Are there any words in English other than friend where the spelling "ie" corresponds to the "short e" sound /ɛ/?

  • Not any common ones that I can think of, other than ones containing friend, such as friends, friendly, friendship, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. Wikipedia gives hygienic. I guess you could try recall your hygienic friend. – Arm the good guys in America Apr 19 '18 at 15:39
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    To emphasize what @sumelic asked, do you mean same -spelling- as friend or same pronunciation? There are lots of words that rhyme with 'friend' but spell the vowel differently. – Mitch Apr 19 '18 at 17:46
  • @sumelic &Mitch. Yes. Words with 'ie' that are pronounced with short /e/ like 'friend'. – Mido Mido Apr 21 '18 at 2:19
  • A lot of people pronounce friend with a short I, as in: frinned. – Bread Apr 21 '18 at 17:27
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    @Bread: do you mean as a special pronunciation just for this word, or are you talking about accents where “pen” is likewise pronounced as “pin”? – herisson Apr 21 '18 at 18:19

Not any common words other than ones containing friend, such as


the open compounds
girl friend
boy friend, etc.

Wikipedia supplies


I guess you could try to recall if your friend is hygienic. Otherwise, a friend stays until the end. There is also the surname


as in the baseball player Bob Friend.

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  • I don't really buy the hygienic example. Etymologically, that <i> represents /j/ (the sound of <y> in yes); it's merely coalesced into the preceding consonant, making it effectively silent. If anything, we should say that the <gi> represents /dʒ/ (the sound of <j> in job), like the <gi> in region, allegiance, collegial / collegiate, theologian, religious, etc. (The only difference is that those words still need the <i> to keep the <g> from being pronounced /g/, whereas hygienic could now be spelled as <hygenic> without affecting its pronunciation.) – ruakh May 22 '18 at 4:17
  • @ruakh: "hygiene" and "hygienic" have weird pronunciations. (I asked a question about it on Linguistics SE). Normally, an "i" in this position that is not interpreted as part of a digraph, but as a "weak" reduced vowel or glide (/i~j/) would be expected to have a syllabic pronunciation because of the stress on the following syllable (compare religiosity, which isn't typically pronounced "relijosity"), and the preceding syllable would be expected not to have a "long i" sound (/ai/). That is, we'd expect the pronunciation /ˌhɪdʒiˈɛnɪk/. – herisson May 22 '18 at 4:39
  • @sumelic: Hmm, I see what you mean. Still, since etymological /dʒj/ regularly becomes /dʒ/ (as in my previous examples, as well as in the stressed syllables of words like jury, injurious, Jew, June, jewel), I think the pronunciation of hygienic is close-enough-to-regular that we can comfortably identify the <i> as having been absorbed into the /dʒ/ and become silent, rather than somehow merging into the /ɛ/. – ruakh May 23 '18 at 4:33

Lieutenant (in British English)?

A British English pronunciation of the word lieutenant starts with /lɛ/: Collins gives "lɛfˈtɛnənt". This could be seen as a word where "ie" = /ɛ/. But this correspondence is not present for the American English speakers who use the pronunciation " luːˈtɛnənt".

Hemielytron (in American English)?

I think it's just a mistake, but the Collins website gives "hɛˈmɛlɪˌtrɑn" as the American English pronunciation of "hemielytron", and defines it as

alt. sp. of hemelytron

Personally, I would always associate the alternative spelling hemielytron with the alternative pronunciation /ˌhɛmɪˈɛlɪˌtrɑn/, but it's not a word that I use, so I can't say for sure whether anybody uses the spelling "hemielytron" and the pronunciation "hɛˈmɛlɪˌtrɑn" the way that Collins suggests.

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