How Do You Pronounce "Douay-Rheims"?

(I’ve recently realized this name is in my reading vocabulary, but not in my speaking vocabulary :o )

In particular, does the second word *<ahem> *rhyme with “rhymes” or with “reams”?



Doo - ay Reams (i.e. rhyms with dreams)

It’s a French word, so it needs to be pronounced with French considerations:

Rheims is “ra-a-a-a,” with the “a” as in “cat,” only run thru the nose.

Funny story–my dad was in the first wave on D-Day, fought his way to Brest in September '41, and then was transferred to the west of France as winter came on (eventually wounded in the Battle of the Bulge). Somewhere along the line he and some others got a 3-day pass to go to Paris. As they were riding the train back to rejoin their units, the train passed thru Rheims, and the conductor came into the car to call out the name of the next stop–“RA-A-A-A!” Then he saw a group of GIs sittin the car, looked straight at them, and shouted “REAMS!”


I asked my Dad, who has been a very fluent French-speaker for donkeys years, and also lived there for a period, how to pronounce Rheims.

He said it does not follow any of the rules for pronounciation of any other French word. I think it is because of some ancient quirk in the region or something.

It is pronounced “Raaann”, with the “R” in the French pronounciation, i.e through the throat, not the tongue and lips. It is also extra nasal sounding, as someone else pointed out above.

dou-way (emphasis on the u or do-way) raims

“Douai” = ‘Dway’ (shortened ‘ay’ though)
“Rheims” is pronounced more like ‘REM’ (as in the phase of sleep, not the band where every letter is sounded out) with that classic guttural French 'R" (you know the one, sounds like you’re trying to gargle?) and a much softer ‘m’

Aah, the joys of trying to convey French pronunciation!

Hahaha - I love this one, sounds like a sheep bleating. In fact turn the name of the town into Beims and … :wink:

I wonder, though - there’s probably a difference between the regional pronunciation (Rheims being in the Champagne region, lucky them) and more standard Parisian French pronunciation.

Luckily now that English is the international language of business and literature instead of French, we don’t have to do that too often. :smiley:

Okay, I don’t speak French, but in the interest of honesty I hoped to follow the above advice and try to pronounce this correctly. The good news is the doctor thinks I will regain the use of my larynx soon, and the machines shouldn’t prevent me from doing too much.


To correctly pronounce the French “r” put the back of your tongue up against your palette and say a normal English “r” - it will come out right.

I would vote for captaincoog’s description as the most accurate one I’ve seen here - though it’s simply not easy to convey.

Also, don’t forget the elision if the following word starts with a vowel - that is the final “s” is pronounced in that situation.:smiley:

I suppose I ought to have been more specific:
How do *English-speaking *people pronounce “Rheims”?

Sheesh – You all are reminding me of the nurses in our prepared childbirth classes who kept measuring something* in “sahn’meters” – Took us all the longest time to figure out they really meant what the rest of the English speaking world calls, in spite of the word’s French origins, centimeters.

(* Don’t ask what they were measuring – If you’ve been there, you know, and if you haven’t, you don’t want to know! :eek: )


All over the board I would say.

Unlike “Paris” “Vienna” 'Moscow" “Rome” and many other cities that have accepted English pronunciations, I cannot say that I am aware of one for “Rheims”

In that case I would opt to try to say it like natives. I’ve always cringed when I’ve heard English speakers say “sane” for the river in Paris; “lay” for the article “le”, “lions” for “Lyons” and many other examples (and that’s just French).

Of course I’ve heard Americans say “thames” instead of “tems” for the river in London (of course in New London, CT it is “thames”); “woosester” for the city in England and Massachusetts and many other variants for a number of cities, surnames and words - all in the same language.

So, absent an accepted English variant, I suggest we try to say it somewhat like the natives.

Reading all the answers made me me confused so I did so more research. I found various sites that provide audio clips of “Douay-Rheims” individually and in combo. The native French speaker are interesting, but this American won’t be emulating them.

Rheims / Reams
This is a link to web site that has audio of two (2) native French speakers annunciating

“Reams” “Rheims”

Here is another …

This is a link to Merriam Webster dictionary site with audio of “douay”

“Rheims” “Reams” by Merriam Webster

“Douay-Rheims Bible”

Note on spelling: Google maps and all other “internet evidence” indicate that the correct spelling is Reams and not Rheims.


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