English can be an extremely silly language, with many words looking nothing like the way they should be articulated. There are also some words that so many people say slightly wrong, that often people are trained in the incorrect way to pronounce them.
There are also spelling rules in English, even if they are hard to understand, so pronouncing a word perfectly usually does help you spell it correctly. Here are we listed the 100 most often mispronounced English words.
Commonly Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English
Mispronouncing words are easy in English for several reasons. First, because many English words come from various languages, it can be hard to know how to pronounce them. Other words get new pronunciations in casual and dialectical use. Examine these commonly mispronounced words and see which parts of your vocabulary you could enhance.
Here are we listed 100 of the most commonly mispronounced words in English, and how to say them correctly.
Mispronounced Words That Start With A
Do you get complicated between Antarctic and Antartic? Only one is correct, and the same goes for the rest of these duos of mispronounced words that begin with A.
- Correct: across | Incorrect: acrossed
It is easy to confound across with crossed but better to keep them separate.
- Correct: affidavit | incorrect: affidavid
The lawyers issues affidavits.
- Correct: Alzheimer’s disease | Incorrect: old-timer’s disease
While it is a disease of older patients, it is called for by the German neurologist, Dr. Alois Alzheimer.
- Correct: Antarctic | Incorrect: Antartic (ant-ar-tic)
Just think of an arc of ants and that should allow you to keep the [c] in the pronunciation of this word.
- Correct: Arctic | Incorrect: Artic
Another hard-to-see [c], but it is there.
- Correct: ask | Incorrect: aks or axe
This mispronunciation has been around for so long that linguist Mark Aronoff believes we should adore it as a part of our linguistic heritage. Most of us would give the axe to “aks.”
- Correct: athlete, athletic | Incorrect: athelete, atheletic
Two syllables are adequate for athlete.
- Correct: Australia | Incorrect: Ostraya
This pronunciation especially bothers Australians themselves, most of whom can handle the [l] quite easily.
Mispronounced Words That Start With B
This list of commonly confusing words may be a benefit in disguise. Take a look at these commonly mispronounced words that start with B.
- Correct: barbed wire | Incorrect: bob wire (or barb wire)
No, this word wasn’t called for anyone called Bob or Barb. It should be barbed wire, meaning that the wire has tiny barbs on it.
Correct: barbiturate | Incorrect: barbiturate
Many people leave out the [r] sound when speaking this word. However, the word barbiturate arrives from the class of drugs made with barbituric acid.
- Correct: a blessing in disguise | Incorrect: a blessing in the skies
This phrase is no blessing if it arrives from the skies. Pronounce it accurately and help maintain the disguise.
- Correct: business | Incorrect: bidness
The shift of [s] to [d] before [n] is from the dialect of the Southern United States. But it’s particularly necessary to pronounce this word accurately in business contexts.
Mispronounced Words That Start With C
Some people think mispronounced words to be a cacophony on their ears. Create a stock of perfectly pronounced terms with this list of words that start with C.
- Correct: cache (cash)| Incorrect: cachet (cash-ay)
The French word cache represents “a hidden place.” Some people mistake it with the French cachet, meaning “prestige.”
- Correct: cacophony | Incorrect: caucaphony (caw-ca-fone-ee)
There is no cacophony to the ears than to hear the vowels changed in the pronunciation of this word.
- Correct: candidate | Incorrect: cannidate
You aren’t being wise to drop the [d] in this word.
- Correct: cardsharp | Incorrect: card shark
You may be surprised to hear that card shark isn’t an exact phrase. Its mispronunciation from cardsharp over the years, however, has led to card shark is more widespread in America than the original phrase.
- Correct: carpal tunnel syndrome | Incorrect: carpool tunnel syndrome
This word is mispronounced and misspelled several ways. Carpal indicates ”about the wrist.”
- Correct: The Caucasus | Incorrect: The Caucases
Although there is more than one mountain in this chain, their name is not a plural noun.
- Correct: cavalry (cav-al-ree)| Incorrect: Calvary (cal-vah-ree)
These are two distinct words: cavalry means “an army on horseback,” while Calvary symbolizes the hill on which Jesus was crucified in the Bible. They’re not interchangeable, so be sure you’re picking the right word.
- Correct: champ at the bit | Incorrect: chomping at the bit
Chomp has likely replaced champ in the U.S., but we assumed you might like to be reminded that the vowel should be [a] not [o].
- Correct: chest of drawers | Incorrect: chester drawers
The drawers of Chester is a specific way of looking at these chests down South, but it misses the point.
- Correct: clothes | Incorrect: close
The [th] is a very soft sound possible to be overlooked. Show your linguistic sharpness when pronouncing it.
- Correct: cornet (kor-net) | Incorrect: coronet (kor-oh-net)
If you’re talking about a brass instrument equivalent to a trumpet, use a cornet. A coronet is a royal crown. They might both be present at a coronation, but they are very distinct items.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With D and E
There’s no escape from judgment if you mispronounce a word inaccurately. However, studying this list of commonly mispronounced words that start with D and E can aid you, particularly when talking in front of a crowd.
- Correct: dilate (dye-late)| Incorrect: dialate (dye-ah-late)
The [i] in this word is so long that there is time for another vowel
- Correct: diphtheria | Incorrect: diptheria
When speaking the word the ”ph” in this word is pronounced [f], not [p].
- Correct: dog-eat-dog world | Incorrect: doggy dog world
- Correct: drown | Incorrect: drownd
You add the [d] only to the past tense of the word (drowned) and past participle.
- Correct: electoral | Incorrect: electorial
There’s no [i] in this word. The same rule uses for mayoral and pastoral.
- Correct: escape | Incorrect: excape
Even though the prefix ex- suggests “out of,” it’s not the right way to say escape. It arrives from the old French word eschaper, which connects the prefix ex- with cappa, the Latin word for “cloak.” The word’s change into and out of French makes the ex- into an es- prefix.
- Correct: espresso | Incorrect: expresso
While I can’t tell my love for espresso enough, this word was borrowed from Italian well after the Latin prefix ex- had evolved into the es- prefix.
- Correct: et cetera | Incorrect: excetera
Latin for “and” (et) “the rest” (cetera) are two words that should be written singly.
- Correct: especially | Incorrect: expecially
Especially is the adverb format of the adjective especial. Some may pronounce the word with an [x] to show that an event is unexpected, but it’s not the same word.
Mispronounced Words That Start With F
Several words on this list are mispronounced because people believe they need a French flair. Yet, words like foyer are pronounced just as they’re spelled in American English.
- Correct: February (Feb-roo-air-ee) | Incorrect: Febuary (Feb-you-air-ee)
We don’t like two syllables in line with an [r] so some of us dump the first one in this word. Most dictionaries now take the single [r] pronunciation but, if you have an elegant tongue, you may want to shoot for the original.
- Correct: federal (fed-err-all) | Incorrect: fedral (fed-rall)
The syncopation of an unaccented vowel is relatively common in rapid speech but in careful speech, it should be avoided.
- Correct: film | Incorrect: fillum
We also do not like the mixture [l] + [m]. Try to oppose adding another vowel in between these consonants.
- Correct: fiscal | Incorrect: fisical
Some people pronounce the monetary word fiscal the same way they’d pronounce the word physical. But these words should not be mistaken for each other.
- Correct: foliage (foh-lee-age) | Incorrect: foilage (foy-ull-age)
Remember, the [i] arrives after the [l], as in the related folio.
- Correct: for all intents and purposes | Incorrect: for all intensive purposes
This may be another shock for people who have been pronouncing this phrase for all intensive purposes. The new generation is mispronouncing this phrase so intensively that it has become widespread both as a mispronunciation and misspelling.
- Correct: forte (for-tay) | Incorrect: fort (fort)
If you’re talking about a military stronghold building, use the word fort. If you’re representing a music phrase played at a stronger volume, use forte.
- Correct: founder | Incorrect: flounder
As verbs, both words have identical meanings with flounder meaning to make a lot of mistakes or to have trouble moving; however, to founder is to fail.
- Correct: foyer | Incorrect: foy-ay
It’s pleasing to make the elegant entrance to a home sound extra fancy with a French pronunciation. However, in American English, you can say “foy-ur.”
Mispronounced Words That Begin With G, H, and I
It can be hard for others to interpret your meaning when they hear you mispronounce raw words. Check these words to see which others you might be mispronouncing.
