21 Fictional (And Real!) Names I Couldn’t Pronounce If My Life Depended On It

Sometimes, I’m one hundred percent sure that authors are trolling us.

I mean, have you SEEN some of the ridiculous character names that authors have come up with.I swear, they put all the letters of the alphabet on a wheel and spin it a certain amount of times to make up a name.

A couple months back, I asked you all on Twitter whether you wanted to see me talk about authors I’ve met or weird character names, and lo and behold, you wanted to see me talk about weird character names!

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

1.) celaena, chaol, feyre, and rhysand

I will say, I actually didn’t have many issues with the names of Sarah J. Maas’ characters. I read the Throne of Glass series for the first time when they were three books deep, and the paperback version of the first book had a pronunciation guide in the back. But when I read the sample, I was basically saying “Ka-lee-na” and “Ch-ale.” Obviously, that’s completely wrong.

Obviously, Bloomsbury learned from the first time around, because the hardcover copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses had a guide in the back to the name as well, but before I discovered that, I was reading it like “Fear-ee” and “Rye-sand.” Also, wrong.

2.) khalid and shahrzad

I explicitly do not remember a pronunciation guide for the Wrath and the Dawn duology, which is ridiculous, because HOW DOES ONE PRONOUNCE THESE NAMES. I had to double-check the spelling about five times. I am inept.

I feel like I should KNOW how to pronounce Khalid, but I’m torn between “Ka-lead” and “Ka-leed.” Is one of those right? Are they both wrong? I DON’T KNOW. And when it comes to Shahrzad? I tried to read it once, promptly gave up, and just called her “S” the rest of the time.

3.) hermione granger

Did anyone know how to properly pronounce her name, because it seems like everyone said her name differently?

My brother actually read the first book before I ever did (despite his hate for reading), and I just assumed that her name was pronounced “Her-me-one” until my brother corrected me and said it was “Her-my-o-knee,” to which I said “LOL no,” because it isn’t even spelled the way it’s pronounced. But apparently that’s how you pronounce it?

What are words?

4.) jace herondale and maryse lightwood

I’m sure you guys are like, “Mikaela, why the heck did you have problems saying Jace?” But when I was re-reading the books, I noticed that there was this throw-away line that said something about a box having the initials “J.C.” carved into it, like Jace’s name, so I assumed that’s how you were supposed to properly announcing his name. But it seems like everyone’s pronouncing his name like “Jace,” so I’ll have this mini crisis all alone.

And regarding Maryse. HAHAHA…what the heck? I find it sort of funny that I couldn’t pronounce her name correctly because it’s just “May-ris,” but I saw the name “Mary” in there, and assumed that I was supposed to pronounce it, so I was tripping over it by saying “Mary-eese.” I don’t know what was going on there.

5.) agnieszka

Okay, I actually didn’t even read that much of Uprooted. I got through so little of it before I got bored and decided to call it a day.

Did I even attempt to pronounce the main character’s name while reading this book? Of course not. I tried once, and in my head, it sounded like I was sneezing, so I promptly gave up. I mean, is it “Agnes-ka?” “Ag-niece-ka?” “Ag-nieze-ka?” “Ag-niece-zaka?”


6.) androma

Have I read Zenith? No. Will I ever read Zenith? Probably not.

But I swear to you, I totally thought that the main character’s name was “Andromeda” the entire time. I was so sure that the series was called “The Andromeda Cycle.” Apparently, it’s “Androma?” MY ENTIRE LIFE IS A LIE, PEOPLE.

7.) hassan

This name seems pretty out of place since this is actually the name of the main character’s best friend in An Abundance of Katherines. But I was so sure that I was pronouncing his name correctly, like “Ha-sohn,” but then it said mid-way through the book that that was not the correct way to pronounce his name, and I was frankly confused.

Can someone please answer this for me? ANYONE?

8.) keimdal, ankran, sumail, jaud, grom-gil-gorm, etc.

