I know you’re shocked to hear from me apart from posting Theresa’s baby name consultations! But a funny name thing happened recently and I couldn’t wait to tell you all.
A few years ago a friend recommended the show Moone Boyto me, but at the time it was on Hulu, which we didn’t have. Then more recently Simcha wrote that her family’s been enjoying it on Prime, so last week I found it and watched the first few episodes (and yes, I feel like it won’t be long until I’m speaking with a brogue all the time now) and of course noticed right away that the main character’s full name is Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone. My name thoughts went thusly: Martin, Paul, and Kenny made sense to me, since they’re saintly names; I thought it was fun that Paul and Kenny were next to each other, as one of my friends has sons named Paul and Kenny; and Dalglish was so unfamiliar to me that I just assumed it was one of the most confusing Irish names the creators (who are Irish) could come up with. Also, the voiceover seemed to sort of emphasize Dalglish in a chuckly sort of way, which reinforced my idea that it was just a Super Irish Name.
Then this past Sunday, my mom was telling me she’d seen Man of Steel with Henry Cavill and asked what else he’d been in that she might know. So I looked him up and was shocked to see that his given name is Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill! What are the odds?? (In his case, Dalgliesh is his mother’s maiden name.)
Well. Now I *had* to dig deeper into the name. I was disappointed by what I found! There was barely anything on Behind the Name — just that it’s a Scottish surname meaning “field”+”brook,” and further searching (though admittedly not exhaustive) revealed no saintly or faith connection that I could find (which is why this is just a regular post as opposed to a Spotlight). But then I mentioned it to my husband, just in my chatty way of talking about all sorts of things that he may or may not have an interest in (he always tries to look interested, such a good man), and he actually had a contribution! He wondered if they (Moone Boy and Henry Cavill) might have been named after Sir Kenny Dalglish, and I was like who?? So he pulled up his Wikipedia entry — Hubby supports Liverpool F.C. (lest you think I’m in the know, just know that I just looked up how to say that … if I hadn’t just learned to say “supports Liverpool F.C.” I’d have said “he’s a fan of the Liverpool [England] football team”) and Sir Kenny Dalglish is a former and very famous player. So then Moone Boy‘s main character’s name took on new meaning — it’s not just Martin and Paul and Kenny strung together before Dalglish, it’s Martin and Paul strung together before Kenny Dalglish! Or at least, Kenny’s pulling double duty here as both a Saint’s name and making more sense of Dalglish.
So interesting, right?? I knew you’d love to hear this! I hope you’re all having a great week, and happy first day of Fall!!
During my hiatus, please don’t forget about 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!
Mollie and her husband are expecting their fourth baby! This little one joins big siblings:
I looooove these names!! I love that Avila is so recognizable (among Catholics anyway), and feels familiar in that it’s similar appearance- and sound-wise to names like Ava and Evelyn, but it’s also surprising in the best way possible. I love, too, that they paired it with the sweet and simple Mary. Avila Mary is such a lovely combo! And Jack Michael and Luke Gabriel are fantastic combos as well! I love how masculine and saintly they are — great names for both boys and men. Mollie and her husband have done a fantastic job!
“We’re struggling for both boy and girl names. For a girl name, Avila sets the bar that we need something somewhat (but not too) unique, feminine and vowel-y. We don’t want any repeated letters, so we can’t use another A name.
Names we liked before we named Avila were Grace, Rosalie, and Natalie.
Now that we are trying to coordinate with Avila, we like Vera and Fiona … We’re struggling with Fiona because it’s not a saint and there’s a cartoon character named Fiona that’s an ogre. We’ve always liked the name Magdalene for a middle name or Rosemary (but not sure if that fits since Avila has the middle name Mary).
As for boy names, Jack and Luke were our top two boy names since we met. So, it was very easy to name them, but now we don’t have any names that we like. We’ve tossed around Mark, Ross, Fitzgerald (my husband’s [middle name is] Gerald, but we don’t like Gerald alone). But really aren’t pulled any particular way yet. Just that we want it to go well with Jack and Luke. We named them after the archangels, which puts us in a tough spot if this fourth baby is a boy because Raphael is harder to match with and who knows how to pronounce it?!“
That made me laugh about the pronunciation of Raphael! How do you all pronounce it?
