Names You Used to Mispronounce

The title basically says it all: What names did you (at any point in your life) firmly believe to be prounced differently than they actually are? How did you pronounce them How did you discover how they're usually pronounced?

A few of my own:

Delaney: DELL-uh-nee. I met a girl named Delaney, and for some time thought she thought she just pronounced it weirdly. Then I realized I had never actually heard the name said out loud before.

Stephan: STEF-un. I really don't remember. It must have been a pretty boring revelation.

Sean: SEEN. I can't remember if I ever actually thought this but I do remember trying to spell the name of a friend's brother as Shahn, or something like that (I was about 9) and her telling me that it was spelled Sean.

Leigh: LAY. I'm still getting used to this one! I really should have realized it before, but I didn't (Obviously). I really hate this name now, which stinks, because I loved it beore.

Adrianne: Ay-dree-ANN. A friend of mine wrote about a character with the name, and I mispronounced it for ages before finally hearing her say it out loud. Sadly, another name I don't love as much as I did.

Caya: CAY-uh. Several friends told me I was saying it wrong, but I didn't really pay attention until I actually met a girl named Kaya.

What names did you mispronounce?

Replies

1
January 11, 2014 11:20 AM

The only one I can think of is Hermione. I was super relieved to hear the real pronunciation because I hated the way I was saying it in my head and suspected I had it wrong.

2
January 12, 2014 12:06 PM

For a long time I read Hermione as Hermoine (HER-moo-een) and liked it. Then I realized I was mixing up the i and the o, and pronounced it HERM-ee-one, which Ia hted. I was definitely relieved when I found out how it was really pronounced. I did the same thing with Aphrodite and Persephone. When I realized they weren't AFF-ro-dite and PER-se-fone, I was a little upset, because that's what I was used to, but now I like them much better.

3
January 11, 2014 11:23 AM

When I was a VERY little girl I thought Penelope was Penny-lope (lope to rhyme with hope).

4
August 31, 2016 7:20 PM

Me, too! I learned the name Penelope on a Monopoly game I had on my Game Boy! I must have heard it sound out loud on a movie or show because I don't think I met a Penelope until a few years ago. I am a big fan of Penelop Garcia on Criminal Minds now, but I learned this name before that.

5
November 14, 2017 5:38 PM

Me too! To be honest, I don't think I was even THAT little of a girl when I discovered the real pronunciation, since I never said it out loud or met anyone with that name until much later.

6
January 11, 2014 3:36 PM

Haha!

Hermione- I used to say it as HER MEE ON

Michaela- I have a friend with this name, and although you'd think it's supposed to be MICK KAY LA, it's actually pronounced as Michella

And this technically isn't a mispronounciation, but I have friends who have the name Melanie, Melinda, Melina, and Melissa, respectively. I find it really confusuing so I just call them all Mel.

7
January 11, 2014 9:02 PM

Well, actually one wouldn't necessarily suppose that Michaela is pronounced MICK KAY LA.  My first and for a long time only association with the name was the opera Carmen where the name is pronounced Mi-kye-ay-la (kye rhyming with eye).  In the libretto of Carmen there is a diaresis over the e indicating that the a and the e are in two different syllables.  It was only with the recent spate of MaKaylas and MiKaylas and so forth, that I realized what the non-French, non-operatic, English pronunciation is.  I also thought that Jose was pronounced Zhozay (roughly the French pronunciation in the opera).  I did learn later the proper Spanish pronunciation.  If I were to name a daughter Michaela (which I wouldn't because it is not related to the names of any of my deceased family members), I would definitely use the "Carmen" pronunciation.  I would also never guess the pronunciation Michella (I assume that's Michelle with a schwa on the end).  Reminds me though of an Israeli woman I met who was named Michal (that's Mi-CHALL with the ch as in Bach and the a as in father).  She said that she had given up on trying to get Americans to pronounce her name and just introduces herself as Michelle.