I mean, I love Half A King, but oh my God, WHAT ARE SOME OF THESE NAMES?

Like, is there some sort of unspoken rule out there that says that if you’re writing a fantasy book, you must make up ridiculous names? Because it sure as hell seems like it. I’m just saying, if the only name I seem to be able to pronounce is Yarvi, there’s most likely a problem.

9.) iko

I actually was so sure that I was pronouncing her name right, because it’s “Eye-ko,” right?


I was casually reading this post from Kai @ Quartzfeather, and learned that, apparently, Marissa Meyer said you’re supposed to pronounce the name as “Ee-ko.” So excuse me as I have a whole crisis now.

10.) thiago

Despite the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy having pretty weird names, I find myself being able to pronounce pretty much all of them. But then all of a sudden, we happen among Thiago, who’s a total asshole, so does it really matter if I get his name correct?

But I’m just mystified at how I’m supposed to say it: is it “Thy-ago” or “Thee-ago?” I guess we’ll never know.

11.) tarver

Once again, you’re probably wondering why the heck this name is on the list because it seems pretty damn easy to pronounce.

But I realized that while looking for fictional names to include in this post that his real name was actually Tarver…but this entire time, I’ve been thinking that his name is Travis. In my defense, it’s been about three years since I’ve read These Broken Stars, but how I can I say it’s one of my favorites when I don’t even know the name of one of the leads?

12.) carlisle cullen

I only read Twilight in the entire saga, and it was way back in the sixth grade, but I for sure didn’t know how the heck to pronounce his name.

At first, I pronounced it the way you see it – “Car-liz-el” – but then I learned way later on in life that the actual pronunciation is “Car-lye-el.” Those silent letters and their never-ending trickery!

what are some fictional names that you can’t pronounce? do we share any of the same ones? if you had a child, which fictional character would you name them after?

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82 thoughts on “21 Fictional (And Real!) Names I Couldn’t Pronounce If My Life Depended On It

  1. Omg thank you so much for this post! At least I am not alone in horribly butchering characters names! I had the hardest time with all the last names in Shadow of Bones! Then there was A Daughter of Smoke and Bone I am 100% sure I didn’t pronounce any of the names right haha. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you’re definitely not alone! I don’t remember much of Shadow & Bone, but I do remember being confused about Genya with a soft “g” or a hard “g.” 😝 There are so many odd names in Laini Taylor’s books! πŸ˜‚ Thank you! ❀️


  2. this is an amazing post that i can 100% get behind!!
    i swear i pronounce so many names wrong, that’s partly why i would never do youtube because then everyone can hear how badly i say them!!
    i really struggled with most of the characters is the wrath and the dawn, as for harry potter i could not say draco or ginny’s name right!! my sister used to laugh at me all the time xD

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ACOTAR is my favorite fantasy series EVER!!!! -yet, I had the same frustration with name pronouncements that you did. SO, that being said, I have the way I pronounce them in my head and who cares if it’s correct or not?! πŸ˜‹ as long as the little reader voice inside my head is happy, that’s all that matters πŸ’— thanks for making me laugh this morning!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Audiobooks help with this! I think part of the confusion is which syllable is stressed, like in Hassan (the second syllable: Ha-SAHN) and Kahlid (Ka-LEED). The audiobook for Lunar Chronicles says Iko like Eye-ko, and Thiago like “Iago” (think parrot from Aladdin) with a th- at the front. THEE-ah-go.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was an interesting read, I haven’t read any of these books but I was definitely struggling with most of the names. I’ll make note that if I ever write a book not to use names the reader probably can’t pronounce correctly lol I know that would bother me

