10 tricky pronunciations
Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive, and if everybody started pronouncing space with a silent ‘p’ or genius with a hard ‘g’, then Oxford Dictionaries would reflect that fact. But there are some pronunciations, of course, which are more widely accepted than others.
Some words – like scone and schedule – have two widely accepted pronunciations. But there are still quite a few words which many people feel unsure about… (FYI, clicking on any of these words will take you to the dictionary entry, which also includes an audio pronunciation. The pronunciations given below in the phonetic alphabet are British pronunciations.)
Definition: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
Pronunciation tip: make sure you put the emphasis on nal.
Definition: a perfect example of a particular quality or type.
Definition: exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally.
Definition: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole.
Pronunciation tip: epitome, hyperbole, and synecdoche all have Greek roots. The final e is pronounced, so the –tome, -bole, and –doche endings all have two syllables, not one.
Definition: occurring after the death of the originator.
Pronunciation tip: post isn’t pronounced like the word for letters and parcels; it rhymes with ‘cost’ rather than ‘coast’.
Definition: causing trouble in a playful way.
Pronunciation tip: mispronunciation of mischievous often goes hand-in-hand with misspelling: note that it’s mischievous rather than mischevious; it doesn’t rhyme with previous.
Definition: an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
Pronunciation tip: pronounce it with a long e sound, as in team.
Definition: a ruler exercising authority in a colony on behalf of a sovereign.
Pronunciation tip: it’s tempting to overcomplicate things, and attempt a pronunciation along the lines of viss-er-roy, but this is actually pronounced how it looks: vice-roy.
Definition: toasted Italian bread drenched in olive oil and served typically with garlic or tomatoes.
Pronunciation tip: the schet is authentically pronounced ‘sket’.
Definition: a smoked hot chilli pepper used in Mexican cooking.
Pronunciation tip: this Spanish loanword is notoriously difficult to pronounce for a lot of people. The correct way to say it is chi-poat-lay.