Mispronunciation list


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Sunday, 20 July 2014

ON THIS LIST are some hard-to-pronounce everyday words — or just badly pronounced even by native English speakers.

“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.” — Anon.

For most native and non-native speakers, the main difficulties are in deciding the correct placement of stress and the length of vowels (if not the actual pronunciation).


About this list

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Common words only

No exotic foreign imports or technical terms (schadenfreude, auscultation, cholecystitis, syzygy). Only words that appear in most people’s general reading matter (news, film subtitles, recipes, paperbacks, social media, blogs, &c). Some foreign words or names are included because they’re so often seen in newspapers, &c.

This list avoids the IPA

We wanted to show that it’s a priceless skill knowing how to display sounds by pronunciation respelling — the normal way in monolingual dictionaries since the 1700s. Scroll down further to see why we’ve excluded the IPA from this page.

Contact us and state your case if you would like future updates of this page to include the IPA. If we get enough requests, we’ll do it.

Mainstream pronunciations only

The major dictionaries have already established what Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA) are. There are many facile (but extremely hilarious) squabbles over what RP actually is — just like there’s bickering over GA. For interest, we have given ‘Upper RP’ (the RP of the English upper classes) for some words.

Sources

Some words are from The Chaos (1920–22) — the famous ‘pronunciation poem’ — by the Dutch writer and traveller Charivarius (born Gerard Nolst Trenité, 1870–1946). The world instantly recognised it as a masterpiece of deep understanding of the idiosyncrasies of English spelling and pronunciation. (More about the poem here.)

Otherwise, this list is based substantially on an original (ca. 1975) from our Editor.


Srsly, the spelling system is to blame

Everyone complains about everybody else’s pronunciation.

Many linguists (as in linguistics — linguisticists?) and most ‘grammar’ nutjobs don’t seem to understand two basic facts even after repeated explanation:—

1. English has no strict pronunciation rules

That makes English pronunciation rather more flexible than some other languages (e.g. Arabic, French, German, Greek, Russian, &c). Differential or variable pronunciation doesn’t necessarily mean incorrectness. Native speakers from different areas of the same country can pronounce the same word differently and still be correct (moustache). That being said, ‘no strict rules’ doesn’t mean absence of correct pronunciation.

2. The English spelling system operates irregularly

Mispronunciation’s real culprit is the English spelling system itself — the most irregular of all alphabetical languages. Many times it’s the peculiar properties of English spelling that leads us to mispronounce what we read.

Same letters with different sounds (pie, piece, enough, hough)?

Same sound in different spellings (buff, enough, draft, draught)?

Same spelling pronounceable as different words (address, resource, row)?

These and other reasons make English phonetics highly confusing and the language hard for foreigner speakers to learn. Though irregular, the English spelling system isn’t haphazard.

On the bright side, English doesn’t have multiple pronunciation schemes that (for instance) the Chinese and Indian languages have.


Why no IPA?

Respell a word to show its sound.
No recourse to other symbols — maximise with the default spelling system.

Older readers (those with a more literary type of education) won’t easily forget that old adage of language learning.

Three strong reasons for this:—

1. Let’s face it, we’re stuck with the default system for life

We will always be using the default spelling system (and the normal alphabet) on numerically more occasions than any other set of symbols (IPA, SYMBA, &c) throughout our lives, so it makes sense to maximise our familiarity of the language using it.

2. Fluency is knowing the link between spoken and written forms

We gain a sense (if not appreciation) of the irregularities of the language from the level of correspondence between the written and spoken forms. Knowing the connection between the two is priceless (because it’s a subset of fluency).

3. The normal alphabet represents sounds too

Many supporters of phonetic transcription systems (IPA, &c) often forget this basic fact — the default spelling system is perfectly repurposable for respelling for sound. This is because the default spelling alphabet it itself a set of symbols designed to represent the sounds of words anyway.

“The biggest advantage of pronunciation respelling (and also pronunciation spelling) is that it retains the ‘flavour’ of the local English speech. That helps learners to make the connection between the spoken and written English experience.” — via our Respelling Symbols page

Non-correspondence of spelling and sound (cwenqueen, enough/en′uf, seriouslysrsly, agate /əˈɡeɪt/a′gayt vs. /ˈægɪt/ ag′gut) is mostly the result of historical/political influences more than anything materially related to the language itself.

3½. The IPA isn’t a pronunciation aid anyway

This is probably catastrophic news for IPA fans. The IPA wasn’t designed as a pronunciation aid in the first place.

“With IPA, the purpose is for linguistic analysis. The objective of the IPA is to provide a system for rendering sounds into printed form suitable for said analytical work. In other words, it is correct to say the IPA is a system to represent sounds of the oral language — but incorrect and erroneous to assert that the IPA is a phonetic system to aid pronunciation.” — via our IPA Symbols page

The IPA doesn’t illuminate the English writing system. Indeed, the IPA isn’t universally adopted in monolingual English dictionaries (or in those of other languages).


KEY

Where only one pronunciation is given, it is correct in both British and American English

AmE : American English (related variants included)

blue text : nominal pronunciation

BrE : British English (related variants included)

GA : General American (= American English and variants)

RP : Received Pronunciation (= British English and variants)

stress : indicated by CAPITAL letters, not by the minute mark ()

Upper RP : Received Pronunciation of the upper classes in England / United Kingdom


A

aindefinite article:uh” (IPA /ā, ə/) | not like the name of the letter A

abyss — “uh-BISS” | not “abbess” or “abbis”

address — “uh DRESS” (verb: to speak) | “ADD′ris” (noun: particulars of place)

accessory, ~ries — “aksessory” | not “assessory”

admirable — “admrabul” (add-m′ruh-b′l) | not “admire-able”

admiralty — “ADD-mrul-ti” (3 syllables) | not “ad-mi-RAL-ti”

advertiseADD-ver-tyes

advertisement — “uh-VER-tiss-ment” (D optional) | not “add-vert′eyes-ment”

affidavitLaw:affi-day-vit” | not “affa~”

agate — “aggait” (the gem) | “aggit” (like had it) for everything else

aged (noun) — “A-jid” (ay-jid) (the aged: old people)

aged (verb) — “ayj′d” (to be aged: to make older)

agueay-gew (AY-g′yew) | AmE: AY-gyoo

aisle — pronounced as I’ll

albeit — literally the words all be it | not “all bait” or “all bite”

alms — pronounced as the word arms (Americans please use British R for this)

alum — “alem” (like Alan) | not “aloom”

anemone — “a nemeny” (eh-nem′en-ee) rhymes with ‘an enemy’ or ‘a lemony’

