Trivial note on pronunciation: forehead

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Aug 6 02:59:16 UTC 2009

>I once discussed this with a 4head-speaker. She argued that "4head'
>has always been the proper pronunciation. The pronunciation "forrid"
>is merely a distortion necessary to make "forehead" rhyme with
>Well, that's a reanalysis of the history of the pronunciations that's
>impossible to refute in a casual conversation.

Aside from the considerable unlikeliness of someone coming up with a
rhyme that required such a distortion in pronunciation to work, and
the further unlikeliness of the persistent success of a rhyme that
did so. It would be like rhyming "fritter" with "mixture" or "Mathis"
with "bath house."

FWIW, I only ever knew that it was sometime and someplace pronounced
"forrid" because of that rhyme. Everyone I ever knew growing up (at
least of those I heard saying "forehead" and noted it) went with the
spelling version.

And it was from MAD Magazine that I learned that waistcoat is
"weskit." But I hadn't heard of it before then, so I learned it right
the first time.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list