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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.