Antarctic — “ant-ARK-tik” | not “antar-tik”

Anthony — “anteni” (from Etruscan Antonius, not Greek anthos: the H is a historical error)

antichrist — “antee” | not “an-tye”

Antipodes — “anntippedeez” (aen-TIP-uh-deez)

Aphrodite — “afrodighty” (afro-DYE-ti)

apostle — “appossle” (uh-poss′l) | not “aposstel”

apostolic — “appestallic” (app′uh-stall′ik) | not “apo-sto-lik”

arctic — “ARC-tick” | not “artic”

archangel — “ARK angel” (stress 1st syllable) | not “arch angel”

aren’t — same as the British pronunciation of aunt | AmE: are′unt

argil — “AR-jill” (soft G, 1st syllable stressed)

Arkansas — “arkensaw” | AmE: ARR-ken-saw | BrE: AH′ken-saw

arsenic — “arsnik” (2 syllables)

artisan — “artizen” like the word citizen

asphalt — “ass fault” | not “ash fault”

assembly — “assem-blee” | not “assembery”

assizesLaw:a sizes” (former circuit court in the UK until 1970s)

ateAmE and BrE: traditionally “et” | AmE also:eight

athlete, athletic — “athleet” (2 syllables only) and “ath-let-ick

aubergine —  “obersheen” (the eggplant)

aver — “ah-VAIR” rhyming with ‘a bus fare’ | not “ay-fer”


B

Babeltraditional:bab′l” (from the place Baab-Ilu, Iraq) | AmE: bayb′l

Balmoral — “bamoral” (bah-maw-r′l) — 1st L is silent

barbiturate — pronounce phonetically: “bar-bit-chew-rit” | not “bar-bit-chew-it”

bas-relief — rhymes with ass re-leaf but correctly French “bah-rerli-yeff

bass — like base (for the musical instrument) | “b′ass” (the fish)

Beijingthe former Peking:bey-jing” | not “bay-shing” | SEE Tiananmen (q.v.)

beretBrE:BEH-rey” | AmE: “buh-REY” | not “berret”

Bicesterplace in England:bister” | not “BYE-ses-ter”

bisque — “bisk” or actual French “beesk” (la bisque de homard: lobster bisque) | not “biscay”

boatswainnautical term:bosun

Bocque, The — former name of Humen, China:bock” | not “bok-keh” &c

Boleyn“buh-LINN”: the English surname Bullen frenchified | not “bo-lin” or “berlin”

bookboo′k | not “boke” like coke or the Chinese 卜 (Mandarin ‘bo’ | Cantonese ‘buk’)

Boolean — “boo-li′un” (after George Boole, 1815–64) | not “boo-lin” or “bo-lay′en”

bouquet — “boo-kay” | not “bokay” or “boh-ket”

bosom — “boozm

bough — as in the bow of a ship | personal name Bough:buff

bow — “bo” (knot; weapon to shoot arrows with) | “baow” (bending head/body; ship’s part)

breechesbree-ches | Upper RP:britches” (rhymes with bitches)

broccoli — “brockly” (but phoneticallyin Italian)

broguebroh′g (rhymes with broke)

brougham — “bro-umm

Bund, Theplace in Shanghai, China:boont’ | not like the word bund

buffet — “boof′ay” (noun: meal) | “buffit” (verb: strike, batter) | not “boo-faye”

buoy“b(w)oy” | AmE: “booey

~burghUK place-name suffix:~br′uh” | not “berg”

bury — “bery” | not “burree” or “booree” &c

~bury — nearly all UK place names are ~bry (Highbury: “highbry”) | not “burry”


C

cabal — “kabaal” (ka-baal) (sometimes actually spelled kabaal)

caber“kayber

cache — like the word cash | not “kaashay”

cachet — “kaashay” | not “cash it” &c

Caernarfon (Caernarvon, Carnarvon) — place in Wales:ker-nar-vun” | Welsh: kair-nar-von

calfBrE:kaaf” (silent L) | AmE:kaf

caliph — “kaylif” or “kalif” (both correct in English) | Arabic: “kaa-leef”

caliphate — “kalif-eight

can — “ken” or “kin” (verb) | “kan” (emphatic verb) | “kann” (noun: the container)

canary — “kenairy” (keneri) | not cannery (KAN-neri)

caper — “kayper”

Caribbean — “carib-bi′en” (say like it’s ‘carib-bean’ | not “carry bee in”

cartographykar′TOG′reffi | not “carto-graafee”

cattle — traditionally “ka′l” (like cat with silent T) but nowadays the hypercorrect “kat′l

caveat — “kaa-vee-aat” : it’s Latin so long A sounds | not “ka-vay-at”

centenaryBrE:senteenri” (sen-TEEN-ri) | AmE:sentenery” (sen-TEN-eri)

centennialBrE:senteenyul” (sen-TEEN′yul) | AmE: sen-TEN-ee-al

chalet — “shallay” (SHA-lay)

chamois (leather) — “shammy” (leather)

chestnut — “chessnut” (1st T silent) | not “chesT-nut” or even “chest-NUT”

CholmondeleyEnglish surname:chumly” (chum-le)

chorizoSpanish sausage/salami:choreetho

comb — “koh·m” (silent B) : most English words ending in ~mb have silent B

could — “cood” (silent L) | not “cewd” or “kood” &c

cigar — “siggaar” | not “see-garr”

cigarette — “sigger-ret” | not “see garret” &c

circa — “serka” | not “kerka”

clangour — “clanger” (klang′r) | not “klang-gor”

close — “klohs” (adj, adv: near) | “cloze” (verb: to shut)

comfortable — “kum-fe-te-bul” | RP:comftable” | AmE “com-FORTA-bul” obsolete ca. 1975

comparableBrE:compra-ble” (kompra-b′l) | AmE: “comper-able” | not “compare able”

conduit — “kanjewet” (kaan-dj′wet) | AmE: kahn-dyoowet | not “kon-doo-it”

conquerorkong-kuh-ruh | RP: kong-kr′uh | AmE: kong-ker-rer

conservativeken-serve-etiv (like conserve) | not “konser-VAY-tif” (like conservation)

contemporary — “contempery” | RP:contempry” | not “con-tem-porary”

couchant — “cow-chunt” | not like the French “KOO-shong”

countenance — “countnens” (kownt′nens) (silent E, 2 or 2½ syllables)

coup — more like “coo” than “koo”

coupé, coupe — “coopay

coupon — “coo-pon” | not “kewpon” or “queue-pahn” or “kewpin” &c

Note:— Most people in the UK now just say voucher instead (which it is).

coteriekoh-te-ree | not “cot-teri”

Cowper — pronounced as Cooper

coxwainnautical term:cox′n” or “cocks′n

crocheting — “kroshaying” (kro-SHAY′ing) from crochet (kro-SHAY) | not “kroshetting”

cuminethe spice:kewmin” | personal name:comin’ ”

currentRP: caurrent” but BrE Science: ker-rent (‘the current current’) | AmE: ker-rent


D

Dariusname: duh-RYE-us (from Persian “dari-oosh”) | not “dary-us” or “dairy-us”

debris, débrisBrE:DEB-ree” | Upper RP: like French “DAYbri” | AmE:duh-BREE

deference — “deafrence” (deff-rens: 2 syllables only) | cf. difference (q.v.)

deification — “day-ifi-kashun” | not “dey-eh-ficashun” or “deifecation”

delugetraditional:DELL′yew′zh” but nowadays “del′yooj

demesneLaw: “dimain

Dengue fever“dengee

depositionLaw:dep′osition” | not “de-position”

desertDEH-sert (noun: parched region) | “d′zert” (duh-ZERT) (verb: to abandon)

dessert — “dis-sirt” (dis′SERT)

devour — “devower

didn’t — “did-[u]nt” (1½ syllables) | not “dident”

difficult — traditionally “diff-cult” but nowadays “diffe-cult” | not “diffeecult”

difference — “diff′rence” (2 syllables, not 3)

dinghy — “ding-ee

diphtheria — pronounce phonetically: “diff-theeria” | not “dip-theria”

discographydiskog′reffi | not “disco-graphy”

diskette — “diskit” (rhymes with biscuit) (properly “DIS-kett“)

doyen — “DOY-en” (rhymes with buoyant) | not “doy-yenn”

drachm — “dram” | not like Greek “draa-KH′m”

draught (adj) — “draaft” (e.g. draught beer, draught animals)

draught (n) — “draaft” | BrE spelling (not for verbs except next entry) | AmE draft generally

a current of cool air — ‘There’s a draught in the room’

the act of pulling along — ‘Horses and oxen are used for draught’ | same in AmE

a single act of drinking or inhaling — ‘He downed the beer in one draught

amount swallowed/inhaled in one go — ‘took deep draughts of air into the lungs’

water depth of a ship — ‘the shallow draught of this boat’ | same in AmE

draught (v) — “draaft” (pulling, drawing : ‘Water had been draught from the well’)

Note:— Like the verb hoist, the verb to draught takes no ~ed ending in any tense.

dromedaryBrE: drom-e′dri | AmE: dromah-dair′i | not “dro-med-dary”


E

eaten
Traditional AmE & BrE correct form is “ee′n” (1½ syllables) but nowadays often overtaken by the hypercorrect “EE-tun” — which older people regard as stilted (brilliantly described by the Chinese idea 作狀). Eaten is a good one to play on others for a 1½-syllable word. SEE ALSO ate, cattle, fatten.

ecclesiastic(al) — “ikleezi-astik(l)” (initial is “ik~”)

economics — “eekon-nommix” and “eckon-nommix” are both correct

Edinburgh — “Eddinbruh” | not “eedinberg” &c | SEE ~burgh

egg — “ehgg” | not “ig” common in Asia

either — traditionally only “eye-ther” but now also “ee-ther” depending on context

electoral — “ellek-trull” | not “eelek-toral”

elite, éliteBrE:eh-leet” | Upper RP: as in the French “ay-leet” | AmE:ih-leet

empathyem-p′thee | not “em-pa-thee”

ensuite — “ong-sweet

envelopverb:en-fellup” (to surround)

envelopenoun: ang′fuh-lohp (the stationery item) | AmE: en-feh′lohp, ang-feh′lohp

epinephrine — “EPPin-NEFFrin” | not “ee-pina-freen”

epitome — “epPIT-tummy” — ‘Epitome is the epitome of mispronounced words.’

ere — “ear

espresso — “ess′preh-so” | not “expresso” or “ixpresso”

euthanasia — “youth in Asia

every — “ev-ri” (2 syllables only)

everyone — “ev-ri-wun” (3 syllables only) | not “ever-ee-ONE”

extraordinary — “eggstrawdinri” (ek-straw-din′ri) | not “ik~” and not “extra ordinary”

eyrie — “airy


F

facade, façade — “fe-saad” (as in the French)

Fag Ash ’Lil — “faggash lill” (slang: incessant smoker or dirty smoker)

fatten — resembles eaten: traditionally “fa(d)′n” (1½ syllables), nowadays “fat-tun

faugh — between “faw” and “four

Faulkener, FaulknerEnglish surname:fokner” or “falkner

February — “febbrew-ary” | not “febbew-ary”

federalBrE: usually “feddral” but properly “fed-der′l” | AmE:fedderal

feoffer — “feffer

film — pronounce phonetically “fill′m” | not “fillum” very common in Indian subcontinent

financial — traditionally “fin-nanshul” (esp. in financial world), otherwise “fy-nanshul

fireBrE:fye′uh” (1½ syllables) | AmE:fye-er” (2 syllables)

fissile (syn. fissionable) — BrE and Science: fis-SYL | AmE: “fisel

fission — properly “fiZHUN” but nowadays generally “fishun

fissionable (syn. fissile) — properly “fiZHUNab′l” but nowadays generally “fishun-abul

fissure — traditionally “FIS′yur” but nowadays generally “fisher

forecastle (alt. sp. foc’sle) — nautical term:fowk′sul” (rhymes with folk so)

forehead — “forrid” | “fore head” is acceptable but still considered stilted by some

forte, forté — “fortay” | not “fort”

Foules — English surname: like the plural word fowls

Foulkes, Ffoulkes, ffoulkes — English surname:fooks” or “foaks

fount (AmE: font) — “font” (rhymes with the word on) | not “faownt”

fountain — traditionally “faown′un” (1½ syllables) but nowadays “faowntun” (2 syllables)

fountain pen — some pen collectors still say “faown′n-pen” but for most it’s “faowntun

fruit — “froot” | not “frewt”

fuchsia — “fewsha” (fyu-sha) — causing it to be often misspelled “fuschia”

furore — traditionally “few-roar-rey” (like the Italian original) but now mostly “fyoo-ror


