Graham vs. Graeme


Scotish English is very strange (like some dialects of my language, Czech). It is not easy to read, speak or even understand it for foreign speakers, and also for (almost) native speaker (my teacher of English on high school was Czech woman living in Canada from childhood age - and she said that it is a very difficult to understand Scotish English).

There is Scotish English present in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (in novels with Wee Free Men/Nac Mac Feegles). I bought two Discworld novels in original, Making money and Shepherd's crown - and in the Shepherd's crown (like in previous books with Tiffany Aching) are present Wee free men and thus also Scotish English.


Snooker player Graeme Dott is Scotsman. Also cyclist Graeme Obree is Scotsman. So, I could think that Graeme is Scotish version of Graham.

But A. Graham Bell was Scotsman too - but he wrote his the second name Graham (because, as Wikipedia says, name Graham was tribute to Alexander Graham, Canadian that was family friend - so, it is a quite understandable).

  • Which version is correct?
  • Is Graeme only Scotish version of Graham?
  • Or is Graeme known also to Oxford (standard British) English?


Posted 2016-04-17T20:12:34.427

Reputation: 171 – JavaLatte – 2016-04-17T21:04:58.483

If you think that scottish names are difficult, you should try Irish names, like Siobahn.

– JavaLatte – 2016-04-17T21:08:05.500



Graham is the spelling of a surname which originated in England and moved to Scotland in the 12th century here. "Graham" as a given name is mainly used in English (as opposed to Scottish) e.g. Graham Norton the talk show host. In AmE it can also be used as a given name, a good American friend of mine is named "Graham".

Graeme is the usual Scottish spelling for a given name (I also have a Scottish friend who uses "Graeme") and also a surname.

From my experience of living in Scotland and England, I have only seen "Graeme" used as a given name for men of Scottish origin.

I am sure there are probably some English using the spelling "Graeme" possibly for either given or surname. One big difference in being born in the UK is that a baby can be given any name, including a surname unrelated to either the father or the mother.

In your reference to Alexander Graham Bell, the spelling "Graham" was the surname of the family friend.


Posted 2016-04-17T20:12:34.427

Reputation: 63 575


Both spellings are common. I believe that "Graham" is more common, and a Graeme is more likely to be Scottish; but among my Facebook friends I have 11 Grahams, one of them Scottish, and one Graeme, who is English.

Here's what Wikipedia says.

Colin Fine

Posted 2016-04-17T20:12:34.427

Reputation: 47 277


Some people believe that the name Graham came from Old English, grand meaning gravel and ham meaning hamlet, which translates it to grey-home or gravel homestead. Others believe it was an Anglo-French form of the name of the town of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, England. Both Graham and Graeme are believe to be both English and Scottish given names. There is also Grahame which is the least common.


Posted 2016-04-17T20:12:34.427

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