Baby name consultation: Stuck between two names for little sister

Happy Monday! Did you guys all see the good news over the weekend that Bl. Margaret of Castello has been declared a Saint?! I think this is such great news!!

Erin and her husband are expecting their second baby any day — their first girl! This little one joins big brother:

Calvin Frederick (“Both are family names and I liked that Frederick was also a saint name“)

Such a handsome name!!

Regarding Baby Girl, Erin writes,

We’ve narrowed it down to 2 first names, Lucy or Josephine (Josie). I’d like to have a front runner name heading to the hospital and middle names picked out for each. Lucy is a family name on both side and my confirmation name. It was my front runner for a long time, but we worry about it getting popular and also sounding slightly childish. Josephine is a name we both really like but doesn’t have a family tie. I also don’t love that we would rarely call her by her formal name. Overall though, I love both names and would be happy with either. Below are the middle names we are considering. I’d like to honor my mom’s side because we haven’t used anything from her side yet, but are struggling to find one we love.

  • Marie, Ann (“both lovely but I feel like I everyone has these middle names. Marie is tied to the most people we’d like to honor. Ann is my mom’s middle name. We’ve also considered Lucy Annmarie to use both these middle names with a twist“)
  • Renee (“my middle name and my godmother’s name, probably the current front runner“)
  • Margaret (“I like with Lucy but not as strong of family ties“)
  • Mae (“is an important family name on the other side that I really like with Josephine“)

Other family names: Theresa, Helen, Leah, Betty (not short for Elizabeth)

[Also] … we’ve avoided names that end in A since we have 3 A sounds in it.”

SO FUN to think about girl names after already naming a boy!! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names Erin and her hubby are considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Lucy: Oh man, Lucy totally has my heart here. The fact that it’s a family name on both sides AND Erin’s Confirmation name AND their longtime frontrunner is amazing! About it “getting popular” and “sounding slightly childish,” I actually think the former helps with any feelings of the latter! By which I mean, the fact that Lucy is on an upward swing popularity-wise (no. 48 in 2019, up from 306 in 2000 and 75 in 2010) means that when their little Lucy is grown up, there will be a fair amount of Lucys her age, so by the time she’s a woman, everyone will feel like it’s a woman’s name. The women of today were born in a time when Lucy wasn’t popular at all (it was no. 207 in 1950 and 203 in 2004 and between that time dipped to a low of 500 in 1973 before heading up again, but still remaining fairly uncommon), so to us it either feels like a grandmother/great-grandmother name or a baby/little girl’s name, but that won’t last long. It’s actually nice to use it now, when the name will kind of grow with your baby. That said, they could consider using a longer Lucy variant as the given name and then use Lucy as the nickname — Lucille and Lucienne are two that don’t end in A, and Lucienne makes me think of something like Lucianne or Lucy-Ann to incorporate Erin’s mom’s middle name into the baby’s first name.
  • Josephine: If it wasn’t for how amazing Lucy is for them (in my humble opinion haha!), I would be all over Josephine! It’s the Year of St. Joseph, so it’s the perfect time to use a Joseph name for a baby! Also, I do understand what Erin means about not loving that they “would rarely call her by her formal name,” but I’ve heard from many families who named their babies with the intention of using a particular nickname only to find that when the baby arrives, they love using the full name more than they realized. Bestowing a formal name, even if a nickname is used exclusively, can give the baby options for different areas and times of his/her life. If it weren’t for the fact that Erin and hubby “both really like” Josephine (so I could see it being the frontrunner for a future daughter), and also that they want to honor Erin’s mom/her mom’s side of the family, I would definitely think Lucy Josephine is the winning combo.
  • Marie, Ann: I know what Erin means about feeling like these are everyone’s favorite middle names, as lovely and saintly as they are. If honoring her mom is Erin’s favorite idea, maybe she could consider her mom’s maiden name? I find maiden names to be such charming names for little ones (depending on the surname of course), in either the first or middle spot and for both boys and girls. Or maybe another surname or given name from her side? I also love Erin’s idea of Lucy Annmarie.
  • Renee: While I love that Renee is Erin’s middle name and her godmother’s middle name, this isn’t my favorite idea for this baby’s middle name IF they use Lucy (or a variant) for the first name, as Lucy will already be a nice nod to Erin, so they can use the middle spot for her mom or someone else they’d like to honor. But if they don’t use Lucy, I do love Renee, since I’m a big fan of working Mom’s name into one of her kids’ names somehow, and I also love that their baby will be born during Easter (meaning Eastertide: the period from Easter to Pentecost) and Renee means “reborn.” Josephine Renee would be very meaningful, for example: a name for the year in which their baby’s born (the Year of St. Joseph), and a name for the season in which she’s born (Easter), that also honors Erin. Also, Erin said that she likes Mae as a middle name for Josephine, so I like that Renee rhymes with Mae — Josephine Renee and Josephine Mae have a similar sound, so I think Erin would like Josephine Renee.
  • Margaret: Lucy Margaret is a really beautiful combo, and I feel like the seriousness of Margaret is nice with the lightness of Lucy. Since Lucy is a family name, maybe they don’t want to worry so much about having a family name in the middle as well?
  • Mae: Mae is a form of Mary, as is Marie, so in theory any Mary name could honor all the Maries and Maes Erin knows. I know this kind of idea doesn’t always work neatly in real life, though — would a Marie feel honored by Mae and vice versa? Would Marie and Mae feel honored by Mary or Molly? The answers to these questions vary from person to person and family to family — depending on the personalities in your family, these ideas might be helpful. Otherwise, for this family Josephine Mae is a great combo that feels perfect for me for their *second* daughter (I’m still rooting for Lucy for this baby!). In fact, I think Lucy Annmarie and Josephine Mae are my favorite combos of the names Erin mentioned, and they sound amazing as sister names, and I love that both name combos have a form of Mary in them, which is a very traditional Catholic naming practice.

But who cares what my favorites are! Haha! And even though Lucy Annmarie and Josephine Mae would be my favorites for girls 1 and 2, I am still hung up on the perfection of a Josephine in the Year of St. Joseph. It’s so hard when you have so many great names to choose from and combine together!

I hate to muddy the waters or make Erin’s decision any more difficult, but a Mini Consultation gets them three name ideas, so at the very least they can tuck them away for potential future use. 😊 You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names that the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) 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 using Calvin, Lucy, Josephine, and Josie as inspiration, with the following results:

(1) Alice

I love that Alice is a style match for both Calvin and Lucy! It’s such a sweet name, and I love the combos Alice Ann, Alice Annmarie, and Alice Renee. I also like Alice-Ann as a double first name! Something like Alice-Ann Renee would be meaningful from a family names perspective, if they decided not to use Ann and Renee for this baby (or if they decide not to use either Lucy or Josephine for this baby).

(2) Eleanor, Helena

Eleanor’s a match for Josephine and Ella for Lucy, but I love Ellie as a nickname for their daughter even more — sisters Lucy, Josie, and Ellie are darling! And I love Lucy, Josephine, and Eleanor, as well as Lucille/Lucy-Ann, Josephine, and Eleanor. Or Nora — I love the nickname Nora for Eleanor too. Oh, and Nell! Nell also works as a nickname for the Helen names, and Helena’s a match for Josephine — maybe they’d like to consider Helena nn Nell as a nod to the Helen in their family for a future girl?

(3) Molly, Ruby, Sadie

I’m grouping these together because they have a similar rhythm and feel, and they’re all matches for Lucy and Josie. I mentioned above that Molly is a variant of Mary — it actually started as a nickname for Mary, so something like Mary Theresa or Mary Margaret or Mary MaidenName nn Molly could totally work. It also has occasional usage as a nickname for Margaret — Margaret Mae nn Molly would be cute!

