Teach Siri to Pronounce Names and Use Nicknames

Apple's digital assistant isn't perfect

Person using Siri on phone

Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Siri does a surprisingly good job at pronouncing names, but she isn't perfect. And neither are we. Sometimes, she has such a difficult time figuring out a thick accent that a name becomes completely unrecognizable. If you have a rare or hard-to-pronounce name to begin with, the problem can be compounded. But there are a couple of easy solutions. You can teach Siri how to pronounce a name or you can give them a nickname. Here's how.

This guide applies to iOS 12+.

How to Teach Siri to Pronounce a Name

When Siri mispronounces a name, immediately tell her, "That's not how you say that." She will ask you to pronounce the name and offer you a choice of pronunciations.

As an alternative, you can give a contact a phonetic spelling to help Siri out.

  1. Open the Contacts app and select the entry you want to edit.

    Screenshot of an entry in iOS's Contacts app
  2. Select Edit at the top of the screen.

  3. Scroll to the bottom and select Add Field.

    Screenshot depicting the
  4. You can choose to add a Phonetic First Name, Phonetic Last Name, or Phonetic Middle Name. Once added, simply spell the name out as it sounds.

    Screenshot depicting the options available if you select

How to Give Yourself a Nickname

Having Siri call you by a different name is one of the easiest tasks you can perform. Activate Siri and say, "Call me..." followed by whatever nickname you want to use.

The neat part is Siri will update all shared contact lists on the account. So, if you share a contact list with your spouse, your nickname will show up on their contact list as well.

How to Give Someone Else a Nickname

You can give anyone a nickname by adding a nickname field in the Contacts app. This works the same as adding the phonetic spellings: go to Edit > Add Field > Nickname. Once you add a nickname, you can refer to the person by their whole name or their nickname when using Siri to call or text them.

Just remember to give them a nickname that is easy to pronounce. There is no "Phonetic Nickname" field.

How to Play Fun Nickname Pranks

The ability to give contacts a nickname opens up some avenues for mischief. The best subjects of these pranks are family members and friends. For example, we wouldn't suggest putting "Ball and Chain" as your spouse's nickname, but yes you can do that. You can even call someone "The Dude Who Owes Me 5 Bucks," which is hilarious when they're standing right beside you. Just remember to say it exactly as it is in the nickname or Siri might think you're trying to pay the person with Apple Pay.

Check out our guide to more fun iPhone and iPad pranks.