Top 10 Most Confusing English Pokémon Name Pronunciations

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Warning: This list may make you feel… /KRAH-bee/.

It may not be evident, but there’s a lot of work that goes into giving a species of Pokémon a name. The name of a Pokémon usually features a play on one or two words which refer to either the real-life basis of the Pokémon or an attribute linked to the Pokémon. This leads to many interesting wordplays, word corruptions, and portmanteaus, such as Exeggcute (execute + egg), Whismur (whisper + murmur), and Serperior (serpent + superior). But with these wordplays that would make any linguist proud comes a whole set of pronunciations that would make any linguist cringe, and the latter is what this article will tackle.

Several Pokémon names have easy pronunciations, due to either a very clear portmanteau (Gogoat = go + goat), an easy-to-follow spelling (Eevee = /ee/ + /vee/), or an easily recognizable word corruption (Wynaut = why not?). Unfortunately, the converse is also true, for there are many confusing, questionable, and at times nonsensical Pokémon name pronunciations. A quick Google search would show you entire threads and conversations dedicated to figuring out whether or not this is a long or short I, or whether that C is pronounced like a K or an S.

This article aims to list the 10 English Pokémon names that always find themselves at the end of the question, “How do you pronounce _________?” The most canon sources for the “proper” pronunciations found in this article come from the Pokédex 3D Pro app (for the first five generations) and the announcer of Pokémon Battle Revolution (for the first four generations), with the sixth-generation Pokémon only having the English anime dub as a reference. But those three sources don’t always agree with each other, which shows that maybe the different translators are as confused as we are.

So don’t feel bad if you fall victim to the ten mispronunciations you’ll find here. Chances are, you’re part of a very, very large group.

10. Scizor

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation:

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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You might be wondering why this name is even on this list when it seems fairly simple: it’s a corruption of the word scissor, so it’s pronounced /SIH-zor/, right? Both canon sources agree with you, and there isn’t really any strong evidence to argue otherwise. So why is Scizor the tenth most confusing English Pokémon name pronunciation?

There are a lot of reasons, but they all boil down to one thing – oversight.

Both the blend /sc/ and the vowel /i/ have multiple pronunciations to choose from, and it doesn’t help that Scizor puts them both in one syllable. As a blend, /sc/ can go two ways – either that C is hard and pronounced like the /k/ sound, or it’s soft and pronounced like the /s/ sound. The former is more common, as seen in words like scare, scope, and scurry, as well as in fellow Pokémon names like Scatterbug and Scolipede. Taking into account that the letter I can be long or short, that gives us with either /SKAI-zor/ or /SKIH-zor/.

When the C is pronounced softly, it becomes a silent letter in the blend /sc/, and the whole blend is pronounced like the /s/ sound. This is true for many words that uses the /sci/ combination, but most of these words use the long /i/ sound, as in science and scion. Taking into account that its pre-evolution, Scyther, also uses the long /i/ sound, that leaves us with the pronunciation /SAI-zor/.

So which one is correct?

One only has to go back to where its name actually comes from to find the right pronunciation, and just like how the word scythe follows that its pre-evolution’s name is pronounced as /SAI-ther/ (with a soft /th/), the word scissor follows that Scizor is pronounced as /SIH-zor/, with a soft /c/ and a short /i/. This pronunciation is also seen in words like scimitar and scissile, so it isn’t as uncommon as you think.

If anything, the confusion surrounding the pronunciation of Scizor’s name is a reminder to all English Pokémon fans to take a good look at a Pokémon name before assuming its pronunciation. So for all the /SAI-zor/’s and /SKIH-zor/’s that have been said, Scizor takes the number ten spot.

9. Arcanine

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation:

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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Number nine goes to Arcanine, the sole entry from the original 151 in this list. This isn’t surprising, as a majority of the English names of the first-generation Pokémon have pretty straightforward pronunciations (/ZOO-bat/, /PAH-ras/, /MYOO-too/). Arcanine is a big exception, as its English name is an unfortunate case of the words that make up its portmanteau working against it.

