Dictionary Definition

mispronunciation n : incorrect pronunciation

User Contributed Dictionary



mis- + pronunciation



  1. The act of mispronouncing.
    She found the constant mispronunciation of her name very annoying.
  2. A mispronounced word or phrase.
    His speech was full of mispronunciations.


Extensive Definition

Mispronunciation is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "incorrect or inaccurate pronunciation". The matter of what is or is not mispronunciation is a contentious one, and indeed there is some disagreement about the extent to which the term is even meaningful. (It is interesting to note that even the word "pronunciation" itself is commonly mispronounced or misspelled as "pronounciation.") Languages are pronounced in different ways by different people, depending on such factors as the area they grew up in, their level of education, and their social class. Even within groups of the same area and class, different people can have different ways of pronouncing certain words.

Standards of pronunciation

All speakers must adhere to some standard of pronunciation in order to be understood by others. But standards vary among groups, and the extent to which any group has authority to claim that their standard is better, or even that they have the right to impose such a standard, is often the main source of contention.
Those who make claims about correct pronunciation often cite dictionaries as their authority, and so at this point a summary of the principles by which pronunciation guides in dictionaries are written may be helpful. We start by discussing two distinct standpoints from which pronunciation standards can be viewed.

Mispronunciation terms

  • Malapropism is the use of a word that is similar to another but has a quite different and inappropriate meaning to that intended, e.g.: “delusions” for “allusions”. This trait was immortalized in the character of Mrs. Malaprop in the 1775 Restoration comedy The Rivals, by Richard Sheridan. (From the French mal à propos, inappropriate.)
  • Spoonerism is the (usually) unintentional exchange of letters or syllables between two words or even within a word, often with comic results – especially when the result changes the speaker’s intended meaning. The term is named after the 19th century clergyman and academic Rev. William Spooner, who was supposedly prone to this trait. Among the examples attributed to him is “you've tasted two worms” for “you've wasted two terms”.
  • Aspiration is the sounding of an "h" sound at the beginning of a word whether needed or not. For example, the "h" in honor (British: honour) is not sounded but in "happy" it is. As with all pronunciation "rules," conventions regarding the aspirated "H" differ from region to region. In parts of the US, it is customary to pronounce "herb" without the initial "h" sound, while in the UK, the initial "h" is aspirated. In "My Fair Lady," Professor Henry Higgins castigates Eliza Doolitle for "dropping aitches all the time."
  • Metathesis is the reversal of letters within a word, such as "iron" being pronounced as "iorn."
  • Analogical pronunciation Mispronouncing a word due to similar spelling of another word.
  • Aphesis Dropping the sound at the start of a word.
mispronunciation in German: Versprechen

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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