Names that they can’t use include:
I was really interested to see what names are on their list for this baby, and was surprised by a few of them — I love being surprised! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:
Grace, Rosalie, Natalie: I was interested that Mollie and her hubby have a sense of names they liked before naming Avila versus names they’re considering now. I agree that Grace and Natalie have a different feel than Avila, but I wouldn’t cross Rosalie off just yet. Mollie described Avila as “unique, feminine and vowel-y,” but I would describe it as “unique, feminine, and Catholicky Catholic with a current feel.” That is, I wouldn’t worry about matching its sound so much (the “vowel-y” quality she mentioned), though I wouldn’t avoid doing so either — rather, in trying to find girl names that feel like natural sister names for Avila, I would look for “Catholicky Catholic names with a current feel.” The “current feel” Avila has is that it’s a place name, which is something I think was rarer for Catholic parents to use in the past but is much more in line with modern thinking. Rosalie has a “current feel” in a different sense I think — it was out of fashion for a while, but is coming back again. This is Rosalie’s popularity chart from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/ — I zoomed way out to get all the years from 1900 in, which unfortunately compromises the ability to read it clearly, but you get the idea:
Rosalie is currently at no. 208, which it hasn’t been at since the 1940s — in fact, it dropped off the chart altogether between 1989 and 2008! Its reemergence feels like a rediscovery — it’s vintage rather than dated. In contrast, Grace entered the top 100 in 1995 and Natalie in 1976, and both have been there ever since. Grace has the additional aspect of having very popular usage as a middle name, which adds to its feel of commonness — “common” is the opposite of Avila! All this to say, I’d suggest keeping Rosalie on the list! If they still do like it, but still don’t like it in the first name spot as a sister to Avila, maybe it can replace Rosemary as a middle name idea — that way they have the “rose” that can nod to Our Lady without the “Mary” that repeats Avila’s middle name.
If they want to find a way to make Grace and Natalie work, I might suggest making Grace part of an unexpected double first name, like Cora-Grace or Roma-Grace or Thea-Grace. Those names (Cora, Roma, and Thea) actually didn’t make the cut for my “official” suggestions below, so I’m happy to given them a mention here — they’re the kind of names I think of when I think of Avila. I’ve seen Cora used quite a bit in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (mostly, but also sometimes the Sacred Heart of Jesus … or both!), Roma is a nice nod to the Church and is place-y like Avila, and Thea means “God” and makes a pretty amazing “phrase” when paired with Grace (actually they all do) … these are all what I would call “Catholicky Catholic names with a current feel”: place names, noun names, “idea” names. And though they might seem overly long for everyday use, those three combos have the same number of syllables as Avila. And for a fresher take on Natalie, I’d suggest Natalia.
Vera: I’m not sure I’ve seen any of the families I’ve worked with consider Vera, and the only one I know in real life is in her 70s, so I had to look the name up — it was pretty cool to find that it has a very similar popularity arc to Rosalie, having disappeared from the charts in 1984 and didn’t reappear again until 2009; it’s currently 252, which is where it was in the mid-50s. I really love its entry at Behind the Name: “Means ‘faith’ in Russian, though it is sometimes associated with the Latin word verus ‘true.’” How cool! I could see Vera-Grace also being a great combo. A related name that could be cool to consider is Verity, which means “truth.” My one hesitation with both Vera and Verity is that, since they have a prominent V like Avila, will Mollie and her hubs feel like they have to find a name with a prominent V for future daughters?
Fiona: I, too, love the name Fiona! Though I like its symmetry with Avila, in the sense that it’s a five-letter name ending in A, I wouldn’t have included it in the list of names that are similar to Avila, though — it’s missing that “Catholicky Catholic” element. That said, if they just love it and want to make it work, Behind the Name says it’s a feminine variant of the masculine name Fionn, from which comes the name Finnian, and there are a few Sts. Finnian, so they can serve as patron of a little Fiona. BtN also connects it to Gwen, which is a Welsh variant, and there are some Sts. Gwen as well. As for the Shrek connection, it’s interesting to note that TheBaby Name Wizardbook (affiliate link), which you all know I always use in my consultations, said Shrek was actually the reason that Fiona entered the pool mainstream names — it entered the top 1000 in 1990 and is currently no. 265, which is a pretty sweet-spot position — not too popular, but neither unfamiliar nor rare. It also lets you know that lots of families are using the name, despite the Shrek connection — like this family that I did a consultation for. Fiona really is a great name!
Magdalene: I was excited to see Magdalene on their list, since it’s the exact kind of name that I think of when I think of Avila! Magdalene is fantastic, and I’d love to see them bump it onto the first-name list.
Rosemary: It’s actually a really traditional thing to give all the daughters in a family a form of Mary in their names somewhere (first or middle). Some have interpreted it in the past as using Mary/Marie/Maria itself for all the daughters (St. Therese and her sisters all had Marie); other families have used variants of Mary (my sisters and I all have a different form of Mary in our names); others have used other Marian names like Rose (some fun examples of different options here; also, my book of Marian baby names is a compilation of all these ideas). So from that perspective, I don’t think there’s any problem with using Rosemary as a middle name for a girl, even with Avila’s middle name being Mary. It could be a nice connection between sisters, and easy enough to do for all the daughters they end up having.
