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101 Commonly Mispronounced Words That You Might Be Using

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It’s never fun to say something and have someone correct you. It’s embarrassing, especially if you’re in a leadership position using some of the hardest English words for your job.

Tackle your nerves by learning some of the most commonly mispronounced words you might use. Most people mispronounce these daily, so avoid tongue-tied moments by honing your conversational skills.

Watch our video below to learn the 6 most common mispronounced words:

Why Do People Mispronounce Words?

People mispronounce words in their native language for many reasons. In addition to not learning the words in school, some may be trickier because they’ve only been read. Friend groups might also say a word incorrectly together, making it seem like they all use the proper pronunciation.

Regional accents also affect how people think they should pronounce words. If someone from Massachusetts says “dollar,” it would sound like DAH-lah. Someone from Georgia might say it like DAH-ler. 

There are also cases of mispronunciation when someone is tired or inebriated. Those are likely temporary mispronunciations that wouldn’t happen if they felt energized or sober. The conditions wouldn’t affect their cognitive reasoning.

What Are Some Commonly Mispronounced Words in the English Language?

It’s time to double-check your pronunciation skills by examining some of the most commonly mispronounced words. You’ll only become more of an expert by revisiting your vocabulary usage and updating it as needed.

Note: These words are based on commonly mispronounced American English words. Differences may vary due to geographical differences.

101 Mispronounced words quick list

Check out the following commonly mispronounced words, and see below for their correct pronunciation!

  1. Colonel
  2. Hyperbole
  3. Salmon
  4. Mischievous
  5. Cache
  6. Barometer
  7. Pronunciation
  8. Flutist
  9. Nuclear
  10. Cacophony
  11. GIF
  12. Epitome
  13. Chaos
  14. Meme
  15. Synonymous
  16. Gist
  17. Metabolism
  18. Panacea
  19. Bury
  20. Açai
  21. Suspicious
  22. Inveigle
  23. Gyro
  24. Hypocrisy
  25. Philanthropy
  26. Chimera
  27. Syllable
  28. Zucchini
  29. Chalet
  30. Isthmus
  31. Cupboard
  32. Fricassee
  33. Depot
  34. Pneumonia
  35. Descent
  36. Iron
  37. Prestigious
  38. Quinoa
  39. Charcuterie
  40. Rapport
  41. Sherbet
  42. Yacht
  43. Vitamin
  44. Schnapps
  45. Eccentric
  46. Library
  47. Dessert
  48. Renaissance
  49. Jeopardy
  50. Anyway
  51. Synecdoche
  52. Provocative
  53. Accoutrements
  54. Queue
  55. Escape
  56. Tear
  57. Saliva
  58. Worcestershire
  59. Anemone
  60. Pseudonym
  61. Milieu
  62. Nauseous
  63. Stomach
  64. Lieutenant
  65. Seismic
  66. Acquiesce
  67. Yolk
  68. Official
  69. Facetious
  70. Segue
  71. Tenebrous
  72. Dilate
  73. Euphemism
  74. Schizophrenia
  75. Visceral
  76. Clothes
  77. February
  78. Niche
  79. Thorough
  80. Loquacious
  81. Calliope
  82. Tsunami
  83. Celtic
  84. Flibbertigibbet
  85. Electoral
  86. Uvula
  87. Handkerchief
  88. Efficacious
  89. Voluminous
  90. Exacerbate
  91. Numb
  92. Brooch
  93. Obsequious
  94. Especially
  95. Tenet
  96. Mauve
  97. Hippopotamus
  98. Cacophony
  99. Wednesday
  100. Ask
  101. Temperature

1. Colonel (KERN-ull)

If you have family in the military or played any video games involving soldiers, you’ve likely come across the word colonel more than a few times. The term describes an officer with a rank higher than a lieutenant, but its pronunciation is more than confusing.

When you read the word, you may pronounce it call-oh-nel. It appears that way but sounds identical to kernel when pronounced correctly.