8
January 11, 2014 9:11 PM

I agree. I grew up knowing two Michaelas, both of whom pronounce it in the Hebrew way, mee-kha-ELL-a/mee-ka-ELL-a, and it never dawned on me that it was the same name as the name said mih-KAY-lah. When I referred to actress Michaela Conlin in the Hebrew way, my husband laughed at me. However, while I admit that I had the wrong pronunciation, I don't think that it's the same as thinking that Hermione is HER-mee-one, since I just had the wrong language.

9
January 12, 2014 12:14 PM

Oh, I love Michaela as Mi-kye-ay-la. I've thought about pronouncing it that way for a while, but I didn't realize it was an actual name! It would be mispronounced a lot though, especially with variants of Michaela/Mikayla as common as they are.

10
By EVie
January 12, 2014 11:19 AM

I think your friend who pronounces Michaela like Michella is actually unusual. Most of the time I've heard it pronounced like mih-KAY-la, or sometimes the way Karyn or Miriam described (though usually then when the family has a linguistic background other than English). 

When I was in middle school I thought Rhiannon was pronounced REE-uh-non. I found it in a baby name book and had never heard it spoken aloud. I also had the issue with Hermione, back in the days before I became familiar with Greek names. 

11
January 11, 2014 3:59 PM

I used to mispronounce Stephen and Sean too! And I also have a hard time remembering Leigh is LEE, not LAY. It really bugs me when I see names like Kayleigh and Marleigh. I always want to say KAY-lay and MAR-lay. A few others I've only recently discovered how to pronounce correctly:

-Nevaeh (ok, I don't think anyone would get this on the first try)

-Rosalia (I used to say ro-SA-lee-a, which is a legitimate pronunciation, but there's also ro-sa-LEE-a, which I prefer)

-Rhys (I used to pronounce it like the word rice)

-Jaden (Not sure if this really counts- I know how to say it, but I'm always tempted to say JAD-in, jad rhyming with had)

-Elisha (I used to say it like Alicia, which I suppose is used for girls, but it technically is a masculine name pronounced a-LIE-sha)

I know there's more, especially unanglicized Irish names, but I can't think of any at the moment.

12
January 12, 2014 12:55 PM

Elisha I had in reverse from you!  

I learned from this year's 24/7 (an HBO hockey series) that the actress Elisha Cuthbert uses the Alicia pronunciation -- I'd never heard her name aloud before, and assumed it was pronounced like the male Elisha. 

13
January 11, 2014 9:39 PM

Well Stephan and Stefan are the same while Stephen and Steven are pronounced the same. So you pronouncing Stephan as Stefan is actually correct. If you meant Stephen, then yes, you were wrong.

I know two Adrianne's that were pronounced Ay-dree-ANN, so it is out there that way. I thought AY-dree-uhn was the boy pronunciation and Ay-dree-ANN the girl pronunciation until I met my first Adrianne pronounced Adrian in college.

I too didn't know how to pronounce Hermione, Sophronia, or several other of the Greek ends in "e" names.

14
January 12, 2014 12:21 PM

Oos, I did mean to put Stephen. I never knew that Stephen and Stephan were pronounced differently, but now that I think about it, that sounds right. Learning to prnounce names on my own thread about mispronuncitaions!

15
January 12, 2014 12:52 PM

Phebe, which is the spelling of Phoebe that Louisa May Alcott used in "Eight Cousins".  In my head it is STILL "feeb", even though I know it's "fee-bee".  I've never been able to replace the mental pronunciation.

16
January 13, 2014 3:57 PM

Phebe is the Shakespearean spelling also.

17
January 17, 2014 1:52 PM

I think that all your opinion is true

18
March 2, 2016 10:21 PM

As a kid I read a book about a girl named Phoebe and thought her name was pronounced PHOBE (like homophobe, or germophobe).

19
January 12, 2014 3:46 PM

I thought Sean was SEEN too. I have a story from when I was maybe 8 or 9 with a SEEN in it. When I found out it was Shawn, I thought that Sean was the dumbest thing ever. Then I learned about Gaelic and now I love Gaelic names. :P

I can't remember quite how I said Persephone but it was very odd.

