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A Prescriptive Dictionary

© Copyright L. Craig Schoonmaker 1998, 1999
All Rights Reserved

For a discussion of the concept behind this wordlist and the principles by which approved pronunciations have been chosen, click here. If in your browser the table below seems to have only three columns, shift right to see the fourth, very important column labeled "But NOT", which lists unacceptable pronunciations. Be patient as this page loads. There are 1,700+ words and over 120 usage notes, alphabetically arranged in table format, in a file of over 488,000 bytes. Once the entire file is loaded, navigating between sections should be fast.

Tho most of the phonetic spellings will be clear to readers of American English, there is one vowel and one consonant that may cause problems:  (1) O before any consonant (short-O) is pronounced like the O in "on" or A in "father"; thus OR is as in "forest" (in Fanetik, "fórast"), never as in "nor" (which, phonetically, is spelled "naur"); and (2) Q is silent, used only to "cue" readers to the fact that a vowel at the end of a word is short (e.g., "Poq" for "Pa", a colloquial reference to "father") or, in advanced use in the general spelling reform of which this page is only one part, to cue the difference between homophones that otherwise would show no written difference (e.g., "mask" (concealment for the face) vs. "maskq" ("masque": a masquerade ball or allegorical entertainment); or "bi" (meaning "via") vs. "bie" ("buy", meaning "to purchase") vs. "bieq" ("bye", meaning "goodbye" or 'a pass to a higher level in a contest like a tennis match'). For the table that sets out all the rules of the phonetic system in which the pronunciations are spelled, click here.

The various notes about proper usage that are scattered thru the table, tho keyed to specific words, discuss principles of wider application, and are written in a conversational style. To skip directly to those notes, search for * (asterisk) if the Find feature in your browser's Edit menu works.  (It has been my experience that Netscape allows one to Find in a webpage even if MS Internet Explorer does not.)

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[Revised 7/20/99]    Go to B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ End
Word Pronounced Or But NOT
a a when stressed: ae  
abdomen á   aab.dó
aberrant áa.ber.ant   a.bér.ant
abhor/rent aab.háur/.ant   a.báur/.ant, ab.hór/.ant, aab.hór/.ant
absent adj, prep: áab.sant v: aab.sént  
absolute/ly àúet/.lee   àúet/.liq
absorb ab.záurb   aab.sáurb
abstract n, adj: áab.straakt v: aab.stráakt  
absurd ab.sérd   ab.zérd
accent n: áak.sent v: aak.sént  
access n: á v: aak.sés  
accessory aak.sés.a.rèe   a.sés.a.rèe (illiterate)
accident áènt á  
acclimate á   a.klíe.mat
acclimate* The first and second pronunciations of "acclimate" have reversed places in the last few decades. In 1967, Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary showed a.clíe.mat first and áàet second. By the Ninth edition of that work in 1985, the two pronunciations had changed places.
accolade áa.ka.laed   áa.ka.lod
accouterment/s a.kúe.ter.mant/s    
accoutrement/s a.kúe.troo.mant/s a.kúe.ter.mant/s  
accoutrement/s* If the spelling "accoutrement" is used, a.kúe.troo.mant is the better choice, though a.kúe.ter.mant is also permissible. If the spelling "accouterment" is used, however, only a.kúe.ter.mant would apply.
accuracy áak.ya.ra.sèe   áak.a.ra.sèe
accurate áak.yoo.rat   áa.ka.rat
across a.kráus   a.kráust (illiterate)
actor áak.ter   áak.taur
actually áak.chue.wa.lee áak.sha.lee, áak.cha.lee  
actually* In formal speech all four syllables of "actually" are articulated. In casual speech, the word is more commonly pronounced as though written "actially".
acuity a.kyúe.wi.tee   a.kúe.wi.tee
acumen á   a.kyú, á
adagio a.dój.o a.dóò  
address place (n): áa.dres
direct to a place (v): a.drés
speech (n & v): a.drés  
Aden Áe.dan   Ó, Áa.dan
adept adj: a.dépt n: áa.dept  
administrative aad.mìn.i.stráe.tiv   aad.mín.i.stra.tìv
adult n: áad.ult adj: a.dúlt  
adulthood a.dúlt.hood   áa.dult.hood
advance/d aad.váans/t   aad.vóns/t
advantage aad.váan.taj   aad.vón.taj
adverse alone: aad.vérs before noun: áad.vers  
advert n: áad.vert v: aad.vért  
advertisement aad.ver.tíez.mant   aad.vér.tiz.mant
advertiser áad.ver.tì    
advocate n: á v: áàet  
aegis ée.jis   áe.jis
aerie áe.ya.ree   ái.ree, ée.ya.rèe, áaq.a.rèe, íe.ya.ree, etc.
aesthete és.ttheet   ées.ttheet
aesthetic es.tthét.ik   ees.tthét.ik
affect n: áaf.ekt v: a.fékt  


a.fíe.yant   á
affiant* Though many readers will see the unusual, legal word "affiant" (which refers to a person who makes an affidavit) as áa.fee.yant, it is actually parallel in pronunciation to "defiant".
affluent áa.flue.want   a.flúe.want
aficionado a.fìód.oe    
aforementioned a.fá   áèn.shand
after áaf.ter   óf.ta
aftermath áaf.ter.màatth   óf.ta.mòtth
afternoon n: aaf.ter.núen adj: áaf.ter.nùen òf.ta.núen, óf.ta.nùen
again/st a.gén/st   a.gáen/st
aged n, adj (elderly): áe.jad v, adj: aejd  
aggrandizement àa.graan.díez.mant   a.gráan.diz.mant
aircraft áir.kraaft   ái.kroft
albino aal.bí   aal.bé
Allah A.lóq   Ó.la, Á
alleged a.léjd   a.lé
allegedly a.lé    
allied a.líed WW II: Áal.ied  
alloy n: áa.loi v: a.lói  
ally n: á v: a.líe  
almanac á   á
almond óm.and   ól.mand, áal.mand, áa.mand, ául.mand
almond* Modern readers of English are hostile to silent letters — as well they should be — so what linguists call "spelling pronunciations" proliferate in new readers of English and in willful people who see no reason a given letter "should" be silent. They see an L in a word like "almond" or "palm", and they pronounce it, even though that's not easy to do. They also back-form their pronunciation for "palm" from the way they hear the personal surname "Palmer" pronounced on television (as in the case of the professional golfer Arnold Palmer or former baseball player and present-day TV spokesman for a loan company Jim Palmer), which includes a sounded-L (Pól.mer). Once they have put a sounded-L before the M in "palm", they then use that pattern as the model for pronouncing the seemingly parallel word "almond". But the noun "palm" is not a back-formation from the surname "Palmer". If anything, the surname derives from the noun, and some "Palmers" do not pronounce the L. I too am hostile to silent letters, so am tempted to sound the L in words like "palm" and "almond". But I find doing so difficult and clumsy. It might be useful to employ both pronunciations in the case of "palm": without the L, for "part of the hand" and with the L, for the tree (or the other way around). A phonetic spelling system for English would enable authorities to mandate such a distinction, but without phonetic spelling few readers will be clear on when to use which pronunciation. At present, then, I recommend treating the L as silent in both senses of the word "palm" (pom always, not ever polm), as well as in the word "almond" (óm.and).
altruist áal.true.wist   ául.true.wist
altruistic àal.true.wís.tik   ául.true.wís.tik
alumnae a.lúm.nee    
alumnae* In Latin, "alumnae" is pronounced a.lúem.nie and "alumni" as a.lúem.nee. Some antique mispronunciations of borrowed Latin words have been corrected — for instance, "armada" (the English version of medieval Latin "armata") was once said or.máe.da but is now said in the Romance fashion, or.mód.a). Many Latin words admitted to English long ago also have been fully anglicized, for instance, "mater" and "pater" (máe.ter and páe.ter) and seem unlikely to revert to a Latin pronunciation. Similarly, a.lúm.nie for "alumni" is so entrenched that only Latinists speaking to other Latinists will be understood to mean the masculine if they say a.lúm.nee and the feminine if they say a.lúm.nie. Even then, unless the context is clear, they may have to clarify which they mean with some explanatory remark. Is it worth the trouble? Or should we just accept that "alumni" and "alumnae", absent a phonetic spelling system for English, must be said in wholly anglicized fashion? We could, of course, obviate the problem by eliminating these irregular plurals and making the words "alumnas" and "alumnuses". Why not? Remembering irregular plurals is at least as troublesome as knowing when to give a word borrowed from another language a fully anglicized pronunciation as against when to give it the pronunciation it has in its original language, or when to use a pronunciation that is neither wholly anglicized nor wholly foreign.
alumni a.lúm.nie    
alumni* See note to "alumnae".
Alzheimer's Ólts.hie.merz   Áalz.hie.merz
am aam   aim
amateur áam.a.cher   áam.a.ter, àér, áam.a.chùer
amateurish àúer.ish   áùer.ish, àúer.ish
Amazon Áòn   Á
ambience òm.bee.yóns   áam.bee.yans
ambient áam.bee.yant    
ameba (see "amoeba")      
amen o.mén ae.mén  
amenable a.mé   a.mén.a.bool
America Amáirika   A.mér.i.ka, A.máa.ri.ka
amnesia aam.née.zha   aam.née.zee.ya
amoeba/ameba a.mé    
amoebae/amebae a.mée.bee    
amoebae* This un-Latin pronunciation of the -AE ending can be avoided by using the plural "amoebas"/"amebas", which is in any case more common nowadays, at least in lay language.
amok a.mók    
amphitheater áèe.ya.ter   áam.pi.tthèe.ter
amuck a.múck    
amulet á   áam.yoo.lèt
an aan unstressed: an  
an* "An" is the pair for "a". It inserts an N-glide so that we don't have to stop the air flow abruptly to show where the article "a" stops and the vowel that starts the following word begins ("a' accident"), nor risk losing the "a" to merger into the following word. (Such a jarring halt between words is achieved by means of a glottal stop, that is, an interruption to the flow of air produced by closing the glottis, the valve that shuts off the lungs from the esophagus when we swallow, not by moving the tongue or any other speech organ.) "An" is NEVER used before a sounded consonant. The affectations "an historic" and "an Hispanic" are absurd. Only people who are very insecure about what is "correct" say such irrational things. Since we don't say "an history", we should assuredly not say "an historic". "An Hispanic" is equally absurd, because though H may be silent in Spanish, "Hispanic" is an English word, and the H is sounded in that English word. (See also the note at the listing for "historic".)
anchovy áan.chòe.vee   àan.chóe.vee, áan.cha.vèe
Andean Aan.dée.yan Áan.dee.yan  
Andes Áan.deez    
anesthetist/anaesthetist a.nés.ttha.tìst   aa.nées.ttha.tìst
angina aan.jí   á
annex n: áan.eks v: a.néks  
answer áan.ser   ó
antarctic aant.órk.tik   aant.ór.tik
anti- áan.tee- occasionally: áan.tie- áan.tiq-
antihistamine àan.tee.hís.ta.min àan.tee.hís.ta.mèen áan.ti.hís.ta.min
antitrust aan.tee.trúst   aan.tie.trúst
anxious áangk.shas    
anybody éù   éò, éàu.dee, én.i.bàu.diq
anything é   én.i.tthing
apartheid a.pór.taet   a.pór.tied, a.pór.tthied
aphrodisi ac àa.froe.dée.zee.yaak àa.fra.dée.zee.yàak àa.fra.dée.zhee.yàak, àa.froe.dée.zhee.yàak
aphrodisiac* Shortening the O in "aphrodisiac" to a schwa  seems to me both unnecessary and undesirable. An O that is long in sound quality (oe) but short in spoken duration (as in "domain") is easy enough to say. Why change the quality of the sound just because the syllable in which it occurs isn't stressed? On the other hand, pronouncing the O as such might suggest that the first part of this word is "afro", and thus somehow related to Africa or black Americans, which would be a needlessly confusing association if anyone would make it. But since the word is well known and has no such association, there remains no good reason to schwa the O. Still, that is what most people seem to do, so I allow both pronunciations.
Appalachia/n Àáe.cha/n   Àáa.chee.ya/n, Àáa.sha/n
Appalachia/n* The short, unstressed, neutral vowel sound called "schwa" (the most common vowel in English) varies widely in actual pronunciation, depending in part upon whether it is closed (followed in the same syllable by a consonant) or open (falling at the end of the word). In "Appalachia", "Asia", "America" and the like, the open schwa at the end of the word approaches a full short-U in sound quality. "Appalachian", "Asian", and "American", however, contain a closed schwa: the added N shortens the schwa in both duration and sound quality, so that it approaches a very brief short-I. I say schwa "approaches" one or another of the full vowels, because it doesn't quite equal any full vowel. In "churches" or "business", one is tempted to treat the schwa as if it were a full short-I: chér.chiz, biz.niz, temp.tid. But that wouldn't be quite right.
apparatus àáa.tas   àáe.tas
appellee àée    
applicable á   a.plík.a.bool
appointee a.póin.tee    
appreciate a.prée.shee.yaet   a.prí, a.prée.see.yaet
appreciative a.prée.sha.tiv   a.prèe.shee.yáe.tiv
apricot áap.ri.kot   áe.pri.kot
April Áe.prool   Áe.pril
aqua áak.wa ók.wa  
aqua/marine àéen òéen  
aquatic a.kwáat.ik a.kwót.ik  
aqueduct áa.kwa.dukt   ók.wa.dukt
aquiline áa.kwi.lìen   áa.kwi.lèen
arbitrage ó   ó
archetype ó    
archipelago òél.a.goe   òr.chi.pél.a.goe
archivist ór.ka.vist ór.kie.vist  
arctic órk.tik   ór.tik
Argentine (person) Ór.jan.tien  Ór.jan.teen  
Argentine (relating to Argentina as a country) Ór.jan.teen    
aristocrat a.rís.ta.kràat   áàat
arithmetic n: a.rí adj: àar.itth.mét.ik  
armada or.mód.a   or.máe.da
artisan ór.ti.zan   ór.ti.zàan
asbestos aaz.bés.tas   aaz.bés.toes
Asia/n Áe.zha/n   Áe.sha/n
ask aask   aaks (illiterate), osk
aspirin áas.prin á  
ass aas   os
assay n: áa.sae v: aa.sáe  
assignee àée    
assignor a.síe.ner   àáur
associate n: a.sóe.see.yat, a.sóe.shee.yat v: a.sóe.see.yàet, a.sóe.shee.yàet  
assuage a.swáej   a.swáezh, a.swózh
asterisk áas.ta.risk   áas.ta.rik (illiterate)
asthma á   á, á
ate aet   et
athlete áatth.leet   áa.ttha.leet (illiterate)
atoll áatol    
atoll* So chaotic has English pronunciation become that dictionaries list six pronunciations for this five-letter word: áa.tol, áa.toel, áa.taul; áe.tol, áe.toel, áe.taul. It is to end that kind of mad chaos that this work was created.
attitude áa.ti.tued   áa.ti.tyued
augur áur.ger   óg.yer
august n: Áu.gast adj: au.gúst  
auk auk   ouk
aunt ont   aant, aint
aurora a.ráu.ra    
Aussie Áu.see   Ó
authoritative au.tthò.ri.táe.tiv   a.tthó.ri.ta.tìv
authority au.tthó.ri.tee   a.ttháu.ri.tee
auto áu.toe   ót.oe
auxiliary aug.zíl.ya.ree   aug.zíl.a.ree (illiterate)
available a.vá   a.vá
avalanche áàanch   áònsh
avenue á   áav.a.nue
average áav.raj áa.ver.aj  
aviation àe.vee.yáe.shan   àa.vee.yáe.shan
awesome áu.sam   ó.sam
awful áu.fool   ó
awkward áuk.werd   ók.werd
awry a.ríe   áu.ree

B [Return to top.]

