30 Words You’re Probably Mispronouncing

30 Words You’re Probably Mispronouncing
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Dictionary.com has updated its list of commonly mispronounced English words. We’ve included them below; along with links to the proper pronunciations.

We all misspell words from time to time; especially when quickly firing out emails. Most recipients will overlook these errors, but when it comes to mispronouncing the very same word, people are a lot less forgiving. Most consider it a sign of poor learning and ignorance.

Dictionary.com’s list of 30 common mispronunciations contains an interesting mix of rarely used words, foreign adoptions and simplistic phrases that are uttered on a daily basis. Food-related words top the list — so you might want to bone up on those before your next restaurant visit. (Either that, or get your date to order for you.)

We’ve included links to Dictionary.com’s audio pronunciation for each word. Just click on the speaker icon to hear the word spoken aloud. And yes, we’re aware that some of the included pronunciations have an American twang. Nevertheless, they should still help to steer you in the right direction.

Dictionary.com’s 30 Commonly Mispronounced Words:

  1. affidavit [af-i-dey-vit]
  2. almond [ah-muh nd, am-uh nd]
  3. beget [bih-get]
  4. cache [kash]
  5. caramel [kar-uh-muh l, -mel, kahr-muh l]
  6. coupon [koo-pon, kyoo-]
  7. croissant [French krwah-sahn; English kruh-sahnt]
  8. epitome [ih-pit-uh-mee]
  9. espresso [e-spres-oh]
  10. et cetera [et set-er-uh, se-truh]
  11. façade [fuh-sahd, fa-]
  12. fiery [fahyuh r-ee, fahy-uh-ree]
  13. genre [zhahn-ruh; French zhahn-ruh]
  14. haute [oht]
  15. hyperbole [hahy-pur-buh-lee]
  16. lambaste [lam-beyst, -bast]
  17. mauve [mohv]
  18. mischievous [mis-chuh-vuh s]
  19. niche [nich]
  20. peony [pee-uh-nee]
  21. prerogative [pri-rog-uh-tiv, puh-rog-]
  22. quinoa [keen-wah, kee-noh-uh]
  23. reservoir [rez-er-vwahr, -vwawr, -vawr, rez-uh-]
  24. salmon [sam-uh n]
  25. sherbet [shur-bit]
  26. turmeric [tur-mer-ik]
  27. verbiage [vur-bee-ij]
  28. Weimaraner [vahy-muh-rah-ner, wahy-, wahy-muh-rey-]
  29. whet [hwet, wet]
  30. Worcestershire [woo s-ter-sheer, -sher]

Have you noticed any words that people frequently mispronounce that aren’t on the list above? Let us know in the comments.

This article has been updated since its original publication.


  • I hole-hardedly agree, but allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment. For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong. In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies. We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite. So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there. Although there is some merit to what you are saying it seems like you have a huge ship on your shoulder. In your argument you seem to throw everything in but the kids Nsync, and even though you are having a feel day with this I am here to bring you back into reality. I have a sick sense when it comes to these types of things. It is almost spooky, because I cannot turn a blonde eye to these glaring flaws in your rhetoric. I have zero taller ants when it comes to people spouting out hate in the name of moral righteousness. You just need to remember what comes around is all around, and when supply and command fails you will be the first to go. Make my words, when you get down to brass stacks it doesn’t take rocket appliances to get two birds stoned at once. It’s clear who makes the pants in this relationship, and sometimes you just have to swallow your prize and accept the facts. You might have to come to this conclusion through denial and error but I swear on my mother’s mating name that when you put the petal to the medal you will pass with flying carpets like it’s a peach of cake.

  • These are pretty much words that are exclusively only mispronounced by people with an American accent due to how it treats certain sounds and combinations of letters. Speakers of non-American English wouldn’t have this issue, unless they learned their pronunciation FROM American speakers.

    • Very difficult to generalize. I grew up in the US and learned the correct (as indicated by this article) pronunciations for every word on this list (even though I’ve been haphazardly misspelling prerogative my whole life).

      Conversely, I’ve lost count of the number of Australians (and ONLY Australians) that have suggested I clear the kay-sh from my computer browser, and telling me that they really like my muh-rone shirt.

      PS – it’s a lie, no one likes my maroon shirt.

