You've Been Pronouncing IKEA Wrong This Whole Time

All over the world, people know the furniture megastore IKEA, but most are not pronouncing it the "correct" way. The retailer's name is technically an acronym and therefore has no "correct" pronunciation. Still, when Americans hear how IKEA's founders and native Swedish speakers pronounce it, they are often floored.

IKEA company officials have pointed out over the years that English-speakers pronounce the name differently from Swedish speakers. That fact went viral in the fall when the IKEA Singapore store Instagram account posted an infographic showing how to pronounce the name "properly." Apparently, it should sound like "EE-kay-UH," not "AI-kay-UH" or "AI-kee-UH" as most people around the world say it. Customers were embarrassed by this misconception, and by the fact that they never knew what the company name stood for.

Followers could hardly believe what they were reading. "SETTING THE RECORD STR8," one top comment read. Another person wrote: "My life has been a lie!" while a third person added: "I've been pronouncing it right, most of the time."

Naturally, anyone who speaks Swedish likely had the pronunciation correct from the beginning. For the rest of us, IKEA has given us plenty of chances to learn to say its name. The company even explained the meaning of its name in a 2018 interview with Quartz when it was celebrating its 75th anniversary in business.

At the time, a spokesperson said that IKEA is an acronym. The first two letters stand for the founder's initials, Ingvar Kamprad, the third stands for the name of his family farm, Elmtaryd, and the fourth stands for the village where he grew up, Agunnaryd, which is in Småland, Sweden. A native Swedish speaker would almost certainly pronounce this amalgam with the same inflection as Kamprad – "EE-kay-UH."

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"It's only natural that people pronounce 'IKEA' and the Swedish names of its products with a local accent. That's absolutely ok!" the spokesperson added. Still, customers are consistently dumbfounded when they realize they've been making a mistake without realizing it.

After nearly eight decades in business, IKEA has become a staple of many retail hubs and a go-to destination for cheap, easy-to-move furniture. The company is currently based in the Netherlands, with chains all over the world.