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How to Pronounce Massachusetts Town Names, Introduction

Click a county on either the map or the list to the right.

This problem frequently comes up when dealing with someone from out of state. The proper pronunciation of the name, Worcester. My own name, Grosvenor, is somewhat hard to pronounce (there is a silent s in it) so I totally sympathize with the city of Worcester when it comes to pronouncing the name. Do people from Worcester, New York feel the same pain? Do they even pronounce it the same? Does it matter? We're from Massachusetts, so I know we're right!

Worcester was originally the name of a city in jolly ole England (and still is), which means it's an English name.

Worcester was known to the Hwiccii as Weogornceaster, the "Roman walled town of the people called Weogora."Worcester (Woost'-er). A contraction of Wicii-ware-ceaster (the camptown of the Wicii people). Ware means people, and Wicii was a tribe name. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 879, which was the thirty-first of king Alfred, the aforesaid army of pagans leaving Chippenham, as they had promised, went to Cirencester, which is called in British "Cair Cori", and is situate in the southern part of the Wiccii, (36) and there they remained one year. (36) Inhabitants of Gloucester, Worcester, and part of Warwickshire. Thanks go to Harry Staruk for finding the above two paragraphs.

The -cester part of the name relates to a castle or other fortified place (in old English) This is similar to Chester (North west England) and Cirencester (SIREN-CESS-TER)... Thanks Will Rolls for that bit of the puzzle. Of course the Worcester in Massachusetts never really had much to do with castles, unless you count Bancroft Towers, but since that came along about 200 years after the name of the city, I doubt it was named for it.

I intentionally don't use the phonetic spellings you find in dictionaries, since I don't think they're as obvious as the misspellings I used here. (I always find myself looking up the little symbols to figure them out anyways). On top of that, most of the symbols the dictionaries use aren't easily encoded in HTML (some browsers barf on some codes, some don't).

Also check out the popular phrases of Central Mass and the list of words that are unique to New England.

More Information on PROP-AH Pronunciation

A general rule of thumb is that most New Englanders pronounce a word that ends with an a such as data (dater) and vise versa. A word which ends with er such as Biker (bika). And did you know that the so called downeastern accent which is so readily attributed to people from Maine and some other shoreline parts of New England is alive and well in several southern coastal areas. I've been told that the accent is not so much a regional entity but rather one spoken in whaling communities.

Out of the 364 towns listed below, I only have pronunciations for about 80 or so of them, so don't get too excited by the size of this list. Submit a Town

Towns Listed Alphabetically, with County Name

This is not an official page of the city of Worcester. The views contained within this site is not from any official or funded by the city in anyway.

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Copyright 1998-2012 By Charles R. Grosvenor Jr.