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha, this is my life. I can’t pronounce ANY of Maas’s characters right. I refuse to say Ree-sand. It’s Rhys, ok? Rees just sounds too weird.
    Also, the pronunciation guide is at the BACK of the book. I definitely didn’t see it until I finished and already had character names in my head.
    Oh, Iko isn’t just Iko? I didn’t know! I just started Cinder and now I know!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha, great post! One of my biggest pet peeves is truly weird character names. I guess in fantasy books they can kind of get away with it, although I don’t even try to pronounce half of them. But it really bugs me when characters have strange names in contemporary novels. Like, I saw recently in a blurb a character named “Drix” – although I guess in this day and age, weird names are becoming the norm!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I called Hermione “Harriet” in my head until the fourth books when she explains how to say her name to Krum. lol
    Great post, weird names in books drive me nuts because I always feel dumb when I learn how to pronounce them, but I also understand that not every character can be named Jessica.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Authors definitely love to give us hard-to-pronounce name, especially in fantasy! Funny story is, I usually have trouble pronouncing western name like Chaol, Maryse, and Celaena, compared to Asian name like Hassan, Iko, etc. Maybe because I am asian and those names are more familiar to me 😢 I pronounce Chaol as “kale”, Hermione as “her-my-knee”, and Thiago as “thee-ago”. I find it hard to pronounce names with “i” as that letter is pronounced as “ee” in my country, instead of “eye” as it is in english… From what it’s usually said in my country, I pronounce Hassan exactly as it is written, Khalid as “kha-leed” and Iko as “ee-ko” (again with the i) πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, I just replied to a comment that said the same thing! Ooh, in the U.S. letters have such different sounds that it’s really weird. πŸ˜‚ We have both pronunciations of “I,” and probably more I’m not thinking of at the moment. The English language is weird. 😝


  10. I think I actually prefer the weird and unusual names because often if it’s a general everyday name it’ll make you think of someone you know and that’s not always a good thing. Also common names don’t always have the same connotations in different countries. What’s quite a tough guy name in one country could be the opposite in another.

    This does not however mean I have any clue how to pronounce them but if you’re reading does it really matter? I just make up my own and don’t say it in front of the author (or anyone really) πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, that’s funny, because I feel like I don’t encounter the names of people I know in books who are major characters! I read a book last month where the MC’s name was Nicole – which is my best friend’s name – but she shortened it to Nick, so that sort of distanced it!


  11. I’ve realised part of the reason I haven’t read Sarah J Maas’ books is because I don’t want to confuse myself over the character names.

    Khalid is usually pronounced with a soft K sound, not a hard one, from how I’ve heard it.

    I think because I’ve grown up around Asian names – my own name is so difficult for people to pronounce I started going by Ara to make things easier – that some of these names are familiar to me.

    But names like Chaol and Celaena? Brain does not compute!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What even are those ‘Half a King’ names though??? I thought Maryse was pronounces as “Mars” I thought everyone knew that Iko was pronounces as “Ee-ko”!! “Eye-ko”? Really? I remember completely butchering the pronunciation for Hermione when I first started reading the Harry Potter books but then my friend taught me how to say it correctly hahaha. Although I haven’t read any SJM books, I’ve seen the character names everywhere and I’ve always pronounced them as “Cell-een-a” and Feyre a bit like “fear” or “fair”, Rhysand like “Rye-sand” because everyone else in the book community pronounces it like that – and Chaol as “coal” hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • I DO NOT KNOW. Fantasy is so weird. 😝

      Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of people say they always pronounced it as “Eee-ko,” but I’m dumbfounded!

      I remember I saw someone else say that Celaena looked like a fancier version of Selena, which totally makes sense. πŸ˜‚ I think Feyre and Rhysand make sense since most people would read it how it looks like! I’ve seen a lot of people pronounce his name like that! I say “kale” but I’ve seen some people say you should pronounce the “Cha” like in the word “chaos?” WHO KNOWS?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Calaena literally just looks like a fancy version of Selena i can’t even. HAHAHA Kale! See, I never would’ve thought of that, but the logic is there. xD Gotta love weird fantasy names

