How Do You Spell Ukulele?

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  • 2024-02-19 00:00:00
  • 11 min read

In the world of music, few instruments conjure up the serene and breezy vibes of the beach quite like the ukulele. This article delves into the correct spelling of this beloved instrument, common errors, and some quick tips to remember its spelling.

Correct Spelling of Ukulele

The correct spelling of the Hawaiian stringed instrument is ukulele. Despite its complex pronunciation, the spelling is straightforward once familiar with it. Originating from Hawaii, the term ukulele has been adopted into English and other languages, retaining its unique Hawaiian spelling and pronunciation.

How Can Remember the Correct Spelling

A useful technique to remember the spelling of ukulele is to break it down into sounds: U-KU-LE-LE. Associating the word with a memorable song or phrase involving it can also aid significantly in remembering its correct spelling.

Common Spelling Mistakes

Given its Hawaiian origin, the unusual spelling of ukulele can lead to various common mistakes. Some of these include:

  • Ukelele - Missing the first 'u'
  • Ukalele - Misplacing the 'u' and 'a'
  • Ukulelee - Adding an extra 'e'

These spellings are considered incorrect as they do not adhere to the traditional Hawaiian spelling of the word.

Definition and Etymology of Ukulele

The ukulele is a small, four-stringed instrument similar in appearance to a miniature classical guitar but with its own distinct sound. The name 'ukulele' literally translates from Hawaiian as "jumping flea," purportedly because of the movement of the player's fingers. Introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century, it quickly became a significant part of Hawaiian culture and music.

Transcription of Ukulele

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the pronunciation of ukulele is typically transcribed as /ˌjuːkuˈleɪli/. This transcription helps guide non-native speakers towards a more accurate pronunciation of the word, reflecting its Hawaiian roots.

Examples of Using of Ukulele

The ukulele is often used in a variety of musical genres, from traditional Hawaiian music to pop and indie. Here are a few examples:

  • In Hawaii, the ukulele is played at nearly every cultural and family gathering.
  • Modern pop artists sometimes use the ukulele for an acoustic version of their songs.
  • The instrument’s distinctive sound can add a whimsical tone to a music track.


What does the word mean? 
The word 'ukulele' means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian, a nod to the quick finger movements of a skilled player.

Words closely related: strings, instrument, Hawaii, music.

Synonyms: four-string guitar, mini guitar.

Difference in American and British Versions

Interestingly, the spelling of ukulele does not vary between American and British English. However, the pronunciation can differ slightly, with the American pronunciation being /ˌjuːkəˈleɪli/ and the British often /ˌuːkʊˈleɪli/. Despite these minor differences, the instrument's name is universally recognized and spelled the same in both varieties of English.

Academic Dictionaries

  1. Oxford English Dictionary.
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  3. Cambridge Dictionary.

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