This week’s grammar post is a follow-up to this one with more commonly mispronounced words that tend to score high on other people’s pet peeves list.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran a list of 10 Commonly Mispronounced Words along with the proper ways they should be pronounced. It was a popular post and a few people offered a few pet peeves of their own.
So here’s another set of 10. Which commonly mispronounced words grate your nerves the most?
The T proves problematic for some people. It should be pronounced as somewhere in the middle with regard to its strength. It’s distracting when it’s pronounced too harshly, like “wat-ter” but it’s annoying when it’s pronounced too softly, like “wadder”. So imagine pronouncing the word watt. Now add the er after it, without adding strength to the T sound at the end. Whatever you do, don’t an R sound.
Phonetically, it should be said the way it’s spelled. If you’re adding an R to produce “warsh”, please stop now!
A carafe is a container used to pour water, wine or coffee. The proper pronunciation makes it rhyme with giraffe, as it is correctly pronounced with a stress on the second syllable: kuh-RAFF.
To “put the kibosh” on something means to stop it. But the word is pronounced with a stress on the first syllable: it’s KY-bosh, not “kih-BOSH”.
What people too often seem to overlook is the fact that this word contains two Cs. As such, it’s correctly pronounced “ARK-tik”, not “AR-tik.”
When I was a kid, I heard this word mispronounced so often that I honestly believed there were two different words involved and that what turned out to be the mispronunciation referred to a higher level of mischief.
The correct way to pronounce this word is with three syllables: MISS-chuh-vus.
The way it is often mispronounced, miss-CHEE-vee-ous, isn’t a possible way to pronounce the word as it is actually spelled: the e and v would have to be reversed before it could be pronounced this way. Then again, I suppose it’s not unreasonable to suggest that people who can’t pronounce it correctly probably can’t spell it correctly, either.
When you think of this frozen treat, think of sorbet, which nearly everyone gets right. There is only one R in sherbet, which means it’s correctly pronounced SHER-but, not SHER-bert.
Here’s another word that people seem to insist on inserting an extra syllable into: athlete is pronounced “ATH-leet,” not “ATH-uh-leet.” Oddly enough, when the word is incorporated into the word athletics, no one I’ve ever heard say it out loud has ever attempted “ATH-uh-let-iks.”
For 20 years or so, Bob Barker ended each episode of The Price is Right with these words: “Help control the pet population: have your pet spayed or neutered.” Obviously, unless there is a medically-unusual situation involved, a pet can’t be spayed and neutered.
Spayed is the past tense of spay, and is pronounced like SPADE. There’s no second D, which means it can’t be correctly pronounced “SPAY-ded”, despite the fact that there are plenty who try.
Several months from now, we’ll be entering winter, and depending on where you live, you may hear local meteorologists refer to the increasing probability of a “wintry mix.” The natural assumption, if you hear the word, is that because it refers to winter, it should be “wintery” and that it should therefore be pronounced, “WIN-tur-ee.”
But this adjective takes a slightly different form, dropping a letter, and with it, a syllable: it’s pronounced “WIN-tree.”
Which commonly mispronounced words are at the top of your pet peeve list? Let me know in a comment below!