Help w/ Sibling Name for Nathaniel John

Looking for a name for a sibling to Nathaniel John. Choosing a name the first time was difficult enough (the poor guy was nameless for 2 days before his Dad came around to Nathaniel - he thought it was weird? It wasn't until he was out running errands while I was in the hospital, that the number of people giving him the thumbs up made it seem "normal"), and round two has not proven any easier.

We're unsure of the sex, and won't be finding out before he/she arrives. I'm 27 weeks along now, and have a feeling time is going to fly!

I seem to struggle with boys names more so than girls, but we're looking for suggestions for both. (The other half hasn't been much help so far, he’s only vetoed what he doesn’t like.) Even giving an indication of style is difficult, as Nathaniel was the only name that stuck with me through my last pregnancy. We were nowhere close to having a name selected if “he” had been a “she”. The only thing I did know was that if it was a boy, I wanted John for a middle name, after my father who passed a few years ago.

Some names from last time are Alexander, Benjamin, Joseph, Thomas for boys. Abigail, Audrey, Charlotte, Claire/Clara, Elizabeth, Elena, Julia for girls. Benjamin and Julia won’t work, as they’re family names he would rather not duplicate. Alexander he didn’t like, (and I was never able to see us with an Alex), Joseph I didn’t get an answer on, and I don’t really like Joe/Joey. I have the same issue with Thomas turning to Tom/Tommy. Abigail was okay to be Abby, I just don’t like the popularity of it. I disliked Charlotte for the same reason.

This time around, the only thing mentioned that I would still consider would be Elizabeth (possibly spelled Elisabeth). I still like Clara, but a close friend has just given the name to her daughter. I kind of like K/Catherine, but wouldn’t want a Nate and a Kate. Given the due date for this little one, Ivy has been mentioned as a family name on his side. I don't love it as a first name just yet, but it is kind of growing on me.

Family will shorten the name if it’s at all possible. Nathaniel was Nate almost before I could say anything. I don’t have much of a problem with it, I just want to really like the shortened form/perhaps suggest it myself. (FWIW, I call him both, often).

With my side of the family being Catholic, there is a whole world of Saints names I’m willing to consider, though many seemed somewhat odd to the other half (he did think Nathaniel was weird, after all). I was asked a few times why couldn’t I suggest something normal, but was given no hint as to what normal (to him) might be. I do faintly remember him suggesting Nathan over Nathaniel, but that wasn’t the same to me. I just didn’t like it as well.

Also! Last name is 2 syllables, starts with a W, ends “er”.


October 28, 2014 8:26 PM

Hmm, sounds like you your husband is extremely wary of trendy or more uncommon names. Since you're Catholic, there's a wide variety of saints' names to look into. I would normally suggest the name of a saint that is of yours or your family's devotion, or with a life story/philosophy that you admire.

I'm Orthodox, so there are quite a few saints' names we have in common, even though there are Catholic saints such as St. Teresa and St. Francis of Assisi that I admire.

I personally love the name Joseph. The nickname doesn't necessarily have to be Joe or Joey or even Jay. I have a friend who wanted desperately to name her son Zephyr, but her husband vetoed it. Instead, she named the boy (adorable by the way) Joseph, with the nickname Zeph. I am even considering it myself if I have a boy in the future.

As for other saint names that strike me as attractive and meaningful are: Xavier, Thaddeus, Jude, Peter, Andrew, Dominic, Nicolas, Vincent (St. Vincent de Paul was known for his social work and taking care of young and poor boys as well as educating them), Paul, George, Patrick, Antony/Anthony, Gregory, Cyril, Louis/Lewis, Luke/Lucas/Luca, Diego/Diogo, James/Jack/Jacques/Tiago/Santiago, Henry, Adrian, Ambrose, Augustin/August, Basil, Blaise, Benedict/Benoit/Bennett, Bruno, Damian, Fabian...

