Famous Names You’ve Been Saying Wrong And You Didn’t Even Know It

January 2, 2014  |  
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As someone whose last name is Uwumarogie, I know the struggle of trying to get people to pronounce your name right. But in Hollywood, it comes with the territory, and often, famous folks just let people pronounce their surnames and first names however they want–as long as they support their projects. But since folks just learned how to say Zach Galifianakis’ name and Quvenzhané Wallis’, we thought we’d help you out with a few others you might be saying wrong.

Karrueche Tran

Though I think quite a few people know how to say this woman’s name right but choose to say it wrong to be mean (i.e., the folks who call her “Coochie Tran”), Chris Brown’s girlfriend (who you can say is at least infamous if not famous) pronounces her name “kuh-roo-chee.”

Check out a clip of her introducing herself at the 3:00 mark.


Serge Ibaka

Only Keri Hilson needs to know how to say it right because she’s his lady, but the Oklahoma City Thunder player actually pronounces his name “serge i-BOCKA, not “ser-gay ee-bocka” like some people say. Whatever his name is, he’s fine, but listen closely:


Demi Moore

Surprisingly, it’s not pronounced Deh-me or duh-me, even though many of us have been saying the name of the actress like that. It’s actually “De-mee.” If you say it quick, it makes sense and sounds plausible. For further breakdown, listen below:


Theresa Guidice

For all the folks who thought the Real Housewife of New Jersey star had a name that sounded like JEW-dice, it’s been clarified that it’s actually totally different. Here’s what she said about it on her Facebook page:

To answer all your questions about my last name, I have no idea why they pronounced it so weird on CA last night. People Americanize it to “Jew-dice” and we just go with it, but I gave the correct Italian pronunciation in Skinny Italian–“Judy Chay.” You can say either but I like the Italian better. xx


Crazy, right? But we’ve been saying the Bajan singer’s name a lot differently than she says it herself. Instead of it sounding like “ree-onna,” it’s more of a “ree-ann-a.” Could be a Carribean accent thing, but like many celebs, the singer doesn’t trip about the way the rest of us say it wrong.


Djimon Honsou

Djimon Honsou has been on quite a few sexiest man lists over the years, but how the Benin brotha’s name looks and how it is pronounced are two totally different things. His first name is pronounced “jy-mun” and his last is “hawn-soo.”


Joaquin Phoenix

The actor and star of movies like Gladiator, Walk The Line and the new film Her has a name that my co-worker pronounces as Jaka-win (LOL!), but his name is actually pronounced Wah-KEEN FEE-nix.


Don’t laugh at me, but for years I used to never say this singer’s name because I didn’t know what to call it. But the daughter of a South African father and Israeli Jewish mom pronounces her name “gwa-puh-LAY.” Check her out pronouncing her name at the 00:13 mark below:


Meshell Ndegecello

If you really want to keep it real, the singer’s real name is Michelle Lynn Johnson…but she changed her name at the age of 17 to  Meshell Ndegecello, and IT is pronounced: mē-SHEL ‘n-DĀ-gā-ō-CHEL-ō (aka, n-day-gay-O-chello).

Mila Jovovich

The daughter of Serbian and Russian parents, and the star of The Fifth Element and the Resident Evil franchise actually silences the first J in her last name. It’s actually “mee-luh yo-vo-vich.” The actress has joked about how complex it can be at times for her to even pronounce her own name…well, when she’s a little intoxicated at least. “There’s many times where even I, at certain points in the evening, after a few drinks, can’t pronounce my own surname.”

Marsha Ambrosius

I think the British accent can kind of get people mistaken on the name of the singer, because it shounds like Ambro-jus, but she pronounces it Marsha “am-bro-shus.” She breaks it down for us in the first few seconds of the clip below:


Jhene Aiko

The singer who is currently blowing up all over my iPod and showing up on Drake’s “From Time” track pronounces her name, “juh-nay i-ee-co.”


Lupita Nyong’o

The 12 Years a Slave star, current Golden Globe nominee for her work as Patsey in the movie, and Kenyan beauty pronounces her name just as you probably thought and just how it’s pronounced: “lew-pita in-yawn-go.”


Chiwetel Ejiofor

The Brit-born Nigerian actor and also a Golden Globe nominee for his work in 12 Years a Slave pronounces his name, “chew-i-tell edge-io-four.”


Josh Duhamel

The husband of Fergie and the actor some know from the Transformers franchise and others know for All My Children (Ryan Leo du Pres fans in the house!?) pronounces his name Josh “dew-mel.” No “dew-ham-ul.”

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