From ‘Microwave’ to ‘Kamala’ — Which of These Words Have You Been Saying Wrong?

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson is already known for her warm and attainable approach to cooking, her countless cookbooks and her many TV shows, but now she will forever be the chef who pronounced the word “microwave” that “weird way”. 

Displaying her signature cheeky wit, Lawson casually referred to the kitchen appliance as a “meecro-waav-ay” (which is absolutely how I shall be saying it from now) during a clip from her BBC series Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat and everyone lost their damn minds. 

Lawson later clarified on Twitter that she was having some fun with the pronunciation, prompting fans to reveal the unique ways they like to say certain words for a laugh. 

One user tweeted, “We still say K-niffeeee (knife) cos when my daughter was little (now 25) she couldn’t remember how to spell it,” while another shared, “I say kah-baj in a french accent instead of cabbage — it made the kids laugh and eat it when they were small.”

Lawson’s unusual delivery of “microwave” may have been deliberate, but there were plenty of unintentional pronunciation gaffes in 2020, according to language-learning app Babbel. 

The company has compiled a list of the names, places, and events from the year that people struggled to pronounce, while also helpfully including the correct way to say each word. 

Included in the top ten most mispronounced words of 2020 were the following: 

Kamala Harris 

(CAW-ma-la HAIR-iss)

It seems people really struggled with the correct way to refer to the Vice President-elect of the United States with people bungling Harris’ name throughout the year. Harris was elected VP in November alongside President-elect Joe Biden and is the first woman, first Black person, and the first Asian-American person to hold the title of vice president. If she can achieve all of that (and more), I think we can achieve saying her name the right way. 

Anthony Fauci 

(AN-thon-nee FOW-chee)

Dr Fauci is one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious diseases, is a member of President Trump’s COVID-19 task force and will step into the role of Chief Medical Advisor to the President under Joe Biden’s administration. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had led the American public through their battle with the coronavirus pandemic and yet somehow, people still can’t say his name correctly. 

X Æ A-12


I mean, fair enough. Many people scratched their heads when billionaire Elon Musk announced that he and his partner, Grimes, had named their child after something they apparently saw on Russell Crowes’ chalkboard in A Beautiful Mind. 

Bangtan Sonyeondan

(PUNG-tahn SOH-nyun-dahn)

K-pop sensation BTS have been dominating the global charts for a few years now and their success only grew in 2020. The full name of the South Korean boy-band is Bangtan Sonyeondan, which means “a group of bulletproof boys” or “bulletproof boy scouts.” Unfortunately, the name has not been bulletproof against mispronunciation, cementing its spot on this list. 

Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle

(mu-HAH-muh-yaw-vee bag-AH-wahn ANT-uhl)

Despite the runaway success of Netflix’s Tiger King, viewers really struggled with the name of one of the documentaries breakout stars. Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle – better known as Doc Antle – runs an animal safari in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and describes himself as a big cat and great ape conservationist. Everyone else, apparently, describes him as “Mmaahhebpbeaban Antle.” It’s me. I’m everyone else. 

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