11 commonly mispronounced words you probably say every day
Let’s be real, how many of us had NO IDEA how to say Hermione out loud before the Harry Potter films came out? Like, everyone. But fictional characters aside, every day we probably mispronounce a common word. We probably encounter mispronounced words so often — actually, often is one of the words we’ve apparently been saying wrong this whole time — that the real pronunciation doesn’t even matter anymore. Or does it?
Here are a dozen commonly mispronounced words that have us shaking our heads.
What we’ve been saying: FOR-tay
How to actually say it: FORT
Guys, this one is extra embarrassing for us because the incorrect pronunciation sounds so fancy, like when this writer’s friend once asked for “groupi-EH” instead of grouper for dinner on a cruise. But no, when something is a strength of yours (e.g., “Downing Doritos Locos tacos is kiiiind of my forte”), it’s your “fort.” Yep.
There’s an exception for the musical direction, though. That one is totally pronounced FOR-tay, and not to be confused with the more ~commoner~ pronunciation above.
2Daylight Saving(s) Time
What we’ve been saying: daylight savings time
How to actually say it: daylight saving time
Okay so this is technically a phrase, but it’s worth mentioning. Just like “Happy New Years!” versus “Happy New Year!”, the phrase “daylight saving time” is really singular but our society has gotten used to saying a plural form in conversation.
Regardless of how we refer to it, though, we still get an extra hour of sleep this November 5 (yaaassss!).
What we’ve been saying: e-lek-TOR-al
How to actually say it: e-LEK-tor-al
Your least favorite word of 2016 has the emphasis on the second syllable. Perfect to know for when you’re in the middle of a family debate about a certain college’s legitimacy within the current political climate.
What we’ve been saying: miss-CHEE-vee-us
How to actually say it: MISS-che-vus
To our credit, there are a lot of vowels going on in this word. There are too many “i”s in there to be natural, and it’s totally understandable for our brains to throw another one in near the end.
What we’ve been saying: NEW-cu-lur
How to actually say it: NEW-clee-ur
We are just going to go ahead and blame former President George W. Bush for this one and leave it at that.
What we’ve been saying: OFF-ten
How to actually say it: OFF-en
We’ve heard this said both ways, but good news for us lazies: That T is definitely silent, y’all!
What we’ve been saying: REE-la-tur
How to actually say it: REEL-tur
This is another victim of the traveling vowel in our brains, because this word is pronounced exactly how it’s spelled. Fun side fact: It’s a proper noun, meaning only members of the National Association of Realtors can hold the title.
What we’ve been saying: SHER-bert
How to actually say it: SHER-bet
Not sticking the extra R in there may make this dessert sound a little too foofy, but at least it’s not as snobby as sorbet? (Not to hate on sorbet, because yum, but really, why don’t we say sorbert accidentally? Mysterious…)
What we’ve been saying: zoo-AH-lo-jee
How to actually say it: zoh-AH-lo-jee
As tempting as it is to pronounce the study of animals by starting it with the “zoo” sound, that’s actually not right. The beginning is pronounced ZOH, just like HelloGiggles’ own Zooey Deschanel.
10Rowling (as in J.K.)
What we’ve been saying: ROW-ling
How to actually say it: ROH-ling
J.K. Rowling has come out and said the beginning of her last name is pronounced like rowing a boat and not like the British slang for “fight,” but that she still hears the latter version — particularly in the U.S. (oops) — so often that she doesn’t correct people anymore. And we don’t blame her. ROH-ling or ROW-ling, she’s doing OK.
11Seuss (as in Dr.)
What we’ve been saying: SOOSE
How to actually say it: SOICE / ZOICE
This one is pretty mind-blowing. Just like other beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, we’ve been saying this guy’s name ALL WRONG. As a 2016 Huffington Post Canada story points out, Theodor Seuss Geisel took his pen name from his middle name, which was taken from his mom’s maiden name. (Side note: He added “Dr.” because his dad wanted him to go into medicine, and we’re like, SAME. Also, did he know Dr. Pepper?)
Anyway, his mom’s maiden name, Seuss, rhymed with “voice.” The author’s pal Alexander Liang even took a leaf out of Seuss’ book by writing up a poem about how to say his name right:
Luckily for us, we’ve all been saying this so wrong for so long that it’s become the right pronunciation, according to You’re Saying It Wrong‘s co-author author Ross Petras, who said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Day 6, that it’s “a case, I think, if you said Dr. Soice people would look at you very oddly. This is a case when the wrong pronunciation becomes the right pronunciation.”