Baby name consultation: Green bean needs a name that evokes “hope” or “blessing”

I had the great privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lea’s little guy a little over two years ago, and I’m delighted to post this consultation for her newest baby today!

Lea writes,

We have 3 sons here and 4 children in heaven. Here are their names:

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon

Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

The boys are named with a first name that we liked and their middle names are after 3 of the 4 grandfathers of my husband and me. The final grandfather was named Victor and we’d like to use his name for the middle name of a boy.

Paul is after Bl Paul VI and Luke is a nod to Mary and St Gianna. James was simply a name we both liked.

I am looking for some names of each gender that are unique. I like Jude for a boy but my husband isn’t keen.

Some other info, we lost our Nicholas on December 6 2017, so a name meaning hope or blessing would also be good for either gender.

I’m not due until September and we won’t be finding out the gender before the birth.”

I so enjoyed working on a consultation for another of Lea’s babies! I love the name Victor, and think it makes a great middle name. I’ve always liked that it can nod to Jesus, as He is Victorious, and Lea and her husband can think of it having extra meaning for them in the sense of Jesus being a victor by conquering death, which is a nice meaning for this baby following the loss of their Nicholas.

I started the consultation by looking up names that mean “hope” or “blessed”/ “blessing, and in doing so came across some that meant “gift” and “rainbow” as well, which I thought they might like to consider. The ones that I thought were possible contenders for this family I’ve included in my “official” suggestions below, but I wanted to include the other ones I found here, just in case (these were found by searching for key terms on behindthename.com, which I trust as far as name meanings go):

Names meaning “hope”
Girl
Nadia, Nadine — Nadia is Slavic and Nadine is French, but they both mean “hope.”

None found for boys

Names meaning “blessed” or “blessing”
Girl
Beata — this comes from the Latin for “blessed,” and is used to describe Our Lady in some Latin prayers.

Benedicta — as with Beata, this means “blessed” and points to Our Lady (I’ve always been interested that beata is used to describe her sometimes, and benedicta others — I’m not sure what the difference is? If any of you know, I’d love to hear it!).

Gwenfair or Mairwen — these Welsh names are some of my favorite finds! They’re actually the same name, with the elements reversed: Gwenfair is “white, fair, blessed” + the Welsh form of Mary (Mair), while Mairwen starts with Mary and the “white, fair, blessed” part is on the end. I think both are so lovely, though I can understand they may not be quite to Lea’s taste.

Boy
Asher — means “happy, blessed.”

Baruch — Baruch was a companion of the prophet Jeremiah, and his name means “blessed.”

Macarius — means “happy, blessed.”

Names meaning “gift”
Girl
Dorothea, Dorothy — I was torn on whether or not to include this in my list of official suggestions, but I had a lot of girl suggestions, so I decided to put it up here. Dorothy is a variant of Dorothea, which means “gift of God.”

Boy
Jesse — I might have liked to suggest this for this family, except I thought maybe it’s too close to the sounds of James? Otherwise, its meaning of “gift” is a great one.

Name meaning “rainbow”
Iris — it’s just too perfect that Iris means “rainbow” — such a perfect name for a rainbow baby!

I like all of the names here, but I didn’t feel like they really fit their style … although, Lea did say they were looking for “unique,” so maybe they’ll be perfect for them!

As for my official suggestions, I went to my trusty Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for all of the names Lea listed in her email: James, Paul, Luke, Agnes, Eli, Isaac, Nicholas, and Jude. I tried to err on the side of more unique when I was whittling down the results, and I also tried to be careful not to repeat suggestions from the previous consultation I did for them (it was supposed to post here, but Luke came before the date the post was scheduled! From that consultation, Gabriel and Peter still feel like great ideas for this family). Based on that, these are my ideas for Lea and her hubs:

Girl
(1) Annabel(le)
The Anna family of names were big for them in my research — Anna is a style match for James and Jude, Anita for Paul, and Hannah for Isaac. While I love Anna names (and St. Anne!), I didn’t think the ones I mentioned would fit Lea’s “unique” designation, but I thought Annabel/Annabelle might. It’s not technically an Anna name, arising in the Middle Ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is contained in the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable), but of course the fact that Anna is contained in it can definitely be a nod to St. Anne. In fact, they could think of it as Anna + belle, where belle means “beautiful” in French. How lovely! I love that it’s also a Marian name. I don’t feel like I have a good sense of their taste in girl names, so I don’t know if they’ll love it, but I really like it for them.

(2) Faith, Hope
Faith is actually a style match for Luke, and I liked it right away for this family, especially since Lea said they specifically wanted a name with a good meaning. Of course, it also made me think of Hope, which was the meaning she specifically wanted — I think both Hope and Faith are such sweet names! I know little girls with both names, and always find them charming.

