Pet Peeve #24: The Pronunciation of "Thames"

I’m not one to pronounce words correctly. The classic example of this is “vehemently,” which I pronounced–with full vigor–“vah-hem-en-ent-ly” (yes, I added several new letters to the word).

So River Thames, help a brother out. Is it really necessary that you’re pronounced “Tims”?

One, it’s clearly “Thames,” as in “James” with a lisp. Two, it could be pronounced “tames,” which would make sense in some circles. Three, call it what it is and rename it “Tims.”

I think the root of all this agony is that early on in my life, I was asked to find the River Thames on a map (this was probably part of my mission to find, capture, and strip search Carmen Sandiego). Of course, these instructions were spoken to me, and there is no River Tims in England. So Carmen got away, and I resorted to shooting deer with the slowest bullets ever in Oregon Trail. Man’s gotta feed his family somehow.

Is there any word that you’d change the spelling of if you were in charge of the dictionary?

13 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #24: The Pronunciation of "Thames"”

  1. Have you seen pics of Carmen Sandiego lately? I forgot what she looked like so I Google imaged her and she’s pretty hot! I think I have my Halloween costume idea! It’s either that or Angelina Jolie with a bunch of babies hanging off of me.

  2. Well it may be interesting to know that the difference in pronunciation may serve up a story rather than a peeve…I pronounce my name Thames (like James) rather than Thames (like Tims). Although I haven’t been able to make the complete genealogical connection yet, I keep coming back to being related to an Amos Timms–in the 1700’s. My suspicion (and thus the story) is that Amos arrived at Ellis Island, they asked him his name, and he said Thames (like Tims) and they wrote down TIMMS. He must have concluded that Thames (like James) would be a more suitable pronunication than (like Tims). So…sometimes there may be reasons for a connection, when there doesn’t seem to be. At least that’s my story…

  3. Ever hear radio hosts (or interviewees) say “eck cetera” (for et cetera)?
    This drives me absolutely nuts. I knew a co-worker who would pronounce it that way, and he would also say “eckspecially” for “especially”.
    When I was in high-school back in the late 50’s/early 60’s, the parochial school I went to made us take at least one semester of Latin, where I learned that the Latin word “et” meant “and”, and I presumed “et cetera” meant “AND so on AND so on”. Now Latin is a dead language not worth learning, and so now we have learned, influential, authoritative people saying ECK-CETERA instead of ET-CETERA. ECK…makes me want to puke!

    • Franek–That’s a good one! I’m sure people have said that and I haven’t noticed. I wonder if they really think that’s how “et cetera” is spelled.

  4. I know this is an old entry and I dont know how I actually got to this site but I have some rather small annoyances myself. My brother cannot for reasons unknown, say 3 words properly. First he says breftist instead of breakfast, secondly he says Philidelthia instead of Philidelphia and lastly he uses the expression “fixing to” all the time only he says “fisking to” it drives me crazy! BTW he is almost 30.

  5. Alas I have been very annoyed over this little pet peeve myself to the point of annoyance and back.

    Clearly and naturally it should be pronouced as Thames…however that is not the case since king George was of German Descent and could only say it as Temmz, meant that his royal subjects (aka soon to be headless subjects who for obvious reasons liked their heads) decided to honour him and pronounce it Temmz…

    Well I am glad for Jamey that I am not the only one to have this pet peeve… it would have been less of an issue of only a few select individuals of society pronounced it Temmz…but everybody from children to bartenders have to say it way

    argghh shiver me timbers….


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading