I used to pronounce 'detail' as ['di:teil] with accent on the first syllable. However, these days I hear people (and on the radio) say [di'teil] with accent on the second syllable. Is my pronunciation incorrect? Is there a regional preference for this?


According to Merriam-Webster, your pronunciation is fine as both are acceptable to convey the usual noun and verb form meanings of the word.

According to this American, /ˈdiːteɪl/ is far more common from the mouths of my fellow Americans.

Macmillan has the British as /ˈdiːteɪl/, and the American as both /dɪˈteɪl/ and /ˈdiˌteɪl/.

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    In British English, /dɪˈteɪl/ is a verb, meaning to remove the tail from. – FumbleFingers Apr 3 '12 at 18:21
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    I was hoping that was the case. M-W does not offer this definition. Thanks for saving me some virtual shoe leather. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 3 '12 at 18:22
  • Yeah, well you'll have to wait for some Americans to upvote the answer (always assuming it's true they really do put the accent on the second syllable when they mean a small point). I'm not saying they don't, obviously, but I don't, so I can't casually upvote you saying both are fine. – FumbleFingers Apr 3 '12 at 18:27
  • I don't know which is more common here in north middle US, but think that it's often said with relatively little accent on either syllable. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Apr 3 '12 at 19:04
  • @jwpat7: in AmE, I find it to be an accent on both, a spondee. – Mitch Apr 3 '12 at 20:34

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