Category: name spellings
You know, you know, it’s Nameberry heresy. But you just can’t help it.
We were tickled when we saw the forum started by Chrisco called Guilty Pleasure Spellings. You know, those less-than-conventional spellings you prefer to the more classic versions.
But the much-maligned kree8tiv spellings that you know may be tacky or twisted, but dang it: You love it anyway.
Kelli Brady, creator of NameFreak!, combined spelling variations to come up with the real top 50 names on the new US popularity list. Her results show some names vastly more popular than it seems and a new Number 1 and Number 2 for boys.
Some names might actually be more popular than the SSA list shows because it ranks each spelling of a name separately, rather than counting all spelling variations — Sophia and Sofia, for example — together. To see how popular a name actually is, I have gathered the various spellings of each name in the 2012 Top 1000 and come up with a new Top 50 for each gender!
Why do I call this the Playground Analysis? Well, when you are on the playground with your kids and you hear a name, you don’t know how it is spelled, but you do know how often you hear it.
Note: The main name listed is the spelling given to the most babies in 2012 (SSA Rank is in parentheses). The others are in alphabetical order. Opinions vary on how different spellings are pronounced. I went with my best judgment.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Does a different spelling alter the image of a name?
We’re not talking about kreeatif spellings here, but standard variations. For example:
• Would Ann of Green Gables have seemed like a slightly different character? (She passionately advocated for the e at the end of her name, claiming it made it “so much more distinguished.”)
• Do you see Catherine as more classic than Katherine?
• Is Isobel more exotic than Isabel?
• Aiden more modern or American than Aidan?
• Elisabeth softer than Elizabeth?
• How about Susanna vs Susannah, Margo vs Margot, Mae vs May?
Any other examples you can think of where different spellings alter your perception of a name?
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.
- Annabel and Annabelle (and Anabel)
- Anne and Ann
- Ariana and Arianna
- Briony and Bryony
- Brooke and Brook
- Claire and Clare