Theoretically, there are four possible pronunciations of 'vegan' due to two syllables constituting this word, namely, 've'('vee' or 'vay'?) and 'gan'('gun' or 'gen' as in 'generate'?).

The online dictionary merriam-webster.com provides several pronunciations of 'vegan' but as you can see that there are several comments about it at the bottom.

Do you have any idea about this problem ?

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    Our son is a vegan and he pronounces it vee-gn. – WS2 Aug 30 '14 at 18:32
  • forvo.com/word/vegan/#en – ermanen Aug 30 '14 at 19:00
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    Vegan rhymes with Megan, a girl's name. – Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '14 at 22:00
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    @Mari-LouA I pronounce Megan like mehgan. I've never (rarely) heard Meegan, and certainly not vehgan. But I'm sure someone does :). – SrJoven Aug 30 '14 at 22:25
  • @SrJoven we...ll, I thought it was the "ghen" or /ɡən/ sound which our friend was most confused with (shrugs shoulders). – Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '14 at 22:42

It's pronounced [ˈviːɡən], see and listen here. The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary lists no other, alternative pronunciations for vegan.

  • Well, it's strange for me why it's pronounced totally differently from its nearest neighbor-'vegetarian'. – booksee Aug 30 '14 at 19:16
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    @booksee The g in vegan is not followed by an e as it is in vegetarian. That's one reason. – Daniel Aug 30 '14 at 19:18
  • @booksee Some words even have alternative pronunciations. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 30 '14 at 19:50
  • @Daniel Yes, this is what I can think of to try to persuade myself, but in view of their meanings, I'm still reluctant to accept the difference in pronunciation. – booksee Aug 30 '14 at 19:52
  • @booksee - There are four exceptions to the rule than a "g" should be hard when followed by a vowel other than "i" or "e": gaol, margarine, mortgagor and algae. Of those, one is an archaic spelling that has mostly been replaced by jail (and which has changed pronunciation over the years), one is a derivative of Law French (where the or has replaced eur in English), and the other two are just plain weird pronunciations of borrowed foreign words. – bye Aug 30 '14 at 23:20

As a carnivore (93, healthy, and fully expecting to reach 100) I find the pronunciation veegan to be as odd as the practice. It conforms to no rules of English or common sense and doesn't make a newcomer to the word think of vegetarianism, which is presumably the intent. The founder's pronunciation doesn't follow the rules well either, but at least it makes a sort of sense. I recommend it.

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    Wow! Thanks for your answer! 20 years are still ahead of me from half of your age...Glad you are healthy~ – booksee Nov 3 '16 at 22:03
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    The pronunciation /viːgən/ conforms as exactly as is possible to the ‘rules’ (or better: hints) to inferring pronunciation from orthography in English. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '16 at 23:42

ACTUALLY, the the correct pronunciation is VEH-jen, with a short-e and soft-G! It's from vegetarian, and vegetable, of course, so it makes complete etymological and logical sense. This was the original pronunciation in the 70's (when I, personally, first heard it used), and nobody I knew back then ever heard of or used any other pronunciation. Somehow the wrong pronunciation got out (VEE-gan, with long-e and hard-g), likely from someone who saw it in print and didn't know the correct pronunciation, and now it's what people use ... still, it's not correct. Though common-usage for a living language is indeed ultimately what we go by, so ... In any case, look the pronunciation up in dictionaries from the 70s and 80s; by the mid-80s a second pronunciation was given, but the short-e and soft-g was still the first.

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    That's interesting; do you have any specific sources though that you would point to for others to read? – sumelic Dec 24 '15 at 22:44
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    ACTUALLY, that is nonsense. In the 1970s, the term had already been in use for three decades, and the original pronunciation is /viːgən/, with a long ee-sound and a hard g. That is how its coiner, Donald Watson, pronounced it, and since he and his wife invented the word, theirs must be considered the original. That doesn't really matter, though, because the correct pronunciation of a word is not necessarily the original one, but the one people use. They happen to be the same here. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '16 at 23:46


The word was coined by Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society, by taking the first and last syllable of the word vegetarian. He also suggested, and practiced, that it should be pronounced like the first and last syllable also. Vedge in

From there, it's all bets off.

I've been vegan for over 30 years, with many Peers, and from the 70's through the early 90's, I never heard anyone pronounce it any way other than Vay gn.

That's my two carrot's worth.

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    Welcome to EL&U. Do you have any reference link that can support your answer? Please include it and make sure that you take the tour and visit our help center for additional guidance. – user140086 Jan 15 '16 at 4:25
  • He did not. He specifically stated on multiple occasions that it should be pronounced /viːgən/. One such occasion is this one. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '16 at 23:45

"Vee-gan". it kind of rhymes with norwegian.


PEOPLE! Remember the basic rule in elementary school? If 2 vowels are separated by only one consonant, the first vowel is long. I am well aware that there are many exceptions to this rule but The word in question is vegan which adheres to the rule exactly. It's pronounced "VEE-gan" (with a hard 'g').

  • 3
    This answer has already been given, and with far more grace. – tchrist Nov 2 '14 at 3:10
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    You realise that there are no less than eight exceptions to your so-called ‘rule’ in just the two first lines of this answer, right? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '16 at 23:49

protected by user140086 Nov 4 '16 at 7:07

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