A rose by any other name…

Imagine if your name was Bob Smith. Or Max Brown. Or Andy Ford (hi Andy!).

Sarah White.

Lucy Jones (hi Luce!).

Rose Ross.


You might never have to spell your name out for anyone. All those painstaking encounters on the end of a buzzing phone line saying “M for Mary… no Mmmmmmary. No, my name’s Maxabella not Mary, but it starts with M… EEEMMM…” – gone.

My full name is Bronwyn. The most common way to spell it is apparently “Browin”. Although Bronwyn is pronounced with a soft ‘wyn’ sound, I get why it comes back as ‘win’. But I have no idea why the ‘n’ (for Nelly) is always left out.

“B-R-O-N-W-Y-N. That’s Y for Yellow,” I say. And the envelope comes back address to “Brywin”.

After more than 30 years of receiving mail addressed to Browin and Brywin, I don’t know why it still bothers me. Should I just accept that I’m Browin and move along?

It makes me wonder why anyone ever chooses a ‘unique’ spelling for their child’s name. How the Madysons, Kylees, Christofers, Brieannas, Tyms (hi Tym!) and Izabhels of the world must suffer. “No, that’s I for Igloo, Z for Zebra, A for Apple, B for Ball…”

Even then, I bet they leave out the ‘B for Ball’ all the time, don’t they, Izahel?

Does your name get mis-spelled a lot?
Did you break from tradition when you named your child?

[Image found on yelloWishing]

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  1. says

    This is one of my bugbears! So much so that in picking out names for our soon-to-arrive bub, one of the key factors is ease of spelling. So even a lovely name like Gemma/Jemma is off the list, as she would always have to explain.Here’s hoping the name we picked is as straightforward for her as it seems to us!

  2. says

    I get my name spelled ‘Tony’ a lot.
    And my husbands’ name is Julian, so we frequently get Julianne and Tony.
    The ATO insists my husbands’ name is JULIAB, despite many attempts at correction.
    And, oddly, I often get called Robyn.
    Names are daft.

  3. says

    My sister is a Bronwyn and she would say the same. She’s a Bron to most of us. I am a Kathryn but was always called Kate. My mother said she didn’t give us second names so gave us full names. What the? I always have to spell it out. Kate is so much easier, don’t you think?

  4. Bri says

    My legal name is Nadene. It always gets spelt Nadine. I blame my mother and her sisters because they had this thing with the ENE. My cousins are Collene and Kathlene.

    But then I went and called my son Baydn. I just didnt like how Baden looked. I tell him Baydn is spelt exactly how it is said, bay-dn. But of course people always want the e or the o or the a in between the d and the y.

    My daughter is Ruby. Ruby King. You can’t make much of a mess with that. But her middle name is Cathren. Not Catherine, or Cathryn but CATHREN. Even her father forgets how to spell it correctly.

  5. Bri says

    Between the d and the N that should be (in regards to my son’s name). See, I can’t even spell the damn name right…

  6. says

    We had the problem with our surname – Witherby – my mother’s first name was Brigid.

    Say it slow, like you’re spelling out on the phone … Brigid.. With A. B. … !! I can’t tell you how many times I heard her frustration – “no that’s my surname .. W-I-T-H …”

    As for me, I’m just an easy Sarah. you’d think … but for pronunciation I get the inevitable Sara (that’s Saaaaruh not Sairrrrah btw) and as for the written confusions – well, take your pick from Sahra-Sarha-or Sarag (the typo I make most myself!)

    I feel your pain Brywin ….

  7. says

    Old patients have a tendency to hear my name (Melissa) as “Moisha” when I call them up on the phone… I just go along with it sometimes, it takes too much time to correct them!

  8. says

    If by sheer luck they get my first name spelled correctly, never my surname. And don’t get me started if they call me by my husband’s name!

  9. says

    I don’t mind if people assume Jenny is spelled differently. But if I spell it out, or write them an email where I sign off “Jenny”, and they reply with “Dear Jennie” I wonder what is wrong with their eyes. Or head.

    My son is Oscar. Not much room for error there – as Oskar is less common anyway. However, we’ve stuffed him around because Oscar is actually his middle name. So he will spend a life time correcting people when they call him by his first name.

