to further clarify, for example is it possible to have one word that has one pronunciation that is 2 syllables and at the same time the exact same word has another pronunciation that is 3 syllables

  • like gnu: guh-noo or g'nu?
    – JMP
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 10:05
  • Very close to the trivia category. And asking for a list is certainly off-topic. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 10:49
  • @EdwinAshworth really I just wanted a simple yes or no answer since I couldn't find a definitive answer from searching online. (maybe I'm just bad at searching) I only asked for examples as proof that its actually possible
    – Edward Fu
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 10:58
  • It's well known that certain words have alternative pronunciations; a look on virtually any page of any dictionary will confirm this. Some particular cases where the dictionaries disagree might well constitute valid queries on ELU. But I can't see examining a subclass where number of syllables differs as being helpful to many people. Are adjectives ending in the syllable -ed still used? was a related but valid enquiry. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


Yes, there are English words that can be pronounced with more than one syllable count.

For example, comfortable has two pronunciations listed in Collins. One has three syllables, another has four:

(ˈkʌmftəbəl , ˈkʌmfətəbəl )

Extraordinary is listed with four, five, and six syllable pronunciations in Oxford Online:


Each of these are different pronunciations of the same word, not homonyms.

  • And extraordinary can be pronounced with four, five, or six syllables. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 12:16
  • That's a very clear example, @PeterShor. I've added it to my answer.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 12:59

Yes, it's possible. Consider library, for which ODO has two pronunciations, one with 2 syllables, the other with 3:

/ˈlʌɪbri/ /ˈlʌɪbrəri/

  • 1
    That's [ˈlaɪbɹeɹi] where I come from, which features an [ʌɪ] vs [aɪ] distinction due to Canadian raising (compare how the diphthong in tight differs from that in died when said by nearly any native speaker from North America, not just in Canadians) and has monophthong /e/ instead of /eɪ/, especially before [ɹ]. We don’t reduce that next syllable the way the English do in medicine, secretary, library. But library has other common (“mis-”)pronunciations due to r dissimilation.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:10

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