9 commonly mispronounced London place names - from Holborn to Homerton

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Watch out for silent Ws as you negotiate some of London's place names in conversation.

London is packed with peculiar place names, many of them extremely awkward to pronounce.

Even lifelong Londoners trip up occasionally, which is why LondonWorld has put together a compendium of frequently mispronounced places.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad


Somewhat spared from mass mispronunciation by its geographical importance as the home of the Greenwich meridian - as well as for Greenwich Mean Time - this south-east London borough’s pronunciation is, nonetheless, extremely unintuitive.

Someone who’d never heard of Greenwich before, or never seen it written down, wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that it’s pronounced as it’s written down: Green-witch. Instead, it’s pronounced Gren-itch, combining a silent W (which we’ll see again in later entries) with an inexplicably shortened pronunciation of a double E.


This one often seems to stump tourists, and it’s easy to see why. Following suit from Greenwich’s silent W, fellow south London borough Southwark is pronounced Suth-uk. More perplexing than the silent W is the pronunciation of south, however - especially since it’s actually in the south.


Fans of the Simpsons will most likely get this one wrong - despite only having one M, this area in Hackney, East London is pronounced Hommer-tun. Its relative obscurity doesn’t help, either - where most people in London will have heard of Greenwich and Southwark, Homerton isn’t afforded the same luxury.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Theydon Bois

Even with locals, Theydon Bois in Northwest London stands out as perhaps the place with the highest number of different ways to mispronounce it. Theydon Boys? Theydon Bwah? Do you use a hard or a soft ‘th’? It turns out that the proper pronunciation uses not only a hard ‘th’, but also a hard S - Theydon Boyce. Though subtle, this one stands out to us as especially unintuitive.


Backing the trend of silent Ws, this Hounslow district is simply pronounced Chizzick. Far less well-known than its silent W contemporaries, Chiswick is mispronounced much more frequently.


Hol-born? Hole-born? Hol-burn? No. Instead, this stop on the Central and Piccadilly lines is pronounced as minimally as possible - O’b’n. You do hear it with the H from time to time, but in true British fashion, the best way to pronounce Holborn is by making silent as many letters as possible.


Another of the least intuitive pronunciations on this list, historic west London neighbourhood Ruislip is not pronounced Roo-iss-lip, or Roy-slip, or Roo-slip. Instead, the correct way to say it is Rye-slip - possibly the most impossible-to-guess pronunciation on this list.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cadogan Square

This residential square in Knightsbridge is one of London’s most desirable places to live, as well as being one of the hardest to pronounce. While Cad-oh-gun, Cad-uh-gun or Cade-uh-gun would make the most sense for this square’s pronunciation, it’s instead pronounced Card-uh-gun square. Yes, like a cardigan that you might wear to keep you warm in the winter.


What’s this? Another silent W? Well, actually not this time - instead, Aldwych earns a spot on the list by the fact that, unusually, you do pronounce the W. While this may seem perfectly intuitive to most, many Londoners who are more familiar with the silent Ws of Southwark, Greenwich and Chiswick reasonably assume that Aldwych is pronounced All-ditch. In this case, however, you do pronounce the W.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.