It’s confession time

How many of you have had the experience of seeing a word in print, forming an opinion of how it would be pronounced, and then having that opinion blasted to pieces?

My latest epiphany, if one can call it that, was with the word “clerestory”. I had read that quite a number of times, and decided it was pronounced klerr-ehs-tory, with the emphasis on the second last syllable. Imagine my surprise when, while watching Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs, I heard the word drop from his lips. But, he what he said sounded more like clear-story. Surely he was wrong? šŸ™‚ It couldn’t be me, could it?

So, I found an amazing website that gives an audible pronunciation of words, and darned if Kevin wasn’t right!

So, now it’s your turn. What words surprised you, when you finally heard them spoken?

And, here’s that website:Ā



Filed under Words

19 responses to “It’s confession time

  1. Irina

    Yvonne, you haven’t heard me talk in English have you?
    99% of English words surprise me when I hear them spoken!!!
    When I speak English I make all the pronunciation mistakes common to both Italians and Russians šŸ˜‰


  2. Buongiorno, Bert and Andrew, and thanks for taking the discussion up several notches!


  3. Andrew

    That’s the danger Bert. People think you don’t know the real pronunciation and just assume you’re stupid.


  4. bert

    Oh! I used to think the same, Andrew (mizzled for misled). I wonder if that’s anything to do with why hardly anybody seems to know how to spell ‘misled’ these days? If I had a pound for every time I’ve read “I was mislead by …” I’d be very rich indeed.
    I used to pronounce “picturesque” as “pictures-queue” just for fun, but my wife started to believe that that was the correct pronunciation, so I stopped.


  5. Andrew

    I still read mizzled for misled. And there are those we deliberately mispronounce within the family – like side saddle for side salad.


  6. bert

    It’s not so much the pronunciation I’ve had problems with in Venice, as the stress. When you’ve pronounced FosCARi and PesARo for years, and then you hear a Venetian say FOScari and PESaro, it sort of turns your world upside down. How many other Venetian words do I mispronounce?
    I used to think ‘moreover’ was pronounced ‘more-o-ever’ until I was about 11, which I think was because it was a word I never used, and I must have misread it the first time I saw it.
    I pretty sure I used to think clerestory was cler-ess’-tory too, Yvonne. But I was quite interested in church architecture, and, since I did not know what the word meant, I had to look it up in a dictionary, so I got the pronunciation as well as the meaning.


  7. Aha! Now I’ve got it. Don’t you hate it when you have to explain things to folks?


  8. Andrew

    Sorry I wasn’t clear; I meant I said ayg instead of aigyoo for the word ague.


  9. Andrew

    Btw our dictionary says it’s spelt clearstory in the US. Didn’t know they had them there.


    • I don’t know quite how to respond to that, without creating an international incident, Andrew. And, I’m clear on that!

      But, I’m totally in the dark over ague ayg!! Tear up the contract.

      You should have heard how I said Giudecca, until I heard someone say it. šŸ™‚ I thought I had it down pat. Not so.


  10. Andrew

    Just this week I learnt it’s miz-erry-cord and not misery-cord. And this morning my wife corrected me when I pronounced ague ayg. Do you get the aygyoo when you have the playgyoo?


  11. Thanks, Alida and Michelle. See, that was quite painless, wasn’t it?

    I had a dear (but kooky) friend with whom I worked in Adelaide. I loved it when she said atrocity, it came out as attro-city, rather than at-ros-itty. Hmm, go to to hear the spoken pronunciation of that one.

    And, another friend who talked about the ‘muriels’ (murals) on the wall. I can’t ever look at a mural without that popping into my brain. šŸ™‚


  12. Michelle

    And mine is “epitome”…it had to me eh-pih- tome (as in tome….large book)…imagine my chagrin at my roommate’s boyfriend (I was the tender age of 19) correcting my pronunciation. Yuk…not even a teacher.

    And thank you, Randy. I had heard the word…being a rabid watcher of HGTV …where they really don’t use it all that much…but had no idea what it described.


  13. AliDa

    Mine (she said with a red face) is quay. But that (she said in her defence) is because she moved to the coast from the prairies. There you go, you’re not on that branch alone auntie. xo


  14. When I stop to think about it, I’ve never, in my few years on earth, used clerestory in conversation; the occasion just never arose. And, thank you for the free architectural tutorial. Randallo. šŸ™‚

    OK, don’t you have at least one word to confess to us, that was not pronounced as you thought?


  15. Ah, “clerestory” versus “clear story”! As an architect, I too often witnessed not only “laypersons” but architects(!) either pronounce “cler-e-story” or spell the device as “clearstory”. Mr. McCloud and the pronounciation site are just as accurate as pronouncing it “clair-story”, and the mutations have bounced around over the centuries. Just don’t say “clara-story” (unless you are writing about Santa Clara, of course!)! And please always spell it “clerestory”!

    Henry Saylor’s “Dictionary of Architecture” (USA, 1963) defines the device as “An upward extension of enclosed daylighted space by carrying a setback, vertical, windowed wall through the roof slope, as over the columns between nave and aisle of a church.” (No extra charge for that…)


  16. djones47

    Sounds like a great website. I could use it for many words that I have trouble with.


    • It’s another of those stumble upon sites, Darlene. I had fun with it, for awhile, then my attention span snapped!

      Oh, and are you going to accept my challenge to confess one word that you found you had mispronounced? It’s no fun sitting out here alone on this branch.


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