Colonel has been one of the most mispronounced words for hundreds of years. Italians originally used the word “colonnello” to describe a military leader in charge of a small group of soldiers. The French copied the word and changed it in the 1600s1 to have an “r” sound. They made the first “l” silent and removed the second n, so the word became colonel.

Pro Tip: Delve into the history of etymology if the evolution of English words fascinates you. You’ll find plenty of interesting stories, like how colonel changed over time based on words jumping languages.

2. Hyperbole (high-PER-boh-lee)

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to note how many people mispronounce hyperbole. The word describes claims or statements people shouldn’t take seriously because they exaggerate.

Instead of saying hyper-bowl, practice the correct pronunciation above. It’ll help you speak with people more easily, especially since you’ll know how to use the word to make your speech more flowery.

The science of linguistics shows that speech requires five elements2 to communicate effectively:

  • An understanding of the word
  • Speech production
  • Articulation
  • Auditory processing
  • Oral motor mobility

Practicing the correct pronunciation of words like hyperbole will make you an expert at the first three elements needed to get your point across.

Everyone must conquer five speech skills to communicate effectively, including pronunciation.

3. Salmon (SAM-uhn)

Never worry about ordering from the seafood menu again by practicing the word salmon. The silent “l” is tricky but not impossible to overcome. Combine the pronunciation with a picture on a flashcard so it’s even easier to recall.

4. Mischievous (MIS-chuh-vus) 

Sometimes people do things to cause chaos but not to harm anyone. When they do, they’re not being mis-CHEE-vee-us. They’re MIS-chuh-vus rascals often trying to get a laugh.

5. Cache (CASH)

Have you ever tried clearing your cache to speed up your internet browsing? The next time you dive into your browser settings, remember to call it the CASH settings, not the CATCH settings.

6. Barometer (buh-ROM-i-ter)

Meteorologists use barometers to create accurate weather forecasts based on atmospheric pressure. It’s one of the words people say differently, depending on what their instinct tells them to do.

7. Pronunciation (pruh-nun-see-AYE-shun)

Even the word pronunciation can get lost in translation. Emphasize the second to last syllable so you say it correctly instead of saying PRO-nun-see-aye-shun.

8. Flutist (FLOO-tist)

Someone who plays the flute is a flutist. American English pronounces the word with FLOO in the first syllable, but British English describes the term as fl-OW-test. Both are technically correct, but FLOO will keep you in line with American dialects.

9. Nuclear (noo-klee-er)

You might say “new clear” in your mind when reading nuclear, but the tricky word has three syllables. Keep each of them separate by making the E sounds distinct.

10. Cacophony (cuh-CAW-fone-ee)

When describing a chorus of harsh sounds, give cacophony a slight bird call. Emphasizing the CAW part of the word gives it the edge needed to accurately depict what you’re hearing.

11. GIF (jif)

Younger and older generations often argue over naming small reaction images with a few seconds of repetitive movement. When Steve Wilhite made the first animated loop in 1987, he called it a graphics interchange format (GIF).

Should you say it with a hard G (as in goodness) or a soft J (as in Jack)? Wilhite announced the correct pronunciation in 20133 jif with a soft J.

Some people called it that all along, while others may never switch from the hard G. After all, people don’t say “graphics” as “jraphics.”

No matter what you prefer, at least now you know the technical pronunciation. Reading it out loud can help you decipher between two letters that sound almost the same.

Pro Tip: Try reading books out loud to develop speech skills that come naturally during conversations. Take your time and focus on pronouncing each word to study effectively.

12. Epitome (eh-PIT-oh-mee)

Epigraph and epitome look nearly identical, but they sound different. An epitome is something that’s a perfect representation, while an epigraph is an inscription.

13. Chaos (KAY-os)

Don’t worry about pronouncing chaos. The “ch” turns into a K sound like in the word echo. You can easily remember this by labeling the letters as confusing, much like the word’s definition.

14. Meme (meem)

People of all ages say meme differently. Although it most often describes one or more humorous digital photos, the word stretches through history to tell of culturally relevant things passed between generations. People have always said it as “meem” instead of meh-m or mee-mee.

