How Many Variants Are There For The Name Catherine/Katherine?


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This popular girls' name is spelled in many different ways including Katharine, Cathryn and Kathryn. The Gaelic form is Caitlin or its later varient Kathleen, once mainly known in Ireland but now popular throughout the English-speaking world. (In Irish Gaelic Caitlin is pronounced Kate-LEEN and has an accent over the second "I", but in English it is usually KATE-lin.) There is also a Scottish form, Catriona.

The oldest spelling is with a "k" as the name probably comes from the Greek katharos or "pure." (it may be of still older origin, but if so the meaning is uncertain.) There was a St Katherine (Aikaterine) in the early 4th century who was martyred by being broken on a wheel; hence the firework known as the Catherine wheel. It has always been a popular Christian name; in fact, Henry VII married no fewer than three wives with this name.

Catherine has many variations. These include Kate, Katie, Katy, Kit, Kitty, Kathy, Cathy, Kath, Cath and (unusually) Kat or Cat. There are many famous bearers of the name including the late Katharine Hepburn, and now Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslett.

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