Name Teaser: Add-a-Letter

Mar 17th 2010

Lots of names can morph into variants just by adding a letter to the end. Sometimes the extra letter changes the sex: Robert expands to Roberta, Julia to Julian. Sometimes the letter changes the ethnicity, turning Carl into the Italian Carlo, then Carlo into the Spanish Carlos. You can make diminutives with a single letter, too -- just ask Mikey.

But when you add a consonant other than n or s, funny things happen. If you manage to make a new name at all, it's likely to be completely unrelated to the name you started with.

Here's an example from the top of the alphabet. Ada is a name that goes back about 250 years and is believed to come from the Germanic name element adal ("noble"). Add an m, though, and you have the Biblical Hebrew name Adam.

Can you find more?



By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 10:17 AM

"Mike" isn't a name in its own right.

March 17, 2010 10:34 AM

Dear Guest,

You think not? Take a look:

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 10:50 AM

Cora and Coral

Jane and Janet, but those are related

By Melly C (not verified)
March 17, 2010 11:18 AM

Dan and Dane
Eva and Evan
Lia and Liam
Aja and Ajax

not sure if these ones may be related or not

Noa and Noam
Cale and Caleb
Earl and Early

Also 2 babies born in my neighbourhood Leland & Jonas.

March 17, 2010 11:41 AM










By SoonToBeMama (not verified)
March 17, 2010 11:49 AM

Hey, guys.

I need opinions. Both of my grandmothers on my father's side (my paternal grandfather's mother and my paternal grandmother's mother) were named Bessie. (In neither case was it a nickname for anything like Elizabeth or Bess.)

I think it's a cute name and am interested in using it for my daughter. My husband also likes the ring of it, but thinks people will associate it with Bessie the Cow.

What do you all think? Would Bess be any better? Your informed opinions are much appreciated!


March 17, 2010 11:54 AM

mose to moses? but i don't know if those are related.

from last thread:

i was under the impression that kathryn was the...welsh or irish form? now i forget. i have a friend with this name, and she was telling me at some point. definitely something in the british isles (unless she was mistaken).

i prefer bess to bessie. bessie does strike me as a) bessie the cow and b) a bit hard to picture on a professional adult. i like bess quite a lot though.

March 17, 2010 11:55 AM

Karen - Kalen - Kaden

I like Bessie and am not sure if younger people today associate the name with cows. Bess does make it better, I think.

Some people on this blog before have pointed out that the cow is in fact named Bossie, but that doesn't matter if the reality is that most people hear the name and think of cows.

By Philippa NLI (not verified)
March 17, 2010 11:55 AM

These are good! How about:

Abe - Abel

Alex - Axel (does that count?)

Tia - Tina or Tia - Tim

Mia - Mina

Nia- Nina

Pia- Pina or Pia- Pip

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 11:58 AM

Here are a couple:

Emil and Emily
Elle and Nelle

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 11:58 AM

I'm sorry, but I can think of nothing but the cow when I hear Bessie or even Bess. I know this might sound weird, but on a cute, popular girl I think people would get past that association. On a slightly overweight girl, I think the name could be agony.

By knp
March 17, 2010 12:07 PM

I don't think cow at all with Bessie-- and have a quizzical response when someone does (I'm 28... for old/young reference) And I'm in Wisconsin with lots of moo-cows! :)

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
March 17, 2010 12:08 PM

I have never heard of Bessie the Cow. Now, if everyone else thinks of a cow when they hear Bessie, then me not knowing it doesn't mean much. But still, there is at least one person out there who does NOT have that association.

When I think of Bess, I think of Nancy Drew's best friend and Good Queen Bess (Elizabeth I) and the word "best." I think it's a great name. It's totally cute and adorable as Bessie, and sort of cute and yet studious as Bess.

You could always name her Elizabeth and call her Bessie. That way, if she did run into problems, she could fall back on some other Elizabeth nickname.

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 12:18 PM

Bessie definitely has cow connotations to this Wisconsin-raised parent. It's not so much that there's a particular cow named Bessie, but that Bessie is to cows what Fido is to dogs -- the generic name I think of related to the animal.

Is it a universal association? Obviously not. But I think the Elizabeth solution proposed above is a wise way to go.

By JMT (not verified)
March 17, 2010 12:42 PM

Love this teaser! Does this work?

Fran - Frank

Is Francis/Frances related to Frank/Franklin?

March 17, 2010 1:05 PM

I agree with Guest#14 on the Bessie thing. It's not so much one particular cow. In addition, more than the cow thing which I could probably get past, it sounds too old-ladyish to me. However, it has meaning for you which trumps anything anyone else has to say about it.

