EXTRAORDINARY: Is it [ik-STRAWR-dn-er-ee] with 5 syllables, or [ek-struh-AWR-dn-er-ee] with 6 syllables??


There are some words that are just a mystery until you research them.  Over and over again you and I have stumbled upon the word extraordinary.   If we’re reading out loud for some reason we may pause just a moment to ask ourselves which direction we are going to go.

Some people pronounce the word with 6 syllables, [extra-ordinary.]   It’s spelled that way and it’s easy to pronounce.   It makes sense, too.  In the context of what we are reading it probably means that something is not ordinary…it is beyond ordinary.   It is extra-ordinary.

But, if you go to the resources (like dictionaries) you will find that the “preferred” pronunciation is with 5 syllables, [ex-trord-inary.]  I have to admit, it ‘s a much more interesting word that way.  It sounds intelligent and even a little lofty.

Mirriam Webster Dictionary says that it is a Latin word that means “out of course.”  It came into the Middle English language in the 15th century and has endured its way into contemporary American English.   It just picked up the two variations of pronunciation along the way.

So…which is the “correct” way to pronounce the word?   The answer above, from Mirriam_Webster is that the 5 syllable form is the “preferred” form. That doesn’t mean that it’s the “correct” form, however.  The point is that you can go in either direction, depending upon your preference.  It’s, again, part of that on-going discussion about the canon of the American English language.  There is none.   It is an ever-evolving language.

And…it’s an extraordinary language, also.



Image Credit: Mickey Factz

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