Mark: Mark seems so perfect with brothers Jack and Luke — a four-letter name ending in the K sound! I have no quibble with Mark, except possibly that if their first three boys have four-letter names that end in the K sound, would they feel like they have to continue that with future boys? (This is not a big quibble on my part though — you’ll see I included a similar idea in my official suggestions below.)
Ross: I love this, too — I love that it continues their boys’ four-letter theme but in a new way and with new sounds. Like Fiona, it doesn’t have a Saint as far as I can tell, but it’s actually a place name that several Saints share, which makes it a nice complement for Avila’s style.
Fitzgerald: I love this idea! The connection to Hubby’s middle name and St. Gerard is great, and Fitz is a fun nickname that’s four letters like Jack and Luke, but the fact that it’s a nickname rather than the given name opens up more options for future sons. Other ideas related to Gerard include Garrett, which is derived from Gerard, and Hardy, since Gerard is a combo of the Germanic elements ger (“spear”) and hard (“brave, hardy”).
Raphael: It’s almost painful to think of them NOT using Raphael for a middle name for their next boy! Haha! After Jack and Luke’s middle names, it would be so fun! But I definitely don’t think it’s necessary — I think Michael and Gabriel are used so frequently, even together, without Raphael, that I think they can get away with not using it. If they did decide to use Raphael (and with it being the middle name, they can choose whatever pronunciation they like! They’re listed here), some options for future boys’ middle names can include Angel/Angelo/Angelus (Angelus has the nice added layer of being the name of the Angelus prayer) and Seraphim (referring to the order of angels called the seraphim and it’s used as a boy’s name). In terms of matching a name with Raphael, I like both Mark Raphael and Ross Raphael (I’m a big fan of alliteration, though I know not everyone is). Fitzgerald Raphael might be too many unusual names together though?
So those are my thoughts on the names Mollie and her husband are considering — now on to new ideas! I mentioned TheBaby Name Wizard earlier — I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they’re considering in that book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/pronunciation. I did so for this family, keeping a particular eye out for names with a strong faith connection; I also rifled through my mental files for names like Avila, since her name doesn’t have its own entry in the book, and I used my book of Marian names as a resources as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for Mollie’s baby:
(1) Carys or Charis
These names, which are pronounced the same (CARE-iss), are the kinds of names I think of when I think of names like Avila. The former is a Welsh name that means “love”; the latter is from the Greek for “grace, kindness.” They’re such pretty names! I like that Carys, being Welsh, has the Celtic feel that they like, as evidenced by Fiona, Ross, and Fitzgerald, and I like that Charis is contained within the word eucharist, which gives it a beautiful added layer of meaning.
Mollie said that Clara is off limits, but Claire showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Jack, Luke, and Grace — and it made me think of Clairvaux, which has more of Avila’s feel, especially since it’s a saintly place name like Avila (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Bernard of Clairvaux) and it has that prominent V that I think they like (in case they decide they want to go that route). I think Clairvaux would be great because it would bridge Avila’s name with their boys’ names in the sense that Clairvaux is very Avila-ish and the nickname Clair(e) is very Jack-and-Luke. I have a couple of readers with daughters named Clairvaux — here’s one and here’s another.
Cassie is a style match for Ross, and it’s one of my favorite nicknames for girls, so I was excited when I was thumbing through the BNW and saw that Livia — notable because it has all the same letters as Avila and also ends in A, so I thought it was a decent stand-in from that perspective — is a style match for Cassia. Cassia has a few fun layers: it’s the name of a form of cinnamon (a spice name! How fun!) and is also the English form of the biblical name Keziah, who was one of Job’s daughters. Biblical + spice with a sweet nickname sounds amazing! There are two possible pronunciations: KAS-see-a or KAH-sha.
(4) Elanor nicknamed Nora or Ella
Ella is a match for both Jack and Luke, but I worry that it’s too similar to the sounds of Avila? But then Nora is a match for Fiona, and since both Ella and Nora can be nicknames for Eleanor, I thought there was something there, but Eleanor itself seemed a little too tame next to Avila? I wondered if changing the spelling to Elanor — which is the spelling Tolkien used in Lord of the Rings — would help? The Tolkien names are often favored by Catholic parents because of Tolkien’s identity as a devout Catholic writer and the Catholic themes in his writing — they’re kind of sneaky Catholic names! I also thought Ella-Grace — like the double name idea with Grace that I mentioned earlier — could be an interesting option.
Not to add more V names when I’ve suggested that maybe a name with a strong V wouldn’t be a great idea for their next girl, in order to not feel like they’re locked into a theme, but Violet could be lovely here! It’s an entry in my book of Marian names because the violet flower used to be called Our Lady’s Modesty, and represents her humility.