(3) Felicity
Felicity means “happiness,” which is just perfect! It’s a gorgeous name, and not terribly common while still being familiar.

(4) Edith
Edith is a style match for Agnes, and I actually had it in mind for this family before I even saw it in my research! St. Edith Stein has been inspiring Catholic families to use Edith for their baby girls — she’s an amazing saint, and I’ve loved seeing her name on little ones like these (here and here). And could the nickname Edie be any cuter??

(5) Mariae, Mariah, Molly, Marigold, Miriam
There are many meanings given for the name of Mary, from not great ones like “bitter” and “rebellious,” to much nicer ones including “wished for child” and “beloved.” Since no one really seems to know for sure (though the academic sources seem to lean toward “beloved”), you can really pick which meaning speaks to you the most. And of course, ultimately, Our Lady as patron gives the name all the good meaning you could want. That said, I thought maybe one of the more unique forms of Mary might be intriguing to Lea and her hubs. Blogger Micaela Darr recently named her baby Mariae, pronounced MAR-ee-ay, which is Latin for “belonging to Mary” — I love that so much! (She found it in my book!) I’ve always had a soft spot for Mariah too. Molly has an Irish flavor; Marigold is both English (Downton Abbey!) and floral; and Miriam is biblical like Lea’s boys (though all the Mary names can technically be considered biblical). And there are a million more!

Boy
(1) Bennett
I think Bennett is my no. 1 choice for Lea and her hubs! I considered suggesting Benedict, which I love and which means “blessed,” but I thought maybe it was too heavy for them? (I’d be delighted to discover I’m wrong!) So I thought Bennett was perfect — it’s actually a medieval variant of Benedict, so it has the same meaning of “blessed” and can take the same patron saints, and I know two different sets of brothers named Luke and Bennett, so I really feel like it fits in well with Lea’s boys!

(2) Samuel
Biblical like Lea’s other boys, Samuel also has the great connection to the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible. Samuel means “God has heard,” which of course is exactly in line with the Hannah and Samuel story and exactly in line with the blessing of this baby after Lea’s loss.

(3) Felix
Felix is the male variant of Felicity, which I listed above. It’s a pretty ancient name, so even though it’s not biblical, I think it can hang with the biblical names just fine.

(4) Pierce
Pierce is a form of Peter, and though I said above that I thought Peter was still a good idea for Lea and her hubs, I thought this different form deserved its own spot on the list. In fact, it’s not on this list because it’s a form of Peter, but because of its Marian meaning — I know of at least one little boy who was named Pierce because his mother had a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and how Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword.” I love that meaning so much — at first it might seem overly sad, but upon reflection, it really nods to Jesus’ victory over death, which gives the combo Pierce Victor extra meaning.

(5) Theodore
Finally, Theodore. Like Dorothea, Theodore means “gift of God” — so perfect! I like both Theo and Ted(dy) as nicknames.

There were a few I considered including but ultimately cross off my list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Martin, Phoebe, Abigail, Veronica, and Gemma.

And those are all my ideas for Lea and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for both a boy and a girl?

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Baby name consultation: Baby My Love’s new baby!

Don’t miss my earlier post about the new prince’s name!

I’ve posted about Sharon’s beautiful family before, and her beautiful shop, Baby My Love (if we have a baby girl, I would totally want her to be outfitted in Baby My Love every single day), and I’m SO EXCITED to post this consultation for her sweet baby girl who’s due just a couple weeks before my little one!

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Sharon and her husband Zeb have the most incredible taste in names — check out their older kiddos:

Gemma Agnes
Felicity Anne
Nicodemus Joseph
+ Miriam Rose
Maximus Michael Patrick
Quintus Edmund
Francis Fulton
Evangeline Marie

Including their unborn babies that are with Jesus:

+ Nic
+ Joy
+ Carmyn

What I love about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they just go for it! They just choose names that they love! They’ve done an amazing job!

For their sweet Little Miss, they’re feeling stuck! Sharon and I have talked about names a bit the last few months, and she posted on Instagram the other day listing all the names they’re considering and the ones they can’t use (A LOT of names can’t be used!):

On their current list:

Lydia
Pauline
Madeleine
Gabriella nn Bella (Gabriel is Zeb’s middle name)
Charlotte
Olivia
Cassandra

Others they’ve considered/talked about/like:

Mercedes nn Mercy
Genevieve
Camille
Hope

And the names they can’t use (because of having SIXTY nieces and nephews!!):

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As well as (as mentioned by Sharon in other comments):

Tamara
Magdalena
Maggie
Lourdes (Zeb prefers no place names)
Beatrice
Zelie
Siena

Whew!! There were a lot of great suggestions on the Instagram post, and I read through them all and tried not to duplicate suggestions here.

One thing that really struck me about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they seem to really love very feminine names, so I definitely took that into account when I was compiling my list. Of course I used my trusty Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with similar style/feel/popularity—I looked up only their girl names and ideas (Gemma, Felicity, Bernadette [it was almost Felicity’s name], Miriam, Gwendolyn [considered for Miriam], Joy, Evangeline, Eden [considered for Evangeline], Clare, Lydia, Pauline, Madeleine, Gabriella, Bella, Charlotte, Olivia, Cassandra, Mercedes, Mercy, Genevieve, Camille, and Hope), since their boys follow an ends-in-the-“us”-sound theme, which wouldn’t necessarily reflect their taste in girl names. And I stayed away from all forms of Mary and Rose, as they’d prefer to have those be associated with their Miriam Rose.

So based on all that, and trying not to duplicate any of the ideas offered in the comments on Instagram, these are my ideas:

(1) Annabelle, Annabella
Anastasia, Anne Marie, Julianna, Hannah, and Marianna are all on the list of names that can’t be used, but Annabelle was listed as a style match for Evangeline, Madeleine, and Olivia and they’re already considering Bella (as a nickname for Gabriella), so I thought it deserved a mention! Annabel is said to be, in origin, a variant of Amabel, which stems from the Latin for “beloved,” and of course it can be connected to our girl St. Anne. Belle/Bella means “beautiful” in French/Italian, so Annabelle and Annabella can be all kinds of meaningful, and so feminine!

(2) Juliette
The Julia names actually did quite well for this family in my research—Juliet is a match for Felicity, Madeleine, Camille, and Hope; Julia for Lydia; and Juliana for Gabriella. But Julia and Julianna are on their can’t-use list, and I thought the French Juliette was more their style anyway, as the extra “te” adds such a feminine frill. Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee considered Juliette in honor of Servant of God Julia Greeley, and there are loads of other holy Julias and a Ven. Juliette who can serve as patron.

(3) Dahlia
Sharon mentioned to me a while ago that her older girls would love for this baby to have a D name, to go along with the alpha-sister set Evangeline, Felicity, and Gemma, but Dorothy, Deborah, Diane, and Damaris either couldn’t be used or didn’t feel quite right. I thought of that immediately when I saw Dahlia listed as a style match for both Gemma and Felicity! Wow! It’s a flower name, and according to this, dahlias signify “elegance and dignity,” which is so lovely. I’ve seen DAH-lia, DAL-ia, and DAY-lia given as pronunciations (apparently the latter is that used in the UK), all of which have their merits, but I’m loving the first pronunciation because I think Dolly is the cutest nickname! How perfect for a baby sister!

(4) Helena
An H name would work in the alpha set as well, and I chuckled when I saw Sharon start her IG post with “Oh Nelly!” since Nell(y) can be a nickname for Helen(a)! Nella can also be used, which of course calls to mind the Bella they’re already considering.

(5) Calla (given or nickname)
Speaking of flower names, and inspired as much by Bella and Dahlia (and Nella) as by the fact that it’s a style match for Mercy, Calla is one of the loveliest flower names. It’s the name of the Calla lily, and it’s also related to the Greek word for “beauty.” I do love it on its own as a given name, but I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Caroline—Sharon and Zeb already have Charlotte on their list, which is a feminine variant of Charles as is Caroline (which is on their can’t-use list), so maybe they’d like to consider Calla as a nickname for Charlotte?

(6) Verity
My last idea is Verity, which means “truth.” It’s a virtue-esque name like Felicity, Joy, Mercy, and Hope, but I think it’s more unexpected. I love the character of Verity on Poldark, and I love how full of faith significance it is.

I also originally considered suggesting Avila, Junia, and Juniper, but place names are out (so no Avila), and I wasn’t sure enough about the biblical Junia (I thought Juliette was a closer fit) or the plant-y Juniper (Dahlia and Calla seemed better). But I wanted to put them here just in case.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Sharon and Zeb’s little lady?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

Baby name consultation: “Light,” “mercy” good meanings for baby no. 5, plus some other rules

Happy New Year!! I hope you all saw my Year In Review post yesterday — so many thanks to all of you for a wonderful 2017!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — a little green bean! This little one joins big sibs:

Caleb Michael
David Joseph
Isaac Matthew
Lucilia Faustina

I really love these names! Old Testament names are some of my favorites, and brothers Caleb, David, and Isaac are just so pleasing! As for Lucilia — how pretty! How unusual! So unusual, in fact, that I’ve never heard it before!

Erin writes,

Names we have considered for this baby:
Eloise or Eloisa Josephine, Magdalene/Magdalena– We like Eloise right now but I’m starting to have second thoughts. Not really sure why. Maybe not girly enough? My husband likes Josephine because he wants to honor his sisters Jean and Steph and he thinks this name works. And I’m not opposed to it.

