Baby name consultation: Uncommon but not unheard of name to go with John for baby no. 6

Happy Monday everyone! Here’s another consultation by our new baby name consultant, Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Adrienne writes in asking for help naming baby #6, a boy, due in October. Baby boy will be joining older siblings:

Constance Jane

Veronica Joy

Mark Ross “Ross”

Ambrose James

Silas Augustine

Adrienne says:

I don’t really want to repeat first letters, mainly just because it’s an easy shorthand, but I would do so for a really special name. I also don’t love alliteration with our last name (so that probably rules out “M” first names)…I also do not want the first name to rhyme with the last name. For example, I wouldn’t use Asher because the ending sounds too similar to [our last name that sounds like Heather]”.

Names they can’t use:

  • Jackson
  • Joseph
  • McCord
  • Cohen
  • Garner
  • James
  • Thomas
  • Jeremy
  • Jacob
  • Jordan
  • Alasdair
  • Names they like:
  • Benedict
  • Titus
  • Elias
  • Theodore
  • Atticus

Adrienne also adds:

If Baby had been a girl, we were considering Hazel, Felicity, and Aurelia.

My husband only has eyes for John (to honor St. John the Evangelist). He won’t consider Jonathan, which I have offered as a compromise, but might be willing to consider John as a middle name

We have also discussed forms of John (like Ewan or Ian) and double names like John Paul, but so far, he is resistant to those suggestions. To add a little bit of a wrinkle to the consultation, we are actually an Orthodox family. But, we are also Western Rite, so we love saints that are recognized by both East and West, like Ambrose and Augustine. We like our names to have at least one patron saint in the name. It can be a saint name from the Bible or more recent times.  Since St. John would be the patron saint though, I’m open to a not-yet-a-saint first name ideas as well (like our son Ross). My husband prefers names for boys that are strong/traditional. He’s not worried about whether a name is popular. I really prefer names that are more uncommon, but not unheard of! We do not care for gender-neutral names. We don’t want to use surnames or place names. We don’t care for unusual spellings. The cadence of the name is important to me. I like it to have a nice flow with our last name. My hesitation with giving in on “John” as a first name is mainly that it sounds plain next to our other kids’ names, like Ambrose and Veronica.”

Wow!! What great information for naming their child. I definitely kept everything in mind when doing their consultation. I agree that John sounds a little plain next to the other kids’ names but it’s also one of those names that goes with literally every other name out there. You honestly can’t go wrong with John! But I’ve got plenty of suggestions anyway.

First, I thought I’d give my thoughts on the names they said they like already but just aren’t clicking as “the one”.

Benedict: Great name, great saint! Fits well with your other kids and has the cute nicknames Ben and Benny. If you wanted to get a little unusual with this one (and maybe bridge the gap between Ross and the others), you could call him Ned.

Titus: Again, another great name and saint that fits in well with your others. I really like this one for you guys, actually.

Elias: This is a form of Elijah and I think this form does really well with your others. It’s unusual but not weird.

Theodore: Such a cute and handsome name! One that really would grow well on a child. So many nickname options, too! Theo, Teddy, Ted, T+middle initial. It’s so versatile!

Atticus: I adore this name and truly wish it was used more often. The name itself doesn’t have a standout meaning (It means “from Attica” which is the region in Greece where Athens is located) but it conjures images of a strong man, a father. I’d push you to go for this name but it repeats the A like your son Ambrose!

Adrienne’s husband loves John but she doesn’t so much (it is still very common) and, so far, he hasn’t gone for any variation of it. I hate to see a name and saint you love go unused because you can’t agree on a form of it! Here are some other variations of the name John:

Ivan– Russian

Johannes/Johan/Hans– German and Germanic languages (I knew a Hans growing up and he was so cool! I associate Hans with being really friendly, creative, and cool)

Jean– French

Giovanni/Gianni/Gian– Italian

Jonas– I love this more unusual, surname form of John. I also think this sounds so good as a brother for Ross, Ambrose, and Silas!

Zane– this is an American form of John. It’s unusual and got that punchy Z and is a great brother name to all your others, sort of bridging all the gaps and bringing them all together.

Evan– This is a Welsh form of John but I also thought this would be a cool way to honor St. John the Evangelist because it matches the first four letters of Evangelist!

Now for new suggestions! I kept all your rules and your faith in mind and here’s what I thought:

(1) Peter

It’s a match for all of your other kids’ names and has many many saints to go along with it, but of course, chief among them is St. Peter the Apostle. It’s a great name on a little kid and a great name on an adult. Short form, Pete gives is grounding and likability, too. And there are other nicknames I’ve heard, too, like Petey, Peep, PT, and Pepe (even though that’s actually a nickname for Jose!). Peter John is an incredible combo that I don’t think could be topped, also!

(2) Philip

Another Apostle and another match for all of your kids’ names! There are actually two Philips in the New Testament, too–– the Apostle and also, St. Philip the Deacon whom St. Paul talks about in his letters. Philip is an up-and-coming name ranking at 451 and it’s been dropping in recent years, meaning the only place you’d ever hear it is probably in Orthodox and Catholic circles. It’s got all kinds of nicknames to go with it like Phil, Philly, Pip, and Pippin, which makes it versatile.

