One of the biggest gripes people have about the English language is just how difficult the spelling is. There are so many letters that can be pronounced the same way (like the often-interchangeable “c” and “k”), which can be a nightmare for people learning how to write in the language since there can be several logical ways of spelling a word based on how it sounds. There are so many different ways to spell things that some words don’t even have a universal consensus on the correct spelling. This has led to major differences in British and American English. Color, for example, would be spelled as “colour,” in the U.K., Canada, and other English-speaking countries using British spellings.
While the confusion over spelling isn’t really ideal for English language learners, it does open up a whole world of possibilities for baby name spellings. Do you like traditional names, but also appreciate some unique flair? We can help you with that. Here are some of the best alternative baby name spellings that you’re bound to fall in love with.
Swapping out an “s” for a “z” is a quick and easy way to jazz up a name. Isabella is one of the hottest names in the United States right now. Its Polish and Hungarian form, Izabella, is also climbing up the charts, but that one letter difference is just enough to keep this alternative name spelling a bit rarer than the more common form of the name. The moniker also comes pre-loaded with some classic rock and roll trivia. “Izabella” might not have been one of Jimi Hendrix’s greatest hits, but how can you pass up an opportunity to pick a classic name that also happens to be a song performed at Woodstock?
If Izabella is still too close to Isabella for you, you could opt for the shorter form of the name, Izabela. This shortened version is particularly popular in Eastern Europe and is trendy in Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.
Between Winnie-the-Pooh’s Christopher Robin and actor Christopher Reeve, who famously played Superman in the 1970s and the 1980s, this name is so last century. Christopher is still a popular baby name, although it has seen a slow decline since 2013 when it fell out of the top 10 names for baby boys for the first time in decades. While it might still be beloved, the name’s enduring popularity has, let’s face it, made it kind of boring.
That being said, we can’t deny that the name has all sorts of old-school charm. If you’re attracted to the name but would prefer a more modern twist, try Kristopher. This version of the name is far less frequently used, giving it a refreshing update of a time-honored classic. You get all the elegance of the name and still get to use all the adorable nicknames it comes with, like Kris, Kit, Topher, and Kristoph.
Once a decidedly masculine name, Ariel started taking off as a girl’s name in the late 1970s. A decade later, the name became even more popular when The Little Mermaid was released in 1989 and became a huge hit. Thanks to the Disney classic, parents rushed to name their baby girls Ariel after the film’s protagonist. While the name is used more for girls these days (at least in the U.S.), Ariel is still frequently used for boys, making this a gender neutral name.
Gender neutral names are great, but some parents like the idea of giving a more name more obviously associated with one gender or another. For a more feminine take on the name, check out the French version of the moniker: Arielle is used exclusively for girls. The word “elle” in French means “her,” and it is also used as a feminine suffix throughout the language. So adding this to the end of the name makes it undeniably feminine. The French pronunciation of both Arielle and Ariel is Ah-Ree-Yell, but you can easily adopt the American pronunciation of the name, Air-Ree-Yul, for this gorgeous name.
Jaxon is just one of several of variations of the name Jackson that is blowing up the charts. Originally primarily used as a last name meaning “son of Jack,” Jackson has seen steady use as a given name for boys for decades, but really took off in the 1990s. It wasn’t long before spelling variations of the name started gaining popularity. Jaxon popped up in 1997, and Jaxson followed soon after in 1999.
The name isn’t just popular in the U.S., either. Jackson and its many variations are popular around the world in other English speaking countries including Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K. It’s a testament to just how beloved this name is that it shows up in charts around the world, and has inspired such unique spelling variations that have become popular monikers in their own right. Some people are even taking it one step further by adding an extra “x” to the name. Could Jaxxon be the next chart-topping variation of Jackson?
It’s impossible to deny the elegance of the name Camilla. This name goes way back, and is derived from the ancient Roman name Camillus. Camilla was immortalized in Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, which was written between 29 and 19 B.C. In the classic, Camilla is the name of a warrior maiden, giving the moniker a fierce legacy.
In (comparatively) modern times, Camilla was used by Fanny Burney in her 1796 novel Camilla: or a Picture of Youth. These days, when you think of the name you probably think of the young singing superstar Camila Cabello. The name has been around for millennia, which means it is certainly timeless, but could do with some sprucing up.
Enter Kamila. This spelling variation not only shortens the name a bit, saving your daughter ink once she learns to sign her name, but also replaces the classic “C” with a sassy “K,” giving the name more of an edge. It’s also the preferred spelling of the name in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
While the original version of this name, Riley, is gender neutral, Ryleigh is a distinctly feminine variation of the moniker. This could be partially due to the fact that Ryleigh has always been used as a given name, whereas Riley was originally a last name that slowly gained popularity as a first name. As a last name, Riley itself is a spelling variation and comes from the Irish name Reilly. The name is also used as an English last name which means “rye clearing.”
While the name’s past is a little complicated, the sweetness of Ryleigh couldn’t be simpler. This incarnation of the name is a relatively new one. While Riley has been used as a first name for decades, Ryleigh didn’t start cropping up on charts until 1999. While it has yet to catch up to the popularity of the original, Ryleigh is becoming increasingly beloved — it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it surpasses Riley in popularity.
