March 12, 2007

Word of the day: Cacoepy

I've been known to vent here about mispronounced words, so I thought that for today's Word Nerd category, I would share the "Word of the Day" that I received by e-mail. Because, yes, I'm that big of a word nerd that I have the Word of the Day delivered to me.

Cacoepy (noun)

Pronunciation: [kæk-'o-ê-pee or 'kæk-o-e-pee] Listen

Definition: Incorrect pronunciation.

Usage: Occasionally, we need words we have long since abandoned or that have abandoned us. We may be facing a period in our history now when we need to retrieve "cacoepy" from our lexical attic. "Cacoepy" is not to be confused with cacology "bad choice of words." The antonym of "cacoepy" is orthoepy "the correct pronunciation of words." "Cacoepistic" is the adjective form of today's word and a person who often mispronounces words is a "cacoepist."

Suggested Usage: We think that such a ten-dollar word (the legendary "fifty-cent word" adjusted for inflation) as today's ought to be reserved for those who consistently get it wrong. "The Cacoepist-In-Chief mispronounced word after word, even making up a few, leading one newspaper to ask 'Hain't English his Native Lingo?'"

Etymology: The first part of today's word comes from the Greek kakos "bad." The PIE root is kakka- "to defecate." Words like "poppycock" and "cacophony" have their origins in the same root. The second half, -epy, is from Greek: epos "song, word." Its PIE root is wekw-, which also turns up in "vocal," "voice," "invoke" and "vote." (For a bigger slice of PIE read "How is a Hippo like a Feather" in our library.)

–Dr. Language,

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