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Why is Levi's pronounced "lee vice" instead of the more logical "levies", i.e. belonging to Levi?

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFfmXl9NJP0

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    I am from Upstate NY. I pronounce it LEE-VIES, where the second syllable rhymes with eyes.
    – DyingIsFun
    May 18, 2016 at 2:43
  • Because that the way miners pronounced it when they first started wearing them.
    – Hot Licks
    May 18, 2016 at 2:47
  • @HotLicks miners or minors?
    – MWB
    May 18, 2016 at 2:57
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    I've never heard it pronounced "lee vice", but always as @Silenus points out. Levi's. I've lived in the NE, MA states, the South, and a few other places. Are you referencing non-AmE perhaps? May 18, 2016 at 2:57
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    @MaxB - Miners. They first became popular among miners in the US West.
    – Hot Licks
    May 18, 2016 at 3:04

1 Answer 1

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How would you have it pronounced? Throughout most of the US it's pronounced, as Silenus suggests, LEE-VIES (or LEE-VIZE, as a different spelling for the same sound), where VIES rhymes with "eyes".

The term comes from the Levi Strauss company, which has always been pronounced LEE-VIE (rhyming with "eye"). (They once ran a chain of dry goods stores throughout the US, so the name is not solely associated with the trousers.)

LEE-VIES is thus the most obvious possessive form of LEE-VIE, and is what's always been used.

Certainly, some people may habitually say LEE-VICE or some such (there are all sorts of accents and affectations in the US), but that is not common. However, keep in mind that it's common for people to truncate S sounds on the ends of words in some cases (especially at the end of a sentence), causing the S sound in "eyes" to make it about halfway to the C sound in "ice". Most native English speakers will not even notice if they hear someone do this, but it may confuse the English learner.

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  • FWIW youtube.com/watch?v=bFfmXl9NJP0 pronounces it as lee-vice rather than leave-eyes
    – MWB
    May 18, 2016 at 6:43
  • @MaxB - I wouldn't say that that link is pronouncing it lee-vice. It is a little "off", though, mainly in the emphasis. Normally the second syllable is not stretched out nearly that much.
    – Hot Licks
    May 18, 2016 at 11:17

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