(3) Bartholomew

This name is a match for your sons’ names and he was an Apostle (also sometimes known as Nathanael). I thought bringing in another heavy-hitting name would balance out Constance and Ambrose from their siblings Ross, Veronica, and Silas. Bartholomew does that! There are the traditional nicknames Bart, Barty, and Barth but you could get creative here and do Barto, Bam, Bolo, Art, Artie, Arth, or even Tolo. Personally, I love the nickname Bam but that could be because I associate that sound so strongly with little boys!

(4) Ignatius

St. Ignatius of Antioch is regarded as a Father of the Church in Catholicism and I think he holds a similar place in Orthodoxy? He’s a match for Ambrose and I thought how cool it would be for brothers to share that.

(5) Clement

Another early, heavy-hitting saint, Clement, with nicknames Clem, Clemmy, Lem, and Lemmy, balances out Constance and Ambrose against Veronica, Ross, and Silas. A great name meaning “clemency” or “mercy”, it reminds us of God’s greatest attribute.

(6) Basil

This is a name I’ve been begging my husband to let me use but he won’t go for it! It sounds too British to him and maybe to you, too? But St. Basil the Great is, well, great, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this name for you guys. He’s an early saint like Veronica and Ambrose, but he’s short and spunky like Silas and Ross. The name means “little king” and isn’t that just so fitting for child #6? This is also a name in Arabic and means “brave, valiant” which super cool!! This is, I think, a can’t miss name for you guys and Basil John is just so strong and swoony.

(7) Gregory

Finally, Gregory. I like this name for you guys as is connects and bridges all of the other kids’ names together; is familiar but not too popular (it currently ranks at 432); and has three amazing saints: the Great, Nazianzen, and of Nyssa! Greg is the obvious nickname but if that’s too old man for you there’s also Gregor and the incredibly cute and unexpected Rory!

Those are my thoughts! What do you think?


Email Theresa at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

Baby name consultation: A name that works in both Spanish and English for baby boy

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July! I’m happy to share with you the first consultation by our new baby name consultant, Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Lucy and husband are expecting their 6th child, 2nd boy, on Oct. 22, the feast day of one of their favorites saints, St. John Paull II. She writes:

My name is Lucia (after Saint Lucy and Sister Lucia), I go by Lucy, and my husband is Arturo, he goes by Art.”

Super fun already! I love Lucy for Lucia and that they both go by nicknames.

This baby will join big siblings:

Eva Elyssa

Samuel Benjamin

Bianca Pilar

Sienna Claire

Annie Elizabeth

Sienna and Annie are twins.

They need a name that works in both Spanish and English and would like a saint name to be prominent. They cannot use the names Lukas, Oliver, Mathias, or Fernando. And some of their favorite saints are St. Philip Neri, St. John Paul II (their favorite), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Bl. Carlo Acutis. Such great saints!

I kept these things in mind when looking up names and kept at the forefront that they love St. John Paul II and are due on his feast day. Here are my suggestions!

(1) Charles/Carlos/Carlo

St. John Paul II’s given name was Karol which is the Polish form of Charles. I thought Charles fit in with your other kids nicely! But I kept having the thought that it’s not very easy to pronounce in Spanish. That led me to Carlos, the Spanish variant. Maybe you would like that better? It also looks closer to JPII’s native Karol than Charles does. But I couldn’t shake Carlo and how cool it is that Bl. Carlo Acutis is newly in everyone’s minds. Then you told me you love Bl. Carlo Acutis! I feel like Carlo for St. John Paul II and Bl. Carlo Acutis is a home run name for you guys.

(2) Thomas/Tomás

I included the Spanish version here just for the sake of keeping that at the forefront, however, I think any Spanish speaker would pronounce it the Spanish way no matter which way it’s spelled. I like this name for you because it is a strong saint name, it’s a name match for all the children, and has similar nicknames to Samuel, Tom and Tommy, like Samuel has Sam and Sammy. It would be a neat way to connect the brothers, especially since the girls all have more Spanish/Latin sounding names.

(3) Oscar

St. Oscar Romero is a great patron and the name is a match for all the children’s names. It’s easily pronounced in English and Spanish and is a little unusual while still being accessible.

(4) Gabriel

This was actually the second name to come to mind for you. It fits the English-Spanish rule, has super cute and accessible nickname Gabe, and goes well with your other children. It also bridges the gap a bit between Samuel and Annie to Eva, Bianca, and Sienna. There’s a number of Saints Gabriel, including the Archangel and Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows Possenti.

(5) Francis/Francisco

Because St. Francis is one of your favorite saints, I’m sure you’ve already considered this name but I couldn’t leave it out. Francis sounds much more English, but that would be good beside Samuel and Annie while not ostracizing the others. Francisco bridges the gaps between all the other names and really brings them into coherence. Both can take the adorable nickname Frankie which helps ground it.

