Modern names · Opinions

Caitlin, Katelyn, KVIIIlyn…What?

The latest urban legend of the naming world is in the news: KVIIIlyn.  That’s right.  Kaitlyn, with Roman numerals representing the “eight” sound.  Perhaps it should be spelled “Keightlynn”…though at first glance it looks more like “Kevilyn,” or a modern honorific for Henry VIII.

Supposedly “KVIIIlyn” is the name of an Australian baby whose mother thought Kaitlyn was too popular.  According to her, it was the father who suggested the numeric substitution.

Look, I’ll be honest…Caitlin was never one of my favorite names growing because there were indeed a lot of them, and with a million spellings.  Plus, it came across as rather modern, and I tend to prefer traditional or ancient names.  Years later, though, Caitlin and variants have grown on me.  Caitlín is an Irish form of Catherine (though technically it should be pronounced more like Kathleen, not Kate-Lynn), and a lot of Katelyns are now in their 20s and probably pursuing grad degrees and even PhDs.  Then there’s literary Catelyn, which for recently-born babies there’s a namesake via Game of Thrones.  Ultimately, I think Caitlin and co. are kind of adorable.

Still, I’d thought that the Caitlin craze was over.  Caitlin is rapidly falling out of the top 1000 (ranked #605 in 2015), Kaitlyn is still a top 200 name but declining, Kaitlin (a top 100 name twenty years ago) left the top 1000 in 2013…you get the point.  They are flagging names, which although youngish, still suggest birth-years in the 80s and 90s.  Caitlyn Jenner only seems to have caused her spelling of the name to drop faster between 2014 and 2015.  Admittedly, these stats are for the U.S.; little KVIIIlyn was born in Australia.

So what about those Australian statistics?  According to McCrindle, the spelling Caitlin fell out of the Australian top 100 in 2015.  From what I can tell, there aren’t any other variants remaining popular.  Unless the parents live in a microcosm where baby Kaitlyns abound, they’ve already given their child a relatively rare name for her generation (strike #1 against her uniqueness argument).  Furthermore, even if it were still a popular name, changing the spelling of a name doesn’t really make it more unique since the pronunciation stays the same however characters are arranged.  In the prior couple of decades when this name was trendy, Caitlin, Katelyn, and Kaitlynn would likely all answer the teacher calling on one of them; that is, without distinctions like “Caitlin with a C,” Katelyn going by “Kate“, and “Kaitlynn with two N’s”).  On the off-chance this little lady runs into that problem, she’ll be KVIIIlyn with a “V-I-I-I.” 

My personal opinions on KVIIIlyn?  Cute-sounding name, atrocious spelling.  I hope this is indeed only an internet rumor and not legitimate; she’s probably in for a lifetime of inconveniences.  There’s nothing wrong with alternative or unusual spellings, but in a Latin alphabet numerals are illogical building blocks for names (though spelling out a number is theoretically fine.  Children named Seven or Decimus aren’t all that unheard of).  I’ll never call a name stupid, but I do think parents can be reckless in naming their children.  Still, I suppose it’s better to be named KVIIIlyn than Cyanide.



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