In Celebration of People Who ALMOST Get It Right

bratsDuring my travels, I’ve encountered many people who are serial mispronouncers. One of my relatives, for instance, just LOVES a cookout featuring hamburgers and “brocks.” It’s brats, I say, short for bratwurst. There’s a T in there. But it makes no difference. Next time it’s brocks again. WTH?

That kind of thing is not rare. I notice it almost every day. But I’d like to focus on a more specific sub-niche here: people who read the names of things, and mangle the living shit out of them. In most cases it’s not really a mispronunciation, it’s a misreading of the actual words. Know what I mean?

I’ll list the ones that jump immediately to my mind, and let you guys take it from there. Hopefully you’ll have some similar stories to tell in the comments section. I’m not alone, right?

Prior 1

Pier 1In Atlanta, Toney and I worked with a woman who disfigured many a word. She talked about her excellent “credick” rating, bought a brand-new couch that still had the “plascit” on it, and drank her sodas through a “scraw.”

And one day Toney was having lunch with her, and she started talking about her love for Prior 1. Toney was confused, thinking it might be some swanky new store in Buckhead or something. But as the conversation continued, she figured it out: she was talking about Pier 1 Imports.

Needless to say, we call it Prior 1 now, and have for years. The real name seems foreign and strange to us at this point.


Chick fil ABelieve it or not, this one is fairly common. I’ve heard several people say it, in multiple states. They take the A at the end, and move it to the middle. Why?

Admittedly it’s a stupid name, and somewhat confusing to the uninitiated. But it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out they want you to say Chick Fillet. Moving the A to the middle doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But it happens all the time.

One of the smartest and most successful guys I know used to say it that way. Hopefully he’s adjusted it by now, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he hasn’t.

Sports Illustration

SII had a friend in school who was famous for getting things mixed up, and mauling various phrases and words. One time I was with him, and an old lady started yelling at us for some jackass thing we’d done. And he hollered back: “Shut up, you old bag! We’re guilty until proven innocent!!” He also made a lot of Publishers Clearing House jokes, and talked about “Fred” McMahon showing up with a giant check.

And he called Sports Illustrated magazine “Sports Illustration.” Every time. We gave him shit about it, of course, but he’d just tell us to go fuck ourselves. and continue to get it wrong. Heh. He’s a good guy, but could mangle things like a champion.


ChipotleThis one doesn’t fit exactly into what we’re doing here, because it’s a straight-up mispronunciation. But it’s another of those situations where we’ve jokingly said it the wrong way for so many years… we almost don’t know the proper way anymore.

It comes courtesy of my sister-in-law, who says “cheh-pottle.” I’ve also heard her pronounce saute as “sah-oot,” and turn Parmesan cheese into “Parmesian.” Plus, her husband believes Wi-Fi is “wiffy.” They both have PhDs, by the way.

Admiral Palmer

Arnold PalmerOur oldest son has a kinda-sorta friend who is a big fan of the “Admiral Palmer” brand of iced teas. The boy laughs at him, and asks why he thinks there are golf balls and people swinging clubs on the cans, if it’s named after some bigshot in the Navy. But the friend just tells him to shut up, and keeps calling it Admiral.

Yep, sounds about right. They never adjust, once they realize they’re wrong. Why is that?? If it were me, I’d be embarrassed and never say it wrong again.

In any case, I’m turning it over to you guys now. What do you have on this one? Anything? Please tell us your stories in the comments section below.

And I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Have a great day!

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  1. Erica in Charlotte says

    I love my husband so very much. With that qualifier out of the way, the man cannot pronounce or spell Cipotle. I received a text from him about eating at “ciltolpa.” Only because I’ve known him for 20 years, did I realize what he meant.

    He also texted me about going to Quadbo. (Translation: Qdoba) I will never not call it Quadbo’s now.

    We uh… we seem to text about food a lot.

  2. Erica in Charlotte says

    (sigh) Chipotle.

    I blame my misspelling on repeated exposure to others who can’t get it right.

  3. Erika in Louisiana says

    “Walmark.” Usually said by someone who drives a Nissan “Maximum. ” Wearing a “sage” (rhyming with plague) shirt. I could go on and on, but it’s not a good “ideal.”

