I want you to stop what you’re doing. I want you to look at the word below. I want you to speak it aloud.


How did it sound? Say it again. Did it rhyme with “right”? It should have. Say it again. Did it rhyme with “byte”? It should have. Say it again. Aloud, damn you. “Height” rhymes with “might”.

Think for a second. When you say it, does it sound like “hythe”? If it does, do you realize that you sound like an idiot whenever you say it?

It rhymes with “tight”.

No, it’s not “slang”.

No, it’s not “an accent”.
No, it’s not “just the way we say it here”.
No, it’s not “the same thing”.

The word is h-e-i-g-h-t. It rhymes with “tight”. If you say it any other way, it doesn’t mean you are being eloquent, or fashionable, or rebellious, or cool, or anything other than ignorant.

Unless you have a lisp. If you have a lisp, then you are excused and I’m sorry for making you feel dumb. People with lisps aren’t dumb. People who don’t have lisps but pronounce the word “height” as if they had a lisp are dumb. Are we clear on that?

See also:

  • acrosst is not the same as across
  • axe is not the same as ask

January 24, 2010 Update:

I’ve softened my stance on this issue somewhat in the last year or two. The overwhelming majority of people who say “height” with a closing “th” sound are not saying it that way because they know of its ancient spelling. They are saying it that way because they never learned phonics and / or are poor readers. It was rude of me to say that these people are dumb. I still think that, of course. But it was wrong of me to say it.

There are 44 comments on this post

  1. You are very correct, although I don’t believe I have never heard it pronounced the way you apparently have. Is that something you hear people say often?

  2. Shoot. I meant to say “…I don’t believe I have EVER heard it pronounced…”
    Sure sucks when you are commenting on a point of grammar that reflects intelligence and you make a mistake like that.

  3. AMEN!! My supervisor at my last job used to say “pecifically” instead of “specifically.” This wasn’t just once in a while; it was all of the time! It made him sound like a complete moron. The scary thing is that he has a B.A. in Education — he could be teaching people to say that word like that.

  4. I know a girl that pronounces condom as cundum.

  5. A VP in a company I used to work for pronounced “else” as “elks”. It was hard not to laugh.

  6. I have a lisp, and i dont know how to say anything with “s”s in them and it makes me feel stupid when kids make fun of me!

  7. I have a friend who thinks I say Wisconsen the wrong way. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. As i turns out, I said it to “fast”. He said there should be an inperceptably small pause between Wis and Consen. I’ve gone bake to saying it my usual way instead of Wis-consen, because, it turns out that my friend is a dumb **** .

  8. OMG you rule. I hate when people like my parents and ignorant retards at school and work say it like “hythe”. GOD!

    What about “White” and stuff like that? It’s not “Hwyte”, geez, if anything it’s “Wahyte”…

  9. I just happened to land on 2 pages of your web site today. The first was your discussion of how to pronounce the name Gagne. The second was your comments concerning the pronounciation of the word height. You contend that anyone who says height “incorrectly” is ignorant and sounds like an idiot. However you apparently don’t even say your own last name correctly…. hmm….. I would suggest that it is just as valid for me and my family to pronounce height the way we choose as it is for you and your family to pronounce Gagne way you choose.

  10. avatar
    I put the Sin in Wisconsin

    Hey “Smoov Crinimal”– maybe you don’t say Wisconsin correctly because you don’t know how to spell it correctly. Many people not from Wisconsin, say ‘Wesconsen’. Sorry everyone, it’s ‘Wisconsin’– there are no ‘e’s.

  11. Very interesting discussion. I notice that dictionaries seem to allow, or at least show, such pronunciations as (1) “fith” instead of “fifth” (most Americans in fact do say “fith” instead of fifth; they even say “sikth” instead of “sixth”) (2) “nucular” instead of “nuclear” (Eisenhower used to say it that way until somebody corrected him; Bush, Harrison Ford, and many officers in the military pronounce it that way). Dictionaries however do not show (3) “height” pronounced with a “th” ending (high-th) but I hear it pronounced that way often. Whether “fith,” “nucular,” “high-th,” “acrosst,” “asterix” (instead of asterisk), “aks” instead of “ask” are right or wrong, the truth is that millions of Americans, many of them intelligent, pronounce them that way and there is very little that can be done about it. Other examples of lost causes are (1) “If I would have knew, I would have went” for “If I had known, I would have gone” or (2) “I would have ate it” instead of “I would have eaten it.” “I would have ran, instead of I would have run.” The reason for these mistakes may be that they involve irregular verbs (to run, to go, to eat) in which the simple past and past participles are different (I ran, I would have run; I ate, I would have eaten; I went, I would have gone; I chose/froze, I would have chosen/frozen). They don’t have a problem with regular verbs in which both forms are the same (I started, I would have started, I closed, I would have closed; I opened, I would have opened) and they think the same applies to irregular verbs.
    I apologize for this overly technical post.


