HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The Tar Heel State is a vibrant and diverse place with a little slice of paradise for everyone to enjoy, whether you prefer the beauty of the mountains or the sandy shores of the coastline.
With that diversity, comes a wild variety of names, some of which may be pronounced differently than you expect.
Without further ado, let’s explore the oddest pronunciations North Carolina has to offer.
Alleghany County: al-i-GAINY
Bordering the Virginia state line, its county seat is the town of Sparta.
An unincorporated community in Northern Durham County, it’s not pronounced like the island paradise.
Fun fact, NASCAR driver Scott Riggs was born there.
A town with a population of a little over 4,000 in Carteret County, not to be confused with Beaufort County, N.C. or Beaufort, South Carolina.
Although a bit confusing, Beaufort, N.C. can be distinguished from its sister state city by its pronunciation. Beaufort, South Carolina is pronounced BEW-fert.
Bertie County: ber-TEE
The eastern NC county doesn’t share a pronunciation with a guy who is friends with your grandpa. Emphasize that second syllable.
Bodie Island: BAH-dee Island
No, the long peninsula and former island in Eastern NC does not share a name with the iconic character from the hit HBO series “The Wire.”
Buies Creek: BOO-ees Creek
A census-designated place near Dunn, its name is pronounced like buoy, the floating navigation device.
Buncombe County: BUNK-um
The Western North Carolina county’s name is not pronounced like a hair comb made out of a delicious wheat-based treat.
Cabarrus County: ka-BARE-us
The county just north of Charlotte is not pronounced with a southern twang, ka-BAR-us, a common misconception.
Cayjahs Mountain: KAY-JUH Mountain
The “s” is silent when pronouncing the name of the small Caldwell County town.
Chowan County: cho-WONN
Despite their similar suffixes, this coastal county in no way rhymes with Rowan County, whose pronunciation may also surprise you.
Speaking of Cabarrus County, its county seat is not pronounced like the iconic Massachusetts town known for its famous Revolutionary War battle, CON-kerd.
You may be disappointed to learn that this small Edgecombe County town is not a land of people with cone-shaped toes.
Edgecombe County: EDGE-cum
Much like Buncombe County, we do not pronounce it as “comb.”
Forsyth County: for-SYTH
Now, this is a tricky one, the emphasis when pronouncing Forsyth County is on the “syth” rather than the “for.”
A less common misconception is that Forsyth County is pronounced as if it is a county full of North Carolinians that support the main antagonists of the Star Wars franchise.
Fuquay-Varina: FEW-kway vuh-REE-nuh
If you have ever mispronounced the name of this Wake County town no one would blame you.
This Alamance County town’s true pronunciation may come as a shock. Graham is not simply pronounced the way most people pronounce it as a human name.
Iredell County: IRE-dell
The home of the North Carolina Suto Racing Hall of Fame name is not pronounced i-RUH-dell.
The county seat of Caldwell County in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains name is not pronounced as if it’s a county full of 1950’s style detectives.
An unincorporated community in Winston-Salem, Pfafftown was the home of Jim Drake, the inventor of windsurfing. Back to the pronunciation, the first “f” is silent and the “a” makes an “o” sound. No one will judge you for not knowing that.
Robeson County: ROBB-i-son
The Southern North Carolina county bordering South Carolina is not pronounced as ROBE-son, it’s named after Col. Thomas Robeson, of Tar Heel, a hero of the Revolutionary War.
Rowan County: roe-ANN
No, it’s not pronounced ROE-in. Also no, it does rhyme with Chowan County even though it looks like it should. It’s named after Matthew Rowan, a British colonial who was the acting governor of North Carolina from 1753 to 1754.
The Union County town and home of Wingate University is not pronounced as WIN-gate.
Now that we have reached the end of our list, it’s safe to say that there is truly not a place on earth like the Tar Heel State.