  10. says

    Well I’m a Melanie and there doesn’t seem to be an issue with the spelling (although I have seen people write Melony or Melaine) but I am forever being called Melinda or Melissa – even if I have just introduced myself as Melanie to a person 5 seconds before. It’s not a big enough deal to correct anyone but is quite funny being called the wrong name 6 or 12 months down the track. So now I am just Mel, no margin for error :-) My kids have standard names with normal spelling – no Epponnee Rae’s here. I can’t believe your n gets left out of Bronwyn – that’s just wrong :-)

  11. says

    I really didn’t think Bronwyn was a difficult name to spell! I always get the ‘e’ on the end of my name when there isn’t and yes it does bug me, but not to the point where I would say anything. Although I am less forgiving if I have emailed someone professionally and they STILL get it wrong!

  12. says

    My middle daughter is named Meghann (Meg-inn). She is forever being called Megan (ie Mee-gan). I did not make the name up – it is Welsh, but she is going to have to spend the rest of her life spelling it and teaching people how to pronounce it. As a teacher I should have known better! We call her Meg!

  13. says

    We called Girl Child a name that we like but the standard shortened version that we call her starts with a different letter. She has asked why don’t people get it right.

    Last year she wanted to be called an even shorter version and this year has decided that her full name is best. I knew when we gave her a 9 letter name she could take her of nicknames and short versions. I didn’t think she’d want to be called her full name at 8.

  14. says

    I must have bad pronunciation because several times on the phone when I’ve been giving my name, the receiving person has then said “Ok Glenn”. WTF?
    Oh, and I noticed Claire Hewitt’s comment up top….I get Leah sometimes too :)))))
    Funny post Bron…funny but true :)

  15. says

    Oh I hear you loud and clear!
    Jodi, is that with an “ie” or a “y” – neither just an “i” all by itself, yes a LONELY i…………..
    My maiden name was a nightmare, spent the first 25yrs of my life SPELLING out my name……..
    You think Jodi would be simple, apparently not!

  16. says

    My name is Sarah and people spell my name wrong ALL THE TIME. Which amazes me because I thought Sarah was an easy name to spell.

    I get Sara, Sahrah, Sera, Serra, Sehrah etc. Does my head in too. But the best was when I left a message on a company’s voice mail machine and they emailed me back, addressing the note to “Sierra”.

  17. says

    We are adamant that Abigail would be the old traditional way!
    I’m Samantha or better known as SAM and my husband is ERIN. Yrs, spelt like a girl. People always get our names mixed up thinking he’s Sam and I’m Erin. And our surname is ALWAYS spelt wrong. It’s with an O! Not an E! Gah! Doesn’t matter how many times you tell people…

  18. says

    I have issues with my name too. I’m Rachael and most spell it without the extra ‘a’ ‘Rachel’ why on earth they do that frustrates me, because I actually know a lot of Rachael’s and they all spelt it with that extra ‘a’ …just the ‘e’ looks ugly, I’m always having to  emphasize the ‘a’.

    Then once thats sorted, the next issue is my married name, ‘Norris’ …no not ‘Morris’ Nuh nuh Norris, ‘n’ for Nelly! It gets worse when you have a cold…lol.

  19. says

    We ummed ahhed for ages with our daughters name but in the end decided to give her a name that was really meaningful and special to us but unheard of and difficult to spell and pronounce!! So far she is cool with it (5yo) and has learnt to spell it! I was a teacher and knew it would be one they would have to learn, but I’d just been working OS with loads of kids with ‘different’ names. And even common names can be tricky to spell. I have a niece called Caitlin and there are about 6 ways to spell it (Caitlyn, Katelyn, Catelyn, Kaitlyn..) It kills me when people say “Oh, she will hate you for that when she grows up”!

  20. says

    Just reading this post had me in stitches!
    I rememeber reading a card from a friend when we had our first, that read ‘Congratulations on the birth of your princess Feebee’! (yes, her name was Phoebe!) We just laughed and knew we were surrounding our children with some well cultured adults hehe

  21. says

    …in saying that, another example, which I I try to avoid is “you know? Like Chuck Norris” some people get in before I do. But I’m not sure what’s worse,my married name or my maiden name, Jackson…yes, I would get the Michael Jackson digs all the time!

  22. says

    Somehow Natalie always becomes Madeline or leaves out the second a. I’ve just found it easier to be Nat.
    We picked very conventional names with conventional spelling, and I learnt after the first one, that they needed to be easy for them to say themselves, it took forever for my eldest to say her name, the others got theirs prett quickly.

  23. says

    Try having a double barrel surname! No one can cope with that. And no one seems to understand what a hyphen is, either. Very annoying. All my children have very traditional names, but lots of them.

  24. says

    I love when people automatically call me Amanda, yet my name is not actually Amanda, my mother named me Mandy. Don’t assume people.
    I can’t be bothered correcting people, unless of course I’m going to see them all the time, then I need to correct them so it’s not awkward down the track.

