Wednesday, December 7, 2011

100 Most Mispronounced Words & Phrases In The English Language

"A blessing in the skies"? Really?

From, which, unfortunately, is not my dictionary. I prefer

NO: affidavid
YES: affidavit
Even if your lawyer's name is ''David,'' he issues affidavits.

NO: athelete, atheletic
YES: athlete, athletic
Two syllables are enough for "athlete."

NO: bob wire
YES: barbed wire
No, this word wasn't named for anyone named ''Bob;'' it should be "barbed wire," although the suffix -ed, meaning ''having,'' is fading away in the U.S.

NO: Calvary
YES: cavalry
It isn't clear why we say, ''Mind your Ps and Qs'' when we have more difficulty keeping up with our Ls and Rs. Had there been a cavalry in Jesus' time, perhaps Calvary would not have been so tragic.

NO: card shark
YES: cardsharp
Cardsharps probably won't eat you alive, though they are adept at cutting your purse strings.

NO: chester drawers
YES: chest of drawers
The drawers of Chester is a typical way of looking at these chests down South but it misses the point.

NO: drownd
YES: drown
You add the [d] only to the past tense and past participle.

NO: expresso
YES: espresso
While I can't express my love for espresso enough, this word was borrowed from Italian well after the Latin prefix ex- had developed into es-.

NO: forte
YES: fort
The word is spelled "forte" but the [e] is pronounced only when speaking of music, as a "forte passage." The words for a strong point and a stronghold are pronounced the same: [fort].

NO: Heineken remover
YES: Heimlich maneuver
This term is mispronounced many different ways. This is just the funniest one we have heard. This maneuver (manoeuvre) was named for US surgeon Henry Jay Heimlich. (We call it the hiney-lick maneuver. - C.)

NO: jewlery
YES: jewelry
The root of this word is "jewel" and that doesn't change for either "jeweler" or "jewelry." The British add a syllable: "jewellery" (See also its spelling.)

NO: liberry
YES: library
As mentioned before, English speakers dislike two [r]s in the same word. However, we have to buck up and pronounce them all.

NO: mawv
YES: mauve
This word has not moved far enough away from French to assume an English pronunciation, [mawv], and should still be pronounced [mowv].

NO: mannaise
YES: mayonnaise
Ever wonder why the short form of a word pronounced "mannaise" is "mayo"? Well, it is because the original should be pronounced "mayo-nnaise." Just remember: what would mayonnaise be without "mayo"?

NO: nother
YES: other
Misanalysis is a common type of speech error based on the misperception of where to draw the line between components of a word of phrase. "A whole nother" comes from misanalyzing "an other" as "a nother." Not good. Not good.

NO: orientate
YES: orient
Another pointless back-formation. We don't need this mispronunciation from "orientation" when we already have "orient." (See also "interpretate")

NO: perculate
YES: percolatePronouncing this word as "perculate" is quite peculiar. (Also, remember that it means ''drip down'' not ''up.'')

NO: perscription
YES: prescription
Same as above. It is possible that we simply confuse "pre-" and "per-" since both are legitimate prefixes.

NO: prostrate
YES: prostate
Though a pain in the prostate may leave a man prostrate, the gland contains no [r].

NO: realator
YES: realtor
As you avoid the extra vowel in "masonry," remember to do the same for "realtor," the guy who sells what the mason creates.

NO: snuck
YES: sneaked
I doubt we will get "snuck" out of the language any time soon but here is a reminder that it really isn't a word.

NO: spade
YES: spay
You can have your dog spayed but so long as she is a good dog, please don't spade her.

NO: spitting image
YES: spit and image
The very spit of someone is an exact likeness. "The spit and image" or "spit image" emphasizes the exactness.

NO: supposably
YES: supposedly
Adding -ly to participles is rarely possible, so some people try to avoid it altogether. You can't avoid it here.

NO: take for granite
YES: take for granted
We do tend to take granite for granted, it is so ubiquitous. But that, of course, is not the point.

NO: volumptuous
YES: voluptuous
Some voluptuous women may be lumpy, but please avoid this Freudian slip that apprises them of it.

(See more here)


  1. I'll confess to one. I thought it was "for all intensive purposes" for a long time. But my opinion is moo.

  2. My husband once said I was "volumptuous." I almost divorced him.

  3. My Grandma used to say "warsh" for "wash" and "rench" for "rinse." That used to drive me crazy.

  4. David, don't feel bad, I thought the very same thing for years.

  5. It's moo. Ha ha. Like a cow's opinion, it doesn't matter. I love that one.

  6. When I was a little kid in elementary school, I had troubled remembering the spelling of Wednesday, and I got in the habit of pronouncing it the way its spelled, at least to myself though sometimes I would say it out loud.

    I'm surprised there weren't more people who did that.

    I'm guilty of writing/saying "card shark" and "bob wire," though not often just because there aren't a lot of either around me. I also say supposably but I know it's spelled supposedly.

    And I think kids in the future will be cured of saying "liberry" (Safari autocorrect auto-asfixiated that) because eventually there won't be any.

  7. I love Laura Norder. Especially the SUV version.

  8. I love this thread. Mispronounced words drive me crazy!!


    Valentime's Day's NO 'm' in Valentine.

    Pitcher when you mean picture.

    Saying unconsciously when you mean subconsciously. LOL That one cracks me up!!

  9. concentration, not concentrated: high level of mental focus

  10. OMG, too true. Thanks for sharing this, I think I'm gonna repost.
    Another of my favorites (maybe this is on the full list, haven't looked yet, but I've seen enough to know it's worth sharing!!):

    "For all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes."


  11. "No" when she obviously means "yes." Drives me crazy every time. Damn wife.

  12. Spitting image isn't a recent creation. It has been in use since the early 1900s. It is equally acceptable usage, and more common than the phrase from which it originated.

    My pet hate is "I could care less".

  13. Dude that duct-tape motivation poster is sick. Abduction/rape/kidnapping or whatever sick scene one can imagine by silencing someone screaming No with duct tape is not cool. If someone thinks that's funny Im scared of what's in their head.

  14. anonymous, you would have liked yesterday's better. It was Walken in a Winter Wonderland.

    And I just now saw on the main link that February also made the list. I had parents that made me enunciate words and Febyooary was a no-no. So was no-no, which was unacceptable.

  15. An old friend used to say, "Vietmanese." And I'd laugh, because I thought she was doing a little intentional mispronunciation. She wasn't.

  16. Vietmanese. That's almost as bad as I-talian.

  17. It is clear why we say "mind your p's and q's"
    mind your pints and quarts when referring to buy beer or ale and the bar owners using glasses that look like they hold more then they do. You would tell the bartender to "mind your p's and q's"



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