29+ Celebrity Names We've Been Pronouncing Wrong
| LAST UPDATE 05/03/2022
These stars are so well-known that they've become household names. And that's exactly why we were amazed to learn we've been saying their names wrong! Here are some of the most unexpected mispronunciations in Hollywood.
As one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, we didn't even imagine it was possible we would have been saying her name wrong. But as Ariana Grande revealed in a recent interview, that is exactly the case.
In August 2018, she explained that although everyone is saying it wrong, it's because that's how she introduced herself. While we all say Grande like the Starbucks drink size, she revealed it was originally Gran-DEE. That was until her brother convinced the family to change it to Gran-DAY - and we all went from there!
"My name is Kesha. Keh-sha," the singer said on TikTok. "Not Keisha. Not Ketchup. Kesha." While some celebs choose to take the more humorous approach to their name being mispronounced, Kesha's tone seems a little fed-up with the mistakes. TBH, we'd also get annoyed if people were calling us ketchup.
The singer's mom also took to social media to clarify the origin of the name. "Kesha's actually a Hungarian family name...the name is actually pronounced Ket-ta-cha in Hungarian, and so I decided to make it easier and to make it Kesha." Ket-ta-cha, on the other hand, does sound like a condiment...
For many celebrities on this list, we may be pronouncing their names wrong - but so are the stars themselves! Take Justin Theroux, for example. During an interview with Apple TV+, the actor's uncle, Paul Theroux, spoke about their joint project, The Mosquito Coast, and revealed we've all got it wrong.
"The main character is played by Justin Theroux, my nephew," Paul Theroux explained about the screen adaptation of his book. Then he began to make fun of his nephew and how he introduces himself. "Sometimes he calls himself Justin tha-row. It's a French name, it's Tha-roo," he laughed.
She may be part of the most famous family in showbusiness, but believe it or not, we've been saying her name wrong - despite the fact it's hard to go anywhere without hearing it! TV host Andy Cohen who has long had a close relationship with the Kardashian gang, shed some light on the matter.
"It's Khlo-ay," Cohen told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. "Khlo-ay is the name. There's a little accent over the name." Does Khloé know this? We're sure we've never heard her pronounce her name like this. Guess we will have to watch KUWTK one more time to be sure...
We've been confidently saying Chrissy Teigen's name as Tee-Gan for years - mainly in reference to her hilarious Tweets and incredible cookbook. So it came as a real surprise to see her name on this list. We could have sworn we've heard her pronounce it like that too?
In a bombshell video on Twitter, the star revealed her truth in her classic comedic style. "I'm tired of living this lie. It's Tie-Gan, isn't it, mom" she announced, hilariously looking to her mom for further confirmation. It seems she had been knowingly misleading us all this time.
Amanda Seyfried's name is one of those where we're almost meant to ignore the spelling used and suggest something similar. Although most of us have been pronouncing it as seen on paper, AKA Say-Fried, the Mamma Mia actress disclosed it's actually Sigh-Fred.
Her name pronunciation is so confusing and controversial that even the family members can't agree on how to say it. During an interview in 2012, the actress admitted her sister does pronounce it differently. That's one way to avoid the attention that comes with being the sister of a Hollywood star!
Again, we're throwing everything we learned in school out the window to say Isla Fisher's name. Like the word Island, which includes a silent S, the Australian actress' name is pronounced Eye-La. We're proud to admit this one we have been saying right. Just us?
Isla has famously remained tight-lipped over the names of her children, which she shares with her hilarious husband, Sasha Baron Cohen. We're hoping she learned from her own experiences and gave her children easy-to-pronounce names. Honestly, it must be tiring to correct people.
With four of the five vowels included in her name, Saoirse has spent a considerable percentage of her career telling people how to say it. In fact, there is a collection of interviews with her explaining it. On the Ellen DeGeneres Show, she clarified it is pronounced Sur-Sha.
In an interview with James Corden, the actress joked that she'd heard everything but how her name is meant to be said. She then told James she was once picked up at an airport with a taxi sign for Shelley Ronan! Umm...is she sure that was meant for her?
While we've got the Joe part down (although we're even doubting that at this point!), the Magic Mike star's last name is a little more confusing to say. "People are just always throwing R's in it, Mangarello," the actor joked during an interview with Just Jared in June 2014.
The handsome actor decided to use this moment to clear it up once and for all. "Hi, I'm Joe Mang-AH-Nello," he said, spelling it out in black and white for his fans. Wow, we're not sure how we were saying it before, but it definitely wasn't that. Sorry, Joe!
A very common mistaken pronunciation is the nameEva Mendes. While the obvious way to say it would appear to be Ee-va, based on the "E," the actress broke the hearts of her Eva-named fans when she revealed she pronounces it as Ay-Va. The "E," it seems, is there just to confuse us.
During the actress's visit to the Instagram New York headquarters, an excited Eva Chen uploaded footage of the pair to her stories with the caption "EVA Squared!!" Sadly, Mendes then broke the news that although they spell their names the same, they say them differently. Ouch.
