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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do-Over: The Pronunciation of Cecily

Earlier today I posted a question about the pronunciation of Cecily, and I misunderstood the question: I thought it was asking if the name was SESS-sih-lee or SUSS-sih-lee---but in fact it was asking if the emphasis is on the first syllable (CEC-ily) or on the second (ce-CIL-y---like Cecilia). So let's scrap that old poll and have a new poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

My answer to the question is that the emphasis is on the first syllable. Cecile is seh-SEEL, Cecilia is seh-SEEL-lee-ah, but Cecily is SESS-sih-lee (rhymes with messily).


Cecily said...

Hello Swistle and readers!
I have enjoyed reading your blog for some months now - I don't have any children myself yet but thought I had to comment on this post. I'm a Cecily (1982 vintage) from Melbourne, Australia, and my maternal grandmother was a Cecily, too (1918 vintage).
I absolutely agree that my name is pronounced SESS-sih-lee. In fact, I've never experienced anyone attempt to pronounce it the other way (but I do have a fair few people mis-read/hear my name and try a 'Cecile' or 'Celeste').
Just to let your readers know, I really do like my name. It is most unusual (here, anyway) but not a name my parents invented to be 'different' (as many parents seem to do). I have only ever met one other Cecily around my age group (she was on the register at Target and a little embarrassed by how excited I was that we shared a name), but interestingly, I know my grandmother had two friends in her age group also named Cecily.

Anonymous said...

I had "The Flower Fairy Alphabet" book by Cicily Mary Barker as a child and loved it...ok, still do ;) I have never come across a Cicily or a Cecily in my life! I always thought both variations were lovely, I prefer them to Cecilia.

Kelley said...

I've worked on a few different productions of The Importance of Being Earnest, all of which had pretty experienced vocal coaches working with the actors, and there was never any question that the character's name would be pronounced any other way than SESS-sih- ly.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have only ever heard or assumed it to be SEH-sih-lee. However, I think it's interesting to note that hearing a name pronounced differently even just once can make you unsure of its correct/popular/preferred pronunciation from then on. In high school, an AP English teacher reviewed a story we were reading and referred to the character, Beatrice" as "beat rice." MANY years later, and of course knowing he was just being silly and it's a perfectly normal and lovely name, I still cannot read the name as anything else.

Patricia said...

I just noticed how similar Cecily is to Emily, yet one is almost unknown while the other has been extremely popular in recent years. I wonder why.

2011 SSA Top 1000 names:
Emily :#6
Cecily: not in the top 1000

Kathryn said...

My daughter's name. Emphasis on the first syllable.

Patricia, even the origins of Emily and Cecily are similar. Funny how different they are popularity-wise.

Anonymous said...

Definitely SESSily. If I pronounce it differently it reminds me of Seely mattresses, or else the character from The Color Purple. I think her name was Seely, wasn't it? But to me it's a completely different name from Cecily.

Michelle said...

Not to complicate matters, but I have heard a few Cecilys pronounce their name 'sess-i- LEE'. But more often than not (and the way I'm inclined to say it), it's SESS-i-lee.

Anonymous said...

Hmm--I'm not sure I hear the difference between SESS-i-lee and sess-i-LEE in this context. Ditto for EH-mi-lee vs. eh-mi-LEE. I think it's pretty subtle (or at least it is in my region). Either way, the stress is definitely not on the middle syllable. For that you need to go with Cecilia (which is also lovely!)

Jenny Grace said...

I know two Cecily...s? Cecilies?

They are both CE-cily.

Michelle said...

I agree that it is very subtle. Cecily, however, was not when she corrected me.