baboon baa.búen   ba.búen
bade (see Note at "forbade") baed   baad
badminton báad.min.tan   bá
baleen ba.léen    
balk bauk   baulk
balk* This is one case in which I strongly prefer the spelling-pronunciation, which sounds the L in "balk". I baulk at bauk, but in the interest of creating a single standard, consent to drop the L and treat it as a pair to "walk", "talk", "chalk", or "stalk".
ballet baa.láe   bá
balletic ba.lét.ik    
balm/y bólm/ee   bóm/ee
balm/y* Though some authorities prefer that the L in "balm" be silent, that would make "balm" a needless homonym for "bomb". A "bomb" destroys. A "balm" heals. To pronounce the two opposed words the same would be odd indeed.
balsamic baul.sáa.mik   bá
banal ba.nól   báe.nal, ba.náal
banal* The other two common pronunciations for "banal" parallel "canal" and "anal". "Banal" is an unusual and pretentious word. An unusual and pretentious pronunciation suits it.
banana ba.ná   ba.nón.a
baptize báap.tiez   baap.tíez
baptize* Though it is more common in English for a verb to be stressed on the last syllable than the first, there is no noun with which "baptize" can be confused, so it doesn't matter that the more common pronunciation of this verb stresses the first syllable.
barbaric bor.bái.rik   bor.báa.rik
barbiturate bor.bí.cha.rit   bor.bích.ue.wit
baroque ba.róek   ba.rók
barrage ba.rózh   báa.rozh
basalt ba.sáult   báe.sault, baa.sáult
bases pl. of "base": báe.saz

pl. of "basis": báe.seez

basically báe.sik.lee báe.sik.a.lee  
basically* If, as here, the base adjective to which -LY is added to form a -CALLY ending does not itself include -CAL (the word here is "basic", not "basical"), it is perfectly reasonable to drop the sound that the -CAL ending would ordinarily be given. Other such words are "dramatically", "drastically", "scientifically" (dramáatiklee, dráastiklee, sìeyentífiklee), since the adjective they derive from does not end in -CAL ("dramatical", "drastical", "scientifical"). By contrast, where the adjective does include -CAL, it is better to pronounce the adverb to include that syllable: médikalee, fízikalee, fìlasófikalee for "medically", "physically", "philosophically".
basil personal name: Báa.zool herb: báe.zool  
Basque Baask   Bosk
Basque* This word surprisingly does not take the "Continental" value of A (as in "father"; in this work, short-O), even though it is the name of a European people. In that the Basque language is apparently not related to any of its neighbors, nor, as far as is known, to any other language on Earth, it is fitting that its name is pronounced in an unexpected manner.
bath baatth   botth
bathe baeth   botth
bathos báe.tthoes    
bathos* This literary word is parallel in spelling to another literary word of Greek origin: "pathos", which has six different pronunciations (páe.tthos, páe.tthaus, páe.tthoes; páa.tthos, páa.tthaus, páa.tthoes). Curiously, lexicographers allow only one pronunciation for "bathos": báe.tthos. That is intellectually insupportable. Students of foreign languages will be inclined to give continental-European values to foreign-looking words like these, which would yield the pronunciations bó.tthoes and pó.tthoes. Neither is recognized by lexicographers (and pó.tthoes is the name of a popular houseplant, the "pothos". Since the next closest pronunciation, páe.tthoes, is a recognized pronunciation for the pair to "bathos", I opt for páe.tthoes and báe.tthoes.
baths baathz   baatths
batik ba.téek   báa.tik
baton ba.tón   bá, báa.ton
baton* This is French for "stick". In the 20th century, until about the 1980s, it was used popularly only for the stick with which a conductor leads an orchestra. In the euphemistically-inclined 1980s and 1990s, the traditional term "nightstick" for a police officer's club was gradually displaced by "baton", an inappropriately gentler term. This use does, however, find sanction in the history of the word. When it entered English, in the un-gentle 16th century, the first meaning of "baton" was cudgel or truncheon. The pronunciation báa.tan holds only for the name of the capital city of Louisiana, Baton Rouge ("red stick" in French, the original colonial language of Louisiana).
battery bá   báa.tree
bayonet n: bá, bae.ya.nét v: bae.ya.nét, bá báe.ya.nat
be- The prefix "be-" (as in words like "believe" and "behind" can easily be pronounced as though it were the full word "be" (bee), but abbreviating it to biq does little harm to comprehensibility. (Remember, in this pronunciation scheme, Q is silent, the only letter that is silent). It is not "wrong" to say either beeléev or biléev. Just be certain not to say baléev or, worse still, buléev.
beatific bèe.ya.tíf.ik   báe.ya.tíf.ik
beatitude bee.yáa.ti.tùed    
beautiful byúe.ti.fool   byúe.tee.fool (illiterate)
beautifully byúe.ti.flee byú  
because bee.káuz bi.káuz bee.káus
been bin   been, ben
behave bee.háev   bu.háev
behavior bee.háev.yer   bu.háev.yer
behind bee.híend   bu.híend (illiterate)
Beijing Bae.jíng   Bae.zhíng
Beijing* Native speakers of English tend to group all the languages of the Earth into two categories: (1) English and (2) foreign. Historically, the most important "foreign" language to speakers of English has been French, with which English fought a death struggle in Britain for 400 years following the Conquest of England by Norman invaders who imposed French as the language of government and the upper classes. Though English ultimately drove French from England and has practically obliterated French as an international language of consequence, to native speakers of English, "foreign language" still somehow equates with "French". Thus all words and place names of non-English origin tend to be pronounced as though they were French: "Beijing" is said Bae.zhíng (even though Bae.jíng is clearly more "Chinese-y"), because in French, J is pronounced ZH. (See note at "maharajah".) The Spanish surname "Chavez" is mispronounced Sha.véz (see note at "Chavez Ravine") because in French CH is pronounced SH and stress is placed on the last syllable. The problem is that not all foreign languages are French. Though it is of course easier to learn the sound system of one language and apply it to all others, it is a foolish way to approach a planet on which some 6,000 languages are spoken, each with its own sound system.
belief bi.léef bee.léef bu.léef
believe bi.léev bee.léev bu.léev
beloved bee.lú bi.lúvd  
below bi.lóe bee.lóe  
beneficiary bèn.a.físh.a.ree bèn.a.fíè  
Bengal/s adj, football team: Bé place: Ben.gául  
berserk ber.zérk   ber.sérk
besiege bee.séej   bee.séezh
bestiality bès.tee.yá   bèe.stee.yá
beta báe.ta   bée.ta
beverage bév.raj   bé
bewilder/ed bee.wíl.der/d bi.wíl.der/d ba.wíl.der/d, bu.wíl.der/d
beyond bee.yónd   bee.ónd
biathlon bie.yáatth.lon   bie.yáa.ttha.lon
bilingual bie.líng.gwal   bie.líng.gyu.wool
Birmingham Alabama: Bér.ming.hàam England: Bé  
blessed blest religion: blé  
body bó   báu.diq
Boer Buer   Baur
Boise Bói.see   Bói.zee
Boise* The spelling "Boise" is a perfect Fanetik rendering of this city's name, but it is commonly mispronounced Bóizee.
bona fides bó fíe.deez    
bona fide bó fied bón.a fied bó fíe.dee
Bosnia-Herzegovina Bóz.nee.ya-Hèr.tsa.goe.vé   Bós.nee.ya-Her.tsa.gó
Boston Báu.stan   Bós.tan
bough bou    
bought baut   bot
bouquet flowers: boe.káe aroma: bue.káe  
bow knot; and arrow: boe gesture of respect: bou  
braggadocio bràóe.see.yoe, bràóe.shee.yoe puristic Italian pronunciation: bràóe.choe  
branch braanch   bronch
brass braas   bros
bravura bra.vyúe.ra   bro.vúer.a
breath bretth    
breathe breeth    
broach broech    
broadcast bráud.kaast   bráud.kost
brochure broe.shúer   bróe.sher
brooch bruech   broech
brusk / brusque brusk   bruesk
bubo búe.boe   byúe.boe
bubonic byue.bón.ik   bue.bón.ik
Buddha Búe.da Bóod.a  
Buddha* The puristic pronunciation Bóoda is one that people who learn the word from reading will not themselves think to say. Búeda is far more common, even among highly-educated native speakers of English.
Buddhism Bú Bó (see note at "Buddha")  
buffet n (food): ba.fáe n, v (strike): bú bue.fáe, búe.fae
buoy n: búe.wee v: boi  
buttock/s bút.ak/s   bú.tok/s
Byzantine Bí   Bíe.zan.teen, Bi.záan.teen, Bi.záan.tien, Bie.záan.teen, Bie.záan.tien

C [Return to top.]

cabal ka.ból   ka.báal
cabana ka.bá   ka.báan.ya
cabana* In its original Spanish, this word is spelled with a tilde over the N and pronounced ka.bón.ya. If it were to come into English today, we would probably pronounce it either as in Spanish or with the A's anglicized: ka.báan.ya. But the word in fact came into English in 1890 and has been fully naturalized as ka.bá Today, the Spanish pronunciation sounds affected.
cacti káak.ti    
cadre káad.ree   kód.rae, káad.rae
caesarean si.zái.ree.yan   see.sái.ree.yan
cafe kaa.fáe   ka.fáe, káa.fae
caffeine n: kaa.féen adj: káa.feen ka.féen
caffeine* In phrases, such as "caffeine-free", "caffeine" is used as an adjective, and the syllabic stress shifts forward to the first syllable: káaf.een. This is a common pattern where nouns are used as part of a phrase: báalae dàanser, kláureen tàest.
caliph káelif   káal.if, ka.léef
caliphate káal.i.faet   ká
call kaul   kol
calm kom (See note at "almond".)   kolm
camera káam.ra ká  
camouflage káòzh   kóm.a.flòzh, káam.a.flòj
campaign kaam.páen    
can't kaant   kont
can't* This is one of the few cases in which British usage is superior to American. Brits can readily distinguish between the positive and negative forms of the word "can", even when the negative precedes a word that starts in T ("I kont tauk nou"), whereas Americans cannot: "I kaant tauk nou" may sound pretty much the same as "I kaan tauk nou", though in unstressed use, "can" is generally pronounced "kan" (with a schwa) rather than "kaan" (with the full vocalic short-A). This indistinctness in American usage sometimes forces a request for clarification: "Did you say you can talk now or can't?" Compare "do" with "don't", "will" with "won't", and you will see that ideally all speakers of English should adopt the kaan/kont distinction. Adopting this useful contrast would also help salve British pride over the progressive loss of control over `their own language' to upstart Yanks and other "colonials". But I won't be the first American arbiter of correct speech to adopt this distinction in my own speech, because I do not wish to be thought British-affected. When the Modern Language Association or some other authoritative body puts its imprimatur on making the kaan/kont distinction and large numbers of newscasters start using it, I will too.
canal ka.náal    
canalize káan.a.liez    
candidate káan.di.daet   káan.di.dit
candor káan.der   káan.daur
canine káe.nien   káa.nien
cannot káa.not ka.nót  
caprice ka.prées    
capricious ka.prí   ka.prée.shas
caramel káa.ra.mel   kór.mal, káa.ra.mal
carcinogen kór.sin.a.jan   kòr.sín.a.jan
Caribbean Ka.rí Kàa.ri.bée.yan  
Casablanca Kò.sa.blóng.ka   Kàáang.ka
cashew káa.shue   ka.shúe, kaa.shúe
cast/e kaast   kost
castle káas.ool   kós.ool
casualty káa.zhal.tee káa.zhoo.wal.tèe káazh.wal.tèe, káaz.yue.wal.tèe
catatonia kàa.ta.tóe.nee.ya   kàa.ta.tó
category káa.ta.gàu.ree   káèe
catercorner káat.a.kàur.ner    
catercorner* This American term has many different spellings — cater-corner(ed), catty-corner(ed), kitty-corner(ed) — and pronunciations. The "cater" part comes from Latin quattuor (`four') via French quatre, and has nothing to do with cats or kitties, so should be pronounced káata, not kítee.
Catholic Káatth.lik Káa.ttha.lik  
caulk kauk   kaulk
caveat emptor kó émptaur káa.vee.yot émp.ter  
caveat emptor* This Latin phrase (which means "let the buyer beware") can be anglicized (the second pronunciation above) or said in the Latin fashion (first), depending upon one's inclination and audience. It's a bit highfalutin in any case, and may not be understood by some listeners no matter how it's said. I therefore prefer the Latin pronunciation. If you're not going to be understood by your entire potential audience, you might at least come across as educated to those you do reach.
caveat káa.vee.yot   kóòt
cayenne kie.yén kae.yén  
cayenne* This word looks French but really derives from a Brazilian Indian language, Tupi, so does not take the pronunciation kae.yén that it would have if it were French. Cayenne is the capital of French Guiana, which adjoins Brazil, so the confusion is understandable. But the name of the pepper derives from Tupi kyinha. How that is pronounced in the original Tupi is not indicated in my references, but it looks as though kie.yén is closer than kae.yén. Then again, perhaps the French took the name of their town from the same word, so we should assume that kae.yén was a reasonably accurate rendering of what the French heard when they wrote it down as "Cayenne". One problem remains: "cayenne" is ambiguous in French too, and could represent an attempt by an early explorer to write kie.yén!
celebratory sél.a.bra.tàu.ree   sèl.a.bráe.ta.ree
celestial sa.lés.chal sa.lés.tee.yal  
cellulite sél.yoo.líet   sél.yue.lèet
Celtic/s Kél.tik basketball team: Sél.tiks  
cemetery sém.a.tè   sém.i.tree
censure sén.sher   sén.see.ya
centurion sen.chú   sen.tú, sen.tyú
cerebral palsy sér.a.bral pául.zee    
cerebral ser.ée.bral    
ceremony sér.a.mò   sé
certificate n: ser.tíf.i.kat v: ser.tíf.i.kàet  
cesarean (see "caesarean")      
chaise longue/s shaez laung/z    
chalcedony kàal.séd.a.nee káòe.nee  
chamois shá    
champagne shaam.páen    
chance chaans   chons, chains
chancellor chá   chó, chá
chaps chaaps   shaaps
chaps* "Shaaps" is another Frenchified mispronunciation of a word actually derived from Spanish: chaparreras. See discussions of Francization at "Beijing", "Chavez Ravine", and "maharajah".
charade sha.ráed   sha.ród
chassis singular: chá, shá plural: cháa.seez, sháa.seez cháa.sis
chassis* The spelling of this word has produced a change in its most often heard pronunciation away from the original, French-CH (pronounced SH in English) to the English-CH (as in "church"). The SH pronunciation now sounds old-fashioned, even affected. When a French-CH is pronounced in the English fashion, you know the word has been fully "naturalized" (that is, it is no longer seen as foreign).
chastise cháas.tiez   chaas.tíez
chauffeur n: shoe.fér v: shóe.fer  
chauffeur* "Chauffeur" came into English around 1899 as a noun, and took its French stress pattern, on the last syllable, with it. That pronunciation became familiar and popularly accepted, just as "garage", another word borrowed from French around the same time, became accepted with an un-English stress on the last syllable. After a couple of decades, people started to use "chauffeur" as a verb as well as a noun, and used the typical English device of reversing the syllabic stress to distinguish a verb from a noun. However, since the familiar noun was stressed on the last syllable, to create the verb they shifted the stress to the first syllable — the reverse of the typical pattern.
Chavez Ravine Chó Ra.véen   Sha.véz Ra.véen
Chavez Ravine* The "CH sound" in English is the same as the "CH sound" in Spanish: church, chico (though Spanish has only that one pronunciation for CH, whereas English also allows a K sound as in "chemistry", an SH sound as in "champagne", and even a KH sound (a harsh guttural) as in "Chanukah"). In the particular instance of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, correct Spanish, in addition to pronouncing the CH in "Chavez" the same way English generally pronounces CH, also puts the spoken stress on the first syllable of the word, as is customary in English as well: Chávez (pronounced Chó Indeed, the Spanish has an ACCENT on the first syllable, which should clearly indicate to even the most linguistically innocent speaker of English that it is that syllable that is stressed. How, then, if English would pronounce this word Chóv.ez, if it were originally English, and Spanish pronounces it Chó, did most people in the United States come to think it should be pronounced Sha.véz? Well, that common (mis)pronunciation is a bizarre Frenchification that doesn't even follow the rules of French. If "Chavez" were French, the Z would be silent: Sho.váe. Native speakers of English seem to feel that all foreign languages are French (see notes at "Beijing" and "maharajah"), so should be pronounced that way, but they don't know French very well. They know that a final-T in French is often silent (see "valet"), but they don't know that the Z in an -EZ ending is typically also silent in French (see "oyez").
Chevy car: Shé Maryland city and comic actor Chevy Chase: Ché  
chicle chík.ool   chík.lee, chée.klae
chiffon shi.fón   shí.fon
Chile Chí   Chée.lae
Chilean Chí   Chi.láe.yan
Chilean* Semi-educated people often try to give Spanish pronunciations to words of Spanish origin, even when they have long been established as English words in their own right. (See "junta".) Alas, many such people do not really know Spanish. The Spanish word for a person from Chile is "chileno" (chee.lá, which is so different from the English "Chilean" that it is pointless to spanicize the English, since it will not approximate its Spanish equivalent. It is not disrespectful of Spanish to pronounce English words in the English fashion. "Chilean" is English, not Spanish, so should be pronounced in an authentic English fashion, not a pseudo-Spanish fashion.
chimera kie.mée.ra    
chimpanzee chim.paan.zée   chim.páan.zee
Chinese n: Chie.néez adj: Chíe.neez, Chie.níeez Chie.nées
Chinook Shi.nóok   Chi.nóok
chiropodist shi.róp.a.dist (preferred)  ki.róp.a.dist (infrequent)
chivalric shi.váal.rik   chí
chocolate chá chá chók.lit, chók.a.lit
Christian Krís.chan   Krís.tee.yan
Christianity Krìs.tee.yáan.i.te    
chromosome króòem   króòem
Churchill Chér.chool   Chérch.hil
Churchill* This is a collapsed version of "church hill" but the H-sound in "hill" is silent in the collapsed term. Contrast "threshold".
circuit sér.kit    
circuitous ser.kyúe.wi.tas    
cirri sé    
cirrus sé    
civilization sìáe.shan   sì.vi.lie.záe.shan
clamber kláam.ber   kláa.mer
clandestine klaan.dés.tin   kláan.di.stìen
clapboard kláa.berd kláap.baurd  
class klaas   klos
clerk klerk   klork
clientele klìe.yan.tél   klèe.yonn.tél
clique kleek   klik
cloth klautth   klotth
clothes kloethz   kloez
codify kód.i.fie   kóe.di.fie
coercion koe.wér.shan   koe.wér.zhan
coffee káu.fee   kó
coffers kóf.erz   káu.ferz
coherent koe.héer.ant koe.hér.ant  
collage ka.lózh    
collate kóe.laet   kól.aet
Colorado Kol.a.ród.o   Kol.a.ráad.o
comatose kóm.a.toes kó  
combat n: kóm.baat v: kam.báat  
combatant kam.báa.tant   kó
combine v: kam.bíen n: kóm.bien  
comfortable kumf.ter.bool kúm.fer.ta.bòol kúmf.ta.bool
comfortably kúm.fer.ta.blèe   kúmf.ter.blèe
command ka.máand   ka.mónd
commensurate ka.mén.shoo.rat   ka.mén.zhoo.rat, ka.mé
commingle ka.mí   koe.mí
communal ka.myúe.nal   kóm.yoo.nal
commune n: kóm.yuen v: ka.myúen  
compact n: kóm.paakt v, adj: kam.páakt  
complex n: kóm.pleks adj: kam.pléks adj: kóm.pleks, kom.pléks
component kam.póe.nant   kóm.poe.nant
composite kam.pó   kó
compound n: kóm.pound v: kam.póund  
comptroller kan.tróe.ler   kómp.troe.ler, komp.tróe.ler
comrade kóm.raad   kóm.raed
concerted kan.sé   kó
conch konch   kongk
conciliatory kan.síàu.ree   kan.síl.a.tàu.ree
concrete n: kón.kreet adj, v: kan.kréet kóng.kreet, kong.kréet
concretize kón.kri.tìez    
condor kón.daur   kón.der
conduct n: kón.dukt v: kan.dúkt  
conduit kón.due.wit   kón.dwit, kón.dyue.wit, kón.dit
conference kón.frans kón.fer.ans  
conflict n: kón.flikt v: kan.flíkt  
conifer kón.i.fer   kó
connectivity kòn.ek.tív.i.tee    
connoisseur kon.a.sér   kon.a.súer
conquest kón.kwest   kóng.kwest
conquistador koen.kée.sta.daur   kan.kwís.ta.daur
conscience kón.chans kón.shans  
conscious kón.chas kón.shas  
conscript n, adj: kón.skript v: kan.skrípt  
consequence kó    
consequences kóè    
consort n: kón.saurt v: kan.sáurt  
consortium kan.sáur.sham   kan.sáur.tee.yam
Constantine Kón.stan.tèen   Kón.stan.tìen
consummate v: kón.soo.maet adj: kan.sú, kón.soo.mat  
content n: kón.tent v: kan.tént  
contest n: cón.test v: kan.tést  
contract n: kón.traakt v (shrink, become infected): kan.tráakt

