This Is the Most Mispronounced State in the U.S.

Chelsea Bengier
·3 mins read

There are many variables that go into pronouncing a place correctly. For instance, the regional accent can be a factor or if the area is named after a Native American, French, or Spanish word. Other names are just plain tongue-twisters. This common confusion is what led Burt Vaux, a linguistic professor at the University of Cambridge, to conduct two dialect surveys, with the help of Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He focused on how people around the U.S. pronounce the state that they live in. His results were published in The New York Times and concluded that Nevada is the most mispronounced state, with a handful of other areas following close behind. If you'd like to know how you're butchering your own state name, keep reading. And for more difficult places, This Is the Most Mispronounced Town in the U.S.

7

Illinois

chicago cityscape over the river
chicago cityscape over the river

If you don't know by now, Chicagoans will be quick to correct you. Illinois has a silent "s" sound, so it should be pronounced "Il-ih-NOY," not "Ill-ih-NOISE." And for more places with hard names, This Is the Most Mispronounced City in the U.S.

6

Colorado

ridgway, colorado in fall
ridgway, colorado in fall

While you may have been saying, "Colo-RAH-doe," locals will tell you that it's better to say "Colo-RAD-oh," with the second syllable rhyming with "bad."

5

Arkansas

crag juts out among trees in arkansas
crag juts out among trees in arkansas

Arkansas has the same issue as Illinois, where the "s" is silent. But what makes the state even more of a head-scratcher is that it's pronounced differently than Kansas. Arkansas should be referred to as "AR-kan-saw" instead of "Ar-KAN-sas." And for more challenging names, these are The Most Mispronounced Places in America.

4

Missouri

The skyline of St. Louis, Missouri with the Arch in view.
The skyline of St. Louis, Missouri with the Arch in view.

This midwestern state actually has two pronunciations that are acceptable: "Mih-ZUR-ee," and "Mih-ZUR-uh." Both are hotly contested between locals. The word itself stems from a Native American term that means "town of the large canoes."

3

Florida

sunset along florida's treasure coast
sunset along florida's treasure coast

Residents of the sunshine state would argue that Florida should be pronounced with a southern accent. They tend to draw out the word as "FLAW-rih-duh" rather than focus on the hard "r" sound in "FLOOR-ih-duh." And for more up-to-date information delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

2

Oregon

bridge crossing a waterfall in a lush forest
bridge crossing a waterfall in a lush forest

We bet you've fallen for Oregon's tricky pronunciation. Originally, the state in the Pacific Northwest was most likely pronounced as "Ore-uh-GONE." However over time, that changed to "ORE-uh-gun" and today's most common pronunciation: "ORE-uh-gin," with the last syllable rhyming with "sin."

1

Nevada

famous firewave valley of fire
famous firewave valley of fire

It's surprising that Nevada is the most mispronounced state, as it seems so easy when you look at the spelling. However, according to The New York Times, many people—including some politicians on the campaign trail—have incorrectly said this state's name. It's actually pronounced "Ne-VAD-uh," not "Ne-VAH-duh." And for more regional terms you should know, check out the 60 Words People Pronounce Differently Across America.