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

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

24 thoughts on “The Proper Pronunciation of “Anole”

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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…

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

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. I live on a coastal Florida island, and although I have heard people call them ‘ah-noles’, most people around here pronounce it slightly differently. Like ‘uh-nole-ay’, almost like a French ‘ay’, or ‘eh’ sound on the end. I’ve always thought all those ‘other’ people were mispronouncing it! The lizards here are everywhere! As a child I grew up playing with them, even clamping then on our ears as
    earrings! (can’t imagine doing that now!) However, my first tattoo was of a beautiful anole! I have a few on my patio that live on certain areas and I see the same ones everyday! So who knows exactly how to pronounce it… But they are great little lizards!

  8. In Galveston, they were always just lizards…I had no recollection of a real name for them until we were living in Colorado and our daughter paid money for one as a pet!

    1. I still can’t believe seeing them in pet stores for sale. We have them running around like crazy here in FL. My all time favorites are the little geckos. Gives me something to watch on the bathroom window. Especially cool when you can see the two eggs in the female.

  9. I’ve always pronounced it like Ann knoll as in grassy knoll (like an earlier comment said) but I have some friends who pronounce it like anal, which somewhat gets on my nerves.

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