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(NEXSTAR) — Are you sure that’s how that word is supposed to be said?

The English language, which pulls from a slew of others, is chock-full of words that many aren’t sure how to pronounce.

English is one of a linguistic family known as “Indo-European” languages, which means it’s made up of not only European languages such as German and French, but others such as Punjabi and Hindi from the Middle East.

Vox reported that English began through a series of migrations, with its earliest origins dating back to Old English (also known as the Anglo-Saxon language), Vikings and the Norman conquest of France.

Being comprised of so many other languages makes it easy to see how some very common words could be confusing. Here’s a list of seven of the most common, according to Merriam-Webster.


Yep, many people do mispronounce “pronunciation.”

Mispronunciation: “Pro-NOUN-see-a-shun”
Correct pronunciation: “Pro-NUN-see-a-shun”

NOTE: You still pronounce “pronounce” as “Pro-NOUN-ce.”


This one is difficult because there are different meanings for this word and they have different pronunciations.

While there’s still contention among linguists, Merriam-Webster says if you’re using “forte” to mean strength or skill in a certain area, this is generally recommended:

Mispronunciation: “for-TAY”
Correct pronunciation: “fort”

If you’re using “forte” to refer to a musical tone or direction in a piece of music, the word would be pronounced “for-TAY.”

Additionally, Merriam-Webster explains the word derives from French for “le fort,” which would be pronounced “LUH-four” (the French would pronounce “forte” the same way as the second vowel.)


It turns out the fancy way of pronouncing this word for an entrance hallway or lobby is not the right way.

Mispronunciation: “foy-YAY”
Correct pronunciation: “foy-ur”


Lots of us get up to no good with how we learned to say this word.

Mispronunciation: “miss-CHEEV-ious”
Correct pronunciation: “MISS-chiv-ous”


The jury’s out on this one.

The word for a small event preceding a bigger event (such as a musical intro before a symphony) has two dominant pronunciations, which appear to correspond to which country a speaker is from. Americans tend to say “PRAY-lood,” while Europeans (particularly Brits), say “PREL-yood.” According to Webster, neither is “incorrect,” though further research showed many other outlets preferring the latter.


This word, meaning something passing quickly, is often used to describe a person experiencing homelessness. The word stems from “transitory.”

Mispronunciation: “tran-ZEE-ent.”
Correct pronunciation: “TRAN-shent”


Here’s another fancy pronunciation that isn’t correct. The title for an employee of a hotel or other building who serves guests orcustomers should rhyme with “mallet” not “ballot.”

Mispronunciation: “val-AY”
Correct pronunciation: “VAL-it”