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

Word Pronunciation
Acoustic uhkoo-stik
Adjective aj-ik-tiv
Adolescent ad-l-esuhnt
Alcohol alkuh-hol
Alzheimer’s ahlts-hahy-merz
Ambitious am-bishuh s
April ey-pruhl
Arithmetic uhrith-muh-tik
Asthma az-muh
Attorney uhtur-nee
Automobile aw-tuh-muhbeel

B

Word Pronunciation
Ballet ba-ley
Banana buhnanuh
Barley bahrlee
Barometer buhrom-i-ter
Bear bair
Bomb bom
Breakfast brekfuhst
Buffet buhfey
Bury ber-ee

C

Word Pronunciation
Cache kash
Cadet kuhdet
Capacity kuhpas-i-tee
Carnivorous kahr-niv-er-uh s
Chaos key-os
Civil sivuh l
Cleanser klen-zer
Collaboration kuh-lab-uhrey-shuhn
Colonialism kuhloh-nee-uh-liz-uh m
Comedian kuhmee-dee-uhn
Commodity kuhmod-i-tee
Complacency kuh m-pley-suh n-see
Congratulation kuh n-grach-uhley-shuh n
Creature kree-cher
Crocodile krokuh-dahyl
Cucumber kyoo-kuhm-ber

D

Word Pronunciation
Debris deybree
Decent dee-suh nt
Decimal desuh-muh l
Decipher dih-sahy-fer
Demography dihmogruh-fee
Deodorant dee-oh-der-uhnt
Depot deepoh, dep-oh
Descent dih-sent
Detonate det-n-eyt
Developer dih-veluh-per
Devotee dev-uhtee
Diplomacy dih-ploh-muh-see
Diplomatic dip-luhmat-ik
Divisive dih-vahy-siv
Domestic duhmes-tik
Draught draft
Drought drout

E

Word Pronunciation
Eccentric ek-sen-trik
Echelon eshuh-lon
Electoral ih-lek-ter-uh l
Electrician ih-lek-trishuhn
Eloquent eluh-kwuhnt
Emergency ih-mur-juh n-see
Endeavor en-dev-er
Envelope en-vuh-lohp
Epitome ih-pituh-mee
Extravaganza ik-strav-uhgan-zuh

F-G

Word Pronunciation
Facilitate fuhsil-i-teyt
Faux Pas foh pah
February feb-roo-er-ee
Forensic fuhren-sik
Forget ferget
Generic juhner-ik
Grenade gri-neyd
Guerrilla guhriluh

H

Word Pronunciation
Handkerchief hang-ker-chif, -cheef
Hazard haz-erd
Hereditary huhred-i-ter-ee
Hippopotamus hip-uhpotuh-muhs
Horizon huhrahy-zuhn
Hotel hoh-tel
Hypnotize hipnuh-tahyz
Hypocrisy hipok-ruh-see

I

Word Pronunciation
Ignorance ig-ner-uhns
Impropriety im-pruhprahy-i-tee
Infamous infuh-muhs
Information in-fermey-shuhn
Ingredient in-gree-dee-uhnt
Innovation in-uhvey-shuhn
Introduction in-truhduhk-shuhn

J-L

Word Pronunciation
Jeopardy jep-er-dee
Jewellery joouhl-ree
Kerosene keruh-seen
Legacy leguh-see
Legitimate li-jituh-meyt
Leprosy lepruh-see
Lettuce let-is
Liaison lee-ey-zuhn/ lee-ey-zawn
Lieutenant loo-tenuhnt

M

Word Pronunciation
Magician muhjishuh n
Majestic muhjes-tik
Materialize muhteer-ee-uh-lahyz
Maternal muhtur-nl
Matrix mey-triks
Medieval mee-dee-ee-vuhl
Melodious muhloh-dee-uh s
Melody meluh-dee
Metabolism muhtabuh-liz-uhm
Metallic muhtal-ik
Mischievous mis-chuh-vuhs
Monotony muhnot-n-ee
Moustache muhs-tash

N-O

Word Pronunciation
Nazi naht-see
Neglect ni-glekt
Negotiate ni-goh-shee-eyt
Nominal nomuh-nl
Nominee nom-uhnee
November noh-vem-ber
Numb nuhm
Objective uhb-jek-tiv
Offend uhfend
Official uhfishuhl
Onion uhn-yuh n

P

Word Pronunciation
Parole puhrohl
Pathetic puhthet-ik
Pathology puhtholuh-jee
Patrol puhtrohl
Peasant pezuh nt
Penalty pen-l-tee
Periphery puhrifuh-ree
Pharmacy fahr-muh-see
Police puhlees
Political puhlit-i-kuhl
Politician pol-i-tishuh n
Position puhzishuh n
Prejudice prejuh-dis
Preparation prep-uhrey-shuhn
Preposition prep-uhzishuh n
Proceeding pruhsee-ding
Prodigious pruhdijuh s
Product produh kt
Production pruhduhk-shuh n
Profound pruhfound
Promising promuh-sing
Pronunciation pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn
Propel pruhpel
Prophetic pruhfet-ik
Provocative pruhvokuh-tiv
Pyramid piruh-mid

R

Word Pronunciation
Radar rey-dahr
Realization ree-uh-luhzey-shuhn
Realm relm
Reciprocate risipruh-keyt
Refrigerator rifrijuh-rey-ter
Regimen rejuh-muhn
Renaissance ren-uhsahns
Repeal ri-peel
Repetition rep-i-tishuh n
Repetitive ripet-i-tiv
Respect ri-spekt
Responsive ri-spon-siv
Restriction ri-strik-shuh n
Rhetoric reter-ik
Robotics roh-bot-iks

S

Word Pronunciation
Sachet sa-shey
Saliva suhlahy-vuh
Schizophrenia skit-suhfree-nee-uh
Sedentary sed-n-ter-ee
Seismic sahyz-mik
Simplify sim-pluh-fahy
Social soh-shuhl
Sophisticated suhfis-ti-key-tid
Sponge/ Spongy spuhnj
Sporadic spuhrad-ik
Squirrel skwuruh l
Strategic struhtee-jik
Succumb suhkuhm
Suffocate suhfuh-keyt
Suspicious suhspishuh s
Syllable siluh-buhl
Symmetry sim-i-tree
Synonym sinuh-nim
Synonymous si-nonuh-muh s

T

Word Pronunciation
Tear tair
Technology tek-noluh-jee
Terrific tuhrif-ik
Theory theeuh-ree
Thorough thur-oh
Tortoise tawr-tuh s
Trigonometry trig-uhnom-i-tree
Tyranny tiruh-nee

V-W

Word Pronunciation
Vegetable vej-tuh-buhl, vej-i-tuh
Veterinarian vet-er-uhnair-ee-uh n
Vigilant vijuh-luhnt
Vitamin vahy-tuh-min, vit-uh-min
Voluminous vuhloo-muh-nuh s
Wednesday wenz-dey
Wizard wiz-erd
Woman woomuhn
Women wimin
Worm wurm

Places

Place Pronunciation
Bolivia buhliv-ee-uh
Cairo kahy-roh
Cannes kan
Chile chilee
Columbia kuhluhm-bee-uh
Ecuador ek-wuh-dawr
Melbourne mel-bern
Morocco muhrok-oh
Namibia nuhmib-ee-uh
Netherlands neth-er-luh ndz
Portugal pawrchuh-guhl
Seoul sohl
Singapore sing-guh-pawr
Toronto tuhron-toh
Texas tek-suh s

Universities

University Pronunciation
UC Berkley burk-lee
Oxford oksferd
Stanford stan-ferd

Brands

Brand Pronunciation
Calvin Klein  kal-vin kline
Chevrolet  shehv-ruh-lay
Gucci goo-chee
Levi’s lee-vahyz
Porsche por-sha
Renault reh-no
Tag Heuer tag-hoy-yur
Versace vur-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

Word Pronunciation (verb) Pronunciation (noun)
Convict kuh n-vikt kon-vikt
Proceed pruhseed proh-seed
Progress pruhgres prog-res
Project pruhjekt proj-ekt

3 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]

  2. Saswati Mazumdar

    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. I guess I’m the only person that still doesn’t know how to pronounce mortgage.

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