Common Yet Irksome Mispronunciations

Came up with these while pondering the favorite words thread.
(I’m no linguist, just an amateur lover/defender of the language. And I’m not talking about accent-based differences in pronunciations, but actual wrong pronunciations.)

Mauve when pronounced “mawv” – it’s mowv.
Flaccid when pronounced “flassid” – it’s flak-sid.
Ask when pronounced “aks” (Egregious because it’s so willful. It’s only 3 letters, for Pete’s sake!)
Marquise (as in diamond) when it’s pronounced “mar-kee” – it’s mar-keez. Marquis is pronounced “mar-kee”, or mar-kwis if you’re more oriented towards British-English than American-English.
Coupon when pronounced “cue-pon” – it’s koo-pon.

Some of these have become so common (esp. the last one) that they’ve become acceptable/standard.

Of course that’s the beauty of an ever-evolving and non-standard language like English. (And having tried to read old- and middle-english poetry in college, I’m glad it’s evolved as it has.)

I suppose if it really bothered me (it doesn’t), I could move to France and live among the language cops. But I’d probably end up in the “prison du langue” for my own pronunciation transgressions.

Any to add???

How could you forget the classic among classics: “nucular”?!

Armoi’ also comes to mind (as well as pretty much anything else borrowed from the French language).

P.S.: Wireless: Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! It’s “prison de la langue” (assuming that such a thing does exist :slight_smile: )

Nucular - instead of nuclear
Tortillia - instead of torteeya (yes I really hear this)

I think these three may be optional, but for:
Route, I say root, not rowt
Often, I say offen, not often
Data, I say dayta, not datta

“cue-pon” just KILLS me. Arrgh! Also people who pronounce the game Uno like “You know” instead of the number “OOO-no” as in you SAY “UNO” when you have ONE CARD! See, 'cos UNO means ONE, dammit!

My mom was talking about her dining room suite and pronounced it “suit” and apparently has all her life. What tha? I said “exCUSE ME?” Weird.

prison de langage I had an ENGLISH teacher who actually (hey, there’s one) said pronOWnciation!

I was disqualified from my seventh grade spelling bee because the stupid teacher pronounced coupon “cue-pon”… I had NO idea what she had said, so I just spelled what I’d heard, phonetically. (I don’t remember how I spelled it.) Anyhow, I was a giant loser in seventh grade, so of course, being disqualified from the spelling bee was a big tragedy.

Mispronunciations that grate on my nerves:
Ruf (roof)
Ahn-velope (envelope…en-vel-ope)
Laundry-mat (laundromat…lawn-droh-mat)
Groshry (grocery…gro-sir-ee)
Gradge (garage…ga-razh)
Pitcher (picture…pick-tcher)
Furmilyer (familiar…fa-mil-yer)
Oviusly (obviously…ob-vee-us-lee)

I’m sure I can think of more. Just give me time.

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

prawcess instead of pro-cess.

I hate people who “mispronounce” quotation marks as parentheses and vice versa.

reprise - mispronounced rePRIZE instead of rePREEZE

plethora - mispronounced pleTHORa instead of PLETHera

I’m thrilled, Wireless, that someone else knows how to pronounce “mauve” (our motto: it rhymes with “grove”) but I must confess I learned “flaccid” with the double-s sound.

How about mischievous as mischiev-i-ous? That one really bugs me.

Also, primer with a long I is a coat of paint. With a short I, it’s a beginning text. Oh, one more: schism is pronounced like “sism”.

I didn’t know the correct pronunciation of flaccid though. Thanks for helping me firm up my English skills.

Hearing NPR radio announcers, and PBS TV announcers, introduce a song from…PLAACE-id-doe Domingo.
Pluh-CEE-doe, dammit!
A very little thing that grates up my spine every time. And I don’t listen to opera.
I just run across it.

One that drives me mad: 'meatier" for “meteor.” We had meatier showers earlier this summer in California, at least according to the TV reporters. I kept thinking of a Sumo wrestler’s locker room.

Also “don” for “dawn” and “rayroad” for “railroad.”

This one kills me:

“vish E swa” instead of “vish E swaz”(vichyssoise)

A waitress corrected me once on this and said that she had four years of french and knew how to pronounce it. I suggested she look it up in a dictionary, it’s there.

OOOH, that nu-cue-lar one really bugs me, too. (Though still not a much as cue-pon.)

And we seem to have a theme going with the French words:
and how about this new one:
chaise longue (long chair) pronounced shayze lownge. The shayze part’s not bad, but lownge?

(Ooh, could lead to a new thread – people using pompous foreign pronunciations when a plain english one will do: foyer pronounced as fwa-yea when foy-er – or perhaps foy-yea – is just fine.) :slight_smile:

And thanks for the correction, Omniscientnot. Doh!

Follow on question – if someone you know mispronounces a word, when/how is it OK to inform them of the proper pronunciation? Not just to correct them, but so they don’t run the risk of suffering embarrassment in the future as a result? Sort of like “your fly is down”, or pointing out spinach on the teeth. I always would want someone to do this for me (in a thoughtful way, of course).

Nobody seems to pronounce the implied ‘s’ in the word “you”
Nobody understands that the ‘t’ in contractions of “whatever not” is silent
Nobody understands that the ‘d’ in “understand” is also silent.

Phonetically, now:
What’s wrong with all youse people on the other side of the Hudson? Don’ you unnerstand?

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Another one – comes up every Christmas: poinsettia
Correct: poin-set-tia or (what I was taught) poin-set-ta (after its “discoverer”, named Poinsett)
Not correct: poin-see-etta, point-set-ta (and other combinations)
Although I confess I looked it up to make certain I was pronouncing it correctly myself.

pre-sep-shun (perception)
pre-cush-un (percussion)
pre-emp-tory (when one means peremptory. Difficult because both pre- and per- are words, but with different meanings.)
pre-vert (pervert)

How about “volumptuous” instead of voluptuous or “look at the beautiful fall foilage” instead of foliage.

One of the funniest examples I have is an instance when I corrected (very nicely, I might add)a friend’s usage of a word and they got annoyed and told me that I was being “condensending”. That was the topper I just about peed myself laughing!


As far as “foyer” is concerned, the pronunciation fwa-yea is almost identical to the French one.


From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: foy·er
Pronunciation: 'foi(-&)r, 'foi-"(y)A also 'fwä-"yA
Function: noun
BTW: A verification in a few dictionaries (Merriam-Webster and Collins English Dictionary) confirmed my suspicions that several of the pronunciations of words given as incorrect were indeed acceptable. More often than not, it’s “a regional thing”.

But it definitely isn’t the case with “nucular”, my favourite.

Another one I can’t figure out (which was already mentioned) is axe for ask. Bit mind-boggling.

This one makes me nuts “wersh” instead of WASH!

I can’t tell if all of you are being serious, or not. But after looking some words up in my dictionary, I find that:

Reprise really is Re-Prize.
Pronounce really is Pro-nOWnce.
And Flaccid can be pronounced “flassid.”

However, I’ve said “mischieveous” as mis-chi-vi-ous (4 syllables) my whole life. I never knew I was wrong.