I heard the term "nominal" pronounced by a native speaker of American English and I realised that it was different from the usual British pronunciation.

I checked in online dictionaries and I found that:

Nominal (from Oxford Dictionary)

  • BrE /ˈnɒmɪnl/ ; NAmE /ˈnɑːmɪnl/

while nominal according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

  • /ˈnɒmɪnəl/ both for British and American English.

Other online dictionaries also suggest only the British pronunciation.

What is the correct or most common way to pronounce "nominal" in American English?

  • Yes, that makes a difference, does it? I am more familiar with British English.
    – user 66974
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:07
  • 2
    There is no difference for American English speakers. See this Wikipedia article: father-bother merger The phoneme /ɒ/ does not exist in most varieties of North American English. The sound used in "bomb," "nominal," and most other words that have /ɒ/ in British English is /ɑ/ or /ɑː/, the same vowel as in "father" (the length of the vowel is not contrastive).
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:11
  • The Cambridge Dictionary entry you cited seems to just be an error where they forgot to adjust to the American pronunciation. They transcribe "nominate" as /ˈnɑː.mə.neɪt/.
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:14
  • I am not sure I understand what you mean. Is the NAmE pronunciation suggested by the Oxford Dictionary commonly used by Americans?
    – user 66974
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:14
  • 4
    The British pronunciation would not generally be used. There may be some American dialects and some British dialects where the vowel sounds similar, but normally the American English vowel /ɑː/ or /ɑ/ is unrounded and at the bottom of the vowel chart, while the British vowel /ɒ/ is more rounded and slightly "higher" on the vowel chart (closer to the sound of /ɔː/ in words like "born").
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


I'm Canadian but we pronounce most words the same as Americans - although we often tend to use British spellings for words like "colour" - and I've never heard "nominal" pronounced any other way than the following, even in British TV programs or movies:

  • "nom" to rhyme with "bomb"
  • "in" to rhyme with "tin"
  • "ull" to rhyme with "Tull" (as in "Jethro Tull")
  • emphasis on the first syllable
  • You mean that you have never heard the NAmE pronunciation suggested by the Oxford Dictionaries ?
    – user 66974
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:04
  • @Saturana: except for a possible small difference in the vowel in the last syllable, that is the NAmE pronunciation suggested by Oxford Dictionaries. North Americans use /bɑːm/ for bomb. The syllabic /l/ and and the syllable /əl/ are allophones, and Tull uses /ʌl/, which for many North American speakers is the same vowel as /əl/. Commented May 26, 2016 at 17:52

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