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Sep 21, 2007 07:18 AM

How Do You Pronounce "Gyro?"

Help me out, folks ...

How do you -- or people where you live -- pronounce "gyro?" You know, the Greek sandwich thing. I imagine that, in Greece, it's pronounced something like (h)year-oh. In English? "Jai-roh?" "Jeer-oh?" Yarg.

I almost hate to order one, since everyone in the gyro line is pronouncing it differently.

Which one is right?

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  1. Nobody pronounces it right and the people at the restaurants are used to it. The most egregious sounds like "jai-roe" with the "jai" sounding like "pie." You're better off just trying "hee-roh" like "hero" but with a little longer "e." The correct pronounciation is actually a soft g, which is very hard for most Americans to get right.

    15 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      yeer-oh seems to be the closest phoenetic spelling I can come up with. Although some hardcore greeks may frown upon mispronunciation - I'm pretty sure that if they have a que for their gryos they don't care how you pronounce it so long as you pay. =P

      1. re: Prax1134

        I grew up in an area with a large Greek population and yeer - oh was the accepted pronunciation. But they are tasty however they are ordered!

        1. re: Prax1134

          "Yee-roh" is correct standard Greek (if there was ever an "h" sound, it disappeared 1500 years ago like most of the odd stuff all those accents were meant to indicate until they finally dropped them in 1982 and palatization of the sound is not that common, certainly not formally "proper" - it's Greek, not Arabic.)

          In the US, you'd probably get a blank stare from most if you asked for that - "jy-ro" would be pretty standard English pronunciation - as in gyroscope and its variants. But the bottom line (according to my half Greek side) is that Prax is right. LOL Even speaking Greek half-acceptably, I just ask for "jai-ros" myself -its quicker, saves trouble and you don't sound like a pretentious idiot...

          1. re: MikeG

            Your answer is pretty on spot for USA, I think. Who says "yee-ro-scope," after all?

        2. re: rockandroller1

          So what do you do when you order a "hee-roh" and instead of a gyro they give you a sandwich?

          1. re: rockandroller1

            From those, who should know, I agree, with a tiny bit of an addition. If one listens very closely, there is a not quite silent "g" at the beginning. Imagine "hero," but with just the hint of a very soft "g" at the beginning.To the English-speaking ear, it might not be picked up, but it's there - just very subtle.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              YES! You explained it perfectly...VERY VERY subtle...I never could quite pick it up until you said it because it's been so long since I heard it, but I just would bistle at JEER OH

              1. re: fennelpdx

                Because I am a native English-speaker, I had to listen carefully, and ask for many repeats. If the air is still, and the environment is quite, it is there.

                I liken it to the Mo-et,sound in the Dutch Moët. One needs to listen closely. Now, had Mr. Moët been French, it would have been closer to Mo-ay.

                Hunt, with the English "tin-ear."

                    1. re: fennelpdx

                      There are different hypotheses about the origin of this name. I don't have a link to a fashion magazine to prove it, but have a look at this:

                      In any case, the ‹t› is pronounced in "Moët" because final ‹t› is sometimes pronounced in French, especially in short words, and especially in names. It is not because the family may have been Dutch 600 years ago.

                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                        I get the remark on the fashion mag--I just snagged it because was the first thing that came up and said it was the company's call. I had the info from someone in Napa Valley whose father had been with Moet for years. So, if that's how they pronounce it, to me it seems silly to argue for the French version. To me it sounds like trying to be pretentious. Of course, nowhere near as grating as hearing someone pronounce "meritage" as if it were French.

                        1. re: fennelpdx

                          My point is that the version with the pronounced ‹t› _is_ is the French version. No one is arguing for a silent ‹t›.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Cmon, let's let Bill keep a trumpet in his ear
                    akin to latter day hearing aid.

                    The fleugelhorn receptor
                    turn right to the speaker
                    for each every flute of their nuances.

                    What we are talking here
                    is heft to the voice box
                    and final aspiration
                    matched lips to the guttural
                    to give final sound.
                    I'd place it a hiss
                    Somewhere between hard consonant G and softer of H.

                    More important to me is that gyro means spiral of sliced meat kissing hot flame.
                    However sliced or enunciated..

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      I am glad that you are satisfied with the meaning, but the OP asked about the pronunciation - two totally different things.

                      Enjoy your happiness,


            2. I was corrected many years ago and since then I have pronounced it - yeer oh. Along these same question lines I have gotten tired of everyone "from" any given foods orignal ethinc roots giving the definative pronuciation of a given item, e.g. proscuttio, has now been truncated down to some word that sounds like przhoot and mazzorella compressed to mzrel. I lived in Italy for 4 years and never heard the local speak these "difinative" words...