- Correct: GIF (jiff) | Incorrect: GIF (ghiff)
Steve Wilhite, who made the term GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) in 1987, prefers the pronunciation of GIF with a soft [g] to rhyme with “Jif,” the peanut butter brand. But widespread usage has shown this word a common mispronunciation similar to the first sound of gift.
- Correct: height | Incorrect: heighth
The analogy with width deceives many of us in the pronunciation of this word because we try to end the word with the “th” sound. The start [h] and the last [t] is always pronounced.
- Correct: Heimlich maneuver (or manoeuvre, Br.) | Incorrect: Heineken remover
This word is mispronounced in many distinct ways. This maneuver (manoeuvre) was called for by U.S. surgeon Henry Jay Heimlich.
- Correct: hierarchy (hi-err-ar-key) | Incorrect: hi-archy | (hi-ar-key)
Remember, hierarchies go more elevated than you might think. This word is correctly pronounced as “higher archy” and not “high archy.”
- Correct: interpret | Incorrect: interpretate
This mistake results from the back-formation from interpretation. But back-formation isn’t required; we already have interpretation.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With J and L
Knowing how to speak English accurately means that you’re responsible for any miscommunication caused by pronouncing words incorrectly. Get your pronunciations refined with these words that start with J and L.
- Correct: jewelry (jool-ree) | Incorrect: jewlery (joo-luh-ree)
The root of this word is a jewel and that doesn’t alter for either jeweler or jewelry. The British add a syllable: jewellery.
- Correct: just | Incorrect: jist nor jus
As objected to the adjective just, this word is always unaccented, which enables vowel reduction. However, it sounds better to decrease the [ê] rather than replace it with [i].
- Correct: larynx (lare-inks) | Incorrect: larnyx (lare-nicks)
Here the [n] and [y] change places. Manage your [n]s and [y]s as you manage your [p]s and [q]s.
- Correct: law and order | Incorrect: Laura Norder
The sound “aw” collects up an [r] in some lingoes (also “sawr” and “gnawr”). Evade it and keep Laura Norder in her place.
- Correct: lease | Incorrect: leash
Southern Americans are particularly liable to confuse these two different words but the confusion arises elsewhere. Examine it.
- Correct: liable | Incorrect: libel
You are liable for the harm if you are successfully sued for libel. But don’t confuse these discrete words.
- Correct: library | Incorrect: libary
As noted before, English speakers dislike two [r]s in the same word. Nevertheless, we have to buck up and pronounce them all.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With M and N
It may feel bad to pronounce words like nuclear and moot as nucular and mute. Yet, these pronunciations can complicate your listener. Grab a look at this list of commonly mispronounced words that start with M and N.
- Correct: masonry | Incorrect: masonary
Masons are most likely to insert a spare vowel into this word representing their occupation, but others are known to do this, too.
- Correct: mauve | Incorrect: mawv
This word has not progressed far enough away from French to accept an English pronunciation, “mawv,” and should still be pronounced “mowv.”
- Correct: mayonnaise | Incorrect: man-naise
Ever wonder why the short format of a word pronounced “mannaise” is “mayo”? It’s because the actual word should be pronounced “mayo-naise.”
- Correct: miniature (min-ee-ah-ture) | Incorrect: miniture (min-ih-ture)
There’s a reason why the compressed version of miniature is mini. Make certain you pronounce all four syllables in this word.
- Correct: moot | Incorrect: mute
Just because a topic is moot, or extrinsic, doesn’t mean it’s mute, or silent.
- Correct: mischievous (mis-chiv-ous) | Incorrect: mischevious (mis-chee-vee-ous)
Many people put four syllables in this word always. But an easy way to remember its pronunciation is to say its core word – mischief – and add the suffix –ous.
- Correct: nuclear | Incorrect: nucular
The British and Australians discover the American repetition of the [u] between the [c] and [l] quaintly humorous. Good cause to get it right.
- Correct: nuptial (nup-shul) | Incorrect: nuptual (nup-shu-ull)
Many lecturers in the U.S. add a [u] to this word, too.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With O
Ought to introduce yourself in these commonly confusing words? Once you know how to pronounce them, you’ll discover ways to say them often.
- Correct: other | Incorrect: nother
Misanalysis is a typical type of speech mistake based on the misperception of where to draw the line between elements of a word or phrase. “A whole nother” comes from misanalyzing “an other” as “another.”
