My teacher pronounces aqueous as "ay-kwee-ous", and as a result that's what my class has learnt.

However, I've become aware through several pronunciation guides (including Howjsay.com and a pronunciation video on YouTube) that "ah-kwee-ous" is seemingly a more common variant. The Yahoo dictionary lists both variants, with the "ah" version first. Dictionary.com also lists both, but the audio clip is of the "ay" version.

So what is most common/correct, and what should be used?

  • 1
    I suspect this depends on which side of the Atlantic you're sited on. BrE is /eɪ-/ not /ɑ:-/.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 20:58
  • But we redress the balance when it comes to glaciers. Commented May 8, 2013 at 21:10
  • 1
    So /ɑ:-/ is more prevalent in American English? Personally, I'm located in Norway, but I strive toward attaining an American accent.
    – DarkLightA
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 21:12
  • I don't know what Yahoo dictionary you're looking at. The one I know about lists the "ay" first. Maybe you're confused by their pronunciation symbols. Commented May 8, 2013 at 22:04
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    @DarkLightA: If you want to ask more questions about English pronunciation in a silent medium like this, you'd do well to learn the English phonemic alphabet. Then, if you need to know the official pronunciation of any English word, you can look it up in the "English" part of any good Spanish/French/German-English Bilingual Dictionary. Because that's what everybody else in the world uses to represent English sounds, except for the USA and parts of the UK. Commented May 8, 2013 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


Oxford dictionaries has following mentions about pronunciation of aqueous :

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    American pronunciation: /ˈeɪkwiəs/ or /ˈækwiəs/. In my experience, /ˈeɪkwiəs/ is more common. Commented May 8, 2013 at 22:27
  • @peter,see the first two results
    – Raghav
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 22:30
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    These two results say that the American pronunciation is /ˈeɪkwiəs/ or /ˈækwiəs/ and that the British pronunciation is only /ˈeɪkwiəs/. Just what I said. Commented May 8, 2013 at 22:32
  • Don't expect other people to see the same Google search results that you do, especially not in the same order. The first two results for me are aqueous (US) and aqueous humor (no pronunciation given). Commented May 8, 2013 at 23:15
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    I think you're misreading the American phonetic notation (originated by Webster) that is used in the U.S. rather than IPA. The phonetic notation given is: /ˈākwēəs, ˈak-/. Translated to IPA, /ˈākwēəs/ is /ˈeɪkwiəs/, and /ˈak-/ is /ˈæk-/ Commented May 9, 2013 at 18:38

Often the Oxford English Dictionary provides alternate regional pronunciations (such as American). But in this case it has only /ˈeɪkwiːəs/ .

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