Pronunciation: forehead

  • Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    Actually...I don't really know what you mean by "fore-eed." If it's "eed" as in "Eden," nobody says that.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    With the spread of literacy people started to pronounce words more as they are written and often abandoned the way they, including the monied classes, had traditionally pronounced them for many generations. "Waistcoat" was once /weskit/ and "often" never had its T pronounced as it /offen/ does today. I still say /fór-id/ as my parents used to say it, but it is so rare now that I give a weak cheer whenever I hear anybody else saying it that way on the wireless (radio). As evidence of the original pronunciation, I adduce the following nursery rhyme:
    There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her fór-id.
    When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.
    (My case rests).
    Brow is, as others have indicated, literary and poetic these days except in the phrase the brow of a hill which you will find in the Highway Code.
    It is in the same register as breast in the singular, meaning chest.
     

    jennball

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Americans always say fore-head, but I heard that in England it rhymes with "horrid", like in the poem. Apparently it's changing over there, too. By the way, as regards "waistcoat", I saw a rack of waistcoat-style women's shirts that were called "weskits" on the labels. Sometimes it's the spelling that changes to match the pronunciation.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    I'm American and I was taught that forehead rhymes with horrid:

    There was a little girl, who had a little curl
    Right in the middle of her forehead;
    When she was good, she was very very good,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.
     

    my-own-fantasy

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    Never in my life have I heard someone say the word "fore eed" or pronounce in like that. And to tell you the truth, if I did hear someone say that, I would burst out laughing. Where do they say it like that?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Never in my life have I heard someone say the word "fore eed" or pronounce in like that. And to tell you the truth, if I did hear someone say that, I would burst out laughing. Where do they say it like that?
    I think that that spelling was meant to represent a pronunciation which rhymes with "horrid".
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    I've heard the forrid pronounciation but I think it's now restricted to pernickety elderly people who talk BE. Some people would put me into these categories but I say forehead like my mother: my father said forrid but I only met him when he returned from the war.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Use "forehead".
    "forrid" is a very old-fashioned pronunciation, even in the UK. I think I've heard it maybe twice in my life.
    As for "for-eed" I wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about.
     

    brilliantpink

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Use "forehead".
    "forrid" is a very old-fashioned pronunciation, even in the UK. I think I've heard it maybe twice in my life.

    Thanks for that, ThomasT and Lilliput. My friend, who was raised speaking a very British version of Canadian English, continually reprimands me for saying "fore-head" instead of "forrid". Now I can tell him to get with it.

    Canadians normally say "fore-head", two syllables, with the 'h' pronounced. But it all depends on where you come from.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Which way do you pronounce it though?

    Back in college, there was this one English professor who was always harping on the "correct" way to say things -- like forrid not 4 head or gehn-ee-AL-uh-gee not geen-ee-ahl-uh-gee.

    So, I faithfully say forrid and gehn-ee-AL-uh-gee. Guess that makes me look old and pernickety, huh? Come to think of it, that professor was old and pernickety.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    With the spread of literacy people started to pronounce words more as they are written and often abandoned the way they, including the monied classes, had traditionally pronounced them for many generations. "Waistcoat" was once /weskit/ and "often" never had its T pronounced as it /offen/ does today. I still say /fór-id/ as my parents used to say it, but it is so rare now that I give a weak cheer whenever I hear anybody else saying it that way on the wireless (radio). As evidence of the original pronunciation, I adduce the following nursery rhyme:
    There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her fór-id.
    When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.
    (My case rests).

    The pronunciation with the h sounded has been around for quite a while. In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster shows forehead as being pronounced "for''hed, or rather for''ed."
     

    --Monty---

    Member
    English, England.
    I'm an English teenager and I (and all my friends) say something inbetween the two:

    Forr-ed

    It sounds like if you were going to say "Horrid" but with an e rather than an i.
     

    Maligree

    Member
    Russian
    Hi!
    What's the right way to pronounce the word forehead? The dictionary says it's [forid], but my teacher told me more and more people nowadays pronounce it like [fo:hed] (in other words like fore and head).
    Thanks in advance
     

    Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    I think some dialects of BE pronounce it like "forrid," but I would consider the most universal/accepted pronunciation to be "fore + head."
    At least I would expect it to be the most widely *understood,* thus my recommendation.

