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11 words you're probably mispronouncing
Not to shatter your confidence, but you're probably saying "Seuss" wrong
 
You've been wrong all these years, so it's no time to rejoice, for the great Dr. Seuss doesn't rhyme with Zeus but with Zoice.
You've been wrong all these years, so it's no time to rejoice, for the great Dr. Seuss doesn't rhyme with Zeus but with Zoice. CC BY: katerha

Ever feel embarrassed when you don't know how to say a word? Don't be. Even the most fluent English speakers — and, ahem, political figures — stumble. Besides, pronunciations change over time. See if you've been mispronouncing these common words.

1. Seuss
Pen names don't always make things easier. Theodore Geisel's college buddy Alexander Liang made a rhyme to teach you the right way to pronounce it:

"You're wrong as the deuce/And you shouldn't rejoice/
If you're calling him Seuss/He pronounces it Soice" (or Zoice).

2. Kibosh
Let's put the kibosh, pronounced "KY-bosh," on saying this word like "kuh-BOSH."

3. Celtic 
An initial hard (k) sound is the standard, but linguists say the (s) sound emerged as far back as the 17th century. Still, you'll sound ridiculous (but correct!) if you bring that hard (k) to a Boston Celtics basketball game.

4. Comptroller
This word sounds just like "controller." If you're tempted to pronounce that silent (pt), please comptroll yourself!

5. Cache 
Maybe it's because it's one letter short of "cachet." Maybe it's just more fun to mispronounce. This words sounds just like "cash."

6. Chicanery
This word meaning "deception by trickery" is aptly tricky to pronounce. The beginning (ch) sound is "sh," as in "Chicago." The French pronounce the word "shih-connery," which makes it easy to remember the definition. However, Americans love a long (a) and tend to pronounce it "shih-cane-a-ree." Choose your own adventure.

7. Banal 
You'll be the butt of the joke if you pronounce this "BAY-nul." It's "buh-NAHL."

8. Affluent 
If pronouncing it "a-FLU-ent" is wrong, some people don't want to be right. The stress on this word is supposed to be on the first syllable — "AFF-lu-ent." But stressing the second syllable became so mainstream that dictionaries started validating the pronunciation in the 1980s.

9. Forbade
Pronunciation quirks and mistakes happen when people try to read and speak by the rules. Too bad the English language doesn't always make sense. The past tense of "forbid" was originally supposed to be spelled and pronounced "for-bad." But then people started spelling it "forbade" and rhyming it with "made." Now linguists say the word sounds archaic any way you say it. Most people use "forbid" as a past or present-tense verb.

10. Boatswain 
Okay, so maybe this word's not that commonly used. But now that you know it's pronounced "bo-sun," you might find more reasons to work it into conversation.

11. Niche 
When this word was borrowed from French in the 17th century, it was quickly Anglicized to rhyme with "itch." But in the 20th century, more people embraced a true French pronunciation and decided to pronounce it "neesh." Both are correct.

 

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