I have no idea whatsoever about IPA, so I apologise now for any ambiguity or difficult-to-understand-ness in this question.

Me and a friend both disagree on the correct pronunciation of "worried". I pronounce it "worried", he pronounces it "wurried". I shall expand:

  1. My pronunciation: if you will, rhymes with "lorry". Lorry, worry (woh-reed)
  2. His pronunciation: if you will, rhymes with "curry". Curry, worry (wu-reed, wuh-reed)

Once again, I apologise if you think these explanations are awful, but they were the best I could do.

(We speak standard English, at least I think we do). We have no northern, western, midlands etc. accents. We come from the south east, if that's of any help.

I'm also not passing the fact that they could both be correct and that it doesn't matter, but it'd be interesting to know which one is correct.

  • 8
    When I say them, the a in what is identical to the o in wonder, and neither of them is at all similar to the o in worried...
    – Marthaª
    May 24, 2012 at 21:25
  • 1
    That's annoying, hopefully someone else comes across this question who sees where I'm coming from.
    – ODP
    May 24, 2012 at 21:30
  • 4
    Martha's right. And this is another reason why it's useless to try to discuss pronunciation in writing on the web without using IPA. By the way, you and your friend can disagree all you like about pronunciation; it varies a lot. Perhaps you can agree to just be friends. May 24, 2012 at 21:32
  • The word 'what' has two pronunciations with respect to the underlying vowel. Which vowel are you referring to when you say you pronounce like "what" in "what"? Pick few monosyllabic words that has the same vowel; and this will help.
    – RainDoctor
    May 24, 2012 at 23:20
  • @RainDoctor The OED entry for “what” lists only /hwɒt/, but perhaps that can reduce to a schwa in phrasal contexts. Is that what you mean by two possible vowels there?
    – tchrist
    May 24, 2012 at 23:42

6 Answers 6


In North America, worry most often rhymes with furry, blurry, and slurry. That’s the same vowel as in fur, blur, and slur ’round these parts. This is also the same vowel as the one in yer, per, purr, her, sir, sure, fir, burr, knur, slur, whirr, and were. In fact our worry sounds pretty much just like “were” with an extra -y tacked on to the end. Now just add a d for worried, and you’re done.

In contrast, the North American worry usually does not rhyme with any of sorry, quarry, lorry, berry, bury, curie, carry, Carrie, dairy, ferry, glory, Rory, story, cherry, Terry, tarry, very, wary, weary, marry, merry, Mary, Harry, or Laurie — nor even with Larry, Moe, or Curly.

Lastly, the North American worry almost certainly does not rhyme with an Indian sari.

Beyond that, your mileage may, can, will, and surely shall vary. And why sure, I could give you the IPA for my version of worry and worried (respectively /ˈwɜɹi/ and /ˈwɜɹid/), but you said you don’t understand IPA symbols. This makes it next to impossible to talk about pronunciations, because you have no symbolic way of specifying pronunciations. That’s probably why you’ve received no answers yet.

However, even if you did know what the IPA symbols actually meant, they might not do you as much good as you might think: many of those words themselves have multiple possible pronunciations, depending on various mergers and regional accents.

The best I can do is give you rhyme-sets, but mine and thine are surely miles, leagues, and even oceans apart, so what good would that do you if I did? So I can’t tell you how you “should” pronounce worry, per your request. Then again, nobody else can do that either, so I don’t feel so bad.

At best, I can only tell you how I do so. Which is what I’ve tried to do. I guarantee you that many people reading this won’t pronounce all / many / some / any of these the way I myself do anyway. So please don’t think I expect you to pronounce it like me, of course; I expect you to pronounce it like worry. :)

All joking aside, I don’t know what more you are looking for here. You may wish to update your question a bit so that it can be answered.

  • 2
    @tchrist- Nice +1! Check out: Forvo
    – Jim
    May 24, 2012 at 23:41
  • @tchrist: there's a North American pronunciation of lorry? What is it? The only pronunciation I've heard is British, and we don't have that vowel here. (-: May 25, 2012 at 0:46
  • 2
    @PeterShor For me lorry is homophonic with Laurie. It rhymes with sorry, story, glory, Tory, Rory, Corey.
    – tchrist
    May 25, 2012 at 2:17
  • i've edited it in a way i hope you can understand better
    – ODP
    May 25, 2012 at 8:51
  • 4
    Actually where I'm from in America, sorry does not rhyme with story- sorry rhymes with starry.
    – Jim
    May 26, 2012 at 3:38

IPA sounds good, perhaps if you have enough of them you'd both pronounce worried exactly the same. I don't know the International Phonetic Alphabet either, but found it described somewhere as 'wur-eed' or 'wuhr-'. 'Wur-eed' is the way I pronounce worried, but that doesn't preclude other pronunciations.

