From Asterisk To Zoology, Common Mispronunciations That Trip Us Up

Email a Friend
There's a new book out on one of our favorite topics: mispronounced words. (Pixabay)

There’s a new book out on one of our favorite topics: mispronounced words.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Kathryn and Ross Petras, co-authors of “You’re Saying It Wrong.”

You can also test your knowledge with a word pronunciation quiz.

19 Commonly Mispronounced Words

  • asterisk: ASS-ter-isk not ASS-ter-icks or ASS-ter-ick
  • badminton: BAD-mint-en not BAD-mitt-en
  • coup de grace: coo-de-GRAHS not coo-de-GRAH
  • coxswain: COCK-suhn not cox-SWANE
  • detritus:de-TRY-tuss, not DEH-trit-uss
  • electoral: ee-LECK-tor-uhl not ee-leck-TOR-uhl or ee-leck-TOR-ee-uhl
  • for all intents and purposes: for all intents and purposes, not for all intensive purposes
  • heartrending: HART-rending, not hart-REN-der-ing
  • mischievous: MIS-chu-vus, not mis-CHEE-vee-us
  • orangutan: aw-RANG-uh-tan or uh-RANG-uh-tan, not aw-RANG-uh-tang
  • pho: fuh, not phoh
  • quay: kee, not kway
  • quinoa: KEEN-wah, not KWIN-oh-ah or kwin-OH-a
  • remuneration: ri-MYOO-nuh-ray-shuhn, not re-NOOM-err-ay-shuhn
  • restaurateur: res-ter-uh-TOOR, not rest-ter-ahnt-TOOR
  • supposedly: sup-POSE-ed-lee, not sup-POSE-ah-blee
  • triathlon: tri-ATH-luhn, not tri-ATH-ah-luhn
  • utmost: UT-most, not UP-most
  • victual: VIT-l, not VIC-tchoo-uhl


Kathryn and Ross Petras, co-authors of “You’re Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse.”

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit