Robin or Robyn

My partner and I have agreed on Robin/Robyn Elizabeth if our first is a girl. Robin was his father Robert's nickname as a child. I am curious about people's thoughts on the two spelling options. Is a non-traditional spelling more trouble than it's worth or is it nice to have a more feminine spelling for a girl?


August 5, 2015 5:49 PM

I think either one could work. Robin does seem more ambiguous to me, but there is something to be said for a more classic spelling. "How I Met Your Mother" was really popular (at least in the US) for a while and one of the main characters was a woman named Robin, so that might work in your favor.

Robin is given to about 223 baby girls each year in the US, versus 188 boys. Robyn is slightly more common, at 241 girls per year, but much less common for boys, at 7 per year.

Either way, with the middle name Elizabeth, I think it's clear that your child is a girl, so I don't think it's a big issue whether you spell her name Robin or Robyn.

August 5, 2015 6:00 PM

I would use Robin.  Somehow people have gotten the idea that throwing in a y makes a name feminine,  There is no real inguistic basis for this.  Robin Roberts was/is (a) a Major League Hall of Fame pitcher and (b) a female newscaster, so I would consider it genuinely unisex.

August 5, 2015 9:07 PM

I would argue that descriptive linguistics says that since y is being used to feminize names, it is a linguistically valid way to make a name more feminine. 

August 5, 2015 6:27 PM

I prefer Robyn for girls, because I'm hoping that Robin can make a comeback for boys, and that seems more likely if there is a widely recognized differentiation in spelling.

While there is not a long linguistic justification for Y as a female marker in names, that does seem to be a very common modern usage, and since it isn't actually historically a *male* marker in this case (as it is in some Welsh names) it seems perfectly legit here.

August 5, 2015 7:59 PM

I prefer Robin, I don't think that Robyn is any more 'feminine' than Robin, of course I grew up with a girl named Robin in my class for 7 years through elementary and middle school. So, I see Robin as unisex and Robyn as an unneeded feminine form. You also might get people, acting like buttheads, 'kindly' correcting you about the spelling and having to explain why you used a different spelling.

August 5, 2015 9:08 PM

When she's 13, she'll probably be happier with Robyn.  When she's an adult, I'd guess she'd be happier with Robin. 

August 5, 2015 10:49 PM

I prefer Robin. It's a unisex name when spelled that way, but I like it. With the middle name Elizabeth there will be no mistaking she's a girl. 

By Fly
August 6, 2015 4:43 AM

Robin is the vastly more popular spelling in the USA, with Robyn only a small minority.

Being Australian, I consider Robyn to be a feminine name, while Robin pretty well exclusively brings to mind Robin Williams (may he rest in peace).

The Australian data isn't available on Name Voyager, so I'll include it here for context:

As a unisex name:

1920s: Robin #10

1930s: Robin #4

1940s: Robin #2

1950s: Robin #6


As a masculine name:

1950s: Robin #156

1960s: Robin #231

1970s: Robin #257

1980s: Robin #313

1990s: Robin #489

2000-2004: Robin #593


As a feminine name:

1930s: Robyn #100

1940s: Robyn #5

1950s: Robyn #6, Robin #114

1960s: Robyn #21, Robin #191

1970s: Robyn #89, Robin #543

1980s: Robyn #184

1990s: Robyn #526

August 6, 2015 7:56 AM

I like Robin, mainly because I like the bird connotation. I think modern usage definitely justifies y making a name feminine, but I also feel like Robin, being just as much a girl's name as a boy's name, doesn't need it. And the original spelling is more elegant.

August 6, 2015 1:37 PM

I am really surprised that Robin/Robyn isn't more popular in the US! As QLexE pointed out, Robyn is used slightly more for girls in the US, but Robin is used more overall. I suspect that people are going to spell it however they're used to it. 

There's a difference between "traditional" spellings and "standard" spellings. For example, Gwendolen is the traditional spelling of the name, whereas Gwendolyn is the standard spelling (at least in the US). Basically, "standard" changes over time. Robin/Robyn is fairly even for girls, which tells me that they're both accepted standards. This means you (and your daughter) will need to be prepared to be flexible, as there's no "right" way to spell it.....but it also means that neither of the two is a wrong way to spell it. 

Robin has some very strong namesakes: the bird, the superhero, the character on how I met your mother, and Robin Williams. Robyn's namesakes are less strong: a wife on the reality show Sister Wives, and a Swedish recording artist. 

Personaly I think I'd spell it with the i because I love the connection to the songbird. 

August 6, 2015 3:37 PM

Robin is the traditional spelling for a girl or boy.  & Robin has been recognized as a girl name long enough that I don't see a need to feminize the spelling.  All Robyn is going to do is make her have to correct people her whole life.

August 6, 2015 3:53 PM

What a great choice! 

I vote Robin. I think it's slightly more likely to be spelled right, and since it's a tribute name, I like the idea of spelling it as grandad did. 

I think most people in the US would assume girl for a Robin, and in any case, no teacher assumes anything these days! 

On the other hand, if you do want to go with Robyn for whatever reason, I don't think it's all that awful that she has to say, "Robin with a y." 


August 15, 2015 2:02 PM

I agree with all of this.

I know that Robin is unisex, but I have never personally met a male Robin or a female Robyn. I have met several female Robins.

August 6, 2015 4:40 PM

I like both, but I feel that since this name is going to be in tribute to someone, you should spell it the way they did, which is why Robin may be the better choice for your child.

By Chrisga (not verified)
August 15, 2015 1:27 PM

I prefer Robyn.