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Fly's avatar

What common word or phrase have you always said incorrectly?

Asked by Fly (8726points) June 17th, 2010

Most of us are familiar with the awkward situation when someone finally corrects you after you’ve been saying something a certain way for the past twenty years.

I pronounced “bureau” as bur-ee-oo and lingerie as linger-ee for about twelve years before someone finally told me. I have a friend who still says “papasicle” because her parents thought it was too cute to correct when she was a kid. My dad used to think “menus” was pronounced “mee-nis.” This question was inspired by @Augustlan, who said the phrase “quelle surprise” sans French pronunciation as “kwell surprise” earlier today.
Granted, she also used to pronounce “voila” as “viola”...she really should brush up on her French.

So what was your embarrassing blunder?

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69 Answers

filmfann's avatar

I always say Hy per bowl

dpworkin's avatar

I used to say “EP-uh-tome” for epitome. I know someone who says ar-MEG-uh-don for Armageddon.

janbb's avatar

I often say or think “lbs.” instead of pounds. And “col-eh-nel.”

Val123's avatar

@filmfann Uh…how you say it?

dpworkin's avatar


Val123's avatar

Ok, I’m with @janbb on “col-eh-nel”. I think I read the word before I ever really leaned how to per-nounce it, and the way it’s spelled, vs the way it’s said it sticks with me to this day.

@dpworkin “hi-PER-bow-lee” Why?

janbb's avatar

@Val123 Um – because that’s how it’s pronounced?

dpworkin's avatar

Because that’s how it is pronounced, my dear. It is a Greek word.

janbb's avatar

Meant that in reference to “hyperbole”, of course. I now know “col-eh-nol” is actually pronounced incorrectly by the world.

Val123's avatar

@Yall. I think we’ve had this discussion before, on exactly this same word (except not in reference to “col-eh-nol” @janbb)....back to “hyperbole”’s a little rough to get on people for pronouncing it wrong, when “bole” IS pronounced “bowl” as in “cotton bole” (definition of bole which is “the stem or trunk of a tree.”) The pronunciation IS “bowl” So why would any American, with a background of ancestors in farming, familiar with the word “bole”, be dissed for assuming that “hyper-bole” would be pronounced any other way? That’s how languages change, anyway. (I will remember ”“hi-PER-bow-lee” ,” tho….)

Back to “Colonel” @janbb. I’ve often wondered why the spelled word and the pronounced word are SO different….

dpworkin's avatar

Because badges of rank at one time in military history were ubiquitous across language groups, so the same words were pronounced differently by different armies.

jfos's avatar

Reese’s Pieces = Re-Sees Pee-Seas.
(Sees = seas, I just thought it looked funnier that way.)

gailcalled's avatar

The words over which there is debate;

Dour, for example. Correct to say either “door” or “dower.”

Clematis; cle MAH tis or CLE mah tis.

Aunt; Ant or ahnt.

Edit. I got the phonetic spelling of “dure” wrong. “Door” makes no sense. Dp is correct, but a lot of people don’t know that.

dpworkin's avatar

Dure is the correct way to pronounce “dour”. The other two examples are each accepted variants depending upon dialect.

Trance24's avatar

Until last week I have always said “Bare on the side of caution”, instead of “Err on the side of caution”.

knitfroggy's avatar

A phrase I always said wrong was “I couldn’t care less”. It just hit me one day, not long ago that I was probably saying it wrong. I always said “I could care less” and that just doesn’t make sense in the context I’ve usually used it in.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Up until I was about 15 or 16, I used to say “bolth” instead of “both”. I also used to say “hay-ear” instead of “hair” until I was probably 12 or so – and it sounded like I had a Southern accent when saying that word. Which is bizarre, because I’m from Oregon.

dpworkin's avatar

“I could care less” is considered a sarcastic distortion, and seems to have originated in New York.

anartist's avatar

waistcoat—I didn’t know to say ‘weskit’

btw @Val123 piece of cotton is a cotton “boll”

I also made the mistake of saying “I could care less” for “I couldn’t care less”

madeinkowloon's avatar

I had always said “awry” as awe-REE. :-[

john65pennington's avatar

When i was a kid, i could never pronunce the word aluminum. i guess my brain was just not in sync at that age.

JLeslie's avatar

I say Na-kin and pun-kin still when I am at home. Out among others I say Napkin and Pumpkin.

I think I use I could care less?? Must come from my parents if @dpworkin is right; they’re from The Bronx.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

For some reason no matter how many times I see the word “misled,” I always read it in my head first as “missled” and get very confused before I remember it’s actually miss-led.

Pandora's avatar

Beaufort. Never and still don’t know which is correct. Some in the South pronounce it Bo-fort and some pronounce it Bee-ufort.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora What is Beaufort? The name? In the south they say Sarah Sayrah. That is so weird to me. I actually know a woman who spells her name Kayren, so it is spelled as her mother would pronounce it.

