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 commonly mispronounced 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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’.


  • 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.


  • 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’.


  • 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?).


  • 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.


  • 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 an artist and writer living in Virginia. He channels most of his enthusiasm into making things for his online art shop, Artness! by Justin Brown. You can keep up to date with him, his worldly adventures, and his dogs by following him on Instagram and on Facebook

  • http://virilitas.com Virilitas

    Justin, thank you for a very useful article. I hope that you’re pacific examples of grammatical errors help men to write more better than they did before. ;D

    • Frooble Rippers

      He-he I just spoke about the very same thing!

    • Someone with an education

      I hope that *you’re* being funny when you demonstrate you don’t know the difference between you’re and your.

      • Melissa

        you caught that but missed “pacific” he wasn’t talking oceans here…;)

        • Sharon D Perkins

          He also said “more better”. It should just be “better”. 😉

          • suse

            He was making a joke! He knew that!

        • r.k.medeslols

          He also used the phrase “More better”.

          • suse

            It was a joke! Good grief.

          • ManWithAnOpinion

            And it wasn’t funny 8 years ago when he posted it.

      • Raindance

        Virilitas pretty much made all that clear by the use of italics.

        • Ryan

          …and if italics weren’t clue enough, there is even a wink at the end. @someone educated, Melissa and Sharon: You kids are not nearly as clever as you think.

        • Guest

          These people are really idiots, aren’t they, Raindance? It’s so sad. They have no concept as to the reason Virilitas use italics.

      • Logan Todd


      • Patricia Harvey

        When you demonstrate “your” problem with those two. LOLLL

      • suse

        I saw the the incorrect wording was in italics. Good grief, I think he KNEW! Get a clue!

        • DarthSkrill

          the the

    • Teddy

      Of course Virilitas is KIDDING about “you’re, pacific, and more better.” He italicized them all, for crying out loud!

    • John

      Oooer nice! You could have stuck in ‘*then they did before” as well. How the hell people don’t know the difference between then and than is truly mind boggling.

      • ucecab


        • John


  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Doc Brown

    That picture is 1.21 gigawatts of Awesome.

  • http://www.lifeepicurean.com Oswald Criollo

    I must interject for just a moment and point out how audacious it is to claim that “snuck” and “irregardless” are not words. What may seem a bastardization is just the natural evolution of language. Language grows, expands, and changes with time. Both of those examples are now accepted as part of the American lexicon and should be respected as such. If anything is to be addressed, it should be the misuse of irregardless in place of regardless.

    Beyond that, I enjoyed this article. I found myself questioning my own pronunciations while reading this and, with the exception of sherbet, I seem to be in the clear.

    • http://www.riamichelle.com Ria Michelle

      I will never accept irregardless as a word. Ever.

      • patchbran

        the very use if the prefix ir- cancels out the meaning of regardless, rendering the word meaningless.

        • FieraLuna Intentoelado

          Irregardless is a real word and derives from the words regardless and irrespective. I personally do not use the word irregardless; however, it is in fact a real word.

          The following article explains why in more detail.


          • circe801

            “irregardless” is an absurd double- negative used by those who would have said, “irrespective” if they gave a rat’s ass about learning to have actual, correct vocabulary. “irregardless”, though, has been so widely used that sadly, it is now represented in some dictionaries–which is why i think some people DO think it’s a real word. to me, however, it will ALWAYS be a bastardization–NEVER “natural evolution”–especially since i’ve heard it most often used by the very same people who use either “noo-clee-ur”–or, even worse, “nyoo-clee-ur”. many, if not most of them are imbeciles. sheesh.

          • Chris Bodragon

            But surely, both “noo-clee-ur” and “nyoo-clee-ur” are both correct.
            It’s “noo-kyoo-lur” and “nyoo-kyoo-lur” which are the incorrect ones.
            Who’s the imbecile now?

          • circe801

            heh. just saw the lexicographer’s explanation in the business insider article. FYI–and she infers as much–it is only a “real word” because SO MANY use it due to wanting to say, “irrespective”, but being too uneducated–or uncaring–to bother to learn the word. say what you will–it is NOT REALLY a “real word”–it is NOT used as a more emphatic form of “regardless”–and is ONLY included in some dictionaries due to popular (incorrect) usage. nor is it really a merging of “irrespective” and “regardless”. as i said in my previous comment, it IS a double-negative–it IS a word borne out of ignorance–and, chances are, if you choose to use it, there will be some, if not many (depending who is in the room) that WiLL snicker behind your back, because it is usually used to try and make one look more intelligent than they really are–while proving how uneducated they really are. and, yes, i AM inferring that lack of interest in learning actual, real words while tryin to sound intelligent by using absurdities is a determinant of lack of intelligence. it indicates an uncaring for effective communication. and, as also previously noted, if you use “irregardless”, you likely also use other non-words–and mispronounce real ones.

          • Chris Bodragon

            Spot on Bro.
            Or Cuz.
            Or whatever is the latest friendly tag 🙂

        • Chris Bodragon

          It certainly does not render the word meaningless. It is just another form of expressing “regard”, since “ir” and “less” combine to form a double-negative.
          Oh, will there ever be an end?

      • eli

        Irregardless of your distaste for the word, it is now in the dictionary and even found in edited prose.

        • jonas brave

          Regardless, who ‘for all intensive purposes’reads the prose of the unintentionally illiterate?

          • Heathen Samm

            Maybe the same people who surely have seen nuclear in print, and stubbornly persist in translating it as nucular? Or coupon pronounced as q-pon? Yet they don’t refer to a 2-door smaller car as a “qupe”. If you mispronounce the word in your ad I will never buy your product.

          • circe801

            *grin*. i have heard the very same people using both “irregardless” AND “for all intensive purposes”–all the while, believing themselves to be more intelligent than others.

          • Chris Bodragon

            I’m sure there are sometimes when the occasion calls for the phrase: “intensive purposes” when the purspose, is actually very, extremely, acutely intensive.

          • Phillip

            Try it on a PhD dissertation and tell me how that turns out. Idiot!

        • http://Facebook.com/ Patricia Harvey

          Madness! “Ir-” and “-less” have the same meaning.

          • Tim

            Not when they are both used in the same word . Just like a double negative.

        • Joe Doherty

          This may be true.However, due to the redundancy of the word,it is listed as a “non-standard” and as such is not considered acceptable for use by educated native speakers.Therefore,in the context of the article it is not a word.Feel free to use it,but only if you want to be perceived as a dumbass,which is in fact a word “regardless” of spell check thinking otherwise!

    • williame

      irregardless is not and has never been a word in the english language. why? it has no meaning. think about it. if regardless is to have no regard for something then irregardless would be to have no regard for having no regard for something?? DUH!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jack.c.harris.92 Jack C. Harris

        English should be capitalized.

        • patchbran

          i was taught, by my english teacher, that when speaking of the language, no. but when speaking of the people, yes.

          • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

            Your teacher is either incorrect or was taught elsewhere. In English, languages are capitalized: French, Japanese, Suomic. In French, however, languages are not: “En la France, tout le monde parlent la langue français.”

          • giggles

            Your French sucks.

          • TychaBrahe

            You’re probably right. I haven’t done any since I graduated high school thirty years ago. I’m so glad, however, that you commented on a year-old post to point that out.

          • FieraLuna Intentoelado

            You have a right to say that if you’d like but sucks is a bit harsh considering there were minor errors. Since your French is superb, why don’t you write your comment in both English and French to demonstrate how wonderful your French is.

          • Lee Passman

            En France, tout le monde parle la langue française.

          • FieraLuna Intentoelado

            In France, everyone speaks the French language. Since tout le monde refers to multiple people the conjugation of the word speak should be plural, not singular.

          • http://Facebook.com/ Patricia Harvey

            En France…

          • FieraLuna Intentoelado

            C’est vrai.

          • FieraLuna Intentoelado

            Why in the France and just in France?

            That said, you are correct in your statement.

            Not everyone uses proper grammar, especial in texts, e-mail, and online methods of expression. You are correct to say patchbran’s teacher may have taught them wrong; however, it’s also possible they were taught right and misunderstood the lesson.

          • Someone with an education

            Request a refund from your school then.

          • patchbran

            wow. 5 months later? maybe you should request a refund from whomever taught you current events. yeesh buh-bye.

          • Brian Ehlin

            Yeesh is not a word.

          • JohnPedant

            “from whoever [not whomever] taught you”

            “From” does trigger the ablative case (hence your confusion), but “taught” requires a nominative subject. “Whoever taught you”, not “whomever taught you” (And yes I do have a PhD in English)

          • Dan Shabasson

            Have grammarians actually weighed in on this? I think it could be argued either way. Could not the subject be an omitted relative pronoun? English allows them to be omitted and clearly here there is one omitted. One should be ablative and one nominative. It seems arbitrary to pick ablative over nominative. I’d favor the ablative. It comes first. And ‘whomever’ sounds better.

          • Phillip

            It got this reply out of you, so perhaps your current events are a bit dated as well.

          • josette63


        • Nunya

          That is, unless one is referring to the spin on a billiards ball.

        • Kristin Haskins

          ALL of it?? 😉

        • jonas brave

          I’ve read English is capitalized in reference to the language or people, but not for the technique of putting spin put on a cue ball in billiard games. The english in a game if pool should not be capitalized.

        • James Michael Taylor


          • Miss Cellany

            ba dum tsch.

      • CherylJocobs

        the people at Webster tend to disagree with you. but who are they to say what a word is and is not.


        • TexHwyMan

          And you’ll notice it’s listed as “nonstandard”, which is dictionary-speak for “NOT A WORD”.

          • Brian Ehlin

            Amn’t as a contraction of am not is known from 1618.[3] As the “mn” combination of two nasal consonants is disfavoured by many English speakers, the “m” of amn’t began to be elided, reflected in writing with the new form an’t. Aren’t as a contraction for are not first appeared in 1675.[4] In non-rhotic dialects, aren’t also began to be represented by an’t.

            It’s funny how, although one word is commonly used before another with similar meanings, yet hundreds of years later certain ignorant people decided that the later should be correct simply because it’s more popular. Heard of twerk? It’s in the dictionary. It’s a word unfortunately.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

          Let me help you, Cheryl: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nonstandard

          It is not a word. If it were a word, it would contradict its own meaning. It’s a “word” used by uneducated people who mean regardless.

        • Chiral

          A collegiate dictionary?

      • http://www.facebook.com/chazmanly Chaz Williamson

        A problem easily fixed by adding “dis” to the beginning.

        • WJB

          this is getting way out of hand, nonundisirregardless of how we solve the problem.

          • mooleeh


        • Miss Cellany

          Is that how the word Antidisestablishmentarianism formed? People just kept adding suffixes and prefixes to it?

      • Tim

        From Merriam-Webster:
        Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the
        early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the
        attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently
        repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.”
        There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech,
        although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its
        reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from
        general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

        • jonas brave

          Similar dumbness of ‘misogynistic’, misogynist as an adjective already has the complete intended meaning, without adding the -ic.

          It’s like saying racistic or sexistic. ‘Misogynistic’ does NOT register on my autoCorrect as a false word, though so the hordes have already won and literacy has lost. Misandrist, and misandristic, same bullshit.

          • Adam

            You are quite mistaken. Racist and sexist are spelled as such because the root noon combined with the adjective suffix form an “s” sound. To add the “ic” suffix results in a very awkward sound and is thus not practiced. Racist is both a noun and an adjective. Misogynist is a noun, end of story. Thus, the “ic” suffix is required. Other similar examples include sadist and realist.

            When exactly do you presume the hordes won the battle of literacy of which you speak?

          • jonas brave

            Usage prevails, apparently. People – I will say a majority or hordes – now say ‘decimate’ like they really think/believe the word means ‘destroy’ and this is unfortunately how a language evolves sometimes. (Deci- means one-tenth.) The illiterate mis-usage becomes textbook usage, Misogynist as adjective once was common, as was correcting for the ‘-ic’. I would not cite word comparisons to argue there are very consistent rules in English. Consistent inconsistency, yes.

          • JohnPedant

            Heavens forbid that I should ever be pedantistic

      • Graham Tebby

        Or the in- cancels out flammable? I agree that irregardless is an abomination in the sight of the gods of vocabulary, but language isn’t always that logical.

      • trell

        LOL!!!! My thoughts exactly!! What’s next “NON-irregardless” !!??

      • Chris Bailey

        Don’t worry, it’s inflammable.(Doctor Nick)

    • http://www.facebook.com/angie.mathewscowen Angie Mathews Cowen

      Irregardless is most definitely not a word. For one thing, when people use it, they MEAN to say “regardless.” However, the double-negative use of the prefix “ir-” and the suffix “-less” would make the root word suddenly be positive. Therefore, saying irregardless means it actually IS regarding. I think it’s “irrelevantless” that people are made aware it is not a word, because it sounds very uneducated.

      • mlee

        Sorry, folks. Irregardless is–as much as it offends you–a real word, though it is non-standard (if that’s any consolation to you). http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless

        • patchbran

          when i hang out w/ well educated people? i don’t use that word. hell, i can’t even use around uneducated people. for me, it is a standard bearer & if that makes me a snob, so be it.

        • TexHwyMan

          And you’ll notice they say “Use regardless instead.”

          • Tim

            Ummm- because that’s the appropriate word. Don’t mind the ummm – irregardless of what you might think 🙂

          • TexHwyMan

            Ummm, that was my point.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

          You should look up what the word “nonstandard” means. I’ll save you the trouble, it means “not really a word.”

        • Someone with an education

          Actually just because something is in a dictionary doesn’t make it a proper word. Many unaccepted and slang words take up space in a dictionary. Just look up “ain’t.”

          Those words are there to point you to the correct ones if you encounter them in speech.

          • Chiral

            Yes, call for a collegiate dictionary, please.

          • frost

            Hah so now we are on a slippery slope 😛 just because a word or slang is relatively new its still a word or phrase, stop clinging to the old shit and get used to people talking the way they do, people are starving and we are discussing Pronunciation and Spelling of words, on the internet.

          • Stuart Anderson

            Hah”‘!” “S”o now we are on a slippery slope 😛 just because a word or slang is relatively new”,” “it’s” still a word or phrase. “S”top clinging to the old shit”‘,” and get used to people talking the way they do”.” “P”eople are starving and we are discussing Pronunciation and Spelling of words, on the internet.

            New words, that don’t make sense, are not new words, they are…well, Not Words!

          • Tim

            And you are also here to discuss…obviously.

          • Phillip

            Then why should grammar even be taught? You are an idiot.

        • Miss Cellany

          What the hell does irregardless mean if it is a real word???

        • Tim

          Real word or not, it’s still a double negative and Merriam- Webster has lost my respect.

        • Phillip

          Non standard means it is not a proper word.

      • http://Facebook.com/ Patricia Harvey

        Irregardless, the hoi polloi will win this battle of wrong speach [like reach], simply because they are more and it seems more logical to them. The voices of those of us who languish in the wilderness of Correct Pronounciation will slowly but surely fade. Hehehe!

        • http://Facebook.com/ Patricia Harvey

          No one seems to have caught my “pronounciation”.

    • patchbran

      um. no. they’re not. they’re accepted as being said by someone who didn’t pay close enough attention in english class.

    • AtticCrazy

      Yes, I call out people frequently about “irregardless”. They can deny it all they want, but it is a valid word and it is also included in the Oxford English Dictionary. The people who state that they will “never accept it as a word ever” are wrong, whether they like it or not.

      • Tim

        Sorry…I don’t accept a double negative as having legitimacy.

    • Someone with an education

      > What may seem a bastardization is just the natural evolution
      > of language. Language grows, expands, and changes with
      > time.

      It gets all mavericky in other words.

    • Chiral

      I am getting orientated, irregardless.

    • Dustin Everitt

      I will accept snuck, but irregardless is not a natural evolution it is a devolution. It is plain incorrect usage.

      • Miss Cellany

        Irregardless makes no logical sense so I refuse to entertain it.

        Snuck is welcome at my parties however.

    • http://Facebook.com/ Patricia Harvey

      My son is a chef and I just had to ask him about his pronounciation of “sherbet”; true he said “sherbert” and put it down to Americans messing up everything. Hahaha!

    • Miss Cellany

      Irregardless… is that something Americans just made up again? What does it mean though? Sounds like a double negative to me, very confusing.

    • Donald

      Try Wensday and Febuary or Febrry😂

    • Teddy

      Irregardless is not only NOT a word, and never will be, it does not even mean what the ignoramuses using it are intending it to mean. They are meaning for it to convey “without regard,” where just plain regardless would do, but instead the “ir” negativizes (I made up that word) the entire ‘word’ to mean instead “with regard.” Dumb construct.

    • Tom Fish

      Please disregard the above statement of the legitimacy of irregardless as the aithor states that as it is now legitimate due to being in the American lexicon. How proposterous

    • No Name

      Pretty sure irregardless cancels out both the first and last parts of the word lol, or at least should whether it’s an accepted part of the English language or not.

    • Robert Stierle

      Me too and even though I hardly ever eat it Sherbert it is ha-ha..

    • Brandon Bethea

      It’s this stance that stunts the growth of individual expression. You see marring the simplistic yet beautifully descriptive splendor of communication as the platforms own natural course. “Tickets into the realm of broken languages replacing their far more expressive roots for one subculture please!”

    • Jonathan Bowen

      Yes and no. Irregardless is just wrong, but snuck is commonly used and not redundant or unnecessary like irregardless. I’ve never heard anyone complain about “snuck,” honestly. He snuck in for the touchdown! Nobody says “he sneaked in for the touchdown,” that just sounds… hilarious. And not right.

    • Interred Ferguson

      “Irregardless” sucks…a bastardization of my parents’ generation. “Snuck” is valid, although “sneaked” (sounds horrible to my ear) seems to be overwhelming it more each year. Apparently, Sneaked is the past tense of sneak when the verb is treated like a regular verb. Snuck is the past tense of sneak when the verb is treated like an irregular verb. Some people frown upon snuck, so if you’re in doubt about which form to use, sneaked is always the safer option.

    • John

      American lexicon is nothing to be proud of, nor respected. *You never did nothing* for the English language.

    • Phillip

      You can use that reason to justify any abuse of the language. Here is your fallacy: Usage does not determine grammatical rules. Grammatical rules determine usage.

  • Rich CL

    Pro-nown-see-ay-shun is very in-poor-unt!
    “Important” is my big pet peeve at the moment. 🙂

  • tjgoldstein

    Ok, I have one for you.

    Nougat. The constant murder of this word drives me insane, so much so, that when there was a particularly annoying Yahoo radio advert in which the word is mangled roughly 5-6 times in 30 seconds, every time I heard the ad start, I would turn the sound off on my computer. I was sick of screaming at the radio, ‘Noo-garrr… it’s friggin’ Noo-garrr!’

    Americans pronounce it with a hard T at the end of it.. Noo – gaT, when in fact, it’s pronounced… Noo – garrr.

    While I know its unfair to pick on an accent, something people have little control over, I found the combination of the ‘average’ over enthusiastic American voice over combined with the pronounciation was quite possibly the most revolting sound I’ve ever encountered.

    So much so, that I was forced to send an email to the company pleading with them to take it off the air.

    • Melly

      Wait, what? You expect us to not just drop the T from the end, but insert an R where there isn’t one? Why??

    • Jack F. Trolls

      Noogarr simply shows how it is basically impossible to pronounce anything correctly in dialects of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion – if it did not actually originate in one of those dialects because of the terrible vowel shifts several hundred years ago.
      Hearing English-speaking priests try to come to terms with Latin, failing miserably every single time proves beyond doubt that English, be it the King’s Own or some L.A. Barrio Speak, is a sickness of the snout.

      Coping with that affliction cannot be left to the Working Classes alone…
      maybe the growing Latino population will alleviate the problem a bit
      by giving good examples : of course  French is as bad. Europa(e) is pronounced Yoo-op in English, Err-opp in French and Oy-roh-pa in German (German isn’t usually as bad but in this case it is) – only the Spaniards and some other tribes civilized by the original Romans never fail to say Ay-oo-roe-pa, which is 100% correct.

      However as I already made clear, it is simply impossible to achieve such results for native English speakers of any provenance without learning a human language first – which they of course rarely do.

      But the words of English origin discussed here are funny enough nd sometimes enlightening. Even John Steinbeck used “purty”, of course he was doing it deliberately. And yes, “irregardless” is a simple idiocy.

      • Akstudio

        You forgot the R in the English version. It’s  “Yourope!” and youro-pee-un…

    • Stefan

      Nougat is not pronounced “noo garr” and I’m not sure what etymological gymnastics you’re performing to arrive at that conclusion. If you look to the pronunciation of the “gat” ending in French from Latin, you’ll see that the “t” is simply silent. Thus, “noo gah” is correct. “Noo gut” is an acceptable pronunciation now that the word has been brought into English.

    • Someone with an education

      Sounds too much like noogie…. 😉

    • Frederic William Beck

      I’m quite certain that it is pronounced /ˈnuːɡɑː/ without any R.

  • Kel

    Lingerie / buffet are also common mistakes.

    • amy

      Unless you’re talking about Jimmy Buffett

      • Kat

        …or being caught in a windstorm.

  • Gene

    I must differ with you on one of these, although your narrative is interesting reading. Often is also “legally” pronounced “off-ten”. Look it up, just about anywhere. Either pronunciation is acceptable.

    I’d also like to add one that drives my wife crazy: “jewelry” pronounced “joo-ler-y”. It should be pronounced exactly as it sounds.

    And another: “Irregardless” used when the word should be “regardless”. Irregardless is not a word.

    • scott2b

      “It should be pronounced exactly as it sounds.” Words to live by.

      • Karenatasha

        Not in English, very often. Offen. Off-ten. Whatever.

    • patchbran

      haha. i griped about jewelry, too! & there’s a big hullabaloo about the whole irregardless club up above.

    • Yackums

      Joo-ler-y is an acceptable pronunciation according to the British spelling, “jewellery.”

      • Lydia Theys

        Different word, therefore different pronunciation possibilities. In the American word, there is no vowel between the L and the R, so no syllable.

    • Stuart Anderson

      “Either pronunciation is acceptable.”
      It is NOT acceptable, to those who know the correct pronunciation. As the Title of this article says, “…people think you’re an idiot”

      Oh, and I hate “joo-ler-y”, almost as much as I hate “off-ten”.

  • Rick

    Often should be pronounced “off-en” regardless of what lexicographers put in their dictionaries. I often use fabric softener (not sof-ten-er) when I do laundry.

    • Melly

      I never agreed with pronouncing it “off-en” until I read your comment. Pronounced just like soften, interesting…

    • lecriveur

      We’re basing this arguement on rhyme? Comb, tomb, bomb. Cough, rough, bough.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eve.gordon Eve Gordon

        Not BASING it on rhyme, just using rhyme to help you remember the correct pronunciation. 😉

      • MeiTow

        The stem word is “oft” –in which the t is pronounced. But when the ending “en” is added, the t sound is lost (though it remains in the spelling). There are, in fact, MANY examples of this sort of shift in English and in every other case the t becomes silent when followed by an -en or -le.

        Note especially – soft (pronounced) vs. soften (silent). Compare: list -> listen; glisten; fast [as in ‘held fast/secure’] -> fasten; haste -> hasten; moist > moisten; chaste -> chasten; nest -> nestle; castle; mistletoe; whistle; wrest -> wrestle; trestle; gristle; thistle; cf. also Christ > Christmas

        • http://www.facebook.com/graceanncarr Grace Carr

          from dictionary.com
          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 restoredthe [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 widelyheard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/graceanncarr Grace Carr

            I’ll stick with my hard [t]

          • missbo

            I agree with the hard “t”. My granddad was From England (born and raised) and he always spoke it with the hard “t”, my father learned it from his father, and I from my father. “Off-ten” is a correct pronunciation and I will stick with it. And most people I talk to already know (or have figured it out) that I am NOT an idiot!

        • aculady

          All of your examples, with the sole exception of “soften”, are for words with an “st” at the end, not an “ft”. The “ft” requires a significantly different sequence of oral motor movements than the “st” does, making it far easier to retain the “t” sound when adding subsequent syllables.

      • Hammond Ecks

        Uh, “argument”

  • justin

    Great article on mispronouncing words, Jason. Keep up the good work.

  • Katie

    ok dude snuck is a word! I looked it up on dictionary.com. It is the past tense of sneak. I even spell checked it on Microsoft Word. If you want to stop people from sounding like idiots you have to do so first. What now?! That’s right you just got schooled.

    P.S. have you looked nougat up in the dictionary? the pronunciation guide says a hard T is acceptable, and there’s no R.

    • Andrea

      Dictionary.com. Well… There’s the problem. Use an older hard copy version, such as Macquarie or Oxford and you won’t have a problem.

      • Paolo

         “Snuck” has existed for over 100 years in the American vernacular. It is also an entry in my print edition OED as an American alternate past tense and past participle of “sneak”

      • Librarian with Books

        “Snuck,” “irregardless,” and “brang” are all in the 1989 OED.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alison-Gulley/706908596 Alison

          I, a professor of medieval language and literature and of historical linguistics, happen to love the word “snuck,” even though students and colleagues call me on it all the time. So what? It makes sense, has precedent and analogy, and now I’m happily informed that it’s in the OED (I never bothered to look). Thanks!

  • James

    @Katie, the dictionary lists “snuck” as informal, meaning it’s slang, meaning it’s not correct.

    Spell check can’t be used as a source to whether a word is proper or not. It allows snuck because Microsoft knows some people will want to type it when speaking colloquially. So Word is correct when it tells you “snuck” is SPELLED right, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

    • Stuart Anderson

      I snuck a snack while reading this article…

  • tjgoldstein

    Oh dear Katie.

    Never said that there was an ‘r’ in nougat, quite simply pointed out that it is infact pronounced as ‘noo-garr’ and not as ‘noo-gaT’

    you are right to say that a hard T at the end is acceptable, unfortunately, just further evidence that America is destroying the English language.

    Poor, poor little yankee’s.

    • Paolo

      Why are you using the possessive form of “Yankee” in your post?

    • Darkflash

      No one gives a shir

  • Nate

    I’m guessing the “noo-garr” pronunciation you recommend only includes pronunciation of the R sound when it is followed by a word beginning with a vowel. This is known as an intrusive R–something common in many British accents–but particularly the “Estuary accent,” which was long considered to be working-class and incorrect.

    You have no reason to be bragging about it.

  • Angie

    On one hand, I’ve found the banter to be just as entertaining as the article itself….on the same hand – actually, that phrase bothers me so much that I can’t even finish my sentence!

    My personal can’t stands are using the words “forwards” or “backwards” – when it’s simply “forward” and “backward”…no plural people!

    And just an FYI: yes, I’ll begin properly pronouncing sherBET – despite the fact that I’m going to catch a LOT of crap. How did the mispronunciation of sherBERT become so widespread anyhow?

    • kelly

      Probably from we New Englanders who put rs where they should not be (dater, idear) and leave them out where they should be (no examples needed)!

      • Bram Stoker

        Be reminded that the ENGLISH do not pronounce their final “r”s before you go spreading misinformation.

        • Karyn

          Kelly wrote “New Englanders” (as in those from the New England U.S. states), not Englanders (as in those who live in the U.K.).

          • Bram Stoker

            No. NEW Englanders imported that same pronunciation from England.

  • Joe

    With the ongoing wars raging across the Mid East and Asia, I keep hearing about a weapons “cache”, pronounced ka shay. Drives me nuts, it’s pronounced kash

    • Jack F. Trolls

      You are right but mind the strangers – English being our Lingua Franca now though half the words in the English language are of Latin and French origin (cache, intoxication, lieutenant – loo or leff ? They HAD TO change it because they were unable to pronounce the French original).
      Kashay however, now that sounds pretty bad.

      • Tim.Bateman

        We were able to pronounce the French original; we just couln’t be bothered.
        Seriously, I’ve seen this explained as the word ‘lieutenant’ being borrowed by English before the two letters ‘u’ and ‘v’ gained their current distinct functions.

    • kelly

      But do you know when the word SHOULD be pronounced “cashay”?
      P.S. I have never heard anyone say “kashay” when it should be “kach”

      • beldujour

        It should be pronounced as “ka shay” when it is spelled cachet. Cachet is a completely different word, of course.

      • nutter butter

        All through the Iraq war some military person would say they found a “weapons ka shay.” Said it so much, the media picked it up, too. Drove me nuts.

  • http://TheDeliberators.com Frank

    Actually this guy has got 2 words wrong.

    nuclear is pronounced as “nuke-uh-lar” so often that it’s completely acceptable and deemed as a correct pronunciation.

    often – “off-en” and “off-ten” are both proper pronunciations as well

    The Oxford English Dictionary is the definitive source of “proper” words and pronunciations for the english language. Keep in mind, that language is very dynamic and always adapting.

    • Hinneni

      The definitive authority is the practice of well-educated people.  The OED, it is to be hoped, would not sanction “the english language,” but would insist on a capital E for English.

      Anybody who says nuke-u-lar instantly brands himself or herself as an illiterate rube, like the President who made the usage famous — famous is not the same as correct,  Prevalent is not the same at correct.

      Frank is entitled to his opinion.  As the saying goes that opens the article itself, when you articulate, you go public with who you are and aren’t, and you have proclaimed yourself a non-asuthority.

    • Akstudio

      Forget NOOKULAR! Unacceptable!! even if half the population mispronounces it!! take your time and say nou-clee-ar.
      and has anybody mentioned reel-a-tor? That’s what many Americans think realtor is pronounced like!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

      Nuke-uh-lar is not acceptable. The letters in the word don’t even make those sounds. The “uh-lar” comes from nowhere.

    • Stuart Anderson

      oed.com does not list “nuke-uh-lar”, or anything similar. Actually the most common mispronunciation, is “new-cue-ler”. I used to laugh at the way Jimmy Carter pronounced it…”new-key-er”.
      I was going to check “often” as well, but I’m not paying $295 for a subscription, to do that. They only give you one free look-up, apparently. Most Dictionaries, both online and hard copy, when a non-standard pronunciation is provided, it is designated as such…”non-standard”, which means to me, “Incorrect”.

  • Steve

    I’m seeing a movement to create a mispronunciation as a way to to sound “important.” When discussing spreadsheets, a woman at work says “col-yumes” for columns.

  • Paul

    People won’t “soften” about “often.” They just won’t “listen” about a silent “t” in the middle of an American word.

    I blame teachers who tolerate children and immigrants speaking words as they are spelled. Thank goodness nobody uses the word “cupboard” anymore.

    American has never been as easy as saying what you read. Ask any Englishman.

  • Eric

    My biggest pet peeve…..PREVENTATIVE is not a word. The word is PREVENTIVE. This is butchered all of the time in speech and written word.

  • bob

    Don’t forget forte. “For-tay” means loud. “Fort” mean strong.

    • Bonnie Prince Charlie

      This is actually not true in some contexts. There’s “forté,” an Italian word that means what you mention, and “forte,” which is a French word and should thus be pronounced “fort.” The latter word refers to being very good at something. Yes, sometimes this word, as in “his forte is hitting a baseball” should be pronounced like “fort.” No one ever pronounces it this way, but that is how it should be pronounced.

  • Katie

    You people are so amusing. I’d like to thank everyone who responded to my post because you gave me something to laugh about. It is so diverting that people actually make posts on a regular basis to challenge each other about pronunciation. Does anyone have a life? I simply made a post because I’m in Lit. class, bored to death. So I laugh. Ha. Now go back to your humdrum lives and really consider the activities you are taking part in on a daily basis. Why not go for a walk? Visit an old person… Sneak into a movie… devote your life to philanthropy…you obviously have enough time on your hands.

    • Karenatasha

      You were posting during class. Your professor hates you.

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Doc Brown

    Katie, according to my calculations your last reply made you sound like a defensive bitch.

  • http://jackbusch.net/blog Jack

    I won’t take sides. But I will opine that the “get a life” defense in a comment thread is about as fresh and effective as “I’m rubber, you’re glue.” I’m saying this broadly because it really gets my goat when I see a pretty amazing feat on YouTube (guy playing two guitars at one time!?!?!?) and all people can say is “get a life,” as if patronizing YouTube is any more life affirming than being featured on it for honing a craft to inhuman excellence.

    On another note:

  • Katie

    ok doc brown, its just one person’s opinion, no need to be profane! do you kiss yo mutha wit dat mouth? and jack you make a good point because the only reason i comment on here is because im freakin bored at school and i wanted to see people’s reaction to my lecture hehe jaja

  • Jaimie

    Wait, I thought English was still a living language?

    • Jack F. Trolls

      Ah now – a misunderstanding.
      That must surely be American you mean ?

  • Clive

    I’d like to add “jive” and “jibe” here.

    So irritating.

  • Doug

    All this discussion about pronunciation is just a mute point…

    • Bonnie Prince Charlie

      Actually heard a sportscaster say this on a local new show once.

      • Your mom


      • hugh g. rection

        fuck you idiot

    • Thomas Lake

      “It’s a moo point. A cow’s opinion doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” – Joey from Friends

      • MrMajor


    • CherylJocobs

      “a moot point”… here we go again.

      • DJ

        Ha! I was hoping he was joking….lol

        • patchbran

          i assumed he was. & that commenter # 2 has too much time on her hands. & that the guy who commented on her comment lives alone on an island somewhere. & that i’ve already spent far too much time assuming anything about these 3. oof. maybe i forgot that i live on an island w/ too much time

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579068791 Paul LeGere

        Whether people say mute point or even moot point they’re not saying what they really mean.

        something is “moot,” it’s supposed to mean “debatable,” as in “moot
        court.” But it seems to have turned completely turtle now and people use
        it as “the point is so obvious it’s beyond debate.”

        When people say “it’s moot,” they really mean “it’s academic.”

        I checked a couple dictionaries on this. My 1964 World Book dictionary
        defines it solely in the “arguable” sense. But my 1978 American Heritage
        has a secondary definition making it a janus word: “deprived of
        practical significance; made abstract or purely academic.” Checking the
        newest online dictionaries still shows that same 1-2 order, but since I
        never hear anybody using it in its primary definition anymore, I wonder
        how long before the “academic” definition not only supersedes
        “debatable,” but in fact totally eradicates it?

        • Steven

          I’m glad you took so long to offer that piece of knowledge, but it’s wrong. You’re right, a moot point refers to a moot court, but the saying means that both sides can be defended and assaulted equally, and no clear choice is available. Thus, saying something is moot point means just to drop it because its not worth arguing over.

      • http://twitter.com/Kellie_White67 Kellie White

        I believe Doug was being ironic…

    • Carolyn Blake

      But I am a big fan of pronounciation!

  • Lance

    The one I hear the most, especially on the radio is height. Most mispronounce it as heighth as in length x width x heighth not realizing there is no h sound on the end.

  • SeanO

    I agree completely with the post about the image chosen for this article – well done! As a visual artist, I value how a picture is worth a thousand words (grammatically correct or otherwise!).

    I agree that English is indeed a living language – we should not lose sight of this fact. But language is also about communication. If our means of communication become vague and sloppy, doesn’t our communication follow? But being articulate should be a means to more clearly express your thoughts, not to impress or condescend.

  • Jesse

    A few more…

    “mute point” (moot point – thank you Doug)
    “all of the sudden” (all of a sudden)
    “bolth” (both)

    • mang

      I especially hate “expecially”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

        It’s become my instant reaction to disregard anything else a person says once I hear them say “expecially”, “pacifically”, “supposively” or any variation thereof.

        • mang

          Supposively. Yeah, I love that one.

  • Bill

    Living language or not, ignorance and sheer stupidity should not be reasons for a language to “evolve.” Just another example of mediocrity becoming the MO for the average American.

    Perhaps if our schools actually TAUGHT English, rather than High School 101: Beating the No Child Left Behind Test…

    No wonder the Brits hate us for what we did to their language.

    • patchbran

      what bill said. the middle of the road, average, mainstream-the mediocre will never drive how i speak or live.

      • grainofsalt

        However, apparently, does drive how you capitalize.

        • patchbran

          as an award winning writer & a school teacher, i assure you that when i am writing an apa graduate level paper, i capitalize, but for the internet? meh, i like the e.e. cummings style. hope that helps you feel better.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

            If you really were a writer and a school teacher, I’m sure at some point someone must have mentioned that penmanship matters. You can’t expect people to take you seriously if you express yourself poorly, no matter the medium.

    • Patrick Flanagan

      What about what they did to it? (“Give us the bu – er, mate” = Please pass me the butter)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517149115 Dylan Miles

        I don’t think anyone is claiming that that is correct pronunciation.

      • Miss Cellany

        Yes well, that’s how working class people in the East End of London speak….

        ….*puts on flame proof clothing*….

        They aren’t particularly civilized.

  • Mikey Knuckles

    My two pets are “would’ve” spelled, and even pronounced “would of” and “Axe” for “ask”.

    Language must evolve in the sense that new words like “BLADING” [clip of verb rollerblading ] or “BLOG” [contraction of web-log] are used to articulate standard means of communication.

    The Brits butcher their own language, they need not our help.

    • http://www.facebook.com/naturegirlfromny Linda Wheeler Weigel

      I hate axe!

      • patchbran

        the body wash smells good though!

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

          That pun is lost in England as Axe is branded as Lynx over here!

  • kva

    Amphitheatre – the ‘ph’ is an F – all ph’s are F’s
    I go crazy at the DJ’s on the Toronto radio stations that refer to the concert venue as the Ampi-theatre – there will be amps but really…
    nice article – I think we can expand it to the top 100 easily
    then can you write an article on top 10 grammar mistakes
    top pet peeves in that area are:
    gone/went i.e. I should have went…
    good/well i.e. He did really good

  • michael

    All I can think of here is the ongoing Family Guy joke about “whip”. (Enunciating the “h”.)

  • http://twitter.com/drewpeneton Drew

    Is anyone else equally irritated by:

    “Supposably” (Supposedly)

    Can’t stand it!
    .-= Drew´s last blog ..drewpeneton: READING: 10 Words You Mispronounce That Make People Think You’re an Idiot http://bit.ly/Vtlr What other words belong on this list? =-.

  • Nax

    I think that the protection of proper English is important and this was a great article. My favorite would have to be asterisk (not asteriks). Just got called out on that one a few years back and felt like an idiot.

    I do, however, say “wash” with an “r” in it. Oh well…

  • Chaps

    Coming from Down Under where we bag both Poms and Yank language alike, the one word that is starting to get my goat is “disorientated” instead of “disoriented”… Even the newsreaders are starting to say this…

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Chaps, I’ve noticed that too! I thought I was crazy. I just looked it up in the dictionary and it says “another form of disorient.” Whether it’s ‘correct’ or not the jury is still out.
    .-= Andrew´s last blog ..Linkszomania for September 9, 2009 =-.

  • Moody

    I can’t decide who to ask to marry me – Bob or Nate – for their brilliant comments.

    Chomping at (or on) the bit, instead of champing at the bit almost sends me into a seizure.

    Confession: I mispronounced automaton for DECADES
    And though not spoken, “air quotes” could be the cause of my demise when, after seeing one too many, I jump out of the window.

  • Ariana

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this article as well as the ensuing discussion. This sort of interplay almost overloads my pleasure center.

    I cannot help but notice one minor error in the article itself referencing the grammatical function of a ‘conjunction.’

    “But then – in what can best be described as the greatest grammatical epiphany since someone decided that we needed a [conjunction] to turn ‘I am’ into a single word.”

    To my understanding, a conjunction is any word or expression that serves as a connector for multiple words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.

    I submit that the more appropriate term in this instance is ‘contraction.’ Grammatically speaking, a contraction is a shortened form of a word or group of words, i.e. “I am” conveniently becomes “I’m.” I’m a fan of contractions; I love nothing more than to express myself with precision, and I do so appreciate legitimate shortcuts.

    I am open to the possibility that I am mistaken. I just [couldn’t] (love it) help but giggle after finding what I believe to be an error in an article written in such a haughty, patronizing tone. I laugh because I relate. 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/mim.schoeppler Mim Schoeppler

      Yeah, should be contraction! Good call!

    • http://www.facebook.com/sheryl.holtam Sheryl Dugger Holtam

      You are correct.

    • Kenneth Chester

      You are correct. Conjunctions are words serving as connectors and are defined as coordinating or subordinating. The type of conjunction is dependent on the connection between these words… Also note, that these clauses are denoted, by my personal pet peeve, commas.

    • Scott

      Referencing? Check your language. Reference comes from the verb “refer.”

  • Atom

    alright, i was kind of upset at how uppity this “justin brown” character sounded, what with his flowery vocabulary and zeal for ego-bashing…but then i noticed the name of his blog was “esteban was eaten!”, which can only be a reference to life aquatic, my favorite film of all time.

    so, justin, i admit that you have a pretty good grasp on the english language. i’m keeping my ‘often’, though.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown

    All right Ariana, I think you’re right. It took twelve months but someone finally spotted the error I tried to pretend wasn’t there. You win. September 27 is your day; do with it what you like.

