5 students holding Cathy or Cathedral shirts
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Cathy vs. Cathedral: Which name won?

  • University News
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

We had to ask: Do you call the most iconic building on the Pittsburgh campus “Cathy” or “the Cathedral”? The results are in, and they might surprise you.

As the 2022 academic year began, we polled our audiences through Pitt’s social media channels and on Pittwire. Nearly 7,000 of you responded.

So, what did the Pitt community say about their preferred naming convention for our beloved Cathedral of Learning?

While many were vocal about their dislike for the term “Cathy” — a popular lexical variation among current and recent Pitt students — more than 52% voted for Cathy above all other options. 32% of respondents voted Cathedral. When given the option, 13% of respondents voted for both. Just 2% voted for the full, formal Cathedral of Learning.

“Cathy” is definitely having a moment. But as sociolinguist Abdesalam Soudi made clear, language is constantly evolving. “Some terms can be short lived and some can survive,” Soudi said. “Clipped words are well liked, so they sometimes stick around.”

Some commenters have snarked about the nickname, asking whether the William Pitt Union or other campus buildings will be next to get cheeky monikers. The short answer? Maybe.

“Variation is at the core of language,” said Soudi.

But regardless of what you call it, it’s clear that the Pitt community’s love for our favorite building abides.

By the numbers


Cathy: 1,510 (60%)
The Cathedral: 401 (16%)
Both: 608 (24%)


Twitter (767)

The Cathedral: 364 (47.5%)
Cathy: 292 (38.2%)
Both/either: 110 (14.3%)



Cathy: 837 (44%)
The Cathedral: 726 (38%)
Both: 186 (10%)
Full title “The Cathedral of Learning”: 143 (8%)



Cathy: 874 (57%)
The Cathedral: 665 (43%)


— Acacia O’Connor