Baby name consultation: Studio Senn’s little lady!

I’m so excited to post a consultation for one of my favorite artists: Kortnee at Studio Senn (web site and Instagram)!! I’ve posted about her and her beautiful things before, so much so that she has her own tag here on the blog! I was so excited when she emailed me for help with naming her baby girl, little sister to two big brothers!

Kortnee writes,

I am so excited to ask your expertise in suggestions for naming this new baby! We recently found out the baby we are expecting in early January is a girl! We had a few boy names picked out but no girl names that we are in love with or feel fit with our current naming style.

Current kiddos:

Fulton Douglas: Named after Ven. Fulton Sheen (we have a great love for this man) and my FIL’s first name.

Becket Raymond: Named after Saint Thomas Becket (we thought he was a great intercessor for religious freedom in this day and age) and both my Dad and Grandpa have Raymond as their middle name.”

I looooove their style of naming!!

I am pretty picky about girl names unfortunately and am feeling really discouraged in the naming department. I think would be fun to continue our current trend of Surnames but I’m not strict about it. I am not a huge fan of places as names (like Sienna, Avila, etc) or most well known Saint names/more common names (Theresa, Mary, Catherine, etc). However, I really want to have a Saint name or Saint surname or a derivative of a Saint for the first name (or blessed). I like the idea of her having a nickname but didn’t really give any to our boys.

We would like the middle name to be Fae. My grandma’s middle name is Mae, my mom’s is Kae and mine is Rae so I thought it would be fun to continue the odd tradition. And I’ve always thought Fa(y)e was a pretty name. We also need her name to work with our last name (Senn), so with single syllable middle and last names I don’t think she can have a single syllable first name.

Names I currently like for a girl:
Lucia (Lucy)
Connelly (after Bl. Cornelia Connelly)
Peregrine (nn Peren)
Greer (looove this one but husband not the biggest fan (yet!) and not sure it goes well with Fae Senn)
Scarlett (I’ve read your connection to the Precious Blood but wondering if there is any Saintly connection (so she can have a feast/name day)?)

Names my Husband likes (although he usually isn’t the one to suggest names):
Lydia
Also, Peregrine!

Names I like but can’t imagine naming our child or has already been used by someone close to us:
Vivian
Josephine
Edith (Edie)
Juniper (June)
Cora
Perpetua (Poppy or Pippa)

Names I like but don’t go well with Fae Senn (or too many F’s for me)
Felicity
Fiona
Wren
Quinn

Looking forward to hearing all of your suggestions!

This was so much fun to work on! Even though Kortnee said it’s not strictly necessary to continue the surname theme, I agree with her that it would be so cool to continue it, so I focused almost exclusively on finding ideas that fit the surname style.

I love that Fae will be this baby girl’s middle name! What a cool connection to Kortnee’s grandmother, mother, and herself!

Of the names on the list of those Kortnee and her husband like for a girl:

— I love Lucia and Lucy! So sweet!
— I’d never heard of Ven. Cornelia Connelly — what a great connection! Connelly’s a cool name! (And she even has her own Tiny Saint!)
— Peregrine nn Peren was such a surprise to me! I love the meaning of Peregrine, and Peren is a fun nickname! It reminds me of Perrin, which is an old nickname for Pierre (Peter) — that would also be an interesting name to consider.
— Greer is one of my favorites as well! I love it! Greer Fae Senn is a lot of single syllables, but that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker — there are loads of famous people with one syllable first and last names, and they’re fine! Examples include Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and others. The one-syllable middle name makes it extra, but few people know others’ middle names as they go through life, so most of the time she’d been Greer Senn or Greer F. Senn, neither of which are bad at all.
— Scarlett is a great name, and there is a feast of the Most Precious Blood: July 1 — I wonder if that makes the name feel more doable?
— Felicity, Fiona, Wren, and Quinn were great additions to the list of names I wanted to include as inspiration in my research. I actually had a thought about Quinn — I’ve seen it used as a nickname for Aquinas, maybe Kortnee would like to include Aquinas on their list of possibilities?

As for her hubby’s list, I’m interested that Kortnee’s Lucia/Lucy and hubby’s Lydia are not that far off from each other, and also that they both like Peregrine! I’m tempted to say that must be the name! It’s such a big deal when both parents like the same name! However, I’m happy to continue with new ideas! 😀

I looked up Kortnee’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like, including the ones they can’t use, in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through the list of English martyrs, as I’ve often found them to be a good source of saintly surnames. And I combed through my own mental files and some particular consultations I’ve done in the past that I thought might provide some good ideas, including:

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/06/19/baby-name-consultation-baby-no-9-needs-a-name-thats-not-generally-popular-nor-catholic-popular-and-a-few-other-rules/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/08/09/celebrity-guest-lindsay-from-my-child-i-love-you/

Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Talbot
I love the story of Ven. Matt Talbot, and Lindsay from My Child I Love You (the second link above) used his last name in one of her daughter’s name, but the real reason I was convinced to put it on the list is because Kortnee said she might like to use a nickname and Talbot nicknames so easily to the sweet Tally/Tali.

(2) Cabrini
I’ve suggested Cabrini to a few parents in the past — I think it’s such a fun name to say and Mother Cabrini is a great saint.

(3) Vianney
Both of the families I linked to above have daughters named Vianney — it’s a gorgeous name that has a very feminine feel, even though it’s the last name of a male saint.

(4) Goretti
Goretti might be the perfect idea for this family, since I think that Greer can be used as a nickname for it, not only because of the letters involved, but also because both Goretti and Greer are derived from Gregory! I love St. Maria Goretti.

(5) Gibson
One of the English martyrs is Bl. William Gibson, and Gibson always makes me think of the Gibson Girl, which I think adds a really nice touch of femininity to the name.

(6) Holland
I know a little girl named Holland, which I love because it’s kind of like Holly but with a twist — I love when names feel familiar and unexpected at the same time. Holly can be a nickname, which is perfect for the Christmas season! Also, one of the English martys is Bl. Thomas Holland, whose feast is Dec. 22 — right near Kortnee’s due date.