By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:09 PM

Sorry, I’m a little behind this is in response to the last post’s discussion:

@Eo – How would one pronounce Ysmay? I like the way it looks but don’t have an intuitive sense of how to say it. Also, Giselle’s son’s name is Benjamin Rein. Here’s a link to an interesting article about the couple’s naming choice:

And now moving on to the new post…

@Soontobemama – We’ve had this conversation here a couple of times, unfortunately the board is pretty well divided. To me, Bessie is a cow, a beautifully named cow, but a cow, nonetheless. (I think Guest 14 said it best when she said it’s just the quintessential cow name rather than being a specific cow). Bess is a little better for me. If you like the “ee” ending would you consider Betsy?

March 17, 2010 1:12 PM

Fun teaser!

Kai -> Kain
Dov -> Dove
Cal -> Cale
Jon -> Jong

By gwyneth (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:37 PM

sorry, bessie is a cow name to me. Though oddly my husband had the same objections to one of my favorite names - Anabelle. I didn't see the cow connection there.

By UrbanAngel (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:45 PM


I think Bessie depends on where you live - not just region, but country. I don't think of cow at all. If you are going to have a child now or in the next few years, I wouldn't worry about it as by the time your child will go to school, the kids most likely won't even know about that connotation. It's more important I think what your child's peers & people who are a little bit older (maybe 10 years)think than connotations maybe from this time or from previous generations. By the time your kid goes to school or gets a job, the Bessie the Cow reference might not even be relevant or contemporary. I don't think it's thta much of a deal at all

In terms of the name, I think Bess might be viewed as more professoinal & Bessie as more cutesy. Then again, many woman get away with Katie, Julie etc which are 'younger' or more 'nickname-like' names

Good luck!

By Ele (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:47 PM


Iss-may, perhaps? Like Esme but slightly more exotic? No idea, just guessing!


I'm 26, and I have never had ANY idea what people are talking about when I hear "Bessie the Cow". Honestly, I'm just drawing a blank here, so I'm pretty sure it's a generational thing. Probably not something your little girl will have to deal with, at least not where her peers are concerned.

My strongest association with Bess is Elizabeth I, or Good Queen Bess as she was sometimes called. I think it's a lovely name.

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:49 PM

Han --> Hank

By UrbanAngel (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:49 PM


Ok, I really, really love the name Blair. I'll take it on any gender that I can get. But, what gender do you PREFER it on?

By the way, I'm not American & I don't watch Gossip Girl etc

Thank you!

By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
March 17, 2010 1:57 PM

I'm not so sure that Bessie is generational. I'm 29 but I asked one of our students who is 19 and she gets it too. If I had to guess I'd say it was more of a rural vs. urban issue.

The connection is mentioned in the wikipedia article for the word Bessie:

March 17, 2010 2:09 PM

Fun game!

Sorry for any repeats:

Ari -> Aria
Cora -> Coral
Avi -> Avis
Lia -> Liam
Eva -> Evan
Dina -> Dinah
Nola -> Nolan
Ima -> Iman -> Imani
Thor -> Thora
Aida-> Aidan

Some of these might be bending the rules a little but it's all I can come up with right now.

March 17, 2010 2:06 PM

For the teaser the only one I can think of is Lila --> Lilac, which isn't too impressive.

@UrbanAngel: I think Blair is more feminine, but probably because it's similar to Claire.

@SoonToBeMama: Why not use Elizabeth and nickname her Bess/Bessie, so if there are cow references she can use one of the other Elizabeth nicknames.

March 17, 2010 2:11 PM


I don't know about Anabelle the Cow, but it could be similarly to the Disney character Clarabelle Cow.

By UrbanAngel (not verified)
March 17, 2010 2:11 PM

Sue D. Nimm

Thank you! That's a good explanation

March 17, 2010 2:13 PM

JMT- I think Frank is generally related to Francis (e.g. Frank Sinatra was christened Francis Albert), but can also be short for Franklin.

Wikipedia says of Franklin:

"Franklin is an English given name for males. It is of English [origin] coming from the medieval English Frankeleyn, coming from the Anglo-Franco fraunclein. Its meaning is landowner of free but not noble origin."

That was news to me. My father's middle name is Franklin, and as he was born in the US in 1934, I've been wondering whether he was named for Roosevelt, or maybe even Benjamin F. He doesn't know.

March 17, 2010 2:14 PM

UrbanAngel, I grew up watching Blair on The Facts of Life in the '80s so it's hard for me to think of Blair as a boy's name. The two real-life Blairs I know are both 20-something females.

March 17, 2010 2:14 PM

i'm not sure bessie is generational either. i'm 25, which isn't super young or anything, but i think one of the younger on this board and bessie still means cow to me. hmm. i'm very curious now. i might ask my younger sisters.

the only blair i've ever known was a girl.

March 17, 2010 2:29 PM

I've known both male and female Blairs. The name is very firmly usable by both genders in my mind.