The name Arcanine is a combination of the words arcane, referring to its legendary status, and canine, referring to the group of animals it is based on. The second syllable of arcane and the first syllable of canine are stressed syllables, and they are both pronounced with long /a/’s (like in the word name), so it follows that the pronunciation of Arcanine is /ar-KAY-nain/, right?

Not quite.

The Pokédex 3D Pro pronounces Arcanine as /ar-kuh-NAIN/. Not only did they change the stressed syllable, but they also changed the second syllable from a long /a/ to a short /u/ (like in the word fun). In contrast, the announcer of Pokémon Battle Revolution follows the expected pronunciation, although he puts the stress on the first syllable, resulting to /AR-kay-nain/.

Both sound really weird considering the portmanteau, and I have a feeling that all Arcanine fans think it’s an asinine issue. And that puts Arcanine in the ninth spot of this list.

8. Regice

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation:

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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The eighth spot belongs to Regice, one of the three legendary golems introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. It is exactly this association with the other members of the trio, Regirock and Registeel, that puts Regice on this list.

The names of the three legendary golems all have the prefix regi-, which comes from the word regis, an inflection of the Latin word rex meaning “king” or “ruler”. Although regis is pronounced /REE-jis/ in English, Japanese pronunciation conventions pronounces the letter E with a short sound (as in the word set) and pronounces the letter I like a long /e/ (as in the word feed), making it /REH-jees/. This forms the first part of the golems’ names, with the second part being fairly obvious as they refer to three common words that describe their respective types.

So that gives us /REH-jee-rock/, /REH-jee-steel/, and… /REH-jice/?

Because the portmanteau of regi- and ice overlap letters, Regice’s name combines the two /I/’s into one, and with it, the last syllable of regi- with the monosyllabicice. This results into a weird combo breaker; /REH-jee-ice/ becomes /REH-jice/. The Pokédex 3D Pro uses the two-syllable pronunciation, but it isn’t rare to find someone still saying the three-syllable version; in fact, the announcer of Pokémon Battle Revolution proudly shouts /REH-jee-ice/ if one enters the battle.

The questionable status of that middle syllable puts Regice in the eighth spot of this list. I’m not sure if things would be less confusing if it was named Regiice instead.

7. Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciations: 

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Three for the price of one, and with good reason, since all three have the same pronunciation confusion. The Deino line is based on a Japanese mythological creature called the Yamata no Orochi or eight-headed serpent, which is the basis of their draconic appearance and, more obviously, their multiple heads. The latter trait is what gives the line their naming convention not only in English, but across all versions of their names in different languages.

The names Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon all refer to the number of heads each species has, with the names incorporating German numbers in their portmanteaus -ein (one), zwei (two), and drei (three). All of the /ei/’s are pronounced as long /i/’s (in that they all rhyme with the word pie), so it’s /DAI-noh/ (pronounced like the first two syllables of the word dinosaur) and /hi-DRAI-gin/ (with /gin/ pronounced like the last syllable of the word dragon).

Zweilous takes the confusion a bit further. That letter Z at the start of its name is not pronounced like the English /z/ sound, and instead is pronounced with a /ts/ sound, as in the ending of the word hits. Furthermore, the German alphabet does not have the English /w/ sound, and instead uses something similar to the English /v/ sound for the letter W. Therefore, it’s pronounced /TSVAI-lus/, with the /TSV/ being a blend and /lus/ rhyming with the word jealous.

Pokédex 3D Pro follows these pronunciations, but they’ve been met with some negative reactions, as some people say that the German pronunciations shouldn’t carry over to the English names as they are two distinct languages. It isn’t surprising, then, for some people to pronounce them as /DAY-noh/, /ZWAY-lus/, and /hi-DRAY-gin/, with the /ei/ being pronounced as the one in feint. It can even be /DEE-no/, /ZWEE-lus/, and /hi-DREE-gin/, with the /ei/ being pronounced as the one in receive.

