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Posted November 2nd, 2010
86 Responses to “Name Spellings: Right and Wright?”
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November 2nd, 2010 at 12:41 am
I’m pretty sure Geoffrey and Jeffery are pronounced differently, although I understand they are related (Geoffrey being the earlier version. Eleanor of Aquitaine had a Geoffrey.) There was a boy named Geoff in my 6th grade class and he pronounced his name jee-off-rey, and since then I’ve heard it pronounced Joffrey also. However Jeffrey is said with an “e” sound instead of an “o” sound. That’s the only point of contention I have though. Great post!
November 2nd, 2010 at 1:35 am
I know a Geoffrey and he pronounces it like Jeffrey.
November 2nd, 2010 at 2:29 am
Sarah and Sara are pronounced differently, at least in some regions/countries.
Where I am, Sarah is pronounced to rhyme with CARE-uh and Sara is pronounced to rhyme with CAR-uh.
November 2nd, 2010 at 3:02 am
I have never heard of a female Shawn of any spelling. Shawnie and Shauna, yes. Shawn, no. And just in case my experience was terribly unusually, I checked the social security site. Shawn for a boy has been in the top 200 for 9 out of the past 10 years. When I tried looking for female Shawns, I got “Shawn is not in the top 1000 female names for any year of birth in the last 10 years.”
November 2nd, 2010 at 4:59 am
Sara isn’t universally the same pronunciation as Sarah. I’ve met a Sara who pronounces it SEH-rah, and another who pronounces it SAH-rah. Most SEH-rahs spell it Sarah anyway, at least in my experience. I’ve met a couple of male Vivians, and plenty of female Viviennes/Viviannes, but never a female Vivian. And the Stephen/Steven isn’t quite that clear cut, as Stephen can also be pronounced STEF-in, whilst Steven is always STEE-vin. And I believe using Shawn on a girl is an American thing as there was a gymnast named Shawn at the last olympics, however this would never be used for a girl in NZ. Shawn/Sean/Shaun is firmly a boys name here, and Shauna/Shawna/Shana/Shanna is the girls equivalent.
November 2nd, 2010 at 5:03 am
Another one off the top of my head is Amy/Aimee. Its interesting that in many of the examples where both spellings are considered legit, one of them is the standard French spelling.
November 2nd, 2010 at 6:42 am
I disagree that Madeline is the same name as Madeleine and Madelyn. To me, Madeline is pronounced Mad-uh-LINE, while the others are pronounced Mad-uh-LYN. (The same difference as Caroline and Carolyn). I’m kind of sad that Madelyn is now considered a legitimate spelling of Madeleine – such a beautiful name!!
November 2nd, 2010 at 7:51 am
Named my daughter Gwendolyn. I know Gwendolen is more traditional & I’m personally NOT big on unique spellings, but when I asked my family how they would spell the name, overwhelmingly it was Gwendolyn, with one out of about 7 people spelling it -lynn. Just wanted to go with most popular spelling so my little girl doesn’t always have to “spell” her name for people. That’s my 2 cents!
November 2nd, 2010 at 8:19 am
SilentOne: the Olympic gymnast/Dancing With the Stars contestant Shawn Johnson is a good example of a female Shawn.
I wonder how many of these different spellings are more popular regionally?
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:03 am
Great post. Just wanted to say that, to me, Jean and Jeanne are not the same name. I am from south Louisiana, where French names and pronunciations are common. Jeanne is almost always pronounced “Zhan” where I live and I even know some Jeans (and Jean Maries) who pronounce their name “Zhan” rather than “Jeen.”
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:05 am
I was surprised Allison is not on the list. As I have seen Alison, Allyson and Alyson.
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:11 am
I don’t think Jean and Jeanne are pronounced the same – I know several Jeanne’s pronounced like “Genie”… Interesting post!
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:15 am
Louis and Lewis (I know the former can be Loo-ee, but sometimes it is Louis, like St. L, the city in Missouri)
I should have said in the post that some parents will choose or vary a spelling to try to get people to pronounce a name in a certain way. My sister-in-law’s name is spelled Jone, for instance, as her mother thought if she spelled it Joan, people would pronounce it as Jo Anne. Of course, some people interpret Jone as Jo-nee or Johnny…
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:17 am
And yes, Allison and Louis both should have been on there….
Not to mention Joanne and Diane….
November 2nd, 2010 at 10:01 am
Interesting list! What about Megan, Meghan, Meghanne, etc?
November 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 am
Is it time to pop Britney/Brittany on there yet?
November 2nd, 2010 at 10:12 am
Are Nathaniel & Nathanael both legitimate spellings? Nathanael is how it’s spelled in the Bible, but Nathaniel is the popular spelling today.
Yes, Megan and Meghan (at least), perfect! Britney and Brittany, maybe!
November 2nd, 2010 at 10:17 am
Alyson and Allison seem both legit to me.
November 2nd, 2010 at 11:52 am
Curse American English phonetics, rules, and exceptions!! I’m a 4th grade teacher at a 98% Hispanic school and trying to teach kids how to read in a second language is very complicated.
And don’t get me started on their unique names either. I’ve had Yulissa, Julissa, Yullisa and Yulisa (might as well throw in Jullisa, Jullissa and Julisa, too) all pronounced the same. Yajaira and Jajaira pronounced the same. Bryan and Bryen. Corina and Korina. and Carmen and Karmen. Their parents seem as confused as us!
November 2nd, 2010 at 11:58 am
I’ve only heard of Geoffreys pronouncing it Jeffrey. And I’ve also never heard Sarah and Sara pronounced differently.
I was going to suggest Britney/Brittany and even Brittney, but Jenny beat me!
How about Norah and Nora? Lindsay/Lindsey/Lyndsay/Lyndsey? Caitlyn/Kaitlyn/Katelyn?
November 2nd, 2010 at 12:23 pm
Claire or Clare, I love them both!
Cleo or Clio, but Clio is my favorite!
Sarah or Sara
Vivian or Vivienne, but I prn. them differently
Jesse (boys name)
Lee (boys name)
Payton (See it as uni-sex)
Remy (girls name)
Renee (girls name)
Shawn or Sean (boys name)
Sydney (girls name)
Devon (girls name)
Dillon (boys name)
Riley (uni-sex name)
Wylie (coyote? Boys name)
I will be naming our first born Gwendolyn, I didn’t even know that Gwendolen was the more proper spelling until a friend of mine considered it here on NB. I don’t find the Yooneik at all.
November 2nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm
I’ll put in my 2 cents on Stefanie/ Stephanie. I know that the PH spelling is more common and more traditional, but the F spelling just makes more phonetic sense to me. I never thought of my name as a “yooneek” spelling choice, even though through most of my childhood I had to correct people on it. Nowadays, however, I find that at least half of the people I talk to in a wide variety of situations (bank, school, coffee shop, etc.) ask how I spell my name or ask if its with a PH or F rather than simply assuming its the PH version.
November 2nd, 2010 at 1:25 pm
Kristin and Kristen.
People named Krist(e)(i)n are very passionate about the distinction!
Bronwen and Bronwyn
Yes, I *know* that -wen is the correct feminine ending in Wales, but, here in the US, Bronwyns far outnumber Bronwens.
November 2nd, 2010 at 1:53 pm
As we can see, this is a pretty contentious subject! I’m wondering why Francis/Frances and Terry/Teri weren’t included–to me those are perfect examples of names that are pronounced the same, but the spelling signals the gender, at least as much as Jesse/Jessie or Sean/Shawn. Terry/Teri is trickier, though–I would say Teri was definitely a girl, but Terry could go either way.
How about Reese/Reece/Rhys? That’s a fun gender breakdown, as Rhys is overwhelmingly given to boys, Reese is more for girls (though still used for boys), and Reece is somewhere in the middle.
I did once know an Elisabeth who pronounced her name with LEESA in the middle, instead of LIZZA like in Elizabeth. And I had an aunt who spelled her name Vivian. I wouldn’t pronounce that any differently from Vivienne–I guess technically it’s ANN at the end of one and ENN at the end of the other, but that’s such a fine difference to say and hear that I think, functionally, they end up the same to me. Or is the difference for some people more about which syllable gets the emphasis?
