Words at Play

10 Words You See But Don't Hear

How to Pronounce 10 Words with Unpredictable Stress and Vowel Sounds

Language lovers are precocious readers – and there are certain words we encounter in books before hearing them spoken out loud. Many words in English surprise us with unpredictable syllable stress and vowel sounds; at least today the online dictionary gives us audio pronunciations to help us hear how they sound.


Here's a sampling of this bookish vocabulary that is seen more than heard, even by word nerds:

Desultory DESS-ul-tor-ee
"not having a plan or purpose"

Inchoate in-KOH-ut
"not completely formed or developed yet"

Omnipotent ahm-NIP-uh-tunt
"having complete or unlimited power"

Albeit awl-BEE-ut
"even though"

Preternatural pree-ter-NATCH-uh-rul
"very unusual in a way that does not seem natural"

Imprimatur im-pruh-MAH-toor
"a mark of approval or distinction"

Debacle dih-BAH-kul
"a great disaster or complete failure"

Diaspora dye-ASP-uh-ruh
"people settled far from their ancestral homelands"

Mischievous MISS-chuh-vus
"showing a playful desire to cause trouble"

Mores MORE-ayz
"moral attitudes"

Still not sure? Click on each of the words to hear the audio pronunciation right on the definition page.