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

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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?

New post up at Nameberry!

I have a new post up at Nameberry today! Some Surprising Surnames to Consider: From Ames to Wilkie.

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I had a lot of fun putting together this post — as you’ll read, it was the result of research I spent last winter doing, and I have a bunch more topics to write about from that same research! The book I refer to, A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, is a treasure trove of interesting tidbits about surnames used in England over the last ten centuries (I wrote a little about it here).

I’m interested to hear what you think about the post, and whether you would consider or have considered any of the surnames as first names for your own children!

Baby name consultation: Svellerella Baby No. 5!

Today’s consultation is for Carolyn, who you’ll know from her blog Svellerella (+Instagram) and her gorgeous hand-drawn-illustrations-and-lettering Etsy shop Brass & Mint Co. (+Instagram)! (Find her on Facebook too!) She was also on Haley and Christy’s podcast Fountain of Carrots last week talking about mothering her little boy with special needs — as she said, “They asked me about what it was like going through an Autism diagnosis and parenting a kid with autism, getting to church with Emmett’s challenges, and how I “do it all” (spoiler: I don’t.).” Such a beautiful, loving, pro-life mama witness!

Carolyn and her husband Craig are now expecting their fifth baby — fifth boy! I loooooove the names they’ve chosen so far:

Lexington Anthony (“We picked Lexington because we liked the phonetics, and the originality of it. At that time, neither of us cared about name meanings, and while we still love his name, it’s a little out of our scope of interest towards “originality” these days. Anthony was chosen for St. Anthony of Padua. And upon thinking about it later and knowing the story of St. Anthony’s ability to speak eloquently, it is a funny spiritual accident that we chose the first name Lexington — lexicon.”)

Emmett James (“We love the old timey feel of the name Emmett. And James was our Biblical/Christian pick.”)

Collin John Paul (“Honestly, It was the only name we agreed on. John Paul is after my patron saint JPII.”)

Jude Benedict (“We absolutely love the name Jude. It’s older, not overly popular, and while it breaks our streak of multiple syllable first names, it sounds strong to us. St. Benedict is my husband’s patron saint, and we love Benedict XVI.”)

What an interesting bunch of names! You all know I love bold naming, so seeing Lexington in the mix is so fun, and I love her other boys’ names as well.

Names they’re considering for this next little guy include:

Ambrose (“he’s due near St. Ambrose’s feast day … the only problem is that neither of us care for the double S sound when said with our last name Svellinger“)
Dominic
Edmund
Theodore (“we love Teddy, don’t love Theo“)
Gabriel (“This one is my top pick currently“)

And Carolyn explains,

We tend to be more creative with first names and choose a Christian based middle name [though note that she said above that Lexington is “a little out of our scope of interest towards ‘originality’ these days”] … Generally, neither of us care for nicknames, with the exception of Theodore. I’m a nerd and pay close attention to the phonetics of a name. For example, I don’t like if a name begins with a sound that starts from the back of the throat and drags with another sound from the same place: the sound that C + L makes when said together is an example. I know, it’s silly. Cluuhhh sounds and feels like I’m hawking a loogie … can’t handle it. Craig thinks I’m ridiculous.”

😂😂😂

Finally,

Last bit of info — I L O V E British literature and often think of Shakespeare, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Tolkien, and yes, Rowling — I adore nearly everything that comes from Brit lit and I’d love to draw from something there.”

My mind started clicking as soon as I read all this! I was particularly interested by the fact that Carolyn said Lexington is more unusual than where her and her husband’s current taste is — Emmett, Collin, and Jude really do have a similar feel to me, it’s pretty clear they backed off of really out-there names. That said, as you all know I really love coming up with “bridge” names that connect an outlier sibling name with the others, so I’d really love to come up with an idea that might loop Lexington back in while still fitting with their other boys’ names. I definitely focused on that to a good extent when looking for names that I thought Carolyn and Craig might like.

Backing up a bit for a minute, I wanted to comment on the names they already have on their list for their new little boy:

— Ambrose: We love Ambrose too! If they decide to use it, despite it ending in S and their last name beginning with S, one of its big benefits I think is that it swings their whole set back toward the more unusual.

— Dominic: One of my very favorites! I definitely think it fits well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

— Edmund: Narnia! St. Edmund Campion! Such a great name. And Teddy is a traditional nickname for all the Ed- names, so they could totally do Edmund nicked Teddy! I also love the idea of Campion for them — if they could move away from Teddy and Narnia, Campion seems more like Lexington’s style while still being super saintly. And, since Carolyn pointed out the similarity between Lexington and “lexicon,” she might also like to know that Campion means “champion”!

— Theodore: I like its length with Lexington, and it too seems a great fit with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. Teddy’s super cute too. In the interest of shifting a bit towards Lexington’s style (which I’m thinking of variously as “unusual,” “place name,” and “surname-y”), I wonder what they’d think of the more unusual Thaddeus? Teddy can be a nickname for Thaddeus (I know a grown-up Thaddeus who goes by Ted), and Taddy is a similar-but-different nickname for it as well. I also wondered if they’d be interested in getting Teddy as a nickname from mashing up a first+middle combo? I was thinking something like Tolkien Edmund, for example. Too weird? Or Titus Edmund (Titus is a Shakespeare name)?

— Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names, I love seeing it here on Carolyn’s list, and as much as I love the faith connection, I also love that it’s got good use in Ireland (actor Gabriel Byrne, for one, love him!), which is not dissimilar from her Brit lit love. Great name! I think it goes really well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

Carolyn’s “C+L” issue made me laugh! Also that her hubs thinks it’s ridiculous! We all have our quirks when it comes to naming, and I’m always so interested to hear other people’s. I purposely stayed away from suggesting Clive for them because of this. 😊

I also love names from British literature! So when I was thinking of names to suggest, I looked up all the male names from Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Charles Dickens (thank you internet!) (searches for Chesterton’s characters didn’t result in any other than Fr. Brown, but neither Father nor Brown seemed like their style 😉), as well as place names mentioned in those works. I wrote down all the ones that I thought might possibly fit their style, then cross-checked that list against my research in the Baby Name Wizard (you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and 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). Because Lexington isn’t listed in the BNW, I used Lennox as a stand-in there, and then looked Lexington up in the Name Matchmaker tool on the BNW web site — it showed a bunch of names as being similar to Lexington that I already had on my list for them!

So here are my ideas, in no particular order:

(1) Garrick or Oliver
My original idea here was Garrick, as in Harry Potter character Garrick Ollivander (and actually, if Carolyn hadn’t said that Lexington was farther out than they would currently like, I’d probably be pushing Ollivander on them! I love it! I think it totally fits with Lexington in length and feel, and the nickname Ollie is so well matched with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. But then, they don’t like nicknames either …). But then I thought maybe Oliver would be good! There’s Oliver Twist and St. Oliver Plunket, who’s amazing, and Oliver totally fits with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

(2) Caspian
I definitely think Caspian can hang with Emmett, Collin, and Jude, and its unusual-ness pulls in Lexington a bit more. I also love that that both Lexington and Caspian are place names (Caspian Sea), and of course Caspian is a Narnia name!

(3) Bartlett (or Bartholomew?) (or Bates?)
One of Great Expectations’ Pip’s brothers was named Bartholomew, and I thought that I like Bartholomew for them — it’s got that nice length that Lexington has. Then I was thinking about how the surname Bartlett is derived from Bartholomew, and decided I love Bartlett even more for them! I love it with all their boys’ names, and Bartlett’s Buildings is where Lucy Steele usually stayed when she was in London (Sense and Sensibility), so cool! But then, are Emmett and Bartlett too similar? (I actually had Garrett included in my first suggestion, with Garrick, and ended up deleting it because I thought Emmett and Garrett were probably too similar.) So maybe then the full Bartholomew is a better suggestion. Or maybe Bates? Bates is another surname derived from Bartholomew, which could also work — would Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey count as a Brit Lit character?? But Bates runs into their last name … Gah!

