Different Spellings of Names for Girls

Spelling popular names in varied ways can add a unique spin

Portrait of baby girl
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Using a different spelling of a popular baby name began as a trend more than 40 years ago, but has become a regular practice today, especially for girls' names. It's tough to pinpoint when (or why) the spelling switch began, but it looks like it may have sprung from several names with a long "E" sound at the end. Tracy, Stacy and Kimberly were wildly popular names in the 1960s and 1970s and gave rise to all kinds of alternate spellings, such as Tracey, Tracie, Kimberlee, Stacey and Stacie.

The goal of using an unorthodox spelling, or so it would seem, is to have a name that sounds like the popular version, but which stands out from the crowd when written down. One wonders whether it just makes it harder for the many Madison/Madasyns to see their names spelled correctly, but whatever the reason, parents seem to have embraced the practice with gusto. 

Here are a few of the most popular girls' names that have almost-as-popular alternate spellings.

Sophia, Sofia

Sophia is among the traditional, somewhat old-fashioned names enjoying a resurgence, as parents look for names for their baby girls that will stand the test of time. The "Sophia" spelling has ranked as high as No. 1 among popular girls' names recently, with "Sofia" regularly appearing in the top 20 the past several years. Incidentally, "Sofia" is the more prevalent spelling in several European countries.

Isabella, Izabella

Isabella is popular across cultures and has both old-fashioned and modern appeal.

The "Isabella" spelling has been a top-10 staple for the better part of the past decade. Her counterpart "Izabella" is not nearly as popular, and has remained well outside the top 100 of most popular girls' names. 

Chloe, Khloe

Chloe has been popular in many Western countries for some time. Its true meaning, "green shoots," signifies freshness and new life.

Her alternate spelling of Khloe arose from a somewhat unlikely source: the Keeping up with the Kardashians reality television show. But Khloe, who's just broken into the top 100 most popular girls' names, has a way to go before she catches Top-20 Chloe.

Emily, Emely

While Emily, which stems from a word meaning "rival," has occupied a spot in the top 10 since the early 1990s, her analogue Emely is nowhere nearly as popular, clocking in below the 400 mark. 

Madison, Maddison, Madisyn

This name, which soared up the name charts after its appearance in the 1980s movie Splash, Madison has been crazy popular. Neither of her two synonyms has even made the top 200 yet, so the original spelling seems safe as the leader of the pack.

Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Caitlyn, Katelynn, Caitlin, Kaitlin, Kaitlynn

Poor Kaitlyn. She can't seem to get a spelling that everyone can agree on. But it's one of the nice things about this name which is an Irish version of Katherine that means "pure," it's highly versatile, and lovely no matter how it's spelled.

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