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Monday, June 6, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: The Pronunciation of Gaius

Kathryn writes:
I am expecting my second child, a boy, in three weeks. Our last name sounds like Night. We have a daughter named Luella Grace (we call her Lulu).

During my first pregnancy, before we knew Lulu was a girl, we had short lists picked out for both sexes. This time, when we found out we were expecting a boy, we went back to our original short list. One name stood out as the clear winner, and for months we thought we were all set. We were sure that this little guy would be Gaius Christopher (Christopher is my husband's father's name), and we loved it. However, a few weeks ago, as I did more searches for the name Gaius, doubt began to creep into my mind. I have never heard it pronounced any other way than GUY-us. But it seemed that there were people out there who were not sure how to pronounce it, or worse, pronounced it GAY-us. Even Nameberry mentioned "the teasing potential of the first syllable." Really??

The other names on our original short list just don't seem right anymore, so we're considering Caius as an alternative. The G and C are interchangeable in Latin, so it was not a question of authenticity. I think Caius is also a great name. It just doesn't sound quite as fluid to me as Gaius does with Christopher and Night. In addition, people seem to associate it with the Twilight series, and we have some good friends who just named their son Kai, which, I'm sure Caius will readily be called, even if we don't use it as a nickname at home.

So, my question is, do we stick to our original Gaius (still the name both my husband and I prefer), or go with Caius in hopes that it will save my son from a lifetime of "Gaylord Focker" type teasing?

The name Gaius is so unfamiliar (it was given to only 12 U.S. baby boys in 2010), most people have never encountered it and will have to use their experience with the language to figure out how to pronounce it. In U.S. English, "ai" has no one single pronunciation, but it's commonly pronounced AY (as in say and day): raid, braid, aid, Kaiden, Jaiden, Adelaide, laid, maid, paid, afraid, pain, rain. And words like gain, gaiety, gaily, gait, as well as names like Gail and Abigail, reinforce the idea that the specific combination "gai" is pronounced as in "gay," not as in "guy."

Furthermore, in looking in my dictionary to see if I could find any gai- words pronounced with the "guy" sound, I found Gaius listed---and my dictionary (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged) gives the pronunciation as GAY-us. says it's GUY-us or GAY-us. So does Merriam-Webster. In Latin, the name is pronounced like guy-oose---but this brings us to the difficulty of bringing a name from one language to another: do we call a child named Julius yoo-lee-oose (because that's the Latin pronunciation) or JOOL-lee-us (because that's the U.S. English)?

This issue comes up time and time again with name imports: should Catriona be like cat-tree-OWN-ah, or should it be like ca-TREEN-nah? Should Caitlin be like KATE-lin or like cat-LEEN? In general my opinion is that it's appropriate to translate names from one language to another (either by changing the spelling to get the right pronunciation, or by changing the pronunciation to fit the spelling)---and that if the parents choose not to translate the name into their culture's language, they should be prepared for / resigned to a certain Headache Quotient that comes with, for example, a lifetime of "No, it's not KATE-lyn, it's more like kath-LEEN. No, but it's spelled like Caitlin, yes, we realize. No, no, not spelled Kathleen. No, this is actually the authentic pronunciation."

Latin has its own additional complication: it's a dead language, and the speakers of it died off before they could tell us how to pronounce it. Which means you lack the resources you'd have if you used, say, Caitlin, where you could tell people who gave you a hard time to go ask ALL OF IRELAND if they have a problem with your pronunciation. It's especially tricky if you're pronouncing the first half of the name with the Latin pronunciation (sounding like the word "guy"), but the second half of the name with the United States English pronunciation (-us as in bus, as opposed to in Latin where it would sound like the -oose in loose or moose).

Yes, I would switch to Caius. People will still say it KAY-us until you feel like tearing your hair out (Caiden, Cain, caiman, Michael Caine, Caitlin, Novocaine, Medicaid), but at least the mispronunciation doesn't lead to a teasing issue. And perhaps we can think of an easy "No, it's KI as in ____" example for you to use; if anyone can think of familiar words where "cai" is pronounced KI in English, please leave them in the comments section. (Spelling it Kaius would also help somewhat, because of the boy's name Kai---although names like Kaiden would still lead people to mispronunciations, and your reference to authenticity makes me suspect you won't want to change to a K.)

