Christmas is around the corner, and it seems to be that time of the year when you discover you had been pronouncing a word wrongly all this time.

The word is awry, which I had always thought of as awe-ry, instead of its actual pronunciation a-wry (əˈraɪ).

The funny part is that I learnt of the correct pronunciation while reading someone else’s account of how he had been making the same mistake (for a much longer period than mine).

I realize I’ve never heard this word spoken—neither by an Indian speaker nor a foreigner. But I strongly suspect that a lot of Indian speakers would also have awe-ry in their heads. How do you  pronounce it? The comments section is open!

Retrospectively, [əˈraɪ] does make  more sense as it fits the general pattern found in similar words. As explains,

[a- is] a reduced form of the Old English preposition on,  meaning “on,”“in,” “into,” “to,” “toward,” preserved before a noun in aprepositional phrase, forming a predicate adjective or anadverbial element ( afoot; abed; ashore; aside; away ),  or beforean adjective ( afar; aloud; alow ),  as a moribund prefix with averb ( acknowledge ),  and in archaic and dialectal use before apresent participle in -ing ( set the bells aringing );  and added to averb stem with the force of a present participle ( ablaze; agape;aglow; astride;  and originally, awry ).

But then, hindsight is 20-20.