Speaking of Marian names, and also of Ella above, I also love the idea of Stella for this baby! Stella Maris is one of Our Lady’s titles, meaning Star of the Sea, and I’ve seen Stella as a first name in honor of this title, as well as Stella Maris as a first+middle combo, and the long and lovely Stellamaris and Maristella. Of those, Stella seems like a great sister for Avila!
Kate is a match for Jack, Luke, and Ross, which means I have to suggest it for this family! I don’t think that Kate is a great sister for Avila, though — they’re just so far apart style-wise. But some ideas to make this work can include Kateri with the nickname Kate, or maybe Kate as part of a double name like I suggested with Grace. Vera-Kate, Roma-Kate, Thea Kate, Ella-Kate, even Stella-Kate could all provide just the sparkle that Avila’s sister needs to match her sister’s stunning name.
Isla is a match for Fiona, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names, since “its Marian character comes from the title ‘Our Lady of the Isles’ (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a state of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), or any of the devotions in the U.S. and Canada to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle, including churches and institutions in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Quebec, Canada. There’s also the church of Our Lady of the Isle in Croatia.” It’s such a pretty name! I could also see Isla-Grace and Isla-Kate as being really pretty combos. (One of the Clairvauxs that I mentioned above has a sister named Isla!)
Given that Jack and Luke both have that prominent ending K sound, as does Mark from the names Mollie and her hubs are considering, I thought Becket/Beckett might be right up their alley. I love that a Becket(t) could go by Beck, which is a great fit with Jack and Luke, but it’s also very Avila-esque, like St. Thomas a Becket. It’s a cool option!
Cole is a match for Luke and Colin for Natalie, both of which are great and maybe Mollie would like to consider them? They’re variants of Nicholas, which is where the patron Saint would come from. But they both made me think of Kolbe, which has that Avila feel as well and could be a really great bridge name between their boys’ style and Avila’s style.
Grant is a match for Ross, and as soon as I saw it I wanted to suggest it. I’ve actually seen it in a few families who also have a Luke, and one reader of the blog said she considered it because of the dona nobis pacem part of the Mass: “grant us peace.” I love that!
I really like the idea of Drew with Jack and Luke — I feel like it has a similar feel — but I don’t so much feel that way about the full Andrew. Since they already used Jack — which of course has a long history of usage as a given name in its own right, but started as a nickname for John — I thought maybe they’d be okay just going with Drew as a given name?
I felt the same way about Ryan as I do about Drew with their boys — it just feels like it goes! I did a spotlight on Ryan a few years ago and came up with what I think are some great faith connections. I also like its Celtic background for this family.
Owen is a match for Jack, Luke, and Grace, and I love that its Celtic feel goes along with the feel of Fiona, Ross, and Fitzgerald. Though it has both Irish and English/Welsh connections, I’m a huge fan of St. Nicholas Owen, who was one of the English Martyrs — he’s a great patron!
(7) Charles (Charlie)
How can I ignore the fact that Charlie is a match for Jack and Vera! Normally I would suggest the formal Charles with the nickname Charlie, but as I was thinking with Drew, maybe Charlie as a given name would be more their speed? I’ve also seen Charley bestowed as a given name by people who don’t want to use Charles — maybe the spelling Charley has more of a full-name feel?
Finally, since they’re considering Fiona, which is a form of Fionn (Finn), and since Finn is a four-letter name like Jack and Luke, maybe Mollie and her hubby would like to consider this family of names for a boy! Finn as a given name is great, but I’m guessing they might like Finnian better, since it’s an actual Saint’s name. I love it for them!
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Avila, Jack, and Luke?
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!)
Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)
I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!
“At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”
(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)
“I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.
Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.
We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”
I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.
I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.
(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)
I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!
As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).
Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?
(2) Edel I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)
“Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … its Marian character comes from the title “Our Lady of the Isles” (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).”
It’s two syllables and Scottish!
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.
(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.
There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?
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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!
“In Wales a form of the Celtic mac was adopted, which the Cambrians made mab or map, shortened to ap, thus, to give an example, Ap Richard, which became the surname Pritchard.” (vi)
“The clansmen used patronymics, and their love of genealogy and description produced forms such as Dhomnuill mac Chalum ‘ic Alastair ‘ic Iain Ban (Donald, son of Malcolm, son of Alexander, Son of Fair John).” (vii)
“Athough Gaelic Christian names survived in Lowland Scotland long after the Gaelic language ceased to be spoken, by the Reformation these were out of fashion, except for old royal names such as Kenneth, Malcolm and Duncan. The names of saints survived — Patrick, John, Mungo and Ninian. William fared better, and other royal names like Alexander, Robert and James appear in the parochial registers. Archibald, an Old German name, reached Scotland through Norman and Flemish influence, and other names which remained popular were Adam, Alan, Andrew, Arthur, David, Gavin, Gilbert, George, Hugh, Matthew and Walter. Curiously, George was uncommon in England before the Hanoverian succession, despite being the name of the national saint.” (viii-ix)
“[After a discussion of how the first son was usually named after the paternal grandfather and the second son after the maternal grandfather, and the same for daughters, except in one example they gave:] The fact that the first two were named after the wife’s parents (the second not after the husband’s parent) is unusual, and perhaps indicates that [the mother] Margaret McCalder was a strong personality.” (xi) (That made me laugh!)