(7) Rowan
Fulton, Connelly, Greer, Fiona, and Quinn all have Irish connections, so when I saw Rowan pop up in my research as similar in style to Fiona and Quinn, I thought it might be perfect! Though it has decent usage as a first name, it’s also a surname. I love the nickname Ro! And St. Rowan (or Ruadhán) is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, and their feast day is January 6 — right near Kortnee’s due date!

(8) Casey or Carey
Bl. Solanus Casey is one of my favorites, and I love the name Casey! Then I found Bl. John Carey in the list of English martyrs, and I thought Carey was great too.

(9) Ruby
Ruby was inspired both by its similarity to Scarlett color-wise, and I also did a spotlight on Ruby a while ago in which I connected it to the Precious Blood, as well as Jesus’ Passion and Death, and also the tongues of fire the Holy Spirit took the form of when He descended on the apostles, which gives feast days of July 1 (as noted above for Scarlett), Holy Thursday or Good Friday, and Pentecost. Ruby is so sweet! It could also work great as a nickname for something, though I haven’t come up with anything brilliant for Kortnee (I gave a few ideas in that Ruby spotlight, but nothing surnamey. I keep thinking Robertson or Robinson, but those don’t feel right!)

(10) Molly
My last idea isn’t a surname, but Molly is a style match for Lucy and Ruby, and I’ve seen it used at least once in honor of St. Gianna because of its similarity to her last name, Molla. So maybe it could be perfect?

And those are all my ideas! What do all you think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Fulton and Becket?


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!

Baby name consultation: Brother for Twiggs!

I posted a consultation for Lily and her hubs for their first baby a few years ago, and then posted the birth announcement for their baby girl, who was given a name full of meaning for Lily’s family (especially Lily’s dad, for whom his granddaughter is named). I’m delighted that they’re back again for Baby no. 2, a boy!

Lily writes,

My husband is a Jr. and he is wanting to possibly make this little guy a III … [But] I don’t think Jeffery Lee goes with Twiggs! Twiggs is a pretty hard name to top! And man does she fit her name!

[W]e would possibly like to use his same initials. Also we would be good with using his grandfathers name Leland Boyd as middle name options or Lee.

I would like a name that goes with Twiggs. I also like names that sound more like last names and not common. I really like Whitt, Tate, Miller, Carter. My number one name is Whitt … I really like Whitt Leland or Whitt Boyd.

My husband wasn’t too sure about names he likes he said other than a name like his he wasn’t sure. So is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?!?

I thought that last question — “Is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?” — was perfect! It perfectly articulated the naming dilemma!

Lily provided a fuller list of names she likes:

Whitt
Sutton
Myers
Tate
Harris
Mack
Fitch
Finley
Asher
Jasper
Jensen
Johnson
Carter
Colt
Porter
Brick
Miller
Ward
Reade

As well as names they can’t use:

Josh (ua)
Joseph
Jefferson
Jacob
Jack
Jackson
Luke
Vincent
Robert
Henry
Owen
Andrew
Ross
William
Johnathan

This was definitely a challenge! Seeing that they’ve already named one child, normally I’d want to stick with names that are similar to it, but Twiggs isn’t an easy name to find style matches for, mostly because it’s a family name and one that was important to Lily, rather than necessarily being a “style” that they like. That said, though, it is clear that Lily prefers surnamey names! Whitt is very cool, and I also like both Whitt Leland and Whitt Boyd.

In trying to figure out what Lily’s hubby’s style is, just based on the fact that he’d like to consider Jeffery Lee III and isn’t sure what other names he likes other than “a name like his,” my sense is that he likes traditional boy names, preferably with a family tie. So I really wanted to try to find names that they would both like — “common ground between Whitt and Jeffery.”

One tactic would be to do something similar to what they did with Twiggs, whose given name is Lucy Twiggs — call their little boy by a name different from his given first name. They could have him go by his middle name, like Twiggs — maybe something like Jeffery Whitt would satisfy Lily’s husband’s desire to have his son named after him, while giving Lily an everyday call name that she loves. Lucy Twiggs and Jeffery Whitt sounds pretty great to my ear.

Another way to call him by a different name than his given name is with a nickname that he could go exclusively by. There are a few that are traditional for boys that are the Third, which might work nicely: Trip, Tripper, Trey, and Trace all have usage as nicknames that nod to the fact that the boy is a Third. I have a cousin who is a Third who has always and only gone by Trey; my sister had a classmate who is a Third and has always and only gone by Tripper. Trip and Trace are also great. So then Lily’s hubby could be happy with Jeffery Lee III on the birth certificate, and Lily could be happy with calling him Tripper all the time (or whichever she likes the best). Twiggs and Tripper/Twiggs and Trey/Twiggs and Trace/Twigs and Trip all sound great!

I like that they’re open to using Hubby’s initials, and I definitely looked for J names while I was doing my research because of it! I like the ones on Lily’s list — Jasper, Jensen, Johnson. I love the idea of Leland or Lee as the middle name, very meaningful for her husband!

Moving away from using Hubby’s actual name/initials, maybe he’d be happy with names from his family tree? Lily mentioned Boyd, and a good friend of mine recently named her son Boyd, so I wondered if that might appeal to the both of them, in honor of Lily’s hubby’s grandfather? Boyd Jeffery maybe? Boyd Lee?

From the list of names Lily likes, I thought names that have traditional usage as first names, rather than mostly last names, would be a good middle ground between her style and her hubby’s. Those include Mack, Asher, Jasper, Carter, and Colt. Does he dislike those?

I was bummed to see Jefferson on their “no” list! That’s definitely one I would have suggested!

