In our previous post we covered the various nicknames for the Catherine family. In this post, I’ll cover the myriad forms that this staid classic takes. This post is going to be a little special though, since the English spelling variations will get a section; there’s too many of them to just ignore. So let’s break down the spellings first, and then move into foreign variations. Remember, I’m trying to keep it to ones that are palatable to the English speaking population. So let’s go!

The English Spelling Variations

  • Catherine: The French form and the most popular spelling of the name for years, Catherine has since fallen out of favor for Katherine, but this is the spelling I like best. Besides my obvious bias, I like the softness and dignity in this spelling. Catherine is such a strong name that the spelling doesn’t need any additional harshness. I also like the gentle, old-fashioned feel to this spelling.
  • Katherine: The most common spelling, and one I must say I hate. Again, it’s total bias, mixed with the fact that people just assume this is the way that my name is spelled. I find the K ugly and harsh, not to mention trendy. I know some think it’s spunkier, but the name is so common I don’t think it has much of a spunk left. A little harsh, I know, but again, it’s the bias. 😉
  • Catharine/Katharine: These spellings are nice, but don’t excite me all too much. Katharine Hepburn notwithstanding, they aren’t the best known and just as aesthetically pleasing as the e spellings. There’s no real advantage I can see.
  • Kathryn: I really don’t like this spelling; it looks “dumbed down” to me and sort of trendy, even though it’s been around for a very long time. It looks unnecessarily harsh, and I pronounce Catherine in 2.5 syllables, if you can understand that. This takes out the half syllable and sounds ugly to me.

The Domestic Foreigners

  • Kathleen: An Anglicised form of Caitlin, Kathleen’s been in the top 1000 in the US for at least 128 years. I like it. It may have once been popular, but it’s fairly unusual now and doesn’t feel as dated as many of the -een names. It also lends itself to Kat easily and can use all of the Catherine nicknames without being quite as common. Although I like it in the front, I think that it makes a really cool unexpected middle, especially next to a more modern or trendy first. Kathleen gets the double thumbs up from me!
  • Caitlin: An Irish form of Catherine that’s supposed to be pronounced Kathleen. Of course, we use our own phonetic rules on it and pronounce it Kate-lyn. I can see the appeal of it, but it’s so overexposed that it’s just not interesting anymore. It doesn’t even sound Irish anymore: it’s the all-American girl to me.
  • Katrina: German, Swedish and Dutch contracted form of Catherine, Katrina is widely known in the US, hence why it belongs in this category. Of course, this name isn’t seeing too much use after the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, but it has been steadily falling since the late 70s.  The hurricane was just an accelerating factor. Objectively, the name is nice, but the Trina part sounds a little downmarket. My mum calls me this as a little bit of a personal nickname, and I wouldn’t mind it terribly if it were my name. However, I definitely do not recommend it due to the hurricane. That’s too much for a child to bear.

The Foreigners

  • Caitriona: Depending on what accent you put over the second I, this is either a Scottish or Irish form of Catherine. It’s pronounced the same as Katrina, so, while I like it and use it around the internet, I would recommend Katrina if it’s the sound you’re after. I suppose my comments about Katrina all apply.
  • Catalina: A Spanish form, Catalina is very pretty but perhaps prone to be confused with the dressing. I’ve never heard of it myself, but that seems to be many people’s first associations. Apart from that, I really like Catalina; it’s lighter and airier than Catherine, if that’s what you’re going for. I think it works well on any ethnicity, but your mileage may vary with this one. A thumbs up.
  • Caterina/Catharina: Another very pretty name. My favorite spelling of this is Katharina, it looks so rich and European. I know, I actually like a K spelling. Shocker! It feels quite a bit like Catalina to me; it’s got a similar light sound. Again, this works well on any ethnicity, but be prepared to correct people if you go for one of the H spellings. I use Caterina on the internet sometimes, and it seems like a fairy princess version of Catherine, if that makes sense; I mean that in a good way, of course.
  • Ekaterina: A Bulgarian form and alternate transcription of the Russian Yekaterina, Ekaterina is actually fairly intuitive for English speakers in one of its pronunciations. It’s pretty, but maybe a little unwieldy for daily use. It also seems quite princessy, like Anastasia. I can’t warm up to it too much.
  • Katelijn: This is a Dutch form, used especially in Flanders, according to BtN. I think it’s quite pretty, as is the pronunciation: kah-tə-LIEN. That’s roughly kah-tuh-leen, I think, but don’t quote me on it. It’s like a mix of Catalina and Kathleen, in a good way. I love all of the j’s in the Dutch language, don’t you? They look so spirited. Unfortunately, I think this is quite unusable in the United States; the pronunciation will probably kill a few people.
  • Katrien: Another Dutch form, pronounced kat-reen. I like the way it looks but it sounds like someone with an accent saying Catherine. If it were KAHT-ree-en I’d like it more.
  • Katarzyna: The Polish form, this is my newest name crush. I could never use it, but I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. Say it: kah-tah-ZHI-nah. So pretty, and the z lends it a crystalline quality that I usually don’t like in names but love here. You’d get nothing but grief with the spelling and pronunciation, but if any people of Polish heritage are reading this, I implore you to use it for me. It’s such a beautiful name.

And so ends the tour of Catherine. Of course, I like the name, seeing how it is mine and was my grandmother’s. I think it exudes a quiet dignity matched by few other names. The foreign forms are pretty cool, too, and run the gamut from sturdy (Kathleen) to fairytale (Katelijn). All in all, this is a name that would serve anyone well, and Lola’s right: I’m fiercely protective of it.

What are your favorite spellings and forms of Catherine?