FOOD

We Were Totally Wrong About How To Pronounce Turmeric

13/12/2016 10:01 PM AEDT | Updated 13/12/2016 11:35 PM AEDT
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A pile of ground tumeric on a granite surface

The age-old debate: ter-meric or too-meric?

There are some foods that are just tricky to pronounce. It makes sense; we live in a global food world, so certain ingredient names have their origin in other languages. And one ingredient with confusing pronunciation is a spice popular in India, turmeric.  

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Turmeric is a spice made from the powdered rhizome of an Indian plant. It has long been a popular spice found in curries, but it is beginning to branch out. Since turmeric is currently soaring in popularity right now, making its way into everything from lattes to ice cream, we thought it was about time that we figured out how to pronounce this Indian spice correctly.

Some folks seem to forget that there is an “r” found after the “u” and pronounce this golden spice “too-meric.” We always thought this was flat-out wrong.

Others are aware of the “r” finishing off the first syllable, and pronounce the word “ter-meric.” This is how we’ve always believed it to be pronounced.

Which pronunciation is correct? According to Merriam-Webster (as well as The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language), both are acceptable.

Merriam Webster

So, if you’ve been correcting folks who say turmeric differently than you do, now would be a good time to stop. You could be the only one who is wrong. 

The people behind The Grammarphobia Blog (who have written many books on the English language, among other jobs that make them more than qualified) explain that the etymology of this word ― which came into the English language in the 16th century ― is obscure. Based on the early spellings of the word, it is believed to have originated from the French word terre mérite (which means “deserving earth”). 

Considering the fact that the origin of the word is unclear, it makes sense that the pronunciation is flexible. So, how do you pronounce turmeric? And more importantly, how do you use it?

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