I’ve loved Ruby for years, but I often think it sounds best as a nickname rather than a given name. I actually did a post on it here, including some names that it can be a nickname for, in case that’s helpful for Erin going forward. Considering the family names she mentioned, I like the idea of something like Rosemarie Betty nn Ruby, for example.

And Sadie started as a nickname for Sarah, and can still be used that way (like Mary/Molly), but like Molly has taken on a life of its own as a given name as well. I’ve also seen it used as a nickname for Mercedes, which gives it a nice Marian spin (for Our Lady of Mercies). Sarah Margaret nn Sadie is quite a nice combo, though no family connection … I like rearranging classic names in unexpected ways, so something like Ann-Sarah as a double first name with Sadie as a nickname would be the kind of thing I’d like to consider if I liked the name Sadie and had Ann as a family name to work in (though that ends in A …).

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


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

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for Baby no. 4’s name!

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their fourth girl! Baby Sister joins:

Emma Grace

Kennedy Faith

Lillian Hope

Which I would love anyway — I love the femininity of Emma and Lillian and the spunkiness of Kennedy, and I love that their middle names tie them together so nicely — but then Ashley pointed out that they all have a double letter in the middle, which I hadn’t seen before she said it — how cool! And not only would she ideally like to continue that, but she’s got some other preferences as well — I LOVE a good name challenge! The more rules the merrier!

Ashley writes,

We know the middle name will be Joy. For the first name, I’m a little weird where right now our names go in alphabetical order (E, K, L) so the name would need to be after L. We also want to continue the tradition of having two letters in the middle of the name preferably, but if need be, it could be at the end of the name. I’m also not opposed to starting at the beginning of the alphabet, but would love for it to be from M to Z

Names we cannot do:

  • Noelle
  • Zellie (even though I like it, I don’t want it to rhyme with Jelly)

Names we have thought of, but don’t really like:

  • Molly
  • Nellie 
  • Maree
  • Savannah 
  • Poppy

A name we like:

  • Rosalee (although in this case, I would rather it be Rosalie)

Especially in the year of St. Joseph, my husband would love a name that is in honor of him, but all I could think of was Josaphina or Lilly (which couldn’t do that).”

I’m glad Ashley included the names they can’t use or don’t care for — I likely would have suggested a bunch of them! Before I get to my new suggestions for her little girl, I wanted to comment on a couple things she mentioned, in case they’re helpful:

  • Rosalee: I tried to think of different ways this could work in a way Ashley and her hubs might like better, and the only names I could think of were the similar Rosaleen and Rosheen.
  • Names for St. Joseph: I also really wanted to think of a St. Joseph name for them!! None of the Josephine names have a double letter that I could find except for Josée, which is said like jo-SAY (or zho-ZAY, to be more authentically French) and isn’t in the second half of the alphabet. But then there’s the Italian variants Giuseppa and Giuseppina, which made me think maybe Seppa? As a short form of Giuseppa? I know Seppel is a German diminutive of Joseph, so even though I’ve never seen Seppa used in this way (Seppä is an unrelated Finnish surname that means “smith”), I think an argument could be made for it. If Ashley and her hubby like it, that would be awesome because it would check all their boxes! Seppa Joy could be pretty cool for a little girl born during the Year of St. Joseph!
  • Another way to honor St. Joseph: I looked up Saints who had a special devotion to St. Joseph, in case there was anything there, and found that St. Teresa of Avila took him for a particular patron — Tessa is a diminutive of Teresa that fits with their rules! AND her feast day is October 15, which is close to Ashley’s due date! Wow! Ven. Margaret of the Most Holy Sacrament is another who is known to have had a special devotion to St. Joseph — Mette (pronounced like Meta) is a Danish and Norwegian diminutive of Margaret … Maggie and Peggy are nicknames for Margaret too, but neither seems this family’s style to me … Maybe Reeta, which is a Finnish diminutive?
  • Alternative to Poppy: I know they have Poppy on their list of names they don’t really like — I wonder if that extends to the similar-but-different Pippa? I love Pippa! It can certainly be used on its own, but if they want something longer, it arose as a diminutive of Philippa (like Kate Middleton’s sister), which also fits their rules.

