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Home » Culture and Criticism

Pronunciation peeve du jour

Submitted by on February 27, 2008 – 12:15 PM150 Comments

The word is not "preg-net." The word is "preg-NANT." "-NANT." When you pronounce it "pregnet," you sound like a five-year-old. Stop it.

The fact that it's 90210 reruns of the Jackie-and-Mel-spawn era that drew my ire on this topic is rather pathetic, but I ain't wrong.

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  • Cindi in CO says:

    No Sars, you ain't wrong.

    How about "liberry"? Or "punkin"? It's "library" and "pumpkin" folks. (I'll accept "punkin" as a term of endearment, but you'd better be my dad.)

  • Amy says:

    Are we going to discuss "liberry" v. "library" too, because that irks me. Also, I totally thought the word was "euphenism" until I looked it up and saw that it was "euphemism." Weird. I could have sworn that was an "n" in there.

  • Jaybird says:

    Where we live, "chullren" go to "schoo'", and are instructed to leave they mama's "jewry" alone.


  • Dayna says:

    My peeve every jour? Hee-nous or hee-nee-ous. It's pronounced hay-nous. I can't tell you how many news people, narrators, anouncer-types get this one wrong. Grrrrr!

  • Jill says:

    One that drives me crazy lately is "rillater" instead of "realtor." REAL. TOR. It's not hard. The worst is when REALTORS mispronounce it!!!

  • Tom says:

    And, please, while we're at it: it's frustrated. Not fustrated. Not even frustated. And most certainly not fustated.

  • Cij says:

    I am currently waging a campaign in my office that it's "espresso," not "expresso."

    When it comes to 90210, I take exception with Brenda's "dinnit," instead of "didn't." Or Kelly saying "Brinda" instead of "Brenda-" and I was a fan of Kelly's that season too.

  • Diane says:

    "Nucular" instead of "nuclear." Do you want a politician who can't pronounce the word to be in charge of whether someone somewhere gets "nuked"?

    P.S. Is there something wrong with the WordPress clock? It's only 9 a.m. here on the other coast.

  • Katy says:

    This reminds me of the Scrubs episode where the janitor corrects someone's pronunciation of "library" (from "liberry") and then later the guy pronounces "strawberry" as "strawbrary." Oh my god, that made me laugh so hard.

    I am always bad with comfortable ("comf-ter-ble"), and I'm usually bad with probably (I omit the middle syllable) and specific (which comes out like "Pacific" when I'm talking fast).

    Then again, I can speak correctly when I make the effort to do so — at least, I think I can.

  • rhiannon says:

    I gave myself the gift of the first and second seasons of 90210 a few months ago (I live alone! I have no cable! I can't have a cat!) and man, do I love to hate this show. If the writers' strike had gone on much longer, I would have tried to rally a group of supporters to send TWOP a lot of simultaneously in hopes of getting some 90210 recaps.

    There's a couple of episodes that use "ma-toor" as well, which makes me nuts.

  • krissa says:

    I irk MYSELF when I say "fer" instead of "for." I grew up in that big state west of Canada – how did I end up with a (generally) Southern speech pattern?!

  • Nicky says:

    "Mis-chee-vee-ous" drives me bonkers. BONKERS.

  • Devlyn says:

    How about amplitheater/amphitheater? My mom mispronounces that all the time. She also says "prostrate" instead of "prostate", but that's a little different.

  • Sam says:

    "Samwich" instead of "Sandwich" absolutely gives me hives. And "Supposably" is not far behind.

  • Tiffanie says:

    The month I was born in? February. Not Feb-yoo-ary, not Feb-ey-air-ee, but Feb-ru-ary. Say it just like it is spelled, people.

  • Lindsay says:

    Oh dear. One of my biggest peeves: heigHT pronounced heigTH.
    And, my personal demon: my dearly beloved husband is one of the guilty :(

  • Lindsay says:

    Oh! And I forgot another one: weary vs. wary. The problem is, I can never tell whether it's a mispronunciation issue or whether people just don't know that htose are two different words with two different meanings…

  • Courtney says:

    a couple of years ago I had a former neighbor announce that she was going back to school to "pursue a masters degree in liberry science".

    Seriously! If you can't pronounce it, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

  • Chyna says:

    "Preg-net" drives me crazy. And my hair stylist says "Valentime's Day."

  • Jen M. says:

    Ooh, I have one. It's "asked," not "axed." No, you did not "axe" me a question. You ASKED me. *S*

  • Sars says:

    @Lindsay: I think they're crossing up "wary" and "leery." It's a pretty pervasive mistake; writers you'd expect to know better will still biff that one.

