Have you ever wondered which is the correct spelling: aunty or auntie? Maybe you’ve just made a bet with your sibling and you’re here to prove them wrong, or you’re sending Christmas cards and want to get the spelling right.
Well, actually, ‘aunty’ and ‘auntie’ are just informal versions of the word ‘aunt’, and so both are okay to use. But if you’re really pedantic, and you absolutely need to know if it’s aunty or auntie…
What the dictionaries say about aunty or auntie
The ever trustworthy Dictionary.com, Google, Wikipedia and the Cambridge English Dictionary redirect ‘aunty’ to ‘auntie’, so the latter is most likely more correct. The Merriam-Webster dictionary also does this, and claims the first use of ‘auntie’ was in 1672. However, they don’t reference how they know this or explain more about the story.
Aunty or auntie depends on where you are
Based on my research, I get the gist that whether you use aunty or auntie depends on where you are geographically and culturally. Aussies tend to use ‘aunty’ more, whilst the Brits use ‘auntie’. Both use aunty or auntie to refer to our Broadcasting Corporations, the ABC and the BBC. According to the infallible Wikipedia, Aussies adopted ‘Aunty’ as a name for our ABC in imitation of the English nickname ‘Auntie’ for their BBC.
Use in reference to Indigenous Australian women
The term aunty or auntie is also used as a term of respect to refer to an older Indigenous Australian woman, who may or may not be related to the speaker. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can use ‘aunty’ or ‘auntie’ towards a woman of high esteem and earned respect, but non-Indigenous Australians should always ask whether this is appropriate. If you’re wondering how to address an aunty or auntie in your local Aboriginal community non-verbally, for example writing a letter, email, or mentioning her online, you should simply ask her how she would like to be referred to.
Which do you think is right, aunty or auntie? Tell us in the comments below!