Talk Like a Tar Heel

North Carolina place names

From the mountains to the coast, place names in North Carolina can be confusing. (Why don’t Rowan and Chowan rhyme?) Click on the map below to hear North Carolina county names pronounced by local authors Bland Simpson and Michael McFee. The list that follows it includes cities, towns, mountains, lakes, and more.*

The North Carolina Collection welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions of other North Carolina names you would like to hear pronounced. Email

North Carolina county map

Cherokee Clay Macon Swain Graham Haywood Jackson Transylvania Henderson Madison Buncombe Yadkin Surry Alleghany Ashe Wilkes Burke Caldwell Watauga Avery Yancey Mitchell McDowell Rockingham Stokes Forsyth Davidson Rowan Iredell Catawba Cleveland Rutherford Polk Caswell Person Guilford Randolph Chatham Wake Granville Vance Warren North Hampton Halifax Hertford Gates Martin Dare Hyde Tyrrell Mecklenburg Union Cabarrus Gaston Lincoln Alexander Davie Alamance Orange Durham Franklin Nash Edgecombe Wilson Pitt Beaufort Washington Carteret Pamlico Onslow Jones Duplin Johnston Wayne Lenoir Greene Pender New Hanover Columbus Sampson Cumberland Harnett Lee Moore Hoke Stanly Montgomery Anson Richmond Scotland Robeson Bladen Pasquotank Chowan Currituck Camden Pasquotank Perquimans

Counties and more

Read by Bland Simpson and Michael McFee

Ahoskie uh-HAHS-kee
Alamance aL-a-mance
Alexander al-x-ANDER
Alleghany al-i-GAINY
Anson AN-sun
Arapahoe uh-RAP-uh-hoe
Aulander AW-lan-der
Avery A-vur-ee
Bahama ba-HAY-ma
Beaufort BO-furt
Bertie ber-TEE
Bladen BLA-den
Bodie Island BAH-dee Island
Brunswick BRUNS-wick
Buies Creek BOO-ees Creek
Buncombe BUNK-um
Burgaw BURR-gaw
Cabarrus ka-BARE-us
Cajahs Mountain KAY-JUH Mountain
Caldwell CAH’LD-well
Camden KAM-den
Carteret KAR-ter-et
Cashie River kuh-SHY
Caswell KAS-well
Catawba ka-TAW-ba
Cerro Gordo SAIR-uh GORE-duh
Chalybeate Springs ka-LIB-e-ate
Chatham CHAT-um
Cherokee CHER-o-kee
Chicamacomico chick-uh-muh-CAH-mih-co
Chinquapin CHINK-uh-pen
Chowan cho-WONN
Cleveland KLEVE-land
Columbus ko-LUM-bus
Concord CON-CORD
Conetoe kuh-NEE-tuh
Contentnea kun-TENT-nea
Cooleemee COOL-uh-mee
Cornatzer KOR-natz-er
Corolla kuh-RAHL-uh
Craven KRA-ven
Creswell KRESS-well
Croatan CROW-uh-tan
Cullasaja cool-uh-SAY-juh
Cullowhee CULL-uh-whee
Cumberland KUM-bur-lund
Currituck KURR-i-tuck
Davidson DAVE-id-sun
Davie DA-vee
Duplin DOO-plen
Durham DERR-um
Edgecombe EDGE-cum
Etowah EH-tuh-wuh
Faro FAY-roe
Forsyth for-SYTH
Franklin FRANK-lin
Fuquay-Varina FEW-kway vuh-REE-nuh
Gaston GASS-ton
Gastonia gas-TONE-ee-uh
Graham GRAY-um
Granville GRAN-vill
Guilford GILL-furd
Halifax HAL-i-fax
Harnett HAR-nit
Haywood HAY-wood
Hertford HERT-furd
Icard EYE-kurd
Ijames IMES
Iredell IRE-dell
Jackson JACK-sun
Johnston JOHN-stun
Lake Junaluska joon-uh-LUSK-uh
Kannapolis kuh-NAP-uh-lis
Kerr Lake CAR
Lenoir le-NOR
Lincoln LINK-un
Lucama loo-CAH-muh
Macon MA-kon
Madison MAD-i-sun
Martin MAR-tin
Mayodan MAY-uh-dan
McDowell mc-DOW-well
Mebane MEB-in
Mecklenburg MECK-len-burg
Meherrin River muh-HERR-in
Mitchell MIT-chull
Montgomery mont-GOM-er-ee
Moore MORE
Nantahala nan-tuh-HAY-luh
New Hanover new HAN-o-ver
Norlina nor-LINE-uh
Northampton nor-THAMP-ton
Ocracoke OH-kruh-coke
Onslow ONNS-lo
Pamlico PAM-li-co
Pasquotank PAS-quo-tank
Pender PEN-der
Perquimans per-QUIM-ans
Person PER-sun
Pfafftown POFF-town
Pisgah Nat’l Forest PIZ-gah
Potecasi POE-tuh KAY-see
Qualla Boundary KWALL-uh
Randolph RAN-dolf
Richmond RICH-mund
Robeson ROBB-i-son
Rockingham ROCK-ing-ham
Rodanthe row-DAN-thee
Rowan roe-ANN
Rutherford RUTH-er-furd
Sampson SAMP-sun
Saxapahaw SAX-uh-pa-haw
Scotland SCOT-lund
Stanly STAN-lee
Surry SURR-ee
Swannanoa swan-uh-NO-uh
Toxaway TOX-uh-way
Transylvania tran-syl-VANE-i-a
Tuckasegee tuck-uh-SEE-jee
Tuscarora tusk-uh-ROAR-uh
Tusquitee tus-QUIT-ee
Tyrrell TERR-il
Uwharrie you-WHAR-ee
Valle Crucis VALL-ee CRU-sis
Lake Waccamaw WOK-uh-maw
Wanchese WAN-cheese
Warren WAR-en
Watauga wa-TAW-ga
Wayne WAIN
Wendell win-DELL
Wilkes WILX
Wilson WILL-sun
Wingate WIN-get
Winnabow WINN-uh-boe
Yadkin YAD-kin
Yancey YANT-see
Yeopim YOE-pim
Zebulon ZEB-you-lun

*Note: We recognize the existence of local pronunciation variations — e.g. some Iredell County residents call their home “ARE-dell.” We have not attempted to list all variations here.

Source: John L. Sanders. “Guide to Pronouncing County Names,” Popular Government, Vol. 63, no.3, Spring 1998: pg. 38, published by the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government.