A while back, I noticed that the voice-over on a commercial repeatedly used an odd pronunciation of the word realtor - "real-TORE", with a long O as opposed to "real-tur", like "doc-tur" or "inven-tur". The pronunciation was plenty rhotic, so it's not like it was a British English thing.

Anyhow, I wrote it off as a single strange person until I heard the head of whatever the national organization of realtors is use the same odd pronunciation. All I can figure is that there must be an influential figure in the realtor community who is pushing hard for this odd pronunciation. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

  • 3
    Definitely not a British thing. We don't have realtors at all - we have estate agents. Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 22:04
  • @Fumble The US has real estate agents as well, who (I believe) are required to work under a realtor.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 0:08
  • 1
    @KitΘδς the U.S. has "real estate agents", whereas in the UK they are just "estate agents". A "Realtor" is just a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. The working under requirement you may have heard of is the requirement that all real estate transactions be executed under someone who has a real estate broker's license, which is harder to get than a real estate agent's license.
    – nohat
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 19:01
  • @nohat Ahh, yes, indeed, the difference between "broker" and "agent" was what I was thinking of. Thank you.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 19:13
  • I've heard that pronunciation. Rhymes with Lipitor. I don't understand what problem you have with it.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 4:18

3 Answers 3


The National Association of Realtors, who own the trademark on the word Realtor, have severe paranoia about their trademark—I would call it “trademark anxiety”. They always put that registered trademark symbol next to the word "Realtor". Like, even if it appears 100 times on a page, every instance has it with the ®. And it's always in all caps. Look at Realtor.com, or as they call it, "REALTOR.com".

In any case, nobody actually says "real-TORE" like they do in the ads. It's just another way for them to assert their ownership over the trademark, by attempting to control how it is pronounced. This is similar to stunts pulled by the people at the Lego company, who put up a page once telling people not to use the word "Legos". I wrote an answer about this before.


Merriam-Webster lists it as an alternative pronunciation:

\ˈrē(-ə)l-tər, -ˌtȯr, ÷ˈrē-lə-tər also rē-ˈal-tər\

  • Some notes on this answer: (1) Merriam-Webster has an explanation of their pronunciation guide <merriam-webster.com/help/MWOL%20Pronunciation%20Guide.pdf>. (2) For readers who prefer IPA, that would be: \ˈrē(-ə)l-tər\ ⇒ /ˈriː(.ə)l.tər/, \-ˌtȯr\ ⇒ /-ˌtɔr/, \rē-lə-tər\ ⇒ /ˈriː.lə.tər/, \rē-ˈal-tər\ ⇒ /riˈːæl.tər/. (3) The obelus (÷) used to mark the third pronunciation means "many regard as unacceptable the pronunciation variant immediately following"
    – nohat
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 5:35

Geez people, look at the spelling. There is no "a" after the "l" in Realtor. The first thing I was told when I became a Realtor was how to pronounce it correctly~~ reel-tore ( 2 syllables).

  • My thought on the voice over was "you drop all this coin on an expensive radio commercial campaign and then leave me distracted the entire time by this bizarre pronunciation? Very strange. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 4:04
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    1. Why in the world would an a after the l in any way affect the pronunciation of the o in the following syllable? 2. “Jeez, look at the spelling” is not a valid argument for anything, since spelling does not accurately reflect pronunciation in English. The correlation between the two is very low. 3. This answer seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the question, which never mentions any non-disyllabic pronunciation of the word at all. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 7:13

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