November 2nd, 2010 at 2:07 pm
How about the 70s boom of Carrie/Kerry/Kerri/Keri (all the ones I’ve known pronounced it CARE-ee. I also know a Kari (pronounced CAR-ee)
November 2nd, 2010 at 2:46 pm
I may be a little biased since this is my own name, but let’s not forget Courtney/Courteney/Courtnee/Cortney/Kourtney. At Starbucks the other day, the barista got my name for my order and asked if I spell it with a C or a K. I’d never gotten that question before…I blame it on Kourtney Kardashian.
November 2nd, 2010 at 2:52 pm
Really, couldn’t we just blame EVERYTHING on Kourtney Kardashian??
November 2nd, 2010 at 2:53 pm
Three of my four kids are on this list. I have a Katharine, Mark, and Clare! I’m expecting now and top contender for a girl is Teresa/Theresa (not sure which will pick) and for a boy is Louis (pronounced like Lewis).
November 2nd, 2010 at 3:48 pm
Just wanted to put me 2 cents worth in. I know a Jeffrey and a Geoffrey, they both pronounce it the same. The same with Sara and Sarah. I didn’t even know any Sarah’s (with an H) until I changed schools when I was 12. Also, I’ve been thinking about this lately that I find I ask people a lot more now how they spell their name (or their family member’s name) then I did when I started my job 10 years ago.
November 2nd, 2010 at 4:01 pm
I live in the UK and I’d always pronounce Sara and Sarah differently. To me, Sara rhymes with Zara, Lara and Tara. Sarah is said like SARE-uh.
My name’s Laura spelt that way but I recently met one who spells it Lora. I think it’s a legit spelling because I once had a name keyring which had both Laura and Lora written on it but I could be wrong!
November 2nd, 2010 at 4:36 pm
I have been waiting forever for someone to bring this up! My name is Caitlin, and no one EVER spells it correctly. I could be wrong, but I think that it is the one name with the most spelling variations ever; Caitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlyn, Kaitlynn, Kaitlin, Katelyn, Katelynn, Katelin, Katelinn…
And just for the record, my brother-in-law’s name is Shawn, spelled like that.
November 2nd, 2010 at 4:42 pm
[…] Name Spellings: Right or Wright? […]
November 2nd, 2010 at 5:51 pm
I’m Theresa and pronounce it the same as Teresa, but some people try to pronounce the H.
And my sister is Terra. My mom spelled it that wat on purpose because it is Latin for earth.
November 2nd, 2010 at 6:51 pm
I think the Sara/Sarah thing is a bit of a regional difference. In the US my name Tara is TARE-uh, but in most of Europe it is pronounced TAR-uh. I assume the same is true with Sara.
November 2nd, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Sara would be pronounced with a round a, Sah-ra. Sarah is a more flat a. Sarah rhymes (kinda) with carer.
November 2nd, 2010 at 8:02 pm
I have a little boy called Rian (pronounced the same as Ryan) it’s the traditional Irish spelling
November 2nd, 2010 at 8:09 pm
I am a Sara ( I go by Sera) I had two teachers in elementary school pronounce my name Say-Ruh. They were from the deep south. That was a twist I really have never had repeated.
I have traveled extensively in Europe and studied in England and never had someone reading off my name pronouce it anything but how you would expect Sara/h to be pronounced. In my experience the Tahrrah, Cahrrah, Lahrrah folks have someone in their own life who is a Tara, Cara, Lara and have the unexpected pronounciation and expect you to have it too.
November 2nd, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Madeline is pronounce like Caroline and the french Madeleine(at least in English I think the cookie gets pronounced different?) the same. Madelyn is pronounce with Lynn at the end not line.
Jon is used on it’s own but more as a nick name for Jonathan but that’s a nit pick.
Sarah is an accent like andrea or (anne ) or ANdrea
Leslie use to be the boys spelling and a spelling I cant quite recall was the girls. the same id happening to Sydney/sidney
Sean can be spelled many ways if it is used for a girl isn’t the galic spelling.
