Monday, February 27, 2023

Caitlin and Friends

 The name Caitlin was first recorded in the Social Security Name Database in 1955 when it was given to 5 girls. It's possible that it was pronounced like Kate-lyn, or that is was pronounced in its original Irish form (cot-leen); we don't know because the SSA does not record diacritical marks. FUN FACT: the name Kathleen is actually an anglicization of the Irish form, which is spelled Caitlín. Caitlín (sometimes found Caitilín) is the Irish Gaelic form of Cateline, a medieval French form of Catherine, which was brought to Ireland by the Normans in the 12th century. Catherine ultimately comes from the Greek Aikaterine, which has an uncertain origin. It was the name of a 3rd century saint, with who the name became associated. Because of this saintly association, the name was connected to Greek katharos, meaning "pure," and today most baby name books list it as meaning "pure," when it probably has no etymological connection to that root. It may derive from aikia meaning "torture," or could derive from the Greek goddess name Hecate.

Caitlin didn't become popular in the USA until the 1980s, peaking in 1988. In this time, a bunch of other spellings came into vogue, some of them surpassing the original in popularity. In 2021 (the most recent year for which we have data at this posting), the most common spelling was Kaitlyn, followed by Katelyn, Caitlyn, and Katelynn, with Caitlin being  the 5th most popular spelling. 

Here is every spelling of Caitlin recorded in the SSA database:

Note: I have included the -land, -lynd, -lind spellings because the Kateland I met pronounced it like Kaitlin. Some may actually pronounce the -d on the end, but based on other people I have met of the same generation with -land names (Ashland, Ryland), the final "d" is often silent.

A strange spelling that I didn't add to the general list was Katelund-- I wasn't sure about that one, and there are aren't many other -lund names in the database.

Based on the spellings of Cait (Caet, Cate, Kate, Kait etc.) and the spellings of Lin (Lyn, Lynn, Linn etc.), I have made a chart of all the possible ways you could spell Caitlin. The names in bold are ones that actually have shown up in the SSA database, meaning that at least 5 girls in a given year would have that spelling.

There are actually tons of unused possibilities! Do you want an unusual spelling? How about Catelinn? Some are a little weird, like Kaytelain and Caetlind, but Caytlen and Kaetlin seem plausible.

It's interesting that there's a Kayte- but not Cayte-. also, the absence of -linne is interesting, since it shows up in a lot of alternate spellings of other names out there, like Jacquelinne, Madelinne, Adelinne, etc.

So... want a spelling nobody else has dreamed of? Try Caytelinne.


Yomikoma said...

Is Cailin related?

Norah B. said...

Sort of? The name Cailin is pretty much just based on Caitlin, or on Kay + Lynn because it sounds nice. The word Cailín is Irish means "girl" and isn't a name; just a word. It is pronounced /CAH leen/ and is where we get the anglicization Colleen.

Yomikoma said...

Thanks - my HS girlfriend was a Cailin. I guess adding the option to drop the T would add another 140 options :)

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