The word mischievous is sometimes pronounced with a long e sound between the v and the last vowel (mis-chee-vee-us), although this is controversial.

Is there a name for this type of word, where the pronunciation is made more complex than the spelling indicates?

  • What do you mean by "more complicated"? Would colonel -> kernel be an example? Aug 12 '11 at 2:20
  • That's the opposite idea, where the pronunciation is simpler than the spelling. I think this is quite common, e.g. silent letters, non rhotic pronunciations, words like 'Wednesday' etc.
    – bdsl
    Aug 12 '11 at 8:54
  • I would suggest that "mischevious", while usually spelled as "mischievous", is actually a portmanteau of "mischievous" and "devious".
    – supercat
    Aug 28 '14 at 22:22

The name for the type of error is misconstruction:

misconstruction 2. Grammar A faulty construction, especially of a sentence or clause.

Although the definition refers specifically to sentences or clauses, it can be used for single words as well.


From NOAD, for those who think "mischievious" is a variant:

usage: Mischievous is a three-syllable word. Take care not to use this incorrect four-syllable pronunciation: |misˈCHēvēəs|.

  • I'm not asking about errors, I'm asking about pronunciations that are shared, understood and used deliberately. If you follow my link you will see that its suggested that young people in Britain often use the mis-chee-vee-us pronunciation. Your link doesn't say that misconstruction is used to describe pronunciations.
    – bdsl
    Aug 11 '11 at 19:37
  • @bdsl: Here's a link that does.
    – Robusto
    Aug 11 '11 at 19:45
  • @Robusto: is "mischevious" really an error? So many people say it. I'm not sure I've ever heard a native local speaker say "mischievous". Aug 12 '11 at 2:22
  • @Mr. Shiny and New: [Taps the link] I don't hear the word used much at all, but when I do it's pronounced mischievous. And, yes, I think it really is an error. None of my dictionaries lists mischevious, btw. And I'm updating my answer with a usage note from NOAD.
    – Robusto
    Aug 12 '11 at 2:27
  • oxforddictionaries.com agrees with you: "[mischievous] should not be pronounced with four syllables...". But I still don't think this shows that its an error. People may be deliberately doing something different to what the dictionary says. I don't think most people care much about how dictionaries say words should be pronounced, they follow pronunciations that they hear other people use and that they find will be understood without complaint by their listeners.
    – bdsl
    Aug 12 '11 at 8:56

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