How Do You Feel About Your Name, Katharine?

“I love my name,” says Katharine Weber, an author originally from New York City. “My name feels like an essential part of me and it suits me utterly, including the slightly abnormal part of it.”

In 1955, the year Katharine was born, her name was the 440th most popular baby name in the United States. More popular than Katharine, though, was Katherine, which ranked 65th. (Today the gap is even more pronounced: in 2006, Katharine ranked 906th and Katherine 36th.)

Katharine says the second a in her name “makes a world of difference to me, but is apparently invisible to others”:

[My name] gets spelled wrong as often than it gets spelled right. […] It gets “corrected” to Katherine quite often when I know I spelled it right for the material at hand. Having a name with a slightly nonstandard spelling is a chronic reminder of how careless people can be, how often people get the details that are right in front of them just a little bit wrong and never notice. Almost a third of my reviews over the years have had my name spelled Katherine throughout. Or even Catherine.

And then there’s the issue of whether or not to correct misspellings:

If I ask for a correction this makes me a fussbudget. If I don’t, this means you might search for something and not find it, plus I have the ignominiousness of walking around with a name tag spelled wrong, or reading a review with my name spelled wrong, or even seeing a foreign edition of one of my novels with my name spelled wrong.

Misspellings aside, though, Katharine has a great affinity for her name:

I think it is aesthetically very pleasing. I like that Katharine Hepburn spelled it this way. I am also named for my maternal grandmother — Katharine Swift — and that is immensely meaningful.

Thanks so much, Katharine!


4 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About Your Name, Katharine?

  1. I have the same name (Katharine, with an A in the middle instead of E) and the same thing always happens to me! I’ve had my name come back to me mysteriously misspelt on debit cards, superannuation accounts, even my father’s death certificate… it sounds like a minor thing, but damn it’s annoying when it happens to you all the time! You would think that people could pay more attention, particularly when it’s for something important, but apparently not. *sigh*

    Anyway, I tend to go by Kat where I can, just because it was so much easier than spending my whole life sorting out messes involving lots of paperwork caused by schmucks who can’t spell something that’s written right in front of them. I wouldn’t ever change my spelling of Katharine, though – I love it, even if it’s a bit of a pain in the butt!

  2. Thanks for the post and the comment – I named my daughter Katharine because I love the name and the spelling. There is just something grand and elegant about it. I occasionally wonder if I should have just gone with “Katherine” and whether she will curse me later for the second “a,” but reasoned that there are so many spellings that anyone with that name will have to spell it out often, anyway (Katharine/Katherine/Kathryn/Catherine, etc.). We call her Kate at this point, but I wanted her to have a more formal name that she can choose to use when she is older. I hope she will grow attached to her extra “a” as it sounds like you both have done!

  3. I also love my name. I was named after my great-grandmother, who actually changed her name to Katherine eventually because people spelled it wrong so often. I will never change my spelling of Katharine. I think that we have a beautiful old name. (I like old names. New names, in my opinion, are often too short and cutsie…) For me, it also means a lot to me to be named after someone. Both my first and middle names come from namesakes, people who were dear to my parents, and for me this really makes my name. It’s special. It has a story.

  4. My mother named me Kate after her favourite great aunt. Although my aunt was just Kate she wanted to give me flexibility and a long name for me to make whatever versions I wanted in the future. I still use the name Kate although was briefly ‘Katie’ is school because I felt it was prettier at the time.
    My mother named me with the spelling Katharine because she was misinformed that ‘K’ goes with ‘A’ and ‘C’ goes with ‘E’ when spelling the name.
    I love my name, having an unusual spelling makes me feel more exotic and I will go out of may to correct it because after all it is my name!
    I do actually spell my name with an accent above the second a and it is pronounced ‘Kat-aar-eeen’ with a hard t. But it is beautiful and I wouldn’t change it.

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