Sorry, But You’ve Been Pronouncing These Celebrity’s Names Wrong

Anyone with a name that isn’t “John Smith” knows the struggle of having to correct others when they pronounce their name wrong. Eventually, we all get to the point where we stop correcting people and just accept that our names will never be properly pronounced.

Well, celebrities, they’re just like us! Even though they’re in the spotlight and build entire brands around their name, we’ve still been getting them wrong. We didn’t even know it was possible to mispronounce Ariana Grande’s name but we’ve all be doing it.

Do you think you’ve been saying Barbra Streisand’s name properly?

Chrissy Teigen

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The supermodel-turned-sassy Twitter commentator decided to reveal to the world that her last name isn’t pronounced TEE-ghen like we’ve all been doing for more than a decade. It’s actually TIE-ghen.

Chrissy said she used to think it was TEE-ghen until she visited some of her Norwegian family members and they revealed that even she had been saying it wrong this whole time. Even Chrissy got played by her own last name.

Saoirse Ronan

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James Corden famously told this Golden Globe award-winning actress that her name “is a mystery.” Ronan admits there’s a lot of vowels and that she’s basically heard everything but the real pronunciation. Americans are prone to calling her SAY-oar-see but it’s actually pronounced SUR-SHA.

The Irish actress is light-hearted about her name though and one time even wore a sign on The Ellen Degeneres Show that had her proper pronunciation written on it.

Gal Gadot

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Gal Gadot burst onto the mainstream movie scene when she landed the role of Wonder Woman. While on the press tour she seemed to spend half the time correcting interviews that her name isn’t pronounced Gah-dot but it’s actually GUH-dote.

Gal’s original name was Greenstein but her parents changed their last name to Gadot when they moved to Israel. When pronounced the right way, Gadot means “Riverbank” in Hebrew. We think the change is beautiful.

Coming up, this powerhouse singer can thank her brother for tricking people into mispronouncing their last name.

Zosia Mamet

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The Mad Men and Girls actress says she’s used to people mispronouncing her Jewish first name. Mamet says she’s heard everything from ZOH-see-ah, ZOH-sigh-ugh, ZOO-sha, ZOO-sigh-uh…you get the point. Well, all of those are wrong and the real way to say Mamet’s first name is ZA-sha.

Mamet told Metro Magazine that one way to remember the proper way to say it is that it “rhymes with Sasha, only slightly more ‘o’ sounding.”

Jake Gyllenhaal

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Fans of Jake and his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal are about to be shocked to find out their last name isn’t pronounced anything like JILL-en-hall. Jake revealed in an interview with Conan O’Brien that his family is of Swedish origins and that technically, the proper pronunciation of his last name is Yee-len-hey-lo.

Good luck remembering or even saying that pronunciation next time you see Jake or Maggie starring in a film.

Ariana Grande

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All of us thought we were pretty slick saying Ariana Grande’s last name like the Starbucks drink size, right? Wrong. We were all so, so wrong. Ariana herself said that she grew up saying her last name as Gran-DEE.

The change came when her older brother Frankie thought their last name was too Americanized and started saying Grawn-DAY instead. Although they are of Italian descent, their name just doesn’t reflect it.

Keep reading to see just how far Barbra Streisand went to get her name pronounced correctly.

Lupita Nyong’o

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This Kenyan-Mexican beauty has a name that perfectly matches her exotic looks, and she admits she didn’t expect a lot of people to say it right. When she first burst onto the Hollywood scene in the historical drama 12 Years a Slave, people were adding an extra syllable and pronouncing her name Lupita EN-knee-on-go.

In actuality, it’s pronounced En-YON-go, and the middle part of the surname is supposed to be emphasized. The talented actress will probably keep winning big awards, so people should learn her proper name sooner rather than later.

Ralph Fiennes

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This one looks easy, right? Wrong. Everyone calls this legendary character actor RALPH because, well, we can read and that’s exactly how it’s spelled. Well, he tricked us all because he is of Welsh descent and the Welsh version of Ralph is RAY-ff or RAFE.

Fiennes could have helped everyone out by changing the spelling of his name when he got his actor’s card but no, he wanted to watch us all suffer. Maybe they’re a little bit of Voldemort’s evil spirit in him after all.

Barbra Streisand

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Even after sixty years in the limelight, people still struggle to say Barbra Streisand’s last name correctly. Many people like to change the ‘S’ into a ‘Z’ in her last name, pronouncing it Stry-ZAND. In fact, the ‘S’ is supposed to stay and it’s really pronounced Stry-SAND.

It may seem like a minute detail to us but the singer takes her name pronunciation seriously. She even got Apple CEO, Tim Cook, to make sure Siri says her last name correctly.

