Spelling Tip for Creative Baby Names – Hard C vs. Soft C

Google tells me that there are women out there named Cimberly. Cimberly is meant to be a variant of Kimberly, but when I see it, I can’t force myself to say anything but Simberly.

That’s because the pronunciation of the letter C depends upon the letter that follows. When C is followed by E, I or Y, it’s typically soft (cell, city, cyst). Otherwise, it’s hard (cat, cot, cut).

Same with names. Carson, Cordelia and Curtis have hard C’s; Cecilia, Cindy and Cyrus have soft C’s. (The only exceptions I can come up with are Irish names like Cillian and Ciara.)

If you want to personalize a name that features the letter C, be careful. You don’t want to turn Caleb in Celeb, or Cassie into Cissie. (Caleb might like the change, but I don’t think Cassie would appreciate it.)

And if you substitute a C for a K or an S without considering what letter comes next, you run the risk of turning Kent into Cent, or Sage into Cage. Or Kimberly into Cimberly.


4 thoughts on “Spelling Tip for Creative Baby Names – Hard C vs. Soft C

  1. Ceili, but, again, an Irish name. It’s the only exceptions, and even then, you’re opening up your child to a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciations.

  2. Hi C in DC,

    Charlotte is a French feminine form of Charles, so it starts with a sh-sound because that’s the French pronunciation of “ch.” (Charles also starts with a sh-sound in French.)

  3. I’ve doomed my son with the Irish name Cian… we considered changing the ‘C’ to a ‘K’ to make pronunciation easier here in the U.S., but we felt doing that would make the name lose the historical and familial values that made us choose it in the first place…

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