Whatever your preferred pronunciation is, those misleading /ei/’s give the Deino line the seventh place, or siebten platz, of this list.

6. Vivillon

English anime dub pronunciation: http://youtu.be/EtS7O38zue0?t=2m

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Sixth place goes to the first sixth-generation Pokémon in the list, and it happens to belong to Pokémon #666. Yep, totally not a biased placement. What are you talking about?

Just as the pronunciations of Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon are confusing because of their German portmanteaus, the pronunciation of Vivillon is confusing because of its French portmanteau. Vivillon combines the words vivid, referring to its bright and multi-colored wings, with the word papillon, the French word for butterfly.

It’s the latter word where pronunciations become divided, since the English pronunciation of papillon is very different from its French pronunciation. In English, it’s pronounced as /PAH-pih-lawn/, and it follows that Vivillon would be /VIH-vih-lawn/. But in French, it’s pronounced as /pah-pee-YAWN/, so Vivillon would be /vih-vee-YAWN/. The /ll/ is pronounced like the letter Y in French, and the second syllable uses a long /i/ sound.

Which one is more correct? The English dub of the anime uses /vih-vee-YAWN/, which is understandable as that pronunciation ties in better with Kalos’s French origins. It isn’t rare to find someone using a combination of the English and French pronunciations, too, such as /VIH-vih-yawn/. It could also be a whole other pronunciation, depending on how your language pronounces /ll/; I myself pronounced it as /vih-VIHL-yawn/ since the /ll/ in my language is pronounced as two separate syllables – L-, then -Y.

Those two L’s find Vivillon in the number six spot, adding to its collection of sixes.

5. Illumise

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation: 

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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The upper half of this list starts off with a fairly average and somewhat forgettable Pokémon: Illumise. Unlike its close companion Volbeat, who has the niche of being the only Pokémon to have the combination of Tail Glow, Baton Pass, and Prankster, all Illumise has is… a deceiving English name pronunciation.

At first glance, you would probably pronounce Illumise as /ee-loo-MAIZ/ (rhyming with demise) or /ee-loo-MIS/ (rhyming with premise). This is understandable, as Illumise seems to be a portmanteau of the word illuminate and the English suffix -ise, which functions similarly to the English suffix -ate found in the original word.

Unfortunately, both canon sources disagree with either pronunciation, as they all pronounce Illumise as /ee-loo-MEE-zay/. The second part of the portmanteau disappears, and we’re given an extra syllable that seems to have come out of nowhere.

So what happened? Well, perhaps the most sensible explanation for this is that Illumise is an English transliteration of its Japanese name, イルミーゼ, which without any changes would be /i-ru-mi-ze/. The ー character means that the vowel of the preceding syllable, which in this case is ミ or /mi/, should be extended, which directly translates to the pronunciation of its English name. Its Japanese origin means that the suffix -ise isn’t part of the portmanteau, which only leaves us with the wordilluminate – which has the same number of syllables (though a different stress placement) as Illumise.

Its deceiving name, which fits in well with its hidden ability of Prankster, gives Illumise the fifth place on this list, a niche that its partner Volbeat can never take away from it.

4. Dedenne

English anime dub pronunciation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6EWo8Azxb8

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The fourth spot goes to the second of two sixth-generation Pokémon of the list, which means that neither Pokédex 3D Pro nor Pokémon Battle Revolution can help us yet again. All we have as a canon source is the English anime dub, and that actually gives the pronunciation of this Pokémon’s name more hindrances than assistance.

Dedenne’s case is somewhat similar to Illumise’s, in that its pronunciation confusion comes from that last syllable – whatever that last syllable actually is. Both Dedenne and Illumise are English transliterations of their Japanese names, but unlike Illumise, its Japanese name contradicts with both the portmanteau of its name and the pronunciation used in the English dub of the anime – and the contradiction is different for both.