    • Uh, walmark drives me nuts, and I have several family members who say it.

      My in laws regularly butcher English and it drives me nuts, especially since they spend a lot of time with my impressionable young child. Where shall we begin? Sus-spo-sed-ly instead of supposedly. Pacific instead of specific. You’ins instead of y’all (I’m southern, not a swamp-sucking hillbilly). Ort to instead of ought to. Ok, I’m getting pissed off, I need to stop now.

      • Lady I know insists on adding a “s” as in “I’m going to Walmarts” Now my buddy and I
        have said that way so many times we never say Walmart.

  4. Joey Jo Jo says

    Fuck, the Chipotle mispronunciation that gets me is “Chipoltay.” I know it’s hard to say the L after the T, but fucking hell, people.

    • valerie schmalerie says

      My husband, bless his dear heart, is guilty of this one. Drives. Me. Crazy. It’s not that hard to say it right!!

  5. Brenda Love says

    My mother was one of these, I do believe in her case there was a dyslexia/brain thing going on. She was famous for taking us to the “liberry” and following a strict “dite”. Also, we were never to touch her collection of “chrishtual” in the china cabinet. Bless her heart, I miss her so!

  6. druglife says

    I’m now convinced Jeff is a retard magnet.

  7. Irregardless, which is not even a word. It’s regardless; Get it right!

  8. Surely I have the biggest, heaviest baggage regarding this subject.
    I’m getting sweaty palms just trying to let you know about it.
    In high school, I reveled in assignments regarding writing, while my classmates moaned and complained. I read lots, just because. In 6th grade I diagrammed sentences for fun. I’m being truthful here,.
    I married someone who slaughters the English language. Was that word adequate? He Binds,Tortures,Kills the language. When he speaks to someone, I feel like his nervous side-kick, always listening attentively; because I will be called in (by a puzzled expression on the listener) to translate for him. Yes…I recognized it years ago, that’s true. However, as he has aged, and his hearing has faltered–he has ordered Kalamazoo for dessert (Tiramisu) and other horrid things, too embarrassing to even review in my mind, even though I am sitting alone on my couch here, perfectly protected from the ears of the world. I wonder what it must be like to visit with others, have a short conversation after church or at a birthday party, with no worry about the outcome. I do know that I will never be released from this word-burden. I believe most people who know my husband, and recognize his sincere heart, just accept his blunders and get past them by filling in the word he is searching for, or maybe just let it go and continue the conversation. It’s a mountain-climbing assignment for me each time, and I am always wondering if I can make it.

  9. Chuckles says

    My partner says supposively instead of supposedly… drives me nuts. Mind you English is not his first language but come on. Yes I’ve corrected him dozens of times.

    • UncleRickles says

      I work with a bunch of folks who “supposably” know what going on. Makes my head hurtevery time.e

  10. Massa-tu-setts = Massachusetts
    salmon (pronounces the L)
    replaces “scowl” with “scour” as in, “He had a scour on his face.”

    • My dad, won’t even finish saying Massachusetts anymore. It comes out Massachu-shits. He can’t help it, he’ll just start and stumble around then say, “you know where I mean”.

    • Erica in Charlotte says

      In the same vein, people who pronounce it ma-TOUR (mature).

    • madz1962 says

      We call it “Massive Two Shits”

      • madz1962 says

        And Connecticunt

      • It is filled with Massholes, Massive Two Shits fits the bill.
        When did Masshole parents stop teaching their kids manners? Just about every single one of them that I have met lives up to their name…

  11. Brenda Love says

    We’re forgetting the ultimate classic: DUCK TAPE!

    • This one is annoying, but the “Duck” brand has made it worse by selling “Duck Tape”. Sigh. I suppose it’s marketing genius.

  12. I used to work with a woman who was always taking her kids to “Chunky” Cheese.

    We were watching “24” last week and everyone was saying “nucular” instead of nuclear. Blame that one on the writers?

  13. valerie schmalerie says

    “Brocks?” As a Wisconsin-ite, this is blasphemy!

  14. I was born in February, and with God as my witness, I will always call it Feb-rue-ary. Those who say Feb-you-ary can bite me.
    Thanks for correcting yourselves. 😉

  15. Bill in WV says

    I had a friend who always talked about going to Lois’s. Took a while, but finally figured out he was going to Lowes. I’ve heard the Wal-Marks one too.