This designer brand, named after its creator Ralph Lauren has long been the subject of major debate. Is it Laur-En or LAU-ren? Many argue that the pronunciation is based on location, with the British exotically saying it as Laur-EN. But what does the brand have to say on the matter?
In a hilarious Twitter post from 2016, a user tweeted a picture of a letter she received back in 2004 from the General Manager at Ralph Lauren after she inquired on the matter. "It is LAUren, like a girl's name," he wrote, clearing up the matter for good. Now that is called taking initiative.
Bursting into fame as the lovable young actress in The Parent Trap and then taking over headlines as a more troubled adult, Lindsay Lohan grew up in the public eye. Therefore, we all had no doubt we were saying her name correctly all this time. Surely, she would have said something by now?
So, when the actress joined TikTok in 2022 and introduced herself as Lindsay Lo-Wen in her debut video, she had everyone talking. "Have I been pronouncing your name wrong my entire life? I thought it was LoHAAAN," wrote one comment on behalf of us all. Wow.
Alicia Silverstone cleverly used a TikTok trend to tell the world we've been getting her name wrong. The 2021 challenge instructs users to "Tell me what your name is and then tell me what people mispronounce it as." "My name is Ali-SEE-yuh ... not Alee-Sha," the actress responded.
The star went on to explain that while she doesn't mind how fans pronounce her name, her mother wants people to stick with how she named her. "It doesn't bother me, though! But my sweet mama didn't like it... so for her... get it right! Ali-SEE-yuh," she joked. Noted.
Zendaya is here to prove that one can be the biggest star on the planet, and people will still say their name wrong. Moreover, even having just one name won't help! "There's been a little bit of debate and confusion surrounding the pronunciation of my name. So I'm here to settle it," she said in a Huffington Post video.
"My name is not Zen-Die-Ya. My name is Zen-DAY-uh," she continued. "It's very phonetic," she explained. As for the meaning? Well, there isn't one. "It's half-real, half made up, so technically, it really doesn't mean anything, but it's derived from a word which means to give thanks."
We've all been referring to her as RiRi for so long that it seems we've all forgotten, or never knew, how to say her name. Although we've been innocently saying her name as it's spelled and pronouncing each letter to say "Ri-ha-na," the Diamonds singer confirmed otherwise.
In an interview with AJ Hamer, the Fenty Beauty founder explained that although she has not bothered to correct people in the past, many have been saying it wrong. "It is REE-anna," she told him. Her hit song What's My Name now makes a lot more sense...
When Kaley Cuoco heard Tanya Rad butcher the pronunciation of her name, she had no choice but to crash her interview with Ryan Seacrest to correct her. "I can't say her last name for the life of me," Tanya admitted to the radio host before attempting a range of options for how to say it.
That's when Kaley herself jumps on the line. "I am so mad you couldn't say my last name; I had to call in," she teased. Thankfully, the Big Bang Theory actress clarified she's used to the mistake. "It's been going on my whole life," she said. "Kwow-Ko means Cook," she added, showing off exactly how it's said.
Israeli-born Gal Gadot is the incredible actress behind the blockbuster movie Wonder Woman. But, even superheroes cannot escape people saying their names wrong. While so many stars on this list do have a silent letter in their name, Gal's surprisingly does not.
It seems we are meant to pronounce the "T" at the end of her last name. Correcting Jimmy Kimmel during an interview, she spelled it all out for us. "Gahl Guh-DOT," she said. "It means riverbank, and Gal means wave," she added. "Maybe you should have been Aqua Girl," replied Jimmy. LOL.
There are so many "I"'s in Zach Galifianakis's last name that it's making us dizzy. Unfortunately, there's no shortcut to saying this name, and careful care needs to be taken to get it right. GAL-a-fa-NAK-is is believed to be the way to do it right. For those still unsure, we have a trick...
Check out the song Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae, where they mention the actor in reference to a strange tattoo and get the pronunciation down perfect. When in doubt, listen to this song on repeat, and the name will begin to slip off the tongue with ease.
Most passionate Harry Potter movie fans will be quick to name Ralph Fiennes as the one responsible for bringing Lord Voldemort to life on the big screen. However, most will probably say the actor's name wrong in the process. While it seems straightforward on paper, it's actually the opposite.
One of the most surprising entries on this list, we were shocked to discover it is pronounced Ray-F Fines. Despite many people pronouncing it wrong over the years, the actor told The Hollywood Reporter he'd never give in to the public pronunciation as he wants to honor the way his step-grandfather said it.
Daniel Kaluuya rose to fame with his fantastic performance in the movie Get Out, where he played an American photographer named Chris. After all the work the actor put in to perfect the accent, it must have seemed like a slap in the face when no one pronounced his last name correctly in return.
When Daniel starred in Black Panther, and people started to properly pronounce his last name, the actor told GQ that's what he knew he had finally made it big. "People started knowing how to pronounce my surname. Like, how has that happened?" he said. It's Kuh-LOO-ya for those still unsure.