20
January 13, 2014 6:22 PM

I used to say Persephone 'PUR-sa-phone', which makes sense I suppose!

21
January 13, 2014 7:10 PM

I still can't keep Leigh straight in my head. Mentally, I say "lay" EVERY time which is why I can't stand that spelling. 

When I was younger, I definitely had issues with the Greek names and some Gaelic ones. I have the Greek ones down pat now, but some Gaelic ones I still have to mentally correct myself before I say them aloud - Sorcha is the biggest one for me; I want to say "SOAR-cha" every time. 

The first time I saw Maia written down, I said "MAH-ee-ah" instead of "MY-ah". Whoops. LOL. And the first time I saw Casey, I thought it was supposed to be "CAZ-ee" instead of "CAY-cee". 

My husband's name is Sean and he gets "SEEN" more times than we care to remember. It seriously happens SO often that I'm sick of correcting people and I've only been with him for 7 years. That may be part of why he loved Ireland so much; not a single mispronounciation of his name.

 

22
January 15, 2014 7:59 PM

I did the same thing with Maia! The only problem is, (as it seems to be with so many of my mispronunciations) I liked it much better before. It's still a prettier spelling (imo) than Maya though, so I don't hate it.

23
January 26, 2014 7:04 AM

Oh, I have a few:

Yelena: (yell-an-ah//yell-ey-na) in my favourite book when I was younger. Pronounced it this way till I was about 14 when I realised it was wrong

Jael: (jay-ell//yay-el) I was too young to realise the J is pronounced with a Y

Rosalie: (row-zel-ee//rose-ah-lee) eugh. Won't even go there

Dana: (dah-nah//day-nah) but this wasn't realy my fault. There was a family I went to primary school with that pronounced one of their offspring this way

 

24
January 26, 2014 11:46 AM

I had the opposite problem with Dana. I had a student who went on to become a colleague and friend whose name was Dana. I called her Day-na until another colleague kindly told me that it should be Dan-a because she was named for her father Dan. Oops!

As for Jael, in English it is generally pronounced Jay-ell. The proper transliteration from the Hebrew is Ya'el, and then the name is pronounced with a Y, not a J.

25
By TEJ
January 26, 2014 1:44 PM

I used to think Jolyon was pronounced something like 'jolly-on', and Malachi was ma-LA-chee. I have since learned the proper pronunciations, but admittedly I still want to say jolly-on when I see Jolyon. Old habits die hard, I guess :)

26
June 24, 2014 12:31 PM

I am listening to the Forsyte Saga on audiobook from Librivox right now, and the volunteers recording change for different chapters. A good many of them say Jolly-on! I think the book encourages that confusion a little bit because one of the Jolyons in it is nicknamed Jolly, pronounced like the adjective. It amused my Jolyon when I was listening to the audiobook in the car, though - kind of his name, but not.

My contribution to the thread: I just tonight learned that Mavis isn't MAH-vis, but rather MAY-vis, rhymes with Davis. I liked it better my way, too!

27
June 15, 2014 3:01 AM

When I was a kid, I thought Siobhan was pronounced like it's spelled — sye-oh-bahn.  

28
July 28, 2014 3:31 PM

It took me a long time to accept that Lila is not LEE-luh after pronouncing it that way when reading Sweet Valley books as a kid. 

29
July 28, 2014 8:11 PM

The pronunciation of Lila varies, and /LEE-la/ is one of the possibilities. (It's how I'd say it without further cues.) Dunno which version they meant in the Sweet Valley books, though.

30
October 5, 2014 1:43 PM

When my youngest brother was born, my parents named him Ethan. Having never heard the name before (I was eight) or since it written down, I thought his name was pronounced Easton. And called him that for days...weeks even before I was corrected.

31
October 11, 2014 1:32 PM

Seamus (See-mus)

Ava (Ah-vuh)

Leigh (lay)

Mya (actually I still don't know how to pronounce this one. Is it like Mia or Maya?)

