Name families with the greatest number of spelling variations?

I might be creating "name families" that are too broadly defined to be useful, but I'm astonished by how many K-L names exist out there. These are just from the top 1000:

  • Kaelyn
  • Kaelynn
  • Kailee
  • Kailey
  • Kailyn
  • Kaleigh
  • Kali
  • Kaliyah
  • Kallie
  • Kayla
  • Kaylee
  • Kayleen
  • Kayleigh
  • Kaylen
  • Kaylie
  • Kaylin
  • Kaylyn
  • Kaylynn
  • Kelly
  • Kiley
  • Kyla
  • Kylah
  • Kylee
  • Kyleigh
  • Kylie
  • Makayla
  • Mckayla
  • Micaela
  • Mikayla
  • Michaela
  • Mikaela

The only other contenders might be the (m)addi(s/l)on family (Addison, Madison, Madeline, Addelyn, etc.) or maybe the L-L names - 

  • Laila
  • Lailah
  • Layla
  • Laylah
  • Leila
  • Leilah
  • Leilani
  • Leyla
  • Lila
  • Lilah
  • Lilia
  • Lilian
  • Liliana
  • Lilianna
  • Lilith
  • Lillian
  • Lilliana
  • Lillianna
  • Lillie
  • Lilly
  • Lily
  • Lilyana
  • Lilyanna
  • Lola
  • Lyla
  • Lylah

What do you all think makes these consonant combinations (L's especially!) to be so amenable to creative naming/spelling? 


April 13, 2012 10:43 AM

Wow, that list of K-L names is long!  This combo is more of a recent/modern developement, right? I had actually never heard of the name Kaylen until a few years ago, until I was watching America's Next Top Model reruns and one of the contestants was Kahlen, and at the time I thought, "That's a unique name!" Haha, I had no idea there were so many versions in the top 1000.  And now I know a 5-year old with the name Kaylen as well.

April 13, 2012 1:27 PM

And if you substitute 'C' for 'K' the list is even longer! This semester I am teaching a Calie (pronounced Kaylie) and a Keiley (pronounced Kiley). Both of them are in their early 20s.

April 13, 2012 1:58 PM

Oh, you're right. I don't know how I forgot to include those. I've been playing around with an excel worksheet trying to see which name families are the most common, and adding in Cailyn, Cali, Callie and Caylee, the K-L family is the most dominant with 46642 births in 2010. The Madeline-Addisyn family is just short of that with 45367.

April 13, 2012 8:35 PM

I believe it is the nature of the letters themselves. If you think about the combos in the English language, the C/K, L, M and maybe T have the greatest flexibility. There are some letters that have sound synonyms(F/V and S/Z) and some letter combos that just don't exist, Although with creative spellings these are becoming fewer. There are also some letters that change sounds when followed by other letters (hard and soft C/J/G). Also, don't forget how R and W control vowel sounds. Lastly, there are harsher sounds that are not as pleasant to some ears and there are regional dialects that affect all the sounds. Interesting thread!

By Guest (not verified)
April 14, 2012 4:31 AM

That is really interesting!  I've recently been struck by how Kay-lin and Kate-lin are far and away the most popular girls names I hear around the playground, but they aren't at the top of the name charts for our state... maybe it's because of these spelling variations you noticed.


By Jill
April 17, 2012 10:29 AM

Yes, when you combine the 7 spellings of Kaytlin in the top 1000, the name was #20 in 2010 (it was as high as #3 in 2002), so that definitely makes for a lot of Kaytlin/Katelin/Kaytlyn/Katlynnes running around the playground.  

Kaylen has 8 spellings in the top 1000 and ranked #74 when you combined them.

April 18, 2012 12:21 AM

had to add my dd is kalen we also considered some other spellings i did not notice kailen, and kaelin we didnt relize it was going to be so popular or we would have went with kamia but we seem to be just on the cusp of each naming trend with our other kids as well