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20 Sep 2022

Is It Nottingham or Nottingham? 13 University Names You’ve Probably Mispronounced

Whether you’re planning to study abroad or not, it’s good to have an idea of what universities are out there. This is helpful for comparing courses, rankings and even exchange programmes if they are available.

However, some universities have names that are not only difficult to spell, but also difficult to pronounce! Luckily for you, we’re here to right that wrong so that you can sound like a learned fellow when referring to these universities.

#1. University of Nottingham (UK)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Notting-ham

What it actually is: University of Nott-ing-uhm (listen here)

If you’re able to pronounce this word, you can pronounce half the cities in the UK as the Brits love naming places that end with “-ham”. Just remember, it sounds like an “uhm” instead of a slice of breakfast.

#2. University of Reading (UK) 

You may be pronouncing it: University of Reed-ing

What it actually is: University of Redd-ing (listen here)

Another UK-based university with a simple word made complicated! You’re not reading (pun intended) properly if you pronounce it as if you’re scanning a book.

#3. University of Warwick (UK)

You may be pronouncing it: University of War-wick

What it actually is: University of Worr-ik (listen here)

You may mistake the second syllable for the strip of braided cotton that holds the flame of a candle. In actual fact, the “w” is silent. This is a common pattern in a number of British places where Norwich (nohr-rich) and Chiswick (cheez-ik) have a silent “w”, but not Ipswich (ips-witch). Colour us confused!

#4. The University of Edinburgh (UK) 

You may be pronouncing it: University of Ay-deen-burg / Edin-burg

What it actually is: University of Ed-in-buh-ruh (listen here) or sometimes, Ed-in-bruh

The term Burgh (/ˈbʌrə/) is the Scot’s term for a town or a municipality. If you meet any Scottish town or city that ends with a “-burgh”, remember that it’s pronounced “buh-ruh”.

#5. Carnegie Mellon University (USA)

You may be pronouncing it: Kar-nee-ji Mell-uhn University

What it actually is: Kar-nuh-ghee Mell-uhn University (listen here)

This university based in Pittsburgh is a merger between Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. The former was established by Andrew Carnegie, a well-known Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist. Interestingly, when it comes to pronunciation, the Scottish will beg to differ, pronouncing it as “kar-NEY-ghee”.

#6. University of Gloucestershire (UK)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Glow-ces-ter-shy-uhh

What it actually is: University of Gloss-tuh-shuh (listen here)

Fancy a little tongue twister? The word itself isn’t as complicated as the spelling. Rule of thumb, the “-es” in Gloucestershire (or Worcestershire and Leicestershire) are practically invisible.

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#7. San José State University (USA)

You may be pronouncing it: San-Jho-say State University

What it actually is: San-Ho-zay State University (listen here)

The term San José means Saint Joseph in Spanish. Typically in Spanish, the letter “j” is often pronounced with a softer “h”, like with jalapeños and marijuana.

#8. University of Toronto (Canada)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Tow-rohn-tow

What it actually is: University of Tuh-rawhn-uh (listen here)

According to Canadians, pronouncing the second “t” in Toronto is a dead giveaway that you’re not a local. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to study in Canada!

#9. Lund University (Sweden)

You may be pronouncing it: Lahnd University

What it actually is: Loo-nd University (listen here)

Lund is a city located in the province of Skåne in Sweden. It means green area in Swedish and it’s a picturesque town known for its university and student life.

#10. University of Guelph (Canada)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Goo-elf / University of Goolf

What it actually is: University of Gwelf (listen here)

This Canadian university is named after its city, Guelph, in Ontario. It was a reference to the House of Welf chosen to honour King George IV, the reigning British monarch at the time. Hence, the pronunciation sounds like Welf.

#11. University of Greenwich (UK)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Green-witch

What it actually is: University of Grehn-itch (listen here)

You may be surprised to know that all the Greenwich in the world aren’t pronounced “green-witch” and have never been. It’s derived from the Old English word Grenevic, which doesn’t emphasise on the long E’s.

#12. University of Québec (Canada)

You may be pronouncing it: University of Kyu-beck

What it actually is: University of Keh-bek (listen here)

University of Québec is a French-language university located in the French province of Canada. Hence, its pronunciation is a lot closer to the French language and accent. You can either pronounce it as “keh-bek” or “kweh-bek”.

#13. Magdelen College, University of Oxford (UK)

You may be pronouncing it: Mag-duh-leen College

What it actually is: Mawd-lin College (listen here)

This constituent college of the University of Oxford was named after St Mary Magdelene. English speakers referred to her as “St. Mary Maudelayne” (or “Mawdelayne”) without the letter “g” in the 15th century, and it wasn’t until later that the “g” was reinstated. However, the old pronunciation remains, similar to Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge.

So, how many universities have you been mispronouncing? It’s okay, plenty of others have made the same blips too! Now that you know, you can start referring to these universities with confidence.

Want to improve more than just your English pronunciation? Here are simple ways you can master the English language.

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