Pronunciation: forehead

  • Always said 'forrid' (to rhyme with 'torrid'). "Forehead" sounds American, and a little naff (though not because it's American, certainly!)
    "Forehead" sounds American
    It doesn't to me.

    To the best of my recollection, I've only ever heard the "forrid" pronunciation from one person - an extremely ancient teacher of English (now I think back, she was probably only in her late 50s).

    It's always been the spelling pronunciation "fore-head" for me....

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    "FA-red" seems to be an old regional pronuncition in the US. Most likely my mother picked it up from my grandmother, who was born in the 1890s, and I picked it up from her or my father, born in England in 1907. It's one of the things I say that my family kids me about, along with "icebox" and "warshing machine". :)

    I'm a mut. I jokingly say, "Here we jolly well go, guv'na," but I have just a touch of lazy "just sayin'" pronunication from South Florida and my years at FSU, "pickin' up slow talkin' from the South. :)
    Longman's Pronunciation Dictionary (2008) contains some interesting statistics. It states that the "h" is dropped by only 12% of AmE speakers, and that "forrid" is preserved by only 35% of BrE speakers.

    However, the AmE 12% is an average which falls from from 35% for the oldest speakers to 5% for the youngest speakers, while in BrE "forrid" falls from 47% to 20%.

    At that rate "forrid" will be obsolete in a couple of generations. As a "forrid" speaker myself, I mourn its passing.

    Recently I was trying to convince an Asian lady that the "b" in "lamb" was silent. She would not accept that. She regarded the failure to sound "b" as a lazy pronunciation, and she insisted on sounding it.

    I wonder how many more words will revert to centuries-old pronunciations, under the misconception that English words should be pronounced as they are spelt. I can see some advantages. It will make life easier for non-native speakers. It may knock the wind out of spelling-reform. It might even make it easier to read Shakespeare and Chaucer aloud. But for more recent rhymes, like girls with little curls, it will be horrid.
    I pronounce the final vowel as a schwa (or 'uh' sound) and when feeling more dutiful or pedantic I endeavour to aspirate it: not easy, in an unstressed syllable following 'r'.
    By all means, it rhymes with horrid - I'll never dare to pronounce it fore-head. And I have had quite a number of quarrels about it!