Hard as it is to choose a perfect name for a little angel, many parents love a tried and tested classic. Names that have been around for a long time and stayed popular for a reason are often good names! However, as some names have flooded the ‘market’, parents seek twists in the spellings of a favored name.
Sometimes this involves inventing a whole new spelling that is phonetic and appeals to modern parents who appreciate the ease of pronunciation. Sometimes an alternative spelling harks back to an original version or a foreign spelling of an American name.
Lovely traditional names for girls can be given so often that classrooms become crowded with children with the same name. In order to help their child to stand out for the right reasons, clever parents choose a variant spelling to differentiate their child. Often this is inspired by a historical character, celebrity or royal who has chosen the updated spelling. This new twist gives classics a new feel and reassures parents that while they have chosen a good, solid, name for their daughter, they have given her a smattering of individuality as well.
It remains to be seen if the ‘new’ versions of the old names become more popular in years to come.
25 Sophia and Sofia
The name Sophia has gained popularity in the 2010s, becoming one of the most popular girls’ names. It is taken from the Greek word for ‘wisdom’ and dates back to the 4th century.
Sophia was the most popular name in the United States from 2011-2012, with the alternative spelling, Sofia, reaching number 12 in the popularity stakes in 2012. This spelling of the name is taken from Spanish origin, while the spelling Soffia comes from Welsh and Icelandic descent.
24 Vivian and Vivienne
Vivienne has gained popularity among parents wanting a twist on the name Vivian that means ‘living’ or ‘vibrant.’ It has become more prominent thanks to the endorsement from celebrities such as Angelina Jolie who named one of her twins Vivienne.
It is easily recognizable from the famous British designer, Vivienne Westwood. This spelling of the name is taken from the French language. Viviane is the name of the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend, and because this era predates standardized spellings, many variants of this name exist.
23 Rebecca and Rebekah
Rebekah is the biblical spelling of this popular name and appears in the Old Testament. Rebekah is summoned by Abraham and told to go to Canaan to marry his son, Isaac, according to Life Hope and Truth.
It is derived from the Hebrew language meaning ‘to tie firmly.’ In the Bibles, both spellings are used, with Rebecca stemming from the Latin vulgate. The name gained prominence in the United States in the seventeenth century when the Puritans settled. It has remained in the top 200 most popular names since 1880.
22 Amelia and Emelia
Amelia means ‘work’ and is of German origin. It was popular in Victorian times but has soared in popularity in this century. It has positive associations with famous Amelias, such as the aviator, Amelia Earhart.
The alternative spelling was made famous in Vanity Fair, where Becky’s ill-fated friend Emmy, short for Emelia is a prominent character. It is a Latin derivative, from a word meaning ‘friendly’ or ‘one who excels.’ The spelling Emilia is also used, popularized by British actress, Emilia Fox.
21 Michaela and Makayla
This name has a myriad of spellings, with Makayla becoming one of the most popular versions in recent years. Parents seem to prefer the modern spelling because it is pronounced how it is spelled and avoids confusing pronunciations of the traditional name.
The origin of Michaela is the feminine form of Michael, which means ‘who is like God?’ The feminine version has the meaning ‘goddess’ or ‘gift from God.’ It has been used historically as a tribute to a father with this name. It is a very popular name is Slovak countries and in Ireland.
20 Amy and Aimee
The name Aimee means ‘loved’ and has a couple of pronunciations. Some parents prefer to stick to the traditional pronunciation of Aim-ee, while some stick to the French version of Aim-eh. It is a slightly different and more feminine version of the traditional Amy.
Amy has the same meaning and is simply an anglicized version of the French name. It is a popular name in the United States thanks to Louisa May Alcott’s character in Little Women. More recently, it was made popular by British songstress, Amy Winehouse.
19 Emily and Emilie
Emilie is a modern version of the name Emily, which takes it inspiration from the French language. It means ‘one who excels.’ It was adapted from the Roman male name Aemilius. There are many prominent ladies with the name Emily, such as Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights. More modern examples are actress Emily Watson and the character Emily Gilmore in the TV show Gilmore Girls.
However, it is such a popular name that parents have moved to the French spelling to add a little variety to their daughter’s name.
