Because English doesn’t always sound the way it looks.

By Liz Steelman
Updated January 02, 2018
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Many times, our first introduction to a new vocabulary word comes from reading, not from hearing it spoken aloud or in everyday conversation. And since finicky English isn’t always the user-friendliest language, when it comes time to sprinkle your speech with the perfect word, you might end up saying it the way it looks, not how the way it's actually pronounced. Though commonly mispronounced words might invoke some giggles, know that every one of us—especially voracious readers—makes a mistake once in a while. In fact, when Reddit user Zekumi posed the question “What’s a word that you pronounced incorrectly for a long time?” to the /AskReddit subreddit, it quickly became a popular post. At the time of writing, more than 208 people had commented with their own linguistic fumbles.

Here, some of the most commonly mispronounced words, their meanings (via Merriam-Webster), and, of course, their correct pronunciation.

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Meaning: Off the correct or expected course.

Commonly mispronounced as: Awe-ree.

Correct pronunciation: Ah-rye.


Meaning: A typical or ideal example.

Commonly mispronounced as: eh-pee-tome.

Correct pronunciation: eh-pit-oh-me.


Meaning: The front of a building, or a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect.

Commonly mispronounced as: fah-caydee.

Correct pronunciation: fah-sodd.


Meaning: Almighty, having virtually unlimited authority or influence.

Commonly mispronounced as: Om-knee-poe-tent.

Correct pronunciation: Om-nip-oh-tent.


Meaning: A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or this is best fitted.

Commonly mispronounced as: nitch.

Correct pronunciation: kneesh.


Meaning: An illusion or fabrication of the mind.

Commonly mispronounced as: cheem-meer-ah.

Correct pronunciation: khai-meer-ah.