theon as a name outside of Game of Thrones, and I love its meaning (related to “God,” as is the Theo- in Theodore); when I looked it up I discovered it’s also the name of a second-century Greek philosopher and mathematician, as well as a saint. Very cool! But I do think the GOT character has irreversibly tainted it, at least for now.

(2) Charles
I know Charles is probably really plain and maybe even boring to Julia and Ben, but I was thinking of mathematician and pre-computer programmer Charles Babbage, and Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time, and Charles Xavier from X-Men (looove this one!), and I just had to suggest it. I thought maybe Karl was more their speed, but it’s probably too similar to Corwin, right?

(3) Hollerith
I was really intrigued by inventor (“widely regarded as the father of modern automatic computation”) Herman Hollerith’s last name because it reminds me so much of Julia’s handle ethelfritha! I don’t know what to do with that except it might be fun as a middle name nodding to both Herman and, in a funny way, Julia.

(4) Murray, Hopper
I was sorry that computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper’s first name is so common—so cool to see another woman in the mix! But I thought her second and third names would be great for a boy’s first or middle, or a girl’s middle. Actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright (Princess Bride!) have a son named Hopper.

(5) Pascal
I wonder if Julia and Ben have ever considered Pascal?? It’s one of my very favorite ideas for them!! It’s the name of a programming language, which was named after Blaise Pascal, which is also a really cool reference, and Pascal means “Easter” and there’s also a St. Pascal Baylon … I’m totally loving Pascal!!

(6) Linus/x
Is it too weird to consider the name of computer operating system Linux? Because otherwise I LOVE it! Linus to me is all papal (the Peanuts connotation has long faded for me, but I know I’m in a naming bubble), and I totally think Linux could work as a nod to St. Linus as well as the language. (Also, in case any of you are cringing every time I say “programming language” or “language,” I don’t actually know what I’m talking about, so I apologize!) The name Sixtus is translated into Italian as Sisto, so I would take that as a precedent for X’s and S’s sometimes being interchangeable.

(7) Sander
Speaking of X’s and S’s being interchangeable … the Dutch and Scandinavian Alexander short form Sander seemed to me one that Julia and Ben would like. I didn’t actually find it in any other research than my normal BNW research, so I don’t know if there’s any geeky connection, but it just sounds to me like it would fit in with all those names! And of course there are loads of Sts. Alexander.

(8) Lando
My oldest boy said to me recently, “Did you know there was a Pope Lando?” And I was like, “There was not!” and of course then he went and proved me wrong—Pope Lando was also known as Landus or Landon and was pope from 913–914. There isn’t much known about him except he had a Star Wars name centuries ahead of its time!! 😀

(9) Monty
Monty Python is a whole geekiness in and of itself—and maybe not quite Julia and Ben’s taste? But I saw that the Python language was named for Monty Python, and Monty’s a really cute nickname. Montgomery’s the normal long form, but I think Monty can also stand on its own.

(10) Rossum, Rasmus
Rossum is for programmer Guido Van Rossum—it struck me as similar enough to Ross that it could work as an unusual first name. Rasmus is for programmer Rasmus Lerdorb, and it’s actually a name my husband and I considered a time or two, as his mom’s maiden name was Rasmussen. Rasmus is the Scandi version of Erasmus, which is the name of several saints.

(11) Ged (Gerard)
I saw Ged in a listing of fantasy+sci-fi writer Ursula LeGuin names, and while I know she’s supposed to be amazing, I’ve never read anything by her and I’m totally unfamiliar with her characters. So I have no idea if Ged’s a good guy or not, but I’ve seen it suggested as a nickname for Gerard, so I love the idea of Gerard nn Ged or Ged on its own with St. Gerard Majella as patron.

(12) Hugo
Hugo’s got lots of great geek cred! It’s the name of Ron and Hermione’s son in the last Harry Potter book, and the annual awards for sci-fi writing are called Hugos! It’s also the name of a couple of saints … do be warned though that it’s increasingly in popularity across Europe.

