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T10T: Names with Difficult, Strange, and/or Multiple Pronunciations

May 22, 2018

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s prompt was actually to list 10 of the best character names, but I had a hard time narrowing it down, so I went with 10 names that I think are noteworthy for being difficult to pronounce, a bit strange, or even just because people tend to pronounce them so differently (like the first one on this list, which I feel like people are VERY divided on)!

I used to think I could just check the audiobooks for pronunciations, until I learned that there are many authors who say their narrators don’t pronounce the characters’ names correctly!


Image result for rhysand

1. Rhysand
I know a lot of people will feel me on this one! I thought it was Reese-and from the beginning, but then I kept hearing booktubers say “Rice-and” and it really made me doubt myself! I was relieved when I learned my original pronunciation was how the author says it.
Book/Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses series


Image result for rhy maresh

2. Rhy Maresh
I read A Darker Shade of Magic after reading the first 2 Court books, and I guess I subconsciously associated the names, because I was saying “Ree” for months before I learned it’s “Rye” (rhymes with “why”)!
Book/Series: Shades of Magic series


Image result for laurent captive prince

3. Laurent of Vere
I’m still a little bit uncertain on this one. Is it like Lauren, but with a “t” at the end, or is it the French pronunciation? (I think the latter!)
Book/Series: Captive Prince trilogy


Image result for zelie adebola

4. Zélie Adebola
Is it “Zell-ee” or “Zee-lee”?
Book/Series: Legacy of Orïsha series


Image result for tarquin acomaf

5. Tarquin
I’m torn on this one: “Tar-kin” or “Tar-kwin”? I always say the first one, but some of my friends say the latter because of the “qui” (like quit, quick, etc).
Book/Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses series


Image result for matthias helvar

6. Matthias Helvar
I’ve known several people named Matthias in my life, and several of them pronounced it differently, so I’m torn between “Math-ee-us” or “Math-eye-us” (how I usually pronounce it).
Book/Series: Six of Crows series


Image result for elian to kill a kingdom

7. Prince Elian
“Ell-ee-ahn”? “Eel-ee-ahn”? “Eel-ee-uhn”?
Book/Series: To Kill a Kingdom


Image result for circe fanart madeline miller

8. Circe
I have always pronounced it “Sir-say”, but lately I’m hearing a lot of people say “Sir-see” or “Sirs” – popular opinion on this one?
Book/Series: Circe


Image result for wild beauty fan art anna marie mclemore

9. Nomeolvides
This is technically the surname of the women in Wild Beauty, but this is one that I struggle a lot with (partially due to fear of butchering it).
Book/Series: Wild Beauty


10. …?
Okay, I lied. This is more of a Top Nine Tuesday, because I actually couldn’t think of any more names for this one!


How do you pronounce these characters’ names?


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No Comments

  • Reply Lauren @ Always Me May 22, 2018 at 12:15 am

    I’m reading Children of Blood and Bone right now and I’ve been saying Zay-lee myself. As for Matthias – I say Mat-ee-us simply because I went to school with a guy who said his name that way and that’s what has stuck with me.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:44 am

      Mat-ee-us is the pronunciation I forgot to put in my list! How could I forget – a friend of mine in high school pronounced his name like that, hah!

  • Reply Tamika @paperback & flick chick May 22, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I love what you did with this topic. I think its fascinating how one word can be read/ pronounced in so many different ways! I am a strange one when it comes to Rhysand. I pronounce it “Rice-and” or the wrong way yet I pronounce Rhys as “Reese” right from the get go that’s just how I read it. I also am part of the “Tar-kwin” club. 🙂

  • Reply ChrissiReads May 22, 2018 at 12:47 am

    Names can be such a funny thing! I love it when the author gives us a hint of how to pronounce it within the story.

  • Reply bookscentsblog May 22, 2018 at 12:49 am

    Ooh interesting! I say math-eye-us and the funny thing is, it probably is something like sir-say or sir-see but i think I initially was saying “serk” in my head. oops!! I also say “rye” for rhy maresh!

  • Reply Kelly | Another Book in the Wall May 22, 2018 at 2:09 am

    I’m the absolute worst without pronouncing names. I always assumed Matthias was the second pronunciation, but what do I know? Hahaha. Great list! 💕

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:48 am

      Bahaha thank you, love! You are not alone in struggling with those names, as you can see! ♥

  • Reply Annemieke May 22, 2018 at 2:34 am

    I will forever think Rice-sand when I see his name online. I’m not going to read the books anyway haha. I don’t look up how the authors pronounce the name. Once I’ve had one in my head I can’t get it out haha.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:48 am

      Bahaha understandable! It took me weeks to get used to the correct pronunciation of Rhy after I learned it!