  • Kona says:

    My favorite is still Marissa Cooper bemoaning the fact that Ryan got that one girl "Prug-nunt." Heh.

  • Kristin says:

    "Pitchers" for "pictures." I swear my husband does it now simply to annoy me. And ditto on the hives for "samich."

  • Kerry says:

    I like the pronunciation "heighth," because it matches width, depth, and breadth. "Height" doesn't make sense.

    And the automated voice on my Verizon voicemail says "Feb-a-wary." Seriously.

  • Marisa says:

    Need to add "jewlery" for "jewelry" – people spell it wrong and mispronounce it all the time and it bugs!!

  • Ashley says:

    My mom insists on pronouncing the name of the state where she lived for over 30 years "mass-a-choo-siss" I mean seriously, I can see maybe glossing over 1 T, but two? It's like they put the second one in there just so you couldn't forget to pronounce them. But no. Mass-a-choo-siss.

  • Susan says:

    I think "heigth" is a midwestern variant. I had never heard it pronounced that way until I moved to Nebraska, but it seems to be the norm here.

  • Ashley says:

    PS "heighth" is good ol' Shakespearean English:

    [Love] is the star to every wand'ring bark
    Whose worth's unknown, although his heigth be taken.

  • Smash says:

    These fall into two distinct categories for me– words that are slang or intentional contractions of known words, and words that people just fuck up a lot. The slang and intentional morphs don't bother me– Virginia Woolf and Faulkner could get away with writing those crazy-ass long sentences because everyone knew they were capable of proper English if they chose to be. I like that language is malleable, and "prolly" and "sammich" are just fine in my book, because I think that for the most part, it's intentional word play with those two.

    It's the unintentional screw-ups that drive me nuts. The weary/wary distinction, nukyular, juxtaposing the T & L in Chipotle, and the announcer on the DC metro every morning who calls it "Luh-font Plaza" when there's clearly another N in L'enfant…those are enough to make me want to stab out my eardrum.

    "Supposably" falls in the middle. I think most of the time people are just screwing it up, but ever since the episode of Friends where Joey does his supposably riff, I have friends who use it ironically.

  • Cindi in CO says:

    I know a guy that says "death" when he really means "deaf".

  • Amy says:

    I like making fun of the pronunciations on my GPS (as in, I make fun to my friends, I don't make fun of it when I'm alone). For example, she pronounces "Los Feliz" "lahs fillies." But that's because it's a machine trying to speak words it doesn't learn as part of being a human being. Wait, so it's not "mis-chee-vee-ous?" I though if you pronounced it the other way it just sounded pompous. Now what about ah-soh-shee-its v. ah-so-see-its? Does that count?

  • Carrie says:

    My husband says "supposably." He's got an MBA and I've corrected him, but he will not stop. And yet, I still married him. I am a saint.

    Where I'm from, people will say "jell" for "jail", "mell" for "mail". Or they'll completely drop a consonant: "Lay-on" for "Layton"; or they'll add one: "bolth" for "both".

  • Jed says:

    Heh, "preg-nint" is a Godsend compared to the way folks around here say it.

    Try "preg-a-nunt" on for size. Also, "fust-a-rated"

    Although "Valentime's" reminds me of that great episode of 30 Rock. I kept saying "Happy Balentime's!" all day.

  • Sara says:

    Even worse? When people SPELL it wrong, to wit: "pregnate." No, no, NO.

    I have to admit, though, that I only became a member of the correct-pronunciation game yesterday. All my life, I've thought "cabinet" is correctly pronounced "cab-net." It's, um, not.

  • Irish says:

    I work with a person who always says "mute point" instead of "moot point." It drives me nuts! And my mother cannot pronounce "oriented." It always comes out "orienTAted."

  • KER says:

    "supposably" is my Number One pet peeve. There's no B in that word! how on EARTH do you come up with supposably?????

    Nucular is a close second. Oh, and when people call the burrito place "chi-pole-tay". the T comes before the L, people. It's "chi-poat-lay".

  • Katie says:

    @Nicky – now I'm scared. I never realized until you pointed it out that mischeeVEEous is not a word. O NO! What if I say it? I'll have to pay attention now. Consider me possibly mortified.

  • Karen says:

    Dear Mom, It's "wah-ter", not "wudder". I don't care if you're from south Jersey. There is no D in that word. Love, Karen

    My grandmother gets a special dispensation for "a-lemon-o-clock" ("eleven o'clock") and "hamburg" for ground beef.

