The idea for this blog arose, as so many good things do, from the nameberry forums. This forum focused on names that had more than one legitimate spelling, and asked visitors to pick their favorite of the two (or more).
With so much talk these days about yooneek spellings of names -- variations invented to make a name more "special" -- it's interesting to explore those names that have more than one bona fide spelling.
Of course, there may be some controversy over what constitutes bona fide. On the forum, some people took issue with spelling variations springing from different origins of a name: Isabelle as the French version and Isabel the Spanish, for instance, and so not really pure spelling variations in the way that Katherine and Kathryn are. Others argued over spelling variations that might more accurately be differences in a name's gender or pronunciation.
There are obviously a lot of ways to split this hair, but here are some girls' names with more than one spelling that we consider legitimate. Sure, Debra might be a modern variation of the Biblical Deborah, but it was so widely used in mid-century America it's now legitimate.
Other spelling variations of the same name often signal gender differences. Sure, there are boys named Jessie and Shawn, but the first variation here is more usually used for girls, the second for boys.
Some unisex names have more than spelling variations now divided along gender lines.
There are many fewer traditional boys' names with more than one legitimate spelling, but here are a handful we think count.
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