You're Saying It Wrong: 20 Missouri Cities No One Knows How to Pronounce


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Missouri. Missuruh. Mizurah. Standard pronunciation is hard to come by in the Show-Me State.

But that's nothing compared to cities and towns in Missouri that use faux French, hick or just plain made-up pronunciations.

If you've ever been laughed at by someone for referring to Nevada, Versailles or Spokane, Missouri, using the pronunciations from their homographic sister cities, this list is for you:

1. Nevada

It's "Ne-VAY-dah." This is not Las Vegas.

2. Versailles

"Ver-SAIL-s." Ain't no castles here, so none of that French L-dropping.


3. Hayti

"Hay-Tie." Don't get mixed up with the island nation of Haiti.

4. Kimbrough

"Kim-brew," not Kim-bor-oh.

5. Bolivar


6. Spokane

In Washington State, it's Spo-can. Here in Missouri, it's "Spoe-kane."

7. Kearney

"Carney," like someone who works at a carnival.

Many more on the next page! 8. Pomme de Terre

The Pomme de Terre is a river, not a city, but its pronunciation is still bonkers. It's "puhm duh TAHR," which sounds little like the French word for potato, "POHM de tehr."


9. Lebanon

This isn't the Middle East. Over here, it's "lebuh-nun."

10. Haseltine

The real old timers call it "hazel-teen."

11. Nixa

It's pronounced with a short "I" like it's spelled, but the locals call it "Nixie."

12. Auxvasse

"Of auze," not Ox-Vahsey. Tip: When pronouncing, pretend you're saying the last two words in the movie title The Wizard of Oz.

13. Cabool

It rhymes with pool.

14. Bois D'Arc

A late addition! We forgot about this one. It's "Bo Dark." No S.

15. Bona

It's "Bah-nuh," though the locals call this teeny town "Bah-nee."

16. New Madrid

"New MAH-drid." Thanks to the kind lady at New Madrid City Hall who corrected our "MAYdrid" pronunciation.

17. Laquey

It's pronounced Lake Way.

18. Clever

It's clever, like a fox, not cleaver, like for a butcher.

19. Milan

It's "MY-luhn," not the Italian fashion hub. A reader suggests pronouncing it like you're saying "mile and a half," but stop at the "d."

20. Canalou

Wrong: "CAN-a-lou." Right: "ca-now-lou."

What did we miss? Any other pronunciations got you confused? It doesn't have to be a city. Don't even get us started on Gravois...

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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