31 Words You're Definitely Pronouncing Wrong

Now you'll know!

mispronounced words mispronounced words
Betsy Farrell

No one likes getting corrected. Avoid embarrassing mistakes by articulating it right the first time. These vocabulary words are some of the worst (and most popular) offenders, so no shame if you've been saying "GIF" wrong this entire time.

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Watch These People Try to Pronounce Hard-to-Say Words

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acai
Betsy Farrell
Acai

When you're hitting up the local smoothie shop, don't ask for ACK-ah-ee, ah-KAI or ah-SIGH berries. The emphasis goes on the third (and last) syllable. 

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applicable
Betsy Farrell
Applicable

This adjective starts like the apps on the your phone, not a-PLICK-able. 

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arctic
Betsy Farrell
Arctic

Don't forget about that first C. Some people skip the "arc" in favor of ART-ick, and the same goes for Antarctic. 

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cashe
Betsy Farrell
Cache

No, this isn't a sneaky French word. The tendency to say cash-AY stems from the similar-looking cachet (meaning prestige), while cache refers to a storage or hiding place. 

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either
Betsy Farrell
Either

You could use either AYE-thur or EEE-thur, but the latter is 's preferred pronunciation. 

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espresso
Betsy Farrell
Espresso

If your barista hasn't corrected you already, your afternoon pick-me-up is called an espresso, not an EX-press-o. 

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february
Betsy Farrell
February

The month doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it shouldn't sound like January. The impulse to drop the first R is called dissimilation, according to .

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forte
Betsy Farrell
Forte

Music buffs might pronounce this one as for-TAY, and if you're talking about a composer's note, that would be correct. However, if reading sheet music is your strong point, that's also called a forte — no second syllable required.  

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foyer
Betsy Farrell
Foyer

The tendency to add a fancy French sound strikes again. But welcoming guests into your foy-AY doesn't make the best first impression.  

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gala
Betsy Farrell
Gala

Here's where an AY sound comes in handy. If you're attending a fancy ball, it isn't a GAL-uh. 

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gif
Betsy Farrell
GIF

Merriam-Webster pronounces this with a hard G, because the word's actually an acronym for graphics interchange format. However, its inventor Steve Wilhite is adamant about pronouncing GIF like the peanut butter

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gyro
Betsy Farrell
Gyro

Your yummy Greek pita shouldn't sound like "gyroscope." Order a YEE-roh or ZHIHR-oh instead when you've got a craving for yogurt sauce

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hyperbole
Betsy Farrell
Hyperbole

No exaggeration, this four-syllable word has nothing to do with bowls thanks to its Greek roots. Fun fact: Hyperbole's antonym is litotes, meaning an extreme understatement and pronounced LYE-tuh-teez

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liable
Betsy Farrell
Liable

Don't get these legal terms mixed up. Liability (being obligated) is different from libel (a defamatory statement).

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library
Betsy Farrell
Library

Just like February, the two R sounds in library make proper pronunciation especially hard. Lots of people (even college professors and presidents!) are as skipping one or the other.

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mauve
Betsy Farrell
Mauve

Whether you like this purpley color or not, it isn't supposed to rhyme with stove. 

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meme
Betsy Farrell
Meme

Years before grumpy cat and success kid, a British scientist invented the word meme as "a unit of cultural transmission" in 1976. While you read it more than you speak it, a viral hit is pronounced like phoneme, not mee-mee, may-may or even mem. 

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mischievous
Betsy Farrell
Mischievous

This popular mistake pops up as a typo too. Don't add an extra I at the end, as in mis-CHEEV-i-ous

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often
Betsy Farrell
Often

Believe it or not, pronouncing the T in often is officially a no-go, according to at least. The variant is so "stigmatized" that the dictionary even precedes it with an obelus mark (which looks like a division sign), meaning that it "is considered by some to be questionable or unacceptable."

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niche
Betsy Farrell
Niche

Although "neesh" is increasingly accepted, "nitch" is the older and more popular way to refer to a specialized place or role. 

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nuclear
Betsy Farrell
Nuclear

The White House may have the nuclear codes, but at least four presidents (Bush, Clinton, Carter and Eisenhower) have messed up this adjective. Their mistake? Switching the adjacent sounds, a linguistic phenomenon called metathesis, according to .  

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prelude
Betsy Farrell
Prelude

While you may be in church when listening to a prelude, the first syllable doesn't sound like "pray." This noun and verb stems from the Latin word praeludere, meaning to play beforehand. 

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pronunciation
Betsy Farrell
Pronunciation

Coincidentally, pronunciation isn't always pronounced right, probably because the verb form contains the syllable "noun" while the noun (counterintuitively) does not. 

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regardless
Betsy Farrell
Regardless

Ever since the 1920s, people have combined the words irrespective and regardless into the very nonstandard "irregardless." Almost a century later, it's still a big no-no. 

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regime
Betsy Farrell
Regime

No matter its political leanings, a regime doesn't sound like RUH-geem. 

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sherbet
Betsy Farrell
Sherbet

Let's settle the sherbet-sherbert debate for good. Originally from the Turkish and Persian words , there's never been and never will be a second "r" in the last syllable. And in case you're wondering, the flavored ice is called sor-BAY, not SOR-bet.

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status
Betsy Farrell
Status

If you've been mispronouncing this as STAH-tus your whole life, you're not alone. But it's never too late to get it right!

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suite
Betsy Farrell
Suite

Your hotel room is probably pretty sweet, regardless of whether you're wearing a suit. (And don't even think about saying sue-TAY.) 

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transient
Betsy Farrell
Transient

Meaning fleeting or temporary, transient can refer to a mood, visit or job, to name a few uses. Just don't mistakenly say tran-ZEE-ent. 

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