32
November 26, 2014 4:09 PM

my name is spelled   schuyler  and pronouced  shy-ler

i have a lot of poeple who see the spelling and say  sky-ler or schooler

so just for 31 years of my life i have never had a person get it correct yet.

 

33
November 29, 2014 2:15 AM

Actually the Dutch pronunciation of Schuyler isn't Shy-ler. It's (roughly) S-ch- with the ch pronounced rather like the ch in German ich. Not an easy sound for English speakers... The -uy- (more modern spelling -ui-) is a diphthong I personally have trouble pronouncing, but it isn't the -y in shy. 

34
By EVie
December 13, 2014 11:44 PM

Most of the Anglicized Dutch names in the U.S. do pronounce the "uy" as the "y" in "shy." There are a few of them in New York, the Spuyten Duyvil Creek (SPITE-'n DIE-vul) and the various places named after Peter Stuyvesant being the most prominent (I would guess that many thousands of New York schoolchildren every year misspell Stuyvesant as "Styvesant"). I've come across Cuyler pronounced KY-ler as well. From what I can tell, the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania seems to be an exception... no idea where "SKOO-kill" came from. I'm guessing that the Dutch diphthong is akin to the German ö + "ee"?

35
December 14, 2014 12:37 AM

I assure you that the Dutch do not pronounce Peter's name as STY.  I grew up on the banks of the Schuylkill River, and cultivated speakers where I grew up do pronounce it Skool-kill, not Skoo-kill which would sound rather down market, at least when I was growing up.  I have de Duivel's own time with that ui diphthong, so I won't even attempt a phonetic spelling.  Here are two pronunciations of uil (owl), and to my ears they sound rather different, but neither sounds like EYE: http://www.forvo.com/word/uil/

36
December 14, 2014 1:00 PM

Per Omniglot, Dutch ui is [œy], which is roughly German ö+ü -- and sch is [sx] (where [x] is the throaty 'ch' like in Bach), so Schuylkill and Schuyler both begin with a sequence of sounds that English speakers just ain't gonna manage correctly in a million years.

37
December 14, 2014 2:54 PM

I have no trouble with the sch- and do an excellent job with Schiphol (the Amsterdam airport) and Scheveningen (a seaside resort), but the ui diphthong is absolutely beyond me.  I can handle the German o umlaut too.  So I agree--it would be a very rare American who would pronounce Schuyler and Schuylkill as a Dutch speaker would.  I pronounce them the standard American way:  Skyler (not Shyler) and Skoolkill.  My Dutch friends make merciless fun of me when I try to pronounce the Dutch ui diphthong, but I don't say a word when their English pronunciation is a bit off (they tend, for example, to fail to distinguish f/v correctly).  I also get made fun of because I have a "southern" (specifically Tilburg) accent, which is stigmatized by those from the north of the Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam.

38
December 14, 2014 12:49 PM

Yes, lots of places near me in upstate NY named after Philip Schuyler and Peter Stuyvesant, and we say long i like in shy: SKY-ler and STY-vesant.

39
December 19, 2014 6:09 PM

Hah, so now I've learned another name I've always mispronounced (in my head). I've always read Stuyvesant as stwee-VESS-ant. Never would have guessed STY-vesant. Live and learn :).

40
April 13, 2015 10:53 AM

My name is Syrinna (like Sir-ee-na)

I like when people call me Sree-nuh though

 

every history teacher I had pronounced it Sir-IN-uh

 

Anyone familiar with the name Alynna? I have an amazing online friend (we live in the same county so I'll meet her soon) but I've never heard Alynna pronounced.

Also Nguyen. It is WIN but, seriously I pronounce it in my head as guy-in. 

41
April 19, 2015 11:51 AM

These names were all in a series I read as a kid, and I got so used to reading them like this in my head until I met them in real life

janine- JAN-in 

Myriah- I assume this is like Mariah, but I read it as Mee-ree-yuh

angelique- angel- lick

Anastasia- Anna-Stacy-yuh

jacqueline- juh-quel-een

Yeah...it was pretty sad

42
April 21, 2015 3:21 PM

I mispronounced Sean as "See-in" and Zach as "Zatch" (rhymes with "hatch").