  16. madz1962 says

    My mother, Edie, is the classic slasher of the English language we call them “Edie-isms”

    She may buy you a set of dishes from Williams and SOMOMA after she takes a ride in the autumn to look at the fall FOILAGE which she’d love to capture on her camera and have loads of PITCHERS as long as it isn’t on a SAD-DAY – Sunday would be better.

    Oh God there are more but I’m at my desk laughing like a re-re who stole a can of Redi Whip.

    • UncleRickles says

      Now I’m laughing thinking of a re-re with their can of Redi-whip…Classic!

  17. I grew up next door to a kid whose whole family pronounced “hors d’oeuvres” as “Horse Dobbers”. I think it was one of those inside family jokes but never was quite sure. Similarly, as I joke one day I pronounced “asparagus” as “asper-AH-gus” and that stuck for awhile.

  18. Steve in WV says

    I can’t stand it when people wanna show possession when none is warranted. It’s Kroger, not Kroger’s. It’s Walmart, not Walmart’s.

    • That’s a regional thing, I think. Up here, people work for Fords, shop at Krogers, etc.

    • bikerchick says

      A grocery store here in Pittsburgh is Giant Eagle. But yinzer’s call it Giant Eagles.

    • Brenda Love says

      Kroger??? I thought it was K Roger! 😉

    • It took me the longest time to get my husband to stop calling Krogers, Grogers. I also finally convinced him that Magic Mart was not Roger Mart.

  19. Fat Dave says

    I’ll tell you why folks don’t fix their speech. Because it annoys the ever loving crap out of you. No one in my family says “Burger King” anymore, because it drives my sister batty when we call the restaurant “Burger Chef” (which had better sandwiches, IMHO, anyhow). My grandfather wasn’t into spicy food, but he did like “japalenos” on his “nockos.” He was also a big fan of “sal-mon,” too. And he swore he hooked up with a “morphodite” while on a bender during WWII, the Big One.

  20. I pronounced Luke Skywalker’s home planet as “Tatoonie” until I was around 20 years old. A friend made fun of me for a while when he heard me say that.

  21. I once took a room service order at a hotel where I worked in the mid to late 90’s for a “Chicken Quixadilly”. I have never pronounced Quesadilla correctly since.

  22. Big Chimney = Big Chimley
    Hurricane = Hurrikin
    Wash = Worsh

    WV has many standard acceptable mispronunciations.

  23. Lew in Bama says

    Here in the deep south, I come across a BUNCH of this type mangling of the English language.
    My best friends mother used to “warsh” the dishes. WArsh, Worsh, either way, there is no “r” in WASH. Neither in idea. Nothing is a good idear.
    Your driver’s license is a singular item, so when asked to produce, please don’t reply with “let me see if I can find em”.

  24. Poppajugs says

    Had a buddy in college who called it Valentimes Day. I corrected him, explained who St. Valentine was, and he went right back to calling it Valentimes.

  25. bikerchick says

    I worked with a girl that wanted a special gift from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day ….you know…in Febberary.

    Santa comes down the chimley every year too.

  26. wvgasman says

    How about these?

    Country Fried Chicken for Kentucky Fried Chicken
    Choir-practor for Chiropractor
    Epitome (so that it rhymes with Rome)

    Living in WV provides a constant stream of these things…

  27. Stephanie C says

    Anyone else here grow up in Brooklyn hearing “axe” for ask, “maf” for math and “liberry” for library? *full body shivers*

    • madz1962 says

      And if you couldn’t go to the liberry, you could always check out a book on the bookNObile.

  28. I was getting an update on a sick friend, and her mother said her electric lights were all messed up (electrolytes). I tend to adopt the mispronunciations after making fun of them (Valentime’s Day, credick card, Walmark). I know I’m saying them wrong, but I just can’t help myself.

  29. Sunny Bright says

    Oh there are so many to choose from. Like my granny – bless her heart – who cannot say the name Teresa for the life of her. She says it like it is spelled in Old English… sorta. “Three Sah. ” And has the audacity to talk about Pop’s love of sammiches.
    I also have a friend who murders English on the regular. She has thyroids in her uterus. U mean fibroids? She loves to buy Glad air fresheners. Glade? Oh and quesadillas with jalapeños. Cway sah dill luhs with jah la pee nose. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t!

