What Rhymes with Caven?

How do you say my name?

It really is the biggest secret about me. It’s not obvious what kind of “a” that vowel sound is there. Here’s a clue: well-meaning people, both in person and in print, guess wrong about 75% of the time.

I get some funny stories out of that fact.

Like in my first newspaper interview, when I very clearly enunciated my name…but in her article the journalist said it rhymed with “maven” — which she didn’t know how to pronounce!

And when my first nationally published book, The Bullying Antidote, listed me as “Kristin Craven” in the international database despite the way my name was spelled on the cover. (Get this: there is actually a writer named Kristen Craven. When I wrote to her and told her to enjoy all the publicity until they got it fixed, she told me: it’s her pen name!!!!)

Not funny ha ha; funny ANNOYING!


Even at seven I knew it was a funny joke to vow I would to marry a man with five or fewer letters in his last name. Weirdly, I ended up married to a man who had gone to that same elementary school, who by 6th grade had made his name as a prolific writer; he’d practically written half of the entries in that year’s anthology. (Some say it was meant to be.) He is now what they call a Megablogger. I took his last name, which was five letters long.

Even more weirdly, I made my maiden name my middle name. I’d attended a historic women’s college, and loved how all those pearly old alumnae would all do that. Because by now I was quite attached to “Baumgardner”—the ethnicity of it, the history if it, and that it tells a story of planting trees. After a few decades of marriage, though, I became attached to the snappy efficiency of Kristen Caven. Or sometimes just KRS10.

Caven rhymes with “cabin.” (Which is why I almost named my SubstackBlog Cabin.”) Dave, when he was seven, built a cabin in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado, with his family. We got married there, in the meadow. You know how people name their cabins things like “The Willows” or “Avalon?” Well, his family hung a sign above their front door that said “The Cabin.”

And now for a little song:

Dave-man, Cave-man gave me his name
But being “Missus Cabin” is a new job for this dame.
As Cavanaughs without the ‘augh’,
This clan breaks secret language laws.
From the County Cavan, of Irish Isle fame,
After Ellis Isle, they would never spell the same.
Every generation had to fight the urge to say:
“We’re not caverns, we’re not cave-ins; we’re more ravenous than raven.
Say laven(der) and daven(port); Caven is our name!”
And Me?
I’m Caven-like: a cavenoid—
(rhymes with (bio)flavinoid.)
And will never cave in
To the tone of (ribo)flavin!

—Kristen Caven, a.k.a.Kristen Baumgardner Caven, formerly known as Kristen Baumetc., June 2010


0 thoughts on “What Rhymes with Caven?

  1. My last name is also Caven –
    so I understand all this raving
    but maybe we should just re-spell it Cave-in or K-vin

What do you think?