G

Gaelic — “galik” (gal′ik) | not ‘gay-lik’ or gallic

gaol — traditional British spelling of the word jail until 1975–80

garageGARA′sh | RP: g′air-RAA′sh | not “garridge”

gaseous — “gaysius” (gay-si-us) or “gassius” (gas-si-us) (both acceptable)

gauge — rhymes with page | not like gorge

gauze — “gorz” | not “gowz”

Geoffrey — “jeffree” (jeff-ri) | not “goffree” or goofy

genre — “shornrer” with British Rs but properly French “shzahn-ruh

geographyjyog-greffi | not “jog-graphy”

geologyji′all′o-ji

geyserBrE:gazer” but nowadays “geezer” | Science & AmE:guy-zer

ghat — like the word got

gibbet — “jibbit” (soft G)

giga~ — prefix formerly “guy-ga” from the Greek root, nowadays incorrectly “gigga

gillgil (hard G: fish anatomy) | jil (soft G: ¼ pint measure, from French gille)

Gloucester — “gloster” | not “glochester” or “glawster” &c

GmbHGerman/Austrian/Swiss corporate designation:gey-emm-bey-hah

gnaw — like the word nor

gneiss — like the word nice

Godzillaoriginal Japanese: g′AWE-dzi-YA (LL pronounced like in the Spanish)

gooseberry — “goosebry” | AmE: goos-beri

graph, &c
Believe it or not, the American flat A is traditionally the correct pronunciation even in BrE (Greek root graphos), so—

graph / ~graph — “graf” | not “graaf”

chromograph — kromograf

historiograph — historio-graf

photograph — FO′tuh-graf | not “foto-graaf”

graphic / ~graphic — “grafik” | not “graafik”

cartographic — karto-grafik

historiographic — historio-grafik

mammographic — mammo-grafik

photographic — FO-tuh-GRAF-ik (1st, 3rd syllables stressed) | not “foto-graafik”

~graphygenerallygreffi” | not “graffi” or “graafi”

cartography — kar-tog-reffi | not “kartor-graffi/~graafi”

historiography — histor-riog-reffi | not “histori-ohgraffi/~ohgraafi”

mammography — mammog-reffi

photography — fuh-TOG-reffi | not “fotor-graffi/~graafi”

Greenwichplace in London:grennidge” | place in New York City:grennitch

grillgril (shorter/softer sound than for grille)

grillegrrill (longer/harder sound than for grill)

GrosvenorEnglish surname (from Norman French):grove-ner” (silent S)

guarantee, ~ty — “garanTEE” (stressed final) but “GAranti” for guaranty

gunwale — “gunnel” (gun′l), rhymes with tunnel


H

hadn’ttraditional:ha[d]un(t)” (optional T) | not “haddent”

halfpence — “haypince” (hay-p’ns) (e.g. I have four halfpence in my pocket)

halfpenny, halfpennies — hayp-nee(s)

~ham
For ~ham endings, usually (but not always) “ham” for American place names and nearly always “um” for British ones. But personal names are nearly always “um” or “em” in both: Graham (gray′um), Brigham (brye-um like Brian), Brougham (bro-umm).

Birmingham, Alabama — ber-ming-ham

Birmingham, West Midlands, UK — berming′um

Pelham, New York City — “pellum

Topsham, Devon, UK — “top-shum” (but “topsum” by the locals)

Bingham — bing′um

Brigham — br′eye-um (like Brian)

Brougham — bro-umm

Graham — gray′um (e.g. graham crackers)

HamishScottish personal name:haymish

haphazard — “hap-ha′zerd

headsailnautical term:hedsul” or “hedsol

hearth — “haarth” | not “herth”

heaven — “heh-ven” | Upper RP:hevn

heifer — “heffer” | not “highfer” or “hayfer”

helicopter — “helacop-ter” | not “heli-copter”

herb — the H is pronounced | not “erb”

hereat — “hair rat” (means ‘at this’/’at here’) | not “here at”

hetero~ — this prefix traditionally “het′ro” but now (esp. AmE) “het-tuh-ro

heterogeneity, ~geneous, ~geny, homogeneity, ~geneous, ~geny
For decades these six words have been mispronounced and given wrong pronunciations in online and printed dictionaries. All of the word components were taken from Classical Greek direct, so the pronunciation fails when working from the written prefixes (he•te•ro, ho•mo) and thereafter according to literal spelling (~ge•ne•ous, &c). [Remark:— Our editors accept but don’t always see eye to eye with the modern variants since the traditional pronunciations are perfectly serviceable.—Editors.]

heterogeneity — “hetrodge-naity” (5 syllables) | not “hetero jeanity”

Modern:— “hettro-jenNAY-iti” (6 syllables)

heterogeneous — “hetrodge-ness” (3 syllables) | not “hetero genius” (not 6 syllables)

Modern:— “hetTRAW-junnus” (4 syllables)

heterogeny — “hetrodge-ni” (3 syllables) | not “hetero genie” (not 5 syllables)

Modern:— “hetTRAW-junny” (4 syllables)

homogeneity — “hummodge-naity” (5 syllables) | not “homo jeanity”

Modern:— “hummaw-jenNAY-iti” (6 syllables)

homogeneous — “hummodge-ness” (3 syllables) | not “homo genius” (not 5 syllables)

Modern:— “humMAW-jennus” (4 syllables)

homogeny — “hummodge-ni” (3 syllables) | not “homo jenny”

Modern:— “humMAW-jenni” (4 syllables)

hiccough — traditional spelling of hiccup

hierarchy — “high rarky” | not “high arky”

historyhist′ri

homage — “hommidge” | hypercorrect (usu. AmE) “oh-marsh

homogeneity, &c — SEE heterogeneity

hough — “hock” (as in “You gotta hough it back before you spit” — Titanic, 1997)

housewife — “hussif” for the housewife kit of thread and needles for repairing clothes

hurricaneBrE: hau′ri-kayn | Upper RP: hau-rikn | AmE:hurry-cane

hurryhur-ri | Upper RP: hau-ri

hyperbole — “high-PER-buh-li” | not rhyming with bowl


I

Ibanezguitar brand: EE-baan-yeth | not “ebanez” &c

idolatry — “eye-DOLL-le-tri” | not “idol-late-tree”

impious — “impee-us” | not literally “im-pye-us”

impugn — “impewn

inasmuchIN′ES-much | not literally “in as much”

included — “in-clue-did” | not “in-klew-did” or “in-kloo-did”

indictLaw:indight” (in-dye′t)

infamous — “infummuss” (in-fe-muss) | not literally “in famous”

inland — “inlun(d)” | not “in-land”

innovation — “innevayshun” | not “inno~”

