With an uncommon name of my own (Janssen), I know all about having your name mispronounced. I’ve had “Janice” and “Jensen” and pretty much every other name that starts with a “J” you can imagine.
In school, I always knew when a substitute teacher got to my name because of the long pause. When it came time to name my own daughters, my husband and I tried to pick names that were unusual but easy to pronounce.
But some names, even when they are really popular, are likely to be mispronounced frequently. Here are 20 popular ones that trip up almost everyone!
That “S” is totally silent! It’s “EYE-lah.” (Yes, I had to watch a little YouTube video to see how to pronounce it correctly).
I think a lot of the time this one is mispronounced because people look too quickly and assume it’s “Kristen.” Just check to see if the “R” or the “I” comes first.
Does it start with an “EE” or an “AY”? It could go any which way.
This beautiful name can trip you up. Some pronounce it KYE-rah, while others say KEER-ah. And there’s also the alternate spelling, “Kira.”
The first time I met someone with this name, I pulled aside a mutual friend and asked her to tell me how to pronounce it. Then I practiced a dozen times. It’s usually pronounced shi-VON.
Names that start with “Y” are tricky since there aren’t that many of them. That “Y” makes an “ee” sound!
It’s so easy to get this one confused with “Madeline.” Pronunciations can vary between MAD-eh-len, MAD-eh-lyne, and MAD-eh-leen.
ni-COLA, or NEE-ko-lah?
Is it “MEE-A” or “MY-A”? It’s hard to tell because they’re both spelled like this. Your best bet is just to ask.
This is another one where there just isn’t a good way to know for sure; is it pronounced like “Hailey” or is it “HAL-e”?
“J” names can be tricky and this one might be one of the trickiest. Correct pronunciation is wah-KEEN.
It looks like that Christmas song, “The First Noel,” (i.e., no-EL). But the name is actually pronounced as one syllable, “knoll.”
It’d be so much easier for everyone if this was spelled “Zander,” wouldn’t it?
In the last 15 years, this name has gone from not being on the list of most popular names to number 185, so people should get more familiar with it and better at pronouncing it.
A little more unusual than “Elijah,” it’s also a little more difficult to pronounce. EE-lee-us, EL-ee-us, or e-LYE-us? It’s up to you.
In this case, it’s the ending that can cause you trouble – is it “CoNIN” or “coNAN?”
Here’s another X name that makes it tricky, but in a different way. This one really says “X” at the beginning!
I was a teenager before I realized this was “Shawn” not “Seen.” And I still have to think about it whenever I see it.
This one is tricky because it could be “Steven” or could be “Stefan.” Proceed with caution!
It starts with a “JAY” not “JAH.”
What popular names trip you up?