non-traditional spellings

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Is Harlee Hardly a Boys' Name?

Is Harlee a boy or girl name? I like it spelled Harlee for a boy, rather than Harley. It sounds more masculine to me.

–Boy Mom-to-Be

I'm afraid you are an outlier on this. The majority doesn't share your instinct: The spelling Harlee is overwhelmingly female. There were 300 baby girl Harlees in 2014, for example, and just 10 boys. In the same year, 407 boys were called Harley (along with 940 girls).

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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.

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Can I Nip This Nickname in the Bud?

Our baby's name is Silvia. My mother-in-law has decided to call her Silvie—not what we call her, but fine by me. The problem is that she has inexplicably been spelling it "Silvi" on cards, emails, etc. I HATE this! If my daughter came up with this on her own, I'd grit my teeth and wait it out, but I don't really want to encourage it. How should I address this, if at all? Or is this a grandmotherly prerogative and none of my business?

–Silvia's Mom

I'm glad it's the spelling that bothers you, and not the nickname itself. "Don't call your adorable granddaughter by a pet name" is a tough sell, and one that's kinder not to fight if you can avoid it. (Although you'd be well within your rights to speak up, loudly and often, if your mother-in-law mangled the pronunciation of your daughter’s name, or flat-out insulted your choice).

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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.

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How Common Is Too Common?

I'm having a baby soon, a girl. I love a lot of popular names, like Emmy and Avery. But if I use one of them, I'm thinking of spelling it differently (like Emie or Avri or Abbi) because I have a very common last name. Also, I really like "i" at the end of girls' names to replace "y" or "ie," but I don't know if that will work.

–Worried Mother

Will it work? That depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you simply like the ends-with-I spelling, then using it works for you—no problem.

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Initially Yours: Alonzo Mourning Spells "Junior" A.H.M

Naming after dad is a tradition that has been falling out of fashion for years.  NameCandy.com's Name Lady has previously addressed the pros and cons of naming your son Junior. One of the obvious cons of naming a baby after his dad is the potential naming inequity that could ensue when a second son is born.

Basketball great Alonzo Mourning and wife Tracy have come up with a clever solution to the problem. Alonzo himself is technically

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