How shall I pronounce the words every body, every thing etc. when meaning everybody, everything, but written separately in the 19th century, like Jane Austen did? As two words, or as one?

In the sentence:

Every body was there

is there an extra stress at the first syllable of the second word, like in

Every baby was there

or is there only one stress at the beginning like in

Everybody was there


I've sometimes heard Americans pronounced everybody as [ˈɛvrɪˈba:di] - is it just a local slang, or can it be a relict from the old times where these two parts were perceived as separate words?

  • Is there any possible way to pronounce every body differently than everybody ? I don't think there is any possibility. Oct 16, 2014 at 20:27
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    As an American, I find myself pronouncing "everybody" the same as "every buddy", and "every body" as "every" followed by "body". I don't notice much, if any, distinction between "everything" and "every thing". If I notice any difference, it's that I emphasize the "er" in "every" a bit more strongly when saying "every thing" than I do when I say "everything". But I definitely say "everybody" differently than I say "every body". Not sure whether others do as well, will need to listen. "Every body" comes up infrequently in conversation nowadays.
    – Patrick87
    Oct 16, 2014 at 20:42
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    If it means the same thing as the modern compound word, I think I would pronounce it the same. But if you're saying Every body in the morgue is on a slab, referring to all the dead bodies rather than a group of people, I would pronounce it as @Patrick87 describes. In the case of every thing, I'd probably have a slight stress change and a tiny pause between the words.
    – Barmar
    Oct 16, 2014 at 21:59
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    @BlessedGeek The OP explains it for us. Coumpound nouns such as everybody take one stress, usually on the first noun in the compound. Every girl takes two stresses one on each word. Imagine lots of corpses from an accident. You'd probably say 'every 'body was recovered. Not 'everybody was recovered ... Oct 16, 2014 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


Walker's critical pronouncing dictionary from 1824 does not have a pronunciation for every body, but gives the pronunciation for nobody as /ˈnoʊbɒdi/. That is, the first syllable was accented, but the vowel in the second syllable had not yet been reduced to a schwa.

Since this spelling change almost certainly followed the pronunciation change, I think it's quite safe to assume that every body was pronounced the same way: /ˈɛvrɪbɒdi/

  • Peter, I can't see it so clearly. Why are you so sure that there is no additional accent on the first syllable of body? Oct 22, 2014 at 6:26
  • If nobody had been treated as two words, the primary accent would be on the body and not the no. This isn't what Walker says. What I'm assuming is that everybody started being treated as one word at the same time as nobody did. I can't be sure of this. Oct 22, 2014 at 10:32
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    I don't think the fact that some Americans say /ˈevriˌbɑdi/ means that we treat it like two words. Americans just tend to put more secondary stresses in than Brits. For example, we put secondary stress on the tar in military, and that was never two words. Oct 22, 2014 at 10:40

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