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I did know how to say Hermione as I’d come across it once several years ago. But for other names I make it up when I read it and just keep it as the same word for that character all the way through the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Khalid is an Arabic name, and it’s pronounced with a throat scratchy Kh letter in the Arabic alphabet. For English speakers I suggest saying it with a hard H, “Hah-lid.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First reaction upon reading this post: it’s supposed to be pronounced β€œEe-ko”?!? Oh NO. My life is a lie.
    But anyways, I love this, because it’s totally true. I’ve noticed that fantasy books, especially, have some wacky names … for some reason authors seem to think that having a dragon or a wizard character means that the name needs to consist of random letters that make no sense when put together??? I’ll never understand it. Good thing most books like that have pronunciation guides (but even then, I still struggle. Sigh.)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh yes! It’s mostly fantasy books that i struggle with… πŸ˜€

    One of my all time fave video games (Baldur’s Gate) had a dude called Khalid, and they pronounced it as Ka-lead, so ever since then when i see that name, i just go with that.

    Hermione… even after hearing it over and over again, i just can’t… my brain does not compute.

    Agnieszka should be “anyeshka”.

    I dated a guy once whose name was Thyago. He pronounced it as chi-ago (chi like in chips). That’s the portuguese version. Not sure how they would say it in spanish though. Probably Ti-ago?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My life is a lie I Rhysand will always be Rye-sand not Ree-sand because I never knew I was pronouncing it wrong and I can’t just change it in my head now the right way sounds wrong??? And Iko?? Whyyy

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Too many names to count! I just accept whatever my mind settles on (the easiest possible pronunciation) and that becomes the “actual” pronunciation for me haha πŸ™‚ I don’t mind hard to pronounced names. I think it’s the combination of sounds in a name that draws an author to choose such.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sometimes listening to the audiobook is so much better; like you can listen to the first book in a series on audio and continue the rest of the series by reading it. I totally get you with Hermione at first I pronounced it like you did but after the movies I was like oh? And Weasley too for some odd reason!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I can relate to this post SO MUCH!! It was a serious struggle when I started reading A court of thorns and roses. I could not figure out how to pronounce Feyre for the life of me and then I finally discovered the pronunciations in the back of the book and realized I’d been butchering it the whole time… whoops. Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Such an awesome post! I always pronounce Khalid Ka-lid (I think that’s what you meant by Kha-lead but I think our accents are quite different haha) but yeah I’ve heard people pronounce it the other way so I really don’t know. I’m the same with Carlisle, it took me ages to realise how it’s meant to be pronounced! And that’s interesting about Iko, I didn’t know about that but I guess it makes sense if she’s going for a Japanese sort of name because they’d pronounce the I ‘ee”.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. OMG YES TO THIS POST! This post is so relatable. I mispronounce character’s names all the time and I don’t realize it until I get corrected for it. Like Feyre was fae-re but I cannot say Ree-sand. I cannot. It sounds terrible. I always pronounce Khalid as Ka-leed and I just shortened Sharahzad to Shazi because the name πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Also I struggled with Maryse for some reason. Funny thing is, I interchangeably use Eye-ko and Ee-ko and now I know the right way. The one book that I kept mispronouncing names is the Selection series especially in the Heir. OMG like I pronounced Ahren like how it sounded but it actually was a fancy spelling of Aaron and I WAS SO SHOOK! It was just so weird. But yea every single example was relatable I love these posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You almost got it with Feyre, at least! Just realized that there’s a “fae” in her name and she’s a faerie…I crack myself up. πŸ˜‚

      Yeah, I think the other characters called her Shazi, and I was like “Shazi, it is,” since it was easier to pronounce in my head. πŸ˜‚