March 17, 2010 3:29 PM

Laura, fun topic, I can't think of anything but I'm enjoying others' submissions:)

Re: Bessie- I definitely think cow, I'm 25 live right near an eastern city and I agree with the Bessie is to cow as Fido is to dog comparison. There is no one "Bessie the Cow" it's just the generic name almost... like Kleenex! So unfortunately if your daughter were not thin I think that could be a problem. That said I actually Bess is enough to separate it. Elizabeth does give more options, but if you would prefer to give her the name Bess and call her Bessie that would be ok. Bess sounds classy to me and has some lovely historical namesakes.

Blair does *sound* a little more like a girl's name to me, but I think I'd actually prefer it on a boy... dunno if that helps. With questions like this though I do think the country really matters so if you're not from the US I would canvas some countrymen/women as well!

Missed you all for the last week but couldn't make it on, I'm getting a new job (yay!) so hopefully once I start in a couple weeks I'll have some fun names for you!

By 4babies4years (not verified)
March 17, 2010 3:32 PM

Maybe instead of using Bessie, you could do what everyone is doing here and change a letter so that her name is Bessa? Like Tessa it has a more modern ring to it? My grandmother and my husband's grandmother are both named Norma and we want to honor them with this baby's name so we are going with Nora for a middle name instead! Just a though!

By Eo (not verified)
March 17, 2010 3:50 PM

Qwen-- Thank you for that interesting link about little Benjamin Rein! I'm disappointed they didn't go with the full "Reinoldo"-- so distinguished. "Rein" seems truncated. Maybe they didn't want so many three syllable names?

I do believe that the medieval "Ysmay" is pronounced IZ-may, but Ele's suggestion of "ISS-may" could also be right. I used to think it was an old variant of "Esme" and it still could be, but then I read something that connected it to another name as well which I've forgotten! Will have to look it up again...

EVie-- Your discussion of "Kathryn" piqued my curiosity! Your source IS very reputable. I consulted Dunkling and Gosling as well who mention that Kathryn was gathering steam by 1912 and became even more frequent in the 1940's after singer-actress Kathryn Grayson appeared on the scene. (She appeared in Show Boat and I believe was a huge MGM musical star in her heyday, along with Howard Keel).

But in addition to your source and mine, there is other stuff on the name in the Medieval Names Archive on the web. There's an article there called "Feminine Given Names in A Dictionary of English Surnames" by Talan Gwynek.

The article traces names through all their variants from around the twelfth century onward.
"Katherine" was taking all kinds of forms, including "Catlin", spotted in records as early as the year 1198.

In 1296, "Kateryna" had appeared in written records of the time. In 1456, the form "Kateryn" was recorded.

And by 1570, the variant "Katheryn" was being used-- very close to Kathryn. But I couldn't find the exact Kathryn spelling in these particular medieval references.

Other medieval variants include "Katin", "Catin", even "Catel"! And my favorite "Kit" appeared in 1379...

Soon-To-Be-Mama-- Speaking of medieval and Tudor gems, "Bess" is a winner. As previously mentioned, we've had another prospective parent considering "Bess" here, and I love it, especially for the 'Good Queen Bess" reference. It's one of those rare nicknames which I believe is just as potent and appealing as a full name. "Tess" and "Nell" are two others...

By Bue nli (not verified)
March 17, 2010 3:57 PM

Urban Angel, I slightly prefer Blair on a girl but I like it almost as much on a boy. To me it's truly unisex.

I don't mind the cow thing that much, but Bessie is a little informal for my tastes as a given name. Bess is a little more formal and lovely. I definitely think of Good Queen Bess as well as Bess of Hardwick, who was an Elizabethan aristocrat famous for building great houses.

By Eo (not verified)
March 17, 2010 4:11 PM

Wow, that's interesting. A little more digging on "Ysmay" suggests it may be connected to the name "Ismagi" (?). The source says it is probably not connected to "Ismena", another name of obscure origin...

Yes, I had forgotten Bess of Hardwick!

March 17, 2010 4:17 PM

Re the Bessie the cow connotations, I am 43 and grew up in rural area.

Re Blair-I like Aurora grew up watching Facts of Life TV show. I think of Blair/Blaire as a girls name. However, it also reminds me of Tony Blair. Also, for the record, there are many names that I can't see on one gender or another that are perfectly acceptable to others (esp of another country).

By saree (not verified)
March 17, 2010 4:23 PM

what are some ways to get "kit" other than katherine?

By Jillc (not verified)
March 17, 2010 4:32 PM

I quite like Bess. I prefer it over Bessie, but Bessie doesn't have strong "cow" associations for me.

re: Blair -- this name leans slightly female to me, but I think could go either way.

re: Coral Reese (from last thread) -- I'm in the minority apparently - I don't think I would have noticed the similarity to Coral Reef until you mentioned it. Particularly as part of a hyphenated last name, I don't see a problem at all. (Disclaimer: I mentioned an interesting baby name I saw in a magazine to my husband -- Saber Truth -- and he immediately replied, "Sounds like saber tooth." I did not notice that at all, even after I said the name out loud.)

