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Pronunciation: aunt

I’m not sure if we can ask pronunciation questions here. Well, I’d like to know the correct way to pronounce “aunt,” whether it’s closer to “ant” or “ont.” When you answer, please say where you’re from. I’m curious if it’s an American vs British English thing.

In Western Canada we say “ant.”

  • January 2, 2006
  • Posted by jon
  • Filed in Misc

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We say "ant" in Northern Illinois. I think it's common in the midwest/Northern regions to say it that way.

Amy_A. January 2, 2006 @ 5:36PM

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I hear both on the West Coast of the United States.

anonymous4 January 2, 2006 @ 7:48PM

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I'm from Tennessee/Alabama. Around here we say "ant" as in the animal (rhymes with "can't"). However, the majority of people of African decent say "ah-nt" (I'm assuming that's what you mean with "ont").

Michael2 January 3, 2006 @ 12:27AM

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I'm Irish and I say 'ant'. I don't usually hear the 'ont' pronunciation but I could imagine someone with a posh British accent saying it.

Gohai January 3, 2006 @ 5:35AM

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As with practically ALL vowels, it depends on where you are from.
Furthermore, the way we are writing these variations down is also affected by our own vowels - 'ant' for an American probably means a long 'a', but for somebody from the north of England it means a short 'a'. So if we write down 'ant' or 'ont', even when we give examples of things it may rhyme with (forgetting that those vowels also shift), it might be helpful to use the phonetic alphabet where possible (not easy, of course, when posting on a forum).
And you shouldn't refer to that British pronunciation as 'posh'. Many non-'posh' people use similar vowels.

petescully January 3, 2006 @ 1:11PM

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Well I live in the Bay Area in California and I've always said "Ont" but I definitely hear people say "Ant" now and then. I seriously cringe when I hear people pronounce it, "Ant."

Cal1 January 3, 2006 @ 5:05PM

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Bert Vaux at U Wisconsin has generated some nice maps of U.S. dialect. The link below will take you to maps showing the distribution of the pronunciation of "aunt."

At the end of the day, about 3/4 of the country pronounces "aunt" the same way they pronounce "ant." The Northeast (where I and most of my aunts live) is the region where "ahnt" is most common, but this amounts to about 10% of the U.S. population. Interestingly, about 7% of the population reports that they say "ant" when refering to a particular person, but "ahnt" when refering to the general concept. In my family, most of my aunts are "ahnts" but I have a couple great "ants" who hail from the same western Massachusetts hill town that is otherwise stocked with "ahnts."

Please do not marry into my family if you are part of the 3% of America that pronounces "aunt" with the same vowel sound as is used in "caught. We could not handle the (additional) confusion.

Here is the link:

Chris_Anderson January 3, 2006 @ 5:18PM

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"aren't"/aaah-nt for me, as a southeastern Brit

Kris1 January 3, 2006 @ 7:13PM

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Chris that's a great link, nice one!

petescully January 4, 2006 @ 1:14AM

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We pronounce aunt as "ant" in the Philippines where we use the American English standard.

jayred7 January 4, 2006 @ 8:14AM

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"ah-nt"for me, when I heard this word for the first time in my life from a nun from Ireland in 60's in Japan

kitanohuji January 5, 2006 @ 5:38AM

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In the Northwest part of the states, it's "ant" 99% of the time. In the Midwest I'ts "ont" 99% of the time. In my research on the origins of the word "aunt", many sources say that the "ant" pronunciation is the original one, but "ont" has and is becoming a more widely accepted pronunciation. The dictionary also uses the pronunciation "ant". I wish I knew.

anonymous4 January 6, 2006 @ 12:44PM

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I grew up with the "ont" pronunciation in my family (African America from New Jersey not "Jois-see".) But since I moved to CA I've made a lot of friends that are Phillipino and I've noticed myself changing to "ant" and "ant-ee".

Another cute thing I picked up from my Phillipino friends is the term of endearment "Auntie Baby" (ant-ee bay-bee) referring to your youngest Aunt. Almost all my friends have an "Auntie Baby" and I think it's just the cutest phrase.

Penny January 6, 2006 @ 5:31PM

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I looked at the UWisconsin link and was very surprised by the results. I think it must have been a very Caucasian poll. I, too, am Caucasian, but I don't know any African-Americans that pronounce the word "ant". All of my black acquaintances and friends pronounce it "ahnt".

