200+ Commonly Mispronounced Words in English

Non-native speakers mispronounce by the dozen every day. Even fluent speakers do. Even those working in high-paying white-collar jobs do.

Why have they been repeating these mistakes for years, even though mastering pronunciation isn’t that difficult?

The answer lies in this question: will they take corrective steps when they don’t even know they’re mispronouncing?

In this post, I’ll list correct pronunciation of more than 200 commonly-mispronounced words in English. And places. And brands.

In some of the pronunciations below, you’ll be off by just tiny bit (and that’s enough of a mistake), and therefore you’ll have to look at the pronunciations carefully to spot the mistake you’ve been making. To give an example, the correct pronunciation of the word ‘refrigerator’ is ‘ri-frij-uh-rey-ter’. However, almost everyone calls it ‘re-frij-uh-rey-ter’. Did you catch ‘ri’ vs. ‘re’? (The pronunciations in this post are in non-phonetic form, which is more intuitive than phonetic form.)

Before we jump into the list, here is a brief 101 lesson on how to read pronunciations mentioned in the tables below (click to open).

How to read non-phonetic pronunciation?

1. Each group of letters separated by the hyphen is called a syllable. For example, the pronunciation ‘re-frij-uh-rey-ter’ has five syllables. Syllables are the building blocks of pronunciation and are spoken as a unit sequentially.

2. The syllables in bold need to be stressed (means they need to be said louder and longer than other syllables). For example, the syllable ‘frij’ is stressed more than other syllables while pronouncing refrigerator. It may seem complicated when you read this, but it’s not. Listen to the pronunciation of refrigerator here, and pay attention to how the syllables are spoken separately (however, quickly) and how ‘frij’ is stressed.

3. ‘Uh’ or schwa sound appears in almost every second pronunciation. It is a neutral sound that occurs in unstressed syllables. I would suggest you to listen the pronunciation of few words such as address, balloon, and cadet at dictionary.com to get a hang of ‘uh’ sound.

4. When in doubt on any of the pronunciations, type in the word in dictionary.com and listen.

Here is the list of commonly mispronounced words arranged alphabetically. The last four tables cover places, universities, brands, and words with two pronunciations when used in different forms.

On the left column is the word and on the right is its correct pronunciation. For few pronunciations, I’ve highlighted in red the part where people commonly make mistake. This is to provide you few examples where you can easily take note of problem areas. (You’ll realize that in most cases you mispronounce because you speak the word the way it is spelt.)

When in doubt on any of the pronunciations in the tables below, type in the word in dictionary.com and listen the audio of the pronunciation.

More resources on pronunciation:

A

WordPronunciation
Acousticuhkoo-stik
Adjectiveaj-ik-tiv
Adolescentad-l-esuhnt
Alcoholalkuh-hol
Alzheimer’sahlts-hahy-merz
Ambitiousam-bishuh s
Apriley-pruhl
Arithmeticuhrith-muh-tik
Asthmaaz-muh
Attorneyuhtur-nee
Automobileaw-tuh-muhbeel

B

WordPronunciation
Balletba-ley
Bananabuhnanuh
Barleybahrlee
Barometerbuhrom-i-ter
Bearbair
Bombbom
Breakfastbrekfuhst
Buffetbuhfey
Buryber-ee

C

WordPronunciation
Cachekash
Cadetkuhdet
Capacitykuhpas-i-tee
Carnivorouskahr-niv-er-uh s
Chaoskey-os
Civilsivuh l
Cleanserklen-zer
Collaborationkuh-lab-uhrey-shuhn
Colonialismkuhloh-nee-uh-liz-uh m
Comediankuhmee-dee-uhn
Commoditykuhmod-i-tee
Complacencykuh m-pley-suh n-see
Congratulationkuh n-grach-uhley-shuh n
Creaturekree-cher
Crocodilekrokuh-dahyl
Cucumberkyoo-kuhm-ber

D

WordPronunciation
Debrisdeybree
Decentdee-suh nt
Decimaldesuh-muh l
Decipherdih-sahy-fer
Demographydihmogruh-fee
Deodorantdee-oh-der-uhnt
Depotdeepoh, dep-oh
Descentdih-sent
Detonatedet-n-eyt
Developerdih-veluh-per
Devoteedev-uhtee
Diplomacydih-ploh-muh-see
Diplomaticdip-luhmat-ik
Divisivedih-vahy-siv
Domesticduhmes-tik
Draughtdraft
Droughtdrout

E

WordPronunciation
Eccentricek-sen-trik
Echeloneshuh-lon
Electoralih-lek-ter-uh l
Electricianih-lek-trishuhn
Eloquenteluh-kwuhnt
Emergencyih-mur-juh n-see
Endeavoren-dev-er
Envelopeen-vuh-lohp
Epitomeih-pituh-mee
Extravaganzaik-strav-uhgan-zuh

F-G

WordPronunciation
Facilitatefuhsil-i-teyt
Faux Pasfoh pah
Februaryfeb-roo-er-ee
Forensicfuhren-sik
Forgetferget
Genericjuhner-ik
Grenadegri-neyd
Guerrillaguhriluh

H

WordPronunciation
Handkerchiefhang-ker-chif, -cheef
Hazardhaz-erd
Hereditaryhuhred-i-ter-ee
Hippopotamuship-uhpotuh-muhs
Horizonhuhrahy-zuhn
Hotelhoh-tel
Hypnotizehipnuh-tahyz
Hypocrisyhipok-ruh-see

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I

WordPronunciation
Ignoranceig-ner-uhns
Improprietyim-pruhprahy-i-tee
Infamousinfuh-muhs
Informationin-fermey-shuhn
Ingredientin-gree-dee-uhnt
Innovationin-uhvey-shuhn
Introductionin-truhduhk-shuhn

J-L

WordPronunciation
Jeopardyjep-er-dee
Jewelleryjoouhl-ree
Kerosenekeruh-seen
Legacyleguh-see
Legitimateli-jituh-meyt
Leprosylepruh-see
Lettucelet-is
Liaisonlee-ey-zuhn/ lee-ey-zawn
Lieutenantloo-tenuhnt

M

WordPronunciation
Magicianmuhjishuh n
Majesticmuhjes-tik
Materializemuhteer-ee-uh-lahyz
Maternalmuhtur-nl
Matrixmey-triks
Medievalmee-dee-ee-vuhl
Melodiousmuhloh-dee-uh s
Melodymeluh-dee
Metabolismmuhtabuh-liz-uhm
Metallicmuhtal-ik
Mischievousmis-chuh-vuhs
Monotonymuhnot-n-ee
Moustachemuhs-tash

N-O

WordPronunciation
Nazinaht-see
Neglectni-glekt
Negotiateni-goh-shee-eyt
Nominalnomuh-nl
Nomineenom-uhnee
Novembernoh-vem-ber
Numbnuhm
Objectiveuhb-jek-tiv
Offenduhfend
Officialuhfishuhl
Onionuhn-yuh n

P

WordPronunciation
Parolepuhrohl
Patheticpuhthet-ik
Pathologypuhtholuh-jee
Patrolpuhtrohl
Peasantpezuh nt
Penaltypen-l-tee
Peripherypuhrifuh-ree
Pharmacyfahr-muh-see
Policepuhlees
Politicalpuhlit-i-kuhl
Politicianpol-i-tishuh n
Positionpuhzishuh n
Prejudiceprejuh-dis
Preparationprep-uhrey-shuhn
Prepositionprep-uhzishuh n
Proceedingpruhsee-ding
Prodigiouspruhdijuh s
Productproduh kt
Productionpruhduhk-shuh n
Profoundpruhfound
Promisingpromuh-sing
Pronunciationpruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn
Propelpruhpel
Propheticpruhfet-ik
Provocativepruhvokuh-tiv
Pyramidpiruh-mid

R

WordPronunciation
Radarrey-dahr
Realizationree-uh-luhzey-shuhn
Realmrelm
Reciprocaterisipruh-keyt
Refrigeratorrifrijuh-rey-ter
Regimenrejuh-muhn
Renaissanceren-uhsahns
Repealri-peel
Repetitionrep-i-tishuh n
Repetitiveripet-i-tiv
Respectri-spekt
Responsiveri-spon-siv
Restrictionri-strik-shuh n
Rhetoricreter-ik
Roboticsroh-bot-iks

S

WordPronunciation
Sachetsa-shey
Salivasuhlahy-vuh
Schizophreniaskit-suhfree-nee-uh
Sedentarysed-n-ter-ee
Seismicsahyz-mik
Simplifysim-pluh-fahy
Socialsoh-shuhl
Sophisticatedsuhfis-ti-key-tid
Sponge/ Spongyspuhnj
Sporadicspuhrad-ik
Squirrelskwuruh l
Strategicstruhtee-jik
Succumbsuhkuhm
Suffocatesuhfuh-keyt
Suspicioussuhspishuh s
Syllablesiluh-buhl
Symmetrysim-i-tree
Synonymsinuh-nim
Synonymoussi-nonuh-muh s

T

WordPronunciation
Teartair
Technologytek-noluh-jee
Terrifictuhrif-ik
Theorytheeuh-ree
Thoroughthur-oh
Tortoisetawr-tuh s
Trigonometrytrig-uhnom-i-tree
Tyrannytiruh-nee

V-W

WordPronunciation
Vegetablevej-tuh-buhl, vej-i-tuh
Veterinarianvet-er-uhnair-ee-uh n
Vigilantvijuh-luhnt
Vitaminvahy-tuh-min, vit-uh-min
Voluminousvuhloo-muh-nuh s
Wednesdaywenz-dey
Wizardwiz-erd
Womanwoomuhn
Womenwimin
Wormwurm

Places

PlacePronunciation
Boliviabuhliv-ee-uh
Cairokahy-roh
Canneskan
Chilechilee
Columbiakuhluhm-bee-uh
Ecuadorek-wuh-dawr
Melbournemel-bern
Moroccomuhrok-oh
Namibianuhmib-ee-uh
Netherlandsneth-er-luh ndz
Portugalpawrchuh-guhl
Seoulsohl
Singaporesing-guh-pawr
Torontotuhron-toh
Texastek-suh s

Universities

UniversityPronunciation
UC Berkleyburk-lee
Oxfordoksferd
Stanfordstan-ferd

Brands

BrandPronunciation
Calvin Klein kal-vin kline
Chevrolet shehv-ruh-lay
Guccigoo-chee
Levi’slee-vahyz
Porschepor-sha
Renaultreh-no
Tag Heuertag-hoy-yur
Versacevur-sah-chee

This last table is different from the ones we’ve seen so far. It provides correct pronunciation of words that are pronounced differently when used as noun and differently when used as verb. Most people, however, pronounce both the same way.

Words whose different forms are pronounced differently

WordPronunciation (verb)Pronunciation (noun)
Convictkuh n-viktkon-vikt
Proceedpruhseedproh-seed
Progresspruhgresprog-res
Projectpruhjektproj-ekt
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Anil Yadav

Anil is the person behind this website. He writes on most aspects of English Language Skills. More about him here:

7 Comments

  1. This would much more effective if you used IPA. The use of a space between italicization and n, l, or s is confusing.
    Examples:
    ambitious am-bish–uh s versus [æmˈbɪ.ʃəs],
    carnivorous kahr-niv-er-uh s versus [kɑrˈnɪ.və.rəs], and
    civil siv–uh l versus [ˈsɪv.əl], plus

    adjective aj-ik-tiv versus [ˈæʤ.ɪk.tɪv]

    • Not really!
      How many people really know IPA. and If they knew IPA well enough to read it without having to refer to another source, I am sure they wouldn’t have to come here to learn about correct pronunciation.
      I think this is an excellent compilation.

  2. Just loved it!!
    Clearly shows the amount if effort been put to bring such a magnificent work.
    As a teacher, i learnt a lot today that will help me in helping my students as well.

  3. Here are some more words even natives get wrong:
    formidable
    FORM-id-ible not for-MID-ah-bul
    Advertisement:
    AD-ver-tiss-ment not adver-TISE-ment
    industry:
    IN-dis-tree not In-DUST-tree
    Dalton
    DIL-tin! not Dull-ton
    Worchestershire sauce
    Wister sauce! Not Wor-chester- shire- sauce
    parquet floors
    par-ket floors, not par-kay floors
    (The term is correctly anglicized)
    aristocrat
    AR- ris- to-crat not ah-RIS-to-crat
    AR is

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