(13) Rupert
Rupert is a form of Robert, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s a great patron! I didn’t find any connection to any geeky thing except that Rupert Grint plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies, but it still struck me as the kind of name Julia and Ben would like.

(14) Arthur
How about Arthur? It’s from Camelot of course and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and has that old British-y feel I get from Corwin.

(15) Tycho
Tycho is for astronomer Tycho Brahe, and I see it regularly pop up in name discussions by science nuts. I love the sound and look of it, and there’s also St. Tycho of Amathus!

(16) Remy
I really really really like Remy for a boy (though I do know sometimes it’s used for girls …  maybe Julia and Ben would like to consider it for a possible future girl?). It’s X-Men character Gambit’s “real” name, and a variant of Remigius, of which there are several so-named saints.

(17) Tobias, Tobit
Tobias was a big winner for Julia and Ben in the BNW, but I don’t know … maybe it’s striking me as softer than they would like? It’s also the “real” name of the Divergent character Four, which I’ve found tends to annoy people rather than appeal to them. Tobit is similar and said to be a form of Tobias, but it’s got a harsher, more abrupt sound, which I suspect they’d prefer. It’s biblical (Book of Tobit) and I consider it Catholicky Catholic since the Book of Tobit isn’t included in Protestant bibles.

(18) Wolf
Wolf was actually suggested a bunch of times for this family in the BNW! It’s so cool and edgy, kind of Wolverine but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It can be spelled Wolfe or Wulf, and I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Wilfred. I could see Wilfred and Corwin being smashing brother names! There’s also a St. Wilfred of York.

(19) Bram, Ambrose
Finally, Bram is one of my own personal favorite names. I saw a name dilemma on BabyCenter ages ago (like ten years ago!) for a family who had three boys already: Jack, Finn, and Bram. I fell in love with that brother set! Of course we’ve seen Jack and Finn both surge in popularity, so maybe Bram will too, but I don’t see it discussed that much, and I still think it’s awesome. It’s a Dutch short form of Abraham, and also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker (though I think his name is said BROM, rhymes with bomb, while I prefer BRAM, rhymes with lamb). If Julia and Ben don’t like Bram on its own—or if they don’t like it at all—Ambrose was a style match for them, and of course it’s super saintly, and I’ve often thought Bram could be a nickname for it.

(20) Boethius
This one doesn’t fit the science/fantasy/computer geek vibe, but it does for anyone who geeks out on philosophy and the faith. And I die over the nickname Bo! This post and its follow-up provide good arguments in favor of Boethius.

I also think this post on theologian+science/nature names might be inspiring, just in general.

Whew!! That might be one of the longest consultations I’ve ever done! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Petra and Corwin, born to parents who are self-professed “HYUUUUUGE geeks”? 😀

Baby name consultant: Eighth baby (boy) — no repeating initials please!

Happy Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary!! One of my very very very very favorite feast days ever!! 💞💞💞

Lara and her husband are expecting their eighth baby, and fourth boy! Their older kiddos came in a girl-boy-girl-boy pattern, and they’re delighted that this wee babe is continuing the trend, joining:

Grace Anna (“named after her great, great g-ma and her birth mother“)

Anders Evans (“my husband’s middle Swedish name, and Bill Evans, jazz pianist, my husband’s favorite“)

Ella Katherine (“loved the classic name Ella and Katherine is my middle name“)

Ian Louis (“he surprised us and arrived early at 29 weeks and such is Ian, meaning “God is gracious” and my dad’s first name, Louis“)

Margaret Carolynn (“After watching A Man For All Seasons, my husband was moved by Thomas More’s relationship with his daughter Margaret. Also, we’ve always loved the nickname Maggie. Carolynn is a combo of my mother’s middle name, Carolyn and my mil’s middle name Lynn“)

Nathaniel Joseph (“He was our most challenging name to decide. Nathan was too common for me and Joseph was a favorite of my husband’s. Nate was also a great nickname“)

Mary Virginia (“After seeing Mary of Nazareth we were convinced to be classic Catholic and have a Mary in our family. Also, my grandmother’s name was Mary Virginia. She passed when I was 4, but my memories of her are strong and lovely“)

I love all these names! They’re such great, meaningful names, and a little bit unexpected as a set I think, which is so fun.

