Thursday, January 17, 2013

11 Common Words You Might Be Mispronouncing (Of The Day)

None of these should surprise you, but it never hurts to be sure. I like helping, you see. I have a servant's heart. That's why I'm giving you an alternative after each word to use if you still are uncomfortable pronouncing the word in question.

From Mental Floss.

Pen names don't always make things easier. Theodore Geisel's college buddy Alexander Liang made a rhyme to teach you the right way to pronounce it:

"You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss
He pronounces it Soice" (or Zoice).

Alternative: "The dude who wrote Cat In The Hat."


Let's put the kibosh, pronounced "KY-bosh," on saying this word like "kuh-BOSH."

Alternative: "Nip it."


An initial hard (k) sound is the standard, but linguists say the (s) sound emerged as far back as the 17th century. Still, you'll sound ridiculous (but correct!) if you bring that hard (k) to a Boston Celtics basketball game.

Alternative: Irish


This word sounds just like "controller." If you're tempted to pronounce that silent (pt), please comptroll yourself!

Alternative: Suit


Maybe it's because it's one letter short of "cachet." Maybe it's just more fun to mispronounce. This words sounds just like "cash."

Alternative: Stash


This word meaning "deception by trickery" is aptly tricky to pronounce. The beginning (ch) sound is "sh," as in "Chicago." The French pronounce the word "shih-connery," which makes it easy to remember the definition. However, Americans love a long (a) and tend to pronounce it "shih-cane-a-ree." Choose your own adventure.

Alternative: Fuckery


You'll be the butt of the joke if you pronounce this "BAY-nul." It's "buh-NAHL."

Alternative: Lame


If pronouncing it "a-FLU-ent" is wrong, some people don't want to be right. The stress on this word is supposed to be on the first syllable—"AFF-lu-ent." But stressing the second syllable became so mainstream that dictionaries started validating the pronunciation in the 1980s.

Alternative: White


Pronunciation quirks and mistakes happen when people try to read and speak by the rules. Too bad the English language doesn't always make sense. The past tense of "forbid" was originally supposed to be spelled and pronounced "for-bad." But then people started spelling it "forbade" and rhyming it with "made." Now linguists say the word sounds archaic any way you say it. Most people use "forbid" as a past or present-tense verb.

Alternative: "Told ____ not to do that shit."


Okay, so maybe this word's not that commonly used. But now that you know it's pronounced "bo-sun," you might find more reasons to work it into conversation.

Alternative: (Not necessary. You will never use this word.)


When this word was borrowed from French in the 17th century, it was quickly Anglicized to rhyme with "itch." But in the 20th century, more people embraced a true French pronunciation and decided to pronounce it "neesh." Both are correct.

Alternative: Thing


  1. You are indeed a giver. :-)

    "Alternative: (Not necessary. You will never use this word.)" Hahaha! You're right. I won't.

  2. Foyer: an entry way, it's french and it's prounounced FOY-yay, not FOY-er

    All of this feeds my personal pet peave. The bastardization of the English language, both spoken and written. I understand that all languages must evolve or stagnate but we've all just gotten lazy. I've read a lot of self published books on my ereader lately. OMG, what a lot of shite. If you fancy yourself a writer, at least learn the language you're writing in.

  3. My dad was a comptroller and he pronounced the "pt." Of course, he also says "clan-duh-STEIN" and "plee-THOR-a" so there you go. I am going to work boatswain into as many conversations as I can. I got "fuckery" covered. :)

    1. I also thought clandestine was "clan-duh-STEIN", and was thoroughly disappointed to find out it's actually pronounced, "clan-DES-tin". It was my favorite word before.

  4. I went to college with a girl who legitimately thought that "gazebo" was pronounced "GAYS-bo."



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