Here's a website I found of a parish, with a wide list of saints' names, meanings and what the saints were known for:


As for girls:

Maria/Marion/Marianne/Mariana/Marina/Mary/Marie, Clara/Clarice/Clarisse, Therese/Teresa/Theresa, Rose/Rosa, Cecilia/Cecily, Adele/Adelia, Agnes, Alba, Audrey, Beatrice/Beatriz/Beatrix, Catherine (my favorite), Helen/Helena/Elena (love all three of these!), Emilia, Eve/Eva/Evelyn, Flora, Genevieve, Gloria, Margaret/Margot, Harriet, Isabel, Irene/Irina, Josephine, Lillian, Lucy/Lucia, Lydia (the apostle Paul's first convert), Matilda/Maud/Maude, Nadia/Nadine, Olivia, Ramona, Sylvia/Sylvie/Silvia, Theodora, Valerie/Valeria, Vivian/Vivienne, Wilhelmina (adorable nicknames Willa and Mina) and Zita.

October 30, 2014 11:25 PM

Thank you for your suggestions! The website was interesting to look through, so helpful to see saints names listed in a format other than that of the calendar year! Devotions I have, and life stories I’ve always appreciated have unfortunately come with names that have not been well received by my husband (St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Bernadette are the first to come to mind).

This time around, Joseph isn’t feeling like the right name for this little one. Perhaps as a middle, but it’s not sticking as a first.

Of the other boys names you listed, Thaddeus is a name I find myself drawn to, though I can’t see that being the case for my husband. I had forgotten that was used to differentiate Judas from Judas Iscariot. (That being said, Judah/Julian has a certain appeal to me as well.) Peter, Andrew, Nicolas, Paul, Luke/Lucas, and Benedict/Bennett won’t work for us for various reasons, though there is nothing I dislike about any of those names. Most of the rest weren’t liked by my husband.

I’ll have to mention Patrick, Ambrose, Augustin(e), Basil, Blaise (and Thaddeus!) I just won’t get my hopes up... And James is another possible middle name (my husband’s middle name) Otherwise from looking through the website, I’ve added Theodore, and Zechariah/Zachariah to my list.

For girls, I like your suggestions of Mary/Mariana, Adele, Beatrice, Genevieve, Isabel, Josephine, Lillian, and Wilhelmina (for Willa, sadly it’s a little too much with our last name). I’ve also added Louise/Louisa, and I’m lukewarm about Madeline, but I’ve written it down to mull over.

October 31, 2014 8:23 AM

I very nearly suggested Thaddeus for you, and then didn't because I thought it wouldn't be well received. I'm so glad you like it! I have a son named Thaddeus -- we call him Taddy or Tad most of the time -- and I think it goes so well with Nathaniel/Nate. If it interests you, because of your appreciation for saints, ours was actually not named with St. Jude Thaddeus in mind, but rather Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty (also known as Tadhg), an Irish Martyr. (We toyed with using Tadhg as a nn but in the end the spelling hassle wasn't worth it.)

October 28, 2014 6:58 PM

You can forestall the Nate/Kate issue by using one of the several other Catherine nicknames from the get-go.

Since you are Catholic and have an interest in saints' names, may I suggest checking out the names of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who were martyred during the religious struggles of the Tudor-Stuart period:

To my ears at least, a number of the full names of these saints would make distinguished first and middle combos.  Examples: Philip Evans, Thomas Garnet, Nicholas Owen, Edmund Campion, Alexander Briant, Philip Howard, Richard Gwyn, Robert Lawrence, Luke Kirby, Henry Morse, David Lewis, Ambrose Barlow, Richard Reynolds.  I myself would pass on Cuthbert, Polydore, Swithun, and Eustace.  Of the forty only three were women: Margaret Clitherow, Margaret Ward, and Anne Line, not much to choose from there.


October 29, 2014 9:00 PM

Hmm, I know a Catholic family with a son named Alexander Briant.  I had always assumed his middle was Bryant as I've never seen it written.  Now I wonder if he isn't named after the saint.  I'll have to ask next time I see his mom.


