10 Words You Mispronounce That Make People Think You’re an Idiot

It’s been said, though we’re not sure by whom, that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. But sometimes we’ve got to open our mouths so use this handy guide to make sure, at the very least, you’re saying the words right.

Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time with the elementary school lessons about how to accurately pronounce “library,” “February,” or “arctic”… although I will take this opportunity to note that if you’re discussing a library and still dropping the first ‘R’, there’s a very good chance that your friends and/or colleagues are laughing at you behind your back.

I won’t trouble you with a lecture covering how some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all. If you’re using words like “snuck,” “brang,” or “irregardless,” (no, none of those are real words) a magazine article – much less one written by me – is not going to solve your problems.

What I will do is offer up a rudimentary form of help, in terms of how to properly pronounce relatively common words that are bound to show up in your daily life. These tips will not seal the deal in a job interview or on a date (I can especially vouch for the “date” scenario) but if pronunciation continues to be a potential chink in your armor, your problems will soon be solved.

Thus, behold, People of the Internet… the ten most important words you should learn to pronounce, if you would like to appear reasonably knowledgeable about your own language.

ATHLETE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: ath – a – leet

  • Correct pronunciation: ath – leet

This may have been more helpful before the media blitz that was the Summer Olympics but it is a very valuable lesson to have for the future. It applies to “athlete” and any derivative (biathlon, triathlon, decathlon, etc.) and, honestly, I’m sad that I even have to point this out: there is no vowel between the ‘H’ and the ‘L’ in any of these words. There never has been. Let the dream die.

ESCAPE / ESPRESSO / ET CETERA

  • Incorrect pronunciation: ex – cape / ex – presso / ex – set – err – uh

  • Correct pronunciation: ess – cape / ess – presso / ett – set – err – uh

Yes, a three-for-one deal, but only because this one is dually very common and very simple to fix. For some reason, we of the English tongue have an obsession with changing any ‘S’ to an ‘X’, if it follows an ‘E’ sound; call it the Exxon Indoctrination. These words are spelled phonetically… let’s try to respect that.

Also: the yuppie kids will really respect you, if you master “espresso” and “et cetera” – what more motivation do you need?

NUCLEAR

  • Incorrect pronunciation: nuke – you – lerr

  • Correct pronunciation: new – clee – err

I’m going to try to get through this one without a President Bush joke. All right, so, despite the fact that it’s 2008, this is a word with which we’re somehow still struggling. Like most of the words on this list, “nuclear” is spelled EXACTLY AS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRONOUNCED and yet, people continue to screw it up worse than the War in Iraq… oh, dammit.

PRESCRIPTION / PREROGATIVE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: purr – scrip – shun / purr – ogg – uh – tiv

  • Correct pronunciation: pre – scrip – shun / pre – rogg – uh – tiv

Overlooking the fact that many people also seem to have precisely no idea as to the latter word’s true definition (I’ve had several conversations where people bizarrely substitute “prerogative” for words like “agenda”), this is another problem that can be attributed to ignorance in the arena of “Sound It Out, You Lummox.” The ‘R’ comes before the ‘E’ in both of these words. Please ercognize this erality. Sorry.

UTMOST

  • Incorrect pronunciation: up – most

  • Correct pronunciation: utt – most

In a bizarre twist, people actually became so certain of this word’s meaning that they alter its pronunciation to reflect that definition. Yes, “utmost” is an adjective synonymous with “greatest” (a term that immediately calls to mind some tangible Mount Olympus-type of vertical hierarchy and the word “upper”) but that second letter? It’s still a ‘T’.

CANDIDATE

  • Incorrect pronunciation: can – uh – dett

  • Correct pronunciation: can – da – dett

Mastering this word will help you at least sound educated in your excruciating political debates as we approach November 3. I cannot explain it any more simply than my second grade teacher once did: “You always want to have a good candidate for your CANDY DATE.” Candy date. It’s sweet and simple.

SHERBET

  • Incorrect pronunciation: sherr – berrt

  • Correct pronunciation: sherr – bet

This is one of those words that ultimately had to abandon its crusade for righteousness and now has been corrupted to the point where dictionaries may list the incorrect pronunciation as acceptable because of just how rampant the ignorance grew to be. But there’s only one ‘R’ in “sherbet,” America… no matter how awesome the rainbow flavor is, there’s still only one ‘R’.

