Study Reveals the World’s Most Mispronounced Food & Drink Names

Study Reveals the World’s Most Mispronounced Food & Drink Names


As a foodie that loves a good restaurant outing, I’ve fumbled words on menus many a time. To this day I still confidently mispronounce gewürztraminer, and it’s one of my favorites. I suppose that’s what happens with words, however you learn to say them in the beginning, right or wrong, sticks with you.

Fortunately, this is a common thing, so common in fact, analysts from Word Tips decided to find out which foods and drinks from around the world people mispronounce the most. Equipped with an online pronunciation library, they set out to compile an extensive guide.

To start, they found a list of foods and drinks local to, though not necessarily originating from, 130 countries on TasteAtlas. They next used Forvo, a library of user-submitted pronunciation recordings, to search them. In choosing the most mispronounced, they decided upon food and drink words with the highest number of listens.


Photo: Word Tips


The results of their key findings may be surprising:


  • Chorizo (chur·ree·zow) is the most mispronounced food of all, counting 22 million listens online.
  • Rioja (ree·ow·huh) counts 1.4 million listens.
  • The most mispronounced American food is the burger (burr·gr), with 886,000 listens online, and the most mispronounced American drink is bourbon (buh·buhn), counting 64,000 listens.


You might be surprised as I am to discover that the most mispronounced word is the Spanish smoked sausage, Chorizo. Debates over its proper pronunciation can be traced back to the fact that it varies depending on the country. In Spain it’s pronounced cho·ri·tho and here in the states people say chur·ree·zow.

In five countries, including Iraq and Israel, the beloved Middle Eastern spread hummus (huh·muhs) is the most mispronounced food. It’s also spelled houmous and in the UK and commonly pronounced hoo·muhs. With many accepted forms of the word, it seems there’s no ‘proper’ way to say it.

In their study, Word Tips discovered that several acceptable pronunciations were normal occurrences amongst food and drinks.


Photo: Word Tips


When it comes to drinks, the Spanish wine rioja topped the list with 1.4 million listens. In Spanish, the letter ‘j’ has an ‘h’ sound. As such, British people typically say ree·ock·uh while an American might say ree·ow·huh.

Speaking of Americans, in the states the most mispronounced drink is bourbon, which actually originates in France. Word Tips found that it’s typically pronounced buh·buhn while the majority tend to say bur·bun.  A Brit is likely to call it baw·buhn.

Continuing in their stateside findings, the most mispronounced American food, funnily enough, is burger (burr·gr). It was pinged 886,000 times on Forvo. German in origin, the popular food has taken on various styles like the French boer·geur and Italian boor·gair.


Photo: Word Tips


Another funny entry is pecan. America remains somewhat split on its proper pronunciation with most preferring puh·con and nearly half going with pea·can.

It looks like the biggest take away from Word Tips’ study is that even established words with widely accepted pronunciations have different proper pronunciations elsewhere. Thankfully, the internet has many resources to help when you come across a word you’re unsure how to pronounce.

If you’re interested in seeing what the most mispronounced words are based upon country, check out Word Tips’ website.

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