10 words Americans often mispronounce, according to a new study

(NEXSTAR) – It’s not just you; almost no one knows how to pronounce “acai.”

That’s the main takeaway from a recent study conducted by Unscrambled Words, which tried to determine the words, terms or names that Americans often find difficult to pronounce.

Not just “acai,” of course. The analysts at Unscrambled Words – an online resource for players of word-based games like Scrabble or Words With Friends – have found nine more tongue-twisting terms that Americans don’t seem to know how to say, based on the average number of monthly Google searches for “How to pronounce [X].”

“This data may show that some people may have been mispronouncing words for years without realizing it,” said a spokesperson for Unscrambled Words in a press release. “However, it also shows that there is no shame in wanting to know correct pronunciations, with thousands of people across the US also wanting to find out every month.”

As well as “acai” (a species of palm bearing the berry of the same name, pronounced “ah-sah-EE” or “ah-sye-EE,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary ), the top – pronunciations searched on Google included a number of other food-related words, such as “gyro,” “charcuterie” and “pho,” among others.

Quick, how do you say “GIF”? (Getty Images)

Others from the list include: “Omicron,” currently the name of the predominant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus; “Nguyen,” a common Vietnamese surname; and “GIF,” a word for a specific type of image file format that linguists and software engineers still debate over its pronunciation.

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The complete list of the top ten is below, alongside the average monthly number of Google searches for those pronunciations, according to Unscrambled Words. Each term is also hyperlinked to a pronunciation in Merriam-Webster, unless otherwise noted.

  1. Acai – 20,400 monthly searches
  2. Gyro – 17,660 monthly searches
  3. Omicron – 15,530 monthly searches
  4. Charcuterie – 15,140 monthly searches
  5. Nguyen (pronunciation via Heritage-Line) – 14,990 monthly searches
  6. Gnocchi – 11,350 monthly searches
  7. GIF – 11,230 monthly searches
  8. Worcestershire – 8,880 monthly searches
  9. Dogecoin (quote via Benzinga) – 7,540 monthly searches
  10. Run away – 7,270 monthly searches
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Meanwhile, the folks at Merriam-Webster would like to remind us that we’re fools to think there are only 10 words we commonly mispronounce. In June and October 2022, the editors of the book have released their own lists of the most mispronounced words in the English language, which include such whips as “victuals,” “awry,” “epitome” and, yes, “acai .”

“This famous berry is harvested in Brazil, but it is featured on menus and in recipes widely read by English speakers,” Merriam-Webster’s editor writes about the word that’ n is often mispronounced. “Even if you’re not throwing it into your morning smoothie, you might want to be sure you’re saying acai right.”


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