Georgia Pecans

See this nut? We’ve posted about how pecans are grown, their nutritional benefits and our favorite pecan recipes, but we’ve never really discussed a popular topic of debate: Are they pee-KAHNs, pee-CANs, PEE-cans, pick-AHNs or some other pronunciation? How do YOU say pecan?

See More: Nuts About Pecans 

Turns out, it depends on where you’re from. Joshua Katz, a doctoral student studying statistics at NC State University, recently created interactive dialect maps using data from Bert Vaux at the University of Cambridge. For example, check out the map showing how people pronounce “pecan”:

pecan pronunciation map

It shows that pee-KAHN is dominant nationwide, but in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, pick-AHN reigns supreme. PEE-can is popular on the East Coast and in New England, while folks from Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula go with PEE-kahn.

See More: How Field’s Pies Became a Pecan Pie Powerhouse

The linguistics department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee just also shared a pecan pronunciation map that gives another option – where people may say pee-KAHN by itself, but then say PEE-can when using a compound word, like pecan pie.

We found this research fascinating, so we’ve compiled a few of these dialect maps related to food. We had no idea that some people never refer to coleslaw as simply “slaw,” if other people also use “caramel” and “carmel” interchangeably, or if there really is a difference between frosting and icing. We did, however, know that The Great Soda/Pop/Coke/Soft Drink Debate will never be resolved.

Take a look at these maps, and learn if you pronounce mayonnaise like the masses, which syllable gets the emphasis in Thanksgiving, or if you’re the odd one out who says something not even provided as an option. Then, leave us a comment to let us know how you say pecan. (For the record, my parents are from Texas and Oklahoma, so I stand firmly with pick-AHN.)

slaw dialect map

caramel pronunciation map  frosting icing dialect map mayonnaise pronunciation map

crawdad pronunciation mapsyrup pronunciation map Thanksgiving pronunciation map

coke, soda, pop dialect map

84 COMMENTS

  1. I always say “Pih-KAHN” (I’m from NYC but my mom was from Texas) 🙂 Hearing it said any other way sounds completely unnatural. And given the fact that the Pecan tree’s natural range is more southern in North America, I think “pih-KAHN” should be the standard. But it’s not too big a deal. Thanks for posting this, it was fascinating to read!

  2. I grew up saying pih-KAHN or puh-KAHN, when referring to the nut, but we make and eat PEE-kahn pie.
    My mother is from southern Oklahoma so this influenced our vocabulary and pronunciations.

  3. When we were kids in Massachusetts, we called soda “tonic”. Not sure if that came from my mom who was from the Midwest or if it’s a New England thing. We also called the basement “down cellah”

  4. I grew up in north Florida . My Mother grew up in Georgia. She wouldn’t allow us kids to say “Peecan”. It was vulgar. She said a Southerner said “Puhkhan”. A redneck / hick said “Peecan”. To this day I can’t say “Peecan” I now live in Australia and everyone here (EXCEPT ME) calls them “Peecan”…I hate it!

  5. Reminds me of the old joke: What’s the difference between Florida and Georgia? When you drive into Florida, the first sign you see says “clean restrooms”. When you drive into Georgia, the first sign you see says “Pecans”

  6. Coleslaw by itself…slaw on a hot dog
    Carmel/caramel interchangable
    Frosting/icing interchanable
    Mayonnaise or mayo
    “Sir”up
    As a yankee pee-can and crayfish but after
    22 years with my southern belle…
    Pekahn and mud bugs 🙂

  7. I am from Southern California:

    Pic-KAHN
    CARE-amel 3 syllables
    Slaw? Never heard of that. Coleslaw
    SIRup
    Mayonnaise -3 syllables
    Frosting & icing same thing
    Crawfish
    ThanksGIVing
    Soda

  8. According to Merriam-Webster:

    Origin of PECAN

    American French pacane, from Illinois pakani
    First Known Use: 1772

    There is no long /e/ sound in the word!

  9. Both my parents were born and raised in New Jersey but although I was born in France most of my childhood and early adulthood was spent in Jacksonville, FL. I say PEE-can (even with pie), slaw, carra-mel, icing, MAY-naze (2 syllables) unique huh?, crawfish, sih-rp (nearly 1.5 syllables), Thanks-GIVing and soda. Now I’m really hungry!
    Seems to be a pretty predictable mix of upbringing.
    I really enjoyed the maps. My original reason for looking this up was for pecan, I heard an Irish chef say pik-KAHN and wondered how that pronunciation traveled across the pond.
    Thanks y’all.