Oh and ask an Irish man how to pronounce Caitlin ie katelyn caitlyn etc…
Old English had no K hence Catherine/ Katherine
November 2nd, 2010 at 8:27 pm
Oh and Jean is a French boys name- John)
the girls are Jeanne – it actually pronounce pretty much the same
The French are really fussy about this and names in General
I heard about a family having to get permission to use the opposite spelling of Pascale (spelling) then the gender of their child
November 2nd, 2010 at 9:47 pm
I have trouble accepting anything that adds a K or Y to a spelling as legitimate. I always inwardly roll my eyes when I see Kaiytlynne or whatever.
For the record I’m American (from New England, living in the Mid-Atlantic) and I’ve never hear heard anyone pronounce Jeffrey/Geoffrey differently or Sara/h differently. Also, to me Sara does not rhyme with Lara. I say SARE-ah and LARR-uh.
November 2nd, 2010 at 10:18 pm
I like how so many say THE way it is pronounced, rather than their opinion. Then someone else says THE way and it’s the opposite of the first person. Classic! It seems safe to say that nobody can be wrong with name pronunciation. Let me throw out Marcia and Marsha. Before you say I’m wrong I grew up with 2 Marcia’s one pronounced Marsha, the other Mar-see-uh. So again, you can’t be wrong. That’s actually why I prefer simple, unmistakable names for my kids.
November 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 am
I live in the Midwest and can’t believe the different pronunciations for Sara/Sarah brought up here. I had never heard such a thing! (Although recently I have met two Mara’s that pronounce it either way so I guess it is the same idea.) I did go to school with a Marcia and Chelsea that pronounced their names with 3 syllables but I think their parents were just wrong!
I, too, now ask rather than assume spellings on names when working with the public.
November 3rd, 2010 at 10:13 am
Margery? Really? Yuck. Never heard that before. That kid is begging to be called margarine on the playground.
November 3rd, 2010 at 6:22 pm
Vivian is the male spelling
November 3rd, 2010 at 10:10 pm
I would pronounce Sarah and Sara differently – maybe because I grew up in the UK.
I guess my own name could be on this list: Jennie vs Jenny. If you go back to the 1880s US rankings, Jennie was ranked #32 and Jenny was #521. Jennie doesn’t even rank in the top 1000 in 2009, whereas Jenny is #708, having fallen from a 1970s peak, where it was much more popular than Jennie.
Sylvia vs Silvia would also fit. I’d guess that most people would be more familiar with the Sylvia spelling, but the Nameberry database says that Silvia is the “original form of the name — the more familiar Sylvia spelling came later — seems more modern now.” I like the name a lot, but I always have to think too hard about how to spell the name with a y. 😛 Though I’m not sure I’d go with the Silvia spelling, as then there’d be a lot of having to spell it out.
November 4th, 2010 at 2:28 am
I’m from Australia and would pronounce Sara Sah-ra and Sarah Sare-ah
November 4th, 2010 at 10:44 am
They were all Jenni at my high school. (Except me.)
Leah/Lia/Lea has been confusing, but we seem to be going back to the original on that one. Maybe we’ll do that for other names, too.
November 8th, 2010 at 9:17 pm
Okay so my name is Leah. People always spell it liah or lea lia
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:40 pm
I’m sorry, but the only legitimate spelling of Greer is Greer.
G-R-E-E-R. I mean, look at how beautiful, almost perfectly symmetrical that is?
Brooke Shields really messed things up good when she busted out that “i” out of nowhere.
….I don’t know, though. Maybe I’m biased.
January 7th, 2011 at 10:40 pm
My name is always spelt a different way!! I onced looked how many different ways there was to spell Kathryn and I was able to find 96 different ways!!! (partly because it can be spelt with a K or a C) I am not sure how legit all 96 ways really are but if you think about it the name does have lots of room for varation!
January 23rd, 2011 at 7:55 pm
I always thought Vivian was a girls-only name…I know five or six girl Vivians, and no Vivianne’s or Vivienne’s.
February 8th, 2011 at 7:28 pm
How abut my name? Kelsey/Kelsie/Kelsi
the more recent popular boys name Aiden/Aidan?
March 8th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
Don’t recall seeing this already so………….
