PayPal™ (I’ll drop the trademark symbol from here on) has become a ubiquitous name in online shopping. For many years, I had never thought much about its pronunciation. However, since I encountered a different pronunciation recently on German television, and could not find a satisfactory answer online, I decided to explore this topic.
The most obvious pronunciation (and the one I believed in for years) is [‘peɪpæl], practically a combination of the words ‘pay’ and ‘pal’ (meaning a friend that helps you pay). You can listen to the pronunciation of the two separate words here and here. I have been reassured by a number of native speakers that this is how PayPal is pronounced, and the same pronunciation is also used by the people at PayPal, as proved by the following video:
The same pronunciation is also listed in Well’s Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd Edition), a standard reference for questions of pronunciation.
The alternative pronunciation I came across is [‘peɪpɔːl], with the second part pronounced like the name Paul, listen here:
According to the poll below, this version is known to and used by a significant number of people, although they are not necessarily native speakers.
For the German speaking countries, PayPal itself uses the modified pronunciation [‘peɪpa:l], as heard in the following video: