Xavier Pronouciation

Hi Everyone

I love the name Xavier for a boy but I am confused on how it should be pronounced. The issue only came up today when I was talking with my Mum about future children's names.

So what is the correct pronouciation? And what do you think of the Xavier in general?



May 2, 2014 9:35 PM

There's been discussion on the pronounciation of Xavier here in the past. Here's one of the threads:


I think the general concensus is that there isn't a "correct" pronounciation. It's regional, so you might want to do an informal poll of friends to find out which is more common in your area.

May 2, 2014 10:07 PM

I used to say "egg-zay-vee-er", now I say "X-zay-vee-er", and I wish I could teach my tongue to say "Zay-vier", because I like that one best. But, as the PP said, there isn't a right way to say it.

May 3, 2014 7:42 AM

I'm sure the PPs are correct that polite general consensus around here is that there is no "right" way, but as a mother of a Xavier, I disagree. :-P Note that I wrote "a Xavier" as in "a [ZAYV-yer]," not "an Xavier," as in "an [egg-ZAYV-yer]."

In fact, the press in towns around the American Xavier Universities (one in Ohio, one in Louisiana) enjoy making fun of non-locals who do the "egg" pronunciation, even writing that when they quote the people, like during NCAA basketball tournaments, a time when these Catholic schools are more likely to be in the national spotlight. ;-)

However, I noted that you said "Mum," so you're far more likely to be in some British-dominated area where the"egg" [mis]pronunciation rules. But I will note that it seems that Australian actor Xavier Samuel goes by the [proper] two-syllable pronunciation, so if that was an Aussie "Mum" in your post, the picture might not be as clear.

This issue is SOLELY an anglophone problem for this Basque-origin name. Other languages, such as French and Spanish, have clear, single ways of pronouncing the name. And none of them try and and say "X," whether that means "eks," "eeks," or "equis." It's solely from the British English and their anglicization of a foreign name, not part of the name's origins. As I always tell people, you don't pronounce "eks" to start xylophone, Xerxes, Xena, Xanadu, or Xanax, either.

May 3, 2014 11:38 AM

This.  I spent 25 years in New Orleans, and I dare say the universities know how to pronounce their names.

May 12, 2014 9:33 AM

Another mom of an Xavier here -- I named my son for my grandfather who pronounced his name ex-ZAY-vyer, and so we do as well. I've heard the Xavier University argument before, but I don't find it convincing as far as what the English pronunciation of Xavier is *supposed* to be -- all it says to me is the two universities chose ZAY-vyer as their pronunciation so yes, anyone who calls them ex-ZAY-vyer University would be incorrect, because that's not their chosen pronunciation. I know other Catholic entities named after the saint that pronounce it ex-ZAY-vyer.

I saw on behindthename.com (the comment section, not the official entry section) that "The Amharic pronounce it, Eg-za-be-er" and "In Czech, Polish and Slovak, it's ksa-vee-AIR." I'm not familiar enough with any of those languages to know if these claims are accurate, but if they are, is there any weight to the idea that the ex-ZAY-vyer pronunciation in English came about because of interaction with those who pronounced the name in the Amharic, Czech, Polish, or Slovak way? To my ear the "ksa" pronunciation sounds very similar to the ex- pronunciation.

May 3, 2014 12:45 PM

The correct pronunciation of any name is the way that name is said by its owner (or their parents if they are little ones).  

When reading the name Xavier with no other clues to guide me, I use the X pronunciation.  If corrected or introduced to someone whose name is said Zavier, that is how I will say it.

May 3, 2014 9:44 PM

I do live in the UK yes. I do however pronounce Xavier Zav-vee-ay not sure if this is right. My Mum thinks it is Zav-vee-er. It's the ending that has us flummoxed.

May 9, 2014 11:28 PM

Well, first of all, I'd like to reiterate, it's all subjective, whether or not others agree. Second given the UK's proximity to France, Za-vie-ay may be what you encounter most frequently. If you want a definitive pronunciation, I don't think an opinion forum is the place to look. This site's "namipedia" officially recognizes Za-vee-ay (as well as Eks-say-vier), so that'll probably be as definitive as it gets. In the end no one can tell you that you're pronouncing your baby's name wrong. What ever you like best is right. :)

By EVie
May 10, 2014 12:19 AM

I would not consider Namipedia by any means definitive, and definitely no more so than an opinion forum. Its content is user-submitted, so it's no different from an opinion forum in that regard. It's ok for finding out more about what other people think, but take everything you read there with a grain of salt. 

As for Xavier, I'm still not quite clear on the pronunciation you prefer. Is it zah-vee-AY, or ZAY-vee-ay? The first one is the French pronunciation; the second, I've never heard before. If you do want to use the French pronunciation, that's valid, though you'll probably be in for a lot of correcting people. I wouldn't use the other one, since it's kind of in this no-man's-land between French and English and will just be confusing to people. I would personally go with the ZAY-vee-er pronunciation (although, the fact that no one can agree on how the name is pronounced would be a strike against me using the name at all).