This Florida Town is One of the Most Mispronounced in America

Florida boasts a variety of cities and towns with distinctive names. While some, like Miami or Orlando, roll off the tongue easily, others pose a challenge, such as Apalachicola or Wewahitchka. Yet, among them, Kissimmee stands out as the most frequently mispronounced town in the entire state.

Situated in central Florida, just south of Orlando and in proximity to the renowned Walt Disney World Resort, Kissimmee is a favored tourist destination. It also serves as the county seat of Osceola County, hosting a population of approximately 72,000. The town’s name originates from a Native American term signifying “long water” or “river of the long water.”

Common Mispronunciation

A common mistake, especially among visitors from outside the state, is pronouncing Kissimmee as “KISS-i-mee,” accentuating the first syllable and featuring a short “i” sound. While the resemblance to “kiss” followed by “me” is apparent, this pronunciation is incorrect, often prompting locals to offer a correction or a puzzled glance.

Correct Pronunciation

The accurate pronunciation of Kissimmee is “kuh-SIM-ee,” placing emphasis on the second syllable and incorporating a long “i” sound. The initial syllable echoes the sound of “cut” without the “t,” while the final syllable mirrors the word “me.” Another way to remember is to associate it with rhyming words like “gymnast” or “chemist.”

Historical Roots

Though the exact origin of the name Kissimmee remains unclear, it is believed to stem from a Native American language, possibly that of the Calusa, Timucua, or Seminole tribes who inhabited the region before European settlers arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries. The name might reference the Kissimmee River, flowing through the town and into Lake Okeechobee.

The first documented use of the name dates back to 1847 when U.S. Army officer Colonel William J. Worth established Fort Kissimmee during the Second Seminole War. As the town evolved around the military post, it retained the same name. By 1883, Kissimmee was officially incorporated and became a center for cattle ranching, steamboat transportation, and tourism.


Kissimmee boasts a rich history and a vibrant culture, yet its name frequently challenges pronunciation. When discussing or visiting Kissimmee, remember to articulate it as “kuh-SIM-ee” to showcase your knowledge, avoid confusion, and appreciate your time in this charming Florida town.


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