I hope you’re all safe and well!
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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!
Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:
Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)
Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)
You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!
“First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.
There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?
On to some lists!
Names we do like, for inspiration: Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver
Names we do like but can’t use: Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)
Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat: Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc) Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen
Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉 Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey
Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow: Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady
My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”
Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.
I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.
I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:
Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!
Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):
I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below
Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:
(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:
O! By Gabriel’s Ave, Uttered long ago, Eva’s name reversing, Established peace below
Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).
(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.
(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.
There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.
And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Liam and Clare?
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)
Not only do I love this set of sisters, but aren’t you dying over Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice?? I love it!
“Our process has been to use a saint name for the first name and one of our grandparents’ names for the middle name. We have one grandmother’s name left to use – Shirley. So that will definitely be the middle name if we have a fourth girl. The two girls’ names we’ve talked the most seriously about are Alice and Helen. If we were to have a boy, we would use Warren as a middle name. That is my husband’s middle name as well as his grandfather’s name. The boys’ names at the top of our list are George, Patrick, Henry and James. We also kind of like Edmund and Benedict but those seem a little more daring somehow. I guess the only other thing I would mention is that we will probably stick to names from our own Irish/Scottish/British cultural heritage. I don’t see us naming someone Therese or Lucia (although we would use Theresa or Lucy) … [also] we call our younger daughters Maggie and Betsy and we are trying to avoid that same name ending this time (as much as we love Lucy, Rosie, Annie, etc.).”
I love all the names they’re considering! Alice and Helen seem really well matched as sisters to the older girls, and George, Patrick, Henry, and James are all solidly in the Irish/British/Scottish saintly name category. It’s such a great list of names that I wondered what I’d be able to come up with! Especially since I wanted to suggest names that are new, not just the ones I’d suggested in their last consultation (though I do still love them: Alice, Lydia, Louisa, Eleanor, Violet, Henry, Samuel, Benjamin, Edward/Edmund, Joseph). (Speaking of their last consultation, Caitlin had said back then that they wanted to avoid repeating initials — she didn’t specify that as a rule this time around, and they do have Benedict is on their list, which repeats Beatrice’s B, but I tried to stick to that just in case.)
As usual, I looked up all the names Caitlin and her hubs have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker. Based on all that research, these are my ideas for this little baby:
I think Jane is my favorite idea for them for a girl — Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Jane strike me as such a perfect bunch of sister names! I think Jane Shirley sounds smashing.
(2) Katherine nicked Kate
This is my second favorite idea for them, and not because it’s my own name! Haha! Katherine was a big style match for them per the BNW, usually spelled Catherine, but the Katherine spelling avoids repeating initials. Additionally, Kate is a great match for Claire, Maggie, and Betsy in my opinion, and doesn’t end in the “ee” sound.
Anne would have been a natural fit for this family I think, if they didn’t want to avoid Annie. But Anna’s a beautiful alternative, and I think people are far less likely to nickname Anna as Annie than they would with Anne. I kind of like how Anna Shirley echoes Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame, of course) without being exact. I considered whether Anna was too Latinate for their taste, but it has good use in England and Ireland, so I figured it would be okay.
Frances did well for them in my research, and I really like it as a name, but I’m a little hesitant about it for this baby because I’m not sure Caitlin and her hubs would be able to avoid an “ee” nickname (Francie, Franny, Frankie). If they wanted to be firm and consistent about using the full name though, Frances is elegant and lovely.
(5) Julia or Juliet
I probably would have thought that between Julia and Juliet, Julia was more their speed, but Juliet was a style match for Claire, so I thought I’d list them together. Juliette is very French, but Juliet is actually the anglicized spelling, and I love it with the older girls! I suspect that Caitlin and her hubs might not love that it’s not obviously saintly, but since it’s a variant of Julia, it can take any of the Sts. Julia as patron. I spotlighted the name here, including faith connections. I love Julia too, though I think it might be more likely to nickname to Julie than Juliet would? Or they could do Julia as the given name and Juliet as the nickname (since Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia), which would allow them to avoid another “ee” nickname.
(6) Eleanor (Nora, Nell), or just Nora
My last idea for a girl is a repeat from last time, but it just kept popping up in my research so I had to include it! They’re already considering Helen, and some people use Eleanor as a variant of Helen (read more about that here), and both Eleanor and Helen can use the sweet nickname Nell, so they might think it’s kind of redundant, except for the fact that Eleanor can also allow for the nickname Nora — I love Nora! Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Eleanor/Nora are wonderful together! If they prefer just Nora on its own, I love that too, it’s such a great name.
There aren’t too many more boy names to add to a list of Irish/British/Scottish-feeling names besides the ones Caitlin has put together already! But Robert immediately came to mind — watching Downton Abbey definitely put it on my radar, and though I’ve previously rolled my eyes at my husband telling me that “Bob” is his name style, I’ve really been feeling the full Robert recently. It’s easy to say, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s a great patron saint. If they wanted to do a nickname, Robbie, Bobby, Rory, and Bert are all possibilities, or maybe something cute like Roo when he’s little.
Oliver’s a style match for both Beatrice and Henry, and I feel like both of those names are pretty good representatives of this family’s style as a whole, so I thought Oliver was a great one to suggest! St. Oliver Plunkett’s awesome, and while I love the nickname Ollie, I don’t think it’s necessarily inevitable — the full Oliver is so handsome.
Theodore’s a style match for Beatrice and Alice — perfect! It’s handsome and gentlemanly, and the nicknames Theo and Ted(dy) are both great (Teddy can also be a nickname for the Edmund on their list).
I was so surprised by how well Louis did for them in my research! It’s a match for Beatrice, Alice, Helen, and George! St. Louis de Montfort is great, as is St. Louis Martin.
Timothy actually only showed up in the list of names similar in style to Patrick, but I thought it fit their Irish/Scottish/English sensibility so well that I thought I’d include it. It does end in the “ee” sound, as does Timmy, but maybe it’s okay when we’re talking about formal names? And them could do just Tim as a nickname, or even Ty.
Finally, Thomas. St. Thomas More and St. Thomas a Becket are notable English Sts. Thomas, and most little boys I know named Thomas go by the full Thomas, so there’s very little risk of Tommy. I think it’s great for this family!
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister to Claire, Margaret/Maggie, and Beatrice/Betsy?
I have this group of girlfriends from college that make up most of my inner circle — girls I lived with, laughed with, cried with, had as bridesmaids in my wedding, and still to this day count as sisters. I’m so excited that today’s consultation is for one of them! Rosey and her husband Brian are expecting their sixth born baby — and fifth boy! (This makes seventeen boys [and only three girls!] among us! Boy no. 16’s birth announcement is here.)
This little guy joins big sibs:
Clare Patricia Rose
An amazingly named bunch of kids, don’t you think? 😍
Brian got the ball rolling by writing,
“Kate! Help! This baby is never going to be named!
You know our existing names as a starting point. First name should be a fairly traditional, timeless catholic saint name, the middle name can be a little more ‘catholicy catholic’ but not all the way out there (Augustine, Blaise, Benedict OK; but Polycarp or Athanasius would be too much)
We don’t seek to nickname, unless there’s an obvious, traditionally accepted nickname for a particular name, we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name. We do use diminutives at home currently: Kenny, Paulie, Jamie, but we like that each son can take their full first name out into the world ‘as is’ with no problem.”
(This part made me laugh, regarding nicknames: “we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name.” They know me too well! 😂)
“I have some combos I really like, but Rosey is ‘meh’ with (at the moment) 🙂:
Charles Augustine Mark Augustine Andrew (w Benedict, Charles or Thomas as middle)
Other first names I think could work, but also not grabbing Rosey:
Thomas Jude Anthony John George Steven Francis
Names excluded for various reasons:
Luke [doesn’t work with last name] Peter Michael (though could possibly be used as a middle name) David“
And because it’s hilarious and I’m still laughing about it, there’s this too:
“Also, FTR, I gave Rosey a spreadsheet of 73 ‘acceptable to me’ FN/MN combos and asked her to check her top 10-20, but she just put it in the junk drawer and said to skip straight to you. She never likes to take the engineering approach. *sigh*“
As for Rosey, she said,
“I really don’t care for Charles. But I guess names that I don’t totally hate are (in no specific order) blaise, George, mark, jude, Matthew and of course I love the names of the kids we have. I am OK with Augustine as a middle name and I guess Charles would be fine for a middle name too. I probably would go for almost any middle name.”
This is such a fun challenge! I’ve loved watching Rosey and Brian name each of their children, and being able to offer some thoughts/ideas/suggestions for one of them is such a privilege!
So of course there are lots of great ideas here. I’m a big fan of mixing safe with adventurous, like with James Emanuel, Charles Augustine, and Mark Augustine … if they used something like Blaise or Jude for first names, I could see something more staid like Michael or Francis balancing them out really nicely and making them feel more comfortable with the overall effect (not saying Blaise and Jude are crazy, just a little more adventurous than their other ideas and and their other kids’ names … and actually, I love the idea of Blaise for them because they’re into track/cross country — you know, Blaise … like blaze … like super speedy! 😁) But of course none of that is necessary either — safe + safe, and adventurous + adventurous are fine and fabulous!
I admit I tried to think a *tiny* bit outside the box since Henry’s name was a surprise to them last time — it wasn’t even on the list until the end. One of my ideas in particular doesn’t fit their “traditional and timeless” criteria, but I had to throw in at least one like that, just in case!
You all know that I rely pretty heavily on the Baby Name Wizardwhen doing consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s uncannily accurate! But of course it doesn’t always nail a couple’s style, and the lists of similar names it offers aren’t comprehensive, and it doesn’t always do so great with heavy Catholicky Catholic names. (Which is where I come in. 😊)
Okay, without further ado! Based on all my research as well as names I’d come up with for Rosey and Brian before I even cracked the BNW book open, here are my ideas for their newest little guy:
I don’t know if it was intentional (and certainly not with Kenny, since his is a straight honor name), but their older kids’ first names all have a distinctly (to me) Irish/Scottish/Brit feel to them (I know they have other associations as well, I just mean as a group), which is one of the reasons I love Timothy for them. Like their other kids, it doesn’t hit you over the head with Celtic-y feeling, but it’s a popular name in Ireland and with Irish and Irish-American families, so it’s taken on a green sheen. It’s also biblical, saintly, traditional, and timeless. I really love this one for them. And since it’s longer, a shorter middle would make a nice rhythm: Timothy Jude, Timothy Blaise, and Timothy George are all really nice imo.
This is the idea I mentioned earlier as being the one outside-the-box name I allowed myself to include. I don’t even know what made me think of it for Rosey and Brian initially, but it came to me the other day and I rolled it around a few times with their last name … I love it! And Ven. Fulton Sheen, who was actually baptized Peter John but called Fulton, which was his mom’s maide name, is such a great patron! I’m loving the idea of Fulton Peter or Fulton John, especially if they want to highlight the connection to him, or Fulton Anthony or even Fulton Francis (I don’t mind the alliteration, though I know some people don’t care for it.
Robert’s been on my radar for a while now (I think it was Downton Abbey that did it!) — I’ve been loving how handsome and traditional it is, and the nicknames Bobby and Robby have been striking me as really adorable. And St. Robert Bellarmine!
Martin’s totally traditional and timeless, but you rare hear Martin anymore! It really fits in nicely with Kenny’s name, I think, which I would describe similarly.
I’m actually not sure how Rosey and Brian feel about repeating initials, but Philip has long been one of my favorite favorites. I love the traditional nickname Pip for it, but I think it’s one of those nicknames that doesn’t grow really well with a boy, so their mindset — nickname at home/with the family, but not outside — is perfect for Philip/Pip.
This is another favorite of mine — I always like to quote what the BNW says about it: “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” I love that! Pope St. Gregory the Great is an amazing patron, and the full Gregory is so handsome.
I’ll end with seven ideas, and this last one is fun because it reminds me a lot of Henry — Theodore’s an older name that’s popping up more and more, including among parents who also like Henry, and is on a similar curve as Henry in the SSA stats (though Henry’s a bit ahead of it). Theo’s an easy nickname for home, or Ted/Teddy, and the full Theodore is smart and serious.
Though those seven are my main suggestions, I sometimes find it helpful to list the names that didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason, just in case. David was my no. 1 for them for a long time, until they said it’s on the no list! I almost included Daniel (Danny Boy!), Tobias (maybe too out there?), and Nicholas (I’m still thinking it might be a good idea), and Andrew was another on my mind for them before I even saw that it was a contender.
And those are all my ideas for Rosey and Brian’s littlest guy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kenny, Paul, Clare, James, and Henry?
ETA: I was given permission to include their girl name ideas after I’d already posted, woo! If this baby had been a girl, they planned to use Gemma Katharine, and other girl name combos they like include MaryAlice Veronica, Mary Alice, Veronica Mary, and Veronica Rose.
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:
Which I love. So handsome.
“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:
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.
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.
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.
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 behindthename.com, 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.
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.
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?
A mama emailed recently with a slightly different dilemma, on which I’d really like to get your collective input:
“Our firstborn’s name is Lafayette and he also goes by the nickname Fayte (rhymes with Nate). I like his combination of a longer classic name (though not common) and a spunky nickname … We lucked out with our son’s name since both the longer form and the nickname were old family names, so we didn’t come up with them ourselves. I’m trying to figure out if we can get a similar combo for this baby without it being too forced.
There are three names (one boy, two girl) that I’m a little stumped about:
Judith is the first girl name. It’s a family name, we like the religious meaning, and the sound of the full name. We aren’t thrilled with Judy since that seems to date the name more and has the confusion issue with the family member we’d be honoring. I’ve seen Jude as the only other recommendation, and while I like it a little better, I’m not thrilled with the unisex-leaning-male aspect of the name.