              14 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                This one drives me crazy too. Especially trying to dictate the one-and-only proper definitive correct pronunciation when every country has regional and class differences just like our own.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  For many years (ever since a stay in Holland), I have been used to pronouncing the round Dutch cheese "how'-da". This, though, usually gets uncomprehending stares, until I say "goo'-da".

                  1. re: ekammin

                    I also pronounce gouda that abrasively Dutch way. (with the g being pronounced like the CH in the Scottish word "loch") It's far less well understood than the proper pronunciation of "gyros," although I also get blank stares from Americans when I refer to Vincent van Gogh properly.

                  2. re: MakingSense

                    yeah, wasn't there a recent discussion on one of the boards about "bruschetta"--is it "broosheta" or "broosketa"?

                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                      oh ho ho, Spiritchaser, there is a recent Chowhound thread you must read:


                      1. re: mcgeary

                        THANK YOU FOR THAT LINK! That was just too similar to what I have thought for a while, man that made up for a really crappy day. Salute! (Or would that be Saloo)

                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                          no, it would be sa-Lut. already cutting out the vowel, not saloo which cuts off the consonant too.

                      2. re: Spiritchaser

                        I grew up in California, and always pronounced both prosciutto and mozzarella with all the syllables (and never had any problems ordering either item when I have visited Tuscany). However, I got to college, and my Connecticut born and raised roommate "corrected" my pronunciation to the przhoot and mootsarell versions - I think that area of the northeast was primarily settled by southern Italians and Sicilians.

                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                          I would agree this is def. a Northeastern (not standard Italian) way of doing things. Being from CT, with Silician and Southern Italian roots that's the way I thought it was supposed to sound!

                          1. re: melpy

                            My favorite example of this pronuciation ocurred when I went to my local Italian deli to try and tried to ask if they had Bresaola (for those who have never had the stuff, think of it as being sort of the beef analog to proscuitto). The deli owner (who also dropped final syllables) said yes, and then asked if I wanted veal, pork, or chicken! After a great deal of confusuion I finally dawned on me that because of the way hew was used to pronocing it, he though I want some bracciole!

                            1. re: jumpingmonk

                              I live in suburban NYC and I had *exactly* the same problem!

                      3. closest i can do in writing is yee rose with the y really being a soft gutteral and the r rolled with the second sylable slightly accented.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chazzerking

                          I have always been taught that it is pronounced yee-ro. But now I live in a mostly Greek neighborhood in New York and everyone pronounces it Jai-ro, I think to prevent confusion between Yee-ro and HEro, which is what they call subs/hoagies/grinders in NYC. I love it.

                          1. re: melon

                            I am from New York and grew up saying it as you describe -- and I always thought we must do that because we call long sandwiches Heros (instead of hoagies, grinders, or poboys, which they have been called in the cities I've lived in since leaving home). But I also have basically only ordered Gyros at Gyro II by Penn station for years, because I love them, and I usually just order "3 regular, with everything, to go," and have thus avoided pronouncing Gyro at all!

                        2. My understanding is that it is (h)yeer-oh. The worst is when people use the "g" sound, which I'm guilty of doing from time to time when I'm completely not thinking about it.

                          1. jfood has probably ordered hundreds of these things in his life, absolutely loves them (right up there with falaffel).

                            For 40 years he ordered them by the name jie-roh. And guess what every gyro maker knew what he was asking for. then the political correctness hits jfood along with a deeper appreciation of correct pronunciation due to increased worldly travel and he learned to call them hee-rohs. Whether that's correct or not, who knows but in the end jfood received the same sandwich whether he called jie-roh or hee-roh.

                            it's beginning to feel like poe-tae-toe vs poe-tah-toe and bay-zil versus bah-zil. And the emporer put his clothes back on. Whew.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              and i learned recently the correct pronunciation of falafel is "faleffel." not fal-aHfel. had no idea.

                              1. re: fara

                                Actually, both are correct. Whether one prounounces falafel one way or the other depends on which region of the middle east one is from. It's purely a difference in accent, and "fal-AH-fel" is the most commonly used Arabic pronunciation.

                                1. re: hrhboo

                                  I was going to Palestinian friends have always said fal-AH-fel.

                                  1. re: hrhboo

                                    Is the "falaffel" pronunciation the Egyptian dialect? If so then that would explain a widespread presence of it being said that way (as most Arabic language television comes from Egypt). However, speaking with an Egyptian Arabic dialect is still seen as more lower class.

                                    Palestinian/Jordanian Arabic does pronounce it fal-Ah-fel (as does Israeli Hebrew), but with all of the different spoken Arabic dialects you can probably get away with a wide variety of pronunciations.