      Ah, I actually totally got that spelling of Ahren! I think it’s because a lot of people do that “easy name made complicated” stuff in real life. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Is she a faerie? I don’t know I’m still on the first book but I’m loving it. I definitely has mispronounces names from the Selection though. More than just Ahren. Even the name of the country? Like what? I was just messing up everything. But yes easy name made complicated is even worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow @ Agnieszka, how the actual hell are we supposed to know how to pronounce that?? ALSO I’ve been pronouncing Iko wrong this whole time?? WHAT??
    I feel your pain with reading names wrong, I never got Tarver’s name wrong but I do it all the time with other books and names!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Carlisle is one that I never struggled with because there’s a town called Carlisle here in the UK, so I just assumed that Stephenie Meyer named him after the town and that it was pronounced the same. I’m really bad with fantasy names though because some of them look like the author tried too hard to come up with a unique name that they just mashed their face into the keyboard, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yeah, I think the Cullens lived in England, maybe??? I really don’t remember much from the books. πŸ˜‚ And it does sometimes! I find it interesting how it’s become sort of the norm (especially since Harry Potter and Narnia have pretty normal names all around??).


  25. omg hahahahah this was hilarious. It’s so true. Authors are trolling us. I actually stopped reading Truthwitch because I couldnt pronounce the main characters names xD hahah

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I love this post, because it’s the eternal reader struggle to pronounce some of the fantasy names that float around in books πŸ˜€ I know I prounounce Rhysand’s name wrong, but I read the book before looking at the guide and now I cannot change how I say his name xD I also thought it was the Andromeda cycle oops πŸ˜€ And don’t even get me started on Agnieszka xD Another name I said wrong at first is Aeduan from Truthwitch … I did learn how to say his name correctly though πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen some people say that once they say someone’s name one way, it never changes, and I can totally do that sometimes! πŸ˜‚

      I thought I was the only one who thought it was the Andromeda Cycle! Glad to know I’m not alone. πŸ˜…

      I actually haven’t read Truthwitch, but I’ve seen the character names around and yeah, I butcher all of them. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Same for me, once it’s stuck in my head, it almost always stays that way πŸ˜‚

        You’re definitely not alone πŸ˜€ In the beginning I didn’t even realize I said it wrong xD

        I’m glad I watched the video the author made, where she pronounced all the names! I think I said Iseult completely wrong too πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  27. I can help with #5 because Agnieszka is a Polish name! It’s pronounced “Agh-nyeh-sh-kah.” It’s really difficult to sound out even now for me even though I am pronouncing it properly in my head LOL. Sorry that probably wasn’t a helpful guide!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. SJM’s names… what is she doing??? I haven’t read her books but I pronounce it “fair” and “rye-sand”. I mean I get the right pronunciation for Rhysand but Feyre???? The way her name is said makes NO SENSE.

    Oh my god, my whole life is changed forever. IT’S EEKO? I’ve always pronounced it Eye-ko, omg noooo. 😭 This was like when I found out Leigh Bardugo’s name was pronounced LEE and not LAY πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Can we all talk about how Feyre is actually pronounced Fey-ru? Why. Really, the italian in me is dying. In my language almost everything is pronounced like it’s written. Yes, there are some exception, in which there is a little alternation or repetiton because of doubles letters, but for the rest is kinda the same.
    I remember that there was a secondary character from a Holly Black novel, named Ellebere. For me was literally reading his name like it’s written (I cannot even try a phonetical traduction) while the actual pronunciation was something like El-liu-beer. When I discovered I passed a long “wtf” moment. πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Ah, Sarah J Maas. πŸ˜‚ How I struggle with your character names. I’ve been pronouncing Feyre’s name as “Fair” and I have no idea how correct that is???? Also I’ve been saying “Rye-sand” as well!
    Also Iko isn’t Eye-ko??? MY LIFE IS A LIE.


  31. I’ve run across lots of author and/or character names I couldn’t pronounce, and sometimes I feel bad when I’m trying to pronounce them while knowing I’m butchering them horribly. That said, I’m never doing it purposefully. I do like unique character names though because it makes it harder for that character to be forgotten. I’ll never forget Katniss Everdeen! Fun post! πŸ™‚


  32. I knew how to say Carlisle and Hermione.

    most people have no idea how to pronounce my daughter’s literary name (Kahlan)
    It is Kay-lan.

    When I was younger, I didn’t know how to pronounce Persephone. I remember reading aloud in class and I pronounced it Purse-e-phone. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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