Another possibility is going back to the drawing board. I realize it's late in the game for that, but your exasperation with mispronunciation is a bad sign: whichever spelling you use, you'll have to accept a lot of it. Sometimes it's worth a last-minute upheaval to avoid a name that will cause you continual frustration.

Or it might be enough just to be braced that the exasperation is a part of this name choice: Paul and I chose a non-typical spelling for one of our children's names, and I think it helped tremendously that we thought to ourselves beforehand "If we use this name, we're accepting a lifetime of spelling it Every.Single.Time.---and people will STILL get it wrong." We thought it over, and we decided we wanted to use the name more than we minded the potential frustration. So now when it happens, we shrug: the name was worth it to us, and we understood ahead of time that it was a natural mistake for people to make.

Let's have two polls. [Polls closed; see results below.] First: How would you think Gaius was pronounced, if you'd just seen it somewhere and hadn't first read this post? Second: Which name should the Nights use? Gaius, their long-time favorite which goes better with the middle name and last name? or Caius, to avoid the gay-a** teasing issue? NOTE: This is not a question about which of the two names you prefer: it's a question about whether the tease-factor of Gaius is enough to be worth giving up the favorite name for an alternative.

Name update! Kathryn writes:
Thank you for responding to my email! And thank you to all your readers for all the input. The opinions and polls were eye-opening.

Our son was born two weeks ago. We named him Dashiell Christopher "Night," and call him Dash.

I have to confess that despite popular opinion, my husband and I were ready to stick to our guns on Gaius. But at the eleventh hour, a dark horse emerged--Dashiell. It was a name that never made it onto our short list because, ironically, we thought it was too obscure (yes, we thought everybody had heard of Gaius Julius Caesar, but that few had heard of Dashiell Hammett) and maybe too literary. You see, we are a family of writers, my mother-in-law and I write children's fiction, my sister-in-law is a journalist, and my husband, while not a professional writer, was an English major and has also been published. Naming a kid Dashiell seemed like we'd be putting too much pressure on him. But the more we considered it, the more we liked it. In the end, I had a shockingly fast labor and delivery. And when they handed me my son, Dash just seemed to fit him perfectly. So I guess you can say we went with your "go back to the drawing board" advice. Thanks again!


Trina said...

I have no idea if this helps, but, even after you said the pronunciation is GUY-us when I was reading the rest of the post I was still reading it as "GAY-us".

I am under the opinion that you should name your child whatever name you see fit. I don't know if he will be teased. My guess is he probably will a little bit but most of the kids will know him as "GUY-us" before they can read his name.

Can I ask, how you came up with that name? I have never heard of it.

Kacie said...

Yeah, sadly I thought it was GAY-us, too :(. I wonder if there's a way you can spell it that keeps the pronunciation you want more obvious. Maybe something like:


?? I dunno. Good luck!

British American said...

So I tried to figure out the pronunciation upon reading the subject title of this post. My first thought was GAY-us and then I tried to figure out what the other pronunciation would be and I figured it would be GUY-us.

I personally would chose Caius over Gaius. Or maybe use Gaius in the middle spot instead of the first.

Auntie G said...

I immediately and only thought, "Gaius," but I am guessing that is because I have read this name before somewhere and/or because I am a huge Shakespeare fan and this strikes me as a name or very close to a name from something he did.

That said, I would go with Caius or go back to the drawing board. If Gaius is giving you pause now, that is a sign. You could always use this in the middle name slot, where it won't come up as much except in your close family, I'm guessing.

Auntie G said...

Nertz...I meant to write "GUY-us," as what I thought for pronunciation. My comment makes no sense otherwise. Pregnancy brain FTW!

beyond said...

Unfortunately, I had never heard this name before and I thought it was GAY-us, too. Sorry.
With Caius, you'll run into the same pronunciation problems, but with much less teasing potential. I think I'd go with Caius in the first or the mn slot.
Good luck.
PS: I love Luella Grace, really lovely!

Rayne of Terror said...

One of the main characters on Battlestar Galactica was Gaius and so I immediately pronounced it G-eye-us. That's the only Gaius I know of. BSG was a pretty popular show and so I think there will be a contingency of parents who know how to pronounce it.

Annika said...

Any Sci-Fi fans will know how to pronounce it, as there was a character named Gaius on the recent Battlestar Gallactica. Unfortunately, he was a total ass, but his name is terrific. I disagree with Swistle for once, and think you should use the name you love. People will mispronounce it, but that is far from the end of the world. He will correct them and they will be embarrassed. The end.

Slim said...

I thought "GUY us," but I took Latin.

For further mispronunciation potential, one of Cambridge University's colleges is Caius College, and it's pronounced "Keys," so try to avoid English people. At least the ones who went to Cambridge.

Anonymous said...

I assumed it would be pronounced like the word "Gaia" (GUY-ah), so that steered me in the right direction. I do like the name, but I see the potential for problems. Any potential for changing the spelling? Guyas? Gyas? Geyas? Gaeus? Well, now that I type those out they don't look much better. -Erin

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought Guy-us, but I have also read Twilight, and the Caius character is probably what helped me there. I find myself wanting to shorten Gaius to Gus, is that just me?? Well, anyway, even as I read the post I didnt pick up on the "Gay-a**" thing, I merely heard Gay-us as the teasing potential. Since it seems plenty of others HAVE heard "Gay-a**", if it were me, I'd use Caius. I just imagine a little boy in early middle school, listening to the teacher call out her roster, and having her call him "Gay-a**" in front of the entire class. Yikes! A dear friend of mine is named Galen and he got teased a lot about that as we grew up. Of course, we later found out he is, indeed, gay, so the poor kid had to go through his childhood being called "Gay Galen" as if it were some terrible thing! That had to have been hard.

It's such a shame that a perfectly handsome name like Gaius can be trampled on by something so silly, isn't it? For what it's worth, I think Caius is wonderful, and who cares if people think Twilight? I'd rather have a "Twilight Caius" than a "Twilight Bella," ya know what I mean? AND I think Caius Christopher Night is so strong!!

-R- said...

I would have pronounced it Gay-us. I would use Caius instead.

Anonymous said...

I thought Guy-us, but maybe that's because I know a woman called Gaia (and Greek mythology!)
I think use it, Caius really doesn't sound as classy and it's not the one you truly love! You don't want to regret it.
Obviously there is potential for teasing but there are for all sorts of other names. I think esp. if you use the nickname Guy and make sure you get in there with that first correction it's fine.
On a side note, I had a teacher called Gay, who explained her mum liked the happy name, it's a shame really!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't normally suggest this because I'm not a fan of kreative spelling but in this case I think I would change the traditional spelling of Gaius to better reflect the pronunciation. We have acceptable english spellings of many more common names but with the uncommon names I think it might just be up to you to break a trail.

Sandy said...

I have never hear the name before and first read it as GAY-US. If you love the name, I wouldn't change it; but I would be inclined to change the spelling. Perhaps Guyus, Guyis, ??? Good luck!

rachael said...

I agree that maybe you could switch the spelling. Guyis is how I would probably spell it. Eliminating the A would eliminate a lot of the problems, IMO. I think Caius would get the same amount of mispronunciations. So maybe either change the spelling or go back to the drawing board on this one? I'm sympathetic towards your situation!

Guinevere said...

I took a year of Latin and I'm pretty sure my Latin teacher would be joined by every history teacher I've ever had to come back from my past to smack me if I even thought about a GAY-us pronunciation.

It has always, always been GUY-us at a variety of educational institutions throughout the country, and in my parents' home and in my home. And yes, it does come up! (Note: I'm not even a history nerd. I'm a science nerd. But Gaius Julius Caesar is one of the most perfect names of all time... how could it not come up?)

That said, I think that lack of familiarity (not everyone takes Latin, or has any exposure to Roman history) leads me to believe that Caius would probably be safer as a teasing-avoidance tool. If a fair number of commenters here think that GAY-us would be their first intuitive option (and I'm surprised by this), you KNOW that some middle schoolers will also have the same idea, and Gay-ass is not far away. Even if you are surrounded by a pocket of people who name their children Calliope and are all way overeducated (as I am), your kid will potentially interact with many other demographics throughout their life, where Gaius is not as much of a known entitity.

