List of Names in English With Counterintuitive Pronunciations
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List of Names in English With Counterintuitive Pronunciations

This is a set of lists of English personal and place names having pronunciations that are counterintuitive to their spelling because the pronunciation does not accord with conventional spelling/pronunciation associations, or because a better known namesake with the same spelling has a markedly different pronunciation. The latter types are known as heterophonic names or heterophones (unlike heterographs, which are written differently but pronounced the same).

Excluded are the numerous spellings which fail to make the pronunciation obvious without actually being at odds with convention: for example, the pronunciation [1][2] of Schenectady is not immediately obvious, but neither is it counterintuitive.

See Help:IPA/English for guides to the IPA symbols used, and variations depending on dialect.[n 1]

Place names

Boldened names indicate place names where only one part is pronounced irregularly, italicized pronunciations are uncommon.

General

Name element IPA Notes
-ane /?:n/ In Irish names
-borough /b(?)r?/
-burgh /b(?)r?/
-bury /b(?)ri/
-cambe /k?m/
-cester /st?r/
-c(o)omb(e) /k?m/
-ford /f?rd/
-ham /?m/
-holm(e) /ho?m/
-mouth /m/
-quay /ki:/
-shire /r/
-wich /?d?/, /?t?/
-wick /?k/
Innis- /'?n/

Australia

Canada

New Zealand

Ireland

United Kingdom

This list does not include places in England, which have a separate article. Also not included are names following spelling conventions of other local languages, such as Welsh.

United States

Other countries

Country Place IPA Notes
Trinidad and Tobago Pointe-à-Pierre

Personal names

Bold names are common; so while not intuitive, are among the most well-used. Names in italics are common are names of non-English origin common among English speakers and only irregular in English pronunciation.

Given names

Specific people

Name IPA Description Note
Antawn Jamison American basketball player
Chynna Phillips American singer and actor
Dav Pilkey /de?v/ American author and illustrator
Dwyane Wade American basketball player
Kiki Cuyler American baseball player and coach
Liza Minnelli American actor and singer
MaliVai Washington American tennis player
Michellie Jones Australian triathlete
Monta Ellis American basketball player
Wynonna Judd American country singer

General

Name IPA Notes
Anthony Original Pronunciation
Mistaken 'h' added origin's spelling and then pronunciation
Chloe, Chloë 'ë' is a diphthong for English 'ee' but English common tends to not use variants of letters and drops them but leaves original pronunciations.
Geoffrey from from Old French for Go(o)d+Fred where morphed into . It was then influenced by George.
Dafydd Welsh orthology.
Dylan 'y' and 'i' were interchanable until the past few centuries.
Eithne
Eleanor
Freda has pronunciation of the English word which came from the same root as 'fred' prefixes and suffixes in names.
Hermione [9]
Hugh
Isaac
Isla
John
Magdalen(e) Pronunciation now rare
Malachi
Malcolm
Michael
Morgause
Naomi, Näomi ,
Niamh Spelling and Pronounced as per Irish Orthography
Ngaire
Niall Spelling and pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Spelling as per Irish orthography but English pronunciation (pronunciation is more commonly linked to Neil spelling)
Owen
Penelope [10][11]
Phoebe
Ralph Pronunciation now rare
Rhys, Rees(e) 'Rhys' Spelling and pronunciation as per Welsh Orthography.
Rise, Risë
Saoirse Spelling and Pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Seamus, Séamas Spelling and Pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Sean, Séan Pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Sian, Siân Spelling and Pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Siobhan Spelling and Pronunciation as per Irish Orthography
Stephen Pronunciation influenced by a Middle English word and surname (steven) for a profession that required a person to give out speeches.
Theresa UK English pronunciation that has been influenced by French.
Thomas spelling reflects root but came to be pronunciation and use came through other languages.
Vaugh(a)n
Zachary
Zoe, Zoë see Chloe.

