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Nougat is a French word, deriving originally from the Latin panis nucatus - (nut bread), one of the principle centres of its manufacture being in Montélimar in Provence - presumably for the almonds, where almost every shop seems to be a confectioners selling little else but nougat.

In Britain we traditionally pronounce it NUGGAT, and many people still do so. However some give it its "correct" French pronunciation of NOO-GA.

Are both forms acceptable in Britain, and how does the rest of the English-speaking diaspora deal with the matter?

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    AmE here -- I've always heard it pronounced NEW-g't in both personal use and in advertising. Never heard noogar or nugget.. – Jim Mack Sep 1 '16 at 11:30
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    @JimMack Ah! A hybrid of the French and the English form. It is interesting looking at the different ways in which British and Americans deal with imported words. Americans will talk about "FILLAY steak", meaning fillet, which offers some recognition to the French (though not completely since the French do not pronounce the L in the same way). But the British make no concession to the French at all - we say "FILLETT steak*. – WS2 Sep 1 '16 at 11:35
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    In France, the pronunciation is \nu.ɡa\, there is no "r" or "t" sound at the end... I wouldn't be surprised to hear a stranger pronuncing the "t" (as you say, "nugget")... but the "r" surprises me... Maybe it helps pronuncing the "a" sound the right way ? – Random Sep 1 '16 at 11:36
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    @Random Well the British don't pronounce the r at ends of words anyway (exception being the West Country where they speak like pirates and sound the r like the Americans do). So my r is largely irrelevant. I might more accurately have spelt it NOO-GA. – WS2 Sep 1 '16 at 12:12
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    I have never heard it pronounced "Nugget" in the UK, only "Noo Ga" – Rory Alsop Sep 1 '16 at 16:46
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In Scotland, Warwickshire and London I have only ever heard it pronounced

/ˈnuːɡɑː/

So I'm unsure why you state that traditionally Brits pronounce it

/ˈnʌɡᵻt/

My assumption is that traditionally we pronounce it the original French way, but there has been some change over time.

  • It is possible that the difference is class based. I certainly grew up, in Scotland with northern English parents, calling it 'Nuggat'. Oh and we have a working class vocabulary. – Spagirl Sep 1 '16 at 17:13
  • @Spagirl It certainly will be class based. I grew up in an East Anglian home where all foreign things had an English pronunciation. Many of us stick with those pronunciations in order to avoid adopting a petit bourgeois mindset. Hence, unless I'm actually in France, I will call it "NUGGAT". – WS2 Sep 1 '16 at 19:55
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    Agreed with this answer. I have only ever heard it pronounced /ˈnuːɡɑː/ and if someone said it /ˈnʌɡᵻt/ I would correct them. That said, I grew up in the south and now live in London, so it could be a regional thing. – Tom Nov 1 '18 at 9:34
  • Another Brit who's only heard noo-ga pronunciation (growing up in West London), but it could easily be regional: I'd also only ever heard the Swiss food/drink/chocolate company Nestlé pronounced nest-lay until I moved to the North-West and discovered some (not many) people pronounced it to rhyme with wrestle. – TripeHound Nov 1 '18 at 15:38
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In the U.S., it's generally pronounced NOO-g@t, where @ is some vowel. I am fairly sure I have heard /ɪ/, /ə/, and /ɑ/, and if I believe the comments above, /æ/ is used as well.

The dictionaries say /'nugət/.

And I'm sure some Americans use the French pronunciation (although these would generally be chefs, snobs, or people who know French well).

Some people might be confused by the comments above. The phonetic spelling NEW-g't does not mean /njugət/ but /nugət/. Remember that most Amercians pronounce the word new as /nu/.

  • Agreed. (Pronounce the T, no R anywhere.) In the U.S. I have heard this only in TV advertising for a certain candy bar (many years ago). – GEdgar Nov 1 '18 at 13:41
  • I have the same vowel in nougat as I have in nook, so the PUT/LOOK vowel: ʊ. There may be some velar conditioning there but the existence of the minimal pair bugger and booger disproves predictable regularity. – tchrist Nov 1 '18 at 15:36
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British pirate here... Usually I'd say 'Noo-garr'. If this was not being understood I'd probably say 'Noo-gat', or finally, 'Noo-gate'.

If I still was not being understood I'd probably buy some toffee, or a bag of almonds (that's 'Al-monds'...)

For what it's worth, the OED offers two British pronunciations -

/ˈnuːɡɑː/ , /ˈnʌɡᵻt/

And one US

/ˈnuɡət/

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    Nuggat and awe-monds for me. – Spagirl Sep 1 '16 at 14:11
  • I tend to Dan's ear. I've only been here for 60 years; I've never noticed any pronunciation but noogar and if I did I'd need at least one double take to get over it… – Robbie Goodwin Sep 16 '16 at 0:31
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Having grown up in New Zealand in the 60’s, 70’s and 80s, only ever known it as ‘nuga’ pronounciation and I’m certainly not from posh beginnings

  • Thank you for your effort. Stack Exchange answers are “right” answers. Opinions or anecdotes can occasionally be useful, but they are usually not sufficient to show that an answer is right. An answer should include explanation, context, and supporting facts. For example, you could offer peer-reviewed evidence. This is what makes answers useful – to the asker, and to future visitors. See: “Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions”. – MetaEd Nov 1 '18 at 16:56
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Anyone working in the hotel & hospitality industry in the UK is likely to pronounce it the way the French would say it - with a silent 't'. In the US, the only time I have come across this has been in a French restaurant where nougat glacé is a popular French "ice cream" desert. I have never encountered a non-French pronunciation of this word in the milieu of French restaurants in the US.

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    No, I wouldn't expect that, as part of a French dessert in a restaurant, that it would have anything other than a French pronunciation. – WS2 Sep 1 '16 at 19:47

protected by MetaEd Nov 1 '18 at 16:37

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