List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations

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This is a set of lists of English personal and place names whose pronunciations are counterintuitive to their spelling, because the pronunciation does not correspond to the spelling, or because a better known namesake has a markedly different pronunciation. The latter are known as heterophonic names (the opposite of homophones, 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 it: for example, the pronunciation /skəˈnɛktədi/[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 of the UK and Ireland[edit]

See List of places in the United Kingdom and Ireland with counterintuitive pronunciations, and:

Place names in the United States of America[edit]


Place names in Canada[edit]

Place names in Australia[edit]

Place names in New Zealand[edit]

Place names in other English-speaking countries[edit]

Given names[edit]

Emboldened names are traditional so while not intuitive, are among the most well-used.

Most commonly used of Irish and Welsh origin[edit]













See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  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. ^ French for "Bay of Hope", ironically pronounced "Bay Despair"
  3. ^ The Thames River in Connecticut is intuitive: /ˈθmz/.
  4. ^ The town's name however is intuitive.
  5. ^ cf. influential Duke of Albany and Albany, New York
  6. ^ Cf Brisbane, California, which is /ˈbrɪzbn/
  7. ^ Canberra as /kænˈbɛrə/ is rare and deprecated
  8. ^ Same as the surname.
  9. ^ When spoken in the clipped way, the same as original Scottish surname McKay.
  10. ^ Polish-derived pronunciation /kɒˈʃʊʃk/ is sometimes used for the Australian example.
  11. ^ American English pronunciation of “Antoine" see the section on his name.
  12. ^ /ˈkwæn/ (e.g. Kevyn Aucoin), /ˈkwn/, /ˈkɔɪn/ (e.g. Bill Aucoin), to /ˈɔːkɔɪn/
  13. ^ Generally in Virginia
  14. ^ Variant of Copeland (surname)
  15. ^ Usually e.g. H. D. G. Leveson-Gower, Granville George Leveson-Gower
  16. ^ While generally keeping separate vowel sounds at the end (as though with a diaresis), 'er' in Olivier is never pronounced like Oliver
  17. ^ Scottish, e.g. William Smellie
  18. ^ Scottish, see Urquhart Castle
  1. ^ "Schenectady". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Schenectady". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Agassiz". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Magaguadavic". Place Names of New Brunswick. Public Archives of New Brunswick. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "Rusagonis". Place Names of New Brunswick. Public Archives of New Brunswick. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Hermione". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  7. ^ "Penelope". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  8. ^ "Penelope". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  9. ^ "Voices Against Indifference Initiative". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  10. ^ Elsdon Coles Smith (1986-05-01). American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 296 /. ISBN 978-0-8063-1150-0. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wells, John C. (2000). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. 2nd ed. Longman. ISBN 0-582-36468-X. 
  12. ^ Douglas Martin, James E. Fuchs, Innovator in the Shot-Put, Dies at 82, New York Times, October 18, 2010
  13. ^ National Library Service
  14. ^ "Biographies : GENERAL ANDREW P. IOSUE". Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  15. ^ "Pronunciation Of Surnames". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  16. ^ "Mclean | Define Mclean at". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  17. ^ "USA Today". 4 February 2000. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Arika Okrent (2013-06-13). "Why is 'Weiner' sometimes 'weener' and sometimes 'whiner'?". The Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  19. ^ "Set VII, texts and comments". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]