77 Common Mispronunciations

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You, of course, aren't mispronouncing these words, but some people do. Maybe it's the spelling, or the origin, or the trickiness of language itself, but these words tend to tie tongues in knots. Even if you're a master linguist, it's always good to double-check to see if you're saying the words on this list—adapted from an episode of The List Show—correctly.

1. Colonel

After his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt's preferred nickname was "The Colonel."
After his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt's preferred nickname was "The Colonel." / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You know those weird looks you get when you play Clue with your friends and you accuse 'Call-in-null' Mustard with the candlestick in the hall? That's because it's 'Kern-el' Mustard. Also, it was probably Professor Plum.

2. Awry

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Something has gone awry if you're saying aw-ree because it's ah-wry.

3. Epitome

Need a perfect example? Ep-it-tome is the ep-it-tom-ee of mispronunciation.

4. Edinburgh

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You don't go to Ed-in-burg, you go to Ed-in-bur-ah.

5. Ethereal

This is almost too perfect. It's not e-ther-real, it's eth-eer-ee-ul.

6. Meme

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Share this with everyone you know. It's not a me-may, or a mee-mee, it's a meem (at least we're trying to make it one).

7. GIF

The creator of the Graphical Interchange Format calls it Jif. According to the dictionary, which is all that matters, both pronunciations are correct, but the battle rages on.


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Not pawned or pweened. If you've been totally dominated, you've been powned. Owned with a P.

9. Facetious

Fay-tious? No, fa-see-tious. No kidding.

10. Hyperbole

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If people keep on pronouncing 'hi-per-bo-lee' as 'hy-per-bowl,' the universe is going to implode.

11. Nuclear

New-clear? New-cue-lar? No, new-clear.

12. Hermione

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If you're talking about Harry Potter's best friend, it's 'Her-my-oh-nee' (Hermione). A Gentle Hermione is also a rose, so now you know how to pronounce two Hermiones.

13. Ralph

Speaking of Harry Potter, it looks like the name of the video game character that wrecks things, but the name of the actor who played Voldemort is pronounced Rayf.

14. Manolo Blahnik

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You can probably think of a dozen wrong ways to say it, but the name of the famous Spanish designer is Ma-NO-low Blah-nick.

15. Accessory

And the shoes Manolo Blahnik makes are an ak-sess-oh-ree, not an a-sess-oh-ree.

16. Versailles

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It's Ver-sigh, unless you're in Kentucky or Indiana, in which case you are in Ver-sales.

17. Illinois

And speaking of the Great American Midwest, it's 'Ill-i-noy' (Illinois).

18. Arctic

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Arc-tic, not Ar-tic. There are two Cs in there.

19. Alzheimer's Disease

It's Alls-high-merz disease, not old-timers disease.

20. Asperger's

And its Ass-per-gers. There is no B in there.

21. Et Cetera

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Just how it looks. Et cetera, not Eck cetera.

22. Pinochle

Pee-knuckle may be the pinnacle of card games that are difficult to pronounce.

23. Forte

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Four-tay is an Italian word that means loud. It's used all the time in mew-zical arrangements.

24. Forte

Here's where it gets confusing. Your fort (no "-ay") is something that you're good at, or the strongest part of a sword. However, this mispronunciation is so common that you will either seem like you don't know the word or so pedantic that the person you're speaking with will walk off without saying another word.

25. Recur

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If you use the word Reoccur, it means something is occurring again. Recur is the correct pronunciation for something that happens again and again.

26. Parentheses

Unless you're referring to a single parenthesis, use pa-ren-tha-sees.

27. Mauve

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It's mawv in the United States and mowv in Britain, so chaos reigns. Either way, it's still just slightly purple.

28. Irregardless

No matter how you pronounce it, irregardless is not a word. You mean regardless.

29. Anyway

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Anyways, always say anyway because anyways is not a word. No extra S required.

30. Gnocchi

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If you're ordering at the Italian restaurant, it's nee-oh-kee, not guh-knock-y.

31. Penne

You can follow that course with a bowl of penn-nay, not pen.

32. Merlot

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And wash the carb explosion down with a nice bottle of mer-low. Keep that T silent.

33. Prosciutto

Then wash down the wine with a pile of thinly sliced pro-shoot-oh.

34. Crepe

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In the French restaurant, it's krep, not krayp.

35. Quiche

Or you might order a keesh there.

36. Quinoa

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At the health food store, you'll want to pick up some keen-wa.

37. Hors D'oeuvres

You'll want to serve or-dirves at your party, not hoars-doov-rez. The literal translation from French is "outside the works," referring to a part of the meal outside the main course.

38. Chipotle

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If you're still hungry, you can roll through chih-pote-lay. Please don't call it Chi-pot-al. Or you can just eat a bowl of chipotle peppers. They're great by themselves. Or with...

39. Guacamole

And don't forget to pay a little extra for some gwac-a-mol-eh, not gwac-a-mo-lay.

40. Caramel

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Chipotle doesn't serve flan, or else it would be really easy to segue into discussing care-a-mel. Care-a-mil is also acceptable.

41. Thyme

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It's time, like a clock, not thigh-me.

42. Mayonnaise

We probably all shorten it to man-ayze because may-oh-nayz is a mouthful. A correctly pronounced mouthful.

43. Prescription

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That thing you get from your doctor that you take to your pharmacy is a pre-scrip-shun, not a pur-scrip-shun.

44. Realtor

It only has two syllables, not three.

45. Jewelry

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That goes for jool-ree, too.

46. Asphalt

It's ass-fault, not ash-fault.

47. Ptolemy

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The Greek mathematician's name is pronounced tall-a-mee.

48. Bacchus

And a party with Ptolemy and Bacchus (back-us) would be a blast.

49. Veteran

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Napoleon was a veh-teh-run (three syllables, not two) of the Napoleonic Wars.

50. Veterinarian

And Chewbacca resents having to go to the vet-er-in-air-ee-an.

51. Comfortable

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It might make you squirm, but kum-fur-ta-bull has four syllables.

52. Supposedly

It's sa-poze-id-lee, not sa-poze-ib-lee. Don't turn that D into a B.

53. Triathlon

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Somehow it's tri-ath-lon instead of tri-ath-a-lon, which is admittedly much more fun to say.

54. Especially

And resist the temptation to throw an X in to make it ex-pesh-il-lee when it's es-pesh-il-lee.

55. Larvae

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Getting back to squirmy things, it's lar-vee or lar-vai, but not lar-vay.

56. Asterisk

We should note that it's ass-tir-isk, not aks-tir-isk.

57. Affidavit

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And it's officially aff-i-day-vit with a T at the end, not a D.

58. Schadenfreude

If you're chuckling that people actually mispronounce some of these words, then you're experiencing shaw-din-froy-da.

59. Chauvinist

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It's show-va-nist (chauvinist), not cho-va-nist.

60. Mischievous

It's like the word itself is playing a sly prank on all of us because it's just so tempting to say miss-chee-vee-us when there's no extra I at the end. The right way to say it is miss-chuh-vus.

61. Dr. Seuss

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Another way to sound silly while being correct is to pronounce the legendary author's name as doctor soyce. He said his name as if it rhymed with voice, but everyone says it like it rhymes with juice, which is wubbulously wrong.

62. Chiaroscuro

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The key to getting this art technique wrong is in the chee. The right way? Kee-uh-ruh-skyoor-oh. It's the use of darkness and light in contrast, not a Brazilian restaurant where they keep giving you meat until you beg for them to stop. That's a...

63. Churrascaria

All together now: Shoe-rah-scah-ree-ya.

64. Gyro

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Please, please when you're ordering one, don't call it a jy-ro. It's yee-ro, which should be easy to remember because it rhymes with hero and both are sandwiches.

65. Kiton

The cute little mussels are kai-tens. They're not kittens.

66. Acai

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Ack! It's a soft C, but you also pronounce the letter I at the end. Uh-sigh-ee.

67. Cache

If you've got respect and clout, you've got cachet (cash-eh), but if you're storing your loot in a cache, it's pronounced simply cash.

68. February

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It's feh-brew-ary, but we all know that we should officially change it to feh-boo-ary.

69. Regime

It's ray-jeem, not ruh-jeem.

70. Solder

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Silent Ls should make everything tricky. Surprisingly, it's sah-der, not soul-der.

71. Often

Tons of people get this one wrong with great regularity. It's off-en. The T is silent.

72. Dilate

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This one might make your eyes bug out. We have the tendency to add another A in there, but it's di-late, not di-uh-late.

73. Preternatural

It's not pray-ter-natch-uh-rul. It's pree-ter-natch-uh-rul. Spooky, right?

74. Hierarchy

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It's high-er-ar-kee, not the simplified high-ar-kee.

75. Lambaste

There's no need to soften this one. It's lam-baste, not lam-bast.

76. Recondite

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It may be difficult to understand, but the word is pronounced reh-kin-dite.

77. Pronunciation

You pro-nown-ce a word, but you don't pro-nown-cee-ate it. Stick with pro-nun-cee-ay-shun, and you'll be fine.