AWRY

  • Incorrect pronunciation: aww – ree

  • Correct pronunciation: uh – rye

Up until very recently, I could not even conceive a situation where someone would mispronounce this word; it always seemed very simple, to me. However, I have heard three different people – in the world of talk radio, no less – pronounce it inaccurately in the last few months. It’s like… it’s like the mechanism that allows people to speak in an educated fashion went awry (see what I did there?).

FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES

  • Incorrect pronunciation: “for all intensive purposes”

  • Correct pronunciation: “for all intents and purposes”

All right, yes, I cheated a little bit here (for posterity’s sake, I should note that a phrase and a word are not the same thing) but this is still a very popular pronunciation mistake and one that I really feel must be addressed in a public forum. While “intensive” is absolutely a word, the clichéd saying that most people are trying to channel is all about intent. As for the rumor that I, as a younger man, frequently employed the incorrect pronunciation… no comment.

OFTEN

  • Incorrect pronunciation: off – ten

  • Correct pronunciation: off – en

If there is a bigger red flag for “I am misinformed about how to pronounce something” in our language, I have yet to encounter it. This word and its evolutionary course in American vernacular could be a cultural study unto itself.

For a while, nobody was aware that the ‘T’ was silent; this sneaky caveat had to be beaten into our brains for years and years in school. But then – in what can best be described as the greatest grammatical epiphany since someone decided that we needed a contraction to turn “I am” into a single word – people seemed to universally scream out “We get it! A silent ‘T’!”. It was a glorious day.

However, this euphoria was ultimately fleeting. At some point, the rational people of Earth decided to flip over the Buffet Table of Reason at the Banquet for Intellectual Hope and thought it best to, once again, simply start pronouncing the ‘T’ in “often.” I do not know whether this was brought on by an innate human desire to flout the rules of our world or just a collective hatred for all things associated with the establishment but it is now arguably the most frequent linguistic speed bump in the history of hyperbole. And I would like to lead the charge to restore balance.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.

  • Holly Holliday

    We can all thank our sweet friends at Mars for drilling the nougat mispronunciation into our kid heads. (I’m proud to hear my daughter mispronounce brand names instead, growing up in a TV-free house).

    The most “ginormous” NOTword has got to “alot”.

    Thanks for all intents and purposes, a peeve of mine along with:
    Six OR one half dozen (six of one, half dozen of the other)

    Only just learned this:
    spittin’ image (spit and image)

    …tenANts of society (tenets)
    suppose-UBLY (supposedly)

  • Joyce Hawkinson

    In the US northwest it’s common to pronounce the word “across” as “acrosst” and when people do something unintentionally, they say they did it “on accident.” It’s been driving me up a wall, but I had no foundation for telling them it should by “by accident.” Is anyone able to help with that?
    The other night one of the local weather forecasters told us we would have snow in our “convergent zone” when all the other meteorologists use “convergence zone.” Is there a consensus about which would be correct?

  • KLPhillips

    The mis-pronounced word that always gets me is Realtor. Often times pronounced Real A Tor. It is Real Tor. Not Real A Tor.

    I was in a great American city the other day, and there was a radio ad where a Realtor was speaking about her skills and why the audience should engage her to help them buy a home. Several times in the 30 second ad she called herself a Real A Tor.

    What an idiot…..

  • student of things and stuff

    This “article” was written by a dialect-ethnocentrist. The whole field of linguistic anthropology would call him an idiot. He might of held some truth in the matter if he specified that in Standard American English this is the current correct manner in which these words are pronounced and if you are not pronouncing them that way you are most likely using a different dialect, but he didn’t.

  • David

    That was cute. I realized I’m saying Espresso and Sherbet wrong…but I will argue with this author about “often.” He gave no valid reason why the T is silent! One word that should’ve been included is idea. People (particularly where I’m originally from in Massachusetts) like to pronounce this: i-deer. Where they are finding that extra R, we’ll never know. Maybe it’s just left over from when they pahked their cah.

  • Trudy

    i love this article, it’s very insightful, as they were two words i did not know of, and i alwways try to challenge myself with the correct use of words. A common mistake i have found throughout the years , was the use of double negatives. It is so widely used, i keep asking if i am the one that is wrong.

    Example: She did not give me none of her apple .

    although i cant think of one that people use easily. i gace an example , where did not and none comes in one sentence

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  • Joseph

    AND!

    eh-speh-shuh-lee

    NOT:

    ex-speh-shuh-lee.

    Especially.

  • perpetual_out_of_towner

    I hate when people say acrosst, as in “I went acrosst the ocean”… After I heard it multiple times in a week I had to look it up to make sure I hadn’t been mis-schooled. I wasn’t. Choose between crossed and across and please make sure you mind the tense.

    Also, Hieroglyphics is awful. The language is written in Hieroglyphs. A language is hieroglyphic. Imagine yourself saying, I can’t read it, its written in Arabics!

    Lastly, a personal favorite: de-thawing. As in the process of making something un-thawed or otherwise frozen again… yes, its brilliant and makes one sound like you are from my hometown. Don’t do that!

    • mel

      I hate it when people say “I hate when…” Sounds like they have been mis-schooled.

  • Charles

    Aluminum = Aluminium
    Jewelry = Jewellery

    All are acceptable, and which you use is dependent on the location of your upbringing.
    It is indeed better to remain silent than to make clear your ignorance.

  • Libby

    Im pretty sure that quote is Mark Twain.

  • Melissa

    I’d like to point out that all language is just air flowing through vocal cords. Specifically just a series of honed grunts, as long as it gets a point across, who cares whether it is deemed correct or not?

    • mel

      Not when it’s written, Melissa – it should be spelled correctly and the grammar should also be correct; the correct use of the apostrophe should be strictly adhered to.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.cooney.56 Jimmy Cooney

        I think it should be spelt correctly!

        • mel

          Jimmy, in the UK it’s “spelled”; the USA insists on “spelt”.
          Just like dreamed / dreamt; smelled / smelt and a few others. It just depends on where you live.

  • Heather

    I’m not sure if its my annoyance at the American pronunciation, myself a speaker of proper Queen’s English and that I find American’s “version” of “English” deplorable. However as speaker of true English that all western English speaking countries use, all bar you Americans, that is, I must correct YOU on your misinformed pronunciation that could confuse readers more than help.

    1. Nuclear.

    One of my pet American hates. Your pronunciation is as incorrect as Bush’. It is NOT pronounced new-clee-uh, it is pronounced
    NEW-CLEAR. As in, clear. As in CLEAR THE TABLE. When you say, “please help me clear the table”, you don’t say “please help me clee-UH the table”, do you? There you go. Yanks have always had problems with the pronunciation of CLEAR. New. Then CLEAR (one syllable) NewClear. Not clee-AH/UH, but simply CLEAR.
    NEW-CLEAR. NEWCLEAR.

    2. Candidate.

    It is NOT pronounced can-da-dett
    It is pronounced candidat or candidit.

    3. Re the term often. Pronunciation note
    Often was pronounced with a t -sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the  [t] Show IPA came to predominate in the speech of the educated, in both North America and Great Britain, and the earlier pronunciation fell into disfavor. Common use of a spelling pronunciation has since restored the  [t] for many speakers, and today  [aw-fuhn] and  [awf-tuhn] [or  [of-uhn] and  [of-tuhn]] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, often with a [t] is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.

    4. Lastly; and I will make this the last one or else I’ll never stop since America’s butchered “version” of English irritates and angers me no end, the nauseating word ALUMINUM. There is actually no such word as “aluminum”. It is ALUMINIUM. And it is pronounced al-you-min-ee-um. Same goes for stalker, which Americans pronounce as ‘stocker’. Alright, I’ll stop now. Its just that an American using American “English” is in NO position to write an article like this, or to even comment on English, when American “English” is one of the worst abominations to ever come out of language development. If you’re an American, please. Don’t EVER write about mispronouncing anything, ok? Thanks. An American giving a lecture on mispronouncing words is as much a delicious irony and a joke as Bush giving a talk on peace. Please. If you’re American, just don’t go there when it comes to pronunciation or the English language. You need to actually read and write English in order to do so. American “English” is not English. So thank you.

  • Heather

    Just thought of one more. Americans pronounce internet as inner-net, as though the t in inter was silent. It is inter-net. Not inner-net.

  • Heather

    Oh, and COULD care less, for COULDN’T care less. Written and said by many, but mainly Americans. It really grinds my gears when I see “could care less”.

    My god, think about it. If you COULD (can) care “less”, that must mean you care, in the first place, to care LESS than you do. What you really mean to say is I “couldn’t care less”. I see so, so many people on the internet (and a couple on this page) say “I *could* care less.

    The saying is COULD*N’T* care less, not could. Couldn’t. Meaning, I don’t care at all (to begin with, hence COULDN’T care less, than I do now – begause negative from negative = negative. You can’t care LESS, if you DON’T CARE AT ALL).