The first part of the portmanteau for Dedenne isn’t too clear – Bulbapedia says that it may come from the word denki, the Japanese word for electricity – but the second part obviously comes from the word antenna, referring to those found coming out of its cheeks. What starts the conflict with those last four letters is how its spelled Dedenne and not Dedenna, which means that the second part of the portmanteau does not take from the English word antenna, but from the French wordantenne, which is pronounced as /aun-TEN/. That makes the pronunciation of the name /deh-DEN/, right?

Unfortunately, the English anime dub disagrees, as it pronounces Dedenne as /deh-deh-NAY/, just like how you would pronounce the word penne (/peh-NAY/) if it had one more syllable. This is closer to the Japanese transliteration – /deh-den-neh/ – but the last syllable still differs; the one used in the anime uses a long /a/, while the Japanese uses a short /e/. So we’re given three different pronunciations – /deh-DEN/, /deh-deh-NAY/, and /deh-deh-neh/ – and all of them have the same weight in terms of being the correct one.

This confusion lands Dedenne in a very high spot on this list, as without any app or game announcer to confirm it, we’re all in pronunciation limbo with this one.

3. Rayquaza

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation: 

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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The confusion in Rayquaza’s name is shared by all of the English names in the weather trio. The /ou/ of Groudon and the syllabication of Kyogre have caught many fans off-guard. But unlike those two, where some common sense would show the light (/GRAU-dawn/ from ground, and /kai-OH-gur/ from kai, the Japanese word for ocean, and ogre), Rayquaza is an example of common sense betraying the eye (or ear) of many fans.

Looking at Rayquaza’s name at face value, it seems pretty straightforward. All of the syllables seem to be spelled in the way that they’re pronounced, seeing as the first syllable uses /ay/ to signify a long /a/ sound, and the third syllable ending with only the letter A means that it has a short /a/ sound. The second syllable, being more structurally similar to the third syllable than the first, is then assumed to also use the short /a/ sound, completing the pronunciation as /ray-KWAH-zah/. People were content, and life went on.

So when the English dub of the seventh Pokémon movie said /ray-KWAY-zah/, many people had to clean their ears and make sure that they were hearing it correctly.

How was it possible that /qua/ had a long /a/ sound and not a short one? All the common words with /qua/ use short /a/’s – equal, quarter, aqua – and those that do have long /a/’s have an /i/ attached to them – quail, acquaint, cinquain. Why, then, is it /ray-KWAY-zah/ and not /ray-KWAH-zah/?

The answer lies in the not-so-obvious portmanteau that makes up its name – Rayquaza combines the words ray and quasar, the latter of which is pronounced as /KWAY-zar/. Though there are many other allusions behind its name, this portmanteau is what cements the pronunciation of Rayquaza as /ray-KWAY-zah/.

Honestly, I don’t blame you if you still pronounce that second syllable as /KWAH/ – it rolls across the tongue better, and it structurally makes more sense. This confusion and conflict is what makes Rayquaza the third most confusing English Pokémon name pronunciation.

2. Suicune

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation: 

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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Suicune’s name takes the questionable syllabication of Illumise’s and Dedenne’s names, puts it at the start of its name, and takes it a step further with a deceiving vowel combination.

Words that begin with the combination /sui/ aren’t common, but they usually fall under two categories. Those that are derived from the Latin prefix sui-, meaning “self,” are pronounced with two syllables, such as suicide and sui juris. Those that do not use the prefix pronounce the /ui/ with the /oo/ sound, such as suitcase andsuitor. Since Suicune is structurally more similar to the former group, it’s safe to assume that /soo-wee-KOON/ would be its pronunciation.

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I’m pretty sure Eusine reads those first three letters as the Latin prefix…

Following the common trend of the names on this list, Suicune defies both structures and instead follows a different pronunciation: /SWEE-koon/, with that first syllable similar to how you would pronounce the word suite without the /t/ sound.