  • 1
    I’m sorry, but that really doesn’t help at all.
    – tchrist
    May 24, 2012 at 23:03
  • Unfortunately I am unable to add comment to your offering. However it does not seem to be all that useful as you concentrate upon the word 'worry' rather than 'worried'. I would use 'vary' rather than 'very' in your sentence 'Beyond that, your mileage may, can, will, and surely shall very.'
    – Alex
    May 25, 2012 at 7:29
  • It does help actually, you pronounce it in the exact same way my friend pronounces it. @Alex, if one pronounces worry in a certain way, I don't see why the pronunciation of that part of worried would change, which is what I'm asking about.
    – ODP
    May 25, 2012 at 8:54
  • @Olly - I have heard people pronounce worried without sounding the 'i' so that is why I drew attention to the word as a whole. You asked the question, so if you found it useful then that's fine with me.
    – Alex
    May 25, 2012 at 12:11

Here in NSW there has been a sectarian division in pronunciation of "worry" and similar words where there's a Middle English historie :-) of "minims". For minims in general see Wikipedia's page Minim_(palaeography).

When I studied English at USyd in the 1970s the story was that the Catholic "spelling pronunciation" (rhyming with "lorry") had come from a single nun with a strong opinion on the topic, who had enforced it on all of her students, many of whom became teachers.

I can't find evidence to back that up, but this is interesting: What's the current scholarly opinion on the "minims" explanation for the spelling of "love", "tongue," etc?

  • I'm not sure how you're trying to answer the question. What's your explanation for how to pronounce the word worried? Nov 22 at 22:32
  • 1
    [Sorry, I got called away, left half the post.] Short story on minims. Scribes wrote many letters as single strokes, called minims. They were like an italic i without the dot. One minim could be i, e or r; two could be u, v or n, three could be m or a combination of i, e, r, u, v or n. Etc. W (double u as we still call it) was uu. So a word like uuurrie would look like iiiiiiiiii, which was too hard to read. The solution was to "box" the vowel, joining the tops and bottoms of the "u", giving iiii[]iiii which was easier to read in context. The "boxed u" then turned into "o".
    – Bruce
    Nov 22 at 22:54

Mari-Lou asked for the reference to OED confirming "Worry" rhymes with "Curry". Here is one reference: Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Fourth Edition. pg 973 "Wo'rry (Wu)" The "u" has a symbol above it indicating it's the vowel sound in "ruck" pg 196 "Cu'rry" The "u" has the same symbol above it indicating it's the vowel sound in "ruck" JudithM

  • Please copy and paste the corresponding phonetic symbols that re used in the POD, this phonetic list is by Oxford dictionaries. Merely saying that the letter u "has a symbol above it" is too vague and possibly misleading. public.oed.com/how-to-use-the-oed/key-to-pronunciation consider also the fact that "worry" is pronounced differently in BrEng and AmEng oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/worry_1
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 17, 2014 at 4:52
  • Mari-Lou asked for copy and paste of copy of the symbol used in the Pocket Oxford Dictionary. This is not possible; it is not an online book. The symbol is a little curve and the preface says this symbol represents the pronunciation of the "u" in "ruck". However, since the SAME symbol is used to indicate the pronunciation of "Worry" and "Curry", it doesn't matter what the symbol is, the dictionary clearly is stating that the words are pronounced using the SAME vowel sound.
    – user72314
    Feb 27, 2015 at 13:12

Like so much other pronunciation, it depends greatly on regional or national accents. For example, American pronunciation of worry would be very different from an English pronunciation of it. As tchrist mentioned, American pronunciation would rhyme with the words furry and blurry, but with a harsh, stressed R sound.

An English pronunciation would be like your second description

His pronunciation: if you will, rhymes with "curry". Curry, worry (wu-reed, wuh-reed)

with the letter O in worried, rhyming with the letter U in the words bun and hut. That would include how the word worried is usually pronounced in the south east of the UK.

  • While harsh is certainly purely subjective, I have no earthly idea how in the world it could ever be applied to any of the approximants, which by their very nature are anything but harsh. As for stress, there is no sort of word-stress or even aspiration involved here, so this too is an inappropriate word.
    – tchrist
    Feb 20, 2013 at 15:30
  • It's harsh compared to an English pronunciation of it.
    – Tristan
    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:56

Well well well, I have a Finnish student here in Switzerland who drives me crazy with his "worry" rhyming with "curry"! Could it be that the Swedish band doing "don't you worry child" and the reggae guys doing their "don't worry be happy" are responsible for this awful pronunciation? Is this a recent development or have we always been so sloppy in our speech?

  • 5
    worry does rhyme with curry at least in the majority of the US.
    – Jim
    Feb 20, 2013 at 6:12

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