Megan_G January 7, 2006 @ 11:18AM

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I am from Sweden, and sadly enough my english is a mish-mash of british english and american english, therefore the pronounciation depends upon the accent of the person whom I'm talking to. My br. english teacher hear me saying "ah-nt" and talking with friends in class I use the long vowel.

Ylva January 8, 2006 @ 4:08PM

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I would probably say ont because if you are referring to you aunt as aunty, then it wouldn't sound right if it was (AN-tee) unless you have a new york accent.

Olivia1 January 12, 2006 @ 5:28PM

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I grew up in the suburban Midwest (Kansas City aria) and I only heard ah-nt from African-American kids at school.

I'm on the south east coast now and I hear ah-nt MUCH more often from "Southern" women.

Strangely, "Southern" men from the same families say ant.

Bert January 18, 2006 @ 11:52AM

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In Virginia (The real one, not West), we say 'ont' because there's a "u" in there. I don't think I have ever heard of a silent "u".

Arfon January 18, 2006 @ 11:53AM

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Using that logic, Arfon, shouln't you say "awnt", rhyming with haunt or taunt?

porsche January 18, 2006 @ 5:21PM

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UK wide, we pronounce it 'ant'.

How do you lot pronounce the German car maker, Audi? Over here we say 'ow-dee.'

BigJock January 18, 2006 @ 6:26PM

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Central Canada says 'ant'
British parents say 'ant'
My Filipina workmate says 'ont'

runningdog January 18, 2006 @ 11:06PM

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In southern Britain one says 'arnt' ~ long 'a' ~ 'ont' rhymes with 'want' and is therefore wrong.

jc1 January 19, 2006 @ 11:04AM

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Bigjock, I have heard audi pronounced as you said, but I have also heard it pronounced awdi, as in "audio" or "Claude."

porsche January 19, 2006 @ 3:23PM

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I'm from NJ (I don't speak anything like a New Yorker) I say 'ant'
Cal - I cringe when I hear 'ont'
I believe the story goes..'ont' being the New England pronunciation. After the Civil War, women in NE felt it was their obligation to school Southern African Americans. The African Americans picked up this pronunciation and it has spread throughout the country as they moved through out the states. 'ant' is still the most accepted pronunciation. The only other people I've heard say it 'ont' mispronounce many common words. I'm inclined to put that pronunciation in the mispronunciation category because of that.

DM January 22, 2006 @ 9:22PM

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I say ahnt because I don't want to confuse my aunt with an ant.

Adam_O January 25, 2006 @ 9:58AM

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IT'S ONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE WANTS AN ANT FOR AN AUNT!

kit February 3, 2006 @ 3:07PM

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"BigJock Jan-18-06 6:26PM

UK wide, we pronounce it 'ant'."

Not so. In London people say pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't'. When I've been in the north of England I've heard 'ant'.

IDgaf February 7, 2006 @ 10:29AM

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Myself and my roomate disagree. He says he's always learned that it;s proper to say Ant, while I being from Canada prounce it Aunt. We arent sure.

Robert_Jefferson February 8, 2006 @ 11:37PM

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I live in the south-west of england and we pronounce it ant. None of my 'ants' think I am being in the least bit demeaning or that, in any way, I am likening them to the insect. It is accepted as the way we pronounce it here.
More often than not we say auntie but pronounced the same way as 'anti'. Either way we get sweeties and cakes from our favourite ANTI!!! Ha ha!

Clive_Hutchings February 9, 2006 @ 9:24AM

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Also in response to IDgaf - I think Londoners pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't' because they are trying to sound a little posh!!!

Clive_Hutchings February 9, 2006 @ 9:26AM

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"Clive Hutchings Feb-9-06 9:26AM
Also in response to IDgaf - I think Londoners pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't' because they are trying to sound a little posh!!!"

what a strange theory... it seems to me that the aren't-rhyming pronunciation is a corruption of the original, which sounded more like "awnt", i believe. it has been further corrupted over the years by regional idiosyncracies, which is fine, it happens all the time. if (or rather *when*) Londoners pronounce it "aren't", they are doing so because they are in London, in the south of England! "ant" is northern only.

here's a challenge - who can find another word in which the "au" is pronounced as "ar"?