    I noticed that punkin is a local, mid-Pennsylvania thing when my roommate's friend, who is usually fairly urbane, said it. "What kind of beer?" I asked, for clarification. "Punkin beer," he tells me. He's originally from Lancaster.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    As Courtney says "Seriously! If you can't pronounce it, you probably shouldn't be doing it."

    There's a jewelry store here that sells "jew-ler-y" – I mute that ad as fast as possible so my head won't explode. GAH!!!

    And I hope like hell I don't say anything that annoys anyone that much!

  • Thomasina says:

    @Tiffanie: the Merriam-Webster online entry for "February" has the "Feb-yoo-ary" pronunciation listed as preferred. They even include an interesting explanation about why that is true ( The entry lists the "Feb-ru-ary" pronunciation as an acceptable variant but not more "correct" than "Feb-yoo-ary."

  • LTG says:

    Lots of mispronunciations are the product of ignorance, laziness, unfamiliarity, or illiteracy, and they all bother me. But some are just part of normal dialect, either in one region or most of them. I think "Feb-u-ary" and "comfterble" both fit in that category. It doesn't bother me when people say "com-for-table" — I think I may have gradually shifted to that pronunciation myself after some 20-odd years of only hearing it pronounced the other way. But when I hear people pronounce the "r" in February, it sounds completely wrong to me.

  • Sheila says:

    "Fith" instead of "fifth." AAAAGGHH!! Now that I am tuned into this, I am AMAZED by how many people say it. People who f-ing speak for a living, like radio announcers and news anchors.

  • Julia says:

    Peticular. PARticular. Sheesh.

  • annabel says:

    "northren" for "northern". Some NPR announcer doing the sponsored-bys a few years ago did this and it drove me nuts. I think I called my local station or emailed or something, but eventually he started pronouncing it correctly.

  • Glarying mispronunciations bother me, like "fustrated" for "frustrated" and so on, but a lot of them that are more like dialect variants don't bother me at all. Whenever I get into these types of discussions, I find that I'm guilty of at least three or four things that make the list, so then I feel all stupid piling on someone else for their little ticks. I've just come to accept the fact that certain people will say "sar" instead of "saw" and some others will say "terlet" instead of "toilet" and that's all just a part of life.

    I'm pretty sure I say "preg-nant" (but more like preg-nint) but I really don't think I can honestly hear the difference between pregnet and pregnant if the person were speaking fairly quickly.

  • Jennifer says:

    Wash does not have an R in the middle of it.

  • Theta says:

    I love that there are this many people who care about these things. How about "Warshington" or–worse–"eye-talian?" And I don't care if Merriam-Webster lists it as an acceptable alternate pronunciation, "yooman" is not a word. "Human" is spelled with an "h" at the beginning. Pronounce it!

  • Lori says:

    @Irish: "Orientated" is actually a British variant, though I don't know if that's why your mom says it.

    Word on the "fustrated." So high school!

    One thing I hear around here a lot is "ast" for "asked." Seems to be a Northeast Philly thing. I've even heard local Ph.D.s say it.

  • cyntada says:

    @Jennifer: Thank you. And on that line, it's 'drawing' not 'drawering.' My high school Latin teacher used that one all the time.

    I never realized how many Spanish words have been bastardized into English by people who won't say them correctly: My bf's parents are fluent, and he grew up hearing correct pronuncuations even thought his first language is English. The first time I suggested making 'gwokamoleee' he made sure I understood that the tasty avocodo stuff is actually pronounced wa-ka-mo-le. "Chipotle' falls in the same category. Sound it out, people!

    But then, I was six before I knew that we have legs, not ligs, and that windows have sills, not seals. To this day my mom will still tell me to get those flowers off the windaseal and come on, because we're going to the summatary to put them on someone's grave. And people wonder why I talk like I'm from the Midwest…

  • Brainbreak says:

    carrie – are you from utah? i'd never heard of a "pell"-ow until I met some friends from there.

    For my own pet peeves – "Heighth" tops the list, I think. I mean, really people? The T is at the end of the word. I also hate supposably. Oh, and conversate. Not a word. Really.

    RE: ah-soh-shee-its v. ah-so-see-its… don't know which is right, neither one bothers me, but for some reason – neh-go-see-ayts instead of neh-go-shee-ayts drives me batty. I think the former sounds really pompous.

    Ah, it's rough having such silly things irk you. :-)

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