  25. says

    I’m Samantha but people often hear Amanda. Occasionally Vanessa. I usually go by Sam but then people expect a man rather than a petite, greying woman!!! My kids are Zander, Natalie and Micah. We went for phonetic spelling for Zander because we have a very unusual surname and our street name also needs spelling out. Maybe we should have called him something easy like Tom!

    People always ask me why I gave my daughter such a conventional name?! Like maybe I don’t think she’s as special as the boys?! I didn’t think any of the names we chose were particularly different or out there (Micah is a Bible name).

  26. says

    Ha, funny, my husband is Rob Smith!
    Easy, yep!
    Mine name, not so much.
    If I have to say my name on the phone I always spell it immediately…Thea T-H-E-A…before they get the chance to say, “Sorry, what was that?” Lucky it’s only 4 letters.
    And yet I still get Tia, Pia or Feeeeea???

  27. says

    My maiden name was always a shocker. “PH” not “F”. But it formed such a habit that I still spell my married name every time – even though it’s a pretty basic surname. As for my first name: Deborah, Debra, Debrah, Debbie, Debby, Debi….I hate the name anyway, so just Deb is fine thank you :)

  28. says

    Apparently Dorothy is spelt Dorthy. Or Dorathy. Or, the latest, Dorothea.

    Don’t even get me started on my surname. My kids’ names are Ben and Sam. I struck gold with those two. If only people would remember which is which. Including me :-)

  29. says

    All my life I have had to spell or correct Kellie, ith an ie. My son has an unusual, but not spacy, first name. We heard it, we liked it, it stuck. In the end we couldn’t better it and he got it. It suits him to a tee and we’ve never had an issue. Although at the time, my father said “he’s going to have to spell that his entire life” and I said “hmm, yes, like me!”. But the beauty is, his name is different and rarely heard people generally ask how to spell it rather than guessing! Second son has the ie problem like me! (different name though)

  30. says

    We have the same problem here, especially with our surname. It’s Aiken; that’s A-I-K-E-N. And no, there is no T (Aitken – that one really annoys me!).
    Our daughter is Jaime yet lots of people spell it Jamie. Most of the time I am fine with it, but when family members get it wrong, it really grates!
    My name is fairly straight forward and I can get a few names out of it and most people can say it correctly: Penelope.
    I have been called Pennie & Pene-lope before and once even got Cantelope on the phone… go figure.

    I always make a point of learning people’s names correctly, because I like when people do the same for me.

  31. says

    ALL THE TIME!!!! I wanted to kill my mum for 1. Naming me Reannon & 2. For not spelling it the traditional way ( Rhiannon). It’s driven me crazy my whole life now I just don’t care. I automatically spell it just to save time & now my name is more popular it’s not as weird as it was when I was a kid.

  32. says

    I can’t imagine spelling Bronwyn any other way, it just sounds right to me. I always get ‘ie’ or ‘i’ I’m used to it now and hardly ever bother correcting anymore. But I to constantly saying ‘Y’!! xx

  33. says

    Even when I have provided a written version, so they can just copy it, it is still misspelled, as the person feels entitled to “correct” my surname!

  34. says

    I’m DenYse instead of Denise because my father didn’t get to call me his preferred name of Jennifer, Mum got her way. So Dad, being of the one-upmanship type, decided to make it different.
    As for my now surname-Whelan. Pretty straightforward – not for some, we are called WHALAN not Whelan ??!!
    I have been spelling my name out loud for around 58 years now to teachers, to businesses, to EVERY one who wants to know my name.
    Our first landlady called me Janice, and we could not convince her otherwise
    That’s mine.
    My daughter was named Katie. Short for NOTHING. Amazing isn’t it what people assume?

  35. says

    My name is pretty straightforward and yet folks still leave out the H. I was one of the idiots who gave her kid a unique spelling. It’s JaKob instead of with a c. He’s had it wrong on numerous things, but I can always pick his art and school projects out of the sea by that k.

  36. says

    My first name is Welsh which in and of itself causes problems. Sian is not a common name and although the pronunciation is quite easy, it’s not phonetic. Only English and Welsh people get it right the first time. Combine that with a Latvian surname which no-one can pronounce or spell (even though this time it is phonetic) and you have quite a challenge on your hands. Sian Gipslis translates to Stan, Sharon or Jan Gibson quite regularly.

    Suffice to say we named our daughter with particular care. Georgina has only one recognised spelling and is phonetic.

    K xx

  37. says

    My maiden name is Goodridge, and it always drove me crazy, when people would say or write Goodrich. I was always having to clarify, “It’s Goodridge: Good + Ridge, like a mountain ridge, not rich!”

  38. says

    Well, I can’t talk!! after spelling my own name all my life and being used to being called Tracey, Tanya, Karen, Tara…I’ve named my children equally hard names, so have passed on the spelling curse to them…particularly little third child – imagine the joys Aurelia will bring her!!!

  39. Anonymous says

    LOVE this post. Story of my life.

    My name is Linzi. Yes. Linzi.

    It doesn’t matter how many times I spell it out, people have already decided in their mind how to spell it. Why do they even ask, I wonder?

    They seem particularly attached to the ‘d’ in Lindsay/Lindsey. So I almost always get ‘Lindzi’.

    And I have been asked on more than one occasion what ‘Linzi’ is short for. I have no idea how to answer that question.

    So thank you for this post, good to know there are others out there!!

  40. says

    I have had a lot of variations on my name, Allannah being a particularly lengthy one, but I’ve always been more concerned with the amount of mispronunciation involved. When I was little, I wouldn’t correct the and then I was scolded for not speaking up, later I would correct them and people would say “What’s the difference?” as if my name was of the “To-may-to, to-mah-to” variety. (It rhymes with hannah, not sultana).
    My children have traditional names, although some people are unaware of tradition, trying to change a ‘u’ to an ‘e’ in my son’s name all the time.

  41. says

    Hello, I’m Seana, pronounced Sean-a, that’s ‘Sean’ as in Sean Connery… with an ‘a’ at the end. Rarely got right!! I’m so used to it that I don’t mind at all, and am delighted my second name is Smith… with an ‘i.’ My sisters are Mairi and Morag, brother is Alastair.. love all being so Scottish/Irish with these names… and love that I was named after a wee dog!!

  42. says

    How easy is Lisa, but I constantly get Leisa or Liza?!! Our daughter is Isabella, which went to Bella and is now usually Bell. I also wanted to honour my husband’s Chinese heritage, so her middle name is Jeeyun. She has always taken much joy in letting people know that her first name means “beautiful” and her middle name means “great happiness”.

  43. says

    Oh i gave my kids simple easy (can’t get wrong) really names. My son’s name is one syllable…surely that will help him in life given he will have to spend most of the time spelling out his mouthful of an italian surname! oh but i’m pretty sure the John Smith’s of the world would love a little attention don’t you think???

  44. says

    Sweet jesus. Living in Hong Kong takes it to a WHOLE new level. Bridget is more often Ninjet or Birdig. I’ve taken to calling myself Wang just to make it easier on everyone.

  45. says

    Haha, I love ‘name’ posts. My surname has five letters, just five and the second and third get transposed all.the.time. I’m now rude and short to anyone who does it. It drives me insane. Can’t they read!??!

    My kids have uncommon names but easy to spell. I still have to spell them a lot though. I like to think it’s because people are stupid not because I gave my kids those ‘unusual’ names…

    There’s a kid at my son’s kinder whose name is Aahleighah – I think it might be Arlia on steroids!? A friend who’s a nurse told me about a kid born in the hospital she works in called ‘L-A’. Apparently the mother goes bananas having to explain the pronunciation – le-dash-a. Did I mention I love names?? And laughing at people who give their kids funny names. But I get annoyed at stupid people. How could you misspell Bronwyn???

  46. says

    Given my maiden ALWAYS had to be spelled (and even then people still managed to put 2 l’s where there should have been t’s) I always swore I would never inflict hard to spell names on my children.

    So I went with the simplest spelling of Jaden for Mr 2 … and still everyone wants to spell it Jayden.

  47. says

    One of my best friends is named Bronwyn too. Many, many years ago we went on an adventure to a backpackers in the Blue Mountains with no more than about $15 to spend on accommodation, when giving her name, the check in guy struggled, and in the end her receipt just said “Miss Wyn”.

    As a “Rebekah” myself, I have seen some interesting spellings! I remember coming home from school in kindy getting cross with mum for calling me “Rebekah with a big fat K in the middle”. The other “Rebeccas” in my year were the “cca” variety.

  48. says

    I can’t believe so many people can’t spell your name correctly, it’s not hard, and I totally understand the annoyance. I always have to spell out my last name Hardt, people always think it’s hart or heart, and even when I spell it, they ask me to repeat it just in case, sometimes wish I’d kept my maiden name!