I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this family, looking up names that are similar in style to Lucy and Jeffery, as well as any of the names on Lily’s list that I could find in the book: Tate, Carter, Asher, Jasper, Porter, Reid (in place of Reade), Lee, and Leland. I also looked through a book I have called A Dictionary of English Surnames, which has some really cool ideas, as well as the listing of English Martyrs, as their last names seemed like a good place to find meaningful names they might like. And of course, I looked through my book of Marian names. My goal was to find names that appealed somehow, whether they were as first names, middle names, or ways to get to nicknames. This is what I came up with:

(1) Leo
I’ll start with one that I don’t *think* Lily will love, but maybe she will? Leo is a style match for Lucy, and it’s a big name in my own family, and all the Leos go by Lee. So I thought maybe Leo nicknamed Lee would be a nice nod to her husband while still giving their son his own first name. Leo Jeffery maybe, as a way of sort of reversing Hubby’s name? Or Leo Boyd?

(2) Caleb
Caleb is actually a style match for both Carter and Asher, which made me think it might be a great compromise name for them. The nickname Cal seems like it might be the kind of nickname Lily’s husband could get on board with. It’s a great name for a boy.

(3) Everett
Everett isn’t a surname as far as I know, but I’ve always thought it has a surname feel. Such a handsome name! It’s a style match for Jasper.

(4) Bennett
Moving more toward Lily’s preferred style, I thought maybe surnamey names with “normal” nicknames could be another compromise. Bennett has long usage as a last name (as well as a first name), while Ben is a solid first name/nickname. Bennett is a match for Cooper and Reid.

(5) Evans
This is another idea of surnamey names with a first name feel — Evan is a first name, of course, but even just adding an S on the end makes it a last name and gives it an unexpected twist.

(6) Cort
This is one that caught my eye from the list of English Martyrs — Venerable Thomas Cort, a Franciscan — and it reminded me of some of the shorter names Lily likes, like Whitt, Tate, Mack, Colt, Ward, and Reade.

(7) Leeson
Leeson is actually an entry in the book of Marian names that I wrote — I’d discovered it in that book of English surnames and loved that it’s derived from the Latin Laetitia, which means “joy,” by way of the common medieval female variant of it, Lettice, and its short form, Lece; they all connect to Our Lady through her title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (“Cause of Our Joy”). For Lily, I particularly love that it’s a surname that has her hubby’s middle name right in it!

(7) Jebb, Jebson
Jebb and Jebson were listed in the book of English surnames, and were both said to have derived from Gepp, which derived from Geoffrey, which is where Jeffery comes from. So in that sense, Jebb and Jebson can be for her husband in the same way as Jefferson, but in a different way. Very cool!

I also looked through the surname book for more J names, in case they decide they want to stick with Hubby’s initials. I thought these might be appealing to them:

Jacoby (I know Lily said Jacob was on their No list, but maybe Jacoby would be ok? It’s derived from Jacob/James)
Judd, Judson (derived from Jordan)
Jerred (derived from Gerard or Gerald)
Jessop (derived from Joseph)
Jones (derived from John)
Jory (derived from George)

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


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!

Baby name consultation: Boy names needed for baby due today!!

A mama emailed me for help with naming her baby due today!! She writes,

My husband and I took about 2 days naming our daughter in the hospital and so we are hoping to be a little more prepared this time around. We ended up loving her name, Madeleine Virginia. Madeleine = we thought was pretty and I liked the French sound of it and I read somewhere that in French it relates to Mary Magdalene and my grandmother later told me my daughter’s patron saint is St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, of which 2 of my grandmother’s cousins were nuns. Which is interesting too because we liked Sophie and Sophia as a name for her as well but were worried they were too trendy at the time. We liked Virginia after my grandmother and I liked the reference to the Virgin Mary. I think it also flows nicely. We have never been big on nicknames so we still call her Madeleine. We didn’t really think of or mutually like any boy names so it was a good thing she was a girl!

Isn’t Madeleine Virginia gorgeous??

We do not know the gender of this baby either. My husband is not Catholic but has been very supportive of raising our children Catholic and has been interested in learning more about the faith and I would really like the baby’s name to have a reference to the faith. I have always liked more traditional names for boys but my husband having a very traditional name himself would like something a little different (but not TOO different!). He likes more hipster-ish names (like Hudson) … I am getting a little more on board with something being a bit different if it has staying power through the ages (i.e. Madeleine is a classic name but still not too common) … [We] also have lots of cousins so many of the traditional names are already taken (but maybe that shouldn’t matter?), so I’m thinking maybe something a little different could be good after all.

I’ve always loved the name Michael … [and] I really liked the name Dominic. I liked the Italian due to my Italian maiden name, but my brother just had a son and named him Dominic Michael so that’s out. I also don’t know how Italian sounding we want to get as my kids will all probably be so fair 🙂

At one point we kind of liked the name Brogan for a boy, after the Irish saint as that’s where I found the name. There is not a lot of history but I do like that it has a religious tie and that it’s different. But I was reading about it and some people say it’s a girls name? It seems masculine to me and I like names that are pretty gender specific and when I did a search I found some weird urban slang which may or may not be a thing because I had never heard of it. Also my husband knew someone with that last name so he’s not totally sold.

We also liked Brody when we were thinking of names but I don’t think there is anything religious there and I think it means mud which seems like a terrible meaning but the name sounds cute.

My husband likes the name Brooks and I want to like it because he does but I can’t seem to come fully on board (maybe because it’s one syllable or seems trendy, I have no idea) but also because I don’t think it has any religious meaning. I’ve considered Becket which was cute and has religious ties to St Thomas Becket but I’m still not totally in love with it. Brayden seems kinda cute too but again no religious ties that I know of. What are your thoughts on non-catholic first names, do you just find a strong Catholic middle name? Are there any loose ties to these names and the religion I could be missing? Also, we keep leaning towards B names for boys. I’m not sure why that is because that’s not a requirement at all, but it seems to be what we have been drawn to for some reason.

My husband started looking at Saint names and also liked Blaise. I knew someone growing up who’s dog was named Blaze so I need to get over that but I keep thinking of that dog and maybe again I’m not digging the one syllable which seems so picky of me! BUT I do like that it is a saint name and my mother-in-laws maiden name is Blaser so lots of meaning there.

