In computer science, there is a word trie. It is pronounced either /tri:/ or /trai/. However, according to the common spelling rule, "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking", the pronunciation is not reasonable. I want to know how to spell this word correctly.

  • 1
    See the Wikipedia article.
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 4:59
  • 3
    Your question answers itself, doesn't it? trie is spelled trie. It's a bit like asking John what his name is.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 8:10
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    The ie in trie can be pronounced as in menagerie and beanie, or it can be pronounced as in tie or pie. Both pronunciations have adequate precedent in English. Just be glad we don't pronounce it the way ie is (sometimes) pronounced in lingerie: tray. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


A trie is spelled thusly and sounds like the word try or tree, but actually comes from the word retrieval.

Because the source word's trie sounds like tree, this can be one valid pronunciation. On another, it is obvious that on its own, trie can look like it should be pronounced try, especially when it is intended to sound audibly different from tree when in verbal discussion.


It is spelled "trie."

Since it is a new word, people can pronounce it however they want to. Do you not think the first option is 'reasonable,' since the term trie comes from retrieve?

Do you not think the second option is reasonable in an attempt to make it sound different from the word tree?

Welcome to English. We don't have either standardized or reasonable spelling/pronunciation. This ain't Mandarin.

Edit: in other words, few native English speakers are going to pay attention to that 'common spelling rule,' simply because such spelling 'rules' are only descriptions of certain patterns. Outside of that, since the sound system of English does not correspond to the orthography, native speakers have a variety of possible spellings and/or pronunciations for any new word that may come along. And the choices we make may not seem reasonable to a non-native speaker...

  • If you have sources, please link them. Let your answers be authoritative and authoritatively sourced.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 2:14
  • Mandarin has reasonable spelling/pronunciation? (Both English and Mandarin are totally standardized).
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 2:30
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    Mandarin may have reasonable spelling when it's transliterated, but the native script is anything but reasonable. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 8:13

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