43
April 23, 2015 12:11 PM

I remember reading Baby Blues in the Sunday comics when I was young and thought Zoe was prounounced with a silent e, lik Zoh, rhymes with Joe. Eventually I heard someone else say it like Zoh-ee rhymes with Joey but in my head I still have to correct myself every time I read it.

 

I also initially thought it was pronounced Calvin and Hobbys instead of Calvin and Hobs ;).

44
May 8, 2015 12:02 AM

I remember before I learnt Spanish I thought the J was pronounced as such and not like H, and such many Spanish names were all wrong in my head. Examples I remember are Jose (I pronounced it as one syallable like the first syllable of Josephine), Juan (I pronounced it Jew-AHN), Julio (I pronounced it like Julia with an O instead of A), and Alejandro (I pronounced it Ally-JAN-dro (JAN like jam with an N).

The same thing applied with Germanic names...just replace the H situation with a Y situation. I learnt the proper pronounciations when I met a friend from a German family called Jana (which in my head had always been JARN-a (JARN like the word yarn).

One name I do remember not pronouncing correctly that wasn't of either origin was Charlotte. To me it was always CHAR-let, not SHAR-let. This is another example of a name where I learnt the proper pronounciation from a friend.

Also, because I notice a lot of commenters here pronounced Leigh as LAY-I always knew it was pronoucned LEE. Although that may be because I was born in the age of Ashley, and some parents around the area I grew up spelt it Ashleigh to be different.

45
May 8, 2015 3:36 AM

Another name I just remembered is Phoebe. In my head that was always FO-ee-bee (O and E being pronounced seperately), which I think was mainly due to the 'oe' in names like Chloe and Zoe being pronounced seperately. After I learnt that pronounciation was wrong, I then said FO-bee (where the first E was silent), which was due to having a relative who went by Joe. 

46
May 8, 2015 1:45 PM

Well, you weren't entirely wrong.  in Byron's poem "Don Juan," the name is pronounced JEW-ahn.  And Leighton Meester's name is pronounced Lay-ton.

47
May 8, 2015 3:58 PM

If it is pronounced Lee, it shouldn't be spelled Leigh!

You remember the old rhyme:
I before E, except after C and when sounding like A as in neighbor and neigh. 
Logically, that means that Leigh must be pronounced LAY. And I've taught logic before, so I should know. 

Thus Leigh rhymes with neigh, weigh, sleigh, etc. makes sense to me.  How did this odd pronunciation occur?  Is it a foreign import?

Also, how did Leah (LAY-uh) start to get mispronounced as LEE-uh? When I learned my bible stories, it was always Rachel and LAY-uh. Is it just easier for English speakers to say LEE-uh? I know my tot says LEE-uh for his Star-Wars toy Leia. 

Also, I'm obviously not the slightest bit opinionated on this LEE/LAY thing. 

48
May 13, 2015 11:34 PM

You are the first other person to voice my feelings about Leah being pronounced LEE-uh! In Hebrew, it's definitely LAY-uh, and the Hebrew is written in English as Leah. I cannot read it as anything else. You want LEE-uh, drop the H, please.

Just know, you're not alone. 

49
May 14, 2015 12:58 PM

Thanks!  Whenever I heard LEE-uh, I just assume it is spelled Lia.  I'm glad I'm not alone. 

50
By Fly
May 16, 2015 8:11 AM

Lee/Lea/Leigh are all the same name/pronounciation to me. Lea is definitely feminine, while the other two spellings are androgynous (though men would usually prefer Leigh, I think).

I've met a couple of Leahs, both pronounced LEE-ah. LAY-ah to me is Leia, like Star Wars.

 

I guess all of these differences could be regional?  I've never been taught bible stories orally so I don't have that to rely on.  But it's interesting, isn't it?