I would not mess with the spelling beyond that. I chose a very old variant of Julian for my son's name, and no one gets the spelling right and we have to repeat his name when we meet new people. Having a mnemonic for people is helpful ("It's like Julian, but with JOE in the beginning instead!" is mine) as is having a more familiar nickname (in your case, the popular Cai would do what Joe does for us)... but if you love the name, and have solid reasons for choosing it, you can deal with it and your child can grow to deal with it. If not, you're on the right track to providing an alternative with a more conventional nickname, which is also what we did.

Anyway, I love the name, either as Gaius or Caius. I'd be delighted to meet either, but I may be biased since a far more obscure classical name is on our girl list. :)

Fran said...

I love the name but I can see your concern with teasing. Unfortunately, kids can be wuite cruel and will make fun of almost any name.
PLEASE don't change the spelling!! That would ruin a very strong name. Plus the spelling is already tricky using a language that isn't mainstream by any means. The other spellings suggested almost make it worse.
I have a son whose name is constantly mispronounced and/or spelled. He is very good at correcting people.

changelivlife said...

I knew GUY-us. I think it is a terrific name.

I also have to disagree with Swistle and tell you to use the name you love.

Caius does not have the same distinguished quality of Gaius. And it comes across more like you were trying to come up with your own version of a trendy name.

Also, children tease no matter what. Even if the whole world looked at your son's name and said GUY-us, you don't think that some kid would look at it and say GAY-a**? Of course they would. I just wouldn't use teasing as a scapegoat. No name is tease proof. And if it is, kids will find some other way of teasing, so why worry about it?

Finally, I think there is a HUGE difference in spelling a name oddly and being forced to spell it your entire life vs. pronunciation. This is a simple..."Gayus? Actually, no, it's guyus." But written down it is the same either way. Once you correct people in your circle you won't have to correct them again and that will be that. I don't see it as an issue at all.

It's a great name and if you love it, use it. You won't regret it.

Leslie said...

I did know it was pronounced Guy-us, both from Gaia and from Battlestar Galactica. I do think Gaius is a very attractive-sounding name, and I like the original spelling (as opposed to Guyis, etc). I think that as long as you are comfortable with the occasional correction, Gaius is a handsome choice!

I would HOPE teasing wouldn't be a big problem, and that most people would pronounce the name correctly after a polite correction. However, for any frustrating situations, would you be interested in the nickname Guy? (In this case I would use this spelling for the nickname, since it will avoid the pronunciation issue, and is a proper name in its own right.)

Rachel said...

Even if people all pronounce it GUY-us and there's never any will make the GAY-a$$ connection and use it to tease. I'd switch to Caius.

Diane said...

My husband loved the name Gaius after watching Gladiator, but I vetoed it for this very reason. I think if a child gets teased for his name, even if he handles such teasing with grace and dignity, he will still grow to hate his name. I (1) didn't want to cause this type of teasing for my child and (2) didn't want to saddle a child with a name he would grow to hate.

That said, I did pronounce it right upon reading it only because my husband and I have discussed this name in the past. I think intuitively (without a strong knowledge of Latin), I would have pronounced it Gay-us as well.

I think Caius avoids the gay issue, but I only think you should use it if you really like it. It may be best to choose a different name altogether if you don't love Caius. I also support finding a different spelling for Gaius if you can find one you like.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I pronounced it "gay-us" and pronounce Caius "kai-us" and couldn't figure out why I would pronounce them both so differently until Swistle got to the bottom of it for me.

I would switch to Caius. :)

Anonymous said...

I read the name as "Guy-us", but I am also familiar with Latin pronunciation and more recently Battlestar Galactica. I can honestly say I'm a little surprised that most people immediately think Gai is pronounced "Gay", but that could just be that I've been exposed the the "Guy" pronunciation from an early age.

I think it is a fantastic name, and if you love it you should use it.

Patricia said...

I read the name as GAY-us. I've been mulling this over -- change to Caius, use a phonetic spelling beginning with G, leave the name as is and hope for the best? I find Caius the best option. It's fortunate that there's an accepted alternate spelling for the name. It may be that in Latin the G/C sound isn't exactly like either of those in English. (That's the case when Korean is written in English letters, so that either a hard C/K or G is used for the same word.) I think Caius Christopher sounds superb and is so close to Gaius Christopher that that would be the best way to use the name without worrying about "GAY" teasing.