(4) Dig(g)ory
This is another more Lexington-esque name due to uniqueness, but it’s got so many cool literary connections, and I really love the sound of it, so I had to include it! There’s Cedric Diggory from HP, of course, and I’ve read that he was actually given the last name Diggory as a nod to Professor Digory Kirke from the Narnia Chronicles, which is another great reference. But the first time I ever heard the name was in high school when I read Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native — one of the main characters is Diggory Venn. (Also, I’m a huge nicknamer, so I can’t help but say that Dig is a really cool nickname and the name of one of the good guys in the current TV series Arrow).

(5) Sebastian
My last idea is Sebastian. It’s a Shakespeare name and a saint’s name; it’s long like Lexington and I think it also fits in well with their other boys. Some people don’t like alliteration, but I tend to, and Sebastian Svellinger sounds smashing imo. 😊

While those are my “official” suggestions, I did have a few others I considered when trying to whittle down the list, which I thought I’d include here just in case they’re helpful: Austen, Augustine (Austen’s actually a medieval variant of Augustine!), Chesterton (could be cute?), Orlando (Shakespeare and place name), Duncan (hmm … maybe I should have included this on my official list), Kingsley (Kingston was a style match for Lennox, which made me think of HP character Kingsley Shacklebolt), Quentin or Quinlan (for a fifth baby!), Jasper (a style match for Emmett and Jude), Brandon (I looooove Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility), Abel (two different Dickens characters named Abel), and Rider/Ryder (the former for the Riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings; the latter for Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited).

In looking back over my ideas, I feel like maybe I focused too much on connecting with Lexington, which is totally me inserting myself into Carolyn and Craig’s taste, which I really try not to do! (Not too much anyway!) So I hope that this was at least a little helpful!

What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lexington, Emmett, Collin, and Jude?

Spotlight on: Kelly

One of you readers emailed me asking about the name Kelly! I haven’t heard anyone consider the name Kelly in a long time, it’s definitely in hibernation until its spring comes again (which it will, as it does for most names).

You know I love doing name research! So off to the dusty shelves I went and did indeed find a saint whose name is sometimes anglicized to Kelly: St. Cellach of Armagh. How cool! Behind the Name concurs that Kelly is a form of, as it spells it, Ceallach, whose meaning is uncertain but could include “bright-headed,” or from Old Irish ceallach “war, strife” or ceall “church.” I love the “church” meaning!

And in fact, that ties into another very cool thing about the name Cellach: there was a Cellach, the Abbott of the monastery at Iona (not the St. Cellach mentioned above), who fled raiding Vikings with his brethren and went to the Abbey of Kells (though “kells” here not having any connection to Cellach), which had been founded by St. Columba a couple hundred years earlier. Kells strikes me as a really easy way to update the name Kelly while retaining its Irishness and adding a shot of faith, no? Kells gave its name to the Book of Kells, the illuminated manuscript by those monks from Iona of the four gospels that has been described as one of Europe’s greatest treasures, and my favorite tidbit about it is that it “presents the earliest Madonna and Child image in any western manuscript” (source).

So I could see a Kelly taking St. Cellach of Armagh as patron, and loving the gospel/Marian/St. Columba connection of the similar-sounding and similarly spelled Kells. This could work for both a boy and girl, and in fact Kelly started as a male name, from the Irish surname. These days Kelly is nearly 100% girl (no. 514 for girls in 2016 as opposed to not at all in the top 1000 for boys), but thinking about St. Cellach and the Abbott Cellach definitely shows Kelly’s initial masculinity. I can also see parents loving Kells as a given name, and that might work better for boys these days.

For girls, names like Callie, Kayley/Keeley/Kiley, Ellie, and Zelie seem to have filled the Kelly spot for current parents, do you agree? But Kelly’s still familiar and fits in easily with those names I think.

What do you all think of Kelly? Do you know any little Kellys? Would you name your daughter Kelly, or have you? What about for a boy? Can you see Kelly working, or do you think Kells is a better option? Or neither?