I have been listening to a podcast where the host pronounces the word solder as "sodder" or "sod-der", even "saw-der". Same thing happened when the lecturer of one of my EE classes pronounced the word solder. As for me I pronounce the word solder as "sole-der" with a distinct L and a longish O.

  • /l/ and /r/ can both be so short before a stop consonant like /d/ that they practically disappear. If you asked your lecturer, you might well find that he isn't consciously not pronouncing the /l/.
    – user1579
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:26
  • 8
    It shouldn't be sawder unless the speaker's from Bawston. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:33
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    I don't know about elsewhere, but in SouthEast UK many if not most 'Estuary English' speakers articulate the 'l' as a 'w'. Including myself, but sometimes I think it's just lazy speech. I can put the 'l' in if I want to, but it's awkward, so I don't bother. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:34
  • 1
    Much more important than how you pronounce solder is this: use leaded solder and be happy. 60/40 Tin/Lead. Friends don't let friends use lead-free junk. :)
    – Kaz
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 8:53
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    In rural Northern Illinois, I learned to say /'sadər/, which I pronounced ['saɾɚ]. Having learned no English word *sotter /'satər/ to contrast it with, I have no idea whether the [a] is long or not. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 19:06

11 Answers 11


Depends on if you are British or American. The British say sole-der. Americans say sod-der.

  • 4
    Never knew the Americans mispronounced that. ;-) Why drop/corrupt the L?
    – Orbling
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 0:17
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    @Orbling: Yes, why would we just walk right in here and start talking about making a silent L? It's halfway to madness to imagine we could do such a thing. ;=P
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 0:40
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    If you look at the etymology, the term comes from the 14th C English word sawd which in term comes from old French soldure from Latin solidare. The British may have started pronouncing the L under the influence of the French or Latin, whereas the Americans may have kept the 14th C pronunciation; I wouldn't be surprised if that pronunciation was still around in some British dialects in the 17th C. This actually seems more likely than that the Americans suddenly decided to drop the L for no good reason. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 12:59
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    @Orbling: sorry, but you're not going to get us to pay for upgrades to a perfectly good language. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 14:08
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    @PaulCarroll: They don't voice the /l/ in those words in England, though.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 22:05

This doesn't come from a dictionary, but I had a relative who spent most of his free designing clever circuits (from the 1920s onwards).

He always told me that the correct British pronunciation was "sodder", but that over the years it had started to be pronounced "solder" - which he believed was to avoid the embarrassment of a word that could be misinterpreted as being related to sodomy when speaking to people who didn't have a background in electronics (or pipework!).

He was a very respectable man with a very good knowledge of the English language and how it had evolved during the 20th century - and at least one of his electronicly minded friends also pronounced it "sodder".

Depending on your opinion of natural language, and if you should stick to more traditional, or modern, pronunciations either could therefore be correct.

  • 1
    Well the precursor OE soudure as pointed out by caxtontype certainly suggests your relative could actually have been correct. It is a very long time since the 'l' entered the standard form, but maybe in some dialects this never happened until much much later, so there could still be a 'folk memory' of the original. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 14:52
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    This is almost worth an upvote just for the nice story.
    – John Y
    Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 20:24
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    This is a weird answer. In England and the rest of the UK, I have only ever heard the solder pronunciation. Definitely not the "sodder" pronunciation.
    – Tristan r
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 19:44
  • @Tristanr I have to admit I have never heard anybody born after 1915 use this pronunciation (and this relative passed away several years ago, so I cannot follow this up any further). However, I know that both he and at least one of his contemporaries used this pronunciation around me as a child.
    – Tim Wintle
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 16:28
  • I suppose if you were a circuit in a cartoon, ordering the electrician to “Solder me!” could be somewhat misleading… Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 10:37

The OED gives two pronunciations: |ˈsɒldə(r)| and |ˈsəʊdə(r)|

On WordReference.com, the latter is given as U.S. pronunciation.