Lara writes,

We don’t want to use another M name and would like to have each child with a different initial. Names we cannot use are Ryan, Collin, Blake, Brayden, William, John, Erik, Gibson, all nephews’ names. Close family friends, have Gabriel, Jude, Becket, Blaise, Luke and Max.”

I know Lara was worried that their “rules” were too restrictive, but as I always say — the more the merrier! I love a good challenge!

First off, one of the things that I noticed right away is that Anders has a Scandinavian name and Ian has a Celtic name, so one of my goals was to find a name or names that sort of bridges those two styles, and a couple of my ideas below fit that. Otherwise, I looked up all the names Lara and her hubs have already used in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.

So! All that said, I came up with a few ideas for Lara’s littlest guy, some of which fit her rules and one that doesn’t but maybe might work anyway:

(1) Henry
Henry is far and away my favorite idea for this baby. It’s got a British feel, which I think Ian fits into nicely, and it’s a style match for Grace and Margaret, but my favorite aspect of it is that one of the Sts. Henry was sent to evangelize Scandinavia! I spotlighted the name here.

(2) Oliver or Oscar
I think of Oliver as an Irish/British name with a similar feel as Ian (and there’s the great St. Oliver Plunket), but it’s theorized that its roots are actually Germanic or Old Norse, so I think it can have that dual feel that I was looking for.

Another idea I had along these same lines is Oscar. Oscar was the name of Finn MacCool’s grandson in Irish legend and there’s the Irish poet Oscar Wilde, but it’s also quite popular in the Scandinavian countries. Bl. Oscar Romero was beatified last year, and I spotlighted the name here.

(3) August
Here’s my rule breaker! August was listed as a style match for Grace, Anders, and Virginia, and Augie and Gus are both great nickname possibilities, and Gus especially would make the fact that August repeats Anders’ initial maybe not as big of a deal.

(4) Theodore
Theodore’s a style match for Anders, Virginia, Louis, and the August I just suggested above. I love Theodore for this family! He could be Theo or Teddy, or the full Theodore. So handsome!

(5) Finn
Finn is another name that’s a great “bridge” name — on one hand, it’s an Old Norse meaning “person from Finland,” but I think — and certainly correct me if I’m wrong — that these days it’s just considered a general Scandinavian name? Rather than particularly tied to Finland specifically? And on the other hand, it has separate origins as an Irish name! (Finn MacCool, as I mentioned earlier.) It’s fairly popular currently for several reasons, the most recent of which is the character of Finn in the new Star Wars, but my favorite way to use it is as a nickname for Francis — I think it’s such a cool and kicky way to make a little Francis feel a little more current.

(7) Samuel
Samuel is a style match for Grace, Ella, Nathaniel, and Henry, so cool! I love Samuel, and the nickname Sam/Sammy is so hard to beat.

(8) Charles
Finally, Charles, a style match for Louis, Joseph, Margaret, Mary, and Virginia. I know some people have used Charles as a nod to St. John Paul II (his birth name was Karol, the Polish version of Charles), and I’ve recently learned about the amazing Bl. Karl of Austria. There are lots more Sts. Charles too, like St. Charles Borromeo. Great name! Charlie’s one of those great, friendly nicknames, and Cal’s also a possibility, as well as these other interesting ideas.

And those are all my ideas for Lara and her husband! What do you all think? What would you suggest for their little boy?

Baby name consultation: Biblical and/or first-millennium Saint’s name needed

This past February Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia met in Cuba, a meeting which was called “the first in history.” Though Kirill doesn’t speak for the whole of the Eastern Orthodox Church (being that the Eastern Orthodox Church is a group of self-governing churches in communion [including the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church], though without a single head — different than the Roman Catholic set-up with the pope as head), he’s certainly an important figure in Eastern Orthodoxy, and, movingly, in Francis and Kirill’s Joint Declaration they said,

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart … With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her …

When today’s mama — who’s Eastern Orthodox — emailed me for a consultation, I felt a similar joy and gratitude and “heart to heart” connection, as I do with all of you who love the names of our faith! ❤

