The Most Mispronounced Words

atkins bookshelf wordsThe English language is like an insatiable magpie, collecting words from different languages from all across the globe. These borrowed words may be initially pronounced as they are in their native cultures, but eventually they are Anglicized to sound more like English. (In Hollywood, directors talk about how a certain scene is an homage (they pronounce it “oh-majsh”) to a certain director — this is simply a case of pretentiousness, since they are mispronouncing the word. Many words have simply changed pronunciations (as well as spelling) over the centuries, so a word that was pronounced a certain way in one century, is pronounced differently in another. However, as the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries note, “Many of the words that have troubled pronunciations are more often seen than heard. That is, we encounter them more often in reading than conversation, and when we do have occasion to use them in speech, we find ourselves guessing at the proper way to say them.” Bingo! Bookshelf presents some of the most mispronounced English words.

Aegis: “EE jis” not “AY ges”

Contretemps: “CON truh tahn” not “CON tre temps”

Diaspora: “DIE as pa rah” not “DICE poor ah”

Elegiac: “ele JEYE ak” not “elle GEE ak”

Entrepreneur: “on tre pre NEUR (rhymes with bluer)” or “on tre pre NUR” not “en tre pray NUR”

Forte: “fort” not “FOR tay” *

Homage: “HOM ij” not “oh MAJSH” *

Maldives: “mal DEEVES” not “Mal DIVES”

Niche: “nitch” not “neesh” *

Oeuvre: “UR vruh” not “OH ver”

Reprise: “ri PREEZE” not “ri PRIZE”

S’mores: “smorze” not “shmorz” or “suh-MORZ”

*The second pronunciation is French and is preferred by some English speakers




100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces
The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations

For further reading:

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.