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These Are the Most Mispronounced Towns in the U.S.

All of these small town names are total tongue-twisters.

Who hasn't looked at a map and tripped over a name of a town, city, or even state? Plenty of places have different dialects or pronunciations of their areas, and it's even more confusing when you add in regional slang. Luckily, we're here to set the record straight—and finally get to the bottom of these confusing town names, so you'll sound like a local when you're passing through. And for more words you should pronounce properly, check out the 60 Words People Pronounce Differently Across America.

Wayzata, Minnesota

Sunset over Wayzata Yacht Club on Wayzata Bay, Lake Minnetonka.
Joe Mamer Photography / Alamy

There is a right and wrong way to say Wayzata. Don't butcher it by announcing you're in "Way-zat-ah." You'll politely be corrected to call the lakefront community "Why-zet-uh." And for more grammar notes, check out the 23 Words You Need to Stop Mispronouncing.

Boerne, Texas

texas hill country

On first glance, this town in Texas Hill Country may seem like it would sound similar to the word "born." However, it's actually pronounced "Ber-nee" like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. And for other famous people whose names you should know, check out the 30 Celebrity Names You're Mispronouncing.

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Don't butcher this beautiful seaside hamlet by calling it "La Jah-la." The name is actually pronounced "La Hoy-yuh."

Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts

It's easy to get this New England town confused with your favorite BBQ sauce. But it's actually pronounced "Wuss-ter," or for locals with a Boston accent, it's lovingly referred to as "Wuss-tah."

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

beautiful overview of the lake and city of coeur d' alene

This lakeside oasis, pronounced "Core Duhlane," is the name that French traders called the Native American tribe that lived in the area. The tribe's actual title was Schitsu'umsh. And for more up-to-date information delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sequim, Washington

lavender fields in sequim, washington

This enclave on the coast of Washington is known for its gorgeous lavender fields. But if you go, make sure not to say "See-kwim" as it's actually pronounced "Skwim."

Duchesne, Utah

Beautiful small lake in the middle of the Uintah forest on a warm summer day in Duchesne County, Utah

This alpine outpost in Utah is pronounced "Doo-shayne." Its origins are French, meaning "oak tree."

Sonoita, Arizona

Panoramic view of the mountains from Sonoita Highway in Arizona during sunset

You may assume that Sonoita is a Spanish word pronounced like "So-no-ee-ta." While the name itself is of Spanish origins, it's actually called "Suh-noy-tah."

Norfolk, Virginia

harborfest in norfolk virginia

First off, make sure you're referring to the region in Virginia and not the twin town in Nebraska. And when you do talk about the Virginia port, make sure you say "Nor-fik" or "Nah-fik" instead of "Nor-foke."

Lafayette, Louisiana

lafayette, la

Thanks to that Southern drawl and the extra special sounds of New Orleans slang, if you're going to this pretty Louisiana town, make sure to say "Laff-ee-yet" instead of "Lah-fey-ette."

Kissimmee, Florida


It would be sweet if this town name sounded like you were asking for a kiss. But, despite how it may appear, it's correctly pronounced "Ka-sim-mee."

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Not only does this waterfront city have three words in its title, but they're also a bit difficult to decipher. Really, Sault is pronounced "Soo" while Ste. sounds like "Saint." Luckily, the third word is simply the name Marie.

Schenectady, New York

Schenectady, New York

This historic Dutch settlement looks like someone reached into a Scrabble bag and pulled out a bunch of random letters. So we don't blame you if you're tripping over the pronunciation. However, locals will tell you to call it "Ski-neck-tuh-dee," which is based off the land the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Nation called "Schau-naugh-ta-da," meaning "over the pine plains."

Keosauqua, Iowa

Des Moines River, Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, Van Buren County, Iowa
Clint Farlinger / Alamy

You know a small town is especially tiny if it doesn't even have a traffic light. Welcome to Keosauqua, pronounced "Kee-o-saw-kwah" after the Native American word for "big bend." The Iowan hamlet got this moniker because it sits on the curve of the Des Moines River.

Decatur, Illinois

decatur, illinois, fastest shrinking cities

There's double the trouble with this town name. Decatur—correctly pronounced as "Dee-kay-tur," not "Deck-ah-ter"—is located in the state of Illinois, which some unfortunately say with the "s" sound on the end. (It's "Ill-ah-noy.") And for more surprising words and phrases, check out the 25 Everyday Words That Used to Have Different Meanings.

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