Huck March 13, 2006 @ 10:16AM

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I have no family, I am gay.

nick_skewes March 24, 2006 @ 10:08AM

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All you have to do is look in a dictionary. The word is pronounced like "ant" unless you're black, then it's "ahnt". That's right Stan, blacks say "ax" and "axed" but so do a lot of white people in the New Orleans area.

Rose_Weiss April 19, 2006 @ 1:53PM

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R-N-T. The U makes a sound too. AU is pronounced as R. English is English, not American. As a Brit' I think it's time the Americans called their Language something else. It's not English - it's been bastardised too much!

bigbluefeckmonkey April 20, 2006 @ 9:30AM

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What about Appalachian English, which is known to be more conservative than most other dialects? The English spoken in Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and surrounding areas retains many of the features of English spoken northern Engliand in the 18th century. And why even have the letter "r" if you can't pronounce it? The English talk like they're from Boston or something ("pahk ya cah in hahvahd yahd"). While I find the Texan insertion of "r" into words where it doesn't belong (i.e., "idear," "drawring") to be annoying, I must point out that American English, in recognizing the existence of the letter "r," has given us one of the world's most unique phonemes: the rotacized r. In England, the word "bird" pronounced "beud," two consonants and a vowel, that's it. How boring. In America, we use the "r" as a vowel ("r," being a liquid, has flexible properites and has close affinities with vocalic sounds. Note also, "L," and semivocalic glides "w," "y"). Did you know that less than one percent of the world's languages have this phoneme, the rotacized r? Ha! It's YOU guys who have bastardized (note the intentional "z") English!

A_O April 22, 2006 @ 7:33PM

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So how do you say AUDI.. I belive its owdee..

BA May 2, 2006 @ 6:29PM

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I say 'ant' and 'Aw -di' as in Claude, or audio. I'm Irish.

Michelle_Mc May 3, 2006 @ 2:14AM

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You're all a bunch of racist morons with too much time on your hands. I know plenty of African-American people that can speak circles around any "white" person. So, your comments of "blacks" saying the word 'ax' instead of 'ask' and the pronunciation of aunt vs. 'ant' being a "black thing" is completely out of line. I would hope that you would re-examine your theories and find true and factual hypotheses based on research and not hearsay!

gimmieabreak July 5, 2006 @ 5:35PM

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Hey Stan, why don't you go back to your ukelele? Up here in New England (for geographic illiterates like you, we're also Americans), we pronounce it "ahnt", ok? Nothing wrong with that, and pronouncing it like the insect has always sounded weird to me.

Tim3 July 14, 2006 @ 2:27AM

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It's my understanding that most black Americans descended from slaves that worked in the owner's home say ont instead of the more commonly acceptable ant for aunt. That's because this is the way it was pronounced by their slaveholding proper English owners (circa 1700's) in the south and then by their descendants. It is a vestiege of slave days. Many old southern families still say ont just as blacks do. It belongs to the southern plantations and the English speaking slaveowners.If I were black, I would surely not say it that way.

Sandy1 July 17, 2006 @ 8:04PM

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We in India normally say 'Ont.'

deepak_ July 20, 2006 @ 5:19AM

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Dan_B. July 21, 2006 @ 4:44PM

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I say both "aunt" and "ant".....I drive myself crazy with it.....When I say "ant" I feel like a total hillbilly and so correct myself by saying "aunt" even though I don't really know which is actually right...So I probably end up sounding like even more of idiot by saying both ways than if I were to just pick one already! THANKS JUSTIN for pointing this out to me! -punk!

Tara_from_Ohio August 6, 2006 @ 10:21AM

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A person from Worcester, Mass., once saw a cartoon with a couple on a picnic blanket and a bunch of old ladies walking by and the caption, "What would a picnic be without aunts!" AND DIDN'T GET IT because he pronounced the word aunt as ont. He remembered the cartoon DURING a discussion of the ant/ont pronunciation. My father was English, and both sets of grandparents were from England (Yorkshire), and we pronounced the word ahnt.

The Oxford English notes that Chaucer spelled ask as ax, and that most of England did, too, up until the time of Shakespeare. Post-Shakespeare the word became ask. So the African-American pronunciations of ax and ahnt probably both came from older English pronunciations.

