AAA: How to Correctly Pronounce Essential Oil Names

by Bella Martinez July 31, 2019

AAA: How to Correctly Pronounce Essential Oil Names

Let’s be honest, most of us didn’t grow up around words like “Copaiba” and “Ylang Ylang.” Many of us can also attest to the fact that when we first got into essential oils we were left scratching our heads at some of their names. It’s all apart of the learning process, and we want to help beginners and experts alike pronounce those hard-to-say names with confidence. That’s why we gathered the names of oils we most often get asked about with regards to pronunciation, so you can discuss essential oils like a linguist.


Amyris (am-riss): Derived from Greek “amyron,” meaning “intensely scented,” this plant shares a common name with its genus.

Cajeput (ca-juh-put): A relative of Tea Tree and other plants belonging to the Melaleuca family, the name Cajeput is derived from its Indonesian name, “kayu putih.”

Cassia (ca-shee-uh or ca-see-uh): If you’ve ever purchased Cinnamon in the grocery store, you’re probably unknowingly familiar with Cassia. That’s because most spices labeled Cinnamon are actually Cassia. Next time you’re buying Cinnamon spice, check if the bottle has a botanical name. And remember, Cinnamomum zeylanicum is Cinnamon whereas Cinnamomum cassia is Cassia.

Cognac (cown-yak or con-yak): For those who don’t much about fine spirits, Cognac may look like Greek to you (it’s actually French). The “gn” in Cognac make the same sound as the “gn” in gnocchi.

Copaiba (co-pie-ee-buh or co-pie-buh): This oil is near the top of the list when it comes to difficult pronunciation. Native to Brazil, Copaiba has a couple of different pronunciations, including co-pie-ee-buh, which reflects how it’s pronounced in Portuguese.

Elemi (el-um-mee or el-um-my): The origin of the name Elemi is unclear, but is possibly linked to the word “enhaemon,” which Pliny the Elder used to reference the tears of Arabian olive trees, used as medicine in ancient Rome.

Helichrysum - gymnocephalum (hell-ik-riss-um jim-no-sef-uh-lum): Helichrysum italicum may be easy to pronounce, but its cousin, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, is another story entirely.

Muhuhu (moo-hoo-hoo): What sound does a cow make when it’s spilled its milk? Muhuhu.

Niaouli (nye-oo-lee): Native to Australia, Niaouli is rich in 1,8- cineole, sharing many of the same properties as Eucalyptus oil.

Opoponax (uh-pop-uhn-ax): A relative of Myrrh, Opoponax is also spelled  Opopanax.

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