WNC’s trickiest area names

Folks that are new to town commonly mispronounce "Catawba." I Photo via @catawbabrewing

On Nov. 21, North Cackalacky will turn 232 years young. We know: it’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to, but we’d rather not cry over mispronunciations of local things. So today, we’re bringing you a guide on how to talk like a native


  • This mountain county in northwest North Carolina has a way of twisting tongues when pronounced. Its name comes from the Allegewi Indian word “oolikhanna,” which means “beautiful stream.” Its correct pronunciation is Al-i-GAINY.


  • Arguably the number one offender here, some folks find the following helpful: “If you say appa-laysha, someone will likely throw an apple atcha.” You’re sure to get a lot of “Bless your hearts,” if you pronounce it anyway other than ap-uh-LATCH-uh.


  • Nope, this Jackson County town does not sound like multiple grocery store clerks. It’s pronounced CASH-urs.


  • Named after its original inhabitants — tribes of the Catawba Nation — this western Piedmont county should never be called “cat-uh-wa-buh,” but rather ka-TAW-ba.


  • Best known as home to Western Carolina University, this Jackson County town is pronounced CULL-uh-whee.


  • One of the most vexing names here, it’s been called “Lee-cester” and “Lye-cester,” but most locals pronounce it like the name: Lester


  • This Cherokee word, meaning “land of the noon day sun,” often has its second “n” omitted from pronunciation, but be sure to include it and say: nan-tuh-HAY-luh


  • A tribal word for “beautiful river,” Watauga County is named after the Indian tribe and river of the same name. Pronounce it Wa-TAW-ga.