English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Some find it difficult to form an "r" sound, and some are able to, but just don't. I'm looking for a word which means "not pronouncing r's", without implying inability to pronounce them, though that may be the case.

Specifically, I'd like a word which mean "not pronouncing any r's", but if there's a word which means "not pronouncing some r's" (as in many dialects), that would be interesting to know too.

share|improve this question
I assume you are not looking for "dropping your R's"? – JeffSahol Sep 22 '11 at 13:15
Well, r-dropping seems synonymous with non-rhotic to me. – Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 13:19
@drɱ65δ: So are you saying that 'non-rhotic' is -not- the word you're looking for? – Mitch Sep 22 '11 at 15:40
See Peter Shor's comment below Callithumpian's answer. Non-rhotic means dropping most r's. So does r-dropping. I think I'll accept the answer, though, unless someone comes up with a more accurate term. – Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 16:59
In Hungarian, the word for "lisping" (selypítés) is also used for the inability to trill your Rs. Maybe it's time to similarly extend the meaning of the English word? – Marthaª Sep 22 '11 at 19:33
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Wikipedia article on rhotacism gives one definition of that word as “the inability to or difficulty in pronouncing r”.

share|improve this answer
Merriam-Webster medical dictionary has that as the only definition, though; maybe it's a medical term. – Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 20:22
I have also heard of the speech impediment of being unable to pronounce r sounds, as like Elmer Fudd, as being called a "whorl" but the only evidence I can find of that on Google is me saying the same thing elsewhere. – nohat Sep 22 '11 at 20:29
Well, now you've cowobowated yowself. +1 – Callithumpian Sep 23 '11 at 0:20

Non-rhotic may be what you're looking for:

English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: a rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/, sometimes /ˈrɒtɨk/) speaker pronounces a rhotic consonant in words like hard; a non-rhotic speaker does not. That is, rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ in all positions, while non-rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit (see "linking and intrusive R").

In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude the sound [r] from the syllable coda before a consonant or prosodic break. This is commonly (if misleadingly) referred to as "post-vocalic R".


share|improve this answer
Non-rhotic is not pronouncing 'r's after vowels, as occurs in many dialects. I would not pronouncing any 'r's a speech impediment (or maybe a foreign accent)--I don't know a more specific term. – Peter Shor Sep 22 '11 at 12:33
@DRɱ65: Thanks. – Callithumpian Sep 22 '11 at 12:35
This is definitely the right word for the native dialectic accents, but I was hoping for that "more specific term" referred to by Professor Shor. – Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 12:50

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.