Laurence - Lawrence

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Laurence and Lawrence are different spellings of the same name (note that '-w-', as shown in its name 'double-you', is derived from '-u-'). They both have the same pronunciation, with (in RP) a first syllable like that in 'foreign' and 'lorry', and the second vowel a shwa: 'LORR-ens', IPA: /ˈlɒr əns/. In GA, the first vowel may be like that an 'awe' and 'saw', or the long 'a' of (RP) 'start' and 'father': /ˈlɔːr əns/ or /ˈlɑːr əns/. There is no rule to know which spelling is appropriate for any individual, either as a forename or a surname: it is a matter of personal choice, or taste.

Be careful to spell the name of people you are studying or quoting in the way they prefer. 
The oldest form of the name was the Latin Laurentius, a cognomen meaning '[a man from] Laurentum' - a town in Latium. Its name is probably pre-Roman. The name became widely used by those who wanted to commemorate the martyr St Laurence (AWE prefers the '-u-' for this saint, as a matter of prejudice, although both Attwater (1965) and [the Catholic Encyclopedia] prefer Lawrence.)
  • In modern English, the spelling Laurence is more usual as a forename
    • Users of AWE may like to have the spelling of some notable Laurences (as a forename) confirmed: the actors Laurence (informally Larry) Olivier (1907-1989), later Lord Olivier and Laurence Harvey (1928-1973); the writers Laurence Housman (1865-1959) and [Laurence] Laurie Lee (1914-1997) - but note that his near-contemporay Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) has a '-w-', as does the poet and art historian Lawrence Binyon (1869–1943), who wrote 'For the Fallen' (1914), always read on Remembrance Sunday ("They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old"). Users of 'Lawrence' with a '-w-' as a forename also include (Captain) Lawrence Oates (1880–1912), of Scott's expedition to the South Pole: the "very gallant gentleman" who walked out to his death to spare his colleagues from his debilitating slowness.
  • the spelling with '-w-' is more usual for surnames, although usage is actually quite fluid. AWE recommends that the name of St Laurence should always be spelled thus. The writers D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) and (Colonel) T. E. Lawrence (1888–1935) ('Lawrence of Arabia') are both written in this way.
    • The name given in English is occasionally spelled with an '-a-' in the final syllable (Lawrance), but this would be seen as an error by traditionalists.
    • In French, Laurence is used also as a female forename, where the traditional male form is Laurent. (The American figure skater Laurence (Laurie) Owen (1944–1961) was a woman.)
There are many communes in France called Saint-Laurent [+ place-name]. Saint Laurent (without the hyphen) is also a surname carried notably by Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), fashion designer and couturier who began his career as Christian Dior's successor and then founded his own house and fashion label for ready-to-wear clothes.
    • The Italian and Spanish (male) form is Lorenzo, written in Portuguese as Laurenço; the German Laurenz or Lorenz. Scandinavians use Lars, and Greek and various Slavonic languages use variations of Lavrentiy and Wawrzyniec.
The poet Keats used the name ';Lorenzo' for the doomed lover, in Florence, in his Isabella; or, the pot of basil (1818): "Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye!". The name comes from Keats' source, Boccaccio, although his heroine is called Lisabetta rather than Isabella.
In the time of the Portuguese Empire, the African settlement in Mozambique now called Maputo was called Laurenço Marques, after the navigator who expored the bay on which it stands and established the first European forts and trading posts in 1544.