Here Is the CORRECT Way to Pronounce Dr. Seuss (and 17 Other Popular Author Names)
Most people mispronounce Dr. Seuss (hint: it doesn’t rhyme with moose). Learn the correct way to say his name, plus these 17 other famous literary names.
Dr. SeussTatiana Ayazo/rd.com, shutterstock
We all accept a few universal truths about Dr. Seuss and his universe—Horton definitely heard that Who; the Grinch was more of a Lent type of guy; ham should NEVER be green—but there remains one Seussian sticking point that continues to baffle readers of all generations and shows no sign of peaceful resolution. And that is the pronunciation of the Doctor’s name.
If you are in the majority, you pronounce “Seuss” to rhyme with “Zeus.” (Maybe you even say “Zeus,” and consider that acceptable.) But according to humorist Alexander Liang, one of the Doctor’s college pals, the correct pronunciation was always “Soice,” rhyming with “voice.” Liang even wrote up a little rhyme to drive the point home: “You’re wrong as the deuce/ And you shouldn’t rejoice/ If you’re calling him Seuss./ He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).”
Seuss himself eventually relented and adopted the rhymes-with-moose pronunciation, unable to control his own legend. But he was far from the first or last author to be chronically mis-addressed by the reading public, joining the long list of commonly mispronounced words. To set the record straight, here are 17 other popular authors whose names almost everyone says wrong without realizing.
Don’t say: Rolled Dahl, or Role Dahl
Correct pronunciation: ROO-all Dahl
Dahl’s unusual name gets a Norwegian pronunciation. The Willy Wonka author hails from a Norwegian family and was named after Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Don’t miss these other books that are perfect for children and adults.
J. K. Rowling
Don’t say: Row-ling, or Raw-ling
Correct pronunciation: like “rolling”
Jo admitted to The Guardian she answers to both pronunciations and that Rowling is a “fairly horrible” name anyway.
Don’t say: Gabble-don, or Guh-BALL-don
Correct pronunciation: GAB-uhl-dohn (last syllable rhymes with “stone”)
From the Outlander author’s website: “For reasons unknown, people from New York City… invariably pronounce it to rhyme with ‘mastodon.’ One of these days, I’m going to put the accent mark over the ‘don’ that the name probably had when it came from Spain back in, and see if that helps.” Check out more alternatives to classic novels that will keep you turning pages.
Don’t say: Satcher, or Suh-kar
Correct pronunciation: Sacker
The award-winning author of Holes and the Wayside School series knows readers have trouble with his name. That’s why he kindly clarified the pronunciation on his website: “like someone who tackles quarterbacks or someone who stuffs potatoes into sacks.”
Don’t say: NAH-ba-kof
Correct pronunciation: na-BOE-kof
Putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable is the main issue with this Russian-American author’s name. Though Nabokov could speak Russian, English, and French, that didn’t change the way he introduced himself.
Don’t say: Ann
Correct pronunciation: INE
To correctly say the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged author’s name, use the same sounds in the words “mine” and “shine.” It’s a lot easier than her birth name: Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum. Don’t miss these 20 books you really should have read by now.
Don’t say: GOH-thee, or GO-thuh
Correct pronunciation: GUR-tuh
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is a mouthful, so you can keep this German writer’s short and sweet by just saying his last name—as long as you say it the right way.
Don’t say: HOO-note Diaz
Correct pronunciation: JOO-no DEE-as
Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, this Pulitzer Prize-winning author is now a creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We bet none of his students would dare get his name wrong. Check out 23 more contemporary writers you should have read by now.