pronunciation of "fracas"

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
I'm wondering about the pronunciation of fracas ("a noisy quarrel; brawl").

Dictionary.com gives [frey-kuh, Brit. frak-ah]

Merriam-Webster gives [frak-uhs]

So which one is the American pronunciation? (And is the British one correct?)
 
  • MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    English: FRAK-are

    US: FRAC as in 'brake" and 'as' as in 'us' as in 'wondr-ous'

    ('us' has a 'z' sound. Can someone better explain 'us' without a 'z' sound - more with an 's' sound - please? (without resorting to phonetics).

    (I've just cross-checked my understanding with Cambridge dictionary, which also gives audio pronunciation guides in both 'languages'.) :tick:
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree with dictionary.com
    MilkyBarKid's version only works for those with a non-rhotic accent :)

    Merriam-Webster gives two US pronunciations, one FRAH-kus, the other FREY-kus.
    I have never heard this pronounced before. I enjoyed listening :)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I had a smile on my face, as well. I can see how the Brits and Americans would smirk at each other considering how far apart their pronunciations are.

    While I'm sympathetic to the accuracy of the British version, I'm afraid I was raised as a FREY-kus. I could change, of course, but considering my adopted city and being surrounded by both Brits and Americans, I tend to avoid the spoken word entirely. :)

    Edit: I think I've just answered both panj and susanna. (Just to be sure: I do, susanna.) ;)
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hm, interesting, Copyright. Thanks so much for posting. I never heard the word pronounced.

    panj, so one is with FREY? Where? And the other one is FRAH-kuhs, not FRAK-uhs? So there are THREE US pronunciations? (Because the one I found is FRAK-uhs!)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I myself would ordinarily not consult the opinions expressed by Charles Harrington Elster in The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker, because I go by the principle that usage is king and he appears to scorn that principle. However, on the history of the pronunciation, Elster says that the preferred pronunciation in American English of fracas given in dictionaries was FRAY-kus until Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961) listed FRAK-us as a variant.

    The Century Dictionary, an American dictionary of 1895, does indeed give FRAY-kus as the only English one, while marking the silent-s pronunciation as French.

    Elster prefers the FRAY-kus pronunciation, and quotes an author (Holt, 1937) as agreeing on that point:

    Unduly influenced by La Belle France...the British struggle with "frack"ah.... We sensibly rhyme it with "Make us!"
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I'm wondering about the pronunciation of fracas ("a noisy quarrel; brawl"). (And is the British one correct?)

    They are all de facto. There is no law of correctness of pronunciation, there are only preferred forms. But it would be quite useful if the choice was small. It just isn't that way. :warning:

    GF..
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hm, interesting, Copyright. Thanks so much for posting. I never heard the word pronounced.

    I may have misled you (maybe not) in my pronunciation -- I said FREY-kus, thinking the frey was pronounced fray.

    To be more exact, I say FRAY-kus (to rhyme with make us). Not FREY-kus (to rhyme with freak us).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I may have misled you (maybe not) in my pronunciation -- I said FREY-kus, thinking the frey was pronounced fray.

    To be more exact, I say FRAY-kus (to rhyme with make us). Not FREY-kus (to rhyme with freak us).
    In that case I've been misleading too.
    I wrote FREY-kus, which in my head sounds exactly like FRAY-kus, just as grey sounds like gray.
     

    Thomas Veil

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I assume that it is etymologically related to "fracture", and pronounce it accordingly.

    ('us' has a 'z' sound. Can someone better explain 'us' without a 'z' sound - more with an 's' sound - please? (without resorting to phonetics).
    I'm not sure what you mean here. I pronounce "us" with an "s" sound.
     

    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    I assume that it is etymologically related to "fracture", and pronounce it accordingly.
    In fact, the two words are etymologically unrelated (fracas shares a root with cassation and quash, and the fra- part is related to infra- and inferior). But it doesn't matter: folk etymologies can have a real influence on the spelling and pronunciation of words, and I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be case here.

    I say [ˈfreɪkəs], probably influenced by fray (which is also etymologically unrelated).
     
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    mntlblok

    New Member
    English
    Just finished Ken Follett's "White Out" on CD and, by context, wondered if the narrator (Scottish?) had pronounced "fracas" as "frockuh" - or something like that. Son of a gun. I reckon she did.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I assume that it is etymologically related to "fracture", and pronounce it accordingly.


    I'm not sure what you mean here. I pronounce "us" with an "s" sound.
    Old thread revival alert.

    Just saw the word fracas in a BBC News headline and wondered about the various pronunciations. WR is just the place to find them:)

    The comment above makes me think the MilkyBarKid is from the north of England where the word us can have a z sound.
     
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