This phrase keeps showing up in my search box, so let’s do it.  The short answer is that you pronounce every single letter.  There is no ‘E,’ no ‘A,’ and no ‘I.’  There’s no ‘R,’ either–the name came from Scotland, not France.  The ‘TW’ is just like you’re starting to say, Mark TWain.  The ‘O’ sounds like ‘ah,’ followed by the ‘M,’ which is easier not to combine with the ‘B.’  Put the ‘BLY’ together to finish with a ‘blee’ sound.  There you have it.

Here in North America, people make two common mistakes with it.  They’ll try to stick an ‘R’ in, which is more common in Canada, with its French influence–or they’ll try to turn the ‘T’ into an initial.  That’s a big part of the reason I use my middle initial so much.  Phyllis K. Twombly is harder to turn into T. Wombly.

Hope this helps.  Thanks for reading.  🙂

Phyllis K Twombly


About Scifialiens

Author of the Martian Symbiont series: three titles, so far; Been Blued, Martian Blues, Martian Divides. Currently writing screenplays. 'Mating With Humans' can be found on her account. Enjoyed writing from the start. Also a Star Trek and Doctor Who fan. Canadian so far. Paternal grandparents were American. Feels more at home in the States. Loves dogs and most other animals. Loves cats from afar--allergies. Plays flute and saxophone; 'messes with' keyboard and electric guitar. Single so far. Not really looking at the moment. Age: irrelevant. Not to be confused with the fictional comic book character, Phyllis Twombly, who lived for 600 years in the American Midwest.

4 responses »

  1. blacklack says:

    Hi, thanks for the advice.

    Still, are you absolutely sure that the “twom” part can’t be pronounced like “tomb”? I have 2 references in support of this version: “A Dictionary of English Surnames” by Rybakin, and a link at

    I ask you about that because I happen to be translating an article with a couple of words about Florence Adele McKown Twombly (née Vanderbilt). About her see here:

  2. scifialiens says:

    I’m almost a hundred percent certain that most Twomblys living today would correct you if you pronounced the first part of our surname as ‘tomb.’ Language and names do tend to change somewhat over the years but we’re the real live people you currently have to deal with. 😉

    The only time I’ve seen the name played with was in the ‘Blackhawk Down’ movie where a Twombly gets called variations such as ‘Twoms’ and ‘Twombles’ by his fellow soldiers. As my nephew commented, ‘there’s a Twombly in it and he doesn’t even die!’

    Interesting article. Thank you for the links.

  3. avocatessa says:

    LOL. Love it! There is a famous case by the name of Twombly…….Something or other versus Twombly. And I remember our prof used to laugh every time she said “Twombly””. She said you are pronouncing it right if it sounds a little like you have a speech impediment.

    • scifialiens says:

      I just watched part of an old black and white movie where a couple in England move out to the country. They’re given farmers’ directions about turning at the Twombly sign–in the movie it’s spelled with an ‘e,’ so Twombley. But they get to the sign and there are arrows in all directions, all of which are Twombley something or other. They follow each one in turn and the wife finally says, “we’re running out of Twombleys.” Hilarious.

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