Name Spellings

On The Letter Y

M&S have recently brought out an ad to the delightful tune of A Girl Like You, and it got me thinking. Not about music, but names of course.

You see, the man behind the song is a Scot by the name of Edwyn Collins.

It rather goes against this whole idea that substituting a y into a name makes it feminine, a la Emersyn et al. Of course this is a rather controversial practice, with some steadfastly against it whilst others embrace it.

But it exists, and that’s all I really care about so far as this post is concerned.

Of course, in Wales the letter y almost exclusively denotes a male name: Carwyn, Bryn and Emlyn, for example.

The biggest name to note here is that of Gwyn and Gwen: the former being the masculine form of the name, and thus the latter is the feminine form. They’re noteworthy because gwyn also happens to a common element for Welsh names, such as Dilwyn and the above Carwyn. For female names, the ending changes to give us the likes of Bronwen and Carwen.

It makes sense when you consider that here in the English-speaking world, plenty of names have different masculine and feminine forms, e.g. Henry/Henriette; Julian/Juliette; Paul/Paulette; Nicolas/Nicolette; and Bernard/Bernadette.

And that’s just only a small sample of names.

At the end of the day, this post could be summarised into one sentence:

Does the letter y distinguish a name’s gender?

I guess it depends where you live in the world.

Categories: Musings, Name Ponderings, Name Spellings | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

RAC Names


I had every intention of posting last night, but in my commute home my car went on strike and, well, it’s now at the garage awaiting repair.

I’m happy to take inspiration from everywhere, so it seems a good time to muse about names containing the letters Rac, given that I was rescued by the breakdown company RAC.

The RAC was formed in the late 70s, and was formed as a section of the Royal Automobile Club, which no longer owns the company.

It quickly became clear after my brilliant plan had formed that there exist few names which could potentially be included in this post, but I duly stuck with it anyway.

The most obvious name to mention is Rachel. She is a Hebrew name meaning ewe and in the Bible was the mother of Benjamin and Joseph. Whilst widely used in the Jewish community throughout the Middle Age, she only really picked up into common use during the 16th century. Another popular name to contain these letters is Grace, possibly the most popular virtue name the world over.

But don’t quote me on that.

After that, we mostly go outside the realm of popular names in the English-speaking world (save for a passing mention to Tracy), and the next name I found comes from Spain.

The name is Araceli, and she means altar in the sky; right underneath Araceli in my name book is Arachne, a Greek name meaning spider.

The tale from Greek mythology goes that there was once a beautiful lady named Arachne who was really rather good at weaving. Being the confident type she challenged Athene to a weave-off who became enraged over the subject matter of her weaving and promptly turned her into a spider.

From nature we get the name Bracken, a rather ancient plant found in moorland and woods. There exists an old belief that if you burn Bracken outside, then it will rain. The name comes from Old Norse and means fern.

The last name I wanted to mention is Zarachiel, as it is the name of ones of the archangels. The name is Hebrew in origin, and means God’s command.

It may not be an infinite pool of names, but they’re all rather interesting in their own ways.

And that’s all they need to be.

Categories: Name Spellings | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cricket Days

Snapped by me at cricket

Cricket is a massive sport here in the UK, and it’s a crime that it’s not included in the Olympics 😉

So why am I talking about the sport? Well, I have a younger brother who plays cricket with a team and since I passed my driving exam about 2 months ago now I’ve been the one to ferry him around to various training sessions and games.

Of course, I’ve come to learn a lot about names and perception of names amongst the 13ish year olds of the UK since I always seemed to be sat next the the man keeping score, who uses the players first names rather than surnames.

I’d like to therefore share with you some rather interesting exchanges/findings, and the first one may surprise a few.

Remember the belief that using a popular name will mean ease of spelling? Forget it. At this week’s game, it was a 12 year old keeping score under the watchful eye of his Grandad, and the next kid up to bat was called Jacob. Oh yes my friends, he queried as to how to spell the name that has now ranked at #1 for boys in the USA for many years.

However, I have my own mini-theory on this, which namely involved the Polish. You see, with the influx of people immigrating to the UK from Eastern European countries such as Poland, that brings with you an increased exposure to Polish names at school. I remember sharing a physics classroom with a lad named Bartek, but just don’t ask me how to say his name. Getting to the point, the only Jacob I know is a Polish lad named Jakub.

Thinking about it, though, Jakub and Jacob are said differently; Jakub is said more like YAH-kuwp, not JAY-kub.

The other thing I wanted to mention was the name Elliott. I’ve sat and watched my brother play against at least 3-4 other teams and every single one seemed to have at least one player named Elliott.

So I went and took a look at the 1999 data for England, and there Elliott is at #95. Since then he has fallen outside the England Top 100, and currently ranks at #130 for England&Wales.

That’s still not rare, though.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that these aren’t boys only teams, just boy-dominated ones. The only two girls I’ve seen in the teams this year are called Sashi and Kayley.

Sashi is an interesting one because it’s not a nickname for Sasha, rather, a legit female name from dear India. It is a slight variant of Shashi, which is a traditional word for moon in Sanskrit.