Like Illumise and Dedenne, we can turn to its Japanese name for some explanation, but even this explanation can be met with some doubts. The direct transliteration of Suicune’s Japanese name is /su-i-ku-n/, with /su-i/ being a play on one of the Japanese words for “water.” Pronouncing /sui/ in Japanese lies in the middle of /swee/ and /soo-wee/, in that the space between them is still there, but is very negligible. The translators might have thought that it was closer to the monosyllabic version, hence the pronunciation /SWEE-koon/.

It doesn’t end here, though, as one other common pronunciation of Suicune across the fandom is /SWAY-koon/, and it’s not as outlandish as you might think. The long /a/ sound comes from the Chinese word for water, shui (which you may recognize from the term feng shui, literally “wind and water”), which is roughly pronounced as /shway/. Adding to the similarity is how the Chinese shui and the Japanese sui share the same character, 水 (in kanji for the Japanese sui).

While it may not be enough to replace /SWEE-koon/, it does justify those times you’ve heard it said as /SWAY-koon/, and it does add to the reason why Suicune is just at home as the second most confusing English Pokémon name pronunciation.

1. Arceus

Pokédex 3D Pro pronunciation: 

Pokémon Battle Revolution pronunciation: 

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What better way to cap off this list than with the god of Pokémon itself? This list has featured many confusing wordplays that involve silent consonants, non-English portmanteaus, questionable stresses, misleading name endings, and awkward vowel combinations, but none of them compare to the two letters that give Arceus’s name as many pronunciations as it has forms.

This isn’t surprising, as the letter combination /ce/ can take many sounds in the English language, the most common ones being /seh/ as in centipede and process, and /s/ as in force and place. Other less common instances are /suh/ as in parcel, /sh/ as in ceraceous (in the second instance of /ce/ in the word), /see/ as in concede, /che/ as in cello, and even /chay/ as in dolce. Aside from the non-English words, it’s pretty widely accepted that /ce/ uses a soft /c/ which sounds like an S (as in Scizor and Regice), instead of the hard /c/ which sounds like a K (as in Arcanine and Suicune). From these, you can assume that Arceus is pronounced as /AR-seh-yus/, /AR-see-yus/, or even /ar-SYUS/ or /ar-SHUS/.

The announcer of Pokémon Battle Revolution says /AR-see-yus/, and so does Dr. Gregory House in a surprise mention in the show House. But sadly, they aren’t in the majority.

Even Dr. House might have to look it up to know how to pronounce it correctly…

The Pokédex 3D Pro pronounces Arceus as /AR-kee-yus/, with this pronunciation getting a very special confirmation from the Pokémon company itself through the discontinued Pokémon.com mailbag. Not only does it go against common English pronunciation conventions, it also goes against the transliteration of its Japanese name, which uses the syllable セ or /se/ (as opposed to ケor /ke/). Why, then, does that second syllable use a hard /c/ sound and not a soft one?

There are a number of reasons offered as explanations, but they are more speculation than anything. Probably the most plausible reason is how the first part of Arceus’s name comes from either arche (based on the Greek arkhe, meaning “beginning”) or archon (based on the Greek arkhon, meaning “ruler”), which both use the hard /c/ sound as a result of the original Greek words using the Greek letter Κ or kappa instead of the Greek letter Σ or sigma.

The most notorious explanation – which, according to Bulbapedia, is one also offered by a dub artist for the anime – is the unpleasant connotations a speaker of British English may get when Arceus is pronounced with a soft /c/ sound. That pronunciation may raise a few eyebrows, hence why they chose to pronounce it with as /AR-kee-yus/.

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That doesn’t explain Cofagrigus, though.

