19 English Words Most People Mispronounce

We’ve all been there when we confidently mispronounce a word in front of a large group of people. It’s embarrassing and can make us want to run and hide. Mispronouncing words is so easy to do, but just so you don’t get caught out in the future, here’s a list of 19 commonly mispronounced words.

Hypocrisy (hi-POK-ruh-see)

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This word is commonly pronounced as hi-POK-reh-see. However, Science of People tells us “ its third syllable has a lower “ruh” sound.” Make sure to really focus on the third syllable of hypocrisy. It’s a common word to mispronounce and is even done by academics and professionals.

Philanthropy (fi-LAN-thruh-pee)

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Philanthropy is often mispronounced as fi-lan-THROP-ee. The correct pronunciation of this word should put emphasis on the “LAN” syllable. The third syllable is also pronounced “THRUH” not “THROP.” It’s important to pronounce this word correctly when speaking about charity and humanitarian efforts. 

Chimera (kie-MEAR-uh)

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This word can be confused with kie-MARE-uh. The correct pronunciation of chimera has more of an “EAR” sound. To make sure this word is said correctly Youglish advise “Say it out loud and exaggerate the sounds until you can consistently produce them.” Chimera is often used in both scientific and literary discussions.

Boatswain & Coxswain (\BOH-sun\ & \KAHK-sun)

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The origins of both these words come from the archaic “swain” which means “boy” or “servant.” A boatswain is a ship’s officer, while a coxswain is a sailor in charge of a boat. These pronunciations completely differ from how they’re spelt and this can cause a large amount of confusion. 

Anemone (ah-NEM-oh-nee)

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Anemone is often pronounced as “ah-MEN-oh-mee.” Babbel supports this by writing “You can probably blame the coincidence of too many M’s and N’s close together.” As humans, we can become confused by too many of the same similar letters. This term is common in marine biology and became better known through the Disney film “Finding Nemo.” 

Prescription (pri-scrip-shun)

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This word is commonly pronounced as per-scrip-shun. It’s important to pronounce this word correctly as it’s often used in medical and pharmaceutical terms as a way to order medicines for a person. Make sure to really emphasize the “pri” of the word as it’ll come in handy if needing to pick up medicines. 

Quinoa (keen-wah)

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Quinoa is one word that is often mispronounced in so many different ways. Best Life helps by saying “The “q” takes on a “k” sound, and it’s pronounced keen-wah.” It comes from the Quechuan word kinuwa. Quinoa is a type of grain that’s commonly used for healthy meals. It’s relevant to know the pronunciation for culinary or nutritional discussions. 

Accessory (ak-sess-or-y)

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This is commonly pronounced as ass-sess-or-y. It’s important to make sure there’s emphasis on the first syllable. This is where almost all people go wrong when pronouncing the word. Accessory is a word that’s used in a number of different contexts such as fashion, legal and technology. 

Wednesday (WENZ-day)

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SCMP writes “This word looks like it should take far longer to say than it does.” The middle three letters look like they should be a separate syllable, but they aren’t. It’s the confusion over the spelling that usually causes the mispronunciation of Wednesday. As it’s a day of the week, Wednesday is commonly used in everyday language.

Comfortable (kumf-tuh-buhl)

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Jakub Marion advises “If you “come for a table” to a furniture shop, it will hopefully be comfortable, although it doesn’t rhyme with it.” This is because the mispronunciation usually comes from the spelling of comfortable. Pronouncing this word does vary depending on whether you’re from the US or the UK.

Worcestershire (WUS-ter-sher)

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It’s the spelling of this word that can create confusion when pronouncing it. Worcestershire is both a sauce and an English county. As the sauce is used in many culinary dishes and featured in recipes, it’s an important word to pronounce correctly. Even more so for English natives. 

Pronunciation (pro-nun-see-ay-shun)

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There’s a slight irony in the fact that this word is often mispronounced. Lingoda goes one step further, saying “ It’s a word people often misspell too, thinking it should be written and pronounced like the verb, so they say pro-nounce-i-ay-shun. The correct way is pro-nunce-i-ay-shun.”

Salmon (SAM-un)

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There’s a silent “l” in Salmon, which can very often confuse people when trying to pronounce it. This makes the pronunciation amongst non-native English language speakers rather difficult. Salmon is a common seafood that’s eaten and is likely to crop up in conversation, so it’s an important word to pronounce correctly. 

Cupboard (kub-urd)

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The “p” is silent in cupboard. When most people look at the word, they want to pronounce it as “cup-board”, which is completely wrong. The word can often be used in daily conversation as a cupboard is a common household item. It may also be used in the fields of interior design and real estate.

Hyperbole (hai-pur-buh-lee)

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This word looks as though it should be pronounced as “hi-per-bole”. Mispronunciation can completely change the meaning of this word. Hyperbole is commonly used in literature terms and means something is an exaggerated statement. Try not to confuse it with similar-sounding words

Comptroller (kon-TROLL-er)

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Spelling Bee helps to make us feel better about the mispronunciation of this word by saying “Believe it or not, this word has been very confusing since the 16th century.” It’s often mispronounced due to its spelling, as comptroller has an “m” in it, instead of an “n.” The word is used in business and finance and refers to management-level accounting. 

Acai (ah-sah-EE)

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Acai is usually mispronounced as “uh-KAI.” The word means a nutritious smoothie bowl that’s usually packed with different fruits, grains and yogurt. They have become popular in the culinary sector and feature on many menus in restaurants, so it’s important to know how to pronounce the word correctly. 

Remuneration (re-MYOO-nuh-ray-shun)

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This word is often mistaken as having the word “number” in it and this is what leads to mispronunciation. It’s usually pronounced as “re-NUM-eration.” It’s an important, business, legal and financial term and refers to the payment that’s received after work or service. 

Lieutenant (lef-TEN-ent in UK, loo-TEN-ent in US)

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This word has two different pronunciations. It differs depending on whether you’re native to the US or the UK. Lieutenant refers to a military position and it’s an important word used in history, war and the military. It can also crop up in movies, so great to know what an actor is referring to.

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