Kadence info

This is the right way to pronounce “Ukulele” and you are not going to like it


A lie told many times over becomes a truth , and the cool Hawaiian instrument- Ukulele has long been a victim of this.

With scores of alternative pronunciations of the word (Ukulele) doing the rounds, the original version has now been forgotten. So much so that when you search for the correct pronunciation on the internet, an incorrect one – “You-Kuh-lay-lee” pops up, and while this might be the most prevalent pronunciation of the Ukulele, it is certainly not the correct one. Popular does not mean right.

So then, what is the correct way to say “Ukulele”?

It is “Oo-Koo-Le-Le”.

Why is this the correct way to pronounce Ukulele? you ask

Because the Hawaiians say so. Period.

The Ukulele has its roots in Hawaii and it is only fair that their pronunciation of the word is deemed the correct one.

How do you pronounce ‘ukulele’ the right way?

Here is a step-by-step breakdown,

The word UKULELE has 7 letters, out of which 4 are unique (U, K, L, E) and the rest are repeated.

Fortunately for us, the pronunciations of the repeated letters are the same, making it easy to remember them.

    1. The U is pronounced as “Oo”.
    2. The K is pronounced in the usual manner.
    3. The L, again, is pronounced in the usual manner.
    4. The E is pronounced as “Eh”.

When you stitch them all together, you get the resulting pronunciation of the Ukulele as “Oo-Koo-Le-Le”. How simple is that!

It is also worth noting that this changes the way we pronounce the shortened version of the word- Uke, from “Yook” to “Ook”.

Appropriate article usage: Whether to use ‘a’ or ‘an’ before Ukulele?

Depending on how one pronounces the ukulele, the article preceding it changes. 

If you pronounce it in the Hawaiian way, which is the correct way, you should add ‘an’ before the word since the pronunciation starts with a vowel sound (‘O’ in this case)

For instance- an orange, an Honest man.

Whereas, if you prefer the other incorrect but popular alternatives that usually start with the consonant sound ‘Y’, you should add the article- ‘a’ before ukulele.

For instance- a Yacht.

Ending Note:

While pronouncing the ukulele in a different manner than the authentic Hawaiian version is not a grave offence, and is sure to be accepted across different regions (provided that it gets the point across), it is no excuse to endorse the inaccurate version as an accurate one. 

It is like a teacher mispronouncing your name during a roll call and then declaring it correct.