While on the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary they are both given as BrE, while for AmE we have a new one: |ˈsɑːdər|. Here you can check them all out personally, audio included.

  • 1
    Nicely found. But they don't give my pronunciation! And to be honest I can barely even hear a difference between OALD's two British pronunciations, let alone reproduce them! Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:40
  • So maybe your pronunciation is more dialectal? I'm really asking, I don't know how much your accent is spread, but you said "Southeast UK" so I take it as a local accent? You're a native speaker right? You can't notice any difference at all? Sorry for the question-bombarding, questions came by themselves :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:43
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    Estuary English is a pretty common term round my neck of the woods. Obviously! Seriously, the stuff on Wikepedia looks right enough to me. There are millions of us, and we ain't all fick, like wot the tv sez. We just have cloth-ears for sounds we don't usually articulate ourselves. Don't most people? Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:58
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    @Orbling: Glottal stop (ʔ) sorts out my central Ts, but like you I have no truck with those orrible leading aitches (too lazy to even put the ' in there!). Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:12
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    @Alenanno, is there anyone who doesn't have a "local accent"? Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 12:15

Whether or not to vocalize the 'l' in 'solder' seems to be a geographical issue.

Lionel Deimel has a nice article on words with silent 'l's.

Along with 'solder', he offers many other English words with silent 'l's, including:

  • walk
  • talk
  • half
  • calf
  • yolk
  • almond
  • folk
  • balk
  • balm
  • calm
  • palm
  • falcon
  • salmon
  • caulk
  • haulm (which is a variation of halm)

Some readers will argue that many of the words in Deimel's list have vocalized 'l's, but, like 'solder', this is probably related to geography.

  • 5
    Of those words, I was taught to pronounce the 'l' in 'balm', 'calm', 'palm', and 'falcon'. Of those 4, the first 3 are much closer to being a separate sound made up of a blended 'lm' (and it feels that way in my mouth, too), whereas 'falcon' has a clearly articulated 'l' in the same way that 'light' has a clearly articulated 'l'. Edit: rural Saskatchewan, Canada.
    – Ron Porter
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:10
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    The only words there that the 'L' is at all compressed in, in my experience, are the two -alf words, though only in certain localities.
    – Orbling
    Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 2:08
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    falcon with a silent l ? Does it rhyme with bacon? I have pronounced the l in caulk ever since an unfortunate incident helping my sister-in-law tile a bathroom. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 1:59
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    Heh, some of those are silent for me, some aren't. Some are intermediate - falcon has an 'l' somewhere between that in "ball" and "almond" for me.
    – Marcin
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 11:17
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    The only one I pronounce the 'l' in is falcon, which (like solder) is another case where the 'l' was interpolated from Latin, but here I believe the American pronunciation almost always has the 'l', while it seems that the 'l'-less pronunciation survives in the U.K. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 19:06

In my accent (inland Cascadian English, in the northwestern United States), we say [sɑɾɚ], as "saw-der," to rhyme with "water." It looks like it should be pronounced [sɔldɚ] or similar, as "sole-der," to rhyme with "colder," and it may be pronounced that way elsewhere.

And, yes, to make that perfectly clear: in my accent, solder rhymes with water. That seems so bizarre now that I really think about it.


Merriam Webster dictionary gives:

Middle English soudure, from Anglo-French, from souder to solder, from Latin solidare to make solid, from solidus solid First Known Use: 14th century

  • It's nice to see my dropping the 'l' has a long & noble history going back a millenium or more! I bet the Romans thought we were ignorant southerners because we couldn't or wouldn't pronounce it anything like them! Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:20
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    @FumbleFingers - been trying to find a way to write the mid Scottish pronunciation, where the L is very strong! So much that the final er almost vanishes by comparison.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 8:18

I have heard both soul-der and sol-der with a long and short 'o', sometimes the 'o' is so short you lose the 'l'

In BE the long 'o' is possibly more common

  • In the UK, the 'l' in solder is normally pronounced. You made a good point about the letter 'o'. That's true.
    – Tristan r
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 19:50

Not one of these words has a truly silent 'l' in all cases the 'l' works as a modifier.

