Name of the Day: Bartholemew

If there’s a common complaint about baby name books, it is this: they read more like telephone directories than meaningful guides to choosing a single name.

For parents who have already narrowed down their search to a) an Irish appellation, and b) preferably something a little bit off the mainstream, Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz’ Cool Irish Names for Babies is just the thing.

The team behind Nameberry are also the authors of Cool Names for Babies and Beyond Shannon and Sean: An Enlightened Guide to Irish Baby Naming.

The new publication is up-to-the-minute. (Shannon and Sean was written in the 90s.) Here’s what I love about their latest:

  • The authors do a great job of listing names that are already popular. Plenty of first time parents are disappointed when they realize they weren’t the first to think of calling their daughter Riley. The “Pop Cool” section can inspire parents hoping for a tamer choice, or re-direct those looking for something truly adventurous.
  • The duo remains unmatched at compiling surprising and unusual lists. While characters from Irish literature might be expected, their list of Irish word names is eye-opening. Fia, anyone?
  • If you’re a newcomer to Celtic myth and legend (as I am), their listing of relevant figures is concise and thorough.
  • Known for their Coolator – a chart showing how to make an ordinary name just a bit more daring – they’ve now created a Celticizer. After all, Irish names have been Anglicized for generations. If you’re honoring Grandma Molly, maybe Maille is an appealing choice.
  • And – my very favorite bit – they’ve compiled a list of given names that are traditionally l bestowed in Irish families. So even if you’re a little fuzzy about your ancestry, you can reclaim some heritage. Last name O’Kane? Call your daughter Aislinn. MacArdle? How ’bout Malachy for a son?

If there’s a shortcoming to the book, it is simply that it is, well, short. You’ll probably want to read more about some of these names before you settle on them for good.

But it is a comprehensive introduction to the many flavors of Irish names – and a positively addictive read!


  1. Kaye says

    I think I like the Italian “Bartolomeo” better. I can see lots of possibilities with this name. Nicknames like Tolly, Ollie, Bard, and Milo make it more user friendly. I’ll have to see how it grows on me with time

  2. Salome says

    This is belated, but I love Bartholomew! It’s friendly and quirky and classic all at the same time. Everyone knows it, but no one has the name. That’s a great combo.

    It’s actually crawled up my short list of boys’ names because of the jaunty nickname “Ollie.” Tolly is also a wonderful contender. And if either of those become too juvenile for him, he could always switch to Art or Artie as a grown up. I agree that Bart fills me with unpleasantness, but people will generally start calling him what he calls himself. And if for some reason he grows to like Bart, well, I suppose I could make do. As his mother, I’d reserve the right to refer to him however I want! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. chaneltara says

    I love Bartholomew, one of my first name loves actually. I actually really like Bart and Bartie, and wouldn’t mind having a son named Bart in the least. It sound really sweet and cool. My father’s name is Arthur, nn Art, and having his name rhyme with fart has not hurt him in any way. I used to know a Bartholomew nicknamed Bard, another cool nickname.

  4. Charlotte Vera says

    I don’t think I could personally ever name a child “Bartholomew” — a pet, yes, a child, no. That being said, I don’t think it’s a distasteful name in and of itself, I just don’t see a modern child wearing it well.

    Incidentally, the Biblical Nathanael/Nathaniel has historically been considered to be another name for the disciple Bartholomew since: a) it was very typical for men at the time to go by more than one name, and b) in the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke Bartholomew is always mentioned in the company of Philip and in John Nathaniel is mentioned with Philip.

  5. SophieGray says

    Sorry, I’m with photoquilty on this one – he SCREAMS Bart Simpson to me, and I really dislike that show, so he’s not for me.
    He just seems a bit too scarily formal to me, as well – like a creepy old cathedral type thing.

  6. Christina Fonseca says

    I like the full name Bartholomew, don’t care for any of the nicknames. It’s a recognizable name and I would love to see someone famous carry it off so that perhaps somebody uses the name for a little one.

    It IS a long name, but I love its sounds.

  7. JNE says

    When I was younger, I knew a Bartholomew who attended my church – it was right around the time when The Simpsons were getting popular – he was a few years younger than I was, but I always wondered what effect that had on him. In any case, I don’t dislike Bartholomew, I kind of like it. But I’ll second Photoquilty – Bart rhymes with fart. Not good. Bate… eh. It’s more of a “nice in theory” name to me than a practical one.

  8. says

    I like Bartholemew in full only and that means he’s middle only. I mean, who shortens their middle name(s)? Yep, even all those Good Bart’s can’t make modern folks forget about that little yellow freak who really ruined a perfectly good name. (See Photoquilty, we don’t always disagree! ) ๐Ÿ˜€

    But yeah, I think he’d make a fabulously offbeat middle! (Now if I didn’t have a nasty, weird cousin named Bartholemew (who goes by Tolly, Emmy Jo!) I’d think about it myself, for a middle. It’s got the sort of dramatic feel I generally like on my boys. Too bad about the cousin, and that yellow freak.

  9. photoquilty says

    Yeah, take that little yellow wonder, Bart Simpson, into account and there is absolutely zero chance of my ever using the name Bartholomew. Also, Bart rhymes with fart. Thanks for the info, though!

  10. says

    I like Bartholomew! It has such a soft, kind sound. I’m not sure how well it works, though, because of its lack of appealing nicknames. I actively dislike Bart, and I’m not sure I could get behind Bate or Baty. My grey kitten goes by “Mew” or “Mew-mew” for short, but those wear much better on kittens than they would on a human child.

    Since the stress in the name falls on the second syllable, I wonder if you could make a nickname from that syllable. (Kind of like how Elizabeth shortens to Liz or Lizzie more easily than Elle or Ellie.) Bartholomew could yield… Thol? Tol (pronounced like “tall”)? Tolly? Hmm… not sure those work so well either.

  11. says

    This name to me is very upper class snob sort of name. Nickname bart also doesnt entice me to like it but it has got an interestign history… i guess thats something


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