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Today, in my Testmaster’s session, the chemistry instructor keeps saying “Aww-queous.”

I’m trying not to flinch every time he says it. He’s saying it alot, so I must look like I have Tourette’s.

There are two correct pronunciations for this word, that you can actually listen to on Webster, and neither of them are “aww-queous.” They are:

  1. “ay-kwee-us” — (pretend you’re Canadian – eh, don’t you know, it’s ay-queous?); this is the most popular pronunciation that I hear
  2. “ak- wee-us” — (pronounced ack as in quack)

I have a confession: When I first joined my group, I too pronounced it “aww-queous.” I got made fun of, oh 20 billion times for that one mistake.

And now it irritates me, like nails on a chalkboard, when someone pronounces it wrong. Funny how that works.

Oh, by the way, aqueous simply means dissolved in water. Some of the nastiest acids I work with are all aqueous (i.e. hydrochloric acid is HCl gas dissolved in water).

Now, I totally understand why people mispronounce it, there’s a load of words containing the phrase “aqua” out there, and it seems natural to pronounce aqueous like aqua since both deal with water. Right?

Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Let’s all say it out loud — AY-KWEE-US!!

Am I alone here? Are there any commonly mispronounced words that cause you to flinch?

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