18 Isabelle and Izabelle
Isabelle is a hugely popular name that means ‘God is my oath’ in the Hebrew language. It has been popular for centuries, peaking in the Victorian era and more recently gaining affection among parents in the last thirty years.
As with any popular name, it becomes very common and parents have adopted the traditional spelling to add a bit of pizazz with Izabelle. It was first listed as a name in the US in 2000 and peaked at popularity during 2008. This version is from the Sanskrit, and means ‘beautiful, according to Names.
17 Lauren and Lauryn
Lauren is a traditional American name that means ‘laurel’ and is derived from the name Laura. It became hugely popular in the 1990s and has never lost its appeal. Famous Laurens include actress Lauren Graham and Hollywood superstar Lauren Bacall.
The alternative spelling gives a modern twist to the name. Fugees singer, Lauryn Hill popularized the different spelling, and parents have run with it. It has its origins in the English language, as a female derivative of Lawrence, and means ‘the place of laurel trees.’
16 Alana and Alannah
The alternative spelling, Alannah, is of Irish origin and means ‘oh darling child’ or ‘river,’ reveals Baby Names of Ireland. In Celtic, the Gaelic meaning is ‘rock’ and in Hawaii, the meaning is ‘awakening.’ This spelling is popular in Wales, brought about by the river Alan that runs through the country.
As a feminine version of Alan, Alana means ‘harmony’ or ‘little rock.’ It was popularized by the model and wife of Rod, Alana Stewart. The alternative spelling was popularized by musician Alannah Myles.
15 Ashley and Ashleigh
The rather uninspiring meaning of Ashleigh is ‘ash clearing’ and it is simply a different spelling of the more traditional, Ashley. As Ashley can also be used as a masculine name, the variant in spelling differentiates between the male and female versions.
Ashley became popular as a girl’s name in the 1960s in America, with Ashleigh joining it as a favorite name in the late 1970s. The alternative spelling gives the name a more feminine, prettier feel and differentiates it from the male form and several places with the name Ashley, reminds Mumsnet.
14 Jordan and Geordin
Jordan is a Hebrew name that means ‘descending.’ It has biblical origins and is evocative of the Bible due to its namesake, the River Jordan according to Baby Center. This is evident in its alternative Hebrew meaning of ‘to flow down.’
However, it has become such a popular name that parents have searched for a way to retain the name with a variant spelling. Hence the new-found popularity of Geordin. It is a relatively new addition to popular baby names, its ascendance beginning in 2010.
13 Stephanie and Stefani
The modern name Stefani means ‘crown’ and comes from the German and French name, Stephanie. This, in turn, takes its origins from the English name Stephen and the Greek version, Stephanos.
The Scandinavian version of the name is spelled Stefanie, which has a close resemblance to the modern usage. The name Stefani became very popular in the 1990s and 2000s, perhaps in reaction to the famous singer Gwen Stefani and the original name of songstress Lady Gaga, which is Stefani.
12 Jasmine and Jazmyn
A jazzy version of the traditional name, Jazmyn has updated the name and risen in popularity. Justin Bieber’s half-sister, an IG star, is named Jazmyn, according to Famous Birthdays. The names both take their origins from the jasmine flower, and the name originates in England, where floral names became extremely popular in the nineteenth century. It also hails from Persia where the given name is Yasamin.
The name has romantic connotations, enhanced by the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, which featured Princess Jasmine.
11 Chloe and Khloe
We do not need to promote the reasons for the popularity of the K version of Chloe, it has become a popular version thanks to the stellar rise of Kardashian Khloe. It rose 101 places on the popular baby names list in 2009, after the show Keeping up with the Kardashians was launched.
The Greek meaning of the name is ‘green young shoot.’ The spelling with a K is of Greek origin and means ‘blooming.’ Interestingly, Khloe is the original spelling, with Chloe being a popular derivative.
10 Caitlin and Katelynn
The Gaelic Irish name Caitlin has a very different pronunciation to the common usage in the United States. The new spelling of Katelynn reflects a more literal spelling of this pronunciation.
It was first recorded as a name in the 1970s and peaked in popularity in 1998. A more popular spelling is Katelyn, so parents who want a slightly more unusual moniker for their baby, prefer the double ‘n.’ This spelling also harks back to the double-barreled first names that have been so popular over the years, linking Kate with Lynn.
