How do you pronounce "Harassment"

Simple question. The news reports about Bill O’Really on the local evening news seem to be inconsistent, depending on the reporter. Is it:

  1. HArrisment, or
  2. HaRASSment?


(Most dictionaries list both as being correct pronunciations.)

If you’re asking how I pronounce it, the answer is usually HaRASSment. But I have heard and even used both.

My 1920s version of the OED lists only your first pronunciation, so maybe that was the way it was originally pronounced. Maybe in the UK that one still predominates? (I pronounce it the second way, personally.)

I hear the second more than the first. The first sounds more britishy.

(According to this documentary, it is “Harris Meant”)


Her ass meant

I’m familiar with both, but, to my knowledge, I always say it with the accent on the second syllable.

Accent on first syllable.

From what I remember about Clarence Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearing:



From Chicago here. Definitely HaRASSment. With added nasal tone.

I pronounce it HaRASSment, but all news reporters here say HArrisment.

It’s the same with finance. Everyone says FIEnance, except news reporters who say fehNANCE.

Kilometers too: everyone says keh-LOM-ehters, yet reporters say KEELO-meeters.

I have no idea why the media thinks they should pronounce words differently than everyone else pronounces them.

I just discovered that the documentary on “harris meant” in my earlier link was misnamed. Here is the proper link.

Usually Hare - ass - mint.

I say Harris - mint when I want to sound snotty.

I pronounce it either way, depending on who I’m talking to.

ETA: I handle “privacy” the same way.

I’m British: I say “HARR-ǝss-ment” – though I get the impression that some groups who see themselves as often on the receiving end of such treatment, favour “Ha-RASS-ment”.

Again, experience of a Briton in the UK: never, ever herd “finance” as anything but FIEnance (whether from news reporters, or anyone else). Have the impression that in the UK, some say “keh/ki-LOM-e-ter”, some “KIL[not ‘keel’]-o-me-ter”. I leaned the latter pronunciation from first encountering the word, and will always stick to it: to me, a “ki-LOM-e-ter” sounds like an instrument for counting and recording kills.

Everyone? Mashing the last part of the prefix together with the first part of the unit into one syllable does not make sense. Do Americans also say keh-LOF-olts, my-KROG-rams, nuh-NOF-arads?

Just remember … harass used to be two words …

I was always brought up to stress the first syllable, as I would with the verb harass in its various forms (is there a connection with the verb “harry”, which seems to mean a rather more violent form of the same basic activity?)

On the other hand, English seems to have a natural tendency to prefer stressing second syllables. EXquisite is another word that’s gone the same way in the course of the 20th century.

Leaffan is Canadian. Presumably he’s talking aboot Canadian usage vs. Canadian broadcasters.

But I agree with him that most ordinary USA types, on the rare occasions they might say “kilometers” at all, would probably hang the m on the middle syllable “LOM” with the “uhters” as the last and very much unstressed syllable. Whether that’s an “uh” or a schwa is a close call.

American engineers, scientists, and such who deal with SI units daily are a different matter. Lots more KILL-oh-Meters among those folks.