Most mispronounced words of 2021 - how ‘Eilish’ and ‘omicron’ tripped us up

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Babel have released their list of the biggest tongue-twisters of 2021, featuring vastly different words and phrases from the latest Covid variant ‘omicron’ to hugely-popular female artist Billie Eilish.

If the last two years have taught us anything, it is to never be surprised - especially when words like ‘omicron’ and ‘cheugy’ top the standings as the most mispronounced words of 2021.

That is according to an official list from Babel, a language-learning platform, that was released earlier this week - it reveals which words and names proved the most difficult to pronounce for newsreaders and people on television this calendar year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The results were collected by the US Captioning Company, who are responsible for captioning and subtitling real-time events on TV and in courtrooms.

The company was commissioned to survey its American members to help create the list.

With the prevalence of coronavirus in recent times, it is to no surprise to see that the new variant sweeping the globe has most people’s tongues tied.

Omicron, which derives from the Greek alphabet system that the World Health Organisation (WHO) uses, is supposed to be pronounced as ‘oh-mee-kraan’ (UK)  or ‘ah-muh-kraan’ (US).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whilst Cheugy - a term popularised by the Gen-Z community - is used to mock out-dated and unfashionable aesthetics and is pronounced as ‘choo-gee’.

Massively popular stars such as Billie Eilish can even be found on this list, with US newsreaders frequently mispronouncing her surname ‘Eye-lish’.

Despite being one of sport’s biggest rising athletes in recent times, tennis world number four Stefanos Tsisipas has his name consistently mispronounced.

According to experts, the 23-year-old’s name is pronounced as ‘Steh-fuh-nohs Tsee-tsee-pas’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Even big UK cities like Glasgow still trip up newsreaders across the pond.

Here’s the full list of all the most mispronounced words of 2021, provided by Babel and the US Captioning Company:

  • Cheugy (choo-gee): A term popularized by Gen Z and used to mock an outdated and unfashionable aesthetic typically associated with millennials.
  • Chipotle (chih-poht-lay): The American fast food chain 
  • Dalgona (tal-goh-nah): A Korean treat made with melted sugar and baking soda, popularized in Netflix’s ‘Squid Game.’
  • Dogecoin (dohj-coin): A cryptocurrency popularised 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.
  • 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. Many newscasters mistook the name of the ship as ‘Evergreen’.
  • Glasgow (glahz-go): The host city of November’s United Nations Climate Conference was mispronounced President Biden
  • Kelce (kels): The Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce revealed on radio this year that his teammates and the media had been mispronouncing his name.
  • Omicron (ah-muh-kraan or 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.
  • Shein (shee-in): The Chinese fast fashion company at the center of the ‘Shein haul’ trend
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (steh-fuh-nohs tsee-tsee-pas): Currently ranked as the world’s No. 4 tennis player
  • Yassify (yeah-sih-fai): A popular trend in which multiple beauty filters are applied to well-known pictures or portraits for comic effect

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.