15. Synonymous (si-NON-uh-muhs)

Ironically, a word describing two similar things is one many people say differently. The correct pronunciation is si-NON-uh-muhs, although you may hear it as si-NON-ee-mis in various American accents.

16. Gist (jist)

Much like GIF, gist starts with a soft J sound. Practice saying it out loud a few times, and you’ll get the gist eventually.

17. Metabolism (muh-TAB-uh-liz-uhm)

Your metabolism helps your bodily functions thrive, so say the word properly. You’ll quickly begin to notice when people mispronounce it as muh-TAB-yule-iz-em.

18. Panacea (pan-uh-SEE-uh)

Let anxiety wash over and past you by practicing panacea at home. When you need to describe a remedy for something to another person, you’ll know that the descriptor is pan-uh-SEE-uh.

19. Bury (BARE-ee)

Visit different parts of the U.S., and you’ll hear “bury” in various ways. The proper pronunciation is BARE-ee, although others prefer burr-ee if they grew up with that version of the word.

20. Açai (ah-sah-EE)

Health food stores and restaurants often have açai bowls available in numerous flavors. When you want a midday snack, ask for one with confidence. Açai pronunciation isn’t hard once you’ve practiced it. Say ah-sah-EE in the mirror a few times to become an expert at one of the most commonly mispronounced words in the English language.

21. Suspicious (suh-SPISH-uhs)

If something gives you an uneasy feeling, it might be suspicious. Call it what it is by pronouncing the word correctly. It’s never suh-SPI-cute-uhs—only suh-SPISH-uhs.

22. Inveigle (in-VAY-guhl)

Flattering someone to get them to do something specific is a form of in-VAY-guhling them. This word may seem intimidating, but it’s much easier to say than you might think.

23. Gyro (YEE-roh)

Stop by your nearest Greek restaurant and order gyro on your way home today. It’s rotisserie meat on pita bread with customizable toppings. You’ll know exactly how to request a serving of YEE-roh to go instead of asking for gee-roh or guy-roh.

Fun Tip: Some tricky words come from the same language, like Greek. You can always use free language learning apps like Duolingo or Babbel to learn that second language and practice it while you’re at restaurants or on vacation.

24. Hypocrisy (hi-POK-ruh-see)

No one should call themselves an expert at speaking and pronounce hypocrisy wrong. People might say it as hi-POK-reh-see, but its third syllable has a lower “ruh” sound.

25. Philanthropy (fi-LAN-thruh-pee)

People often say philanthropy wrong. It’s another one of the commonly mispronounced English words because “throp” stands out on the page. Pronounce the word as fi-LAN-thruh-pee instead of fi-lan-THROP-ee to ensure everyone knows what you’re discussing.

26. Chimera (kie-MEAR-uh)

Sometimes people switch between saying kie-MARE-uh and kie-MEAR-uh when describing one thing made of different parts. However, the correct pronunciation is the second option. 

27. Syllable (SIL-uh-buhl)

You might have made a joke similar to this—don’t put the em-FAS-is (emphasis) on the wrong sil-AHB-uhl (syllable). It’s an easy way to remember how “syllable” focuses mostly on the first part of the word.

28. Zucchini (zoo-KEE-nee)

There’s no such thing as a zoo-CHEE-nee. Ask your local grocery store clerk for help finding that and they’ll likely give you an odd look before walking you over to the zoo-KEE-nee section of the produce aisle.

29. Chalet (shall-AY)

Daydream about spending a vacation in the south of France and you might imagine a chalet. The dreamy cabin’s name is shall-AY due to its French origins, not CHAL-et.

30. Isthmus (IS-muhs)

Sometimes a large island has a smaller one nearby, connected by a thin strip of sand that goes underwater during high tide. The entire land mass is an IS-muhs, not an ISTH-mahs.