innovative — “innevetif” (innuh-vet′if) | not “inno-vay-tif” like innovation

insofar (as)in′suff-far | not literally “in so far”

insureverb: in-s(h)u′r (soft-SH), differing slightly from ensure (en-SHORE: hard-SH)

insurance — “in-SHU-rince” (2nd syllable stressed) | not “IN-shoo-rins”

interesting — “intristing” (3 syllables)

inureen-YOO′r | not “in-nurr”

invalid — “IN′fe-lid” (noun: disabled person) | “in-VALID” (adj: not valid)

irreparable — “ir-repra-bul” (4 syllables) | not “ee-ri-pair-able” ( 5 syllables)

irreparably — “ir-repra-blee” (4 syllables) | not “ee-ri-pair-ably” (not 5 syllables)

iron — “I earn” (I-ern) | not “eye-rin” or “eye-ron” &c

irony — “eye-rinny” | not “eye-ronny” &c


J

jaguarBrE & car brand:jag-gyew-er” | AmE:jagwa-rr” or sometimes “jaguire

Janejay′n (letter J with N-sound at the end): the Chinese have great trouble with this name

Japan — “jip-PAN” | not “JAP-PAN”

jewellery, jewelry — “jewl-ry” (2 syllables only) | BrE: jewl-lery | not “jew-wel-ler-ry”

Jobperson’s name: rhymes with the name Joe

joss — pronounced phonetically: j′oss | not “Joe’s”


K

kilometre — “killem-meeter” | AmE: kilom-eter | not “kilo-meter”

Kiribati — “KIRR′i-bas” (the former Gilbert Islands in the Pacific)

Kiritibati — “KIRR′isi-maas” (Christmas Island)


L

lambaste (alt. lambast) — “lam-beyst” | not “lam-bast”

laboratoryBrE:labora-tri” | AmE:labbor-tori

lawyer — traditionally “law-yer” but nowadays “loy-er

leewardnautical term:loo′erd” or “looward” (from Old Dutch ljuard)

Leicester — “Lester” | not “LIE-ses-ter”

Lelandname:leelund

Leroy, LeRoyname:leeroy

lettuce — “let•iss” | not rhyming with spruce (sproos)

libellie-bul

libraryBrE:lie-brey” | AmE: lie-brar-i

lichen — exactly like the word liken | not “LIT-chen” like kitchen

lieuBrE:lyoo” | AmE:loo” | not “lew”

linagePrinting:line-idge

lineage — “lini-idge” | not “line-idge”

linger — “ling-ger” | not “linjer”

liqueurBrE:lick-cure” (lik′yoor) | AmE: lik′ERR

liquor — “lickerr” (LIK-urr)

literature — “litracher” (3 syllables) but traditionally “littera-ch′eur” (4 syllables)

little — traditionally li′l or “li(t)-ul” (1½ syllables) but now “littul

~lived — “~livd” (as in to live) | not “li′vd” like life (as spuriously claimed)

ll~ — Welsh voiceless lateral fricative sound “CH′l” [IPA /ɬ/] (see YouTube here)

loci — “low-sigh” (low-sy) or “low-kee” | not “low-ky”

look — “loo′k” | not “loak” or “loke” like oak, &c

long-livedBrE:long liv′ed” (as in to live) | AmE:long ly’vd” (as in life)

lovat — “love it” or “levet” | not “low fat”

Luketraditional:lewk” (like mucous) | AmE:lyook” | not “lu′k”

lush — “l′ush” for everything BUT “loosh” to describe a sexually attractive woman


M

mainsailnautical term:mainsul

manifold — “mannyfold” | not “many fold”

manufacturingUpper RP:mana-facturing

Maria — formerly mah-RYE-ah (e.g. Black Maria) but Mariah has now overtaken this sound

marque — exactly as the word mark (e.g. letters of marque and reprisal)

mauve — “moh′v” | not “morf”

mayn’t (may not: syn. mightn’t) — obsolete word:may′ent” | not “maint”

mayorBrE:mayer” (may′uh: 1½ syllables) | AmE: MAY-or (2 syllables)

meanderingBrE:me-andring” | AmE: mi-an-der-ing (from the river Meander)

mete — “meet” | not “met”

meteorology — “meatier-ology

medicineUpper RP:medsun

melange, mélange — “may-lawnsh” or “may-lanj

melée, melee — “may-LAY” (like ‘you may lay here’) | not “meh-lee”

membraneous — “membrin-ness” | not “mem-brainy-us”

meme — “meem” | not “me-me”

menial — “mean-yul” (2 syllables) | AmE:meeny-el” (3 syllables)

mesneLaw: same sound as the word mean

methyl~Chemistry (prefix): properly “mee-THYL” | not “METH-yl” | cf. methylated (q.v.)

methylated — “METHil-ated” (methylated spirit) | not “meethil~”

mezzotint — “medzo-tint

micamy-kah

micrometerthe instrument: MY-kromit′er | not “micro-meeter”

micrometrethe metric length μm: MY′kro-meeter | not “micro-MEEter”

mightn’t — traditionally “my[d]-unt” | not “myttunt”

militaryRP: milit′ri | AmE: mil′it-tair′ee

millimetremill′m-meeter | not “meelee-meeter”

miniature — “minia-chure” | not “mini-chure”

minute — “my newt” (small) | “minit” (time)

miragemeh-raash or French “mi-Rahzh” | not “mi-raj” or “mi-rash”

mischief — “mis′chiff” | not “mis-chief”

mischievous (alt. sp. mischievious) — “mis-chiv′uss” | not “mischeeveeus”

mishap — “mis-hap” (the word comes from ‘mis-happiness’: bad luck)

N.B. It’s not a mishap if a person dies from it — then it’s a tragedy, to be sure.

mobileBrE:mo-bile” | AmE:mo-b′l” but increasingly “mo-bile” (adj)

moustache (AmE mustache) — “moostarsh” | Northern BrE and AmE: “must-ash

mucous — “miewkuss” (mYEW-kuss) | not “mookuss”

multifarious — “mulTIF-ferus” | not “multi-fairy-us”

muralMYEW-rul | not moo-RALL

mystery — “mistri” (2 syllables only)


N

nauseous — BrE: traditionally “nausius” (naw-zee-us), now generally the AmE:nosh-us

necessary, necessarily
These two words are more like a noise than a sound and they have proven very hard even for native English speakers.