Jude, Francis, Blaise (Probably leaning towards Francis for middle name). We love the name Jude. However, I don’t like its only one syllable. I would prefer 2 or more for a first name. We both like Blaise but it feels a little too unique for us.

Names on our no list:
Margaret, James, Theresa, Rosemary, no direct family names (Francis is ok), Sara, Jenna, Alicia, Alana, Louisa (we think its too close to Lucy), Heather, Paula, Dianna

People to honor:
Girls maybe a something honoring both Ellen and Evelyn without using either name or Jean and Steph again without using their actual name. I also am growing closer to St. Therese but my husband works with many Terry’s so he says that is out as a possibility.

Any saints or biblical characters. I am particularly connected with Light in particular. I love to say let your light shine or be the light as it means a lot to me. Which is why we decided on Lucilia (Loo-seal-ya). We didn’t like Lucille because it seemed too old and not feminine enough. Also strong devotion to Divine Mercy.

Requirements: Prefer 2 or more syllables (more than 4 letters). Girl I want something very feminine. Either ending in -a, -lyn- ette preferred. I think.
Saint or bible related. We like vintage names. Unique but not too bold. We like Ignatius and Blaise but we are afraid they are too bold. Oh and pronounciation can’t be too difficult. My husband wants Blaise to be pronounced Blay-ce not Blaze. Oh and nicknames. We are big on nicknames. We have Ca, D, Ike/Ikie, and Lu or Lulu. So preferrably names that we can shorten the beginning of to have a nickname. (This is our issue with Magdalene because although tons of nickname possibilities we’d probably end up nicknaming Mags and I don’t like Maggie/Mag etc) We are leaning towards Josephine for girl middle name and Francis for a boy.

Family names:
Evelyn Gerada
David Lee
James
Jerry/Gerald
Scott Michael
Andy Thomas
Chad Garette
Valerie Nicole
MaryAnn Elizabeth
Lyle Francis
Pam
Jennifer
Steve
Ellen Jean
Michael Ralph
Jean Elizabeth
Stephanie Ann
Nataniel/Nat
Noah
Jenny
Grayson
Olivia
Owen
Zach
Tyler
Dennis
Molly
Brian
Amy
Ava
Maxwell
Adam
Lauren

I had fun working on this! Eloise, Eloisa, Magdalene, and Magdalena are all lovely. I’m also really interested in Josephine to honor Jean and Steph! That’s pretty clever! Because they used Joseph for David’s middle name, I thought I’d give some thought to some other possibilities to honor Jean and Steph (I assume Steph is Stephanie?), and came up with Jeanie (the “anie” from Stephanie), Phoebe (a stretch, visually, but I thought it could be for the “ph” in Steph plus the long E sound in Jean plus and ending all her own, resulting in a biblical name), and Fiona (similar to Phoebe with the “ph” sound from Steph and the long E sound from Jean; Fiona was a style match for Jude, which is what put it on my radar. But it’s not a saint’s name as far as I know). But I love Josephine too.

Ooh wait a minute, maybe Photine/Photini could be perfect! It’s the name traditionally given to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7), it means “light” (!!), and the “Ph” could be for Steph and the “ine/ini” (which I believe is said “eenie” in Greek) could be for Jean because of the long E? I know it’s unusual, but in the middle name spot anything goes!

Jude, Francis, and Blaise are great names for boys too! Regarding Jude being only one syllable, I had two ideas. One is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for Julian, so that’s a possibility; the other is to use Judah, which is a great style match for Caleb, David, and Isaac. Or, I wonder what they would think of switching Jude to a girl and using it as a nickname for Judith?

Also, I know Erin said she prefers names with more than four letters, but since Blaise is only one syllable, I wonder what they’d think of Boaz? Blaise and Boaz are kind of similar in that they start with B and end with the Z sound (I do think Erin’s husband’s preference for “blayce” is an uphill battle, and I love the “blaze” pronunciation for them anyway because of the light connection!), and Boaz is Old Testament like their other boys. It was high on my list of suggestions for Erin and her hubs until I remembered they don’t want four-letter names! Also, Lucilia was given to only 11 girls in 2016, while Blaise was given to 236 boys and it was in the top 1000 (no. 903), so it’s definitely not too unique for them! AND — I was just researching St. Therese a little, specifically because Erin said she’s growing closer to her, and I discovered that she was born on Rue Saint-Blaise! Wow! That could be a really neat way to nod to St. Therese with a boy’s name!

