© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pronouncing Iowa Place Names: An Audio Guide

Pronouncing Iowa Place Names: An Audio Guide

Presidential hopefuls need to clear all kinds of hurdles. Some are unique to politics, but one is familiar to every Iowan: getting our state's place-names right. While some of them (like Atlantic) are clear from the spelling, others trip "newbies" up. Louisa County? Not like my cousin's first name. Madrid? Not like the city in Spain. Nevada? Not like that state out west. You can’t take anything for granted.

But you're not on your own - Iowa Public Radio has you covered. Below is our handy audio guide to pronouncing Iowa place names. How did these pronunciations gain their current forms? Long story, which we'll get to another time, but meanwhile, scroll down for the list.

NOTE: Thanks to digital technology, we can update the entries anytime. Let us know if you have any corrections or suggestions - we could even post YOUR voice up here!

UPDATE: Dec. 6: the following are in process, thanks to your input:

  • Avon Lake
  • Bode [e is silent, one syllable]
  • Carlisle
  • Corydon
  • Cumming
  • Giard
  • Goodell [guh-DELL?]
  • Hawarden [HAY-warden]
  • Jesup [JESS-up]
  • kilbourn [KILL-burn?]
  • Kiron [KEYE-ruhn]
  • Knoke [kuh-NOKE]
  • Lamoille
  • Lycurgus [lih-SIR-jus]
  • Maurice
  • Moingona
  • Orilla
  • Otho
  • Prole [Silent e]
  • Protivin
  • Pulaski [pyoo-LASS-kee?]
  • Swea City [Sway]
  • Tara
  • Valeria
  • Ventura
  • Zaneta
  • Zenorsville
  • -A- -B- -C- -D- -E-Adel: Ay- DELLAllamakee: Aal -uh-muh-KEY (NOTE: Al as in "Call Me Al")Amish: AY-mishArispe: uh-RISS-peeAtalissa: at-uh-LISS-uhAudubon:…
  • -F- -G- -H- -I- -J-Festina: Fes-TIE-nuhFroelich: FRAY-lickBack to TopGerled: JURR-ledGowrie: GOW-ree (like cow, with a hard "g")Granger: GRAIN-jer (like…
  • -K- -L- -M- -N- -O-Kamrar: KAAM - rahrKeokuk: Residents pronounce it more than one way. Common options include KEE-uh-Kuck and KYOH-kuck. Some residents…
  • -P- -Q- -R- -S- -T-Palo: PAY-lowPeoria: Residents say Peoria (like the town in Illlinois) - or PURE-ree or PEER-reePeosta: Pee-AHSS-tuhPisgah:…
  • -U- -V- -W- -X- -Y- -Z-Vining: VINE – ingViola: VAI-oh-luh (first syllable gets the accent and rhymes with "eye")Back to TopWapello:…