spelling & pronunciation

Ask Now

Can the Right Spelling Fix this Baby Name?

What do you think of the name Anneli or Annelie? I initially had Annali in mind, but then changed the spelling to distance it from potential teasing. Please advise.

–Looking for Letter-Perfect

Every imaginable spelling of the name pronounced "ann-a-lee" has been used in recent years: Anali, Analeigh, Annali, Annaley. There have even been dozens of baby girls given the name "Anally." The telenovela El Rostro de Analía, which ran on Telemundo from 2008-2009, helped spark a trend.

Read More...
Ask Now

Does My Baby’s Name Have a Pronunciation Problem?

I've always regretted my daughter's name. It's Esme, pronounced Es-ME (as in "me, myself, and I.") People regularly say Es-may. I really am struggling with the guilt of giving her a problem for the rest of her life. Is it worth changing her name when my husband loves it so much and it would hurt him a lot for me to change it?

–Me, Please!

You haven't mentioned how old your daughter is, which could make a big difference in how you respond here. Many parents experience pangs of regret or namer's remorse when their babies are little, and these fade as children grow into their names. And if your daughter is old enough to know her name, it is more difficult to change it.

Read More...
Ask Now

What's the Right Way to Pronounce This Baby Name?

My husband and I like name Lena. He says "Layna," however, and I say "Leena." Either way, we still like the name, but I was wondering if you could provide some insight as to which way is more widely accepted. Thank you!

–Tomato, Tomahto

While it's tricky to pin down, "Leena" (as in Lena Horne or Lena Dunham) is much more frequently used in the U.S. and Canada, while "Layna" is standard in Europe and Australia. So if you live in North America, you could use the "more common here" argument to break the tie in your favor.

Read More...
Ask Now

Is Winnifred a Winning Baby Name?

We have pretty much settled on calling our daughter Winnie, and we like the longer name Winifred as well. The dilemma comes in that I prefer the spelling "Winnifred," which is actually how I thought it was spelled before I looked it up! The reasons I like it better are a bit trivial, but at the same time, they feel important to me.

On the other hand, our two older children have very straightforward, obvious-to-spell names, and I don't want to saddle the baby with a name she'll always have to explain ("it's with two Ns"). I would love to get your opinion!

–One N or Two for Baby Three?

All you need to do is spend a few minutes at Starbucks to know that every single name has the potential to be misspelled, misheard, or mistaken. Laura becomes Lara or Maura or Lori before you can say "grande half-caf skinny mocha." But everyone gets their coffee and life goes on.

Read More...
Ask Now

Why Can't I Read This Man's Name?

Every time I see the name Reince Priebus in the news my mind reads it as Prince Rebus. Every. Single. Time. Why is this happening???

- Rebused

Reinhold "Reince" Priebus is the chairman of the Republican party. Prince Rebus sounds more like the champion of a word-puzzle party. What makes you see one as the other? Maybe it's that the name Reince Priebus itself is a word puzzle.

Read More...
Ask Now

Which Name Spelling Is Better?

Which spelling should we use for our baby boy, Silas or Cylas?

–Psyched for Our New Son

This question is more nuanced than it might seem at first glance. It should be a pretty straightforward question, and answer: What's the best spelling for this baby name? But when we look at it, things get interesting.

Read More...
Ask Now

Will Pronunciation Be Problematic?

We are planning on naming our third daughter Sabrine. We love the sound of the name and the connection to the Arabic word for "patience" (sabr). However, we are wondering if the spelling will give us problems. Will people tend to pronounce the last syllable "brine" instead of "breen"? We like the look of Sabrine better than Sabreen or Sabriin. What do you think?

–Seeking a Spelling Solution

Stick with the Sabrine spelling. Although the word "brine" rhymes with "fine," the association of Sabrine with the familiar name Sabrina should be strong enough to help most people pronounce the name the way you intend.

Read More...
Ask Now

Is a New Spelling the Answer?

I am Italian and want to give my daughter an Italian name. I love the name Lucia (pronounced "loo-chi-a" in Italian), but I know people will pronounce it "loo-sha." I don't want to be the crazy lady correcting everyone—or stick my daughter with correcting everyone her whole life! I have thought about naming her Luchia, but it's not Italian and looks weird. Any ideas for different spellings, or other names that are like this that I have overlooked?

–Italian Mama

You might be surprised to find that the Spanish pronunciation, "loo-SEE-a," is the most common guess, at least in the United States. Lucia is a classic name that happens to have more than one accepted pronunciation (it has three!). But a traditional pronunciation of a traditional name doesn't need to be a burden for a child.

Read More...
Ask Now

Will Everyone Get This Name Wrong?

We have found out we are having a girl! Yay! I am leaning towards the name Jadeanne, after my mother, Jade Anne. But I would pronounce it like Jayden. We just want an opinion!

–Just Wondering

The Name Lady doesn't give opinions on style, since that's in the eye of the beholder. So I'm not going to give a yay-or-nay vote on your pick. But it is my job to share opinions on how the rest of the world might perceive that pick, as an expert, objective observer.

Read More...
Ask Now

Which Is the Right Spelling?

Please help. What is the correct or accepted spelling: Grayson or Greyson? I see things that are personalized with the "a" version, but not the "e" version.

–A Before E?

Good news: They're both right. Like Catherine and Kathryn, this is a name with multiple accepted spellings. The "a" version is more commonly used—about twice as often—but both spellings rank in the top 150, which means both will be accepted easily.

The question here isn't what spelling is correct, but how you choose which one is right for you. In a case like Catherine vs. Kathryn or Geoffrey vs. Jeffrey, you might choose based on first initial. Maybe one makes for a better monogram than the other, or repeats (or avoids repeating) a sibling's initial.

Read More...