Fun Friday Question: How do you pronounce Therese?

Happy Friday, everyone!

I posed a question on Twitter a few years ago, which I then posted about on the blog, regarding the pronunciation of Lisieux specifically and your thoughts on pronunciation of Saints’ names with non-English origins more broadly — an interesting discussion ensued! A little more heated than what I usually see on Sancta Nomina! But here I am to dip my toe back in the controversial-pronunciations water to ask:

How do *you* pronounced Therese?

I would say the three pronunciations I usually hear are ter-EZ, ter-AYZ, and teh-REESE. I might even consider ter-EZ and ter-AYZ to be variants of the same pronunciation. Do you agree? Would you add any?

As a follow-up, what are your thoughts on the accents? Do you say Thérèse differently than Therese? Have you given Thérèse/Therese to your daughter, and if so, is there more you can say about pronunciation and accents vs. no accents?

I don’t want anyone to feel self-conscious about the way they say the name or what their thoughts are on accents, so please everyone, be sensitive!

Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!


13 thoughts on “Fun Friday Question: How do you pronounce Therese?

  1. I speak enough French that, if I read it in a French text, with accents, something like “tay-REZ,” with a more “back of the throat” pronunciation of the “R.” I think it’d be [te ‘rɛz] in the international phonetic alphabet. If I came across someone with the name in the English-speaking world, I’d say something more like “tuh-REZ” (for no accents) or “tay-REZ” (but with an American “R” instead of the throaty French “R”) if she spells it with the accents.

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  2. I know several, and my default for the Saint and in real life regardless of the accents has always been ter-REZ. It’s almost exclusively pronounced that way in my area with lots of French influence, though I do also know one who says ter-EES-uh (identical to Theresa). I also only know one who uses Thérèse (vs. Therese), but she can’t put the accents on any official documents in the US which I’ve always felt was a shame!

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  3. Middle name Therese, no accents; it has always been teh-Reese from my family. I had honestly never heard it another way until I was listening to a catholic podcast. (US mid-west). We have French heritage, but nobody in the family regularly speaks French beyond some foreign language classes in school.

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  4. Tah- rez or tay-rez for my daughter. I have French in my background . The pronunciation gets muddled with English. When I’m feeling fancy, I do the Frech style r emphatically.

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  5. I say Teh- Reese, although I have heard other pronunciations of the name (I’m in the American South). For me, it’s a deal breaker with this name because I wouldn’t want my child to constantly correct the pronunciation of their name, I had to do that with my name as a child and I hated it.

    (The name I had to correct was my last name, Giles, which is said Jiles to rhythm with Miles. At least 50% of the time people say Guy-ules, or Gill-Ess. I know Giles is a saints name that’s relatively rare in America and I think the pronunciation issues are why).

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  6. I pronounce Therese as teh-REESE or tuh-REESE, with a silent final e.
    I pronounce Thérèse as tay-REZ. In Europe or other Latin/Hispanic areas it might be pronounced as tay-REZ-uh.
    I also have heard Thérèse pronounced as TRAYZ, which seems as illogical to me as Brett Favre pronouncing his last name as Farve.

    If my husband and I had had another daughter, her name would have been Therese Isabel, nicknamed Tessa, Tess, and/or Tibby.

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  7. I’m from Australia. The default pronunciation would be tuh-REEZE. I don’t think you’d have any pronunciation issues here, assuming you were comfortable with that pronunciation.
    Definitely a Z sound at the end as opposed to an S. if I saw it with accents I would guess teh-RAZE.

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  8. We pronounce our daughter’s name Tuh- REZ. She gets Tuh-Reese a lot, or, as she pointed out just the other day, Trez. She’s still pretty young, but we’ve started teaching her to write the accent marks so that people are more likely to ask about the pronunciation.

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  9. First name Therese here! Pronounced Teh-REESE. I do think the French pronounciatkon Ter-REZ is beautiful, but I’ve always gone by the pronunciation my parents chose for me. I know 4 other Therese’s of various ages, 3 pronounced the same as mine (ending in “REESE”) and one ending in “RAYZ” (I think her family is of Irish heritage). It’s definitely hard for strangers to pronounce, but I’ve gotten used to clarifying by saying “like Theresa, minus the “uh”. I don’t mind dealing with the mispronunciations. In fact it gave me the confidence to name one of our daughters Chiara, despite knowing she’ll face many mispronunciations in her lifetime too. 🙂

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  10. I say tuh-REZ. Most people in my Catholic circle say it that way, accents or not.

    If we have another daughter I’d love to name her Therese but the pronunciation/accents issues might deter us…

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