Some of the most important word’s of 2023 were also among the trickiest to pronounce – and the chances are you’ve been saying them wrong this whole time.
The tongue-twisting pronunciations range from the first name of “Oppenheimer” star Cillian Murphy, to the name of a sacred slab of sandstone used in the coronation of King Charles.
The list of this year’s most mispronounced words in the UK and US has been released by the online language learning company Babbel, and includes words ranging from scientific discoveries, to entertainment and politics.
How many of the words below have you been getting wrong?
The Stone of Scone – pronounced Stone of Skoon
King Charles‘s coronation meant the Stone of Scone was a topic of discussion for some in 2023.
The sacred slab was under the Coronation Chair when the crown was placed on the King’s head in May.
The stone has been used in ceremonies to inaugurate new monarchs for almost a thousand years – and it’s possible people have been pronouncing it wrong for just as long.
The Stone of Scone has the rare honour of making it onto the both the UK and US list of mispronounced words for 2023.
Padam – pronounced PAD-dahm
This word comes from Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue’s summer hit “Padam Padam”.
The word, which is apparently easier to sing than it is to say, refers to the sound of a heartbeat.
Bharat – pronounced BUH-ruht
Bharat is an ancient Sanskrit word that means India in Hindi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government suggested this year that Indians should start referring to their country as Bharat instead.
And now for the US list…
Cillian – pronounced Ki-lee-uhn
Irish actor Cillian Murphy has been one of the biggest stars of the year after starring in the Hollywood blockbuster Oppenheimer – but even that level of fame clearly does not guarantee people saying your name correctly.
Vivek Ramaswamy – pronounced Vih-VEK Rah-mah-SWAH-me
The name of biotech entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has also featured heavily in the news this year.
Getting people to say his name correctly is one of the many challenges he faces as he aims to secure the Republican nomination.
SZA – pronounced SIZ-uh (like scissor)
The US singer, who leads the nominations for the upcoming Grammys, goes by an acronym which many will have been pronouncing wrong.
The singer explained in 2018 that the S stands for “Sovereign or Self, Saviour”; the Z stands for Zig-Zag-Zig, which refers to enlightenment; and the A stands for Allah.
Fans of the Wu-Tang Clan will perhaps be less likely to get it wrong, however, as the pronunciation of SZA is in keeping with that of the legendary hip hop group’s de facto leader, the RZA.
Popocatepetl – pronounced Poh-poh-kah-TEH-peh-til
The Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico spewed lava and ash in a series of eruptions earlier this year – sparking an explosion in mispronunciations.
Kilauea – pronounced Kee-lou-EY-uh
In keeping with the volcano theme, Kilauea in Hawaii gave news presenters a tongue-twisting challenge as it erupted multiple times throughout 2023.
Choupette – pronounced SHOO-pet
The name of Karl Lagerfeld’s cat was difficult to pronounce for many as the Met Gala honoured the late fashion designer this year.
Kelce – pronounced KEL-see… or is it?
In some cases, the correct pronunciation is in the eye of the beholder. Earning a place on the US list was the last name of Travis Kelce, the NFL star and new boyfriend of Taylor Swift.
Whether Kelce should be pronounced with one or two syllables, Kels or KEL-See, was a topic of discussion on the New Heights podcast he hosts with his brother Jason.
When they asked their father in an episode whether they should go by “Kels or KEL-see”, he replied: “Do whatever you want, I did.”