    (Incidentally, I know some people in AE who pronounce it like "far + head," but I would NOT condone that pronunciation! : )
     
    "Forehead" is one of those words (such as victuals, palm, boatswain, gunwale, or forecastle) in which all of the letters that are written should not be pronounced. However, just as some people pronounce the "c" in victuals, or the "l" in palm, simply because they see them written on the page, there are many who pronounce the "h" in forehead.

    The well known verses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow show the classic, "h-less" pronunciation, which can be noted by the word chosen as a rhyme:
    There was a little girl who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead,
    When she was good, she was very, very good,
    And when she was bad she was horrid.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    "Forehead" is one of those words (such as victuals, palm, boatswain, gunwale, or forecastle) in which all of the letters that are written should not be pronounced. However, just as some people pronounce the "c" in victuals, or the "l" in palm, simply because they see them written on the page, there are many who pronounce the "h" in forehead.

    I think that's a little misleading. I got my pronunciation of 'forehead' from listening to other native speakers, not from mispronouncing something in a book. The pronunciation may originally have arisen that way, but by now it has become quite standard in many dialects. If I heard someone pronouncing 'forehead' to rhyme with 'horrid', I wouldn't understand what they were trying to say.
     

    iskndarbey

    Senior Member
    US, English
    This rather suggests that you need to learn this pronunciation of the word, so that you can understand it when you hear it.

    I'll second Franzi's assertion that it's quite possible to live a long, rich and fully communicative life as a native English speaker without once hearing "forehead" pronounced "forrid".
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    This rather suggests that you need to learn this pronunciation of the word, so that you can understand it when you hear it.

    Well, I suppose I will understand it now, but I repeat that I have never once heard it despite being a native speaker. I remember wondering why that poem didn't rhyme properly when I was little. I asked my mother, but she had no idea either. I would think that this is a regional difference (I'm from California), but I now live in New Jersey, and I have never once heard that pronunciation here either. Furthermore, my grandmother was one of those tyrannical English teachers who insist that everyone use phrases like "this is she", and she pronounced it just as I do (she was from Ohio).

    To tell a non-native speaker that 'forrid' is the pronunciation and that others are a sign of ignorance is doing them a grave disservice. We have no idea what dialect of English Maligree is trying to learn, nor what use she intends to put it to.

    One final note: Maligree, a lot of native speakers do pronounce it like 'fore' + 'head', but don't forget that the pronunciation of 'fore' depends on your dialect. It looks like your teacher probably speaks a non-rhotic dialect. (Generic American accents are rhotic, many other English language accents are non-rhotic. The difference has to do with how we pronounce some of our 'r's.) I don't know if you know the song "All Star" by Smash Mouth, but there's a fairly famous line in it that uses the word 'forehead'. That's how I'm used to hearing it pronounced.
     
    .

    To tell a non-native speaker that 'forrid' is the pronunciation and that others are a sign of ignorance is doing them a grave disservice.
    It would be doing an equal disservice to suggest that "forrid" must never be used as the pronunciation because no native speaker would ever, ever understand what word one was saying, wouldn't it?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I'll second Franzi's assertion that it's quite possible to live a long, rich and fully communicative life as a native English speaker without once hearing "forehead" pronounced "forrid".
    I listen to books for several hours each day. My eyes give me trouble (eye-strain), and I assure you that the various pronunciations of this word are one of the things that stand out if you listen a great deal. :)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    This rather suggests that you need to learn this pronunciation of the word, so that you can understand it when you hear it.
    Or, alternatively: that the dozen or so people in the English-speaking world who persist in pronouncing it forrid-to-rhyme-with-horrid cease doing so in order that they may be understood by the remaining 99.99999999999999999999% [approx.] who pronounce it fore-head.
     

    mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    But what about in dialects where the h isn't aspirated. Do they say fore-head? I think they should be excused from any cease and desist orders...

