Easily Confused Words: Aubrey vs. Audrey

Aubrey and Audrey are easily confused words. They are also first names with English roots.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Aubrey means noble ruler. It can be used as a male or female name. Aubrey Beardsley was a famous English illustrator.

Audrey means noble strength. It’s a female name. Famous examples include Audrey Hepburn and Audrey Tautou.

I don’t see these two names confused often, but it would be really easy to do. Many letters in english have an “ee” sound: B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V, Z. When people hear them, sometimes they can’t tell which “ee” sounding letter is being used.

A handy trick over the phone is to spell the word using small words for each letter. For example, “Aubrey” would be A as in Ant, U as in Umbrella, B as in Boy, R as is rain, E as in Egg, Y as in Yes.

I wanted to devote a post about easily confused names to emphasize the importance of getting them right.  Making the effort to spell and pronounce someone’s name correctly is a sign of respect. If you don’t know how to say it, it’s better to ask or research first, than try and fail.


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