Quite a few words are mispronounced by under-educated people, or people learning English as a second language. Some words are often mispronounced by quite educated people who read, and began reading high-level literature before they heard the vocabulary spoken.

This can lead to a vocabulary dissonance, occasionally leading to the belief that there are two words (the known spelling of one, and the verbal hearing of the same) where only one exists. Epitome is a common example that springs to mind.

Answer with a word and its proper pronunciation (and potentially, the commonly mistaken punctuation).

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  • Can we have sources for all answers. Cuz this is SERRIIOOUUSSS business we are dealing with there – Midhat Sep 14 '10 at 12:41
  • @Midhat ~ You mean like SRS BSNS – jcolebrand Nov 19 '10 at 2:56
  • Pretty much every third word in any Harry Potter book. – Bill the Lizard Nov 22 '10 at 23:00
  • As pronunciations vary between British English and American "English", which should the answers reflect? – Orbling Nov 25 '10 at 0:12
  • @Orbling: Where the pronunciations differ, the difference should be noted. – Kosmonaut Jan 10 '11 at 21:00

124 Answers 124


Looks like there haven't been any answers for a while, so some of these may be new mispronunciations that have developed:

homage is now pronounced incorrectly by many supposedly educated people, including news announcers, as uh-MAZH, instead of the correct AH-midg.

similarly, niche is now pronounced incorrectly as neesh instead of the correct nich.

  • 1
    Oh! the irony . . . – peterG Jan 26 '14 at 3:35

My favorite is the word infrared. I never, as a child, ever noticed that infra- prefix, and never thought the word had anything to do with red.

Naturally I pronounced it as in-FRAYRD, rhyming with "cared". I thought that frared must be some sort of word...I still percieve the word as "in-frared" in my head...


Debridement - The medical procedure of stripping away gangrenous or infected tissue to allow healing.

It is frequently pronounced De-Bride-Meant (as in D - wedding bride - past tense of mean). The proper pronunciation Deh-Breed-Mont.


I got tripped up by Misogynist (a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.) "Mi-so-guy-nist" when it's actually "mi-soj-uh-nist", as well as many others on this list.

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