How do you feel about variant spellings of a name?

What I mean by this is spellings of a name that sounds exactly the same but with a different spelling of the original familiar name.


Amelea - Amelia
Elenore - Eleanor

Those two are just some examples. Both variant spellings can be found on this website.

So guys what do you think of spelling variants on any name?


August 26, 2013 4:38 PM

I don't mind spelling variants that have history or some that are used to change the pronunciation of the name. However, I am not a fan of variants that are so uncommon that it will be a lifetime struggle to get people to spell it correctly. And even worse when the name is a common one and the change is just for kicks, such as the Amelea example given above. I do understand the appeal, since you feel like it will make a common name feel distinct, but it is typically more of a headache than a way of making your child stand out as special. And I don't think that you'd going to get much love for that style of name around these parts :)

August 26, 2013 5:59 PM

I have never been a big fan of name variants. Imagine being a little kid making birthday invitations. You have an Aidan,Aiden,Khloe,Chloe,Khadaen,Caden,Kaylee,Cayleigh, Peyton,Payton,Riley,Ryleigh,and Ryley. Caden is a girl. Khadaen is a boy.Peyton is a boy. Payton is a girl. Riley is a boy. Ryley and Ryleigh are girls. Imagine how confusing it would be for you to try and spell these names correctly on an invitation. It gets even harder when you have to pass the invitations out to your friends. You have to hope you spelled their names right and that you gave them to the right kids. That is a lot of work for a little kid. It is even harder on the teachers when they have to do roll call and call on kids to answer questions in class. Name variants are very confusing especially for kids who are learning to read and write.


By mk
August 26, 2013 11:59 PM

I'm fine with long standing variants, such as Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn. I don't like when people make up a new spelling just to be "different." The name is still pronounced the same, so why cause problems with the spelling?

I wouldn't think "Amelia" if I saw Amelea. I'd think of Amelea as a different name.

August 27, 2013 12:08 AM

Now that you mention it, I agree. There's a good chance that I'd think that the spelling indicated a different name, and thus probably pronounce it am-uh-LEE-uh.

Of course, Amelia might have just have been given as an example, but it does highlight a problem that the person with such a name would face consistently.

August 27, 2013 8:57 AM

Yeah Amelea is just an example. I found it on here. Same goes for Elenore. 

August 27, 2013 12:29 AM

I agree with everyone here.  If there is a history to justify then maybe.  I understand Gwendolyn can also be Gwendolen.  But most of the time I think it isn't fair to the child.  Correcting paperwork your entire  life would get old.

August 27, 2013 10:41 AM

I have a Katharine and a Clare so clearly we've gone with variant spellings.  In neither case was I trying to be different but I prefered those spellings.  Theresa is on my short list if I have another girl. 

August 27, 2013 12:33 PM

I think you've hit on something important, Katharine and Clare are variant spellings.  But both of them have a history of usage and there are reasons/traditions to justify the use of either.  To me, there is a difference between a variant spelling and a created spelling.

Something like Klare I would consider a created spelling.  There's no history & no reason (that I am aware of) other than an attempt to make the name seem unique.  In my opinion, something like this just makes the name look misspelled.  

So, I am OK with names that have variant spellings (Catherine, Katherine, Katharine, etc.).  Just pick the one you like best.  I'm not a fan of created spellings (Ayden, Aidyn, Aaden, etc.).  They just look wrong & honestly, uneducated.  The goal behind these seems to be making the name more unique, but on a playground or in the classroom all of these kids are called the same thing.  Creating a spelling just adds confusion & hassle for the kid and winds up not being as unique as people intend.


August 27, 2013 12:36 PM

forgot to add my 2 cents about the names in the original post!  

Amelea I don't want to say like Amelia.  To me, it looks more like Amma-leah.  Not a fan of this spelling, I think it'd cause a lot of unnecassary confusion.

Also not crazy about Elenore, but at least the pronunciation seems more intuitive.  

August 28, 2013 1:16 PM

A teacher I know basically said that parents don't know how to spell a name properly so they make up a spelling. I wouldn't want people to think I don't know how to spell my kid's name! I like traditional spellings anyway. I wouldn't have wanted a name or spelling that was super trendy at the time I was born that dates me as an adult. 

By EVie
August 28, 2013 1:48 PM

I agree with what the others have posted—variants with history are generally fine, but changing the spelling just to be different is setting up a lot of headaches for your child. Although—there are some variants with history that I still don't like. Cecelia drives me crazy. Cecilia is the traditional spelling, and it dates back at least two thousand years. Cecelia has been used for the past hundred-odd years, true, but it's just a very old spelling mistake, probably due to confusion with Celia (they are two different names with different etymological origins!) Mae, as I've explained here recently in other threads, just strikes me as an old attempt to be creative. I'm fine with Catherine, Katherine and Katharine, but I don't like Kathryn, which is an early 20th-century creative spelling. Claire and Clare are also both fine.

In general, I think I'm fine with all variants that are mainstream in other languages—Emilie and Lucie are mainstream French spellings, so that's fine; Cristina is the Italian Christina, and Krystyna is the Polish. I also don't mind variants that arose in a time when the spelling of English was not standardized (Eleanor and Elinor—Jane Austen used both versions in different books). What I don't like is variants that arose because someone was trying to be different, or just made a spelling mistake. So both Amelea and Elenore are ones that I would stay away from.