This one is honestly mind-blowing. Believe it or not, this Swedish last name is not pronounced with a hard "G" or a soft "G." So, what option is left? A "Y," apparently. In an interview with Conan O'Brien, the actor tirelessly tried to teach the interviewer how to say it.
"It's Yee-Len-Hey-Lo," he told Conan after hearing his inaccurate reading. "The only two places my name is pronounced correctly is in Sweden and in IKEA," laughed the actor. We tried, but we might just stick with the way we were saying it before. Can we be blamed?
When she won the Oscar for best actress for her supporting role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong'o became an overnight celebrity with her name the talk of the town. Lupita, everyone seemed to be able to pronounce - "Loopita." Nyong'o? Unfortunately, that part didn't catch on as well.
Lupita heard so many different versions of her last name she decided to record a tutorial video and post it on Instagram. With the caption, "How to pronounce my name. Thank you, @noaskye22, for this amazing idea," she mouthed it clearly with her lips. "LOO-pita Nee-Yong-OH," she clarified.
Milo Ventimiglia really landed it tough in the naming department. Not only is his last name difficult to pronounce, but his first name has multiple sounding options too. It's pretty impressive that he managed to make it this far in Hollywood, considering.
The This Is Us actor had a trusty trick to help us out. "You take the 'g' out and say it phonetically; that's how you say it," he told E! News. As for the first name, he is seen introducing himself in interviews as My-Low. Put it all together, and we've got My-Low Ven-ti-me-lee-ah.
Poor Camilla. People are constantly mispronouncing her name, and she is always so polite about it. Despite correcting multiple interview hosts, it was her interview with Capital FM that highlighted how bad the situation is. After being called "Ca-meeya Ca-buy-o" by the host, she kindly spelled it out again.
When a controversial video circulated of a certain E! News anchor suggesting the singer drop her last name entirely as it's too hard to pronounce, fans were not happy that the Latina singer was put in this position. It's really not that hard, people. Say after us, Cam-EE-la Cab-AY-o. See? Easy.
Introduced by Jimmy Fallon as Shar-LEES THAIR-in, the talk-show host begins the interview by confirming he has said her name correctly. "It's not just correct; it's like music to my ears, so beautiful!" she gushed in response. "Everyone says Therown," Jimmy clarified.
"They screw it up!" the Bombshell actress teased. "I almost want to make an audiotape on how to pronounce my name, but I want you to record it," she told Jimmy. Although we feel bad for saying it wrong all this time, it was comforting to hear fellow actor Liam Neeson can't master it either! It's a hard one!
When Emily Ratajkowski sat down for the Wired Autocomplete Interview to answer the most commonly googled questions about her, one question would inevitably appear. "How is Emily Ratajkowski's name pronounced?" read her co-star Aaron Paul, so fluently it seemed like a silly question.
"You actually said it right, Rat-uh-cow-ski. The J is silent," she explained. Perhaps to confuse us further, the supermodel actress provided an alternative option. "If you're saying it in Polish, it's Ra-ta-Kofsky," she added. Like many others on this list, Emily revealed she was told to change it and refused.
Throughout her successful acting career, Rachel Weisz has heard every version of her name but the correct one. In a 2017 interview with The JC, she said, “In America, they say ‘Weiss,’ ‘Wise,’ ‘Wooz,’ ‘Waz.’ I would still love to change the w to a v, so people say it right. I’m childish about it. I want Veisz!”
Due to the fact that the name was so hard to pronounce, at nineteen years old, Rachel's agents actually suggested she change it to help people out. Thankfully, she chose to ignore their advice and hold on to her Jewish identity, which she is so proud of.
Native English speakers have long struggled with the "Y" sound of the Spanish "J," so it comes as no surprise many have struggled with this very famous actor's name. Joaquin Phoenix, born in Puerto Rico, took over the Hollywood award ceremonies for his portrayal of The Joker - and it was here we learned how to say it correctly.
"The Oscar goes to...Waa-KEEN Fee-nix" announced Olivia Colman. Despite this now positive association with the name, the actor has not always been a fan, deciding to call himself Leaf at age four. When he turned 16, he changed it back. We guess Leaf just didn't sound as Oscar-worthy.
Demi Moore and Demi Lovato may both be mega-famous stars with the same name, but they differ greatly in how they pronounce it. The younger readers here who may have discovered Demi Lovato first on the Disney Channel will be surprised to learn that Demi Moore is not another DE-me.
Instead, Moore goes by De-MEE, with a stronger emphasis on the Me. Don't want to just take our word for it? During the hilarious Comedy Central roast of her ex-husband Bruce Willis, Demi introduced herself. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm De-MEE Moore." Well, there's no arguing with that.
While we thought we were in the clear with the pronunciation of this name, it turns out John Travolta isn't the only one saying Idina Menzel's name wrong. While we usually go for the literal reading unless told otherwise, in this case, well, we would be wrong.
According to multiple sources, it's pronounced uh-dee-NUH min-zel. The most surprising part is that the first "I" is read like an extended "uh." Why not just spell it with an "A" is the obvious follow-up question? Apparently, having a complicated name is a celebrity requirement nowadays.