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

List Rules
Vote up the things even you were guilty of saying incorrectly.

Many well-known people, places, and things have been mispronounced for so long that we've all gotten used to it. If you've ever wondered how to pronounce the names of famous people or popular food items, you're not alone. It can be embarrassing to say something incorrectly, especially if you've been confidently pronouncing it wrong for as long as you can remember. 

The things we say wrong get ingrained in our brains, making it harder to correct those mistakes. So, instead of continuing to say them incorrectly, it's time to learn the right way sooner rather than later - it will save you from being awkwardly corrected in the future. 

If you've ever wondered how to say Zendaya, Kyiv, rooibos, or turmeric, you're not alone. Here's a list of names of popular people, places, and things that get mispronounced on a daily basis.

  • Dr. Seuss
    Photo: Al Ravenna / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    3,127 VOTES

    Odds are, you've been saying this children's book author's name wrong since you (or your children) were young. No, it doesn't rhyme with "Zeus." Instead, it rhymes with "voice," making the pronunciation "Soice."

    Alexander Liang, a friend of Dr. Seuss, wrote a brief poem to remind people of the correct pronunciation:

    You’re wrong as the deuce
    And you shouldn’t rejoice
    If you’re calling him Seuss.
    He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).

    3,127 votes
  • Dubai
    Photo: Iwona Rege / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
    2,140 VOTES

    The common English pronunciation for this city in the United Arab Emirates is "Doo-BYE." In Arabic, however, the correct pronunciation is "Doo-BAE." While they sound similar, the primary difference is that the Arabic language focuses on shorter vowel sounds.

    2,140 votes
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a popular novella to analyze in English classes. However, even teachers often say the protagonist's name incorrectly. Most people - including said teachers - pronounce it as "JECK-ul," but that's not right.

    The Scottish pronunciation is "JEE-kul." In film adaptations, both versions have been used, which is why many people are unaware of how to actually say it.

    1,636 votes
  • Vincent van Gogh
    Photo: Vincent van Gogh / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1,628 VOTES

    Vincent van Gogh's last name has different pronunciations depending on where you live. People in the US typically say "Van GO," while those in the UK say "Van GOF" and those in France say "Van GOG." These are just some of the versions from around the world, but which one is correct?

    The prolific painter was from the Netherlands, so the Dutch pronunciation is the most correct: "Van KHOKH." However, because that's hard for many people to say, the artist preferred to be known only as "Vincent."

    1,628 votes
  • 5
    1,340 VOTES

    Actor Jake Gyllenhaal's last name can be a mouthful, which is why most people don't say it right. The common American pronunciation is "JILL-in-hall," but it's actually a Swedish name.

    During a Conan interview, Gyllenhaal joked that the only places he hears people say his name right are Sweden and IKEA. He demonstrated the correct pronunciation as "YEE-lin-HAY-loh." However, he had said it differently in several interviews, sometimes jokingly. So, no one knows which version is completely accurate.

    1,340 votes
  • Kyiv
    Photo: Andriy155 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
    1,220 VOTES


    There's a lot of confusion about how to say the name of Ukraine's capital. The well-known Russian pronunciation is "Kee-yev," but that's no longer the preferred name. People in Ukraine pronounce it "KEE-eve." However, even a simpler version like "Keev" is still preferrable over the Russian version.

    1,220 votes