The Five Best Mispronunciations I've Ever Heard

“All the bells and whistles” as “all the Belgian whistles.” Someone said this on a phone call I was on once. I had to put myself on mute to snort.

“Providence” as “Pro-VYE-dence.” That was my friend Victoria when she was visiting me in Connecticut from England a million years ago and we saw a sign on the freeway. I still can’t read about Pro-VYE-dence, Rhode Island without pronouncing it like that in my head. It sounds kind of nice I think.

“Fleur de Lys” as “Florida Lee’s.” That one was on the Real Housewives of Orange County the other day. I swear Alexis kept saying “Florida Lee’s” when they were eating at a San Francisco restaurant called Fleur de Lys. Did anyone else catch it? Did she?

A “pint” of milk, with “pint” to rhyme with “hint.” That was my sister Susie, reading me the instructions from the back of a package of instant pudding. She was five, so we’ll forgive her.

"Albuquerque” as “Al-ber-CUE-er-cue.” Ladies and gentlemen, this one’s a doozy, and it was yours truly who said it. I read it in a Babysitter's Club book when I was nine or ten. (Remember the Babysitter's Club? Which one did you want to be? I always wanted to be Stacey, the diabetic one who moved from New York, or maybe Claudia, the arty one who kept all that junk food under her bed.) Everyone laughed, but I still call Albuquerque "Al-ber-CUE-er-cue," if we're being honest, because it just makes a whole lot more sense. Only in my head, though. Out loud I force myself to say it properly.

Feb 22, 2010

I was a banquet server when I was in college and one day quiche was on the brunch menu. The girl I was paired with was reading the menu and pronounced quiche as quickie. And I had to convince her that was the incorrect pronunciation!

Feb 22, 2010

I always wanted to be Dawn, because she was from California like me (although I lived in England from the age of 6 months) and she had long blonde hair, which I desperately wanted. Now I look back though, she was sort of pretentious. I was probably more of a Mary Ann. Sad.

If you haven't seen this blog yet: you must, it's a girl in her twenties re-reading all the BSC books. Genius. Also, many of the BSC characters appear to be on twitter (wtf?!) and they INTERACT WITH THE SWEET VALLEY CHARACTERS! Craziness.

Feb 23, 2010

Hi I just had to add this:
my first day at private school in Mexico I was forced to read aloud in front of the whole class so that my "brilliant" professor could assess my Spanish. All was well until I came to the word Cacao. I pronounced it kah-kah-Oh! Accent on the caca....

Feb 23, 2010

I just thought of another hilarious one... my sister, who is 30, JUST realized (during a conversation with me about music) that the band Hall and Oates was not actually called "Haulin' Oats". Thinking of them as "Haulin' Oats" kinda makes me love their music even more.

Feb 23, 2010

I attended a Catholic school when I was 7, even though no one in the family was Catholic. Every day, for four years at least, I recited: "Hail Mary, full of grapes..."

Feb 23, 2010

Could these be any more fun?

My all-time favorite mispronounciation came from my daughter, who at the time had just started preschool. She was always so excited to come home and tell me what they'd had for snack that day. One day she came in and happily announced that they had eaten "GRAND CRAPPERS, Mommy!"

Another gem: I was trying to squeeze my car into a tight spot and she sighed loudly from the back, "Mom, you do NOT know how to paralyze park!"

Feb 23, 2010

This isn't a mispronunciation story, technically, but it's a gem, nevertheless:
My Favorite Boss Ever once told me a story about interviewing a candidate for a position. To get a better sense of one's personality, FBE always made a point to ask candidates what they were reading. One applicant dodged the question by saying she wasn't reading anything at the moment. But FBE persisted, and asked instead what her favorite book was. Candidate's reply:
"Oh, I don't know. To Mock A Hummingbird, I guess."
She didn't get the job. But I guess you already knew that.

Feb 23, 2010

my best friends mom once commented at a family dinner how it's a "doggy dog" world out there.
We still tease her to this day!!

Feb 23, 2010

My dad loves to pronouce words incorrectly for fun, and his favorite thing to do is emphasize the wrong syllable. Our family was playing trivial pursuit, and he asked my siter "What is the name of Peeno Keyo's father?" My sister agonized over the question, repeating it over and over, "Peeno Keyo? Hmmm...Peeno Keyo?" She finally got it when he told her the answer: Geppetto. I still laugh every time I read the word Pinocchio.

Feb 23, 2010

That is supposed to read "he asked my sister" duh.

Feb 23, 2010

oh my goodness; i tracked you to your site (bizarrely) because i so wholeheartedly agree with your Title Nine sports bra praise on stylelush. was fully intending to stay mum while here, but i can't help but mention these that i've heard:

1. "mis-con-screwed" instead of misconstrued. stunned me into absolute silence when i heard it.

2. when answering questions via email, an ex-boss of mine would finish up her explanation with "vuala" -- it took me at least a half-dozen emails (and hearing her say it in person) to realize she was trying to sign-off with "voila."

Feb 28, 2010

Remember that movie with Liv Tyler and the asteroid? You know, ar-MEG-a-don?

Yeah. I'd read the word but never heard it. I still think my pronunciation is better. It sounds like a Transformer.

Feb 28, 2010

This post was on my mind this afternoon when my boyfriend wrote on gChat "you got me... hook, line, and sink her".

Sink her.

Mar 02, 2010

A former boss, and a very intelligent and well-respected-in-the-community type of guy, but who also happened to be an immigrant would *always* introduce people at conferences by saying, "Without further for me to do so." Instead of, "Without further ado."

That always made me smile and wonder why no one, in his 20 years as a community leader, had ever bothered to correct him.

Mar 02, 2010

You know the saying, "You Go Girl" ? Well, my dad was convinced that the saying was, "You GOAT Girl" so, we were in line at a McDonald's and my dad did not believe me, so I asked him to ask the woman at the window. You know what happened next, the woman laughed at my dad and told him it was, "You go girl" and my dad got angry because he was so embarrassed and sped off without our food!

Jackie Joy
Mar 02, 2010

I have a couple!
*My daughter has an amazing vocabulary for a five year old, but it includes some adorable mispronunciations--"escribe" for describe, "rester-not" for restaurant, and "shushi" for sushi.
*My boss is also the queen of mispronunciations, made-up words, and crazy ridiculous word switching. Just today she said occurred instead of incurred about five times. She drives me CRAZY.
*A coworker pronounced hyperbole as hyper-bowl a few years ago and I have never been able to stop giggling over my roommate and I pronounce it that way all the time.

Mar 03, 2010

Once, when I was reading the news live on the radio, my news partner read an entire article about Kim Jong Il while pronouncing it "Kim Jong Two."

Mar 03, 2010

An old girlfriend of mine once ordered Chihuahua brand beer at a Mexican restaurant. She pronounced it Chee-hoo-ah-hoo-ah and then after the waiter left, I said "You meant Chih-Wow-ah, right?" She was mortified.

Mar 03, 2010

haha so funny. The worse I heard was from a news reader on the radio, I wanted to jump through the speakers and shout at her...
she kept saying CAM-bridge instead of Came-bridge.

Mar 03, 2010

In high school my best friend got us all very confused when she told us her grandmother was going on hospice, or HOE-Spice, like a spicy ho. WELL!

Mar 03, 2010

I am really the first to say this? I cannot pronounce Albuquerque without referencing Bugs Bunny. "I knew I should taken a left toin at Albu-COY-key."

Mar 03, 2010

I wanted to be Claudia soooo badly, and would have happily settled for Stacy. But was always a mix of Kristy and Mary Ann, like most girls that age are. :)

The one spelling/understanding error that makes me irrationally angry is "peaked" or "peeked" when someone means PIQUED.

The next time I see someone writing about how something "peaked their interest," heads will roll!

Jen Bee
Mar 03, 2010

My little brother, back when he was little, would MEREMBER the BAN-NAN-NAS and UMUMER (Cucumber).

Others I've heard horribly often:

hyperbole [hy-per-bo-LEE, not a super bowling alley]

pier [PEER, not pyre]

quay [KEY, commonly said as written]

perturbed [per-turbd, not tubed]

And then there's the whole American-British thing, Zed/Zee etc.

Mar 03, 2010

I'm very sad to see this story and some of the mean spirited comments that followed.

I was born almost deaf. I struggle every day to try and pronounce words that I’ve never really heard. I have been laughed at countless times. I will let you know, it really isn’t as funny from my side as it seems to be for the other person.

Enjoy the laugh….

Clre Wheeler-Brandt
Mar 03, 2010

When I was 5 or 6 I sent my mother into gales of laughter when I read from the back of a condensed milk can:
"J. B. Mayenberg invented Eva-Pore-
Ated milk . . . "

Mar 03, 2010

I knew someone who really thought 'picturesque' was pronounced 'picture-skew' and 'panache' was 'pan-ake'. And someone asked me the other day if I ever used a 'pester and mortal' to grind spices.

Clare Wheeler-Brandt
Mar 03, 2010

Hearing to a drug-user boyfriend of my brother's ex-wife tell how a person he knew had a "speech amphetamine."

Mar 03, 2010

About Albuquerque. Beyond has the pronunciation correct. Al-byu-kirk-kee. When I lived in Taos, however, my husband and I took to referring to it as Al-byu-quirky. We were, after all, from Ohio. All of New Mexico seemed a little odd.

jennifer Spiller
Mar 03, 2010

These are cracking me up. I know I'm guilty of the mispronunciation of things as much as the next person. I think it is a hazard of reading more than speaking. There are aspects of my vocabulary that are entirely print-based. Then, suddenly, one day, I will use a word in conversation that I've read or used in my head, not realizing I have never actually heard it spoken.

And, I'll add:
My 6 year old daughter referred to my baby son's hair as *ecstatic*. Perhaps it was. He is certainly a happy baby.

Mar 03, 2010

My husband is a card-carrying mensa genius but he takes the words immensely and tremendously and melds them together, saying "tremensely". I don't flat-out correct him but I've been trying to use the real words more often in our conversations, hoping that he will hear me say it right and realize the mistake on his own.

Kristy was always my favorite.

Mar 03, 2010

There used to be a lady at my work who would call a chest of drawers a chester draws. Not just pronounce it that way; she wrote it that way, too.

My preacher when I was a kid, and educated and intelligent man, occasionally mentioned Lezz Mis-rah-bulls in a sermon. It took me a few years to figure out he meant Les Miserables.

Mar 03, 2010

There's this pedestrian bridge that crosses over a busy street near my house. Once, my son, who was maybe six or seven at the time, referred to "the Presbyterian bridge" as we drove under it.

Mar 03, 2010

My husband used to say the company he worked for had excellent "French benefits," instead of "fringe." He could not believe me when I corrected him because English isn't my first language.
When I was little, I used to read the English/Spanish dictionary and learned to pronounce the words phonetically. To this day, I have to think before I pronounce tired, so I don't say "tie-red."

Mar 03, 2010

In high school, I was quite appalled by the "Youth in Asia" movement. Killing off all the old Eastern folks seemed a bit extreme.

Funny - I thought that the New Mexico town was Al-Buh-Kirk.

But what do I know? I live in Ba-yoo-na Vis-ta. The German-ancestry town founder insisted on an "American" not Spanish pronunciation.

The Ar-kan-saw River flows nearby, except to some of our neighbors from just east of Colo. They do prefer Ar-Kansas.

After performing in the "Music Man," I now check out books from the "Lie-berry."

"Epitome" doesn't rhyme with "home"? Uh-oh. It's off to the dictionary for me!

Rob Crompton
Mar 04, 2010

When my son was a little kid we moved to a house where the next-door neighbour had erected scaffolding at the front of his property. It had been there years, so we were told, and it remained there all the time we lived there. Ben was fascinated by this and would frequently comment on the "scaffle building" there and anywhere else he spotted it. We all adopted this usage because it sounded so much more fun and it wasn't until he was much older that I thought perhaps it was time to pu him straight.

Mar 04, 2010

I don't think anyone's mentioned this yet, but I've always been fond of that classic 80s song by the Go-Gos,"Alex the Seal" otherwise known as "Our Lips are Sealed."

Mar 04, 2010

My daughter was playing school the other day and wanted to say the "Pleasure Ligeance".

Mar 04, 2010

Monkeypants: "Our Lips are Sealed" I always thought it was "I love Cecile."

Mar 04, 2010

A student of mine recently wrote "Don't put yourself on a peddle stool." Unfortunately, she's not five, she's a freshman in college.

Mar 04, 2010

When I was a kid we used to sing "America" quite frequently in my youth church group. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized they weren't saying, "My country tis of thee, sweet land of liver tea, to thee I sing." I thought adults were idiots to be singing praises to liver tea. I mean, who likes liver in the first place? And tea made of the stuff? Puh-lease!

Mar 04, 2010

First, I wanted to be Claudia (her outfits were sooo cool) but i was a total Mary Anne.

My pet peeve is "would of" instead of "would've" in writing/e-mails. Of is not a verb!!!!

Also, big stickler for "I could care less," when obviously what they mean is that they COULD NOT care less.

Mar 05, 2010

The one that makes me want to scream is "mute point" instead of "moot point." Also, "ideal" instead of "idea," as in "I've got an ideal about what we should get Dad for his birhtday."

Sanctum's Muse
Mar 05, 2010

I once pronounced hypocrisy "hippo-crissy" and repartee "ree-partee." The first mispronunciation occurred when I was about fourteen in front of my church's congregation. The second happened just two years ago--when I was teaching the word to an eighth-grade English class. Yikes!

But at least I've never pronounced cafe in a way that rhymed with "cape" like I heard one fellow in South Carolina did when he went to apply for a job at Starbucks.

Mar 05, 2010

I know a woman who absolutely cannot pronounce "Hannah Montana." She says "HAM-in-uh TAM-in-uh." The worst part? She worked in a department store and she would ask for a price check on "HAM-in-uh TAM-in-uh" merchandise over the loud speaker.

Mar 05, 2010

I read these two all the time on FB and MySpace: People never seize to amaze me or people never seem to amaze me.

BonSue Brandvik
Mar 06, 2010

As teenagers, my girlfriends & I used to listen to 45s (un-huh, I am that old), writing down the words to every song we liked. I still sing along when I hear those old songs, like "Those Were The Days" my friend. When I get to the line "We'd fight and never lose" my brain automatically reverts to that being that kid and I can't help but sing, "We'd fight the Nevaloos"!

Mar 17, 2010

I remember in 3rd grade when I went through a heavy Peanuts phase (the comic, not the nut) and there being a strip where Linus was angry at something for being phony only I didn't know what phony was, though I got the context, and was pronouncing it Pa-hoe-knee.

And taking embarrassing years to realize that "chaos" and "Kay-oss" are the same words. I was reading it "cow-ohs"...

Oct 04, 2010

One thing that really bugs me is when people in the northwest say things like warsh rag and Warshington state. My daughters kindergarten teacher even told the kids to go warsh their hands! I about died! I once asked my own mom to spell Wash rag before she noticed there was no r in the word.

Jun 09, 2011
Jun 10, 2011
Oct 31, 2011

I have to add in because these comments are SO STINKIN' FUNNY!!!!

1. Definitely wanted to be Claudia, but will forever be like Mary Ann.

2. A college girlfriend and I shared a hotel room at a wedding one weekend and in the morning when the alarm went off I said, "Alright, up and at them." (Which when said comes out as Up-an-at-em) She giggles and then says, "I've never wanted to ask this, but who is Adam?" It took me a minute and then I laughed so hard I think I wet my pants!!

Aug 24, 2012

I've only recently discovered this wonderful place so I'm a bit late adding my favorite.
When my son was a pre-teen he overheard his sister talking about condoms. When she asked him if he knew what they were he replied that he did. They were where people apartments (condos).
My wonderful boss has a favorite word that she uses all the time..."flustrated" (frustrated with a hint of flustered).

May 10, 2013

Hahahahaha ha...these are beyond hilarious. I pronounced plethora as plu-thora for years and didn't realize that whataburger wasn't waterburger until I was in my teens...An adult friend of mine used the expression "never ceases to amaze me" the other day as "never seizes to amaze me"

Apr 21, 2016

Heckuva good job. I sure apptceiare it.

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