Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is haphazard the only word where ph is not pronounced like /f/?

share|improve this question
In Stephen, it's pronounced "v". –  Peter Shor May 8 '12 at 19:13
Yo, homies: hiphop. –  Kaz May 8 '12 at 22:09
There are lots of compound words (and former compound words) where ph or th got pushed together without forming the characteristic sound; haphazard (a hazard that happens) is one such word. A word that might not be in that category is "upholstery", if only because no one seems to know where the word came from at all. –  Malvolio May 8 '12 at 23:59
Why don't you ask a shepherd? –  user16269 May 9 '12 at 8:51

2 Answers 2

No. Trying to find other examples is an uphill battle, though.

In greater detail: Words that came from Greek and have a 'ph' in a single morpheme tend to use the /f/ pronunciation (except some cases like "Stephen" where it's /v/ — voiced instead of unvoiced). However, words that were formed by combining separate morphemes (such as uphill, loophole, haphazard, etc) have a 'ph' that belongs to two morphemes and does not represent an /f/ sound.

share|improve this answer
You had to go out to the aphelion for such an upheaval. –  Robusto May 8 '12 at 18:47
Aphelion has one pronunciation that upholds the point, another that doesn't. –  jwpat7 May 8 '12 at 19:05
@jwpat7 - Stop now, before you hurt his aphelions. –  MT_Head May 8 '12 at 20:40
@jwpat7 Hm, “uphold” … is that pronounced /ˌə'fōld/? Or is it another loofole? –  Konrad Rudolph May 8 '12 at 20:47
The OED (1973) explains the pronunciation in its etymology - that it's derived from aph + helios (αϕ + ηλιος), and the two Hs kind of merged. So it looks like the "F" pronunciation would actually be more correct. This surprises me - I've always given it the "P-H" pronunciation. I shall henceforth change. –  user16269 May 9 '12 at 10:52

Yes 'haphazard' is a unique word which has 'ph' and is not pronounced as 'f'(a few people may suggest 'amphitheater' as another word but I can't say for sure). However, there are several compound words where 'ph' doesn't sound like 'f' when pronounced. A few of such compound words are:

flophouse, loophole, peephole, uphill, uphold, upholster.

share|improve this answer
Note that haphazard was also originally a compound (NOAD, M-W). My guess is that this is the reason for all cases. It is the same way with porthole. –  zpletan May 8 '12 at 19:15
Also, amphitheater, coming as it does from Greek, should have the 'f' sound. –  zpletan May 8 '12 at 19:17
Your answer contradicts itself. "peephole" has a "ph" as much as "haphazard" does. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 May 8 '12 at 20:21
"Unique" means "the only one" –  Mark Beadles May 8 '12 at 20:31
When is the last time you saw "upholstery" or "upholster" hyphenated? They are as much units as "haphazard" is now. As for downvotes, I feel that if your answer had recognized that "haphazard" is not unique, if you had researched more about "amphitheater", and if you had not called "upholster" a compound word, your answer would have been better. I didn't feel the need to submit an answer since Mr Shiny and New has a fine one. –  Mark Beadles May 8 '12 at 22:03

protected by RegDwigнt May 8 '12 at 21:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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