The Brits use autumn rather than fall, but our term fall originated with a Brit phrase "the fall of the leaves" which disappeared there.

Bob3 August 8, 2006 @ 6:49PM

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I'm from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I say "ant."

My wife is from the San Francisco Bay area, and she says "ant."

I have never heard a Westerner say "ont." We live in Virginia now, and once in a while I hear someone say "ont." People don't typically talk about aunts in Virginia--they talk about property values, which is far more annoying than "ont."

I lived in Rhode Island for a few months, not long enough that I remember anyone saying "ont" instead of "ant," but long enough that I remember a few people saying "con't" instead of can't.

Merriam-Webster lists "ant" before "ont" but does list both pronunciations. For can't, it lists three: can't, "con't," and "cain't" ("especially Southern" it says).

Finally, I find "ont" mildly annoying but not worth complaining about (except when anonymous on the Internet). :-)

shepshep September 5, 2006 @ 8:48AM

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I am from Virginia and our family always has said "ont." My husband's family all say "ant" and they think I am trying to be posh with my pronunciation, but I can't help it. My children have two kinds of female relatives of their parents, "ants" and "onts." One for my husband's side and one for mine. They will grow up confused!

I am a medical transcriptionist so I hear lots of pronunciations and most everyone says "ant," except me and my extended family. This is definitely a regional thing and has nothing to do with your level of education or your race.

Liz1 September 19, 2006 @ 9:32AM

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I'm an English teacher in Turkey .Here we say and teach it as ont / ahnt plus my American friend whose English I like a lot pronounces it the same.I'm her twins' ahntiee :) (she's from Pennysylvenia)

Burcak September 19, 2006 @ 1:27PM

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I have to say that I am a black woman and yes, I pronounce "Aunt as Ont", and no I don't do so because I am black. I don't know why Aunt would be pronounced ant. It doesn't sound right to me. Ant = Ant.

My dictionary states that Aunt can be pronounced two ways:

Aunt (ant or änt)

For everyone that is trying to make it seems as if only black people say "ont" instead of "ant", you need to stop stereotyping and open your eyes to the real world!

Another thing, for the person that said that black people say "ax" - I say ask. Oh, and if a black person has said "ax", in your presence, I am sure he or she wasn't the only race that have done so.

Arch September 20, 2006 @ 12:43AM

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Being a German/American who grew up in the midwest I always have said ahnt. My wife, who is an English major says its supposed to be pronounced "ant" as in the dictionary. But according to me, she and the dictionary are wrong. They do not pronounce "automobile" as atomobile.

Klaus September 20, 2006 @ 4:19PM

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Yes, but Klaus, it's not pronounced ahtomobile either. It's awtomobile, and aunt isn't pronounced awnt. Regardless, comparing similarly spelled words in English is almost meaningless. There are so many different word origins that the same spelling can have many different pronunciations. The same pronunciation can also have a dozen different spellings.

PS - The dictionary is supposed to represent a consensus and be a final arbiter to allow some common method of communication. Ahnt is also listed in the dictionary (albeit after ant), so ahnt isn't wrong. According to the dictionary, ant may be preferred, or perhaps more common. To say the dictionary is wrong seems an odd point of view. The dictionary is simply a rule book that we as an English speaking society agree to abide by so that we can all have a common ground for communication. You're certainly free to say aunt any way you like, but it seems a bit self-centered to think that the rest of society is wrong.

porsche September 20, 2006 @ 10:37PM

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I have always pronounced "aunt" with an ignored "u". I would, if convinced I
was in error, make a concerted effort
to change. I had given the word "aunt"
a picnic pests name "ant" If I pronounce it aunt, giving recognitian
to the "u", I would sound like a goose.....
"auunt-auunt auunt"
Or I could give it a Opie translation and call it "Aint"

marionballe October 2, 2006 @ 8:32AM

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for me
Im south african, indian

Many of the black population say ant, since they have learnt alot of the english language from American movies,

The white population(influnced by Dutch settlers and English colanisation) say ont.