JLeslie's avatar

I would say Beu-firt. But I can see how Bo-fort makes sense too.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie A town in North Carolina and a City in South Carolina. There may be more around the country but they are the only two I’m familiar with.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora Huh. I lived in North Carolina for a while, I’ve never heard of it. I think it is a first name also. Or, maybe I am confusing it with a name that is spelled differently.

Pandora's avatar

Its nearby Morehead City

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora We could do a loooong list of how cities are pronounced around the country. I won’t start, because it might take the thread too off track.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie LOL, so true. Especially Indian names.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora I wan’t even thinking Indian names, I was thinking European names.

Pandora's avatar

Oh, I do know of two I often get wrong synonym and cinnamon. I have to slow down and think about the word before I am going to say it. Si-no-nim and the other cin-na-mon. If I don’t than it comes out sounding sin na men and the second comes out sinna-men. Or they sound like the other. Somehow pass me the synonym doesn’t work in the kitchen. LOL

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie True, those can be tricky too. Mostly because you don’t know to pronounce it in the original language or do you pronounce them the ways the locals have for years using English sounds. Heck our english isn’t really considered english as it is. The english from England pronounce many of our words differently. (or actually their words.)

ETpro's avatar

My cousing finally set me straight when I was about to graduate high school, but for the longest time I thought debris was deribs.

Draconess25's avatar

“Occur”. I just can’t say it right. So I tend to just use synonyms. I also have trouble with “anemone”, “subliminal”, “depth perception”, & “peripheral vision”.

anartist's avatar

Just get enough people to say it that way and it is a done deal.
In the Big Easy, Chartres Street is pronounced Charters Street.
It’s local spelling, and just as Comcast markets to an a region of one person [try getting a flat rate out of them for TV only without giving your address including apartment #] your pronounciation is a localization of one.

In the Chicago area “hood” for a hoodlum was pronounced like first syllable of hoodlum, everywhere else it is pronounced same as hood of a car.

anartist's avatar

@gailcalled Along with dour [dure and dower] is route [root and rout]

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist Wait, I don’t get it? Hoodlum and Hood of a car can be pronounced differenty? Is that like other midwestern words that are double O, like roof is ruff?

unused_bagels's avatar

I’m forcing myself to say “I couldn’t care less,” instead of the colloquial “could”. I have family members who say “warsh”

I say leisure like “LEH-zhur” instead of LEE-zhur. I don’t know if that’s wrong.

DominicX's avatar

I have no idea why, but for some reason I kept saying “basin” like “bazin”, when that isn’t even an option the dictionary.

Pandora's avatar

Actually the more I think about it, the more I realize it really is about location. In the north the letter r, is dropped, like Paaak for Park. Or youz for you.
In the south yu’ll for and in the mountains, well lets just forget that. Once met a man from the mountain that I could not understand. I was not the only one. Out of 25 people in my office only one spoke mountain. At first we all thought he was drunk because all his words slurred together. It was worse than listening to a toddler trying to speak for the first time.

MacBean's avatar

@Pandora There’s definitely a difference between accents/dialects and saying things wrong. For example, it’s not wrong that I drink cawfee on Lawn Guyland instead of coffee on Long Island, because that’s just my accent. But if I speak using HY-per-bowl instead of hy-PER-bow-lee, I’m wrong no matter where I am.

anartist's avatar

T still make the mistake of saying “I’m nauseous” instead of “I’m nauseated” even though I know it is wrong.
JLeslie now I am confused. When you [in the midwest] refer to the hood of a car does it rhyme with ‘food’?

ucme's avatar

As a kid I would regularly get soldiers mixed up with shoulders, I know crazy right?

MacBean's avatar

@JLeslie Lots of people say it WHO-dlum. It always throws me off a little, because I pronounce the first syllable the same as the hood of a car, too.

augustlan's avatar

Well, I see that @Fly has outed me. I’ll add forte to the my list of words. I had pronounced it for-tay all of my life until a few years back. Still pisses me off!

MacBean's avatar

@augustlan We still love you, even if you talk funny. ♥ :D

dpworkin's avatar

For-tay for Forte is very nearly a lost cause. Most people seem to mispronounce it, especially in the media. It reminds me of an auctioneer who thought it was classy to say brah-KAY for Braque.

And as for “debris”, I have always thought it would be a nice name for a girl, if one didn’t know what it meant.

anartist's avatar

A little confusion here about a computer cache—
I have heard ‘cashay’ ‘cash’ and ‘cashe’ [rhymes with ‘chase’]
I just never say it.

gailcalled's avatar

Computer cache is pronounced “cash.”

Original meaning is:

“A collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place : an arms cache | a cache of gold coins.
A hidden or inaccessible storage place for valuables, provisions, or ammunition.”

