Most Frequently Mispronounced City Names

City names are frequently mispronounced. Surprisingly, those who are new to or unfamiliar with a city are not always the ones mispronouncing the names.

There often is a correct way of pronouncing a city name, and a different but more popular way of pronouncing it. Locals sometimes develop an accepted pronunciation over time, and it sticks. So, an outsider might have it 'right' and still be wrong.

Mispronounced City Names in Oregon, Washington, and California

This list is by no means exhaustive but it has been compiled from extensive social media aggregation, as well as by input from family and friends who have lived up and down the west coast from Blaine to Baja. (by the way, that's pronounced Ba-Ha).

I've selected five (5) City Names each from Washington, California, and Oregon. There is an audio example for each City Name.

Mispronounced City Names in California

Tuolumne -- too-aw-luh-mee

There is no ‘n’ sound in this word, which is Native American in origin.

Lompoc --  lom-poke

Locals know this one ends with a ‘poke’ and not a ‘pock’.

Suisun City -- suh-soon

Not Swee-sun and not squeezin' – it’s Suh-soon season.

Paso Robles -- Paso ROH-buhlz

The Spanish pronunciation would have you say pa-sow row-bless, but locals most often say it like Paso ROH-buhlz.


San Pedro – san-Peedro

The locals say “san-pee-droh” even though we all know the Spanish would say Pay-dro.

Mispronounced City Names in Washington

Guemes --  GWEE-mis

Don’t be squeamish, it’s Gwee-mis.

Pend Oreille -- PAWN-do-RAY

Pend Oreille La So Fa Ti Do. Tom Brokaw likes this one. No L's to pronounce.

Pysht – pisht

It’s the sound my wife makes when I mispronounce something.

Sequim – skwim

Nobody has ever pronounced Sequim correctly just by reading it off the page.

Tshletshy -- ta-LEE-chee

Consonant heavy. Lovely place to be.

Mispronounced City Names in Oregon

Clatskanie -- Clat-skan-eye

After repeating this one, I felt as though someone was watching me.

Le Grande – Luh-Grand

Not like the 16-ounce beverage order. No need for an e at the end.

Yachats – Yaa-Haats

It’s all in the throat. In fact, once you say it, it's likely no longer in your throat.

Haceta -- ha-SEE-ta

This one didn’t strike me as too tough, but it showed up on our compilation from social media participants, so we couldn't ignore it.

Champoeg -- sham-POO-ee

Just remember oooey, gooey, Sham-Poo-ee.

We gathered enough examples of often mispronounced names, to have a couple of follow-up articles and we will publish them. Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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