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5 Words/Phrases You Didn't Know You Were Mispronouncing

Updated on January 11, 2014

No one wants to look silly, and sometimes the correct pronunciation of a word isn't obvious. Even more odd, sometimes a word gets mispronounced so much that its mispronunciation becomes its official pronunciation. In this article I'll go over 5 common words/phrases that you probably didn't know that you were mispronouncing.

5. Dr. Seuss should actually rhyme with "voice"

Beloved children's author Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as Dr. Seuss, is known for being the author of dozens of children's books, poems, and cartoons. His name is commonly pronounced as if it would rhyme with the word goose, but this is incorrect.

In actually, Seuss is a German name and should be pronounced "Zoice", as if it rhymed with "voice". This is even how Dr. Seuss originally pronounced it. However, after hearing how the English speaking public had adopted the mispronunciation of Seuss, he decided he too would adopt the mispronunciation rather than correct everyone, since it "evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with — Mother Goose".

More Information:
Dr. Seuss biography at Seussville

4. There's no such thing as "intensive purposes"

The phrase "for all intents and purposes" is used in legal documents and disclaimers, and is commonly misheard as "for all intensive purposes". However, there is no such thing as "intensive purposes". "For all intents and purposes", on the other hand, means for all practical purposes.

More Information:
Wiktionary Entry on "Intensive Purposes"

3. The old English "Ye olde" is actually pronounced "the old"

The "Y" in "Ye" was never pronounced but was used by old Continental Europe printing press machines because the character in old English that represented the "th" sound (þ) wasn't apart of the letter set. Therefore, the "Y" was used in its place and pronounced as "th". Nowadays you commonly hear the "ye" mispronounced at renaissance festivals and other old English events.

More Information: Entry on Ye

2. The .gif file format is actually pronounced as if it rhymed with "jif"

Even though GIF stands for "Graphics Interchange Format", and graphics has a hard "G" sound, the creators of the format intended the word to be pronounced with a soft "G", as in gin. In fact, the creator of the format came up with the pronunciation so that it would rhyme with the peanut butter product "Jif". He would often say "choosy developers choose GIF", which was spoof of Jif's catch phrase, "Choosy mothers choose Jif".

More Information:
The GIF Pronunciation Page

1. Caesar is pronounced kai-sahr in classical Latin

The Latin pronunciation is also where names like Kaiser come from. Kaiser is a German name that means "Emperor" and it is directly derived from the word Caesar.

More Information:
Caesar Wikipedia Page


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    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      I knew the 'intents and purposes'... it doesn't even make sense the other way! Interesting. Voted up.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 5 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      A fun word based hub. A great read

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I am guilty of all but number 4. Thank you for clearing these up for me. I try to be accurate in spelling and pronunciation. Many errors in pronunciation derive from lack of enunciation.