I've been reviewing the General American English pronunciation of the word "coir". I had previously pronounced it /kwɑɹ/ (rhyming with noir), but understand now that I was wrong.

I've found several different pronunciations of the word:

  1. /kɔɪɹ/
  2. /kɔɪɚ/
  3. /kɔɪjɚ/ - This spelling adapted from the Dictionary of the British English Spelling System by Greg Brooks, which has it as /kɔɪjə/ in British English. Screenshot attached.

From listening to YouTube videos, it sounds like Option 2 (/kɔɪɚ/) most closely matches what Americans say. (Although my previous mispronunciation of /kwɑɹ/ is also very common.) I can't hear the explicit yod in Option 3, but perhaps it's just me.

How do you pronounce the word, "coir"?

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  • 1
    I think those three IPA pronunciations you give are all different represntation of the same underlying pronunciation, where coir rhymes with foyer. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 1:10
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    @PeterShor I think a better example would be lawyer. Foyer can also be pronounced "foi-ay" or even "fwah-yay" in imitation of French. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 1:16
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    @Vun-HughVaw: And lawyer can be pronounced law-yer and not loy-er. So maybe a good example is employer. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 1:28
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    'coir' is not a common word in English, it's orthography is not typical English (it's very typical French orthography, but not a common word there either). That said, if it is borrowed from Tamil (for coconut fiber) then it probably does rhyme with 'foyer' (either the American or British pronunciation)
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 2:17
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    @BoldBen I've generally heared "foy-er", and considered "foy-ay" to be use of French pronunciation for pretentiousness.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


The difference between /kɔɪɚ/ and /kɔɪjɚ/ is purely one of notation. /ɔɪ/ already ends in a glide, though this becomes much more prominent when it precedes another vowel sound; Geoff Lindsey covers how this explains the ability of /ɔɪ/ to occur before another vowel without creating hiatus.

Dictionaries seem to disagree about whether this is pronounced as a single syllable /kɔɪɹ/ or as two syllables /kɔɪ.ɚ/; Dictionary.com provides the former but OxfordLD provides the latter. I suspect that both are found but that /kɔɪ.ɚ/ is more common, as your investigation on YouTube shows.

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