The 13 most mispronounced words of 2021, featuring Squid Game challenge and Billie Eilish

The 13 most mispronounced words of 2021, featuring Squid Game challenge and Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish and Stefanos Tsitsipas went to a Chipotle in Glasgow wearing cheugy Shein clothes.

That’s a mouthful, right? That’s because the sentence describing a musician and tennis player’s visit to a restaurant in Scotland features six of the most mispronounced words of 2021.

A list of words that prove challenging for newsreaders and people on television has been compiled by the U.S. Captioning Company, and it included everything from the Covid variant “omicron” to the “Dalgona” honeycomb sweets seen in Squid Game.

Commissioned by language-learning platform Babbel, the caption company also surveyed its members to put together the list.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Esteban Touma, a standup comedian and teacher for Babbel Live said: “As a language teacher, it’s always interesting to see that some of these terms are usually new colloquialisms, or are rooted or borrowed from another language. As a non-native speaker, I must confess it’s fun to see English speakers stumbling a bit for a change.”

Here’s Touma’s breakdown for how to correctly pronounce the top 13 most mispronounced words of 2021:

Cheugy (CHOO-gee): A trendy term popularized by Gen Z and used to mock and outdated and unfashionable aesthetics, typically associated with millennials, such as “Live, Laugh, Love” signs.

Chipotle (chih-POHT-lay): The American fast-food chain became the centre of a viral trend this year challenging ‘Boomers’ to pronounce the name.

Dalgona (tal-goh-NAH): A Korean treat made with melted sugar and baking soda, popularized in Netflix’s Squid Game. (Touma notes that some speakers seem to produce a ”K” instead of the ”G” in the middle syllable.)

Dogecoin (DOHJ-coin): A divisive cryptocurrency that began somewhat ironically before being popularized by Elon Musk, causing its value to dramatically increase.

Eilish (EYE-lish): The singer Billie Eilish, whose album ‘Happier Than Ever’ was released this year to critical acclaim and nominated for the Grammy Awards Album of the Year.

Ethereum (ih-THEE-ree-um): Another cryptocurrency that skyrocketed in value this year amid the decentralized-currency boom.

Ever Given (EV-er GIV-en): The name of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March, costing billions of dollars in lost trade. Many newscasters mistook the name of the ship as "Evergreen," the name of the company that owns the vessel, which was printed on its hull.

Glasgow (GLAHZ-go): The host city of November’s United Nations Climate Conference was mispronounced by both President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama.

Kelce (KELs): The Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce revealed on radio this year that his teammates and the media had been mispronouncing his name for years.

Omicron (AH-muh-kraan / OH-mee-kraan): A new variant of COVID-19 first identified in November, named in keeping with the World Health Organization’s system of identifying variants with Greek letters. (Touma notes it’s pronounced differently in the U.S. and the U.K.)

Shein (SHEE-in): The Chinese fast fashion company at the center of the “Shein haul” trend, in which participants record themselves trying on numerous different outfits from the company.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (STEH-fuh-nohs TSEE-tsee-pas): Currently ranked as the world’s No. 4 tennis player, the Greek athlete rose to international prominence when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of the French Open in June.

Yassify (YEAH-sih-fai): A popular trend in which multiple beauty filters are applied to well-known pictures or portraits for comic effect.

If you’re a fan of all things wordy, check out the top 10 words of 2021.

The Conversation (0)