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I've heard all of the above words with X as zeh. Is that an American English thing? What's the correct way to pronounce each word?

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closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, Mitch, z7sg Ѫ, kiamlaluno, Hugo Jan 9 '12 at 13:49

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

pronunciation of xenophobia, xenon and Xena are all available online. –  Matt E. Эллен Jan 9 '12 at 13:31

2 Answers 2

When the letter x is in the very beginning of the word, the standard way to pronounce it is /z/. This pronunciation is standard English, it isn't restricted to dialects or countries. When its position in a word is other than the very beginning, then the letter x is pronounced /ks/ as in expect or fox.

EDIT upon comment: There are certain for which the /ks/ sound doesn't apply for the letter x. Exaggerate is a good example, as well as the word example itself, where x is pronounced /gz/.

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Actually, that's a little misleading for expect. This would be pronounced /gz/ for many people. I expect exaggerate and examine are pronounced with /gz/ for most. Point is, don't oversimplify how x is pronounced out of initial position. –  ThePopMachine Jan 9 '12 at 17:50
@ThePopMachine: The standard pronunciation for "expect" is /ks/. You are right about "exaggerate" and "examine", of course, and I'll edit my answer accordingly. I wanted to make a point of the big difference of pronouncing x when it is in the beginning of a word, the sound /k/ is totally absent. –  Irene Jan 9 '12 at 19:08

I grew up in the Midwest, and we pronounced all of them with the "zee" sound.

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