Tongue-twisters: How to pronounce the tricky member names

Rep. Scott DesJarlais’s (R-Tenn.) last name befuddles so many people that he dedicated an entire campaign ad to its pronunciation.

In the ad, DesJarlais sits at a picnic table, introducing himself, when an old man interrupts him, holding up a mustard jar while asking, “Dijon?”

“Not the mustard!” DesJarlais’s family shouts as the politician says his name again.

The 112th Congress opened with one of the legislative body’s largest freshman classes, and with it come several names that have the potential to embarrass any staffer, lobbyist or reporter attempting to introduce him- or herself or get a lawmaker’s attention.

In an effort to avoid such situations, The Hill offers a pronunciation guide to the most difficult names of the freshman class, as well as a refresher on how to pronounce some veteran legislators’ tricky names.

Starting at the top

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Ohio): BAY-nur. It should be well-known by now that the new House Speaker has a last name whose vowels betray their intended sounds. Lest there remain any doubt, the first syllable of his last name has the long-A sound — despite the juvenile mispronunciation that persists.

Short — but still tough

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.): A-ott (The first syllable rhymes with “day.”)

Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonLet's not ignore the benefits of 340B Drug Pricing Programs GOP lawmaker who treated train injuries discusses the accident Dem says ObamaCare repeal effort moves US ‘toward single-payer’ MORE (R-Ind.): BOO-shon

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.): Cruh-VACK

Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.): GIN-tuh (It’s a hard G, as in “good.)

Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller MORE (R-N.D.): HO-vun

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.): HYULES-camp

Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.): SHWEYE-kurt

Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackCiting deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements Dems tee off on Trump budget House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform MORE (R-Ark.): WHOA-mack

Longer — and even trickier

Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R-Texas): KEE-ko Cahn-SEH-ko

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.): Sis-uh-LEEN-ee

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.): DAY-zhar-lay

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.): HI-zing-guh

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio): Ruh-NAY-see

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.): Row-KEE-tuh


Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing Bipartisan group of senators ask Trump to fund broadband in infrastructure plan MORE (R-Ark.): BOAZ-min. Boozman made the switch from the lower to the upper body this Congress — just when House staffers learned that his last name doesn’t sound like “booze.” It remains to be seen how long it will take for the Senate to learn this lesson.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio): SHA-bit. Chabot returns to Congress this year after a rematch last fall with another politician with a tough name, former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D).


No matter how long they’ve been in Congress, these members have names that regularly get mispronounced.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.): Bill-uh-RACK-iss

Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (R-W.Va.): KA-pih-toe

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.): Cap-yoo-ON-oh

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTrump, GOP at new crossroads on deficit Chaffetz: Spending vote means GOP 'lost every single bit of credibility' on debt Let’s not fail in our second chance to protect Bears Ears MORE (R-Utah): CHAY-fits

Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBeware of the bank deregulation Trojan horse Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems rip Trump's Fed pick as Senate panel mulls three key nominees MORE (R-Idaho): CRAY-poh

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas): KWAY-ar

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.): EN-sin

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.): SHAW-kuh Fuh-TAH

Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenExiting lawmakers put in calls to K Street Ex-New York Jets lineman mulling run for House SEC paperless mandate a bad deal for rural, elderly investors MORE (R-N.J.): FREE-ling-hi-zen

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas): een-oh-HO-suh

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.):  IN-hoff

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii): In-OH-yay

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): EYE-suh. We’ll be hearing Issa’s name more this Congress now that he’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Dems seek reversal of nursing home regulatory rollback MORE (D-Minn.): KLOW-buh-shar

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.): LAN-juh-vin

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.): LUKE-tuh-my-ur

Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine): MISH-oh

Rep. Randy NeugebauerRobert (Randy) Randolph NeugebauerCordray announces he's leaving consumer bureau, promotes aide to deputy director GOP eager for Trump shake-up at consumer bureau Lobbying World MORE (R-Texas): NAW-guh-bow-ur

Rep. Tom PetriThomas (Tom) Evert PetriBreak the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Combine healthcare and tax reform to bring out the best in both Overnight Tech: Internet lobby criticizes GOP privacy bill | Apple sees security requests for user data skyrocket | Airbnb beefs up lobbying MORE (R-Wis.): PEE-try

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.): ROAR-uh-bock-ur

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.): Veh-LAW-skes

Download the pronunciation guide here