Tua Tagovailoa Pronunciation: Here’s How to Properly Say the Miami Dolphins QB’s First and Last Names

As the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Tua Tagovailoa has attracted plenty of media coverage. Even before his arrival in the NFL, Tagovailoa was a star for the University of Alabama for the Alabama Crimson Tide, which brought his name to national attention. Everyone has been talking about Tagovailoa for years, but many people are still unsure exactly how to pronounce his name. With a pronunciation that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, many people have just decided to refer to the Dolphins quarterback as “Tua” but still need direction as to the proper way to say the star’s name.

The story behind the name

Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa #1 during a game against the New England Patriots at the Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa was born in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, just outside Honolulu, and is the oldest of four children. Tagovailoa is of Samoan descent, with both parents being born in American Samoa before moving to Hawaii, where Tagovailoa and his siblings were born. Despite not being known as a football hotbed, Tagovailoa’s skill and athletic ability allowed him to perform at a level where scouts and college recruiters couldn’t help but notice the lefty quarterback from Saint Louis School in Hawaii. During his senior season of high school football, Tagovailoa was given a spot in the Elite 11 quarterback competition (where he won MVP honors) and also played in the All-American Bowl. Tagovailoa was ranked as a four-star recruit and was showered with scholarship offers from mainland colleges, which eventually led him to the University of Alabama.

While he was known throughout the football world before setting foot on campus at Tuscaloosa, it was in the spotlight at Alabama that Tagovailoa became a name everyone needed to know. For many, it was not a natural name to say, which spurred debate as to how the name is properly pronounced.

The first name, which many people prefer to reference him by, is quite simple. “Two-a” is the proper pronunciation and has rarely been gaffed by the media community, although it is not actually his full first name. The last name is where it gets tricky, and it’s important to remember that the pronunciation is different than what it may appear to be. To say “Tagovailoa” correctly, remember that instead of starting with “tag,” the first syllable is “tung,” which sounds like “tongue.” After the first syllable, the rest of the name follows in a way that most people interpret from the letters. 

In full, “TUNG-o-vai-LOA” is the proper way to say the name, which, even with seeing it broken down, can still be hard for many people, even when it becomes part of everyday conversation!

Tua Tagovailoa in Samoan

Many people know Tagovailoa’s first name to be “Tua,” but there is more to both the name and its story. The quarterback’s full name is actually Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa and carries significant meaning when interpreted from the Samoan language. Broken down, “Tu” means “stand,” and the second part, “aniga,” means “to be echoed.” Following this, “Manu ole pola” refers to a bird that sings during the morning hours and awakens people from the mountains. Once combined, the name Tuanigamanuolepola can be translated to mean, “stand, announce yourself, and echo like the bird from the mountaintop in the morning dawn.” Given his success so far in his football career, Tagovailoa is certainly living up to the name he was given!

Tagovailoa’s NFL career

Tua Tagovailoa has yet to replicate the success he experienced in college at the NFL level, but promising days are ahead for the quarterback. During his first NFL season, Tagovailoa overcame the hip injury that ended his college career and started nine games for the Dolphins, amassing a 6-3 record as a rookie after taking the reigns as the starter from Ryan Fitzpatrick in week 8.

2021 began with promise and heightened hopes for the sophomore QB,  with a clean slate of health and reuniting with former Alabama teammate and 2021 first-round pick Jaylen Waddle. However, after starting with a 17-16 win against divisional foes New England, Tagovailoa was injured during a game against the Buffalo Bills in week 2.

Despite the injury, hopes are high that the lefty quarterback from Hawaii has the talent and drive to return the Dolphins to prominence and give them reliability and success at a position that the Dolphins have struggled to fill in recent years.

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