How to Spell and Pronounce My Last Name (A Guide For Americans)

Spelling: C U I N N.

C as in “cat”. There’s no Q. Yes, I’m sure I’m spelling it correctly. No, it wasn’t entered into your system wrong and you don’t have to fix it. Before you tell me you can’t find it, try looking for it with a “C”. Yes, I know it’s not common. Yes, I hear that a lot.*


Over the years, I’ve realized that a lot of people have trouble figuring out how to say my last name, Cuinn. It’s one of those names that is short and simple, but is not common, so it gets butchered — mainly by people who are trying way too hard to say it correctly. I appreciate the effort, and don’t want to make it complicated for anyone. So, here’s a handy guide…

If you don’t instantly realize how to pronounce my last name, please use the following:


Sounds exactly like “Quinn”. Really. That’s all there is to it.

If you have an Irish/Scottish accent or are very familiar with a language that frequently uses the “ky” consonant – that sticky tongue-touching-the-roof-of-your-mouth sound which is not “kai” like in “kayak” but the initial syllable of “cute” without the “ute” part -then you may use the correct pronunciation :


Which, yes, sounds a little like Queen. Sort of. With a pause in the middle…

Please, please, do not say “Coo-win”, with emphasis on both syllables. I hear that constantly (when I’m not being asked if I’ve spelled my own name incorrectly) and frankly, I’m not sure how one even derives at “Coo-win”. “Cue-in”, okay, you get points for trying! (That’s close, if you say the “Cue” really fast, and the “in” part at as normal speed. Not that you need to!)

Really, I’m fine with making it simple for everyone. You can just say “Quinn”, and I won’t be offended. At all.

* Though I’m more German-American than anything else, it’s an Irish name through my maternal grandfather’s side of the family; you also see it as Ó Cuinn, and in literature from way back as “Mac Cuinn”. It’s a variant of Conn.

One thought on “How to Spell and Pronounce My Last Name (A Guide For Americans)

  1. My issue is people misspelling my last name. I’ve seen “Magnan” as “Magnon”, “Mignon”, “Magnant”, and, most of all, “Magnum”. I am NOT a P.I., nor am I a scion of Smith & Wesson.

    See you at Readercon, Carrie. 🙂

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