Outside Business Journal

You Say To-Mah-To: Guide to Pronouncing Commonly Butchered Names of Outdoor Companies

How to pronounce Nau, Teva, Mammut and 14 other commonly butchered outdoor company and brand names

Jill Adler

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

By now we all know to say nye-kee when referring to Nike, but back in the 1980s it wasn’t unusual to hear friends mention they’d bought a pair of Nikes—as in bikes. Fast-forward to 2012, and it seems almost trendy for companies in the outdoor industry to create names so eclectic their own employees struggle with the pronunciation.

“If we didn’t make [our name] difficult to figure out, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” chuckled Mark Galbraith of Nau, which sounds like now—not nah as in nautical. “It’s three letters, we could find a web domain, it wasn’t trademarked and Northern Arizona University didn’t have a problem with us using it. Plus, Nau means ‘welcome’ in Maori, and we thought it would be great to have a name that said ‘welcome to my whatever.’” The pronunciation of Nau as now is a bonus, he added. “It’s a subtle reminder that our product is current and fresh.”

Picking names that mean something in another language is certainly popular. Teva (teh-vuh, not tee-vah) means nature in Hebrew. Elsewhere, companies create wholly new words from phonetic colloquialisms. Pronounced jewel, Juil “means absolutely nothing,” according to a salesperson at the booth.

Hang around Mammut and you’ll hear MA-moot with the emphasis on the first syllable, maybe even mam-mit (like “damn it”). Both are wrong. The true pronunciation of the word that means wooly mammoth is ma-MOOT, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Herewith, a list of the most commonly garbled outdoor names along with their correct phonetic pronunciation.


Teva teh-vah

Cushe – kush-ee

Guyot – ghee–oh

Katadyn cat–a–dine





Primaloft pree-ma-loft

Millet meeyay


Leki – lay-key

Outdoor Research: No more acronym

For years, we knew the Seattle apparel and accessory leader as OR. No longer. Outdoor Research wants everyone know that the company is more than two initials and definitely not a souvenir from the O.R. trade show. “OR doesn’t stand for much outside of our core users,” said PR representative Dave Simpson. “We’re using the whole name now so there’s no confusion.” The rebranding means clothes for 2013 will sport both the traditional OR logo as well as the full company name.