Best wishes!

Linda said...

*I* would know how to pronounce it due to Battlestar Galactica! And I love it!

I have a Lorelei and we are regularly correcting her name: LOR-a-lie not LOR-a-lee. We knew it going in and it's no biggie anymore. We do it less and less as she gets older and maybe people hear the name more?

I would use Gaius, especially if you both love it so much.

vanessa said...

I say it Gay-us and Gay-ass pops to mind immediately. There is a big difference between knowing that some kids are just going to get teased and handing bullies the perfect ammo. I'd bet a kid named Gaius wouldn't get past the fourth grade without that nickname spreading like wildfire.
It's a cool bet for the middle name spot, and Caius isn't bad either. You'll still have trouble getting folks to pronounce it right, but you won't have the teasing issue.

Jasmine said...

I think you'll still get teasing, even if you switch to Caius - mispronounced, it still rhymes with "gay-a$$" and it's not that big a jump.

That said, I knew how to pronounce it from the BSG connection others have brought up. I don't think most people will have the same background to know how it's pronounced. I think Christopher Gaius Night is still a strong name - and much less likely to lead to teasing.

Phancy said...

I know how to pronounce it as Guy-us, due to Latin class and a love of history. However, I do think it will be constantly mis-understood. Caius and Jason were my two very favorite names for years as a teenager, so I do like Caius very much. But I agree that Gaius works better with the middle name.

Finally, I do think he will be teased, and the name will be twisted into Gay-***. And while teasing does inevitably happen to most kids, this type of teasing seems like it would be exceptionally hurtful. And giving him a name that is so easy to tease doesn't seem like quite the right thing to do. I'm with Swistle on this one.

Susan said...

I know the name as Guy-us thanks to Battlestar Galactica, and I do really like it. I have to agree with the others, though, that the teasing potential is just through the roof on that name. It's a shame; such a great name! I'd reluctantly suggest you switch to Caius or Augustus or something else.

sarah said...

I knew it was Guy-us because of Gaia (the girl name and James Taylor song). I personally, would switch to Caius. But if you do stick with Gaius, I think you should also be prepared for your son to decide to go by Guy or even by his middle name if/when he does start to get teased for his name.

Rae said...

I agree with Swistle's suggestion -either switch to Caius or go back to the drawing board on this one. I think it would save you the concern, irritation and annoyance.

"Caius - Cai like Kyle, but spelled C-A-I." That is how I would explain it when asked.

I think Caius is a great name, and goes well with Christopher.

Good Luck!

Lynnette said...

I know how it should be pronounced, but I also would change it to Caius. It is not a kre8ive spelling, just another spelling that is used. This question is one where I wish more men were trolling baby name questions, because I'm sure they would have more perspective about the teasing. My husband, when asked, liked how it sounded, but uttered "no-way" at the spelling Gaius. Caius did not strike him that way.

The Mrs. said...

My husband and I actually STRONGLY considered using Gaius for our son who was born last summer. It's a wonderful biblical name! Your hang-up with the name was ours, too... naughty nicknames.

Is it a shame our society has ruined such a great name? Yes. Very much so.

Some options to consider:

Titus: it is also biblical, strong, and uncommon. It has the bold 'I' sound in the first syllable, too.

Caiaphas (KIE-ah-fus): similiar sounds as Gaius. Unfortunately, it belonged to a New Testament bad guy. And it sounds like you don't want the nickname of 'Kye'.

Spell it Guius. You'll get, "Huh? Ghee-us?"... but you WON'T get, "Ha ha! GAY-us!" If you stick with the nicknames of 'Guy' or 'Gus', he could easily escape teasing through school.

You've got rockin' great taste in names. And you also have a secret weapon against elementary teasing... a protective big sister. All the best to your growing family. Can't wait to hear what you decide!

Megan said...