Okay, so Seppa, Tessa, and Pippa are my favorites for this family of the names I mentioned above, but of course I can always come up with more ideas! Haha! It was SO FUN to try to find more names with double letters in the middle — I used the NameFinder tool on babynamewizard.com and just went through the alphabet (bb, cc, etc.) and made a list of those names that I thought had promise. I looked them up on CatholicSaints.info to see if there were any saintly connections, and I also did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard book (affiliate link), looking up Emma, Kennedy, Lillian, and Rosalie to see if any of their style matches sparked anything. I will say that I was heavily skewed toward Kennedy’s style, since Emma, Lillian, and Rosalie are all of the same basic universe and I thought it would be nice to loop Kennedy in more, so I paid attention to the names that are “surname-y names,” which in my mind includes place names. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for Ashley’s baby girl:

(1) Merryn, Perrin

There are actually two Saints known as Merryn! Both male, but I think Merryn totally works for a girl. Merryn Joy is pretty!

The rhyming Perrin is a diminutive of Peter, and one of my readers named her daughter Perrin! If I were to get nitpicky, I guess my ideal preference would be to have a name that sounds different from Ashley’s other girls — I like that Emma, Kennedy, and Lillian have their own initials, own endings, and own double letters — and Merryn and Perrin have the same ending sound as Lillian. But otherwise, I think they’re both great choices.

(2) Quinn

I’ve had a couple readers who have included Quinn in their daughters’ names in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. It’s a great match for Kennedy because it’s an Irish surname that has unisex first name usage!

(3) Reilly

Reilly is another Irish surname with unisex first name usage, like Kennedy, and there’s an Irish Dominican martyr named James O’Reilly that could be patron. One of my readers has a daughter named Reilly (her sister was almost Quinn!).

(4) Salette

I think this is my favorite of my suggestions here. It’s in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and I never would have thought of it but that one of my readers had it on her list of names she was considering. I like that it’s from a place name, so I’d include it in the “surname-y style,” like Kennedy, and of course I always love a good Marian name.

(5) Sienna

St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernardine of Siena inspired this idea — I’ve seen many people spell it Sienna (even those who know it’s spelled Siena), which would fit perfectly with Ashley’s rules.

Those are my “official suggestions, but there were also a bunch of other names that I considered including but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another — I wanted to list them here, just in case:

  • Carrigan
  • Corinne
  • Maddalena
  • Mallory
  • Merrigan
  • Prentiss
  • Reece/Reese
  • Rooney
  • Sutton
  • Vivienne
  • Wells/Welles
  • Wynne

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


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

New CatholicMom article, and info on Chinese and Japanese names

Happy Thursday everyone! A few things of interest today:

My January CatholicMom article is up! “Naming Your Baby After St. Joseph” was informed by a couple of blog posts I did recently to help expectant parents (and Confirmation candidates?) work St. Joseph into their babies’ names (or their own) during this year devoted to him.

Please share with anyone who think might be interested!

And I read two interesting articles recently:

Why 1.2 billion people share the same 100 surnames in China” on CNN.com. I was surprised to find that, though language and limited racial diversity play a role, technology is actually a huge reason why there are, currently, as few surnames in China as there are:

“… people with rare characters in their names, which aren’t compatible with existing computer systems, can get left behind — pushing many to change their names for the sake of convenience, even if it means abandoning centuries of heritage and language.”

“Abandoning centuries of heritage and language” is such a painful thing to read!