  49. says

    It’s so funny that you wrote about this today. I’ll explain why!My maiden name was McNicol…I would get McNickol, McNicolle, McNichole…etc I got married and my last name is now Spilsbury. I get Stilsbury, Spilsberg…BUT tonight when I was making a reservation for dinner on Thursday night I started spelling it out…I got to Spil…and then the lady on the other end of the phone says sbury? :) So cool! ha and then with Lauren…I don’t know if I don’t speak clearly on the phone but I often get Warren…and I’m like do I sound like a man? ha!

  50. says

    All the time – not my first name but my surname … prior to new husband was Reuss – most commonly known as Reuff. Now I have Pappalardo … no one can spell it. There is just silence when I say it. Sigh.

  51. says

    Oh yes … my maiden name was VAPP … whenever we called for takeaway we always were called Watt, Vak, Wet … so many other names it used to make us laugh.
    And if I met someone new and said my name I always had to repeat my surname and then try an explain that it used to be VAPIOPOLOUS but my Grandad changed it after the war …. luckily for me my married name is much easier!

  52. says

    I don’t use names on my blog so I’ll probably never have a chance to post on this subject, thank goodness you thought to do it!

    My name is Brigette and my husbands name is Adam.

    Growing up I couldnt say my own name and it came out sounding like Beegee when I was little so from age 2 – 18 I went by B.G. The first day of every school year was hell as I explained that

    #1 – they mispronounced Brigette

    #2 – I wanted to be called B.G.

    #3 – My last name was pronounced East even though it was spelled Istre

    When I moved out and went to Hawaii for college it seemed easier to try using my real name. Now it’s like I have an alter ego. In Hawaii I am Brigette Mallo but I lived 18 years of my life in Montana as B.G. Istre, it’s lots of fun to explain for background checks.

    My general rule is that I’ll answer to it as long as its polite. I rarely correct people when they mispronounce I just smile and respond.

    My husband couldnt even get a nickname out of Adam and he’s always first in people cell phone contact list so he gets butt dialed A LOT!!

    When we had kids he was determined to make their names fancy, funky and with lots of nickname options. I was adament that they be spelled plainly and I don’t like the idea of naming someone Robert and then calling him Rob, why not just name him Rob?

    We compromised and went with short names (mostly nicknameless)with funky spellings. Our twins Jaiden and Jacen never have their names spelled correctly and everyone thinks they should follow the same pattern so they get a lot of Jaden & Jacen or Jaiden and Jaison birthday cards (because its too hard to check the spelling from the invite I guess?) They also go by JD and Jace most of the time, so much for no nicknames!

    Our youngest son is named Toben. He gets the occasional Tobin spelling but mostly his is easy to spell, unique and he rarely goes by Toby. Guess 3rd time was a charm.

    So there you have it, now you know way more than you ever needed to about my familiy names and you have everything you need to do a google background check on me and my alter ego.

  53. says

    Yes I can relate – my name is Jacquie which nobody ever knows how to spell so I made sure all my kids had normal spelling for all of their names – Alexander, Nicholas & Christopher as it drove me crazy having to spell my name all the time.

  54. says

    Although ‘Luna White’ is my blogging name, my legal name is rarely spelt incorrectly. I’ve learned to phonetically spell my name out steadily. Then I ask for it to be repeated. When the receiver is really annoying me I go military on them using ‘radiotelephony spelling alphabets’ AKA navy speak. Fiance always has a good laugh when I go Commander on the phone. Thanks for the post, I’ve always wanted to get this off my chest.

    Check this out too: http://www.radiospelling.com

  55. says

    My parents liked Carly Simon but my grandmother hated the y so I became Carli with an i. To make things worse I went from an easy maiden name to an Italian surname that contains no less than three i’s. I think I should just do a Prince and change my name to “i”!

  56. says

    You’d think Emily would be difficult to get wrong, but you’d be mistaken. Double m sometimes (WHAT?!) but mostly just Emma. Or Emma-Lee a few times.

    My maiden name was Hayes – not Haze, as more people than you’d expect would write. Seriously, how common does my name have to be before it’s spelt correctly? Now it’s Hawker, which everyone can spell, but which everyone has to joke about. “Oh, you’re not allowed in here! No Hawkers!” Ha ha… ha.

  57. says

    Ah, this is a goodie, Bron! Thanks so much for sharing it with the POTMC.

    You wouldn’t think that I would have any trouble with Jane. Or “Plain Jane” as I used to get at school back in the 70s – remember that? Or “Jane – like in Tarzan?” Today’s kids wouldn’t get that reference. But I still get the occasional “Is that Jane with a ‘y’?”.

    But my married name is even plainer – Green. Even then, I get letters addressed to ‘Jean Grain’. Go figure! J x

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