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Creative Baby Names:The -igh Syndrome (sigh)

posted by: YCCII View all posts by this author

by Elisabeth Wilborn of  You Can’t Call It “It”!

Everyone’s heard the old trope, “how do you spell the word FISH“, right?  The answer: “G.H.O.T.I.”  The GH from words like rough, the TI from words such as intuition.  English is a funny language.   All those words that end in GH never quite look like how one would phonetically spell them, unless you specifically adopt the exceptions.

In efforts to make our children’s lives endlessly more complicated, we’ve embraced such oddities with the naming of our own children.

These gems were all recently spotted on an internet birth board:

Love Kaylie  but want to make it unique?  Try Kayleigh.  Have a hankering for Peyton but don’t want to be associated with Manning?  Spell it Peightyn.  Perhaps you like Shiloh, but are afraid to look like a Brangelina copycat.  Spell it Sheighlough.  After all, why not?

I’ll tell you why not.  Notice how each of these “eigh” constructions has a completely different sound?  We leave our teachers, other parents, and friends to guess at the pronunciation of our little one’s monikers.  One can infer that it’s related to the more common name, but what if you want to be really creative?  No, little Madeighson is not Madison, we say “MadEEsun”, emphasis on the second syllable.  Or “Mad-AY-sun.” Can you imagine going through life like this?  If you think it’s tough as a parent, what if it’s your own, inescapable name?

Parents, think before you spell kreighatifly on the birth certificate.  For my eighballs, for my sanity, for your children.

Elisabeth Wilborn can be found at her online homes You Can’t Call It “It” and The Itsy Factor, and she has part-time residency at Nameberry and Apartment Therapy. In the real world she also enjoys painting, cooking, and raising her two little girls on their farm in Texas.

How do you feel about spelling variations like this?

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Elisabeth Wilborn can be found at her online homes You Can't Call It "It" and The Itsy Factor, and she has part-time residency at Nameberry and Apartment Therapy. In the real world she also enjoys painting, cooking, and raising her two little girls on their farm in Texas.
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12 Responses to “Creative Baby Names:The -igh Syndrome (sigh)”

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elliebean13 Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 12:29 am

Sheighlough and Peightyn are pretty awful, but Kayleigh? I don’t even know what the original spelling is anymore! Ashleigh is pretty commonplace as alternate spelling to Ashley, why is it automatic name heresy to be okay with adding -eigh to the end of an “Andro-Girly” name? I don’t like it when people use it in the middle of a name though. Madeighson is atrocious, but I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash if they met a Kayleigh. It isn’t that hard to pronounce. Same with Marleigh, Harleigh, Ainsleigh, or Carleigh. I wouldn’t use any of these names because they aren’t my style, but I respect other people’s tastes and opinions. And if someone who I knew used a name like this, I’m not going to tell them that they should’ve chosen an official Nameberry-approved name like Milo, Beatrix, Violet, or Felix, that obviously isn’t their style. Let them be. They have the right to name their baby whatever they want.

shanbrownie Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 2:27 am

Of course people can name their children whatever they want but the point is why butcher the English language in the process? As stated, it is already a funny language, why make it more difficult? It has nothing to do with choosing a Nameberry-approved name. Whether they are your cup of tea or not, there is nothing wrong with the names Kaylie, Ashley, Carly, Madison or Peyton. The issue is with the improper spelling which can lead to a lifetime of confusion for the child, and their teachers, friends etc. It’s a modern construct that stems from this generations need to ‘one up’ each other. There are thousands of underused names, people could choose a unique name for their children without ruining the spelling. Can you imagine our ancestors naming their daughters Beeatriss (Beatrice) or Meighbelle (Mabel)?

Kiki Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 2:47 am

I don’t mind with Kayleigh or Ashleigh since Leigh is a legitimate feminine version of Lee, so it makes sense. Spelling a name differently doesn’t make it any more unique though, especially since names are said more than written. The only time I understand is if you’re trying to avoid something like a nickname, for example, I prefer Delores over Dolores because I love the nickname Della and hate Dolly.

sarahmezz Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 4:18 am

I think you’re preaching to the choir here!