For girls I am really drawn to Rosary (from your book) and although I’m not big on nicknames I do love the idea of calling her Rosie. I can’t help but worry with our secular culture how this name will influence her in the future whether she will love it or go through a phase where she won’t like it because it’s so unique and so Catholic or if she will get prejudice on college or job applications. My hope is that if it’s a girl she loves it. I wasn’t sure what I thought when I first heard it but I have become really drawn to it over the last couple of months.

We also like the name Emery for a girl. I thought it wasn’t tied to a saint but now I’m thinking it is tied to Saint Emeric who was male so I’m not sure. For a middle name I like Josephine which I’ve always found pretty. Another middle name could possibly be Patricia, after my mother in law and grandmother. We have considered other girl names but I think we have them narrowed to the above.”

I just think this mama and her hubby did a fantastic job with their daughter’s name, Madeleine Virginia is beautiful! She’s right about the connection to Mary Magdalene — Madeleine is the French variant of Magdalene. And how cool that two of her grandmother’s cousins were Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart! I love St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and a fun fact about her is that the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named after her!

I loved reading about her husband and how he’s interested in learning more about Catholicism — names of the faith are a great, easy, inoffensive way to do so! I’d love to help them find some names that fit his “more hipster-ish” style while having a connection to the faith and “staying power,” as Mama put it (love that!).

I agree with her thought that they should try to find a name that they both really like. Regarding the fact that a lot of traditional names have been used by their cousins, only they know what their family dynamic is like in the sense of, will the cousins (or their parents) be offended if this Mom and Dad give their baby the same name? Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it at all — traditional names like Michael, David, Thomas, James, and John have been used so much throughout history and in every generation of every family that there’s no reason at all for anyone to think they’re off limits (except in the case of a possible family rift, as I mentioned above).

I love Dominic too! I can see how Mama’s brother using it makes it unusable for them, but I just want to assure them (and all of you!) that Dominic can work for fair people too — I even wrote about it here!

I was really surprised to read that that this mama found Brogan to be used for both boys and girls — I would have said that it’s definitely a boy name! All the saints named Brogan were men, and St. Brogan of Mothil may have been St. Patrick’s nephew and secretary! But she’s right — behindthename.com lists it as both masculine and feminine. I looked to see how it breaks down in the Social Security stats: it’s a rare name — it’s not in the top 1000 for either boys or girls, though the last time it was, was in 2012, no. 933 for boys. In 2018, it was given to 21 girls and 101 boys … I don’t know, I’d still consider it a boy name — a boy name with some usage among girls. But if they don’t feel comfortable using it, I totally understand!

Brody, Brooks, Becket, Brayden, and Blaise are all good names that are both different from and similar to each other — similar in that they’re all surname-y and begin with B; different in that I think Brody and Brayden have that trendy feel that the mama said she’d like to stay away from, while Brooks feels both preppy and serious, and Becket and Blaise are saintly. (I did look up Brody, Brooks, and Brayden to see if there were any ties to the faith, but I didn’t find any.)

I’m very intrigued by Blaise for this family for four reasons: (1) it’s super saintly with a cool feast day — Feb. 3 is St. Blaise’s feast, which is when they do the Blessing of the Throats, as he’s patron against throat diseases (among other things); (2) it’s French, like Madeleine; (3) her mother-in-law’s maiden name is Blaser, which is amazing — I did some research and discovered Blas is the Spanish variant of Blaise, Blasius is the original Latin form of Blaise, and St. Blaise is also known as St. Blase — so many nice tie-ins to the mil’s name; and (4) her hubby identified it as one he likes from a list of saint names — that’s great! I would definitely encourage this mama to try to let Blaise grow on her! Though of course, if she doesn’t like it then she doesn’t like it, and I did note that she mentioned not liking the one-syllable-ness of both Brooks and Blaise, so maybe one-syllable names just aren’t her thing! I would definitely try to forget about the dog named Blaze! Maybe seeing some adorable little guys named Blaise would help?

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/08/17/birth-announcement-blaise-michael/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/06/07/birth-announcement-blaise-maximilian-kolbe/

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/07/11/birth-announcement-felix-thomas/ (big brother is Blaise)

Also, I wonder what she and her hubby would think of using Blaser as a first name? It’s got that surname style they seem to like, it’s not one syllable, it can take Blase as a nickname and a patron saint, and it would honor her mother-in-law.

As for my thoughts on non-Catholic first names, I should first point out that though it used to be required that parents bestow a Christian name (saint, virtue, etc.) in either the first or middle spot (not even both!), current Canon Law only requires that the given names (first and middle) not be “foreign to Christian sensibility.” However, there’s a strong case to be made for bestowing a Christian name in the first or middle spot, and I think this mama would be happiest with a strong Catholic name somewhere in her son’s name.

That’s so funny that she read an article about names people regret the most and -en/-an names were mentioned! That seems very strange and arbitrary especially given that there are loads of great, traditional names that end in those letters and sounds. I wouldn’t worry about that at all!

For their girl ideas, I love so much that they’re considering Rosary!! I love it!! Rosie is so sweet too. It’s a fair point she brings up about how the name might affect her daughter in secular culture going forward; it might help to consider that she can go by Rose if she prefers, even on college and job applications, or go by her middle name (though it’s true that any time her legal name would be required, it would be seen) (I worked in Admissions in college and definitely saw applications of students applying under their nicknames). Here is a real-life Rosary, if it’s helpful, and here are her siblings’ names.

Emery is so different from Rosary in the sense that its faith connection isn’t obvious, and it’s also trendier than I think this mama would like? It entered the name charts for the first time in 2005 at no. 813 and has zoomed up the charts, entering the top 100 at no. 92 in 2018. That said, there is a holy woman it can connect to it: Mama is right that Emery is a form of Emeric, which is a form of Emmerich, and there is a Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich. I also noticed that both Rosary and Emery end in -ry — if they were to look for additional girl names, they might try looking for other names ending in -ry. (Speaking of Emeric/Emmerich, I wonder if either one would be a possibility for a boy?)