- Correct: often | Incorrect: off ten
The [t] was silent in the pronunciation of the term “often” until circa 19th century English when more people became capable to write and spell. Today the [t] is widely pronounced in England, the British Isles, Australia, and some parts of the U.S. Most U.S. dictionaries show both pronunciations, often showing the unspoken [t] as the most preferred.
- Correct: ordnance | Incorrect: ordinance
You may have to use ordnance to implement an ordinance but you should not pronounce the words the exact.
- Correct: orient | Incorrect: orientate
Another senseless back-formation. We don’t require this mispronunciation from orientation when we already have orient.
- Correct: ostensibly | Incorrect: ostensively
Be certain to keep your suffixes directly on this one. It sounds like extensively, but ostensibly is a completely distinct word.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With P
If you feel like this list is a bit fussy, you’re likely right. But it’s never a bad idea to let the proper pronunciation of a word percolate for a bit longer before you say it out loud.
- Correct: enclosed in parentheses (pare-en-the-sees) | Incorrect: enclosed in parenthesis (pare-en-the-sis)
No one can have an expression in one parenthesis; at least two parentheses are needed.
- Correct: parliament | Incorrect: parlament
Although some dictionaries have shown up on it, there should be a [y] after [l]: “pahr-lyê-mênt.”
- Correct: percolate | Incorrect: perculate
Pronouncing this word as “perculate” is quite strange. Also, remember that it signifies ”drip down” not ”up.”
- Correct: pernickety | Incorrect: persnickety
You may consider us too pernickety to even note this one. It is a Scottish nonce term to which U.S. speakers added a [s] over a many years ago. Outside the U.S., the term is pernickety.
- Correct: peremptory | Incorrect: preemptory
The old pre-/per- problem. Do not confound this word with preemptive; the prefix here is per-.
- Correct: perspire | Incorrect: prespire
Per- has become such a common mispronunciation of pre-, many people now update themselves where they don’t need to.
- Correct: pollute | Incorrect: plute
This one, like “plice” [police], spose [suppose] and others, generally result from fast speech syncope, the loss of unaccented vowels. Just be certain you pronounce the vowel when you are speaking slowly.
- Correct: potable | Incorrect: pottable
The adjective denoting “drinkable” rhymes with floatable and is not to be mistaken with the one that means “capable of being potted.”
- Correct: prerogative | Incorrect: perogative
Even in lingoes where [r] does not always trade places with the initial vowel (as the pronunciations “differnce” or “vetern”), the [r] in this prefix often gets changed.
- Correct: prescription | Incorrect: perscription
Many people just complicate pre- and per- since both are legitimate prefixes.
- Correct: probably | Incorrect: probly, prolly
Haplology is the dropping of one of two exact syllables such as the [ob] and [ab] in this word, usually the result of rapid speech. Slow down and pronounce the entire word for maximum clearness and to lower your probability of misspelling the word.
- Correct: pronunciation | Incorrect: pronounciation
Just as misspelling is among the most typically misspelled words, pronunciation is among the most generally mispronounced words. Don’t error it with its noun form pronounce.
- Correct: prostate | Incorrect: prostrate
The distinction between these words is more than the letter [r]. The prostate gland is a distant word than prostrate, which means “lying on the ground, face down.”
Mispronounced Words That Begin With R
Nevertheless of what you’re speaking about, pronouncing words accurately is always a pertinent skill. Notice how many R words you’ve been mispronouncing.
- Correct: realtor (real-tor) | Incorrect: realator (real-a-tor)
As you evade the extra vowel in masonry, remember to do the same for realtor, the guy who sells what the mason makes.
- Correct: regardless | Incorrect: irregardless
The suffix -less already says ”without” so there is no requirement to repeat the same sentiment with the prefix ir-.
- Correct: relevant | Incorrect: revelant
Here is another word that appears to invite metathesis. People often change the [v] and [l] sounds, probably because of identical words such as revolution.
- Correct: respite (res-pit) | Incorrect: respite (res-pite)
Despite the spelling resemblance, this word does not rhyme with despite; it is pronounced “‘re-spit.” Show yourself an enduring respite from mispronouncing it.
Mispronounced Words That Begin with S and T
Listening to common words said incorrectly supposedly makes English teachers stamp their feet. Keep your teacher satisfied by clearing up these words that start with S and T.
- Correct: sherbet | Incorrect: sherbert
Some of the identical people who do not like two [r]s in their words can’t help replicating the one in this word.
- Correct: silicon | Incorrect: silicone
Silicon is the material they make computer chips from but implants are constructed of silicone.
- Correct: sneaked | Incorrect: snuck
I doubt we will get snuck out of the language any time shortly, but here is a reminder that it isn’t the correct past tense form of sneak.
- Correct: so | Incorrect: sose
The phrase “so as” has been lowered to a single word “sose” even when it is not named for. “sose I can go,” should be just “so I can go.”
- Correct: spay | Incorrect: spade
You can hold your dog fixed but please don’t spade her.
- Correct: stamp | Incorrect: stomp
Stamps are so-called because they were initially stamped (not stomped) on a letter. You stamp your feet, too.
- Correct: stub | Incorrect: stob
If you’ve ever stubbed your toe, you might not care about the right pronunciation in that painful moment. But afterward, be certain you’re saying stub rather than stob.
- Correct: suite (sweet) | Incorrect: suit (soot)
If you fray it, it’s a suit. If you live it in, it’s a suite, as in a living room suite or a suite of rooms.
- Correct: supposedly | Incorrect: supposably
Supposably isn’t a term at all. Supposedly represents “allegedly” or “so I’ve been told.”
- Correct: supremacist | Incorrect: supremist
This word is emanated from supremacy, not supreme.
- Correct: tack | Incorrect: tact
You can try another tack, or course of action, if things aren’t going your way. Yet, you may want to use control or tact.
- Correct: take for granted | Incorrect: take for granite
If you’re thinking something will always be available, you’re taking it for granted. Taking something for granite would be misinterpreting the type of rock the object is and is presumably not what you’re trying to say.
- Correct: tenet | Incorrect: tenant
A tenant is someone who leases from a landlord. A tenet is a powerfully held belief.
- Correct: tenterhooks | Incorrect: tenderhooks
Tenters are framed for stretching cloth while it parches. Hanging on tenterhooks might leave you tender but that doesn’t alter the pronunciation of the word.
- Correct: triathlon (tri-ath-lon) | Incorrect: triathalon (tri-ath-a-lon)
We don’t like [th] and [l] together, so some of us insert a extra vowel. People also may misinterpret it for marathon when they add the extra [a]. Pronounce it correctly, spell it correctly.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With U and V
When performing on your verbiage, try your most to make your meaning as clear as possible to listeners. There may be more generally mispronounced words that begin with U and V than you think.
- Correct: utmost | Incorrect: upmost
While this word does mean that struggles are up, the word is utmost, is a historical variation of outmost.
- Correct: verbiage (ver-bee-age) | Incorrect: verbage (ver-bage)
Here is another word that fails it’s [i] in speech. Pronouncing it accurately will help you spell it correctly.
- Correct: voluptuous | Incorrect: volumptuous
Some voluptuous women may be clumpy, but please avoid this Freudian slip that informs them of it.
Mispronounced Words That Begin With W, Y, and Z
Did this alphabet of generally mispronounced words whet your desire for more? If so, examine your speech and notice how many words you may be pronouncing wrongly.
- Correct: wasn’t | Incorrect: wadn’t
That pesky [s] before [n] also. See “bidness” and “idn’t.”
- Correct: whet | Incorrect: wet
In the Northeastern US the sound [hw], spelled “wh,” is disappearing and these two words are pronounced the exact. Elsewhere they should be determined.
- Correct: yolk | Incorrect: yoke
Another dialectal difference we presumably should not call a mistake: [l] becomes [w] or [u] when not heeded by a vowel. Some people just mistake these two words, though.
- Correct: zoology (zo-ol-oh-gee) | Incorrect: zuology | (zu-ol-oh-gee)
We should speak [zo], not [zu], when we go to the zoo.
There is nothing to be discomfited by as language is forever growing and mispronounced. Misspelled words often see their way into our world, making it increasingly difficult to know what is right and what is wrong. Let’s admit it, speaking can be misleading, and there are some quite hard words to pronounce, particularly if it’s in a language that is not your mother tongue.
That got us considering and we decided to enlist the most commonly mispronounced words in this article. The list provides a good beginning to help you articulate and learn how to pronounce words accurately and may be a useful tool for your Speaking tests like IELTS, OET, etc.