Elodie is the other girl name. I think Ella/Ellie is a cute nickname, but a little more common than I’d like since it seems there are many other in vogue names that lend to those nicknames. I probably like Ellie better of the two. Seems like there should be other options though!
Alister (or Alistair) is the boy name. We haven’t landed for sure on the spelling we’d choose, so could potentially be flexible if it lended itself to a good nickname. Al or Aly are the only suggestions I’ve seen, and aren’t wild about either.”
I looooooove thinking up unusual nicknames!! And I love Lafayette nicked Fayte, and how awesome that they’re both family names?!
“Behind the Name gives several variants of Judith (Jutta, Judyta, et al.), but you know it’s the nicknames I get most excited by! Judy is super cute, but maybe still feels a little dated? It has its own history as a given name, peaking a few years later than Judith but dropping out of sight quicker, so it might have a little more of a date-stamped feel, but it’s not the only option: Jody/Jodie are possibilities, according to behindthename, which makes me also think of Jo and Josie (especially, maybe, with an S middle name? Judith Siena, for example, could easily be Josie) … or maybe pair it with an N middle name for Junie or Juno? Maybe Judith Noelle? Even Julie for something like Judith Louisa? Am I scaring you yet? Haha!”
Looking back on this again, I do love the idea of something like Judith Siena nicked Josie, or Judith Noelle/Naomi/Noemi nicked Junie or Juno. Or Jennie? Judith Marie could be Jamie? I often find that, with first names that are hard to nickname, looking at a firstname+middlename mashup-type nickname works really well.
Elodie is a gorgeous name, I just love it, and I agree that Ella and Ellie are cute nicknames, but yes, fairly common. Possible alternatives:
Lola—originally a nickname for Dolores! But the Lo- of Elodie totally makes it do-able.
Nell—if I understand correctly, Nell (and Nancy and Ned) came from the old English way of saying, “Mine El” for Eleanor/Ellen/Elizabeth (or “Mine Anne” for Anne, or “Mine Ed” for Edward), so I think Nell could then work for any El- name. And how sweet that its origin is “Mine El”—so endearing!
Edie—just drop the “lo” in the middle of Elodie!
Dicey—apparently an old nickname for Edith (Edie made me think of Edith)
Liddy—the way I say Elodie sounds pretty close to “EL-liddy”
Didi—from the last syllable
Dolly—if it can work for Dorothy, it can work for Elodie, which actually has “dol” within it (though backwards)
Dodie—another old nickname for Dolores; I could totally see something like Dodie arising organically from Elodie
In smushing-with-the-middle-name fashion, what about something like:
— Evie for Elodie Victoria
— Elsie for Elodie Siena, Elodie Seraphine, Elodie
— Dot(ty) for Elodie Therese
— Dixie for Elodie Beatrix or Elodie Xavier (Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini could be patron instead of St. Francis Xavier, if parents like Xavier but didn’t want to be too gender bending. Of course Mother Cabrini chose the name after St. FX, but still)
Alister/Alistair I had the hardest time with! I did a bunch of research looking for ideas and came up with a few:
Ace—my first idea and the only suggestion I came up with on my own! I think it could work just for Alister/Alistair, as they have the A and the S sound, but something like Alistair Clement would make a lot of sense, with the A+C
Alec—I saw several places that Alec is often used as a nickname for Alistair, since it’s a form of Alexander. As with Ace, a C- middle name could make more sense of it to others
Aston/Astin—I wanted to suggest Astor, but the comments I saw online made me think it would skew more feminine for most people (like the girl name Aster, which also sounds similar to the girl name Astrid), but then I thought maybe Aston/Astin? Like the Aston Martin or actor Sean Astin
Ari, Arlo, Alfie—I really liked Ari when I saw it online—a mom considering Alistair for her son was considering Ari as a nickname, as well as Arlo and Alfie
Abe—someone else online was considering Alistair with a B middle name and planning on Abe as the nickname. I love that! Alistair Benedict/Benjamin, Alistair Beau, Alistair Brendan?
Art—Alistair has all the right letters for Art!
Ladd(y)—with a switch to the Alasdair spelling, Ladd or Laddy could work. The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond, chef on Food Network)’s husband’s name is Ladd, and Laddy feels really Scottish!
Ty—because Alistair has the prominent T in it, I think something like Ty could work
Tad, Taz—these might make more sense with the right middle name … Alistair Daniel? Alistair Xavier? Alistair Zachary?
Iss—crazy, right? But I saw Iss online as a nickname someone had heard used for Alistair! (I also saw Eck used for Alexander, and Ish for Aloysius!)
And those are all my ideas! How about the rest of you? What unusual nicknames ideas could you offer for Judith, Elodie, and Alister/Alistair?