How Do You Say "Insurance"?

Do you stress the first or second syllable?

Second syllable, 'cause I’m from the Northeast. Folks around here (Midwest/Great Plains) stress the first syllable. I mock my wife for this at least once a month (you know, when it’s time to pay the bills…).

Hmph. This Upper Midwest-ish resident (currently living in the Chicagoland area) pronounces it the second way, and I really don’t think the first method is common around here.

Okay, maybe it’s strictly a Kansas thing. Interesting! Hopefully, this thread will attract a bunch more data points, well distributed geographically.

Hey, someone just selected “IN-surance”! Come back! Are you from Kansas, or a nearby state, by chance? Please do let us know.

Need more options if you want the survey to matter:


probably another dozen or so variants

True, but this thread is really about syllable stress, not the pronunciation of vowels or consonants.

Granted. If you really want to get into multiple variations, do one on “interest.”


As some one already noted, you need more options such as ɪnˈʃɔː.rənt s from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary.

I don’t think I have ever heard it the first way.

Come to Kansas – it’s real nice this time of year! (I had never heard it that way until I came here, myself. Oh, and when folks around here say “sack”? They’re trying to say “bag”, but it just don’t come out right, somehow.)

I have no idea. I don’t know if it’s a feature of northern New England accents (is this what is meant by us having “flat intonation”?) of which I’ve been surrounded by my entire life, or something wrong with me and my auditory processing in particular, but I don’t hear noticeable stress on any syllables in most words. I’m always amazed that so many people can confidently say which syllables they stress.

That’s wild! Your “condition” surely deserves its own thread.

I’m sure on a subconscious level you perceive stress quite well. It’s well known that saying something with the wrong stress, even if every vowel and consonant is perfectly pronounced, is less likely to be understood than saying the same thing with the right stress, but quite altered pronunciation.

Perhaps your “condition” is analogous to, or even correlated with, the inability among some to preceive changes/differences in musical pitch consciously. Or maybe not.

More likely, it’s correlated with a lack of conscious awareness of stress in musical rhythm. Do you sense the stressed backbeat of reggae and zydeco? Or do their rhythms sound equivalent to any other, in your mind?

As I said, this all belongs in another thread. Consider starting one up, elfkin!

ETA: To answer your question – No, “intonation” is about pitch, not stress. The stereotypical “robot” voice flattens both of these parameters. New Englanders might flatten pitch somewhat (first I’ve heard of this), but not stress, I would think…though French *does * flatten stress quite a bit (which is why French sounds like its always stresses the last syllable, to English-speaker ears), and maybe interaction with Canadian French influenced New Englander speech…

I used to pronounce it as ‘in-SHURE-ance’, but now I think I’ll start saying it this way:


Nope. I’ve lived in Kansas all my life-southwest, central, north central and southeast at various times, and I have family in northeast and northwest Kansas. I’ve never heard anyone put the accent on the first syllable. Not in real life, not in radio or TV commercials.

How the heck could you even sing the American Family, Farm Bureau, or State Farm Insurance jingles with the accent on the first? It wouldn’t scan at all.


Now you’ve gotten me wondering…maybe it’s not a Kansas thing after all, but a Malaysian English thing! You see, Mrs. Map was born and raised in Malaysia (with the regional variety of English as one of her two first languages), but has lived in Kansas for a few years longer than I have.

Our best hope is that the poster who registered a “first syllable stress” response comes back to tell us where they’re from. If they’re from Malaysia…well, that would explain it!

If they don’t respond soon (or if we don’t get a new relevant data point), I’ll call my local Allstate agent here in Lawrence, and see how they say this word…

Ever since I first read about Twoflower, it’s been “in-sewer-ants”. And I giggle a little bit inside.

It pleases me greatly that y’all took me seriously on this version. I was only half joking in that I have heard only a very few people say it like that. However, my mother had her own way of saying so many words that I paid homage to her with that effort.

Others of hers you may wish to adopt:

Tournament – toor-na-munt
Furniture – fur-na-toor
Temperature – timp-ra-toor
Amateur – am-a-toor

Even “sure” was shoo-uh.

I miss Mama!

Oh, no…back to the ** “-t-” pronounced “-ch-” (or not)** thing!