I also really tried to think of a good way to honor Ellen and Evelyn — I kept feeling like the perfect answer was within reach, I just hadn’t found it yet, but I never did end up feeling like I’d found it. For what it’s worth, the ones I scribbled down were Evangeline, Elena, and Avila.

As for St. Therese, I was immediately like, “Tess is the perfect answer!” and then I remembered again the four letter thing. But a few thoughts here: One is, it’s strange to me that Terry would turn Erin’s husband off of Therese — these days, I’d be shocked if anyone defaulted to Terry upon meeting a Therese. Terry’s definitely a nickname of the past, and I don’t believe it’s ready for revival just yet — I think it still feels pretty dated to most of today’s parents. Today’s Therese/Teresa nickname is Tess, which would be so great for this family! Secondly, if Erin’s husband just won’t go for Therese but they like the Tess idea, maybe they could do something like Marie-Tess? Marie is actually Erin’s middle name, so it would be a really nice nod to her, and also — St. Therese was Marie-Therese! Thirdly, what about Tessa as a given name? It’s such a sweet name, it’s more than one syllable and more than four letters; this post gives a lot more great info.

Regarding nicknames for Magdalene/a, I do get it that if they prefer to just use the beginning sound of a name as a nickname and they don’t like Mags/Maggie, then Magdalene/a would be difficult for them. But there are other nicknames they could consider, like Mae, Maddie, Magda, or Lena (though that’s using the end of the name, which I’m guessing they don’t want to do). Or maybe Meg? Maybe it’s different enough from Mag that Erin and her hubs would be okay with it? If Margaret can be Meg, than I think Magdalene could too.

Okay! On to my suggestions! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard 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 up Caleb, David, Isaac, Lucia and Lucy as stand-ins for Lucilia (I thought the matches for Lucy and Lucia seemed closer to what I perceive their style to be than the matches for Lucille), Eloise, Jude, Francis, and Blaise, and since Magdalene/a doesn’t have its own entry, I looked it up in the Name Matchmaker. Based on the results of all that, and my own ideas, these are my ideas:

Girl
(1) Clara, Claret (Clarette? Clairvaux?)
When I read Erin’s email and saw that she has a connection with light, I immediately thought of the Clare family of names. Clare comes from the Latin for “clear, bright,” which, while not exactly “light,” is close enough! In fact, this mama named her daughter Claire (the French spelling) because of its connection to light. Because Erin doesn’t care for one-syllable names, I thought Clara was an easy fix. If they wanted to be a bit more unusual, I also thought of Claret, as in St. Anthony Mary Claret, which made me think of Clarette, which I think I like even better for this family. It has the -ette ending Erin said she might like. Or Clairvaux! We see it a bit here on the blog (Lindsay’s girl and Amy’s girl), and I wasn’t sure if it had the “light, bright” meaning, but the Wiki entry for Clairvaux Abbey in France said its Latin name is Clara Vallis, which translates as “clear valley,” so I do think the Clair part is synonymous with the Clare family of names. Clare and Clair(e) are easy nicknames for Claret(te) and Clairvaux, like their other kids’ nicknames.

(2) Clementine
I had scribbled Clementine down for Erin before I did any research, because of her love of Divine Mercy. “Clement” means “merciful,” and Clementine is a style match for both Eloise and Magdalene! Clem and Clemmie are cute nicknames too.

(3) Mercy, Mercedes
These were also inspired by Erin’s devotion to the Divine Mercy. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I saw both of these names considered by families, and I think they could both be beautiful for this family! And in fact, Mercedes is a style match for Magdalena.

(4) Faith
Mercy made me think of other virtue-type names, especially those with a Puritan-type feel, as I think the Old Testament names of their boys fit in well with that style and I could see Lucilia doing so as well. Faith is actually a style match for Caleb, so I thought it needed a spot on this list! (And this just made me think of an addition to the Clara entry above: Clarity!)

(5) Estelle, Estella
Estelle is a match for Magdalene and Estella for one of Eloise’s matches, and since it means “star,” I thought it was a nice tie-in to Erin’s love of light-meaning names. It can also be Marian, for Our Lady Star of the Sea!

Boy
(1) Gabriel
Erin’s due in March, so I love the idea of Gabriel for this baby because the feast of the Annunciation is March 25! Gabriel’s also a style match for Caleb and Isaac, and he’s mentioned in both the Old Testament (Daniel 8:16) and the New (Luke), so it would be a good pick if they didn’t want to feel locked in to Old Testament boy names going forward.