October 30, 2014 11:28 PM

Thank you, I’ve had a look! My goodness, there were a lot of John’s martyred at that time. And you’re right, many do make great first/middle combinations! I especially like Thomas Garnet, Nicholas Owen, and Alexander Briant.

Seeing Ambrose, and Augustine again made me wish someone was at least a little bit more adventurous in the naming department ;) Ambrose is clearly masculine to me, I don’t think my husband will agree. I will definitely have to laugh if for some reason he likes Eustace…

Thomas Garnet has me thinking about Thomas as a first name again, as many as there already are in my family. Any not so obvious nicknames I might be unaware of?

October 31, 2014 12:20 AM

A Scots nickname for Thomas is Tam, as in Tam O'Shanter.

I think the story of Nicholas Owen is particuarly interesting.  He was a carpenter, and he had a serious spinal deformity which enabled him to scrunch down in tight quarters.  He used his carpentry skills and "scrunching" capacity to make the priest holes in the homes of Catholic gentry and aristocracy which hid the priests, mostly Jesuits, who came over from the continent to minister illegally.  Many of those priest holes can still be seen today, and some believe that some were so well hidden that they haven't been found to this day--but who knows?  He was arrested in the aftermath of the failed Gunpowder Plot (Guy Fawkes Day is coming up next week) and died under torture he was unable to withstand because of his deformity. The torturers are said to have placed a metal plate over his abdomen to keep his innards, well, in, but apparently it did not work.

Garnet had a bit of a run in the Victorian era for both males and females.  For males it was a matter of an occupational surname used as a given name, and for females it was part of the Victorian enthusiasm for genstone and flower names.  I think it is ready for a revival for those who are looking for a "fresh" name which has current appeal.

October 31, 2014 8:32 AM

My oldest is Thomas, and when I was pregnant with him I tried to come up with "not so obvious nicknames" -- his middle name is a family surname that rhymes with Mobley (long o), and I'd thought T+ob (long o) rendered Toby as a reasonable nn. My husband didn't care for it, so we didn't use it, but I've often thought that the combo Thomas Robert could also do Toby as a nn.

Another option is just to use Tee (or just T). A friend of mine in high school was Th0mas Dav!d, but he went by T. Dav3, which was often shortened to just T. 

My youngest was very nearly Augustin (we went with Charles instead), and we've had Ambrose on the list forever (I've thought of Bram, Sam, and Brody as nns for it), and I just love Nicholas Owen (the saint and the combo) (I love Cole as a nn for Nicholas), so I think we have some good overlap! If it's helpful, my other boys are Gabr!el, J0hn D0minic, and Xav!er (I have six).

November 2, 2014 4:38 PM

Those are some good nickname ideas! I like Tam - our Thomasina is mostly nicknamed Tamsin - but the combinations with the middle name are really fantastic!

November 2, 2014 4:56 PM

I'm Catholic too and the male Saint names I love are: Thaddeus, Bernard, Henry, James, George, Vincent, Dominic, Francis, Francisco, Mark, Marcos, Marcus, Philip, Andrew, Patrick, Louis, Lewis, Valentine, Antony, Antonio and Joseph. Of all of these Thaddeus, Joseph and Louis are my favorites!

For girls I love Beatrice or Beatriz, Isabel, Elizabeth, Mary, Maria, Ana, Anne, Annalise, Antonia, Alexandra, Helena, Elena, Louisa, Teresa, Magdalena, Alice, Bethany, Valentina, Camilla, Irene, Julia and Catherine. 

Names that refer to apparitions of the Virgin Mary are also extremely common, especially in Latin America. Examples: Celeste (my favorite), Rosario, Dolores (Lola), Lourdes (Lou or Lola), Fatima, Carmen, Guadalupe (Lupe, Lupita), Rosa (Rosa Mystica)...

Other forms of Mary or Maria: Marian, Marion, Marina, Mariah, Marie, Miriam...

Other forms of Anne: Ana, Anouk, Anita, Anna, Nancy...