We all have words that we struggle to pronounce. It could be a common tongue twister like “specific,” or perhaps just a word that we may have seen written down but never actually heard before. Generally, I advise my clients to avoid using words or phrases if they aren’t 100% confident about how to pronounce them, or aren’t certain of the word’s meaning. Look it up or listen to an audio recording online first. And if you typically stumble over a particular word, come up with a few synonyms to use instead.
I recently came across an article from Primer Magazine which highlighted 10 words that people commonly mispronounce. When you look at the actual spelling of each word, it’s generally pretty clear how it should pronounced, and yet I’ve frequently heard people say the wrong thing. (Perhaps this is because they have only heard, and not read, the word, which can lead to a game of Telephone?)
Check out the list below and see if you are pronouncing these words properly. If not, it’s time to get it right!
- Athlete = ath-leet, not ath-a-leet
- Often = off-en, not off-ten
- For all intents and purposes. This is often interpreted as “for all intensive purposes,” which is incorrect.
- Utmost = utt-most, not up-most
- Nuclear = new-clee-err, not nuke-you-lerr (even former President George W. Bush got this one wrong!)
- Candidate = can-da-dett, not can-uh-dett
- Sherbet = sherr-bet, not sherr-bert (though the writer points out that the botched pronunciation has been deemed acceptable given how commonly misused it has become)
- Prerogative = pre-rogg-uh-tiv, not purr-ogg-uh-tiv (Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” helped spread this incorrect usage)
- Awry = uh-rye, not aww-ree
- Et cetera = ett-set-err-uh, not ex-set-err-uh (“escape” and “espresso” are also frequently mispronounced with an “x” sound)
Is there a word that drives you crazy when people get it wrong? Share in the comments section below! My friend hates it when people pronounce subsequent as “sub-sequined” instead of “sub-see-kwent.”