[separator style_type="" top_margin="-55" bottom_margin="" sep_color="" icon="" width="" class="" id=""]
Blog-Horrible London Place Names

10 Horrible London Place Names

What is it about London place names that makes them so difficult to pronounce? So Big Ben /bɪg ben/ is pretty easy, and as long as you miss the first /t/ in Westminster /wesmɪnstə/ it should roll off the tongue nicely. But what if you need to go to Tottenham Court Road, or Leicester Square? Well, no need to worry any longer – here are Pronunciation Studio’s 10 horrible London place names and how to pronounce them:

1. Borough Market

The first stop in London for foodies, don’t let the OUGH spelling confuse you, that’s just a schwa.

/ˈbʌrə ˈmɑːkɪt/

2. Greenwich

Home to the Maritime Museum, some lovely river walks and the Cutty Sark /kʌti sɑːk/, of course.  But don’t say the ‘w’ or you’ll be talking about witches!


3. Leicester Square

Slap bang in the centre of London, we all end up there at some point. Don’t say the ‘ce’ in Leicester or the ‘r’ in Square:

/ˈlestə ˈskweə/

4. British Museum

It’s home to ancient artefacts from all over the world. The word ‘museum’ is also home to a /z/ sound!

/ˈbrɪtɪʃ mjuːˈziːəm/

5. Buckingham Palace

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without popping in to see the Queen, would it? But be careful not to say the  ‘h’ or a /g/ in Buckingham.

/ˈbʌkɪŋəm ˈpælɪs/

6. Southwark

The Tate Modern art gallery is one of London’s most visited attractions. Unfortunately, it’s in Southwark and that is not pronounced ‘South walk’.


7. Soho

It’s time for a night on the tiles, so you head on down to Soho, but it’s full of diphthongs!


8. Tottenham Court Road

It’s actually deceptively simple to pronounce, but you’ve got to take control of the ‘t’s. Say TOT, but don’t release the second /t/, instead use a glottal stop /ʔ/. Then say NAM with a schwa sound. Forget about the third ’t’, the ‘en’ and the ‘h’, they are all just there to confuse you.

/ˈtɒʔnəm kɔːʔ ˈrəʊd/

9. Marylebone High Street

So you’ve decided to go upmarket and you head west, but oh dear! How on earth do you say Marylebone? Well, here’s a clue, don’t start with Mary:

/ˈmɑːlibəʊn ˈhaɪ striːt/

10. Trafalgar Square

Nothing too tricky about this name…. except for those ‘r’s and those ‘a’s. Say the first /r/, but don’t say the second or third ones. OK? And the first and third ‘a’s are schwas.

/trəˈfælgə ˈskweə/


The IPA symbols used in this article and how to pronounce each sound are covered in Pronunciation Studio’s free ebook with audio – 45 Sounds of GB English.

This article uses IPA (phonetic) symbols – you can learn them in the free Pronunciation Studio Starter Pack containing pronunciation notes and diagrams for each sound with audio, and an English IPA chart. 

By | 2017-01-23T11:20:01+00:00 July 7th, 2015|London, Names, Pronunciation|23 Comments


  1. Milena July 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Holborn is up there at the top of the list too!

  2. Tina Christiansen July 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Not to leave out Gloucester Road

  3. Manuela barros July 21, 2015 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Surrey Quays

  4. FAZAL QASIM July 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    I am Fazal Qasim and proud to have been the student of pronunciation studio, which has really equipped me phonetically, which has made me confident enough to teach EFL Teacher Training Classes.

  5. Duda Teixeira July 22, 2015 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I´ve missed “Edgware Station”

  6. Serena July 23, 2015 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Berkeley Square!

  7. Elena Silva July 25, 2015 at 3:43 am - Reply


  8. Karolina July 31, 2015 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    What about Rotherhithe ….i still cant pronounce it.. ha

  9. Melis August 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply


  10. Vale August 4, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Shaftesbury avenue!

  11. Pedro August 5, 2015 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    And don’t forger about “quays” as in Surrey Quays

  12. Victor August 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    What about Grosvenor Square? That always get me…

  13. Mark August 10, 2015 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Plaistow 😉

  14. Ian August 10, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Clerkenwell – not one “E” pronounced!

  15. Alfons Moliné August 11, 2015 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Don’t forget Chiswick! (“chissick”)

  16. Steph August 12, 2015 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    It took me over a year to get Walthamstow Central right…

  17. Farry August 13, 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Remember ‘Marble Arch’, it is not ‘arc’, the ‘h’ is pronounced.

  18. Ruben August 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    I know it’s not in central London, but I would include Worcester Park (or the city, Worcester) which I think is pronounced like “wu:stər”.

  19. Caro August 22, 2015 at 3:20 am - Reply

    Or Lewisham

  20. Tia November 18, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    You should actually say Marylebone with the beginning sounding like ‘Marry’ – it is closer to the original as it was named after Mary le Bon

  21. David December 7, 2015 at 12:21 am - Reply

    The voice pronounces Greenwich inaccurately. Historically and locally, and even today, it is, and has always been, pronounced as ‘grin’. The pronunciation as ‘gren’ only came about in the ’80s by Estate Agents promoting the surrounding Docklands area. Up until then, the sound ‘gren’ was an American sound used in Greenwich Village.

    • Karen Cheung December 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the info David! We went by our own pronunciation, which has evidently been influenced by the estate agents you mention… For anyone who is interested, Longman Pronunciation dictionary gives both /gren/ and /grɪn/ as possibilities.

  22. Londoner July 27, 2016 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    Missed the most basic one: Thames

Leave A Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This