I also agree with the above point about variant spellings making it seem like you or your child doesn't know how to spell. I know it's not fair, and many people know very well how to spell the original name, but deliberately choose a variant spelling for some other reason. But you don't get the chance to explain that to every person you meet, and even well-meaning people make unconscious snap judgments. I wouldn't want to give my child that kind of potential handicap.

August 28, 2013 3:30 PM

Regarding Kathryn being an early 20th century creative spelling: it goes a lot further back than that. The International Genealogical Index gives over 2000 matches for the exact spelling "Kathryn", all but one of them from before 1900. (Thirty are from the 1500s.)

But in general I agree with the consensus here: changing the spelling just to be different is a bad idea on all sides -- it makes you look dumb, and causes lifelong headaches for your child. It's not a black-and-white thing, though, because most names have variant spellings with history behind them. In fact, I can't think of a single name without at least one valid variant. (Julia -> Giulia. Martha -> Marta. David -> Dafydd. And so on.) Hmm, maybe I should post in the Name Games section: "Wanted: a name with no valid variant spellings", with "valid" defined as "in use in multiple centuries" or some such.

August 28, 2013 5:18 PM

I'm really not a fan of the Kathryn spelling either, but that's what we ended up going with for my DD's middle. Partly was to distinguish from other family members with the name Katherine, partly because I like the almost 3 syllable pronunciation Katherine, but that was too many syllables with DD's first name, partly because DH and I both have a "y" in our names, and he preferred that spelling. So we ended up with the spelling I'm not fond of, but it really works best with her name and because it is a variant spelling of the name for several centuries.


By EVie
August 28, 2013 7:34 PM

HNG, I stand corrected on Kathryn. I still can't say that I care for it, though, possibly because I say the name with three syllables, and this pointedly two-syllable version seems to me like it's missing its middle.

August 28, 2013 10:36 PM

My personal experience naming my daughter seems to apply to this discussion.  EVie, I second your statement that even if you have a good reason for changing a spelling you won't get to explain it.  My daughter's name is Meika.  It has nothing to do with the name Micah, but it's pronounced the same way.  I ignorantly assumed people would be as interested as I am in names and be interested in why we chose that name for her.  Instead, I get the glazed- over look as I try to explain.  And I know people think that's a dumb way to misspell Micah.  Since here would be the only place people might be interested, I'm going to take the opportunity to explain.  :).  Meike is a German name, technically a nn for Maria.  Since learning some German and traveling there and meeting a lovely lady named Meike, who assisted our family in some geneological searching, and finding out the connection to the name Mary, I have fallen in love with this name.  And I would have stuck with the correct German spelling if I thought it had a prayer of being pronounced correctly.  Since it wouldn't, we changed it to Meika.  I wouldn't change my daughter's name... I still love it and SHE loves it...YAY!  But, I agree with all that's been said here about creative spellings.  Generally not a good idea.

August 28, 2013 3:20 PM

I concur with the others: traditional variations are fine. I also assume that parents are uneducated if their kids' names look misspelled. My name is quite unusual, but has one traditional spelling. If people don't know how to spell it, they ask. If they have known another Cecily, they spell it correctly. If you have a common name with one accepted spelling, like Amelia or Michael, no one will ask how to spell it. Your kid will be constantly correcting people.

My husband's first name is a common Scandinavian surname. It's spelled with an -en ending, but people often assume it's spelled -on. Given this, even if I liked the less common spelling (e.g., Neal instead of Neil or Clare instead of Claire), I would probably choose the more common version just to spare my kid future hassles.

August 28, 2013 5:20 PM

Yep--we've gone with the common spelling for our kids because our last name is never spelled correctly (or somehow said correctly if it is seen first). I have to constantly spell both my first and last name (and since they both start with "Sha-" I get interrupted a lot also with, "No, I asked for...." Yes, I'm trying to give it to you!), and it is a pain!

August 28, 2013 4:23 PM

Downt duh'e itt. U think-k itz keyute, butte noe'boddi' wil bee aybl tew sahy itt, ayund u wil seemh ig'gnohrunt. Ski-ph randum' punktuashun awlso.

August 31, 2013 4:20 PM

Agreed. I think it portrays a kid's background in a negative way that sticks with him/her. Not that a kid with a nutty name won't succeed -- I went to an Ivy League law school with a woman named after a brand of liquor. And there are plenty of Michaels in prison. But when I see a name like Aliz'byth or even the (not so terrible or uncommon) Rylee, I make unintentional, unwanted assumptions about the education of that person's parents and/or the seriousness with which they were named.

September 1, 2013 12:41 AM

I agree with what's been said. I don't mind spellings that have been around for awhile/have history etc. but if it's just made up to be yewnique I do make unintentional and unwanted assumptions about the parents education and if they know how to spell their own child's name. Granted I realize they most likely know how to spell it but are just wanting to be yoonike, instead they are making a life long hassle for the kid. If you want a unique name than find an uncommon name..just my 2 cents.