  10. Hey, the New Castle County (northern tip near Philly) of Delaware should be “PEE-can”, “crayfish”, and “searup”. The lower 2 counties have a southern feel and the pronunciations seem accurate for down there.

  11. I pronounce it “puh-KAHN”. Lived most of my life in north-central NC but father from Mississippi and mother from Greensboro, NC. Not sure if that is heard differently from the above four choices. Also, I don’t recall ever hearing “frosting” except on TV ads until my early 20’s. It was always “icing” when I was growing up. Coleslaw was always “coleslaw”. A “soft drink” was either a “Coke” or a “Pepsi”, not interchangable. Maybe that was because in NC you were drink specific, one was either a loyal “Coke” or loyal “Pepsi” person, rarely crossing over. Definitely “sir” up.

  12. From the jersey shore and was having the peecan/peekahn pronunciation discussion with my kids. Fascinating to see regional trends. We say peecan
    Soda
    Manaze
    Icing
    Around here though it is interesting to hear how people say water
    You hear a lot of WADer and WOODer. Be interesting to research that one

  13. The pecan map key doesn’t even spell the blue region pronunciation phonetically correct; we say “puh-KAWN” not “pick”. This is what you get when a Hebrew tries to decipher the southern dialect. Nothing against Hebrews I married one and she kaint tawk rat none neether lol.

  14. This is incredible. Thanks for doing the research on this topic. I always thought I mispronounced words due to growing up in the Southeast. I say “coke”, “pee-can”, “craw-dad”, “Thanksgiven”, “sir-up”, “man-aze”, car-mel”, and both”frosting and icing”.

  15. I’m from Houston and me and my family always refer to a sweetened carbonated beverage as a coke but I live in Kansas City missouri and people say soda but I know people who say pop. it’s just so strange. some of my dad’s side of the family is from Ohio and they say coke as well.

  16. Hi Alex, I too appreciate the quality of the writing regarding the subject of the pronunciation of pecans.

    xoxo,
    pecan admirer

  17. PUH-con.
    Nobody eats coleslaw in Texas.
    Car-ml, it really peeves me off when someone says carra-mel, they sound like a complete snob.
    Icing/Frosting are the same thing.
    Crawfish.
    Syrup is 1 syllable serp.
    Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving is Thankisgiving.
    In Texas if you ask someone what the want to drink and they say Coke, you ask them what kind and they’ll probably say “Dr. Pepper”. It’s all Coke.

  18. I say pecan pecon.

    I call a sweet carbonated beverage all four ways. (Soda, Pop, Coke, and Soft Drink) Just depending on whatever one comes to my brain first.

  19. I don’t know what they were thinking when they made the last map.. I’m from Dallas, TX, born and raised, and no one here says “Coke” unless they want a coca cola. Everyone here uses “soda”.

  20. I prefer pihKAHN and I definitely believe that this is one pronunciation that the world should adopt. I just reviewed the history of pecans and noted that they were discovered in Texas and Mexico. So why should we give people from other areas in the US the choice to pronounce it as they see fit? We even let people in the UK the option to pronounce it as they want. I realize we have no way to enforce a pronunciation code, but we can be ascertive. Other populations don’t hesitate to insist that we pronounce words as they see fit, and many of them believe we are among the uneducated masses because we don’t obey their code. I, too, am from Texas and, in the past, I jogged down a country road lined by pecan trees every day. So, give some authority to a native. Pronunce the word pihKAHN. Every other pronunciation is irritating to my nature.

  21. Anything besides pih kahn sounds looney odd to look at a map saying that is not the standard… I think where it grows what they call it should be the standard… from texas they grow here

  22. 1. There is also soda pop. (my Oregon granddaughter calls it soda and knows no other name)
    2. Tonic in Mass!!?? That is funny. I wonder what other names there are. ( ‘course, “down cellah” is pretty funny, too )
    3. I have a friend from south Louisiana > mayonnaise is —- MY – a – nez or something un-pronounceable like that.

  23. Same here: grew up in Texas with family also in Oklahoma, so pick-AHN is how we said it too! (Although, I’d fine tune it to pu-KAHN.)

  24. I grew up and live in Dallas, too, and we say “Coke” and “Coke machine.” We rarely use the word “soda,” though we do use it sometimes. We offer guests a Coke. They ask “what kind?” Coke, Sprite… I agree that for the longest time Coke and Pepsi were the most popular. Dr. Pepper is popular, too, but I wasn’t a fan. I haven’t had any Cokes or sodas of any kind for about 8 years.