I guessed that it was pronounced Guy-us, but that said, would shy away from it myself. Yeah, all kids get teased but this one seems like it could be . . . particularly brutal. I like Caius, the previous posters spelling suggestion of Guius, and most of all, Swistle suggestion of back to the drawing board :( Sorry. (Love Luella Grace, btw.)

Cara said...

When I first saw the title of this post, I immediately thought it was pronounced Guy-us! I'm not sure why, as I've never heard the name before and I am not at all educated in Latin. I think it might be because of the Gaia Hypothesis, which is pronounced Guy-a. Actually, I think it is because of the name Caius. I've read Twilight, but I would not say that is the reason, I think Caius just looks like Cuy-us and not Cay-us, to me anyways. So it is the same for Gaius. And can I just say how much I love the name Gaius? Never heard it before but I love the sound and the look of it and I think you should use it if you really love it.

bellaf said...

Guy-us came naturally to me and Gay-us didn't even cross my mind, BUT my first language is a latin language.

kimma said...

I do recognize the name Gaius and know of the correct pronunciation. However, seeing that more than 40% of the poll respondents mispronounce it and the potential for teasing that goes with this I would be inclined against using it. We all have names that we “love” but that just aren’t right for our child and I think this is going to be one of those names.

Caius is a very good alternative, or as The Mrs suggested Titus.

Julius is another name that has the soft consonants of Gaius, but still a strong masculine feel to the name… as does Silas. Magnus also comes to mind.

Good luck with this tough decision.

Anonymous said...

I never even considered anything other than GUY-us. But, I took Latin, so I suppose I may have an advantage over the masses. I love the name by the way :) I will say that I think the pool of people who will say GAY-us and the pool of people who would tease aren't necessarily overlapping. Kids will be the teasers and they will largely meet your kid before they can read and would still just have no idea how to say it would have to be told (hopefully correctly!) by a teacher, you, or your son. So, I voted go with the name you love.


Katie said...

I'm clearly in the minority, I read it as GUY-us. But, I'm a history nerd, so I know it as Julius Caesar's first name (yup, that's right, he was actually Gaius Julius Caesar).

I think it's a terrific name... and I think it's really unfortunate that based on the contemporary pronunciation of it + correlation of that pronunciation with something undesirable... I definitely wouldn't use it.

I think Caius is an excellent compromise. (Though I do think you will have to resign yourself to correcting people on the pronunciation.)

Megz said...

I knew it was Guy-us and think it's a great name. I voted to use the name you love, but after reading the comments think it may not be such a good idea after all. Caius would be an acceptable alternative. But don't change the spelling, whichever you choose!

Would Gnaeus be any better? I expect it would probably be just as bad.

Caius reminds me of Cassius which is a unique name too. I also really like Quintus. They all sound really good with your surname.

Janelle said...

Wait, did I read Swistle correctly that your last name is Night? If that's indeed true, I think you really need to switch to Caius. GAY-us Night is just asking for too much, and I'm afraid your boy will be teased mercilessly for his (albeit wonderful!) name.

But Caius is a fantastic name as well, and avoids so many problems. I also thought the suggestion of Titus was a good one.

Best of luck to you :)

jessica said...

I may not be completely objective as I was a Latin minor at uni, but I can't imagine it pronounced any other way that GUY-us! It seems there is some potential for confusion, though - so I personally would choose the Caius spelling. Please don't abandon it altogether, though, it's such a gorgeous name!!

Michelle said...

I almost don't even want to mention it (good names getting knocked down one by one), but when we were considering Titus for our son we ruled it out when we realized it sounded kind of like tight-a**.

Slim said...

There is always the option -- if this accords with your beliefs -- of teaching your son to say, "My parents realized that some people would make jokes about 'Gay-ass,' but they figured that would be a quick way to get the homophobes to tip their hands. So thanks!"

Really, isn't it pretty depressing that calling someone "gay" is still an insult? Do people think that will be the case ten years from now? Could Swistle make us some comforting treats?

British American said...

I asked my husband about the pronunciation and he knew it was GUY-us because of Battlestar Gallactica. But then he was like "They're naming him after that character? He was a jerk!?"

Anonymous said...

Kids are CRUEL!! They took my name, Elizabeth, and my nickname, Liz, and chanted "Liz-bian" in grade school (a Catholic grade school at that. I had NO idea what it meant).

