Two essential skills that any traveler must possess are geographic awareness and proper spelling. Because if you suck at either of those things, you could wind up in an embarrassing situation.
We tackled the issue of geographic ignorance in a previous post about 7 Cities Not To Be Confused With Other Cities, where we were surprised to find that some people traveled to the wrong city of the same name, like Sydney, Canada instead of Sydney, Australia.
This time around, we’ll take a look at the other issue facing unaware and ill-equipped travelers: misspelled city names.
Some city names are universally difficult to spell. Take Albuquerque for instance. We don’t have any hard data on this, but we’re sure that 100% of people don’t know how to spell Albuquerque.
However, even if you misspelled Albuquerque, people either a.) won’t notice that there’s a misplaced vowel or random letter thrown in, or b.) they’ll know the city you are talking about and won’t care that you misspelled the name.
The same can’t be said for cities that have less complicated names. You don’t get the same leeway for spelling errors. You just look foolish.
As you’ll soon see, some of the misspellings on this list are understandable. Some are silly. And some are straight up confusing. But what’s really disturbing is that all of them are actual misspellings from mail sent to the United States Postal Service.
So loosen up that neck and get ready to shake your head in disgust, because here are 25 commonly misspelled city names and their amusing outcomes:
Aspen, Colorado as… Aspin
It’s bad enough that the city’s name already sounds embarrassingly close to “ass pin” (which is slang for the hair at the top of a man’s crack — the more you know…), so let’s not make it worse by botching the spelling to the point where it sounds like an Aspirin knockoff. On the other hand, it’s better to misspell Aspen than think it’s located in California.
Austin, Texas as… Austen
The only person who can appreciate this misspelling is Jane Austen. But she’s a vindictive wench who’s sick of people misspelling her last name with an “i.”
Berkeley, California as… Berklui
We can understand how some people could misspell Berkeley thanks to its unwarranted number of “e’s” — two is sufficient; at three you’re just showing off — but how can anyone come to the conclusion that Berkeley is legitimately spelled Berklui? That sounds like either a tribal dance or a little known STD. “Doc, I hooked up with this girl in Thailand and I got a bump down there.” “Sorry to tell you, son, but you have Berklui.” “Nooooo!”
Butte, Montana as… Butt
Any time you have a city with a name that’s one letter short of becoming a word that makes everyone giggle like a schoolgirl, misspellings are bound to happen strictly for entertainment purposes (imagine if there was a place called Vatgina or Penish).
Chicago, Illinois as… Chicargo
Unless Chicago has a substantial population of expatriates from Philadelphia — you know they’re prone to putting random “r’s” into words that don’t contain any “r’s” (e.g.: “I’d like a cup of corfee to go wit my cold warter”) — there’s no reason that anyone would add an “r” to Chicago and turn it into Chi-cargo. Though that would make a great name for a freight company based out of Chi-Town.
Deer Trail, Colorado as… Dear Trail
This is a city name, not the start of a break-up letter. “Dear Trail: it’s just not working out. I’ve met someone else and I’m moving to Chicargo to be with him.”
Des Moines, Iowa as… Des Monies
Anyone who misspells Des Moines as Des Monies has got their mind on their money, and their money on their mind. Gotsta make des monies! Holla!
Detroit, Michigan as… Detriot
This misspelling is perfectly understandable considering Detroit’s proclivity for riots.
El Paso, Texas as… L’Paso
You’ve really gotta go out of your way to botch this one. Though we can appreciate the use of the completely unnecessary apostrophe — it’s far too often neglected in words where it’s useful, like “that’s” and “it’s,” which have been supplanted with “dats” and “itz” — El Paso is already simple to spell. There’s no need to make it complicated. It’s Spanish, people… not French.
Erie, Pennsylvania as… Eerie
It’s eerie how many people misspell Erie, and here’s why: usually people lose letters in an effort to save time. Adding letters to a city with a name that’s already short is just counterproductive.
Gallup, New Mexico as… Gallop
Anyone who screws up the spelling of Gallup should hop on a horse, gallop back to their former elementary school and re-take grades three through five.
Hartford, Connecticut as… Hartferd
Yes, when you say Hartford out loud, it sounds like Hartferd. But here’s a piece of advice: if you try to write out a city name phonetically and it looks like a moron wrote it, it’s probably not spelled that way.
Hershey, Pennsylvania as… Hurshy
If you’ve ever eaten a piece of Hershey chocolate in your life, it’s inexcusable to screw up the spelling of Hershey, Pennsylvania. In fact, the Hershey chocolate factory should only admit guests who can properly spell Hershey, and dispose of everyone else in a similar fashion to Agustus Gloop.
Memphis, Tennessee as… Memfis
Phor crying out loud, you don’t need a PhD to know that Memphis is spelled with a “ph” and not an “f.” We can’t phorgive anyone who phorgets the spelling of such a simple name. It’s not that diphphicult to get right.
Miami, Florida as… Myami
We empathize with the desire to claim ownership of things, especially a city known for beaches full of unattainably gorgeous people… but you don’t own Miami. It’s not yours. There is no “my” in Miami. It’s also very likely that if you were looking for plane tickets to Myami, it would bring up the results of a Japanese porn star by that name.
Nashville, Tennessee as… Nashvile
Perhaps some people find country music vile, but there’s nothing vile about Nashville.
Norwich, Connecticut as… Norwitch
Connecticut did a pretty good job of disposing of most of their witches during a seventeenth century witch hunt, so they probably don’t want to be reminded of them. So if you ever see a witch eating a sandwich in Norwich, make sure to report her to the proper authorities so she can be properly burned at the stake.
Peabody, Massachusetts as… Peebody
This particular misspelling conjures images of a genre of adult videos we wish not to see.
Phoenix, Arizona as… Fenix
While it would be cool if more cities had names spelled like characters from science-fiction novels, Fenix does not yet exist. Phoenix, on the other hand, does exist, and they wouldn’t be phine with that misspelling.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as… Pitsburg
Look, we know it’s a lot of work for people who are mailing out Super Bowl party invitations to write out two long names that begin with the letter “P,” but if you start lazily omitting letters out of the city’s name, by the time you have to write the state’s name, Pennsylvania could wind up being spelled Pncilvnya. Yeah, that silent “h” at the end of Pittsburgh has been inconveniencing people from the beginning of time, but if you don’t spell Pittsburgh correctly, you have to dump Troy Polamalu from your fantasy football team. It’s a rule.
Portland, Oregon as… Port Land
Who would dare try to split up “Port” and “land?” They’ve been together since the city was founded in 1845 and they’re stronger than ever. Don’t put a space between them. They belong together.
Quincy, Illinois as… Kwincy
We wonder if John Quincy Adams ever drank a slushee at the Kwikie Mart in Kwincy.
Sacramento, California as… Sackremento
The word “sack” is bandied around quite a bit in Sacramento as a reference to what some people want to do with ineffective politicians, but there is no “sack” in the name Sacramento. Not that some people in California would even know it’s misspelled considering the state has the largest number of illiterate people in the nation.
San Jose, California as… San Hose
The difference between “Jose” and a “hose” should be quite obvious: one is the name of a person, the other is an object used to water lawns. To make the distinction even clearer, consider that San Jose has many gardeners named Jose who use hoses for a living.
Waco, Texas as… Wacko
The city of Waco has occasionally been home to wackos — remember David Koresh and his Branch Davidian cult crazies? — but for the most part it seems like a nice town undeserving of such an unfavorable misspelling.