Do you mispronounce these words? (Yes, yes you do)

“Nitch? Neesh? Nish?" Sheesh....!

“Nitch? Neesh? Nish?" Sheesh....!

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We are not out to play the blame game here. We've all been tongue twisted, bass-ackwards and Freudian-slipped a bunch of times before. Now that we have so many channels of communication and more information flowing than ever, we're bound to make quite a few errors. However, there are more than a few choice words, that we either chronically mispronounce or honestly don't even know the actual pronunciation of, that deserve to be called out, examined and fixed - so we're never corrected in public again. So let's all hold hands, bite our tongues and verify our vocabulary together.


We'd have known how to pronounce this better if we had seen it coming. In the 2000s, acai burst onto the scene as the must have (though controversial) supplement that no one knew how to pronounce. Most commonly sold in North America in pill form, acai, traditionally written açaí, is a palm tree seen in Central and South America, often cultivated for its fruit (acai berry). The word is adopted from Brazilian Portuguese and is actually pronounced "ah-sa-EE".


You're thinking "I have zero problems pronouncing this", which is somewhat true, we just often add something on the end, saying "anywayS". Though this is sometimes considered an informal colloquialism, the very concept is incorrect; you can only go one "way" out of any of the ways so, unless you're some sort of multi-dimensional being, you can only go any way.


Sometimes, we can over-pronounce things. For some reason, we enjoy adding an extra syllable to "athlete" so it becomes "ath-e-lete". Maybe we have a psycholinguistic issue, mistakenly reading the "e" before the "l", which is also a common misspelling or maybe we just like sounding incredibly passionate. Either way, there are only two syllables in "athlete".

Barbed wire

Though sometimes we over-pronounce, we can often get very lazy lips and take the easy way out. We commonly refer to "barbed wire" ("barbed" meaning "having barbs") as "barb wire", which sounds like something your aunt owns. It's a minor gripe for sure, but since you wouldn't say that someone has "spike hair", the "ed" is of the essence.


The word "espresso" comes from the Italian "caffe espresso"; meaning a highly concentrated, pressure-brewed coffee ("PRESSure" being the operative term). Somehow, perhaps due to the expediency of the drink, many have come to refer to it as "eXpresso". Not only is this regarded as incorrect, "x" is not even considered part of the traditional Italian alphabet. However, not only do we keep saying it, but "espresso" translated into French is "expresso", so some dictionaries have now considered the "x" version a variant. Yet, since the origins are Italian, we defer to the traditional spelling and axe the "x".


Referring to the popular file format of strung together images creating a silent movie-type video, the pronunciation has caused quite a heated debate online. So is it pronounced with a hard "g" ("guh-if") or is it the softer-sounding "jiff"? The gif inventor, Steve Wilhite, pronounces it the "jiff" way, an around-the-office riff on the peanut butter of the same name. However, "gif" is an acronym standing for "Graphics Interchange Format" and since "graphics" is undeniably pronounced with a hard "g" (or else it would be "giraffics"), many insist on staying true to the root and keeping it hard. But who are we to deny the inventor? So sorry hard "g"s, you've got to soften up.


Often used figuratively to mean a comfortable or appropriate position, "niche" has three common pronunciations; "nitch", "neesh" and "nish". The etymology of the word really blurs any clear answer; dating back to 1725, the term seems to originate in Latin while being adopted and transformed by the French and Italian before making it's way into English. As such, a variety of sources accept both "nitch" and "neesh", though "nish" did not make the cut.


Most commonly in North America, this is pronounced "stat-us" and anyone who pronounces it otherwise is usually met with confusion. However, the word (derived straight from Latin) has an official British English (and thus, Canadian) pronunciation of "stay-tus" while American English seems to accept both versions.


If you're into tea at all, you were probably confounded by the name of this variety, at least in the beginning. Rooibos is a plant only grown in South Africa and literally translates to "red bush". Since that's such an unusual spelling to the English language, it's often mispronounced "rue-i-bus" or "rube-ee-us", though the actual pronunciation is the much simpler "roy-boss".


No one knows how to spell this, let alone pronounce it, and it's been the source of ridicule for decades. Named after a former county in Worcester, England (the "shire" part meaning "county"), it now refers to the brown, vinegar-y sauce that was invented in the area. It's retained it's original English pronunciation in North America, preferring to sound like "wur-steh-sure", though it's almost impossible to look at the word and still pronounce it correctly.