I was just thinking about this when I typed out "processes" and realized that I've heard it pronounced both "process-izz" and "process-eez". Is one incorrect, or is it considered an accent thing, or are they both completely acceptable?

I also thought of words like "parentheses" and "menses" as being strictly -eez but can see how those may be special exceptions.

Are there any other questionable words like this?

  • parenthesis (singular) has a short last vowel; parentheses (plural) a long one. It helps distinguish the words when pronounced. It is the same for emphasis/emphases.
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 23:15
  • 2
    The process-eez pronunciation is a hypercorrection, based on the misconception that process belongs to the other class of plurals which you've identified. Latin singular nouns ending in -is are pluralized as -es '-eez': e.g. thesis, theses; axis, axes; metropolis, metropoles. Some of them have only reached us in their plural forms: e.g. menses, testes.
    – Anonym
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


Process may be a verb or a noun. In early texts on computers the workings of the machine was sometimes described as the workings between a processor and a processee, (the thing that processes, and the thing being processed). A common way to describe it was

The processor is called a CPU (short for Central Processing Unit), and the processee is called a process

"Processor" was absorbed as a noun in the dictionary to mean a CPU (Central Processing Unit), "processee", however, was not absorbed. Perhaps because it was thought to be sufficiently close to "process"? Whatever the reason, suddenly there were two words in circulation that meant the same,

  • process (singular), processes (plural, pronounced with a short last e), and
  • processee (singular), processees (plural, pronounced with a long ee);

but only 'process' was in the dictionary. In time the auto-correct revolution won, or whatever the cause was. The fact of the matter is that, except for a few books that still talk of the processor and processees, in writing only 'process' and 'processes' have survived. In speech, however, 'processees' to this day lives a happy and merry life in disguise as 'processes', and both pronunciations are considered perfectly valid ways of pronouncing 'processes'.

  • They are both considered perfectly valid by whom? Also, is there any evidence that the "processeez" pronunciation is at all related to the suffix -ee?
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 23:49
  • @sumelic The reference in the question referenced as duplicate, documents the validity of both pronunciations. I saw no need to repeat that. I should have to get my old text books out of storage to tell you which used what. Apologies, if you feel I should have done that. I was expecting the question would be closed, and wanted to post the answer in time.
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 7:00
  • Why did you want to post an answer here? (I don't just mean this in an aggressive fashion; I'm actually curious about what the benefits are.) The only mention of a possible relation to "-ee" in the answers to the duplicate question is in an answer with 3 downvotes.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 7:06
  • @sumelic, as for evidence that the pronunciations are related, naturally I cannot tell you what reason you might have for choosing the -ees ending, maybe you feel it is similar to those other words mentioned, and thus should be pronounced thus, how am I to know your reasons. What I can tell you is the story above as best I remember it, tell you that people used to make the distinction between the verb with -ees ending and the plural noun, and the question: How would you pronounce "... in this scenario the processees would be the processes we wrote earlier."
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 7:16
  • @sumelic the accepted answer describes 4 valid pronunciations and has 12 upvotes and a reference.
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 7:19

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