13

What is the correct way to pronounce niche? I've always said and heard nitch, but now I hear neesh, but it always sounds trendy to me.

Thoughts?

7

Either way is correct. "Neesh" is the French pronunciation and has always been used by some English speakers.

My preference is for "nitch" but then I pronounce clique as "click" -- I like my English English and my French French.

  • 3
    Haha, I like that last line. – Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 1:58
  • 9
    neither "iche" or "ique" are English word endings, so if you really like your English English, use different words. – danio Feb 20 '18 at 13:52
  • 2
    I find it interesting that it's Americans who tend to say nitch (as confirmed by Collins Dictionary, which explicitly says Nitch = US, Neesh = UK). For many other words that come to mind (filet and herbs in culinary contexts, for example) Americans stick with the French pronunciation where Brits go for the Anglicised version. – FumbleFingers Jun 11 '19 at 17:23
  • You need to respell it to nitch if that's how you pronounce it. And good luck with cleek. :) – tchrist Feb 24 '20 at 16:12
  • Do Americans still pronounce it "nitch" when it acts as an adjective? "He operates in a niche market." – Greybeard Feb 24 '20 at 17:25
20

Since niche is a word that is directly borrowed from French, some people choose to pronounce the word using the original French pronunciation. Merriam-Webster lists both pronunciations (as well as the halfway-between pronunciation of "nish" [nɪʃ]), so both are technically valid.

Phonologically speaking, there is nothing in the pronunciation "neesh" [niʃ] that is actually foreign to English, so to me it doesn't really sound off-putting. A similar example would be envelope, which many people pronounce "onvelope", a nod to the French pronunciation (though not fully faithful anyway).

  • 1
    Meanwhile, the word envelop I've never heard pronounced the "French" way. – Joe Z. Aug 21 '14 at 3:45
12

As far as I know the "nitch" pronunciation is more common in the US, whereas the "neesh" pronunciation is used more in the UK. Seems to be a tomayto-tomahto thing.

0

I grew up with Canadian French, so now when I hear nitch, it offends my sensitive earballs. For example, I would also never pronounce quiche as kitch!

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