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Hi-unday? High-UN-dye? Hündā? I spent most of my life unsure how to pronounce the name of automaker Hyundai. The company knows the word can be confusing for some of us, and its Twitter bio includes a handy pneumonic. “Hi, we’re Hyundai – pronounced like Sunday.” But in other places (such as England), it’s pronounced differently.

Hyundai is a South Korean company. It was founded in Seoul by Chung Ju-yung in 1947, as the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company. But the company didn’t stop at construction. The government’s help, it took on many of the country’s expanding industries. It became a “chaebol,” or a South Korean conglomerate controlled by a single family. The 1997 Asian financial crisis and Chung Ju-yung’s 2001 death resulted in multiple departments becoming standalone companies. The result was the Hyundai Department Store Group, Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, and the Hyundai Motor Group.

But why not the Chung Ju-Yung motor company? i.e. Ford, or Toyota. Because the founder had another idea. He combined the Korean word Hyun, which means “modern” or “present” and the Korean word Dai, which means “era” or “generation.” The result was an all-new word that translates to “modernity.”

A blue Hyundai car with an "H" and an "N" logo on its grille
Hyundai grille | Hyundai

When Hyundai Motors spun off on its own, it penned a motto to guide its way. “New thinking, new possibilities.” Today, it is doing its best to uphold that motto. To this end, it builds some of the EVs with the best performance metrics around. It also entered the robotics industry when it acquired Boston Dynamics. Only time will tell what “new possibilities” Hyundai’s quest for “new thinking” will create.

In South Korea, the automaker’s name is written 현대그룹. And if you read Korean, that gives you a pretty good idea how to pronounce it. The word “Hyundai” is a close phonetic translation by the company. But with regional accents, it may be pronounced in multiple ways. HYUN-day, HUN-day, HYUN-dye, HUN-dye, hy-OON-dye, hee-OON-dye, and hee-UN-day are the most common. Here’s what the company itself says.

“There are different ways drivers pronounce ‘Hyundai’ in Europe and America. No one expects non-native Korean speakers to have perfect pronunciation! Most Americans pronounce it so that it rhymes with Sunday, but many people in the UK and beyond pronounce it ‘high-UN-dye.'”

Hyundai Motor Group

Next, read the leading theories on how Jeep got its mysterious name, or see how Hyundai’s improved in recent years in the video below: