Key to pronunciation

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in Britain and the United States. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The keywords given are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

This key is to the pronunciations given in revised entries. For pronunciations in unrevised entries, see this key.

British English

Consonants

Symbol Example
b as in big /bɪg/
d dig /dɪg/
judge /dʒʌdʒ/
ð then /ðɛn/, bathe /beɪð/
f fig /fɪg/
g go /gəʊ/
h how /haʊ/
j yes /jɛs/
k keep /kiːp/, card /kɑːd/
l leap /liːp/
m mine /mʌɪn/
n nine /nʌɪn/
ŋ singing /ˈsɪŋɪŋ/, think /θɪŋk/
ŋg finger /ˈfɪŋgə/
p pine /pʌɪn/
r run /rʌn/, hurry /ˈhʌri/
s see /siː/, cease /siːs/
ʃ shop /ʃɒp/, dish /dɪʃ/
t tan /tan/
chop /tʃɒp/, ditch /dɪtʃ/
θ thin /θɪn/, path /pɑːθ/
v van /van/
w wear /wɛə/, where /wɛː/
z zoo /zuː/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒən/, regime /reɪˈʒiːm/
x Scots loch /lɒx/
ɬ (Welsh) penillion /pɛˈnɪɬɪən/, Llandaff /ˈɬandaf/

In addition, the consonants lm, and n can take on the function of a vowel in some unstressed syllables. It should generally be clear when this interpretation is intended, but in cases of potential ambiguity, the consonant symbol appears with a diacritic, as  and n̩, as e.g. maddle /ˈmadl/, macromodelling /ˌmakrəʊˈmɒdl̩ɪŋ/; macroseism /ˌmakrəʊˈsʌɪzm/, ransoming /ˈransm̩ɪŋ/; madden
/ˈmadn/, maddening/ˈmadn̩ɪŋ/.

Vowels and diphthongs

a as in trap /trap/, and some pronunciations of bath /baθ/
mouth /maʊθ/
ɑː start /stɑːt/, palm /pɑːm/, and some pronunciations of bath /bɑːθ/
face /feɪs/
ɛ dress /drɛs/
ɛː square /skwɛː/
ə another /əˈnʌðə/
əː nurse /nəːs/
əʊ goat /gəʊt/
i happy /ˈhapi/
fleece /fliːs/
ɪ kit /kɪt/, rabbit /ˈrabɪt/
ɪə near /nɪə/
ɔː force /fɔːs/, north /nɔːθ/, thought /θɔːt/
ɔɪ choice /tʃɔɪs/
ɒ lot /lɒt/, cloth /klɒθ/
goose /guːs/
ʊ foot /fʊt/
ʊə cure /kjʊə/, jury /ˈdʒʊəri/
ʌ strut /strʌt/
ʌɪ price /prʌɪs/
ã fin de siècle /ˌfã də ˈsjɛklə/
ɔ̃ bon mot /ˌbɔ̃ ˈməʊ/, rapprochement /rəˈprɒʃmɔ̃/

ᵻ represents free variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/
ᵿ  represents free variation between /ʊ/ and /ə/

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebrate  /ˈsɛrᵻˌbreɪt/ .

The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebration /ˌsɛrᵻˈbreɪʃn/.

The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebrospinal /ˈˌsɛrᵻbrəʊˈspʌɪnl/.

U.S. English

Consonants

The consonants of U.S. English are essentially the same as those used in British English, but they have a different distribution. In particular:

After a vowel, U.S. English can have /r/ regardless of the sound which follows, whereas British English retains the /r/ only when it is followed by a vowel.

Compare U.S. mar /mɑr/, marring /ˈmɑrɪŋ/ with British mar /mɑː/, marring /ˈmɑːrɪŋ/

Between vowels (except at the start of a stressed syllable) U.S. English has /d/ where British English has /t/.

Compare U.S. butter  /ˈbədər/, and waiting /ˈweɪdɪŋ/ (as against wait /weɪt/) with British butter /ˈbʌtə/, waiting /ˈweɪtɪŋ/, wait /weɪt/

U.S. speakers are more likely than British speakers to distinguish between wear (with /w/) and where (with either /w/ or /hw/).

Vowels and diphthongs

as in price /praɪs/
mouth /maʊθ/
ɑ lot /lɑt/, palm /pɑm/, start /stɑrt/, and some pronunciations of cloth /clɑθ/, thought /θɑt/
æ trap /træp/, bath /bæθ/
face /feɪs/
ɛ dress /drɛs/, square /skwɛ(ə)r/, marry /ˈmɛri/
ə strut /strət/, nurse /nərs/, another /əˈnəðər/, rabbit /ˈræbət/
i fleece /flis/, happy /ˈhæpi/
ɪ kit /kɪt/, near /nɪ(ə)r/
goat /goʊt/
ɔ north /nɔrθ/, and some pronunciations of cloth /clɔθ/, thought /θɔt/
ɔɪ choice /tʃɔɪs/
u goose /gus/
ʊ foot /fʊt/, cure /kjʊ(ə)r/
ɑ̃ rapprochement /ˌˈræˌprɔʃˌˈmɑ̃/, fin de siècle /ˌfɑ̃ dəˈsjɛkl/
ɔ̃ bon mot /bɔ̃ˈmoʊ/

ᵻ represents free variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/
ᵿ represents free variation between /ʊ/ and /ə/

Where /ɪ/, /ɛ/, /ɔ/, or /ʊ/ is followed by /r/, an intervening /ə/ is often inserted, e.g. near /nɪ(ə)r/, square /skwɛ(ə)r/, force /fɔ(ə)rs/, cure /kjʊ(ə)r/.

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebrate /ˈsɛrəˌbreɪt/.

The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebration /ˌsɛrəˈbreɪʃən/.

The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress, as in the first syllable of cerebrospinal /ˈˌsɛrəbroʊˈspaɪnəl/.