The name rather reminded me of the male name Sachin, as in, the famed Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. He’s considered to be one of the greatest batsmen of all time. The name means pure in Sanskrit.

I would end this post by saying this: it’s not only Olympic sports that are a great source of names.

But I’m sure many of you already knew that, indeed, I highly recommend you go take a peek at Ren’s blog, which has spent the last few weeks running a series on names from the MLB, whilst Gabby has recently set up a blog and is covering names from the NFL.

Categories: Name Spellings, Popularity | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Many Faces of Chloe

Count the Chloes

Let’s get this straight, I don’t like the name Chloe, but plenty of people do. For a long time, she ranked at #1 (between 1997-2002), and perhaps the over-saturation puts me off. I’ve checked my contacts list on my mobile – it includes 7 Chloes. I know more Chloes than Jacks, which says something. The name derives from Greek and means green shoot.

Since I live in a world of Chloe-saturation, I feel the need to share it all with you, so here is a quick rundown on the many forms of Chloe:

Chloe – #8, 3883 births

The most common English spelling of the name, she’s stuck around in the Top 10 in England&Wales for pretty much my entire life, since Chloe was at #11 in 1994, but interestingly only at #97 in 1984.


Worth a mention given that I have a friend with the latter spelling as her father got his accents mixed up when he went to register her, thus she is Chloé, not Chloë.

Chloee – #5707, 3 births

In French, you sometimes add an e to verbs to indicate you’re female, i.e. je suis allé becomes je suis allée. It mostly only applies to the Mrs. van der Tramp collection of verbs, that is, the ones which take être in the perfect tense (Each letter of Mrs.v.d.Tramp corresponds to a verb, i.e. s for sortir). I’m not sure this is the intention of the extra e in this name, given that Chloe is a distinctly female name. However, it does have me thinking about adding e to unisex names – Alexe, Harpere & Morgane. Thoughts?

Chole – #5707, 3 births

A completely different name or simply a  misspelling of Chloe? You decide.

Cloe – #2235, 11 births

The actresses who played twins Tania and Tara in the rebooted St.Trinians film franchise were called Holly and Cloe Mackie. Whilst some deliberately misspell this name without the h, this spelling also happens to be the legit Spanish form of the name.


I know two French girls named Cloé, and it’s a popular name in France at the moment. It’s worth noting that accents don’t count in the England&Wales data, so Cloé does not rank for this reason. Of the 11 Cloes above, some may actually be Cloés. This is the legit French and Portuguese spelling of the name.

Khloe – #485, 83 births

A spelling no doubt popularised by Ms. Kardashian, although the effect appears to have been felt more in the US than the UK, which mostly makes sense since she is American.

Kloe – #2589, 9 births

My sister has a friend with this name, she’s circa 9 years old these days. To be honest, without the h the name doesn’t look right in my eye, although I appreciate that Cloe/Cloé are indeed legit spellings in their native homes. Then again, I prefer Clotilde over Chlotide.

So, how do you spell the name Chloe? Is it just me that seems to know every Chloe going? Thoughts on this welcome as usual.

Categories: Girl Names, Name Spellings | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scary Spellings

One of my all time favourite names is Chryseis. Would I ever name a child that though? No. Maybe as a middle, but never as a first, even though I adore the name. The reason is because to the untrained, unknowing eye, Chryseis is almost frightening. The pronunciation isn’t obvious, which means you’re bound to get it wrong. This will almost certainly cause problems for your darling offspring in later life.

However, let us consider names currently sitting in the USA’s top 100 baby names:

#85 Ayden (Aodhán/ Áedán)*

#25 Hailey (Hayley)

#67 Kaitlyn (Caitlín)

#75 Zoey (Zoe)

#84 Payton (Peyton)

#89 Katelyn (Caitlín)

#95 Khloe (Chloe)

#98 Mya (Mia)

* The original version of the name is in brackets next to the name

As you can see, name misspellings are more common amongst female, however, is it more easier to pronounce the original or the alternate names? In the case of Aodhán/Áedán vs. Aiden/Ayden, it’s clear that the latter two spellings have a clearer pronunciation. Infact, that could be said for the majority of Irish names. Caoimhe may leave you head-scratching, wondering what could possibly be the correct way to say the name. You look at Keeva however, and all is clear. This is because Aodhán and his irish siblings adhere to a different phonetic alphabet than the standard english one, thus Ao is said Ay using irish phonetics, when in the english version, that phonetic doesn’t exist, it has to be said seperately as a-o.

So it is clear that parents who love the name Áedán prefer to use Aiden, because of the obvious pronounciation. This explains why the latter is more popular than the former.

In the case of Chryseis, I could spell it phonetically as Chreesayiss, but I think you’ll agree with me when I say the former name is much more aesthetically pleasing. Thus proving that not all names translate well into english phonetics. The ones who do however, prosper amongst we english speakers. Caitlín is a prime example of this. Two alternate spellings in the top 100.

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