Pronounce ‘omicron’

Several of my newsletters this morning included a story about commonly mispronounced words, and one of the words addressed was omicron. Oh good, I thought, somebody is finally going to educate all those reporters who keep stumbling over a word that seems to appear 1,000 times a day. (Not to mention President Biden, who kept saying “omnicron” a few days ago.)

This is the explanation that followed:

Omicron (AH-muh-kraan / OH-mee-kraan): A new variant of COVID-19 first identified in November, named in keeping with the World Health Organization’s system of identifying variants with Greek letters. (Touma notes it’s pronounced differently in the U.S. and the U.K.)

You probably heard me groan when I read that. More confusion! I’m not contending that I’m right, but during Rush Week many decades ago, when I was taught the Greek alphabet, the pronunciation was OH-muh-kraan. Easy peasy.

These days it’s been mangled so often, I can hardly say it without stumbling as my subconscious tries to double-check what I say. (Go ahead, say it aloud three times quickly.)

Anyway, regardless of how you say it, get your vaccinations and wear your mask. Please. Because I’m getting really, really tired of the covid lifestyle and want it gone. Really!

11 thoughts on “Pronounce ‘omicron’

  1. I did the Greek system, too. I’ve always pronounced it “AH-muh-crawn” – although not really “muh”, more along the lines of “mi” as in “mi(ss)” not “mi(ght)”. I heard someone say “OH-mi-cron” on tv the other day and made me think about it for the first time.

    1. Oh, I like that little trick. Goodness knows I heard Peyton Manning yell “Omaha!” often enough. I think a lot of people stumble because they are more familiar with “omnibus,” “omnivore,” etc. Not to mention “ominous.”

  2. johnthecook…and then there is potato or is it patato (pau ta to) or tomato or is it (tau ma to). I guess it all depends what side of the pond you grew up on. The inflection of our accent can be crucial when trying to understand what is being said.

    1. Yep. Fareed Zakaria pronounces it OH-mee-kraan. I don’t hear that very often and it sounds really odd to my ear. But so do a lot of British pronunciations. But I’m from Oklahoma, so even some US accents sound strange to me (and mine to others, no doubt),

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