A related thread in this forum gives me the idea to ask about something I’ve wondered about for years and years. I had a high school history teacher who taught us all about the USS Leopard, involved in some battle back in the day. (Clearly, I wasn’t the history student I should have been). And he pronounced it, the Lee o pard. And suddenly, years later, I realized that he was pronouncing the word that I call Lepperd. And I’ve gotten to wondering, was that ship’s name pronounced the way he pronounced it? Was that word pronounced that way a few hundred years ago? Was he mispronouncing the word, having read it in the book but not connecting it to the common animal name?
My OED is the 1920s version. It shows only the latter pronunciation for the cat. The former doesn’t show up even as alternate or obsolete.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that that was the way the ship’s name was pronounced.
USS Leopard? Are you sure? I think he was refering to the HMS Leopard, which was involved in events that led up to the War of 1812. If so, it is pronounced just the way you do. Your instructor was on drugs.
Obligatory Wiki link.
Well, according to Wiki there **was **a U.S.S. Leopard – a tanker that seems to have had an unremarkable career in the Navy from 1943-1946.
So silenus is probably correct. You’re most likely thinking of the H.M.S. Leopard, which fired on the U.S.S. Chesapeake in 1807 when that ship refused to allow the British to come aboard in search of deserters. This incident is notable because the British practice of impressing American sailors is frequently cited as one of the causes behind the War of 1812.
As to how it would be pronounced, beats the heck out of me.
Aluminium v. Aluminum?
I have never heard the word for the that great sprinter pronounced with three sylables. But my worldly experience is limited.
Great sprinter? I thought leopards mainly hung around in trees.
I used to call the cats lee-o-pards as a kid, so did friends, just for fun, we knew how you’re supposed to pronounce it.
Looks like there’s some precedent for lee-o-pard like pronunciations here:
Leop"ard (?), n. [OE. leopart, leparde, lebarde, libbard, OF. leopard, liepart, F. léopard, L. leopardus, fr. Gr. ; lion + pard. See Lion, and Pard.]
LEOPARD, n. lep’'ard. [L. leo, lion, and pardus, pard. Gr. from Heb. to separate, that is, spotted, broken into spots.]
That’s what they want you to think.
I thought le-o-pards hang around your legs.
Not to be confused with developmentally disabled lions.
Of course, I am required by geek law to point out that Capt. Aubrey later commanded the Leopard briefly in the Patrick O’Brian series.
Oughtn’t that to be the “horrible old Leopard”, milord?
Never heard the ship or the feline pronounced any way other than “LEPP-ard.”
IIRC, only Stephen used that phrase–Jack wouldn’t slander a ship he commanded (outside of his own private opinion, of course).
On a related note, apparently the Royal Navy ships HMSs Penelope and Antelope used to comically mispronounce their names as “Pennyloap” and “Antellipee.”
The Canadian destroyer HMCS Wetaskiwin (named for a town in Alberta) was known inevitably, as the “Wet-ass-queen.”
Or consider the Filthy Whore, the ship in the Chris Elliott comedy Cabin Boy, or the Raging Queen, from the old SNL skit about gay pirates.
I’ve only heard LEPP-urd until now.
Pink Floyd not only have a different pronunciation of Jag-war, they also have a weird pronunciation in the song “Sheep”, where I swear I heard them say through the Vocoder: “The Lord is my Leopard, I shall not want.”
The HMS Bellerophon was known by her crews as the Billy Ruffian.