(2) John Paul (John-Paul, JohnPaul, Johnpaul)
John Paul is inspired mostly by Erin’s devotion to Divine Mercy — I went to a Catholic Women’s conference in October, and Fr. Gaitley was the keynote speaker (the 33 Days to Morning Glory guy), and he spoke all about how amazing Poland is in salvation history, and of course St. John Paul the Great is one of the reasons. He spoke about how, when JP2 was cardinal, he worked on getting a better translation of St. Faustina’s Diary (because the previous one was full of translational errors that caused it to be temporarily banned by the Vatican). Then of course he canonized St. Faustina, and instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, even dying the evening before it, after the Vigil Mass was celebrated. He is a huge Divine Mercy guy! And the fact that his papal name involves two biblical boy names, and that each one on its own would break Erin’s rules but together they’re okay, is pretty amazing.

(3) Jonas, Jonah
Jonas is simply the Greek form of Jonah, and it was listed as a style match for both Caleb and Lucia (standing in for Lucilia), so I definitely had to include it! I like what the BNW has to say about it: “Jonah is the form of this name that you’ll hear most often today, but the Greek Jonas has historically been the preferred English version. That gives Jonas a double punch: it’s less common and has a throwback pioneer style.” Although, I think Jonah Francis sounds better than Jonas Francis.

(4) Tobias, Tobiah, Tobit
Like Caleb and Isaac, Tobias has a heavy Old Testament feel (David has been so historically popular that I feel like it doesn’t come across as super biblical to many people), and like Jonas/Jonah, Tobias is the Greek form of Tobiah. I love that Tobias/Tobiah is a character in the Book of Tobit, which was removed from Protestant bibles after the Reformation, so it’s a rare bird: heavy-duty Old Testament as well as (within Christian circles) sort of specifically Catholic. I also like the name Tobit itself. Tobiah Francis and Tobit Francis both flow well.

(5) Abram, Abel
This last idea is mostly inspired by the nickname Abe, which I think is one of the best. I considered suggesting Abraham, but I like the shorter Abram better with Caleb, David, and Isaac — especially with Isaac. Or maybe Abram is even too much as a brother to Isaac? If so, I wonder what they would think of Abel? But it’s four letters! Gah! Maybe Abram *is* the better option?

And those are all my ideas for Erin and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia?

Baby name consultation: Little brother needs a familiar+unexpected saintly name with an international feel

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

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

Sonja Rose Marie
Zoie Ann
Viola Grace

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

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

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

Nikki continues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby name consultation: Fike Baby no. 8!

I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!

Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)

Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)

John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)

Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)

Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)

Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)

Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)

Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.

Blythe writes,

I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)

Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.

Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”

I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.

When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:

  • A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
  • A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
  • An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.

Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.

Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:

(1) Tiber
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.

One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)

(2) Blaise
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.

(3) Nic-
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.

(4) Zac-
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.

(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).

(6) Cashel
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).

(7) Bram
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)

(8) Remy
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.

(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.

(10) Magnus
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.

(11) Tristan
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).

(12) Tobit
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!

(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.

(14) Pace
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace!  There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!

Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.

And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?

Baby name consultation: Less popular first name + virtue middle for baby boy

Sam and her husband are expecting their third baby, their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Raleigh Justice (girl)
Dominic Valor (boy)

Aren’t the virtue middle names so cool? Sam and her hubs want to continue that for this baby too. She writes,

We’re stuck. I never thought it would happen. I think that it’s because we both just KNEW we were having a girl, so girls names were easy. We’re having a boy though, so we need a name for him. I’m stuck on Becket, but my husband isn’t into it … I have been wanting something with a Marian type devotion but [my hubs] doesn’t have the same devotion or leanings. I’d like saintly names, but again, he doesn’t care. I like older, less common names. Nothing difficult or anything … I think we often love Irish names, even though we have no Irish connections as far as I know … We are thinking of the virtue middle of Prosper, because it’s a family name on [hubby’s] side. We’re open to other virtue middles, but I think we’re kind of really liking it. *I* would love to make it more of a family name because this little one is due about the same time [my hubby’s dad] passed away last year. His dad’s name was Lambert Richard, though [my hubs] doesn’t want to use either of those. Just figured I’d mention it.”

Names they’ve discussed include:

Elliott
Becket (“best name ever to me“)
Galen
Logan
Ransom
Blythe
Conor (“we actually both like this one“)
Tyler
Tristan

And her Mister doesn’t like “sing songy or rhyme-y” names, nor John/James-type names, and Sam doesn’t care for Logan.

As I was reading Sam’s email, my very first idea before I got to the end was Ransom — and there it was on their list! So I hoped that was a good indication that I might be able to come up with some ideas they might like.

Okay, so first, I wanted to point out some things about the names they’ve used and like that helped me with coming up with ideas for them:

— Elliott and Becket both have that T ending, and Tyler and Tristan are T heavy
— Dominic, Beckett, and Conor all have a hard C
— Raleigh, Elliott, Becket, Logan, Blythe, Conor, and Tyler all have usage as surnames
— Logan and Blythe have decent use for girls as well (in fact, I only know Blythe for girls as a first name, though Gilbert Blythe is also a strong association) (Logan is still predominantly a boy’s name, at no. 18, but still top 500 for girls at no. 384)

I really latched onto the first three points (names with prominent T’s and C’s, and surnames) when coming up with ideas. I also took into account how they like Irish names and names that aren’t too popular.

