Cashel Joseph
Cashel Joseph

You’ve waited all summer for the return of the stories. They’re back! Today’s Reader Baby Name Story comes to us courtesy of Kristin.

Our son’s name is Cashel Joseph – he’ll be one this month! I’ve made random lists of baby names for years, so when we finally found out I was pregnant after several years of struggling with infertility, I was so excited to be able to think about it in concrete terms rather than abstract. I immediately pulled out my lists and baby name books and spent a LOT of time looking up names online. My husband wasn’t as interested, but always happy to give me a thumbs up or down, which was pretty much the extent of his involvement the whole time. He endured a lot of random “What about this one?” questions driving in the car, getting ready for bed, or other not-always-convenient times. My mom was also a great sounding-board for me, and pretty much the only one besides my husband that I talked names with in detail.

We definitely had specific criteria: I prefer names that are more unusual (I’m a Kristin born at the height of the name’s popularity) but didn’t want it to be too tough to spell or pronounce, and meaning was important to us. It also needed to go with our last name which starts with a D and has a British heritage. “K” names were out since my husband is a Karl and we didn’t want to do the all-K thing, and “D” names were out because of the last name. We didn’t want a made up name, one with a crazy spelling, or one that was too wacky. We knew we wanted to use Joseph as a middle name in honor of my husband’s father who passed away several years ago. The most surprising factor, I think, was how right or wrong a name felt with this specific little baby I was carrying – I wasn’t expecting it to be so clear to me that he wasn’t a Rainer or Jasper even before he was born!

I think the first time I saw the name Cashel was just before I became pregnant, in reference to a writer’s nephew who was described as a creative, spunky, brave little guy. I loved it right away. It felt strong and fresh; honored my Irish heritage, could give us the cool nickname Cash, and went well with our last name. It’s usually said to mean “fortress,” and we thought that was perfect for a boy, especially combined with Joseph, which means “God will enlarge.” By the time we found out that he was a boy (something I was sure of all along) I knew his name was Cashel. My husband wanted to wait to meet him before it was really official, but I don’t think there was ever a doubt – we didn’t even have a back-up name picked. It just felt like it fit this active, kicking little kiddo I was already so in love with. And although I didn’t realize it until after he was born and I was saying both names together, I also love that Cashel and Karl have similar sounds, without him being a “Jr.” The fact that my mother really loved the name was extra confirmation, since she passed away from cancer three weeks before he was born. It means a lot to me to know that she knew her grandson’s name, even if she didn’t get to meet him.

I don’t have any regrets – I love his name, and I hope he does, too. If he ever wants to be more traditional, he can go by C. Joseph D***worth, or just Joseph, and I can totally see Cash when he’s in high school… as an athletic soccer or lacrosse player? A musician? On the debate team? To me, it works for any type of kid. We have gotten a few problems with pronunciation, since a surprising number of people seem to want to pronounce it cash-ELL rather than CASH-el, but I’ve spent my whole life getting Kristen, Kiersten, Christine, Kris, etc. and spelling my name all the time and it hasn’t scarred me yet, so hopefully he won’t mind either. And if he does, “Cash” is pretty hard to misspell/pronounce! I think one of the things I love most is that since it’s such an unusual name, he’ll have the chance to define the name – for good or bad – for everyone he meets. So, world, here’s Cashel Joseph!

Thanks so much for sharing, Kristin, and congratulations on celebrating Cashel’s first birthday – it’s a milestone for the whole family!

I think you hit on something really important about unusual names – they often do give our kids the chance to define the name themselves, as opposed to “Oh, I knew an Emily.” And Joseph is a great family name to put in the middle spot.

Who’s next? If you’d like to submit a story, email me at You can see the “Name Stories” page for inspiration.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I really like Cashel. I first heard it when I was reading about the actor Daniel Day-Lewis who’s kids are named Gabriel-Kane, Cashel and Ronan. I always wondered where he came up with Cashel as I had no idea it was a place in Ireland!

    Cashel Joseph is a handsome name for a handsome boy!
    Great story.

  2. Always fun to read the baby name stories – yay – glad they’re back! Thanks for sharing the story of Cashel Joseph, Kristin! Your link between the sounds of your husband’s and son’s names also reminds me of Carl Kassell on NPR. I know Abby has mentioned before that people can often be drawn to familiar sounds and my family, while not matching, has sets of sounds that recur across the names. It’s an interesting idea.