100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces is another one of those offerings that some of us will read with glee and then commit to memory. You needn’t be a paying member of the Grammar Police to find this book enormously helpful, however. Mispronouncing a word in a business setting can deflate your credibility in an instant, while mispronouncing a word in a social setting will simply make you an object of ridicule.
Okay, so maybe it isn’t really that serious. But this chipper little volume from the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries is a quick and entertaining read and well worth a few minutes of your time.
Some of the words presented are so rarely used that many of us would never know of their existence if not for this exposure – desuetude, for instance. It means ‘a state of inactivity or disuse’ and is properly pronounced with the accent on the first syllable. The word victual, according to the editors, is pronounced ‘vittle’, which may seem outlandish to some but makes perfect sense to residents of the South.
A few of the chosen words are unexpected – pace (the preposition), for instance, and ye, as in “Ye Olde Shoppe,” and their pronunciations will likely surprise most readers. For the most part, however, the editors have included words in common use that really do get mangled more often than not. Yes, the word nuclear appears in the list.
Each word is presented with its proper pronunciation, part of speech, definition, and etymology. 100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces is written for regular folks, and therefore is surprisingly readable and even mildly humorous from time to time. It’s slim enough to fit into a purse or pocket, making it the perfect little companion for commuters or others who prefer to use downtime productively.