Family names

Specific people

Name IPA Description Notes
Aaron Copland American composer
Andre Dubus American novelist
Andrew P. Iosue [12] American general
Annastacia Palaszczuk Australian politician
Benjamin Huger , Confederate American general
Bill Nighy British actor
Bill Veeck American baseball executive
Brett Favre American football player
Cara Delevingne English model and actor
Cary Elwes English actor
Cecelia Cichan American plane crash victim
Clarence Mackay American financier
Clayton Yeutter American politician
Cliff Politte American basketball player
Clifford Geertz American anthropologist
Craig Chaquico /t'ki:so?/ American musician As if Portuguese Chaquiçco
Dan Cortese American actor and broadcaster
Dan Majerle American basketball player
Dana Suesse American composer
Daniel Ricciardo Australian racing driver
Darrell Issa American politician and entrepreneur
David Acer Canadian comedian and magician
David Icke English conspiracy writer
David Lange 32nd prime minister of New Zealand
Don Ameche American actor
Donald F. Glut American writer and director
Edward Ruscha American painter
Eli Broad American businessperson
Elizabeth Goudge [6] English writer
Fiennes family [6] British family of actors
Geraldine McCaughrean British children's writer
Herman Wouk American writer
Hillary Haag /he?g/ American actor and voice actor
Isaiah Canaan American basketball player
Isley Brothers American musicians
Jackie Speier American politician Pronounced regularly for other holders
James Anthony Froude [6] English historian and novelist
James Naughtie British journalist
Jason Chaffetz /'t?e?f?ts/ American politician
Jim Bakker American televangelist
Jim Fuchs [13] American shot put athlete
John Boehner American politician
John Boozman American politician
John Caius English doctor
John Donne English poet and cleric
John Keble English churchman and poet
John H. Kerr American politician
Johnny Manziel American football player
Jonathan Toews Canadian hockey player
Junior Seau American football player
Justin Duchsherer American baseball player
K. C. Boutiette American speed skater
Karch Kiraly American volleyball player and coach
Karen Sillas American actor
Keir Dullea American actor
Kirk Rueter American baseball player
Klaus Roth British mathematician
L. David Mech American biologist
Larry Woiwode American writer
Laura Nyro American musician
Lauren Tewes American actor
Lee Godie American painter
Lisa Rieffel American actor and musician
Lou Piniella American baseball player and manager
Marge Roukema American politician
Marin Mazzie American actress
Mary Renault English novelist
Matt Groening American cartoonist
Mike Doughty /'do?ti/ American musician Contrast from usual but equally irregular /'da?ti/
Patricia Wrede American author
Patti Scialfa American singer
Pete Reiser American baseball player and coach
Peter Agre [14] American chemist
Rachel Scdoris American musher
Randy Neugebauer American politician
Rob Kearney /'k?:rni/ Irish rugby player
Robert Fulghum American writer
Robert Faucheux American politician
Robert Mapplethorpe American photographer
Roger Boisjoly American aerospace engineer
Roger B. Taney American former Chief Justice
Ron Faucheux American lawyer and scholar
Ronald Fedkiw American mathematician
Samuel Pepys English MP
Sara Bareilles American musician
Shia LaBeouf /l?'b?f/ American actor
Stephen Cole Kleene American mathematician
Terri Schiavo Subject of Terri Schiavo case
Thomas Carew English poet
Todd Tiahrt American politician
Vernon Dahmer American activist
William Butler Yeats Irish poet and playwright
William Foege American physician
William Froude [6] British naval engineer
William Hulme [6] English lawyer