    Does anyone say for-ed?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Or, alternatively: that the dozen or so people in the English-speaking world who persist in pronouncing it forrid-to-rhyme-with-horrid cease doing so in order that they may be understood by the remaining 99.99999999999999999999% [approx.] who pronounce it fore-head.
    Hold on, Ewie.

    My mother said "forrid", and so did her mother. I believe my father did also. Some words have gradually shifted pronunciation over the last few decades. For instance, many people now pronounce "dour" to rhyme with "hour", and "almond" is now usually prounounced with the "l". When I was young, I usually heard "AHmund".

    I don't give a hoot how any word with different possible pronunciations is pronounced, but immediately assuming that someone who uses a particular pronunciation is a snob, or affected, is unfair. :)

    Gaer
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Oh I wasn't suggesting that folk who say forrid are snobs or affected ~ merely that it is they who are the tiny rocks in a vast ocean of fore-head (or fore-'ead) sayers.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    But what about in dialects where the h isn't aspirated. Do they say fore-head? I think they should be excused from any cease and desist orders...

    Does anyone say for-ed?
    As far as I know, I say something like fore-red [or faw-red] when I'm not being careful, fore-hed when I am.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Oh I wasn't suggesting that folk who say forrid are snobs or affected ~ merely that it is they who are the tiny rocks in a vast ocean of fore-head (or fore-'ead) sayers.
    I know that I used to pronounce it "forrid" - and wasn't particularly aware of that being strange when I was growing up. (I used to hear that rhyme in the childhood poem and no one found it strange). However, recently I'm sure that I've spontaneously said "fore-head" and surprised myself by doing so - so perhaps this is an example of change that is going on as we speak for people who have that pronounciation. I'm sure I've only remarked upon it, though, because of this thread. I do remember being called "posh" for saying it that way by a friend (who is way posher than me) about 15 years ago or so.

    My tiny rocks must be sinking I guess.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Oh I wasn't suggesting that folk who say forrid are snobs or affected ~ merely that it is they who are the tiny rocks in a vast ocean of fore-head (or fore-'ead) sayers.
    I think you may be right about the dominant pronunciations but wrong about the percentages. :)

    I also dislike talking about what things sound like without any sound to illustrate, to make sure we are talking about the same thing.

    Let me list just three things that continue to make this hard to nail down.

    First, "horrid" is pronounced both "HArid" (like CAR id) but also as (WHORE id), in the US. Which is more common here? I honestly don't know.

    MW shows this, but it uses at least one non-standard character that won't paste here.

    link

    Regardless, MW clearly shows that it believe that the majority of people in the US leave out the "h", which I think is probably correct. Cambridge appears to believe that the "h" is also left out in AE.

    I'm mentioning this, not because of this thread, but to make the point that there are more variables going on here than most people realize. When a word is pronounced with two different vowel sounds, those are extremes. The vowel can be shaded towards either extreme.

    I'm absolutely sure that if you heard me say "forehead", you would only notice I'm American, not British. Unfortunately, since this is not possible, I can't prove it. :)

    Gaer
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    I never knew about the BE pronunciation of this word until I was an adult.

    As for the childhood ditty, I recall that at some point in later kidhood, we boys changed the last line so that it did rhyme with our way of saying the "f-word"

    When she was bad she was whore-head

    PS Just found this thread today--hope some of you guys can manage to lighten up on this issue...
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Hold on, Ewie.

    My mother said "forrid", and so did her mother. I believe my father did also. Some words have gradually shifted pronunciation over the last few decades. For instance, many people now pronounce "dour" to rhyme with "hour", and "almond" is now usually prounounced with the "l". When I was young, I usually heard "AHmund".

    I don't give a hoot how any word with different possible pronunciations is pronounced, but immediately assuming that someone who uses a particular pronunciation is a snob, or affected, is unfair. :)

    Gaer


    I don't know that the change is as recent as all that, Gaer. I found a book published in 1919 titled The Pronunciation of Standard English in America that mentions the beginning of the change in pronunciation of "forehead' to a "spelling pronunciation."

    http://books.google.com/books?id=LKc6AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA104&dq=forehead+pronunciation

    The entire page is very interesting to read, particularly what was considered "standard" (at least by this author) in the early 1900s, i.e., silent "h" in the names "Humphrey" and "Humphries".
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I don't know that the change is as recent as all that, Gaer. I found a book published in 1919 titled The Pronunciation of Standard English in America that mentions the beginning of the change in pronunciation of "forehead' to a "spelling pronunciation."

    http://books.google.com/books?id=LKc6AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA104&dq=forehead+pronunciation

    The entire page is very interesting to read, particularly what was considered "standard" (at least by this author) in the early 1900s, i.e., silent "h" in the names "Humphrey" and "Humphries".
    I did say last few decades, didn't I? In fact, I was thinking of a much longer period of change.