The next actress actually made a YouTube video to teach her fans how to say her name.


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When you’re building a brand around one single name it’s pretty important that people get it right. Zendaya hasn’t exactly made that easy and she’s been pretty frustrated by it. She actually made a YouTube video just to tell the world that her name isn’t pronounced Zen-DYE-uh, it’s in fact Zen-DAY-uh.

The Spider-Man actress said she thinks the confusion comes from the fact people think her name is “more fancy than it is.”

Martin Scorsese

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Everyone probably feels pretty fancy when they talk about legendary director Martin Scorsese and pronounce it Scor-SAY-see. It sounds fancy and cultured when you say it like that, but sorry, Scorsese isn’t that fancy.

The real way to pronounce the director’s name is Scor-SEZ-ee. You can try using it in a sentence to help you remember. Think of something like “Scorsese sez that his favorite movie ever directed was Taxi Driver.”

Mariska Hargitay

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Fans of the show know that you don’t want to cross this Law & Order: Special Victims Unit detective, so you’d better learn how to say her name properly. Mariska seems easy enough, but thanks to the actress’ Hungarian roots, the S is an SH sound, so her first name is pronounced Mar-ISH-ka.

Hargitay’s first and middle names—Marishka Magolna—was meant to be a diminutive form of Mary Magdalene. Considering Detective Benson is the savior of sexually abused victims, we think the holy name is fitting.

Do you remember when John Travolta flubbed the name of the Broadway singer coming up?

Amanda Seyfried

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Looking at the Mamma Mia actress’s last name, you might think it’s pretty easy. I mean, the word “fried” is right in it! Well if you’ve been saying it like burgers and friends then you’re wrong. The proper pronunciation of her last name it Sigh-FRID which basically means throwing out all the rules of English that you know.

Amanda said that she’s had a lot of mispronunciations of her last name but the worst has been Say-FREED and Sig-FRIED.

Charlize Theron

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Charlize is supposed to sound like Shar-LEES, not Char-LEEZ and her last name is THAIR-in, not THUR-on. Many people forget that Mad Max actress Charlize Theron is from South Africa. The true pronunciation of both her first and last name comes out when she speaks in her South African accent.

Theron shared the true way to say her name during an interview with Jimmy Fallon and the entire audience was shook. Still, she admitted that no matter how many times she corrects people, they still get it wrong.

Idina Menzel

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This Broadway star actually has a pretty simple name to pronounce…unless you’re John Travolta. The Wicked actress is Jewish and Eastern European, so all you have to do to say her name properly is pronounce the ‘I’ like the sound ‘uh.’ That means it’s UH-dee-nuh Min-zel.

It’s so easy, yet who could forget the time Travolta butchered it when he was announcing her performance at the 2014 Oscars? He ended up publically apologizing for calling her “Adele Dazeem.”


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People have been going back and forth between the pronunciation of the Fenty beauty’s name. Have you always pronounced it Ree-ANNA or Ree-Ah-na? Rihanna finally confirmed in an interview with HLN that it’s Ree-ANNA, kind of like banana.

If you’ve been swindled into pronouncing it the fancier way all this time, don’t feel too bad. Other big-name stars like Nicki Minaj, Seth Rogan, and Taylor Swift have all said it the wrong way too.

Rachel Weisz

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This award-winning actress says her name is pretty easy to pronounce for Europeans, but Americans just don’t seem to get it. Weisz is British, but her surname is of Austrian and Jewish descent. That means the ‘W’ is pronounced like a ‘V.’ So instead of WHY-sss, it’s actually pronounced VY-ce.

Weisz says that everyone in her hometown of London seems to get it but when she makes appearances in Hollywood, her name is completely butchered.

Steve Buscemi

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Steve Buscemi might be one of the most memorable actors out there thanks to his iconic roles, but how to properly pronounce his last name clearly isn’t as memorable. Everyone always says Steve Boo-SHEM-ee. In fact, the ‘C’ in his last name is silent, so it’s actually pronounced Boo-semi.

The actual pronunciation of the Pulp Fiction actor’s name seems much more fitting. His creepy, sunken eyes must put the “BOO!” in Boo-semi.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

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It’s both difficult to write and pronounce Ejiofor’s name, but that hasn’t stopped him from laughing at people’s attempts. The 12 Years a Slave actor is British but his name is of Nigerian descent. However you try and pronounce it, it should come out as CHEW-it-tell EDGE-ee-oh-for.

Ejiofor says he was advised early on in his career to change his name if he ever wanted to become famous but he rejected the idea and said: “it’s my name, isn’t it?”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

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Anytime an American sees a J stuck at the end of a name, we get scared of how to say it and awkwardly add a J sound to the end. Many people pronounce Nikolaj’s name Nick-ol-AHJ. In reality, it’s just Nee-ko-LIE.

