Words are hard. Using them properly in a sentence is one thing, but saying them out loud? Even harder. “Cheugy” doesn’t even look like it should be a word!
You’re not alone if you, too, have stumbled over “cheugy” or Billie Eilish’s last name. They’re two of the words that were mispronounced most often in 2021, according to Babbel and the US Captioning Company. Babbel, a language learning service, commissioned the report from the captioning provider based on the words newscasters found most difficult to pronounce throughout the year.
Luckily for most of us, we won’t ever have to utter these words on TV. But if you’ve ever found yourself saying “Chip-ol-tee” instead of “Chipotle” or called Eilish “Billie Eyelash,” read on for some more of 2021’s most frequently mispronounced words, with phonetic pronunciations provided by Babbel instructor Esteban Touma.
Example: “It’s so cheugy of her to wear skinny jeans and Uggs. Doesn’t she know it’s not 2009?”
Actual pronunciation: CHOO-gee
The Mexican-inspired fast food chain that makes you pay extra for guac.
Example: “I’d eat at Chipotle, but i don’t feel like waiting in line for an hour just to eat a burrito.”
Actual pronunciation: Chih-POHT-lay
Korean honeycomb candy with intricate designs that proved too difficult to trace for some contestants on “Squid Game.”
Example: “There’s no way I’d be able to carve an umbrella into dalgona without it cracking!”
Actual pronunciation: tal-goh-NAH (though Babbel notes some speakers “seem to produce a ‘K’ instead of a ‘G’ in the middle syllable.”)
A kind of cryptocurrency popularized after Elon Musk tweeted enthusiastically about it and helped increase its value.
Example: “I thought Dogecoin was a made-up currency, but its value soared to nearly $50 billion at one point this year.”
Actual pronunciation: DOHJ-coin
Half of the stage name of Grammy winner and teen sensation Billie Eilish.
Example: “‘Eilish’ is an Irish-sounding last name, but did you know Billie’s real last name is O’Connell?”
Actual pronunciation: EYE-lish – like “stylish,” NOT “eyelash.”
Ever Given (noun)
Example: “I identify with the Ever Given because I, too, often get stuck in a rut and disrupt the global economy.”
Actual pronunciation: EV-er GIV-en. When it first got stuck, its name was frequently misreported as “Evergreen.”
The 15th letter of the Greek alphabet – and the identifier for a newly discovered strain of Covid-19.
Example: “It’s too soon to tell whether the Omicron variant causes severe illness, but Covid-19 vaccines are still the best protection against infection.”
Actual pronunciation: There are a few! “AH-muh-kraan” is more popular in the US, per Babbel, and “OH-mee-kraan” is used more in the UK. The Oxford Dictionary has a whopping six different ways to pronounce it, including “oh-MY-kron.” Choose your own adventure.
A Chinese fast-fashion company favored by the online set for its affordable designs and lambasted by environmentalists for producing items quickly, cheaply and with materials that can pollute oceans once discarded.
Example: “I just bought six tops, four skirts, two pairs of shoes and a pair of jeans from Shein for $75!”
Actual pronunciation: SHEE-in