By Wendy C (not verified)
March 17, 2010 4:41 PM

Opa - Opal
Rya - Ryan
Arian - Ariana
Maya - Mayar
Brad - Brady

This is much more fun than working. ;)

I didn't think of cow when you said Bessie, but did see the connection when mentioned. As a Wendy who's dad wished he had named me Gwendolyn because "it sounds more professional", I always advocate for the more formal name -- either Bess or Elizabeth-- with Bessie as a nickname.

March 17, 2010 4:56 PM

So now that I have some time, I can write a proper post regarding the Y riser/I faller issue. The info taken after pouring over the Top 1000 charts of 2007 compared to 2008. Addisyn/Addyson/Adyson=risers


Nataly=riser Natalie=faller

Heidy rose by a greater amount than Heidi.
Layla rose more than Laila, but not so with Leyla over Leila.
Joselyn had less of a fall than Joselin.
Rayna went up by more than Raina.

However, there were others that didn't fit the pattern.

Cristal fell by less then Crystal.
Jaylin fell by less than Jaylyn.
Jordin outranked Jordyn.
Mollie=riser and Molly=faller

So I guess it's not really definitive but when I initially looked through the data, it FELT like the Y's had it over the I's. I guess it depends on how current the name is and how much different it can feel if it is NOT current.

By Guest (not verified)
March 17, 2010 5:27 PM


I had a friend named Bess in college, but she was called exclusively Bess, never Bessie. I suited her well.

By EVie
March 17, 2010 6:38 PM

Bessie is cow-like to me too, and I am 26 and urban-raised. I do like it, cow association notwithstanding - though I would also suggest a full name of Elizabeth or something else (Beatrice maybe?) to give the child options if she doesn't like it.

Eo - thanks for that info on Kathryn! I really like Catlin - I've also seen Catrin as another variant, which I like a lot as well, though I don't know where/when it comes from.

saree - Kit can be a male nickname for Christopher, as in the character in Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop, so I think it could work very well for Christina, Kristen, Kirsten, etc.

By Philippa The First (not verified)
March 17, 2010 7:01 PM

Saree: I went to school with a boy named Kitson, always a Kit. I suspect Kitson is a last name to honor someone.

And to weigh in on Bessie... I will echo others who said name her Elizabeth and call her Bessie. Even if in her teen years she wants to be Liz/Eliza/Beth at school, you can always call her Bessie at home. It will still have the sweetness of your association, without some of the unfair ones of the world at large.

March 17, 2010 8:10 PM

saree-Sorry, meant to weigh in on this earlier. Kit could be from Kristen or variations as Philippa the first said. Also, what about Kaitlyn et al versions we've been discussing? Or could it just be a family nn short for Kitten.

And who was it looking for nn's for Victoria a few threads ago. Could you derive Kiki (kee-kee) from Vicki? Or also Kit as well?

By True (not verified)
March 17, 2010 8:19 PM

Olive -> Oliver

Ora -> Cora, Dora, Lora, etc.

Owen -> Rowen

By Cathie (not verified)
March 17, 2010 9:04 PM

Laura, what about an Olympics post?! I'm just back from a trip and logged on expecting to see a names discussion (yes, I saw the hockey one but that's not what I mean...)

One of the things I love about the Olympics is hearing names from other cultures that I'm not familiar with (I guess that makes me an official name nerd!). I wonder if there are any with potential for a US breakthrough. Didn't several Russian figure skating names come here that way? Well, I guess that Yu-na is unlikely to take off anytime soon but maybe there were others that I missed.

I'm curious if any of the names jumped out at any of you NEs.

My favorite discovered name was Maelle. I find it so pretty and fresh, although maybe it isn't in French. I wonder if it has cross-over appeal, or is the umlaut too weird/tricky?

By Rayne of Terror (not verified)
March 17, 2010 9:05 PM

Hilda -> Tilda
Elaine -> Elaina
Louis -> Louisa
Meg -> Peg

I'm hearing a new-to-me name suddenly all the time. Brinley, Brinlee, Brinleigh seems to be everywhere and I hadn't heard of it 6 months ago.

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
March 17, 2010 10:02 PM

Just stumbled across a girl's name I really like: Amoret. Of course, I'm pregnant, haven't thought of a name for this baby yet, and thus have name-fever, so maybe it's just awful. Right this second, it sounds sort of awesome though. A girl's name beginning in a fashionable A, ending in a consonant, and not anywhere in the top 1,000.

Never made it all the way through The Fairy Queen but I just read that Amoret was the epitome of married love.