  12. I am sorry this is not directly related to the “height” issue.

    I would like to ask anyone who knows the answer, though.

    Pronouncing “else” as “elks” is a part of Southern accent?

    My favorite actor, a South/North Carolina native but have lived in New York more than 20 years, says so when he acts the Southern character or reads an audiobook set in the South.

  13. I cringe every time I hear these words but when I look up across at the Webster’s online dictionary, it shows that acrosst is “allowable” as seen here:


    As well as allowing heighth:


    I never heard them until about 12 years ago here in California and since then I have been vexed by them daily.

    As long as they exist in the dictionary, we are all doomed!

  14. Spetember 23, 2006
    Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

    I often get irritated when I hear the word pronounced “hythe”. My father was a stickler on correct pronounciation and claimed that those who mispronounced words were simply lazy.

  15. People who say “hythe” may also believe “altitude” and “attitude” are homophones.

  16. how about the weird internal Ls that show up in mid-atlantic accents:

    eg. ” i have a pencil and a paper and i am going to make a draling. ”

    my girlfriend does it all the time, but it gets worse whenever she visits baldamorl. you know, the capital of murulun.

  17. The heighth thing drives me crazy too….I guess people hear the words, length, width, and depth, and perhaps assume that heighth is correct.

    Some of my pet peeves are “irregardless”, “lay” (as in “I’m going to lay down for a nap”), and “I could care less”, instead of “I couldn’t care less”.

  18. Two pronunciations. Get over it Grammer Nazi!

    hītth rules!

  19. THANK YOU! I live in Colorado and work in the landscape industry and all I ever here is “height” pronounced “hythe” it drives me crazy!

  20. Thank you!
    I was just watching a tutorial video and I heard heighth mentioned twice within 10 seconds and just HAD to go Google to see if this annoyed anyone else!

    The other two words I have heard mispronounced lately…

    – ‘innernet’ instead of internet (I notice that even news readers pronounce it wrong!)

    – ‘sodder’ instead of solder.

    Yet these same people somehow manage to pronounce words like interview with a ‘t’ and soldier with an ‘l’.

  21. Solder is pronounced “sodder”, according to my Funk and Wagnalls, just as the “l” is silent in the word Lincoln. Down here in the south people drive me crazy with “pacific” instead of specific, “welp” instead of welt, and “perifeal” instead of peripheral. I’ve found that enen if you bring to light the correct pronunciation, they don’t care!
    It’s the way they’ve been taught, the way they’ve said it all their lives, and it’s the way they’ll say it till they die!

  22. OmG! I am so glad to hear someone else say this! My whole entire town and maybe region says Height incorrectly and it drives me insane!
    I keep thinking is this a regional thing??? I have noticed when I travel people do it too! It is just plain wierd!

  23. Actually, if you check a dictionary, either pronunciation is correct. They pronunciation which you claim is incorrect is actually the Old English pronunciation from which today’s more common way of saying it was derived.


  24. “Some of my pet peeves are “irregardless”, “lay” (as in “I’m going to lay down for a nap”), and “I could care less”, instead of “I couldn’t care less”.”
    ^ add that one too! 🙂

    ‘I could care less’ makes sense, only if you stress the ‘could’.
    I /could/ care less [but I don’t].
    I couldn’t care less (because I care the least I can already).
    I could care less (because this isn’t the least I can care about this). “Your point being?” is the correct response.

  25. Ryan, if it’s correct why does saying it make you sound like a tard?

  26. i feel u Wisconsin dude, like Illinois, people not from Illinois persounce it as Illi-noise, when the s is silent it really is ILLI-NOY

  27. Height rhymes with kite…however, as the word “heighth” has the same meaning, exists in literature, but is mostly archaic (no longer in use):

    “Until the end of the seventeenth century, highth or heighth were its standard spellings. The word was formed in Old English from high, plus -th, the exact analogue of width, breadth, and length. If word history were the only consideration, we all ought still to be using highth.

