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How Many Ways Can You Spell Katelyn / Caitlin? Mathematical Analysis

Updated on March 15, 2015
paxwill profile image

P. Williams has a background in statistical analysis and has always been fascinated by the origins of names.

Are you named Katelyn or Caitlin, (or Kaitlyn, Caitlyn or hundreds of other variants) and you wonder why everyone always misspells your name? Did you know there are 660 possible ways you can spell this name? Granted, most of them are so bizarre you will probably never encounter them in real life. But because there are so many plausible spelling variations of the name Katelyn or Caitlin, it's one of the most difficult names to spell correctly on the first try. The next time somebody asks you how to spell your name or you meet another "Caytlinne" consider the incredible variety of this seemingly simple name.

Mathematical Formula for Counting the 660 Spelling Variations of Katelyn / Caitlin

The number of ways to spell Katelyn or Caitlin is equal to the number of ways to spell the "Kate" part times the number of ways to spell the "Lyn" part. This is because for every plausible way to spell "Kate", you can match it with each of the plausible "Lyn"-sounding endings. Here are 33 ways you can possibly spell "Kate."

Cate, Caet, Cait, Cayt, Caite, Cayte, Caight, Caitt, Caytt,
Kate, Kaet, Kait, Kayt, Kaite, Kayte, Kaight, Keit, Keyt, Keight, Kaitt, Kaytt,
Khate, Khaet, Khait, Khayt, Khaite, Khayte, Khaight, Kheit, Kheyt, Kheight, Khaitt, Khaytt

Some of these might conjure pronunciations different from "Kate." For example, when you first see "Caight" you might think "kite." Or you when you first see "Kheit" you might think "keet." Nevertheless each could reasonbly be pronounced the same as "Kate."

The second syllable of Katelyn or Caitlin is unstressed and pronounced as in "lən" where ə is the neutral vowel sound known as schwa. The list of ways to spell the "Lyn" includes endings such as "Lind," "Lon," "Lan," "Lyne" and others that reduce to "lən" when they occur as the unaccented syllables. Here are the 20 possible spellings for the second syllable.

Lyn, Lynn, Lynne, Lynd, Lyne,
Lin, Linn, Linne, Lind, Line,
Lan, Lann, Lanne, Land,
Len, Lenn, Lenne, Lend,
Lon, Lun

These are summarized in the table below. To product a spelling variation of Katelyn, just take something from the first column and match it with something from the second. For example, Khaet + Lenn = Khaetlenn.

Ways to Spell the "Kate" Part
Ways to Spell the "Lyn" Part
Total = 20
Total = 33

Since 33 times 20 equals 660, you get 660 different variations on the name Katelyn or Caitlin.

Most Common Spellings of Katelyn / Caitlin According to US Census Data

The majority of the possible spellings of Katelyn and Caitlin are so weird you'll rarely, if ever, encounter them. Rather, the spellings you are most likely to see, according to US Census Data and vital records over the past 100 years, are the following:

  • (1) Kaitlyn: Approximately 1 out of 1827 people living or born in the US is named Kaitlyn. Its peak popularity as a baby name was 1995 to 2005.
  • (2) Katelyn: Approximately 1 out of 2299 people living or born in the US is named Katelyn. Its peak popularity as a baby name was 1990 to 2000.
  • (3) Caitlin: Approximately 1 out of 2494 people living or born in the US is named Caitlin. Its peak popularity as a baby name was 1985 to 1995.
  • (4) Kaitlin: Approximately 1 out of 4826 people living or born in the US is named Kaitlin. Its peak popularity as a baby name was 1985 to 1995.
  • (5) Caitlyn: Approximately 1 out of 5737 people living or born in the US is named Caitlyn. Its peak popularity as a baby name was 1995 to 2005.

Origin and Meaning of the Name Katelyn / Caitlin

Caitlin is an Irish female given name that is derived from the French name Cateline, which in turn is a derivative of Catherine (and its many many variants). Catherine is derived from Greek and means pure. In Irish Gaelic, Caitlin is pronounced more like "cat lean" and so Caitlin was anglicized as Kathleen, which is now seen as a distinct name from Caitlin.

At some point, people began pronouncing Caitlin as "Kate Lynn" which gave rise to the numerous spelling variations we see today. Some traditionalists tend to prefer the original Irish spelling of Caitlin while pronouncing it as "Kate Lynn."

Famous Katelyns and Caitlins

Here are some famous people named Katelyn or Caitlin

  • Caitlin Flanagan - American essayist and social critic
  • Kaitlin Olson - Actress in the television series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Kaitlin Hopkins - American actress and daughter of actress Shirley Knight
  • Katelyn Tarver - American singer-songwriter and actress
  • Catelynn Lowell - Former reality television star in the Teen Mom series
  • Catelyn Stark (nee Catelyn Tully) - Fictional character in the Game of Thrones series
  • Caitlyn the Sheriff of Piltover - Fictional character from the League of Legends game

Catelyn Stark as portrayed by Michelle Fairley in HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones.
Catelyn Stark as portrayed by Michelle Fairley in HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones.
Kaitlin Olson playing Dee Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Kaitlin Olson playing Dee Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Are you named Q8llyn or some other variant of Katelyn / Caitlin?

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    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 2 years ago from Florida

      Interesting choice of subject... In today's society these were not the only names spelled differently...appears spelling regardless has undergone a transformation...thanks to texting.Correct spelling does not appear to be important..even elementary/middle are accepting ..* b/c ( because as an example )I have read a few published books with many misspelled words of late. Thanks for bringing this to attention. enjoyed good job..

      Cool mathematical analysis.....

    • SmartAndFun profile image

      SmartAndFun 2 years ago from Texas

      I named my kid Kaitlyn but I spell it THROATWARBLER MANGROVE.

    • paxwill profile image

      P Williams 2 years ago from France

      Well, thank you for the thought-provoking comments! I got to thinking of the topic when I was chatting with a friend whose daughter is named Caitlin and the subject of name spelling came up from a funny story. She was registering her daughter for some activity and the registrar asked if it was "spelled the normal way," which besides being somewhat rude, also makes you wonder just what exactly is considered the "normal" way of spelling it. I thought "Katelyn" was actually the most normal way, but researching it I discovered its only the 2nd most common way (at least in the US.)

    • calculus-geometry profile image

      TR Smith 2 years ago from Eastern Europe

      This is marvelous, and I can confirm I've seen a "Kaytlynn," which stayed in my mind because I thought it weird the parents would choose a spelling with two y's. You should do more of these with other names like Catherine.

    • profile image

      anonymous 14 months ago

      Qaitlynne would be interesting

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