Lora and Laura
March 31st, 2011 at 8:05 pm
How about Tallulah/Talulah/Tallula/Talula (ok, so maybe not all of those are legit, but I’m pretty sure you can spell it w/ or w/out the H.)
I do not get why everyone freaks out so much about having to spell their name out for people (I’m not saying you should name your kid Maaduccyinn, but is it that big a deal to say Gwendolen with an E or Caitlin with a C and no Ys?) I always have to spell my name out for people just because it’s so unusual. No big deal. Usually they think it has I at the end, or EY or IE. That is pretty simple to deal with.
March 31st, 2011 at 8:16 pm
Thadsmom~ lol there’s a girl in my class whose last name is Marmalejos and one of my teachers calls her Miss Marmalade or just Marmalade 🙂 just reminded me of that… And I agree about Margery/Marjorie
April 17th, 2011 at 9:57 am
A few were missing that I think are totally legit, including.
May 13th, 2011 at 2:46 am
i also thought maybe ashley/ashlee/ashleigh/ashlie should be on the list! or even my name: Amelia is common, but Emilia (my spelling) is also used often in latin countries.
May 13th, 2011 at 10:37 am
Actually, I think Amelia and Emilia is a great one! Better than Ashley etc — I think all except Ashley are yooneek
May 22nd, 2011 at 9:57 am
Cecilia and Cecelia
June 4th, 2011 at 7:11 pm
my neice is Katryna which could be spelled Katrina Catrina Catryna and there is one that is either irish or scottish that has an O in it
June 23rd, 2011 at 10:35 pm
My name has always been confusing for others to spell…
Elisa (I know you could pronounce it differently, but I’ve heard it pronounced the same as Alyssa)
(not to be confused with Alicia or Melissa)
Then there’s the nickname to worry about…
Also when I was a kid I always heard Alicia/Alisha pronounced uh-LEE-shuh, but now I know several of both spellings who pronounce it uh-LIH-shuh.
June 30th, 2011 at 10:53 pm
I agree with Alex about Sarah/Sara. I’m from New Zealand and here it’s pretty common to pronounce them differently. Sarah definitely rhymes with CARE-uh, while Sara rhymes with CAR-uh.
July 18th, 2011 at 1:20 am
@Kimberly I totally that Alison isn’t on here. I have seen a lot of spelling for Alison including:
July 29th, 2011 at 12:13 am
Also for the Margo/Margot is the French spelling of Margaux (my personal favorite).
Though they all are pronounced differently, some confuse Moira/Maura/Mara (Moy-rah, Moor-ra, and Mar-a).
Being named Katherine, I always have to clarify that its with a K and an ‘erine’.
I’ve always pronounced Sara/Sarah and the Jeffrey/Geoffery the same, but I’ve always understood that Madeline and Madeleine could either be pronounced ‘Mad-a-Line’ or ‘Mad-a-lyn’ with Madelyn always being ‘Mad-a-lyn’ but the more common one for Madeleine to be ‘Mad-a-lyn’ or occasionally ‘Mad-a-lean’. Also, sometimes Madelyn can just be Mad-lyn
August 6th, 2011 at 6:55 pm
Mathilda and Matilda?
Susana and Susannah and Susanna?
Winn and Wynn?
Estela and Estella?
Violet and Violette?
Cecilia and Cecelia?
Keira and Kiera?
August 10th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Britney/Brittney etc. is not a proper spelling. Personally, I look at it as a whole different name. And a made up one at that. Britney is pronounced Brit-nee. Brittany is technically pronounced Brit-uh-nee or Bree-tah-nee. It’s the english spelling of Bretagne, which is a region in France. The whole thing makes me very sad. But I’ve resigned myself to being a Brit-nee.
August 11th, 2011 at 7:51 am
sophia – sofia
hi!! im sophia ! my aunt gave me name sophia … im muslm grade 6 from philippines general santos city … 🙂 .. share …
September 1st, 2011 at 12:12 am
I personally don’t consider Madeline, Madeleine and Madalyn to be the same name. I pronouce the first as Mad-el-line, the second as Mad-len or Mad-line and the last as Mad-a-lyn.
