Since my birthday is coming up (it’s the same day as that other much less important holiday this week), I’m going to be a little self-indulgent and post about my own name. Like the Elizabeth posts we had recently, this will be a two part post. We’ll cover nicknames in this post.

So, if you’ve decided on Catherine/Katherine/Catharine/Katharine/Kathryn, originality is probably not your first concern. This name has been so popular for so long that only the truly delusional think it’s got a shred of rarity left. The good thing is that there are a few nicknames to help differentiate your child from others. Unfortunately, most of these are quite common, too, and there aren’t the same myriad options as there are for Elizabeth. Nevertheless, let’s discuss.

The Standbys

  • Cate/Kate: Timeless and dignified, Cate is currently the nickname du jour for Catherine. It’s becoming common as a given name in addition to a nickname, but I would suggest keeping it in the nickname slot. If you plan on using the C spelling, be prepared for a lifetime of having to correct spelling (take it from me, I know), but the nickname is so versatile you shouldn’t let it put you off. This is my day to day name in real life, and it’s served me well for a long time now.
  • Catie/Katie: Cate’s little sister. Catie is cute during childhood, but soon your daughter will want something more grown up sounding. I was a childhood Catie who has since moved to Cate, but a lot of people who know me from high school call me that; If you want your daughter to move to Cate from Catie, have her do it early, probably at about 13/14, junior high school age. After that it’s just too hard to shake. I’m fine with being called Catie, but unless you love the nickname, use something else. It’s a little juvenile and hard to shake after being called so after so many years.
  • Cat/Kat: More common for Kathleen than Catherine, Cat is a less common choice than Cate/Catie and my online handle of choice. It can be lively or demure, artistic or bookish. My mother wanted to call me this but my grandmom threw a fit; she thought it was a stripper name. I really like this one; as I said before, it can fit any personality, and lends a little spark to stately and formal Catherine.
  • Cathy/Kathy: This just screams “middle-aged secretary” to me. I never read the comics, so I can’t comment on that association, but Cathy is frumpy and unpleasant sounding, at least to me. I had a teacher in junior high school who insisted on calling me this for the first few months of school; I nearly strangled her, swear to god. Maybe in a few years Cathy will be ready to revive as a hipster-cool nickname; for now, it’s dowdy.

The Unconventionals

  • Rin/Rinnie: I’ve only ever seen this in theory, but it could work. It’s distinctive and cute with a good full name. The only problems I see are the similarities to Ronnie and Rimmie, which might be unpleasant. I think I’d have to see it on a person before deciding if it works, but I think it could.
  • Kay: This works solely as a nickname for the K versions, but it’s cute and retro with a spark. Your daughter might know a lot of Kaylees, but not many Kays. It’s charming, but a little insubstantial for a full name, in my opinion. It works well as a nickname for any name beginning with K.
  • Kit: My moniker of choice for a few months when I got to college, Kit is a more unusual choice than Cate, Catie, or Cat. It’s spunky and a little rock and roll. Personally, I realized I just wasn’t a Kit after a while; it takes a outgoing personality to carry it off! If your child is likely to be a wallflower or shy, this probably isn’t the best option. For a firecracker daughter, though, this is a name that says “I’m here!” with its crisp sound and pointy letters.
  • Kitty: I’m sorry, all I can think of is the mother from That 70s Show. I think it’s still pretty dated and hard to take seriously. It sounds like a stripper and an old woman simultaneously, no mean feat, and by no means a good one. This is more likely to arise as a jokey nickname than a real one, at least in my experience. For now, don’t go there. However I can’t say what might happen in the next few years: The naming landscape can be unpredictable sometimes. I can see this in with the Alfies and Ellies of England, although I’m not too sure. Just leave it be for now.

The Foreigners

  • Katya/Katja: Russian/German diminutives of Katherine/Yekaterina, Katya has an easy sound to it. I wouldn’t expect to see this on an an American child, but it wouldn’t bother me in the least. It’s not the most intuitive but is pretty easy to grasp after the first time hearing it. It’s nice but doesn’t excite me much.
  • Karen: Bad idea, straight out. It’s a Danish short form but it’s so well known (and dated) in the English speaking world as a given name that your daughter will spend her whole life correcting people. If you love it, give it as a full name. It’s not like naming you child Ellie or Gracie; it’s got a full name sound and full name perception. Objectively, I can see the appeal; Karen’s bright, snappy sound must have been what drew parents to it in the first place. Subjectively, it’s quite dated, but not unpleasant.
  • Kasia: A Polish dimintuitive of the Polish form of Catherine (Katarzyna), Kasia is nice, but the pronunciation is sure to throw English speakers (KAH-shah). I’d advise against it for that reason, but if you’re going to use it, use Katarzyna. This is also one of those names that’s so tied to an ethnicity that only those of that ethnicity should use it, in my opinion. The cultural tie is really the only reason to give your child a name that’s so difficult in English. Isn’t Kasia pretty, though?
  • Katinka: This would be nice, but it sounds like Natasha Fatale’s sister. It’s a little “Russian dominatrix” if you catch my drift. This is the German form of the Russian Katenka.

This list was a little difficult, since so many nicknames are intuitive for the version of Catherine prevalent in their country of origin, but not so much for the English. I tried to keep it to the ones feasible for the English, and of those, obviously the ones that interested me.

As you can see, Catherine is a name with many nickname options, and even more forms, but we’ll get to those in the next post. It hasn’t got the versatility of Elizabeth, but it comes close and should serve any woman well, even if it is common. Never fear choosing this name; it’s served me well for years, as has its nicknames. Pick the one you like best and run with it.

So, what are your favorite nicknames intuitive for the English Catherine/Katherine?

*I use C spellings throughout because that’s how I spell my name and it’s my blog so nyah.

**Again, all information on pronunciation and origin of foreign names is from behindthename.com. Don’t blame me if they’re wrong!

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