Rosary Josephine, Rosary Patricia, Emery Josephine, and Emery Patricia are all lovely!

In a separate email, the mama had asked about two-syllable first names paired with two-syllable last names (their last name has two syllables), and I assured her that I thought such a pairing was fine. That said, to go back to her -en/-an concern, first names that have the same number of syllables AND end in the same sound as the last name can sometimes sound sing-songy in a way some parents don’t like, which is something they’d have to contend with in regards to their last name. Brogan LastName and Brayden LastName have that feature, as their last name ends in the “in” sound, but if it doesn’t bother them, then they definitely shouldn’t worry about it! There are very few real “rules” when it comes to naming, and what some parents find jarring others may fine charming. Other considerations sometimes outweigh aesthetics as well — for example, if it’s important to the parents to use a particular family name, that might be more important to them then the fact that it sounds weird with their last name.

Now onto new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and like as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, looking for names that I thought they’d like that also had a connection to the faith. I also perused this post I’d done of Catholicky surnames, this post I did of “not-so-normal Catholic names,” and this article I wrote about surnames that derived from first names. I also looked through my book of Marian names. Based on all that research, these are my ideas:

(1) Other B names
I kept coming across B names with saintly connections, and I couldn’t decide which ones to include here, so I thought I’d list them all! I’ve linked to their saintly connections.

Bennett — Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict.

Bates, Batten, Bartlett — these are all variants of Bartholomew — the name of a bunch of saints as well as one of the twelve apostles.

Bosco — for St. John Bosco; one of my favorite bloggers named her son Bosco, as did another of my readers.

Brice — Brice is a style match for Brody, Brayden, and Blaise, per the Baby Name Wizard! Check out St. Brice of Tours.

Bram — Bram is a short form of Abraham, and I’ve actually had it on my own list for years! It can be pronounced to rhyme with “ram,” or to rhyme with “bomb,” which is how Dracula author Bram Stoker said it.

Brendan — Brendan is more traditional like the names the mama likes, while beginning with a B like so many of the names her hubby likes. St. Brendan’s a great patron.

Brannock — St. Brannock is a Welsh saint with a pretty cool name!

Britton, Bretton — Bl. John Bretton is also known as John Britton, and was one of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Bruno — I thought Bruno might represent an interesting marriage of Mama’s Italian heritage and the Br- names that are on their list. There are a bunch of Sts. Bruno!

Blake — Blake is a style match for both Brody and Brayden per the BNW. Bl. Alexander Blake would serve as patron.

(2) Cooper (Cupertino?)
One of my readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, who goes by Cooper, which I think is just genius! I think Cooper as a given name could be a tribute to St. Joseph of Cupertino, and Cooper is a specific style match for Becket per the BNW. If they wanted to use Cupertino as the given name though, with or without the nickname Cooper, that would be cool too!

(3) Bastian (Sebastian?)
Since Mama said she loves Dominic, I wanted to see if I could find a name or two similar in style that might fit her other criteria. Sebastian is actually a style match for both Dominic and Madeleine, and as soon as I saw it I thought the shortened form Bastian as a given name might hit the right note! The full Sebastian would be great too.

(4) Gabriel
Gabriel is another name that was inspired by Dominic, and by Michael too actually — Gabriel feels like a nice combination of both of their styles.

(5) Gratian
Since she’s familiar with my book, maybe she noticed this entry and didn’t care for it? But I thought I should mention it just in case. Gratian is basically the male version of the name Grace, and there was a St. Gratian who was a third-century Roman soldier and martyr.

(6) Kolbe
I’m interested to see what they would think of Kolbe! The same-sounding name Colby is a style match for Brody and Cooper, but spelling it Kolbe gives it lots of saintly cred via St. Maximilian Kolbe. I love him!

(7) Landon
Brooks has enough of a different feel to me from the Brody/Brayden names that I wanted to find one or two options that are similar to it. I remembered a consultation I did for a family who had big brothers Landon and Brooks, and thought Landon might be great! It’s the only name here that doesn’t have a saintly connection, though it does have a papal one—Pope Lando was the 121st pope (year 913), and is also known as Landon; not much is known of him, but he was described as “a worthy man.”

(8) Grant
Another style match for Brooks that I thought they might be interested in is Grant — we’ve discussed it a bit on the blog recently as being bestowed in honor of St. Anne or after the English translation of the Latin dona nobis pacem: “Grant us peace.” I know this is one syllable like Brooks and Blaise (and my other suggestions Bates, Brice, Bram, and Blake), but I included it (and other one-syllable names) in case the mama doesn’t dislike all one-syllable names.

(9) Garrett
My last idea mixed the surname style with the mama’s more traditional taste pretty well, I thought. Garrett is actually derived from either Gerard or Gerald, of which there are many saints so-named, and it has traditional usage as a last name.

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


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!

Birth announcement: McDonald John!

Grace and I had an email conversation about middle names a while ago, and she’s let me know her little guy has been born and been given the handsome and meaningful name … McDonald John!

Grace writes,

I wanted to finally report back on what we ended up naming our baby!

Our son was born October 1 and we named him McDonald John. We’re calling him Mac. John was the name of my father’s only brother who passed away suddenly and fairly young a few years ago. After I got your email we talked mostly about John and one other idea and just really couldn’t settle on one or the other but after spending time with my dad one day and talking about his brother a lot I came home and was just overwhelmed with tears thinking about how much it would mean to my dad to have a grandson named after his brother so we settled on John. As I predicted, my dad was super touched and that means so much to me.”

McDonald is a family name for Grace — I love when family surnames work as first names! And I love love love love the nickname Mac, one of my favorites! And I love how meaningful the middle name is for Grace’s dad. Honor names can just be so amazing!

Congratulations to Grace and her hubby, and happy birthday Baby Mac!!

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McDonald John

Birth announcement: Benjamin Locke!