    • Ruthless Dee says

      My husband absolutely cannot spell and doesn’t even try to use spell check when he texts me. He once asked me about hollow pee nose in my cassa dias.

  30. I used to sell insurance, and in PA there’s a form of insurance called “tort”. You have to choose between Full Tort or Limited Tort, which dictates your ability to sue someone over an accident.

    People constantly called in “torque”.
    “Oh yeah, I have that “full torque” on my IN-surance.
    Drove me bonkers. Even after I corrected the customer that is was TORT, they still called it torque.

  31. There are some great ones to be found in The Trailer Park boys. Of course, those are intentional. If you have never watched the show – check it out.


  32. keytohwy says

    Yes, there a ton, but speaking of people in PA, I knew some folks…when someone was fired, they always said “left go” instead of “let go”. This is, of course, glossing over the fact that people from PA fail to pronounce the ‘L’ in their state name. Pennsavania.

  33. Polo shirt = polio shirt.

  34. madz1962 says

    Across – acrosst

    Had one dumbass mention something about the “PA TAH MACK” river instead of the PoTOEmac

  35. Ruthless Dee says

    My friend wants to get her lawn redone in “Afroturf”. I have a great picture in my mind of that. She also regularly visits the “Cryopractor” who, I assume, freezes her head before he pops her neck. Hey, maybe that explains it.

  36. I have employees who all say “exspecially” when they mean “especially.” It drives me nuts. As for a straight up mangling… there was a woman who used to manage a front office at a place I used to work. She was of a different race than I am, not that it’s important, but she was so proud of her first credit card and kept talking about everything she bought with it… and how she was gonna get 1% cash back every year on her “Discovery Card.”

  37. Stuart from Oz says

    My business partner is a massive word mangler but the one that comes to mind is Osmond Bin Laden – instead of Osama!

  38. Phantom Railfan says

    I know a couple of people who say Natural Weather Surface, as in “I heard the Natural Weather Surface just put out a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.” I also hear Old Timer’s for Alzheimer’s, and know an 80 year old man who said he passed a screening for Colorado cancer. It took me awhile to realize he meant “Colo-rectal.”

    The one that really bugs me is people who talk about how their car has a “Cadillac converter.” I had an argument with a co-worker over this; he insisted that it was a Cadillac (and not Catalytic) Converter because it’s a device that reduces his ’97 Chevy’s exhaust emissions down to the pollution-content levels of a Cadillac, which, he insisted, were the industry standard.

  39. Mookie325 says

    My lord, so many to choose from, I’ll just stick with a couple that I mangled well into my teenage years:
    certs me!=search me!

    Now that I have a much firmer grasp on the English language I am much less tolerant of others than I was of myself, lol.

  40. We started saying “wooder” for “water” as a joke about the local accent, but now our 5 year old says “wooder” and I feel like an ass.

    Woodermelon wooderice. Flush the torlet with wooder.

  41. Everyone knows what you mean when you say Old Timers Disease, rather than Als-Timers.

    Asus = Ay-Suss. Ryhmes with festering zit filled with puss. Not Ah-Zeus.
    BenQ = Ben-Que… Not benck.

  42. I will admit I jumble Arnold palmer. My mouth trips on those two words. I may adopt admiral palmer.

    My invention for one of my amazon reviews was a bud palmer. More or less a bud shandy.

  43. Years ago I heard a woman in the break room at work say “Lord, sometimes I don’t what I’m gone do. Power steerin’ – teef and gums. It’s not so much my teef as it is my gums…”

    I sat there puzzled for a while, then I just had to ask her what she meant by “power steerin”. Turns out it was pyorrhea.

  44. boattripper says

    My father butchers prostrate for prostate…so I ask if he was lying down to no reponse

  45. Minipeds in NOLA says

    An old man my aunt took care of referred to his diabetes as “chicken are-beetus.” I don’t know how he got from point a to b on that one.
    One girl I work with is so stuck on saying “axe” instead of ask that she says “axe-kuh-king” because asking is beyond her verbal abilities.

