Mental Floss

Weekend Word Wrap: words we once mispronounced

David K. Israel

Becky had a brilliant post a couple months back on vocab words. She recounted a segment she once heard on Rush Limbaugh where he said a person's vocabulary stops growing at the age of 25. She also brought up words she discovered she was mispronouncing:

I could fill a month's worth of posts on how many words I spent many happy years mispronouncing or worrying I was mispronouncing"“an invocation of "palimpsest" was heavy on the "limp" until I finally learned either way (i.e. "pal" or "limp") was okay, and my favorite grammar school vocab years was always "deSULtory." I find it either takes a good friend or a bad job interview to correct such things.

Well here's a third method to throw into the pot: loyal Weekend Word Wrappers' comments. That's right, I'm calling on all you readers to embarrass family members, friends, cohorts - even yourselves - by sharing with us stories of words mispronounced and how they/you learned to pronounce the word(s) correctly.

I'll get the shameful ball rolling here with a word I always pronounced wrong, that is, until one day...

Sycophant "“ What I now understand about this word is that if most people have trouble with it, it's usually in the definition, not the pronunciation. They think it has something to do with being ill or disgusting, rather than being toady. I never had that problem because I always pronounced it psychophant. That is, until I heard it used by Phoebe on an episode of Friends in the mid 90s. And that's how I learned how to pronounce it correctly, if you can believe that.

What about you guys? The interactive part of the Wrap starts now!

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