The trouble doesn’t end there though. This Game of Thrones actor also says his last name is commonly mispronounced, with people saying Wall-DOE instead of Wall-DOW. If you’re still confused, just call him Jaime Lannister.

Camila Cabello

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This Cuban-born “Havana” singer has been on a mission since going solo to make sure everyone knows the real pronunciation of her tricky last name. You might be inclined to pronounce the double Ls in her name but they’re actually silent. So instead of saying Kah-BELL-oh, it’s pronounced Kuh-BAY-oh.

The Y sounds in Cabello’s last name is a common sound in the Spanish and other Latin languages, but if you’re not used to the pronunciation you’d have no idea.

Melissa Benoist

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Once again, people try to make Melissa Benoist’s last name much fancier than it really is. The Supergirl actress is used to people saying Ben-WHA-st with a slightly French accent but it’s supposed to be Ben-NOIST. Yes, we mean Ben-NOIST as in ‘moist.’

Considering the fact that ‘moist’ is one of the most hated words in the English language, it might not be a bad idea for Melissa to pick up the fancier pronunciation of her last name.

Cate Blanchett

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This Australian actress might sound like she has a name fit for high French nobility, but in reality, her mother is English and Scottish while her father is an American from Texas. That’s why the ultra-Americanized version of this Cate’s last name is the correct one. That means instead of saying BLAWN-schette, it’s just BLAN-chit.

Her mother does have very distant French roots, but at the end of the day, Cate’s last name is as blue-blooded American as it gets.

Gabourey Sidibe

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Sidibe won awards for her acting debut in Precious and spent most of the time correcting people on how to say her unique name. Many people pronounce her last name SIGH-di-bee but in fact, it’s Sih-dih-BAY.

The actress said that the mispronunciation of her name actually left her with a lot of anxiety as an aspiring actor. Sidibe has said her size made her noticeable but the inability for people to remember her name left her without any confidence during her early years in Hollywood.

Milo Ventimiglia

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Long names can be daunting, but the This Is Us star admits his name is much easier to pronounce than people make it out to be. First, you have to make sure you’re saying MEE-low, not MYE-low. After you’ve mastered the easy first name, it’s all about sounding out the syllables in his last name and knowing that the ‘G’ is silent.

So, instead of saying Ven-teh-MIG-lee-uh it’s actually pronounced Ven-teh-MEAL-ee-uh.

Emily Ratajkowski

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Emily Ratajkowski and yet another example of a ‘J’ in a name that confuses Americans to no end. This American model and actress is of German, Polish, Jewish, and Irish descent, which explains all the consonants in her last name. All you have to know to nail the pronunciation is that the ‘AJ‘ is pronounced like ‘UH.’

That means if you go syllable by syllable, Emily’s last name is pronounced Ra-tuh-KOW-skee.

Noah Centineo

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Some people may not have even heard of Noah Centineo yet, but he’s the latest teen heartthrob after starring in the Netflix film To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The American actor is of Dutch and Native American descent, but his last name sounds almost Italian. Rather than pronounce it Sen-ti-KNEE-oh, it’s actually Sen-tin-AY-o.

It might sound like a small difference, but since teenage girls probably won’t shut up about him any time soon, it’s better to learn now.

Joe Manganiello

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Joe Manganiello is of Italian descent and his last name definitely sounds like it. The ‘I’ is silent, so rather than say Man-ja-NI-ello, it’s just MANG-an-ello. The Magic Mike actor is used to people mispronouncing his name though, and even made a video with Just Jared on how to pronounce his name.

Shockingly, one of the few people who gets his name right every time is his heavy-accented wife Sofia Vergara.

Ewan McGregor

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The Scottish actor’s name might seem simple, but once again, the British Isles strike with their strange pronunciation. His first name isn’t just Evan with a ‘W’, it sounds more like YOU-en.

Even his last name isn’t as easy as it looks. You don’t pronounce it MICK-Gregor, the proper Scottish way to say it is MUH-Gregor. Beware, now you know that every time you visit Scotland, Ireland, or Wales that names aren’t as they seem.

Mia Wasikowska

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The actresses of Polish descent are really making Americans work to pronounce their names. While Emily Ratajkowski had one simple letter change in her name, Mia Wasikowska’s last name doesn’t sound anything like it looks.

The Cinderella actress told W Magazine that in Polish, Ws are pronounced like Vs, and a normal ‘S’ sounds like an ‘SH.’ Altogether that means Wasikowska is pronounced Vah-shih-KOV-skuh. We’ll take her word for it.