    I couldn’t care less. Not ‘could’.

  • Heather

    “Natasha

    I am sorry but the American’s have butchered (spelling and pronunciation) our beautiful English language . ( and that little dot there at the end of my sentence is called a full stop NOT a period,that is a monthly occurrence in a woman!!!)”

    You too? I forgot about ‘period’. I honestly don’t, for the life of me, know where Americans got the idea to call what is GRAMMATICALLY called a “full stop”, a *period*! It sounds like weird when Americans say ‘period’. It makes me think of these words blood, menstruation, tampons, month, etc. The word period is NOT grammatically correct at all. So why do Americans say it? If you said ‘period’ instead of full stop here, you wouldn’t make it past graduating grade 2 in elementary school (age 7). I just cannot abide anyone calling a full stop a “period”. Its disgusting and utter illiteracy at its worst.

  • Heather

    Oh, one more before I go and I’ve seen this one in every English-speaking country on the net. The use of “defiantly” when the person means to say “definitely”. They both have very different meanings. Defiantly means stubbornly, rebellious. Definitely means certainly, positively. I see SO many people type things like “It is defiantly going to be a good day” or “I’ll be defiantly be going” when they mean “It is DEFINITELY going to be a good day” or “I’ll DEFINITELY be going”. I’ve seen this more and more over the last 2 years.

    • mel

      I’ve never seen that. What I have seen, however, is the word being incorrectly spelled “definately”.

  • dirk

    Wow, Heather… That was an incredible diatribe, and I commend you for it. Kudos. You’ve embodied the pretentiousness of your motherland with panache and flare, and your ancestors would be proud!

    But (yes, I’m starting a sentence with that word) simply speaking “proper Queen’s English,” I’m afraid, doesn’t give you authority over the entirety of the English language. (Actually, rejecting that authority is a proud American tradition-so you can see how much we love it that we have your panties in a twist!).

    Simply put, the American “version” of “your” language is, in reality, superior to the version your Queen speaks. We pronounce our “r’s,” for one, and we don’t add them where they don’t belong. (We say “water,” with an “r” at the end, as it’s spelled, and we don’t say things like, “Ameriker,” because, well, there’s no “r” at the end of the word “America”). But I digress. On to your points:

    Nuclear is derived from “nucleus,” “of or like the nucleus of a cell.” The American pronunciation reflects this derivation: We say “new-klee-us” and we say “new-klee-ur.” I’m sorry that you see the word “clear” in there, but it’s simply not a part of the word.

    Aluminum IS a word, it was an amendment by the English chemist Sir H. Davy to replace his original “aluminium.” It stuck in American usage, but British editors changed it back 4 years later. (So here, we are actually in agreement with the English founder of the element, and you are not…).

    “Americans pronounce internet as inner-net, as though the t in inter was silent.” – No we don’t.

    As for “period,” Latin “periodus” had the meaning “a complete sentence.” Referring to the punctuation mark, the “full stop” as you call it, the first record is 1600. Using it as a term for menses isn’t recorded until 1822. Who’s butchering what? Where do you get your information? Are you just assuming that you’re right without bothering to research anything at all?

    One more jab at the British version of English: Your prepositions are all kinds of messed up. When I teach my students English, I do not tell them to say “at the weekend.” It’s “on the weekend.” We use “at” for specific times of day: at 3pm, at 2 o’clock, etc. We use “in” for periods of time within a day: in the evening, in the morning. And we use “on” for a specific day, or combination of days: on Saturday, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Since “the weekend” most closely corresponds to the “day” measure of time, we ought to say, “on the weekend.”

    Also, “in the street” means you are literally IN the street. “On the street” means that’s where you live, where a shop is located, etc. The bank isn’t located “in” Church St., it’s ON Church St.

    All this to say, British English is NOT “more correct” than American, nor vice versa. Like others have pointed out before, it’s an evolution (both in pronunciation and grammar). We no longer use “thou” as the singular and “ye” as the plural second person either. And we don’t have to argue over whether it’s “thou art” or “thou be’est.” We agree that it’s “you are.” That’s pretty bastardized, if you think about it… English used to have a PROPER grammar, with cases and persons and everything! It’s too late to be a hard-liner, is what I’m saying. Enjoy the versatility of the language, and embrace it!!!

