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Words We’ve Been Pronouncing Wrong For Most Our Lives

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Prepare to have your mind blown! Trust me, mine was when I found out the list of words that I’ve probably been mispronouncing my whole life….Like did you know the word triathlon only has three syllables…not four as I have thought my whole life…here’s more:

The building blocks of communication are words, so the way they are pronounced matters. Whether it’s to indicate your level of education or talent with language, you want to know how to speak and write correctly.

Here are a number of words you’ve probably been saying wrong your whole life. Time to sharpen up.

  1. Mischievous

You thought this one has four syllables when it really has only three. It’s not “mis-CHEEV-ee-us”–it’s just “MIS-chiv-us.”

  1. Mauve

While most people say “mawve,” the correct pronunciation is actually “moave”–as in, rhymes with “grove.”

  1. Espresso

There is no “x” in espresso. Period. Be particularly careful not to say “expresso” if you do any business with Europeans.

  1. Kilometer

What you thought was “kill-OM-it-er” is actually “kill-o-MEET-er.” You pronounce “meter” like this: “MEET-er.” The same goes for kilometer.

  1. Prerogative

If you’re anything like me, this one will blow your mind. It’s not “PER-aw-gah-tiv,” as so aptly captured by Britney Spears. It’s “PRE-rog-ah-tiv,” like precognition.

  1. Supposably

While “supposably” is a word, it doesn’t mean what you think it does. In fact, has devoted a blog post to the distinction between supposably and supposedly. The fact is, most people who use supposably really mean supposedly, and it should be pronounced as such.

  1. Nuclear

Despite George W. Bush’s efforts to normalize the pronunciation “noo-CUL-ur,” the correct pronunciation is and will forever remain “noo-KLEE-ur.”

  1. Asterisk

This one you really want to get right, because it can, in fact, make you look ignorant if you get it wrong. There’s no “x” at the end of this word–it’s true to its “k.” Thus, the correct pronunciation is “ASS-ter-ISK” — not “ASS-ter-IX.”

  1. Larvae

Chances are, your science teacher got it wrong, but your Latin teacher got it right, since Latin is where it comes from. It’s not “LAR-vay.” It’s “LAR-vee” (rhymes with Humvee).

  1. Triathlon

Most of us add a syllable that isn’t there, pronouncing it “tri-AHT-a-LON.” It’s actually just “tri-ATH-lon.”

  1. Jewelry

This time we tend to cut out a syllable that’s actually there. It should be “JEW-ell-ree,” not “JEWL-ree.”

  1. Zoology

The correct pronunciation here is going to sound crazy, but it’s true: It’s not “zoo-OLL-oh-gee.” It’s just “ZOO-loh-gee” (rhymes with “eulogy”).

  1. Often

In English, there are many words that contain silent letters. This is one. It’s supposed to be “OFF-en.” The “t” is completely silent.

  1. Sherbet

You’ve probably been adding an “r” here since you were able to swallow sherbet. It’s not “sHUR-burt.” It’s “SHUR-bet.” When said correctly, it rhymes with “curb it.”

  1. Niche

While commonly mispronounced “nitch,” this word comes from the French word nicher, which means to nest. Accordingly, the correct pronunciation is “neesh.”

  1. Celtic

It turns out we’ve all been calling the Boston Celtics by the wrong name. Incorrect: “SELL-tick.” Correct: “KELL-tick.”

  1. Chicanery

The word itself means “trickery” or “deception,” and its pronunciation is obligingly tricky. You thought it was “shi-CAN-nuh-REE.” It’s actually “shi-KAY-nuh-ree.”

  1. Bruschetta

That delightful Italian dish of grilled bread with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes actually takes a hard “r.” This is because in Italian, “sch” comes only before “e” or “i,” and is always pronounced like the English “sk.” Thus, it’s not “broo-SHET-ah,” it’s “broo-SKET-ah.”

  1. Forte

The technically correct way to say this sounds so wrong that it may not be worth doing. The word, which refers to one’s strong point, is actually pronounced “fort,” not the commonly used “for-TAY.”

  1. Liable

When you say “liability,” you probably include all the right syllables. The same goes for the adjective form of it: It’s pronounced “li-AH-bull,” not “LIE-bull.”

  1. GIF

Let’s just settle this debate once and for all: The actual inventor of the GIF says it’s pronounced “jif.” Don’t believe it? Watch him make the determination himself (skip ahead to 0:53 if you’re short on time).

It is, of course, your prerogative to mispronounce any word you choose. Just don’t get mischievous and hold me liable.

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