  25. I grew up in Hapeville, just between Atlanta and Hartfied/Jackson Airport, so everybody knows that you have a Coke every THANKSgiving, when you have SIRup on your pancakes. A good southerner also likes manaz on his CRAWfish. PS I also like car a mal on my PEE cans.

  26. Puh-kahn
    Coleslaw (putting coleslaw on other foods is not common in Mississippi)
    We use Caramel interchangeably
    Icing and Frosting
    Man-aze
    Crawfish and Mudbugs when you buy them at the store and crawdaddy’s when you catch them in the
    wild (a.k.a. fish bait)
    Surp
    THANKSgiving
    We used to say “what kind of coke do you want.” But since there’s a billion varieties of waters, energy drink, and ‘cokes’ we now mainly say “what kind of drink do you want.”
    I’m surprised that buggies (shopping carts) didn’t make the list.

  27. Originally from Charleston, WV – pretty much the middle – and our whole family says pih-kahn. Peecans are another name for bed pans.

  28. I live in the Northwest. Because of people moving here from different areas (transplants), most of these words are interchangeable. It depends on the word-influence you had, growing up.

  29. Me too! But I’m the only one I know who says it that way. I grew up in Mass., NH and PA. No southerners in my family. Is it a NY/NJ thing? It’s not even an option on the map…. ‘peh/pih-KHAN.’

  30. Pecan is the nut pekcon is the tree
    You don’t grill with peacans you grill with peakon the wood

  31. You wanted comments about the pecan, but more importantly is that you left out the word of choice, at least in my Boston, MA, family for a soda: tonic.

    It is always called tonic! Do you want a tonic? Do you want a glass of tonic?

    How could you not include this? Surely we are not an anomoly!

  32. All of my friends in college make fun of me for how I pronounce the word “pecan.” I am from south Alabama and I actually stress both syllables equally in an interesting combination to form the word “PEE-KAHN.” This is how my dad pronounces it while my mom says “pih-KAHN.”

  33. I live in Eastern NC and until someone can explain to me how an A can make the sound of an O it will be pee can to me!!!!

  34. Here in south Louisiana, a lot of us say MY-nez, a borrowing from New Orleans’ unique dialect. Also, the cultural icon and historical delicacy in Cajun country is crawfish. A lot of satires of hillbilly culture use craw dad. Crayfish is considered a snobbish Yankeeism.

  35. I spent the first 1/3 of my childhood in MA, then 15 years in Georgia and then back up to Rhode Island. The majority of my formative years were in the South and I didn’t even realize just how much that has influenced my pronunciation. I don’t have a southern accent but now that I’m back up in the NE, hearing people say “see-rup” and “pee-can” and “mayon-naze” just grates on my nerves. It just sound soooo unnatural.

  36. I say pick-AHN. I’m from Plainview Texas, the panhandle/ northern area. I’m right in between Amarillo & Lubbock.

  37. I grew up in the Inland Northwest (Spokane, WA), but I’ve lived in California for most of my adult life, so that effects how I say certain things:

    pee-KAHN

    KAR-mul

    Grew up eating “MAN-aze,” but now say “MAY-uh-naze”

    SIR-up

    I grew up drinking “pop” or “coke,” but now drink “soda.”

  38. I enjoyed the comments, but had to say that the a doesn’t make the o sound it makes the a sound like again or above or amen or like a by itself.

  39. I grew up in northwest Arkansas and later moved to central Arkansas– most Arkansans pronounce it puh-kahn and yes, hearing it pronounced any other way does sound wrong. We also say coke and crawdad; the other pronunciation variations are pretty much the same difference to us. 😉

    Also, we pronounce it Arkansaw, not Arkansas.

  40. The sweetened carbonated beverage, if you’re an old time New Englander is none of those choices – it’s “tonic.” 😉

  41. Doesn’t anybody else pronounce it “pih-CAN”?

    As for soft drinks, I grew up in Missourah calling them all cokes (I was surprised by the color of 7-Up the first time I saw it in a glass), though my grandmother would send me down to the basement to get some “sody-pop.”

