Pronouncing drug names (w. note for Wilson)

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Thu Jan 31 09:05:41 UTC 2008

Laurence Horn wrote:

> I remember being surprised to learn that the family name of Alice
> Liddell, of Alice in Wonderland fame, and therefore of her father
> Henry--Dean Liddell of Christ Church in Oxford, was pronounced
> "Little" and not "Lid-DELL" (I'm pretty sure I made the same wrong
> guess about the classical lexicographer), and that this explains some
> puns on the part of Dodgson/Carroll on the name.  (I forget which
> puns.)  It's possible that it was Martin Gardner, of _The Annotated
> Alice_, who disabused me of the "Lid-DELL" pronunciation.

>From an addition to the Masque of Balliol (sometime after 1881):

  I am the Dean, and this is Mrs Liddell.
  She plays the first, and I the second, fiddle.

The pronunciation was particularly hard to remember for Brits of my
generation, since a long-serving BBC radio announcer was Alvar Liddell,
who said his family name with stress on the second syllable.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at

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