Test yourself on these 13 common words. Are you saying them right? (In some cases, there is more than one accepted pronunciation.)
- asterisk | AS-ter-isk, not AS-ter-ik
(a symbol that often marks omitted content)
This is an asterisk.*
- espresso | es-PRESS-o, not ex-PRESS-o
(concentrated form of coffee)
May I buy you an espresso?
- forte | FORT, not for-TAY
(strength or strong point)
Baking is not my forte.
(but: forte / for-TAY is a musical term)
- hyperbole hy-PER-buh-lee, not hy-PER-bow-lee
Will election season hyperbole end soon?
- Ku Klux Klan | KU, not KLU Klux Klan
My state has no active Ku Klux Klan.
- mischievous MIS-chuh-vuhs, not mis-CHEE-vee-us
(causing trouble in a playful way)
His mischievous behavior didn’t offend anyone.
- niche | NEESH or NITCH
(suitable place or position)
She found her niche in the advertising field.
- pronunciation pro-NUN-see-ay-shun, not pro-NOWN-see-ay-shun
(how to pronounce something)
He practices pronunciation every day.
- Realtor | REAL-tor, not REE-la-tor (a trademark, so capitalize)
(real-estate agent affiliated with National Association of Realtors)
She sells more houses than any other Realtor in town.
- sherbet | SHUR-bet, not SHUR-bert
(a frozen concoction made of fruit juice)
Lemon sherbet is a perfect summertime dessert.
- supposedly | su-POS-ed-lee, not su-POSE-a-blee
(generally assumed or believed)
They supposedly got engaged last week.
- tenet | TEN-it, not TEN-unt
(a principle or belief)
Free enterprise is a tenet of capitalism.
(but: tenant / TEN-unt, a person who occupies rental property)
- utmost | UT-most, not UP-most
(of the greatest or highest degree)
He tried his utmost to convince her to marry him.
(but: uppermost / upmost: situated at the top, highest)
Mispronouncing words could portray you as someone who doesn’t pay attention to detail — or who doesn’t know any better. Getting the details of language right indicates that you’re likely to pay attention to other details in the workplace and in life.
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