  42. ‘Pa-KHAN’: Dana already explained how this is correct.
    ‘Slaw’: no, that means just ‘salad’ (hence apple & broccoli types), but if I mean ‘salad’ I’ll say so. So ‘coleslaw’, preferably Primanti Brothers’ (mild, non-creamy kind, goes on sandwich).
    Caramel, mayonnaise: 2 syllables each.
    Icing is thinner than frosting. Typically made of powdered sugar, milk, & vanilla. Consider: Ice glazes things; icing is a glaze, but frosting is not. Ice is often translucent; icing is translucent, but frosting never is. Thick frost is opaque; frosting is thick & opaque, but icing never is. Not sure how they can be conflated.
    Crayfish: Same principle as in ‘pa-KHAN’. The Middle English is ‘crevis’, with the ‘e’ pronounced as ‘ay’.
    ‘Sih-rup’ I guess (haven’t analyzed the history yet & not sure how it sounds when I say it).
    ‘ThanksGIVing’ is the holiday, ‘THANKSgiving’ is an act. Not sure why they make sense that way.
    ‘Soda’ seems more logical than ‘pop’.

  43. I’m from Mis-sippi and went to the store to buy a Coke but it’s always a diet Dr. Pepper, to wash down the car-mul sweetness of a pi-kahn pie.
    I love crawfish etouffe and when my daddy brought em home they were crawdads and mudbugs from Lu-sianna.
    THANKS-giving meant chicken n dressing, and nanner pudding .
    We had sur-up on our biscuits, too.
    I love, to this day, a nanner sandwich with man-aze and bananas sliced up in the middle.
    Slaw is a side dish for fish and seafood and served with hush puppies . I never knew that people ate it on their pulled pork sandwiches until I moved to NC! They also missed the point of barbecue sauce in NC. I have yet to find the thick sweet n spicy barbecue sauce of my youth here in NC! I’ve adapted to enjoy their vinegary sauce, but it doesn’t replace the barbecue sauce I love from Mississippi!.
    Living my whole married life in Alaska, we ate sam-men ( salmon) and in Australia, this Mis-sippi girl was amazed at the way they eat a fried egg atop the most expensive Wagu steak or atop their calimari and seafood salad!! That’s just wrong!

  44. My mother (Born and raised in Arkansas) taught us that a puh-KAHN is a delicious nut, and a PEE-can is something that you most definitely would NOT want to eat!

  45. Suburb of New Orleans [upper Jefferson Parish] and some parts of the City say puh-KAWN, puh-kawn pie, crawfish, slaw when too lazy to say coleslaw, and May-u-naze. Crawdaddies is a slang for crawfish. Old downtown New Orleans’ people say my-naze, as well as zinc for sink and earl for oil, and turlet for toilet [pronunced by the rest if us as toy let]. On the other side of Orleans parish is St. Bernard Parish [think county], and in the city of Chalmette [shall-met, Dawlin], seems like in the 70’s everyone had a mom named Jerse [not Joyce] and a sister named Daw leeeeeeen. We have soft drinks, not generic coke. Thanks for the fun maps.

  46. The word is puh khan….a pee can is what your great granny put by your bed at night so you didn’t have to go to the outhouse

  47. […] pronunciations” is, of course, the PECAN, and apparently by “multiple,” Mr. Ockman means at least four. And your choice can tell people where you’re from, what you do on your days off and whether you […]

  48. I grew up in northwest Tennessee, as did both of my parents.
    pic-KAHN
    slaw for cole slaw (but slaw can be combined with other words)
    CARE-mel (two syllables)
    Coke (or soft drink)
    usually icing,
    man-aze (two syllables)
    crawfish
    SIR-up
    THANKS-giving

  49. What about “sody” water? That’s what my grandmom called it. Born near Magnolia TX and lived in Houston most of her life.
    The rest of us said coke.

    And puh KAHN certainly has a more mellow sound than the other pronunciations.

  50. I’m from inbetween in NC Piedmont and Costal Plain and we call em PEE-can, the other sounds like some fancy French word to me. Also thought it was Vie-EEN-ah sausages until a couple of years ago, go figure Vienna is a real place. Slaw is definitely interchangeable with cloeslaw, and no matter what it is I don’t want it on my BBQ sandwich. It’s seems to be THANKSgiving last time I herd it, and the only type of man-aze there by my standards is Duke’s. Amen

  51. I was born and raised in Brooklyn although I call Georgia home now. It was always pee-can, soda, meah-naze, ThanksGIVing, and I always thought crawfish and crayfish were different sea thingys. There’s my snobby Yankeeism showing lol

  52. This article was interesting and cute. the comments were really great. I caught many a crawdad in a country stream, but when I heard “crayfish” years later, I just thought they might be cousins. I was raised in where the panhandle line met the Red River in North Central Texas, and our business had many OK customers, also. It seemed that we were evenly divided between Coke and Soda. Then I went to college at Texas A&M, and my roommate, who was raised at Eddy in central TX, asked for sody water— I cracked up! I had never heard that. I called it coleslaw, but NEVER contaminated a good Bar-B-Q sandwich with it— nor with MAN-nays!! We licked the icing bowl and sneaked some pick-kahns being chopped for a THANKSgiving treat — sweet potatoes with carra-mel, which we NEVER called yams, like those yokels in East Texas did.