This was a new kind of challenge for me, as I’m most confident with Roman Catholic saints and naming practices, both of which are sometimes somewhat different in the Eastern Orthodox church. Fortunately the mama, Arielle, was eager to help, explaining:

We are Eastern Orthodox, and our naming conventions are a bit different. These are not hard and fast rules, but in general, a child is given the first name of a saint, and this name is very liturgically important – they are ceremonially named on the eighth day of life, they are baptized with that name, the priest gives them communion by name each week, they are married with that name, etc. If for some reason they are NOT given a saint’s name (some people give their child a family name or just a name they have always liked), they still receive a saint’s name at baptism for all those liturgical uses, so in practice they have two names (or their middle name is their saint’s name). Which works for some, but we like to avoid that and give all of our children their saint’s name as their first name. Children do not choose a confirmation saint (they are confirmed at baptism), so this is the only saint’s name they get, unless they are ordained or tonsured.

It also is conventionally the saint’s actual name – not a place related to it (like Avila would be). Marian title names are a possibility (like Despina, Panagiotis). Translations of the name are fine (John/Johan/Ioannis/Evan/Ivan or Mary/Miriam/Maria/Mariam for instance), as are names related to major feasts – Evangelia/Evangeline would be named for the Annunciation, for instance, or Theophania would be named for Theophany (Epiphany in the West).”

It’s also really helpful that we share all the saints canonized before 1054, including Biblical saints, so:

Many names are shared (like Catherine would be for Catherine of Alexandria, instead of Catherine of Siena) but others, like Claire are not, without a real stretch (like Claire for Photini – similar meaning).”

It was easy enough to focus on those shared names, and fun to be challenged in a new way!

Arielle and her husband aren’t currently expecting, but they’re planning ahead for the possibility of Baby #5 (as she said, “I also really wanted to ask you about #4, but she was born before I got to it!“). Their kiddos’ names are:

James Benedict (“James is named for his grandfathers and for St. James the Brother of the Lord (Iakovos). Benedict is for St. Benedict of Nursia. I like the idea of including names from among the ‘Western saints’ (Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Brigid, Genevieve, etc.) as a nod to the fact that while we are of the Eastern Church, we are of Western heritage.”)

Miriam Anna (“Miriam Anna is named for the Theotokos (Blessed Mother) and the grandmother of Christ, who we always call St. Anna.”)

Sophia Catherine (“Sophia Catherine is named for St. Sophia of Thrace, the Mother of Orphans, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Both are a nod to my husband, who studied ancient Greek and Roman history and philosophy. [Sophia = wisdom, St. Catherine studied Greek rhetoric and philosophy]. He also stayed at St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai, and we have both been to the top of Mt. Sinai where her body was taken by angels.”)

Elisabeth Eleni (“Elisabeth Eleni is for St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, a nun martyred by the Bolsheviks. Eleni is a common Greek form of Helen, the Finder of the True Cross. I used the “s” spelling both because I just think it is beautiful and elegant, and because our last name is very German and I wanted to use the nickname Elsa (which we do). I’m not sure I love that I mixed languages here.”)

I just love all these names! I love that they’re obviously faithy, and I love their really elegant feel. I also love how Arielle said they “like the idea of including names from among the “Western saints” (Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Brigid, Genevieve, etc.) as a nod to the fact that while we are of the Eastern Church, we are of Western heritage.”

A few other considerations:

I love names that are Scandinavian or German forms of saints’ names, but am rather conservative when it comes to names that seem too ‘weird’ or ‘harsh’ for English-speaking ears. I would love more ideas here. I also love saints’ names from the British Isles (my heritage), especially Irish names, many of which are pre-1054 saints.

Probably no more ‘J’ names, as our last name starts with ‘J’ and one is enough. Possibly for a middle name (I like Joseph and Jude). I like that no one has the same first initial yet, but that’s not a deal-breaker. I love names that start with ‘E.’