31. Cupboard (KUH-bird)

The English language occasionally has a silent p in various words. Cupboard is one of them. People might say it as hi-POK-reh-see, but its third syllable has a lower “ruh” sound.

32. Fricassee (fik-uh-SEE)

Scroll through the most popular dinner recipes and you’ll likely come across a pan of creamy white sauce with a savory meat called fricassee. The dish combines protein in a buttery sauce, but ensure you know how to say fik-uh-SEE before trying it. 

33. Depot (DEE-poh)

When I first encountered a Home Depot, I called it Home DEE-pot. Turns out, the T is silent. A friend casually explained it to me one day and I’ve been so grateful ever since. Those silent letters are tricky!

34. Pneumonia (noo-MOHN-yuh)

The initial “p” in “pneumonia” is silent, leading to the correct pronunciation “noo-MOHN-yuh.” Some people mistakenly pronounce it with a “p” sound at the beginning or alter the syllable emphasis incorrectly.

If you’re nervous about saying big words like pneumonia in front of people, create a warm-up routine you can recite before a conversation or presentation. You’ll get to run through your most challenging vocabulary words so nothing embarrassing happens when it’s time to start talking.

35. Descent (dih-SENT)

Sometimes people confuse descent with decent. The first sounds like dih-SENT, which means to move downward. Decent sounds like DEE-sent and means an acceptable standard.

Pro Tip: If you can’t decide on a pronunciation, test the sentence out loud. Context clues will point to the correct usage of the word, like descending from a height or dressing decently.

36. Iron (EYE-urn)

Saying “iron” five times quickly will make you feel like you’re saying one long sound. The short word has two similar vowel sounds in the American pronunciation—EYE-urn. The British pronounce it EYE-run, so ensure you use the version that matches what your conversational partner understands.

37. Prestigious (pre-STI-jus)

It sounds fancier to say pres-TEE-jus, but it’s technically wrong. The word prestigious has a softer I sound, so it comes across as pre-STI-jus. 

38. Quinoa (KEEN-wah)

I know I’ve made the mistake of ordering KEEN-oh-wah at restaurants before. I’ve also heard other people say qwin-OH-ah. The correct version is KEEN-wah. I still have to practice it in my head before saying the right pronunciation out loud, but my peace of mind is so worth it.

39. Charcuterie (shar-KOO-terr-ee)

Throw a few crackers and cheese slices on a board to make your next dinner a charcuterie feast. The trend is super popular because it’s easy to make. Just ensure you’re calling your creations shar-KOO-terr-ee boards and not kar-SHOO-terr-ie boards.

40. Rapport (ra-POR)

Establishing a rapport with someone means building a relationship that enables easy communication. The fancy word might look like ra-PORT, but it actually sounds like ra-POR.

41. Sherbet (sher-bert) 

Swap your ice cream for sherbet when you want a healthier treat. The delicious dessert is available at sher-bert shops, so don’t get lost looking for sher-BAY parlors.

42. Yacht (yaht)

People who dream of owning a boat might daydream about upgrading to a yacht one day. It sounds like yaht because it comes from the Dutch word jaght. When the British combined it with the word schip, the definition became a racing ship. The spelling makes it one of the hardest English words, but it’s easier to remember when you know its Dutch origin.

43. Vitamin (VITE-uh-min)

There are two ways to say vitamin: Americans pronounce it VITE-uh-min, while British people and Canadians say VIT-ah-min. They both mean the same thing, so use the version you’re most comfortable with or grew up using.

44. Schnapps (sh-NAH-ps)

When you order a glass of schnapps, it’s a small glass of two or more liquors. Sip on it slowly and practice saying sh-NAH-ps so you never accidentally say it incorrectly again.

45. Eccentric (ek-SEN-trik)

Calling something ee-SEN-trik sounds like the proper use of the word eccentric, but it’s not. You should say ek-SEN-trik to describe something unconventional.

46. Library (LYE-bruh-ree)

Whether you say LYE-bruh-ree or LYE-brare-ree, people will know you mean the public facility where everyone can borrow books. The first pronunciation is technically correct, but regional accents can create the second version.