It definately is dependant on background

Meya October 20, 2006 @ 6:36AM

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Clearly, the accepted norm for the pronounciation of aunt in the U.S. is "ant". And it's true, most people who would pronounce it "ont" usually say "ax" and generally speaking aren't the brightest folks.

bubbha October 29, 2006 @ 5:51AM

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It's a shame that some people are so thinned skinned and self-righteous that they find "racism" in such an innocuous discussion. If it is truth, why are you so weak and insecure that you would scream racism? There are racial differences, culturally, linguistically, physiologically, etc. Anyone that claims otherwise is either a liar or a fool. And if acknowledging that there are racial differences is racism, then science is racist. Grow up.

jim2 October 30, 2006 @ 9:49PM

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I can't recall hearing "ont" from a Canadian, but I've heard it fairly often in the US. Still, most Americans of my acquaintance, east or west, say "ant"

Ted1 November 10, 2006 @ 1:44PM

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As an American whose lived in England off and on, I hear ant and ont both, but to be consistent, if you say ont for aunt you should then say nev-yew for nephew!

Sonny November 21, 2006 @ 11:02AM

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my american friends say ant.
in the philippines we say ont.

John4 December 6, 2006 @ 2:18PM

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What is Chris on about (Oct 29)? "Ax" instead of "Ask", which is 'common' here. In Australia we tend to have more of an Ah-nt; almost halfway between ant and ohnt. In the South, such as Victoria, it is a soft sound, and further north, towards the Top End, it becomes stronger, like 'Arnt'

TJ December 11, 2006 @ 1:58AM

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Growing up in New England,everyone pronounced aunt "ahnt". Just as in AUGUST,AUTO,AUTHENTIC,. The only time we ever heard "ant" was on tv shows. Like" Leave it to beaver."

Steve_B. December 24, 2006 @ 8:29AM

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I'm an African American, and yes, I pronounce the word in question as "Ont." However, I have never "axed" anyone for anything in my life.

* FYI; Though I'm from the Midwest, that Midwestern flat "A"/spitting monosyllabic words into two syllables makes me cringe (e.g. pants == pi-ance, slacks == sli-akhs etc...)

opus_125 January 12, 2007 @ 5:43PM

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I find it strange that it is the only "a u n t" word that is not pronounced phonetically or with emphasis on all of the vowels. Examples:


I do not imagine people say,
“What a pretty afternoon, let’s go for a jant, shall we?”
“Wow, that was a dant ing task.”
“If you’ve got it, flant it!”

A majority usage does not make it a grammatical rule. It just means a lot of people say it incorrectly in my opinion, but whatever. It is not a big deal. I shall simply revel in my correctness and laugh at everyone else as they run through the gantlet of the english language and flant their poor pronunciations. I hope no one is upset by my tanting.

Im regards to “ask,” I know black and white people that drop the “sk” and replace it with an “x.” But, I do not a lot of blacks that say “ax” as opposed to “ask.” On the other hand, I know a lot of white people that replace the “k” with an additional “s.” It makes for some great self entertainment. “Hey, Bobby, let me ass you?” “Yeah, go ahead.”

boardturtle February 1, 2007 @ 7:08AM

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In Southeastern Virginia (Tidewater/Hampton Roads Region) For anyone with class or regional linguistic pride, "Aunt" usually sounds like "caught" and "haunt" because of our connection with the original people from England that came in the 1600's. There is a "u" in there for a reason people, and it should not be ignored.

jim2 February 28, 2007 @ 12:03PM

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Neilbert, you make an interesting observation, but the debate is between "a"nt and "ah"nt. NEITHER one rhymes with any of the -aunt words you list. They are all pronounced "-aw"nt. So if the majority of the population says "ant" and according to you they're incorrect, the remaining minority who say "ahnt" must also be incorrect according to you, so, er, um, I guess EVERYBODY is incorrect?? The entire English speaking world?? Even you?? (I can only assume you say "ahnt" since you have only criticized the majority-spoken "ant")

porsche February 28, 2007 @ 3:01PM

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I pronounce it "ont" not "ant". There's no wrong or right way. Either way is fine. Also, not just African Americans pronounce it "ont". I don't think it has to do with education, SES or race.
The way I see it is: There is a "u" A+U=O aunt= ont and ant (insent) = ant, but if I hear someone say "ant" i don't "cringe" because i know what they are referring to and that's what communication/language is all about.

