Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!


Thanks to everyone for their comments. We went back and forth about it, but ultimately decided to change the spelling. My husband decided he was really okay with Violet. As soon as we filed the paperwork for her updated birth certificate, I felt this incredible sense of calm. I didn’t know how much I’d been feeling the stress from this decision until it was over!

Jenna writes:

I could really use some help deciding what to do about our four month old daughter’s name.

We didn’t find out what we were having before, and went in with a pretty good idea of what we’d name a boy. For a girl, we didn’t really agree.

My husband wanted Juliette, but he has a J name, just like me, my brothers, and my sister, and my dad. I really didn’t want another J name even though I like Juliette a lot.

My favorite was Scarlett, but he couldn’t get over the “scar” sound.

After she was born, someone suggested Violet and I liked it instantly, but then I thought that spelling it Violette would be prettier, like Juliette.

My husband left it up to me.

Her name is Violette Mae LastName.

I’m happy with it, but was surprised that lots of people try to say it VEE oh LET or ask how to pronounce it or just kind of stop and look at it for a minute. I say “like the flower” a lot. Now I know that Violette is French, which I didn’t when we were in the hospital, but I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard.

Do we:

  • Change the spelling legally. I asked and I can actually “correct” her birth certificate until her first birthday, so it wouldn’t cost anything that I can tell.
  • Just use the Violet spelling, but not change it officially. This is sort of happening already. Everyone just writes Violet.
  • Stick with Violette and just know it will sometimes be something I need to explain. I feel like it’s already getting old to have to repeat it all the time, but maybe it gets easier.

My husband – again!! – says it’s up to me. Could really use some advice.

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter, and I’m so sorry you’re going through this!

Parents often do choose a different spelling to signal a specific pronunciation. It’s not always successful. And most of us, most of the time, probably default to whatever pronunciation is most familiar.

So yes, lots of people will see Violette and say Violet, just like Juliette = Juliet. It’s logical.

Me? I’d guess that Violette is pronounced differently than Violet. (I blame many years of high school French followed by a few semesters in college.)

Which makes me think the confusion is understandable, too.

Let’s go through your options.


This seems like the easy choice, right?

Except I wonder how you feel about the spelling Violet? Is it lacking, or less special, in any way?

It seems like you’re attracted to the sound and relatively neutral on the spelling … but it’s worth sitting with that for a minute.

If you do find that Violet and Violette feel equally appealing, then correcting her birth certificate seems like the right decision.


This feels like the worst of both worlds! If anything, it delays the problem for a future time … when making a legal change will require more paperwork and cost.

The only advantage I can see? Potentially it’s your daughter who chooses. But do you really want to go through years of ambiguity until she voices a preference?


This feels like a perfectly viable path forward.

First, yes, I do think it gets easier. People know you. You enroll your daughter in school, do lots of explaining and then … well, she’s in. Unless you move frequently, there’s a good chance you only have to repeat this routine a handful of times over the course of her life. (And, truly, by the time she’s old enough to go to middle school, she’s the one explaining.)

In our world of Sophia and Sofia, Isla and Ayla, Everly and Everleigh, and many Madelyn/Adeline variations, Violette feels a) understandable and b) not really that big a deal.


My advice is to stick with the dominant spelling, unless there’s a compelling reason to make a change. (Like it reflects your heritage, indicates a preferred pronunciation, or follows a naming custom.)

The numbers are clearly on the side of Violet.

In 2022 alone:

  • 6,434 girls were named Violet.
  • Another 391 were named Violeta – where there’s clearly a different pronunciation.
  • Just 233 were Violette.
  • 133 were named Violetta.
  • There were also 72 called Violett.
  • An additional seven answer to Violeth.
  • Lastly, five girls were named Vyolet, plus five more called Vyolette.

So I say changing the spelling of her name is the right decision. But I’d love the hear others’ opinions, because I’m wondering what I may have overlooked?

Would you change Violette to Violet? Any other options to consider?

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I’d go with a change too. Violette is a well established foreign name and you are using the nontraditional pronunciation. Don’t get me wrong, your reasons are logical and make sense in your family context and if that trumps for you, have at it.

    But to me this is like the latino name Jesus… A good majority of people have to pause to try to reconcile the name they read with the pronunciation you intend. Perfectly acceptable name, but the struggle is real.