(6) Augustine/Agustin/August

A friend of mine once told me her Mexican grandfather’s name was Augustine nicknamed Auggie and since then, I have thought of it as being easily pronounced in both English and Spanish. There’s the Spanish spelling Agustin or the short form August. It’s a strong saint name, which adds to its appeal. It also carries the nickname Gus which is super cute, especially with brother Sam/Samuel! Bonus: Bl. Miguel Pro’s middle name was Agustin!

(7) James/Jaime/Santiago

My last thought was James with the nickname Jaime to make it easy to pronounce in Spanish and English. It’s such a good, strong name and was carried by two apostles! I didn’t think you’d like Diego here, even though that’s the standard Spanish version, but I did include Santiago just in case you wanted to get a little wild with this baby! Plus, the nickname Santi, which means “holy”, is adorable!

So those are my thoughts. What do you think?


Email Theresa at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

Out with the old (temporarily), in with the new

Happy Thursday everyone! There are some changes happening here at Sancta Nomina, which I’m excited about!

First: Starting today I’m going on hiatus from baby name consultations until probably around Christmas — some things are happening in my family (all good!) that I need to be able to focus on for the rest of the summer and through the fall, but I think things should even out by Christmas. That said, I won’t be off the blog entirely — I hope to use these next few months to clean up the blog a little (update old links and other housekeeping) and finally get some posts written from my list of topics that keeps growing and growing, and I’m always happy and eager to receive your birth announcements! I’ll still be posting those on the blog with parents’ permission (and as always, if you prefer to keep our email correspondences private, that’s totally fine!).

Second: Those of you who would like baby naming help will still be able to receive it! I’m happy to announce that longtime reader, Catholic mama, and baby namer extraordinaire Theresa Zoe Williams will be offering baby name consultations through Sancta Nomina! Theresa has told us about herself and her naming sensibility in the guest posts she’s written here over the last few months, and here she introduces herself as a our new baby name consultant:

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The New Baby Namer In Town

I have been naming things since the moment I could speak –– stuffed animals, pets, cars, characters in my stories, and even three children of my own (you can read about their names here and here). All of my children and pets have two middle names (the dog is Jackson Coakley Francis and goes by Jack) because I have two middle names (my parents wanted to honor both sides of their family while still using their favorite saint’s name). As part of a family tradition, I also took on my Confirmation name as part of my legal name, which is where the Zoe comes from. I have always been interested in finding creative ways to honor the people in my life, like my oldest daughter’s name being both my and my mother’s birthstone, giving each child a unique name but one grounded in their history. Kate has even called my style of naming spunky but grounded! Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator. I am pleased to announce that I will now also be offering baby name consultations to the public.

Just as I have experience naming things and people in my own life, I do come with experience of helping to name other people, too. The first time occurred almost four years ago. A woman I was acquainted with asked a group of Catholic moms that I was a part of for help in naming her third child, a boy. She set out all of her parameters and offered a gift card to the person who suggested the name they ended up choosing. The most important criterion was that the name had to be connected to the Passion in some way. We all had at it. I rattled off a couple suggestions but then one name hit me like a ton of bricks. I researched the name to make sure my perceptions of it were correct and then suggested it. Tristan means “sorrowful”, was not on their “couldn’t use” list, went well with another name they liked for a good first-middle combo, and wasn’t too popular nor weird. The woman and her husband loved it! They named their baby Tristan Oliver and I was awarded a $15 Starbucks gift card.

As far as naming goes, I tend to go off of my gut instinct and do research to back that up. I also look for creative and out of the box ways to meet criteria given by the parents. To practice, I asked a group of women if they would allow me to try to guess their naming styles. They gave me sibling names and maybe another detail or two about what they look for in a name and I would rattle off six to twelve guesses or suggestions. Many of them exclaimed that I had correctly guessed some names on their lists and many of those women also said that I’d given them more names to add to their lists!

Helping families find meaningful names they love for their children is a passion of mine and I’m so honored to help anyone I can. To kick off my tenure as the new baby naming consultant in town, I’m offering my first three consultations for free, provided you are okay with me posting the consultation on the blog. This offer is good for regular and mini consultations. Logistically, I will be offering the same two types of consultations Kate does and for the same prices. To get a consultation from me, you can email me directly at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com. Thank you for welcoming me into the family!

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“Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator” — isn’t that beautiful?! Theresa has such a great understanding of the awesome responsibility that parents have in naming — I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for you and your babies! As she noted, you can email her directly to request a consultation, and any requests that come to me will be forwarded on to her as well. Hurry to secure your place as one of her first three FREE consultations! The free consultations will be posted on the blog in order that you can get a feel for Theresa’s style and expertise. (I still have a few to post, so Theresa’s won’t post until July.)

If you’re not one of the first three free clients, you can use the Sancta Nomina PayPal buttons to pay for your consultation — the Mini is still $25 and the Ordinary is still $50, however the buy-my-book-and-get-a-discounted-consultation deal that I’ve been offering will be suspended until I return to consultations.

I know you will all be as gracious and lovely to Theresa as you have been with me all these years! And even though I have put an automatic away message on my email, I’ll still be checking email regularly and will reply to your non-consultation emails when I can.

Have a great rest of the week!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!