25 Words That Can Be Pronounced Differently but Spelled Alike

by Anne B. Robinson
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One of the most confusing things about the English language is that there are so many words that have more than one correct pronunciation. There is a lot of debate around some of these words, with some people arguing over the correct pronunciations.

Of course, everyone wants to pronounce words correctly, but certain words have more than one correct pronunciation. Here is a list of 25 words that can be pronounced differently.

List of Words that Can Be Pronounced Differently

1. Almond

This word has three correct pronunciations: “ALL-mund” – the “L” is pronounced and “al” sounds like the word “all”, “AH-mund” – the “L” is not pronounced, and “a” sounds like the “a” in father, and “AW-mund” – the “L” is not pronounced and “a” sounds like “aw” in the word awesome.

2. Apricot

This word has two correct pronunciations: “APP-ri-caht” – the first syllable rhymes with “map” and “APE”-ri-caht- first syllable rhymes with “cape.”

3. Aunt

This word can be pronounced like “ant” – sounds like the insect or “ahnt” – rhymes with “want.”

4. Broom

This word has two correct pronunciations: /brum/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “food” and /brʊm/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “foot.”

5. Caramel

You can either pronounce it like “CARE-uh-mel” – 3 syllables, the first syllable sounds like “care” or “CAR-mel” – 2 syllables, first syllable sounds like “car.”

6. Cauliflower

You can pronounce it like “COLL-ih-flower” – The “i” sounds like “ih” in “bit” or “COLL-ee-flower” – The “i” sounds like “ee” in “bee.”

7. Crayon

This word can be pronounced like “CRAY-on”- 2 syllables – rhymes with “rayon”, “cran” – 1 syllable – rhymes with “ban”, “CRAY-awn” – 2 syllables – last syllable rhymes with “pawn.”

8. Cot/Caught

The two words sound the same. The vowel in both “cot” and “caught” sound like the “a” in father. But also the two words sound different. The vowel in “cot” sounds like the “a” in father and the vowel in “caught” sounds like “aw” in “awesome.”

9. Coupon

This word has two correct pronunciations: “KOO-pon” – first syllable rhymes with “too” and “KYOO-pon” – first syllable sounds like “queue.”

10. Data

This word can be pronounced like “day-tuh” – the first syllable sounds like “day” or “da-tuh” – the first syllable has the “a” sound like in cat.

11. Don/Dawn

The two words sound different. The vowel in “don” sounds like the “a” in father and the vowel in “dawn” sounds like “aw” in “awesome.” But they also sound the same. The vowel in both “don” and “dawn” sounds like the “a” in father.

12. Either

You can either pronounce it like “EE-ther” – first syllable rhymes with “bee” or “AYE-ther” – the first syllable rhymes with “hi.”

13. Horrible

There are two ways to pronounce this word correctly: “HOR-uh-bul” – first syllable rhymes with “more” and “HAR-uh-bul” – first syllable rhymes with “car.”

14. Lawyer

The two correct pronunciations for this word are: “LAW-yer” – first syllable rhymes with “saw” and “LOY-er” – the first syllable rhymes with “boy.”

15. Neither

There are two correct ways to pronounce this word: “NEE-ther” – first syllable rhymes with “bee” and “NAI-ther” – first syllable rhymes with “hi.”

16. Pajamas

This word can be pronounced like “jam” rhymes with “Tom” or “jam” sounds like the fruit spread “jam.”

17. Pecan

This word has three correct pronunciations: PEE-can – sounds like a tin full of small round vegetables- “pea can”, “pick-AHN” – sounds like “pick Ron” minus the /r/, and “pee-KAHN” – rhymes with “see Ron.”

18. Poem

The two correct pronunciations are: “po-em” – two syllables – “po” rhymes with “go” and “em” rhymes with “them” and “pome” – one syllable – rhymes with “home.”

19. Quarter

You can pronounce it like “kor-ter” – starts with /k/ sound, no /w/ or “kwor-ter” – starts with /kw/ sound.

