Pet peeves: Pronunication

April 24, 2008

For a list of the 100 most commonly mispronounced words, go to http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/mispron.html.

Here are some of my pet pronunciation peeves, and some from my readers:

  • The lazy pronunciation of et cetera as exetra.
  • As an Australian, the mispronunciation of my country’s name by fellow residents (particularly sportspeople). It’s pronounced ‘Oss-tray-lee-ya‘ not Shtray-ya or shtray-yun. Locals have no excuse except laziness. And for the Americans, ‘Aussie’ is pronounced ozzie not ah-see.
  • Heinous is pronounced HEE-nus or HAY-nus depending on where you live, NOT HEENY-yus as I’ve heard TV News announcers say.
  • Mischievous does not have an extra i in it, so it should be pronounced MIS-che-vus not mis-CHEEVY-yus. And while I’m on about this one, ‘grievous’ is GREE-vus, not GREEVY-us.
  • Richard in Western Australia has “a local pet hate: “…the arcade in Perth is Carillon City—almost always pronounced Carilly-yon—seems there is an invisible ‘i’!” (This one annoys me too, so I did a quick search of some online British and US dictionaries and this word has two ‘correct pronunciations: karri-LON and ka-RILL-yn. The local pronunciation is close to the second version—but still isn’t correct. More lazy Australian speech…)
  • Substituting ‘k’ for ‘g’ at the end of words such as ‘something’ so that it sounds like ‘somethink’.
  • “It’s a mute point”. No it’s not… it’s a ‘moot point’.
  • Sports commentators who put extra letters into words such as athlete and triathlon, making them ath-a-lete and tri-ath-a-lon.
  • Antarctic has two Cs, so should be pronounced Ant-ARC-tic, not Antar-TIC.
  • Library has two Rs, so should be pronounced lie-BRARE-ee, not LIE-bree.
  • February also has two Rs, so it should be pronounced FEB-roo-airy, not FEB-ree.
  • Nuclear is the bane of many a US president! It’s pronounced NEW-clee-ar, not Noo-KOO-lar.

[This article was adapted from several published in the 2004 CyberText newsletters.]


  1. The pronunciation of “nuclear” – according to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nuclear):

    Usage Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-kyə-lər\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, United States cabinet members, and at least two United States presidents and one vice president. While most common in the United States, these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

    The process is called “metathesis”:

  2. […] I’ve mentioned before in my Pet Peeves: Pronunciation […]

  3. Check out these Top 40 Pronunciation Pet Peeves, but warning… you may cringe on a few that you mispronounce.

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