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A mispronunciation that may have cost $1,000,000 ...


Lookups spiked on September 19, 2013.


An unusually costly mispronunciation.

A contestant on Wheel of Fortune lost a chance at winning $1 million when he mispronounced the word curio - a word that he later explained he had not encountered before.

With only the letter "b" missing from the phrase "corner curio cabinet," Paul Atkinson delivered his answer as "corno curo cabinet." Although he correctly pronounced the word with the missing letter ("cabinet"), the judges ruled his answer incorrect.

Since he had landed on the "million dollar wedge," he would have had a chance at the big money in a bonus round had he been the game's winner.

(We at Merriam-Webster consider "corner curio cabinet" a bit of a tongue twister, and have a hard time saying it ourselves, so we think Mr. Atkinson should have been cut some slack. Unfortunately we have no authority in this matter.)

Curio means "a small and unusual object that is considered interesting or attractive," and comes from shortening the word curiosity.

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