patronise / patronize [pronunciation]

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Senior Member
Spanish (Guatemala)
Hello everyone!

My friend from England told me an interesting fact about how the word "patronize" is used in the UK. He told me that it has a different pronunciation depending on the meaning:

Don't patronise me
→ Pronunciation: "pat-ron-ize"

Which pub shall we patronise today?
→ Pronunciation: "pate-ron-ize"

However, I couldn't find information about this. Most sites only cite /ˈpætɹənaɪz/ as the British pronunciation, while /ˈpeɪtɹənaɪz/ would be the common American pronunciation.

Maybe it is a regional thing?

Thank you in advance! :)
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Both pronunciations occur, but I don't know how they're distributed. In the sense "be a customer", it would make sense to use /eɪ/ because 'patron' (customer) is /ˈpeɪtɹən/. There is no corresponding noun for the pejorative verb, which I think always has /æ/ (in BrE). I use /æ/ for both, but I think I've adjusted my pronunciation and can't remember what I grew up saying.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Oh, it's definitely a regional thing -- including the spelling. In America it's "patronize," and it's genearlly pronounced "PATE-ro-nize."

    You can hear that pronunciation in the 1991 Bonnie Raitt song, "I Can't Make You Love Me":

    Lay down with me
    Tell me no lies
    Just hold me close; don't patronize

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    I've never heard of any such distinction.

    As a BrE speaker, I use /æ/ for both meanings, just as an AmE speaker would use /eɪ/ for both.

    I have never come across anyone who uses one pronunciation for one meaning and a different one for the other meaning.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - American
    Once or twice, I've heard native speakers of AmE awkwardly shift to the /æ/ pronunciation when they intend the business-related meaning, as a means of attempting to avoid any suggestion of the "condescend" meaning they strongly associate with the /eɪ/ pronunciation (which is the pronunciation they normally use).

    Of course, doing this is totally nonstandard, but it's interesting that it's totally the opposite pattern from the one described in the first post (which would be more logical).


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I didn't mean to imply equally. But I've definitely heard both at some time. I can't remember the context(s).
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