Your Official New Orleans Pronunciation Guide

There is, famously, a distinct way of pronouncing things in the City of New Orleans... which mostly has to do with not pronouncing them as you might think, or as they're spelled, or as the gods of reason and logic  demand. No, when it comes to street names, food, and other things we love here, it’s our patois and our heritage, and it ain’t going nowhere. Here's a field guide to walk you through it all:

New Orleans: noo-OAR-linz

Our fair city, warts, potholes, and all. Depending on where you’re from, the following variants are acceptable: noo-AW-lins; noo-AW-yins; noo-AW-lee-ins; and noo-OAR-lee-ins. But never noo-oar-LEENZ, please and thank you.

Calliope: CAL-ee-ope

A street in noo-AW-lins

Metairie: MET-uh-ree; MEH-tree

A popular suburb in Jefferson Parish. The mall is there. And the big movie houses. And really great seafood.

Melpomene: MEL-poe-meen

Another street name. There are many in the city named after the Muses and other Greek myths.

Terpsichore: TERP-suh-kore

Street name. See above.

Tchoupitoulas: chop-ah-TOO-liss

Where you’ll find Da Rouse and Tipitina’s

Tipitina’s: tip-uh-TEEN-us

The famous music venue on Tchoupitoulas

Rouses Markets: da-ROUSE

Where you make groceries

Dorignac's: DORN-yacks

Where you also make groceries, if you happen to be in Metry

Umbrella: UM-brella

Da thing dat keeps ya head dry, brah!

Kenner: KEN-uh-brah

A popular suburb just west of Metairie, where you’ll find the airport, great Honduran cuisine, and seedy “no-tell motels,” among other things

Burgundy: ber-GUN-dee

A region in France known for its wines, and also a New Orleans street name, as noted in the Tom Waits version of “I Wish I Was in New Orleans”

Euterpe: YOU-terp

Not an insult. Another street name.

Iberville: EYE-ber-vill

One of the founders of New Orleans, and a street where you’ll find Acme Oyster House and Felix’s

Beignet: BEN-yay; (also “DO-nut”)

Fried dough with powdered sugar, one of the most popular treats in the city which you’ll find at Cafe du Monde or Morning Call

Marigny: MA-ruh-nee (short “a” sound, like “cat”)

A notable New Orleans neighborhood shaped like a triangle, where you’ll find Frenchmen St and lots of great music, among other things

Faubourg: FOE-berg

An old name for New Orleans neighborhoods, like da Marigny or da Treme

Treme: trem-MAY

Another faubourg, one which famously bears the title of a great HBO show set in New Orleans, and has a fantastic theme song by John Boutte. Seriously, John Boutte is the best.

Crawfish: CRAW-fish

A highly popular local crustacean also known as “mudbugs” and a smaller cousin to the lobster, best eaten in mass quantities with corn, new potatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. But always "CRAW" and never "CRAY."

Praline: PRAW-leen

A sweet treat made of sugar, butter, pecans, and other wonderful things. Like crawfish: always "PRAW" and never "PRAY," which is what you do when the Saints are playing.

Vieux Carre: voo-kuh-RAY

An old term for the French Quarter (literally “Old Square”) and also the name of a really great cocktail invented at the Hotel Monteleone

Monteleone: monna-lee-OWN

A hotel in the Vieux Carre with a famous and very beautiful rotating carousel bar

Muffaletta: muff-ah-LOTTA; also (rarely) moo-fuh-LET-ah

An Italian-style sandwich with cured meats, cheese, and olive salad


What you do with ya hands in da zink

Sink: ZINK

Where you wrench dem hands after eatin’ CRAW-fish

Pontchartrain: PONCH-ah-train

The very large lake north of New Orleans, where there is also a very long bridge called the Causeway (which is pronounced as it is spelled: CAWS-way). It literally used to be “the longest bridge in the world.”

Etouffée: ay-too-FAY

Literally “smothered” in French, it is a rich Creole dish most often containing shrimp or crawfish and served over rice

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Scott Gold is a writer in New OAR-linz who is particularly fond of crawfish. Follow him on Twitter: @scottgold.