necessary — BrE: NEH-sess′ry | Upper RP: n(e)′ssis-sri | AmE: neh-ses-sary

necessarily — BrE: NEH-ses′serili | Upper RP: n(e)′siss-srli | AmE: neh-ses-AIR-rily

neigh — “nay

neither — still mainly “nye-ther” but also “nee-ther” depending on context

newnyoo | not “nyew”

news — “nyoos” | not “nyews” | cf. newspaper

newspaper — “nyewz-payper

newsy — “nyewzy

niche — “neesh” or the French “nish” (Fr. IPA /niʃ/) | not “nitch” … please

nonceBrE:nonts” | AmE:nunts

notary — “no-te-ri

notarial — “no-TAIR′ee-ul

notarise — “no-te-rise

numb — “num” (silent B) — indeed most English words ending in ~mb have silent B

nuclear — “NEW-clear” | not “nukular” from Americans (esp. politicians)

nuptialLaw:nupshul” (the TI is ‘sh’) | not “nup-chuel” common in Americans

nylonBrE: nye-len| AmE: nye-l′on


O

obsequies — “AB′suh-kweez” (rhymes with abseil keys) | not “ob-SEH-kwees”

often — “offen” (off′n) | not “off-tun”

oppugners — “upPEWNers” but oppugnant (eh-pug-nent)

ordinanceLaw:or-dinens” (municipal regulations) | cf. ordnance (q.v.)

ordinary — traditionally AWE′un′ri but nowadays ordin′ri | not “or-den-airy”

ordnancemilitary term:ord-nunts” (munitions) | cf. ordinance (q.v.)

outrageous — “out-ray-juss” (3 syllables only: there is no E or I sound)

Osaka — “oh-saka” | not “o-saa-kah”


P

Pacific — “p′sifik” | not “pasifik”

Pall Mall — rhymes with pal and meow (cat’s sound)

palette — like the word pallet

pannierstraditional:pannee-ay” (from the French) or usually now “panni-ers

paradigm — “para dime” (no ‘dig’ sound in it)

parquet — “parrkay” (par-kei) | not “parket”

parliament

This one is a disaster if we’re dumb enough to believe the many (usually American) online sources for it. Not only do they recycle each other’s wrong ‘correct’ pronunciation, but they make groundless claims that “most dictionaries have given up on the correct pronunciation.” If anything, the claimed (but spurious) pronunciation “parl-lyuh-ment” (the result of mistaking the word-split as parlia•ment or par•lia•ment) shows their online authors clearly couldn’t read the IPA properly with the hyphens or dots missing.

ETYMOLOGY:— The English spoken word was directly from the Old French parlement (1250-1300), itself derived from the Mediaeval Latin parlāmentum — a proverbial case of showing correlation but not causation. The written word (therefore our current spelling) is from the Anglo-Latin ecclesiastical word parliamentum — itself a mediaeval typo (ca. early 13th century: the 1200s) of parlāmentum.

PRONUNCIATION:— For those of us who actually took Latin and French as school subjects, the English word parliament is pronounceable in two possible correct ways:—

Actual (but archaic):
PARL-yuh·ment” (IPA /ˈpɑrl-yə-mənt/) (if using mediaeval parlāmentum)

Modern:
PAR·lement” (par·luhment) (IPA /ˈpärləmənt/) (if using Old French parlement)

TV broadcasts have shown the late British politicians Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher tended to use the archaic pronunciation. The British Royal Family (current and past) have always used the modern one. Draw your own conclusions.

parliamentaryparla-ment′ri | Upper RP: parle-ment′rey | not “parl-yamentry”

pasty — “pas′ti” (for the food) | “pay′sti” (when referring to paste)

pathologypeth-all′o-jee

~pathy~p′thee (e.g. empathy: em-p′thee, homeopathy: homee′op-p′thee, &c)

pause — “pawz” | not “paws”

penal — “peenul

~pence — all English money words ending this are “-p′ns” (“-punce” or “-pince”) —

twopence — “tuppens” (tupp′ns)
threepence — “thruppunce” (thrupp′ns)
sixpence — “sicks-pince
elevenpence — “eleven-pince
twelvepence — “twelve-pince

penile — “peen′eyl (rhymes with “pee in Nile”)

peremptoryBrE:purremp-tri” | AmE:purremp-tory” | not “pre-emptry/~tory”

Note:— Don’t confuse peremptory with pre-emptive. No such word as “pre-emptory.”

pernickety — “pern′ickety” | not “per-nickety”

perseveranceper-se-VEER′ence | not “per severance”

photographFO′tuh-graf | not “foto-graaf”

photographicFO-tuh-GRAF-ik (1st, 3rd syllables stressed) | not “foto-graafik”

photographyfotog′reffi | not “fotor-graafi”

physician — “fsishun” (fe′si-shun) | not “fee-si-shun”

physicist — “fi′se-sist

physics — “fis′ix” (it’s ‘phys-ics’)| not “fee-sicks” commonly heard among Far Easterners

picture — “pikchure” | not “pitcher”

pieboldBrE:peebold” | AmE: pye-bold

piezo electric — “peezo

pilot — “pye′lit” | not “pie-lut” or the Chinese “pie-lud”

pique — “peek

pirate — “PYE-rit” | not “pie-rut” or East Asians keep saying “pie-rud”

plaidplad

plait — “plat” or “playt” (both are correct)

plastic — “plasstik” | not “plaas~” common in BrE

plasticise (~ize) — “plas-te-sye′z

please — “pleez

poinsettia — “poyn-set-tia” | not “~setta”

police — “pulease” (pul-is) | not “po-lees” or “p′lice”

polyesterBrE: polley-yester | AmE: polly-ester

porcelain — “porslen” (2 syllables only) | not “porselen” or “porselane”

pore, poor, pour, pure

pore — por
poor — poo’r
pour — paw′uh(r)
pure — BrE: pyew′uh | AmE: pyoor

Portsmouth — between “ports-mith” and “ports-muth” | not “ports mouth”

positionp′zi′shn | not “po-sishun”

possess — “pzess” (pe-zess) | not “po-sess”

potable — “po-table” (drinkable) | not “pot-table”

practicable — traditionally identical with practical, but phonetically for dictation

prerogative — “pruh-roggativ” | not “per′ogative” or “perog′gative”

primarytraditional & RP: pry-mr′i | AmE: pry-mair′ee

primarilytraditional & RP: pry-mr′li | AmE: pry-mair-ri-li

program(me) — “PRO-gram” | AmE: formerly “progrum” before 1965–69

promissory — prum-MISS′ri | not “promise-sorry”

pronunciation — “prennunsi-ayshun” | not “pro-nown-ciation” &c

Tip:— The word is only spelt “pro~”; the sound has never been that.