Names they’re considering for a girl include:

Lydia (“current front runner. I love the musical sound of the name, and love that when we shorten the names of the girls it fits right in (Miri, Sophie, Elsie, Lydie!) Downside – we know a lot about our other childrens’ saints, and not a lot is known about St. Lydia. It also doesn’t mean much linguistically – just “from Lydia.” Not sure about a middle name here – Lydia Grace? Lydia Mirabel/Mirabelle? Lydia Genevieve? We love St. Genevieve, and it is the name of my great-great-grandmother. But I’m not sure that suits the musicality of the name“)

Emmelia (“one of my all time favorite saints, St. Emmelia the mother of five saints. I had to do some linguistic research for this one (I mean *ahem* have my husband do it). She is clearly a Greek-speaking saint, and so the common explanation that it is from the same root as Emily didn’t make sense. Turns out it is from a Greek word for “melodious.” I love Emmelia Rose together. Only downside is that it is so close to the common Emily, and might get pronounced like Amelia. Which is a lovely name, but different.”)


And for boys:

We have a hard time agreeing on boys’ names. Husband chose James really on his own (I wanted Benedict as a first name) and now he really wants a Thomas, so Thomas Ambrose has been on the list. I like that it goes well with James Benedict (Apostle + Western saint). I like Brendan Thomas better. We would like to include Matthew in a boy’s name at some point, for a dear friend who died.”



Names that they  like, but probably won’t use include:

Annelise (“love, but already have an Anna and Elisabeth, so seems repetitive“)

Madeleine (“Also love, especially as it goes with the French spelling of Elisabeth, but so very common. We have several little friends named Magdalene (called Maggie), so that version is out“)

Mirabelle/Mirabel (“maybe for a middle, but way to close to Miriam for a first“)

Lucia (“loved, but then a niece got it!“)



What do you think? Is this too far outside your expertise? I LOVE your site and would love to hear what you think! I feel like I’ve had the same list of names since I was a teenager and have a hard time thinking outside the box for others.

One very specific thing I could still use help with is a Scandinavian- or German-sounding name that could be a sub for Lydia. I do love Lydia. But I feel like there might be a name I’m not thinking of that goes well with sister Elsa and has that sweet musical sound and Scandi feeling. Annelise fits that bill for me, but just doesn’t go with Elisabeth/Elsa because of being the same base name!

Whew! All so interesting, right?! Okay, so first, some thoughts on Arielle and her hubs’ current ideas:

Lydia’s one of my favorite names! It’s true that its meaning is not terribly inspiring, but I’ve always loved that Lydia was a seller of purple cloth—it’s not often that a little girl has her very own color! I like how Lydia Grace and Lydia Mirabel(le) sound together, and funny enough I kind of agree about Lydia Genevieve—they’re two gorgeous names, but they don’t sound totally right together … From their girl list, I love how Lydia Magdalene and Lydia Madeleine sound. And Lydie’s one of my favorite favorite nicknames, love love love! It is true that something like Lydia Madeleine/Magdalene technically means “from Lydia + from Magdalene” but I have never really focused on the meanings of names, because they don’t tell the whole story (although I do admit that more recently, a great meaning can sway me to like a name I might not otherwise like). Lydia to me doesn’t mean “from Lydia,” it means “St. Paul’s first European convert, the lady in the Bible who sold purple cloth.” You know? Lydia Madeleine would say to me “gorgeous New Testament name (with her own color!) plus a feminine French middle that has connections to some great, holy women.” I think of names like Francis (“Frenchman”) and Cecilia (“blind”) and Blaise (“lisping”) and even Mary (whose meaning is debated, but I usually see “bitter” and some think maybe also “rebellious”) and those meanings are definitely not what people think of when they hear the names, you know? (Arielle’s email was actually one of the inspirations behind my piece at CatholicMom on name meanings!)

It’s also kind of cool that Lydia and Magdalene are two female biblical names that describe where the women were from — it’s kind of apt to pair them together! And place names are all the rage anyway, so Lydia and Magdalene/Madeleine are way ahead of the curve — place names used before any of the Dakotas or Brooklyns or Parises. 🙂

But, all that said, they could play with the meaning of Lydia in terms of connecting to the middle for a meaningful phrase … like Bebinn/Bebhinn/Bevin (and even sometimes anglicized as Vivian!) is apparently Irish for “fair lady,” so something like Lydia Bebhinn could mean “fair lady from Lydia” altogether, which nods directly to Lydia in the bible both by using her name and describing her? Or Lydia Madonna, where Madonna means “my lady” in Italian (and has the awesome Marian significance. But then, Madonna. I do think it works as a middle name though!). Or Lydia Matrona, where Matrona means “lady”in late Latin and was the name of some early saints! (Matryona in Russian, pretty!)

As for some other names that make me think of a Scandi Lydia because of their sound, I wonder what Arielle and her hubs would think of: Linnea, Livia, Tilda, Mila, Lovisa/Louisa? St. Matilda of Saxony and St. Louis of Cordoba make the cut date-wise … Linnea’s not a saint’s name and Livia (St. Agostina Petrantoni) is post 1054, but maybe they’d like them enough to use them as non-saint names? Mila’s a great one I think — I did a spotlight on Ludmila, who died before the year 1000, a great saint, and I think Mila’s a great way to honor her and not use the full name.

Re: Emmelia: I’ve never seen this name! It is beautiful! Emmelia Rose is lovely! Arielle’s right though—it will get heard as Amelia and seen as Emily. Maybe it would be best as a middle name? Brigid Emmelia and Tamsin Emmelia both strike me as lovely combos.

Brigid, Theodora, Anysia, Seraphina, Tamsin, Zoë, Naomi, and Matea are all gorgeous! I do think though that Seraphina is too close to Sophia in sound—do the rest of you agree? I love Seraphina though—maybe as a middle? With a short first name? Like Zoë Seraphina maybe? I’d never seen Anysia before—pretty name! Tamsin is one I myself considered, after a relative named Thomas– it’s so pretty and unexpected! Matea I looooove!! Brigid is beautiful, but strikes me as so different from their other kids’ names … Theodora and Naomi would fit in nicely I think.

I also love all those on their girl list that they love but won’t/can’t use, and I’m glad Arielle included them—they gave me a fuller idea of their taste, and I used them in trying to determine new ideas for them.

Thomas Ambrose is an amazing combo. Really really handsome, and would fit in really well with the other kids.

Matthias, Sebastian, Basil, Cyprian, Gabriel, Silas, Felix, Elias: These all really feel like Arielle’s kids’ names and her faith tradition to me. Love them all.

Brendan, Evan, Ciaran: These are like Brigid to me—I love them (you all know how I love the Irish/Celtic names!), but they seem sort of out of place as first names for this family to me. They’d make cool middle names though! (And really, who cares what I think … if they named a boy Ciaran, then all of a sudden it *would* fit in with their family, of course.)

Martin seems to me to be a really great bridge name—it’s not quite Matthias/Basil/Cyprian, but it seems closer to their style than Brendan/Evan/Ciaran. Martin’s great!

Okay! So what I did was I looked up the names they’ve used (firsts and middles) and those they like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) in my trusty Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. My goal was to compile a list of names that I thought Arielle and her hubs would like. Then I whittled that list down to names that are pre-1054 saints. So hopefully all these ideas are acceptable faith-wise, even if they don’t really do it for them taste-wise (though I think they’ll at least think, “Ok, these are definitely heading in the right direction”):

(1) Natalia
I get all swoony over Natalia, I love love love it. Just gorgeous! There are two Sts. Natalia, the one I’m familiar with (died 4th century, wife of St. Adrian), and one that died in the 9th century—she was half-Moorish and a convert to Christianity, she’d be a powerful intercessor for today’s troubles.

(2) Felicity
I hesitated to include Felicity, because she’s so obvious to me that Arielle must have considered the name and purposely decided against it, especially since they have Felix on their boy list, but I just had to list it just in case. Such a beautiful name and a beautiful saint!

(3) Lilia or Liliya
This may be flirting with the rules, or breaking them altogether, because there’s no St. Lily as far as I can tell—my inspiration was Our Lady, and lilies are associated with her, but is that too distant a connection? I love the variant Lilia, it’s so beautiful, and then I saw the Russian/Ukrainian spelling Liliya, and I love that too.

(4) Aurelia
Aurelia is so pretty and feminine, and St. Aurelia Petronilla was cured by St. Peter himself, so that’s pretty cool!

(5) Philippa
Philippa could either be a nod to any of the Sts. Philip, or it could be for St. Philippa who was crucified around the year 220. It also has the awesome nickname Pippa! Philippa/Pippa is a nice nod to Arielle’s English heritage.

(6) Adelaide
The German form is Adelheid, but I was thinking that even with Arielle’s love of German names the part of her that doesn’t want a name that’s too harsh for English ears would prefer Adelaide. It’s so pretty!

(7) Phoebe
What about Phoebe? It’s pretty and quirky and biblical, I kind of like it for this family!

(1) Clement
My two favorites inspirations for Clement for this family are Pope St. Clement I, who was the fourth pope, and St. Clement of Ireland, who had strong ties to France (I believe he died in Paris in the 9th century).

(2) Leo
Pope St. Leo the Great!! I love the name Leo, a great name for a little boy..

(3) Linus
Of course, Pope St. Linus, the immediate successor to St. Peter. A really cool name!

(4) Casper/Caspar/Gaspar
This is a nod to Arielle’s love of German/Scandi names, and also one of the Three Wise Men! These are all legit variants of the same name (as is Jasper, but they don’t want another J name), and they’re each so cool in their own way.

(5) Tobias
Another German/Scandi name, and biblical, and a 4th century martyr. Such a cool name, I love it.

(6) Samuel
I love all the names I’ve listed up until now, but since their other boy is James, I could understand if Arielle and her hubs think they’re a bit too exotic for first names. But what about Samuel? There’s the biblical patriarch, with his awesome story, and there’s a 4th century martyr. I love the name Samuel, but what really makes it, in my opinion, is the nickname Sam. So. Great.

(7) Edmund
Finally, Edmund. Like Samuel, I love Edmund as a brother to James, and it’s an E name, which Arielle said she’s drawn to! St. Edmund of East Anglia (aka St. Edmund the Martyr) was born in Germany but beheaded in England in the 9th century, so it’s kind of a cool way to bring in both her German and English sensibilities.

And those are all my ideas for Arielle and her husband! What do you all think? Is anything here helpful or inspiring? I kept checking and rechecking Arielle’s email as I was working on it to be sure I hadn’t missed a rule, but there’s a good chance I did, inadvertently, so I apologize in advance if some of these aren’t quite right!

Birth announcement: Anastasia Marri!

My dear friend (and Sancta Nomina reader!) Joanna and her husband Lowell have welcomed their sixth baby — fourth girl! — and given her the gooorrrgeous name … Anastasia Marri!

I asked Joanna for the name details and this is what she said,

We switched our girl name choice 2 weeks before we had her! Anastasia has been on the potential name list since Phillip. Lowell decided one Sunday morning that he preferred it to our original choice, Rita. I found myself immediately agreeing with the choice. It just felt so right. As a bonus, Anastasia means resurrection which we felt was perfect nod to still being in the Easter tide. Her middle name was going to be Pilar or Marri. I preferred Marri as one of the definitions of Mari is “the month of May”, which is our Lady’s month, and Mari is a cognate of Mary in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish. ( We pronounce it “mah-ree” and chose the double R because it looked prettier. 🙂 My maternal grandmother’s middle name was Mae and she had some Danish blood. So, in a far stretched way, the name is also family related in addition to our “holy name connections” :).”

How beautiful, all of it!! Of course, I didn’t expect any less — all of Joanna’s kiddos have amazing names! Anastasia joins big sibs:

Faith Immaculata
Felicity Rose
George Patrick
Phillip Christopher
Karolina Mercy

Finding out Faith’s middle name when I first met Joanna — and swooning over the full first+middle combo — really helped inspire me in regards to Catholic baby names in general and Marian names in particular. So I’m extra delighted to share the great names of this family with you all!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Anastasia!! (Joanna says you can feel free to check out her blog as well!)


Anastasia Marri