  • Reply Grainne (Darkly Whimsical Reader) May 22, 2018 at 2:45 am

    This is wonderful! And as someone with a commonly mispronounced name I feel for these characters 😂

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:49 am

      Oh my goodness, isn’t that frustrating?! I’m lucky in my name being easy to pronounce, but people constantly misspell it (which surprises me to no end), so I can only imagine!

  • Reply Viki May 22, 2018 at 3:13 am

    Great list! I did a similar one this week but I love how you found character arts for your choices. Awesome idea!
    Here is my list: https://fantasyraiders.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/top-ten-tuesday-how-do-you-pronounce-it-names/#more-8421

  • Reply Amber May 22, 2018 at 4:23 am

    Re: #1 and #2 – this is exactly why we all have trouble with names! Both start with “Rhy” and both are pronounced differently by the authors! XD I’m personally with V. E. Schwab, but I’m also not the type to get bent over pronunciations.
    #4 – I listened to the audiobook and it was pronounced Zay-lee. 🙂
    Cannot even begin to pronounce the Wild Beauty one. O.o

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:50 am

      Lmao exactly! It’s so weird to me how Rhy/Rhys is becoming such a popular name, especially in YA but even in adult fantasy too, but someone told me recently that it’s a super common name in… Scotland, I think? Ireland? One of those two! So that made a little more sense to me once I knew that!

  • Reply Kayleigh @ My Endless Shelf May 22, 2018 at 4:43 am

    I absolutely love what you did with this topic!! I’ve had the same thoughts as you with almost all of these names lol my partner read Spellslinger and whilst I pronounce Reichis the squirrel cat as (Rye-cuss), he pronounces it (Righteous) lol

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:51 am

      Thank you so much! Oh, wow, Spellslinger is on my TBR and that is an interesting one! I personally would go with your pronunciation, that’s how I “heard” it in my head when I first started reading your comment lmao!

  • Reply Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews May 22, 2018 at 5:18 am

    It’s so funny sometimes when I read books and come across names that are very unusual – because I totally go through the different ways those names could be pronounced. And usually, I stick with one that’s not correct 🙂 And then, if I listen to the audiobook, I’m all confused.
    Great list, Destiny 🙂 Even if you only had nine 😉

  • Reply flippingthruthepages May 22, 2018 at 7:02 am

    I loved the twist that you have put today. I have read two of these books. I pronounce Zélie Adebola as “Zell-ee” myself. And for Prince Elian, I pronounce Eli-aan 🙂
    I think authors should put a list of character and places pronunciations at the back of the book 😛
    My TTT: http://flippingthruthepages.com/2018/05/ten-diverse-books-of-2018-on-my-tbr-with-character-names-in-the-title/

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:52 am

      Thank you so much! OMG, I agree – I freaking love pronunciation guides but they’re so rare haha!

  • Reply tasya @ the literary huntress May 22, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I pronounce Circe just like Cersei (you know, the lannister :D), but Rhy confounded me too!

  • Reply Joann Downie (@DownieJoann) May 22, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Wow you picked some unique names, how terrific!! I love the pics you put with the names, very nice!!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:55 am

      Thank you so much! 😀 I wish I could have found fanart for all of them, but at least I got close!

  • Reply whitreadslit May 22, 2018 at 9:15 am

    These are hard ones! I just got finished reading To Kill A Kingdom, and I was pronouncing it El-ee-ahn in my head.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:56 am

      It’s funny because that’s how I pronounced it when I was reading it, too! And then, for some reason that I don’t know, I’ve caught myself lately pronounced it “Eel-ee-uhn” – no idea why!

  • Reply Barb (boxermommyreads) May 22, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Those fantasy names will get you every time. However, I tend to pronounce most of them as you do. You would think that before doing an audio book, someone would check with the author to assure the pronunciation is correct.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:56 am

      Yessss, you would think! I know if I was the narrator, I’d want to be able to sit down and go through all of the confusing names with the author first, haha.

  • Reply iloveheartlandx May 22, 2018 at 10:55 am

    My brain still stubbornly refuses to recognise Rhy’s name as “Rhy” rather than “Ree”, it just doesn’t feel right to me! I never realise I’m pronouncing a name wrong till I hear someone else say it, and even then, I’m pretty stubborn and refuse to change my ways.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/top-ten-tuesday-160/

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:57 am

      Don’t worry, I still catch myself thinking “ree” sometimes too!

      • Reply iloveheartlandx May 25, 2018 at 10:41 am

        I’m glad I’m not alone! I have tried but once a pronunciation is in my brain, it’s kinda stuck there!

  • Reply camillesbookishadventures May 22, 2018 at 11:14 am

    My cousin is called Zélie and it’s pronounced Zay-lee. It’s French.

