The Leeuwenhoek name: How to pronounce it

In Dutch, leeuw is lion and hoek is corner. When Antony's grandfather Thonis became a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in February 1601, he put his name down as a basketmaker living on the Oosteinde at the Leeuwenpoortge, literally, the Little Lion's Gate, the "Little" referring to the gate, not the lion.


If 1678's Kaart Figuratief on the right (click to enlarge) is accurate, the house was between two alleys, 33 and 34 on the lower part of the map. Alley 33, the Klauwpoortje, led to a group of small houses around the two trees, a hofje that is still there. Alley 34 is the Leeuwenpoortje that he lived on the corner (hoek) of; it led through to the next street. That alley might at one point have had a gateway -- a partial brick wall high enough up to walk under -- though probably not an actual gate (poort).

How to pronounce it

Antony van Leeuwenhoek. Hear it below if four different variations. Thanks to Marco Schuffelen of Hear Dutch Here.

An-to'-nee fan Lay'-uven-hook,

The first name, accented on the second syllable, An-to'-nee, ends in the Dutch long i that is closest to the English j, which is how he spelled it most often even though it says Thonis on his baptismal record. Antonij would not be readily pronounced in English, so most biographers use Antony or Antoni. Thonis was the given name also of his grandfather and great-great-grandfather. I have heard native Dutch speakers accent both the first and, more often, the second syllable of Antony.

The "van" is pronounced "fahn" in Dutch.

The first syllable of his last name is always accented: "Lay' - uven - who - k". The Dutch "w" is pronounced like the English "v". I have heard many native speakers not vocalize or at least hardly vocalize the "n" in the middle. At the end, the oo in "hook" is like the oo in root and not in Robert Hooke.