How is the word 'cyan' pronounced? Is it pronounced sigh-yann /saɪæn/ or sigh-yun /saɪən/ and is the stress on the first or second syllable?

The online dictionary entries indexed by OneLook Dictionary Search list both "SIGH-ann" /ˈsaɪæn/ and "SIGH-un" /ˈsaɪən/, with the stress on the first syllable. Some of them show secondary stress on the second syllable (/ˈsaɪˌæn/), such as Macmillan and the American Heritage Dictionary (which transcribes it as "⁠sī⁠′⁠⁠ăn⁠′⁠" with a larger stress mark after the first syllable), but none of them lists any pronunciation variants with the primary stress on the second syllable.

However, there are allusions to pronunciations with primary stress on the second syllable in various other places on the web:

Syllabification of "Cyan", using spaces (space bar) to separate syllables? (Yahoo Answers):

Cy AN. Stress is on the second syllable.

CYANIST - MYSTcommunity:

Although, is it true that Cyan, when properly pronounced, rhymes with Diane? ;) Because I'm terribly attached to it rhyming with "lion," even more than I was attached to "D'ni" having its second syllable stressed, which was before I learned it was supposed to have its first syllable stressed, which was before RAWA dropped the bomb that, in fact, the second syllable IS supposed to get more emphasis than the first. (75th Trombone, Posted 11 March 2003 - 07:28 AM)

Behind the Name: User Comments for the Name Cyan

In Britain at least, the word "cyan" is pronounced "sie-ANNE", with the stress on the 2nd syllable not the 1st.
-- Anonymous User 3/7/2006

Does anyone have any more information about the different pronunciations of this word?

  • 1
    "Sie-ANNE" is how it's pronounced in General American.
    – 54 69 6D
    Aug 26, 2016 at 16:30
  • @54696D - what is General American?
    – user66974
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:29
  • 2
    @Josh61 It's what you hear on TV.
    – 54 69 6D
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:44
  • Related: How to pronounce “halcyon”?
    – herisson
    Feb 26, 2017 at 2:02
  • I'm nearly 56 yo and I've always pronounced it as ky-ann... Didn't realize this was wrong till my 12yo granddaughter corrected me and I googled it... Grandma is now sitting with egg on her face lol.
    – Kita
    Nov 22, 2020 at 2:18

3 Answers 3


The Oxford Dictionary Online specifies the pronunciation of cyan as /ˈsīən/. With this pronunciation, the first syllable carries the stress.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary, on the other hand, specifies two valid pronunciations of cyan: /ˈsī-ˌan, -ən/. The dictionary entry in this case puts the stress on the first syllable for both pronunciations.

Having spent a good deal of time in both the UK and the USA, my experience with the word supports Merriam Webster's entry, but not fully. I've heard both pronunciations (/ˈsī-ˌan, -ən/) in colloquial and professional use, and I've seen the word cyan appear in poetry and spoken in certain dialects (especially Irish and Australian) such that the stress can be manipulated by syntactic structure. Your already-referenced dictionary discrepancies support this broad interpretation.

Ultimately, you're asking a very complicated linguistic question here, and there exists no narrow answer because a narrow answer necessarily depends on relegating the scope of the question to a specific dialectic region and even a specific usage example within that dialectic region.

  • /ī/ is not IPA. It is meaningless custom transcription to any international audience. The diphthong should be written as some variant of /ai/.
    – tchrist
    Dec 20, 2023 at 10:43

Here is my personal contribution:

I am Australian, and I pronounce it sai-ANN, with the stress on the second syllable. I asked a few friends, and they all agreed that this pronunciation was correct.

I asked a Belgian friend, and they gave SAI-an as the pronunciation, with the stress on the first syllable.


You can answer this sort of question yourself by googling for an online English dictionary that has a button you can click for pronunciation. Here is a link to ‘cyan’ in the Macmillan dictionary. (Not the way I would pronounce it, incidentally. I’d put the stress on the last syllable, but then I don’t work in the printing industry, so presumably I’m wrong.)

(You can purchase dictionaries for your smart phone that do this too. I use this with the Ultralingua series for foreign languages on my iPhone.)


Just discovered that the Cambridge dictionary on-line has buttons for both British and American pronunciation. Of course, there is still the problem of regional variations or alternatives.

  • 1
    The difficulty is that the dictionaries are not consistent.
    – Mitch
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:30
  • 1
    @Mitch — Yes. Two points I subsequently thought of adding. 1. Possible US v. British pronunciation. 2. Talking dictionary only gives one alternative. Useful for languages that tend to have very standard stress and pronunciation.
    – David
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:51

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