    Atom, don’t be fooled by my bombastic language or haughty tone (see, I used flowery vocabulary in referring to my flowery vocabulary, that’s meta or something) — I am completely an idiot, most of the time (if you visit Esteban Was Eaten!, this would become exceptionally clear in a very short time).

    I’m glad that people seem to be this passionate about their language (over a year after the article was published, no less). A few more generations of people talking about these things and we’ll all be better off.

    Grammar fever! Catch it!
    .-= Justin Brown´s last blog ..Nobody seems to know where this came from. And I. don’t…. =-.

  • Ariana

    I am impressed by your graciousness, Justin. No one wins or loses here — the article was exceptionally entertaining as well as informative (oh, the shame — I was, before reading, a great purveyor of “ofTen.”) The joy of it all lies in the analysis! I always appreciate getting caught making a mistake, as long as the redirection occurs not in the heat of an argument 🙂

    Because I, too, am occasionally guilty of bombastic pomp, I have cached these little treasures away for a rainy day: magniloquence and fustian. The irony therein is nothing less than sublime!

  • http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/often Adamant

    Often can be pronounced with or without the ‘t’ sound. Both are correct, and to pretend that one is superior to the other is simply arrogant.
    .-= Adamant´s last blog ..deke =-.

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  • DigablePlanet

    @ tjgoldstein:

    I am PRIH-TEE SHURE that your NOO-gurr is waaaaay too close to “N*gger” than most politically-inclined Americans are comfortable with pronouncing. Sorry.

    • Jordan

      I thought I was going to be the one who had to point that out.

  • DigablePlanet

    How about this one:
    “It just wasn’t all it was CRAPPED UP TO BE”…Wow. I’ve heard that one more than a few times. I guess that’s not so much a pronunciation problem, as it is a FOOLISHNESS problem. Did I spell “pronunciation” right just now? Ah crap.

  • PLG

    Language is a living creation, which means that it mutates and evolves all the time. What people mispronounce today could very well be considered high English in the coming decades.

    Moral: get off your high horse, the lot of ya

  • Wordly

    This is a good start and I could certainly add more malapropisms however, there are two problems.

    1. “Irregardless” is now in the dictionary (not saying that it is right, just saying…)

    2. Et cetera is ACTUALLY pronounced as “et ketera” because in Latin, a “c” is the equivalent to our “k”.

    • Alexis

      In Latin, the c is only equivalent to our k when followed by a, o, or u. In this instance, the Italianate Latin pronunciation would be et chetera.

  • Wordly

    P.S. Dear “PLG”, it is people like you who are responsible for the bastardization of our lovely language. For the love of language, get back on your high horse and act like you got an education!

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  • http://www.markclayson.com mark clayson

    Glad to see that Frank has made me feel good about “off – ten”.
    .-= mark clayson´s last blog ..Get Your Child’s Twitter Background on MY Twitter Page =-.

  • bob dylan

    One thing that drives me crazy- and this is very common on the internet.

    People who write “Wallah” instead of “Voila”, because they’re idiots.

    You’ll see recipies on various cooking sites (good ones, too), with instructions like “Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture, add to a silicone cake pan and bake for one hour or until sets. Wallah! Your very own devils food cake!”

    And it makes me want to slit my wrists.

    Other than that, I agree that english is a living language. And the OED is not the be all and end all of what constitutes proper english- there is no “Academie Anglaise” officially approving words and phraseology. Sure, go to the OED for guidance, or look to Mirriam Webster for a more American perspective. In all honesty, if I want to know how a word is used I’ll most likely check urbandictionary.com first. (With a large grain of salt, of course. But it’s surprisingly useful.)

  • Observer6

    Well, I guess I do not have to AKS any more questions about this topic…so it is up to you to AKS somoene…Fo sho!

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  • Cerce

    I have noticed that several of my co-workers when trying to explain their consternation with certain parts of the job process use the term frustration, but forget it contains the letter r. I am subsequently aurally assaulted with fustrated, and fustration. Irony at work.

  • Jamal

    You forgot “ATHLETE” – some folks say “AFF-LETE”
    these same people probably (prolly) use AXE (murderer) instead of ASK.

    Oh yeah and my gf says “put your 2 sentences in” instead of “2 cents” ah hahahaha LMAO

    ignorance is bliss.

  • Lem

    Hmmm nope I dont make any of those mistakes.

    Mind you I do live on the other side of the pond to you so…

  • Chepe

    Language prescriptivists are shitty in bed.

  • http://webcrawler Sandy

    I am a teacher, so it irks me when people mispronounce words, but also when they use words incorrectly. “Dad borrowed me a few bucks last week.” What??? I am also annoyed when people in television broadcasting mispronounce words. Why do they assume their grammar is correct before putting it out there for all to hear? A phrase that has popped up in the last few years is “they went missing.” It sounds like the person went to a specific place themselves. How many of you “warsh” your hands, or listen to the “warshington” news correspondent?

  • El Degüello

    Hi there. I didn’t quite get the pronunciation key since I speak both Spanish and Tagalog; I read letters as they’re pronounced in my languages. Would you be so kind to put an IPA (Int’l Phonetic Alphabet) transcription?

    Hope it not be too much for you. Thanks

  • Norman Kelley

    Justin, the following is a great line:

    “Flippped over the Buffet Table of Reason at the Banquet for Intellectual Hope”

    and I’ve committed it to memory and will forward it to all my friends!

    Absolutely great line!

  • Justin

    Utmost being pronounced as “upmost” is a common phenomenon in linguistics called assimilation. Basically, it’s more difficult to rapidly pronounce a series of sounds changing between voiced and unvoiced than a series that is entirely voiced or unvoiced.

    In this case, what starts out as unvoiced voiced becomes voiced voiced, with the [t] shifting to the voiced equivalent [p].

    Also, I think it’s funny that you rail on the majority of them as being pronounced how they are spelled, then give out often, which isn’t. All I can think of is Robin Williams in Live on Broadway shouting, “AH! A clue!”

  • http://www.humidorsandmore.com J Kane

    Good article, I often notice when people make these mistakes but rarely point it out to them!

  • greg

    absolutely is often said with a P. As in aPsolutely. Drives me crazy!!!!

  • Bee

    I noticed that someone already mentioned fustrated. It has 2 R’s for a reason. Both are meant to be pronounced.

    The other big pet peeve I have is unthaw. As in “I’m going to take the meat out to unthaw it for dinner”. Unless you plan to eat frozen meat, I’d recommend thawing it or defrosting it or even unfreezing it (which is slightly better that unthaw).

  • ravi

    @eric preventative is most certainly a word.

  • Mke

    I know this is a couple months old, but @Justin, /p/ and /t/ are both unvoiced plosives. The voiced counterpart of /t/ is /d/. The assimilation here with utmost and upmost would be of the dental plosive /t/ to the labial nasal /m/, resulting in the labial plosive /p/ before /m/. But I think the author’s theory is more correct, people have it in their heads that it should be ‘up” because they think of the “the top” in the idea they are trying to get across.

  • Kevin

    Sorry to be harsh, but your linguistic prescriptivism here is hilariously narrow-minded. A little research into etymology would show you that a huge number of words you use in everyday speech are borne of “idiotic mispronunciations”, yet you simply don’t realize it because a few grammarians arbitrarily decided that it was okay.

    Words and pronunciations change all the time. It’s part of what makes language so fascinating. Go ahead and keep complaining though… just think twice before you pronounce “at your” as “atchour” or “did you” as “didju” (these are both instances of assimilation, so if you’re going to complain about “utmost”, you have to complain about these as well) Also, you may consider changing your pronunciation of “ask” to “aks”, as there’s ample evidence that this is how it was pronounced in the past.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Kevin, I certainly agree language evolves, but to suggest we shouldn’t correct our pronunciations because some words have evolved from being mispronounced doesn’t make a lot of sense. The point here is the same as spelling words incorrectly: we should strive to do it correctly, regardless of whether those spellings will change due to error at the macro level.

  • Ron

    I realize that this post is more than a year old, but it still seems to be drawing comments.

    Mispronouncing “across” as “acrost” is an annoying abuse of the language which I have encountered more than once.

  • http://ottawa.snooples.com Snooples

    This is a very funny post. I will have to confess, I am guilty of about 50% of the incorrect pronunciation. Now I know why people are looking a me funny.

    thanks for the great post, very entertaining.

  • Mike

    This just seems silly to me. None conceded to regional dialect? Hell in Europe there are countries with such a stark difference in regional dialects they almost are completely different languages. That is more culture and more culture means greater art/science/biology/creativity. Only a great FOOL would put these means down or sweep them under a mat as I have seen so often on the net!

    For crying out loud turn off your computers once in a while and take a trek down the interstate! visit a “non local” museum or beach or…

  • Griffen

    This list strikes me as rather pretentious and ignorant about dialects. Yes, most Americans don’t speak an official version of English, but instead a slang filled one. However neither do most British who have their own slang, and for that matter so do the French, Germans, Dutch Etc. . No native speakers learns their language by a textbook, but instead listening to real people talk. The idea that a language must be spoken in one way in all of its domains is ridiculous. I live in southern Georgia in the US. I personally don’t have a strong accent and use mostly proper grammar. However, I still pronounce words differently than the “Queen’s English”, and no one thinks me an idiot for it.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Griffen, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but that doesn’t mean there AREN’T words that people actually pronounce incorrectly. Expresso isn’t a word, that’s not dialect, it’s incorrect. Or “For all intensive purposes” is a misunderstanding of what the expression is supposed to be, not native language adding spin.

  • http://blog.trilemma.com Michael

    Sherbert – turns out it’s really a word, complete with two letters ‘r’.

    .-= Michael´s last blog ..Walking Test 1 =-.

  • Mark

    What’s your take on “vegetable”? Is the bi-syllabic form “vedge-table” acceptable, or does it need to be tri-syllabic “vedge-eh-table”? My wife and I will disagree on this until the day we die. Oooh… and “Worcestershire” – is it “Worse-ter-shur” or “Wor-ches-ter-shire”? Another word of contention on our household.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown


    Well, at the least, vegetable has three syllables. You broke “vedge-table” into two parts but it still has three syllables (I know we all gloss over the break between “ta” and “ble” but it’s a two-parter). As for how you’re supposed to pronounce it, most dictionaries agree that there’s more than once acceptable way. “Vedge-tuh-bull” is fine as “vege” could be read as monosyllabic but if you want to emphasize the second E as in “vegetation” or “vegetarian”, that’s also fine.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown

    Oh, also: Worcestershire is one of those words that nobody likes to talk about. But as the name comes from a place (Worscestershire in England), we can pretty easily track it down: it’s “woos – ter – sheer”.

    You could pronounce the “shire” with an American accent but if you’re trying to be as accurate as possible, going with the original English pronunciation is best.

  • Kenneth Farmer

    My favorite often mispronounced word is the first on the list, athlete. What’s so bad here is that men who are professional athletes cannot correctly pronounce it.

  • Schadenfreudian Slip

    (@ the poster who commented that et cetera is pronounced “et ketera” in Latin, not true. Caesar = kaesar; cetera = settera. In romance languages, a “c” or “g” followed by an “e” or “i” warrants the soft pronunciation of the consonant. Here’s an example of a word containing both rules: Gigantus = zheegantoos. Okay, auto-pedant mode in standby.)

    Anyone employed by ESPN is required to mispronounce / creatively pronounce these words:

    1. Any word containing “str” contiguously, while correctly pronouncing words containing “st” (without the “r”) contiguously. To wit: Struggle becomes shtruggle, but Florida State is pronounced correctly, etc.
    2. Louisville = loovoo. Amazing all by itself that while announcers mispronounce so many words, all comply with the Loovoo rule.
    3. Fall down. Okay, so it’s commonly used, but I axe you: Is there any other way to fall (given that you’re in an environment impacted by gravity).
    4. [Place person’s name here] he/she…or [team’s name here] they…Whenever Troy Aikman announces a game, I must mute the speakers.
    5. Brent Mussberger’s mispronunciation of Chevrolet, “Shih-vo-lay,” unnerves me, especially since he’s from a nearby state to Michigan.
    6. “Good” misprounced as “goot” as in “foot.”
    7. “Moving forward” has become a weasel-word for “in the future” or “next.”
    8. “Basically,” to describe either a complex, essential, or acidic situation.
    9. “I mean” has replaced “duh” and “uh” or “y’know.”

    No hoity-toity type, I think it’s very important to speak succinctly and accurately. Since so much verbal communication becomes a matter of interpretation (e.g., what another person hears and formulates from what was spoken or heard) it’s important to say and hear what is meant so that easily-offended nations bearing nukes don’t feel compelled to launch them).

  • CWest

    My biggest peeve at the moment is “I will try and get there on time”. When did we stop trying TO get there? Why is it easier to say “and” then “to”?

  • Dan Radin

    These two drive me nuts:

    1. forte, as in “my forte is bowling,” is pronounced as one syllable – fort, and not for-tay.

    2. mascarpone is pronounced maas-car-PON-ey, not MARS-ca-pone or any other variation thereon.

  • Jay

    If I hear one more of these “language is a living creation” and “you are narrow-minded” comments, I shall vomit. Yes, it changes, but it has changed little since mankind began to create dictionaries. Finally, we got the language under control, then self-described “liberals” decided that excellence was anathema (pronounced “uh-NA-thuh-muh,” not “AN-uh-THEE-muh”). Standards in language may be arbitrary, but they must be consistent. By the way, dictionaries made after about 1960 need to be checked against older authorities. It was during this era that editors decided to become descriptive. Yes, there is good language, and there is substandard language. We must continue to love excellence, and must stop prostituting English and all other languages to anyone who can passably speak them.

  • rigtig

    I saw quite a few people bring up aks/axe in place of ask, however, they all failed to mention that aks/axe were common forms of the word in Old Engrish. Sure it’s antiquated and has been made into somewhat of a racial stigma, but it is not exactly incorrect either.

  • James F.

    Got another one for you…Cavalry (not Calvary).

    Cavalry (Cav-ull-ree) is a mounted military unit. It is not, nor has it ever been, Calvary, the hill on which Jesus was crucified (Cal-vuh-ree).

    This commonly mispronounced word has led many to believe the words are one and the same. Imagine my horror when, after road construction, the military base on which I live replaced their previously abbreviated roadsign with one that said “1st Calvary Division Road.” I wondered whether the Chaplains were getting their own division now?

  • Lynne

    Great article! My BIG pet peeve is how people mispronounce the second month of the year—it’s Feb-RU-a-ry, NOT Feb-U-a-ry!!! Why do people ignore that first “r?”

    • WM

      I did that until I was about 8 or 9. I truly believed it was spelled without the R, and I pronounced it the way I thought it was spelled. My parents finally corrected me, but I did not believe them until I hauled out the dictionary and looked it up. Sure enough, there was a “hidden” R here. I still hear many people mispronounce it. I think that they would misspell it, too, if it were not for spelling checkers.

      Several years later (I think I was in college by then), the same thing happened in reverse. I pronounced Realtor(R) as Realator (added an A and an entire extra syllable). A Realtor acquaintance of mine corrected me, because that was a pet peeve of his. He handed me his business card, and showed me the correct spelling (which also happens to be a registered trademark, not just an ordinary word subject to the evolution of the English language). Most people I hear use the word, do so with the added A.

  • conrad

    what about “effect” and “affect” – people always miss use that

    also, You’re and Your – that just irritates me to no end.

  • Jen

    Je-wel-ry not Jew-le-ry!

  • Jerry

    The most irritating and most often mispronounced in my world is Height as Hi-th.

    UGH! It makes me crazy!

  • Michael

    I am a Real-tor. Not a Real-a-tor !!!

  • scott

    I really don’t need to mispronounce words to prove I’m am idiot, I do it very well on my own, Thank you.

  • Jr

    You didn’t mention Library. Most pronounce it Ly-berry.

  • Just Sayin

    The one word that I think is mispronounced far too often is “ask”. I don’t axe you a question I ASK one. And, I am not sure if it considered a mispronunciation, but rather a misuse of a word… But I cannot stand the misuse of the word “death” in describing a person that cannot hear. Here is another word: “Alzheimer’s”… I find it hilarious when people say. “My grandmother has “old timers” disease.” LOL!!

  • Sean

    February = FEB-roo-airy not FEB-yoo-airy

    err = urr (rymes with fur) not air

    I’ll throw in that people are welcome to pronounce any word they like any way they like, just like they can spell words any way they want. There are standardized pronunciations just like there’s standardized spellings; whether or not you choose to obey them is your prerogative.

  • Barbara

    mmediate instead of immediate

    my big peeve is “disrespect” used improperly. She disrespected me instead of she treated me with a lack of respect.

    Oh and the use of orientation a lovely word now bastardized into
    orientated “I have been orientated to the rules.” makes me cringe!

  • Hallie

    Someone’s mention of “colyume” reminded me of one of my pet peeves – the pronuniciation “kewpon” instead of “coo-pon” for coupon.

    carmel instead of caramel

    tempeture instead of temperature (worst among professional weather telecasters)

    It was always President Reagan, President Clinton, President Bush, but now people cannot seem to say President Obama – instead it’s Present Obama.

  • Michelle

    For all intensive purposes, this list actually contains more than 10 words.

  • Anna Waller

    Alright, everyone. This was a great article. However, the comments afterward are horrible. Check an encyclopedia. In fact, check MANY. You’ll see that “coupon” can be pronounced both ways, “nougat” can ALSO be pronounced in various ways, etc. Thank you for trying to educate others, but please educate yourself first on ALL pronunciations of a word. This article was quite interesting. Nothing at ALL against it.

  • Max VonMeyerling

    Whenever I hear somebody on TV say the word “pitcher” for “picture” I instantly turn the channel.

  • nat

    Don’t forget “realtor” which often gets pronounced “ree-luh-ter”

  • Dan

    RE: often.

    It comes from the Middle English word “oft,” which had a voiced T at the end. It remained more common than “often” in usage even after the shift to Modern English. Often became the more common of the two in the 16th century, and orthoepists throughout the 16th and 17th centuries were split on the question of voicing the T in often. Queen Elizabeth apparently pronounced it with a silent T; Shakespeare voiced the T. In the 20th century, it became considered a hypercorrection to voice the T, but the OED, and many dictionaries list both pronunciations as valid. The bottom line is that both pronunciations have been considered proper by language experts for as long as the word has existed.

  • Max VonMeyerling

    I also hate people making excuses for incorrect English. This “living language” crap. If enough lazy and stupid people decide to screw up something then that becomes the new normal? The word for that is “degenerate”. From merriam-webster.com:

    Definition of DEGENERATE

    a : having declined or become less specialized (as in nature, character, structure, or function) from an ancestral or former state
    b : having sunk to a condition below that which is normal to a type; especially : having sunk to a lower and usually corrupt and vicious state
    c : degraded 2

  • Robert

    What a “Foyer”? This one drives me NUTS!!

  • Michael

    I listened to the news just recently, and was shocked to hear the word err pronounced “air.” I am also always torn about how to pronounce foyer. One sounds quite pretentious saying foi-yay these days, so a friend suggested I just say vestibule or lobby. On a grammatical note, hearing “What had happened was..” or “I had went to…” makes my ears bleed.
    And to all those who suggest that we readers get a life and go outside: I am disabled and house-bound. So YOU go outside, and while you are out, find somewhere to fuck yourselves!

  • Roderick


    [ hahyt ] NOT [ hahyth ]

  • A Goodly Frynd

    A good half of these would be better suited to an article called “things you should care about if you want to be a pretentious ass.” Wouldst thou truly desire to fixe the proper shaype of thy language, mighst not thee be better served to fix thy gaze upon that crowne jewell of our great tongue, the Elizabethan Era? No, because that would be stupid.

  • debbie g

    Great post! One of my favorites is pronounced ‘mischeeevious’ rather than the correct ‘mischievous’. Someone near and dear to me does this all the time, causing me to implode.

  • Shawn

    Ok, so I didn’t read the whole thread of comments so these points may have been mentioned before. I HATE when people use the gutteral stopped “t” in words like “curtain” “Martin” and “button”. I also wanna gnaw my face off when I hear a hard “G” and a vanish vowel in place of what should be an “ng” for example “sin-Guh” and “thin-Guh.”

    That said, for those of you who keep touting that English is a living language therefore wrong is right: JUST because I’m smart enough to translate second grade mistakes into English and respond to them doesn’t make the second grader Shakespeare. If the goal in language is merely to be understood then we can go right back to grunts, clicks and hand gestures… there is more to it than that. Frankly, I find that the truly innovative use of English is often missed because it is drowned in a sea of opinionated stupidity (but meaning people whose basis of thought is their own stupid opinions rather than experience, skill, and subtlety of thought.) The first step in correcting this is to clarify what is uniformly misused and out dated material. Then the challenge becomes “where do we go” rather than “what are people doing with where we’ve been.” THAT is living language; NOT defending the bastardization of words that are already defined.

  • Paul

    My wife says this all the time, and I finally worked up the nerve to correct her (it’s “supposedly”), and we got into a huge fight over it…


  • Liz

    OFT and SOFT end with a hard T.

    OFTEN and SOFTEN have a silent T.

    And “acrosst” drives me crazy too!

  • Jim Morgan

    The opening sentence of your article, “It’s been said, though we’re not sure by who, that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”, uses the word “who” instead of the correct word “whom”.

  • Shawn

    @Justin from April 22, 2010. [t] is an.. unvoiced lingual dental fricative while [p]I is an unvoiced bilabial plosive fricative… both are unvoiced meaning that the larynx and vocal folds are not active in making the sounds. You really should make sure that the info you’re spouting in public will stand up to scrutiny by professionals if you purport to be one. Also, conjecture about why people do what they do is unproductive and speculative. People could have mechanical reasons like you described. They could have poor listening skills, a low IQ or mental impairment. Or! That could just be the way their momma taught them to say it. The point in working with speech is not to identify why the problem is there or whatever… it’s to take what you’re given and make a silk purse from it.

  • Shawn

    Supposably means that one would suppose it to be the case. Supposedly means the same thing with an inflection that it is improbable… Supposably is definitely a word. It’s just used wrong. “Supposably, he enjoys dancing because he keeps going.” “Supposedly he took out the trash but I see it sitting there by the fridge.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/mim.schoeppler Mim Schoeppler

      “It’s just used wrong”. Way to go, Ace.

  • Robin

    What about using “anymore” to mean now? and we now live in New Zealand – yikes! English is an amazing language, especially once you have moved to another English speaking country.

    where the Road construction ends: Works End
    TV and radio commercials, when giving the phone number to call: Call on 12 23 567

    and never mind the aural sensations!

  • Shawn

    Oh, and Justin… the partner to [t] is [d]… the partner to [p]is is [b]. You really do need to learn your IPA better.

  • Eric

    If someone above has not mentioned it then I will…Realtor is not real-uh-tor but real-tor! Drives me nuts.

  • kevin

    I think i’ll either jump off a building or slap the next person that says “reel-it-tur” instead of “ree-ul-tur”. how the hell do you get reel-it-tur from realtor? redneck home schoolin’?

  • kevin

    @eric, you read my mind

  • http://www.neilmoran.com Neil Moran

    The one that got me was “often.” I didn’t know the t was silent! I will also be more cautious when I speak. Thanks!

  • Lisa

    My cousin, who is an RN, makes ALL of these mistakes and more. Fustrated, supposably, drawlings, echinezia, be-ins that(instead of being that), etc. are just a few examples. She can rarely get through a sentence without pronouncing something incorrectly. Truth be told, she sounds like an ignorant hick when she speaks. We are all judged by the way we speak, like it or not. We can argue until we’re blue in the face as to whether language evolves and about what is acceptable. Meanwhile, what kind of impression are we making as professionals when we say pitcher instead of picture or libary instead of library?

  • Anna

    You know, these so-called “mispronunciations” are simply deviations from Standard English — the language of power, an individual dialect within the realm of spoken English. Those whose dialects differ from that of Standard English are individuals that do not have positions of power (non-white and/or working class citizens). Therefore, according to this article, those who do not speak the language of power are equivalent to idiots.

    It seems that discrimination is still prevalent (and accepted) whenever it comes to discriminating against an individual’s language.

    Please — I beg of you, Justin Brown, study language acquisition, sociolinguistics, et cetera (yes, I can pronounce it like a “non-idiot” [your words, not mine] because I have been educated by people in positions of power), before you make such a scathing judgment of individual accents.

  • Melissa

    What grinds my gears is the trend toward spelling certain words as verb + the suffix “ed” tacked on, because people are too stupid or lazy to remember how to spell them properly. (I’m seeing “payed’ instead of “paid” everywhere these days. Ugh!)

  • Steve Bond

    Library, Poem, Larynx, Hawaii, Valentine, A Lot.

  • Caroline

    The caption under the picture should read “by whom,” not “by who.”

  • Page Gerrick

    Perhaps this would fall under the proverbial “splitting of hairs” but your inclusion of the word “often” fails to account for etymography. Originally the “t” was actually pronounced. In the 17th Century, the pronunciation of the consonant in question began falling out of favor, but at no point has been solidly incorrect.

  • erlee pennington

    I really have a poor-nounciation problem since English is my second language.

  • Raven Blacke

    How about particular? My mother annihilates this word and derivatives with a passion, pronouncing it like pet-tick-u-lerr.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    I also hate when people pronounce ‘height’ with a ‘th’ sound on the end.

    In fact, they say it correctly and then add an additional ‘th’.

    Come on, people!

  • Lola Hola

    I find when turtle neck sweater wearers say, ‘Jackwad’ or ‘Poocus’ without any inflection, that seems really more stupid than any mispronunciation.

  • JK Moran

    The article would have had more credibility had it not opened with a split infinitive -“about how to accurately pronounce” – accurately to pronounce or to pronounce accurately, NOT “to accurately pronounce.” This is one of the oldest and strictest conventions in standard English. Good and literate writers know and observe it; poor ones do not know it or see it. If you find a split infinitive in the New York Times, or the Atlantic or Harper’s or the New Yorker, let me know – and their editors.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Split infinitives are not law:
      “No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers since the split infinitive was declared to be a solecism in the 19c [19th century]: raise the subject of English usage in any conversation today and it is sure to be mentioned”.[1] However, most modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to the split infinitive.[2] – wikipedia

  • Lillian

    You are incorrect about “often.” Both pronunciations, including the one you list as being wrong, are correct – hard “T” or silent “T”.

    To the person who thinks it’s correct to pronounce “nuclear” as “nuke-u-lar”: that pronunciation is NOT correct and will never be acceptable. Just because the former President of the United States mispronounced it that way and gave uneducated idiots the idea that it’s okay to mispronounce the word that way does NOT mean that the mispronunciation is now acceptable. Sorry. Incorrect is still incorrect – even if everybody is doing it that way.

  • Amy

    I have several linguistic pet peeves… “Real-uh-tor” instead of “real-tor”. Drives me nuts! And what about “on accident” instead of “by accident?” Also, “anyways” instead of “anyway.”

  • JK Moran

    Andrew – Right on as far as the dispute goes. However, I’m invoking the NYT and the rest as exemplars of standard written (as opposed to colloquial) English. I’ll add this – I am heavily invested in editing a significant number of Wikipedia articles and have been for many years now, and issues with accuracy are foremost on the list of justifiable complaints against it. That particular article happens to be a mishmash of plagiarism and copyvio, as well as a violation of the Wiki policies of NPOV (neutral point of view) and avoiding synthesis. The SI has been adjudged to be a serious error in American and British English for quite a long time by the gatekeepers – copy editors for publishers and publications. There are sound reasons for avoiding it, Wikipedia notwithstanding. To the point here – “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” If you are going to lecture people on proper English – your own usage should be beyond reproach.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      JK, very interesting stuff! My knowledge of correct grammar is admittedly limited to the few classes in high school that were devoted to the more advanced aspects of it. Though it’s probably a bit above an article about the correct pronunciation of “sherbet”. 😀

  • Jason

    Add to this list “all the sudden” instead of “all of a sudden.”

  • Beelzebub

    One more for the list: it should be “a history”, not “an history”.

    The decision between “a” and “an” is based on whether the first SOUND is a vowel or consonant. Since it’s not a silent “h” in “history”, you should use “a”. Whereas it should be “an herb” since the “h” in “herb” is silent – unless it’s someone’s name: “Herb”.

    This has started to pop up in mass media which, in my mind, only derails the credibility of the speaker.

    • robertsturner52

      It may be “a history” every time, but “an historical” is acceptable if the “h” is silent.

  • johnB

    My pet peeves are the ‘orientate’ that someone mentioned before, ‘carmel’ for ‘caramel’ (one is a city in California, the other is a candy) pronouncing what used to be the silent ‘l’ in palm, calm, almond, psalm, etc. (Crystal Gayle’s “Meet Hal-f the way” was the topper on this) the change in stress on the ‘fluent’ words: a-flu-ent, rather than aff-lu-ent, in-flu’ence rather than in’-flu-ence or similarly pre-fer-a-ble as opposed to pref-er-a-ble. When I was young, per’-mit was a printed license and per-mit’ was being allowed to do something. Yes, the language evolves–but it isn’t always comfortable!

  • johnB

    It’s also interesting that many pronunciations that are, or have been, considered African-American derive for English spoken by Irish and Scots overseers in antebellum days–ax, youse, and the like come out of English filtered through Gaelic or Gallic.

  • alex305

    clearly justin was beat up a lot when he was a kid.

  • Tyrone


    the word “irregardless” that you state is NOT a word, is in fact a word.
    This from the Oxford English Dictionary:
    Pronunciation: /ˌɪrɪˈgɑːdlɪs/
    adjective & adverb

    regardless: the photographer always says, irregardless of how his subjects are feeling, ‘Smile!’

    I am not sure about in the U.S. but in the rest of the world, it’s a word

  • Alyssa

    Yes, properly spoken grammar is the language of power. Perhaps the point here is not discrimination, but education. Speech is not a difficult thing to correct, and one who is not in a position of power will not hold a position of power until he or she learns not to speak as if they are uneducated.

    Get off of your moral high horse and get on an intellectual one. 🙂

  • Missy

    From the next to last paragraph:
    ” …a conjunction to turn “I am” into a single word…”

    I remember being taught conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or) link words and phrases. Contractions combine two words into one (e.g., I’m = I am; don’t = do not, etc.).
    Yes! Good catch, I’ve corrected it. – Andrew

  • Mike

    The ones that drive me bonkers:

    Ass-ter-ick (Asterisk)

    Sim-yoo-lar (Similar)

    I would have hoped that the pronunciation of these words would be straightforward considering the spelling, but apparently not.

  • Cindy

    If “irregardless” is a word, what does it mean? I assume that “regardless” means “without regard”. Does “irregardless” mean “without without regard”, thus “with regard”? Please explain. Regardless, I shall not use “irregardless”.

  • http://candacekaru.com Candace Karu

    Can’t stand it when people say vun er able not vuln er able.

  • andie

    One that so many people say is:
    Realator instead of Realtor. I find it funny when a realtor mispronounce it

  • Cindy Lewis

    I believe the alternate pronunciation are acceptable, but I still hate them (the former vs. the latter): ve-tren instead of vet-er-an and, similarly, ve-tre-nar-i-an instead of vet-er-i-nar-i-an…and comf-ter-bly instead of com-fort-a-bly.

    That said, when I first started out as a news reader on the radio, I was ripping’n’reading some news wire copy (as in, having not previewed it) and said, live, duh-fish’-it intead of def’-uh-cit.

  • Cindy Lewis

    (And, yes, I know instead has an s in it…sorry, I wish there were an edit function!)

  • Chris

    I agree with a few of these (‘nuclear’ particularly, and I used to mispronounce ‘awry’); but others are a matter of vernacular or accent, and it seems just like splitting hairs in order to pad a list to justify publishing an article. For instance, are we really concerned with which parts of a word a person chooses to emphasize? ‘Candidate’ and ‘often’ may sound the way this author insists it should be pronounced sometimes, but other times in conversation, or with a fast-talking speaker, sound the way this author insists it should not be pronounced, with no real problem or implication about intelligence. Further, ‘often’ is a word that, in order to be clearly understood, a person may pronounce the ‘t’ lest they be heard saying ‘offin’ or ‘off in’. Another consideration is the idea that language evolves over time, and pronunciation is a part of that.

  • Rob

    My top three:




  • theresa

    Found this at random house…..”Often’ was pronounced with a t-sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the t 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 /ˈɔfən/[aw-fuh n] and /ˈɔf tən/[awf-tuh n] or /ˈɒfən/[of-uh n] and [of-tuh n] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, ‘often’ with a /t/[t] is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.”

  • http://twitter.com/natevictor Nathan Victor

    Great list! Don’t forget Alzheimer’s. That’s my pet peeve.

  • chuck

    Forte = Fort as in strength..
    Your forte is writing
    But then I could care less

  • Meghan

    I recently heard someone say
    “handy-down” when she meant “hand-me-down”.

  • Caroline

    You gave credit to Missy for her catch. It would have been nice to get credit for mine, which I see you’ve changed above (by who to by whom).

    I know someone who says tawlet (toilet), warsh (wash), and toke (took). It’s hard to not change my facial expression when she says them.

  • Al

    one of my pet peeves; a whole nother (ie. a whole nother story, instead of a whole other story)

  • Tim

    Alyssa wrote: “…one who is not in a position of power will not hold a position of power until he or she learns not to speak as if they are uneducated.”

    Either you do not consider the US presidency a position of power or you are unfermilyer with Dubya.

    The prescriptivists are uniformly amusing. The one who tries to make this a Left vs. Right political issue is hilarious. Please see: Bush, Palin, et al ad nauseum.

    It seems that few prescriptivists are merely irked. Rather they are moved all the way to the brink of some self-destructive act. Interesting.

    Are there really any adults willing to assume the stupidity of anyone who speaks a bit differently? To me that seems a conclusion only a person with very little worldly experience would draw. In fact, the world is far more nuanced.

    Furthermore, the hyperbole prevalent the responses here
    suggests a low emotional intelligence, to me.

    Living language and plate tectonics. I’m thankful that neither makes me want to slit my wrists (though I’m a little concerned for some a yous.)

  • Jon

    Wow, how do you pronounce douche?

  • Connie

    The article and all of the comments made me laugh out loud. I can so relate to how these mispronunciations can drive one crazy. My contribution is: chimney (CHIM nee). Growing up in the south, I often heard “chimbley.” Oh help me. And, don’t forget Mozart (MOAT zart) not (MO zart). Glad to know I’m not alone, though:)

  • Kelgirl

    Poincettia! I never hear it correctly pronounced.

  • Inad

    I hate when people say “pacific” instead of “specific”

  • Bert

    Many of the pronunciations mentioned are regional & are used only in some areas. A few (“aw-ree” — really??) I have NEVER heard before.

    Let me add some that are popular in Chicago, where people seem to have an aversion to diphthongs. “Tyota” “Lyola” “Hock” (for hawk) “Wok” (for walk) “Tock” (for talk) “Cahm” (for calm) etc “Ahroar” (for Aurora) and IMHO the nadir: neither “Jewelry,” “Jewlry,” nor “Jewlehry,” but “Jewry!” (which of course is where Bethl’em is) — I hear it from EVERYONE. “Jewry store.” AARGH

    ps The quickest way to reveal that you understand nothing about grammar or logic is to say “to he and I.” This error is made by those who are terrified of starting a sentence with “him and me” (as subject) so they wrongly replace it where it belongs (as object), thereby demonstrating that they still haven’t learned the difference between actors and those acted upon.

    Then there’s the new trend of using “substitute” backwards …

  • Dori

    two things from me, one a word missgetti instead of spaghetti drives me crazy and i had a friend that used to say “when left to their own demise”(instead of “devices”) I finally had to tell him about it to maintain my own sanity.people mangle sayings too.

  • Dave

    OFTEN from wiki
    “USAGE When pronouncing often, some speakers sound the : t, saying ‘off-ten’; for others, it is silent, as in : soften,: fasten,: listen. Either pronunciation is acceptable, although ‘off-en’ is more common.”

  • Topheezy

    Wow all of you are really pompous and arrogant. First world problems, my friends, first world problems. Oh, are you going to jump my shit for that sentence fragment back there?

  • Wags

    The one that makes me nuts is “masonry” mas-on-ry, not “masonary”.

  • Glenn H.

    ….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.”

    It seems that the education system’s turning it’s back on phonetics may have something to do with this. Thus language roots need to be taught in addition to a revival of phonetics, so that people understand that the same set of rules DO NOT apply to all commonly used words in English speaking countries because it’s an ad hoc mongrel language full of borrowing from not just Latin and Greek, but French , German and numerous others. If we’re serious about having a more literate population we need to quit wasting our time on consumer capitalism with it’s low-brow, dumb-em-down culture, “libertarian” plutocracy and perpetual war, and start taxing the rich parasites so we can afford to educate our populations properly through a comprehensive and systematic public education approach.

    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. 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.”

    Our deficient education approaches means you’re being a bit harsh; the public does not administer our educations systems. Our undemocratic, plutocratic corporatist governments have sought to pare down all public spending, including education, to a bear minimum required for menial labour; let the rich kids and the provide schools provide the few literate people an efficient capitalism might require.

  • http://www.judeanrose.blogspot.com Varda Epstein

    You left out “vunnerable” for “vulnerable.”

  • Shane

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” This has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Samuel Clemmons (as Mark Twain). But it probably derived from a combination of Proverbs 17:28 – “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” and Proverbs 29:11 – “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise [man] keepeth it in till afterwards.” Both men were well “versed” (tee hee!) in the Bible.

    And why do liberals have to preach at every opportunity? This is about language, not class envy or self-loathing. Let’s just have some fun.

    BTW, unless I am mistaken the split infinitive rule comes from a grammatical function problem that occurs in Latin and not in English. We can boldly go there in our language.

  • http://www.sweetcheeks-photography.com Hilary

    This was wonderful!

    Will you please write an article that lists words that are commonly misUSE that make you look like an idiot?

    eg: then vs. than, would of vs. would have, accept vs. except, and my favorite, adding “en” onto a word to express the act of doing it vs. adding “in'” or “ing” (chillen, eaten, writen, etc.).

  • Bill R.

    I guess 7 out of 10 ain’t bad ;>)

    How about writing a similar article with examples of incorrect uses of the word ironic? You can clue people in on the difference between ironic and consequential, coincidental, incidental and just plain bad luck!

  • E.G

    While I very much appreciate the tone and message of this piece, I think it is worth mentioning the regional differences in American English. While I am the first person to laugh when I hear Bush speak, we are taught to hear certain accents ( such as Southern) as uneducated. Some of the things mentioned are mispronunciations, but others are just regionalisms.

  • Deb

    Caramel. For centuries it was pronounced kar-mel’. Now I hear care-a-mel and I want to scream. Say “caramelized” and it makes sense.

  • Sandra

    How about the word ‘coupon’ It drives me crazy when people pronounce it ‘cue-pon.’

  • Martha

    I have enjoyed reading these comments but I am also a little irked that some people choose to share their thoughts without reading to see if anyone else had already posted the same thing. Has anyone else noticed how many people posted the word “realtor” as if no one else had?
    My husband and I are from a small mid-western town where people tend to twang the short A sound. He thinks that if he pronounces a word with more of an ‘aww’ sound that it makes him sound more educated. I think it makes him sound like a fool.
    I was fortunate to grow up with parents who pronounced words correctly, and so was fascinated by the words my friends came up with. It was apparent to me that they seldom read or else they would see that there was no way the word would be pronounced that way.
    One of my all-time favorites is “heart drenching” instead of “heart wrenching.”

  • Robyn

    Very simple folks…We are American, so screw the British pronunciation.

    But as an English teacher, I agree with the No Child Left Behind comment. It is forcing us as teachers to abandon true teaching for teaching to the test. But blame politicians not teachers. They are currently running education in the US. And the Republicans that thought of it are also getting rid of collective bargaining, so a teacher like me can’t even buck the system anymore without fear of losing my job. So after five years of teaching REAL English and grammar, I will now be a drone and “teach to the test” because I have two small kids and need my job!

  • Roxie Katz

    And don’t miss the opportunity to educate people on the correct pronunciation of your website: Primer, pronounced ˈpri-mər, with a short I, not PRY mer; the stuff you put on the walls before you paint.

  • Tom

    One that bugs me the most, especially on radio or TV is “accredidation” instead of “accreditation.” But most of the mispronounced words posted here drive me over the edge. I don’t agree with the living language excuse. It’s just lazy or ignorant usage.

  • Matt

    Maybe these have already been mentioned, but two that bother me are mischievous (people often say mis chee vee ous) and realtor/realty (often pronounced real a tor and real a ty).

  • lindylou

    supposably = supposedly

    prolly = probably

  • Mary Bradley

    great article! my pet peeve is “try and” , which has already been mentioned. I do revert to slang when I’m with people I know well, but when I’m with customers (I work retail) or people I don’t know well, I try to use proper English. I even answer the phone with “this is she.” great pauses from the callers! It’s fantastic that this piece is almost 4 years old and still being commented on. Congratulations! One more thing that’s been creeping onto menus – “smashed potatoes”.

  • J.K.

    An interesting article, but I have to disagree with your analysis of often.

