Love & Wisdom

Can You Correctly Pronounce ‘Croissant?’ How about ‘Tzatziki?’

The 30 most mispronounced foods contain some head-scratchers

By Rob Smith May 1, 2024

A display of golden-brown croissants with a black sign labeled "croissant" (pronunciation: kruh-sahnt) in a bakery case.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

First off, it was a croissant for breakfast before stopping by the store to buy some Worcestershire sauce. Then it was a choice between a gyro or Pho for lunch. I picked up a charcuterie board before entertaining some guests, and while at the store I bought some gnocchi, quinoa, and acai.

Did you pronounce all those correctly? Odds are you didn’t, because those are the eight most commonly mispronounced foods, in order, in the United States. 

Researchers at study platform Quizgecko compiled a list of most popular foods and analyzed the number of Google searches for each, combined with terms like “how to pronounce food,” “food pronunciation,” and “how to say food.”

“Croissant” is far and away the winner. Personally, I’ve been mispronouncing the French puff pastry for years. The correct pronunciation? Kwah-sahn. Who knew? Did you know acai is pronounced “ah-sigh-ee?” Neither did I. 

Many seem obvious, but apparently aren’t for everyone. I’m happy to say I’m a master at ordering a fajita (No. 26 on the list) from Chipotle (No. 14), and feel comfortable ordering a beignet in New Orleans. Getting a salad with vinaigrette dressing is always a win, as is ordering edamame or bruschetta.

But don’t get me started on phyllo (fee-loh), and I’ve been garbling bouillabaisse forever. (It’s boo-yuh-bess, by the way).

I’ve now got to go season some paella with Siracha, and get the quiche ready for dinner. Tiramisu is for dessert, followed by a nightcap of espresso. All those appear on the list, below.

OK, I haven’t had to pronounce anything in writing this article. But thank God for spellcheck.

 

Rank             Food Name                             Correct Pronunciation                 Monthly Searches      
1 Croissant kwah-sahn 589,670
2 Worcestershire wuh-ster-sheer 222,890
3 Gyro yee-roh 170,240
4 Pho fuh 90,440
5 Charcuterie shahr-koo-tuh-ree 79,140
6 Gnocchi nyawk-kee 73,080
7 Quinoa keen-wah 69,210
8 Acai ah-sigh-ee 59,930
9 Gruyère groo-yair 38,760
10 Tzatziki tsah-tsee-kee 37,400
11 Macaron mac-uh-rohn 32,230
12 Caprese cah-prey-zay 28,300
13 Brioche bree-ohsh 27,440
14 Chipotle chi-poht-lay 25,270
15 Sriracha sir-rah-chah 24,900
16 Paella pie-ay-uh 21,190
17 Mousse moos 20,760
18 Quiche keesh 20,150
19 Bruschetta bru-sket-tuh 20,120
20 Prosciutto pro-shoo-toh 19,350
21 Beignet ben-yay 19,300
22 Tiramisu tih-ruh-mee-soo 19,300
23 Espresso es-press-oh 14,050
24 Edamame ed-uh-mah-may 13,370
25 Bouillabaisse boo-yuh-bess 8,040
26 Fajita fah-hee-tuh 7,950
27 Poutine poo-teen 6,700
28 Vinaigrette vin-uh-gret 4,250
29 Phyllo fee-loh 2,340
30 Feta feh-tah 2,130

 

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