20 Words Even Smart People Mispronounce

If you pronounce these words differently, don’t worry—many people do. But here’s how they were originally meant to be pronounced 50, 100, or 200 years ago—and, according to the dictionary, still should be.

How to pronounce TRANSIENT

01-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
It has two syllables not three, so it’s “transhent,” not “tran-zee-ent.” (Mind blown? Ours too.) The most complicated word in the English language is a lot shorter than you would expect.

How to pronounce STATUS

02-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
It should be “stay-tus.” These are company names you've been mispronouncing this whole time.

How to pronounce PRELUDE

03-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
“Pray-lood” is incorrect; the proper pronunciation is “prel-yood.” More words that can get complicated? Food names. Here are ones that you're probably pronouncing wrong.

How to pronounce VALET

04-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
Downton Abbey got it right. It’s not a French word, so pronouncing the last syllable as “ay” is incorrect. It should be sounded as “val-it.” (Another fake French word: foyer, which is pronounced “foy-ur,” not “foy-ay.”)

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How to pronounce FORTE

05-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
If you’re discussing someone’s “forte,” as in a strength, the “e” is silent. “Fortay” is correct only if you’re using it as a musical term.

How to pronounce ERR

06-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
Rhymes with “hair?” No, it rhymes with “her.”

How to pronounce GALA

07-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
Should be: “gay-luh.”

How to pronounce APPLICABLE

08-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
The first syllable is the one that should be emphasized, as in app-lic-able, rather than app-lic-able.

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How to pronounce SPHERICAL

09-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
It's “sferr-i-kal,” not “sfeer-i-kal.”

How to pronounce DECREASE

10-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
If you’re using it as a noun, it’s de-crease. If you’re using it as a verb, it’s de-crease.

How to pronounce CARAMEL

11-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
“Kah-ruh-mull” is the original way and still the preferred way, although “kar-mull,” which was once a Midwestern regional pronunciation, is also acceptable.

How to pronounce MAUVE

12-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
It once rhymed with “stove,” but now the “au” is sounded as “aw.”

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How to pronounce REGIME

13-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
The first syllable is sounded as “ray.”

How to pronounce JOUST

14-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
In the 13th century, it was pronounced (and spelled) like the word “just.”

How to pronounce EITHER

15-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
“Eee-thur” or “aye-thur”? “Eee-thur” is the preferred way. (And so is “nee-thur.”)

How to pronounce QUASI

16-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
Today it’s often pronounced “kwah-zee,” but it’s more correct to say “kway–zi.”

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How to pronounce LONG-LIVED

17-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
Today we say the “lived” as “livd,” but until the 20th century, it was pronounced “lyved.”


18-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
She doesn’t troll computers; she controls finances, which is why this management title is technically pronounced “con-tro-ller.” (These are uncommon English words we don't use but really should be.)


19-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
It may have the same root word as gyroscope, but this spinning Greek meat deserves a proper Greek pronunciation: “yee-roh.” (These surprising words were added to the dictionary this year.)


20-Words-Even-Smart-People-MispronounceNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com
This dated term for food rhymes with whittles, not rituals.

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