47. Dessert (dizz-URT)

Enjoy something sweet after dinner by considering what you want for dizz-URT. If you ask others what they would like for deez-URT, they might not know what you mean. 

Fun Tip: If you can’t tell the difference between dessert and desert in conversation, remember—the double S in dessert stands for sweet stuff.

48. Renaissance (ren-uh-SAHNS)

The only thing tricker than spelling renaissance is saying it properly. Some people say REN-uh-sahns, but the emphasis goes on the final syllable. 

49. Jeopardy (JEP-er-dee)

You might not think that jeopardy is one of the most mispronounced words due to the game show’s popularity, but no one thinks of trivia when they use this word in terms of legal context. Remember to say it as JEP-er-dee instead of JEO-per-dee.

50. Anyway (EH-nee-way)

The big challenge in saying “anyway” is remembering if it has an S on the end. People added the S over time due to its more common conversational use, but the word EH-nee-way doesn’t need one.

Honing tiny pronunciation details like these will make you a conversational expert. Don’t forget to search for other resources that cover these skills, like Science of People’s course on Conversation Mastery, that will help you captivate people even in everyday conversations.

51. Synecdoche (sih-NEK-duh-kee)

You can use a synecdoche to describe an entire thing as one word, like calling a baseball team by its hometown’s name. When that moment happens, you’re using a sih-NEK-duh-kee, not a sih-nek-DOH-sh.

52. Provocative (pruh-VOK-uh-tiv)

Avocado and provocative might look the same, but they sound different. You should say pruh-VOK-uh-tiv instead of pro-voh-CAH-tiv.

53. Accoutrements (uh-KOO-truh-muhnts)

You’ll only use accoutrements when it’s a fancy occasion, but that doesn’t mean the word has a complicated sound. It’s uh-KOO-truh-muhnts, not uh-KOO-tray-monts.

54. Queue (cue)

People joke that queue is an overly complicated word. It sounds like “cue” because it contains an extra U and E that are technically silent.

55. Escape (es-KAPE)

If you’ve seen “Finding Nemo,” you’ve heard Dory mispronounce “escape” as es-CAHP-aye. It’s funny because the word is actually es-KAPE with two syllables instead of three.

56. Tear (tair)

Context clues are your best friend when it comes to tear. When something is ripping, tear sounds like “tair.” If someone’s crying, the word sounds like “teer.” The essential need for context clues makes this one of the more commonly mispronounced words in the English language.

57. Saliva (suh-LIVE-vuh)

You’d never say sal-EE-va to describe what collects in your mouth when you smell cooked food moments before eating dinner. Pronounce the word suh-LIVE-uh so you’re always correct, even if you’re hangry.

58. Worcestershire (WUHS-tuhr-shuhr)

It’s almost impossible to see an ingredient list including Worcestershire sauce and not giggle. The complicated-looking word is intimidating but not impossible to pronounce. If you need help at the grocery store, ask for WUHS-tuhr-shuhr sauce, not WOR-chester-shire sauce.

Pro Tip: It might be easier to remember this pronunciation if you know that the sauce came from the British city of Worcestershire. Imagine saying the word in a British accent to get the sound right.

59. Anemone (ah-NEM-oh-nee)

The sea anemone might be nature’s tongue twister, but you’ll conquer the word every time by remembering that it’s an ah-NEM-oh-nee instead of an ah-NEE-mo-nee.

60. Pseudonym (SOO-doh-nim)

People adopt a pseudonym when they want to publish something under a different name. You might think it’s sneaky, much like the silent letters in the word. Pronounce it SOO-doh-nim instead of puh-SEE-oo-doh-nim.

61. Milieu (mee-LYOO)

You might call a group of friends a clique, but they also create your mee-LYOO by forming your social environment.

62. Nauseous (NAW-shus)

Pronouncing the word nauseous doesn’t have to make your stomach turn. Practice saying NAW-shus and the spelling will never tie your stomach in knots again.

