For such a small state, New Jersey is packed with towns — 565, to be exact. And many of those towns, townships, boroughs and cities have multiple sections with their own schools, post offices and highway exit signs. So it’s no surprise some of those names happen to be quirky, and tough to pronounce. These are among the trickiest. They are the names that seem to get mispronounced most often by out-of-towners, public officials and even among staffers in our newsrooms all around the state — many of whom were born and raised in New Jersey. Some even in and around the places on this list.
Avon-by-the-Sea (Monmouth County)
The locals immediately know beach-goers are from out of town when they say AYE-von, like the Avon ladies who would sell beauty products door to door. Borough officials say the correct pronunciation of the A is the softer version, just like apple or avid. (AH-von)
Bellmawr (Camden County)
Does it sound like Belmar, the beachfront town in Monmouth County? Or is the correct way to say this place BELL-more? The locals say BELL-mar, just like the Shore town.
Bernards Township & Bernardsville (Somerset County)
Outsiders frequently say ber-NARDS, with the emphasis on the last syllable. But the correct pronunciation is BERN-ards, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Same goes with the neighboring borough of Bernardsville. (It should be pronounced BERN-ards-vil.)
Bogota (Bergen County)
Is it BO-ga-tah, like the capital of Colombia? Nope. It’s actually pronounced buh-GO-ta.
Bonhamtown (Middlesex County)
Drivers getting off on Exit 10 of the New Jersey Turnpike might butcher the pronunciation of this section of Edison, but the correct way to say it is BON-um-town.
Closter (Bergen County)
There’s been some debate over whether this small borough is pronounced CLOSS-ter, with a soft O, CLOSE-ter, with a long O (rhyming with glows or Lowe’s), or CLOOS-ter, which rhymes with rooster. Which one is correct? The locals say it’s CLOSE-ter, rhyming with glows and Lowe’s.
Forked River (Ocean County)
In this section of Lacey Township, is the first word pronounced “forkt” with one syllable? Or FOR-ked with two syllables? Our experts in Ocean County say it’s FOR-ked, or FOR-kid.
Gloucester (Camden & Gloucester counties)
Outsiders often pronounce this township, city and county GLOWE-ster, rhyming with cow and wow. And some really butcher it by saying GLOWE-chester. The correct pronunciation is GLAW-ster, rhyming with law and mall.
Greenwich Township (Cumberland, Gloucester & Warren)
Three counties in New Jersey share this town name, and all three do NOT pronounce this GREN-itch, the way the people of New York City pronounce Greenwich Village. In New Jersey, the locals pronounce it GREEN-witch.
Guttenberg (Hudson County)
If you say GOOT-en-burg, you are wrong. The correct way to say this town name is GUT-en-burg.
Haledon (Passaic County)
Out-of-towners might say HAIL-e-dun, with three syllables, but the correct pronunciation of this town is HAIL-dun (or HAIL-din), with two syllables.
Haworth (Bergen County)
Out-of-towners often call this town HAY-worth, but Mayor John W. Smart and other locals say it’s pronounced HAW-worth, after the town’s namesake city in England.
Iselin (Middlesex County)
Some outsiders think it’s ICE-lin, but this section of Woodbridge Township is actually pronounced IZ-lin, with the “iz” sounding like “is.”
Kearny (Hudson County)
Out-of-towners tend to say KEER-knee, but the correct pronunciation is CAR-knee.
Keasbey (Middlesex County)
Even some locals pronounce this section of Woodbridge differently. Some say KAYS-bee, and some say KEYS-bee. The correct pronunciation, at least the one being used in modern times, is KAYS-bee, according to the Historical Association of Woodbridge Township. By the way, down in South Jersey, there’s a Keasbey Street and a Keasbey’s Creek in Salem City, and the locals pronounce both KAYS-bee.
Kinnelon (Morris County)
Nope, it’s not ki-NEL-on. It’s actually pronounced KIN-a-lon.
Manalapan (Monmouth County)
To some newcomers, it might look like MAN-a-LAP-in. But the correct way to say this township’s name is ma-NAL-a-pin.
Mantoloking (Ocean County)
This one may look tougher than it really is, but it’s pronounced MAN-ta-LO-king.
Maurice River Township (Cumberland County)
People up in North Jersey often say the first word of this town name like the male name, mor-EECE. But the folks down in South Jersey know better. It’s actually pronounced MOR-iss, like the Morris in Morris County or Morris Township. Same rule for the Mauricetown section of Commercial Township in Cumberland County. It’s pronounced just like Morristown.
Moonachie (Bergen County)
People unfamiliar with this small blue-collar borough near MetLife Stadium sometimes say MOO-nah-chee, and legendary New York City Mayor Ed Koch once drew heat for calling it moo-NAH-chee. Some local officials say the correct pronunciation is moo-NAH-key, but others say it’s MOO-nah-key.
“It’s moo-NAH-key,” said Moonachie Police Chief Richard Behrens. “I grew up in the town. That’s the way it’s said in town.”
However, former Mayor Fred Dressel, who served as Moonachie’s chief executive for 26 years, said residents are split between the two pronunciations. “Even amongst us in town, some people say MOO-nah-key and some say moo-NAH-key.” Dressel prefers MOO-nah-key.
“As long as you don’t say CHEE,” he said with a laugh, “you can get away with it.”
Passaic (Passaic County)
Although lots of Jerseyans pronounce this city and county pa-SAY-ik, with three syllables, the locals say it’s really pronounced with two syllables: pa-SAYK.
Pequannock (Morris County)
Drivers from out of town might say PEE-quan-KNOCK, but the correct way to say this township is pa-QUAN-nick.
Secaucus (Hudson County)
Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT pronounced see-KAW-kus. Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who has lived in this Hudson County town since he was 3 years old, insists the emphasis is on the first syllable. “It’s SEE-kaw-kis,” the mayor said in a recent phone interview.
But he acknowleged many outsiders often pronounce it wrong. “People make all kinds of mistakes with this town. I don’t know why.“
By the way, the mayor’s name is pronounced ga-NELL-ee, with the emphasis on the second syllable.
Wanaque (Passaic County)
Some locals say this town is pronounced WAHN-a-cue, and others say it’s WAHN-a-key. The first one is correct.
Wantage (Sussex County)
The locals call it WHAN-tij. But out-of-towners often say WHAN-toj, almost like wonton soup
Content gathered & updated by the Bergen Review Media team.