Country And City Names We Just Realized We've Been Mispronouncing - And How To Say Them

List Rules
Vote up the place names you have been guilty of pronouncing incorrectly.

Once a pronunciation is ingrained in your head, it's hard to say it any other way. There are plenty of common mistakes for how we say the names of places, foods, people, products, and more. Cities and countries can be especially confusing to pronounce if you don't live in the area; not all are spelled the same way they're said. Also, different languages can lead to sounds and pronunciations you're not used to.

So here are some place names you might be saying incorrectly, along with the correct pronunciations. It's hard to break old habits, but if we correct our ongoing mispronunciations of the names of famous places, residents of these cities and countries will greatly appreciate it.

  • Budapest
    Photo: ZGPhotography /
    112 VOTES

    Many tourists refer to Hungary's capital as "BOO-duh-pest."

    Natives pronounce it "BOO-duh-pesht." In Hungarian, the letter "s" often has a "sh" sound, which is why English speakers say it differently.

    112 votes
  • Niger
    Photo: Vincent van Zeijst / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
    85 VOTES

    Many people avoid trying to pronounce this name in fear of saying something hurtful. Others suspect that it sounds the same as Nigeria, but without the "ia." Neither is correct.

    Niger follows French pronunciation, so the correct way to say it is "nee-ZHER."

    85 votes
  • Kyiv
    Photo: Andriy155 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
    101 VOTES


    There's a lot of confusion about how to say the name of Ukraine's capital. The Russian pronunciation is "KEE-yev," but that's no longer the preferred name.

    People in Ukraine pronounce it "KEE-yeev" or "KEE-eve" (the sound is a little different in Ukrainian; this is an approximation to English sounds). 

    101 votes
  • 4
    120 VOTES

    When Americans pronounce this name, they give the "Ph" an "F" sound. So, it often sounds like "foo-KET," or a more inappropriate word.

    In Thailand, they pronounce the "Ph" as a stressed "P" sound, making the correct pronunciation "poo-KET."

    120 votes
  • Melbourne
    Photo: Mick2770 /
    113 VOTES

    If you pronounce this city as it looks, you'd probably say "MEL-born," similar to how "Bourne" is pronounced in the movie trilogy.

    Locals, however, aren't pleased with this common mistake. The correct pronunciation for this Australian city is "MEL-bin."

    113 votes
  • 6
    73 VOTES

    Leicester is a popular UK city, but it's commonly mispronounced "LIE-chester." In British English, certain vowels and syllables are often omitted from pronunciations to make the names easier to say.

    The correct pronunciation for the city is "LES-ter." When said out loud, you'd never know there's a "ce" in the spelling.

    73 votes