R_J Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 9:12 am

I definitely prefer simpler spellings that are as intuitive as possible. My name is Rebecca and I rarely have to spell it for people. Or, at worst, they will say “R-e-b-e…?” and wait for me to supply the ending, since it could be -kah or just -ca. I can also understand “Katherine with a K” type spelling changes. I am even on the fence about -leigh endings, if they are replacing -ley. But Sheighlough makes me face palm.

strawberrytree Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 9:53 am


I always want to pronounce a name ending in -leigh as ‘lay’ instead of ‘lee’. Weigh, sleigh, eight…etc. Spelling your kid’s name Sopheigha doesn’t make them any more special, it just means they will always have to spell it out.

karateleshi80 Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I like Kayleigh 🙂 no confusion about pronounciation in Australia, we’re used to a lot of Leigh names and pronounce them Lee not Lay.

There was a post about a Heavvyn and Annystyn the other day I did a double take with that one. I thought the name was Heavy-n not Heaven.

CharacterNamer Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Anything ending in igh or eigh or whatever it’s supposed to be gives me a headache. Exception: Leigh. Just Leigh.
Spell Kayleigh like Kaylie or Kayley or Kaley or Kaylee. Just not Kayleigh. Please.

clairels Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

@elliebean13 Love your comment. Name heretics unite.

@shanbrownie “There’s nothing wrong with Kaylie, Ashley, Carly, Madison or Peyton.” Except on Nameberry, where all of these names are regularly pilloried. People can’t have it both ways by claiming to “like the original spelling” when they clearly don’t like anything about the name, including the original.

jame1881 Says:

July 19th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I totally agree that the pronunciation is different with Kaylie versus Kayleigh. For Kaylie, the “ie” is higher pitched and more accentuated. For Kayleigh, I tend to drop the “ee” sound down a little, seeing as there are more letters and I expect more sounds, but they do not come out. Imagine this: Kaylie is going up the stairs, Kayleigh is going down.
And now, I may (treasonously) say that I prefer Kayleigh. I like the softer, going down sound. I don’t mind Ashleigh, either. I used to think that Kelleigh was a totally different name than Kelly, and I really liked it. I think when placed at the end, it does make a name look more, well, fancy.
As I’m saying them out loud, variants like Kelli and Kellie go up the stairs, but I find Kelly and Kelley to go down. So I guess y’s would give me the sound I like. But like I said, the -eigh looks fancy at the end. Y’s look almost more kr8ive and trying to be streamlined.
In the middle, however, I feel -iegh just creates confusion (“do I pronounce the g or not…?”)

lalala__lauren Says:

September 23rd, 2013 at 2:14 pm

@jame1881 I have a friend named Kelleigh! She spelled it for me once and it’s never been a problem since then. I can’t buy her a personalized pencil or anything, but I’d rather make my own gifts to give people, so it’s no big thing.

If you do it once in Shiloh (Shilough) I think it might be okay, but twice is ridiculous. I’m fine with Kayleigh, Ashleigh, and Kelleigh, but wouldn’t choose them for my own children, however that’s more to do with not liking even the original. I would be able to intuitively pronounce all of those names and I think that’s the most important part – it doesn’t matter if my name is spelled correctly on the starbucks cup (I get Loren all the time and just have a laugh about it), I care more that when someone sees my name, they can pronounce it, and that’s how I feel about children’s names, too.

Kayleigh27 Says:

November 26th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I’m a Kayleigh so I’m biased, aha, but I can’t stand to see it spelled without the leigh, Kaylee/Kaylie just looks really cheap to me.
Plus being Irish the -leigh spelling is the traditional one, and it’s only since living in England that I’ve had to spell it out at work.
Though I do think adding -leigh to names to make them different is a bit much, if only to spare your child having to write it out in forms, 8 letters was enough for me, I’d’d hate to have been a Sheighlough

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