Name the baby what you love. Kids are mean, and they will change any name to be cruel. I'm sure you will teach him to be a kind, strong young man, who can respond appropriately to ANY teasing.

Jamie L said...

When I first saw Gaius in the post, I read it as GUY-us, buy I'm also familiar with this name as it is the name of a character in a tv show that I watch. I was actually a little excited that someone might use it, but I understand the feelings you might be having about it. I like Caius too! :)

Amy said...

I know the name from Battlestar Gallactica, so I knew it was pronounced Guy-us, and I bet others will, too. I think you should stick with the name you love.

Anonymous said...

As far as the pronunciation of Caius, you could say it's like Cairo.

It's all in the name said...

I don't think there is an easy answer to this.

First off the facts:

I read it as Guy-us no question.
But... I have been previously exposed to the name i'm not sure whether that is why i read it as Guy-us or not as it was in a tv show (BBC merlin) so i am not used to seeing it written down/

If kids want to tease a kid they will find a way to do it! It doesn't matter what there name is. Even the most common of names William and Richard for example have nn that could be used to tease kids.

You will introduce the majority of people to your son verbally, not in letter form. Except for possibly those distant relations you send birth announcements to but never see.

Once someone knows it is pronounced Guy-us I don't think they will suddenly flip it to Gay-us.

Kids can't read when they are young! And young gaius is most probably going to meet his best friends on the swings or over legos - they will ask his name he will tell them and all will be fine.

New teachers - unless they are substitutes, have a class list before they actually have a class and should research any name pronunciations before doing the register. And if you were worried you could always write the pronunciation on his enrollment form to avoid confusion.

So - as far as I can tell - call him Gaius. It's an epic name :)

Caius is also nice - but what it the point in going for second best?!

Anonymous said...

With the reality of bullying, I would go for Caius or Gavius (I love the nn Gav also)

Gavius Christopher sounds awesome!

Patricia said...

I've never before heard "Gavius" and wondered if it is an authentic Roman name.

One baby name website says this of the name:
Gender: Male
Origin: Latin
Latin name derived from gaudare, meaning "rejoice".

The online Ancient Library says this about the name Gavius: "GA-vi-us or GA-bi-us, a name which occurs in some Roman municipia. Cicero mentions at least three persons of this name... Three persons of this name likewise occur in the history of Roman literture..."

According to this source the name Gavius is pronounced similarly to Gabriel, with a long A, so the usual shortening would be Gave (like Gabe) and not Gav. It still would have the 'gay' sound, but so does Ga..briel, and I've never heard that that's been a problem.

I like the sound of GAvius Christopher, although adding a third syllable may make it more likely that the first name is shortened to 'Gave'.

On the other hand, a wikipedia article denotes that Gaius was originally pronounced with 3 syllables too, with the first syllable pronounced with a long A as in 'Gay': "Gaius, sometimes spelled Caius, was a common Roman praenomen. It is abbreviated C.; the abbreviation goes back to before the Roman alphabet distinguished between C and G, probably from Etruscan Cae or Cai, meaning unknown. In classical times, the name was pronounced in three syllables, Gā-i-us [ˈɡaː].[1]"

Note [1]: ^ Gāĭus. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.

I still think Caius "pronounced like Cairo" may be the best all round choice as an alternate to Gaius, but I rather like Gavius too.

Frondly said...

I pronounced it Guy-us immediately, and also associated it with the Battlestar Galactica character.

Anonymous said...

It appears that the name Gaius is correctly pronounced by English speakers as either GUY-us or GAY-us.

Italian speakers pronounce Gaius as GUY-oos.

While Gaius was a common name in Rome, eg. Gaius Julius Caesar, Gavinus appears to have been a very rare name.

christine said...

Sorry I read "Gay us" too. I would go with Caius, "like Cairo"; but I LOVE the suggestion of of Gavius. I think it's amazing with your middle and last name.

But either way, you can't lose. Even if you go with Gaius, I think in the end, all will be okay.

Best wishes!

brooke said...

i read the name as "guy-us." it is the first name of the roman emporer caligula.

i wanted the swistle poll to give a third option of "use another name" because i don't think you should go with "caius." i think you should either stick with gaius - as is, or with another spelling - or choose a completely different name. it seems like using caius is settling.

do you like the name "guy" by itself? i have an uncle guy and i think he is great and have always loved his name.


