The word chimera for example. When encountered for the first time in a book, it comes with a description of the beast. There is however no help on its pronunciation. So in your mind, you may pronounce it the same way the start the word cheese. Is there a word for this situation?

  • 2
    I don't have an answer but plenty of interesting examples here english.stackexchange.com/questions/1431/… And as the well-known quote goes: "Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word, it means they learned it by reading. - Anon."
    – k1eran
    Apr 10, 2016 at 17:40
  • To borrow Dr. Johnson's famous quip, "Ignorance, madam..."
    – Rob_Ster
    Apr 10, 2016 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


Such a word is part of your

  1. Reading Vocabulary : This vocabulary refers to the words we recognise when we read any text. We read and understand many words, but we do not use them in speaking vocabulary. If a person is a reader then this type of vocabulary happens to be the second largest vocabulary. Needless to say, vocabulary grows with reading.

and your

  1. Writing Vocabulary : This type of vocabulary represents those words which we regain while writing to express ourselves. It is very easy to explain ourselves verbally by using facial expressions and modulation of voice, but using the same words for communicating the same concept or thought through writing is not that easy. Our writing vocabulary is intensely affected by the words we can spell.


  • That's true. Thank you. So these words would be part of those vocabularies, but still not part of your speaking vocabulary.
    – Cody Valle
    Apr 10, 2016 at 19:39
  • Not until you learn to pronounce them. The most common way to learn to pronounce them is to guess at it, get it wrong, and be corrected. Apr 10, 2016 at 19:45
  • Exactly. That's what prompted this question. I know English does not have a word for everything, though.
    – Cody Valle
    Apr 10, 2016 at 19:47
  • Nope, but it's always looking for more. Apr 10, 2016 at 19:49
  • And I think we deserve a term for when you fail to make the connection between the written word and the spoken word and think they are two different words - as in pejorative, and some word that I believed to mean to act like a preacher. Perhaps Mrs Bouquet or Gene LaFeet would deign to join Mrs Malaprop's little coterie.
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 11, 2016 at 13:16

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