American Names · Modern names · Opinions

The ‘Ph’ Treatment

You’ve probably seen traditionally ‘Ph’ names spelled with an ‘F.’  This tends to happen in Romance languages like Italian and Spanish and in phonetic transliterations of Modern Greek.  Filomena, Felipe, and Fotini are fairly well-known cognates of Philomena, Philip, and Photine.  These ‘F’ spellings are perfectly legitimate and well-established; you’d never refer to them as “youneek” or “kre8tyv” spellings!

On the other hand, a few Americans have taken names that traditionally begin with ‘F’ and spelled them instead with ‘Ph.”  These spellings usually do count under “youneek” and “kre8tyv,” though I wonder how many are phonetic rather than intentional.  Some parents may hear a name and love it but not see it written down before they put it on the birth certificate.  On the other hand, I’m cynical and wonder how many parents know and just don’t care.

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“Phrom” the 2015 data:

Farrah becomes Pharrah (16 girls) or Phara (5 girls).  Arabic names like Farrah always have multiple spellings when they enter English.  You simply can’t establish a standard transliteration for a name from another alphabet.

Finley -> Phinley (14 girls).  I wondered if this was influenced by Phineas at all, but so far Phinley has only registered for girls.  To be fair, Finley is a more popular girls’ name than boys’ name, but we may see male Phinley‘s if Finley continues rising for both genders.

Faith -> Phaith (8 girls).  Phaith actually looks kinda pretty, but considering that Faith is a word in every English dictionary…I can’t justify this.  If you want to use a word as a baby name, please check the spelling first. 

Fallon -> Phalynn (5 girls).  Fallon first debuted in the 1980s, bringing with a plethora of both ‘f’ and ‘ph’ variations.  Nothing new here!

Farrell -> Pharrell (14 boys) or Pharell (7 boys).  Whether you spell it with an ‘F’ or a ‘Ph,’ it boasts celebrity associations.  Farrell refers to actor Colin Farrell, and Pharrell to musician Pharrell Williams.

Felix -> Phelix (6 boys).  i.e., The geneticist’s favorite baby name.  Honestly, Phaith looks better than Phelix.  But that’s just me…

Finn -> Phynn (6 boys).

“Phrom” the Past:

Fabian -> PhabianPhabian last appeared in 2013.

Fanta -> Phanta.  1978 only. 

Fantasia -> PhantasiaPhantasia appeared sporadically between 1991 and 2005.

Faramond -> PharamondNot from the data…Pharamond is the Shakespearian spelling of Faramund / Faramond, who was king of the Franks. 

Fatima -> PhatimaLast appeared in 2007.

Fawn -> Phawn 1976 only.

Felicia -> Phelicia.  1960s-1990s.

Felicity -> Phelicity.  A millennial (1999/2000) edition. 

Felony -> Phelony.  Both are too rare for the data (thankfully), but occasionally and unfortunately pop up sometimes.  See Phelony: A Baby Name Rant.

Fiona -> Phiona.  Last appeared in 2014, so maybe again in 2016?

Now “phantasize” about:

To my knowledge, nobody has previously discovered or used these.

Faustine -> Phaustine

Faye -> Phaye

Finnegan -> Phinnegan

Fitzgerald -> Phitzgerald

Flavia -> Phlavia

Fleur / Fleurette -> Phleur, Phleurette

Flora -> Phlora

Florence -> Phlorence

Forrest -> Phorrest

Fox -> Phox

Francis / Frances -> Phrancis / Phrances

Frankie -> Phrankie

Frederick -> Phrederick

Freya -> Phreya

What are your thoughts on the ‘Ph’ treatment of ‘F’ names?  I’m not big on it, but some spellings are admittedly less atrocious than others.  If I can designate a favorite from each category, they’d have to be Pharrell, Phawn, and Phreya.

The data for this post comes from the SSA and the wonderful Nancy’s Baby Names.


One thought on “The ‘Ph’ Treatment

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