Ceilidh versus Cailey

I love the Gaelic spelling of Ceilidh but I hate how trendy Kaylee and every other spelling is. Do you like Ceilidh or Cailey, however?


BQ, if you had to name a child/character Kaylee/Kailey/Kaliegh/any other spelling you've heard or know, which would you go with?


March 7, 2015 10:50 PM

When you say Ceilidh are you talking about the Gaelic folk music festivals?

March 7, 2015 11:29 PM

As Miriam points out, the Gaelic spelling is a word for a type of party, not a name. The word happens to sound the same as Kaylee, which is basically a diminutive of a diminutive of Katherine, and has more variant spellings than three other names put together -- and that's without adding Gaelic words to the mix. I say stick with Kaylee: you'll have to spell it each time, but at least people will know how to say it.

March 7, 2015 11:56 PM

I am a huge proponent of giiving kids standard spellings to names. However, I think Kaylee has SO many alternate spellings that I don't need to advocate for "standard" in this case. Any spelling is likely going to be frequently mispelled, so Cailey is a totally fine spelling. 

Nevertheless, I would skip Ceilidh. Unless you speak Gaelic, and think your daughter would solely be around people who speak Gaelic, you're just giving her a headache. Not only will people not be able to spell her name when they hear it, but many won't be able to pronounce her name when they see it. It's the double-whammy of a difficult name. 

You mention that you don't like how trendy Kaylee is. Just remember that on the playground Kaylee, Kayleigh, Kailey, Cailey, Caileigh, etc. are all the same name. Changing the spelling does not make it a different name in practical usage. She could very likely be "Kaylee with a C" or "Kaylee W."

I would approach the name very differently if I were naming a child vs. naming a character. I would probably name a child Kaylee or Kayleigh. As a character, I would pick a name that matched her personality/circumstances. If she were the outgoing and friendly cheerleader, I'd go with Kaylee. I might go with Kaeleigh to be the twin sister of Braeden. If I were writing about trying to fit in in middle school, I'd probably name her Ceilidh and make it a plot line that she changed the spelling to Kaylee so she would fit in. 

March 8, 2015 1:41 AM

I wouldn't name a child Kaylee in any spelling, just not my style. If I did though I would spell it Kaylee in homage to Firefly, and because it's easy phonetically.

I do know how to say ceilidh, but as far as I know it's not a name. It strikes me as similar to naming a child Potluck or Rave. Aside from that, the spelling/pronunciation is not at all intuitive for English speakers. I think it would be difficult to have the name Ceilidh. And as previously mentioned, a different spelling doesn't make it a different name for most practical purposes.

If you like Cailey, use that, or Kaylee or something. If the popularity bothers you I think you need to look further afield, for something that sounds different as well as looking different.

By mk
March 8, 2015 3:16 AM

I'd use Kaylee or Kayley because those have the most obvious pronunciation.

March 8, 2015 6:25 AM

As a Scottish person, though not a Gaelic speaker, I can tell you definitively that ceilidh is not a name, it's a word for a traditional party. I know it sounds like the name Kaylee but it's not a name. If you want a real Gaelic name that sounds a little like Kaylee, there is Eilidh (Ay-lee, like Kaylee without the K).


If you really like Kaylee/Kailey/Kayleigh, I'd probably go with Kayleigh myself for a child, although my friend is Kaylee so I have positive feelings on that spelling too.

March 8, 2015 11:20 AM

Just to reiterate a lot of what others are saying: spelling a name differently doesn't make it a different name. If you like a name but it's too popular, there's really nothing you can do other than the obvious: use a different name, or say "the heck with the popularity" and use it anyway.

If a name has many different spellings, choose a common spelling that reproduces the pronunciation. For the name that sounds like /kay-lee/ I think the best, most straightforward spelling is Kaylee, which has the added benefit of being a Firefly reference. The other spelling that looks like it might be "standard" is Kayleigh, though I'm always annoyed at names that obfuscate the /lee/ sound with a spelling that looks like it ought to be pronounced /lay/. I personally wouldn't inflict "Cailey" on a child; it looks too much like Bailey, which I hate with a passion (apologies to anyone by this name). For a character in a story, I suppose any spelling other than ceilidh would work.

The Gaelic word ceilidh just happens to sound the same as Kaylee. That doesn't make it a name. This is true the other way, too: I've met people who turn up their noses at Kayleigh/Kaylee/etc. because "that's a type of party", but they're wrong: the name isn't Gaelic, it just happens to sound like it. There's a thread somewhere in these forums of names that just don't work in other languages. The example I can think of Rhonda: in Hungarian, "ronda" = "ugly". That doesn't mean Rhonda means "ugly", and it also doesn't mean that "Ronda" is the Hungarian spelling of Rhonda.

March 8, 2015 11:33 AM

Huh. I'm in the minority here -- I think Ceilidh, like the dance party, is a great name, specifically because it's an Irish word that sounds like a familiar name. Just because it isn't used much as a personal name doesn't mean that it can't be -- I suppose Rose/Daisy/Pearl/Noel/Colleen/any-other-noun-turned-name started out that way as well?

I say "isn't used much" rather than "isn't used" because I do know a little girl with this name. Her mother spelled it differently, in order to make it clearer to Americans -- I think she used the spelling Kaeli -- but her intention was to give her daughter the Irish word ceilidh as a name.

I don't mind the spelling Ceilidh, but I don't mind the difficulty-ly spelled Irish names anyway. If you were to change it, of the Kaylee-type names, Cailey is probably my favorite spelling. And really, my ultimate preference is Mic(h)aela nn Cailey.

March 8, 2015 1:30 PM

I agree with you, traleerose. My son goes to school with a Music, for example - though she has a variant spelling. Names like Story and Banyan and the like are also relatively common where I live, to the point that I know multiple representatives. I think it'd probably be something that I would chose to spell a more English-pronunciation-rules intuitive way, myself, but I think "you were named for a dance party!" would be a very satisfying name origin story that would help a little Kaylee/Kaeli/whatever spelling feel distinctive from the other Kayleighs/etc. I was a Jennifer who always felt very special and connected to my very common name because I was named after a song, so I think intention and the story that comes with the name does count for a lot, even though Jennifer was a mega-smash hit borne by many other girls I grew up with.

By mk
March 9, 2015 1:26 AM

I didn't know that it was pronounced similar to Kaylee nor did I know it meant party. I probably wouldn't choose Ceilidh because the pronounciation isn't clear to me, but I agree, I don't see why it cannot be used as a name. There are plenty of names that are essentially non-English words.