  • wak
  • tak
  • haf
  • caf
  • yok
  • amond
  • fok
  • bak
  • bam
  • cam
  • pam
  • facon
  • samon
  • cauk
  • haum

Now Consider Solder.

  • Soder

It is a unique case.

It seems that the 'l' is only silent in the US not in the rest of world.

  • The yank pronunciation of solder is due, no doubt, to the influence of froggy N. American fur trappers who used soudure to fix their snares 'n traps.
    – Drew
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 0:29
  • cam foks bam a pam. Just terrible. Please don't do that. Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 23:09

After living in the US for 25 years, I can't think of any word that is harder to get into my transatlantic brogue than "sodder". I actually do prefer the subtler sound of the American form — my ear appreciates it, but I hesitate to imitate it. I also sign on to the notion that it's one of the many, many words whose original meaning or pronunciation the wayward British have forgotten.


"The rest of the world" of course consists solely of Great Britain itself, and countries which were once colonies of Great Britain. Of course, the U.S. was too; but we severed most of our ties with the mother country earlier than most of the others, at a time when the language was still very much in flux.

So to say "the rest of the world" when the rest of the world has been highly influenced by a single country, means very little. As a matter of mere numbers, most native English speakers are actually American in any case.

Now, if you want to say that American English has changed more in the last few hundred years than British English, I think you'd be hard pressed to prove that. For example, though we get made fun of for NOT pronouncing the "h" in "herb", according to the OED nobody did until the 19th century. In fact, the word was earlier (ME) spelled as "erb" or "erbe". It isn't that Americans stopped pronouncing an "h" that everyone else did, but that the British started pronouncing it.

In any case, pick up any of the works of Shakespeare, or a copy of the King James version of the Bible. You will find that English as spoken has changed quite a bit since then. (And you won't even actually be seeing the King James Bible in its 1611 form; it's been edited several times since then, but the edits didn't necessarily have much fanfare. Most KJVs actually follow a 19th century edit.)

The point is, the language has changed a lot in the last 400 years -- on both sides of the Atlantic. We didn't invent the pronunciation "sodder", even if we're not the only ones who still use it.

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    Please understand that this is not a discussion forum. Please only answer the question. Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 13:17

In Australia, obviously being originally a British colony, we pronounce it “Sole-der”, as in colder. To me dodder sodder just make me think of to sodomise something, which is obviously not good. So it makes me cringe every time I hear an American pronounce it that way.

To say that because we don't pronounce the l in words like walk and talk means we don't in solder, is silly. We pronounce the l in cold and in sold and even mould.

To me solder sounds like it comes from the word solid in someway and I have nothing to back that up with, but that is what happens to solder, it starts as solid and ends up as a solid. You pronounce the l in solid right?

Anyway, like I said, it just makes more sense to me.

  • I cringe whenever I see an Australian forget to capitalize British or American. I cringe whenever I see an Australian forget that sodomize derives from the Biblical city of Sodom and therefore misspell it. I cringe whenever I see an Australian forget that America was as much of a British colony as Australia was. I cringe whenever I see an Australian post a rant as though it were an answer.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 19:20
  • Good points, Jared. To say that because we don't pronounce the l in words like walk and talk means we don't in solder, seems only to apply to American English.
    – Tristan r
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 19:55
  • As an Australian, every second word I utter seems to be "bugger", but "sodder" is too close to "sod off" or "you sods" and is not polite. How did Celica become "silly car" rather than "sleeker"? Oregano I can live with. I imagine Quebec and French Polynesia have similar issues...
    – mckenzm
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 3:20

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