    The word is derived from the older “oft”, which is still sometimes used though decidedly less common now. It most certainly has a hard T, as does its offspring, the maligned “often”. The softening of the T is a colloquialism that has become so widespread that it is accepted as correct.

    Which would make both correct.

    But if you feel inclined to accept only one, why have you chosen the colloquial?

    You must also remember that the function of language is to convey a clear message to the listener, and that language is fluid and dynamic. A classic example is “nauseous”, which so many people believe means that one is sick to their stomach, that it now means that. Even doctors will ask if you feel “nauseous”.

    Originally, the term for that is “nauseated”, and something that is “nauseous” makes others feel “nauseated”. The fact is, that may have been the case, but the way we communicate has embraced what was wrong as correct.

  • Pingback: 10 Words You Mispronounce That Make People Think You’re an Idiot | willemgeorges()

  • Frizzy

    It’s inconceivable to me that you could bash Bush in the pronunciation of the word nuclear and ignore the fact that as long as he has been using the word, Jimmy Carter has pronounced it “Nu-kee-er”. He sounds like a dolt, and we trusted him with the MAD box?!

  • Stacey

    Michael, thank you for bringing up the very common mispronunciation of Re-al-tor. In fact, I’ve heard many Realtors call themselves Re-la-tors!

    And Eric, preventative is one of my biggest pet peeves as well! Why do people (even health professionals) feel the need to add an extra syllable to preventive?

  • Cheryl Wagner

    I was shocked at “often” and went to the dictionary. It shows often pronounced both ways…with and without the T. Sorry, but I am sticking with the T….it just sounds better that way.

  • Cory

    What about “ornery”? And “arctic”?

  • http://www.printindy.com Tim

    I am from Illinois (silent “S”)

  • http://www.stardestroyer.net Michael Wong

    You forgot “weapontry”. Yes, I’ve known people (in small towns) who add a mysterious “t” to the word “weaponry”. Maybe it’s just a very local dialect, but it really grates on the ears.

    Mind you, on the Internet, horrible spelling is the problem, not horrible pronounciations. For example, “per say”, or mixing up “there” and “their” and “they’re”, among a host of other egregious yet commonplace offenses against English.

  • Bob G

    There are fiscal years and physical years, but rarely are they the same.

  • Jodi Ihaka

    In New Zealand there are a number of muppets who slam a g into the word onion so it’s pronounced – unG-yin. Seriously, annoying.

  • http://logophilius.blogspot.com 4ndyman

    “Subsidiary” is also pronounced as it’s spelled. It is not “sub-sit-er-airy.”

  • Stash

    I would like to ask where the word ‘gotten’ came from? Got is already the past tense of get, why does it need a past tense of its own? You may as well say ‘getted’ or ‘forgottened’.

  • Bec

    One that is prevalent in the west is pronouncing realtor as ree-la-der. No idea why. Popular in the mid-west is pronouncing chipotle as chi-pol-te.

  • Bill

    Supposubly speeling am be making u seam dum to!

  • Robynne Catheron

    Rill-a-ter instead of real-tor, and water troth instead of water trough. Those are my pet peeves.

  • Maygin

    My biggest pet peeves (some have been mentioned already):


    I heard a woman once say she had a consistency plan if the picnic was rained out. I literally bit my tongue to keep from correcting her. I always feel like a douche correcting people’s misuse or mispronunciation of words, but I would want someone to correct me if I sounded like a moron.

    And on the subject of err, I’ve never heard it was supposed to be ‘urr’. It makes perfect sense to me to pronounce it ‘air’ since error is ‘air-ur’ or ‘urr-ur’.

    To everyone who is trying to make this an argument about regional differences in pronunciation, you’re entirely missing the point! If someone pronounces ter-na-ment instead of tor-na-ment, that’s a matter of cultural difference. Just like we don’t harp on Canadians for saying a-boot, since that’s simply how they pronounce the ‘ou’. It’s the adding, subtracting, and complete rearranging of letters we are talking about here. When you are saying a word that doesn’t exist, you’re incorrect. Just like using then for than, or your for you’re, supposably for supposedly is WRONG. If it IS a class thing, that only means we need to better educate those classes, not that we need to accept (not except) their ignorant bastardization of the English language to make them feel better. Lowering the bar isn’t helping anyone, so quit your whining. Holding people up to a higher standard isn’t racism or classism, it’s the opposite. Allowing certain races to be wrong because you assume they can’t learn better IS racism.

    Other peeves:


  • Knuckledragger

    Sammich = sandwich

    They’re, there, their (written. Spoken they are indistinguishable, usually)

    pen-tath-a-lon instead of pen-thath-lon

    I am a big fan of malaprop but it still requires proper pronunciation to be comedic rather then tragic.

  • Donna D

    The two that annoy me are ‘mischievous’ (often mispronounced ‘mischeevee-ous’ rather than ‘mischivous’) and ‘electoral’ (usually mispronounced ‘electorial’).

  • Emily

    To those who don’t buy the “living language” argument because “we have to have consistent standards,” the standard is how widespread the incorrect pronunciation is. If you’re running around pronouncing quesadilla as kay-sah-DILL-uh or amicus as AM-ih-cuss, you’re pronouncing the word wrong. If you say purr-og-a-tive or sher-bert, you’re using a pronunciation that has passed into common vernacular. If the word you’re griping about being mispronounced is literally being mispronounced by half the population, that means the language has evolved to absorb it. That battle has already been lost, and who cares that it has? We all know what purr-og-a-tive means, and isn’t the point of language to be able to communicate? Obsession with linguistic purity has historically just been a way for the elite to frown upon the lower classes.

  • Nick

    Please include “mischievous” next time. And note that there is no “i” after the “v.”

  • Eric

    If often is shortened to oft as it oft is in poetry the t is no longer silent and not pronounced off.

  • Josh

    Current pet peeves:

    Realtor mispronounced real-a-tor.

    The expression “I couldn’t care less” misstated as “I could care less.”

  • Matt
  • Laura

    I enjoyed this article about correct pronunciation of these oft mispronounced words. However, your grammatical errors are glaring. For example, you may wish to review the difference between adjectives and adverbs, as well as when to use which.

  • Ian

    This is what happens when you speak a bastard tongue…

  • John


    “REE-SEE” cups.


  • BIll Braski

    COMFORTABLE is one that drives me nuts.

  • http://www.askheartbeat.com/ahb2010/interracial/interracial-relationships-survey/ Deborrah

    Well, some of these are true and funny. But lots of words that started off not being “real words” ultimately became real and are now proud placeholders in Webster’s Dictionary so that doesn’t mean much really. You forgot my #1 and #2 cringers – FEETS (meaning both of them), and POH-LEECES (meaning multiple police officers).


  • Lisa

    I am a teacher and did my student teaching in The Netherlands in a 3rd grade classroom at a NATO school. I had 27 American and 5 British students and I will NEVER forget one of my American students coming up to me and asking, ” Miss _______, why don’t the Brits speak proper English?” After I stopped laughing (yes I told him I was NOT laughing at him) I had to explain to him that it is the Americans who don’t speak proper “English” I explained to the 8 year old that the English the British speak is called the Queen’s English and that we have taken that language and changed some of it to “American English”. Probably not the best explanation but it seemed to get the point across.

  • Patrick

    You forgot one very common one… Realtor. It’s a two syllable word and does not have an “a” in the middle to make it a three syllable word. I have noticed that many people say “real-a-tor”.

  • Lisa

    BTW: That was over 20 years ago, almost 30 so I don’t know if “Queen’s English” is correct but that’s what I said at the time.

  • PitFan

    If there is a grammatical error that makes me laugh, it is prostate in place of prostrate. This gives the old hymn that says “let angels prostrate fall” a WHOLE different meaning. LOL!!!

  • Kristin I

    I actually read most of the comments and thought the discussion was fabulous! I did have slight palpitations when TJGOLDSTEIN corrected KAITE and then used Yankee’s (Yankee is) instead of Yankees. *sigh*

    My grandmother, mother and aunt all pronounce pocketbook, “pock-a-book” – drives me nuts! But it may be a New Yawk thing. And I live in Indiana now, where people do their “warsh” waaaaay too ofTen. Great article! Great discussion!

  • http://www.laurelrants.blogspot.com/ Laurel

    This thread is hilarious. Grammar is good, clean fun.

    Eric and Stacey, I submit the following:

    Preventive is an adjective, as in “Perform preventive maintenance routinely and your car will treat you right.”

    Preventative is a noun, as in “An aspirin a day is a good preventative to guard against heart attacks.”

    The word “preventative“ is often used incorrectly in place of “preventive.”

  • Robin

    You should add the vs thee. People always pronounce the (th-uh) like it.has two Es like thee.

  • Judy

    dint….in stead of didn’t

  • Diane

    I don’t believe anyone mentioned “short lived.” Is it lived with a short i sound or with a long i sound? I really don’t know!

  • Ellen

    Counseltation instead of consultation

  • complete idiot

    the [stressed thee; unstressed before a consonant thuh; unstressed before a vowel thee]

    so thee is correct, but you just think your are correct.
    keep trying

  • K

    Your attempt to justify your favoured spelling and pronunciation over others is adorable. Now please grow up and recognise that English is a global language over which you have no control and no right to same.

  • Rotten Jon

    One that bothers me is when people pronounce douchebag like “dooch-bag.” Don’t they know it is “doosh-bag?”

    Honestly, people, sometimes different social cultures offer different dialects. I do not look at a person like they are an idiot if they mispronounce a word. But I do look at people who are constantly correcting others, like the “douchebag” that wrote this article, as uppity snot rags.

    And to the idiot that mentioned “cupboard,” I would bet money that when the first board was put up to hold cups, the genius who thought of it did not say, “Hey chaps, I put this here board up to hold my cups. I am going to call it a cupboard, but I would prefer that you pronounce it cubberd so that it sounds more intellectual.” No, I am sure that cup-board just lazily morphed into cubberd and now people want to demand that there is a proper way to say it wrong.

    Grow up you gits, language is meant to communicate. If I do not speak Chinese, then I do not expect to understand what people in China are saying. But I do not tell them that they are saying it wrong. People say shit a different way sometimes. English is the most ridiculous of all languages to begin with. If PH sounds like F, then why not just use a god damn F? Quit being pompous bitches.

  • John

    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.

  • John

    Actually, Laurel, “preventative” and “preventive” mean the same thing. Look it up.

  • Renee

    KindERgarten, not kindYgarDen

  • Renee

    Okay, not mmmkay. Okay?

  • JasonWS

    I’ve oft said, that those who chose in the 17th century to make the t in often silent were mistaken(and probably Norman sympathizers j/k). The correction of middle English to make the T silent does not make it more right than the people who keep oft a valid word in a valid language. The T sound should prevail.

  • Gilles Allouche

    I am amazed that Canadians and Americans are similar people that are divided by a common language. Perhaps it would be wise to teach the Queen’s English in all schools across North America, that way every one knows what is being said.

  • JoAnn

    This one REALLY grates on me: JEWELRY! People say JEW-LERY…a place to buy Jews? It’s JOO-well-ree!

  • http://fashion-incubator.com Kathleen

    Heinous? (hay nuhs)

  • Henry

    Do you have a similar list for misspellings? My pet peeves are “alright” (thank you for spelling it correctly above) and “yeah” or “yea” for “yay” (synonymous with “hooray”).

  • arian kooshesh

    Actually, it’s Sharbat. It’s a farsi word. But you’ve adapted it (incorrectly) to english.

  • Kaykay

    I’ve noticed more people dropping the “ly” from their adverbs. “I play aggressive” “I think different”. Unless you’re making a point in a multi-billion dollar Apple campaign, you need the “ly” to not sound like an idiot.

  • Anna

    Linguistic progression occurs, and a word becomes “correct” because we make it so.

    While I agree that mispronunciation as a result of misunderstanding of the spelling is a mistake, in many other cases pronunciation is just a reflection of geography and custom, not ignorance. English is not the most consistent language either!

    Often is correct as OF-TEN and as OFFEN.

    I’m a linguistic anthropologist.

  • James

    Curiousity question for the Brits out there:

    Where’s the “F” in “lieutenant”?

  • Paul

    Now for the really difficult pathetic,-paw thetic, pay thetic, path etic yeah your guess?

  • Words with Friends

    So many people say PRO-VOLE-LONEE instead of PRO-VO-LONE

    Also my mother says GETTIS-BURG instead of GETTEES-BURG. I must confess, however, that I’m not sure which is correct.

    Others I find annoying:
    BOOOFAY for Buffet
    WARSH for Wash including DISHWARSHER and WARSHING machine.
    BATH-ED for Bathed

    Also, I had a family member argue that the Meguiars brand of car detailing products was pronounded MEG-U-LARS.

    Finally, someone please tell me the correct pronunciation of Worchesteshire. I’ve heard every syllable pronounced such as “WAR-CHEST-EH-SHIRE” and also”WARCHESTER” and “WOOSTER”.

    I’ve noticed meteorologists on the weather channel say WOOSTER when referring to the town. But what about the sauce!? How is it pronounced?

  • Linda

    Realtor. It’s pronounced Real-tor, not Real-i-tor. It drives me batty.

  • Nelson

    pronunciations are conventional, not true or false, right or wrong. Our goal is to communicate, and how to do that best depends upon the listener. That said, vehicle
    wrong ve hic le
    right ve hi cul

  • Gabe

    OK, these have probably (pronounced: “praw-buh-lee” by many) already been listed, but here I go:

    The gem of all gems: “ASK”
    incorrect pronunciation: “aks” or “ax”
    correct pronunciation: “ask” (not sure how to put it more plainly)

    Bonus – spelling error:
    (example sentence)

    “Let us know what YOUR doing later” ( please people: it’s “YOU’RE” ) – there are gobs of these; I wish I could think of them right now.

  • Scattered Frog

    Geez…anybody who took Latin knows that the “correct” way listed in this article is ALSO wrong: there are no soft C’s in Latin, ergo the proper pronunciation of “et cetera” should be “ett – ket – err – uh.”

    My boss is a f**king moron…not an idiot. These are words that when you mispronounce, people think you’re a f**king moron:

    “ask” — why do some people insist on saying “aks”?
    “district” ends in a “t,” not a “k.”
    “reiterate”, not “reillerate”
    “responsibility,” not “responsibililly.”

    Oh…and I work for an education company. 🙁

  • Gabe

    NELSON, not sure if I exactly get your post, but if you refer to vehicle’s pronunciation as: “vee-hickle” by many – then, I know what you mean.

  • kip

    I will refer the author to the dictionary or dictionary.com:
    snuck -> past participle of ‘sneak’ It is word. Do you homework before you (like your article said) open your mouth and look like an idiot.

  • kip

    Often can also be pronounced either way.

  • Gabe

    This is going back quite far, but in OSWALD’S posting on 9-3-08, he asserts that “irregardless” is in fact a word. Assuming we use “word” as to mean a word used properly, I have to disagree. While I am no linguistic expert (by far), I do agree with the explanation offered in the following excerpt from a commentary on “irregardless” (entire piece found via link provided.


    (excerpt begins)
    Irregardless Versus Regardless

    First, let’s talk about irregardless. Some people mistakenly use irregardless when they mean “regardless.” Regardless means “regard less,” “without regard,” or despite something. For example, Squiggly will eat chocolate regardless of the consequences.

    The prefix ir- (i-r) is a negative prefix, so if you add the prefix ir to a word that’s already negative like regardless, you’re making a double-negative word that literally means “without without regard.”

    Language experts speculate that irregardless comes from a combination of the words regardless and irrespective and that another reason people might say “irregardless” is that they are following the pattern of words like irregular and irreplaceable. But regardless already has the -less suffix on the end, so it’s not like those other words.


  • heather

    Great article! Those above who quibble on your facts — especially the “ofTen/offen” debate, are proving your point. Those who know you are correct regard them rather sadly — and they apparently don’t get it!

    The one I’d like to add is “student” — the last few years I’ve heard people say “stew- DENT” which is very odd… Have been wondering where that came from. For all of my 60 years, the pronunciation has been “STEW-duhnt”. Any comment?

    Thanks again!

  • Gabe

    As long as no work is getting done here at the office – here’s one more; now and then, this one rears it’s ugly head:

    sample scenario: a friend, Charlie, comes over to help with a wiring project – it will be necessary to run cable up one wall, across the room at ceiling level, and down the opposing wall; here’s what “Charlie” (no offense) will say:

    “…yeah, all we have to do is run the cable up this wall, pull it ACROSSED the ceiling, and down the other side…”

    You get the idea. Where the heck did “ACROSSED” come from?

  • http://www.heatheryounghomes.com heather

    Long “i” — great question!

  • Nova

    Thanks for the article. Thankfully no one is thinking I’m an idiot, at least about my pronunciation of things anyway LOL
    I have two that annoy me. Congradulations for Congratulations and
    onrey for ornery

  • http://www.knowtea.com RevJATB

    I agree with you 100% on the pronunciations. Most of the above are pet peeves of mine, eKspecially eKspresso, sherbeRt, and ofTen. I tell my children all the time, “Often rhymes with soften.”

    However (and this is a grammatical issue, not a pronunciation issue), “none” is a singular pronoun. It means “not one.” The sentence should read, “None of those is a real word” rather than “None of those are real words.”

  • G

    Webster prefers “sneaked”. “Snuck” is a relatively recent development. Webster adds words to the dictionary that have become common in their usage, even when they are wrong, which truly has its’ downsides. Bad pronunciation and slang usage today becomes sanctioned tomorrow under this practise and worse still is they have been reducing the total number of words contained in the dictionary. It’s such a shame, really.

  • New to Texas

    Ideal instead of idea, as in, “that’s a good ideal.”. Texas is the only place I’ve heard it, and I hear it a LOT here!

    Enjoying this post and the comments.

  • http://www.knowtea.com RevJATB

    We moved to North Louisiana several years ago, and I hear “ideal” for “idea” here too. Apparently it is somewhat common in Arkansas as well. To me that’s worse than “idear.” “Idear” is a mispronunciation, but “ideal” is a completely different word.

  • S

    All y’all will love this:


  • http://www.goodreads.com/jasonmashak Jason Mashak

    Stimulating article and comments — thank you, all.

    English is at a point now where Latin likely was just before it split into multiple tongues. I’ve an English degree and an education degree for teaching it, but understanding my Brit or Irish friends can be a struggle. It reminds me of when my family moved from Michigan to Georgia and my grades dropped because I couldn’t understand my teachers — for about six months. Different vocabulary, different syntax, and very different pronunciation.

    As to this gross generalization called “American English”… visualize two natives of, say, Hawaii and Alabama… at a cafe, trying to chat. They must quickly find some common ground, if either has the patience. Skip the island, try mainland: same with Minnesota vs. Texas. I highly recommend the documentaries “Do You Speak American” and “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus” for more insight on this.

    Each region or country where people learn English will spawn new dialects. I live in Czech Republic, where there are about five distinct dialects of Czech. This means that there are probably also five dialects of Czenglish. Cambridge/Oxford retain hold on initial learning in Europe… but exposure to American films and music makes for a hybrid tongue. My oldest daughter has constant exposure to British vocabulary and syntax, while her daddy speaks “American” obtained from three regions of the USA (Midwest, South, and West Coast). What will you call what she speaks?

    My point is, like it or not, English is splitting into the ‘French’, ‘Spanish’, ‘Italian’, and ‘Portuguese’ of its time — but, in this case, globally. Eventually, this thing called “proper English” will be as ‘dead’ as Latin.

    • beyondliberal

      I learned a lot when I took phonetics as part of my preparatory studies to enter a speech pathology program; we do have distinct dialects (and their respective accents) in the US. “Standard American”, is the dialect of newscasters; “Southern American”, is the dialect of the deep south; “Eastern American”, is the dialect found east of the Charles River in the northeast; Midwestern (self-explanatory); even western PA (Pittsburgh) has its own. Let’s not forget the dialects of the Mennonites, the Amish, and Black Americans (“eubonics”). There really isn’t “American English” in the strictest sense, despite what the Brits claim.

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

      I think the “American English” tag you appear to dislike so much is meant just to distinguish the standard spelling and pronunciation of words between Britain and America. Eg. Leaped versus leapt or pronouncing “financial” as Fy-nan-shul versus fin-an-shul. I don’t think it is intended to take account of local dialect, accents and pronunciation. The same applies over here with accents. I personally find Geordies hard to understand (although I love the accent) and even people from the Black Country which is only 5 or so miles from where I am from in the Midlands.

  • Donald Robinson

    why don’t the spell the offen instead of past Ignorance to dictate a so called sight word instead of correcting it to the way it should be said. Sight words just show how the language institutions are either to lazy or don’t want to change it to its correct way of phoenitic sounds , so the call it a sight word. the scientific community has up dated their veiw of pluto, Don’t you think the scholars could up date sight word with hidden dangers

  • Janek

    Please don’t forget to add VALENTIMES DAY to the list…. i so very much hate when people think there is an M in that Holiday! (if you can even call it a holiday!) Just recently i got into it with a person who said it with an M and i corrected her, so she thought to me smart and asked three other idiots who all said it had an M in it… i one upped them with a calendar and a trip to the dictionary. dumbasses.

  • Taleya Hurdle

    Not sure if these have been mentioned already, but they always bother me:

    comfortable pronounced as “comf-ter-bull”

    Frustrated pronounced as “FUStrated”

  • http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html Bill

    Thank you for the article. I feel compelled to share one of my own pet peeves. It is using the word ‘that’ in reference to a person. I hear even professional newscasters say this, and read it in the paper often. Here are examples.

    The fireman that pulled the kitten out of the tree…

    The gunman that robbed the bank…

    The singer that I like best…

    The word ‘that’ should instead be ‘who’ or ‘whom.’ It makes me crazy. My son tells me to let go of this one because people are never going to get it right. He’s probably correct. I hold out hope though. Thank you to anyone who spreads the word about this.

  • jessica1211

    My father has my entire life got on to my sister and I for the use of “anyways”, but if you pay attention to how it’s being used it’s an expletive. For example if I am telling my sister a story and she keeps interupting me the next time I speak I would start my sentence with “anyways”. As in “Anyways! What I as saying….”

  • Bill

    > My father has my entire life got on to my sister and I…

    Hello, Jessica. With respect, the word ‘I’ should be ‘me’ in the above. Your father is the subject of the sentence. This is a common mistake. Here’s a tip for avoiding it. People most often make this mistake when the object of the sentence is plural. Test it out in your head with a singular object. In this case that means removing your sister from the discussion. Which of these sounds better?

    My father has got on I…
    My father has got on me…

    Hopefully that makes it easier to see that ‘me’ should be used. I hope this helps.


  • Mary

    ROTTEN JON– your comment made me LOL– I mean laugh out loud this morning!

  • Nathan

    Mine to add that I encounter in urban Detroit semi-regularly:

    I’ll have two bacons


  • Sharon

    Interesting about the origin of SHERBET being from Farsi.

    Also of interest in the original article, is the use of the singular word “none” followed by plural usage: “(no, none of those are real words).” If it’s “none” then it’s “IS a real word.” Love the post; enjoyed the comments.

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  • http://afmarcom.com Angelique

    I think you’re fighting a losing battle with “prerogative.”

    Words with Friends: It is, indeed, “Wooster,” like the town.

  • http://www.GironaConsultingINC.us El

    The ones that stings my ears the most are across, which people often pronounce “ah cross t” and Tuesday as “tooze dee.”

  • Hugh

    Now let’s branch off into “words which are sung in Engtalian instead of English”. “Angel” does not rhyme with “bell”, and “comfort” does not rhyme with “sort” unless your language is limited to five vowel sounds. English is not such a language.

  • http://va-horsefarms.com Janice Clark

    Forte means both “loud” and “strong” depending on which language you are speaking. It is the Italian word for “strong,” which is used in music to mean “loud.” All music directions are written in Italian as the result of a decision made hundreds of years ago in order to simplify the music reading process and prevent musicians from having to learn the same words in French, Italian, German, English, Russian, and Spanish. It just so happened that as the convention of musicians was held in Italy, there were more Italians there and they voted that their language should prevail.

  • http://va-horsefarms.com horseymomj

    Don’t forget aluminum. I have to laugh when an otherwise intelligent person pronounces it al-u-min-i-um! (Rhymes with condiminium!) And to Bob…fort doesn’t mean strong, it means a place of military defense!

  • Ann

    weather must be bad in a lot of places to keep us indoors at our computes at the end of a holiday week — or Facebook just did a great job of bringing this column and discussion to a lot of our attention.

    Here’s one: FEWER vs LESS. I was taught to use “fewer” when there are a finite number of objects that can actually be counted. (“He had fewer than 100 pennies.” “Less” is for things that can’t be counted precisely (“He had less than a quart of milk.”) My Random House dictionary accepts them as synonyms. But. a year or so ago, it still drove me crazy to hear the “One less” ad campaign for the HPV vaccine.

  • http://dylanbrody.com Dylan Brody

    I agree with almost everything in your wonderful article. I say frequently that if you use “in lieu of” and “in light of” interchangeably, people like me have been judging you harshly.

    I feel I must point out, though, from Meriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

    past and past participle of sneak


  • Markline

    A very successful albeit English grammar assassin once said in my presence after being corrected on his pronunciation, “Did you understand what I just said to you?” The response of course was, “Yes sir.” I understand to an extent that certain words become slang. But as someone said before, language evolves. I suppose if it didn’t we wouldn’t have gotten very far as a species. I understand that to get where you want in life you have to kiss the grammatical ring. But really, if I am judged by how I say sherbert (yep) then I really don’t need to know you.

  • Johanna

    Now everyone says “She went missing” instead of “She is missing”. You can’t “go” missing, but you can be missing.


    This was great. I loved that someone finally brought up Valentine’s VS. ValenTIMES!! LOL

  • Jimmy

    Just a point of reference:

    “Et cetera” is not an actual English phrase nor of English origin. Therefore, it should be pronounced in Latin as “eht keterah” or “eht seterah” (depending on Roman or Liturgical Latin). Latin has no neutral shwa sound (uh).

    And the dictionary has changed to reflect nukyaluhr as an acceptable (if frowned upon) pronunciation of the word nuclear. Sad. 🙁

  • Anna

    My favorite invented phrase ever, “upper-nonchalance” instead of “upper echelon”

  • Gerald

    Pet peeves:



  • Patti

    Has anyone noticed that Justin has not posted in quite awhile? Are you doing okay Justin?

  • Ryan


  • .caroline


  • Steve

    Realtor isn’t even a natural word, it’s a trademark. The correct term is real estate agent.

    @Horseymomj: Aluminium is the correct pronunciation (and spelling) of the word in British English. The British version is generally preferred by international organizations (as British English is usually preferred internationally, even in places where English became common due to American influence, largely due to England’s imperialist past being more distant than America’s). Humphry Davy himself originally coined “alumium” for the element but changed it to “aluminum” later and never used “aluminium,” but reviewers of his work adopted the extra ‘i’ based on the pattern developed with helium, calcium, strontium, etc. However, there are elements with ‘-um’ endings instead of ‘-ium,’ such as platinum and molybdenum, so the change was unnecessary.

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  • Ariel

    Let’s put it like this. The word ‘pants’ was one a horribly-horrible slang term, looked down upon by the elite and not-so-elite alike.

  • Hallie

    I got attacked about “coupon” by someone who says that because the dictionary authorized the pronunciation. Sometimes dictionaries acknowledge massive mispronunciations because at some point when massive numbers of people mispronounce something, it becomes a legitimate pronunciation according to the dictionary, while still being wrong and encouraging illiteracy.. Can you give me any other word in which an “ou” sound is pronounced “yew?” I can’t think of any. There are rules of pronunciation and “coupon” is covered right there in the spelling. Some dictionaries also acknowledge the massive mispronunciation of Halley’s Comet, even while acknowledging that it’s named for Edmund Halley and there’s only one way to pronounce his name.

    Same for caramel. Someone said “for centuries it was pronounced “carmel.” That is laughable to me. Linguistic law tells that people gloss over more difficult parts, not add them in. I saw an excellent comparison with the new mispronunciation of terrorist as Terrist. Like tempeture and Present Obama.

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  • Stacy

    I get annoyed with the pronunciation of “having.” Too many people pronounce it by adding a “T” to it so it sounds like “have-ting.” So annoying.

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  • Lori

    One that annoys me is “prolly” or “probly” for “probably”, and my students spell it that way too. Ack!

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  • http://www.lizrevision.com/blog Liz

    “Inner-esting” for “interesting”

  • MattK

    Great list. The first of these to grab my attention, over 35 years ago, was “nuclear”; Frizzy (12/27/2011) beat me to the punch about President Carter’s use of “nucular”. But what irritated me 35 years ago about Carter’s use of “nucular” was that he came out of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear program!

  • George

    Somebody already talked about the well-travelled “nuclear”. Another irritating utterance you often hear is made by untold numbers of radiorw and TV reporters when they excitedly say that soething was”copletely destroyed.” Duh!

  • Red

    I just wanted to point out that some of the words mentioned above are deliberately “mispronounced”. It’s been the trend for quite some time particularly within the entertainment industry. Even a highly educated person will deliberately speak this way because it’s part of the culture….it’s “cool”. Doesn’t mean someone is an idiot. I agree that proper English is a necessity in areas of life such as work, but going back and reading some of these nasty, stuffy, and arrogant comments only

  • Red

    I just wanted to point out that some of the words mentioned above are deliberately “mispronounced”. It’s been the trend for quite some time particularly within the entertainment industry. Even a highly educated person will deliberately speak this way because it’s part of the culture….it’s “cool”. Doesn’t mean someone is an idiot. I agree that proper English is a necessity in areas of life such as work, but going back and reading some of these nasty, stuffy, and arrogant comments only make young people like me want to be less like you.

  • Expat

    I just passed through Worcestershire (wuus-tər-sheer) here in the UK. That’s the city. And the town is Worcester (wuus-tər).
    And then depending on the label of the sauce, that is how you would say it. They are mostly labeled Worcestershire but few labels actually do say Worcester.
    Justin, I did see you mentioned this in 2010…

    I didn’t realize until last week that they say sheer for shire here at the end of a city. Luckily I haven’t been here too long, so haven’t embarrassed myself too much.

    And… some of my and my sister’s pet peeves are – most are repeats:
    my “heighth” is
    when someone needs to have their “prostrate” checked
    and my friend says I crossed the “medium” in the street (it makes sense to me, in some way)

    Doing the “warsh” and going to the “libury” is very common in Michigan
    and of course “idear” in NYC.

    I love this thread!

  • Cynthia

    I find it interesting that some people get so upset over what they call mispronunciations of words (e.g., nougat), when an audio dictionary search will reveal great regional differences (whether within the U.S. where the pronunciation is influenced by German heritage, for example, and the “t” is pronounced, or between countries). Such a lack of willingness to allow for cultural, regional, and temporal differences seems to want to freeze language in a moment of time and space–something I’m glad we haven’t done, or our rich choices wouldn’t exist. I agree that there are some words that, for example, some individuals will mispronounce not ever having heard the word before or that a few random individuals will slur or just be lazy in pronunciation, but that is generally just a few, just as we all occasionally misspell words, and I see a lot of both as a college English professor.

    I’m not saying I don’t have my pet peeves about language, but I’m suggesting it might be healthy to look around and value cultural differences and not want to homogenize everything. After reading a lot of Hemingway, where everyone was walking around “tight” (even then, a slang term that Ernest Hemingway used), I was amazed to hear one son complement the other’s new car by calling it “tight.” What fun, especially when one sees how the word meaning close fitting and neat in appearance, could now mean “cool” and “awesome”. If each generation and culture can’t create new language (or pronunciations), we definitely are a stodgy bunch.

  • harold

    BAH! Ethnocentrism i detest you!

    Ethnocentrism- judging other cultures by your own cultural values; assuming that your way of using language, behavior, dress etc is best.

    Though millions speak English in this country… we dont all speak the same English. Geographical differences as well as different cultural backgrounds and differing levels of education often informs the way a person pronounces English.

    This article assumes that the accent of an educated, white, middle class, and certainly not southern person has the “standard” for how English should be pronounced. I think thats ethnocentric at best and racist, classist, and geographically biased at worst.

  • Jason LeBrun

    These mispronunciations are all examples of well-defined and well-studied linguistic phenomena. Most of the cases in this article are either epenthesis or lenition. Such phenomena have played a part in shaping the evolution of our language for years. There are countless examples of words that are acceptably pronounced differently today than they were 100 years ago. That said, hearing “expresso” does make me cringe. 😉

  • Tom

    I’m sure I’ll catch a lot of Hell for this … but I am an American and I happen to feel that I pronounce my language very well. I do, in fact, use the words “whom” and “nor”, two words which have seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth.

    With that being said … I am so sick of hearing this anti-American shit. I watch plenty of BBC, whether it be their reality shows, news program(me)s or scripted television, and I hear *so* many mistakes in grammar. It actually (not ack-shah-lee) made me feel better about being American because I realized we aren’t as bad as they make us out to be, or rather, they are just as bad. I rarely hear Brits use the word “whom” when it is proper. So shut up with this whole ‘Americans are stupid’ bit. It’s tired.

    NOW! I hate when people say “carmel”. There’s a freakin’ A in the word, use it! 😛

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  • Butplag

    Better consult that dictionary one more time in regard to your limitations on the pronunciation of the word “often”! You don’t realize how stupidly American you sound insisting that this English word be articulated in a way that is personally pleasing to you.

  • Mike

    “…no, none of those are real words”

    …no, none of those…IS a real word.

    You’re welcome.

  • Laura Bartlett

    Mark Twain is the original saying in your article. “open mouth and remove all doubt” Just thought I would help you out. Love this article!

  • Jeffersonish

    The one word I mispronounced the most, but only in my head, for years was infrared which I pronounced in-frared. I was reading along silently when I heard someone else pronounce it correctly (in-fra–red) aloud and nearly corrected them before I realized I was the one who had it wrong. It never occurred to me before that moment that infrared wasn’t two words.

  • Amy

    I cringe every time I hear someone call a piece of furniture a “chester drawers” instead of a “chest of drawers”.

  • Correct

    Hey TJ Goldstein, take a bite of this interesting little “Nougat ,”


    Not only is the American pronunciation gloriously placed as the proper primary one, but the secondary pronunciation (which sounds ridiculous incidentally) is Nou-gah, not even your wretchedly ill-sounding “Nou-Garr”. It seems the vacant interstice betwixt your ears is a microcosmic realm of invented and delusional misinformation.

  • Shawn Hendricks

    @ tjgoldstein – Strange, how your typing retains the trailing r but your speech does not. Ever. Still, you have a bitch fit over ONE trailing t. There’s just somethink wrong about that.

    American English evolved in a different environment from British English. We were immigrants from the world over and that necessitated making words simple to pronounce for all and sundry folk. Thus, we had to properly sound out each consonant sound; yes, even the trailing r. These Americans learned and trained the next wave of immigrants. Our language evolved naturally and properly.

    Keep that in mind as UKinglish is now being influenced by Britain’s present influx of immigrants from across the globe.

    And another thing is Americans outnumber Brits by almost five times. I think by now it should properly be called American. Don’t you agree?

    @ El Degüello – Touche.

    A friend at work hates when folks use words wrongly. In particular, he hates when someone uses “wrong” where “wrongly” would be the proper choice.

    Great commentary. I particularly enjoy one blogger misusing grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or syntax as a barb against a previous poster. Bravo! It’s what we do.

  • Shawn Hendricks

    One bit more. In Albanian, the letter e is either unvoiced or barely voiced. Just so, words with a consonant-r, e, r pattern are often pronounced with barely an e sound. They are more like the German ü or like the double r in purr. With the unvoiced e, prerogative is pronounced prrogative, although it sounds like purr-ogative. Imagine being an immigrant struggling to learn English in a loud, steam-driven, Chicago factory (like my Polish great grandfather). I think sounds got pretty blurred.

  • Gwen

    I’d also add “specific”. I didn’t think anyone could possibly mispronounce this until I started working at my current office, where two of my colleagues seem unaware that there is an S on the front. Listening to our meetings, you’d think we had a lot of details related to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Dawn

    The “words” that make me cringe are conversate, irregardless, and my favorite liberry instead of library.

  • Erica

    Can someone please correct me on the word “fiend”?? I had someone correct me the other day and pretty much laugh in my face and said it’s pronounced, “PHEEN”. I don’t think i’m the idiot here but someone please back me up……..

  • Ann Conlon-Smith

    PLEASE add “realtor” It is “reel-tor” NOT “real a tor”

  • foley

    Little off-topic, but I get annoyed at the midwestern tendency to drop “to be” (dangling paticiple?)


    That shed needs fixed.

  • TimS

    #11: Arctic = Arc-tic, not Ar-tic

  • Dave

    @Erica – Yes, “fiend” is pronounced with a “d”. I’ve never heard anyone (or on any show) say PHEEN.

    My favorite is “nee” which I hear pronounced just like it looks. Drives me crazy.

  • Nan

    Beh-room for bedroom is another one…why can’t the “d” be pronounced?

  • laura

    I would have to disagree with only one…often! The t is not silent!

  • Henry Fong

    i get annoyed at people when they respond. I’m “aksing” you a question instead of “asking” you a question

  • cbr

    Not a mispronunciation comment but the misuse of the word myself is rampant i.e, “my husband and myself.”. (The commenter above made a good point describing how to determine if you use “you” or “I” and this is similar.) There are very few instances where “myself” is appropriate. Most of the time it is used, it is unnecessary – for instance, “I’ll do it myself” means the exact same thing as “I’ll do it.” Makes me cringe every time and the media (tv shows, talk shows, movies) only makes it worse because then people think it is correct usage.

  • Doug

    My my employer constantly says “suh-pose-ub-lee” (supposedly).

  • Manda

    1. What is your stance on cuss words, or should I say “curse” words? They are almost all listed in the dictionary as slang, and as stated earlier, slang words are not real words. So, does that mean that you do not cuss?
    2. A couple of responses included all kinds of grammatical rules to other languages. That is not valid, because they ARE NOT English!
    3. Please explain to me where there is an English grammatical rule that would make “nougat” pronounced “nou-grr”. That makes about as much sense as pronouncing “sugar” as “shur-ger”.

    To me, spelling and tense is a lot more offensive than mispronunciation. ie. there, their, they’re; two, too, to; seen, saw, see; done, do, did; have, got…I have to physically resist commenting on Facebook posts that resemble, “I just seen my first shooting star.”, “I done gone and did that.”, “I gots that the other day.”, etc.

  • Daniella

    I’d like to add “supposedly” to the list as I hear people pronounce it “supposubly” all the damn time. Annoying as hell.

  • http://serenadeonline.com Jason

    I apologize if this is redundant, but how about the word Comfortable?

    Incorrect: Comf-ter-bul

    Correct: Com-for-ti-bul

  • Kimmie

    I have studied the evolution of various Germanic/non-Germanic linguistics and yes, slang/misprounciations are eactly how languages evolve, from Latin, Greek etc….! My pet prevent is one word, I just don’t get the problem…what about the word “height”…how often have i heard it pronounced “heigTH”! Now that is simply idiotic!

  • donnat

    Formerly, not formally!

  • Caroline

    @TGoldstein All this talk about Americans destroying language is completely ridiculous. It’s called the evolution of a language and it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. If someone from one hundred years ago heard people speaking English in Britain today, they’d probably also claim that the language had been destroyed. Children mimic their parents and slight changes naturally occur in the language. If languages weren’t periodically “destroyed” we’d all be speaking Old English.

  • Steve Goodman

    When speaking, the best way to prove you are not an idiot, is to only use “like” for its intended purpose!

  • D

    You’re aware pronunciation is all opinion right? There are no laws of language. Just widely accepted guidelines. There aren’t even set definitions really. Even those are just widely accepted guidelines. Based on what context the majority uses a word in. Or how the majority pronounces it in this case. Names are a great example of this.

  • Greg

    I have to say (as an Aussie) that the simple way around the “way Americans say it” banter is….I have always felt Americans pronounce words pretty much the way they are spelt and the emphasis on R’s. Aussies on the other hand are a little more like the Brits – we are a bit lazy when it comes to pronunciation.
    I know there are accents in certain regions of each country – the south of the US, or – my god you only drive to the next county in Britain and it sounds like they are speaking a different language. Aussies are pretty much the same country wide.
    Example – An American is far more likely to say
    Going to the riverrrrr
    Goin to the riva.
    The classic is an old ad for insect repelant in Australia – the slogan was
    didyahavagoodweegend (did you have a good weekend). We mash it up and run it all together.
    This is where mispronunciation evolves. I hear a lot of the Irish accent in the American accent – no coincidence I guess

  • Meg

    One “word” that often confounds me is “orientate”. As far as I know, that *still* is not a word. One attends orientation; one does not get orientated.

  • Pam

    A pet peeve of mine is the misprounced “flustrated” for “frustrated”. It seems to be a common error in our neck of the woods.

  • Ken

    I thing you have missed the word that most aggravates me, Library.
    Incorrect: Li-berry
    correct: Li-brary

    Nothing makes me cringe more then when someone mispronounces this word, i literally have to stop people in mid-sentence and correct them.

