Catherine vs. Katherine

My husband and I are settling quickly for the name Catherine/Katherine for a potential girl (dd 2/5/14). My grandma's name was Catherine, and my mother-in-law's name is Katherine. The issue holding us back before was the proper nickname, but we decided Kit is absolutely a perfect and adorable name to match brothers Sam and Ray. So, now we're torn about whether to use a C or K. I want to honor my Irish roots, so which is more Irish? And which would you choose?


By mk
September 10, 2013 6:27 PM

I prefer the spelling Catherine. Just a personal preference.

Another option would be to spell it Kathryn. That way, she is named after two relatives, yet has her own spelling of the name.


September 10, 2013 9:28 PM

I MAY be wrong, but I believe the Irish version of Catherine is actually Caitlin (koit-leen) and the Anglicized version of that is Cathleen. Catherine and Katherine are both from Greek roots, with the first recorded usage of the name being Saint Catherine of Alexandria. So I think it may just come down to which spelling YOU prefer. I, personally, like the Katherine spelling if you plan on using a K nickname (Kit, Kate, Kat, Kitty, etc.), which you've said you are planning. So, I would go with Katherine. 

September 10, 2013 10:34 PM

The Irish alphabet doesn't contain K (, so in that sense Catherine is the "more Irish" choice, but the Irish forms of Catherine are Caitriona, Caitrin, or Caitlin ( page 42) -- which sound roughly like Katrina, Kathryn, and Kathleen, respectively, and these Anglicized forms are much more commonly written with K.

September 11, 2013 2:26 AM

I'm torn on this one.  Catherine seems more historic and feminine to me. I'm not saying these opinions are correct; they are just my initial reaction to the spellings.  But, if you are using the nn Kit, I would probably use the K spelling.  I like the  first letter of the name to be the same as the nickname.  I know it doesnt always work out this way, but it is just a preference I have.


September 11, 2013 11:20 AM

I actually agree with all of this! On its own, I prefer Catherine, but if younalready know the intended nickname and it's Kit, then Katherine seems like a logical choice - especially since you're so torn. (If you really liked Catherine better but wanted to use Kit, I'd say that it's no big deal.)

September 12, 2013 1:05 PM

I also agree with all of this!

September 11, 2013 7:39 AM

I prefer Katherine with a K in large part because I feel it more naturally leads to Kit, Kat, and Kate.  I spelled my 2nd daughter's name Katharine.

September 11, 2013 10:25 AM

I prefer the K spelling.  In part, because that is the one used in my family.  I also think it makes more sense with the nicknames Kit & Kate/Katie.  I like the C spelling better for Cathy & Cat.


By EVie
September 11, 2013 11:36 AM

I prefer Catherine. They're both nice, but I just find the C spelling much softer and more elegant. I see Katherine as more of a spunky, tomboy, girl-next-door type, and Catherine as a young lady. I can see the appeal of matching the initial to the nickname, but I don't think that's necessary—Catherines have been going by Kate, Kit etc. for hundreds of years. Kate Middleton is a Catherine—that gives you a pretty high profile example to point to. 

I don't think either version is particularly Irish—if you really want Irish, I would go for Caitlin/Cathleen/Kathleen or one of the other variants HNG suggested—but I agree with her logic that since there is no K in the Irish alphabet, Catherine is the more Irish of the two.

July 17, 2015 7:10 AM

I agree with all of this.

By hyz
September 11, 2013 12:40 PM

I prefer the look of Catherine--somehow it seems more graceful to me, and I like Cat and Cate better than Kat or Kate. I don't think I would say one is clearly more Irish than the other. Since you are going for the nn Kit, I can see leaning towards Katherine, but if it were me I would still use Catherine and keep the nn as Kit (because unlike Cate/Cat/etc., Cit doesn't make phonetic sense). I don't think that will be too terribly confusing for anyone, and she will always have to specify whether her full name is with a C or K anyway, so I don't think that will be affected much either way.

By Amy3
September 11, 2013 1:09 PM

"... I would still use Catherine and keep the nn as Kit ..." This is what my husband's grandmother did. She was Catherine, always called Katie.

We planned to give our daughter the middle name Katherine to honor his grandmother and mine (who spelled it with a K). I'll admit, I assumed his grandmother was also a 'Katherine' because of her nickname. We found out just before our daughter was born that she was Catherine instead. We opted to go with Katherine. While I do prefer the K slightly, I'm also such a Catherine/Katherine fan that I like either spelling.

September 11, 2013 2:42 PM

I prefer the spelling Katherine.

September 11, 2013 9:40 PM

Name her Katherine Catherine. Then call her KC for short. But I like Kit better! Katherine with a K looks more feminine to me!

July 17, 2015 5:50 AM

I am a Catherine and my name always get spelt with a K and i hate it. why can't people ask if that is your name is spelt with a C or K rather than just asuming.

September 12, 2013 12:06 PM

I personally prefer Katherine, but a large part of that is from Anne of Windy Poplars (plus family tradition, although I just found that my Great-Grandmother was Catherine in Scotland and it was changed to Katherine at Ellis Island).

Katherine seems more spunky to me while Catherine seems more sophisticated, if that makes any sense.

September 12, 2013 3:00 PM

I'm a Katherine nn Kate and I've always been glad for the K- spelling, both because I like it and because my nn has the same first letter as my formal name. That said, I don't mind Catherine at all, and Catherine with a K- nn is an established practice.

This does make me think of the movie "Anne of Avonlea" (I read the books, but I've seen the movies a million times and remember it much better, so I don't know if this line is in the book but I love it anyway), when Anne met the headmistress (if I'm remembering correctly) of the boarding school at which she taught, whose name was Katherine. When Anne saw it written out on the blackboard she said, "I'm glad you spell your name with a K. Katherine with a K is so much more alluring than Catherine with a C." At which Katherine erased the K and wrote C in order to spite Anne, so make of that association what you will!

September 12, 2013 3:37 PM

I always think of that scene in the movie when I hear the Katherine vs. Catherine discussion too!

September 12, 2013 5:33 PM

I do, too!! Plus, there's a fantastic exchange between Anne and Marilla about the name Cordelia. Anne would have loved this website :)

July 17, 2015 5:48 AM

I preferlylike the Catherine spelling better as K is a sharp letter and C is a femine letter. Go for the C spelling and is Kit a real name? It sounds like a cat.

July 17, 2015 7:54 AM

This is toughie!  We went with Katharine for my daughter because we intended to call her Kate.  Maybe someday she'll be a Kate but at 7 she's happy to go by her full name and Kat.  Since Kat/Cat is equally appealing to me, I've occasionally wished we used Catherine since it seems more romantic and since that's how my mom spells her name.  But my mom just told me that she likes that Katharine has her own spelling of the name.

Kit is a great nickname! We occasionally call our daughter Kitty and I've called her Kit a time or two.  It makes me think of Witch of Blackbird Pond.

July 17, 2015 9:00 AM

I think the "K" spelling is more intuitive, since Kit isn't a very common nickname for Catherine/Katherine. But if you prefer the Catherine spelling, I think you should go for it.

July 19, 2015 7:13 PM

I feel that if you're using Kit as the nickname (which is wonderful, by the way!), it would make the most sense to us Katherine. I feel like her name will always be misspelled if you use Catherine with the nickname Kit.

July 19, 2015 7:26 PM

This thread is almost two years old. It's still an interesting theoretical question, but the OP has presumably long-since made a decision.

June 10, 2019 7:31 PM

My daught name is Catherine. I like C