    Seems like a lot to deal with if the alternative spelling isn’t really meaningful to you. And, for her, will the story of “we nearly called you something else” carry the same emotional weight as it does for you?

    Violette is beautiful as is Violet. But I’d use the former only if you like the former’s traditional pronunciation. Just my opinion.

  2. Jacques would be approximately like ZHock with a French pronunciation. The kid I knew was named after a French ancestor but said the name like Jack. Then there was Ione— pronounced EYE-own by one woman I knew and eye-OWNee by another. My name has several pronunciations, many of which I dislike. I correct them as many times as necessary and go on with my day. I just don’t think you can assume most Americans will use the French pronunciation.

  3. I was about to comment with the same thing that Emmy posted. If it’s Henri , it’s pronounced ahn-REE. If you have an established international spelling, expect your girl to have her name pronounced that way.

    Birth certificate correction for free? High five to wherever you are living! Bless them!

    Congratulations on your sweet Violet and best wishes to her and your family!

  4. Oh this is fascinating and I have so many questions. How else would you pronounce Jacques? I’m English and I’ve always just heard it pronounced like Jack but possibly with a slightly softer j and k sound? Also it blows my mind that Eloise could be El-LOYS, but it’s a great reminder that any name is open to ambiguity!

    1. I find it very hard to look at Violette and say Violet. It’s not just that it’s a familiar word, though that’s part of it. It’s more that the -ette ending tips my brain into reading by French spelling rules, and “Vy-let” just doesn’t follow those rules. I would get over myself though, and I doubt many Americans have internalized French spelling enough to feel as itchy about it as I do.

      As far as Jacques is concerned, I’m finding it hard to spell it in a way that clearly signals my pronunciation. It would be almost like “Jock” but with a French J. “Gzah-k”

      ee-LOYS surprised me too. I’m familiar with the El-o-weez pronunciation. Poking around, it looks like in French, it’s written with some extra accents that make it fairly close to that pronuciation. Without the accents, I’d want to say it as “El-WAHZ.”

  5. I just asked someone else how he would pronounce it and he said “the English way.” He’s never heard of vee-oh-let. Some of it really depends on who she knows and whether there are an unusually high number of French (or Spanish, Italian, etc.) speakers. I knew two women named Eloise, one who pronounced it ell-oh-weez and one who pronounced ir ee-LOYS, and more than one girl named Anne who pronounced it like Annie. i knew an American Jacques who pronounces it Jack, which seemed to be the default with all his friends. These days you pretty much have to ask for spelling and pronunciation even with common names. With this one my default would be the Vy-let or vy-uh-let pronunciation.

  6. I just realized that even more than the French pronunciation, the spelling changes the syllable emphasis.

    You can know which syllable in a word is pronounced by saying the word like you’re calling your dog. The syllable you stretch out when you “call your dog” is the syllable that takes the emphasis.
    Ex: dis-TIN-guish

    When I see Violet, I say it like VY-let
    When I see Violette, I say it like Vy-o-LETTE


    I think it changes the syllable emphasis and syllable count…at least for how I read it.

    That might figure into your decision.

  7. I immediately pronounced it the French pronunciation when I read it.

    One user said kids are usually introduced orally, but I think after they are babies that shifts. School lists, dentist office, the email distribution list at work, Zoom….

    There are many people who are afraid to ask for someone’s name if they forget and would automatically lean towards reading it somewhere. This means that there will be lots of people in her life trying to guess the pronunciation before hearing it and forgetting how to spell it when writing it.

    On the flip side, lots of families use variant spellings. I think Abby’s advice is solid.

  8. I’m going to offer more commentary on this. I think the usual American English pronunciation would be Vy-let or Vy-uh-let for both names and only a handful of French speakers would say Vee-oh-let. Names are pronounced differently in different countries and in the United States it is most often going to be seen as a spelling variant of Violet with the same pronunciation. She might find it fun someday if her friends or French teacher or a French boyfriend call her the more exotic vee-oh-let even if she’s normally Violet with the extra t and e on the end, like Annette, because her mom liked Juliette but wanted her to be an individual and didn’t want her to have another J name like everyone in the family. That’s a fun name origin story that is erased if you change the spelling. Spelling differences aren’t insurmountable. The name Violet has also always struck me as pretty but a little too close to the spelling of “violent, “ which Violette nicely distances it from.