v (commit to): kan.tráakt, kón.traakt

contractor builder: kón.traak.ter muscle: kan.tráak.ter  
contrary opposite: kó willful: kan.trái.ree  
contrast n: kón.traast v: kan.tráast  
controversial kòn.tra.vér.shal   kòn.tra.vér.see.yal, kòn.tra.vér.shee.yal
controversy kón.tra.vèr.see   kan.tró
convert n: kón.vert v: kan.vért  
copper kó   ká
coral kó.ral   káu.ral
cordial káur.jal   káur.dee.yal
cordillera kàur.dee.yái.ra   kaur.díl.a.ra, kàur.dil.yái.ra
corespondent kòe.ree.spón.dant   kòr.a.spón.dant, kàur.a.spón.dant
cornucopia kàóe.pee.ya   kàur.nyue.kóe.pee.ya
corollary kór.a.lè   káu.ra.lè, ka.ró
coroner kó.ra.ner   káu.ra.ner
correspondent kòr.a.spón.dant   kàu.ra.spón.dant
corridor kó.ri.der   káu.ri.daur
cosmos kóz.moes   kóz.mos
cost kaust   kost
Costa Rica Kóe.sta Rée.ka   Kós.ta Rée.ka
costume kós.chuem   kós.tuem
cough kauf   kof
council/counsel kóun.sal   kón.sal
coup de grâce kùe doo grós   kùe da gróq
coup de grâce* (a) The odd but popular mispronunciation kùe da gróq (where Q is silent and merely signals that the O is short) finds no sanction in either English or French, but presumably arises from the mistaken notion that S (sounds) at the end of a word in French are always silent. Actually, final-S is pronounced in some French words (e.g., the apple brandy calvados); but in any case grâce doesn't end in S. (b) This three-word phrase has a characteristic stress pattern, as though it were one word of three syllables. The primary stress falls on the third word-syllable. A secondary stress falls on the first word-syllable. This is a common pattern in English phrases. Compare "New York State" or "New York City" with the two-word phrase "New York". "New York" is pronounced as though one word, stressed on the second syllable. But add the word "State" or "City" and "New York" becomes an adjective modifying the noun "State" or "City", so the syllabic stress within the two-word phrase "New York" shifts from "York" to "New" in the three-word phrase, in order that the complete phrase will have a stressed-unstressed-stressed rhythm and so that a speaker can clarify whether he is talking about the State or the City by stressing that information in moving the stress to the syllable that matters most. Many other phrases have their own characteristic stress patterns: an MTV cable VJ took the appellation "dówntòun Jùlie Brówn", and you just wouldn't say that phrase any other way.
coupe kue.páe kuep  
coupe* This French word came into English around 1834 for a type of carriage. It was later applied to a closed automobile with two doors, and in the latter usage was shortened over several decades to one syllable, kuep rather than kuepáe. This needless saving of one syllable may have made the word minimally shorter and easier to say, but it also created a needless new homophone for the Middle English word "coop" (house for chickens), which had already been given a new homograph by the shortening of "cooperative" (apartment complex), first to "co-op" and then to "coop"! Though it would be better for clarity's sake if the older pronunciation kuepáe could be restored to 'preferred' status, anyone using that pronunciation for the automobile risks being thought affected. If being thought affected is not important to you and you agree that kuepáe is a more sensible pronunciation for the spelling "coupe", by all means say it. Just be prepared to shift to kuep if kuepáe isn't understood.
coupon kúe.pon   kyúe.pon
courier ké   kúe.ree.yer
courtesan káur.ta.zan   káur.ta.zon
coven kú   kóe.van
covert koe.vért kóe.vert  
coyote kò.yóe.tee   kó.yoet
coyote* The popular, but wrong, pronunciation ko.yoet is a spelling-pronunciation. People whose native language is English see many words with a silent-E at the end, so learn to ignore most E's at the end of a word. However, a final, single-E is pronounced in many words and names, from "Penelope" to "epitome", "abalone" to "provolone", "synecdoche" to "anemone". There are, indeed, over 100 common and uncommon words and names in English in which the final-E is sounded. "Coyote" is one of them, and is the proper, formal pronunciation, despite its slangy sound.
craft kraaft   kroft
creativity krèe.yae.tív.i.tee   krèe.ya.tív.i.tee
creek kreek   krik
cremate krée.maet   kri.máet
cretin krée.tin   kré
crewell krúe.wal    
crimson krím.zan krím.san  
Cro-Magnon Kroe-Máag.nan   Kroe-Máan.yan
Croat Króe.waat   Kroet, Króe.wat
croissant kwó.sonn kra.sónt  
croissant* This silly word, nearly unpronounceable by ordinary speakers of English, should never have been brought into the language. A croissant is just a flaky crescent roll, and we already had the term "crescent roll" , which could readily have been shortened to "crescent" — an ordinary English word, easily pronounced — if people tired of saying the two-word phrase "crescent roll" over and over. The French is krhwo.sonn (syllabic stress pretty much even), which converts to a nasalized English kwó.sonn, with the T silent. People impatient with such half-naturalized words that retain foreign sounds have opted for kra.sónt, but that makes educated people 'krinj'. Ideally, the word "croissant" should be given back to France and the English term "crescent" installed in its place. Until or unless that happens, however, people who cannot bring themselves to say kra.sónt should feel free to use the pure French or the partly-naturalized pronunciation. At a fast-food restaurant, however, don't be surprised if any pronunciation other than kra.sónt leaves the counterperson staring in blank incomprehension.
croquet kroe.káe   króe.kae
cruel kruel krúe.wal  
cruller krú   kró
crystalline krís.ta.lin   krís.ta.leen, krís.ta.lien
culinary kyúè   kúl.i.nè, kúel.i.nè
cuneiform kyúe.nee.yi.fàurm   kyue.née.yi.fàurm
curator kyú   kyoo.ráe.ter, kyóo.ra.ter
curvature ké   kéùer
cyan síe.yan   síe.yaan, sée.yan
cyclic/al sík.lik/.al   síe.klik/.al

D [Return to top.]

daft daaft   doft
dahlia dól.ya   dáal.ya, dáel.ya
daily dá   dáe.lee
daiquiri dáa.ka.ree díe.ka.ree  
daiquiri* Though díe.ka.ree is closer to the original Spanish word, for a place in Cuba (Daiquirí, pronounced Die.kee.rrée), dáa.ka.ree is in fact more common and díe.ka.ree is perilously close to the often-disparaging slang term for a lesbian, "dyke", which makes "daiquiri" sound like a noun meaning "the state of being or things associated with being a dyke". All things considered, then, dáa.ka.ree doesn't sound so bad, un-Spanish though it be.
dais dáe.yis   díe.yis
damask dáa.mask   dáa.maask
dance daans   dons, dains
dandelion dáan.di.lie.yan   dáin.dee.lie.yan
data dáe.ta dáa.ta dót.a
database n: dáe.ta.baes adj: dáa.ta.baes  
database* As a noun, dáe.ta seems the better pronunciation, because it gives full value to the main vowel. In adjectival use, however, shortening the vowel seems better, especially since it will cue the listener to the fact that what is being talked about is not "data" as such but something involving data. In like fashion, "database" can be used as both a noun and an adjective ("database information"). One could justify, therefore, a continuation of this noun-adjective distinction: "a dáetabaes" but "dáatabaes records"). See discussion of the concept of "check morpheme" at the listing for the word "the".
daughter dáu.ter   dó, dáu.ta
dawn daun   don
dazzling dáaz.ling   dá
de facto dae fá   dee fá
de- See "be-", to which it is parallel. 
debauch/er/y di.báuch/er/ee   di.báush/er/ee, di.bóch/er/ee, dibósh/er/ee
debauchee dèb.a.sháe   di.bá, di.bó, dèb.a.shée
debris da.brée   dáe.bree, déb.ree
debut n: dáe.byue v: dae.byúe, di.byúe  
decade dék.aed   de.káed, di.káed
decathlon di.káatth.lon   dee.káatth.a.lòn (illiterate)
decorative dék.ra.tiv dék.a.ra.tiv  
decoy n: dée.koi v: dee.kói, di.kói  
decrease n: dée.krees v: dee.krées  
defect n: dée.fekt v: dee.fékt  
defense dee.féns sports: dée.fens  
deference déf.rans dé  
degradation degeneration: deg.ra.dáe.shan tone, in art: dèe.gra.dáe.shan  
deify dée.yi.fie   dáe.yi.fie
deism dée.yi.zam   dáe.yi.zam
deity dée.yi.tee   dáe.yi.tee
deja vu dàe.zhoq vúe   dàe.zha vyúe
deja vu* The English pronunciation mangles the French phrase "déjà vu" because the French is so very un-English. For one thing, it has two stressed syllables in a row, the JA and the VU. English alternates syllabic stress, so moved the stress in the first word to the DE. Second, English has by historic accident been spared the difficult and unpleasant European sound that occurs in the French pronunciation of "vu". That sound is described in some language-instruction texts as being said like an English EE pronounced through lips rounded to say "burn". Of all the sounds of French (and German), this is the one that most native speakers of English will never master.
delay dee.láe di.láe da.láe, du.láe
delegate n: dél.a.gat v: dél.a.gàet
delicious di.lí   du.lí (illiterate), dee.lí
deliver di.lí   du.lí
deluge dél.yuej dél.yuezh, da.lúej, dáe.luej, dáe.luezh
demand di.máand dee.máand di.mónd
demise da.míez   da.méez
depot dée.poe   dép.oe
deputy dép.yoo.tee   dép.a.tee
derisive di.ríe.siv   der.ís.iv
derisive* Many readers of this largely literary word (seen in print more often than heard in ordinary conversation or in oral media) will see it as der.ís.iv. It derives from "deride" (di.ríed) and is related to "derision" (der.í.zhan). A case can be made for either di.ríe.siv or der.ís.iv as being usefully distinct from both "deride" and "derision". It might not make any significant difference which pronunciation is chosen, since there is no other word like it. I opt for di.ríe.siv, but I'm not married to it.
desolate adj: dé v: dés.a.làet  
despair di.spáir   da.spáe.ya
desperate dés.prat dé  
despicable dés.pi.ka.bool   di.spík.a.bool
despot dés.pat   dés.pot
desultory déz.ul.tàu.ree   da.súl.ta.ée
detail n: dée.tail v: di.táil  
detailed di.táild   dée.taild
deteriorate dee.téàet   dee.téàet (illiterate)
devolution dèv.a.lúe.shan   dèùe.shan
devotee dèv.a.tée   dèv.a.táe, di.vóe.tee
dew due   dyue
diabetes dìe.ya.bée.teez   dìe.ya.bée.tis
diagnose die.yag.nóes   die.yag.nóez, díe.yag.noez, díe.yag.noes
diamond díe.mand díe.ya.mand  
diamond* To many people, díe.ya.mand, even in formal speech, will sound stilted and unnatural.
diaper díe.per díe.ya.per  
diaper* To many people, díe.ya.per, even in formal speech, will sound stilted and unnatural.
diaspora die.yá   dee.yá, dìe.yaa.spáu.ra
dictate dík.taet   dik.táet
dictator dík.tae.ter   dik.táe.ter, dik.táe.ta
dictatorship dik.táe.ter.shìp   dík.tae.ter.shìp
diesel dée.zool   dée.sool
diesel* This word derives from the German proper name of the inventor, Rudolf Diesel, of the engine it is used for. In German, an S between vowels is pronounced Z, as it often is in English: nosy, noisy, resentful, desert. There is no reason to change the German pronunciation. It's perfectly easy to say dée.zool.
difference díf.rans dí  
different díf.rant dí díf.ernt (illiterate)
difficult díf.i.kult   díf.i.kalt
digest n: díe.jest v: di.jést  
digestion di.jés.chan   die.jés.chan
dilate v: díe.laet adj: di.láet  
dilemma di.lém.a   die.lém.a
dimension di.mén.shan   die.mén.shan
diocesan die.yó.si.san    
diocese díe.ya.sìs   díe.ya.sèez
dioceses díe.ya.sìs.iz    
dioceses* "Dioceses" is an awkward word. In that English ordinarily pluralizes by adding S or ES, no pluralizable word that ends in the sound -sis should have been admitted to the language. In that "diocese" is long established, in a major social institution, I guess we're stuck with it. But if another loan-word is proposed with the same ending, it should be rejected out of hand.
diphtheria dif.tthée.ree.ya dip.tthée.ree.ya  
diphtheria* Though many people look down on the pronunciation diptthéereeya, the word is unique, so listeners are not likely to be confused about what is meant. What's the dif?
diphthong díf.tthong díp.tthong  
diphthong* There is no one word with which this unusual word might be confused, so it may not make much difference, in context, whether one says díf.tthong or díp.tthong. However, "dip" and "thong" are words in themselves, to which "diphthong" bears no relation. A listener who misses part of the word or sentence might be momentarily misled by the seeming compound dip-thong, so dif.tthong is probably the better choice. Nonetheless, díp.tthong is more common, even among educated people.
direct/ly di.rékt/.lee   die.rékt/.lee
direction di.rék.shan   die.rék.shan
disaster di.záas.ter   di.zós.ta
disastrous di.záas.tras   di.zá, di.zós.tras
disastrous* "Disastrous" and "wintry" are among words commonly mispronounced by the insertion of an ER sound between the T and the R, because the noun from which both adjectives derive has an ER: "disaster" and "winter". But in the adjective, the -TER is collapsed to -TR- in both spelling and pronunciation.
discharge n: dís.chorj v: dis.chórj  
disciplinary dís.i.plin.è   dis.i.plí
discount n: dís.kount v: dis.kóunt  
discriminatory di.skríàu.ree   di.skrim.i.náe.ta.ree
disgust dis.gúst dis.kúst  
disgust* Although a careful speaker may make a distinction between "disgust" and "discussed", the ordinary person won't generally draw any difference because of the phenomenon of assimilation. English consonants comprise two types: voiced and unvoiced. A voiced consonant engages the larynx (voicebox): for instance, B, D, V, G, J, Z, and ZH). A voiceless or unvoiced consonant does not engage the voicebox but is sounded solely through expulsion of air: P, T, F, K, CH, S and SH). The voiced/unvoiced pairs in English are thus B/P, D/T, V/F, G/K, J/CH, Z/S and ZH/SH. In many languages, including English, an unvoiced consonant that precedes a voiced consonant will ordinarily overpower the voiced sound because it is easier to leave the voice out and continue voiceless to the vowel without shifting gears. Thus SG will be pronounced as if SK: disgust = dis.kúst. It often happens in English, however, that the reverse pattern occurs: a voiced consonant that precedes a voiceless consonant may give the entire pair a voiced quality: "exit" will be pronounced either ég.zit (voiced pair) or ék.sit (voiceless pair), but not either ék.zit or ég.sit. Between vowels, the single letter X actually represents one of three different pairs of consonant sounds. One is voiceless: K-S, as in "ax". The other two are voiced: G-Z as in "exist" and G-ZH as in "luxurious". Due to the dynamics of assimilation, however, X has no K-Z, K-ZH, nor G-S sound.
disparate dí   di.spáa.rat
dispatcher dis.pá   dí
dissect díe.sekt die.sékt or di.sékt  
dissect* "Dissect" is an unusual word, so can be treated unusually. Its spelling suggests a short-I, and its being a verb suggests stress on the last syllable, which would yield di.sékt. But it is generally pronounced díe.sekt. In that pronouncing "dis" as though it were "di" leaves the listener thinking of "cutting in two [pieces only]" rather than "cutting apart", this may be a bad choice, but not very bad. Díe.sekt is the way most people have pronounced it in recent decades, and unless society establishes a radically phonetic spelling system that can cue people to the pronunciation di.sékt, it will likely remain díe.sekt, tho in recent years both di.sékt and die.sékt have become fairly common.
divan di.váan   díe.van
diverge di.vérj   die.vérj
diversion di.vér.zhan   die.vé(r).shan
diversity di.vé   die.vé
divert di.vért   die.vért
divest di.vést   die.vést
divisive di.víe.siv   di.vís.iv
divisive* See note at "derisive".
divorcee dèe.vaur.sáe    
divorcee* This word, spelled either with or without the accent ("divorcée or "divorcee") and its masculine equivalent "divorcé" (rarely used), is at an awkward stage of linguistic "naturalization". It is a French word that has become commonplace, due to changing mores. Nobody seems to know whether to pronounce it in a fully French fashion (dèe.vaur.sáe); a partly French fashion, giving the vowels their ordinary English sounds but putting syllabic stress at the end of the word, "un-English" though that may be to do with a noun (di.vaur.sáe); or even a fully-anglicized fashion (di.váur.see). Part of me says, "Naturalize it all the way, on the model of `employee': di.váur.see." Part of me says, "Naturalize it, but on the model of `trustee' as against `trustor': di.vaur.sée." And part of me says, "Until people make up their minds what is `correct', it doesn't hurt to keep the French pronunciation (though, of course, with an English-R rather than the gargled (uvular) French-R): dèe.vaur.sáe." Few listeners will regard that as affected and unreasonable. I suspect that the ultimate naturalized pronunciation will be di.váur.see, since there is no common word "divorcer" from which it needs to be distinguished. But I don't like the sound of it, a function, perhaps, of my age (I was born 11 days before the start of 1945). As of July 1999, I say dèe.vaur.sáe.
docile dós.ool   dóe.sie.yal
doctrinal dók.tri.nal   dok.tríe.nal
document n: dók.yoo.mant v: dók.yoo.mènt  
dog daug   dog
dogged v: daugd adj: dó dá
doggone/d dò.gón/d    
domesticity dòì.si.têe   dòe.mes.tì.si.têe
domicile dóm.i.sìe.yal dóe.mi.sìe.yal dóm.i.sìl, dóm.i.sòol
Don Quixote Doen Kee.hóe.tae Don Kee.hóe.tae Don Kwík.sit
donate dóe.naet   doe.náet
dour dòu.wer   duer, dùe.wer
downtown n, adv: doun.tóun adj: dóun.tòun  
draft draaft   droft
drama dróm.a   drá
dramatization dròm.a.ti.záe.shan dràáe.shan  
dramatize drá dróm.a.tiez  
drawer draur   dráu.wer
dual dúe.wal   dyúe.wal, júe.wal
ductile dúk.tool   dúk.tie.yal
duel dúel   dúe.wal, dyúe.wal, júe.wal
duke duek   dyuek, juek
duplicative due.plík.a.tiv   dùe.pli.káe.tiv
durable dúer.a.bool   dóor.a.bool, dér.a.bool
during dúe.ring   dóo.ring, júe.ring. jóo.ring
duty dúe.tee   dyúe.tee, júe.tee
dynastic die.náas.tik di.náas.tik  
dynastic* This is another of the rare cases where British pronounciation (di.náas.tik) may be better than American (which prefers die.náas.tik). It is a bit unusual and awkward to use a long-I in an unstressed syllable of short duration. Contrasting dí as noun with din.áas.tik as adjective draws a useful distinction. (See my discussion of "check morpheme" at the listing for the word "the".) If saying di.náas.tik would, however, make one feel self-conscious and affected, die.náas.tik will be the better choice.
dynasty dí    

E [Return to top.]

Ebullience ee.búl.yans   ee.bóol.yans
ebullient ee.búl.yans   ee.bóol.yant
echidna e.kí   i.kí
ecological èe.ka.lój.i.kal    
ecology e.kól.a.jee    
ecology i.kól.a.jee   e.kól.a.jee
economic/s ee.ka.nóm.ik/s ek.a.nóm.ik/s  
ecosystem ée.koe.sìs.tam   ék.oe.sìs.tam
ecru ék.rue   áe.krue
ecumenism i.kyú   èe.kyú
eczema é   ig.zéema, é
eczematous eg.zém.a.tas    
education è.joo.káe.shan   èd.yue.káe.shan
effect/ive i.fékt/.iv   ee.fékt/.iv
either ée.ther   íe.ther
elect ee.lékt   a.lékt. el.ékt
elector ee.lék.ter   ee.lék.taur
electoral ee.lék.ta.ral   ee.lek.táu.ral
electric/al èe.lék.trik/.al   èl.ék.trik/.al
electricity èe.lek.trís.i.tee   èl.ek.trís.i.tee
electrify/ing ee.lék.tri.fìe/.ying   a.lék.tri.fìe/.ying
electronic/s èe.lek.trón.ik/s   èl.ek.trón.ik/s
elephantine éìen    
eleven/th ee.lé   a.lé
Elijah Ee.líe.ja   Ee.líe.zha
elusive ee.lúe.siv   ee.lyúe.siv
emaciated ee.máe.shee.yàe.tad ee.máe.see.yàe.tad  
emphysema èm.fa.zéema   èé
employee em.plói.yee   em.pláu.wee
employee* Usage as to stressing the "-ee" ending of words like "employee" has shifted over time. Forty years ago, em.ploi.yée was the ordinary pronunciation, to distinguish from "employer" even if "employer" did not occur in the same sentence. Nowadays, em.plói.yee is the ordinary pronunciation unless the distinction is being drawn against "employer", in which case even the "-er" of "employer" might also be stressed. See note at "divorcee".
emu ée.myue   ée.mue
en masse on mós en máas  
encephalopathy en.sèf.a.lòp.a.tthêe   en.séàa.tthee
enclave ón.klaev   én.klaev, ón.klov
endive én.diev   ón.deev
endure en.dúer   en.dyúer
English Íng.glish   Íng.lish
enigmatic èe.nig.máa.tik   èn.ig.máa.tik
ensemble on.sóm.bool   ón.som
ensign én.sin   én.sien
entrance n: én.trans v: en.tráans  
entrepreneur òn.troo.proo.nér   òn.tra.pra.núer
entrepreneurial òn.tra.pra.nóo.ree.yal    
envelop en.vél.ap    
envelope ó   é
environment en.víe.ran.mant   en.víe.yern.mant
environmental/ism en.vì   en.ví
environs en.víe.ranz   en.víe.yernz
envoy ón.voi   én.voi
epicurean èp.i.kyúe.ree.yan èp.i.kyoo.rée.yan  
epoch ée.pok é.pok ép.ak
epoch* "Epoch" should not be confused with "epic", so either é.pok or ée.pok is preferable to ép.ak. A long-E seems appropriate for a word that refers to a long time.
equator ee.kwáe.ter   ée.kwae.ter
equine ée.kwien   é
era éer.a   ér.a, ái.ra
erase ee.ráes   ee.ráez
err er   air
erudite é   é
erudition èr.yoo.dí.shan   èr.a.dí.shan, èr.a.dí
escape e.skáep   ek.skáep (illiterate)
escort n: és.kaurt v: e.skáurt  
espionage és.pee.ya.nòzh   e.spíe.ya.naj
esplanade és.pla.nod   és.pla.nàed
essay n: é v: e.sáe  
essential e.sén.shal i.sén.shal ee.sén.shal
esthete és.ttheet   ées.ttheet
esthetic es.tthét.ik   ees.tthét.ik
estimate n: és.ti.mat v: és.ti.màet  
estrogen és.tra.jan   ée.stra.jan
etc. (et cetera) et.sé.ter.a   ek.sét.ra (illiterate), et.sét.ra
ether ée.tther   é
evasive ee.váe.siv   a.váe.siv
evening (the score) é    
evening (night) éev.ning   é
everlasting èá   èv.a.ló
every/thing év.ree/tthing   é
everybody év.ree.bù   [ ]bù, [ ]bò, [ ]bàu.dee
evidently év.i.dant.lee   èv.i.dént.lee
evil ée.vool   ée.vil
evolution èv.a.lúe.shan   èúe.shan
example eg.záam.pool   eg.zóm.pool
excerpt n: ék.serpt v: ek.sérpt  
excess é occasionally: ek.sés  
excise adj: ék.siez v: ek.síez  
exemplar eg.zém.pler eg.zém.plòr  
exemplar* Egzémplòr is more than a bit highfalutin, but not so objectionable as to belong in the "But NOT" column.
exhume eg.zyúem   eg.zúem
exit n: ék.sit v: ég.zit  
exorcise ék.saur.sìez   ék.ser.siez
expatriate n, adj: èks.páe.tree.yat v: èks.páe.tree.yàet èks.páa.tree.yat, èks.páa.tree.yàet
experiment ek.spér.i.mant   ek.spée.ri.mant, ek.spáir.i.mant
expert n: ék.spert adj: ek.spért  
expertise ek.sper.téez   ek.sper.tées
expiry éèe   ek.spíe.(ya.)ree
expletive ék.spla.tiv   ek.splée.tiv
explicable ek.splík.a.bool    
exploit n: éks.ploit v: ek.splóit  
export n: ék.spaurt v: ek.spáurt  
exquisite ék.skwi.zit   ek.skwí
extant ék.stant ek.stáant  
extraordinary ek.stráur.di.nè   èk.stra.á
extremist ek.strée.mist   ek.stré

F [Return to top.]

facade, façade fa.sód   fa.káed, fa.sáad
falcon fáal.kan   fául.kan, fáu.kan
familial fa.mí   fa.mée.lee.yal
family fáam.lee fáa.mi.lee  
fanatic fa.náa.tik   fáan.a.tik
fancy fáan.see   fón.see






fatality fa.tá   fae.tá
favorite fáev.rit fá  
February Fé   Fé (illiterate)
federalist fé fé  
ferment n: fér.ment v: fer,mént  
ferry fé   fái.ree
feta fét.a   fáe.ta
fete fet   faet
feted fáetad   fétad
fete/d* The pronunciation fet for "fete" is better than faet because it avoids confusion with "fate". Conversely, fáe.tad is a better pronuncation that fé despite possible confusion with "fated" because it would be worse to confuse a festive word with "fetid", which means "foul-smelling". Because there are so many homonyms in English, choices aren't always either easy or consistent.
fiance/e, fiancé/e fèe.yon.sáe   fee.yón.sae
fiasco fee.yáas.koe   fee.yós.koe
fidelity fi.dél.i.tee   fie.dél.i.tee
figure fíg.yer   fí, fíg.a
filing n: fíe.ya.ling adj: fíe.ling  
finale fi.náa.lee   fi.nó.lee
finality fi.ná   fie.ná
finally fí   fíen.lee
finance n: fíe.naans v: fi.náans fie.náans
financial fi.náan.chal   fie.náan.chal
finger fíng.ger   fí
flaccidity flaak.síd.i.tee   fla.síd.i.tee
flacon fláa.kan   fláa.kon, fla.kóenn
Florida Fló.ri.da   Fláu.ri.da
Florida* Remember that in this work's pronunciation scheme, or is pronounced like the traditionally-spelled word "are". The traditionally-spelled word "or" (as in "either . . . or") is written aur (ée.ther . . . aur).
flotilla fla.tíl.a   floe.tíl.a
fog fog   faug
foliage fóe.lee.yaj   fóe.laj
forbade faur.báed   faur.bád
forbade* There are two alternative spellings for the past tense of "forbid": "forbad" and "forbade". "Forbad" — without the superfluous E — fits perfectly with "drank" "sang", "rang", and such. "Forbade" is a pair only to "bade". "Forbad" would seem the better choice, as to both spelling and pronunciation (faur.báad). But if the spelling is "forbade", the pronunciation should be faur.báed.
forecast n: fáur.kaast v: faur.káast, fáur.kaast  
forecastle fóek.sal   fá
forecastle* Perhaps this "should" take the "spelling-pronunciation" fá, but the thing to which it refers has nothing to do with a castle. It is the forward part of a ship, where the relatively low-paid portion of the crew is housed. The traditional pronunciation, fóek.sal, is less misleading than would be the spelling-pronunciation.
forehead fáur.hed   fór.hed, fó
foreign fó.ran   fáu.ran
forest fó.rast   fáu.rast
formidable fáur.mi.da.bool   far.míd.a.bool
forte (strong point) fáur.tae   faurt, foert, fáur.te, faur.táe
forte* This usage note appears in Merriam-Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary (except that I have substituted the Augméntad Fanétik pronunciation for their diacritic-filled version):
"In forte we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated fáur.tae and fáur.tee because they reflect the influence of Italian-derived forte. Their recommended pronunciation faurt, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word le fort and would rhyme it with English for. So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English fáu.tae and faut predominate; fáur.tae and faur.táe are prob. the most frequent pronunciations in American English."

Further, the pronunciation faurt creates a needless homophone with "fort", whereas fáur.tae keeps the word distinct, so is preferable to a pronunciation that would give us yet another homophone in a language overflowing with homophones. In general conversation — that is, absent a context where one might expect the word "forte" to pop up — a sentence that sounds like "That's my fort" would be puzzling to most listeners.

fortune fáur.chan   fáur.tyuen
foyer fói.yer   fói.yae, fwóq.yae
fracas fráe.kas   fráa.kas
fragile fráa.jool   fráa.jie.yal
fragment n: fráag.mant v: fraag.mént  
France Fraans   Frons
frequent adj: frée.kwant v: fri.kwént, frée.kwant  
Friday Fríe.dae   Fríe.dee
frontier frun.téer   fròn.téer, frún.teer
frustrated frús.trae.tad   frus.tráe.tad
frustration frus.tráe.shan   fra.stráe.shan
fuel fyuel   fyúe.wal
full fool   ful
fuselage fyúòzh   fyúòzh, fyúòj
futile fyúe.tool   fyúe.tie.yal

G [Return to top.]

gala gá   gól.a, gá, gá
gallant courageous: gáa.lant courteous: gáa.lant, ga.lónt  
gamble gáam.bool    
gamble* "Gamble" is two syllables, as are "gambler" and "gambling". Seemingly parallel words like "file"/"filing" and "tile"/"tiler"/"tiling", however, more ordinarily become three syllables with the addition of suffixes; that is, the root contains two syllables to itself and the suffix provides the third.
gambler gáam.bler   gá
gambling gáam.bling   gá
garage ga.rózh   ga.rój, gáar.aj
gaseous gáa.shas   gáa.see.yas
gazebo ga.zée.boe   ga.záe.boe
general jén.ral jé  
generous jén.ras jé  
Genghis Khan Jèng.gis Khón Jèng.gis Kón Gèng.gis Kón
genre zhón.ra   jón.ra
gentle jén.tool    
gentler jént.ler   jé
genuine jé   jén.yue.wìen
ghastly gáast.lee   góst.lee
gibber/ish jí   gí
gigolo jíg.a.lo   zhíg.a.lo
giraffe jer.áaf   jer.óf
glacier gláe.sher   gláa.see.yer
glance glaans   glons, glains
glass glaas   glos
glaucoma glou.kó   glau.kó
gloss/y glaus/.ee   glos/.ee
glossary glós.a.ree   glá
gobbledygook gób.ool.dee.gòok   gób.ool.dee.gùek
going to góe.wing tu gún.a  
going to* Most people, even the most highly educated, usually do not, in conversational speech, carefully enunciate goe.wing tu everywhere it occurs but ordinarily say gún.a except in situations in which "slangy" usage would raise eyebrows. See "want to".
golf golf   gaulf
gondola gó   gon.dó
gone gaun   gon
gook gook   guek
got got   gaut
gourmet n: guer.máe adj: gúer.mae  
government gúv.ern.mant gú
graduate n: gráa.joo.wat v: graa.jue.wàet  
graham cracker gráim krà   gráam krà
granary grá   grá
grand prix gron prée gronn prée  
grandeur majesty: gráan.jer self-importance: gron.dér gráand.yer, gráan.dee.ya
grasp graasp   grosp
grass graas   gros
greasy grée.see   grée.zee
grimace grí gri.máes  
grimace* At present, grí is the more common pronunciation for both noun and verb. Gri.máes is regarded as old-fashioned. But since there are noun and verb forms, it might make sense to use grí for the noun and gri.máes for the verb, which comports with the pattern of many other noun/verb pairs, as to both syllabic stress and conversion of a short vowel in an unstressed syllable to a long vowel when the syllable is stressed (see, e.g., "subordinate", "delegate"). Using grí everywhere is, however acceptable. Using gri.máes everywhere would, however, seem absurdly highfalutin to most people.
grovel gróv.ool   grúv.ool
guarantee gaa.ran.tée    
guaranty gá   gaa.ran.tée
guillotine gée.ya.teen   gíl.a.teen
guitar gi.tór   gí.tor (illiterate)
gymnast jím.nast   jím.naast

H [Return to top.]

had haad   hod
hajj haaj Hoj hozh
half haaf   hof
halfpenny há   háep.nee
halibut há   há
Halloween n:éen, Hol.a.wéen adj: Há, Hól.a.ween  
Halloween* Halloween (originally "All Hallow Even" — All Saint's Eve) has nothing to do with the concept of hollowness but does have a linguistic and religious connection with persons "hallowed" (made holy), even though today's secular celebrations are often more readily identified with things unholy than holy. Thus Haaloween makes better sense. Still, Holoween is often heard, especially in the Eastern United States.
halve haav   hov
hand haand   hond
happiness háa.pee.nas   há
hara-kiri hó.ra.kée.ree   háa.ree.káa.ree
hara-kiri* See "hari-kari".
harass/ment ha.ráas/mant   há
hari-kari háa.ree-káa.ree    
hari-kari* This is an anglicized form of "hara-kiri". If you like the traditional English-language pronunciation, háa.ree-káa.ree, you should use the spelling "hari-kari". If you prefer a pronunciation closer to the original Japanese, you should use the spelling "hara-kiri" and its pronunciation (which see).
havoc háa.vak   háa.vok
Hawaii Ha.wíe.yee   Ha.wó, Ha.vó, Ha.wíe.ya
hectare hék.tair   hék.ter, hék.tor
hedonist/ic hèe.da.níst/.ik   hèd.a.níst/.ik
hegemony he.jém.a.nee   héj.a.mòe.nee
hegira he.jée.ra   he.jíe.ra
height hiet   hietth, hiet-tth (a T sound followed by the voiceless TTH sound) (both pronunciations are illiterate)
heinous háe.nas   hée.nas
helicopter hél.i.kòp.ter   héòp.ter
hello intj, v: he.lóe n: hél.o hu.lóe, húl.oe
help     hep (illiterate)
herb érb   herb
herbicide hé   é
herbivore héàur   é
Herculean Hèr.kyoo.lée.yan   Her.kyú
heritage hér.i.taj   hée.ri.taj
hermitage hér.mi.taj   her.mi.tózh
heroic her.óe.wik   heer.óe.wik
heroine hé   hé
heroism hér.oe.wì   hée.roe.wì
Himalayas Hìm.a.láe.yaz   Hi.mól.yaz
historic hi.stáu.rik hi.stór.ik  
historic* The usage "an historic(al)" is affected and should never be used. After all, no one says "an history", so it is foolish to say "an historic". This peculiar usage survives only because many people have heard educated people say it, so think they too "should" use it, lest they seem uneducated. The same popular hesitancy (not to say linguistic cowardice) impedes the progress of "proved" and "showed" in replacing the antique irregulars "proven" and "shown", but courageous and sensible people are gradually regularizing the language and getting rid of antique and irrational forms that make English needlessly difficult to master. (See also the note at "an".)
historical hi.stáu.ri.kal hi.stó.ri.kal  
holocaust hól.a.kaust   hó, hól.a.kost
holograph/ic hól.a.graaf/.ik   hó
homage hóm.aj   óm.aj, oe.mózh
homicide hóm.i.sied   hóe.mi.sied
hominid hóm.i.nid   hóe.mi.nid
homogeneity hòée.yi.tee   hòáe.yi.tee
homogeneousée.nee.yas   ha.mój.a.nas
homosexual hòék.shue.wal  hòm.a.sék.shue.wal
homosexual* The OE in the second syllable of "homosexual" is very brief, like the O in "domain". People who have difficulty saying that should use a schwa there (hòék.shue.wal) lest that vowel come out too long in duration and attract too much attention to that syllable.
Hong Kong Hóng Kòng occasionally: Hòng Kóng Háung Kàung, Hàung Káung
hoof hoof   huef
hoopla hú   húep.loq
hooves huevz    
horrible hó.ri.bool   háu.ri.bool
horror hó.rer   háu.rer
hosiery hóe.zha.ree   hó
hospitable hós.pi.ta.bool ho.spít.a.bool  
hostile adj: hós.tool n: hós.tie.yalz hóe.stie.yal;

adj: hós.tie.yal

house n: hous v: houz  
houses hóu.zaz   hous.iz
hovel húv.ool   hóv.ool
hover/craft hú   hóe.ver/.kroft
huge hyuej   yuej
human hyú   yú
humongous / humungous hyue.múng.gas   hyue.móng.gas, yue.múng.gas, yue.móng.gas
humongous / humungous* Whoever coined this word apparently spelled it "humongous" even though it is more commonly pronounced hyue.múng.gas than hyue.móng.gas. Perhaps he/she wrote "-mong-" on the model of "among", expecting others to see the comparison. However, the spelling seems to have given rise to an alternative pronunciation in which the ONG is given the pronunciation one would expect it to have (as in "bong", "tongs", and the Chinese name Ong): hyue.móng.gas. Of course, it is possible he or she initially did pronounce the new word hyue.móng.gas, and people who encountered it in print rather than in sound mistakenly took it as parallel to "among", so MISpronounced it hyue.múng.gas. Had the person who coined the word intended it to be read hyue.múng.gas and written it "humungous", the alternative pronunciation hyue.móng.gas might never have arisen.
hurricane hér.i.kàen   hú.ri.kan
hussar ha.zór   ha.sór
hussy hú   hú
hygiene híe.jeen    
hygienic hie.jén.ik   hie.jée.nik
hygienist hie.jé   hie.jée.nist
hysteria hi.sté hi.stée.ree.ya  
Hyundai Hyún.dae   Hún.dae

I [Return to top.]

I'll Iel   Ol
-ically, -icly See note at "basically".
idealism íe.dee.ya.lì Ie.dée.yal.ì  
idealize ie.dée.ya.lize    
ideolog/ue íòg   íe.dee.ya.lòg
ideological ìój.i.kal   ìe.dee.ya.lój.i.kal
ideology ìól.a.jee   ìe.dee.yól.a.jee
idly íed.lee   íe.dal.lee
Illinois/an Ìl.i.nói/.yan   Ìl.i.nóiz/.an
imagery ím.aj.ree   í
imbecile í íìl íìe.yal, íèel
immature ìm.a.chúer   ìm.a.tuer
immediate/ly i.mée.dee.yat/.lee   i.mée.jat/.liq
immune resistant: i.myúen short for "immunological": ím.yuen  
impact n: ím.paakt v: im.páakt  
import n: ím.paurt v: im.páurt  
impound v: im.póund adj: ím.pound (as in "ímpound lot", where impóunded cars are kept)  
imprimatur ìm.pri.mó.ter   im.prím.a.chuer
imprint n: ím.print v: im.prínt  
inaugural i.náug.yoo.ral   i.ná
incendiary in.sén.dee.yè   in.sén.ja.riq
Incoherent/ly ìn.koe.hér.ant/.lee ìn.koe.héer.ant/.lee  
income ín.kum   íng.kam
incongruity ìn.kan.grúe.wi.tee    
incongruous in.kóng.grue.was    
increase n: ín.krees v: in.krées  
indent n: ín.dent v: in.dént  
India Ín.dee.ya   Ín.ja
individual ìn.di.ví.jue.wool   ìn.di.víd.yue.wool
inept i.népt   ìn.épt
inexplicable ìn.ek.splík.a.bool in.ék.splik.a.bòol  
inextricable in.ék.stri.ka.bool ìn.ek.strík.a.bool  
inextricably in.ék.stri.ka.blèe ìn.ek.strík.a.blêe  
influence ín.flue.wans   in.flúe.wans
ingenious in.jéen.yas   in.jée.nee.yas
ingenue áann.zha.nue    
inherent in.hér.ant   in.hée.rant
inherent* See note at "coherent".
inhospitable ìn.ho.spít.a.bool ìn.hós.pi.ta.bool  
initiate v: i.ní n: i.ní i.ní
inland í   in.láand
innovative ìn.a.váe.tiv ìn.oe.váe.tiv i.nóv.a.tiv, íìv
inquiry official proceeding: in.kwíe.ya.ree ordinary question: ín.kwa.ree  
insert n: ín.sert v: in.sért  
inside n, adj, prep: ín.sied adv: in.síed  
insider í   in.síe.der
insular ín.syoo.ler   í
insulate ín.soo.laet   in.syoo.laet
insult n: ín.sult v: in.súlt  
insurance in.shúer.ans   ín.shuer.ans (illiterate)
integral ín.ta.gral   in.tég.ral
intercept v: in.ter.sépt n: ín.ter.sept  
interest curiosity: ín.trast self-dealing, finance: ín.ter.est  
intern n: ín.tern v: in.térn  
internecine ìn.ter.née.seen ìn.ter.née.sin in.téèen
intifada, intifadeh ìn.ti.fód.a   ín.ti.fòd.a
intrigue n: ín.treeg v: in.tréeg  
invite v: in.víet n: ín.viet  
involve in.vólv   in.váulv
Iran Ee.rón   Ie.ráan, Ie.rón, I.ráan, A.rón
Iranian Ee.ró   Ìe.ráe.nee.yan
Iraq/i Ee.rók/.ee   Ie.ráak/.ee, Ee.ráak/.ee, I.ráak/.ee, A.ró
iron íe.yern    
iron* This is the only word (with its derivatives, such as "ironing") in the whole of the English language in which the four-letter sequence i-r-o-n is pronounced íe.yern. Curiously, people are so taken by that oddity, that many insist on pronouncing i-r-o-n, íe.yern everywhere they see it, in words like "irony", "environs", and "environmentalism" that have no relationship to metallic "iron" at all. This would seem a linguistic version of the economic concept that "bad money drives out good": bad pronunciation drives out good. No, i-r-o-n is not always pronounced íe.yern.
irony íe.ra.nee   íe.yer.nee
Iroquois Ée.ra.kwoi   Ée.ra.kwoiz, Ée.ra.kwoq
irrefutable i.réf.yoo.ta.bool   i.ree.fyúe.ta.bool
irreparable i.rép.a.ra.bool   i.ree.páir.a.bool
irrevocable i.rév.a.ka.bòol   i.ree.vóek.a.bòol
Islam I.slóm    
Islamic Is.lóm.ik   Is.láa.mik, Iz.láa.mik
Islamist Íìst   Is.ló, Iz.ló, Íìst
Israel Íz.ree.yal   Ís.roq.èl
Israeli Iz.rái.lee   Is.roq.áe.lee
issue í.shu   ís.yue
isthmus ís.mas   ístth.mas
-ization -i.záe.shan   -ie.záe.shan

J [Return to top.]

jaguar jáag.wor   jáag.yue.wor
jail jail   jael
jalapeño hò.la.páen.yoe   hò.la.péen.yoe
jeopardy jé    
Jerusalem Jer.ú   Jer.ú
Jesuit Jéz.ue.wit Jézh.ue.wit Jéz.yue.wit
jewel/ry júel/.ree júe.wal/.ree júel/
jihad ji.hód   jèe.hód, zhèe.hód
Judaism Júe.dee.yì   Jú
judiciary n: jùe.díè adj: jue.dísh.a.ree  
junior júen.yer   júe.nee.ya
junta jún.ta   hóon.ta, húen.ta, khúen.ta
junta* This word entered English in about 1620. Surely after more than 375 years it should be treated as an English word, not a newly borrowed Spanish word.
juvenile júìe.yal jú  
juvenile* "Juvenile" is an adjective that can be treated the same in all places or distinguished depending on whether it is used before the noun, stands alone, or occurs as a predicate, far from the noun: jú di.lí but "Don't be júìe.yal." Since it is an unusual word that is not likely to be confused with anything but the name of the ancient Roman poet Juvenal (Jú — which doesn't come up often — it doesn't much matter.

K [Return to top.]

kamikaze kòm.i.kó   kàa.mi.kó
karaoke kàa.ree.yóe.kee    
karaoke* This Japanese word of very recent coinage even in Japan (1985-1990) and thus very recent borrowing, came into English in a pre-anglicized form. No attempt was made to give it an authentic Japanese feel. Rather, from the first, it has been pronounced as though it were written "kari-oki" and was related somehow to the familiar Brazilian-Portuguese word "carioca" (resident of Rio de Janeiro).
Kauai Kóu.wie   Ka.wíe
Kazakh n: Ka.zók adj: Kóz.ok  
kibosh n: kíe.bosh v: ki.bósh  
kiln kiln   kil
kilometer ki.lóm.a.ter   kíl.a.mee.ter
kilometer* An international conference of scientists decided that this word should be stressed on the first syllable because that is the case with other terms in the metric system. However, scientists do not control the processes of language, and the bulk of speakers of English continue merrily to say kilómater as a parallel to "thermometer", "hydrometer", etc. The notion that "kilometer" as a unit of measurement should be distinguished from instruments that measure is the kind of distinction that scientists like, but few others see any point to. A meter measures. Whether the "meter" at issue is a device (e.g., a gas or electric meter) or a unit of measurement is not important.
Kismet Kíz.met   Kíz.mat
kudos kúe.does   kyúe.doez, kúe.doez

L [Return to top.]

laboratory láab.ra.tau.ree   la.báu.ra.tàu.ree
Labrador Láa.bra.daur   Laa.bra.dáur
laissez-faire lèáir   làe.zae-fáir
lama (see also "llama") lóm.a   lá
lambaste laam.báest    
lamentable lá   la.mén.ta.bool
language láang.gwaj   láang.waj
languish láang.gwish   láang.wish
languor/ous láang.ger/.as   lá
larvae lór.vee    
larvae* This long-anglicized Latin word "should", puristically, be pronounced lórvie, but isn't. Anglicizing the word in form to "larvas" would solve the problem, but would at present stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. Like "algae" (áaljee), "larvae" is likely to retain an EE sound rather than its proper Latin IE sound far into the future.
larynx láar.ingks   lór.niks (illiterate)
last laast   lost
laugh/ter láaf/.ter   lóf/.ta, láif/.ta
lava lóv.a   lá
law/yer láu/yer    
law/yer* Some dialects of American English avoid the sound AU, presumably because some people find it unpleasant. But without AU, "law" becomes a homophone for "la" as in "la-di-da". If you then add "-yer" to make "lawyer", you come up with LAH-yer, the same pronunciation as the word "liar". Though cynics would say that that is appropriate, "lawyer" is not remotely the only word so affected by the loss of a vowel from a language that has so many words as has English. Some years ago, a TV commercial for Mazola Corn Oil that was apparently produced in California employed an announcer whose dialect excised the vowel sound AU — which is part of both "corn" and "oil". The name of the product came out "Mazola Car Nile" (Ma.zó Kor Níe.yal). That is not what he meant, and does not make sense. English is so filled with words that are close in pronunciation but radically different in meaning that it is vital we retain all the differentiation we can. The loss of a single vowel creates dozens, and perhaps even hundreds, of new homophones in a language already overloaded with homophones. We cannot afford more confusion.
lawman láu.maan lá  
layman lá    
leaped leept    
leapt lept   leept
Lebanon Léb.a.nòn   Léb.a.nan
lederhosen láe.der.hòe.zan   lée.der.hòe.zan
legitimate adj: la.jít.i.mat v: la.jít.i.maet  
legume lég.yuem   le.gúem, li.gyúem
leisure lée.zher   lé
length lengktth   laentth, lentth
lenient léen.yant   lée.nee.yant
leopard lép.erd    
lever/age lé   lée.ver/aj
liaison lee.yáe.zon   láe.yi.zon, lée.ya.zon
library líe.brè   líe.bra.ree, lí (illiterate)
licorice lík.a.ris   lí
liege leej leezh  
lieutenant lue.tén.ant   lef.tén.ant
lilac líe.laak líe.lok líe.lak
linage líe.naj    
lineage lí    
lingerie lon.zha.ráe    
lingerie* The standard English pronunciation, lòn.zha.ráe, mangles the original French, which would be said more like làann.zhrée. A compromise, làan.zha.rée, could be popularized if English were written phonetically; but it's not. So, ignorant distortions of borrowed words, like lòn.zha.ráe, will remain.
liposuction líe.poe.sùk.shan   líp.oe.sùk.shan
liqueur li.kér   li.kyúer
literally lí   lít.ra.lee
literature líèr   lít.ra.chèr, líùer, líùer, lít.ra.cha
liverwurst líèrst   lí
llama lóm.a yóm.a  
llama* The customary English pronunciation is lóm.a, which is a homophone for "lama" (as in "Dalai lama"). The Spanish of the region where these animals originate says yóm.a. The United States today is starting to correct ignorant mispronunciations of Spanish words under the impact of heavy immigration from Spanish America and self-assertion by U.S.-born Latinos. It seems wise to revert to the original Spanish pronunciation, yóm.a, especially since doing so would leave "lama" a unique term, for a Tibetan monk, and thus eliminate one of English's hundreds of annoying homophones.
locate lóe.kaet   loe.káet
long laung    
longer adj: láung.ger n: lá  
longest láung.gast   láung.ast 
longevity laun.jév.i.tee   lon.jév.i.tee
longitude lón.ji.tùed   láung.i.tùed
Los Angeles Laus Áan.ja.las   Loez Á, Laus Áan.ja.leez
Louisiana Lue.wèe.zee.yá   Lùe.zee.yá
lowland/s ló   lóe.laand/z
lost laust   lost
luxurious lug.zhú   luk.shú
luxury lúk.sha.ree   lúg.zha.ree

M [Return to top.]

macabre ma.kób.ra   ma.kób, ma.kó
machete ma.shé ma.ché  
machete* This is a Spanish loanword that should be pronounced as it generally isn't: ma.ché or ma.ché But because it is a foreign word and many native speakers of English seem to think all foreign words are French (see discussions at "Beijing", "Chavez Ravine" and "maharajah") "machete" has been given the French pronunciation of CH: SH. Actually, this isn't too bad, because machetes are used in Brazil, too, and the pronunciation in southern Brazil is close to ma.shé (though the pronunciation in northern Brazil is more like ma.shé.chee).
machination/s màáe.shan/z   màa.shi.náe.shan/z
macho móch.oe   máach.oe
madras fabric: máad.ras place: Ma.drós  
Mafia Mó   Máa.fee.ya
Mafioso Mò.fee.yóe.zoe   Máa.fee.yóe.soe
magazineéen má  
magistrate máa.ji.straet   máa.ji.strat
magnate máag.naet   máag.nat
maharajah mò.ha.rój.a   mò.ha.rózh.a
maharajah* "Raj", "rajah" and "maharajah", along with the name of the famous mausoleum "Taj Mahal", are words of Hindi or Sanskrit origin taken into English by the British during their reign (raj) as colonial overlord of the Indian subcontinent. Alas, although the J in all these words is properly pronounced in the ordinary English fashion, many people see them as foreign words and so assign the only foreign pronunciation they know for J, the French: ZH. Such psuedo-French pronunciations are wrong. See notes at "Beijing" and "Chavez Ravine".
mail mail   mael
majority ma.jór.i.tee   ma.jáu.ri.tee
malfeasance maal.fée.zans   maal.fée.sans
-man, -men In words like "workman" and "salesman", the singular and plural ("workmen", "salesmen") sound much alike, but a careful speaker will draw a distinction in formal usage, -man versus -men, where the singular contains a schwa but the plural a full short-E sound. In some words, like "businessman", it is more customary to treat the -man as though it were the word "man", and accord it a full short-A sound (-maan) and the plural a full short-E sound (-men).
man maan   mon
mandatary máan.da.tè    
mandatory máan.da.tàu.ree   màan.dáe.ta.ree
maniacal/ly ma.níe.ya.kal/.ee   màe.nee.yá
mankind máan.kiend maan.kíend  
mansion máan.shan    
mansion* Whether the -NTION or -NSION combination in words like "attention" and "mansion" is said with an SH or CH sound makes little difference. Neither is incorrect, no matter which one a given dictionary may choose for a given word. In that there is a hinted-at T between the N and TION or SION sounds, and TSH is another way of writing the English-CH sound, trying not to include that semi-T as would create the combination -chan will seem pointlessly affected and puristic to many careful speakers.
mantra máan.tra   món.tra
manufacture maan.yoo.fáak.cher   maan.a.fáak.cher
marathon máa.ra.tthon   máa.ra.tthan
margarine mór.ja.rin    
maria name: Ma.rée.ya pl of "mare": mó  
maria* Until fairly recently in historical terms, the typical English pronunciation of the feminine personal name "Maria" was Ma.ríe.ya. Thus the colloquial name for a paddy wagon (that is, a police or patrol wagon), coined in 1847, was "Black Maria", pronounced Bláak Ma.ríe.ya, and the song "They Call the Wind Maria" from a Broadway musical set in the Old West employs the same pronunciation, Ma.ríe.ya. Modern listeners would expect to find each of these terms spelled "Mariah", and indeed a present-day pop singer, Mariah Carey, does spell her name with a final H, which plainly indicates that it is not pronounced as "Maria" is now said, in the Italian and Spanish fashion (Ma.rée.ya).
married máa.reed   máa.rid
marry má   mái.ree
Mary Mái.ree   Máa.ree
mask maask   mosk
masonry máe.san.ree   máè
massacre máas.a.ker    
massage ma.sózh   ma.sój
mastaba má   ma.stób.a
master máas.ter   mós.ta
mathematics maa.ttha.máa.tiks   maatth.máa.tiks
matrimony máa.tri.mòe.nee   má
mature ma.chúer   ma.túer, ma.chér
mauve moev   mauv
mayoral máe.ya.ral   mae.yáu.ral
measure mé   máe.zher
medicine méd.i.sìn   méd.sin
medieval mi.dée.val   mi.dee.yée.val
memento mi.mén.toe   moe.mén.toe
mentor mén.ter   mén.taur
memorabilia mèm.a.ra.bí   mèm.a.ra.bé
mercantile mér.kan.tìe.yal mér.kan.til mér.kan.tèel
mercantilism mér.kan.til.ì   mèr.kan.té
merchandise n: mér.chan.dìes v: mér.chan.dìez  
mercury mér.kyoo.ree   mér.ka.ree
merry mé   mái.ree
messianic mèáa.nik    
metamorphose mèt.a.máur.foez    
metamorphose* I find this technical term of biology a very clumsy word. The sole pronunciation given in the dictionary, and thus shown above, seems to me counterintuitive. As a verb, it would more sensibly take stress on the last syllable: mètamaurfóez. "Hwen a káterpìler chaenjaz intu a búterfli, it iz sed tu haav ùndergáun metamáurfasìs, aur tu haav mètamaurfóezd". Since few nonscientists are likely to use the word often, and scientists love their own peculiar ways of pronouncing their pet jargon, this word may stay fixed in its current unnatural state. But I for one will put the accent on the last syllable, dictionaries to the contrary notwithstanding.
metaphorical mèt.a.fáu.ri.kal   mèt.a.fó.ri.kal
methadone méth.a.doen   méth.a.dòn
methane métth.aen   mée.tthaen
midwifery mid.wí   midwíeferee
migraine míe.graen   mée.graen
minature mí    
miniaturize mín.i.cha.rìez    
minority n: mìe.nó.ri.tee adj: mi.nó.ri.tee ma.náu.ri.tee
minute n: mí adj: mie.núet  
misanthropic mìóp.ik   mìóe.pik
mischievous mís.cha.vas   mis.chée.vee.yas (illiterate)
miserable míz.ra.bool mí  
missile mís.ool   mí
Missouri Mi.zú   Mi.zúer.a
mobile adj: móe.bool n (sculpture): móe.beel móe.bie.yal
moderate adj: mó v: móàet  
modulate mój.oo.laet   mód.yoo.laet
module mój.ool   mód.yuel
modus operandi latinized: móe.das oe.per.ón.dee anglicized: móe.dasáan.die  
molest ma.lést    
molestation mòáe.shan   mòe.las.táe.shan
monastery món.a.stè   món.a.stree,


Monday Mún.dae   Mún.dee
Mongol Móng.goel   Mó
Mongolian Mòn.góe.lee.yan Mòng.góe.lee.yan  
monologist ma.nól.a.jist    
montage mon.tózh moen.tózh  
moral mó.ral   máu.ral
morale ma.ráal   ma.ról
mores máu.raez    
Morris Mó.ris   Máu.ris
morrow mó.roe   máu.roe
Moscow Russia: Mós.kou Idaho: Mós.koe  
mosquito ma.skée.toe mòs.kée.toe
moth mautth   motth
moths mauthz   mautths, motths, mothz
motorcycle móe.ter.sìe.kool   móe.ter.sìk.ool
mourning máur.ning   múer.ning
mouth n: moutth v: mouth (platitudes), moutth [auf] (mouth off)  
mouths mouthz   moutths
mozzarella mòél.a   mòél.a
multi- múl.tee-   múl.tie-
Murray Mé Mú.ree  
Murray* Few people will hear a distinction worth worrying about between Mé and Mú.ree. Mé will more commonly be said in the United States; Mú.ree in Britain.
muse myuez   myues
Muslim Múz.lim   Mue.sléem, Múez.lim, Múes.lim. Móos.lim
Muslim* The traditional English word for an adherent of Islam is "Moslem", which everyone knows how to pronounce. "Muslim" is an arabicization to accommodate the fact that Arabic has no vowel O. Internationalist pedants insist on substituting U for O in all English words of Arabic origin (as forces the new spellings "Muhammed" and "Muslim" for the long-established English forms "Mohammed" and "Moslem") even though the traditional English words sound better to most native speakers of English, and even though many native speakers of English don't know how to pronounce "Muslim". People who prefer "Moslem" to "Muslim" should use "Moslem" without shame. English and Arabic are separate languages, each entitled to its own way of doing things. It is as inappropriate for Arabic to impose upon English as for English to impose upon Arabic. Arabic could perfectly well accept the vowel O into its alphabet (though it might have to be written differently, since the Arab character for the number 5 looks like a small English O; of course, Arabic could adopt "O" as the letter and substitute "5" for the number). But Arabic has no obligation to accommodate Western languages by intruding O into its alphabet, and English has no obligation to substitute U for O in words derived from Arabic.
mustache mús.taash   ma.stáash, ma.stósh
my mie   mee
myopia mie.yóe.pee.ya    
myopic mie.yóp.ik    
myriad mé   méàad

N [Return to top.]

nabob náe.bob   na.bób
nacho/s nóch.oe/z   náa.choe/z
nail nail   nael
naked náe.kad   né (illiterate)
nasty náas.tee   nós.tiq
natural náach.ral náa.cha.ral  
naturalization nàach.ral.i.záe.shan nàa.cha.ral.i.záe.shan  
naughty náu.tee   nó
nausea náu.zee.ya   náu.see.ya, náu.sha, náu.zha
nauseate náu.zee.yaet   náu.zhee.yaet
nauseous náu.shas   náu.zee.yas
Nazi Nót.see   Náat.see, Nó
Neanderthal Nee.yáan.der.tthaul   Nae.yáan.der.taul
necessary nés.a.sè   né.sa.sree
negotiate ni.góe.shee.yaet   ne.góe.see.yaet
neither née.ther   níe.ther
Nepal Ne.pául Ne.pól Na.páal
nephew néf.yue   név.yue
neutral núe.tral   nyúe.tral
Nevada Na.vód.a   Na.váad.a
new/s nue/z   nyue/z
Newfoundland Nú   Nue.fó, Núe.fand.làand
Nicaragua Nik.a.róg.wa   Nee.ka.rróg.woq
niche nich   neesh
nicotine ník.a.tèen   nik.a.téen
nihilism née.yal.ì, née.hil.ì níe.ya.lì  
nonsense nón.sens   nón.sans, nón.zans
nonwhite nòn.hwíet   non.hwíet
nostalgia nos.táal.ja   na.stól.ja, nos.táal.zha
nostalgic nos.táal.jik   na.stól.jik
nuclear núe.klee.yer   núe.kyoo.ler (illiterate)
nuclei núe.klee.yie    
nuclei* The standard English pronunciation (núe.klee.yie) is maddening to people who have studied Latin, but the Latin núe.klae.yèe is never heard. Rather than fight for a Latin pronunciation that is unlikely to triumph, Latinists should just use the thoroughly anglicized "nucleuses". Yes, that really is an alternative plural accepted by standard dictionaries.
nucleic nue.klée.yik   nue.kláe.yik, nyue.klée.yik, nyue.kláe.yik
nucleus núe.klee.yas   núe.kyoo.las (illiterate)
nuptial/s núp.shal/z   núp.chal/z, núp.chue.wool/z

O [Return to top.]

obligoráur   ó
oblique oe.bléek   a.bléek, oe.blíek (illiterate)
obsolete adj:éet v: óèet  
obsolete* Because the adjective, the older word, is pronounced with stress on the last syllable, the verb, to differentiate from the adjective, takes stress on the first syllable, the reverse of the usual pattern.
occasion a.káe.zhan   òe.káe.zhan
occult n, v, adj: a.kúlt adj: ók.ult  
occult* In most uses, and especially when the word is part of the phrase "the occult", the pronunciation is a.kúlt. In some phrases, however, such as "occult powers", ók.ult may be the better pronunciation.
occur/rence a.kér/.ans   òe.kér/.ans
off auf   of
offal ó   áu.fool
offense a.féns sports: óf.ens  
offensive a.fén.siv sports (adj): óf.en.siv oe.fén.siv
official/ly a.fí   òe.fí
offset n: áuf.set v: auf.sét  
often á   áuf.tan / óf.tan (dialect), ó
ogle ó   ó
oil áu.yal   erl (illiterate)
oligarchy ól.i.gòr.kee   óel.i.gòr.kee
Olympic/s A.lím.pik/s   Òe.lím.pik/s
on-line, online adj: ón.lien adv: on.líen  
onerous ó   ó
oops oops   ueps
opera óp.ra ó óp.ree (illiterate)
opportunity òú   òú, òú
opposite óp.a.sit óp.a.zit  
opposite* "Opposite" derives from "oppose" (a.póez), which inclines some people to use a Z sound to conform to the sound given the S in the verb. That is exactly the wrong thinking. Similar but different words should be clearly differentiated from each other. Even tho a.póez is already distinct in sound from either óp.a.zit or óp.a.sit, óp.a.sit remains the better choice because it is distinct from "apposite" (á
or Aur   or
orange ó.ranj   áu.ranj
orangutan/g a.ráang.a.taang   a.ráang.a.tàan
orangutan/g* This word came into English in 1691 as "orangutang" and continues to be pronounced as though the final G is still there, even though the spelling "orangutan" was in 1998 more common. The term derives from two Malay words spelled in English as "orang hutan". Though that would suggest that the final NG sound we give it in English is incorrect, (a) there are some languages in which a final N sometimes does take an NG sound (some speakers of Spanish say beeyéng for "bien", at least when it stands alone) and (b) a word borrowed into English need not sound the same as it does in its original language. Compare "champagne" (English, shaam.páen; French, shom.pón.ya); "intelligentsia" (English,ént.see.ya; Russian, èén.tsee.ya); "junta" (English, jún.ta; Spanish, khúen.ta); "frankfurter" (English, fráangk.fer.ter; German, frhóngk.fuerh.terh); "potato" (English, pa.tá; Spanish/Taino: ba.tót.a). English has been saying the mellifluous and rhyming a.ráang.a.tàang for a long time. There's no reason to change that.
orator áur.a.ter ó.ra.ter áu.rae.ter
ordinary áur.di.nè   áud.nriq
Oregon Áu.ra.gòn   Ó.ra.gan
organization àáe.shan   àáe.shan
origin áu.ri.jin ó.ri.jin  
osprey ós.pree   ós.prae
Ottawa Ó.ta.wa Ó.ta.woq  
Ouija Wée.jee   Wée.ja
our óu.wer   or
outside n, adj, prep: óut.sied adv: out.síed  
overhaul n: óe.ver.haul v: oe.ver.hául  
overhead n, adj: óe.ver.hed adv: oe.ver.héd  
overload n: óe.ver.lòed v: oe.ver.lóed  
overthrow n: óe.ver.tthro v: oe.ver.tthró  
Ovid Ó Óe.vid  
Ovid* "Ovid" is the English shorthand designation for the renowned poet of ancient Rome, Publius Ovidius Naso (Púe.blee.yues Oe.vée.dee.yues Nós.o). As an English term, it can rightly take an anglicized pronunciation, Óvid. But since it refers to a man who wrote in Latin, a Latinized pronunciation, Óevid, will seem better to Latinists. Since many non-Latinists won't know whom you are talking about either way you pronounce the name, and Latinists will understand either pronunciation, which you use is wholly a matter of personal preference. I prefer Óe.vid, which happens also to be closer to the modern French name "Ovide" (Óe.veed, sometimes anglicized to Óe.vid, as in the case of the onetime chief of Canada's Assembly of First Nations, Ovide Mercredi.
oyez óe.yae óe.yez óe.yes, oe.yés
oyez* This legal term, French for "hear ye", is used in court to command attention. In proper French, it would be oe.yáe, but it has been in English since the fifteenth century, so an English preference for stressing the first syllable seems reasonable, especially inasmuch as the phrase will be perceived as "Hear ye!", which English phrase takes stress on the first syllable. But the partially French pronunciation óe.yae seems preferable to me to the wholly anglicized óe.yez or óe.yes.

P [Return to top.]

padre pód.rae   pód.ree
paean pée.yan   páe.yan
painstaking pá   pá
painstaking* This word means "taking pains", not "staking pain". But since it is written as one word, the written-S is assimilated to the following T, and thus changes from the Z sound it would have if "pains" were a word to itself, to an S sound instead. That's just the way things work in this case. See discussion at "disgust".
Pakistan Pók.i.stòn Páak.i.stàn  
paleontology pài.lee.yan.tól.a.jèe   pài.lee.yôn.tól.a.jee

palisade/s* My first, childhood home was in Palisades Park, New Jersey, in the name of which the syllabic stress of "Palisades" shifted forward to the beginning of the word to accommodate a main stress for the phrase overall on "park": Pà Pórk. Because English hates to have two stressed syllables abutting, and the most important word in a phrase (usually a noun) receives the major stress, words that would ordinarily be considered nouns (like "palisades") are treated as adjectives in phrases like "Palisades Park", and the adjective's own stress pattern is subordinated to the stress of the noun it serves. English often changes nouns into adjectives and pronounces them as such by rules that are rather consistent, once you understand them. If "palisades" kept its stress on the last syllable, the phrase "Palisades Park" could not be said fluently and continuously. Rather, there would have to be a brief pause between the words to allow a "beat" for prosody, since stressed and unstressed syllables pretty much have to alternate in English. Departing from such a pattern doesn't sound right.
palm (see "almond") pom   polm
papoose paa.púes   pa.púes
paprika paa.prée.ka   pa.prée.ka
paradise páa.ra.dies páa.ra.diez
Paraguay Páa.ra.gwae Páa.ra.gwie  
parent páa.rant   pái.rant
parliament pó   pór.lee.ya.mant
parliamentarian pòái.ree.yan   pòái.ree.yan
parliamentary pòén.ta.ree   pòr.lee.ya.mén.ta.ree
parmesan pór.mi.zòn   póòn, pó
parmesan, parmigiana* Both pórmazhòn and pòrmazhóna are illiterate Frenchifications of words of Italian origin. See notes at "Beijing", "maharajah" and "Chavez Ravine".
parmigiana pòr.mi.jón.a   pòón.a
parquet por.káe    
participate por.tís.i.paet   per.tís.i.paet
particular pèr.tík.yoo.ler pòr.tik.yoo.lèr  
pass paas   pos
passé paa.sáe   po.sáe
past paast   post
pasta pó.sta   páas.ta
pastoral páa.sta.ral   paa.stáu.ral
pasture páas.cher   pós.cha
patent legal right (n and adj): páat.ant obvious (adj): páe.tant  
path paatth   potth
pathos páe.tthoes   páa.tthos, páe.tthos
paths paathz   paatths, potths, pothz
patina pá   pa.té, pa.téen
patriot páe.tree.yat   páat.ree.yot
patriotic pae.tree.yót.ik   paat.ree.yót.ik
patronage business: páe.tra.naj politics: páa.tra.naj  
patronize business: páe.tra.nìez condescend: páa.tra.nìez  
paucity pá   pó
pearl perl   pel
pecan pée.kaan (but, "bú pi.káan" ice cream)   pi.kón
pectoral/s pék.ta.ral/z   pek.táu.ral/z
pedophilia ped.a.fí   pèe.da.fí, pèd.a.fé
penalize pé   pén.a.liez
penchant pén.chant   ponn.shónn, pónn.shonn
penchant* "Penchant" is English, and has been since 1672. Giving it a puristic French pronunciation is a pathetic and irritating affectation.
peninsula pa.ní   pa.ní
penniless pén.i.las   pé
people pée.pool    
Percheron Pér.cha.ròn Pér.sha.ròn Pér.cha.ron
Percheron* This is a really weird word, in that the preferred pronunciation employs an English CH in a French loanword, even though in other words regarded as foreign (e.g., machete), CH is given the (French) value SH even though they're not French at all and the original language pronounces CH as English does. (See note at "Chavez Ravine".) Perhaps the names of "domestic" animals are given "domestic" pronunciations.
perfume n: pér.fyuem v: per.fyúem  
permit n: pé v: per.mít n: per.mít (illiterate)
perpetuity pèúe.wi.tee    
persona per.só   per.són.a
pervert n: pér.vert v: per.vért  
phalanx fáe.laangks   fáal.anks
pharaoh fáa.roe   fér.oe, fáe.roe
Philippines Fíl.i.peenz   Fil.i.péenz
Philistine Fíl.i.steen   Fíl.i.stìen
pianist pee.yá   pée.ya.nist
piano pee.yá   pee.yón.o
picture pík.cher pí.cher (illiterate)
piranha per.ón.a puristically: pi.rón.ya per.á
piranha* The H in "piranha" is not superfluous (silent) in the original Brazilian-Portuguese. Rather, NH is the way Portuguese spells the sound that Spanish writes as an N with a tilde (Ñ), the sound of -NY- in "canyon" (written cañón in Spanish). Loanwords like "lasagna" from Italian employ another spelling for this same sound: GN. Readers of English accept Ñ and GN as variant spellings for -NY-, but somehow refuse to accept NH. I guess most of us are too accustomed to silent-H's to see NH as anything but N followed by a silent-H. So per.ón.a will likely remain the standard pronunciation of "piranha".
pirouette pi.rue.wét   pèer.ue.wét
placate pláe.kàet   plae.káet, pláa.kaet
placatory pláak.a.tau.ree   pláe.ka.tau.ree
plant plaant   plont
plateau plaa.tóe   pláa.toe
plaza plóz.a   pláaz.a
pleasure plé   pláe.zher
plebiscite pléb.i.siet   plé
Pleiades Plée.ya.deez   Pláe.ya.deez
plenty pléntee   plúntee
plover plú plóe.ver  
poem póe.wam   poem
poinsettia poin.sé   poin.sét.a
polka póel.ka   póe.ka
poor puer   paur
porridge pó.rij   páu.rij
Porsche Páur.sha   Paursh
Porsche* The one-syllable pronunciation Paursh is slang, on the order of "Beemer" for another German sportscar, the BMW. Anyone can use any slang pronunciation he wants, in his own in-group. I mockingly say Páurskee for Porsche among friends and family. But the respectful pronunciation is Páur.sha.
Port-au-Prince Páurt-a-Prìns French: Paur.toe.Práanns  
portrait páur.trat   páur.traet
potato pa.tá   pa.táe.ta
potato* Not even Britons say pa.tót.o, despite the popular song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off": "You say tamaeto and I say tamoto. You say pataeto and I say patoto . . ."
precedence prés.a.dans   pree.sée.dans
precedent n: prés.a.dant adj: pri.sée.dant, prés.a.dant  
precursor pree.kér.ser   prée.ker.ser
predecessor préd.a.sè   prée.da.sè, pred.a.sé
predicate n, adj: préd.i.kat v: préd.i.kàet  
preferable préòol   pree.fér.a.bòol
preferably préf.ra.blee pré pree.fér.a.blee
prehensile pree.hén.sool   pree.hén.sie.yal
prelude práe.lued   prél.yued
premier/e pri.méer pree.méer prem.yáir, prée.meer
preparatory prép.a.ra.tàu.ree   pri.pái.ra.tàu.ree, pri.páa.ra.tàu.ree
preposition prèp.a.zí.shan    
preposterous pree.pó    
present n: préz.ant v: pree.zént  
presentation prèáe.shan   prèe.zen.táe.shan
prestige pres.téezh   pres.téej
prestigious pres.tí   pres.tée.jas, pres.tée.zhas
pretense prée.tens pri.téns
prima donna opera: prè dón.a p.i.a.: prìm.a dón.a  
primarily prie.mér.i.lee   prí
primer book: prí paint: príe.mer  
princess prí   prin.sés, prí
pristine prís.teen pri.stéen prís.tien
privacy prí   prív.a.see
privilege/d prív.laj/d prív.i.laj/d  
probably prób.a.blee unacceptably careless: pró
proboscis pra.bó   pra.bós.kis
process n, v (to handle): pró v (move in procession): proe.sés pró
processor pró   pró, pró
produce n: próe.dues v: pra.dúes pród.yues, pra.dyúes
productivity pròe.duk.tív.i.tee   pròív.i.tee
professorial pròáu.ree.yal   pròe.fe.sáu.ree.yal
program próe.graam   próe.gram
progress n: próg.res v: pra.grés próe.gres
project n: prój.ekt v: pra.jéct próe.jekt
promenade n: próm.a.nod v: pró.ma.naed  
promulgate próm.ul.gàet   pra.múl.gaet
promulgate* The first and second pronunciations of "promulgate" have changed places in the past forty years. Próm.ul.gàet has now so thoroughly ousted the old-fashioned pra.múl.gaet as to warrant placing the earlier pronunciation in the "But NOT" column.
pronunciation pra.nùn.see.yáe.shan   pra.nòun.see.yáe.shan (illiterate)
propagandize prop.a.gáan.diez próp.a.gàan.dîez  
prophetic pra.fét.ik   proe.fét.ik
protean proe.tée.yan   próe.tee.yan
protection pra.ték.shan   proe.ték.shan
protein próe.teen   próe.tee.yan
protest n, adj: próe.test v: pra.tést v: próe.test
protestation pròáe.shan   pròe.tas.táe.shan
protester pra.té   prò
provolone pròóe.nee   pròv.a.lóen
provost próe.voest   próv.ast, próe.vast, próe.voe
psalm/ist sóm/.ist   sólm/.ist
psychiatrist sie.kíe.ya.trist   si.kíe.ya.trist, sa.kíe.ya.trist
psychology sie.kól.a.jee   sa.kól.a.jee
psychopathy si.kóp.a.tthee   síe.ka.pàa.tthee
puberty pyúe.ber.tee   púe.ber.tee
Pulitzer Pyúe.lit.ser Pó  
pulpit púl.pit póol.pit  
puma pú   pyú
puma* Some people will think the pronunciation pú "un-English". That's because "puma" is Spanish, a loanword. There is no reason to anglicize it to pyú, however, in that YUE-sounds in English are being abandoned right and left in favor of simple-UE (nuez, stue.dant, Tuez.dae, rather than nyuez, styúe.dant, Tyúez.dae, etc.)
pupae pyúe.pee    
pupae* This is another long-anglicized scientific word (like "larvae") whose un-Latin EE ending (where the -ae is pronounced IE in Latin) can be avoided simply by using the regularized-English plural: "pupas" (pyúepaz).
purposive pé per.póe.siv  
purposive* There may be places within a sentence when the first pronunciation of this word, which stresses the first syllable, will not fit the meter, whereas stressing the second syllable will. In such a situation, one's first thought might be to say per.pús.iv, but dictionaries don't recognize that pronunciation, perhaps because it gives rise to false (and unpleasant) associations with "pus". Many speakers will find per.póe.siv artificial, as do I. They should always say pé, regardless of the metrical context.
pursuant per.súe.want   pér.sue.want
pyramidal pi.ráa.mi.dal   peer.a.mí, péer.a.mì
python píe.tthon   píe.tthan

Q [Return to top.]

quagmire kwáag.mie.yer   kwóg.mie.yer
qualm kwolm   kwom
qualm* Though parallel in structure to "palm" and similarly centuries-old, "qualm" is an uncommon word that most people are likely to encounter mainly in print, so the spelling-pronunciation kwolm is more likely to make plain what word one is using. Especially is this true today, when Asian names like Kwon are proliferating in people's consciousness, as to give pause to a listener who hears kwom; "was that 'Kwom'?" Kwolm will more readily be spelled out in the listener's mind as "qualm", and then recognized as a word of infrequent occurrence but whose meaning he does know.
quart kwaurt   kaurt
quarter/back kwáur.ter/baak   káur.ter/baak
quartet kwaur.tét   kaur.tét
quasi- kwó   kwáe.zie-
quay kee    
Quebec Ke.bék   Kwee.bék
quiescent kwee.yés.ant   kwie.yés.ant
quintuple kwin.túe.pool   kwin.túp.ool, kwín.ta.pool
quixotic kwik.sót.ik    

R [Return to top.]

rabid rá   rá
raceme rae.séem   raa.séem, ra.séem
raconteur ràa.kon.tér   ràa.kon.túer
radiator ráe.dee.yàe.ter   ráàe.ter
ragged v: raagd adj: ráagad  
raj rój   rozh
rajah rój.a   rózh.a
rampage n: ráam.paej v: raam.páej  
ranch raanch   ronch
rather adv: rá intj: ro.thér ró.ther
ration rá ráe.shan  
raunch raunch   ronch
re ("concerning") rae   ree
realtor réel.ter   ré (illiterate)
rebel n: ré v: ree.bél  
rebound n, adj: rée.bound v: ree.bóund  
recall n: rée.kaul v: ree.kául  
recess n (rest period): ré
(niche): ri.sés, ree.sés
v: ri.sés, ree.sés  
recluse rék.lues ri.klúes rék.luez, ri.klúez
reconciliation rèáe.shan   rèáe.shan
record n: rék.erd v: ree.káurd rék.àurd
recuperate ree.kúe.per.aet   ri.kyúe.per.aet
redress n: rée.dres v: ri.drés, ree.drés  
referee ref.a.rée   réf.a.ree
reference réf.rans ré  
refill n: rée.fil v: ree.fíl  
refuge réf.yuej   réf.yuezh
refund n: ré v: ree.fúnd  
refuse n: réf.yues v: ree.fyúez  
regalia ri.gáil.ya   ra.gáal.ya, ra.gáa.lee.ya
regime re.zhéem ràe.zhéem ri.jéem
regulatory réàu.ree   règ.yoo.láe.ta.ree
reject n: rée.jekt v: ree.jékt  
relapse n: rée.laaps v: ri.láaps, ree.láaps  
relative rél.a.tiv   ree.láe.tiv
relax ree.láaks   rel.áaks, ra.láaks
relay n: rée.lae v: (pass along) ree.láe; (lay again) rée.láe  
relief ri.léef ree.léef  
relocate rèe.loe.káet ree.lóe.kaet  
renaissance rén.a.sòns   ra.náe.sans, rén.a.zòns, rén.a.sans
renege ri.níg   ri.nég, ri.néeg, ri.náeg
repartee rè.por.táe   rèée
repast ri.páast   ri.póst
repatriation ree.pàe.tree.yáe.shan   ri.pàa.tree.yáe.shan
repeat n: ree.péet, rée.peet v: ree.péet, ri.péet  
repercussion rèú rèeperkúshan  
reportage ree.páur.taj   rèp.aur.tózh
reprise repeat: ri.préez take back, charge: ri.príez  
reptile rép.tie.yal   rép.tool
rerun n: ré v: ree.rún  
research n, adj: rée.serch v: ri.sérch, ree.sérch  
researcher ri.sé ree.sé ré
resite rée.síet    
resource rée.saurs   rée.zaurs, ri.sáurs, ri.záurs
resourceful ri.záurs.fool   ree.sáurs.fool
respite rés.pit   ri.spíet, rés.piet
restaurant rés.ta.rònt   rés.ta.rònn, rés.ta.rant
restaurateur rès.ta.ra.tér   rès.ta.ron.túer
retard n: rée.tord v: ree.tórd  
rethink n: rée.tthingk v: ree.tthíngk  
retort n: rée.taurt v: ri.táurt  
retread n: rée.tred v: ree.tréd  
revamp v: ree.váamp n: rée.vaamp  
revenue ré   rév.a.nue
reverend rév.rand ré  
rewrite n: rée.write v: ree.ríet  
ridiculous ri.dík.yoo.las   rèe.dík.ya.las
rigmarol ríòel ríòel  
rigmarol* A puristic pronunciation of this word would follow the spelling: ríòel. But in fact most people insert an additional syllable between the G and M. Indeed, because that is so common a pronunciation, there has arisen a variant spelling "rigamarole". Though ríòel is certainly not "wrong", it's not exactly right either.
Rio de Janeiro Réeyoe dae Zha.nái.roe Réeyoe dee Zha.nái.roe  
Rio de Janeiro* The pronunciation heard most commonly in the United States is a mix of Spanish and French: Rée.yoe dae Zha.ná Proper Spanish is Rrrée.yoe dae Kha.náe.rro, but English does not trill or tap R, and the typical native speaker of English rebels at reading J as KH, but insists on reading J in foreign words as they understand J to be said in French: ZH. In Rio itself, the local speakers of the Northern Brazilian/Carioca dialect of Portuguese say Rhée.yue jee Zha.náe.rrue. Yes, there is another language than English that pronounces the letter E as we do: EE. (In Brazilian Portuguese, this pronunciation for E occurs in unstressed syllables.) The closest equivalent in English would be Rée.yue dee Zha.náe.rue, but the typical English-speaker will not read O as U except in ancient English words like "do" and "to". The upshot of all this? A speaker respectful of Brazil's Portuguese, not Spanish, culture, but uncomfortable with the idea of being thought affected if he pronounces O as though U, will say Réeyoe dee Zha.nái.roe.
riparian rie.pái.ree.yan   ri.pái.ree.yan
robust roe.búst   róe.bust
rococo ròe.ka.kó ra.kóe.ko  
romance n, adj: róe.maans v: roe.máans  
roof ruef   roof
room ruem   room
root ruet   root
root* "Root", "route", "rout" are three words that could be distinguished into three separate sounds (root, ruet, rout) if English were written phonetically, but it's not. The parallel of "root" to "boot", "shoot", "toot", "loot" and such is too powerful to overcome. "Foot" is an odd pronunciation for its spelling, and many people, when in doubt, will always read "oo" as long: UE.
rotate róe.taet   roe.táet
rotisserie roe.tís.a.rèe   roe.téèe
rough ruf    
route ruet   rout
routine n: rue.téen adj: rúe.teen  
ruse ruez   rues

S [Return to top.]

sabotage sáòzh   sób.a.tòzh, sáàazh
saboteur sàér   sàúer
sacrifice sáa.kri.fìes   sáa.kri,fìs, sáa.kri.fìez
saffron sáa.fran   sáa.fron
saga sóg.a   sá
saguaro sa.gwó.roe   sa.wó.roe, sa.wó.ra
Sahara Sa.hàa.ra Sa.hó.ra  
sail sail   saal
salary sáal.a.ree sáall.ree
sale sail   saal
salmon sá sá
salon beauty shop: sa.lón soiree, painting competition: sáa.loenn  
salsa só   sá, sá
salve n, v (soothe): saav v (salvage): saalv

obs interj: sól.vae

sample sáam.pool   sóm.pool
samurai sáìe   sáam.yoo.rìe
sanctuary sáangk.chue.wè   sáangk.cha.rèe
sans saanz   sonz, sonn
Saskatchewan Saa.skáa.choo.wòn   Saa.skáa.choo.wan
satanic sa.táan.ik   sàe.táan.ik
satiety sa.tíe.ya.tèe    
Saturday Sáa.ter.dàe   Sáa.ter.dee
sauce saus   sos
Saudi Sáu.dee   Sóu.dee, Soq.úe.dee
scallop mollusk: skól.ap, skáa.lap border (n and v): skáa.lap  
scenario si.nái.ree.yoe   see.nó.ree.yoe
schedule skéj.ool   skéj.ue.wal, shéj.ool
schism sí   skízam, shízam
schismatic siz.máat.ik   skiz.máat.ik
schizophrenia skìée.nee.ya   skìts.a.fré
scone skoen   skon
scone The Stone of Scone that until recently lay under the British throne is from a Scottish location pronounced Skuen. Only that stone and location, however, take that pronunciation for that spelling. The pastry is pronounced skoen.
scourge skerj   skuerj, skaurj, skoerj
scrumptious skrúm.shas   skrúmp.chue.was
scythe sieth   sie
secretary sék.ra.tè   sék.ri.triq
secretary* Remember that in this pronunciation key Q is silent, used to signal a short vowel in final position. Here, the -iq ending conveys the "clipped" short-I that some Britons use in place of the EE sound for Y at the end of a word.
sedimentary sèd.i.mén.ta.ree   séèree
segment ség.mant    
segmented seg.mén.tad    
sensor sén.ser   sén.saur
sentient sén.shant   sén.chant, sén.tee.yant
separate adj: sép.rat, sép.a.rat v: sép.a.ràet  
sequelae si.kwé si.kwé  
sequelae* This unusual Latin word, which means "consequences" and later, following stages to disease, is new enough to most people that there would be little harm in giving it the Latinist pronunciation si.kwé, which will seem best to people hostile to needless anglicization of Latin words.
sequoia si.kwáu.ya   si.káu.ya
serenade n: sér.a.naed v: ser.a.náed  
several sév.ral sé  
sexual sék.shue.wal   séks.yue.wal
shaman shó   shá, sha.món
shammes shó    
shamus sháe.mas   shó
shan't shaant   shont
shard (see also "sherd") shord    
sheath n: sheetth v: sheeth  
sheath/e v: sheeth    
sheaths sheethz   sheetths
sherd sherd   shord
sheriff shér.if   shái.rif
Shih Tzu Shée Dzùe   Shìt.sue
shillelagh shi.lái.lee    
shone shoen   shon
siege seej   seezh
silicon especially the n: síl.i.kòn especially the adj: síl.i.kan  
simultaneous sìe.mul.táe.nee.yas   sìm.ul.táe.nee.yas
singer sí   síng.ger
sloth animal: slautth laziness: sloetth  
slothful sláutth.fool    
smorgasboard smáur.gas.baurd   shmáur.gas.baurd
smuggle smúg.ool    
smuggler smúg.ler   smú
snail snail   snael, snáe.yal
sociopath sóe.see.ya.pàatth   sóe.shee.ya.pàatth, sóe.see.yoe.pàatth
sociopathy sòe.see.yóp.a.tthee   sòe.see.yoe.páa.tthee, sòe.shee.yoe.páa.tthee
soft sauft   soft
soften sá   sáuf.tan, sóf.tan
sojourn n: sóe.jern v: soe.jérn  
solace só   sóe.las
solve solv   saulv
sommelier sùáe    
sommelier* This French word for "wine steward", though in English use since the beginning of the 1920s, is treated by authorities as almost wholly unassimilated, and thus given a pronunciation that is still essentially French: sùáe. Perhaps that's because it is used mainly for wine stewards in French restaurants. If it becomes anglicized, it will probably take a form more like sa.méàe. It might end up more like sòáir or sòm.a.léer. Or it might simply experience only a syllabic-stress shift to the first syllable, like most English nouns, and become súmalyàe. Of course, we could just bounce the word out of English altogether and replace it with "wine steward" or "wine waiter".
sonogram són.a.graam   só
sophomore sóf.maur sóf.a.màur  
sophomoric sof.a.máu.rik    
sorrow só.roe   sáu.roe
sorry só.re   sáu.ree
souffle sue.fláe   súe.flae
soviet sóe.vee.yat   só, soe.vee.yét
special spé.shal   spáe.shal
specie/s spée.shee/z   spée.seez
spectator spék.tae.ter   spek.táe.ter
spherical sféer.i.kool sfér.i.kool  
spirochete spíe.ra.keet   spée.ra.keet
spontaneity spòn.ta.née.yi.têe spòn.ta.náe.yi.têe  
spontaneity* Nowadays spòn.ta.náe.yi.têe is more commonly heard. Tho I feel that spòn.ta.née.yi.têe is sufficiently distinct from "spontaneous" that there is no need to change the EE sound to AE, I can't come up with any good reason to condemn use of AE either. So I will continue to say spòn.ta.née.yi.têe but not look askance at people who say spòn.ta.náe.yi.têe.
spurious spyúe.ree.yas   spé
squirrel skwerl   skwée.ral
Sri Lanka Sree Lóng.ka   Shree Láang.ka
Sri Lanka English never employs an SR combination of sounds at the beginning of a syllable. It is "un-English", even though pronouncing such a combination is perfectly easy to do. Curiously, English freely uses S with the phonetic "liquid" parallel to R — L (the SL combination) — in uncountable words, from "sloop" to "sloppy"; "slide" to "slant"; "sleaze", "sling", "slow", and "slurry". Accepting the SR combination into English would enable us to create a great many new words, short and long, that would not be confused with others, a matter of some importance in a language as filled with homophones as is English. To use just the list above, we could create new words "sroop", "sroppy", "sride", "srant", "sreaze", "sring", "sro", and "srurry" (admittedly that last, "srurry", does "sound funny"). English functions best with short words, but we are running out of unused sound combinations in short words. Admitting SR would give us some breathing space. Though at first coinages using SR would sound like mockery of foreign accents, in due course such new words would be accepted as readily as words like "chutzpah", "glasnost", "perestroika", and "Kwanzaa".
stalactite sta.láak.tiet   stáal.ak.tìet
stalagmite sta.láag.miet   stáìet
stance staans   stons
stand staand   stond
status n: stáa.tas adj: stáa.tas, stáe.tas  
status* In adjectival use, "status" is usually pronounced like the noun: stáa.tas. In at least one special use, however, referring to Amerinds in Canada who are given special recognition under law, the pronunciation more typically is "stáe.tas (Ín.dee.yanz)".
stereo sté stée.ree.yo  
sterile stér.ool   sté
steroids stér.oidz stée.roidz  
stirrup stér.ap   stéer.ap
strength strengktth   straentth, strentth
striate/d stríe.yaet/.ad   strée.yaet/.ad
striation strie.yáe.shan   stree.yáe.shan
strong straung    
stronger stráung.ger   strá
strongest stráung.gast   stráung.ast
strychnine strík.nien   strík.neen, strík.nan
student stúe.dant   styúe.dant
stupid stú   styú
styling n: stí adj: stíe.ling  
stylish stíe.yal.ish   stíe.lish
subject n: súb.jekt v: sab.jékt  
subordinate n, adj: sa.báur.di.nat v: sa.báur.di.nàet  
subsidiary sab.síè   sab.síd.ya.ree
substantial sab.stáan.shal    
substantive súb.stan.tiv   sab.stáan.tiv
subtly sút.lee sú.ta.lee
succinct sak.síngkt   sa.síngkt
suit suet   syuet
suite sweet   suet
sumptuous súmp.chue.was   súmp.shas
Sunday Sún.dae   Sún.dee
super súe.per   syúeper, syúepa
superb soo.pérb   sue.pérb,
sure shuer   sher, shaur
surely shúer.lee   shér.lee
surety shóor.i.tee    
surveillance sèr.váil.ans   sèr.váe.yans
survey n: sér.vae v: ser.váe  
suspect n, adj: sús.pekt v: sa.spékt  
swastika swós.ti.ka   swos.tée.ka
swath n: swotth v: swoth swaeth
swathed swothd   swaethd
swaths swothz   swotths, swaeths
symbiosis sim.bee.yóe.sis   sim.bie.yóe.sis
symbiotic sim.bee.yót.ik   sim.bie.yót.ik
syncope síng.ka.pèe    
syndrome sín.droem   sín.dram
syrup séer.ap   sér.ap

T [Return to top.]

taboo taa.búe   ta.búe
tabula rasa tá rós.a   tó.bue.loq rós.a
taco tók.oe   táa.koe
Taj Mahal Toj Ma.hól   Tozh Ma.hául
talk tauk   tok
tapir táe.per   ta.péer, táe.peer
tarpaulin tó   tor.páu.lin
task taask   tosk
television té   té
temperament tém.pra.mant tém.per.a.mant  
temperature témp.ra.chèr tém.per.a.chèr té
tempura tém.poo.ra   tem.púe.ra
terrible tér.i.bool   táir.i.bool
territory tér.i.tàu.ree   tér.i.tree
terror té   tái.rer, tér.a
testimony tés.ti.mò   té
tête-a-tête tèt.a.tét   tàet.a.táet
textile n: ték.stie.yal adj: ték.stal  
the before a sounded consonant: tha before a vowel sound, or when stressed: thee  
the* Compare "a"/"an". "A" and "tha" are used before a word that starts with a sounded consonant; "aan" and "thee" before a word that starts with a vowel sound. This dichotomy is a feature of English that helps us recreate a word or phrase we may have missed if we hear the article that precedes it: if we hear aan or thee we know that whatever the next word was, it must have started with a vowel; if we hear a or tha, we know the missing word must have started with a consonant. This is a striking illustration of the concept of the "check morpheme": a small sound difference, like a distinctive vowel, consonant or syllabic stress, that helps us recreate part of a sentence we didn't hear quite right. This is one reason some word roots take a different sound in longer words derived from them: so a listener will know that someone is not talking about a Krís.chan but about Krìs.tee.yáan.i.tee; not about a "caliph" (káe.lif) but about the "caliphate" (káal.i.faet); not about the Áan.deez as such but about something Aan.dée.yan — or vice versa.

This may be counterintuitive, in that many people will think that linked words should be pronounced as close to each other as possible, to show the link. But it is often more important to distinguish between related words than link them, because the link will ordinarily be clear. When one sets down a "code" of law he does indeed "code-ify" it, but "code" also refers to things as diverse as computer instructions (as distinct from data), and assigning a number or color to represent a category into which a given item fits. A "conifer" may bear "cones", but "cone" has other meanings than the fruit of an evergreen. Using distinct pronunciations for "codify" and "conifer" narrow the listener's attention to the meanings relevant to the topic at hand. The mind doesn't wander to encryption or the telegraph (Morse code) when it hears kód.i.fie, though it might were it to hear kóed(ifie) — and especially if it were to hear only the first syllable and not the two that follow. Nor does a person think of anything but trees when he hears kón.i.fer, whereas he might think of geometry, ice cream, astronomical shadows, or even dunce caps if he were to hear kóenifer or, especially, if he were to hear only koen but miss the other two syllables — as for instance, if his mind wandered momentarily or a sneeze obliterated the end of the word. Similarly, mie.yóe.pee.ya is distinct from mie.yóp.ik; si.kóp.a.tthee from síe.ka.paatth.

Spoken language builds several layers of checks to meaning, such as these, including vocal inflection, so that, for instance, if we miss even several words in a sentence (because the speech is too soft, someone coughs at length, or something else demands our attention) we know at least, for example, that someone is making a statement as against asking a question. The arcane concept of "check morpheme" thus comes down to this simple rule: related words that serve different functions should be pronounced differently. Drawing distinctions between words that might otherwise be confused is a major criterion I have used in deciding which of several pronunciations currently in use is best.

theater tthée.ya.ter   tthée.ter, tthee.yáe.ter (illiterate)
theory tthé   tthé
there thair   thor, thaa, thai, tháe.ya, thái.ya
thorough tthér.oe   tthér.a
though thoe    
thought tthaut   tthot
threshold tthrésh.hoeld    
threshold* The collapsed spelling in this word, SH for what might better be written SHH, may lead some readers to say tthrésh.oeld. But the H is pronounced as though written twice, once to join with the S to form the SH sound, once as itself to start the word "hold". Contrast "Churchill" (which see).
through tthrue    
Thursday Tthérz.dae   Tthérz.dee
timbre táamber   tím.ber
tissue tísh.ue   tís.yue
titian tí   tée.shan
Tobago Ta.báe.goe   Ta.bóg.oe
today too.dáe   tue.dáe
tomato ta.máe.toe   ta.mót.oe, ta.máe.ta
tomorrow too.mó.roe   too.máu.roe, ta.mó.ra
topographic/al? tòp.a.gráa.fik/.al   tòáa.fik/.al
torment n: táur.ment v: taur.mént  
tormented taur.mén.tad   tá
-tory -tàu.ree   -tree, -triq
tough tuf    
toupee tue.páe   tuep
tournament tú   té
tourney túer.nee   tér.nee
toward/s taurd/z   too.wáurd/z
towel tóu.wal tóu.wool toul
trail trail   trael
tranche tronsh tronnsh traanch
transfer n: tráans.fer v: traans.fér  
transformer traans.fáur.mer trá  
transient tráan.shant   tráan.zee.yant
transient tráan.shant   tráan.zhant, tráan.zee.yant
transmitter traanz.mí   trá
transplant n: tráans.plaant v: traans.pláant tráans.plont, traans.plónt
transport n: tráans.paurt v: traans.páurt tróns.paut, trons.páut
trauma trá   tróm.a, tró
traverse n: tráa.vers v: tra.vérs  
trespass n: trés.pas v: trés.paas  
tribunal trie.byúe.nal tri.byúe.nal  
tribune tríb.yuen   tri.byúen
troposphere tró   tróp.a.sfeer
tropospheric tròp.a.sfér.ik   tròée.rik
trough trauf   trof
truth truetth    
truths truethz   truetths
tryptophan tríp.ta.fàan    
tryptophan, tryptophane* There are two spellings and, thus, two pronunciations for this naturally-occurring chemical, a popular sleeping aid. If there is no E at the end, the last syllable contains a short-A. If, however, an E appears at the end of the word, the last syllable takes long-A.
tryptophane tríp.ta.fàen    
tsetse fly tsée.tsee flìe   tsét.see (flìe), tét.see, téet.see
tube tueb   tyueb, chueb
Tuesday Túez.dae   Tyúez.dae, Túez.dee
tuile fabric: tuel   tweel
tune tuen   tyuen, chuen
turbine tér.bien   tér.bin
Turin Tú   Tyúe.rin, Tue.rín, Tyue.rín
turquoise tér.kwoiz   tér.koiz
twenty twén.tee   twún.tee, twú

U [Return to top.]

umbrella um.brél.a   úm.brel.a
unalloyed ùn.a.lóid   un.áa.loid
unctuous úngk.chue.was   úngk.shas, úngk.chas, úngk.shwas
undercount n: ún.der.kòunt v: un.der.kóunt  
undermine un.der.míen ún.der.mìen  
understand ùn.der.stáand   ùn.der.stónd
undulate ún.joo.làet   ún.da.làet
united yoo.níe.tad   yue.níe.tad; yúe.nie.tad (illiterate)
unprecedented un.prés.a.dè   un.préè
untoward ùn.too.wáurd   un.táurd
update n: úp.daet v: up.dáet  
upgrade n, adj: úp.graed v: up.gráed  
uplift n: úp.lift v: up.líft  
upset n: úp.set v: up.sét  
Uruguay Yúer.a.gwae Yúer.a.gwie Úe.roo.gwìe
used Yuezd phrase "used to": yúe.stue  
usually yú   yúe.zha.lee

V [Return to top.]

vacation vae.káe.shan   va.káe.shan
vacuum váak.yuem   váak.yue.wam
vagary váe.garee   va.gái.ree
vagary* Although it might seem wise to assert the old-fashioned pronunciation va.gá to distinguish this uncommon word from the much more common and better known word "vague", which happens to be related only etymologically (in this case, the ancient history of the two words), I suspect this is a lost cause in present spelling, especially given the tendency of English to stress nouns on the first syllable. A phonetic spelling would make such a "new" (though really old) pronunciation feasible, but English does not have a phonetic spelling system in place.
valet n: vaa.láe adj: vá vá
valet* Though Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary insists that vá is the most common pronunciation, that pronunciation is never heard in television, radio, or films. What is heard is vaa.láe for the noun meaning a "gentleman's gentleman" and váa.lae for the adjective (as in "valet parking"). I thus reject vá as both unheard in common use and a needless departure from the original French, vo.láe, in which the T is silent. Though silent letters are in general a bad thing, there is something to be said for retaining auditory links between a borrowed word and its original language.
valise va.lées   va.léez
valuable váal.ya.bool váal.yue.wa.bool  
vampire váam.pie.yer    
vampiric vaam.péer.ik    
vampirism váam.pi.rì.zam    
vase vaez   voz, vaes
vasodilation vàa.zoe.die.láe.shan    
vaudeville váud.vil váu.da.vil vód.vil, vóed.vil
vegetable véj.ta.bool   vé.ji.ta.bool
vegetable* The E after the G in "vegetable" merely signals that the G is "soft". Compare how the word would be read if there were no E after the G: "vegtable" — végtaebool or végtabool.
vehicle vée.yi.kool   vée.hi.kool
vehicle* The H in "vehicle" is there to separate the E and I into separate syllables. It does not take its customary sound, but rather the sound of the Y glide that would separate these vowels if they occurred in two adjoining words: `vee icle'.
vehicular vi.hík.yoo.ler   vee.hík.ya.ler
verbiage vér.bee.yaj   vér.bij
versatile vé véìe.yal  
version vér.zhan   vér.shan, vé
vertebrae vér.ta.brae   vér.ta.brèe
veteran vé   vét.ran
veterinarian vèái.ree.yan   vè.tri.nái.ree.yan, vét.i.náir.ree.yan
via vée.ya   víe.ya
vice versa vìes vé   ví vé, víe.see vé
vicuña vi.kúen.ya vie.kú vie.kyú
vigilante vi.ji.láan.tee   vi.ji.lón.tee
virulent véer.yoo.lant   véer.a.lant
visa vé   vé
visage víz.aj   vís.aj
vision ví   ví
vitamin víe.ta.min   vít.a.min
voila vwò.lóq    
volatile adj: vól.a.tool n: vól.a.tìe.yal  
voyeur/ism vói.yer/   vwó.yer/
vroom vroom   vruem, va.rúem

W [Return to top.]

waft woft   waaft
wail wail   hwail
waistcoat wés.kit wáest.koet  
walk wauk   wok
want wont   waunt
want to* Most people, even the most highly educated, do not, in conversational speech, carefully enunciate wont tu everywhere it occurs but ordinarily say wón.a except in situations in which "slangy" usage would raise eyebrows.
warranty wó   wòée
was/n't wúz/.ant   wóz/.ant, wáuz/.ant
Washington Wó   Wór.shing.tan (illiterate)
water wú   wáu.ter, wó, wáu.ta
Wednesday Wénz.dae   Wénz.dee
weekend wéek.endd   wee.kénd
wetland wé   wét.laand
whale hwail   wail, wáe.yal
what hwut   wut
wheat hweet   weet
wheel hweel   weel
when hwen   wen
where hwair   wair
whether hwé   wé
which hwich   wich
whine hwien   wien
whoops intj: hwoops plural of "whoop": hwueps  
why hwie   wie
widespread before a noun: wíed.spred after: wied.spréd  
wine wien    
wintry wín.tree   wí
wintry* See note at "disastrous".
with witth   with
wont waunt   wunt, woent, wont
wrath raatth   rotth
wreak reek   rek
wrestle rés.ool   ráa.sool (illiterate)
wrong raung   rong

XYZ [Return to top.]

Xavier Záe.vee.yer   Eg.záe.vee.yer
xenophobic zèóe.bik   zèn.a.fóe.bik
year yeer   yoq, yor
Yemen/i Yá   Yé
you're yaur   yuer
younger yúng.ger   yú
youngest yúng.gast   yúng.ast
your yaur   yuer
yours yaurz   yerz
youths yuethz   yuetths
zoology zoe.wól.a.jee   zue.wól.a.jee

This is the end of this area.

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