Say My Name.

Almost thirty years ago, when my parents were still cooing with twinkling eyes at one another, there was a decision to have a second baby. My brother was born about two years earlier and they needed a second child to hit that perfect white picket fence dream.

One pregnancy and one last-minute “her head is showing, what’s her name going to be?!” moment later, the name Caitlin was agreed upon. Little did my parents know the absolute shitshow my name would become over the years.



Kaitlyn. Catelyn. Katelin. Caitlyn. Kate-lynn. Should I go on? Nevermind the mere spelling of the name, but there’s a fascinating anomaly that occurs when you have a ‘C’ or ‘K’ name. Your name goes from a specific pronunciation to any ‘C’ or ‘K’ name available.

Growing up in a family of Kathy’s, Karen’s, Kayla’s, and Kim’s, my name was always furthest from accuracy. My family would endlessly sputter through the entire round of names, foreheads crinkled and tongues flashing about, before landing on mine. “Kath- Kar- Kay- Ki- Caitlin! Go clean your room!”

Work has always been an interesting place for name-related conversations as well. Currently, I’m Kristin.

I’ve been Katherine, Katie, Kat (meow) and Kathy at previous jobs. It eventually gets to a point where you just go along with your new name. You can only correct someone so many times before accepting the notion they have a true affinity for your new name.

I could wear a neon sign with an attached loud-speaker, blaring my name continuously in a nails-on-a-chalkboard style voice, threatening to roboto punch* anyone who dares misspeak my name — I would still be Kristin/Kathy/Catie/Kristy.

ron swanson

For the name mistakes, we can immediately vote out my being too chummy. I spend most days hoping to not be noticed.

And lastly, one of my personal favorites: the email “typo”. Now, I completely understand misspelling a name when responding to, say, a voicemail, where you can’t physically see the spelling. But good old Outlook allows all of us to insert a nifty signature at the bottom of every message sent. That’s like giving an answer for free on a test; how can you get it wrong?!

While it offers a great boost of humor in my day to see a response to “Katileen”, I have to admit it makes me question and worry about those around me. When preparing dinner, do they blindly grab syrup of ipecac over salsa, just because of the same starting letter?

If so, that’s one dinner party I never want to be invited to.



* If you, or any of your affiliates, know what a ‘roboto punch’ is, you’re one up on me. I blame this nonsensical term on Monday morning and her devious ways.

25 responses to “Say My Name.

  1. I loved this post. Makes me glad of my own name. The name Megan is also one though which has various spellings- I have four friends named Megan and they all spell their name differently. It gets tough at times.

  2. I feel your pain! I’m Katie (really Katherine) but I get Kaitlyn, Kate, Kathy, Kat, you name it. I hate when people get it wrong in emails, like, if you were unsure, the answer is right there! (Also, I like how we were both diggin’ Ron Swanson today!)

    • Ron Swanson and K/C names for the win! It’s good to hear you’ve been Kaitlyn before because I’ve been Katherine several times. At this point, if anyone calls me anything I just respond.

  3. I am dying. My name is Kelly and my siblings are Kris, Corina and Katie. I TOTALLY feel you – my whole life it’s been “Kr- Cor- Ka- KELLY!” My sisters and I pretty much just answer to any one of our three names at this point. I really like the name Caitlin but you’re right, the whole spelling thing has gotten way out of control. There are four ways (that I know of) to spell Kelly, but luckily people usually default to mine. (Maybe five – I honestly think I once saw it spelled “Kelleigh” – let’s get a grip, people.)

    • LOL, this is too funny. Sometimes when I was growing up I would wonder what possessed my family to introduce another C/K name. That’s just playing tricks on yourself; every family gathering is a tongue twister!

  4. I completely feel you!! I have had email responses addressing me by a completely different name (but with the same first initial) after my signing my original email with my name.

  5. I love this post, and I totally feel your pain. Lillian is rare enough that peoples’ brains seem totally unable to process it, and I’ve gotten variations such as Lorraine, Luann, and “What?” followed by a blank stare. Oh, and once someone took Lillian and turned it into Gloria. Because, y’know, phoenetics.

    I’ve just started giving the name Elizabeth whenever I get coffee/order carry out/make a restaurant reservation. People are hard-pressed to fuck that one up.

    • Lillian to Gloria is one of the best I’ve heard yet! I’d love to meet that person and ask where their logic was that day, haha. When I was young I took pottery courses at a local art museum and I remember a Lillian in class. People constantly used to call her “Lil” or “Jillian”… it boggled my mind!

  6. Good post! I have encountered funny pronunciations of my last name, Kelland, (usually by those who have only seen it in print) as if it was Kennel, Kendall, and even Callahan. Also repeatedly, it’s been mispronounced with a long e sound, as if it was spelled Keeland. My brother has experienced the same thing, but what he always says is this: It’s pronounced Kelland. Can’t you ‘teel’ by the ‘speeling’?” πŸ™‚ We wonder why they would mispronounce Kelland when it spells like tell and spell. Maddening!

    • It’s interesting to look at how often we pronounciate words completely differently, despite them being so similar to words/names we already know. My last name gets butchered all the time… it’s funny to hear people play letters and accents where they don’t belong!

  7. Ha! This is impeccably accurate. I’m “Kayla,” but with a “C”. I cannot count the number of emails, just like you say, I have received addressed as “Kayla” with a “K”, and I too, every single time, question the intellect of the individual sending the email. I don’t understand. I have worked with you for a year, we send eachother emails on a regular basis, and you still insist on a ‘K’. It’s right there in big, bold font at the bottom of the email you’re writing on… are you even awake?!
    Furthermore, I have also gotten used to being called anything, quite literally anything that begins with a C or a K. It’s inevitable, I’ve learned to embrace it.
    Very well written, thanks for providing me with a good laugh to break up this fine Monday afternoon! πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad this brightened your Monday! πŸ™‚ The signature at the bottom should be a clear giveaway. Through the years I’ve gradually increased the font size of my email signature in hopes people would see it and spell my name correctly. An email from my boss this morning? “Hi Kaitlyn,”. Hope lost once again!

  8. HIlarious! You have no idea how often people can me Don and not Dawn. I always respond with “do I look like a man to you?”

  9. I can relate a little. Some people actually say “Carol” wrong (have you ever heard anyone pronounce it like “Kee-ruhl”? No, didn’t think so…). and I’m forever asked if there’s an “e” at the end, 2 R’s or L’s.

  10. I always get people mispronouncing my name all the time. If I never have to see them again, then after the third try I just go with it. Also nobody can spell it even though it’s phonetically the same.
    I blame my parents.

  11. I like to let other people I know don’t care in other ways. Avoiding their phone calls, eating with my mouth open, not brushing my hair, not looking them directly in the eyes when I am avoiding talking to them…

    • Those all seem entirely effective. One of my favorites in the art of ignoring humans is when someone asks an irrational question or nonsensical statement — I simply blink and go back to what I was doing. If prompted, I’ll let people know I didn’t think what I heard deserved a response.

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