Five commonly mispronounced words

Spring Grove Area High School

Illustration by Samantha Dellinger

It’s easy to shake our heads and tsk-tsk when someone else is mispronouncing a word — but what about the ones we mispronounce? As this list below demonstrates, some of the seemingly most innocuous words in the English language are the biggest offenders when it comes to mispronunciation. Check out five commonly mispronounced words below to see how your speaking-savvy measures up.

1. Asterisk — This is an awkward word to say, but it is in fact pronounced the way it appears, not as “asterix” or “astrix.” Don’t let quick speech cause you to make this error.

2. Et cetera — This word is also phonetic, but the first “t” in “et cetera” just doesn’t flow off the tongue like the incorrect pronunciation “excetera.” To compound the difficulties with this Latin expression, the abbreviation is also commonly misspelled.

3. Mischievous — This word mischievously aims to trick your tongue more than once within its three syllables. The correct pronunciation is “MIS-chev-ous,” but you might be tempted to emphasize the second syllable and add an extra one, as in “mis-CHEEV-i-ous.”

4. Parenthesis — The singular of this word is so rare that it’s almost universally incorrectly mispronounced as “parenthesee.” However, the spelling clearly indicates the correct pronunciation: “parenthesis.”

5. Utmost — It is of the utmost importance that you pronounce (and spell) this word as “utmost,” not “upmost.”

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