What Nicknames and Mispronunciations Do You Dislike?

“Last time I was in Chi-Town I nearly froze to death and wished I were in Hotlanta. I had just flown in from Frisco and my next stop was the Big Apple. After that, I had to jet out to LaLa Land for a meeting with my agent.”

What Nicknames and Mispronunciations Do You Dislike?

That paragraph you just read was excerpted from this article which was written by Chris McGinnis of TravelSkills — and it contains terms which causes him to cringe: Chi-Town for Chicago; Hotlanta for Atlanta; Frisco for San Francisco; and Big Apple for New York. I find that many of the terms are used in the media more often than by ordinary people…

…but I thought I would both comment on — and add to — the list based on my experiences.

New York

Many nicknames have been used to refer to New York: in addition to the Big Apple, I have heard The City That Never Sleeps and Gotham — but the one I have heard the most often by far is when New York is simply called “the city.” As a person who was born and raised in New York, I have never heard someone ask “which city?” in response — even when used several states away.


Years ago, I was on business in Carson City, which is the capital city of the state of Nevada — and I was gently chastised for mispronouncing the name of the state: “It’s Ne-VAH-da, not Ne-VOH-da.”

Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas

These three states are clumped together in the middle of the United States and are not pronounced the way they appear. I have heard mi-ZUR-rah, ILL-i-NOY, and AR-ken-saw.

Does that mean that people in south Florida live in the city of my-AM-mah?

Even weirder is that the name of the Arkansas River is pronounced differently, depending on where you are located. I was not surprised when people in the state of Kansas pronounce the name of the river as it appears: AR-kan-sas, as “kansas” is in the name Arkansas. In the state of Arkansas, the river has the same pronunciation as the state.

I have never referred to Chicago as Chi-Town or Windy City; and I cannot imagine residents of Chicago taking kindly to the moniker of Second City.


No one necessarily mispronounces the name of this state; but as part of New England, it contains many cities and towns which could keep a person scratching his or her head: Peabody is PEE-buddy and not pee-BODY; Leominster is pronounced LEMON-ster; Worcester is pronounced WOOST-er; and Gloucester is GLOSS-ter.

I have never referred to Boston as “bean town.”


I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the name of this seafood and gambling mecca on the Mississippi Gulf Coast mispronounced. The correct pronunciation is Bi-LUX-ee; not Bi-LOX-ee.


If you are referring to the largest city in New Jersey, the pronunciation is indeed NEW-urk; but although the name of the city located in Delaware approximately 125 miles southwest is spelled exactly the same, the locals are quite vigilant in ensuring that you pronounce the name of their city new-ARK.


How would you pronounce Senoia? If you live in this small city in Georgia located approximately 40 miles south of Atlanta, you would pronounce it se-NOY and not se-NOY-a, which might earn a one-way ticket out of town.


This is a special pet peeve of mine. Yes, the correct pronunciation of this city — whether you are in Indiana or California — is indeed KAR-mull; but I cringe when I hear someone pronounce the word caramel the same way. Yes, either pronunciation is technically officially acceptable; but I prefer KAH-ruh-mell for the pronunciation of the sweet treat.


This is by no means a comprehensive list — rather, these are examples which immediately came to my mind — and I do not necessarily dislike them myself.

If you have been reading The Gate for a long time, you probably know that I eschew the use of nicknames — such as blog, app and meds — and the same holds true for the nicknames and mispronunciations of places around the world.

I can only imagine how many more locations you can add to this list in the Comments section below…

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

10 thoughts on “What Nicknames and Mispronunciations Do You Dislike?”

  1. Matt says:

    Anytime a pilot says we’re headed to “Oak City’ on flights into Oklahoma City. No one from OKC has ever called it “Oak City’”.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I was just in Oklahoma City — not for the first time — and I never heard that nickname, Matt.

  2. DaninMCI says:

    Fun stuff. Most of the time I think locals like to pronounce places a certain way just so they know if you’re not from there. Even better is national weather forcasters or politicians on TV that must work very hard on these issues yet it’s still obvious they don’t really say it right anyway. Missouri is a good one for example. There is this small area that pronounces it mi-ZUR-ah versus Mi-zur-Ee so when folks around that area hear the mi-ZUR-ah from a politician they know they have been in DC too long and are trying to act like a local in a starched Carhardt jacket feeding cattle or whatever. Versailles Missouri is the best. It’s a small rural town that most would call Ver-Sigh but locals say Verrr-Sails 🙂

    Don’t even get started on Wash-ing-ton versus Wersh-ing-ton

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      If I recall correctly, DaninMCI, the people of Versailles, Indiana have a similar pronunciation — but there is a whole other story attached to that for me. I will tell it one day.

      If what you say is true about politicians and the pronunciation of the name of the state — with MCI in your name, you would definitely know better — I would not be the least bit surprised.

      Wersh-ing-ton? I never heard that one…

  3. Ric Garrido says:

    I take exception to KAR-mull for Carmel, California. Around here in Central Coast California both syllables receive equal stress.

    Pronounced car-mel

    1. ap says:

      Yup, the California city is, indeed, car-mell

      What’s wrong with the Illinois pronunciation?

      The one that gets me is Louisville – pronounced LOU-vull by the natives – Definitely not LOU-ee-vill

      1. Brian Cohen says:

        I have heard that same pronunciation pertaining to Louisville, ap — which reminded me of all of the different pronunciations for New Orleans: New Orleens? New Orlinns? N’awlins? New OR-lee-ans?

        I have also heard LOSE-eeanna for Louisiana…

    2. Brian Cohen says:

      I sit corrected, Ric Garrido; but that still does not affect the whole caramel pronunciation thing.

  4. As someone raised in the Dallas, Texas area I’ve never been a big fan of “The Big D,” which is probably our biggest nickname. I’m also not a fan of the term “Metroplex,” which is used mostly by locals to describe the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area (9,286 square miles and 6.4 million people).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have heard Metroplex far more often than The Big D, AndrewOnTheRoad; and I never understood from where that nickname came.

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