63. Stomach (STUM-ak)

The O in stomach might look like it needs a soft sound, but it has a deeper “oh” pronunciation. Always say STUM-muk rather than STOH-muk.

64. Lieutenant (lef-TEN-uhnt)

You’re not alone if lieutenant makes your brain spin. Although the spelling seems like it should have a “loo” or “lee-oo” sound, the pronunciation is lef-TEN-uhnt.

65. Seismic (SIZE-mik)

If you haven’t heard someone say seismic before, you might be among the people struggling with one of the most mispronounced words in English. It’s SIZE-mik, not SEEZ-mic.

66. Acquiesce (ak-wee-ES)

Changing how you say acquiesce might include a bit of reluctance, but it’s worth it. It’s ak-wee-ES, not ak-wee-SHENCE.

67. Yolk (yohk)

When you want to order a meal with just egg whites, you must mention how you don’t want to eat the yolk. Pronounce the yellow part of the egg as yohk, not YOH-lk.

68. Official (uh-FISH-uhl)

If you turn on a British movie or TV show, they might call something oh-FIS-see-ol. Unlike tricky words like the açai pronunciation, official has a cultural pronunciation difference. Americans say uh-FISH-uhl.

69. Facetious (fuh-SEE-shuhs)

After someone makes an inappropriate joke, you can say they’re fuh-SEE-shuhs instead of FACE-ih-tus.

70. Segue (SEG-way)

Move from one conversational topic to another by figuring out smooth SEG-ways, not SEG-yoos.

71. Tenebrous (TEN-uh-bruhs)

Scary passageways enshrined in shadow are TEN-uh-bruhs. You might want to say ten-EE-bree-uhs, but that adds an extra, unnecessary I.

72. Dilate (DYE-late)

Doctors DYE-late their patients’ eyes for specific medical procedures. You can remember the correct pronunciation because they use an “eye” drop to make it happen, much like the first syllable pronounced DYE.

73. Euphemism (YOO-fuh-miz-uhm)

It’s kinder to use a YOO-fuh-miz-uhm in place of an offensive term. Instead of describing someone’s death as them dying, you might tell their loved one you’re sorry they passed away. It’s easier for the other person to hear while grief is still ripping their heart open.

Fun Tip: When prioritizing another person’s emotional needs, you could say, “I’m putting you first.” Remember that “you” sounds like the first syllable YOO in euphemism.

74. Schizophrenia (skit-suh-FREE-nee-uh)

Longer words are a bit intimidating, but you’ll easily describe schizophrenia cases in class or the news by pronouncing it as skit-suh-FREE-nee-uh.

75. Visceral (VISS-er-uhl)

A visceral fear is as sharp as the word’s V sound. Add a slight hiss to pronounce it correctly—VISS-er-uhl.

76. Clothes (kl-OTHE-s)

Remember to pause long enough to pronounce the TH sound in kl-OTHE-s. Otherwise, you’ll say kl-OH-s, which means to shut something.

77. February (FEB-roo-air-ee)

Sometimes people skip the extra syllable in February because it’s more conversational, but the correct way to say it is FEB-roo-air-ee.

78. Niche (neesh)

Your friend might say they have a NITCH interest, but that sound and spelling means a small incision. They mean they have a NEESH interest because it’s a specialized hobby.

79. Thorough (THUR-oh)

Pronouncing THUR-oh incorrectly might mean you’re saying THROO. Through (THROO) means to go into and out of something, while THUR-oh means you’ve ensured every detail is correct. It’s one of those words people say differently without knowing they’ve changed their meaning.

80. Loquacious (loh-KWAY-shuhs)

Make your next conversation fancier by describing yourself as loh-KWAY-shuhs. It might be accurate, too, if you’re known for talking endlessly.

81. Calliope (kuh-LYE-uh-pee)

Although more people likely know the word kuh-LYE-uh-pee as a name, it’s actually a musical instrument that uses steam to create notes from its pipes.

