51 words you should know how to pronounce

Whether in casual conversation or when addressing a roomful of listeners, make sure you get these words right. Here are preventive tips for avoiding a heinous incident.

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On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternative pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternative pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

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Here are 50 frequently mispronounced words. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a good start:

1. aegis—The ae in this word is pronounced /ee/. Say EE-JIS/, not /ay-jis/. In mythology the “aegis” is associated especially with the goddess Athene. It is her shield with the Gorgon’s head on it.

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