Written words you mispronounced until hearing them

(Mods, please move to IMHO or MPSIMS if better suited for there)

If you’re like me, your vocabulary expanded through reading rather than listening. And if you’re like me, a lot of times you were unable to pick up the proper way to pronounce a word just from reading it. Feel free to share your own or just laugh at mine:

Hyperbole: hyper-bowl

Epitome: epp-ih-tome

Acolyte: uh-cloyt

Zealot: zeal-lot (because it’s someone with a lot of zeal, ya see…)

Victuals (VICK-chu-ulz).

Heinous (HINE-uss).

hors d’oeuvres (I never even really tried to pronounce it in my head - it was just a mysterious symbol meaning finger food.)

I hear this jokingly mispronounced so often that I think it may become a valid alternate pronunciation soon.

From reading “Anne of Green Gables,” etc. when I was little:

beau = boo
beaux =boocks
awry = AW-ree
magenta = mag-NET-a (hard G, like “magnetic”)

As an adult:

archipelago = artch-ee-pel-LAH-go
prothonotary = pro-tho-NOTE-ah-ree (like “notary” with “protho” in front of it)
promontory = pro-MON-toe-ree

Respite - I am still not sure about this one. I say “ree-spite”, but I think it should have been “rez-pit”. Which is the most right?

Shrilly - I say “shrillilly”. Drives my wife nuts.

I am deeply ashamed to think about how long I thought of the liqueur as Grand “Mariner” (like the Ancient one).

And Mrs. T will forever remain “fustrated” (usually with me). :smiley:


The names of most villages in Massachusetts.

Raymond Luxury-Yacht.

Cache: “catch”

I had never heard of this word before today, but for what it’s worth some sources give your “wrong” pronunciation rhythm as an alternate; and also proto- (without the h) as an alternate (the Latin word from which it’s derived lacks the h, it’s the standard proto- prefix that’s more common in other words). For example, if I read it right, M-W seems to suggest all 4 different permutations as alternate pronunciations.

Quixoic. I always said kee-HOT-ic, as in Don kee-HO-tee.

I just looked up a couple of other words I thought of, and discovered that I was right and most people are wrong about them.

Quay is best avoided, nobody will know what you’re talking about unless they use the word first then just say what they say.

There are no “correct” pronunciations anymore. Dictionaries are no longer prescriptive, because it is more important to simper over the self-esteem issues of children whose ethnic or parochial parents said things incorrectly. Now dictionaries just validate every pronunciation that illiterate people think they can get away with.

Do we really want this thread to go there? If you want a response to this tediously persistent and often willfully ignorant trope that descriptivist linguistics = “anything goes”, I’ll be happy to give it, but perhaps a different thread would be better so as not to distract from the rather interesting topic the OP has raised?

I thought “thorough” and “thruff” were two different words until one day I mentioned how I was going to clean something “thruffly” and my mom said “don’t you mean ‘thoroughly’?”.

When I was younger I would pronounce municipal as “munincipal”…

Yeah, it took me a while to figure out it was pronounced ‘Throat-Warbler Mangrove’

I always assumed that this was pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. Concerned that I’ve been saying it the wrong way, I just looked it up.

It IS pronounced just like it’s spelled. Waist. Coat. How have you been pronouncing it?

For over a year I thought there was this singer named Fiancée that I kept hearing about and a different singer named BEE-younce that I kept reading about. It was only when I notice the little accent in Beyoncé’s name that I put 1 + 1 together and got one.

Supposedly, the Britishism sounds like “wes-cot”. As an American, I just pronounce it “vest”.

that is a curious one, I know that in certain dialects of the UK (Yorkshire in particular) it would be pronounced “wesskit” but “waist - coat” is perfectly standard.


I put the long A sound on the second A.

Sigh. Mispronounced it in front of the entire class. Ugh.