  • Reply Aymee (@asphaltcowgrrl) May 22, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Fantasy novels can be the bane of my existence when it comes to names! I was always amused at the way J. K. Rowling worked in the pronunciation of Hermoine’s name.
    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:58 am

      Hermione’s is one that I honestly NEVER would have known how to pronounce without the films, honestly! I always remember, as a kid, originally thinking her name was “Her-me-own” lol!

  • Reply lifewithallthebooks May 22, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I was confused about Circe for ages! I say it ‘sirs-say’ but who knows! Great list! 💛
    My TTT: https://lifewithallthebooks.com/2018/05/22/top-ten-tuesday-best-character-names/

  • Reply danidewey May 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I love the fan art you chose for all of these! Great idea 🙂
    Dani @ The Restricted Section

  • Reply RedRocketPanda May 22, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    I pronounce Rhysand as Rye-sand but my partner reads it as Reece-and.
    Zelie I say “zel-ay”
    And Circe I have always said as “Ser-see”

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:59 am

      Bahaha, do you and your partner fuss over the pronunciation? 😛 Sometimes Terry will listen to audiobooks while I read the physical one for our buddy reads, and I’ll actually ask him how something is pronounced if I can’t figure it out!

  • Reply emmareadstoomuch May 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    OMG MY MIND IS EXPLODING AT THIS. especially the “reese-and” versus “rice-and” – i’ve always mentally pronounced it as the latter!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 12:59 am

      I feel like most people do! I always wonder if Sarah ever considered changing the pronunciation to suit the fandom, lmao

  • Reply journeyintobooks May 22, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Great post, I have no idea how to pronounce Nomeolvides and pronounce Circe as sir-see 😀

  • Reply the (book) supplier May 22, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    On the Wild Beauty tip, break it down into three words: No me olvides – it’s Spanish for don’t forget me. So it’d be something like no-may-ole-vee-days.
    eli @ the (book) supplier
    My TTT

  • Reply abookandacup May 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I love how a lot of names are said in the French way haha it’s easier for me 😉
    My top ten: https://abookandacup.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/top-ten-tuesday-les-meilleurs-noms-de-personnages/

  • Reply Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek May 22, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Love your spin on this week’s topic Destiny! I come across this problem a lot actually, especially in fantasy books. The one that really caught my eye here was Circe because I hear soooo many different pronunciations of this one! I personally pronounce it “Sir-See” but when I Googled the correct pronunciation there doesn’t seem to really be one, just a bunch of different ways! I even saw “Kir-Kee” which just doesn’t sound right to me!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 1:01 am

      Thank you! Kir-kee… I just tried saying that out loud and NOPE, if that one’s right I’ll just sit over here in my wrongness because I do not like that one lmao!

      • Reply Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek May 31, 2018 at 11:21 am

        Yes, exactly! I was trying to be all correct with it but I read that pronunciation and I thought NOPE as well. It just doesn’t sound right to me!

  • Reply Elise @thebookishactress May 22, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    the accent being there makes it sound like Zay-Lie in my head – perks of French pronunciation, lmao. and it’s Matt-I-As in the audiobooks! I’d say it like Tar-kin, but that might be Star Wars talking 😉

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 1:02 am

      That’s what I kept thinking on Zelie, too – that the accent probably meant that – so the confirmation makes me feel a lot more confident in that, bahahaha. Thanks! And good to know on Matthias’ name, that one has been bugging the hell out of me since I feel like there are so many “acceptable” pronunciations for it. I also say Tar-kin 😛

      • Reply Elise @thebookishactress May 25, 2018 at 1:06 am

        ha, I get it. the worst name ever for me to pronounce was Tobias from Divergent. I called him Toby-uss for like four years. why.

        • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 25, 2018 at 1:07 am

          TOBY-USS. OH MY GOD I’M LAUGHING OUT LOUD I love it so much!! That one was easy for me only because I grew up on the Animorphs series, and that was one of the main characters’ names!

          • Elise @thebookishactress May 26, 2018 at 10:24 pm

            OH MY GOD. for some reason I think it’s hilarious that we both learned that name from assorted books?? 😂

  • Reply Daniela Ark May 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I loved To Kill a Kingdom so much I would love to say Elian is my fav on your list but my fav has to be Zélie Adebola! I’m gonna have to read the Legacy of Orïsha! I love how you include the pronunciation. Great list Destiny!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries May 29, 2018 at 12:18 am

      Thank you, Daniela! I hope you enjoy it if you check it out – and I’m so glad you loved TKAK, too! 😀

  • Reply Awesome Blogger Award – Whit Reads Lit May 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

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  • Reply thebluemoonarchives June 12, 2018 at 7:24 am

    These are all hard to pronounce! Every character’s name from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is hard to pronounce. ~ Reet

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries June 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Haha, they really are! I only learned a couple of days ago from a friend that I’ve been mispronouncing Chaol.

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