Tag Archives: baby name article

The Way to Spell a Name

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Congratulations, you’ve found the perfect name for your little one, but wait… how are you going to spell it? Say you love the name Dylan- great choice! Dylan is Welsh meaning son of the sea. Then while looking into Dylan you come across Dillon, pronounced the same way as Dylan, Dillon is Irish and means loyal. So how would you decide between Dylan and Dillon? Well maybe Dylan gets the edge because of the association to Dylan Thomas, or perhaps you have Irish heritage that you’d like to give a nod to with the Dillon spelling. I could make a list of reasons in favor of either spelling and that’s the point of this article, names are important and so are their spellings. Take it from a lady named Meagan ;).

There are many names with multiple legitimate spelling variations, think Vivienne and Vivian or Marc and Mark.  Often times spelling variations are connected to a region and or language. Then there are names like Dylan and Dillon that sound the same but have different meanings and origins.

In recent years the Social Security Administration has reflected an increase in uniquely spelled baby names.  In the naming community these spellings are often categorized as “kreative spellings.” I do want to emphasize here that choosing a name and a spelling is a personal choice and I want to shine light on that, this post is not intended to throw any shade or side eye.

One top trend in the unique spelling craze is the addition of the letter “y” to names, such as Jayson instead of Jason, or replacing an “i” with a “y,” like Austyn instead of Austin.  We see this a lot when a traditionally male name is being used on a girl, for example Jaymes instead of James.  There are several names like Sailor and Saylor that may appear to just be a trendy spelling variant but in fact have different origins and are original spellings.

Modern parents don’t limit their love to “y” they also expand this to “x” and “z.” Jasmine becomes Jazmine and Jackson becomes Jaxon. Other than aesthetics these letter substitutions are often intentional because they are connected to nicknames.  I know a little Jazmine that goes by “Jazz” and a Jaxon that is often called “Jax.”

Aside from the “y”, “x”, and “z” variants one of the common ways I see names altered to uncommon spellings is changing the spelling of the long “e” sound. So there’s “e”, “ee”, “ie”, “eigh”, “ey”, “y.” Let’s break this down with Kailey which could also be Kailee, Kailie, Kaileigh, Kaley, Kaylee, Kayley, and so on, you get where I’m going here.

Vowel swapping at the end of names, particularly those ending in “n” is another trend I see frequently.  Landon could also be Landan, Landen, Landin, Landon, or Landyn.  Grayson and Greyson are both ranked in the United States Top 1,000, as are Greyson and Graysen. When it comes to swapping out vowels, there are numerous combinations.

There is no one way or “right” way to spell a name.  I would urge soon-to-be parents to look into the history of the names they’re considering and pick the one that suits them best. Keep in mind that modifications may lead to more corrections but more and more unique spellings are being used these says so it’s likely even a little Mary may be asked how she spells her name. Who knows, she could be Merry, Maree, or another unique spelling entirely!

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