From ‘omicron’ to ‘Eilish,’ see 2021’s most mispronounced words

Even the most talented linguists get a little tongue-tied sometimes, but one company has released its sixth annual list of the most commonly mispronounced words to help ease the shame.

“Chipotle” tripping you up?

Or maybe “cheugy” looks like a typo, but for what exactly?

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U.S. Captioning Co., which captions and subtitles real-time events on TV and in courtrooms, compiled the 2021 list by surveying its members to determine the most challenging words for newscasters and other TV personalities to pronounce. The list, released Tuesday, was commissioned by Babbel, a language-learning platform with dual headquarters in Berlin and New York, CNN reported.

“Newscasters in the U.S. have struggled with 2021′s new words and names while reporting on key sporting events, viral internet trends and emerging celebrities,” Esteban Touma, a stand-up comedian and teacher for Babbel Live, told The Associated Press.

“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,” he added.

In turn, Touma offered the following pronunciation primer for anyone struggling with the 13 most frequently butchered utterances of 2021:

  • Cheugy (CHOO-gee): A trendy term popularized by Gen Z and used to mock an outdated and unfashionable aesthetic typically associated with millennials, such as “Live, Laugh, Love” signs.
  • Chipotle (chih-POHT-lay): The American fast-food chain became the center of a viral trend this year challenging Baby 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 in a radio interview earlier 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.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.