General

Name IPA Notes
Abercorn
Aucoin /?:'ko?n/
/o?'ko?n/
/o?'kwæn/
/o?'kwi:n/
Ayscough
Bagehot
Beauchamp
Beauclerk
Berkeley Mainly UK pronunciation
Bohun
Blount
Boulware [n 9] Also pronounced regularly
Bowie /bu'i/ Uncommon pronunciation
Brough /'br?f/
Buccleugh
Buyer Also pronounced regularly
Cadogan
Cheves
Chisholm
Coke
Colclough
Crichton
Cholmondeley
Cockburn
Colquhoun
Cowper Also pronounced regularly
Cruwys
Cuyjet
Dalyell
Dalziel
Davies Sometimes pronounced regularly
Death
De'Ath
DeLaughter
De Ros /d? 'ru:z/
Devere(a)ux
Doughty /'da?ti/
Dyches
Eames Often pronounced regularly
Ehle
Enroughty [15]
Faneuil [6]
Fe(a)therstonhaugh [6]
[6]
[6]
[6]
Geogehan or [6]
Geoghegan or [6]
Gieves Not as Jeeves
Greenhalgh /'gri:nh?l?/[6]
/'gri:nhæl?/[6]
/'grin:hæld?/[6]
/'gri:nh?:l/[6]
Grosvenor , [6]
Gough /'g?f/
Greenough /'gri:no?/
Guild
Harewood [6]
Home [6]
Hough /'h?f/
Jacques Uncommon pronunciation
Jordan Uncommon pronunciation
Jourdan
Keogh
Kehoe
Kerr /k?/ Pronounced regularly in Scottish English
Keynes
Landrieu
Lalor
Lange
Lascelles
Leicester
Legaré
Lescroart
Leveson-Gower[n 10]
Lewes
Machin
MacKay, McKay Pronunciation mainly in Scotland
MacLean, McLean [16][17][18] Sometimes pronounced regularly
MacLeod, McLeod
MacMahon, McMahon
Mainwaring
Marjoribanks /m?:r(t)?bæ?ks/
Marlborough
Maugham
McCaughey
McGrath Pronunciation mainly in Ireland
Meagher /m?:(h?)r/
Melancon As if spelled Melançon
Mimics French Melançon
Menzies Mainly pronounced regularly outside Scotland
Molyneux
Moog
Moore /m/
/m/
Moragne
Muir /mj?r/
Muirhead /mj?rh?d/
Olivier[n 11]
Ouzts
Peirce Uncommon
Pierce Uncommon
Petre
Pole-Carew
Pou
Powell /'paw?l/
/'pol/
Prioleau
Proulx
Quincy Slightly uncommon
Raleigh
Rehm
Reich Uncommon
Reynolds
Rhea Also pronounced regularly
Rhys
Riordan
Roosevelt Often pronounced regularly
Salisbury
Sandys
Schlumberger /?l?mb?r?e?/
S(c)haffer Also pronounced regularly
Scrope
Seau
Seay Uncommon pronunciatiom
Shea
Smellie[n 12]
Somerset
Sough /'s?f/
St. Clair /'s?nkl/ Uncommon
St. John Also pronounced regularly
Uncommon pronunciation
Stough /'sto?/
Strachan
~
Strange Uncommon pronunciation
Synge
Tal(i)aferro
Thome
Threatt
Tilghman
Tjoelker
Trevelyan
Teutel
Tyrwhitt
Urquhart[n 13]
Vanderhorst
Vaugh(a)n
Waldegrave
Wein /'wa?n/
Weiner /'wa?n?/
Winzet
Wodehouse
Worcester
Wriothesley
[19]
Yeend
Yount /j?nt/

Notes

  1. ^ For towns near the cusp of two dialect regions, both variants are usually heard, and wider still for important cities or even within them. Examples in that article include New York City and Bath
  2. ^ cf. influential Duke of Albany and Albany, New York
  3. ^ Canberra as is rare and deprecated
  4. ^ Same as the surname.
  5. ^ When spoken in the clipped way, the same as original Scottish surname McKay.
  6. ^ Polish-derived pronunciation is sometimes used for the Australian example.
  7. ^ French for "Bay of Hope", and paradoxically pronounced "Bay Despair"
  8. ^ Murray is also a common surname generally pronounced in this orthodox way.
  9. ^ Generally in Virginia
  10. ^ Usually e.g. H. D. G. Leveson-Gower, Granville George Leveson-Gower
  11. ^ While generally keeping separate vowel sounds at the end (as though with a diaresis), 'er' in Olivier is never pronounced like Oliver
  12. ^ Scottish, e.g. William Smellie
  13. ^ Scottish, see Urquhart Castle

References

  1. ^ "Schenectady". Oxford Dictionaries UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Schenectady". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "Agassiz". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ "Magaguadavic". Place Names of New Brunswick. Public Archives of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "Rusagonis". Place Names of New Brunswick. Public Archives of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Wells, John C. (2000). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. 2nd ed. Longman. ISBN 0-582-36468-X.
  7. ^ a b c "Moray - Pronunciation". Rootsweb at ancestry.com. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Pronouncing British Placenames at BBC's Edited Guide Entry h2g2 site
  9. ^ "Hermione". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ "Penelope". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016.
  11. ^ "Penelope". Oxford Dictionaries UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ "Biographies : GENERAL ANDREW P. IOSUE". Af.mil. Archived from the original on August 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  13. ^ Douglas Martin, James E. Fuchs, Innovator in the Shot-Put, Dies at 82, New York Times, October 18, 2010
  14. ^ "Voices Against Indifference Initiative". Echofoundation.org. Retrieved 2012.
  15. ^ Elsdon Coles Smith (1986-05-01). American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 296 /. ISBN 978-0-8063-1150-0.
  16. ^ "Pronunciation Of Surnames". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2012.
  17. ^ "Mclean | Define Mclean at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2012.
  18. ^ "NHL pronunciation guide". USA Today. February 4, 2000. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ "Set VII, texts and comments". Utm.edu. Retrieved 2012.

Further reading


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