“ough” x 9 pronunciations

Early this month I wrote a blog post called “Glorious, complicated, perverse English language“.  It was fun to write and I enjoyed reading the many comments on the post.

One comment though was a challenge!  The comment stated that there are NINE ways to pronounce the letters ‘ough’!  Well, being the nerd I am I had to immediately think and add up the ways in my head.  However… I couldn’t think of nine – only eight!

1.  bough, plough = OW

2.  rough, enough, tough = UFF

3.  trough, cough = OFF

4.  dough, furlough, thorough = OH

5.  sough = OO

6.  hiccough = UP

7.  thought, bought = AW

8.  lough = OCK

What am I missing?  If anyone can provide me with examples for the ninth pronunciation, I’d love to hear it in your comments.

Thanks to everyone who commented on this topic.

The pronunciation that I was missing was…

9.  through = EW

Another comment pointed out an interesting point.  The word thorough in North American English is pronounced with the OH sound

whilst British English pronounces it was a AH sound

The English language never fails to enthrall me!


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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24 Responses to “ough” x 9 pronunciations

  1. Pingback: English pronunciation poem | Fictionophile

  2. I’m laughing so hard, it’s hurting now. Another very enjoyable read from your wonderful blog 🙂 😀


  3. Sandra says:

    Coming late to the party I get to see the final list without all the guesswork! I always knew ough had many variations but would I have got all of these? I doubt it. I’m now trying on the North-American English version of thorough…. Nope, it just doesn’t resonate! But almost certainly, now you’ve alerted me to it, I’m going to hear on tv all the time!

    Another great post! 🙂


    • Fictionophile says:

      Thanks Sandra. British vs. North American pronunciations and spellings fascinate me. I found the differences frustrating back when I was working as a library cataloger. Case in point… my tablet just changed the word ‘cataloguer’ to ‘cataloger’! I’m thinking of words like flavour, colour, labour, etc. It was especially problematic when the word was at the beginning of a title as the book wouldn’t always file in the correct way. Many Canadians use the British spelling while Americans do not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sandra says:

        Gosh yes, I’d never considered such problems! Neither did I know that Canadians frequently use the British spelling. So in Canada, one might find words such as ‘flavour’ spelt either way? Do you know which is taught in schools?


        • Fictionophile says:

          I was taught the British spelling – but I’m ‘old school ‘ (age 61) Nowadays I believe teachers lean more toward the American spelling.
          Spellchecker has a lot to answer for! Thank you for your comment Sandra.

          Liked by 1 person

          • skyecaitlin says:

            I am in the States, and I do like to use the British spelling of certain words: colour, flavour, harbour, and zap, suddenly my writing is seized by red underlines.
            I also find it fascinating to hear Americans speak and note local colloquialisms in their conversations. I can understand the differences between New England, Mid Eastern Coastal States when compared to the South and Mid Western States, but even in my own state, pronunciation and certain expressions appear with out warning and briefly startle me. When I married, my husband, who grew up six miles away from my town, said phrases that startled me; he and his family always said they were going ‘up to the mall,’ or ‘up to the store.’ I finally questioned the preposition ‘up?” In addition, in the teeny state of New Jersey, accents and expressions changed greatly depending upon whether one lives in North Jersey, Central Jersey, South Jersey or southern Jersey. North Jersey language has a New York intonation; whereas, South Jersey pronounces words that resemble Philadelphia ( major differences, too).


          • Fictionophile says:

            Yes regional jargon and colloquialisms add spice to an already spicy language. Where I live in Nova Scotia the word ‘right’ is added to sentences willy-nilly. It drives me crazy (though I do it too as I hear it so often! LOL) Examples: “It is right windy out.” “She was right pretty.” Ha-Ha. Thanks for this comment Skye.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Intriguing. Who’d have thunk it?😀


  5. skyecaitlin says:

    Here area couple more sentences to test your pronunciation:

    A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

    I thought it would be tough to plough through the soil, though it was falling into the lough at the end of the field that left me thoroughly coughing and hiccoughing.

    And just for fun, here is a poem by William Thomas Goodge.

    “Ough” A Phonetic Fantasy

    The baker-man was kneading dough

    And whistling softly, sweet and lough.

    Yet ever and anon he’d cough

    As though his head were coming ough!

    “My word!” said he, “but this is rough:

    This flour is simply awful stough!”

    He punched and thumped it through and through,

    As all good bakers dough.

    “I’d sooner drive,” said he “a plough

    Than be a baker any hough!”

    Thus spake the baker kneading dough;

    But don’t let on I told you sough!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. carhicks says:

    I immediately thought of through as well. ough = ew
    That would be nine. Isn’t the English language grand.


  7. Emma says:

    No, can’t think! Sorry.


  8. I can’t think of what the 9th one was now! Seeing this has totally confused me haha (it was my comment on the last post!) Looking it up on the web some sites say there are 10 pronunciations, others say there are 7 or 8! Very confusing. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Through, as in through the arches or through the door. I don’t see that on your list or am I just missing it, ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

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