To cache (cash) is also a verb meaning to hide or squirrel away.

“Chase” (chays) means only to rush around after someone.

Cachet is pronounced “cachay,” is from the french:

“For more than fifty years, their winery enjoyed the cachet that others could only envy: prestige, status, standing, clout, kudos, snob value, stature, preeminence, eminence; street credibility.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist No, I would not pronounce it to rhyme with food. I would say it like @MacBean pointed out I guess. So, when you shorten it, like he is from the hood Chicago would say hood like food? I’ve lived in the midwest (MI) and never noticed that word being pronounced differently, but the word probably never came up when I lived there, and maybe Chicago is unique, like bubbler in Wisconsin? Words such as creek, roof, barrette, even using 10 foot to describe how long something is, gives away midwest to me. Chicago’s big give away is come with instead of come with me. Oh, and I hear half hour more in the midwest, where half an hour is more typical on the east coast. Honestly, I could go on and on.

I did a Q on it a long time ago. Not sure if I can still find it. It was a great thread; fun.

MacBean's avatar

And as for “debris”, I have always thought it would be a nice name for a girl, if one didn’t know what it meant.

I had a friend who wanted to name her future daughter “pariah” until I told her what it meant. (We were about 10–12 at the time.)

JLeslie's avatar

@MacBean Yeah, people really need to google names before they stick thier kid with it. I have heard some doozies. Can’t think of one off of the top of my head, but If I do I’ll post it. My husband probably will remember better than I do, he is always more stunned than me about things like that.

anartist's avatar

@JLeslie I was only in Chicago suburbs for a few teen years. Some people called some of the rougher boys in school “hoods” rhyming with food.
I am much more likely to come up with odd New Englandisms like frappe for milkshake, elastic for rubber band, and bum for butt [last one may actually be more Brit].

When I was a child I thought my father did not know how to say “ass.” He always said “arse”—as in “get off your arse and go help your mother!” It wasn’t until I grew up that i realized I had said it wrong.

@gailcalled your last sentence makes me curious about the fate of the winery.

@MacBean I had to learn that Protestant old family Marias were not Mar-ee-ahs but Mar-eye-ahs [as in they call the wind . . .]. Maybe that’s why she liked Pariah

Val123's avatar

Dethaw. I never said it, but there it is.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist I think arse and ass are both right. Well, Arse is slang in Brittain, and surrounding countries I think. Since your New England I will go ahead and guess maybe you are Irish and that is where your dad might have got that from? My friends in MI have no idea there is a difference between Merry and Mary. My girlfriend Kerri, says her name Carrie.

anartist's avatar

A weird one that I have used since childhood got a laugh from an acquaintance when I said it as an adult—it was “I’m ascared” of that [I think I combined afraid and scared when i was a kid, and it stuck.

A pet peeve is all the people who say “realitor” putting that imaginary “i” in the word.

anartist's avatar

@JLeslie “arse” may be considered slang now but it was as respectable a word as buttocks or hindquarters at one time
the buttocks; ass: now a vulgar term
Origin: ME ars < OE ears, ærs < IE base *orsos > Gr oura, tail

My family has been here since forever, English, Irish, and Scot mostly—it was not something he brought from anywhere. And children in my town used the word ‘bum’ too. I have no idea why those terms crossed the great water.

anartist's avatar

@Val123 how do you dethaw? stick it back in the refrigerator?

that’s ok—ravelled and unravelled mean the same thing
and people can be disheveled but no is ever heveled.

MacBean's avatar

@anartist—My sister IS a realtor and she says “realitor.” She’s been trying to correct herself since I asked her if that means she sells reality, but old habits die hard.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist But still, forever or not English, Irish, Scot, and bunches of that ehtnicity all aroun dyou to keep the words alive, as opposed to NY where we use tushy as our slang/Yiddish.

anartist's avatar

I love Yiddish words and use them too, and I left New England long ago. I’m in DC and the population around me now is far more diverse than it was when I was growing up. I hoover up any interesting words I am exposed to.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist Yeah, people use Yiddish and sometimes I think they don’t even realize, so many words are used regularly now. Yiddish is a funny sounding language, that is why I like it so much. Still, you hear more of it in the cities that have more Jews. NYC, Boca Raton, Los Angeles. Here in Memphis when I use a Yiddish words they have no idea what I am talking about. The grocery store here is Schnuck’s, pronounced Schnook, which means idiot in Yiddish, and they have no idea. Ironically, the supermarket chain is from St. Louis, and there are plenty of Jews there. It must be a German last name, lots of Germans in MO.

crankywithakeyboard's avatar

I think I said “suryp” instead of “syrup” for about 15 years or so.

actuallery's avatar

I use this one on purpose –
“ask me for nothing and I’ll give you nothing”

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