  • Jason

    Putting “often” on the list is just silly. Pronouncing the “T” is certainly accepted practice, and is also exactly the way the word is spelled — an argument the author used repeatedly throughout this article!

  • KR

    I’m certainly not giving up my “snuck”! The etymology of sneak is so unclear there’s no reason to force it to be weak.

    Oxford English:
    sneak, v.
    Forms: … pa. tense and pple. also (orig. and chiefly U.S.) snuck.

    Websters Third Unabridged:

    sneak vb sneaked or chiefly dial snuck

  • audrey

    How about the British pronounciation of “aluminum” as “a-loo-min-ee-yum” it’s a 4 syllable word, not 5. there is no “eee” befor the “um”

  • Oli

    @ Audrey – in British English, it’s spelt ‘aluminium’ so we’re justified there.

    Also, I’d add whenever people say a ‘k’ at the end of ‘something’ or ‘anything’. Drives me nuts..

  • Carol

    Loved this! You forgot the two most popular: I hear these mispronounced all the time!

    Incorrect: TUH
    Correct: TO

    Incorrect: FUR
    Correct: For

    Thank you!

  • MacBoom

    Con-ver-sate. “Jim and me were gonna set awhile and conversate on the porch”

    This drives me batty. Con-VERSE. You will converse. Not conversate. *head desk*

    Also, one cannot compare British vs. American. We would be going into the Eddie Izzard diatribe regarding “herbs” with a silent “h” and “herbs” with an audible “h”, “A-LU-mi-num” vs “Alu-MIN-yum” and half the time, Brits don’t pronounce the “r”. The word “properly” for example: “Prah-puh-ly” as opposed to the American “Prop-err-ly”. The dialects vary greatly. I am originally from PA and nobody butchers a language quite like coal country folk. “Yous gonna buddy me up town?” Let’s not forget the ever popular “heyna” which derives from “Hain’t it” which came from “ain’t it” which came from “isn’t it”. *sigh*

  • Jann

    How about Kindergarten? I know teachers who pronounce it kindygarden.

  • Scott

    This should be in the “10 Blogs You Write that Make People think You Have too Much Time on Your Hands.” 🙂

  • Becky

    Good and amusing feedback. My pets are: seperate (separate), real a tor (realtor) and when someone says “me and my friend”. Should be my friend and I.

  • Kay

    Unfortunately irregardless has been accepted by Websters. It drives me nuts when people say it! The fact is.. If it is ir-regard-less then it is regarded! The double negative!

  • Jo

    Don’t even get me started. Several of our local news anchors cannot pronounce any words beginning with STR – there’s always an H in between. For example: A car shtruck a telephone pole, Verizon just went on shtrike, we took a shtroll… It drives me crazy!

  • Mooney

    Actually, the mispronunciation of “nuclear” began with Jimmy Carter…not Bush.

  • M

    REALLY? Often doesn’t have a “t” sound? I’ve never heard that before, but irregardless.. (HEHEHE)

    Kindygarden bugs me!

    I didn’t see anyone mention:

    Word: Ask
    Pronunciation: Ah-SK, NOT axe!

  • M

    REALLY? Often doesn’t have a “t” sound? I’ve never heard that before, but irregardless.. (HEHEHE)

    Kindygarden bugs me!

    I didn’t see anyone mention that ASK is NOT pronounced “AXE”!

  • Zach

    These may have been mentioned previously but the thread is so long I couldn’t go through every post.
    A couple of these I’ve been hearing lately are very frightening:
    “Chimley” instead of chimney. That’s right, I’m hearing people say “chimley.” I’m also hearing chim-in-ee which is also disturbing.

    Here’s another: “acrossed.” It’s like some weird past tense of the word across. What’s wrong with people? I guess it’s no worse than hearing Newt Gingrich repeatedly say “Warshington.”

  • Andrew Pease

    Hell, if I pronounce them right, I’ll never be able to spell them. Damn language needs to keep the rules simple, and stick to them.

  • Gary

    Just to give equal time to both parties, Jimmy Carter used to say NEW-KEY-YUR and it made my ears hurt.

  • Roy

    Pacific for specific.

  • cynthia

    It was Mark Twain who said the quote (see photo caption). A simple Google search would have allowed you to inform your readers of that. Do better next time 😉

  • Rachel

    I love language. I love accurate pronunciation both in English and in foreign languages. I like to make sure I use words correctly and I do my best to use grammar correctly. I have this hunch that I’m not using it correctly here, but again… I do my best.

    What astounds me about the article and the posts that follow is the attitude that folks have about this subject. Who are ANY of us to look down on someone simply because he or she mispronounces a word (or several)?! Simply because I pronounce words more accurately does NOT mean the other person is an idiot.

    As an example, my grandfather mispronounced words. English was a second language in his home when he was growing up. My grandfather was also an incredibly intelligent man and far from an idiot.

    And NO, I don’t think we should always roll over when something is inaccurate, BUT I do believe we should treat each other with respect. Perhaps, if we all accepted each other a little more and overlooked some of our quirks, the world would be a nicer and better place.

  • tj

    @TGoldstein – regarding your sarcastic “poor, poor yankee’s”. There should not be an apostrophe in Yankees. It is a plural word, NOT a possessive! Also, it is a proper noun.

  • Joe

    I have to take issue with the inclusion of “often”. M-W has BOTH pronounciations. I usually say it the “right” way, but the other is acceptable. In fact, it is the earlier pronouciation.

  • Jay


    Me, at ten years old: “we do that off-Ten”
    Mom: “it’s pronounced it off-en”
    Me: “but Mrs. Lowe says off-Ten”
    Mom: “we say OFF-EN”

    I say off-en.

  • Dennis

    How about “AX” instead of “ASK”?

  • Steve

    Often can be considered vernacular, so you can pronounce it either way you sanctimonious *(&*^%.

  • http://hi.im/leonardtj Troy Leonard

    I must say the since the English language is a living and evolving language where spellings and grammar change over time that this article is pointless! Old is no longer spelled “Olde” nor do we still use the word “ye”. In my humble opinion this the least important problem in our society.

  • Jen

    Oh dear… I’ve been mispronouncing prerogative for years. In my defense, however, I’ve also been misspelling it, so at least I’ve been consistent. And pronouncing it the way I thought it was spelled :/

    Oh, and I also mispronounce sorcery and sorcerer. All the other kids when I was growing up said, “saucery” and “saucerer,” so I did, too. Then a friend from MO corrected me. I think it’s a regional mispronunciation since we’re effectively obliterating the “r.”

  • Scot

    Something I often see in my office: messages stating “Do to…” rather than “Due to…” Makes me think all hope for education in the U.S. Is lost.

  • BeijaFlor

    Okay, you all have inspired me, so I HAVE to bring out my own personal pet peeves:

    #1: Perspective vs. Prospective —
    I have lost count of the number of times someone has said OR written “We have a perspective client/tenant/vendor”… PERspective is a point of view. PROspective is a possibility.

    #2: Moot vs Mute (Point)
    ::headdesk:: “Mute” = silent. “Moot” = unimportant

    #3: Conscious vs Conscience. (The one thing I actually liked about the recent Sandra Bullock movie “All About Steve” was her educating someone about that common mistake.)

    #4: Mischievous (Mis-chuh-vus) vs “Miz-cheev-ee-us”. ::sob:: For the love of Pete! THERE IS NO EXTRA “E” IN THERE! If you want to argue it’s “Miz-cheev-us”, go right ahead, but PLEASE stop throwing in a sound that’s not included in the spelling! ::sob::

    And THANK YOU! to the posters who have mentioned “Cavalry” vs “Calvary”. That is another one that definitely drives me up the wall.

    Now, I will be the first to admit that a lot of pronunciations have to do with local dialects, including “offen” vs “ofTen”. (Although “sah-mon” vs “sah-min” vs “sal-mon” is one I won’t touch on, because I don’t know the origin of the word, and I have heard it pronounced all three ways.)

    However, I WILL step in and agree that I believe there IS a difference between changes to language and simply people not caring to pronounce something correctly, or use words/phrases correctly. A living language does NOT equal a butchered language.

    /mini-rant 😉

  • Suzanne

    The one that bugs me is “mischievous” pronounced as “mischeevious”. Once, when I was a middle school teacher, I had to sit through a parent-teacher conference in which the parent kept telling me how “flustrated” she was with her daughter. Yikes!

  • ADog

    It’s JEWEL-REE not JEW LER EE !!!

  • AshburnStadium

    “Ath-a-leet” is strictly Philadelphia.

  • Marcy

    Actually, the pronunciation of the “t” in often is less of a group mistake and more of a dialect; whether or not you pronounce it depends greatly on where you come from.

  • emilie

    I really have to disagree with you on one of these. The popular pronunciation of “often” includes the “t” sound in both American and British English. However, pronouncing “often” without the “t” is also accepted.

  • jonas

    What about the pronunciation of detritus? I think I’ve been pronouncing it incorrectly, but no one ever corrects me, so maybe I’m right? Is it deh’-tri-tus, or deh-try’-tus?

  • Don

    And spelling ! I go crazy when I see people write “should of” or “could of” etc. when they should have (should’ve) been using ‘ve’ …

  • Chris

    The people who state that irregardless is a real word are correct. It was added to the dictionary to accommodate idiots, much like normalcy was added after Warren G Harding used it as a campaign slogan.

    So, congratulations idiots, you’ve managed to lower the bar, but you still sound like idiots.

  • Gabstein

    I had an IB English teacher in high school whose secret personal goal was to be a flamingo dancer……LOVE that! I don’t know if she ever achieved that, but I do know that 10 years after I graduated she was still teaching.
    Lax a daisical drives me nuts, but so do pretty much all the others. And don’t even get me started on the way people butcher grammar and punctuation! A very funny book about that is called ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ (yes I know it should be underlined but I can’t do that on the iPad.).

  • I Am.Your Mother.

    In my honor and without prejudice, the Blacks are the only ones that I know of that do this next to the low class whites; many foreigners also. it is very clever how this article pokes fun at them indirectly calling them idiots. PIECE PIECEs Peace and hair grease. Now gimme yo’ gol and dimons, you mynr! Imma pir8. Ahrrrr

  • I Am.Your Mother.

    In my honor and without prejudice, real wombmen and men not native to English should be excused from this. All foreign to English meaning they’re not a native English speaker/professional/expert can certainly apply the same principles of this article to the ones (and any others supporting it) putting the article forth.

  • http://www.designerblog.blogspot.com Will

    Lie brar ey not Li berry

    Feb ru ary not Feb you erey

  • Heather

    Coupon is NOT pronounced with a Q. There is clearly no Q in coupon. UGH!!

  • Just To Add

    My husband says ‘acrosst’ and ‘sextitst’ and it drives me bonkers.

  • Ginny

    My husband says hearthstone – like h+earth instead of like heart+h. Drives me nuts – but his friends say he’s right! Should be “harth” not “herth”.

  • MindyLouWho

    I bought the book “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.”
    I am appalled at my professional colleagues, college graduates all,
    who send interoffice emails and post flyers with grammatical errors and who speak before groups using some of these mispronunciations.
    I guess it just doesn’t “phase” them (AARGH! FAZE, please!)
    and they just can’t seem to get “untracked” (Really?? UN-tracked?? Surely you meant ON TRACK…).

  • Nicole

    As a the proud owner of a beautiful rottweiler, the correct pronuciation is:




    Please say it correctly.

  • Stephanie

    “Supposably” when they mean to say “supposedly”. This one drives me crazy.

    I hope you all are correct regarding “often” because I have been pronouncing the “t” for years.

  • Michelle

    I am so grateful to finally understand that dropping “to be” is a Midwest thing. My husband and his family will say:

    “The grass needs mowed.”
    “The dishes need warshed.”
    “My hair needs cut.”

    I’ve almost broken his habit, but as a teacher, literally makes me want to scream!

  • http://primermagazine.com Clay

    I thought that I would be, ” oriented in the right direction…” but I was suddenly “orientated” . Am I lost?

  • JD

    Wow! This article really opened my eyes to another word I’m mispronouncing! I used to think pedantic was pronounced ‘puh-DAN-tic’, but now I know its pronounced ‘Justin Brown’!!!

  • Bubbles

    One that drive me crazy is “voilà”.
    Now, that word is French. We don’t have the à easily accessible to type, so I accept that people commonly write “voila”. BUT — some people write “viola” – as in the instrument. “I opened my eyes and viola!” Makes no sense.

    AND many people have no clue how it is spelled and write Wallah/Walah/Walla etc.

    I can generally tell when people don’t have a clue about this word when they are speaking, because they pronounce it “wah-lah” instead of with a gentle initial “v”.

  • Joe

    Regarding “often”:

    Meriam-Webster’s allows for both pronunciations of the word (with or without a hard T); however, I read a compelling argument for the stance that without the T sound was the original and more correct form of the word. The argument is along the lines that in words throughout the English language ending in T and suffixed with EN the T becomes silent. Some examples are list -> listen; moist -> moisten; fast -> fasten. So, in our case, oft becomes often and the T becomes silent. The non-silent version has been used so often in modern language that it is now considered an accepted form.

  • Isobel_A

    @Gene – in the UK (and other non-US English speaking countries) the word is jewellery, not jewelry, and is more correctly pronounced joo-ler-y (see OED online, here: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/jewellery?q=jewellery).

  • Isobel_A

    @Gene – in the UK (and other non-US English speaking countries) the word is jewellery, not jewelry, and is more correctly pronounced joo-ler-y (see OED online).

  • Melanie

    I have another theory about utmost/upmost. When I pronounce utmost, it ALMOST sounds like I’m saying upmost, but it’s certainly not because I think it has anything to do with “up” in any way. It’s because I’m lazy with my pronunciation of the t. Hard to explain in text, but instead of pronouncing the t with my tongue behind my front teeth as it should be, I pronounce (or mispronounce) it by an abrupt stoppage of air. Then I move on to the most part. So it’s more like “Uh.most” with a really quick break in sound where the period is. When you do that, it seems a bit like you’re saying upmost.

    It’s a similar case when I say the word at followed by a word beginning with a consonant. Example: As I sit at my computer (without the t but with an abrupt air stoppage), I don’t run the risk of spitting on my screen with an overly aggressive Tuh sound. heehee…

    I guess it doesn’t matter. A mispronunciation is a mispronunciation no matter the reason. But I think I’d rather people think that I’m lazy than stupid…

    That, and when I say uTmost, it comes across as a pretentious overpronunciation.

  • Shannon

    This is a phrase, too, but I can’t help it.

    I could care less.
    instead of
    I couldn’t care less.
    THINK ABOUT IT. Could you really care less (which means you do care about it at some level)? Or do you not care at all? People always say the first one, but mean the second one.

  • Joshua

    Of course the hard “t” was in the “original” pronunciation of “often” because it’s derived from the O.E. word “oft” (cf. German “oft”).

  • Chani

    Apparently that quote is often misattributed to Mark Twain. Including almost yet another time in this post.

    Also, while I agree with you about most of these (and incorrect pronunciation bugs the crap out of me), you’re wrong about prerogative: both pronunciations are acceptable. Whether that’s Bobby Brown’s fault or someone else’s is anyone’s guess, but “puh-ROG-uh-tiv” has been acceptable at least since the 80’s.

  • Kristen

    Here’s a thought about the English language. If you don’t want a letter to be pronounced, don’t put it in there. If you base one’s intelligence on one’s knowledge of pronounciation, you are going to be doomed to finding stupidity wherever you go. The truth is, this article should be titled: “10 Words That You Mispronounce that Make English Nerds feel Superior.”

    “I’m just sayin'”

  • gabstein

    I forgot about breakfastes for the plural of breakfast. It should be pronounced without an extra syllable between the ‘t’ and the ‘s’, just like any other plural word.

  • timi

    MY all time favorite is “old timers” instead of Alzheimers….lol!! drives me nuts every time!!

  • Deborah Knight

    The one that drives me crazy is the mispronunciation of “R E A L T O R”
    it should be pronounced Reel Ter
    NOT Re Luh Ter

  • Jake

    I can’t stand the Americans pronouncing “fillet” with a silent ‘t’ at the end as in “filay steak”. The one time it’s not silent – in contrast to say, ‘often’ – why do it? It’s not a French word after all!

  • Stephen

    What about subtle?

  • Ivana

    1 – snuck is a real word; nonstandard variation of the word ‘sneak’, but real nonetheless.

    2 – “none of these words IS real” rather than “none of these words ARE real”; none = not one, thus “not one of these IS real”

    3 – love the rest of the list!

  • AngelHeart

    As already expressed, both this article and comments have been most entertaining….but the aspect of every blog, article etc….that I think is most hilarious are those people who get heated and even down right nasty. Really people? Think about it. In the big scheme of things and amidst a global economical breakdown I can think of far more important issues to which your angst could be directed toward and possibly even useful. So for the sake of your own physical AND emotional well being, you might want to “collar that dog” before you bust a major blood vessel (artery).

    PS….However in relation to the content of this article…one word that I don’t believe was mentioned and that literally makes my skin crawl when used is the word ‘conversate’. Even though you will find it in some dictionaries, the proper word to use is ‘converse’ =)

    Ok, ready, set….go for it, tear me a new one!

    Have a good day all <3

  • http://www.millerchris.com Chris Miller

    It’s true the snuck is not the past participle of sneak, however, you will find snuck in the dictionary. Those who proclaim that snuck is a word will often use the dictionary as their proof.

    My question is, what is the purpose of the dictionary?

    To give us instruction on the proper pronunciation and usage of words, or to simply reflect the manner in which we use words?

  • Jen

    I can understand the awry problem. I had never heard it said, ever, but had been reading it all my life.

  • Patti

    Interesting. Drives me NUTS when a local newscaster insists on pronouncing “interesting” with four syllables. The preferred pronunciation is “in-tris-ting”. I really DO judge you when you use bad grammar!

  • Jessica

    Dude. Anyone who has even taken a linguistics 101 class could tell you the pronunciation of words change over time and from culture to culture within a language community.

    But you really lost me when you declared that the dictionary was wrong because it disagreed with your personal opinion on the “correct” pronunciation.

    See… THAT will make people think you’re an idiot.

  • bstith

    If I ever heard someone say “nou-garr”, I’d punch them in the nose.

  • Julie

    Shannon, thank you for bringing up the “could care less” phrase! That one makes me crazy too!

  • Meofcourse

    My biggest verbal pet peeve? Temperature. If I hear the Weather Network professionals say ‘tem-pa-chur’ one more time, I swear I’ll scream.

  • Rachel

    You say that “Candidate” should be pronounced like “candy date” and yet you spell it out like “canda dett”. So which is it?

    The pronunciation is supposed to be “can- di(as in dim)- date” exactly like it’s spelled.

    However, I agree with many other commenters, individuals have accents and words develop over time and according to society. I mean heck, I live in Kentucky where Versailles is Vurr-sails, and Louisvilles is Lou-uh-vul.
    I realize when I go elsewhere it’s the same. I don’t have a very pronounced southern accent, but I don’t refer to those cities as Ver-sai and Louis-ville because they’re not.

    So most often, if someone around me uses a word incorrectly or says something in an accent, I just assume that’s what they’ve used all their life and I don’t deem it necessary to correct every little thing. My mom says turist instead of tourist and my grandmother always said warsh instead of wash. Who cares.

    The only mispronunciation that really bothers me is that of the word “crayon” I’ve heard crane, I’ve heard crown. It’s simple really… the word is Cray-on. Spelled out quite simply.

  • sf

    idiot pronunciation : click
    correct pronunciation : cleek

  • sf

    also, “Meantime” is not a stand-alone word.

    the correct phrase is “In the meantime”

  • Lord Flame Stryke

    I agree with you on all of them except “often”. It was derived from the word “oft”, which clearly has a pronounced “t”. I would assume it was adapted from the phrase “oft in”, in which case the “t” would still have been pronounced.

    However, I agree with you on all the rest.

  • Rachel

    I once commented to a guy on FB, “touche,” to which he responded, “No, I just hate the Vikings.”

  • Juan

    Chipotle- a smoked pepper. Is pronounced Chee-poh-tlay. Not Chih-pole-tay.

  • Melanie

    My sister says “all the sudden” instead of “all of a sudden”. Drives me crazy! lol

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  • Brad

    I heard once (though unsure about the validity of this) that the “T” only became silent in “often” because people were mispronouncing it as “offen” and leaving out the “T” sound. The theory has some solid weight behind it, as how often (doh!) do we encounter a silent “T?”

    My personal pet peeve is when people say “He should of done that” rather than “he should have done that.”

    Great article!

  • Lynn

    One correction. Awry, as pronounced aw-ree (accent on 1st syllable), is in fact correct. There is a yummy bakery here in the Detroit area that has been an institution since before I was a kid. And that’s how you say it 😉 Not nitpicking, just sayin’ . . .

    I agree with jewelry above, drives me crazy. And a friend still says Circus Olay. Go figure.

  • Margo

    This is almost as frustrating as my” warshing” machine going out!!!

  • Asdf

    Some of you really need to consult a dictionary yourselves before you attempt to “correct” people. For example, err – both “air” and “urr” are correct. The genius who thinks nougat is pronounced “nou-garr”, which I can only assume is a bastardized English-accented version of the actual French pronunciation – “noo-gut” and “noo-gah” are both correct. The person who thinks fillet is “fill-it” – either that OR “fill-ay” are correct. “Fort” and “fort-ay” are both correct. The person who thinks “care-a-mel” is incorrect…no. Just because your preferred pronunciation is one or the other does not mean everyone else is wrong. Perhaps you should check ALL the pronunciations before you claim one is “the” correct one.

    And also, the article is about mispronunciations, not the misuse of words or phrases, so your complaints about “all of the sudden” or “could care less”, while correct, are irrelevant to this article.

    And the people who are commenting asking how some word is properly pronounced – you’re already on the internet, look it up.

  • sam

    Totally fuss-trating…

  • Mary

    I love this article and resulting comments!

    If only the loquacious could be persuaded of the obnoxiousness of talkativeness, verbose conversationalists would probably become extinct. In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, beware of platitudinous ponderosities. Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness, a concatenated cogency, and a coalescent consistency!

    That’s all I have to say!

  • http://adventuresinthriftland.blogspot.com/ Laura’s Last Ditch–Adventures in Thrift Land

    My mom says “togAther” instead of “together.” Ugh.

  • Jan Taylor Garfield

    I absolutely loathe “impornant.” I don’t know if it’s ignorance, custom or adenoids, but I hear it all the time, like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  • Polly

    Wow, the comments just go on and on. Here’s my current pet peeve – “A whole nother thing”. Maybe “another thing”? or “another whole thing”? Another is a whole word!

  • Rebecca

    I say this without any ire toward our British friends. You have no place insulting our accent. You drop “h” on a pretty regular basis, and slip in “r” where it has no business. My personal pet peeve? “Idear” That is not a word. My second pet peeve? Noo-gar!

  • Kelly Mo

    Great article! Withstanding the test of time. In blog years, this article is 76 years old!

    Ok, here we go:

    assessable – accessible
    based around – based on
    chalked full – chock-full
    doggy dog world – dog-eat-dog world
    do to – due to
    escape goat – scapegoat
    I seen – I’ve seen
    ice tea – iced tea
    lacksadasical – lackadaisical
    unloosen – loosen
    worth wild – worthwhile
    recreate the wheel – reinvent the wheel

    Not to mention:
    lie vs lay, effect vs affect, insure vs ensure, farther vs further, among vs between, your vs you’re, their vs there, its vs it’s…

    and my favorite… the dreaded misuse of the apostrophe “s”!

  • Angie

    Most annoying to me?


    People.. It’s ACROSS there is no T.

  • Chad

    There is one thing that drives me absolutely crazy. For some reason, instead of some people saying, “I had no IDEA that you were a black belt in karate”, they say… “I had no IDEAL that you were a black belt in karate”. BONKERS… drives me BONKERS!!!!!

    Did you know that is not the correct pronounciation? “Nope… I had no IDEAL”!!!! ARGH!!

  • Emily

    Suh-pose-uh-bly! Its supposedly! Thank you.

  • Linda

    “Conversating.” Enough said.

  • Larn

    On the term kindergarten, pronouncing it in English as garden isn’t all that incorrect. Garden is the English translation of the German word garten. Living in Germany as an English speaker it was quite common for people to refer to it as ‘kiddie garden’ which is surprisingly accurate.

  • Jeannine Dennis

    Here’s one that absolutely bothers me to death:
    Safety Deposit Box
    It’s a Safe Deposit Box! You hear this all the time on TV by actors (or their writers) who really should know better.

  • sarah

    my pet peeve is hearing people say ‘grandpa has oldtimers”, i suppose i will forget that small irritation;)

  • 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!!!)

  • Nick

    The FT rule with ‘often’ I think has more to do with accents/regional dialects than mispronunciations. Otherwise everyone from Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina pronounce all words wrong.

  • JoAnne Cesare

    { just read for all intensive purposes – isn’t it really for all intents and purposes?)

    Also what about spit and image? or is it spitting image?

    How about cut the muster? or is it cut the mustard?

    And row to hoe? or is it road to hoe?

    Loved your column.

  • joel

    Nice work, Justin.

    When people say ‘samwich’ or ‘samwidge’, it drives me crazy! Even the Tim Horton’s ads on the tv and radio here don’t use the correct pronunciation of saNDwich.

  • Jay

    One that bothers me is;

    Let axe you a question? Ask is ass – k

    Another I want to drive a Jagwire? Isn’t it Jag – Gwar?

    I really liked the column

  • MJ

    Gyro (the Greek sandwich): it’s YEE-row, not GHEE-row, and certainly not GUY-row, or my favorite ear bleeder: JAI-row, which sound similar gyrate. No food should do that!

    Conversate: not a misprounciation, just not even a word! You may converse, or have a conversation, but you may not conversate. I don’t care how many hip-hop songs you hear, it’s not a word.

    Frustrated – not flusterated. You can be flustered, or frustrated. Choose one.

  • MJ

    Gyro (the Greek sandwich): it’s YEE-row, not GHEE-row, and certainly not GUY-row, or my favorite ear bleeder: JAI-row, which sound similar to gyrate. No food should do that!

    Conversate: not a mispronunciation, just not even a word! You may converse, or have a conversation, but you may not conversate. I don’t care how many hip-hop songs you hear, it’s not a word.

    Frustrated – not flusterated. You can be flustered, or frustrated. Choose one.

  • SirLancelotTheMad

    Don’t feel bad about “Sal-min”. I have customers pronounce it “Salm-won”.

    My biggest pet peeve is misuse of the apostrophe. Every time you type things like “I love puppy’s!!” a bus full of them cascades off of a cliff. Adding an apostrophe to a word either makes it possessive or contracts “[noun] is”, so saying “Soup’s of the day” doesn’t make a damn bit of sense…we have a sign at work that says “Fresh home style Pie’s”. Pie is? I don’t know what fresh home style pie is means…

  • Dave

    My new least favorite:

    The trend of pronouncing the “L” in “calm,” “palm,” etc by tv journalists and weathermen. It’s silent, just like it is in “walk” and “talk.”

  • John Alex

    First off I loved the article, but like I always say, “Webster ain’t the only authorized word maker.” Every country’s dialec changes with time. Case in point is that we do not speak or sound like the British or Pilgrims or any of the other countries that came here since whom ever landed here first. The issue is what are you willing to accept socially within a conversation?

  • http://clevelandwall.airset.com/ Cleveland Wall

    Irregardless is a double negative and as such will never be correct.

    Bring already has a perfectly good irregular past tense, so ‘brang’ is not going to fly.

    Snuck, however, is a legitimate mutation from the default ‘ed’ ending toward an irregular past participle. The more a verb is used the more likely it is to form irregular participles, usually for good reason. Consider the inelegant k-d consonant cluster at the end of ‘sneaked.’ Snuck is more toothsome and flows better in speech. I will admit I am a somewhat radical proponent of irregular verbs. I actively use ‘squeeze, squoze, squozen,’ ‘freak, froke, froken,’ and ‘wing, wung, wung’ knowing they are NOT YET correct, but confident that one day they will be the recognized forms for those verbs. And on that day we shall snicker at those who say ‘squeezed’ and ‘sneaked’ as at suitors with spinach in their teeth. No, of course we shan’t! We will kindly instruct them that they appear a bit stupid when using the wrong forms of verbs.

  • Just a little OCD…

    Love that you addressed often and nuclear. Both drive me nuts when mispronounced. But even more so, Jaguar pronounced as Jag-wire. Grrrr!!!!!

  • raylemko

    the misuse of o and zero are the most prevalent. try dialing the o instead of the zero and see. very intresting !!!!! another one. i guess this kind of crap keeps the world spinning.

  • Oleander

    OK – the one I haven’t seen anywhere in this thread is “predominately.” I hear it said by broadcasters, and I see it spelled in the newspaper and elsewhere. Please, folks, it’s “predominantly.”

  • Matt

    Laboratory: It’s either (depending on where you’re from) Lab’ra’tory or Lab’or’a’tory.
    There are not trees and no rats in the word but may be in the object itself so please stop saying lab’ra’tree.

  • Lee Stewart

    This is a potpourri inspired by many of the foregoing posts:

    I wish I knew why the pronunciation of ‘often’ is such a problem. No one argues about the silent ‘t’ in ‘soften’, ‘fasten’, ‘hasten’, ‘listen’, ‘glisten’, ‘moisten’, ‘christen’, … . They all acquired the silent ‘t’ the same way ‘often’ did.

    ‘Upmost’ is a perfectly good word. It means “uppermost or topmost”. However, most folks using it do mean ‘utmost’ (outermost, greatest extent or maximum), which, of course, has nary a ‘p’ anywhere in sight.

    ‘Supposably’ is another perfectly good word that means “can be conjectured or guessed”. Of course, nearly everyone using it intends ‘supposedly’ (presumed to be true).

    ‘Awry’ is an adverb formed by adding a prepositional form ‘a’, which usually means “on, at or to”, to the adjective ‘wry’ (pronounced as ‘rye’), which in this case means “twisted, wrong or perverse”. The pronunciation of ‘awry’ has never been anything else but ‘uh-RYE’ to anyone knowing its meaning. Similarly formed adverbs are all pronounced similarly: ‘alee’, ‘asea’, ‘ashore’, ‘amiss’, ‘afar’, ‘anear’, ‘atop’, ‘atilt’, ‘ablaze’, ‘afire’, ‘away’, ‘aweigh’, ‘aloof’, ‘aloud’, ‘anon’, … .

    Finally, there is ‘deluge’. I learned it years ago at my father’s knee as ‘DELL-yewdj’. It is the preferred pronunciation in all the dictionaries I have ever consulted and, understandably, the one I prefer. Though I usually cringe upon hearing them, alternate, acceptable pronunciations are ‘DAY-loodj’ and ‘duh-LOODJ’.

    I have rather enjoyed this excercise. Cheers, Everyone!

  • Me Myself and I

    Can’t believe the made up word irregardless didn’t make the list or Especially! Two of my personal pet peeves!

  • Bobby

    Your and idiot.

  • WillFromKnoxville

    Re: NOUGAT. I checked two dictionaries and found it to be pronounced either with or without the “t” sound, but NEVER with an “r.” And none of the earlier French or Latin forms contain the letter “r” either.

  • AndyB

    Pet peeve – Herb. It has an h at the beginning

  • StephAnie

    GREAT article even if I am late to discover it.
    I was guilty of Perogative and Decathalon…
    One for me to add to the list of pet peeves: “addicting”
    I fear it will be added to the dictionary as acceptible due to its widespread use. Just because people say it, does not make it correct!!

  • StephAnie

    GREAT article even if I am late to discover it.
    I was guilty of Perogative and Decathalon…
    One word for me to add to the list of pet peeves: “addicting”
    I fear it will be added to the dictionary as acceptible due to its widespread use. Just because people say it, does not make it correct!!

  • Sunny

    Candidate is NOT pronound can-da-datt.

    It is pronounced Canned-ih-date. Louse.

  • Pingback: Are you using these words incorrectly? « Angie's Words()

  • http://jpsurvey.wordpress.com Jonathan Waldroup

    Often can be pronounced with or without the ‘t’ sound; both are listed in every dictionary I have checked.

    While I too am sometimes annoyed by people not pronouncing words in the standard fashion, really the whole enterprise of prescribing the proper way to pronounce a word makes no sense. That would imply that every word has a point in history at which its meaning and pronunciation are “correct” and then apart from that all other meanings and pronunciations are “incorrect.” But language is constantly evolving. The word “often,” for instance, didn’t even exist until c. 1300, before which the word was simply “oft.” So as soon as “often” came into the lexicon, it too was an “incorrect” pronunciation of a previously existing word “oft.” We could then argue that truly “often” should not exist in the English language, that “oft” is the “correct” form, and that the whole discussion about how best to pronounce “often” is worthless. But obviously, “often” is used today and so we can talk about it. But the point is that in a couple of hundred years, the word “often” may have changed, perhaps into “ovten” or “obten,” and speakers of English then will likely still be arguing about what is the “correct” way to pronounce the word, but the argument will no longer resemble either of the pronunciations of the word discussed in this post. Almost every word in the English language was pronounced differently in the past, and they will be pronounced differently in the future. Who’s to say that our current pronunciation is “correct” or not? As long as the speaker is understood, the pronunciation is “correct.”

  • Thomas

    Might want to take another look at candidate.

  • Me and You

    I’ve noticed a few people mention this before though I didn’t read every single post in this thread, instead skimming through a lot of it.

    I would just like to point out that what sounds incorrect to you could be entirely correct and understandable to an entirely different group of people. For example I’m from Hawaii, a melting pot of several pacific, asian and other cultures and the local slang combined with the heavy accents can create an very difficult to understand dialect.

    Is it totally “incorrect” in terms of the Queens English? Quite a bit! However they can understand each other just fine and converse as well as any the most uptight of linguists.

    So yes, are people being uptight? Yeah quite a bit and I think they should understand just because you dont speak it that way doesnt make you “right”.

  • Thomas

    It’s funny to me how Americans will confuse the British pronunciations for words like nougat (If you are in Britain please use nou-gah if it satisfies) or use the British spelling in words like realise vs realize, and my all-time favorite; she-du-al for ske-du-al in the word schedule. Might as well start spelling color as colour and wear a red coat while marching to your editors office. As far as often goes, along with the silent t in words in general we make a very light t phonetic that isn’t that apparent, mostly similar to that of a German z.

    Some of the comments are just complaints about puns like oldtimers vs alzheimers.

  • Sabrina

    Excellent list, but when it comes to “often” both are correct.

    Check your Oxford dictionary, for example, it states that both ofTen and “offen” are acceptable pronunciations. Just because offen is more common in the US it doesn’t make often incorrect. In fact, I hear ofTen a lot more when I’m in England or from those who learned British English.

  • laughing at you

    Typical unprofessional and incorrect “observations,” Justin.

  • Stacey

    I have been a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation and spelling for years……an anal retentive Virgo you might say. lol There are definitely a few that make me cringe more than others:

    Flustrated…..NO! Flustered or frustrated but there is no such word or condition as “flustrated”!

    Sale……i.e. I’m going to sale my car. Eeeeeeek!

    Pronouncing the “G” in words like Gnome and Gnoll. 😐

    Now for the one that drives me most insane…the one I’ve heard countless television personalities use (particularly on cooking shows)…the one that makes me want to reach through the screen and smack them silly!
    Waalaa! OMG people…it’s French and the correct word is VOILA, pronounced VWAH LAH.

    And with that, I end my own personal tyrade! Loved this article as well as all the input everyone’s given 🙂

  • Robert Belew

    “Often” is a word I seldom use.
    I can’t remember because I have “Old Timers” disease.

  • CFenton

    I’m confussed on the past tense of plead…..is it pled or pleaded.

  • Holly


    While I agree with you on “snuck,” “irregardless” will NEVER be acceptable with me! It’s like a double negative all wrapped up in one unsavory package. It makes me cringe every time I hear it.

  • Graeme

    » Incorrect pronunciation: haitch
    » Correct pronunciation: aitch
    What’s next — will people start saying Wubbleyou?

    » Incorrect pronunciation: Asterix
    » Correct pronunciation: Asterisk

    » Incorrect pronunciation: Axe
    » Correct pronunciation: Ask

    Some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all: over-exaggerated

    And some things just make no sense:
    Can I have a lend of your pencil?
    Are you joking me?

  • James Jones

    People always cite GWB as someone who says “nukular”, but Jimmy Carter, who as someone with training in the field should have known WAY better, also said “nukular”–and somehow escapes being labeled as stupid because of it.

  • T. T. Arkaney

    You missed all the good regional mispronunciations too. On any Philadelphia radio station, you will learn that the U.S. currency is DOWERS, and that the weather is forecast by a MEATOROWIST.

  • Dave

    Snuck is a word. Both pronunciations OFTEN are acceptable. You, sir, are a fool.

  • ang

    FYI for Justin Brown: the quote “it is better to be silent…” is from the bible in proverbs

  • http://www.dannavarro.com jodada

    What cracks me up is that this thread sat around for a long time, then got revived recently. Cool.

    I’m irked by most of the stuff that’s been mentioned, plus (unless I missed it) “in regards to” or “with regards to”, with the “s” at the end of “regard”. I hear lawyers, politicians, professors use this all teh time. Harumph!

    When referring to something, it is “in regard to” and “with regard to”. When you’re sending something with good wishes, it sent “with regards”, whether “best regards”, “warm regards” or just plain ol’ normal regards.

    Reasonableness. No such thing. It’s “reason”.

    Fur-mil-yar for familiar, same with fur-tah-gra-fur for photographer. Eye-rack for Iraq (ee-rock), same with Eye-ran for (ee-rahn).

    IN-surance, instead of insurance, or PO-lice for police. Stastistic is just do damned hard to say, even if you know how to say it.

    Languages do mutate. That’s how they came about. Spanish, Portuguese and Italian evolved from Latin, from regional and local variations. And we are evolving still. Spelling wasn’t even standardized until typesetting meant that you had to decide how a word would be spelled. Before that, spelling was convenient, and mutated. I remember seeing a program — “The Story of English” from 1986 — that noted that Shakespeare spelled his own name a variety of ways. So who’s to say what’s right?

    And UK variations mean that you can have a “specialty” in the US but a “speciality” in the UK, or “aluminum” in the US and “aluminium” in the UK. Defense, offense and license with “s” instead of “c” as in the UK; recognize with a “z” instead of an “s” as in the UK. Hell, “z” pronounced “zee” here but “zed” there. It goes on and on.

    We say “bust” and subsequently say “busted” when “bust”was originally a form of “burst” and, as such, already past tense. I heard John Lennon in an interview referring to “getting bust” when he was arrested.

    We say “In the hospital” but they say “in hospital”. I live “on” Charing Cross Road, they live “in” Charing Cross Road. in the UK, they spell “tire” as “tyre” for the things you put on your car, and a criminal goes to “gaol”, not “jail”.

    And the English say the “h” in “herb”. In fact, they say the “h” in “H”, as in “haitch” instead of “aitch”. And I say teh “h” in “whip”, “when”, “where” and “why”. But not in “who”. In that one, I say the “h” but not the “w”.

    I often say (and sometimes spell, on purpose) “prolly”, “gonna”, “wanna”, “shoulda”, “woulda”, “coulda”, “sorta”, “kinda”, “hiya”, “back atcha”, chyeahright”, and “fer sher”. It’s about communicating, and using language in a way that gets a written point across with an inflection otherwise reserved for speech is a good thing.

    While (with a sounded “h”) I do believe that there are correct and incorrect ways to use established language, it’s just pretty hard to challenge that usage is king, and will win in the end.


  • http://shebelazy.com Andrea Kittelson

    I hear a lot of learned people say “conscious” when they mean “conscience,” which funks with my mojo.

    I also hear “off-ten” instead of “of-fen.”

    I tell my students that there are certain secrets, such as the silent “t” in often, that when you know them and use them, you will sound educated.

    My students have still not yet learned and internalized how to use articles, such as a/an and the/thee, which also irks me. It is uh banana not ay banana, and it is thee apple not thuh apple.

    And it is fewer calories not less. That one really gets my crinkle because advertisers make that mistake all the time.

    But as mad as we might get, we ultimately have to surrender a bit to the common vernacular, as that act of surrender is what brings us all closer together.

  • http://www.phoenixshortsalecompany.com Anthony

    George Bush used to always say “Nucular” and it was so annoying.

    One that I hear often that is really annoying to me is “Real – A – Tor” – thew word is Realtor (Real-tor).

  • Kris Malloy

    I got all correct except for “often.” I am aghast! How long have I been living in error? Thank you…!

  • Robin

    The h in herb is not pronounced. This is why we say AN herb instead of A herb.
    Nomination for Top 10 Mispronounced Words – Err.

  • Jeff

    Can you pronounce pretentious prick for us

  • Jen

    I hate when people say salmon as “sal mon” and not sa mon

  • Tianne Wade

    Justin: Regardless of what you may have heard, irregardless is INDEED a word. Redundant, yes, but a word no less.

  • e

    okay i am a little upset that you didn’t know who said “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” It was Abraham Lincoln

  • Alton Darwin

    Regarding “ph” solely as the “f” sound in English. Apparently, she has never heard of an uPHeaval. I’m sure she is not suggesting it’s pronounce you-fee-val. Or uphold/held… uphill… and of course upholstery (and their cognates).

  • timm

    I wish i were perfect and free of all faults.

  • http://Yahoo.com Britt Marley

    One word that I hear mispronounced is “supposedly”… I hear many people say “suh-pose-u-bly. That “b” sound at the end really goes up my spine!

  • Crystal Banks

    I cringe when people say conversate instead of converse. I have heard so many people from different stations in life say conversate. I was at a job orientation and as she was reading from the job handbook she read the word converate and I corrected her, That didn’t go over well for me, but I just couldn’t take it.

  • Billy bob

    My favorites from my fiance:

    F: “What are they giving on TV?” (not “playing” or “showing”)
    Me: “Giving to who?”

    F: “We need to take him a bath.”
    Me: “After we take him a bath, should we give him a bath, too?”

    F: “Did you put the dishes up? (instead of “away”)
    Me: “Up where?”

  • bear

    i’m with timm on this. we don’t know what environment people were raised in. uneducated parents can influence their children to get into the habit of using poor grammar or pronunciation of words. the thing is, you know what they are trying to say, yet, somehow it offends you that they pronounce it incorrectly. that seems very intolerant of you, if you think they are idiots for mispronouncing a word, but you know what they mean. there may be something that you are not very knowledgeable about, but would that be a reason for someone to think you’re an idiot because of it.

  • Bret

    You forgot to include ‘Favre’

  • C. Blue

    As others have pointed out, language changes and evolves. This is the natural course of *any* language that is still being spoken. “Dead” languages are dead because they are not changing–as a result of no one speaking them. Most of the words in contemporary English are “mispronounced,” if only due to Grimm’s Law and the two major vowel shifts. but just for fun, I’ll throw out a few.

    sherbert–as others have pointed out, this is an acceptable spelling. What I didn’t see was anyone pointing out that this spelling actually reflects the *original* form of the word. the form without a second “r” is almost as old, but definitely came later.

    homage–always “HOMM-ij,” never “oh-MAHJ.” Sorry, Hollywood, you need to quit “pretensifying” that word.

    protein–it’s “PRO-te-in,” not “PRO-teen.” A pro teen is someone who skips the college phase and goes straight into the big league draft.

  • http://www.fromgainesvillewithlove.org chris cline

    Vinaigrette is NOT Vineegerette

  • John

    Another one that bugs me is when people claim, “I could care less about X.” If you COULD care less then you SHOULD. The phrase is, “I COULDN’T care less about X.” Meaning, I can’t possible care less about the subject on which we are speaking.

  • Sarah P.

    Thank you! I enjoyed reading the original post and the comments. My pet peeve is hearing “seen” when I should be hearing “saw” or “have seen”. I also cringe at “pellow” rather than “pillow”, “melk” for “milk” and “kelour” for “colour” Have a wonderful day!

  • John

    Usage Note: During the 15th century English experienced a widespread loss of certain consonant sounds within consonant clusters, as the (d) in handsome and handkerchief, the (p) in consumption and raspberry, and the (t) in chestnut and often. In this way the consonant clusters were simplified and made easier to articulate. With the rise of public education and literacy and, consequently, people’s awareness of spelling in the 19th century, sounds that had become silent sometimes were restored, as is the case with the t in often, which is now frequently pronounced. In other similar words, such as soften and listen, the t generally remains silent.

  • RoxanneT

    “As long as the speaker is understood, the pronunciation is “correct.” And therein lies the rub. Yes, your mispronunciations or malapropisms will suit within your own city, town, state, or clique, but should you want to interact with any other English language speaking people, you may be misunderstood, or considered uneducated.
    Many of the examples above can be traced to popular music, where it’s often fun to add or change words to suit lyrical purposes. Other errors are attributable to misheard remarks by parents or elders. Still others were originally attempts by the lower class to appear upper class; my favorite has always been ‘gen u whine’ for genuine (gen u in.) Barkers in the early 1900’s coined that beauty.
    Sadly, a great many mispronunciations come from a lower standard of education. With less respect given to teachers and the correction of spelling in an effort to push children along from one grade to the next, it’s not uncommon for students graduating from high school to need yet another year of schooling simply to bring their spelling and grammar up to university level standards.
    So, the short answer is – yes, mispronunciations will make you look like an idiot. Or, at least, one of the uneducated or lower classes.

  • miss simms

    It’s First come first served – not First come first serve.

    And my sister says hisself instead of himself. That too, is annoying.

  • hawaiiii50

    I may have missed it if already mentioned, but my pet peeve is when people say “I could care less” when they actually mean “I couldn’t care less”. If they would just listen to what they are saying it would be obvious that they want to say COULDN’T if the implication is that they don’t care at all about the subject. I could care less means you have some amount of caring that could be diminished.

    When I was young, not seeing the written word and only hearing the pronunciation, I thought the discussion was about “youth in Asia” when the topic was euthanasia (mercy killing).

  • http://www.sleepbeforewaking.com Me

    Snuck is a word. 🙂

    Just ask Jennifer Garner and Conan O’Brien, he’ll tell you.

  • SAM

    Good article. Entertaining comments. My two cents: there’s accurate and inaccurate use of language and then there’s acceptable and unnaceptable. I personally prefer the standard form of English (as opposed to slang and other forms that have become acceptable).

    I do recognise however, that language evolves and Americans will be the first to tell you that what others may call “American” language is now standard. Many of the dictionaries referenced here are American published and support the American additions so we can debate this for another year and still be at loggerheads over it.

    Language is in trouble when we can no longer understand each other. My suggestion is that we should therefore respect each other and seek to better communicate. This means that Americans shouldn’t change language just for the sake of it or because it just suits them and non-Americans should be more tolerant of the evolution as we seek to continue to communicate with each other.

  • Ladaisha

    Also, another word people Mispronounce: Converse

    Incorrect: Con- Ver- Sate

    Corret: Con-Verse


  • Erin

    The one we hear all the time now is Chi-pole-tee instead of Chi-pote-lay for Chipotle.

    Another that drives me batty is “boughten” particularly used like this: “I could have make cookies at home but I decided to bring store-boughten ones instead. ” GAAAH!

    How about inccorect use of the word “I?” News people are the biggest offenders, but people I work with do it too. They use I instead of me in every case, regardless of which is correct in the sentence.

  • Suz

    Dictionary says either pronunciation for often is correct, but I still say off-en. And I had it when people (esp realtors) who pronounce realty reel-it-ee. Drive me insane.

  • Megvan

    Why has our culture collectively decided to make the “v” in “voila” silent! It’s not!

  • Megvan

    Also, I’m not 100% sure, but I think your opening quote was Abraham Lincoln. 🙂

  • bebe

    “Often” is wrong. I found this on dictionary.com:

    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.

  • Monica Redfox

    As a high school English teacher, I agree with you about everything except “often”. How one chooses to pronounce it is cultural and regional. The fact is that the “t” is in there, and one may choose to give it credit or not. An example of a cultural and regional misuse of a word is when people add an “r” to “wash” and pronounce it “warsh”. Both of my parents pronounce it that way and when I was old enough to realize that there was no “r” in the word, I self-corrected at about age 4.

  • 2ht2bstppd

    Two things make my ears cringe while hearing them: Menstruation being pronounced “menustration” and also Respect being pronounced “respec” with a silent “t”. Ugh the irony!

  • Patricia

    Mischievous, please. It is not spelled mischievious. Ask me, but please do not Ax me!

  • jennie w.

    The two mispronounced words that drive me crazy:

    mischievous pronounced “mis-cheev-ee-ous”. Why the extra syllable?

    flaccid prounounced “flassid”. Don’t know how to pronounce two c’s? How about success or accident?

  • Antikythera

    Regarding utmost/upmost: “In a bizarre twist, people actually became so certain of this word’s meaning that they alter its pronunciation to reflect that definition.”

    The phenomenon altered pronunciation or spelling based on a misinterpretation of the word’s meaning is called an eggcorn. (Eggcorns are, for some people, the egg-shaped seeds of the oak tree, more correctly known as acorns.)


  • Goonie

    I bothered to read every single post. Most people got all worked up over “often” and offered some drivel they copy/pasted from their ad hoc dictionary-of-choice, so save yourself some time and ire and spend it not on mispronouncing words, but rather poor or nonexistent grammar.

    My huge peeve, and I mean H-U-G-E is this: “I like ______ better than _______”. What should be said instead is: “I like _______ MORE than _______”.

    What you MEAN in either case is that the quantity of your enjoyment is greater from the thing you like MORE. This is a matter of the AMOUNT of pleasure you receive.

    One cannot QUALIFY “like”. You either like it or you don’t. If you want to say how much more you like this over that, there you go; you like it MORE, not BETTER.

    *steps down from soapbox*

  • http://deborahreflections.blogspot.com Deborah

    Overall, right on … but one of *my* pet peeves is the use of the word “feel” when you really mean “think.” For example, a writer may write “this is still a very popular pronunciation mistake and one that I really feel must be addressed in a public forum.” The belief that something should be addressed is a thought, not a feeling. The misuse of the word “feel” is rampant, even among writers.

  • ATJ

    “Halloween” is not “Holloween!” The root word is “hallow” (rhymes with shallow) or “hallowed” meaning to make holy, or to respect or honor greatly. The root word is NOT “hollow” as in nothing in the middle. One of my students told me that she thought it was “Holloween” because we hollow out pumpkins. These people reproduce! Please, PLEASE say it right – “HALLOWEEN!”

  • la

    Correct pronunciation: can – da – dett

    shouldn’t it be: can-di-date

    what is can da dett, hmmmm, now i don’t even know how to say it!

  • kah

    I just thought it needed to be said…

    …that this is the longest thread i have ever read.

  • http://youtu.be/RuNQwwlK3xg West

    @MAYGIN: Canadians do NOT pronounce about as a-boot. Where the hell did you pick up THIS stereotype????

    To all those defending immigrants’ rights to mispronounce English: please don’t. I am guessing what you mean to defend is an accent. Mispronunciation, whether accented or not, is still mispronunciation. I am speaking, as it were, as an immigrant, who learned proper – I hope – English after immigrating to Canada. It especially grinds my gears when native speakers make mistakes that even a non-native speaker can spot.

  • Kathleen

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the word in your last sentence that is often (no t) confused: flout and flaunt. Personal pet peeve.
    And as for the dictionaries: know the difference between “prescriptive” dictionaries that state the rules for standard language, and “descriptive” dictionaries that describe what people say. A popular pronunciation may still sideways glances from standard-language speakers.

  • Wanda Jones

    Nuclear is one of my biggest peeves…along with realtor (not real-a-tor), and jewelry (not jew-ler-ry). Thanks for this article!

  • http://twitter.com/charleshill Charles

    I cringe when I see or hear the word “reoccur.” The word is “recur.”

  • http://twitter.com/charleshill Charles

    I found an explanation of the difference between “recur” and “reoccur.” I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make. http://www.grammarist.com/usage/recur-reoccur/

  • Nick in NC

    They should have ‘axed’ you first.

    I listen to conversations and watch people as a sport and as entertainment.

    Raised in the south, there are lots of words that are destroyed. Luckily I moved to CA for 20 years and just moved back. Now they are more outstanding in conversations. Grammar is even worse.
    The first is my personal pet peeve:

    Wrong: Enter-stin’
    Correct: Intrest-ing

    Wrong: Eyeee-ce
    Correct: AHYS

    Wrong: pro-nounce-e-a-shun
    Right: pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn

    Dictionary.com allows people to enter a word, it will give the written pronunciation as well as an icon to listen to it – correctly.

    WIth spell check and this feature, emails and grammar should not be an issue.

  • Steve Kann

    Without taking the time to see if they’ve already been mentioned in the comments, the ones that kill me are “supposebly” and “expodential” . . . man, do people sound dumb saying those.

  • Nick in NC


    Sorry but preventative is a word.

    they even pronounce it.

  • A.

    Finally, vindication!! But please don’t leave off one of my favorites…

    Wrong: ash-fault
    Correct: ass-fault

    It sounds dirty, but it’s not.

  • Lillie

    Bathroom. TH, not FF. Makes me nuts when people say baffrooom.

  • Galaxy Gal

    The addition of an “s” to a word that was doing a fine job on its own, without the “s” is one of my pet peeves. I hear it every day and could strangle the offenders every time!!

    The word is “alls.” As in, “Alls you got to do is … ” instead of “All you have to do is … ”

    The “got” is bad enough. The “ALLS” takes the flipping cake!!!

  • Deb Carter

    What about the word, ASK?

  • David

    Big pet peeve of mine: It’s not supposively, or supposinly, or supposively. It’s supposedly.

  • Holly

    Let me solve the mystery of “whom” said “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” In short, God said it. It’s a proverb from the Bible. It’s paraphrasing Proverbs 17:28. It would have taken you two seconds on Google to accurately quote that.

  • Holly

    And “et cetera” is not pronounced “et-cetera.” It’s french, it’s pronounced “eh-cetera.”. The t is silent in french.

  • Michelle H.

    Any idea why the “t” is silent in “often,” but the first “d” is not in “candidate”?

    Also, is it possible that the first “d” is just really soft? I’ve been sitting here, trying to say it both ways, and it is clumsy for the mouth to say both “d”s. But it may just be my Northeast Ohio accent getting in the way.

    I would also be curious to hear your thoughts on English versions of foreign cities. Example: why do English speaking countries use “Vienna” instead of the original German “Wien”? Isn’t that a long-standing bastardization from Europe even before U.S. citizens started screwing up standard English?

  • Sunny

    How do you all pronounce “meme”. As in an internet meme…

  • CK

    @Holly. Et cetera actually comes from Latin, your pronunciation is correct in French. It can also be said in Italian as et- cheh-ter-ah. It doesn’t mean that we pronounce it that way in English.

  • Diane

    caramel (not car-mel) and presentation (not present like present arms) my biggest pet peeves.

  • Linda

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives both pronunciations of ‘often’. I think that it is unreasonable to say that pronouncing it oft-en makes one sound like an idiot.


    As a native speaker (I’m English) and a graduate of English, mispronunciation and misuse of my native tongue niggles me immensely. I accept that English, as a language has evolved over the last 300+ years and uses of words have changed. Certain words used by our friends across the Pond have changed to the amusement of people in UK, e.g. erbs without the h, which is likely to stem from conversing with French immigrants in whose language the h is silent. I dare say, I could easily flummox any non-English speaker with my use of slang or idioms as they could flummox me. Mispronunciation is a result of poor teaching, hearsay and up-bringing. NO-ONE has monopoly over the English language.

  • http://www.enticingtables.com Valerie

    And please add these:

    Realtor – pronounced real-tor not real-uh-tor
    Jewelry – pronounced jewel-ry not jewel-uh-ry
    Orientated vs oriented – arrgh, orientated is not a word even if you put a “dis” in front of it
    Prospective vs perspective

    And the one that drives me most crazy is the tendency to add a “y” to words ending in ence. For instance, everybody talks about our dependency on foregin oil when it’s actually our dependence on foreign oil or my personal dependence on chocolate, etc. Do we celebrate Independency Day in this country? NO!!

  • Segamil

    @tjgoldstein – Nougat, really? Are you talking about the French pronunciation or the American? I’ve never heard anyone call it noo-gar?

  • JJ

    Dear Maygin,

    As a Canadian I can assure you that I, or anyone that I know, associate with, or have interacted with throughout the years, do not say: “a-boot”. We say about (as in “out), just like you do. That is one of countless misconceptions many “Americans” have about us. And I have to laugh when I hear our supposedly Canadian accent in movies…

    True we use “ou” in our spelling instead of “o” as in “colour”, “neighbour”, etc. as the English do, but we pronounce those words the same way you do.

    “Americans” are in no position to comment on the correct pronunciation of the English language. So before casting stones on your neighbour to the north and biggest trading partner, consider cleaning up the countless English language atrocities committed by the various dialects within your own country.

    Your “American” neighbours north of the border.

    That’s right, we’re all “American”, aren’t we? You know, North America, Central America, South America… Oh that’s right, you might not. None of the maps on any of your news networks, classrooms, government offices, etc. ever show anything existing outside the US of A. So I can’t really blame you for your ignorance.

  • Erin

    I could care less what people think of my grammar and pronunciation.

  • Cindy

    I didn’t read ALL the answers (gosh, who knew there were as many pedants like me out there!), but was glad to see “preventive” and “orient” vs. “preventative” and “orientate” on the list.

    And, the EXPRESSION that makes me crazy is: “I could care less,” vs. “I couldn’t care less.”

    All those three things are not really mispronunciations, though. To be totally pedantic, they are incorrect words.

    But then, I’m the kind of person who likes to hear songs sung with the correct lyrics, too, which I admit is a bit of a character flaw……

  • Megan

    How about the phrase:

    “I could care less” when what they mean is “I couldn’t care less.”

  • gayle wolfskill

    Here’s hoping you can straighten folks out about the recently gone viral use and concommittant mispronunciation of the word “homage”. While used correctly (meaning giving honor to as in paying homage) of French derivation, the word is correctly pronounced “ah-mij” while misguided folks, in copying others — rather than consulting a dictionary — use a sort of affectation in pronouncing it “oh-maahj” as though they’re trying to sound erudite.

  • John WK

    Could you please provide a source confirming that your preferred pronunciation of “often” is the correct one? All the dictionaries I own say it’s okay to pronounce the T.

  • irregardless

    snuck is the past participle of sneak. it’s definitely a word.
    also, candidate is pronounced can-dih-dett, not can-da-dett.
    justin brown’s correct pronunciation and correct pronunciation mean two different things apparently.

  • Susan

    then there’s ‘joo-la-ree’ for jewelry, and ‘ree-la-ter’ for realtor. oh, and ‘should of’ for should’ve. the list goes on and on…..

  • Jeric

    Conversate instead of conversed. Beyonce actually used it in one of her songs.

  • joy ann inn

    specific NOT pacific! the pacific is an ocean. ughhhhh!

  • Janet

    Thank you! So few people seem to care these days whether they sound (or act) ignorant! Here’s another one:

    Realtor is not ree-lit-er. It is RE-ull-ter. This should be easy to remember because a realtor sells real (RE-ull) estate.

    And when did news anchors become ignorant of the difference between a noun and a verb? People proTEST in a gathering known as a PROtest, and troops enter into COMbat in order to comBAT the enemy. There’s a long list of of examples but these are the two that I hear misused almost daily on news broadcasts.

  • Ben

    Ha! I love how almost every reply is written in the highest possible language, as if each person is afraid to write the way that they speak. (e.g. I was aurally assaulted) Really? You speak like that? ha.

  • Chris

    How about adding “ask” to this list?! It’s “ask”…not “ax”

  • Joseph

    Perhaps my biggest pet peeve can be perceived as both a grammatical and spelling mistake. But, it’s more on the grammatical end of the spectrum, and I’ve been noticing this error becoming more and more common and I don’t understand why.

    The mistake? When people ad an apostrophe to a plural word, turning it into a possessive, such as: ‘I went to the store and bought apple’s for Granny’s amazing pie.’ I’ve seen this so much, it’s as if people are adding the apostrophe to any word that ends in an ‘s’ because they think that’s the rule, regardless of grammatical context. I really worry when I see this error make it into magazines and newspapers because it tells me that either the writer or the copy editor really don’t give a winch about what they’re presenting to the world.

  • Jason

    What about the word Comfortable =

  • hater from Siloam Springs

    What about “asshole”? Did I say that one right?

    Maybe these dialectical pronunciations are technically non-standard, but pointing them out or smugly noting them is just bad manners — and having good manners is a far more valuable skill than lexical snobbery.

  • ayches

    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

  • JP

    The proper Latin pronunciation of “et cetera” has a hard “c”, so take THAT.

  • Wallis

    Holly–“et cetera” is Latin, not French, so it wouldn’t follow French rules. It translates to “and other things.”

    Wrong: “Ree-lah-tor”
    Right: “Ree-ahl-tor”

    No, I’m not a realtor, just a strong crusader for the preservation of the English language!

  • Raven

    If you say “noo-garrr” in Detroit you’ll get your ass kicked.

  • saillael

    To Hater, calling someone @$$hole is not a sign of good manners. You have misinterpreted the intent of this article. It is not demeaning; it is instructive. As an English teacher in a two year college, I recognize instruction when I see it. So dial back your defensiveness and realize that we can all still be taught things that will improve the quality of our lives.

    To the bloke who thinks that “snuck” for sneaked and
    ‘irregardless” with its extraneous prefix are now acceptable use in standard American English, you need to examine the efficacy of your source. Is it, perhaps, Wikipedia? Or perhaps it is Webster’s wihich is not to be trusted because it is a descriptive dictionary rather than a prescriptive dictionary.

    We should not underestimate the value of standard usage in both the market place of ideasand the market place. The consequences of the devolution of our language is the inability to communicate, and as we can see from the example in the halls of power, the inability to communicate has disastrous consequences.

  • Beez

    All of this gnashing of teeth about corrupted pronunciation tends to obscure the fact that pronunciations change much as accents do over time – so how can you be certain that the measuring stick itself hasn’t changed?

    I’m reminded of Michael York and his statement about accents, in this interview: http://www.writersblocpresents.com/archives/shakespeare/shakespeare.htm

    YORK: From the moment I came here in the late 60s, I was aware of this strange conception in America. Americans thought that we Brits had a lock on Shakespeare because of the way we sounded. I was always at pains to remind them that – as Samantha pointed out – that the accent of Shakespeare’s day with the Devon “rrrr” crossed over with the settlers and it took root in America. So if you want to hear – and the key word is hear – (the Elizabethans said “That we shall hear a play” not see one), if you want to hear an “authentic” performance, see it here in America! Don’t go see it in Britain, where our accents have gone through this lunatic sound change with our German kings and our whatever. See it here in America, where you have preserved purity!

  • GrammarAnyone?

    Hard to believe this comment ‘thread’ is still going after more than 3 years, or that I’m about to contribute. I’m sure Justin Brown no longer bothers to read it…but why should any of this stop me from keeping it going?

    (I admit I skipped from 2008 to 2012 in the comments, so apologies to anyone who has read the entire thread, if this repeats.)

    @JOSEPH – I imagine that those people remember losing points so many times in elementary school for “forgetting the apostrophe,” that they now are subconsciously compelled to ‘correct’ their own grammar by adding the apostrophe before someone else corrects them. This is called hypercorrection…

    …also a pet peeve of mine. Especially when the news anchors do it on the national prime time news (Katie Couric did). Specifically, using “I” (a subject pronoun) instead of “me” (an object pronoun) in a sentence where an object pronoun is required. Most often: “between you and I” instead of “between you and me.” ‘ME’ is correct because it is an object of the preposition ‘between’. I think I hear that used INcorrectly more OFTEN than correctly!

    Speaking of ‘often’… No ‘t’ for me, but I don’t mind if you do. I DO mind ‘acrosst’, though…didn’t see that one mentioned before.

  • ~CDA

    Kindly add ‘almond’ and ‘salmon’ to the mix… the ‘Ls’ are silent.

  • kelly

    What kill me is when they say “aleven” for the #11… it ELEVEN!!

  • Bob Stephenson

    How about these two VERY common ones: Cummerbund is commonly mispronounced “cumberbun.” Also, Realtor is commonly mispronounced “Realator.”

  • Scott

    Accents are only a small part of pronunciations…but an excerpt of an interview with Michael York might help to refocus the “proper pronunciation” question:

    YORK: From the moment I came here in the late 60s, I was aware of this strange conception in America. Americans thought that we Brits had a lock on Shakespeare because of the way we sounded. I was always at pains to remind them that – as Samantha pointed out – that the accent of Shakespeare’s day with the Devon “rrrr” crossed over with the settlers and it took root in America. So if you want to hear – and the key word is hear – (the Elizabethans said “That we shall hear a play” not see one), if you want to hear an “authentic” performance, see it here in America! Don’t go see it in Britain, where our accents have gone through this lunatic sound change with our German kings and our whatever. See it here in America, where you have preserved purity!

  • John

    I could be wrong, but no one cares how you pronounce sherbet…

  • http://twitter.com/minimage MiniMage

    I knew someone who could say script, but always said prestription
    setsy = sexy
    shaushish = sausage
    poat = port
    corch = coach
    what’s the big idear?
    ehthirrul = ethereal
    mealee = melee

  • joe difabbio

    Here’s one.if it’s not already mentioned above: “i could care less” which ofcourse convey’s that one can care less than they do now,however its always used to suggest the opposite which is the correct form: “I couldn’t care less”.I never hear anyone use it properly. okay i lied one more-” six to one half a dozen to the other”. Ever hear that? I did growing up in the Bronx, ofcourse now years later I found out it never made sense so its “Six of one half a dozen of another” all things being more or less equal.

  • dia

    i feel like all of you must take a anthropological linguistics class. then youll realize that there are so many dialects of english, in the US alone, that this article’s argument is moot.

  • Masshole

    People seem truly bothered when Southerners or Westerners add an R to words such as “warsh” but nobody seems to mind that we here in New England drop the same R and are much “smahta” than you.
    (jut joking folks – I love regional accents!)

  • Masshole

    *typos will also make you appear stupid……

  • Amy

    I didn’t (DI-ent) read through all 587 comments, so I don’t know if anyone mentioned “BIRF-day,” but that’s another one that needs to be added to the “banquet table.”

  • http://chrisabraham.com Chris Abraham

    Great list but it doesn’t include cache (cash versus cashay, cashay being wrong) or forte (fort versus fortay, where fortay is wrong). What idiots those people sound like when they do it… “we discovered a cashay of weapons” should be “we discovered a cash of weapons” — The one you’re thinking about is cachet, methinks? Also, forte == fort and not fortay or fortë. Sigh.

  • pcool

    How about “ask”, instead of “ax”…

  • Macguyver505

    Now, I didn’t read all of the comments, so maybe I’m repeating what someone may have already pointed out. I apologize in advance for my possible redundancy.
    Snuck- This word is a real word. It is the past tense of sneak. Now, someone said that it is an informal or slang word, and that sneaked is correct. If we all spoke the Queen’s English, I’d agree, but we don’t. This is America, and like everything else, we have made the language our own. This does not invalidate the reality of the word.(Note: The entire idea of questioning whether a word is “real” or not sets up a whole series of questions in the philosophy department. If can use it and be understood, I’d say it’s a word.) The fact that most people can barely spell is far more offensive to me, as pronunciation varies wildly depending on dialect and accent.
    If someone wishes to debate the whole “American English v. English English” or the ever popular “Americans are destroying the English language debate”, I would counter with a discussion of British slang.
    A diaper is a diaper, not a “nappy” or a “nappie”…and that’s just the first word that popped into my head…Oh, how exactly does one “take the piss out of someone”?

  • mt_crunk-suvious

    Great to see you can pronounce those words but can’t count your examples. There’s 14 here.
    Next up, “how to count to 10 properly”

  • Danny

    Snuck is totally word. Common misconception.

  • larilee

    What about people who pronounce ‘literally’ with three syllables? And ‘real-a-tor’ for ‘realtor’? And this one may be rare, but ‘program’ pronounced as ‘prolgram’ wtf is a prolgram?!
    thanks for this

  • Brian

    I always stand clear when somebody wants to “axe a question”

  • HooHah

    This is quite entertaining, and mostly true. The only one to which I object is “candidate.” While “Candydate” may be the instructions given to BBC broadcasters, the pronunciation of the first D should not be a requirement for the average American…

  • Jayna

    I’m tolerant and nice until someone says “conversate”. If I ever die a mysterious death, it will probably be my soul having an allergic reaction to someone trying to *conversate* with me. Ugh!

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  • Oohrah

    You failed to mention that America’s favorite incompetent ex-president, Jimmy Carter, also pronounced “nuclear” as “nuke – you – lerr”. All the more hilarious since he was a nuke – you – lerr submarine officer in the US Navy. I knew that you’d want to know in the interest of fairness. On another note, since Mr. Obama adopted Mr. Bush’s Iraq strategy without any changes, did Mr. Obama continue to screw up Iraq or did he fix it, thereby owing credit to Mr. Bush?

  • Duane


  • Jessica Curtis

    “Ax” for “ask.” That one is the biggest flag for ignorance in my opinion.

  • Alex Sidline

    I started looking at 2009, because pronunciation is an interesting subject for me. I was educated abroad, and am delighted to say I have pronounced every word correctly. I did not read much beyond 2009. I skipped to the end 2012.

    Yes recently I heard Library pronounced lye berry.
    Provelone is provelon eh not prove loan. Also bruschetta is pronounced brus ketta.

  • Marisa

    What about CARAMEL?

    For the love of monkeys, there’s another “A” in it!

  • Steve O’Rourke

    I’ve been mispronouncing ‘candidate’ for over forty years – I blame Simon and Garfunkel and “Mrs. Robinson”.

    My pet peeves are written rather than spoken – the triplets, “to”, “too” and “two”, and “there”, “their” and “they’re”. Also people who drop the ‘r’ in “your”, and misspell “you’re”.

    Is there a correct pronunciation (daa-ta or day-ta) for data, or is the difference international?

  • Jimmy


    I always hear people saying “ick-set-err-uh”, I never hear people start it with “ex”. Drives me batty.

  • Jill

    I must admit that I stopped reading comments halfway down but I thought I’d add just two of many grammatical errors. The first, said live on TV by many newscasters (and also written in newspapers, books, etc.), is the incorrect use of the past tense of sink, i.e., “The boat sunk!”. The other is the plural of incident. When did it become incidences?

  • Matthew

    Mark Twain said is it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

  • C Myers

    You Brits and your extraneous apostrophes.
    Hey, Mr. Brown, I think it’s “can-di-date.” There’s no third A in the middle.


    Snuck is in the Oxford English Dictionary so I would say it is a legitimate word. If dictionaries don’t provide the standard then what (or who) does?

    Also, @Jimmy, etc. stands for et cetera. There is no “ex” in the pronunciation.

  • http://www.elocutionsolution.com Elocution Solution

    As speech pathologists our pet peeve is when people pronounce ‘larynx’ as ‘larnyx’.

  • Sean

    Great read, except “Often” which, according to the OED is pronounced both ways–and stems from “oft” which doesn’t have a silent “t.”

  • John L

    Nougat. Pronounced however the hell we want since 1776.

  • http://90recruitsin90days.com mike

    You forgot two of the most common mistakes that I even hear people on television say often. Number one: an actor is NOT a female, but yet you will hear females call themselves actor all the time!! It’s ACTRESS for females!! Number two: You will always hear this when they are announcing someone coming on stage many times, “without further a due”! There is no such phrase in the English language people!!!

  • Mezzo

    Orientated rather than oriented.
    Sennence rather than sentence. Newscasters are now doing this all the time.

    Both of these errors make me cringe.

  • Vicki

    May I add 2 more words to the ever-increasing list?

    Realtor is not real-a-tor
    Literature is not lit-a-ture

    Thank you – I feel better now 🙂

  • sam

    Often can be pronounced both ways

    Sherbet is mispronounced by so many I’m surprised its not in the dictionary, language is always evolving, things will not always be pronounced the same

    I’ve only heard people say for all intensive purposes, so I do feel kind of stupid not knowing what the actual saying is, I feel that is worthy of being on the list, and someone would look uneducated saying it

    turning s into x is a definite no-no, its just being lazy

  • Rob

    It was mentioned a couple times on here before, but the most mispronounced word in the English language is one of the most used: “THE”. I can’t believe I hear college educated people every day say “thuh end” instead of “thee end.” The correct pronunciation of “the” vs. “thee” is apparently no longer taught in school, as all three of my kids say it incorrectly.

    Another one of my favorites is “supposably” instead of the correct “supposedly.”

    And if we could only re-teach the world about objects of prepositions. Every time I hear Brent Musberger say “He threw the ball between HE and the sideline”, I want to smash my face through the TV screen.

  • http://www.noahlomax.com Noah Lomax

    This post needs to be shared with the world. Could we make reading it a prerequisite for graduation? Spot on, my friend!

  • Catherine

    @Bob Dylan, While I agree that folks often use “wallah” incorrectly in place of “voila,” “wallah” is a proper word in itself and not just made up. It is Arabic for “I promise” or “by God!” and therefore could be correct in some instances.

  • Nate

    I find this article and many of the comments pretentious. While I understand your concerns for incorrect pronunciation, I think you do not understand why correct pronunciation is important. Language is a means of communication. We do not speak in order to communicate with ourselves, but with others. Thus, using correct pronunciation makes it easier for a listener to understand what one is saying without worrying if the speaker said, “the scientific findings affected his world view” (meaning, the scientific findings influenced his world view) or “the scientific findings effected his world view” (meaning, the scientific findings brought about his world view, and far less likely to be the intended meaning). By using correct pronunciation we are being polite by intending to prevent misunderstandings or more thought than is needed on the listener’s part.

    This brings me to why I find this article and these posts pretentious. While you criticize others who do not use the correct pronunciation– calling them ignorant, or stating that their use of the language is irritating–your writing is not without grammatical errors. We have grammatical rules for the same reason that we have pronunciation rules. So if you are going to criticize someone’s pronunciation, at least do so with correct grammar. This is especially important for the author, whose tools of his trade are words and punctuation. A writer’s inability to use these tools properly (i.e., within the confines of Standard Written English) is akin to a carpenter’s inability to use a hammer properly. The introductory sentences in bold below the picture have within them a run-on sentence: there should be a comma before the “so,” as it is a coordinating conjunction connecting two independent clauses. Furthermore, ellipsis dots are not one of the four ways to separate two independent clauses. One can use a period, a colon, a semi-colon, or a comma directly preceding a coordinating conjunction. The grammar in the posts is even worse. Thus this seems more like a way for you to feign superior intellect by putting others down. While mispronunciation might be your pet-peeve, people demonstrating their intelligence at the expense of others is mine, and it is even worse when that demonstration displays one’s ignorance more than one’s superior education.

  • ‘Suzanne

    I read all these bleeping comments. Can’t believe how many repetitions there were, esp. for “axe”, “realtor” and “nuclear.”
    How ’bout “tarpolion” for ‘tarpaulin” and “prone” mistakenly used for “supine”. And particular to Montana, “Andaconda” for the town of “Anaconda”

  • http://www.stuff.co.nz Anon

    Oh man, I work with EFTPOS, and if theres one thing I can’t stand its old ladies screeching ‘EFF-POSST?’ down the phone at me

  • Phlipness

    There were so many posts, so I scanned, but has anyone mentioned Connecticut? Why aren’t we pronouncing the second C? I know it’s an indian word, but it’s an English translation of the oral usage….I say we are doing a disservice by omitting the second C. This travesty must end.

  • Seth

    I’m going to agree with several other people here. Most of this article was pertinent, but some is just British snobbishness. Languages change, and your way is no more correct than the American deviations. Give the introduction to The Canterbury Tales a read for a good example of how modern English has deviated in just a few hundred years. For a more modern example of the proper English way not being right take a look at aluminum… no not the metal the word. The British way of saying it (Alu-min-ium) is a result of a misprint of a scientific text during the time period when the elements were being named. Don’t get me started about “rooters” vs “routers”.

  • Desirai

    luckily I am not guilty of mispronouncing any of those words, and people who do make me mad. Too bad “ax” and “ast” isn’t on there. (IE: “I ast him a question.” “Did you ax him a question?”)

    And god damnit, irregardless is not a god damn word. IR- is practically the same thing as -LESS, so you’re saying “without without regard” isn’t that like a double negative??

    It’s like saying iruseless. or irrationaless. or irrefutabless.

  • Jill Thurtell

    Since the fact that “snuck” IS a word has been brought up, I’d like to remind everyone that “dove” as in “He dove into the lake” NOT dived and “lit” as in “Her smile lit up the room” NOT lighted, are also words. How they fell out of use has long been a mystery to me. Most of the words on this list I’ve long-suffered hearing the mis-pronunciation of. Also, it’s should HAVE, not should of. My ex-husband insisted “their” was pronounced “therr”, and that was how you could tell the difference between there and they’re, but he was a complete moron. My sister says “Sayerday” and we were raised in the same household (not a trailer park in Alabama). I lament the death of the English language more than most. I shudder (not shutter) to think what we will sound like 50 years from now. God help us all.

  • http://[email protected] Ruth Smith

    My granddaughter connected me with this website. I am a retired English teacher and enjoyed the comments very much.

    In my area, the error that disturbs me most is “I seen. . . !”

    How do you tell someone?”

  • http://argonautplanet.com erika

    i would like to add “mischievous” to the list. why people think there is an extra “i” in the last syllable (directly after the “v”) forever will be a mystery to me. “miss-chee-ev-uss” not “miss-cheev-EEuss”

    also, for the record, i distinctly remember being taught in grade school that “often” has two acceptable pronunciations.

  • DC

    As a Wisconsinite, I cringe every time I hear someone say “Wes-con-sin”, which is incredibly common with members of the national media. It’s an I, not an E. My condolences to residents of other states who have to put up with “Illinoise”, “Missouruh” (I’ll admit that one is sort of a difference in accent rather than a true mispronunciation), “Oregahn”, etc.

  • http://facebook.com/ladynite Crystal

    crevasse- Is it pronounced “Crev-ese” “Crev-us” or “Cre-vas”?

    I always thought it was “Crev-us” but within the last year I’ve noticed it being pronounced “Cre-vas” on TV.

  • Rachel Stern

    My language peeve: “would of”, “should of”, or “could of” instead of “would have”, “should have”, and “could have” — or “would’ve”, “could’ve”, “should’ve” — interesting- the spell check here is telling me the last two conjunctions are not words. Is that true?

  • Missy

    Add the word “orientated” for “oriented”.

  • VJ Hedges

    You omitted “mischievous” (as opposed to mis-chie-vi-ous….which is INCORRECT!)…One of my all time pet peeves! The root is mischief….change the f to v and add ous….mis-chie-vous. Get it? Got it? Good!

  • http://tba Jack Barron

    I was surprised to read a few comments and see people complaining about this article — that it was pretentious or pedantic or that some words were repeated more than once in the comments. First of all, if you mispronounce a word, you sound like an idiot. Get it. Got it? Good.

    And, repetition, my darlings, is sometimes how we must learn if we can’t get it through our thick skulls how to do something correctly. That’s “core-ect-ly” not “cor-ek-ly” in case you weren’t aware. Now be good little students and practice your pronunciation and perhaps your enunciation as well and I’ll relax over here, drink an “ess-press-o” (not an “ex-press-o”) while quietly judging you…which is exactly what everyone else does when you mispronounce words and sound like an idiot.

    A few words to work on:

    Iraq: “eye-rack” is incorrect. correct is “ear-ock”
    Iran: “eye-ran” is incorrect. correct is “ear-on”
    Didn’t: “di-int” is incorrect. correct is “did-int”
    Badminton: “badmitten” is incorrect. correct is “bad-mint-en”
    Realtor: “real-et-er” is incorrect. correct is “real-ter”
    Chianti: “kay-on-tay” is incorrect.”key-on-tee”
    Niche: “nitch” is incorrect. “neesh”
    Clique (sometimes also misspelled “Click”): “click” is incorrect. “kleek”

  • Dash

    There are clearly dialectical variations of words nor are words static entities. As long as I know what the person means, there are no problems.

  • Jeff B

    Okay, I’ve seen it in 2 comments, so I feel compelled to respond. PREVENTATIVE is a word, it’s a noun, as in “to take a preventative”. But it’s not an adjective, which is how it’s used almost universally. But I do love the article and the ensuing debates in the responses. Language is beautiful and amazing!

  • CHIP

    This should be renamed to “10 Ways to be a Douche Bag.”

  • Nate

    My favorite is when you need a signature and what the person should say is “Let me give you my John Hancock.” What they say is, “Let me give you my John Henry.” I think they are going to hit me with a hammer or something.

    Oh, and what about Warsh/Wash?

  • Bennett

    I didn’t like this article. The voice in which the author writes is superior and condescending, which completely puts me off from wanting to listening to him. My other problem is that for a lot of these, it’s very prescriptive linguistics, which I don’t usually like. If someone incorrectly says these words in a formal speech or as mentioned in the article on the radio, then perhaps that’s a problem. But if someone is just talking to other people in everyday speech then it’s a natural linguistic phenomena for us to alter words to make them easier to say. Athlete, the very first word, is a perfect example of a normal tendency for people to add vowel sounds into difficult consonant clusters. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid or uneducated it just means you’re practicing common linguistic practices in everyday English. And also languages evolve and maybe someday the “incorrect” variant you have listed above will be the proper version.

  • Steve Leuniz

    A few more that bug me:

    Orangutan is pronounced “o-RANG-uh-tan” and not “o-RANG-uh-tang”.

    A fiancé (fee-ON-say) is a man engaged to be married and a fiancée (fee-on-SAY) is a woman engaged to be married.

    It is “anyway”. There is never a time it is proper or doesn’t sound more uneducated to say “anyways”.

    Oh, and “Uranus”. Enough with the jokes. It is not “your-anus” or even “urine-us”. It is “yoo-RA-nus”.

  • Chester

    This is interesting, apparently I have a fairly good pronunciation of english, although I’ve never heard prerogative pronounced like that, must be a commonly mispronounced word around here. I do take exception to the word “often”, though, pretty sure either way is correct, and a quick glance at any dictionary will confirm that. Also, I’ve heard cavalry/calvary misused a lot, rather annoying.

    ..the one word that really bugs me is decimated. Decimated originally meant “to take one tenth from”, but now everyone uses it in place of annihilated. Not really a pronunciation issue, more a word meaning issue. :p

  • Ryan G

    One of my favorites – During a deposition, people who have no clue how to speak will try to look smart and use words like “conversate”. Ex.: Him and I were conversating in the hallway”. Umm.. you mean conversing?

  • Adam Solorio

    Enjoyed the article. I am a recovering “sherbert” offender.

    I’d like to add that I am often annoyed with the way many pronounce the word “environment”.

    It’s not in-viern-ment it’s en-vi-ren-ment.

    annoys me.

  • Tanya

    What about “applicable”??? I hear it pronounced (by some highly educated people) as “a PLICK able”. YIKES!!!!

  • Jessica

    My argument with this article is that “snuck” is indeed a word. Look it up, buster.

  • Cynthia

    I did not make it through the entire list, but agree wholeheartedly with the article and the postings I read, with the exception of those who criticize our desire for proper language.

    We have had a movement in this country for many years seeking to recognize Ebonics as a form of English, which also seeks to halt correction for grammatical errors in schools in some parts of the country. Apparently teaching and correcting lowers the self-esteem of students who omit the “t” in the middle of words, use “ax” in place of “ask,” etc.

    My only addition here is to point out that “disrespect” is not a verb.

  • Mike

    Hold on there a second. The word ‘often’ was originally pronounced with the ‘t’ sound, and was that way for several hundred years.

    Then people got lazy.

    However, in recent times, the word has been heard pronounced both ways, by highly educated speakers.

  • Steve Leuniz

    Veterinarian was always pronounced ONLY “veh-ti-ri-nar-i-an” but when said fast it SOUNDED like one was saying “veh-tri…” Therefore both pronounciations are in the dictionary, but it was only by how it sounded pronounced fast (same as with “veteran”, “Katherine”, “aspirin”, etc.)

  • Steve Leuniz

    Veterinarian was always pronounced ONLY “veh-ti-ri-nar-i-an” but when said fast it SOUNDED like one was saying “veh-tri…” Therefore both pronunciations are in the dictionary, but it was only by how it sounded pronounced fast (same as with “veteran”, “Katherine”, “aspirin”, etc.)

  • Steve

    My pet hate is axe/aks in place of ask.

  • John Leeming

    I didn’t realise that “aluminium” was originally a typographicall error. That spelling has apparently now been adopted as the authorised/authorized spelling by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (or some such body). To compensate for that we in Britain are now expected to use the spelling “sulfur” and “sulfate” rather than “sulphur” and “sulphate”.

  • Sarah

    I would simply like to point out that in the old days, back when dinosaurs still roamed, the English language was spelled somewhat differently. In fact, in some cases, there were different correct spellings for certain words! (Anyone read Jane Austen? I’ll sometimes see the same word later on in the same book spelled a different way.)

    That isn’t to say we shouldn’t strive to spell and pronounce our words correctly. However, we should also keep in mind that not even Brits get it so-called correct when you think of how the language has evolved. (Also, dropping the “a” at the end into an “er” sound is annoying and lazy. It’s “into”, not “inter”. And her name is “Anna” not “Anner”.)
    And I hear more mistakes than even that when I watch BBC.

    Am I guilty of mispronouncing words? Well, considering I’m HUMAN… Yes. Everyone is. Even you. Congratulations.

  • D

    Snuck is actually a word, my friend. Refer to Dictionary.com.

  • Jennifer M

    Fabulous column. Thank you. Here are my faves:

    * Spayed (not spay-ded)
    * Oriented (not orientated)
    * He implied (not “he inferred.” YOU infer what HE implies. Or, he infers what you imply.)
    * Succinct (it’s suck-sinkt, not suh-sinkt)
    * Accessories (again: ack-sessories, not uh-sessories)
    * Sneaked (not snuck — points to you for mentioning this)
    * Hanged (not hung, when you’re talking about someone who died by hanging. He hung a picture on the wall, then hanged himself.)
    * Niche (pronounced nish, not nitch)
    * Jewelry (jewel-ry, not jullery)
    * Realtor (real-tor, not real-a-tor)
    * Veterinarian (just like it’s spelled — not vet-in-arian)

    And everyone should know how to spell “definitely.” Two i’s, no a.

  • Jennifer M

    PS – I got a kick out of the person who insisted it’s nou-garr, not nou-gat. For whatever reason, nou-gat is the pronunciation of choice in America.

    It reminded me of the tendency, in the south of England, to pronounce Peugeot as “per-zho.” In France, it’s a lighter “pø:ʒo” without so much stress on the “r.”

  • Sandy

    I’m a wedding officiant and a Shakespeare coach. The word “nuptial” is used in both jobs. It is usually mispronounced “nup-choo-ul.” You will see, if you look at it, that there is only one “u” in the word. “Nuptial” is pronounced “nup-shul.” I can’t tell you exactly how often I’ve corrected this, but it must be at least fifteen thousand times.

  • http://thedownstaircase.blogspot.com victoria

    I would like to add “ice-tea.” IT’S ICED TEA.

    Also, no one believes me when I tell the world about sneaked.

  • Mike

    How about Both
    Incorrect: Bowl – th
    Correct: Bo – th

  • Michael

    I shall ignore the Francophiles and continue to say often as I please. It derives from Middle English which doesn’t have silent t’s and was heard as such in Shakespeare’s day, as his wordplay oft (off???) demonstrates. As a worthy replacement I offer “supposebly.”

  • Dave

    I have off-ten missed at least one of these. can you guess which?

  • David Bailey

    My pet peeve is wash as warsh and washington as warshington.

  • http://www.jamericanspice.com JamericanSpice

    I can’t believe people get these pronunciations wrong. Just seems so easy.
    But then I have heard it 🙂

  • Lisa

    I really can’t stand “supposably” instead of supposedly, “would of/could of/should of” when it’s actually would have/could have/should have, and “Valentimes Day” when we ALL know it’s Valentines Day!

  • Tari

    For me, my mother says warsh for wash, salamonella for salmonella (as in salamon the fish?), yes, I believe the L is pronounced in salmonella and is silent in salmon, but either way salamonella is not a word. My husband says ideal for idea, supposably for supposedly. I am currently working on the good/well problem. I find myself doing this as well……How are you? I’m good. And my number one pet peeve is – drum roll, please:at. Where are you at? Let’s find where it is at. I always say to this – sorry, there is no at, no at, no at…..no @!

  • http://twitter.com/minimage MiniMage

    Lighted is a word and has its place. http://www.grammarist.com/usage/lighted-lit/

    Some years ago, I read something that said that actresses no longer wanted to be called actresses, that they wanted to be called actors. Sort of like how males and females can be CEOs, doctors, nurses, authors, teachers and technicians without a distinction made. I support their desire for a gender neutral term! How many other job titles feel a need to distinguish the male from the female?

  • Neill

    The real question is when did the entire English-speaking world start pronouncing the word “for” as “fir”? And it”s not just Valley Girls; I even heard Gen. David Petarus say it that way.

  • Neill

    And seeing the new Honda CRV commercial reminds me:

    Correct: App-a-LATCH-un
    Incorrect: App-a-LAY-chun

  • logic

    I understood that it was Abraham Lincoln who said “It is better to be silent and thought a fool, then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”, but he may not have been the first

  • Mike

    You forgot one of the most commonly used non-words: “hopefully”, which is used most often in the news media, even though the late Ed Newman tried to stamp it out. (He had a sign on his door which read: “Abandon “hopefully” all who enter here”). Also, they keep saying, and writing: The President “wades in” on this or that issue. I firmly believe the correct usage is to “weigh in” (like a boxer before a championship bout). I’ve seen more mistakes made by the media lately than I did when I was in high school and college. I think the reason is because we did not have all the machinery then to help us spell correctly, and we had news then, not the entertainment we have now, where they attempt to make everyone look stupid. In doing so, they are flaunting their own stupidity. Let’s talk about “strategery”, another made-up word, which keeps haunting us. It is “strategy”. I could go on, but I don’t think anyone’s reading this. I do believe the “t” in often gets pronounced just to make a clear point that something is occurring “frequently”, and the speaker is afraid his listeners may miss that point if he/she leaves out the “t”. Limeys are bloody well guilty of crucifying the bloomin’ language as well, by going “to hospital” after returning from “the jail”. In ‘Merca, we go to “the hospital” after returning from “jail”. I am a retired teacher. I used to revel in the fact that I had a dictionary in my classroom that showed the word “worser” as an entry word, with the definition: “comparative form of “worse”. I won many a scrabble game with that and other words like “quietus”.

  • Cindy

    As a teacher in adult education, 3 of my favorites are the numbers foe and fitty. (four and fifty) and supposebly. (supposedly) I also have students who want to AX about the next TESTESES, rather than ASKING about TESTS.

  • Alice

    Seems that many men have a “prostrate” instead of a prostate.

  • Deb J

    Here’s a couple that bother me…

    Congradulations rather than Congratulations

    Relator rather than Realtor

    My only disagreement with your list would be in relation to the word “often”.

    Thanks for this, though. It’s great!

  • Paris

    Along with “Irregardless”(echoing the previous
    post that stated it is “informal”/slang/therefore
    incorrect), my favorite has to be “Supposably”
    (rather than “Supposedly”)….drives me nuts….
    oh, I should add “Orientate”, which is a word,
    but is used improperly on a consistent basis. And,
    I can’t contain my wrath over putting “literally” in
    front of an obvious literal statement-something I
    hear, literally, ten times in any given day;-)….

    Along these lines, who doesn’t love the “your”
    substitution for “you’re”, along with the misuse of
    the word “irony”.

    With these examples, along with Mr. Brown’s
    examples and countless others seen each day on
    FaceBook, I feel as though I want to punch

    On a side note, I thoroughly enjoyed Nate and Doc
    Brown’s posts:-).

  • Greg R

    My favorite: Albuquerque… though do proper nouns count?

  • Vern

    Okay, I stopped reading back somewhere in the 2009 posts. Yes, English is alive, but is constantly on the butcher’s block.
    The one that gets me is “whore”, usually pronounced “hoe”; but to demonstrate ignorance, spelled “ho”! Now, when I play Santa, I am not supposed to be jolly and say, “Ho, ho!”

  • Vern

    Bennett, we are dumbing down not evolving in language; yes, I too err; but we need to act educated not otherwise. Justin is right in pointing out what is true. America keeps “downing” everything, we have lost almost all formality (even as an educator, I was glad to lose the tie but regret that the image of professionalism died with it!)

  • Wonderingi

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.”
    The origin of this English version can be found in the Proverbs of Solomon 17:28 – “Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
    I am learning so much from this article and comments – while having fun – thanks.

  • rachel

    I’m sure I make plenty of mistakes but it still drives me nuts when people say “I could care less” when it’s meant to be “I couldn’t care less”. I also frequently encounter many people (even college graduates) who spell ‘a lot’ as one word!

  • Professor Obvious

    Preventative is a word used in many medical textbooks, so I would argue that it is definitely a proper word unless the entire medical profession is wrong AND the professional editors at the publishing companies repeatedly miss the error. Don’t believe me? Follow me for a second…

    Preventive is an adjective; for example, “My dad always told me it was important to perform preventive maintenance on my car.”

    A preventative can cause prevention, just like a sedative can induce sedation. So… Preventative is a noun; for example,“The Bayer ad suggests that an aspirin a day is a good preventative to decrease your chance of heart attacks.”

  • Kristopher Gill

    I have another one.

    Word: forehead

    Incorrect Pronunciation: fawr-hed

    Correct Pronunciation: fawr-id

  • Deb

    I love these sorts of articles, words are my first love! I cringe to hear mispronounced words, and hesitate to say one I have not heard or looked up before, with the concern that I would be one of those that looked like an idiot. I do wish you would make your blog title reflect that WOMEN could definitely benefit from these guides as well! Thank you for doing your part to help preserve our language in its purer form!

  • KMoney

    – Cincinnati (people pronounce it Sin-sin-at-uh) ?!
    – Creek (its not a CRICK)
    – Route (not ROOT)
    – Italian (EYE-talian….really?! Are the people from EYE-taly?!)
    – Inlet (instead of INLAND)
    – Florida – (its not FLAHHR-ida)
    – Horrible (its not HAHHR – ible)

  • Tami

    My two favorites-
    supposably – which is actually supposedly (I really hate that one!!!)
    Something is broke- when it is actually broken. To be broke is to be without money, not unfixed.


  • lawry’s seasoning salt

    yeah, you’re wrong about often, but thanks for playing.

  • lawry’s seasoning salt

    as for the person who mentioned applicable; phonetically: \ˈa-pli-kə-bəl also ə-ˈpli-kə-\

    and the ‘standard’ tends to be the a-PLICK-able.

    also, English is a very dynamic language with a constantly evolving acceptance as to what constitutes a “proper” pronounciation of a word. If you want to help people better their understanding of the English language, then fine, but don’t do it in such a crass way.

  • spoon

    the quote in the beginning of your article is solomon

    Proverbs’ 17:28

  • The Queen’s English Daughter

    You seemed to have neglected Ask and Asked. Not Axed or Aks…

    That one mispronunciation alone tells me you are a complete moron.

  • somethingaboutme

    My husband says ‘pacific’ when he really means ‘specific’. It annoys me!

    Then there is the saying ‘these ones’ and ‘those ones’. There is only ‘these’ and ‘those’. How can there be multiples of ‘one’ and when did one become plural (ones)?

    Then when the southerners take the letter ‘r’ and calls it an ‘aw-ra’.

  • sbc

    “All intensive purposes” is a malapropism more than a mispronunciation.

  • steve

    I have to disagree with your pronunciation of “often.” When people leave the T out it makes them sound like they’re slurring their speech or just have lazy diction. Off-en sounds muddled and tends to be used by non-professional, more poorly educated, people. Of-ten sounds crisp and I hear it most in highly moderate to highly educated professional circles.

    Diction rules, like words, are subject to usage. If the T is more often used by people who speak well and if those who do not speak well most often do not use the T, then I’d say the T is correct!

  • Nick Marcus

    Sorry…from Dictionary.com: [pri-rog-uh-tiv, puh-rog-uh-tiv] both accepted. I can’t imagine ANYONE saying PREE-rog-a-tive as suggested here. Talk about being flagged an idiot.

    You should also get over of-TEN/of-FEN. Even if it’s correct it ain’t(!) gonna happen…

  • Joshua

    I have quiet a few mispronunciation pet peeves but my biggest three are: Wash, Ask and Status. Wash is NOT pronounce war-sh, it is wah-sh. Ask is NOT pronounced Ax, it is a-sk. Status is NOT pronounced sta-tus, it is pronounced Stay-tus, although sta-tus is included in a list of acceptable pronunciations on dictionary.com (the argument being that it came from the Latin “stare”, where the ‘a’ is a short, low-toned ‘ah’, meaning “to stand”). According to most English pronunciation rules, a vowel-hard consonant-vowel usually makes the first vowel longer and the second one de-voiced. But the flexibility of the English language (not to mention VERY few words are actually from an Anglo-Saxon origin) and the fact that very few words are actually phonetic, makes English one of the most difficult languages to speak.

  • Kelli

    You can’t Argue with a dictionary!

       [ir-i-gahrd-lis] adverb

    a past participle and simple past tense of sneak.

    When its in the dictionary it is a word

    No Brang is not in the dictionary BUT BRUNG is

  • http://happenings.xrysostom.com/ Walter Snyder

    Until you posted, I had no idea that people were forcing “awry” to rhyme with “ennui.” That’s assuming that the latter isn’t being mispronounced as “en-you-ee.”

  • Crystal

    The fact that you’d make assumptions about someone’s intelligence and character based on the fact that they pronounce the t in “often” makes me feel okay about assuming that you’re an uptight, anal-retentive jerk.

    Try judging people by the actual content of their sentences, not their failure to follow some obscure pronunciation rule that no one even teaches anymore.

  • EB

    My own favorite peeves:

    Cracker Jacks instead of Cracker Jack
    Momento instead of memento
    Congradulations instead of congratulations
    Ex cetera instead of et cetera

  • EB

    Cracker Jacks
    ek cetera

  • Max

    It bugs me when people say “pitcher” when they mean “picture”. And the whole “It’s between Susie and I” thing–I’ve heard people with degrees, including doctors, say that–that’s just mind-boggling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellie.retrophilia Ellie

    Actually, the last word “often” can be pronounced both ways as it originated from the word “oft” or the old English spelling of “oftin” and “ofte”. It was pronounced with the “t” until the 17th century according to my dictionary and is being recognized with the “t” pronounced once more.

  • http://boowreviews.blogspot.com/ Josh Legere

    I love this page. I don’t love stupid people.

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  • Barry

    Throw a couple of others in to the mix:

    Remuneration……the amount you are paid…more often then not pronounced as ree-noom-er-a-shin…
    And Calvary was the biblical site not the horse riding army CAVALRY

  • Elana

    Something I hear on TV a lot is “déjà vu all over again.” Deja vu is French for ‘seen before.’ Unless you are having déjà vu for the second time, don’t add “all over again.” You are being redundant.

  • Scott

    The writer of the article. “You’re an idiot.” OFTEN is pronounce with the T in proper english. Maybe that americanized garbage you speak it isn’t, but that could explain a lot. How did you get a job as a writer?

  • reak talk

    real talk your a hipster faggot

  • Travis

    Awry- I could not even conceive a situation where someone would USE this word, let alone pronounce it correctly.

  • http://raesrantsraves.blogspot.com Rae Weaver

    I actually saw someone on Twitter last week type out “for all intensive purposes.” It was the first time I had ever seen that particular mistake but apparently it is epidemic enough to make this list. Where were these people educated?!

  • Judy

    Ax for ask
    And a grammatical error I’ve been hearing lately that is ……
    for example Michael and I’s relationship is going well. What is that about?

  • Ron

    Does fabric softener make your cothes sof? Nope, soft, with a t. Often is a variation if the word oft, also with a t sound, I’m keeping my t sounds. Good article though, thanks for bringing up intents and purposes, that drives me crazy.

  • Carrie

    I was surprised that “supposably” did not make the list- one of my biggest pet peeves, supposedly.

  • http://chillishow.com Chilli

    Great article. I might add that Candy Date is not pronounced can da dett any more than candidate would be. As a professional announcer for many years, the correct pronunciation would be can di date, or, literally as it is spelled. However, with that said, just as prerogative has been made over by mainstream use as not having the first r in it, candidate is nearly always mispronounced, even by announcers who are paid to get it right, so in that sense, can da dett as you suggested, is the typical articulation of the word, even though incorrect. Of course my explanation on that is tedious and pedantic, so putting it just as you did would likely make for much better reading!

    I was happy to see that you touched down on nuclear, as my ears burn when I hear that one used incorrectly. What I didn’t see was my personal pet peeve, jewelry pronounced more than 50% of the time as jew ler ee, even though the l is clearly after the second e.

  • Phyllis Woolbright

    I am greatful almost beyond expression that you included nuclear in your list. I can only hope that some of the people who push my vocabulary hot button will realize that they are the ones being addressed. Having lived for over 30 years in Richland, WA, where the original atom test bomb was built, I have often, (with a silent t,) been tempted to scream at someone right in the middle of a conversation. I have even interrupted a friend or two when I couldn’t stand to hear about one more “nuculer” bomb.
    I would also like to add one item to your list. There is an area of our fair country known as Appalachia. There is no long “a” in this word. The first and third “a’s” are both short “a’s”, as in cat. Dear readers, if you ever travel in any of the states through which the Appalachian Mountains pass, or if you are ever in a position to be speaking about Appalachia on TV, please endear yourself to all local inhabitans by correctly pronouncing their homeland. That long “a” is reeeaaalllyy annoying. If you pronounce the world correctly, you will immediately tell those who know, that you are wise in the ways of their world.

  • Soraya Mazloomi

    Love this… however it is pronounced expresso in French, and I know a lot of people who lived over there and can’t get over the habit…

  • Trish the Dish

    Supposably. #1 pet peeve.

  • Benjamin Woolhead

    This is called prescriptive linguistics, and it doesn’t matter how you pronounce prescriptive. Basically it is a certain group of people trying to tell everyone what is the ‘right’ way to speak, when the reality is that language changes, has always changed, and the way a person speaks is right for them. Yes there are more socially accepted forms and ways of speaking that certain groups prefer, but the reality is that there is nothing wrong with the way anyone speaks. There are different dialects (more than your basic American vs. British English) and members of the same dialect group understand each other perfectly, therefore their language is correct.

  • Jenicki

    People who didn’t read all comments and reposted the same comments.
    Blaming teachers for pronunciation problems. As a teacher, I don’t have all day to spend correcting every mispronunciation I hear. There aren’t enough hours in the day and I do have subjects to teach.

  • cat the great

    could you please add ACROSS? incorrect: ak-ross-t
    correct: ak-ross

    thank you!!

  • Kathi

    No one remembers that President Carter pronounced Nuclear, Noo Kee er. Give the man his due ya’ll He even served on a nuclear vessel!! You’d think he would know how to say the word!!!!
    Thanks for the article, great work and so true, but you’re merely scratched the surface!!

  • Kim

    Is no one else irked by people who say “drownDing” ??? There is no second “d” in this word!
    My in-laws (all of them!) mispronounce virtually all of the words discussed here, but this might be my most hated. And really, who feels comfortable correcting their in-laws? What a dilemma!
    I just want to claw my sister-in-law’s eyes out when I hear her say things like “Can you watch the kids so they don’t drownd while I take their pitcher?” Ahhhhh!!!

  • Disappointed Surfer

    Regarding whether “snuck” is slang, this isn’t about slang. It’s about PRONUNCIATION, not grammatical correctness, or the legitimacy of slang and it’s use as part of the english language.

    Hell, half of the responses contain offenses toward the english language, and do little but reinforce the idea that it doesn’t take mispronunciation of words, to make half the people in American society (assuming the majority of responses are from Americans) look like idiots…

  • yep

    So… being a grammar nazi is fun, but the English language has gotten to it’s current point from a lot of people pronouncing things wrong… so most of what we standardize as right is only right because we took a snapshot and made it the standard. Then that changes with the next snapshot, and people keep getting mad about the change, but then it happens, it gets added to the dictionary. Life moves on. I’d like to see some people get on here and try to correct people using Middle English literature. That’d be funny stuff.

  • Aislyn

    Hey so uh did you guys know that most of the languages spoken today come from vulgar Latin? You know, the “incorrect” Latin? They’re all languages now that are perfectly accepted.

    It’s hilarious how so many people are ARBITRARILY (a fundamental aspect of language) deciding that the way they have grown up pronouncing a word is correct without even bothering to look it up and check it against their precious “standard sources.” Language is arbitrary, completely. Words only have meaning because we decide they do. And to the person who said that we have to maintain something more than just communication…what the hell? What is that something? What makes “offen” any better than “often”? Just because someone said so? Exactly.

    Language is exactly what we make it. That is what makes it change. And written language is different and always has been different than spoken language. Spoken language tends to be more colloquial and even though people can be perfectly understood, they are still judged on their adherence to an arbitrary set of rules. Language is a class tool and no one is arguing that we change it or anything; that’s just the way it is. But it’s still kind of silly that we bother to get so worked up over incorrect pronunciations when they’re getting the point across just fine and “our” pronunciation is only correct because that’s what WE have heard growing up.

    Written language is a different matter altogether. In most cases it is meant to be formal, and even those who speak in formal situations are expected to adhere to the most accepted standards, while ones that have been relaxing can be forgiven. This is where rules can be nitpicked because the ability of the person to grasp these rules actually MATTERS because their credibility MATTERS in the situation.

    You people who keep talking about the “bastardization” of language and how Americans are “butchering” English are the uneducated ones. You obviously have never heard a single bit of information about the history of language. I would like you to point out exactly when English achieved a perfect and pure state when there are so many other languages that have been around longer and have “degenerated” into the “proper English” that you love so much. I am sorry that you are so worried about your intelligence that you have to nitpick everyone’s words, even ones that are not even really standardized, to make yourself feel better. Occasional annoyances are understandable, but geez.

    I’m not an etymology expert, but I’m pretty sure most rational people don’t give a damn whether you say “carmel” or “caramel,” “tour” or “tuer”, or whatever else. Oh and no one says “sneaked” anymore, so in fact you will be the one sounding like an idiot if you use it. Just like our other irregular conjugations of verbs, like “fell” and “took,” I wouldn’t be surprised if at one time people were totally FLIPPING OUT over how people were butchering the human language. They would probably be horrified by our speech today. The whole process of language is relaxing and making things easier to say and it has worked out just fine; language is still just as beautiful and evocative as ever and we are still able to communicate just fine.

    TL;DR: There is no such thing as proper language, really. There never will be. There are no properties that make a language “better” except the ones you make up in your own head. This attitude is just some of the stuff that leads to such ignorance that causes some of the dumb decisions. I’m not saying it’s okay to let everyone just run around babbling things…but the thing is, WE WON’T DO THAT. We are born with such a fascinating capacity for grasping language and we will not reach a point where communication is sloppy and unintelligible. Anyway, just leave good enough alone. I agree some of these words sound really funny to those of us with education, but that’s no reason to call people idiots. The bigotry, arrogance, and prejudice in here is astounding and horrifying and if you don’t see it, then you probably never will.

    Well I didn’t mean to sound so bitchy, haha. I really wish I could congratulate all these BRILLIANT posts from the people who actually know things about language in general and not just what people taught them in high school (which is taught specifically for job advancement and writing skill and not meant for colloquial speech). I will leave the rest of the complainers to their worrying over the destruction of the English language. ha, ha.

  • D

    What about when people put K on the end of words..

  • Aislyn

    Ah well now that I’m done ranting and feeling a little embarrassed, I can notice that all the language purists seem to be gone, so I’m a little late to the arrival. But I’ll take that as a good sign. 😀

  • dan

    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading this in English, thank a Vet.

  • Bojyra

    Mayonnaise. There are three syllables in this word. One of those syllables is, “yo.”

  • ERIK

    what does Irregardless mean?

    Did you stop to think about it? does it not mean something then?

  • Amy

    While they may be incorrect, I don’t think people think anyone is an idiot for saying of-ten, ath-a-leet, or can-i-date. Just like some people can’t roll their r’s when saying the name of their local mexican restaurant, some accents make the physical act of enunciating various letters difficult. Say athlete really slow and pause on the syllable transition and see if you don’t add a little uh in there.

  • http://diaryfromthedome.net Paul Harris

    The incorrect versions seem to describe George W. Bush impeccably.

    Paul Harris
    Author, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina”

  • Speechy

    Aislyn-Nice post.

    It’s impossible for anyone to speak a language without speaking a dialect of that language. Dialects are a difference in the language and not necessarily incorrect. To judge someone because of mispronunciations or dialectal differences illustrates cultural incompetency. 🙂

  • Sarah

    Okay fine, some people mispronounce words, but what bugs this writer/editor even more is when people don’t know that commas and periods always go inside quote marks…ALWAYS, no exceptions in American English. Also, avoid using single quotes in American English (should be “R” not ‘R’) unless they are placed inside double quotes. As a writer you should know this. Please stop the spread of incorrect punctuation.

  • scot

    Some people need to look up the dictionary in this thread before adding to the list. Some i found in the post that are wrong; PREVENTATIVE is a word in the dictionary. Nougat is pronounced with a hard T in the American pronunciation the Europe variation is with the gaa sound couldnt find the err you mentioned at all.

  • Jojo

    I’d like to AX you all a question ; P THAT is one that drives me crazy….. that and when people say BETROOM instead of BEDROOM….they aren’t even pronouncing as spelled, they are throwing in letters that were never there…..I work in customer service and it takes every thing I have not to correct these people

  • Samantha

    Has anyone notices how often frustrated is mispronounced. I hear FUSTRATED and FLUSTRATED constantly. It makes me a crazy person.

  • NE

    How about only one way to make yourself sound like an arrogant ass?

  • fh

    I beg to differ with those who say “irregardless” is a valid word. As others have stated above, just because it has become acceptable in popular vernacular does not mean it sounds intelligent. This site is very helpful for clarifying common grammatical mistakes: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/irregardless.html

  • Thomas

    When people say “supposably” when they should say “supposedly.” This irks me to no end. There are a few people who think I’m a jerk for snapping and correcting them after getting fed up with hearing them use it incorrectly.

  • Rachelle Adams

    My go-to source says:

    “Regardless of what you have heard, ‘irregardless’ is a redundancy. The suffix “-less” on the end of the word already makes the word negative. It doesn’t need the negative prefix “ir-” added to make it even more negative.”
    “‘Preventive’ is the adjective, ‘preventative’ the noun.
    I must say I like the sound of this distinction, but in fact the two are interchangeable as both nouns and adjective, though many prefer “preventive” as being shorter and simpler. “Preventative” used as an adjective dates back to the 17th century, as does “preventive” as a noun.”

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  • xlzcjsdlfh

    Let’s be real here. English is no one’s language. Saying that the British should be mad with us Americans over improper usage is like saying that c. 1000 French and Germans and Latin-speakers should be mad with the British. Why? Because language changes every day. That’s the beauty of human communication. People have been griping over these same things for a millennium, but it changes nevertheless.
    Just another example: if you said ‘goodbye’ to us before taking your pompous ass off this site, I’m sure the upper classes of the 15th and 16th centuries would be fuming at your shortening of the phrase “god be with you”. You dick, you’ve ruined the English language! Get over yourself.

  • squidbot

    Considering that “snuck” has been around since the 19th century, I wonder how long does a word have to be in the language until people no longer consider it a “relatively recent development?”

    If you argue that “snuck” is not proper, the the argument that “often” has a silent “t” doesn’t hold much water. Prior to the 16th century, the “t” was pronounced. This would lead me to conclude that dropping the “t” is a modernization of the language and the author is himself misinformed.

  • Corey

    I suppose we mispronounce “often” because of the word “oft”. I’m not sure if often evolved from oft, but I’ve never seen anyone use “soft” to mean “soften” or “list” to mean listen, whereas I’ve seen much poetic usage of “oft”. Also in regard to poetry, I can understand using of-ten instead of offen, because it changes the meter of the word. It goes from OFF-en, to off-TEN.

  • TrixieinDixie

    Aislyn at #682. Your comments are right on the mark, because the more of these posts I read, the more I realize that I too, judge others on pronunciations that are more about regional differences than education or laziness.

    For me, growing up in the south, some of the pronunciations I hear in the media are baffling. Though I have been told that I have no Southern accent, and have even been told I sound “like a Yankee” I can tell you that there are many words that I pronounce in a way that must be peculiar to the south, accent or no accent.

    Growing up, I never heard anyone pronounce “coupon” as “KOO-pon” instead of “KEW-pon” except on TV. Same with “KARE-a-mel” instead of “KAR-ml.” Oh, and “SEER-up” instead of “SURR-up”, which is that stuff you put on pancakes, of course.

    These are just a few of the words that grate on my ears when I hear them, but only because I never knew anyone who pronounced them this way – honestly, still don’t. Even with all the people who have settled in Atlanta from all over the world, I still don’t hear these odd pronunciations, so I just assume, as I always have, that they live on TV.

  • Joanna

    I agree with all of the above except “often.” See the listing at m-w.com, which lists “of-ten” as an alternate pronunciation. And I’m sure that my friends in the UK would pronounce it in the same manner. So not a pronunciation that would make one sound uneducated.

  • http://TheMonkeytail.com Tomtastic

    Personally, I’m a fan of “Nip it in the Butt…”

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  • Danofthehour

    I have a colleague that continues to say “IDEAL” when he means “IDEA”. drives me crazy. It seems to be more of a cultural phenomenon.

  • jayme

    Thank you for the informative article. I learned how to pronounce preeee rog a tive today, thanks to you. I would like to add a few common mistakes I off en hear. Larynx is pronounced lar eenx, rather than lar nix. Mischievous is pronounced mis chee vus rather than mis chee vee us, and finally, we take things “for granted”, not “for granite!” Thank you for letting me vent.

  • Walter Ego

    If I may offer some thoughts without offending anyone. There seems to be a thread going here to the effect (not affect) that language essentially has no rules and is only a social construct, therefore it may be changed at will. English is a prime example of a constantly changing language, so why bother imposing any rules, right?

    The problem I see with that way of thinking is that there are at least three main ways English pronunciations can change, or indeed that new words can be invented. Either through need, slow accent shift (e.g. to midwestern vowel flattening over the past half century), or through ignorance. It seems to me that need and slow shift are valid and invetable. But certain words, such as “aspirational” and “orientated” and “irregardless” or the infamous “refutiate” are invented simply through ignorance. This should not really be a valid way to change language, because it is simply based on poor understanding. It’s not a matter of the elite few imposing their values on the oppressed masses. It’s a matter of keeping a common language that all people may speak, and in so doing, be understood.

    As a sidebar, I find the number of glaring typos and misspellings in these comments sadly hilarious, and indicative of general sloppiness in communication.

    I have also observed a minor theme in these comment threads which seems to knock urban mispronunciation. Just be careful: Ebonics is a recognized dialect of American English, which adheres with great consistency to its own rules. It is indeed a sad state of affairs that has led to the flourishing of Ebonics, or rather, the need for its development. But it is here to stay, and it is a valid form of English.

  • Aislyn

    I do think there are some words that will probably not be accepted formally, like irregardless. Or at least, people will always make fun of those who say it. But then, I can’t claim sureness on that I suppose.

    Thanks for the replies 🙂 I say SEER-up, KARM-el, and KEW-pon too, haha. I just don’t know any other way. TU-er and kare-a-mel bother me a bit haha.

  • clay

    salmon croquette is an unhealthy, yet tasty, low-country dish; SAL-men crow-KAY is a lawn game played by takfir-ed British-Indian novelists

  • Michelle

    as people have mentioned, linguistically speaking there is no ‘correct’ way to pronounce these words. furthermore, many interpretations of yours (to which you even disagree with the dictionary) are literal pronunciations off of the orthography, which has never wholly indicated pronunciation. e.g. dumb – we don’t pronounce the ‘b’

  • Laurie

    Here’s one I hate: Putting a second u in “nuptial,” and pronouncing it “nup-choo-ul. IT’S NOT “PRENUPTUAL” AGREEMENT. It’s pronounced “nup-shull”!!!

    But so many good ones here in the comments section! Many of my biggest pet peeves right here. Well done, all.

  • Dee

    It makes me nuts when actors or journalists pronounce “realtor” or “realty” with three syllables. It’s real-ty and real-tor, not real-i-ty and real-i-tor. In fact, “reality” has a completely different pronounciation and meaning. I always wonder why they are never corrected, but maybe scriptwriters and directors don’t know how to pronounce them either.

  • Fergal Hayes

    Vast majority of people with Irish accents pronounce all those correctly anyway.

  • Jeff

    My peeve is “Oh no he di-unt”.

    That is all…

  • Sara

    Love the top 10. Here’s yet another. Bedroom (livingroom, diningroom etc.) suite mispronounced “suit”; correctly it is “sweet” and has nothing to do with clothing.

  • Anne

    The word “often”, with a “T”, is a British pronunciation, so is perfectly acceptable – but it would be more so if speaking with an accent, granted. My precise English mother pronounced it that way, so I reserve the right to do it, also.
    … HOWEVER, one word you omitted is “jewelry”, pronounced just like it’s spelled, jew-el-ree NOT jew-ler-ee.

  • BJ

    Love this. Thanks for clearing the air. Growing up in the South, I always heard Sherbet said Sherbert. I figured it was a colloquial thing. In college, language was defined as living and changing so I would expect new things to grow along the way.

    Actually had a boss that said Physical for Fiscal year. And he also said Supposubly. I couldn’t work for him after that. And those were not Southern pronunciations I am sure!

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  • Jimmy Joe

    What about asked? I hear so many African Americans pronouncing it axed.

  • Sudsy

    I finally have a place to vent this…

    My husband says fuss-trated instead of frustrated. His whole family says it that way too.

    I have never corrected him on it because I just KNOW he will disagree which will lead to an unnecessary argument. But it has been driving me crazy for years. I am happy to finally tell some people who can appreciate this!

  • Karen

    Did I miss li-berry (library) and chester drawers? (chest of drawers)

  • Tsagoth

    My pet peeve is people who say adver-tize-ment when the proper pronunciation is ad-vert-issment. When I hear the -ize- I dismiss them as being retarded.

  • IsItMeOr

    As I learned it, it’s “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll do it on Tuesday.” But it’s only recently that I’ve begun hearing people say “I’ll do it ON tomorrow,” or even “I did it ON yesterday!”

    Another regional oddity that ambushed me upon moving to a warmer US climate is “I might could do that” instead of “I might be able to do that,” or “Maybe I could do that.” I’ve lived in this milder climate for over 25 years and these “quaint” sayings still put my teeth on edge.

    Another poster commented on “anymore” suddenly becoming a highly incorrect substitute for “nowadays.” These words are like mutated bacteria — they start proliferating and it gets harder and harder to kill them.

    Here’s the sad part: As an experiment, I spent a couple of days before Christmas break deliberately inserting some of these linguistic lapses into conversations with co-workers. I said “all kind of food” instead of “all kinds” and even made my poor late father turn over in his grave by using the word he always lectured me about: AIN’T. Guess what? My co-workers have become much more friendly. I did this as the result of a manager advising me that while I am undoubtedly well-educated, my “correct” speech leaves people with the impression that I am, to use his word, “facetious.” My tongue still has the sore spot where I bit it to avoid telling him the word he wanted was “supercilious.”

  • Jeanne

    Isn’t “off-ten” the British pronunciation of “often”? It isn’t quite as bad as your other examples, which, I agree, are truly awful!

  • IsItMeOr

    An earlier commenter said “Why would you pronounce the ‘t’ in ‘often?’ Would you pronounce the ‘t’ in ‘soften?'” as of no one would ever dream of doing this.

    Well, guess what? I once dated a guy who pronounced BOTH words with the ‘t.’ He also had nary a clue as to the pronunciation of the word “albeit.” He certainly liked to use it though: “All-bite” peppered his conversation until one day we had our first and only fight (after which we broke up). I screamed at him, during the 7th inning stretch at Shea Stadium, “There’s no such word as ‘allbite,’ you moron! It’s all-be-it! If you ever say “allbite” again, I’ll fucking kill you!” I remember hearing applause from people seated near us. I’ll bet there are Mets fans out there who still remember that.

  • IsItMeOr

    I’ll (probably) quit after this one, but someone else mentioned their mom’s odd pronunciations. Mine always put an “n” into the name of our country: The U-nine-ted States of America. That one stayed with me well into college until professors gradually wore it away.

  • IsItMeOr

    Okay, I lied. Someone mentioned “Jaguar.” A former boss won my heart for all time when he announced that he’d just acquired a Jaguar. Some wise-ass in another department tried to quote from the popular radio commercial by asking “Oh, you got a Jag-u-ar?” My boss replied, “No, I got the two-syllable model.” Hallelujah!!

  • Sydney

    I play a lot of video games and my biggest mispronunciation pet peeve is when people pronounce the word melee as mee-lee instead of may-lay. It makes me want to punch my computer screen. At the “jaguar” comment above I have not heard of the commercial in question as I have not watched tv in many years but it makes me agree with the countless posts above that it kind of depends on where you are from. Being raised in southern Illinois, I still cannot decide whether the word squirrel has one syllable or two.

  • Janine

    @JJ–having lived nearly all of my life in close proximitey to Canadians and those in the US with a similar accent, there absolutely are people who say what sounds like “a-boot” instead of about. It may not be quite such a pronounced “oo” sound, but it is undoubtedly different from what the “ou” sound most of the rest of the country uses.

  • Jon C

    My pet peeve: “Aunt” vs. “ant” *Hint: I’ve never heard of a hanted house.*

    You know, a lot of pronunciation differences can be explained by regional dialects. It’s when it affects how people write that I tend to go insane. If someone says “should of” instead of “should’ve,”, or “fur” instead of “for,” or even “idear” instead of “idea,” I can forgive it. That’s what accents are. If I see “should of” written somewhere, though, that is no longer an accent. That’s ignorance, plain and simple.

    • kelly

      I believe that ignorance and lack of education, or a shitty education, are different.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robin.peacock Robin Peacock

      Aunt-haunt? Aunt-can’t perhaps. But then in the US can’t sounds like ant. Depends where you’re from!

      • Tim.Bateman

        In the U. S. ‘aunt’ sounds like ‘ant’ in my experience.
        In the U. K., by the way, ‘aunt’ does not rhyme with ‘haunt.’

  • Audree

    one of my pet peeves is when people write quanity when they mean quantity. another pet peeve is when people say real-a-tor when they mean realtor.

  • Linguist

    Your use of the term “phonetically” is incorrect. No alphabet for any natural language is “phonetic”. You probably meant “phonemic”, although English is far from phonetic due to its idiosyncratic spelling.


    I have a family member who is learning disabled. There are varying degrees of learning disabilities including some that are difficult to detect. When “hating” and being “driven nuts” and referring to others as idiots please realize that people that communicate differently from you also have value and deserve respect. Not everyone can live up to your standards. I’m not sure that I understand the reasoning behind some of your comments other than to be boastful. I see some who are crossing the line from arrogant to cruel.

  • Patricia

    What about “veteran” and “veterinarian” often pronounced “vet-trin” or “vet-trin-arian”. Another one I hear here in the south is the mispronunciation of the word “spayed” (the altering of a female dog). Too many people here say “spayeded” or maybe that’s spayded.

  • Kat

    I would like to add that the word Nougat is originally french. I would suggest to pronounce it “NOO-gah”, which comes close to the french pronunciation. The same would go for crêpes, where the “s” at the end isn’t being pronounced.
    I found the article rather useful. Especially when I started learning english, I mispronounced words like “biscuit” and I am glad there are people there to help correct that.

  • AlphaSoup

    Good stuff, but I think he’s a lil off target with why people pronounce athlete and utmost the way they do. Ath-ah-leet happens because there is a natural inclination to drop the tongue after making the ‘th’ sound, as with “the,” instead of scrapping it back against the teeth for the immediate ‘L’ sound. And utmost is more a case of people dropping the ‘t’, so what he hears as “upmost” is really being pronounced ‘uh-most’.

  • threeopus3

    Two more:
    1. Hyp-no-tise vs. Hyp-mo-tise
    2. Lib-rar-y vs. Lib-air-y

  • Loretta Thomas

    Amazing how words spoken in a person’s accent or upbringing can bring about the need for anger management therapy. My word that annoys others is “warsh” for wash but then again I know how to pronounce it. I just like to see how much patience one has or payback for some other offense to me. I’m a chit like that. Oh! It’s not pronounced “CH”. Silly me. “shit” it is!

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  • Jewel

    But of-ten sounds so much nicer ;(

  • bigpeeler

    I hope this article gets read by the NBA.

  • Gordon

    A pet peeve of mine is the transposing of ‘than’ and ‘then’ in a sentence. And one that is not really a pet peeve but something that I notice is when people make a statement like, “I aksed them what they meant,” instead of,”I asked them …”

  • Medinat Thizzrael

    Some of these aren’t really mispronounced. A lot of people pronounce the “t” in “utmost” as a glottal stop and then the closing of the mouth for the “m” makes it sound like there might be a “p” in there. Same with “per-scription,” it’s more of a slurred “prscription” that you can hear either way depending on your sympathy to the speaker. And “candidate!” The tongue is in the same place for “N” and “D” sounds so the only difference is in how much the speaker pops the D. People smooth over consonants in words that are hard to say quickly, I don’t think that’s necessarily born of ignorance.

    If I heard someone over-articulating words like “candidate” I would think they were an idiot trying to compensate for having nothing of value to say by dressing up their language. I don’t think people are idiots for, you know, speaking normally. English isn’t a static language, so whatever is in most common use is essentially correct.

    Although I do agree that “for all intensive purposes” is the worst shit

  • bill

    “axed” instead of “asked.” For example: “I axed him a question.”

  • bill

    dis, dat, den, deese, dose, instead of this, that, then, these, those

  • chrislongski

    o Can I acks [ask] you something ?


    o I had went home.
    o We had came to see the park.

  • Cathy

    I wouldn’t blame Exxon for the ES-to-EX phenomenon. I distinctly recall people saying “excape” years before the name Exxon was invented.

  • Jenn Passmore

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with “often.” If the majority of the population is pronouncing it wrong, and are unaware that the “t” should be silent, then they are not sounding like idiots. However, I must assume that those who pronounce it properly are the ones looking like idiots. That must make the few people who are pronouncing it properly very angry. Bummer! I’m going to keep pronouncing it with the “t” like everyone else I know.

    Besides, if you take linguistics, you learn that no ones dialect or accent should be judged. Every language in the world is unique and important. Plus, it’s always changing and growing. 10 yrs from now “often” could be pronounced completely different or discontinued altogether. You never know.

  • verbatim

    Although I agree that list is annoying, the most glaring one has to be: nuclear. Lots of people do it, and it’s like finger nails on a chalk board whenever I hear: NUKE-U-LAR

  • verbatim

    PS: I hear lots of people say “supposably” instead of supposedly. That one also drives me nuts.

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  • Liz Thatcherf

    One of the things that drives me nuts is runneen, or goeen, or lookeen, instead of running, going, or looking. Why can’t people pronounce -ing?
    And I haven’t read all comments, but jewlary, realator, are all too frequent.

  • Liz Thatcherf

    … and “nother”! This started out as being kind of whimsical, but now it is used in everyday language. It really isn’t difficult to say “another”.

  • English

    The-a-ter is thea-ter

    in-o-va-tive not inn-of-a-tive

    He disappeared, not he went missing. How do you “go” missing?

    I took it to her house, not i brought it to her house……unless you are already at her house and then you brought it.

    Enjoyed the article and the comments!

  • http://www.the-grammar-guru.com Marcy: The Grammar Guru

    Great! You got all those tricky pronunciations correct! Here’s one to add t the list (in the phrase category). It’s “all of a sudden,” not “all the sudden.” The down side is that you said, “to properly pronounce.” This is a prime example of a split infinitive, a grammatical sin popularized by Gene Roddenberry in the opening trailer of the old Star Trek television series, which announced that the USS Enterpise was on a five-year mission, among other things, “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” which is both a gender slur and grammatical nails-on-chalkboard. Ouch!

  • mickeyfan

    May I throw in “prostate” and “prostrate”? My father in law tells everyone that he had prostrate cancer. Don’t think so.

  • Laurie

    This isn’t a mispronunciation per se (NOT “per say,” as some people spell it…), but one thing that makes you look incredibly stupid is referring to “overdrafting” your bank account. “I overdrafted my account…” No, you “overdrew” your account, resulting in an “overdraft” fee, because your account is “overdrawn,” as that’s what happens when you “overdraw” your account.

  • Josh

    Good thing there is only one dialect of English in the entire world. It’s also a good thing that language never changes and certainly doesn’t evolve.

    P.S. there is a thing called the international phonetic alphabet that exists for a reason. You butchering the word to get a close approximation of pronunciation isn’t needed.

  • Joel

    Hey, TJ,

    If you’re going to insult Yankees, at least have the courtesy to drop the misused apostrophe. It doesn’t help your case to accuse us of butchering the English language when you fail to properly follow grammatical rules yourself.

  • Laura

    The one that really annoys me is when people say the word pronunciation incorrectly as they are describing the thing that they’re not doing properly!!!! It’s not pro-noun-ciation!!!

  • Samantha

    what about Kindergarten…. wrong—- kiny-garden

  • John

    I am amused at the VAST number of people who get themselves nigh on apoplexic* over these issues! As do I; e.g., “Febuary” sets me off. We all need to lighten up, IMO. Those above who talk about evolution of (any) language are spot on. Alas, ‘survival of the fittest’ implies the death of the less fit and many of us find that painful! I shall miss “February” (not to be confused with “Miss February” – another issue entirely).

    * apparently, “apoplexy” does not officially lend itself to the adjectival form “apoplexic”. Too damn bad. It’s MY language and I’ll use it as I damn well please. Anyone familiar with the term “apoplexy” has what it takes to surmise what I mean by my hyperbolic use of “apoplexic”, and that’s good enough for me.

  • Evan

    Probably the most frustrating word that is mispronounced has got to be “frustrated”. Whenever I hear “fuh-strated” or even weirder “fluh-strated” I just get so… So……. I dont know a good word to describe how this makes me feel.

  • Glenn C Reimer

    Hi Justin,
    As a member of the self-appointed grammar police for my office, I found this a great read. One correction, however, for your spelling in the first paragraph is that Arctic should be capitalized as it’s both an ocean and a geographic region.

    Gonna share this with my equally-obsessive FB friends!

    Drive safely,
    Glenn C Reimer

  • http://growwithstacy.com/ Stacy

    Those are all highly mispronounced! Don’t forget about Washington having no “r” in it, I’m amazed at how many people pronounce it War-shington.

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    Directed at the people who have complained about “ice tea” being used instead of “iced tea”:

    Do you still refer to your ice cream as “iced cream”?


    Quote: “The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776. American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream”. The name came from the phrase “iced cream” that was similar to “iced tea”. The name was later abbreviated to “ice cream” the name we know today.”

  • J.T.

    Jason, you’re not wrong and many of these are all too common. But, really, get a life already. Nobody making these pronunciation
    errors is reading your diatribe anyway!!

  • TexasYankee

    Among the 797 comments here, I have not seen this mentioned as a source of confusion…the Great Vowel Shift. http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/vowels.html. And I read where the Brits are well into a second shift vs. early 20th Century….but not here in the U.S.

  • Bobbye

    My pet peeve is “woken.” I have heard it used so much lately that I am beginning to wonder if it really IS a word. “I was woken up this morning by a loud noise.” If someone knows whether it is a word or not, please let me know.

  • http://neuroticcity.wordpress.com Lucy Glib

    One I was guilty of until a few years ago? “Absurd.” I was pronouncing it “Abb-zurd” instead of “Abb-surd” (soft ‘s’). Embarrassing for sure!

  • Terry C – NJ

    J. Edgar Hoover used to pronounce pseudo (sue-doe) as “swaydo.”

    I guess he was too busy arguing against women’s suffrage on his college debating team to learn how to speak properly.

    Like Bush, Rick Perry ALSO mangles the word “nuclear.”

  • Susan Culbert

    Great article…now if you would only write one on “a historic event” vs “an historical event”. Then maybe you could throw in “historical” vs “historic”. Thanks!

  • http://www.Facebook.com/NSQdesign N Squared

    please add “HEIGHT” to the list!!

    Incorrect Pronunciation: (Hythe)

    Correct Pronunciation: (Hyte)

  • Erik

    Snuck is in the OED. That qualifies it as a legitimate word, I think.

  • Lori

    Two of my biggest current pet peeves are the dropping of the second consonant in a word when discussing multiples (i.e. “buses” as in “fuses”, instead of “busses” as in “fusses”). The doubled final consonant in a c-v-c + es, reminds one to harden the final consonant in speech, as in when reading aloud.
    The other is the improper exchange of words to convey a specific thought or idea (i.e. “From this *aspect*, the view is monotonous. The correct word here should be *perspective*, not aspect. Just because two words are synonymous, they are not necessarily interchangeable.

  • Brian

    I couldn’t read every single comment, but I enjoyed a lot of the ones I did read. Mispronunciation has always annoyed me, although not quite as much as misspelling. The ones I had to put up with the most were Valentimes, chipoltay, and the occasional irregardless.

    Since other people have broadened this topic to misused phrases and other miscellaneous problems with language today. I’d like to add a few other of my pet peeves.
    double negatives
    the word ain’t (just sounds so uneducated/country/redneck/hillbilly)
    spelling the wrong word (its/it’s, there/their/they’re, lose/loose, advise/advice,sum/some, think/thank, are/our, site/sight, of instead of have)
    the phrase “I could care less” (The phrase makes sense, but not how it’s typically used. In what instance would you say that?)
    continuously (happens repeatedly) vs. continually (happens without cessation)

    Social media sites like facebook and twitter just make this worse. It’s so hard to read people’s posts when there is so much error. (If err is pronounced urr, how is error pronounced?) By the way, I was switching over to facebook to remind me of some of these as I typed this post. Maybe part of it is due to limited character space in posts, like on twitter, but I just can’t stand words being shortened when they’re already short. U kno wut i mean?

  • Mlr

    Let’s talk about the word “addicting” and, my personal favorite, the phrase “a whole nother.”


  • Mat C

    I haven’t seen this one listed yet:

    “I could of…” or “I should of…”

    Yikes! I hear these always.

    Should be “could have…” or “should have…”

    Nice to see so many people caring to sound intelligent.

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  • Jessica

    The reason I apparently pronounce “nougat” wrong (I had no idea) is because every Snickers commercial I’ve ever heard pronounced the T.

  • http://www.coolclimates.etsy.com Rachel

    how about people who pronounce coupon “kew-pon”? That drives me crazy. Or people who pronounce wash “warsh” (at least in Central Illinois they do) or pronounce ask “ax.”

  • Dschonn

    ‘The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore.’ –James D. Nicoll

    • CherylJocobs

      “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they’re not always accurate.” – Abraham Lincoln.

      • http://twitter.com/warfangle Jonathan Prins

        “Make it so.”
        — Han Solo

      • lecriveur

        Abraham Lincoln totally stole that from Thomas Jefferson.

      • breid1215

        Did he really say that? I must have bought into the story about Al Gore inventing the internet. I had no idea Honest Abe was such a tech-skeptic…

        • Frodo

          Communication is just language, and language is just noise. It works as well it is interpreted.

          • Just me


    • KC Jones

      It is your lack of faith that I find disturbing.” Darth Vader

  • Grace

    Great article! One word that is often mispronounced and not included here is immediately. It is often said this way “eeemediately” – probably for emphasis ….it is im – short i vowel sound….sheesh!

  • Jennifer

    Realtor – I know many Realtors who even say this wrong…”Real-a-tor” There is no vowel between the l & the t….”Real-tor” is CORRECT.

  • http://www.alteredpages.com Jean

    Word mispronounciations that make me crazy are;

    insurance ~ IN-sur-ance S/B in-SUR-ance

    tournament ~ TURN-a-ment S/B TOURnament

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  • GZO

    Hammy-down. Somehow, it makes me gasp in horror, and then giggle with delight!

  • Bob

    caramel vs. carmel

  • AG

    As someone mentioned, first world problems…. Get over yourselves. Some of these comments are ridiculous. There is a difference between mispronouncing a word and pronouncing a foreign word that has been appropriated into the English language. It’s pretentious and idiotic.

    That means not only is everyone pronouncing Porsche wrong, but also “Mehr-tsay-dayz” and “Bay-Em-Vay”….Most of the western US states are pronounced wrong.

    Language changes, it’s dynamic, it’s fluid. It’s something we create, not something that was there before us and need to ascribe to.

    The comments indicate that the readers think the problem is with how everyone else speaks. This article should be titled “10 words that others mispronounce or simple don’t enunciate that make you unfairly deem them to be idiots.”

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  • Holly

    My pet peeve is “on accident” instead of “by accident”. I’m fairly positive it is BY accident and never on.

  • laura

    Since you mentioned “all intents and purposes”, can we also state for the record that “couldn’t care less” is the correct phrase. It’s not “could care less” or “could care aless” (whatever that means), it is COULDN’T care less.
    Thank you. I feel better now.

  • Len Taylor

    I cannot believe that in reading through this whole thread, nobody has mentioned “ekspecially” …there is no “k” or “x”!!! Correct pronunciation: “ess-pesh-ally”

  • http://www.getshotnaked.com Natalie Kita

    Don’t forget “ferr-miliar”, “ferr-tographer”, and “supposably”

  • mark

    The thing is, language evolves. If enough people say something the wrong way, it becomes the right way. Irregardless is now a legitimate word in some dictionaries, for example … I ain’t gonna pronounce something a different way because some guy from Virginia says on the interwebs that’s how you’re supposed to do it

  • vincent

    thoe most annoying word mispoken for me, as I speak about science often, is centripetal force, most people pronounce it centrifical, confusing it with the word centrifuge, I suppose.

  • karen

    Can I mention the word “realtor?”
    There is no “a” between the “l” and the “t” right?
    Am I missing something?
    Why do people say “real-a-ter.”

  • Chris

    Instead of “10 words you mispronounce,” this post should be called “10 words people pronounce differently than me.” As has been pointed out a few times already, pronunciation is diverse. Your spiel on “often” is somewhat unfounded; the pronunciation with the “T” is actually older. If you argue that pronunciation fell out of favor, then you should accept that your “t-less” pronunciation may have also fallen out of disuse. There are no pronunciation police…although, if there were, I’d say the OED folks would be quite qualified. And as someone noted above, they know what the word “snuck” means. Some pronunciations annoy me too–but as a well-traveled guy, I try to get over my narrow views on the matter.

  • Spencer

    As a matter of fact, pronouncing often ‘off ten’ is just as valid as ‘off en’. In fact, should you at some point decide to research your article, you will find that sounding the t was the original way in which the word was pronounced.
    While mispronouncing words can be irksome for some, judgmental attitudes and snobbery are far more malefic, I would think. Really, it is only with certain snobs that people who mispronounce certain words are considered ‘idiots’. The rest of us will be a little more broadminded in considering the aptitudes of others.

  • Mike Hunt

    I don’t say this ofTen, but Justin Brown, you are the idiot. This article makes you look like a horses ass. If your days consist of writing garbage like this, I feel for you.

  • Chadwick Crawford

    Man, ain’t y’all ever heard of dialect? It’s unnatural to expect a language as widely spoken as English is to not mutate and adapt to the various landscapes in which it is spoken. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a well-tended core to the language so that we don’t lapse into mutual incomprehensibility. But you’re really just being persnickety.

  • http://www.stelladot.com/lauriebethjohnson Laurie Beth

    I live in the South, but I think it is pretty common everywhere for people to say “Turnament” as opposed to TOURNAMENT. I get made fun of a lot for saying it correctly and my linguistics teacher in college even had to look it up!!

  • http://bayron.org/music Ryan Bayron

    On the second point, I also hear the word “expecially” instead of “especially.”

    Also, another one worth adding is the phrase “used to,” as people commonly misspell it as “use to.”

    It’s the same concept with “supposed to” versus the incorrect “suppose to.”

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  • Nick Greene

    An example that drives me into a frenzy is the use of “formally known as” instead of “formerly known as.”

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  • Kim

    I had a friend who always said “supposively” rathern than “supposedly.”

  • dan

    What about people always saying “minus well” instead of “might as well” !?

  • Chas

    Am I wreong or what?

    Is Jewelry (jew-ler-ee) or (jew-el-ry)
    I go with pronunciation as spelled JEW-EL-RY
    I cringe at the latter. I cringe at people who put the L in the wrong place.
    Maybe it’s just me. I am a New Englander and I sometimes drop my (R’s) when I speak. Affectionately know as (ahs)

  • John

    The word I hate is “prolly” instead of “probably”. Now I suppose some people who know the difference use “prolly” as a short form in text messages. But, A LOT of people use it in conversation out of ignorance and…well…I hate it…mleh…so there.

  • Steve

    Since we’re picking on Bush here with the word “Nuclear”, maybe we should do the same with Obama. It’s Marine “Corps” pronounced like core of the Earth, or core of an apple. The “P” is silent you Moron! He went to Harvard too! Obama is so protected by the press. You should know that, esp. if you’re the Commander and Chief. Stupid Liberals!

    • Dan

      It’s Commander-in-chief! If you are going to insult someone, know your stuff.

  • Ken Butland

    Candidate is NOT pronounced like ‘candy date’. It’s pronounced kan-dih-date, with a ‘dih’. Saying ‘dee’ makes you sound like an idiot. Unless you were being ironic, in which case, bravo.

  • Ken

    Also, often can be pronounced ‘off-en’. Did you even look these words up a dictionary before you wrote this piece?

  • http://www.jerriblank.com SirLizard

    I really thought that temperature/tempature and veterinarian/vetinarian would be on this list. The temperature mispronunciation drives me craziest because I hear mispronounced every day of my life… mostly by television meteorologists.

  • dianna

    jewelry (NOT JEW-LUH-REE) among others is a peeve of mine. loved these lists and some other entries. oh the drama. 🙂 lol

  • Linda2France

    Great article and enjoyed your light-hearted approach informing with humor. I must shamefully admit I am terrible with grammar to which I became accurely aware at age 40 while attempting to learn French. Learning a second language has really pointed out my weaknesses with my own mother tongue. Other bloopers you might note which are pronounced accurately but misspelled: albeit, nevertheless, insomuch as… ett – set – err – uh.

  • John Hale

    Justin, I disagree with one work “candidate” It is NOT can-da-dett…it is pronounced can-di-date. Can-da-dett is no better than can-uh-dett.


  • Paul

    The English language is dynamic. If it were not Middle English would still be the norm. 🙂

  • http://www.miibutiik.com/ Padjad

    Thats funny

  • Andie Caroline

    Once, in Science, I had a substitute teacher who gave me a freak out attack. I am a huge nerd, currently studying to become a doctor. I was outraged when vertebrae suddenly became ver-teh-bri (bri sounding sort of like buy). I even went as far to correct her (against my better judgement) because after the entire week had passed, she had said the offending word at least five times daily, grating against my nerves. She then said, “No, you’re wrong.” Didn’t even look it up.

  • Dave

    My pet peeve is the use of “hone in” rather than “home in.” One hones an axe, a homing pigeon homes in.

  • 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






  • 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.

    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


    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.


  • 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

  • High Horse

    I disagree that often has a silent T, but perhaps that has to do with my (Queen’s) English upbringing. I think people that say Offen sound about as stupid as leaving the H off (not off OF) ‘erbs. And things like Candidate I think is mostly attributed to people speaking too fast, not necessarily pronouncing it wrong.

    • mel

      Americans say “erbs”. I’ve no idea why. The rest of us call them “Herbs”.

  • Silly
  • williame

    the word REALTOR has to be among the most mispronounced words in the english language: correct: real – tor. NOT: real – a -tor. heck, i even hear realtors mispronounce this word!! sheesh!! if you can’t correctly state your occupation you shouldn’t be a real-tor…

  • williame

    i find something else in our wonderful language that makes me cringe even more than a mispronounced word. the unintended use of a double-negative in a sentence. (my girlfriend does this all the time and it drives me crazy – but that’s a discussion for another time…) anyway, here is an example of what i’m talking about: “kids today don’t know nothing”. what the person actually has communicated is exactly the opposite of what they intended to say. a hilarious butchering of the english language!!

  • Addison Burns

    People need to stop using etymological fallacies. Just because irregardless never should have become a word doesn’t mean that it isn’t one now. Morphemes make up a word initially but the newly formed words take on a meaning that of their own.

    Rhotic sounds being displaced is a common occurrence in language. Look at ‘iron’ or ‘comfortable.’

    ‘Utmost’ is absolutely the worst example on the list. Plosive and nasal sounds are pretty much guaranteed to assimilate at some point. That’s why we have ‘intolerant’ and ‘impossible’. See how ‘n’ and ‘t’ are both pronounced in the middle of the mouth whereas ‘m’ and ‘p’ are bilabial?

    Here’s an easy, concrete rule: If one person does it, they messed up (or are ignorant); if enough people do it that it warrants mention, it’s an evolution of the English language and is completely normal.

    • August West

      Ok buddy. So you read a dictionary all day, every day. No one in the real world speaks the way you did in that post. If I met you at a party and you started spouting words like “rhotic” “bilabile” or “morphemes”, I’d turn around and walk away. I can guarantee that 90% of people would do the same. 5% would probably punch you, and the last 5% would be a mix of people pretending to know what the hell you were talking about, and others that plan to rob you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theron.corse Theron Corse

    There is such a thing as dialect. Some of the things you are talking about would follow under that heading as opposed to error. Plus, languages change. 

  • millerer

    You missed my biggest pet peeve – mischievous being pronounced mis-chee-vee-ous.

  • photoquilty

    You left Realtor out. People say “real-a-tor” and it’s actually real-tor.
    You also left out mischievous. People say “mis-chee-vee-ous” and it’s actually mis-chiv-ous.

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  • Evelyn Lichtenauer

    I was hoping to see “supposably”!

  • Mtnairmama

    The greatest book ever written is where your intro saying came from: THE BIBLE, it’s found in Proverbs. There is a plethora of wisdom to be found there.

    “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.”

     Look it up for yourself, found in the Bible.

    • Larry Kaufman

      If you are referring to Proverbs 17:28, the sentiment has some resemblance, but the text itself has neither the pithy wit nor the clever impact. 

      The scholarly consensus seems to give credit to Abraham Lincoln, although there are also those who favor Mark Twain.

      In any event, it sounds more like either of them than it does like King Solomon.

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  • Abqhomes

    A few words that drives me nuts:
    supposably= supposedly

    • August West

      Ii hate it when people say “melk” instead of “milk” and have no other accent.

      • mel

        “Melk” is correct – if you’re speaking Afrikaans or, I suppose, Dutch.

  • sweetlemons77

    Great article! Though, I’m familiar with many of the mispronucitions you mentioned;  I still end up saying it incorrectly. I guess bad habits are hard to break. Thanks for the re-enlightenment. ( is that a real word ) lol

    • mel

      Perhaps. but lol is indubitably not.

  • royalsretro

    -Ted Mosby

  • deanna

    INFRASTRUCTURE – they mispronounce it in commercials, on the news, EVERYWHERE – it’s killing me slowly.

  • Starkmeyer

    I hear, chicken pops for chiken pox, pitcher for picture, expecially for especially, and infantigo for impentigo.  Grrrr!

    • Lak820

      And I just encountered impentigo for impetigo.  Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

    • August West

      Chicken pops are delicious!

  • August West

    I love this. For some reason it drives me insane when supposedly “educated people” screw up regular everyday words. Speaking or spelling, there are a lot of people who insist that the way they spell or say a word is the correct way, simply because its how they’ve done it their entire life. However, I did not know about sherbet. My entire life I thought it was spelled and pronounced “sherbert”. Luckily, it doesn’t come up in conversation that often. I’m more than willing to admit I’m wrong. Someone might want to tell every single waiter and waitress in the country though. I actually argued with someone about the word substitute recently. He swore up and down it was pronounced “subsatute” and spelled the same way. I walked away as soon as he was SURE he had made me look stupid. A small victory for a small man. Might have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever argued about too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1474501760 Bart Jones

    Let me “axe” you a question;  why didn’t “axe” make your list? 

    • kelly

      Because he did not want to appear overtly racist.

  • me

    hmmm, idiot or uptight douche…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mim.schoeppler Mim Schoeppler

    Nuke-ya-lerr is one of my biggest pet peeves!!
    I do admit I off-en say off-ten… Soften and listen have converted me! 🙂

  • DogSwallow

    Some pronunciation is important, but at least “candidate” make you seem a bit smug. That’s just a common elision. I’m not going to start saying someone sounds like an idiot when they say “Comf-tuh-bull” instead “Come-for-tuh-ble” or “Temp-er-shure” instead of “Tem-per-uh-ture”. Because then I sound like a jerk.

  • kelly

    I don’t ever think of anyone as an idiot, no matter how mangled their pronunciation is. There is lack of education; there are regional differences; there are cultural differences. There are many reasons words are mis-pronounced. To label all of those people idiots is just stoopid, or elitist, or just plain ignorant. BTW, there is no “da” in candidate, That is not how a short “i” sounds, please go back to grammar school (I mean grades 1-6). And your hysteria over the “t” in often is misplaced. Oh My God! I started a sentence with AND! Sue me! There was nothing worthy in this article and I am embarrassed for my supposed-writer friend who shared it.

  • http://twitter.com/amotherlife A Mother Life

    Phew, I passed… pet hate.. people who use used of in stead of used to.

  • Daddio

    Bravo for bringing up EXCETERA (instead of et cetera), which seems to be used EVERYWHERE by supposedly educated people. It drives me NUTS!
    I haven’t read all 926 comments, so if I’m being redundant, forgive me:
    I’d like to add EXCAPE (instead of escape), EXPRESSO (instead of espresso), and EXPECIALLY (instead of especially).

  • brooksindy

    Just remember Jimmy Carter pronounced incorrectly as well – and he had nuclear engineering training.

    • brooksindy

      Somehow the word “nuclear” disappeared after “pronounced”. I know I typed it!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1574673536 Beth Schang

        uncanny…LOL !! “poof” be gone 🙂

  • r3t0dd

    The guy who wrote this 1) doesn’t understand the nature of unaccented syllables, 2) doesn’t know linguistics rule #1: If you are understood, language has fulfilled its purpose.

  • cre8tveldy

    You left out Realtor. So many people say real-a-tor and it drives me nuts!

  • Joann

    and Jewelry (ju-ler-y) aka ju- el-ry

  • thebestofc

    I hear “supposubly” instead of supposedly.

  • Marianne Lorensen

    I love the article! However, you might want to do a little more homework before declaring that something isn’t a real word. As odd as the word sounds, and as much as spell-check likes to flag it, “snuck” is the past participle of “sneak”. You can confirm it in the dictionary.

  • Doctor_Funkenstein

    I had a coworker who would constantly say “luckfully” instead of “luckily.” It drove me insane!

  • Ian

    Candidate, shouldn’t it be ‘can-dih-dett’? When does ‘di’ make a ‘da’ sound?

  • Deb

    What about realtor? Jewelry?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1422992454 Brad Wilson

    I could care less…….

    • mel

      Didn’t you mean you couldn’t care less?

  • brough

    The problem of not working to use English beautifully involves the coarseness of one’s own person relative the beautiful and ugly, tragedy and comedy of life.

  • Johnny

    You missed supposedly. I cannot tell you how many time I hear “supposably”

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.adkinson1 Rebecca Adkinson

    Okay I’m good on all of these except, I disagree with you on “often”. There’s a T in it… I will continue to pronounce it, thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.adkinson1 Rebecca Adkinson

    of·ten [aw-fuhn, of-uhn; awf-tuhn]

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  • http://www.facebook.com/naturegirlfromny Linda Wheeler Weigel

    My mother in law has a turlet (toilet), that drives me mad. I grew up with a crick in my backyard and I went acrosst it too!

  • Cynthia

    It was Lincoln.

  • Angeleno

    It’s ‘California,’ never ‘Cali.’

    • Mainlander

      LL Cool J disagrees.

  • Hyster

    Just heard one of my (least) favorites: “supposably” in place of “supposedly”. Arrrgh!

  • finger of apple-like intensity

    I will always endorse living language, mispronunciations and all, over the oddly offended air of grammarians. It is not that there isn’t room for academic study of linguistics, but the constant desire to defend proper usage appears to me closer to moral entrepreneurship than appreciation.

  • Sara J

    I used to work with a woman who said “perbatim” when she wanted to say “verbatim.” No matter how many times I tried to correct her, she refused to say it with a v. It drove me nuts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.c.harris.92 Jack C. Harris

    You forgot “egg-zit” for “ex-it”!

  • http://twitter.com/rock_golf RockGolf

    While I fully sympathize on the silent “t” in “often”, in Canada the CBC Style book insists it be pronounced, leading an entire generation into adding it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the dryer to add a fabric sof-tenner.

  • me

    What about the rampant mispronunciation of the word “comfortable”? I judge all who pronounce it “comfturble”!

  • Jay M

    I can’t excape this great comments thread! I’ll go nucular, help! I should of read something else. Thank’s for all the replie’s 🙂

  • bransonkt

    Mischevious: miss-cheh-vuss NOT miss-chee-vee-yus

  • Fred

    Regarding “often”, we should accept the word of some guy writing for some website over THE DICTIONARY because……..?

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Because while some dictionaries are prescriptive, that is, they tell you what to do, most are descriptive, meaning they document the language as it is being used, regardless of whether it is correct or not.

      Which is why “hopefully” now means “I hope” rather than “with hope,” “careen” is used when “career” is meant, and “surprised” now appears to be interchangeable with “astonished.”

  • Chris J

    I love this shit. Fortunately, I’m one of those noorons who can’t stand to see spelling errors in even his texting. Bear in mind that the English language, like all languages, is in a state of continual evolution so things like pronunciation, grammar, and such are subject to change based on more popular use.

  • Coyote Osborne

    Actually, “often” was originally pronounced with the t, up until the rennaissance era. Gradually, people began running the sounds of successive consonants together, in words like Wednesday, handsome, and chestnut. Eventually, possibly as more people became literate and spellings of words stabilized, people began pronouncing the “silent” consonants again.

    When I was in grade school, we were taught to pronounce the “d” in “handkerchief” and the “t” in “often” and “chestnut,” though softly. Oh – and the “t” in “softly.”

    I wouldn’t consider that to be incorrect – they are returns to the original (though anachronistic) pronunciations, and in any case, I’d consider the difference to be no more incorrect than having a regional accent.

  • edz

    This article should be called “I’m a douche who likes to correct peoples grammer on words that no one cares about”

    • Aaron

      I could also be called “Why everyone thinks edz is an idiot”.

  • Hard Little Machine

    the correct pronunciation is in fact “Go fuck yourself”

  • Joel

    I always pronounce height correctly. That is, unless I use it right before the word width. Then I can sometimes catch myself saying “heighth and width”.

  • Joel

    Surprisingly, gullible isn’t actually a word. Try to look it up.

  • Michael Geer

    Alabama? Try talking to the majority of mush mouths in New Jersey, Philadelphia, the Bronx, maybe up coast in Maine.

  • Librarian with Books

    The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (pub. 1989) lists “irregardless” as a legitimate word with a long history of usage. Its first usage as recorded in the OED is from 1912. “Snuck” is listed as a cheifly U.S. past tense of the word “sneak.” “Brang,” no matter how horrible sounding, is listed as a Scottish past tense of “bring.” So, sorry to burst your bubble, but the OED is not known for mistakes in the English Language.

  • ZC

    While we’re complaining…

    Why is it that when someone captures footage of a wedding, graduation, or disaster on their cell phone or digital device it’s referred to as a “video”, i.e. “wedding video”, “graduation video”, “flood video”, but when it’s sex, suddenly we abandon modern digital and it’s a “sex tape”?

    Nobody is using videotape to shoot their sex videos.

    Everything else is a “video”. Everything. Nobody says “Check out my wedding tape” if they shot it on a digital camera. Nobody says, “Hey, go to YouTube to watch my funny tape!” either. But whenever celebrities shoot a video of themselves having sex, it’s “Hey! She’s trying to prevent TMZ from linking to her sex tape!”

    And don’t give me “the meanings of words change over time” because that’s not what this is. The meaning hasn’t changed; The meaning has been retained and applied when it is no longer relevant.

    This is mostly the fault of bad editors at celebrity rags like TMZ and the Star. They keep misusing the word for some reason, and as yet I can’t recall any of them changing the word “tape” in their headlines to the word “video”, despite the fact that it’s used in every other context in their own publications.

    I know it’s a nitpick, but it’s a valid one if you think about it.

  • Michael Kowalson

    you forgot “Orientated” in place of Oriented

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

      Orientated is perfectly good in English English! Do you become disoriented or disorientated? Very much the latter in England

  • Séan Briand

    Candidate pronounounced can-did-date NOT can-da date


    incorrect: coo – pon
    correct: queue – pon

    Disagree? Do you say “She’s so coot!” when you mean “cute”? Do you say, “I need to trim my cootickles.” when you mean “cuticles”? Do you say, “My cat is so coorious.” when you mean “curious”?

    Drives me nuts…

    • http://twitter.com/GooniesAndy Erin Brown

      What?! The “ky” is a random American variant. Coupon is from a French word and the correct pronunciation is indeed coo-pon. And none of the examples you gave have “cou” in front of them.

  • Fiber Babble

    Ree-ul-ter. NOT Ree-lit-ter. And if you IS one, you’d darn well better say it correctly.

  • Jen

    I would like to add the phrase “minus well,” which is often what I hear people say when they mean “might as well.”

  • http://beautifulsynthesis.com Andrea

    For more educational silliness, google the word “eggcorn”. (Only just today I saw someone write “voila” as “walla”. *facepalm*)

    • mel

      How about “per say” when they mean “per se”?

  • beyondliberal

    How about the incorrect “ree-la-tour” instead of “real-tore” for “realtor”?

  • Kuildeous

    It’s hard to criticize people for mispronouncing “often” when it was
    originally pronounced with the T. Granted, the speaker who offends you can’t claim he was around in the 17th century and remembers how it was pronounced before someone decided the T would silent.

    My peeve is not so much related to pronunciation but of spelling. It bugs me to see someone misspell “just deserts.”

    • mel

      Yes, and what about spelling “lose” as “loose”? I see that all the time and it really grates.

  • William Hinkofer
  • beyondliberal

    I see frequently see “prolly” for “probably” in the writing of young people.
    Another one is the use of “alright” for “all right”.
    My Catholic school English teacher is spinning in her grave. If I was dead, I would be, too.

  • http://Godzylla.tumblr.com/ Keith Bowden

    How sweet to not be an idiot!

  • sausage mahoney

    I think that most of these are just taken for granite

  • http://www.facebook.com/stafford.rl Bob Stafford

    This is why I stress to my child to enunciate his words and to ensure his words are accurate. If you wish to sound like a hick, a hood, or a moron, continue to do so with a low income job.

  • cayuse

    Why is the most common mispronunciation also the ‘biggest red flag’ to you? I think that mispronouncing less commonly mispronounced words should generate larger red flags.

    I generally applaud anyone who tries to help others improve their language or other skills. However, your sort of article reads as though these infractions cause you great pain and mental discomfort.

    As your ear has become so well tuned to these infractions maybe you should travel to metropolitan areas and listen for anyone speaking with a foreign accent to make these mistakes so you can correct them on the spot. This would go a long way towards making sure that English in this country is spoken the way it was intended to be.

  • http://rene.kabis.org/ René Kåbis

    Trio, Tri-
    Incorrect pronunciation: tr-ee-o, tr-ee
    Correct pronunciation: tr-eye-o (or tr-i-o), or Tr-eye (Tr-i)

    often said incorrectly when used at the end of a name, like “cold cut
    tr-ee-o” (think Subway). And yet, most people don’t say “tree state
    area”, they say “tr-i state area”.

    I mean, for f**k’s sake, you pronounce the i like an i, and NOT like you’re referring to an “ee”.

    Goes the same for triplicate and triple. Do you really say “tr-ee-plicate” and “tr-ee-ple”?? Didn’t think so.

    • http://twitter.com/GooniesAndy Erin Brown

      Absolutely, 100% incorrect. Trio is an Italian word, and in Italian “i” is pronounced “ee.” Unlike in English, in which the letter “i” can have many different sounds. One of which is “ee.”

  • Mainlander

    DoN’TT b AskiN US 2 $aaYyyyyy Yo’ cracKuhh werdZZ –>[WuT A DISgRACe]<-

  • kg2095


    Incorrect pronunciation: Sec – unt
    Correct pronunciation: Sec – und

    I’m hearing people pronounce second as if it ended with a ‘t’ so often now.

  • Brendan

    This article is pretty sloppy. Pronouncing the “t” in “often” is an alternate pronunciation that’s actually given in any dictionary that I could find. Also, there is no “a” in candidate. Short vowels in the English language all kind of sound the same anyway, and it’s understandable how people mix them up, but I’m not the one pretending to be an authority.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeMommaDaddy James West

    I already knew that stuff Goober

  • Lurk

    The only thing about this list that really bothers me is that its author gets money and exposure for writing such things.

  • QuietDesperation

    Wrong! The expression is “TO all intents and purposes.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.sucherman.7 Paul Sucherman

    how about the DOUBLE no-no so many sports commentators use…”Soph-a-more Ath-a-lete” …Oy, vey…

  • Johhn

    Oops. I say soff-ten. 🙁

    • T Lane

      What about “loft”? I assume the same applies.

      • J D

        What about salmon?

      • YC

        Loften? hehe

  • patchbran

    what about jewelry: jew-luh-ree v. jew-wel ree?

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.foster.792 Lee Foster

      In most parts of the English-speaking word, i.e., outside of the US, it is jew-luh-ree and is spelled jewellery.

      • patchbran

        ahhhhh. that makes it make sense. thank you. always wondered about that one.

  • Argyle

    This discussion is totally mind-bottling.

  • Correct English

    Try to get people to stop saying, “these ones” and ‘those ones”.

  • Bill Davis

    For the (ir)regardless battle for the moment. The New Oxford Dictionary disagrees with you about “snuck.” Here is their entry:

    ORIGIN late 16th cent.: probably dialect; perhaps related to obsolete snike ‘to creep.’

    usage: The traditional standard past form of sneak is sneaked ( she sneaked around the corner). An alternative past form, snuck ( she snuck past me), arose in the US in the 19th century. Until very recently, snuck was confined to US dialect use and was regarded as nonstandard. However, in the last few decades, its use has spread in the US, where it is now regarded as a standard alternative to sneaked in all but the most formal contexts. In the Oxford English Corpus, there are now more US citations for snuck than there are for sneaked, and there is evidence of snuck gaining ground in British English as well.

  • M Arnold

    Why no sharing option for Google+? Very disappointing.

  • Srinivas

    I have one to share i pronounced Cucumber as KooKumBer and i was corrected by my wife. Its pronounced Qu cum ber. Now that was a good lesson lot of people in this part of india do not know. Like they pronounce Onion as On Ian while the right pronunication Un ian.

  • Lingo

    Often according to Merriam Webster is pronounced both ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.foster.792 Lee Foster

    Another is “recuhnize” instead of “recognize”

  • aaroncassese

    orangutan not orangatang

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.foster.792 Lee Foster

    I enjoy these kinds of stories just for the halibut.

  • Carolyn Blake

    Nu cyuh lur is the absolute worst. However I beg to gently defend “Snuck.” I use it all the time and it is in my American Heritage dictionary as the informal past tense and past participle of sneak. Sneaked sounds so stilted, to this Texan anyway One phrase that is like nails on a blackboard and deserves honorable mention is “I could’ve cared less.” Really? How much less? Great article Justin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KansasCityPrivateInvestigator Ron Rugen Kansascitypi

    How about realtor vs. real-a-tor?

  • http://twitter.com/tkob Elli TheKingOfB’way

    Whoa! What happened to the WORST offender? AKSED! It’s ASKED people. Get it right or don’t use it!

  • Jude

    I hate it when people say “heighth” instead of height!

  • ofTen

    Often was originally pronounced with the “T.” in the 19th century, British scholars all decided it was vogue to drop the ‘t’ and be super cool. So pick your poison: be hipster and pronounce the ‘t’, or suck up to the Brits and drop it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592796245 Trenton Flock

    Too bad you had to taint a pretty decent list with Often. Off-ten is perfectly acceptable English. And yet you pass over wretched errors, such as Foliage (mistakenly pronounced Foil-ij) and Library (as Lie-berry). *shudder* Just writing them makes me hear them in my head. It hurts.

  • Peter Atkinson

    Um… Often is pronounced with a ‘T’ or not. Most people will use both. I challenge you to track your use of the word throughout a day. I thought I always used the T for example, but I discovered I sometimes swallow it too.

    By the by, the OED suggests we use the T.

  • Lukas

    Yes, down with establishment! To hell with rules! 😉

    …But seriously, what would help words like ‘often’? IF THEY WERE SPELLED THE WAY THEY SOUND. Our archaic dictionaries are not without blame.

  • TrixieTexas

    I would have loved to see “Westminster” included in the list. I know it is a name, but I am so tired of hearing people say “West-min-is-ter”

  • andrew

    I hope no one goes around dismissing everyone they meet as an idiot, because these are incredibly common errors, and when 51% of a people say something in a particular way, its no longer an error. Languages evolve, its a human construct to begin with and “rightness” of speech is largely dictated by things, yes things, like class and education, not an universal linguistic ethos. So if certain sounds evolve to produce new phonetic patters, just relax. Could of been a cool article if it was titled, “A Snapshot of the Evolution of English”, otherwise its petty and, pejorative. Dislike!!

    • Ben Folds

      COULD HAVE BEEN a cool article. For fuck’s sake.

  • http://twitter.com/Foggen Michael Powell

    The hell with this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Courtney-Vick/25407045 Courtney Vick

    What I find interesting about this is that, while you tote the evolution of the pronunciation, you fail to acknowledge that words are adopted into our language as well. “Irregardless”, though it gives me a shiver, is one of those (goofy) words which have been added to our vocabulary within the century.

    Furthermore, word pronunciations change throughout time because of popularity/rate of usage. Pronouncing the “t” in “often” fell out of popularity as arbitrarily as the “h” fell out of popularity in Cockney English, which was at one time considered a working-man’s dialect but was then adopted by the social elite of England. It was trendy. Now days, the pronunciation of “often” including the sound of the “t” has gained mass popularity, making it a norm in parts of the country. Dictionary.com states, “[awf-tuhn]/[ɔftən] is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again” (Dictionary.com:often). A return to the original does not seem too insane to me.

    Anyway, English is an ever-evolving language, whether we like it or not. I too get nit-picky when it comes to our poor, abused language. I do not argue that there are words which are mispronounced, I merely found those particular entries of your article to be amusing. Thanks for sharing your passion for the language.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cinnamoncheryl Cheryl Phillips

      That would be ‘nowadays,’ not “Now days.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hirschy John Hirschy II

    This article would be improved were you to supplement your phonetic approximations with the IPA for these words. I realize that not everyone understands the International Phonetic Alphabet but adding that would clarify some things; “PRESCRIPTION/PREROGATIVE,” for instance, is unclear as to the sound in the syllable “pre.” Is the letter E being used to express the [i] phone, or is it instead the schwa sound (“pruh”)?
    If you’re writing articles correcting people’s pronunciation, then I feel it should be of the utmost importance for you to be as precise as possible in demonstrating what is prescriptively correct. I assume you have taken at least an introductory college course in Linguistics if you have been deemed qualified to publish an article on this subject, and if that is the case, you should already be aware of all of this. If you have not taken any Linguistics, then you have no business being prescriptive about language usage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wesley.monroe.3 Wesley Monroe

    Strateegjury. there I said it. hehe

  • Alli

    I have never heard aw-ree for awry. But, I “often” hear Reel-uh-ter for “Realtor.” That definitely should have (or “should of”, as many people would say) made the list.

  • hugh g. rection

    you mean like when jimmah cartur got nuclukeah arms advice from his bucktooth dauhta aaaaaymah?

  • hugh g. rection

    all languages have reductions. try understanding your local mushmouth illegal alien’s spanish as she be spoke with your textbook larnin. The problem is with YOU, not the native speaker, lofi obama liberal wacko voter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mgrochowalski Matt Grochowalski

    The “t” is pronounced in “oft”, why wouldn’t it be in “often”?

  • lecriveur

    Is it really that far of a leap to think that people accustomed to saying “oft” would be inclinded to pronounce the T in often?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1648560103 Jess Pease

    FRUS-trating v.s. FUSS-trating

  • http://www.facebook.com/rita.telaak Rita Telaak

    AXE instead of ASK should be added to the list!

  • Rooster

    Pronouncing the “T” in often is entirely acceptable. In fact, it was chiefly pronounced that way until the 17th century. The “no T” pronunciation was adopted by mostly educated people in North America and Great Britain. Now the tables have turned again and studies show that pronouncing the “T” is back in favor with the academic and non academic worlds alike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ambientartphoto Brett Nelson

    You forgot “Strength” Not pronounced “sten-th”

  • Daniel Webster

    I should point out that Merriam Webster recognizes both pronunciations of often, but, you know, it’s only the dictionary…

  • http://www.facebook.com/allys617 Allyson Logsdon Svigelj

    Jewelry – that gets mispronounced a LOT! jew-el-ree is the correct pronunciation but I hear joo-la-ree all the time. Drives me crazy! 🙂

  • alansafe


  • Mickey O’Brien

    I would put AKS ahead of often. There are dictionaries that say pronouncing the t is acceptable. (Not so with soften, curiously.) But AKS (ask) leaves no doubt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/raylene.devilliers Raylene Hofmann

    REALTOR. (NOT “real-uh-durr”.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/eve.gordon Eve Gordon

    PUNDIT, not “pundant”.

  • kate

    can I add:

    incorrect pronunciation: nuke – u – lar
    correct pronunciation: nyew- clee-ah

    but this may be because I’m British …

  • http://www.facebook.com/krista.morisen Kris Morisen

    I was always taught the proper pronunciation of Often as Of-ten because that is the way the British pronounce it. And can we please add
    “Veteran” and “Veterinarian”? What the heck happened to the second “E”

  • NancyEH

    Although these are all fine examples, I doubt most people *would* think that someone mispronouncing these words or phrases is an idiot.

    One you left out: international. One of the NPR announcements always says “Public Radio INNERnational”. Oy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cinnamoncheryl Cheryl Phillips

    What about “ask?” I hear that one pronounce incorrectly all the time. Makes me want to carry an ‘ax’ around.

  • TexHwyMan

    Don’t forget “suposebly”.

  • breid1215

    I think you were fine until you criticized the colloquial pronunciation of often. Depending on where you were raised, and particularly if you have spent much time in the UK the t is pronounced in some regions. “Irregardless”, I am glad you “brang” it up….lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Roof/100000080443288 Tim Roof

      People combine “regardless” and “irrespective,” I think, when they say “irregardless.”

  • Big_Mack1

    Hair’-iss-ment… Sorry, but it is ha-RASS’-ment. So many media broadcasters get this one wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Roof/100000080443288 Tim Roof

      Could be a British pronunciation. I was taught as a kid to say ad-VER-tis-ment, but I have always said AD-ver-TISE-ment. Also, Brits say con-TRER-versy instead of CON-tro-VER-sy.

  • moeman


    Incorrect — hi-th
    Correct — hi-tt

  • supersheila

    The word temperature is missing – as is most of its syllables, usually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587154045 Joe Rogers

    Proven (pro-ven as opposed to prue-vin) and advertisement (ad-vert-is-ment as opposed to adver-tize-ment) are my bugbears

  • bob thorpe

    the quote was attributed to Mark Twain

  • YC

    Can’t leave out ax for ask.

  • http://twitter.com/pwadethompson P Wade Thompson

    I had been looking forward to the impending opening of a new movie theater here. That is until I learned that the name of the theater is the Xscape 14. I’m now trying to decide if they will ever get any of my money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730740747 Chuck Reichmuth

    Forgot Ask/axe

  • Florida Town

    The correct/incorrect version of ‘often’ depends on which version of English you are speaking – American, British, Aussie, NZ or one of the multiple other variations of that language.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dtridley David Ridley

    Two obvious omissions from this list:
    1.”pacific” instead of “specific” (seen most often as “pacifically”, as in “I pacifically asked him to speak clearly”).
    2. “ax” instead of “ask”.

  • penni

    Thank you! And how about:

    asterisk? (Not asterik)

    Calvary (NOT cavalry when you mean the hill outside Jerusalem.)

    jewelry (NOT jewlery)

    couldn’t care less (NOT could care less)

  • Patrick Flanagan

    These pronunciation mistakes are annoying, laughable and yet somehow impossible to eradicate. And it is true that most of my ESL students don’t even make these mistakes.

    However, spearheading a movement to restore “off-en” to its former glory seems like a complete and utter waste of time, if not a bit vainglorious. It reminds me of a story about the German language that I recently heard (yes, I’m repeating this based on hearsay as opposed to “internetsay”):

    The German word “satt” means “full”, as in “full after a satisfying meal”, but there is apparently no equivalent for imbibing satisfying liquids when thirsty. So, the powers-that-be in Germany who are responsible for language decided to simply create a word (they actually held a competition open to the public) and then made a futile attempt to insert it into the language, thereby giving the German-speaking world the sober alternative “sitt”. Years later, hardly anyone has even heard of the word, and no professional would go near it with a ten-meter pole. I guess it takes the likes of Shakespeare, George Bush or Justin TImberlake to invent words/expressions that then somehow catch on. I know it’s cringe-worthy for some of you to see these examples together – but I assure you it is only to emphasize my point:

    Language isn’t meant to be dictated in a top-down approach (even if it’s made “fair” through a public competition), it is simply used and created as it goes: entirely out of our control. Scary, isn’t it?

  • SCapades

    I know a person who has a Master’s degree who says “Library” “li-bar-ee”…it drives me nuts!!

    • FransSusan

      It’s probably not a real master’s degree from a respected university. Affirmative action has a lot to do with who’s admitted to colleges these days, and in too many instances the degrees weren’t earned. Things are so “dumbed-down” these days that oftentimes a degree doesn’t mean someone has actually mastered anything!

      • motcollins

        Really? I figured it was a legacy at an Ivy.

        • FransSusan

          You figured incorrectly, didn’t you.

  • Scott Horowitz

    The most famous mispronunciation–who wants to be “axed” a question?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Benford/786976505 Mark Benford

    You forgot “acrosst”.

  • Darren

    Supposably this is a good article

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Roof/100000080443288 Tim Roof

      I saw what ya did there, mate. Supposedly.

  • AJ

    There is one word that I have not noticed any comments on (probably because most people don’t encounter it on a daily basis as I do). I work in the office of an elementary school. I answer phones. I actually get teased for pronouncing elementary correctly instead of pronouncing it “elemen-tree”.

  • A

    it isn’t wrong to pronounce the ‘t’ in often…idiot

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=16808038 Matt Beat

    From this day forward, “often” will no longer have a silent t. Guess what, language evolves. Can I get an Amen?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Roof/100000080443288 Tim Roof

    How about this: “I have been a witness to many such incidences.” *incidents*

  • LGAtlanta

    this seems to be more about one’s accent and less about “correct pronunciation”.

  • Me

    I also hear a lot of people saying “important” as if its imporn-ent. Drives me crazy.There is a T in there!!! … Even if I do say purrscription.

  • IwentoDukeamillionyearsago

    And where did “supposably” come from? And yes, I did just end that in a preposition….

  • bob’swife

    What about mascarpone? Almost everyone says marscapone.

    • motcollins

      Even people who say mass-car-pone leave the po-ne off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077572527 John Panzer

    Your pronunciation of Prerogative is incorrect.

  • KC Jones

    “Coupon”? Qu-pon or koo-pon?
    A large influence in pronunciation is geographical dialect, y’all.

  • http://twitter.com/rickwiedeman Rick Wiedeman

    Love this. Two suggestions: “For all intents and purposes” is a cliche, so it shouldn’t be pronounced, period. And the often/offen thing is not a hard rule; it’s regional (and I say that having lived in 9 states).

  • bdivers

    please add asterisk* to the list!

    * NOT pronounced asterik.

  • Jason

    So is it Anyways, or Anyway??

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Finkelstein/1385845930 Scott Finkelstein

    • motcollins

      That’s AWESOME.

  • Charley

    Over 90% of people on Craigslist say “make me an offer, all I can say is no.” If all you can say is no, why make an offer.

  • Barb

    Websters online dictionary shows the t in often may be pronounced.

  • Linda

    There is a grammatical error in the second paragraph. “None of these IS a real word” None is not plural, and therefore, it uses a singular verb. I’m one of those grammar fanatics too.

  • Richard Frost

    Hey you can also add:

    1) Jaguar – properly said is JAG YOU ARE – NOT JAG WAH
    2) Aluminium – properly said is AL YOU MIN EE UM – NOT AL LOOMIN UM
    3) Itunes – is EYE TYUNES – not EYE TOONS
    4) Produce – is PROD YUCE – not PRO DOOCE

    Get it RIGHT!

    • http://www.facebook.com/vicg12 Victor Gabriel

      obv. a Brit

  • fuuko4869

    ….so that’s how you pronounce ‘awry’…..

  • Tracy Bond Bird


  • http://www.facebook.com/al.pat.7 Al Pat

    I wish the word supposedly had been included. There is no B in supposedly. (supposibly? Really??)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1601650873 Ellen Sherman Todd

    Don’t forget:

    “momento” should be “memento”…

    “PerSERverence” should be “perseverence”…

    “irregardless” should be (simply) “regardless”.

  • Betty

    Don’t forget – it’s “Anyway”, without the “S”… Not Anyways….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14821494 Megan O’Brien

    What about the fact that we don’t use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to show how to pronounce these words? For some reason, American’s are too damn ignorant to use this device for its very purpose! [pUrpəs] not “purr puss” … Jesus.

    • motcollins

      We’ll switch off the APA right after we go metric.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14821494 Megan O’Brien

    Please let me know why my comment about IPA was deleted. Was the writer of this embarrassed or something? International Phonetic Alphabet. Learn it.

  • Terri

    Just wondering why Ambulance wasn’t mentioned…I hear it mispronounced all the time…drives me almost as crazy as funner and funnest being used in normal conversations!!!!

  • Bradley Slavik

    February, Wednesday

  • Georgia Baldwin

    Supposedly, supposebly?

  • Teresa Ryan

    Be thankful that you know the english language when you hear mispronounciations, it means you paid more attention while others, like myself, are thankful to be able to speak at all 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/destrecht Christopher Allen

    As a former coffee house owner, the espresso one drives me crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/nkoan Nick Koan

    Supposedly — Supposably

  • alanaforsyth

    The correct pronunciation for candidate is incorrect, though the comments after it are correct.

  • Jon

    Wrong on a few.

    Correct pronunciations:
    New-Clear -just like it looks. Only two syllables.
    Can-di-date – also, just like it looks.
    Oft-en – the T is soft, but not silent and is part of the first syllable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kay-Watson/1215602879 Kay Watson

    We haven’t spoken proper English in so long, we aren’t sure what it is.

  • Simon Cowell is ugly

    Hey, I didn’t know I even pronounced often wrong! Hey and someone told me that sophomore used to be pronounced soph-o-more not soph-more.

    • FransSusan

      You’re right; Simon Cowell is ugly!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.newbornpuchli Sharon Newborn-Puchli

    Sorry if someone already left this but my personal pet peeve is when the word “ASK” is pronounced “AKS”.

  • coconuts

    How about frustrated? When someone says ‘fustrated’ and drops the first r, i want to punch them in the face.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.vorel John Vorel

    The one you might have overlooked which is the one that makes me crazy when I hear it … Idea there are people who actually pronounce it Idear… like somehow there is an “r’ on the end. Weird too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tyler.einberger Tyler Einberger

    This is a very shallow article. I am very disappointed. You obviously don’t appreciate diversity.

  • http://profiles.google.com/striogi Scott Vancil

    I think that Merriam Webster’s point of “spoken language is primary, not written language” is particularly relevant.

  • Smarty_Trousers

    According to the New Oxford American English Dictionary, prerogative can be pronounced correctly 2 different ways: prerogative |priˈrägətiv, pəˈräg-| So who is the idiot now? The article is mostly correct, but has other errors too. LEARN TO READ A DICTIONARY YOU NUMBSKULLS

  • PurpleWisconsin

    I want to know when the word across developed at T? I often hear people say “I parked a-cross-t the street.” Can we please change this habit?

  • PurpleWisconsin

    I want to know when the word across developed at T? I often hear people say “I parked a-cross-t the street.” Can we please change this habit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomMaynor Tom Maynor

    Realtor, Real – tor – not Real – a – tor could be added to the list.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-Swancy/1508812227 Don Swancy

      as a Realtor this has always driven me nuts. Thanks Tom

  • RonHead

    If “irregardless” is not allowed because, although negative, it means the same as “regardless,” then why may we use both “inflammable” and “flammable”? And to say “irregardless” is not a word is absurd. It is a collection of sounds that any number of people use to convey meaning–therefore, it IS a word. Whether it is a standard word or a non-standard word depends merely on who usually uses it.

    • FransSusan

      Regardless, you will be judged by how you pronounce it. That’s just the way it is. Dumbing things down so the ignorant can feel better about themselves is wrong.

  • Mhcraig

    If you are going to include phrases, how about “I could care less.”
    It makes me crazy.

  • The voice of reason

    The ultimate purpose of language is to convey meaning and experience from one person to another. Irregardless, regardless, disirregardless, undisirregardlesser, of the pronunciation, hillbillies and nobility alike have been successfully communicating for thousands of years now. Words, spellings, and pronunciations have come and gone. If I say, “I’ma shoot chu in yur head” you might think me dim-witted, but you will surely understand my intensive purposes.

  • Trey

    Why are we even axing about these words?

  • http://twitter.com/R_C_Banerjee R_C_Banerjee

    Sherbet = sorbet = sore-bay

  • http://twitter.com/R_C_Banerjee R_C_Banerjee

    Sherbet = sorbet = sore-bay

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaia1 Shaia Fahrid

    Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    of·ten adverb ˈȯ-fən, ÷ˈȯf-tən

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaia1 Shaia Fahrid

    Also, ” can – da – dett” does NOT equal “Candy date”.

  • GC

    guilty of sherr-berrt! Thanks for the correction. Use both off-ten and off-en. Will now only use off-en! Use can-da- date! A new wrong pronunciation! Wow! who Knew? (you, I’m sure!)

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • Joelkazoo

    The two big ones I had hammered into me in radio school were “tem-pu-ra-chur” NOT “tem-pa-chur” and “al-you-min-e-um” NOT “uh-loo-min-um”. Also, avoid saying “Jist” and “Git” when you mean “just” and “get”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dorvil Kevin Dorvil

    But the pronunciation of the word “Often” is a regional thing. It IS acceptable for the T to be heard. I feel as though anyone who says athAlete is trying to enunciate. Like “Stop bothering me-uh”. Essentially you can’t pronounce the THL without making a vowel sound in between due to the nature of the L sound in this word. When you say “Love” You’re really saying “Elove” but you’re making the vowel sound really quickly. As for Awry, I have never heard anyone pronounce it Aww-ree. I will make sure to slap them if I witness this. http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/often or http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/often for example.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dorvil Kevin Dorvil

      Plus, Upmost IS a word with very similar meaning to Utmost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.rod1 Rick Rod

    how about frustrating, pronounced “fuss trating”

  • barblibrarian

    You should do an article on words that are often interchanged inappropriately. For example: mute and moot. Many people who mean moot use the word mute, incorrectly.

  • thatwilliam

    I try to stay out of the business of judging people on how they speak. It seems highly elitist to try to impose “correctness” on others.

    • L.A.B.

      While that is noble sentiment, I am sorry to say they are judging you all the same.

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  • Kathy

    I didn’t read ALL of the comments, so someone else may have touched on this, but two words that drive me crazy when mispronounced are….DeZ MoineZ and IllinoiZ !!

    • Mikey C

      Youze there…stop dat.

    • EEKittredge

      That’s only because you don’t live in Illinois. If you did, you’d know it’s pronounced “Ellen-oyz.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000060515177 Patrick B. Glenn

    How about the word literally, I’ve heard people say “literitly” it drives me crazy!!

    • Mikey C

      I also heard Litrallly.

      • motcollins

        That’s the British pronunciation, sometimes used by people who talk like Madonna.

        • EEKittredge

          Right. We need to distinguish between dialects, like Southern, or Britspeak, and just plain bad English. The Brits say “different than” or “different to” where we say “different from.” And so on.

  • stormin

    In the business world, the one I hear a lot is “Physical year” for fiscal year….seriously, folks? I even heard a high dollar consultant do it recently

  • stormin

    In the business world, the one I hear a lot is “Physical year” for fiscal year….seriously, folks? I even heard a high dollar consultant do it recently

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  • http://www.facebook.com/vicg12 Victor Gabriel

    Half of these are just the evolution of language, the guy who wrote this is more of an idiot for trying to fight progress. How much differently did people talk 200, 100, or even just 50 years ago?

    • Mikey C

      No…people are idiots if they can’t pronounce correctly. Why do we have to dumb ourselves down to suit your neanderthal thinking?

  • Turtlecurls

    “intensive purposes”
    That’s so funny that I’ve been saying it for years…. AND…. meaning very high intense TO the purposes.

    I’d assumed that it meant what the combination of the words would most likely mean when put together BY definition.

    But the expression “for all intents & purposes” makes so much more sense to have developed…!

  • Mikey C

    HWhen, Hwhere…AAAAGGGHHHH…stop pronouncing the bloody WH with an H sound already. You sound like a complete nincompoop.

  • Mikey C

    The other thing that drives me nuts is people forgetting what verbs are or how they even go when they do use them. I have heard college students say “who dat be” or “he over there” or “where he at” all the time.

    • FransSusan

      Those are some hopelessly ignorant college students who should not be in college.

  • WM

    The phrase that really bugs me is “I could care less.” Which, of course, means that you care enough that it would be possible for you to care even less than you currently do. What people generally mean to say is “I couldn’t care less.” That means that it is at the very bottom of your caring pile. There is no way that you could care less about it, because it’s already hit rock bottom. If I’m in an educating mood, I usually point that out. Usually I tend to be a bit more snide and respond, “So you really do care?” To which they nearly always respond, “No. I don’t I just said that.” And I say, “No you didn’t. You said that you could care less…” They usually just stare at me like I’m an idiot for not understanding basic English. I just smirk.

  • Alex Hollins

    Technically, like sorbet, it SHOULD be sher-bay, right?

    • motcollins


  • Mr. Fandango

    You should do the “caramel” correction because its Ka-rah-mel, not kar-mull; there is an unmistakable “a” in the middle of the word! That’s my real pet-peeve!

    • motcollins

      Me too, though that seems a regional thing.

  • grandma grammar

    How about misled? Often mispronounced and “mizled” or “my-zild”
    actually it is “mis-led”

  • Mark

    How about Orangutan. There is not a “g” at the end but most people have say it like there is. Never understood why.

  • Rhys

    On the top of my list are “restaurateur”. It’s “rest-o-ra-TER” not “rest-uh-ron-TER”, and “drawing”; pronounced “DRO-wing” not “DRAW-er-ing”. On more than one occasion I’ve heard people complain about other people’s pronunciation, but they themselves couldn’t pronounce “pronunciation” correctly. It’s “pro-nun-see-AY-shun” not “pro-noun-see-AY-shun”.

  • Powers

    The quote about keeping silent to leave others in the dark about your foolishness has been quoted by many, I think Benjamin Franklin may be one. The origins of the remark can be found in Proverbs 12:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

  • Ferret

    Of-ten is actually also a correct pronunciation. Look it up in the OED.

  • lewy

    thanks for the refreshing course….kudos!

  • Danield1980

    And when did ‘snuck’ fall out of being the past participle of ‘sneak’? Can someone explain that to the Miriam Webster dictionary I consulted?

  • JennieGirl

    Justin, if I was you’re gay best friend (and that would be hard because I am not gay) or your wife or your editor- or just somebody in your life who got to read this priceless gem before it went to print- here is what I would have proffered…
    1. Surely realtor was number 11. You’ll get two for the price of one if you add it to athlete…
    2. Does the misuse of use/suppose instead of used/supposed count as mispronunciation or misconjugation?
    3. As long as you’re addressing a commonly mispronounced phrase, for the love of all that’s holy & good, why not also address the mispronunciation of “I could care less.” (Leaving an entire word out counts as mispronouncing it in my book.) Irrespective of how you’re used to categorizing that grammatical embarrassment, it bears attention.

    And although it would be personally gratifying for my gay best friend (and that would be hard because I don’t know if you’re gay and you are now the gay best friend in this hypothetical world) to include my pet peeves in his fancy article, it really is perfect as it is and you should’ve reminded me who the writer is in this (fake) relationship…

  • Lynlee

    specific-not pacific. supposedly-not suposably.

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  • Gritting teeth

    My pet peave……. ” I could care less”…… should be in most cases…”I COULD’NT care less ” If you could care less, why mention it ?

  • John

    Funny how many people leave out the F in lieutenant. But then my failing is picture skew

  • anonymous

    Why can’t people be happy that we can communicate? I hate caveman speak as well, but god. don’t act like pricks just because you disagree with pronunciation. or small errors. Be happy that you have a written and spoken form of communication to use to make connections with your fellow man! could be a hell of a lot worse, assholes

    • FransSusan

      Regardless of your opinion about correct pronunciation, you WILL be judged by educated people and you’ll be considered less well educated. It’s unavoidable. Maybe it is snobby to be that way, but most well-educated people are like that. You are probably snobby about something, too, and find it irksome if someone doesn’t do it your way.

  • Laura Jones

    I love this article, and I love
    your confidence in bandying the word “ignorance” around. I’m not being sarcastic, I think all these
    mistakes are stupid as hell.

    About “often” though – I don’t
    know about that one, I say ofTen, I don’t agree that the T is silent. You have a silent P in “pneumonia”, a silent k
    in “knock”, a silent G is “sign”, I don’t think the T is silent in “often” in
    the same way at all. I don’t think there
    is a consensus on it being silent, and I just think you are wrong. I’m not saying this to defend myself in
    pronouncing it wrong, I promise. . . I would love to hear your counterargument,

    • EEKittredge

      All this discussion relates to the dialectical use of “ignorant”–in Southern, it means uncouth, or the exact translation of the Russian “Nye Culturny,” rather than merely not knowing something.

      • Kitty Witherbow

        The clue to what the word “ignorant” means is in the word
        itself – to be “ignore”-ant – not lacking the inclination to take notice of
        things, i.e. ignore the meaning of things for example manners and etiquette, general
        knowledge etc.

        So it doesn’t necessarily mean to be stupid or thick, rather
        to be rude or unwilling to learn something.

      • http://2015fortheanimals.wordpress.com/ evejanelucille

        Cultural and colloquial uses are irrelevant when I’m talking about the actually linguistic meaning. For me I use it in that way, if I meant uncouth I would say uncouth, I meant IGNORE-ant.

  • Gavin Smith


  • amy

    They’re, their, there just not taught on the street corner these linguistic differences!

  • Megan Clemons

    My favorite is “mischievously”…(I rarely hear this pronounced correctly.)
    incorrect: “mis-chee-vee-us-ly”
    correct: “mis-chuh-vus-ly”

    • Jakk Frost

      Hmm, I pronounce it “mis-CHEE-vus-ly”.

  • Adam

    Holy crap, this is hilarious. Unfortunately, from experience, this is how “thowz suhhth’n peepuhl tawlk” in South Carolina.. It’s exhausting to listen to, trust me.. (-_-) lol

  • Superherologist

    “For a while, nobody was aware that the ‘T’ was silent…”
    Then it wasn’t.

  • Lola

    You have a very limited view of language and what is considered correct. Have you ever heard of dialects? They exist and once taken to a certain point and generally considered correct in their own right. There’s something to be said about not being snob. I do agree with you, however, about espresso and others in your list but not all.

    • FransSusan

      I think it has more to do with ignorance than dialect. Saying upmost instead of utmost isn’t dialect. It’s not knowing how to spell the word. People who say upmost believe it’s spelled with a P. But believe what you want. Doesn’t matter what causes people to mispronounce words, they WILL be judged by educated people. It’s unavoidable.

  • Jakk Frost

    For a couple of these, I think you’re confusing PRO-nunciation with E-nunciation, although granted they’re two sides of the same coin. With utmost and candidate, most of the time people are not so much pronouncing the words wrong as they are speaking lazily, without enunciating, and you can’t actually hear the T or D sounds.

    For T, it’s actually a common problem with many words where that letter is the terminating consonant of a syllable. For example, see the words I just used, “terminating consonant”. The T’s are at the beginning of the syllables in “terminating”, thus always spoken clearly, but in “consonant” you will rarely hear the T sound unless the person is enunciating.

    D is similar, though people are even more lax in enunciating that letter.

    • FransSusan

      I think they don’t know how to spell the words and thus pronounce them as they think the words are spelled. e. g. People who say up-most believe it’s spelled with a P instead of a T as the second letter. I think what you’re referring to is the way southerners, for example, say yella instead of yellow, warnin’ instead of warning, and motha instead of mother.

    • EEKittredge

      And then there are the people who pronounce “pronunciation” as “pronounciation.”

  • Adelaide

    I’m surprised people actually mispronouce these words… Oh and both pronunciations of athlete (ˈath-ˌlēt, or ˈa-thə-ˌlēt), often (ˈȯ-fən, ‘ȯf-tən) and candidate (ˈkan-də-ˌdāt, ˈka-nə-, -dət) are right, it’s just the ‘correct’ ones are preferred.

  • http://rickladd.com Rick Ladd

    Did anyone mention “Ree-ul-ter” vs. “Reel-a-ter”?

    • FransSusan

      It’s real-ter, two syllables not three.

      • http://rickladd.com Rick Ladd

        a person who acts as an agent for the sale and purchase of buildings and land; a real estate agent.

        • FransSusan

          It’s two syllables, not three. Real-ter.

  • Aptitude Design

    those who say cachet for cache have no cachet with me

  • Chiral

    It’s toluene not tallyoulean.

    • FransSusan

      It’s tol-yoo-en

  • MidTex

    You missed Corps. Pronouncing it as corpse will certainly make one look like an idiot.

  • cantabella

    Great post by MidTex below….I guess the POTUS was too busy taking law classes not English.

  • MrsDoc

    A lot of people fail to pronounce the first “r” in frustrate.

  • Professor

    What a crappy article with no research done.

  • linds

    It was Mark Twain who said that.

  • Ang

    How do you pronounce applicable?

    • motcollins

      I say a-PLICK-a-ble, but if someone says AP-lick-a-ble it’s cool.

  • Brandon

    I appreciate the content of articles like these, but I despise the arrogant attitude behind them. Some people are linguistically gifted, but most are not. I would also submit that if you were to walk a mile in the shoes of the “uneducated” you might be on the other side of ridicule.

    In summary, I bet you look like a wiener when swinging a hammer.

    • FransSusan

      I look fabulous swinging a hammer and I pronounce words correctly, too. Yes, I do have an arrogant attitude about it. I paid attention in English classes in high school, so I learned these kinds of things.

  • Phyllis Cole

    Please add REALTOR to your list…Real-A-TOR is incorrect…please say REAL-TOR!

  • Notanidiot

    Supposedly is another one often pronounced wrong. So many people say ‘supposubly’, and it’s sooo annoying. lol

  • Becky

    My pet peeve…Alzheimer’s is NOT oldtimer’s ! Yes, it is a disease that generally afflicts “old timer’s” but it is not oldtimer’s, it is Alzheimer’s !

  • Mark

    Supposedly…not “supposibly”. Drives me nuts!

  • Kevin

    Oh look, OED says the t isn’t silent.
    Boom goes the Logic Bomb.
    And as far as bigger red flags for poor pronunciation? How about EVERY ONE BEFORE THAT IS. How would that even be the biggest red flag often, when he makes the clear case that nuclear, candidate, escape, athlete, and the others are all pronounced as written?
    Maybe we need a list of 10 things that tip that you are a blogger vice a journalist. Hint 1 – you don’t do research and just post what you feel.

  • Greg Morgan

    Mr. Brown, I hope you didn’t really write, “none of those are real words,” instead of “none of those is a real word.” If you did, I’m laughing at you for being such an idiot.

  • FromGrindToWhine

    Yes! But you forgot to include “supposedly,” which is far too often pronounced, “supposably.” That one always makes my ears itch

  • Nora

    Someone who splits infinitives shouldn’t be talking. Also, a lot of these can be explained by phonological rules. Pronouncing “utmost” as “upmost” is just a matter of assimilation, like pronouncing “good boy” as “goob boy”, or pronouncing the “n” in “tenth” with a dental place of articulation. (You probably don’t even know you do it!”) And I’m sure you don’t say “prescription” but instead, “pruh-scription,” with a schwa.

  • AManCalledDa-da

    Sure, Bert.

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  • Robin

    “Supposedly” should be pronounced “sup-pose-ed-lee”, not “sup-pose-ub-lee”. Please include it in the list.

  • Allen Ray Mickle Jr.

    Considering language meaning/pronunciation, etc., is ultimately determined by usage, some of these are no longer incorrect, based upon universal acceptance. If everyone pronounces the “t” in often then that is how it will be pronounced. No amount of hand-wringing and complaining will stop it from being so.

  • Brian Ehlin

    You should have check this for yourself, but here it is: snuck is a word. 1590–1600; variant of Middle English sniken. Brang of course, is not. Irregardless is a word. Although a nonstandard word used by both educated professionals and uneducated persons such as journalists and idiots; it has become accepted as an alternative to regardless.

  • Monk21

    That is a pity. I was so happy to see that someone was trying to educate people on how to pronounce those words and at the end you decided to comment on “often”. I regret to inform you that both “ofen” and “ofTen” are correct.

  • EEKittredge

    As a lawyer, I keep running into people who insist on pronouncing “quitclaim” as “quick claim.”

  • Randy

    A word is an effective word if it conveys the meaning as the speaker intended to the listener. Nobody likes a grammar Nazi.

  • Leon Southerly

    people aren’t dumb for pronouncing silent letters. people are dumb for putting them in words in the first place

  • bluebonics

    Holy prescriptivist drivel. You missed the clue on how language works by a pronunciation being included in a dictionary, didn’t you?

  • Ruth

    Justin – from your picture you appear too young to remember JFK….but just FYI, he was the one that started the nu-cular revolution…not George Bush.

  • Dana King

    The one that I’ve been hearing as of late is; impor’ant, in place of important. For whatever reason, maybe an accent of some sort, this pronunciation has been popping up more often when watching the talking heads on tv.

  • Amy

    I ain’t even able to remember why I got here. SQUIRREL!

  • Roy Batty

    You lost me at “irregardless,” which is very much in fact a word.

  • Ray Dickey

    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 restoredthe [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 widelyheard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.

    Then there’s real-a-tor. Um, it’s spelled like it should be pronounced, real-tor. Or lax-adaisical. Arghh!

  • ez2cme

    If there’s only one R in sherbet, then pronounce “colonel” for me!

  • midgetHead

    List written by a high school freshmen trying to get into the yearbook club and AV club by only insisting that his words are correct, 27% of the time. But he’s mostly right, so don’t put my name on any of those clubs! “Often”-“Off-ten” is actually correct. “Off-en” is what you say when you’re in a hurry to do something! “Off-Ten” is the correct way to say the word.

    (Fucking moron author can’t even make contractions! “I do not know”.)

    This kid is an English major. You can spot their superiority complex a mile away and know that they are gonna disappoint their paying families!

  • midgetHead

    Authored by: Some English major who has disappointed parents.

  • Just A Bloke

    This article is a prime example of someone who has far too much time on their hands. Besides, people pronouce words differently because of dialect, & accent etc, which kinda makes this whole article meaningless. Vase, varse. Vit-ermins, vytermins. Patro-nize, patron-ize. & so on.
    Right, now that’s cleared up, back to the World Cup & some top quality football, well football anyway, pronouced football or foo-tball.

  • Mad_dog

    Thanks, grammar (n)(a)(z)(i). Now, instead of sounding uneducated, I can correct people and sound like a pomposs (a)(s)(s). GRAMMATIK MACHT FREI!!!!!

  • jim b

    Does anybody else suffer from oft-ten-aphobia. When I hear it, I feel a stabbing pain in my brain. I’ve listened to it evolve from the soft pronunciation “of-en” to the commonly used “oft-ten”.
    The return to the pronunciation of the “T”, I believe was brought back to prominence by former athletes turned sports announcers.
    In most cases the level of their educations were overlooked to keep them in the game. They thought that pronouncing “often” phonetically was a show of intelligence. Now more and more TV viewers have taken to using this instant grammatical override to highlight their speech.
    It is a “sub-tle” “pee-sy-chology that “soft-tens” the “cast-tle” walls with a “sa-word” of “ka-nowledge” as we “whist-till” a merry tune and dance an endless “bal-let” with “hon-nor” “throu-gah” fields of “rasp-berries” on an “is-land” of ignorance as we “list-ten” to the “pee-honetic” pronunciation of “oft-ten”.

  • Just A Bloke

    As far as I can tell, language exsists for the purpose of communication. So, if someone can understand what you’re saying, who cares if you’re not pronoucing the words in a certain way. Often when people correct other’s speech they know what is meant, so why correct it?
    For example,” I ain’t doing that. I think you mean “I’m not doing that”, ain’t isn’t a word”. The person knew what was meant, so the communication was successful, but the hearer still felt the need to correct the speech. Pointless.
    Either is pronouced ee-va, or i-va, who’s to say which is right, the point is both are understood.
    Pasta is pronouced both pass-ta, & pars-ta. If you mention eating or food, most people will catch on quickly.
    Point is, if people understand the words you’re saying, it really don’t matter how you pronouce them.

  • chimera

    Do you know what makes you look like an idiot? Writing an obnoxious listicle on pronunciations without bothering to check any actual dictionaries.

    Both Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary list “off-ten” as a legitimate pronunciation of “often.”

    I wonder if Justin Brown pronounces the T in the word “oft,” which is the root word of “often.” I suspect that he doesn’t even know that “oft” is a word.

  • ghfghfd


  • ghfghfd

    im finna go an do dis rite her

  • Saige

    Virilitas, to be specific, the use of “pacific” or “pacifically” is actually a speech impediment.

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  • Maramnova

    Nice! Here’s another one; jewelry. Incorrect pronunciation: jew-luh-ree
    Correct pronunciation: jewel-ree

  • PeterTx52

    you forgot sophomore and ask

  • DU

    Pronouncing words that end in tent as instead “ent”.

    e.g. Patent becomes pa-ent

  • Sharon

    “We get it! A silent ‘T’!”. Incorrect punctuation. Even when the exclamation point belongs to the quote, you do not add a period after the final quotation marks. Just trying to help.

  • Frederic William Beck

    “Febyuary” would be next on my list.

  • Marc

    The quote is by Mark Twain.

  • Joshua Smith

    I disagree with the general intent of this thing (purr-scriptive linguistics is kinda silly, and see what I did there?). But I disagree most strongly with prescription/prerogative, and especially the latter. If we’re gonna pronounce it your way, we might as well also pronounce England “Anglaland”, as there’s a similar phenomenon at work here, known as haplology.

    And nobody’s pronouncing the ‘e’ before the ‘r’ either. This (along with your rather quaint phonetic symbols) betrays a weak understanding of phonetics and phonology. In IPA, this pronunciation of “prerogative” would be something like /pɚˈɹɑɡəɾɪv/, with an r-colored schwa as the first vowel. There’s no vowel moving before the ‘r’, because the ‘r’ IS the vowel! Instead, /ɹə/ (an ‘r’ followed by a schwa) is being replaced with /ɚ/ (an r-colored schwa), which is a very efficient move, and makes the word easier to pronounce in quick speech.

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  • http://www.911dj.com Greg Legakis

    Regrettably, I say “prolly” or, worse yet, “pry” for “probably.” Drives my wife crazy.

  • http://www.911dj.com Greg Legakis

    Et Cetera is my biggest pet peeve. The supposedly smartest people in the world can be heard constantly sayi