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Pronounce These 12 Words and We’ll Tell You Where You’re From

Our world has gone global, but some words continue to be pronounced oh-so-locally.

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Drawer (as in a “chest of drawers”)

When referring to a place where you keep your socks (as opposed to the word that refers to someone who “draws” like, with a crayon), most Americans pronounce it as a single syllable that ends in the “r” sound, like “droar.” But if you pronounce it like “draw” (rhymes with “straw”), there’s a really good chance you’re from the metropolitan New York area (such as Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, or regions of northern New Jersey). Brush up on the true meanings behind these 70 commonly misused words and phrases.

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Cot

Most Americans pronounce this word that refers to a place to sleep as kaht (with the long, drawn-put “ah” sound). But if you pronounce it to rhyme with “caught” (rhymes with “taught” and “taut”), then you’re likely from the Boston area. The same goes for other “-ot” words, like lot, rot, clot, tot, hot, and not.

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Caught

Looking at it from the other direction, folks who pronounce the word “caught” like “kAHt” are almost invariably from the American West. Find out the 20 words that even smart people mispronounce.

Two wedding rings in nice red boxMaria Sbytova/Shutterstock

Mary, marry, merry

Say this sentence aloud: “Everyone’s merry that Mary’s set to marry.”

Did all three of the “m” words sound the same (specifically, did they rhyme with “hairy”)? Probably, because that’s how the majority of Americans pronounce these words. If not, then you’re probably from the Northeast or New Orleans, where the words are pronounced differently:

  • Merry: MEH-ree
  • Mary: MAIR-ee (with a slightly shorter “a” sound)
  • Marry: MA-ree (with the “a” sounding like “cat”)

Sunset over the iconic Portland, Oregon Old Town sign in downtown Portland, OregonJess Kraft/Shutterstock

Oregon

Folks from Oregon pronounce their home state like the last syllable sounds like “guhn” and will correct you if you pronounce it like the last syllable like “gone.”

American-Cities-That-Are-Safer-Than-You-Think-(And-2-That-Are-More-Dangerous)f11photo/Shutterstock

New Orleans

New Orleans natives pronounce it NOR-leens. So if you pronounce it “New or-LEENS,” there’s a good chance you’re a visitor. Learn about the 17 common foods you’re probably pronouncing wrong (no matter where you live).

The skyline of Jersey City, New Jersey from New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the foregroundDarryl Brooks/Shutterstock

New Jersey

Ever heard anyone say, “I’m from Joisey”?

No?

Didn’t think so. That’s because virtually anyone from New Jersey would never pronounce it “Joisey,” and most don’t drop the “New.” So if you’re saying it that way, you’re probably from somewhere outside the Garden State.

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Florida

If you pronounce the first syllable of “Florida” like it rhymes with anything but “sore,” you’re most likely not from the Sunshine State. And if you pronounce it like it rhymes with “ah,” there’s only the slimmest chance you’re from anywhere west of Texas.

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Aunt

In more than 75 percent of the United States, the word for your parent’s sister is pronounced exactly the same as the word for that tiny little bug that you don’t want ruining your picnic. If you pronounce it “awnt,” then it’s most likely you’re from the East Coast, where people who use that pronunciation are most heavily concentrated. One thing we can agree on: These are the hardest-to-pronounce town names in every state.

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Creek

Most Americans pronounce this word for a small, babbling body of water as crEEk, so that it rhymes with “meek.” And if you’re from California, there’s more than a 95 percent chance you do. But if you’re from the Midwest, there’s a strong chance you pronounce it so that it rhymes with “flick.”

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Huge

Most Americans pronounce the “h” in “huge.” Those who treat the “h” a silent and say “yuge” tend to come from the New York area. The same goes for “humor,” “humongous,” and “human.” You won’t want to miss these regional names for foods you eat all the time.

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Been

Nearly 65 percent of Americans pronounce the word “been” as if it were spelled “bin”. If you pronounce it like the name “Ben,” then it’s most likely you’re from someplace in the North Central United States. Now tell us the words you’d use for these things, and we’ll guess where you grew up.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.