Yesterday my boss called our design person on the phone and asked her about designing a /fave-eye-con/. She asked him to repeat it a couple of times, and then finally (after a convoluted explanation about favorites and icons), the lightbulb came on and she said, "Oh! you want a /fav-ee-can/!"

Now, presumably the design person is the one more likely to have encountered the accepted pronunciation of favicon - she gets to actually make the things, while the rest of us only notice them if they're missing. However, /fav-ee-can/ just... doesn't work for me.

Is there any sort of consensus on how this word ought to be pronounced?

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    I don't have any references so I'm not creating an answer, but I've only ever heard it as /FAV-eh-con/ or /FAVE-eh-con/. – user2512 Jan 21 '11 at 18:30
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    @Mark: so have I, but of course I can't find a single one of those YouTube videos right now. Sigh. – RegDwigнt Jan 21 '11 at 18:50
  • Do you remember whether the boss stressed only the "fav" part, or also the "i"? (Ik think I'd say /FA-vih-kn/, with a short "a" as in "family", but I really have no idea and rarely hear it pronounced.) – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jan 21 '11 at 20:37
  • Could you please replace those with IPA? I would do it myself, but you haven’t given enough info to go on. – tchrist Dec 15 '12 at 19:58
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    @tchrist: sorry, I don't do IPA. (If anyone else wants to add some phonetic-alphabet jibberish, that's fine, but if you replace my actually-readable pronunciations, be aware that I'll be rolling back your edit just as soon as I see it.) – Marthaª Dec 16 '12 at 2:08

I usually pronounce it /fav-eye-con/ or /fav-ih-con/, but I've never heard anyone else pronounce it (at all).

Consensus also seems to be /fav-ih-con/:

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    +1 for the research. I did my own informal sampling in the office just now, showing 10 people the word on a piece of paper, and got 5 different pronunciations. Let's hope the number of pronunciations doesn't increase in proportion to sample size. – Robusto Jan 21 '11 at 18:38
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    @Robusto: there are only so many ways to pronounce that... I'd expect you wouldn't find someone pronouncing it "banana". – Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 21 '11 at 19:47
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    @jae: I was being facetious, of course. But, since you mention it, my statement doesn't suggest that all possible phonological utterances would be the consequence of the proportional increase I kiddingly proposed. Only that for a sample size S, there might exist S/2 pronunciations that in some way approximate the original. Absurd? Sure, that's the point. – Robusto Jan 21 '11 at 19:52
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    @Robusto, @jae, given all the possible pronunciations of the vowels and stress patterns, it turns out there are about 103 different ways you might pronounce the string "favicon" in English. – nohat Jan 21 '11 at 21:39
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    I've only ever heard fave-icon. Like "favorite icon" but with the "or it" / "rit" missing. – David Schwartz Oct 20 '12 at 1:16

I definitely say "fav-ick-on", the a like in family. I guess the emphasis is on the first syllable, but it's slight.

As this is a recently coined word I don't think you're going to find a canonical answer yet. This is good, because it means YOU get a chance to contribute to the language by promoting YOUR favorite pronunciation until there's finally a widely accepted norm!


I presume the etymology of the word is the combination of the words "favorite" and "icon", since a website's favicon.ico file is the icon that appears next to a bookmark (which, in Internet Explorer, resides in the Favorites menu). Consequently, I've always pronounced the word as /fav-eye-con/.

That being said, I can understand how someone who is unaware or unfamiliar with how the file name was decided might pronounce it more in line with how it would be pronounced as a single word given its spelling.

I have to wonder about all of the other computer phrases that are nothing more than two terms squished together - how are these terms pronounced? For instance, the program to edit the Windows Registry is named regedit. Since it's a combination of the words "Registry" and "edit" I pronounce it /redge-edit/, but I am now curious if the layperson would pronounce it as /ree-gedit/ or /ra-get-it/ or something else entirely.

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    As a webmaster, I have always been perfectly aware of the etymology of favicon, and yet I pronounce it /ˈfævɪkɑn/. I also don't pronounce SQL as sequel. As to regedit, how about asking that as a separate question? – RegDwigнt Jan 21 '11 at 19:10
  • @RegDwight: I take it you pronounce SQL as Ess-que-ell, or is there some other pronunciation I am unfamiliar with? Also, how do you pronounce regedit? – Scott Mitchell Jan 21 '11 at 19:20
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    I tried pronouncing it as "Squeal" for a while, but I couldn't get anybody else to go along with me. (Also I have always pronounced it "REJ-ed-'t".) – Hellion Jan 21 '11 at 19:47
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    I've always pronounced favicon as if it were fav + icon, but it occurs to me that I don't treat emoticon the same way. Maybe /ˈfævɪkɑn/ is indeed the consistent approach. – gpr Jan 22 '11 at 6:17
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    @gpr: Great point, although it seems to me that "fav-icon" rolls off the tongue much easier than "emot-icon." – Scott Mitchell Jan 22 '11 at 22:05

When in doubt stick with good old fashioned phonics: pronounce the first syllable with a long "a" and the second syllable with a short "i" third syllable as "con" (as in "icon"). "Fave-ih-con"

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    Why do you think phonics dictates a long 'a'? – Marthaª Oct 20 '12 at 4:51

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