Katie said...

i really like Caius if you decide to change the name. Otherwise, I like Swistle's idea: use the name you love, and prepare to to explain it for a long time. That's kind of what we did, and it seems to be working out just fine.

Also a side note: can anyone tell me how Swistle can find the stats on how many babies were given certain names each year? For example, in this post, she was able to find that 12 babies were given the name Gaius in the last year. Where does that come from?? I'd love to be able to look up my son's unusual name too!

Anonymous said...

I'd go with Gaius, the name you love. You'll have to explain the pronunciation a few times, but honestly, with Caius and Gaia to help guide people, I bet they'll figure it out quickly. I do know one preschool-aged Gaius (a family name in their case) and saw his name written in the announcement before I heard it pronounced, and I definitely read it as Guy-us. So I'm at least one more who got it the first time (and that was before we finally got around to watching Battlestar Galactica! ;)

I'm also guessing you'll get less teasing with Guy-us than you would with Gay-us, if you were considering the other pronunciation. (And really, you can't guess how kids will butcher names for the purposes of teasing anyway, so I'm not convinced it makes much sense to try to "tease-proof" names---growing up I remember plenty of kids with easy-to-tease names who didn't get teased, and lots with names that had to be creatively modified who got teased plenty.)

Claire Wessel said...

I read it as GAY-us. Caius is a name I've always loved, but it didn't make me think of Guy-us on first read. Honestly, I think you should name your son a name you truly love and just pay out the money for boxing lessons later.

Swistle said...

Katie- On the Social Security name site, click "Background information" (under Baby Name Data in the lefthand margin menu), then click "Beyond the Top 1000 names" (bottom of lefthand margin menu), then you can download the info to your computer.

Heidi J said...

I understand the problem with people reading the name wrong, but most of the time when we introduce ourselves we just say our name. So, just so long as he says, "Hi, I'm Guy-us," there should be too much teasing. There may be some, but there is always some.

Katie said...

Swistle- Thank you!! That list is fascinating!!

Patricia said...

Congratulations on the birth of Dashiell Christopher! What a fine name and perfect for your son.

I have a 2-year-old nephew named Dashiell (called by the full name). His parents are artists and looked for rare yet known names for their children. Dashiell's baby sister is Esme.

Anonymous said...

Dashiell is a FANTASTIC name. Terrific choice, and in my opinion not an obscure one at all.

Anonymous said...

hi great name you called your son DASH , just would like to add i to had the same problem as you i knew i wanted the name but how to figure how to spell it so people would actually know how to pronounce it , so 9 years ago i opted for KAIUS , i did not like the g version of the name and the c looked (at the time ) more confussing than anything , just for refernce there is a caius collage of cambridge (said like kai(elongated i like eye )-us (like bus )my son KAIUS has not to date had his named shortened by family or even school (though i am aware that this may change as he matures ) but mama will ALWAYS call him KAIUS its a great name that always gets a question of where did you find that to which one happy boy replies" as in ceasar ?? "normally leaves the adults feeling a little miffed not to have payed attention in school - it also delights others that they will ask is your name kaius as in ceaser , i know its not everyones cup of tea but for me and mine it works perfectly x vicki

Anonymous said...

Just discovered this thread. We named our son Caius several years ago, and indeed it can be problematic, but not all that bad. We pronounce our son's name like "kice," with an Arabic "Kh" sound at the beginning, which doesn't exist in the English language. Our son is actually named for a very famous Arabic poet, Imru' al-Qais. We chose the English spelling "Caius" as opposed to the usual English transliteration of "Qais," thinking that most Americans wouldn't get the pronunciation right or even close. This way, to English speakers, he has a traditional Latin name, Caius (variant of Gaius or feminine Gaia), and they tend to break it into two syllables instead of the one syllable that it actually is.But to Arabic speakers who hear his name, they always smile because they know he is named for Imru' al-Qais, regarded as many to be the father of Arabic poetry. He lived in the 6th century AD. The name is highly regarded in Arab culture, and our son is proud to have this name!