pshaw — “psshh

puisneLaw: exactly as the word puny (pew-ni)

purpose — “purr-pis” | not “pur-poes” or “porpoise” &c

pursuitBrE: per-sewt | AmE: per-syoot, per-soot

putting — “poot-ting” (to put) | “putt-ing” (as in golf)


Q

quay (pl. quays) — “ki” like key (pl. keys): from French quai | not “kei” or “kwei” &c

queue — “cue” | BrE:kyew” | AmE: kyoo


R

raise — “rayz” | not “race” or “rays”

raspberryraasb′ri, ras-beri (silent P)

Readingplace in England:redding

realise (~ize) — “real-eyes” (2 syllables only) | not “re-al-eyes”

rebelnoun:rebble” | verb:re-BELL

rebellionBrE: reb′ELL-yun (3 syllables) | AmE: ree-BELL-li-un (4 syllables)

recordri-kord (verb) | rek-ord (evidence about the past) | rekud (audio disc)

reprisal — “re-pry-sel

resource
Two completely different words with identical spelling, causing massive trouble for the meaning of the related word resourceful especially among Asians:—

resource (REE-sors) — a person’s internal capability to deal with situations

resourceful (REE-sorsful) — ability to find quick and clever ways of solving a problem

resource (“resauce”: ri-ZORS or re-ZORS): a stock of assets or materials

Note:— Nothing can be ‘full’ of resources; it can only be well-stocked.

Therefore, a resourceful person is inventive and ingenious, not ‘full’ of resources.

respite — “resspit” | not “re-spit” or “re-spite” like despite

restaurantRP:RESS-strawn” (2 syllables) | AmE:resteraunt” (3 syllables)

restaurateurRP:restra-teur” (3 syllables) | AmE:restera-teur” (4 syllables)

revanchist — “re-von-shist

revered — “riveerd

rhetoric — “retterick” (ret′uh-rik: short, almost like “rettrick“) | not “rettor-rick”

ricocheted — “rikoshayed” (from ricochet) | not “rikoshetted” or “reeko~”

righteous — “rye-chuss” (1600–50 meaning ‘rightwise’) | not “righty-us”

rigmarole (alt. rigmorole) — “rig-muh-roll” | not “rig-moral”

roan — “rowin’ ” (‘rowin’ the boat’) | not like Rome

rose — “roes” (noun: the flower) | “roze” (verb: to stand up)

rosemarypersonal name and herb:roze-mry” | not “rose mary”

rough it — “ruffit” (as if a single word) | not literally as two separate words

routnoun, verb:r′out” (disorderly retreat of troops)

routenoun:root” (road or path) | AmE:r′out” (esp. a road circuit)

routeverb:r′out” (as in “all lines of communications were routed through London”)

row — “raow” (an argument) | “roh” (a line, in a sequence, or to paddle)

rowlock — “rolluk” or “rollick

ruralBrE:rew′rul” | AmE:roorul


S

sandwichfood:sanwidge” | place in England:sand-witch

saucepanBrE: saws-p′n | AmE: sos-p′n | not “sauce pan”

says — “sez” | not literally “sais” or “sess”

sconeskon (rhymes with gone) | not “skown” like own

schedule BrE:shed-jewel” (shed-jyew-ul) | AmE: skedjoo-ull

schismsiz′m (an SCH- word that isn’t pronounced sk- or sh-) | not “shism,” “skism,” &c

scourging — “skerjing” | not “score-jing”

secondary — “secondery” | traditional & RP:secondry” (sek′un-dri) | not “second-AIRY”

secondarily — “second-eri-li” | traditional & RP: sek′un-dr′li | not “second-AIR-rily”

seer — “see-er” | cf. sear (sier)

seismic — “size-mick” (as in seismic wave, the former word for tsunami)

severed — “severd

sewage — “soo-idge

sewer, sewerage — “syoo-er” and “sew′er-ridge

sexual — traditionally “secksuall” (seck-su′l) but now mostly replaced by “seck-shuall

shallsimple future (1st pers. sing. & pl.):shul” | not phonetically “shAL” | cf. will (q.v.)

Note:— For a quick explanation, see article Grammar Girl: ‘Shall’ Versus ‘Will’

ShaughnessyIrish surname:shon-nessy

shepherd — “shepperd

sherbet (alt. sherbert) — traditionally “sorbey” but now phonetically “sherbit

-shire
The word shire itself is “shy′er” but place names ending in -shire is “sher” or “shir” — Berkshire is “barksher,” Leicestershire “lester-shir,” &c.

should — “shood” (very short sound: like “shud”) | not “shewd” &c

skein — “skane” | not “skeen”

snuck — not a real word: the real word is sneaked (sneekd)

sobriquet — “soobrikay” or “soobriket” | AmE:sobrikay” or “sobriket

soften — “soffen” (silent T) | not “sof-ten” (which is stilted)

solder — “sodder” or “soh-der” (silent L) | not “sol-der”

summonsLaw:summens” (plural: summonses: “summen-sis

sough — “suff

sourdough
American:— SAU′r-doh
British:— either the word soda or “SOR-dah” (especially in the UK food industry)

southernBrE:sutthen” (like sudden) | AmE:sutthern” | not “sau-thern”

Strachanname:strawn” | not “strakkin,” or “straykin,” &c

strawberrystrawb′ri | not “straw-BERI”

Stephen — traditionally “steffen” but now exactly as Steven (stee-ven)

Streatham — “strethm” (streh-thm)

stomachache / stomach ache — “STUM′may-cake” | not “stummik-AIK”

strivers — “stryvers” (from strive: to achieve) | not like river

studding-sailnautical term:stunsel” (stuns′l)

subpoenaLaw:subpeena” | not “suppeena”

suitBrE: sewt (rhymes with newt) | AmE: syoot

suite — “sweet

summary — “sumri” (2 syllables)

summery — “sum-mre” (2 syllables)

supremacist — “soopremma-sist” | not the word supremist

surely — “shoe′r-li” | not “shorely” like shore

surveillance — traditionally “surveyance,” now mostly “surveylence

sward — “swawd” (s′ward) | cf. sword (sord)

swathBrE:swoth” | AmE: swah′th


T

teal — “tee′l” or sometimes “tee′ul

telepathy — “telleppethy” (tuh-LEP′ethee) | not “tela-pathee”

telephone — “telleffoan” (tell′ef-own) | not “teller-FOWN”

television — like two separate words “tella vision” | not “tellerfishun”

temperathe art material:tempe-ra” sometimes “tempra” cf. tempura

temperature — phonetically or “tempra~” (mainly BrE) | not “temperchure” or “tempachure”

temporary — “tempuh-rer-ee” | Upper RP:tempri” | not “temp-por-rary”

tempuraJapanese food:tem-poo-ra” | not “tempewra”