  46. One of my previous employers sold a lot of Barco brand video projectors. We had a client who kept calling it Barcode. The same guy had a computer card whose brand name was Hurdler. He called it Herd Licker.

  47. Voice guy at the radio station where I work was voicing a commercial, where near the end he was supposed to say “Voila” (wah-la’). We heard it on the air and he pronounced it “Viola” as in a woman’s name. We waited a few days before we told him the mistake, but his name from that point on was Viola.

    • johnthebasket says

      When I’m doing a presentation or giving a talk, and come to the “reveal”, I nearly always say vi-o’-la, just to let the audience know I didn’t go to finishing school.

      Doing that by accident in a commercial sounds like typical talent. The writer really needed to include a parenthetical pronunciation key.


  48. I enjoy seeing all the different ways folks try to spell “solder”. Sauter, sotter, sodder, etc. That one is pretty understandable though, kind of like “colonel”.

  49. My mother always had a problem pronouncing weird. She would say weary-ed. I would just chuckle under my breath because it was rare that she ever used that word anyway. I dated a guy that said wallermelon instead of watermelon. He could say water and melon but could NOT put them together correctly to save his soul. And then there’s my uppity, wants to be sophisticated brother who pronounces Limoges in a way he thinks sounds French. Lee-Mo-Jay. Makes me laugh every single time.

  50. why is facial tissue always Kleenex even if its another brand? Why are hot tubs always Jacuzzis? This kind of stuff is maddening.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on ‘Co- Cola’

    • I read Dolly Parton is heading up a group of investors to buy the Big Lots stores, as well as the Piggly Wiggly and Harris Teeter supermarket chains.

      They plan to turn it into a sort of superstore kind of like a poor man’s Walmart.

      It will be called Big Piggly Teeters.

    • I’m not sure why but I don’t ever think I’ve bought Kleenex, always Puffs but I always say Kleenex. Sorry Dave, it’s programmed in deep.

    • Kevindust says

      In my experience around these parts of Canada, it is common to eat Kraft Dinner (or simply KD) no matter what brand of macaroni and cheese was cooked.

      People go Ski-dooing or Sea-dooing as opposed to snowmobiling or personal watercrafting. If I own a Polaris brand, am I Polarising?

  51. Rat Bastard says

    My grandmother used to call Provolone cheese “Pav-a-lon-ey” cheese. I’d try to correct her, but it was no use. I call it that now as a joke.

  52. Squash = SquaRsh
    Wash = WaRsh

    This seems to be a middle America thing. STOP IT!

  53. When the Georgia chicken sandwich fast food place came to Texas in the mid-80’s I read an extra “a” in the middle. I know better, but it’s still Chick-ah-fill-ah.

  54. As a person living close to Seattle, I cringe every time I hear my mom say she went to Starbucks for an expresso. I also can’t stand when people add “the” before stores, like going to THE Walmart, or going to THE Costco. I also have a friend who says death people when he means deaf people.

  55. I too put the extra A in the middle of Chick-A-Fil-A

  56. These people sound like real life versions of the rugrats.

  57. Jeannette says

    I realize I’m late to the party, but my mother. Oh, sweet Jesus, she’s terrible at speaking. Most words just come out wrong, but she’s got a few that she’s just made up.
    She calls scallions “skullions” and ricotta cheese is “riticotta cheese”. She also tends to put some bad accent on any word that is even reminiscent of another language. And, naturally, chipotle is a word that she just cannot handle.

  58. Milissa 'my birthday is your Anniversayr' Sampson says

    My step-son:
    thinks medieval is pronounced medi – e-val
    think awry is pronounced is Ari
    seriously something wrong with that boy

  59. flaming yawn for filet mignon

  60. My college-educated ex, when he was my new husband said ambliance for ambulance and chimbley for chimney. He did not believe I was right because no one ever corrected him. Well, he was from NY and I was from MS, so you know I had to be wrong–his attitude. I showed it to him in the dictionary. Finally, I just told him like Lucy told Ricky–not to ever speak to the child with whom I was pregnant.

    I was raised mostly in Memphis and now live in Alabama. So, the next is all Alabama experience.

    He talked from the pulpit about eating “saw dust gravy.” Yeah, being a minister made him infallible. I think he heard my father talk about “sawmill gravy. ” He also mutilated ever common place name and personal name in the Bible and from the pulpit.

    I went into a restroom the other day and an older woman said in surprise, “You skurred me!” Rhyme that with fur or purr. I only opened the door, so I don’t know how I scared her.

    My friend told me worked at Kmark . We remembered each other when I was a customer. Finally, I asked her why she said it that way since it was Kmart. She said she thought she said it right. Well, 20 years later, she still said Kmark. ???

    I cannot say “social security.” I end up saying “sho sho sho” until I give up and start all over very carefully. Mostly, I stop and think hard so I can say it. No way would I ever embarrass myself by just continuing. If I accidentally trip up, I stop and tell the person that is my one stumbling block with words and continue.

    Exbf, college graduate, with whom I am still friendly always says, “I memmer when I was a child. So far, seven years after he first said this to me, I have never mentioned it because he would deny he said it that way. Besides, he stammers some and I don’t want to criticize his speech. It is just laziness.

    One day, a woman in a sewing class kept talking about crocheting “Africans.” Many of the other women joined in, saying the same thing. Finally, she asked me if I had ever crocheted an “African.” I told her I did not know I could crochet a black person.

    I sat with a very promising GED student after class one day, and she said “ax” instead of ask. I had her say–mask, task, gas, ass, She still could not pronounce ask.

    Adults who are not just kidding or think they are cute say–maters, sammich, taters, sketti. They are serious. I hate those as a cutesy affectation, also. I have had guys try to talk to me and use those words. They are being nice and want my attention, but that turns me off. If they think I will laugh at them, they are crazy.

    Since I am an English major and have studied Spanish, Greek, Latin, and Japanese, correct pronunciation is important to me.

    Warsh and Rench (wash and rinse) also drive me nuts. EYE-talian dressing,

    One day when I was 22 and sister was 19, we were arguing. She proclaimed I was the “EP-I-tome” of ignorance. I stopped to figure out what she was saying then started laughing so hard, saying the word right(accent on middle syllable) and asked who was ignorant now. She laughed, was very embarrassed and we quit arguing.

    • Okay, this is a huge problem for me–people say” eck cetera.” I even called a company Mailboxes, etc. and complained about the commercial on radio where eck cetera was said about 12 times. The employee of Mailboxes, Etc told me I was pronouncing it wrong. We went round and round and finally I talked to the supervisor. I was told to just look at the spelling. I told her to look at the spelling. She did and said she had never heard it pronounced the way I pronounced it. The radio spot came off the air the next day.

  61. I had a relative by marriage who said “K-Mark” and she often cooked beeth roast for dinner.

  62. Laserboy says

    I was/am surrounded by ‘pepole’ and I use that word lightly, that are mangle masters.
    the carberator sits on the MANIFLO
    I live in a APARKMENT
    loan me a PRINCLE
    I STREWED that chick in thE back seat
    I fell and STRACHED my knee
    let’s go get a QWELLPACK
    can I AXS you a question?

    and those are just the ones I can think of at the moment,

  63. MommyWoman says

    My SweetiePie, whom I love very much, apparently wants to ‘rassel’ a guy with a ‘goatique’. Drives me fuzting nutz every time he says either of those words as he looks me straight in the eye as he says them…

  64. CousinDave says

    My inlaws can boocher the English language. Cy-Cy pizza is right next to The Walmarts. They have a pizza with regatta cheese. They also enjoyed the feta chino Alfreda. But the Mary Anna sauce was good too. I could go on for hours.

  65. The one I hate the most is “all of the sudden,” mainly because I hear it once or twice a week. Haven’t these people ever cracked open a book?
    Also terrible, although this is more of a spelling issue, is when I saw a woman who calls herself a writer type out “peaked my interest” on her blog. Gives me the shivers.

  66. cross lanes curmudgeon says

    The boot-shaped country extending into the Mediterranean Sea is known as “It-lee” to my in-law’s in Jeff’s fabled hometown of Dunbar. A number of callers who are upset with the publication for which I work demand that I cancel their “prescription” to the rag.

    • That’s like my subscription to valtrex. Wait what.

    • The Italian-American Brooklynites I grew up with would call it that. Although the T in It-lee was more of a glottal stop than a T sound.