While the English word cadence has been around for a while and is well known to musicians, it didn’t start gaining use as a given name until the 20th century. Cadence, which means “flow” or “rhythm,” was rarely used when it first popped up on the baby name charts, only starting in the top 1000 names for baby girls in 2002. While it got off to a slow start, the name has catapulted since then. It has become so popular that different versions of the name have come into existence, such as the spelling variation of Kaydence.
While simply switching the “c” to a “k” would have been sufficient to put a new spin on the name, the addition of a “y” brings a whole new level to it. The unique spelling also helps to distinguish the name from its musical origins, which could be part of the reason Kaydence is poised to take over as the dominant spelling.
Turning “c” names into “k” names has become one of the most popular ways to modernize classic monikers. One notable example is the name Conor. While the name is more commonly spelled as Connor in the U.S., Conor is the preferred version in Ireland, where this name has its roots. The name comes from the Gaelic Conchobhar, an ancient Irish name that was used by kings for centuries.
Though Conchobar has seen many variations over the years, they all tended to start with the letter “c” until Konnor hit the scene. This alternative spelling started making waves in the late 1990s. In spite of being part of a larger name trend, it is still nowhere near as popular as the traditional spelling of the name. Konnor might still be relatively rare, but the wild popularity of Connor could mean that people will continue to opt for the spelling alternative at growing rates as they look for less common versions of the name.
Aubrie is another spelling variation that takes a gender neutral name and makes it feminine. While most people probably associate the name with actress Aubrey Plaza, diehard Drake fans (or people who simply remember him from his Degrassi days) know that the rapper’s birth name is also Aubrey. The name was once more commonly used as a male name, although it’s now more popular with girls.
Aubrey has been around since the Middle Ages, and comes from the German name Alberich. The name started gaining use as a name for girls in the 1970s, partially because of its similarity to the name Audrey, and also because of the 1972 Bread song, “Aubrey.”
The spelling variation of Aubrie doesn’t have a history of use as a masculine name. It started gaining traction in 2001, and since then has been considered solely a feminine name. Of course, given Aubrey’s growth into a gender neutral name, it wouldn’t be surprising if this version of the name also made the same transition.
Rooted in a last name that means “son of Adam,” the spelling variation of Addyson broke away from its original form, Addison, in the early 2000s. While Addison was originally used as a masculine name when it first made the leap from being a last name to a first name, it slowly became widely accepted as gender neutral. Part of this is because of the name’s similarity to Madison, another last name that first became a masculine first name, and then a gender neutral moniker.
While Addyson is only one letter different from Addison, that one letter is enough to turn the name from a gender neutral name to a feminine one. This is another thing that the name has in common with Madison. While Madison is a gender neutral name, the alternative spelling of Madyson swaps out an “i” for a “y” and is used exclusively for girls.
Kamryn is a prime example of two patterns that keep showing up in alternative name spellings. This take on Cameron, switches a “c” for a “k”, and also throws in a “y” into the mix. It’s a bit surprising that this name is as popular as it is considering its meaning; Cameron was originally a Scottish last name that means “crooked nose.” It might have a less-than-pleasant definition, but the name’s growing popularity can probably be attributed to how nicely it rolls off the tongue.
It also doesn’t hurt that there are a lot of celebs with Cameron as either a first name or a last name. There’s actor Kirk Cameron, of Growing Pains fame, as well as his sister, Candace Cameron-Bure, who starred on Full House. Let’s not forget about the beautiful Cameron Diaz, who may have had an impact in swaying our association with the name for boys-only.
Kamryn is a feminine variation of the gender neutral name. If you like the idea of an alternative spelling for Cameron but want a masculine version, try Kameron. Other spelling variations include the masculine Camron, and the feminine Camryn.
A lot of spelling variations come about because people are looking for creative alternatives to frequently used names. This doesn’t seem to hold true for the name Alana, which has never gained the mega-popularity of other names on this list. While the moniker, which is the feminine counterpart of the name Alan, started popping up on baby name charts in the 1940s, it never broke into the top 100 names for girls in the U.S.
In spite of this, the name has inspired several alternative name spellings. One of the loveliest examples is Alannah. This is a popular name in Ireland as the word “alannah” is an Anglo-Irish term of endearment derived from a phrase which means “o child.” Other spelling alternatives include Alanna, Allana, and Allannah. Alanis, a name made famous by “Ironic” singer Alanis Morissette, is also considered a variation of the name Alana, albeit one with a different pronunciation.
While there’s nothing wrong with the name Emily, it’s been around for so long that it’s clear why the traditional spelling can be viewed as a bit dull. Derived from the ancient Roman family name Aemilius, Emily has been used in the English-speaking world since the 18th century. The name has been borne by prominent literary figures in history such as author Emily Brontë and writer Emily Dickinson, who both lived in the 19th century. It’s also popular in modern times, with famous bearers of the name including model Emily Ratajkowski and actress Emily Blunt.
The old-fashioned name is widely used, and has led lovers of the moniker to seek out less common variations of it. Emely, a spelling alternative that is popular in Austria, started creeping up the charts in the mid 1990s, but that’s not the only unique take on the name. Other versions of Emily include Emilee and the rarely-used Emalee.
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