    • mel

      I remember, when I was little, hearing an American pronouncing the word seventy as “sembdy”…

  • sgriggl

    “Utter illiteracy at its worst?” God you sound awful. It’s 222 years MORE “legitimate” than calling menses a “period.” Period was first used as a grammatical term in SIXTEEN HUNDRED. As a term for menses? Not until 1822!!! Please. Just b/c your people spawned the language doesn’t give you the right to go willy-nilly naming all American grammar a total farce. It’s not. And if you’re half as well-read as a European ought to be, you’d know that…. (See what I did there? As a non-American, you should be smarter than me…. but you aren’t. And I’m exploiting that…)

  • JohnSub

    This guy’s a total prescriptivist. The English language was not created in its present form at the point of origination (obviously) and has undergone changes from the influence of cultural norms and common practices. It will keep happening. Adapt. And shut the hell up.

  • R Wilson

    Irregardless is, in fact, a “real” word.

    I agree with you on most points, and I can appreciate your article because I am a grammar/speech snob. But shouldn’t you have checked your facts before submitting?

    Thank you.

  • Sakura

    Recently, I’ve turned on the television and there is a Proactiv commercial with the common celebrity testimony, and the narrator (pronounced as spelled) says gent-ler instead of gen-tel-er. It drives me nuts. Also, grammar with other languages like the Dove commercial advertising their new plum and cherry blossom deodorant, where they use the Japanese word Sakura, but still say blossom, so they’re actually saying cherry blossom blossom. And the Allstate commercial that talks about a ramen diet. I would like to say they pronounced ramen correctly, with a long a, but said ramen noodles, when ramen means noodles in japanese. So I smell like cherry blossom blossoms and eat noodles noodles?

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  • Ricardo

    It is ironic that the Brits would criticize the Americans for the slaughter of the English language when they can’t even properly pronounce aluminum. Go figure. If we are such blimey idiots, then why is it that we have such good teeth and the Brits need toofbrushes.

    • mel

      We spell it, and also pronounce it “a-l-u-m-i-n-i-u-m”. A-loo-min-ee-yum. Not a-loo-min-um. It was the Americans who changed it to aluminum.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.cooney.56 Jimmy Cooney

      So you don’t need toothbrushes then? Londoners may have toofbrushes but I certainly have a tuthbrush! I’ve seen “Deliverance” and you don’t all have perfect teeth – even if you do have a pretty mouth – Boy! As for the slaughter of the language – well I just don’t care! God Bless America.

  • Steve

    My pet peeves are the previously mentioned “I could care less”, and other such phrases where the speaker clearly does not understand the meaning of what they are saying. George Carlin has poked some good fun at some of our more curious expressions.
    A thought to all the Brits looking down their noses at us Yanks; have you listened to anyone from Manchester lately? I damn near had to hire an interpreter!

  • Valerie

    How about the one of the easiest words in the English language, ASKED, I absolutely cannot stand it when I hear someone say AK-S-ED, instead of Ass-K-ED, like most of us know it should be pronounced. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me when I hear “She axed me to go with her!’ I simply drives me insane!

  • Valerie

    @ Heather We Americans are not illiterate, we just have cooler names for things than you Brits! Oh, and FYI, the term period, had SEVERAL DIFFERENT MEANINGS! Some of YOUR words are very strange to us too! And don’t think for ONE second that you guys didn’t change anything in the English language as well.

    Oh, can’t forget a continuing theme, I hear it over and over again from Brits, that “It is not called a vacuum, it’s a hoover”, when this is simply NOT TRUE! Hoover is the brand of vacuum. The reason Brits call it a Hoover, is because Hoover has been the predominant brand of vacuum over the course of over 90 years. That’s like us calling a copy machine a Xerox, or calling all beer Budweiser, or calling all dogs black labs, when in fact it is simply a description or brand of one type of thing.

    • ..

      One word: Kleenex :)

  • Valerie
  • Kevin

    Don’t forget “supposibly” instead of “supposedly.”

    Also, aircrafts is not the plural of aircraft- it’s aircraft.

  • John Dough

    Here’s a non-word that I find annoying: “crispy” [promulgated by fast food marketers and other retards]

    Extant words, i.e., the adjective “crisp” and the adverb “crisply” are more than adequate.

  • Eric

    “Corroborate.” I swear, I hear 95% of people pronounce this word as “co-wob-orate.” Attorneys, cops, expert witnesses, they almost all say it with a “w.”

  • Anthony

    Well if we are going to talk about butchering a language, English is derived from a multitude of different languages, so in a sense the British stole from other languages, butchered it, changed it and claimed as theirs. So in a sense English is a seed of butchering. Look at Shakespeare he butchered the English language like crazy yet we use words like assassinate, and speak sheakespearian English. I’m pretty sure old was spelled olde and that looks to me like a butchering yet you right it like that now.. Hmmm interesting how that’s okay

  • jon

    picture as . ugh.

  • jon

    picture as “pitcher.” ugh.

  • Lisa

    according to my dictionary, the correct pronunciation of “often” is: off-ten and off-en. I haven’t heard off-en where I live though.

    bye

  • Allan Kaplan

    How many people out there pronounce “primer” properly? In this usage, it does not have a long “i” in it.

  • Jessie

    Forte. for-tay is Latin word used in music meaning loudness. fort (Silent e) is a French word meaning strength. When someone says, “Pronunciation is not my (for-tay)”, they are saying that pronunciation is not their loudness.

  • Craig

    I enjoyed the article and many of the comments too.

    I grew up with the word, “across”, often pronounced with a T at the end (as in: acrost). I noticed this occurred most often when followed by the word, the. Which apparently is often the case and may contribute to the problem. I was dating a smart lady and during a conversation she corrected me on this, much to my embarrassment.

    As for the word, often. This also struck a chord with me as I can actually remember learning to spell this word in elementary school. As a youngster, I was very surprised to find it had a “t” in it.

    Now as an adult, I will occassionally hear people incorporate the t sound in often. And I have been moved to adopt it also. Where in my vicinity, this was rare to non-existant 30 to 40 years ago. I think I am inspired to go back to the silent pronunciation taught to me in the third grade.

    The word that gets me most is, “to”. I find myself listening to my own speach, for fear I will adopt this delivery.

    For eight long years I had to listen to the President say, Tah… instead of, To. I chaulked it up to him spending much of his life in Texas and this must be the accepted way there. But it killed me, none the less.

    Now I have a President with an advanced degree and with multi cultural and and regional influences and still… I have to listen to my President say, Tah; When he means, To.

    What’s up with that?

    My criteria for my next vote for the leader of our land, will be for a person who can pronounce correctly a simple two letter word… to. And if two or more of you feel the same… we can start a movemet. And tahgether, we too, can bring back the O sound in to.

    Now if you excuse me, I suddenly have a hankering to listen tah a few bars of Alice’s Restaurant.

  • Donelle Blubaugh

    A writer who is truly an expert in this area would not have used the phrase “precisely no idea.” “No idea” is precise on it’s own.

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  • Mark

    I know this thread is ancient by Internet standards, but I’m glad it’s still active and alive. Kudos to Isobel_A for pointing out that “jewelry” is spelled, and sometimes prounounced “jewellery” outside the US. In the US, it has its own special spelling (though I’m sure “jewellery” can be pronounced “jewel-ry,” too!). Two I didn’t see on the list: I have a friend who says “esculator” instead of “escalator.” Believe it or not, I also have a friend who thinks “perfect” is pronounced “perthick.” Oh, it is so hard to stay silent when I hear these things! Another pet peeve, which is rampant on this blog, is when ordinal indicators are included in a date (August 15th, 2012 > August 15, 2012). It is pronounced that way, but it should be written with cardinal numbers.

  • http://www.katyread.com Katy Read

    I learned on the first day of my first visit to Italy that “bruschetta” should be pronounced “brew-sketta” (Italians deal with c’s and h’s differently than we do), so I adopted that pronunciation and have used it ever since. But I’ve had restaurants servers correct me — “You mean the brew-shetta?” — thinking I’M the idiot.

    • JRC

      I can’t stand “bizkotty” for “biscotti” (Italian for “cookies) and “botchy ball” for “bocce” (the Italian game similar to lawn bowling).

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  • Booger

    Uh, no. You’ll sound like a raging idiot if you say “Offen.” There is a T there, so use it. Actually, that would irritate me so bad that I’d decline to hire somebody who kept saying that.

  • Brenner

    plural for garbage is not garbages

  • Pwyll

    I have to conclude that you are often wrong.  Offen makes me want to bang my forid on a table.

  • Pedant

    How about the popular use of “pree-sentation?”      

  • Rtmbscholar

    wow. mind=blown

  • http://twitter.com/DryerBuzz Yalanda P. Lattimore

     whew I was at about 60% <~ failing :) now passing

  • CynicalMan

    The top one is Chipotle.
    Majority still says ChipoLTe