I posted a consultation for Ashley and her husband last month, and Ashley let me know her little guy has arrived! The so-handsomely named … Benjamin Locke!

Ashley writes,

We had our little guy last Thursday.  His labor and delivery was by far the most difficult of all 5 of them. He started being difficult a few weeks before delivery by being breech and then it just continued. I was calling him my little troublemaker for the last month.

We went back and forth a lot over naming him and didn’t decide until Day 3 after he was born. We ended up really considering Locke, Ben, Leo, and Jack. We ended up settling on Benjamin Locke Wagner. And we will call him Ben. I had been so anti Benjamin but after he was born, I saw more of the softness in Benjamin and our little guy was just so perfectly sweet and still a week later never cries, that the sweetness of Benjamin kind of won me over.”

What a great name story!! I love this: “the sweetness of Benjamin kind of won me over.” ❤ ❤ ❤ I also love that his big brother has a family surname for a first name and a tradition given name for a middle, while Ben has a traditional given name for a first and a family surname-type name for a middle. Well done!

Congratulations to Ashley and her hubs and big sibs Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna, and happy birthday Baby Benjamin!!

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Benjamin Locke

Reader question: Is Patton too General?

A reader has asked an interesting question that I hope you’ll all weigh in on! She writes,

One name we’ve considered A LOT is Patton. I like the sound of it and it generally fits our criteria, but I have two concerns. One is that my husband picked it while thinking of General George Patton (history buff), but I’m a little concerned the connotation is too strong. Even if we’re not technically naming him after the General, there are so few Pattons that the link is obvious. And I don’t know how I feel about our son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family. We agree Patton was a great General, but he was known to be harsh and vulgar, and though he was quite religious (protestant) he supposedly opposed the marriage of his daughter to a Catholic and believed in reincarnation. Those concerns aside, I read that Patton can be a diminutive of Patrick, which is awesome (we’re Irish).”

Interesting question, right?

I told her that I’m not really sure what I think about the General Patton connection. For me, General Patton wouldn’t have been my first connection at all! First, I would have thought of Patton being a diminutive of Patrick (I love that this mama knows that!); second, I would have thought of the paten at church. You can see where my head’s at! Haha! Names and faith all the time! A distant third would be the actor Patton Oswalt. But I did ask my husband what his gut reaction was when hearing the name Patton, and he thought about it for a minute (so much for gut reaction!) and said, “Well, there’s General Patton,” but he didn’t seem to think it was a negative or a dealbreaker.

As for her “son carrying the presumed namesake of a person not canonized or family,” if I named my son Patton and someone asked about his name, I would always start with, “It’s a variant of Patrick that we really like.” This would tie the name closely to St. Patrick, both in the parents’ minds and those who they talk to, and of course St. Patrick would be his patron. Then if they brought up the General they could also say, “Yeah, he’s pretty cool,” and move on. Do you all agree?

Another option is to use Patrick as the given name, and use Patton as the nickname, which I also quite like. Do you agree that’s a good option, or do you think Patton as the given name is a better idea?

Please let me know how you would advise this mom?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 5/boy no. 2 needs short saintly name

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Nash Michael (“His first name is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name and his mother’s middle name. His middle name is after St. Michael the archangel who is one of my favorite saints“)

Clare Ellaine (“Clare is after St. Clare, no real reason just really like the name Clare. Ellaine is my mom’s name and was my middle name“)

Holly Jane (“Jane is after my grandmother. Holly kind of came at the end a few days before she was born, someone was talking about a Holly they knew and the name just struck me and I asked my husband if he liked it and we ended up naming her Holly. This child is the only one who has just a random name that isn’t a saint or a family name, but we get around it by saying that Jane is a family name and there is a St. Jane de Chantal“)

Anna Mary (“We had always liked the name Anna and had seriously considered it for Baby #2, but it felt more right with this baby. My husband’s mom is also named Ann, so she is the family connection. We chose Mary because she was born on the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary. She was born 2 weeks early which very much surprised us and her name wasn’t set in stone. MY mom told me that day when I thought I was in labor about the feast day and it was just perfect to name her after Mary“)

I loooove these names! They make such a pleasing set to me! And I love that Anna’s middle name was because she was born on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary — one of my favorite feasts!

Ashley writes,

We always have a VERY difficult times with naming. And boys are especially hard. We do not name the child until they are born. We usually have a few top contenders, but it always just feels better for us to name them once they are here. We kind of have a bit of a theme with our kids of including saint/religious name and also a family name. One of our kids is a combo, but I think that I kind of want to continue that now that we have started it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. I would probably rather forgo the family name before I left off a religious or saint name.

All of their names have tended to be short, which I like and they aren’t shortened. We do call Anna, Annie and Anna. We use both names interchangeably.

Okay so now for the big dilemma on our hands. We are so stuck and don’t really like any names. Let me tell you briefly about this pregnancy though.

We were about ready to try for #5, about 2 years ago, when I had a series of health events that really drug me down. I ended up having chronic neck and back pain amongst other things. There was A LOT of stress, a lot of dr apps, physical therapy and sadness. I wondered if I would always be in pain for the rest of my life. We avoided pregnancy for a long time but in my deep part of my heart I wanted another baby so bad. But I was very very very scared. I was scared of what would happen to my body through a pregnancy, would my pain get worse, would I be able to do it … All of these fears. And at the beginning of this year I began to have improvements, but continued to hold off on pregnancy. My drs cleared me to get pregnant but I just could not get over the fear even though I really wanted another child. So I had been loosely but VERY conservatively using NFP to avoid and low and behold I became pregnant. I wasn’t being strict with NFP but I def didn’t think it was a fertile time either. The feeling that I had when I got the positive test was such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father. I felt like God was telling me, ”Ashley I know that you are scared to “try” for another baby so I am not going to make you make that decision.” I felt like he was saying, ”Ashley I am bigger and greater than your fears.” It was such an intense moment for me in my life! And this pregnancy has been awesome. I have felt great and I have felt like I have gotten a lot of clarity on my chronic pain condition and healing of mind body and soul!