DL1 May 10, 2007 @ 2:50PM

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In response to the above comments:

There are many words in the Queen's English that are similar in spelling but pronounced differently. Just because "au" is a part of "jaunt" or whatever examples someone gave, doesn't mean it's pronounced the same. Speaking of Cananda, "Newfoundland" , is not pronounced "new-found-land"....right?! It's pronounced "new-fin-lind". I'm not saying that ant or ont is either correct or incorrect,....but you can't give the above examples as fact. That would surely show your ignorrance and the good Queen shall have your head.

Good day.

JoeMama May 18, 2007 @ 1:03PM

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All rite m8 im 4m yeovil in england i werent ever vsay nuttin bout no ant onli de poshies say aunt we aint fackin sayin nuttin like dat. Yankee Fackers

Whyster91 May 21, 2007 @ 1:29PM

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United United United prem Champs 07 United

Whyster91 May 21, 2007 @ 1:30PM

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Everyone take a deep breath, OK? it doesn't matter, tomato, tomahto. WTF, I am from the West Coast orignially and have always pronounced it aunt as in "ont" and everyone can go blow. Everyone mocks each other over the stupidest things, get over yourself. Toodles, I wish I had not ever found this webpage...

Monica2 June 4, 2007 @ 7:49PM

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i am from arkansas and i say ont but i am 1 out of a million but i have never said ant


Heather3 June 10, 2007 @ 3:33PM

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Everyone I know says ant..
southern saskatchewan canada

Amy_ June 11, 2007 @ 1:41PM

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Ok, I'm really going to throw a wrench in the works. The argument so far as been between ant and ahnt. Well, for those who say ant, how many say it with the same assonance as hat, cat, at... and how many say it with the same vowel sound as care, air, etc.? And for those who say ahnt, how many say it like font, con, ponder, and do any say it like awnt, as in fawn, pawn, launder? There, that's four different ways to say it now! Of course, some of it is regional. Many of you may recognize this: "Merry Mary Married Hairy Harry." Some people (and I've met some) will pronounce every vowel in that sentence exactly the same (all like "air").

anonymous4 June 12, 2007 @ 10:38AM

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To the ignoramous who wrote this ^^^^

What you have written is a complete waste of anyone's time. Please refrain from this type of garbage in the future and consult your dictionary next time before making my day a little worse.

merry mary married hairy harry, what an idiot.

Smarter_than_a_chimp June 16, 2007 @ 6:26PM

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Hey CHIMP, I think it is YOU who needs to check the dictionary, you IGNORAMUS. What exactly is your objection to the previous post? It seemed to me to be a lighthearted attempt to make some interesting points. It was relevant, and no less valid than anything else in this thread. And "Merry Mary..." happens to be commonly used in the formal study of accents and dialects to exemplify Anonymouses point exactly. You are extremely rude and should make your attacks somewhere else. they're not appreciated here. You might want to rethink your pseudonym, too. Comparing you the them is an insult to primates everywhere.

chuck_EEE June 16, 2007 @ 11:09PM

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Well I agree...Merry Mary...etc., is all pronounced the same. We are not discussing accents here, we are discussing the correct pronunciation. Every english speaking country and state I have been to pronounces them one and the same.

Sara_K. June 18, 2007 @ 9:07AM

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Okay, now I'm totally baffled. I've been amused until now with how very distressed and even holier-than-thou people can be about mere regionalistic pronunciations! But this new "Merry Mary Married Hairy Harry" things has me scratching my head ~ how can all of these POSSIBLY be pronounced the exact same way???

amazed June 22, 2007 @ 12:57PM

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I'm surprised to see you say that, Sara. I am very curious. Exactly what part of the country are you from? Do note, The dictionary lists four different and distinct pronunciations. It has been my experience that most English speaking people pronounce them all differently, with four different vowel sounds as well. This applies to Americans, British, and others who speak English as an international language. Here in In the northeastern US / New England area I have never heard them pronounced the same either. I met one person in college who had a twangy rural accent (not sure from where) who did pronounce them all the same. What was particularly interesting is, not only did she say them the same, she also could not hear the difference when someone else said them differently! It most definitely is a regional/accent variation. See, amazed? You ahvae no reason to be baffled.

chuck_EEE June 22, 2007 @ 3:57PM

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August; autumn; autonomy; aunt; automotive; etc., ant does not "work". aunt = (au)nt sounding like the "au" sound not (an) sound