9 Eleanor and Elinor
Eleanor is a very old French name that appears regularly in history. The alternative spelling gives the name a little more originality, but it is not a modern twist. The name appears in records from the seventeenth century and was introduced into popular culture with Elinor Dashwood in Jane Austen’s novel, Sense and Sensibility.
In Hebrew, the name means ‘God is my light’ or ‘God is my candle’ according to Bounty. Elinor is also the Welsh spelling of Eleanor, meaning ‘foreign’ or ‘coming from another place.’
8 Laura and Lora
The Latin name Laura means ‘laurel,’ while Lora derives from the Italian name Leonora. It is also a more phonetic spelling of the original name and adds a little interest to a popular name.
However, Lora may be a modern twist on an old favorite, but it has historical origins. One of the handmaidens of Queen Anne Boleyn in the sixteenth century was named Lora. It is believed to be of Spanish origin. It was most popular in the United States in the 1970s, but has been given a boost by parents who are reviving the alternative spelling.
7 Emma and Emmah
Emma is a Latin name meaning ‘whole’ or ‘universal.’ It is a hugely popular girls’ name and never seems to diminish in its appeal. Having dipped slightly from the top ten most given names, it had a resurgence in 2002 after Ross and Rachel named their baby Emma in the series Friends.
The extra ‘h’ has been added by some parents wishing to spruce up the name and give it a little twist. It hasn’t become a top ten name yet, but it is increasing in popularity as a variant on the erstwhile number one name in the US.
6 Kim and Kym
Kym, as a version of Kym is most popular in the United States and in Great Britain. It means ‘regal hill.’ The alternative spelling differentiates the name bearer from those called Kim, which can be used as a boy’s or a girl’s name. Kym is more definitely feminine.
There are famous Kims and Kyms. Kim Kardashian is an obvious example of the common spelling, whereas the actress Kym Marsh is an example of the variant. The latter first appeared on baby name lists in the 1950s and achieved its best scores in the 1960s.
5 Zoe and Zoey
Zoe is a name taken from the Greek and means ‘living.’ It is an ancient name that stems from early Christianity and was popular in the Byzantine empire. There are actually two saints named Zoe.
The addition of a ‘y’ to the name has given it a new twist and also offered a more phonetic spelling to parents who worry that the name will be mispronounced if it is just the traditional three letters. Zoey means ‘light’ from the Greek and gives the original a fresh feel. It has become the more popular version in some recent baby name lists.
4 Lily and Lillie
There is no doubt to the popularity of the name Lily. The floral name is such a pretty one that it has been popular for the last few decades. The alternative spelling gives the name a modern feel, and is bang up to date, as it mirrors the name of a Pokemon character!
However, the alternative spelling is not modern. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Prince of Wales had a famous love named Lillie Langtry. The origins of Lily refer to the flower of the same name and its Latin name, and Lillie derives from the same origins.
3 Cindy and Cyndi
Cindy was originally used as a nickname for a woman named Cynthia. The shortened version became more popular and evolved into the modern spelling of Cyndi.
The modern version became most popular after the rise and fame of American singer, Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s. Parents also opted for something that moved away from the traditional spelling and its association with a doll named Sindy. Cyndi means ‘light’ and has stayed on baby names lists consistently for the last few decades.
2 Alice and Alys
The name Alice means ‘noble’ and has its origins in the German language. The variant of Alys has become popular recently for parents who prefer to give a different twist to a traditional name and again the craze for phonetically spelling a name has played its part.
However, it has been used for centuries in Wales, as it is the Welsh spelling of the name Alice. So, if parents are accused of perverting a classic, they can claim their Welsh ancestry or a superior knowledge of Welsh history to defend the use of Alys!
1 Christie and Kristy
Christie was originally a shortened version of the name Christine or Christina. All these names have their derivative in ecclesiastical versions of the word Christ. In America, the name peaked for popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, possibly inspired by supermodel Christie Brinkley.
The newer twist on that name, Kristy, has a more phonetic spelling and a more modern feel. It is the spelling favored in Scandinavia, but also harks back to days when starting a word with a K instead of a C had a cooler feel to it!
Sources: Wikipedia, Babynames, Babynamewizard, Behindthename, Ebabynames