Some find it difficult to form an "r" sound, and some are able to, but just don't. I'm looking for a word which means "not pronouncing r's", without implying inability to pronounce them, though that may be the case.

Specifically, I'd like a word which mean "not pronouncing any r's", but if there's a word which means "not pronouncing some r's" (as in many dialects), that would be interesting to know too.

  • I assume you are not looking for "dropping your R's"?
    – JeffSahol
    Sep 22, 2011 at 13:15
  • 1
    Well, r-dropping seems synonymous with non-rhotic to me.
    – Daniel
    Sep 22, 2011 at 13:19
  • @drɱ65δ: So are you saying that 'non-rhotic' is -not- the word you're looking for?
    – Mitch
    Sep 22, 2011 at 15:40
  • See Peter Shor's comment below Callithumpian's answer. Non-rhotic means dropping most r's. So does r-dropping. I think I'll accept the answer, though, unless someone comes up with a more accurate term.
    – Daniel
    Sep 22, 2011 at 16:59
  • In Hungarian, the word for "lisping" (selypítés) is also used for the inability to trill your Rs. Maybe it's time to similarly extend the meaning of the English word?
    – Marthaª
    Sep 22, 2011 at 19:33

3 Answers 3


The Wikipedia article on rhotacism gives one definition of that word as “the inability to or difficulty in pronouncing r”.

  • 1
    Merriam-Webster medical dictionary has that as the only definition, though; maybe it's a medical term.
    – Daniel
    Sep 22, 2011 at 20:22
  • 1
    I have also heard of the speech impediment of being unable to pronounce r sounds, as like Elmer Fudd, as being called a "whorl" but the only evidence I can find of that on Google is me saying the same thing elsewhere.
    – nohat
    Sep 22, 2011 at 20:29
  • 1
    Well, now you've cowobowated yowself. +1 Sep 23, 2011 at 0:20

Non-rhotic may be what you're looking for:

English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: a rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/, sometimes /ˈrɒtɨk/) speaker pronounces a rhotic consonant in words like hard; a non-rhotic speaker does not. That is, rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ in all positions, while non-rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit (see "linking and intrusive R").

In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude the sound [r] from the syllable coda before a consonant or prosodic break. This is commonly (if misleadingly) referred to as "post-vocalic R".


  • 2
    Non-rhotic is not pronouncing 'r's after vowels, as occurs in many dialects. I would not pronouncing any 'r's a speech impediment (or maybe a foreign accent)--I don't know a more specific term. Sep 22, 2011 at 12:33
  • This is definitely the right word for the native dialectic accents, but I was hoping for that "more specific term" referred to by Professor Shor.
    – Daniel
    Sep 22, 2011 at 12:50

I know this question has been answered already, but at least one didn't nail your question I don't feel. Rhotacism is specifically pronouncing an R in circumstances where you wouldn't otherwise. In other words it's the pronunciation of the R when certain letter and phonemic combinations are found. Also, it's not the standard English R pronunciation, it is the alveolar tap or trill, found in languages like Italian, Spanish, etc. (Also found in some English, but not standard). These changes in English where we might make an alveolar tap or trill appears in informal things like:

"I got to get it."
"I goda gedit"
     ^    ^ // Pointers point to alveolar taps or rarely trills

Rhotacism is also the impairment of not being able to make this sound, notice that the Wikipedia article says that the people who have this condition are usually the:

Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Indonesian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian and Spanish
Rhotacism (impairment)

Which shows that it's not this sound that English speakers make when they pronounce Rs in words.

The real phenomenon, of NOT pronouncing the R at least in English is:


Rhoticity in English

non-rhotic was given in the other answer, but what the heck I've added it here anyway, plus it's also the noun form, which is what you asked for.

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