      • From your response it sounds like you feel Australians are pronouncing cache and maroon incorrectly.


        Cache is pronounced differently in Australia, so is Maroon (you will find it similar in the UK and NZ). Not wrong, different.

        I trust you are an enlightened enough American to not blunder around Australia telling us that we are pronouncing words wrong 🙂

  • Worcestershire [woo s-ter-sheer, -sher]Which means, as was pointed out to me by an Englishman, the city in Tasmania should be pronounced Lon-ston.

    Oops. Brain no worky.

  • Some of these will be Sydney only pronunciations.

    I know when I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne I had to undergo intensive training to re-learn how to say bag. In Adelaide it’s said as “Bayg” in Melbourne “Bahg”

    • To me, a lot of people from Adelaide and Melbourne have similar affectations, like saying ‘miwk’ instead of ‘milk’ and ‘buiwding’ instead of ‘building’. Then we have the horrible overdone ‘t’ sound which has been immortalised by Kath and Kim (Prue and Trude) but I don’t even know where to start on spelling it out lol. Watch Georgie Gardner on the Today Show; she does it all the time.

  • Bah, the disadvantage of refusing to register for Lifehacker – I can’t edit.

    One more that is patently incorrect.

    genre [zhahn-ruh; French zhahn-ruh]

    Having a French husband the proper way to say this is with a silent e. Zhanr. Because it’s at the end of a word and NOT accented it’s a mute e. Other French words with a mute e are “rue, bouche, route, casquette, soixante, madame, aubergine”

    The uh you add on the end there is very much the Anglicisation because our tongues have a little trouble with a mute e.

    • That will depend on which part of France your husband comes from. My experience of living there was that dialect differences can make a huge difference. I had to de-Paris my accent to be acceptable to southern ears.

    • The pronunciation of Linux makes no sense. It is a word created from the inventor’s name, which is Linus, pronounced “Lie-Nus”. Therefore, it makes no sense to prounce Linux any way other than “Lie-Nux”. It’ sjust a convention clearly forced upon us by stupid people. Similarly, there can be no argument about pronouncing GIF any way other than “giff”, because the “G” stands for Graphics, pronounced “Graff-iks”. If the letter is standing for a hard “G” then that’s how it should be pronounced in the acronym. Nothing else makes sense.

      • The video I linked to is Linus Torvalds himself, specifically stating how “Linux” is pronounced. It isn’t a convention forced on us by stupid people, it’s the way the creator of the thing says it’s supposed to be pronounced!

      • Let me Linguistics that for you…Linus Torvalds is a Finn of Swedish origin. The Swedish pronunciation of his first name is /ˈliːn.ɵs/ (sort of like “Leenus”) and the usual Anglo-American pronunciation is /ˈlaɪnəs/ (like “Lainus” from the Peanuts comics).

    • YESSSS!! I can’t stand ‘vunerable’! Newsreaders have a lot to answer for these days. I know they receive elocution lessons but seriously, these tutors need a dunce cap.
      – ‘Appre-see-ate’ (appreciate)
      – ‘Shhhedule’ (schedule)

      And all the over-pronounced ‘o’ sounds that come out like the letter ‘r’. Hard to explain that one.

  • You could start to wonder whether these commonly mispronounced words are simply just evolving in the way they are pronounced. After all if the mispronunciation is becoming common, then couldn’t this common usage make it an appropriate way to say the word? Languages are constantly evolving after all.

    • Wow, so far into the comments before someone suggests language and pronunciation is evolutionary, and the next comment mentions the etymology of words.

      As words are appropriated into different languages they will be transformed, both the pronunciation and the spelling, because there are different sounds for letter pairings, the sound may not exist, or the letters do not exist. You could even argue some of the words above are misspelt in their new language 🙂 (the spell checker didn’t like misspelt)

      So which is worse, the uneducated mispronunciation, or the over-travelled or over-educated deliberate use of the ‘correct’ foreign but closer the the word’s origin pronunciation? One might sound like a dill and the other a bit of a ponce, but it depends on your company. Some of these are just dialects.

      Sure it can be challenging to hear words mispronounced the bigger crime to me is the misuse of words. The new usage becomes commonplace,to the point where the word becomes ambiguous, or at least annoying. I am thinking of literally millions of occasions where I have heard the word literally being used merely for emphasis, so much so (since the 17th century) that it is now accepted usage.

  • I remember watching a show on the ABC where a rather learned lady discussed the etymology (and pronunciation) of words. One that sticks in my mind is “schedule” – apparently it was originally pronounced, sed-yul.

    Otherwise pronounced shed-yul or sked-yul.

  • I take exception to the fundamental assumptions of this article.

    You should have great difficulty accepting the premise that when anything is put in a typeset publication it “must” be true. I have a collection of books that spans less than 200 years. Within them, words have different meanings and the books contain contradictory information. If they are all true, then the word “truth” is meaningless.

    Language evolves continuously and dynamically. The idea that someone in a ivory tower is the official arbiter of how words “should” be pronounced is as absurd as assuming that pronunciation guide representations of phonemes have universally understood and accepted pronunciations. Written symbols make no sounds, have no intrinsic meaning.

    The scholars at Oxford, did not invent the “English language”, and are not arbiters with authority to decide what words are to mean or are to be pronounced. The dictionaries that they produce are not edicts, but documentation as to how words are being used and being pronounced by some people, somewhere, at the time of publication.

    The English dictionary defines “probably” as seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected. If that is the case, and if some words are “probably” mispronounced, then the dictionary is wrong about their pronunciation, and future editions of the dictionary will reflect that.

    There is no “English language” that you can lock down, codify and preserve, set down in stone. We understand each other because we need to. We invent words, languages as tools to serve us and modify them as our abilities and out needs change.
    While there is a country named England, and you can refer to the citizens f that country as “English”, within that one country there are diverse groups who do NOT follow any arbitrary standard of pronunciation, in many cases use phrases whose meanings are not understood in other regions of that country and a large number of them speak languages not understood by the majority of their fellow countryman.

    Language is invented. Words have meaning within a group of people only because there was informal agreement at a point in time about the idea that those sounds convey. Each geographic region, trade, economic group, educational group has its own language where the same “word” represents a different concept within that group.

    What is referred to as the English language is a polyglot, a mixture of words from many languages.
    From the time that you get out of bed (Germanic), after you take off your pajamas (Persian), have a cup of coffee (Turkish) or tea (Chinese), read (Germanic) the mail (French), go to work (Germanic) to pursue your career (French), go out to dinner and the cinema (both French), return home and go to sleep (Germanic) you have spent your entire day described by words from other languages. British travellers took those words, changed the pronunciations when they couldn’t hear the subtle differences within other languages, or didn’t care enough to learn to say them them “correctly”.

    While the predominant common languages spoken in North America and Australia may have their origins in the language of England they have evolved and are no longer the same, and cannot be expected to conform to the usage documented in an English dictionary.

  • Forte, meaning an area of strength or expertise.
    It’s French, people, not Italian. It’s pronounced like Fort Apache, Fort Sumter, Fort Knox.

    Short- (or long-) lived. It’s a long i, because the root word is “life” not “live.”

  • Xenophobia [zen-uh-foh-bee-uh], the fear of foreigners, as opposed to [zeen-uh-foh-bee-uh] which is the irrational fear of buxom brunettes in leather halter tops.

  • I get regular enquiries of “Does this bus go to Elizabeth Kway(Quay)?”, mostly by people who don’t have English (or, presumably, French) as their first language. I include Strine speakers in that list.
    There’s also a whole slew of once-foreign words that are only partly Anglicised. e.g. is “valet” val-ay or val-et?

  • There are some words on that list that should have different spellings. Words like ‘hyperbole’ should be ‘hyperboly’ if that is how it’s pronounced. It’s like ‘hole’ and ‘holy’. I also don’t get why “pronunciation’ isn’t spelt ‘pronounciation’. English is a weird, inconsistent and (kinda) unique language.

    I hate it when people say words like ‘production’ without the ‘sh’ sound. Those people typically are arrogant and not nice. They’re the types of people who say selfie isn’t a word despite language being the way we talk and not something that is fixed.

  • Just because a bunch of Americans can’t speak English properly, that doesn’t mean that Australians are also incapable of correct pronunciation. Seriously – how many of those words are even occasionally mispronounced over here?

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