Thankfully, I grew up in Washington State, born and raised in Bremerton. Spent my Septembers at the Puyallup Fair (Now known as the Washington State Fair.)

Because of the TV and radio commercials, I know how to pronounce Puyallup.

I’ll get to that and other hard-to-pronounce Washington town names (plus a quirky county name and a town in Idaho, that many, who attended Wazzu, love and have adopted as our own.)

Anacortes - This town was the final home to Burl Ives before he passed in 1995. 

  • CORRECT - ANNA-kortis

Asotin - A town I’ve been to once, when I lived and worked at KMOK in Lewiston, Idaho

  • INCORRECT - as-oh-TIN
  • CORRECT - ass-SOH-tin

Chehalis - Located Just south of Centralia…I’ve gassed up and got a bite to eat on my car rides to Oregon

  • CORRECT - Shh-HAY-lis

Chelan - The town’s name gets butchered by out-of-towners. Maybe not from the tens of thousands of Seattle area visitors who make this a regular (weekly) stop in the peak summer months

  • INCORRECT: CHILL-lan (or as our Emergency Alert, AI voice calls it CHILL - IN).
  • CORRECT: Shill-ANN

Entiat - Located between Wenatchee and Chelan on the Columbia River. 16 years ago, when I first moved here and mispronounced Entiat, I got (understandably) lambasted by a screaming/irate man. Lots of curse words and more yelling...then CLICK. Dial-tone.

  • I should have CORRECTLY said: inny-AT

Ephrata - The county seat of Grant County! I unfortunately know this because I had to pay a speeding ticket at the courthouse, in…Ephrata (Home of the Canal Caper 10k running race.)

  • INCORRECT: EFF-ruh-tuh (or as my buddy’s mom calls it: YOU-fray-tuh)
  • CORRECT: EE-fray-duh

Hoquiam: These folks know 50 shades of gray. And 50 types of mist and drizzle.

  • INCORRECT: HOK-why-am

Malaga: Home to the old Alcoa Aluminum Plant and one of my favorite bike routes: Joe Miller Road. 

  • INCORRECT: mill-LAW-GAH (I heard a radio commercial, voiced by some guy, from who-knows-where call it this.)

Mazama - A beautiful small town in Methow Valley (we’ll get to Methow next.)

  • INCORRECT: MAZZ-uh-muh
  • CORRECT: Mizz-ZAM-muh

Methow - If it weren't for the occasional wildfires that zip through occasionally, I would plan to move up and retire. Arguably the most beautiful spot on Earth.

  • CORRECT: met-HOW

Moscow - as in Moscow, Idaho. If you attended Wazzu, or visit the Palouse in general, you and all of us Washingtonians claim the SCOW as one of our own.

  • INCORRECT: MOSS-cow (yep, that's how we pronounce the Capitol of Russia)
  • CORRECT: moss-SCOW

Naches - Love stopping here for a to-go cup of coffee on the up to White Pass (Don’t forget to hang an important left-hand turn to stay on HWY 12…otherwise, you’ll end up in the Mount Rainier National Park…something I’ve done)


Okanogan - A buddy of mine, who will remain nameless, was pulled over for a DUI - late one Saturday night. His wife called me (from the other side of the mountains) and asked if I’d drive up, pay his $1,000 bail, and drive him back to my place. I did (obviously they paid me back.)  By the way, getting up there from Wenatchee is quite a haul.

  • INCORRECT: OAK-kuh-NO-gin

Palouse - A town, an area, a culture that lots of Coug’ fans love and embrace.

  • INCORRECT: Puh-LOUSE (rhymes with blouse)

Pateros - The ancient hometown of our beloved Aly (who helped set up the sign PATEROS STRONG after a violent wildfire destroyed a good portion of town, in the summer of 2014.)

KHQ Local News (Facebook)
KHQ Local News (Facebook)
  • INCORRECT: Patter-ros ("ros" rhyming with gross)
  • CORRECT: PIT-tare-US (The “tare” rhymes with dare)

Pend Oreille County - Newport, Ruby, and Metaline Falls all call this county, in the far northeast corner of our state home. Borders both Canada to the north and Idaho to the east.

  • INCORRECT: Pend-or-REALLY County
  • CORRECT: Ponder-RAY County

Puyallup - Home of the Washington State Fair, or as some of you would remember - the good old Puyallup Fair (TV commercial from 1976)

  • CORRECT: pew-AL-up


Sequim - My first visit to Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula was to visit the Olympic Game Farm. It was odd to see buffalo come up to the car to eat a slice of wheat bread (that they sold to you to feed the animals.)


Steilacoom - Located south of Tacoma, originally known as Port Steilacoom. Steilacoom is the oldest incorporated town in Washington State.

  • CORRECT: STILL-a-come

Wenatchee - Oh man, we’ve all heard the horrible mispronunciations of our great town. If you’re a parent of a recent graduate from the Wenatchee Valley, who swears they’ll never come back to live…give 'em ten or fifteen years. They come back & raise their family.

  • CORRECT: When-NATCH-ee ("NATCH" rhymes with SNATCH)

And if you're a local, you might not even use those names at all-

There's nothing more personal than a nickname, and even cities and suburbs can end up with special nicknames. Sometimes it's something tongue-in-cheek from its residents or rivals, and sometimes it's an official "motto" meant to promote the city through tourism.

We've compiled dozens of Washington city nicknames to offer you a virtual tour of the weird and wacky names we've given our favorite local areas in the Evergreen state. How many of them have you heard?

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

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