Regarding popularity, I thought it would be good to rank their ideas by popularity, just to see where they all fall (these are the most recent stats—2016):

Logan: 18
Dominic: 72
Tyler: 91 (pretty steep decline from no. 10 in 2000; also no. 877 for girls)
Tristan: 108
Elliott: 192 (Elliot is 180)
Conor: 323 (but Connor is 54)
Becket: Not in the top 1000 (but Beckett is 213)
Galen: Not in top 1000
Ransom: Not in top 1000
Blythe: Not in top 1000 for boys or girls
Raleigh: Not in top 1000

They clearly like the rare names! I’m going to guess the 100–300 range is a comfortable one for them though.

Regarding Sam’s FIL’s name — I know she said her husband didn’t want to use either Lambert or Richard, but since Sam included them in her email I thought she might like some ideas of how to honor him by name, so I looked them both up just in case some variant seemed like it could work, and I found two that I kind of like for them:

Rico: I know this could be too Rico, Suave or mob-like/criminal, but otherwise it’s such a cool variant of Richard.

Baer: This was listed on Behind the Name as a short variant of Lambert, stemming from the “bert” part, which derives from the Germanic “beraht” (meaning “bright”) and becomes “bert” in some names and “baer” in others. It’s pronounced like “Bear” (the animal), and I have a fondness for animal names like Bear and Wolf for boys — they seem so rugged and masculine. The Baer spelling is really cool and a subtle but explicit nod to Sam’s FIL. (Read more about Baer here.)

For other ideas, you all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — it often gives me good direction. I also had some ideas of my own. Based on all that, I wondered what they would think of:

(1) Santino
I’m starting with one of my most out-there ideas! It was the first idea that came to me, and it was based on the softness of Raleigh and the masculinity of Dominic … I was trying to think of any names that I might consider both soft and muscular, and Santino came right to mind. It’s Italian for “little saint,” which is a sweet and faith-y meaning, but most guys (maybe most people in general?) will remember it as Sonny’s given name in The Godfather, which is where it gets its manly oomph from. Because of the movie association, I don’t think I would ever think of this name as possible for a little guy, except that one of my boys went to school with a Sonny, which I fell in love with as a name for a boy after seeing how adorable he was, and all year I was under the impression his given name was Sonny itself, and then when I saw his name on the school roster at the end of the year and saw it was actually Santino I just about died with happiness. Haha! (I totally get it if this is too much though 😉)

(2) Campion
In addition to the characteristics of the names Sam and her hubs like that I listed above, I also noticed that she said she’d love a Marian component — you all know I LOVE when parents want to use Marian names for boys! That definitely needs to happen more often! So based on their liking of names with a hard C, and surnames, I thought of Campion — it’s probably best known as the last name of St. Edmund Campion (and as a surname it actually means “champion”), which is an amazing connection in and of itself, but it also has a Marian connection: The rose campion flower was known in medieval times as Our Lady’s Rose! I love the nickname Cam for a boy.

(3) Roman
One of the things I love to do when I look up names in the BNW is see if there are any names listed as similar to more than one of the names on the parents’ list — I feel like it gives a really good sense of names that are likely to be on point, if they’re listed in more than one name’s list of similar boy/girl names. Roman is one such — it’s a style match for both Dominic and Elliott! I love that it’s connected to a place, which makes it go well with Raleigh in my opinion, and it’s got a heavy faith-y feel, like Dominic.

(4) Garrett
Noticing the end of Elliott and Becket (which can also be spelled Beckett), and also Galen and their affinity for Irish names and surnames, I wonder what they’d think of Garrett? It’s ranked at no. 308, which is such a sweet spot for names. It’s from a surname that derived from either Gerard or Gerald, and St. Gerard Majella is patron of pregnant mamas and childbirth, such a great patron. And I’ve heard of it used in honor of St. Margaret, which is so cool (and can also be for St. Rita, since Rita is a diminutive of Margaret, and in fact St. Rita’s given name was Margherita).

(5) Dermot or Declan
Again with the Irish names, and the T and C sounds that they seem to like, I wonder if they’ve considered either Dermot or Declan? Declan’s at no. 109, and Dermot’s not the in top 1000, so both seem to fall in their comfort zone popularity-wise.

(6) Kolbe
Kolbe feels similar to Raleigh to me — a softer surname — but it’s also for the amazing St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is one of the best patrons for a boy AND he had such a devotion to Our Lady that I think it could be considered Marian as well! Kole is a great nickname in my opinion, and Kolbe’s not in the top 1000 (the same-sounding Colby is at no. 530).

(7) Case or Casey or Cashel
Bl. Solanus Casey is an amazing guy — his beatification was just recently announced, and I believe he’s the first Irish-American blessed — and I know of a little boy named Case in his honor, which is really cool. The full Casey is an even closer option, and has that unisex usage that some of the names on their list have, and of course it’s also a surname. And both Case and Casey make me think of the place name Cashel — the Rock of Cashel in Ireland is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster, and it allows for the awesome nickname Cash.

(8) Kyler or Cuyler
Kyler/Cuyler (pronounced the same) were inspired by Tyler on their boy list and the fact that Sam told me they considered Skye and Skylar for a girl. Cuyler is a Dutch surname that Ancestry.com says is likely a variant of Nicholas, which is pretty cool, and Kyler gives it a more Celtic feel a la Kyle, which is from a Scottish surname.

(9) Tycho
My last idea is, like Santino, kind of a crazy out-there idea, but it has both the T and C sounds Sam and her hubs seem to like (pronounced TY-ko), and it’s a saint’s name too! I think it’s most known as the name of scientist Tycho Brahe, and it has the same sound as the Tyco Toy company, which always makes me think of toy trucks, which is a fun association for a little boy.

Finally, I wanted to offer some virtue name ideas in case Sam and her hubs decide not to use Prosper. This list at Nameberry and this one at Appellation Mountain inspired me to suggest:

— Brave/Bravery (a la actor Benjamin Bratt’s son Mateo Bravery)
— Clement (which is also Marian!)
— Loyal
— Merritt
— Noble
— Revere
— Sterling

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Raleigh and Dominic’s little brother? Any first name + middle (virtue) name combos jump out at you?

Spotlight on: Felicity

Felicity’s one of those names that I love seeing considered. Though it’s more familiar to us here in this community than not, it’s actually fairly unusual — take a look at its popularity chart:

felicity
From SSA.gov

Isn’t that so interesting? From 1900 to 1997, it wasn’t in the top 1000 at all. Doesn’t that surprise you? Then on September 29, 1998 the show Felicity aired, which accounts for the name’s appearance at no. 818 in 1998 and the HUGE leap it made the next year! It stayed between 400 and 800 ever since, being currently at the most popular it’s ever been, at no. 360. Part of the reason for the recent increase in popularity might also be due to actresses Felicity Jones and Felicity Huffman (who’s one of eight! Six girls besides her: Mariah, Betsy, Grace, Isabel, Jessie, Jane, and one brother: Moore, Jr.) and also the Revolutionary War-era American Girl doll by the same name. But even still, no. 360 is really not that popular at all, especially given what we know about name popularity today (here, here). All in all, I think it’s sort of in a sweet spot of popularity — uncommon yet familiar.

And of course, its saintliness! St. Felicity’s story is one of the very best — as New Advent puts it (using the variant Felicitas):

Felicitas, who at the time of her incarceration was with child (in the eighth month), was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women. Happily, two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On 7 March, the five confessors were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the pagan mob they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set at the men, and a wild cow at the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword.”

Felicity was the maidservant of St. Perpetua, also a mother of an infant who was martyred at the same time — they share a feast day: March 7. That Felicity is St. Felicity of Carthage, but there are others too, like St. Felicity of Rome who was mother to seven sons and was forced to watch them all killed in front of her in order to get her to renounce her faith (it didn’t work); she was then martyred.

Felicity’s also a virtue-type name — it means “happiness” — which puts it in league with names like Grace, Faith, Hope, Sophia, and Verity. It’s got so much going for it in its full form, but I feel like a big part of the conversation around the name Felicity involves nicknames — specifically, I know parents who decide not to go with Felicity because they can’t figure out a nickname they like. Some traditional ones are Fliss(y), Liss(y), Lissa, Fil, Flick, and Flicka (Felicity Huffman has a web site for women in general and moms in particular called What the Flicka), but what else can we get out of it?

Ages ago one of you (eclare) suggested Lily as a nickname for Felicity, which I thought was brilliant. Another of you (Margaret) has a daughter named Felicity who gets called Fin — a nickname from one of her middle names, but I totally think it could work for something like Felicity Nora. Zita is a Hungarian diminutive of the name, and Zyta a Polish short form — I really like both those options. The comments for the entry on behindthename include Fee and Felly as nicknames, which are cute. Cissy could probably work, as could Liddy, which I love. What other ideas do you have?

What do you think of the name Felicity? Would you name a daughter Felicity, or have you? Does she go by a nickname? Do you know any little Felicitys?