So to say the least, I truly feel more than with any other child that this baby was so intended by God to not only be here in existence but also as a gift to me especially, one that has had great impact on my relationship with God and through this baby and pregnancy has brought about much healing.”

Isn’t this such a wonderful story?! I love how Ashley articulated that she felt “such an overwhelming feeling of being taken care of by a loving Father,” what a gift. ❤

Ashley continues,

I mention all this because I had thought about some name that kind of represented some of that. I had looked up Theodore (Theo) because it means God s gift and it is on our maybe list because of that.”

Ashley explained to me that she doesn’t really care for a lot of traditional names (Matthew-type names), nor currently popular names (Aiden, Jaxon), nor country names (Colt, Cole, West).

My husband’s name is Jeffrey Locke and he doesn’t want a jr. On his side John is a very popular boy name. His nephew, brother, dad and grand dad are all John Locke. So John is a family name but we couldn’t use it as a 1st name. Locke could be used as a middle family name … Some family names on my side is my grandfather’s name was Leo. My great grandfather was Casper … my great grandfathers were Ray Rhymes and Ralph Harry; some other names on my side are McVea (but that has already been heavily used by my cousin) and my dad’s name is Rhymes but my sister already used it for her 1st daughters middle name. My maiden name is Oliver which is popular now but I don’t really like it and I don’t think it sounds good with my last name Wagner because of the -er at the end of both of the names. On my husband’s side there is a William Baumann and then John Locke.

Some names that have kind of made it on our list are Bruno, Leo, Ansel (my husband doesn’t like it though), Brock (but reminds me of 80’s), Ben, Raph/Raif, Theo, Abram, Owen, Sam, Isaac, Ford.

Ben has always been a name we liked, but my problem is that I don’t like Benjamin or Bennet, or Benedict. So I had said in the past I would just name my kid Ben. I feel like a lot of boy names have longer names and then there is the shortened version that the kid is called. (Benjamin/Ben, William/Will, Theodore/Theo) Problem is in most all of those situations I don’t like the long name and I wonder whether you can just name the kid the short name? Because I don’t want to name my kid Benjamin when I don’t like the name Benjamin just so I can call him Ben. Kind of like with Theodore, I don’t really like Theodore, but Theo is ok.

Abram has kind of struck me. You could call the kid Abe which is ok, but the longer name Abram isn’t that long and I actually kind of like it, but husband isn’t totally keen on it.

Leo is my grandfather name and I like it and am unsure about it all at the same time.

Bruno my son came up with after watching a movie about St. John Bosco, but I feel like with Bruno Mars it just kind of ruins it.

I think that we do not like names that are difficult for people to say or spell. That is why I like the name of my son Nash so much. It is different, not many people have that name, but no one ever asks how to spell it or for me to repeat it. It can’t be shortened or nicknamed. So I think we tend to lean towards those kind of names, especially looking at our other kids names, short, easy to say, can’t be nicknamed really.

So I think maybe that wraps it up … or maybe this is all just a jumbled mess of words. I just feel very discouraged because I will go through and read 1000 boy names and not really like any of them and none of the names on our list do I really really like and I just worry this baby won’t have a name 😦 or that I will just have to settle on a name. I don’t have great expectations of absolutely LOVING and feeling totally connected to a name because I just never feel that way before hand which is part of why we don’t name until the baby is here. I think its hard for me to connect a baby I haven’t seen with a name … it’s just weird to me and I certainly could never call a baby a name until there are here. (I think I am weird like that)

But I hope that you can think of some possibilities, although I fear that every boy name out there is just going to be blah. But thank you so much in advance for your time and your talents and good luck!!!!!

I’m sure we can help Ashley and her husband! Even if only by sparking a conversation that leads them to the right name! Ashley also sent a photo of her beautiful family, in case it was helpful for inspiration:

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What a handsome/beautiful crew! 😍😍😍

So first off, I love that Theo(dore)’s on their list because of Ashley’s wonderful experience, and I think “just Theo” is a really nice fit with Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna. Theo Locke sounds pretty cool!

Speaking of Locke, I just have to say — it seems like a homerun for their son’s first name! With Nash having a surname feel — indeed, having been a surname in Ashley’s husband’s family before it was her son’s first name — I immediately thought when I started reading her email that another family surname would be a great idea for their second son, and then when I read about Locke it seemed so perfect! Something like Locke William (for the William on her husband’s side) or Locke Raymond (to lengthen her great-grandfather Ray’s name) would be so handsome (and both William and Raymond are saints’ names). I also like the idea of Rhymes and McVea — if they weren’t already used in Ashley’s family, I’d think they were great options.

Of the names on their list, a few thoughts:

  • Bruno—this is the second time in a month I’ve heard the name Bruno from a reader! I guess I wouldn’t have thought that Bruno Mars would ruin the name, but rather that he would make it seem extra feasible — do the rest of you agree? The fact that it was inspired by a St. John Bosco movie made me wonder if Ashley and her hubs would consider Bosco as a first name? Blogger Grace Patton has a Bosco, it’s such a cool name I think (she also has an Abe!)
  • Leo—great name, and I love that it’s a family name for them! It’s easy to say and spell, like Nash
  • Ansel—I’m not sure if this is helpful, but if Ashley’s husband doesn’t like Ansel, there’s the similar and very saintly Anselm
  • Brock—Ashley’s comment about Brock reminding her of the 80s made me laugh! I can see what she means, though it actually peaked in popularity in 2003
  • Ben—it’s funny that, though I think Theo can stand on its own as a name, I have a harder time getting there with Ben. I do see what Ashley means about not caring for the longer version and just preferring to name him Ben—it’s certainly not the end of the world, and I’m sure other parents have done it (in fact, checking the 2016 SSA stats, there were 347 baby boys named just Ben!). I had some other ideas for them on how to get to Ben though, if they were open to thinking of a formal name for it—all of these were bestowed on boys in 2016 per the SSA:

— Ruben/Reuben
— Eben
— Bento
— Robben
— Benz
— Benning
— Bence
— Benno

One that’s not on this list that I like is Bendt — it’s a Danish form of Benedict

  • Raph/Raif—I usually see these as nicknames for Raphael (I usually see the spelling Rafe, if that’s helpful), but Rafe (that spelling) is also a variant of Ralph, and reflects the way the name used to be said (it still is sometimes—actor Ralph Fiennes says it “Rafe”), so that could make it a nice nod to the Ralph Harry in their family. AND — the meaning of Raphael is “God has healed,” which is so perfect for this baby!
  • Abram—I like Abram a lot, and Abe is one of my favorite nicknames! Abel is another with similar sounds
  • Owen—I actually think Owen’s a great idea for this family, because it’s short like their other kids’ names, and it has usage as a surname, which fits in with the style of Nash—St. Nicholas Owen is one of my favorites!
  • Sam—If they’re thinking of Sam on its own, I feel like it’s similar to Ben for me, in that I have a hard time seeing it as a given name on its own (but who cares what I think, if they like it!). If Ashley and her hubs don’t care for Samuel or Samson, I’ve often thought Sam could work as a nickname for Ambrose, which is sort of similar to Abram and Ansel, and super saintly. Another nickname idea I’ve liked for Ambrose is Bram, and I actually love Bram on its own too—I should have thought of it when I was commenting on Abram above, as Bram is a form of Abraham
  • Isaac—love it
  • Ford—this would be a great brother name for Nash I think! Especially if it has family significance! There’s a Bl. Thomas Ford, which can give them a saintly tie-in
  • Casper and Oliver are both awesome—and Oliver would be particularly attractive to me, being Ashley’s maiden name—but I agree that they don’t sound great with the last name Wagner

I totally get that Ashley and her hubs like names that are easy to say and spell, so I focused on that when looking for name ideas for them, and I let Nash’s name influence me the most! I tried to find names that I thought felt like his—short and surnamey, or at least one or the other. I also tried to find faith connections for each of my ideas, though I wasn’t able to for all of them (but that can be easily remedied by the middle name).

That said, you all know that I start all my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like 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 I did look up Clare, Holly, and Anna too to see if there were any boy ideas that were similar in style to theirs, that would also work as a brother for Nash.

Based on that research, as well as some ideas that I had on my own, these are my suggestions:

(1) Grant
Weirdly, Clare doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW, but Claire and Clara do, so I looked them both up, as they have different style matches. Grant was a match for Claire, and it immediately felt like a good suggestion. I know a family with a Benjamin and a Grant, so Grant makes sense to me for someone who likes Ben. It’s easy to say and spell, just like they’re hoping for. (For what it’s worth, Benjamin is also a match for Claire, and Leo for Clara.) I looked up the popularity of each name I suggested here (as well as their older kids) to be sure they weren’t too popular, and Grant was no. 171 in 2016, which is a really comfortable place to be—not top 100, but not unheard of. (For reference, Nash was 286, Clare was 719 [but Claire was 40]), Holly was 527, and Anna was 51.)

(2) Miles or Milo
You all know that I often suggest Miles/Milo on the blog, ever since I discovered that they have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I loooove Marian names for boys! I thought their popularity was pretty good for Ashley’s taste too—Miles was no. 105 in 2016, and Milo was 248, which I think makes it an extra good match for Nash, who was no. 286. Miles was also a style match for Clara, and Milo for Leo.

(3) Case
This is one of my own ideas, inspired by a family I did a consultation for a while ago who had a similar aesthetic as this family. One of their boys was Case, in honor of (now) Bl. Solanus Casey. I loved that! I love Casey (and it’s a style match for Holly!), but I get that some people don’t like that it has usage among both boys and girls, so I thought Case was a great solution. Nash and Case have a really similar feel, and I love any name that ties to Bl. Solanus! Case was no. 551 in 2016 (for reference, Casey was no. 560 for boys and 857 for girls).

(4) Jude
I’m actually surprised that Jude wasn’t already on their list, which makes me think maybe they considered it and decided against it? It’s actually a match for Anna and Leo, and it was no. 161 in 2016. I like that it starts with a J, so it can maybe be a nod to Ashley’s husband Jeffrey and the Johns in his family. Jude Locke has exactly the same rhythm as John Locke, which can be another connection to them.

(5) Blaise
This is really just because it’s a really saintly, short name. I also thought they might like a B suggestion, since they have Bruno, Brock, and Ben on their list (and Abram, which has a strong B sound). It was no. 903 in 2016.

(6) Kolbe
Speaking of really saintly, short names, Kolbe is that, and it’s also a surname! I know Ashley said she doesn’t like Cole (which, incidentally, was a match for Claire and Owen), but I think Kolbe has a different flavor all together. It wasn’t in the top 1000 in 2016, though there were 51 boys so named.

(7) Nico
I looove the name Nico! I think this might be a wild card suggestion, as some people think it has too much of a Latin feel to work well for families that aren’t Hispanic or Italian, but it’s listed on behindthename.com as a Dutch and German short form of Nicholas or Nicodemus (in addition to being an Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese short form), and the spelling Niko is a Finnish, Croatian, Slovene, Georgian, and German form. Nico was no. 496 in 2016, and Niko was no. 614. It’s definitely not trendy, or country, or Matt-esque, and I don’t consider it “wacky out there” either. So maybe?

(8) Evan
My last idea for Ashley and her hubs is Evan. It was a style match for Owen, which is what put it on my radar, and what encouraged me to list it here is that it’s a variant of John. Ashley said they can’t use John as a first name because of all the Johns in their family, but using a variant of John could be a cool way to work around that, and still nod to those relatives. I quite like the idea of Evan Locke. Evan was no. 69 in 2016, and I think it fits their criteria of “easy to say and spell.” (Other John variants are Sean, Shane, and Ian, and I’ve even seen an argument made for Owen having usage as a Gaelic form of John, so if they end up going with Owen, that could be a nice connection too).

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna?