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25 commonly mispronounced words

You may be familiar with the song that goes, “Potayto, potahto, tomayto, tomahto — let’s call the whole thing off.” As long as the English language has been around, people have been mispronouncing words because they’re often not spelled anything like how they sound.

However, there is a correct way to say every word in the English language. And some of these proper pronunciations may really surprise you because they’re different from what you’ve been saying your entire life. Thus SheKnows decided to compile a list of the 25 most commonly mispronounced words in the English language so you have your own personal pronunciation key to which you can always turn.

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Most mispronounced words

Almond — Despite how many (including myself) say it, this tasty nut is pronounced ah-mund, not al-mund. The “L” is silent.

Ask — Many say this word like “axe,” but in fact, the “S” sound should come before the “K.”

Cache — Those darn French-derivative words! Despite what many feel compelled to do here — pronounce it cash-ay — it is in fact said just like the word “cash,” which might be one item you find hidden in a cache.

Dessert — The after-dinner treat is pronounced “dizz-urt,” not “deh-surt” like the dry place where little grows.

Espresso — Sure, drinking one may make you feel like you’re on the express train, but that’s actually an “S” in there, not an “X.”

Genre — People often put a “J” sound at the front of this, rather than a “Zh” sound, like in “vision.” So the whole thing sounds like “zhon-ruh,” rather than “jen-ruh.”

Hyperbole — There is no such thing as a “hyper-bowl,” but rather a “hy-per-ba-lee” is a literary term meaning “an exaggeration.”

Irreverent — The first part of this one should sound like “ear” not “uh.”

Liable — You always hear the wrong pronunciation of this one in movies featuring a trial. It actually has three syllables, so it’s “lie-uh-ble” not “lie-bull.”

Library — People often drop the first “R” here, so the word sounds like “lie-berry,” instead of “lie-brary.”

Moot — It is not a moot point if you pronounce this word “mute” rather than “moo-t.”

Nuclear — “Nuclear” is the type of energy we get from splitting atoms. “Nucular” isn’t a word. Sorry to break the news to you, former President Bush.

Picture — If you’re hanging a “picture,” don’t forget the “C” in there, so it sounds like “pic-tshur.” If you’re pouring a “pitcher” of water, then it’s OK to drop the “C.”

Police — The men in blue are often called “poh-leece” rather than the proper “puh-leece.”

Porsche — It may sound arrogant, but this fancy car is called a “porsh-uh” not a “porsh.”

Preface — That first syllable is pronounced “eh,” not “ee,” so the whole word sounds like “preh-fehs,” not “pree-face.”

Quinoa — Now that this grain has become so popular in the health-conscious world, we should try to say it right. It’s just “keen-wah”, not “keen-o-ah.”

Silicon — As in “Silicon Valley,” where (not ironically) much of it is utilized, silicon is pronounced, “sil-i-con.” Many say “sil-i-cone,” but that in fact refers to another, more malleable, substance that you might find in breast implants.

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Sour — Sour has two syllables in it, and sounds just like “power,” rather than “saar.”

Specific — It’s hard for a lot of people to say an “S” before a “P,” so it occasionally comes out like “Pacific.”

Supposedly — Many switch out the “D” at the end and replace it with a “B” because the letters sound so similar. However, it is in fact pronounced “suh-pohs-ehd-lee.”

Tack — “Tack” sans “t” at the end means “tactic,” whereas “tact” refers to being sensitive in dealing with matters. Just one letter swap changes the word’s meaning entirely.

Triathlon — Every once in a while, you’ll hear another “A” thrown in the middle of this word, giving it four syllables instead of the three it actually has.

Turmeric — Alternatively, the “R” in this word is often dropped, so the word sounds like “toom-er-ick,” rather than “tur-mer-ick.”

Wheelbarrow — For some reason, people change “barrow” here to “barrel.” What in the world is a “wheel-barrel,” I ask you?

Way — This word is often pluralized for emphasis. So someone might say, “I’ve got a ways to go,” instead of, “I’ve got a way to go.”

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