82. Tsunami (soo-NAH-mee)

If you’ve ever felt like saying soo-NAH-mee felt like speaking another language, it’s because it is. The word comes from the Japanese word for harbor (“tsu”) and wave (“nami”).

Pro Tip: Sometimes it’s easier to say a word once you’ve read about its history. An etymology dictionary will tell you where any word comes from, when people started using it, and how it morphed into the word you use today.

83. Celtic (SELL-tik)

There are actually two different ways to say this word, depending on the meaning. When referring to the culture, say KELL-tik. If it’s the sports team, it’ll be SELL-tik.

84. Flibbertigibbet (flib-er-tee-JIB-it)

A superficial person might also be a flib-er-ee-JIB-it if they’re a frivolous person who talks excessively.

85. Electoral (ee-LECK-tor-ahl)

When it’s election season again, you can discuss ee-LECK-tor-ahl voting results like a professional analyst. If you say ee-leck-TOR-ahl, you’ll be mispronouncing it.

86. Uvula (YOO-vyuh-luh)

Even if you don’t know what your YOO-vyuh-luh does in the back of your throat, saying it properly is the best way to at least identify what you’re discussing.

87. Handkerchief (HAN-ker-cheef)

Handkerchief is one of the most commonly mispronounced English words because regions have individual pronunciations. If you’re in America, you’d call it a HAN-ker-cheef. Others might say HAN-ker-chif or even HAN-kuh-cheef if you’re in the U.K.

88. Efficacious (ef-i-KAY-shuhs)

Anyone sitting for a job interview should describe themselves as ef-i-KAY-shuhs. The recruiter will be impressed with your vocabulary and ability to do your work satisfactorily.

89. Voluminous (vuh-LOO-muh-nuhs)

Something vuh-LOO-muh-nuhs will have great size or volume, much like balloons (bah-LOONS) with the same sound.

90. Exacerbate (ig-ZAS-urh-bayt)

Don’t ig-ZAS-urh-bayt your pronunciation struggles by skipping the word exacerbate. Practice it in the mirror so you’re always ready to use it in conversation.

91. Numb (nuhm)

The silent B in numb looks tricky, but the one-syllable pronunciation of nuhm isn’t difficult at all.

92. Brooch (br-OACH)

Avoid the temptation to call the pinned jewel on your jacket a br-OOCH. The word technically sounds like br-OACH, even though it doesn’t have an A in it.

93. Obsequious (uhb-SEE-kwee-uhs)

If someone needs to resort to flattery to impress their boss or follow requests outside their job description, you could say they’re uhb-SEE-kwee-uhs.

94. Especially (ess-PESH-all-ee)

This is another one of the mispronounced words that change in different regions. A British person might say something is ess-PES-ee-all-ee delicious, while an American would say it’s ess-PESH-all-ee tasty.

95. Tenet (TEN-eht)

Anyone with religious beliefs likely has a core TEN-eht that guides their faith. If you accidentally pronounce it with an extra N, you’ll be talking about a TEN-ant who rents their living space.

96. Mauve (mohv)

Lavender is a shade of mauve, which you should pronounce as mohv instead of MAH-oov.

97. Hippopotamus (hip-uh-POT-uh-muhs)

The adorable animal chilling in a pond at the zoo is a hip-uh-POT-uh-muhs, or hippo for short.

98. Cacophony (kuh-KAH-fuh-nee)

A loud burst of numerous sounds that aren’t pleasant is a kuh-KAH-fuh-nee, not a CACK-oh-fone-ee.

99. Wednesday (WENZ-day)

People often struggle to read the word Wednesday because it looks like it has three syllables. Remember that everyone says WENZ-day to clarify which day you’re discussing.

Fun Tip: If you need to teach a child how to say Wednesday, separate the syllables so they remember its spelling. Afterward, you can practice the differing pronunciation.

100. Ask (ASK)

The “s” comes before the “k” in the correct pronunciation, but some people switch the two consonants around.

