13 Words And Names You've Been Saying Wrong All Year

If 2023 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re not doing anything right. We’re using our colanders wrong, we can’t even sleep right and don’t get us started on how we’re all messing up washing towels.

Well, to add to the long list of mistakes we’re making in our lives (sorry everyone), language-learning platform, Babbel have once again commissioned the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters – the UK’s leading organisation for subtitling professionals – to identify the top words of 2023 which newsreaders,
politicians, public figures and others have most consistently struggled to pronounce correctly.

And if they’re saying it wrong, let’s be real, you probably are too.

The UK’s 10 most mispronounced words of 2023 are drawn from a wide range of sources and subject areas. Entertainment proved fertile ground, in a year dominated by Kylie’s summer anthem ‘Padam Padam’, and Barbenheimer fever hitting cinemas across the nation.

On the small screen, the finale of Succession aired - leaving us tongue-tied over character names. In politics, the November cabinet reshuffle saw Suella Braverman’s tenure as Home Secretary end, and the London ULEZ has driving
discussions, with many of us tripping up over the pronunciations.

The BIVR surveyed its members to identify the following words and names as the most commonly mispronounced of 2023 – and fortunately for us, phonetic pronunciations have been supplied by the language experts at Babbel so we don’t keep messing these words up in 2024.

Nepo baby [Neh-po Bay-bee]

In October, Gwyneth Paltrow hit back at critics who used the term ‘nepo baby’ to describe the success of her daughter, Apple Martin, as she made her runway debut. The term refers to children of celebrities who are famous and have succeeded because of their parents.

Stone of Scone [Stown uhv skoon]

A stone used during coronation ceremonies of the British monarch, also known as the ‘Stone of Destiny’, which was present during King Charles III’s Coronation in May of this year. Although it looks like the same word as the baked good ‘scone’ (the pronunciation of which is also debated), it is pronounced ‘skoon’.

Padam [Pad-dahm]

Made famous by Kylie Minogue in her summer hit song “Padam Padam”, this word originates from mimicking the sound of a heartbeat. The term has now entered queer vernacular with many uses as a question, greeting, exclamation, or insult.

Barbenheimer [Baa-buhn-hai-muh]

Barbenheimer, a cultural sensation, emerged around the joint release of two movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer, in July and August 2023, coined from a blend of the film titles.

As fans headed to cinemas in either pink or black depending on which film they were seeing, many memes were created around the theme. Many fans and viewers slip up in pronouncing this word merge, opting for Barbieheimer instead. Other varieties included Oppenbarbie and Boppenheimer.

Tom Wambsgans [Woms-gans]

One of the main characters in the HBO drama series “Succession” which came to a finale in May 2023.

Ozempic [Oh-zem-pick]

A diabetes medication popularly used as a weight loss drug amongst celebrities. Has given rise to the term ‘Ozempic face’, to refer to an alleged side effect of using the drug.

ULEZ [Yu-lez] 

The abbreviation for the ultra low emission zone around London, where charges are applied to certain vehicles that do not meet emissions standards.

Bharat [Buh-ruht]

At the G20 meeting in September 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the Sanskrit name for the Indian subcontinent for the first time - Bharat”.

Decels [Dee-Sell]

Short for “decelerationists”, meaning people who want to slow down technological progress, particularly with regard to conversations around artificial intelligence.

Suella Braverman [Su-ell-uh Brah-vuh-mun]

A divisive British politician who served as Home Secretary for a second time until November 2023. She was fired in a cabinet reshuffle that made headlines.

Honorary mentions (falling just outside of the top 10): 

Fred Siriex [Suh-ree-iks]

French TV personality and chef, best known for appearing as the maître d’ on Channel 4’s First Dates and most recently as a contestant on this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Loewe [Lo-weh-veh]

A luxury Spanish fashion brand known for its high quality leather goods, clothing, accessories and fragrances. Actress Maggie Smith became the face of their new campaign in October 2023.

Dominik Szoboszlai [So-boss-lai]

Midfielder for Liverpool F.C., Hungarian football player Szoboszlai revealed that everyone had been mispronouncing his last name.