12

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?

6

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.

  • 2
    Haha, I like that last line. – Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 1:58
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    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
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    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 at 17:23
18

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).

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    Meanwhile, the word envelop I've never heard pronounced the "French" way. – Joe Z. Aug 21 '14 at 3:45
11

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.

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