20. Roof

This word can be pronounced in two correct ways: /ruf/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “food” and /rʊf/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “foot.”

21. Room

There are two correct ways to pronounce this word: /rum/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “food” and /rʊm/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “foot.”

22. Root

The two correct ways to pronounce this word include /rut/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “food” and /rʊt/ – The “oo” sounds like the vowel in “foot.”

23. Route

You can pronounce this word like /rut/ – The vowel sounds like the vowel in “food” or /raʊt/ – The “ou” sounds like the vowel in “house.”

24. Syrup

This word can be pronounced like “SIR-up” – First half of word sounds like “sir” which rhymes with “burr” “SIHR-up” or “SEAR-up.”

25. Thanksgiving

There are two correct ways to pronounce this word: “thanks-GIV-ing” – stress on the second syllable and “THANKS-giv-ing” – stress on the first syllable.

What Are the 15 Most Mispronounced Words?

most mispronounced words

1. Aisle

Wrong pronunciation: ai-suhl / ei-suhl

Correct pronunciation: ile

2. Archive

Wrong pronunciation: aa-keev / aa-cheev

Correct pronunciation: AA-kive

3. Athlete

Wrong pronunciation: eh-tuh-leet / eh-tleet

Correct pronunciation: ATH-leet

4. Calendar

Wrong pronunciation: kuh-len-duh

Correct pronunciation: KA-luhn-duh

5. Colonel

Wrong pronunciation: kuh-luh-nuhl / koh-loh-nuhl

Correct pronunciation: KUH-nuhl

6. Congrats

Wrong pronunciation: con-grates

Correct pronunciation: KUHN-grats

7. Cupboard

Wrong pronunciation: cuhp-bohrd

Correct pronunciation: KUH-buhd

8. Debris

Wrong pronunciation: deh-brees / duh-brees

Correct pronunciation: DEI-bree

9. Debut

Wrong pronunciation: dee-buht / dei-butt / duh-buht

Correct pronunciation: DEI-byoo

10. Epitome

Wrong pronunciation: eh-pi-tohme

Correct pronunciation: uh-PI-tuh-mee

11. Forte

Wrong pronunciation: forth

Correct pronunciation: FOR-tei

12. Gauge

Wrong pronunciation: gowj

Correct pronunciation: geij

13. Genre

Wrong pronunciation: jen-ruh / jen-rei

Correct pronunciation: ZHON-ruh

14. Honour

Wrong pronunciation: hoh-nuhr / hoh-nuh

Correct pronunciation: O-nuh

15. Invitation

Wrong pronunciation: in-vie-tei-shun

Correct pronunciation: in-vuh-TEI-shun

What Are the Hardest Words to Pronounce?

  • Anathema – the many As in this word make it difficult it difficult to pronounce. It is pronounced like / uh-nath-uh-muh
  • Anemone – the first two syllables in this word make it difficult to pronounce. It is pronounced as / uh-nem-uh-nee.
  • Antarctic – the double Cs cause real trouble when pronouncing this word. Its correct pronunciation is / ant-ahrk-tik.
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism – this is one of the longest words in English and a perfect tongue-twister. Its correct pronunciation is / an-tee-dis-uh-stab-lish-muh n-tai-ee-uh-niz-uh-m.
  • Asterisk – the metathesis in this word makes it hard to pronounce. It is pronounced like / as-tuh-risk.
  • Brewery – its middle syllable is quite tricky to pronounce. This word is pronounced like / broo-uh-ree.
  • Cavalry – this word contains a metathesis that makes it difficult to pronounce. Its actual pronunciation is / kav-uh l-ree.
  • Comfortable – the “tuh” in this word can easily be skipped, but that makes the word difficult to pronounce. It should be pronounced like / kuhm-fer-tuh-buh l.
  • Defibrillator – the dissimilation in this word spells real trouble when pronouncing it. The correct pronunciation is / dee-fib-ruh-ley-ter.
  • Deteriorate – the first R in this word gets the same treatment as the second one, making the word difficult to pronounce. Its correct pronunciation is / dih-teer-ee-uh-reyt.

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