101. Temperature (TEM-pruh-chur)

Many people incorrectly insert an extra syllable (“a”) when pronouncing “temperature,” making it sound like “TEM-per-a-chur” instead of the correct “TEM-pruh-chur.”

Mispronounced Words Mini FAQs

How Can I Improve My Pronunciation and Avoid Mispronouncing Words?

You can improve your pronunciation and avoid mispronouncing words by studying guides like this, using apps, reading etymology books, and reflecting on your vocabulary lists. Working slowly and steadily with your favorite resources will make you an expert wordsmith.

Are there any online tools or apps that can help with pronunciation?

Reading words is excellent, but you must speak or hear them to identify each pronunciation. Numerous apps and online tools can help with that.

When I was struggling with the word niche, I downloaded ELSA Speak: English Accent Coach. It’s available for iOS and Android, so anyone can try it out. The app teaches you how to pronounce words in American English through speech recognition software.

Press a word to hear how people say it, then speak it into your microphone. I was surprised by how to say niche and relieved to practice it by myself. Saying it into my phone and getting the app’s approval made me so much more confident when using the word in conversations.

FluentU could be most helpful if English is your second language. It teaches pronunciation by playing popular videos native speakers love. The latest music videos, movie trailers, and commercials will show you how to say more challenging words and how to use them.

It’s also easy to get some vocabulary practice with your computer. Sensay is a website that improves reading comprehension by explaining words with AI voices. Listen to them, read their definitions, and say them back to get better with the hardest words you can find.

Duolingo is another option, although it’s really for long-term users. Play through the free lessons with your computer’s volume up to hear each example out loud. As you progress through the levels, you’ll encounter harder words and a vocabulary roster list you can practice at any time.

I spend a few minutes with these resources weekly to practice my confidence when speaking with others. I’ve found that I hesitate about words based on their pronunciation and my public speaking anxiety. If you share the same struggles, using an app like Metronome Pace will boost your confidence by timing your words and helping you practice what you’ve learned recently.

Fun Tip: Starting a new habit is tricky because it requires sustained changes in your routine. Using a habit tracker app like Finch will encourage you to reach your goals with casual reminders and fun in-game rewards for completing your custom daily tasks.

Are there any techniques or exercises I can use to practice pronunciation?

More resources are available for anyone who wants to conquer the most mispronounced words. In addition to using apps and websites, you could add these ideas to your weekly routine:

– Make and review flashcards with your most challenging words
– Use a lyric website to find songs with your most commonly mispronounced words
– Record yourself saying vocabulary words correctly and listen to them daily for practice

Apps and websites can help you conquer challenging words in addition to watching movies, singing songs, and working with a tutor.

How Can I Politely Correct Someone Who Mispronounces a Word?

If you think the other person will be receptive to your correction, you can always preface your comment with these prompts:

  • “I used to say that word the same way, but I just learned how to say it correctly. Do you want to know the pronunciation?”
  • “Can I speak with you privately for a second? I want to explain something I learned recently.”
  • “Oh, that reminds me of something! I discovered how to say that word the other day. You’ll never believe how it’s supposed to sound.”

These phrases are more approachable and kind than correcting someone like they’re in class. The comforting wording or excitement in your voice could make your friend more receptive to fixing their common mistake.

You can also use your body language to make others more comfortable with your corrections. Instead of puffing your chest out, which comes across as intimidating, you could smile, use open palms, and relax your shoulders so they’re in a casual position. 

Takeaway: Conquer the Most Mispronounced Words

Every language has commonly mispronounced words. English is no exception. Whenever you say a word and feel nervous about how it sounds, use these steps to get used to its pronunciation:

  • Type the word into a pronunciation app
  • Ask a tutor for help
  • Practice the correct pronunciation daily to memorize it.

Once you’ve clarified your trickiest words, there are other ways to improve your conversational skills. Become the best public speaker by learning to layer wit into your sentences. Consider browsing our guide to understand how your body language affects how you can communicate with others. You’ll engage people, keep their interest, and speak more effectively with every effort you make.

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