50 commonly mispronounced food words, plus 15 more


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This article has been modified from its original version. Additional writing by Rik Lee.

Bad news: You’ve been unwittingly pronouncing sherbet, bruschetta and probably a bunch of other words incorrectly all your life.

While we do recommend changing your ways if you still don’t know how to say “quinoa” or “espresso,” we will warn you that you’ll risk being labeled as a pretentious ass if you insist on saying some of the others in this list correctly. (Example: Saying “No, no, no! It’s KWAH-sohn!” when your date says her croissant is delicious will most likely hurt your chances of a second date.) 

Pronounce the following words correctly or incorrectly at your own risk. 

Update: After some helpful commenters pointed out that the "ay" sounds in the phonetic spellings of some of the Japanese words actually were supposed to sound more like "eh," we adjusted the images. We appreciate the kind feedback!


1. Acai 

This word deserves all the butchering it gets just for the obnoxious way it was spelled. Both ah-si-EE and ah-sah-EE are correct.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Nova


2. Anise or star anise

Not “a niece.”

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/snowyowls


3. Bánh mì

Don’t beat yourself up for this one. How were you supposed to pronounce a word that ended in “nh” anyway? The best most Americans can do is BON-me, and yes, the emphasis is on the first syllable. 


4. Boudin

Not boo-DEEN or boo-DON. 

Photo source: Flickr/allthingschill


5. Bouillabaisse

Now say it three times fast.

Photo source: Flickr/stuart_spivack


6. Bouillon

Easy enough.


7. Bruschetta

You might get away with ordering broo-SHET-uh here in the states, but don’t even think about saying it in Italy. 


8. Buffet

This isn’t about that silent “t.” The beginning of the word is the problem, since many people say BUFF-ay instead of BOO-fay. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Htchien


9. Caramel

To that stubborn group of people still saying CAR-mel, we are begging you: LET. IT. GO. It’s KEHR-ah-mehl or KAR-ah-mehl. Three syllables. And there are four syllables in caramelize. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Evan-Amos


10. Chipotle

Apparently there are people out there who say “chi-POL-tay.” If you’re one of them, kindly correct yourself or step out of the burrito line. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/styro