    My father was already 12 years old in 1919. He was born in 1907. My grandmother, of course, was born in the late 1800s. It makes me smile, ironically, to think that any word that I pronounce might make sound "posh", since I'm always considered extremely down-to-earth and very informal. Perhaps it does not come across here, in public, in a forum in which so many people put so much importance on correctness, and some of our conservative members are so irritated by icons I prefer, such as :) and ;), for example, that I have lately found myself deliberately expressing myself in a colder manner, thinking that even using these emoticons will somehow cause me to be judged false.

    I'm deadly serious.

    At any rate, I know for a fact that the pronunication of at least a few words has changed within my lifetime, or changed more. I believe "forehead" may be just another.

    Gaer
     

    thepedantinme

    New Member
    English - England
    Interesting question, I grew up in west London, when everyone around me, from parents and grandparents to teachers and friends, all said 'forrid' or 'forred'. Now I live on the south coast of England, and I can hardly find anyone who pronounces it that way. This makes me a little sad, as variations in pronunciation, particularly those that stem from long usage, help to make the language interesting. I, of course, carry a torch for the form that is familiar to me.
     

    NativeNorthCarolinian

    New Member
    English (Southern US)
    Everyone in my family has always said \'fa-rid\ ("fa" as Julie Andrews pronounced "far" in "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music and "rid" as in "to free from something").

    We came to the US in 1619 (Jamestown Island) and moved to North Carolina in 1748 (some of that land I still own). I was born in 1960 and knew family members who were born as long ago as the 1880s: they said \'fa-rid\. Most were educated, and many were educators (as am I). Some used a variation -- \fard\ (rhymes with "card"), but as Southerners, they managed to slip a schwa sound between the 'a' and the 'r' (_ALMOST_ creating a two-syllable word).

    Before parts of North Carolina became a Mecca for non-natives (The Research Triangle -- Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill in particular) in the mid-'70s, no one ever questioned my pronunciation of \'fa-rid\. Now, only older natives and perhaps those born before the influence of television don't laugh at me. Most don't even understand me. I nevertheless maintain the old ways and use this as an opportunity to educate those who say \for-head\.
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I couldn't (to be honest) be bothered scrolling through the pages but I pronounce it 'forrid', and would hear and be familiar with both pronunciations. I assume I got this pronunciation from my English parents, I *think* fore-head is the more common pronunciation here, but it's not one you hear every day so I'm unsure on that.

    Edit: straw poll of available parties in the office reveals one vote for 4head and one who uses the two 'interchangeably'. So while I will continue to blame the 'rents for pronouncing 'us' as 'uz' instead of 'ussss' like all the kiwis I know (who intermittently mock that pronunciation), they may not be solely responsible for my pronunciation of 'forrid'.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    What a fascinating thread! My accent is not h-less, but I would tend to say FOR-edd, but FOR-hedd when careful. Maybe in the right context, I might say FOR-id.

    Someone said they'd never heard nephew with a /v/. I certainly have. I also use the short vowel in cot for scone and shone and the short vowel in set for ate. Other people at home have long vowels for scone and ate. All tendencies towards spelling pronunciation?
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I've never heard 'the sun shown' although I have heard the AE scoan(ish) pronunciation. I'm short vowel on both as well. Have heard 'neview' (I don't think in 'real life' but on't telly) but would see that as pretty old-fashioned I think...
    One that surprised me yesterday watching the Formula 1 (British) coverage was the commentator who repeatedly said 'yesterday', stress on 'day'...
    All off-topic of course, but so much of the above is too (I eventually got bored enough to read it all :)) that it's presumably permissible!
     
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