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Category: different spellings

Name Spellings: Right and Wright?

feltabcs

The idea for this blog arose, as so many good things do, from the nameberry forums, in this case one on name spellings. In particular, the focus was on names that had more than one legitimate spelling, and asked visitors to pick their favorite of the two (or more).

With so much talk these days about yooneek spellings of names – variations invented to make a name more “special” – it’s interesting to explore those names that have more than one bona fide spelling.

Of course, there may be some controversy over what constitutes bona fide name spellings. On the forum, some people took issue with spelling variations springing from different origins of a name: Isabelle as the French version and Isabel the Spanish, for instance, and so not really pure spelling variations in the way that Katherine and Kathryn are. Others argued over spelling variations that might more accurately be differences in a name’s gender or pronunciation.

There are obviously a lot of ways to split this hair.  And we’ve made a lot of judgment calls some of you may disagree with.  Sure, Debra might be a modern variation of the Biblical Deborah, but it was so widely used in mid-century America it’s now legitimate, or at least that’s the way we see it.

Here are some girls’ names with more than one spelling that we consider legitimate.

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F-name

Once more this year the list of most popular names—particularly for girls—is vowel –heavy, with six of the top ten names starting with A, E, I or O, and five more filling out the top twenty.

As a result, naturally, there are fewer consonant-starters visible, some letters practically non-existent.  One of these is F, with only a single  representative, Faith, in the top 100, and a grand total of nine girls’ names out of the whole list of top 1000.

If we look back a century—testing the 100-year rule–it was a very different story, with 31 girls’ and 34 boys’ names starting with this initial.  Several of them were versions of the same name (variant spellings are nothing new!); for instance, Freda, Frieda, Freida and Freeda all made the list—but not the current Kahlo-influenced FridaFlorence—no longer visible on today’s list–was represented in 1910 by Florance, Flora, Flossie, Flo, Florrie and Florene, and Frances (which hangs on at #802 today, with Francesca at 470) showed up in such variations as Fannie, Fanny, Francis, Francisca and Frankie, and there were three spellings of Fay/Faye/Fae.

Among the more unusual choices that made the girls’ list a hundred years ago were Fairy, Floy and Fronie.

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funnyhatcrop

Guest blogger JILL BARNETT discovers that yooneek names are more prevalent than she’d realized. And every bit as confusing.

On a beautiful Saturday in July, I found myself where most people would love to be on a beautiful Saturday in July: sitting in a painfully boring continuing education seminar, hopelessly trying to remain awake. The air conditioner must have been set at a brisk 52 degrees, and after catching a glimpse of my now cerulean blue toes, I wondered if my lips had suffered a similar fate. My chattering teeth thankfully prevented me from entirely nodding off, but I was in need of a more cerebral distraction. Desperate for entertainment, I decided to count the goosebumps on my lower left arm, first by twos and then by threes.

As the counting fun began, I happened to glance at a piece of paper in front of the 20-something-year-old woman sitting to my left, and I realized that she had written her name in the upper right hand corner. Ever the name nerd, I simply had to take a peek, and after a lingering glance, I discovered that her name was Mykailah. Figuring it was code for Michaela, I naturally wondered about my other neighbor’s name. Pretending to do some right arm goosebump counting, I quickly looked at her paper, and was pleased to meet Tyffani. Mykailah and Tyffani? Tyffani and Mykailah? I was now the official filling inside of a yooneek name sandwich.

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Unique Baby Names: Is there such a thing??

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This blog is adapted from our most recent book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby

When people look for baby names online, they often put in a search for “unique names.” Some of them are trying to find names that are unusual and distinctive, but some really do want to give their child a name that’s truly one-of-a-kind, something that nobody else has.

A recent newspaper story claimed that one of the reasons for this is because modern parents want their child to be “Googleable,” to have a name that’s different enough that it will pop out online. And some parents say they won’t settle on a name until they find out whether its url is available.

Of course, as soon as you give your child a “unique” name, it all but guarantees it won’t be unique anymore since someone will almost inevitably poach it. We were tickled to find, for instance, that someone posted on our website bulletin board that she’d named her son Knox, a name that wasn’t in our or any other baby-naming book –  months before Angelina and Brad chose it for their newborn son, launching it on the track to widespread use.

When we asked visitors to our website to tell us what they’d named their babies, we never expected their answers to provide such a trove of highly unusual – yes, even unique – names. Some of these turn gender on its ear, some twist spellings in different ways, some reintroduce ancient or ethnic names or transform place names or surnames, and some are conjured from parents’ fertile brains.

Now here is where you would ordinarily expect to find a long list of distinctive, never-heard-before names.  But that would be against the spirit of this style.  So you’ll just have to find–or create–one of your own.

For more of our ideas on unusual names, check out Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby

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Baby Name Timeline

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When we were preparing the article “Bizarre Baby Names: A Growing Trend?” for the July issue of  Reader’s Digest magazine that’s just hit the stands, we put together a lonnnnnng timeline of the key markers in American name history–much longer than they could possibly use with the story.  So here we offer you some of the dates and events that you won’t find in the magazine.

1620.  The Mayflower arrives bearing 102 passengers, mostly with classic English names, but also one Degory, one Resolved, one Remember, one Wrestling, and one Oceanus, who was born mid-voyage.

1750s. Enter classical names (Homer, Horace), chivalrous names (Arthur, Elaine), and romantic girls (Lavinia, Rosalind).  More boys are being called Junior.

1768. Birth of Dolley Madison, one of the increasing number of babies with nicknames on their birth certificates.

1825. John Quincy Adams is the first President to have a middle name, a rarity at this time, when it becomes fashionable to use the mother’s maiden name.

1845. The Irish famine sends masses of Bridgets and Patricks to America.

1925. Girls’ names ending in ‘s’ are fashionable–Gladys, Doris, Phyllis, Lois; also those ending in een (Kathleen) and ette (Paulette).

1946. Publication of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care encourages parents to be more relaxed, confident and collaborative: husbands participate more in child care–and baby naming.

1950.  Linda unseats the seemingly unseatable Mary as the number one name for girls.

1959. First Gidget movie released; surfer dude names like Gary, Scott, Dwayne and Bruce catch the wave.

1959.  Mattel introduces the Barbie doll; other nickname names like Lori, Cindy, Sherry and Terri are hot.

1966. Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. renounces his “slave name” to become Muhammed Ali; other celebrities follow suit, influencing African-American baby naming.

1967.  Frank Zappa names his first child Moon Unit,  a seminal ‘kooky’ baby name.  Son Dweezil will follow two years later.

1968. TV westerns like Here Come the Brides, featuring brothers Jason, Jeremy and Joshua, signal a return of old cowboy names.

1974. The first issue of People magazine accelerates fascination with celebrity culture, parents start to be increasingly influenced by names stars give their babies.

1987. Movie Wall Street proclaims “Greed is good,” summing up the Go-Go 80s and inspiring Waspy surnames for boys (Carter, Parker) and androgynous exec names for all (Kyle, Blake, Blair).

1998. Parents continue to get more and more kreeatif with spellings like Adan, Austyn and Alivia all in the year’s Top 700.

2000. The Internet inspires parents to search genealogy sites for old family names.

2003. Extreme starbaby names grow more extreme–this year alone sees the arrival of Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science and Banjo.

2008. Reason returns: With economic downturn, parents look back to solid, traditional girls’ names like Ella, Grace, Olivia, and biblical boys Jacob, Ethan, Benjamin.

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