September 1st, 2011 at 12:21 am
Though that may stem from the fact that I lived beside a french speaking province and went to french schools all my life.
October 12th, 2011 at 9:29 am
My name is Jeannie pronounced G Knee…and my Great Aunt is Jeanne pronounced the same way…Everyone I know spelled Jeanne pronouces it G Knee…I have spent my whole life telling everyone I have an I..I have never met anyone else who spells their name the way I do…the Scottish version, most people spell it the French way of Jeanne
October 12th, 2011 at 9:30 am
Of Course there is also Kristyn instead of Kristin and Kristen, as my cousins name is spelled. and my Niece is Kristina instead of Christina..personally I prefer the K version…it seems more stream lined and unfussy.
October 21st, 2011 at 5:37 pm
February 29th, 2012 at 7:18 am
I prefer the scottish Isobel (my grandma’s name)
June 12th, 2012 at 10:59 am
Cassandra and Casandra and maybe Kassandra? I get asked if it’s a C or a K and one S or 2 all the time 🙂
June 18th, 2012 at 12:36 am
Not sure if it has been said:
Alicia, Alycia, Aleesha, Alisha
Adele/Adell/Adelle/ Edel (all spellings my sister has gotten)
July 6th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
I have a Swedish friend who lives in the UK, and pronounces her name like Clara, Lara, Tara, Zara, (SAAHra) etc and I know she never has people confusing it with Sarah (SEHra). I am from South Africa & have never encountered anyone here or in the UK pronounce Sara like Sarah before.
My Afrikaans/German step-sister’s name is Madeleine, prn. Mad-uh-LANE. I would prn. Madeline: Mad-uh-LINE and Madelyn: ma-dil-yn.
November 17th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
Honora or Onnora?
Honora- would you pronounce the H or not?
And I think all the Madelines are pretty much the same, depends what the girl with the names’ preference is. My cousin is Madeleine pron. Mad-e-LANE. I know a Madeline who pronounces is Madelane and one who pronounces it Madelin, I guess it’s up to them 🙂
March 26th, 2013 at 5:57 pm
I would pronoucne Remi totally different to Remy. It’s RAY-mee, with a guttaral R sound (in my mind, anyway), whereas Remy would be like Rennie with an M sound instead of an N. But otherwise yeah, I would consider all of these legit spellings. Except…is Theresa pronounced te-REE-sah? Or the-RAY-suh? Because I’d think it would be different.
May 10th, 2013 at 5:05 pm
The only thing that bugs me about this post is that Sarah and Sara are pronounced differently.
Honestly, some people don’t understand how frustrating it is to tell you that your name is the same as their friends, just without the ‘h’. No.
My name is Sarah, my friend’s name is Sara. They are said differently. We both get so annoyed when we both get called Sarah or both get called Sara. As well as people saying her name as Sarah, it’s even worse when people say Sarah as Sara. It’s not right in my opinion. Sara doesn’t have a ‘h’, therefore it’s not pronounced ‘SEHrah’. Sarah HAS the ‘h’, therefore it is not pronounced ‘SAARah’.
September 16th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
I think there are sometimes legitimate reasons for having a more unique spelling of a name that doesn’t involve “I want her to be special.” My dad’s dad’s name is Raymond; he named his daughter Ray-lyn; to keep the name, my dad named my sister Raychel. To me it’s the only spelling that makes it sound correct. Rachel seems like Ratchel to me and I always want to do something with the second a in Rachael. That’s only because I grew up with Raychel, though.
October 9th, 2013 at 11:09 pm
My niece was named Marsha, but grandparents thought it was wrong and spelled it Marcia. I got a point taken off every paper in 3rd grade because the teacher said Lynn was a boy. I hate to spell my name Lynne. I was too stubborn and never got 100. People can be difficult with different spellings.
November 10th, 2013 at 11:26 am
I wouldn’t say Madeleine/Madeline/Madelyn fall into this category.
Madelyn/Madalyn/etc. has the -lyn ending
Madeline has the -line or -leen ending
Madeleine has the -line or -lane ending
March 14th, 2014 at 6:47 pm
And there’s Caitlin (or Caitlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelyn, etc.)
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