Terpsichore — “tersickery” (ter-SIK-er′i), rhymes with chicory | AmE: TERP-sickery

Thales — “thayleez

Thalia — “the liar” (tha-LYE-ah)

Thebes —”theebz” (rhymes with thieves)

therefore — properly BrE: theffaw | AmE: theffor | cf. therefor: ‘for that’ (there-FOR)

threepence — “thruppence,” “thruppunce” (thrupp′ns)

threepennythrepp′nee | Upper RP: thrippne | not “three penny”

Tiananmen (alt. Tian An Men) — “ti′en/ten-aan-men” | not “tee-anna-men” on USA TV

Tianjinformerly Tientsin in China:ti′en-jeen” | not “tee-ann-jin”

tierone who ties:tye-er” | row or level:tee′r

titanium — originally “tit-TAYN′ee-um” but nowadays “tye-TAYN-nee-um

tobacco — “tubbacko” (tubbak-o) | not “toh-baa-ko” &c

tomb — “toom” (silent B)

tomorrow — traditionally “tum-morrow” | not “to-morrow”

topgallantnautical term:t′garn

topsails — “topsels

Topshamplace in England:top-shum” (but “TOP-sum” by the locals)

tortoise — “tortus” | not “tortoys” prevalent in Asia

toward — traditionally “taw-ward

towards — traditionally ‘tords’ or ‘taw-wardz’ | not “to-wards”

triathlon — “try-athlen” (3 syllables only) | not “tri-atha-lon”

trivet — “triv-it

tsunamiScience:ts00-NA-mi” (seismic wave) | not “soo-nammy”

turpentine — the ~tine rhymes with time | not “~teen”

turquoiseBrE:terkoyz” (TER-koiz) | AmE: ter-kwoiz

twin — “twinn” | not “chween” or “tween” common in China and Taiwan

twopence — “tuppence,” “tuppens,” “tuppunce” (tupp′ns)

twopenny — “tuppnee” | Upper RP:tuppnay


U

uncouth — “uncooth” | not “un-cow′th” like mouth

unionised (~ized) — “yoon-yunized” | Chemistry: the word un-ionised

Uranus — “yewrinnus” | not “your anus” or “yew-rain-us”)

usenoun:yoos” | verb:yewz


V

valiseBrE:vah-lees” | AmE:vah-lease

VaughnBrE:vawn” | AmE:vorn

verbiage — “verby-idge” | not “verbidge”

victual — “vittel” (vit′l) | not “fik-choo-ull”)

victualling — “vitteling

vision — “vizhun” | not “fishun”


W

waistcoattraditional:wesskut” | now generally literally “waist coat

wansaid of a person’s complexion:waan” (pale, ashen)

warranty — final “~tee” unstressed, unlike the word guarantee

waybill — “WAY-bill” (1st syllable stressed, rhymes with Mabel) | not “way-BILL”

Wednesday — “wenn’s day” | not “wed-nes-day,” “wen-nes-day” &c common among Asians

wh~ — The traditional wh~ (hw-) sound is now mostly gone in the south of England (replaced by the simple w~ sound). Hw~ is still fairly common in the north of England, Scotland and the northeastern regions of the USA, but again, w~ is increasingly replacing it. Some traditional vs. common pronunciations:—

whale — hw′ale (sounds like “huwayl” | the word wail

what — hw′aat (“huwart”) | “wut

wheat — hw′eet (“huweet”) | “weet

when — hw′en (“huwen”) | the word wen

where — hw′ear (“huwear”) | the word wear

wherefore — hw′ear-for “huwear-for”) | “wear-for

whey — hw′ey (“huway”: usually retained in educated BrE) | wey

which — hw′ich (“huwich”) | the word witch

whip — hw′ipp (“huwipp”) | “wipp

whin — hw′inn (“huwinn”: usually retained in educated BrE) | the word win

whine — hw′ine (“huwine”: usually retained in educated BrE) | the word wine

whinge — hw′inj (“huwinj”: usually retained in educated BrE) | “winj

whisk — hw′isk (“huwisk”) | the word wisk

whiskers — hw′iskers (“huwiskers”) | wiskers

whisky (AmE: whiskey) — hw′isky (“huwisky”) | wisky

whisper — hw′isper (“huwisper”) | wisper (now acceptable anywhere)

white — hw′yt (“huwyt”) | the word wight

whopper — hw′opper (“huwopper”) | wopper

why — hw′y (“huwy”) | wy

whey — traditionally “hway” but now generally “way” (esp. in BrE)

willfuture tense with determination (1st pers. sing. & pl.): “WIH•ll

Note:— For a quick explanation, see article Grammar Girl: ‘Shall’ Versus ‘Will’

will — “wih•LL” (as in Last Will and Testament)

windwardnautical term:winnerd” (from Old Dutch winard)

wintery — “wintry” (2 syllables)

womb — “woom” (B is silent) | not “wom” like wombat

wont — “waunt” (between want and “wunt”) (verb: to become accustomed)

would — “wooo′d” (longish sound: almost like wooded) | not short like wood

Worcester — “wooster“: e.g. Worcestershire sauce (woostersher)

worsted — “woostid” (noun: cloth) vs. “werstid” (verb: defeated)

writLaw:rit” | not the archaic “write”


X

xthe letter X:eks” (like eggs) | not “iks”

Xaviername: traditionally “ha-vee-yey” (from French) | not “ex-saviour”


Y

yea — “yay” | not “yeah”

YamahaJapanese brandname:yamaa-HA” | not “yar-mar-har”

yolk — pronounced phonetically “yol′k” | not “yoke”

Yosemite — “yosemmity” (yo-SEM-it-ee) | not “yossem-mite” or “your Semite”


Z

zebraBrE:zebbra” | AmE:zeebra

zephyr — “zeffer” | not “zef-fire”: sapphire

Zeus — “zews” (zyews) | AmE: zyoos

zoology — “zo-ology” | not “zoo-ology”


© Learn English or Starve, 20 July 2014 | Last updated 15 Aug 2015 | B14220

Cite this page as:

LEOS. (2014). Mispronunciation list. Learn English or Starve [website]. 20 July 2014. Last updated 15 Aug 2015. https://learnenglishorstarve.wordpress.com/mispronunciation.

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