Is anemone an enemy?

On Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? last night, both Mike Hosking and his contestant repeatedly pronounced anemone “an enemy”.

They did it so often I had to check that it wasn’t meant to be pronounced that way.

(It isn’t.)

This inspires me to compile a list of the Most Mispronounced Words in English. Right up there near the top would have to be pronunciation, which so many pronounce pronounciation.

Maybe the list should be called Mispronounciations?

Vunrable for vulnerable would be up there too.

 Feel free to contribute.

26 thoughts on “Is anemone an enemy?

  1. My pet peeve is the procnunciation of kilometre as ki-LOMM-etre. (It should be KILL-o-metre). After all, no one ever says: ki-LOG-ram!

    Another common fault is Feb-you-ary, for February.

  2. February, nuclear and shown, yes.

    Kilometre? Not so easy. What about odometer and thermometer?

    And John Keys (as repeatedly used by Matt McCarten last night) – that deserves a post of its own, it’s so prevalent.

  3. Beat me to it John! You can add a few other names to that too (e.g. Jeanette Fitzsimons), but I’m not sure they should count. Keys is a particularly odd one, though.

    I noticed vunrable on the news the other day I’d also add mischievous, and three (but at least not by news readers).

  4. Yes Graeme, a prominently-placed political personage calls Jeanette (her one n is tricky too) FitzSIMMONS, and ignores my pleas to get it right.

    By mischievous, I presume you mean the tendency to say mischievIous – that’s a good one.

    Thanks for your suggestions guys – if you think of others and the thread’s gone, just email me at (note the spelling!).

    I’ve now blogged on Keys. Hope Matt gets to see it.

  5. Oh and while I have sympathy for the manner of Tony Veitch’s sad exit, it was arguably karmic comeuppance for his really heinous crime: mispronouncing ‘ing’.

    ‘Een’ (as in fisheen, yachteen and raceen) is really not good enough for mainstream broadcasting.

  6. Odometer and thermometer are both measuring devices, with a different suffix (at least in British English spelling).

    We don’t change the emphasized syllable in millimetre or nanometre from SI conventions, so why is it distorted in kilometre?

    Then there is the word micrometre (a millionth of a metre, also called a micron). If it was pronounced miCROMetre, it would be confused with micrometer (note the different spelling), which is an instrument for accurate measurement of lengths, such as machined parts.

    (While we’re on mischievous and Jeanette Fitzsimons, there’s an amusing and mischievous mutation of her first name, formed by adding the suffix -ic.)

  7. A Jeanettic mutation – frightening.

    There’s no rhyme nor reason to it sometimes, David. Usage keeps trumping logic.

    “Odometer and thermometer are both measuring devices, with a different suffix (at least in British English spelling).”

    Yes, and then there’s anemometer, linguistic cousin of our friend the anemone.

    Both come from the Greek anemos, meaning wind. An anemometer is a windspeed measuring device, while anemone means ‘daughter of the wind’ for some reason.

    Thus today we have come full circle.

    I’ve just thought of another one: ‘cervical’. Why do newsreaders say cer-VIE-cal and not CER-vical?

  8. The word popularised by that species,’the lesser TV host’, Congradulations.

    Oh, yes, and your observation on the ubiquity of cer-VIE-cal. Ty-PIE-cal,I thought.

  9. My pet hate is cereMONy instead of CERemony. John Hawkesby was one of the early offenders with this.

  10. Yes, homepaddock, and Shania Twain almost certainly broke new ground by using prerogative in a song lyric.

    (“It’s my prerogative to have a little fu-un.”)

    She’s obviously no relation to Mark.

    We’re building quite a useful list here thanks, folks. I’ll gather them all up and put them in another post, and see if we can keep it going.

    There must be hundreds.

    Just the other day, I heard someone say ‘hubris’ for the first time.

    I’d seen it written many times and often wondered whether it was pronounced ‘hugh-BREE’, ‘oo-BREE’ or ‘HUGH-briss’.

    My erudite friend Amy Brooke was sure it was the latter, and that the French is now anglicised.

    I’ve always found the Americans amusingly inconsistent with their French.

    They’ll bend over backwards to be francophonically correct with some words, then completely butcher others.

    No examples are leaping to mind at the moment (except perhaps ‘filet’ (Phil A), so you might like to fill my vacuum.

    My Uncle Bill lived his whole life thinking ‘misled’ was pronounced as if it was the past tense of the verb ‘to misle’ (as per ‘reprisal’).

    No one ever had the heart to correct him, as this linguistic blindspot was so out of character.

    I’ve always enjoyed mispronouncing misled. In fact, I amuse myself (but usually not the family) by mispronouncing every word I can.

    My favourites would have to be MANS-laughter, physio-the-RAPist, LEG-end, DANG-er, res-iden-tial (ruh-ZYDE-in-TIE-ul) and TOG-e-ther (like Tabitha).

  11. Oh and I do particularly like ‘Liberian’, Red Shoe Girl.

    And ‘renumeration’ has the same n-m switch as ‘anenemy’.

    I guess the reason must be that it’s easier on the mouth muscles to say ‘re-numer’ than ‘re-muner’ and ‘a-nenom’ than ‘a-nemon’.

  12. Picture being pronounced “pitcha” – pretty much every TV newsreader does this one.

    William being pronounced “will-yum”. I fear for my safety when I hear this. At least the cannibals have good taste, I suppose.

  13. Con-GRAD-ulations – a Mark Sainsbury special.

    Now the election’s over, I’ll pull all these suggestions together into a file.

    I dropped my own clanger the other day on this very blog.

    I learned to my great surprise that the expression I’d always thought was ‘You’ve got another thing coming’ is in fact ‘You’ve got another think coming.’

    That’s what happens when you set yourself up as an expert.

    (What do they say? An ‘ex’ is a has-been and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure.)

  14. To John and your friend Amy: hubris is Greek, not French, and is indeed HYOO-bruhs. As to butchered idioms from French, coup de grace (death blow) should be KOO duh GRAHS, but one hears KOOP duh GRAHS, KOO duh GRAH, and even a double error, KOOP duh GRAH.
    Do we count “in regards to” as a mispronunciation or as a misspelling? When every parallel construction has no “s” (in relation to, with respect to, in accordance with, etc.), you’d think people would get it right. The problem comes from “regards” meaning “greetings” as in “Give my regards to Broadway.”
    How about “etc.” (which is et cetera) being mispronounced as ek cetera? Or the Ebonic version of “ask” as “axe”?

  15. Hard to know if this is a mispronunciation or an attempt at romancing English. When I am with someone I am sometimes asked “How are yooze?” – clearly the English “you” when referring to more than one person (a grammatical construction that I didn’t know we had).

    At least it’s not as bad as being asked “How are we?” in which case I have to facilitate a brief survey (which includes the questioner) in order to respond that it appears “We are fine?”

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