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17 Words Even Smart People Mispronounce

If you pronounce these words differently, don’t worry—many people do. But here’s how they were originally meant to be pronounced 50, 100, or 200 years ago—and, according to the dictionary, still should be.

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How to pronounce TransientPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce TRANSIENT

It has two syllables not three, so it’s “transhent,” not “tran-zee-ent.” (Mind blown? Ours too.)

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How to pronounce StatusPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce STATUS

It should be “stay-tus.”

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How to pronounce PreludePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce PRELUDE

“Pray-lood” is incorrect; the proper pronunciation is “prel-yood.”

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How to pronounce ValetPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce VALET

Downton Abbey got it right. It’s not a French word, so pronouncing the last syllable as “ay” is incorrect. It should be sounded as “val-it.” (Another fake French word: foyer, which is pronounced “foy-ur,” not “foy-ay.”)

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How to pronounce FortePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce FORTE

If you’re discussing someone’s “forte,” as in a strength, the “e” is silent. “Fortay” is correct only if you’re using it as a musical term.

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How to pronounce ErrPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce ERR

Rhymes with “hair?” No, it rhymes with “her.”

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Many people make pronunciation mistakes with "gala"Photo: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce GALA

Should be: “gay-luh.”

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How to pronounce applicablePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce APPLICABLE

The first syllable is the one that should be emphasized, as in app-lic-able, rather than app-lic-able.

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How to pronounce sphericalPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce SPHERICAL

It’s “sferr-i-kal,” not “sfeer-i-kal.”

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How to pronounce decreasePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce DECREASE

If you’re using it as a noun, it’s de-crease. If you’re using it as a verb, it’s de-crease.

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How to pronounce caramelPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce CARAMEL

Kah-ruh-mull” is the original way and still the preferred way, although “kar-mull,” which was once a Midwestern regional pronunciation, is also acceptable.

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How to pronounce muavePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce MAUVE

It once rhymed with “stove,” but now the “au” is sounded as “aw.”

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How to pronounce regimePhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce REGIME

The first syllable is sounded as “ray.”

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How to pronounce joustPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce JOUST

In the 13th century, it was pronounced (and spelled) like the word “just.”

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How to pronounce eitherPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce EITHER

“Eee-thur” or “aye-thur”? “Eee-thur” is the preferred way. (And so is “nee-thur.”)

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How to pronounce quasiPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce QUASI

Today it’s often pronounced “kwah-zee,” but it’s more correct to say “kway–zi.”

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How to pronounce Long-livedPhoto: Emma Kapotes

How to pronounce LONG-LIVED

Today we say the “lived” as “livd,” but until the 20th century, it was pronounced “lyved.”

Originally Published on Reader's Digest