The confusion doesn’t stop there, as /AR-kee-yus/ uses the long /e/ sound instead of the short /e/ that both its Japanese name and the word arche uses. The good news is that this is more straightforward than the mind-boggling scenario above, as the long /e/ sound comes from the second part of the portmanteau – deus, the Latin word for “god”. The bad news is that this comes with its own conflict, as deus can be pronounced as either /DEE-yus/ or /DAY-us/ in English, opening up the possible pronunciation of /AR-kay-us/. Adding to the flame is how the Latin pronunciation of deus uses the short /e/ sound – /deh-YOOS/ – so following this, it should be /AR-keh-yus/. Or perhaps it should also follow the change in the last syllable from a short /u/ to a long /o/, leading to /AR-keh-yoos/.

This mind-numbingly huge amount of possibilities – amidst extensive canon confirmation, I might add – makes Arceus the most confusing English Pokémon name pronunciation by a very wide margin. No other English Pokémon name even comes close, and while I’m sure it enjoys being called the god of Pokémon, I wouldn’t know if Arceus would feel the same way about being the god of Poké-pronunciation confusion.

Bonus: Pokémon

I don’t think this article will be complete without discussing the name that rises above all twelve of these tongue twisters and poses the question that has stumped six generations’ worth of fans: how do you pronounce Pokémon?

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Say it with me: POOOOOOOO-KÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ-MOOOOOOOON

The most universally accepted pronunciation is /POH-kay-mon/, as that is the reason why its /e/ has an accent mark above it. Like other words that use this diacritical mark – café, entrée, éclair – an é takes a long /a/ sound. Pokémon has confirmed this multiple times, but moreso in the sixth generation with the introduction of the first Pokémon that uses a diacritical mark in its English name: Flabébé, which is pronounced /flah-BAY-bay/ in the English anime dub.

It isn’t rare, though, to hear someone pronounce it as /POH-keh-mon/, treating the é as a regular E and giving it a short sound. In fact, there are several times in the anime where it sounds like Pokémon is pronounced with a short /e/ sound because the syllable is unstressed. A dedicated fan pointed out that the English dub of the first few episodes of the anime use /POH-keh-mon/ instead of /POH-kay-mon/, and these episodes being some of the most iconic of the franchise has a huge effect on many fans.

Start at 7:18.

Expanding Pokémon to the term “Pocket Monsters” also changes the sound from a long /a/ to a short /e/, and this is also true with its Japanese pronunciation. Adding to this is how the Pokétch is clearly pronounced as /POH-ketch/ in the anime, even if it retains the diacritical mark.

There are other less common pronunciations, such as /POH-kee-mon/ and /POH-kuh-mon/ (the vowel sound of /kuh/ being very silent, as if you just uttered the /k/ sound). As it is a global franchise, the word Pokémon will be pronounced differently when you go to a different place. That first syllable may be said with a short /o/, or that stress may transfer from the first syllable to the last. If you’ve sunk in deep enough in the Internet, you may even accept /poo-gee-MANZ/ as its official pronunciation.

If there’s anything you can take away from this article, though, it’s that English is a very complex language that makes concrete rules and casually breaks them without any care in the world. The pronunciations above mostly only cover the American way of saying them; we haven’t even talked about other forms of English and other dialects, so it’s hard to call any of these “correct” or “official” no matter how much confirmation it has received. So it doesn’t matter if you pronounce them as /AR-see-yus/ or /soo-WEE-koon/ or /POH-keh-mon/, what matters is that you say them with pride.

(Unless you say /poo-gee-MANZ/. I mean, come on.)

Written by Dramatic Melody
Edited by An-chan and bobandbill

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Top 10 Most Confusing English Pokémon Name Pronunciations”

  1. Aurora Says:

    Thank you! This was pretty helpful 🙂

  2. Peter Says:

    I can definitely see how “Regice” ended up in the top 10. With the overlapping I’s it could definitely cause confusion, but because the English translation retains the original Japanese name “Rejiaisu,” I always pronounce it with three syllables.

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