  53. I feel really out of place looking at these answers since I’m from Wisconsin where we can it PEE-khan. I also say soda, car-mel, icing and frosting are similar but are two different things. We also call drinking/water fountains, Bubblars.

  54. I’m born and bred in Boston and my parents always called Pepsi “tonic” when I was a kid. Now we say soda. We also call tissues “Kleenex” regardless of brand, Man-ays for mayonnaise, suppah for dinner, bubblah for a water fountain, and pah-lah for living room. We go out on the piazzah “porch”, pahk the cahs (cars), say things are “wicked awesome”, and carry the bundles (grocery bags) into the house. I say cah-mel for caramel because my mom always did, but it’s not half as good as butterscotch on a sundae! Frosting goes on cake and cupcakes, and I’ve never heard it called icing in this area. Cole slaw from KFC is our favorite, and my family all said pee- can when I asked. 😄

  55. What’s the difference between GA and FLA? In Florida the first sign you see says “Clean Restrooms”. The first sign you see in Georgia says: “PECANS”!

  56. Weird. I grew up in New England (mostly Maine) and have always heard people say puh-KAHN (maybe because I grew up around French-Canadians?). I actually grew up thinking PEE-can was the southern pronunciation. I’ve had it backwards all this time?!

  57. puh Khan …. Pee can borders on obscene to me
    craw fish …. CRAY fish feels awkward
    sir up …. never noticed any different pronunciations
    may uh naze .. I always thought other pronunciations were peculiarities of the person’s ability to pronounce some words
    ThanksGIVing
    soda
    Born in SW Arkansas (AR kan saw) and lived mostly in Texas/Arkansas with time in SC, MA, and RI.
    I think coke was the default word for soft drinks in SW Arkansas. I remember being asked what kind of cokes we had (at our drive-inn) I didn’t understand, so I said we can do Cherry or Vanilla cokes (as an added flavor to a Coke) but they asked me if we had Seven Up! When I said yes they said “I’ll have a Seven Up coke.”

    I wondered if they were putting me on but I started hearing other people ask for ‘coke’ so I got used to asking “what kind?”.

  58. Having been born in Pennsylvania, raised in Georgia, living in Canada for 46 years, I think my pronunciation of most of these words has been influenced by my years in Georgia. I say:
    puh-KAHN
    car-mel
    man-aze
    sir-up
    pop (“Coke” during my formative years in GA)
    icing (“frosting” during my formative years in GA)
    slaw or coleslaw used interchangeably
    crawdad
    ThanksGIVing
    a grocery cart is a buggy
    My kids tease me because I say “ong-yun” for “onion”. Don’t know the basis for that pronunciation.

  59. From South Carolina. It’s pih-kahn or pih-con for the nut. A pee-can is something one used before toilets were invented. Amazing what some folks can do with pronunciations, but to each his own.

  60. Originally from Arkansas, but been in Georgia most of my life.
    pea-con
    Slaw- as in I’ll have a chili cheese slaw dog….I mean, I know the whole name is cole slaw but that’s the only kind of slaw we tend to eat in the south so why bother with the cole part?
    Care-uh-mel
    Mostly frosting, but sometimes icing….to me frosting is usually uncooked, like buttercream, but icing is cooked
    Mah-naize
    Crawdads
    Sir-up
    THANKSgiving
    What kind of coke do you want? I’ll have a Dr. Pepper…..makes complete sense to me lol

  61. Here is South Carolina we call them Pee-Cans.We call mayonnaise mayonnaise and the only mayonnaise we use is Dukes mayonnaise.Dukes is the best mayonnaise on the market.We call coleslaw slaw.Frosting and icing are the same,but we call it icing lol.We call caramel caramel.For soda we call it by the name,Pepsi or Coke.The bestselling drink in South Carolina is Pepsi,but I am a Coke drinker myself.I just love articles like this,you can see just have different things are across the USA.

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