And there was this, which I found shocking:

Japan asked the international media to change how we write their names. No one listened” (also on CNN). I’m amazed that in this day and age, when there is more sensitivity than ever to one’s personal preferences about his or her name (whether it’s one’s given name, or a new name chosen later on), and that aside from names, cultural insensitivity is completely unacceptable, English-language media sources are refusing to switch to writing Japanese names with the surname first, as is their local custom and request.

For now, most media outlets are unwilling to make a change if no one else is, creating an inertia loop whereby inaction begets inaction. CNN Business could not find any major publication which refers to the Japanese prime minister as “Abe Shinzo,” and no outlet which responded to a request for comment suggested such a switch was imminent.”

There are some other factors at play — like the fact that Japan itself switched to the Western style of “family name (surname) last” in the late 19th century when communicating in English — but even still, wow.


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!

Advent/Christmas names, St. Joseph, St. Andrew, et al.

Happy Friday everyone!

I had a few things I wanted to share with you:

Did you all see the wonderful news that Pope Francis named this coming year (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021) the Year of St. Joseph?! Be sure to read about the special indulgences (included in that link), and you might also like my recent post on names to honor St. Joseph. I saw a lot of babies with thematic names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy [Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016] — I wonder if we’ll see a lot of babies named for our good St. Joseph this year? I would love that!

I wanted to be sure to post all the resources I have for Advent and Christmas baby names:

I was also reading up on St. Andrew the other day and read this fun bit:

St Andrew is a patron of lace-makers. On his feast, sometimes known as ‘Tander’, areas such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire celebrate by feasting, drinking elderberry wine, sports and serving a special cake called the Tandra Cake, particularly in Bedfordshire. It has a bread dough base to which lard, sugar, currants, lemon peel and eggs are added.”

I thought Tander and Tandra were intriguing possibilities for naming a baby after St. Andrew (or any other Andrew)! While I’ve never seen either one as a given name, I used to know a girl named Tandy, and one of the Behind the Name entries for it claims it’s a Scottish diminutive of Andrew — an Andy variant — that’s used for both boys and girls.

The Tander/Tandra/Tandy connection to St. Andrew reminds of the connection of the word “tawdry” to St. Audrey:

It was in the 16th C that the word tawdry arose, at first to describe the necklaces sold at St. Etheldreda’s or St. Audrey’s (cf. the formation of Tooley St. from St. Olave) fair, and later for any cheap garish goods” (from The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names [affiliate link] by E.G. Withycombe)

(Note that Audrey started as a pet name for Etheldreda.)

I believe St. Olave refers to St. Olaus of Sweden, who’s also known as Olaf and Olave. Of course I had to look up Tooley after reading the reference to it above, and while there are other possible origins of Tooley, this site argues:

This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor. ‘the son of Toly,’ probably a nick, of the immense favourite Bartholomew. Lower writes, ‘Tooley, a crasis of St. Olave. Tooley Street in Southwark is so called from its proximity to the church of St Olave.”

And because going down namey rabbit holes is one of the things I do best, I just have to say that when they refer to the name Bartholomew as “the immense favourite,” they’re not kidding. I spent an entire winter a couple of years ago poring through A Dictionary of English Surnames (affiliate link) by Reaney and Wilson and was blown away by how many English surnames originated as forms (pet names, diminutives) of Bartholomew. I mentioned two of them (Bates and Batten) in this piece I wrote for Nameberry, and Withycombe gives this nice summary:

[Bartholomew] is not found in use in England before the Conquest, but it was very common from the 12th C onwards. The cult of St. Bartholomew was popular (there are 165 church dedications to him in England) and his relics were widely diffused. Bartholomew, with its diminutives Bartle(t) and Bat, gave rise to a number of surnames such as Bartholomew, Bartle, Bartlet(t), Bate(s), Bateson, Bateman, Batcock, Batkin, Batt(s), Batson, Batty.”

You all are the only people I could share all this with and not think you were falling asleep with boredom! Haha! Thanks for being as interested in names as I am! Have a great weekend!! ❤


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!