The Proper Pronunciation of “Anole”

Dale Hoyt ( asks the very reasonable question:

What is the proper pronunciation of “Anole”? Is it Ann-ol, An-ol-ee,or something else?
I get different answers when I consult online pronunciation guides, e.g.,

Thoughts, anyone?

About Jonathan Losos

Author and Professor at Harvard University
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7 Responses to The Proper Pronunciation of “Anole”

  1. marthamunoz says:

    I prefer pronouncing it “uh – knoll”, as in a grassy knoll. I’ll sometimes say “a-knoll”, which is similar to annal. But I don’t say “uh-knoll-ee”, which I think is how it’s pronounced in Florida by the locals.

  2. Joshua says:

    The Floridians I know (including one named “Anole”!) all use the three-syllable pronunciation. That’s the one I learned growing up in Hawaii, too, where we had a couple of species establish themselves after, I think, coming over as pets.

    It’s only specialists like all y’all I’ve heard using the two-syllable pronunciation!

  3. cybokat says:

    I’m going with “uh – knoll” too. However, sometimes I use “Anolies” or “uh – knol -ees”, particularly when feeling sentimental about them.

    Now someone help me to pronounce “Annals”?


  4. Wes Chun says:

    I read somewhere that the word ‘anole’ is from the French-Caribbean word ‘anoli’, in which case it would be pronounced with three syllables. But no matter, we all know what it means…

  5. marthamunoz says:

    That’s very familiar! I remember reading French descriptions of herpetofauna where they’re called “des anolys” – three syllables! We’ve certainly Americanized it.

  6. Rich Glor says:

    Personally, I always use the two syllable form.

    I’ve always heard that anole is from the language of the Carib people. According to Wikipedia, there are still around 10,000 surviving speakers of the Carib language, so perhaps they should be the ultimate authority on the terms pronunciation? Anybody know a Carib speaker?

  7. Here’s what I said in my later post on A Brief History of Anoles in Research:

    Among anolologists, anole is almost invariably pronounced “uh-nole” or “an-ole”, but the etymologically correct pronunciation is probably “a-no-lee”. The word “anolis” is a French West Indian word, still used on some French (or Creole) speaking islands, and on currently English-speaking islands which were previously French. In Haitian Creole, Wade Davis (1983) rendered the word as “zanolite” (he pronounced it with stresses on the first and third syllables), while Allsop (1996) gives it as “zandoli” on St. Lucia. (In both these forms, the ‘z’ is a common addition to Creole nouns, as in “zwazo”, from French “oiseau”.) It is most plausibly derived from a Carib word, but claims for an African origin have also been made. So, pretty much every anole biologist you meet (including me!) will be saying “anole” wrong.

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