    The reason why we don’t comes down to dialect pronunciation in parts of Northern England in Middle English times, in which the -th ending was pronounced as /t/. In Southern England, it was said instead like the initial th in thumb. During the seventeenth century, the Northern form triumphed over the Southern, and the spelling followed suit. (Width and length didn’t follow because final dt is not a common consonant cluster in English and is hard to say.)

    However, heighth continued to be widely heard. Charles Dickens used it frequently — as here in Great Expectations: “Pip, I wish you ever well and ever prospering to a greater and a greater heighth”. It still exists in several English dialects down to the present day. It has also survived in parts of North America, which have tended to cling to older pronunciations.

    Because of its odd history, we can hardly argue that highth is truly an error, more an archaism. Though nearly everyone now spells it height, it’s not that uncommon to hear it said as “heighth” among educated people in North America, and some authorities there consider it to be a permissible variant.”

  28. Okay…seriously…height is pronounced both ways…as hi-t and as hi-th…for example (a situation where it is pronounced hi-th)…in physics/mathematics when measuring volume, the equation is length x width x hi-th…personally I normally pronounce it hi-th because it works and it was how I was raised…in fact, it is how the majority of the Canadian Maritimes were raised. I am going to argue that it is a part of our dialect…either way with the rise of post-modernism I say both are some right. “Tour” is pronounced “tore” “about” rhymes with “oat” the “L” in “almond” is silent, “room” is pronounced “rum”, “mom” is pronounced “mum”, “height” is pronounced “hi-th” and I am from the sodding Maritimes…man am I in for a right good day…o ya…and the “t” in “right” is silent and “battery” is pronounced “baddery”!!!!!!!!!

  29. James,
    Multiplying height by length and width does not give you license to pronounce it differently.

    The word height rhymes with white, kite, might, and light.
    If you pronounce it hythe then you are pronouncing it incorrectly.

  30. I am pretty sure I said that as an example not as the only one. The word height rhymes with knife! I don’t give a rat’s arse what any person says because that is their opinion. It has even been stated one here several times that both pronounciations are correct and that “hythe” was the original anyways from old English. Therefore, this whole post is crap!!!

  31. No grammar Nazi here. I am ok with children mispronouncing words but this heighth thing is new. I’ve noticed this mispronunciation of height just in the last year or so.

  32. LOL. That was extremely entertaining and TRUE. Thanks!

  33. […] While searching for a video of someone mispronouncing ‘height,” I stumbled upon this great blog post. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. So why try?  Check it out: How to Pronounce Height […]

  34. I noticed no one mentioned the words nuclear (nu-cue-ler), Washington (Warshington) and measure (mayzhur). Ugh – besides heighth, those words pronounced that way drive me nuts!

  35. I am in a business that revolves around dimensions. I always hear engineers say heighth when referring to the z axis. I want to punch them in the head.

  36. THANK YOU! I mentioned this to a friend the other day and she didn’t know what I was talking about. Luckily, she has never been on the receiving end of this proninciation abomination. When I have heard it, and I have heard it a lot over e years, I always look around to see if anyone else heard. I’m always alone so I’ve begun thinking I am imagining things – sort of like seeing Big Foot. It is horrible, wrong, and confusing. How do you get that pronunciation from those letters in that order?

  37. TV announcers make the mistake all the time, especially football. They must think of width and hythe are somehow congruent. Too many educated people make the mistake.

  38. Strangely, I have only ever heard Americans say it “hythe” – that is not to say there isn’t a wealth of mispronunciations world wide, I myself find it hard to get out of the habit of always pronouncing words that begin with “pro” the way you would pronounce the slang “pro”, i.e. prostitute or professional. I just can’t understand how people get “hythe” out of “height”.

  39. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary lists a bold-letter spelling of heighth as a separate entry on is own line with the pronunciation given as heighth with the gh being silent and the terminal th pronounced as an unvoiced th sound as in the word thin.

  40. Hopefully it does so with a footnote mentioning that it was forced to include the mispronunciation because so many people are illiterate.

  41. As often happens when someone takes such a rigid stance, they (yes, “they,” not “he”) turn out to be wrong. Pronouncing height with the th at the end is certainly acceptable. A large number of intelligent people pronounce it that way, and Miriam Webster shows hÄ«tth as an alternative to hÄ«t, with no comment that it is substandard.

  42. You’re right, Jeff. (I pronounce “Joe” as “Jeff”. That’s acceptable, right?)

  43. What are your thoughts on the most overused word “basically”? It drives me crazy how much this word is used! If you took it out of any sentence, it would still be the same sentence.

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