Yes, I'm from New England which was settled by the English

Pauline_Perry June 26, 2007 @ 5:00PM

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It's discussions like this that bring me to understand what God was thinking when he destroyed the Tower of Babel and gave the people of the world different langauges (or however the story goes). This issue--is it ant or ahnt--has been pounded for about a year and a half, fostering an environment for absolute assertions, insults, immense pride, and all the things that make the world a nasty place. Thankfully, we are all nerds and nerds do not wield guns. Our equivalents in government, unfortunately, do. Personally, I say ahnt. I am white. I am American. I feel no connection with the British heritage that I lack (my parents immigrants from somewhere that isn't Britain). I will continue to say ahnt forever and nothing will stop me. Furthermore, if you say ant (or awnt or oint or aint or ownt or whatever), that's terrific.

AO June 26, 2007 @ 5:31PM

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Does no one pronounce it the way they do on The Andy Griffith Show, like Ain't. Remember Aint Bea? I'm from Texas and a lot of central Texas folks say it "aint". For myself, sometimes I say ahnt and sometimes I say ant. And I think ahnt sounds the most sophisticated and aint sounds the least sophisticated. But what do I know?

Jo_Ann June 29, 2007 @ 9:47AM

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I am A crack Whore and have no life.....

Evlien_Phillips July 4, 2007 @ 5:45PM

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went thru all the comments and gathered few words with 'au'
audi car

see for yourself how they sound.
so aunt must sound like 'aunt' and not 'ant'

Sukeshini July 7, 2007 @ 7:09AM

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Sukeshini, I suggest you scroll up and look at the previous posts. None of the words you listed are pronounced like "aunt". While I seem to be repeating myself, some pronounce aunt as "ant" and some pronounce it as "ahnt", but all of the words you list are pronounced with an "aw-" sound, not an "ah-" sound, so your list really doesn't prove anything. Very few (I suppose I can't say none) pronounce it as "awnt". Besides, such a list is meaningless. "au" has many different pronunciations depending on the word. "Laugh" uses the short "a" sound like "ant". "Gauge" sounds like "ay". "Faux" sounds like "oh". None of this has anything to do with how to pronounce "aunt". Unfortunately, neither does your list (which isn't pronounced like ANY version of aunt, anyway).

porsche July 9, 2007 @ 12:30PM

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How do you pronounce the following:

See a pattern here? I simply don't see why the 'ant' pronunciation of aunt is the more widely accepted. In fact, I can't think of any other words with the 'au' beginning that are pronounced like 'ant'...can anyone? The 'ont' way to say it seems much more logical. (Then again, when did logic ever rule with American English?...)

John4 July 9, 2007 @ 10:32PM

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John, why does the 'ont' way seem more logical to you? none of the words you listed have the same vowel sound as 'ont'. NOT ONE!!! They all have an 'aw' sound, which would be 'awnt' not ont. This info has been posted three times already. Most (NOT ALL!!!) 'au' words are pronounced 'aw', but so what? Didn't you read the post immediately before yours??

anonymous4 July 10, 2007 @ 12:11PM

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Response to Anonymous (previous post): vowels are always ambiguous. Consonants vary minimally from one dialect to the next but mainly it's vowels that distinguish speech forms. The vowels in the words John gives, along with that in the word "aunt," can be rendered in a staggering variety of ways depending on where youre from So maybe, for some people, o and aw are the same.

Anonymous_II July 11, 2007 @ 10:19PM

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I was so amazed to learn that the word "aunt" has caused such controversy in our world. I was really bothered about the pronunciation, so I decided to look up the word on the internet and clicked on this site. I am glad to find out that I am not alone. My family says "ant" and "ont." I think "ont" sounds better.

CynthiaAnn July 12, 2007 @ 10:52PM

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My wife, from the Midwest says 'ant'. I am from New England, and I say 'aunt'. I'd like to think because of my higher SAT scores, I am smarter. However, as I did my research (loser) on this issue, I realized what a dope I am. Does it really matter? Certainly not. I have always however, taken great pride in pronouncing words correctly, and typically words frequently used in America but more foreign in their origins pose the greatest challenge. Filet Mignon for example, is pronounced Fill-et min yone (rhyming with moan and accented at the end of the word.) However, when an American tries to sound too French pronouncing it, he/she sounds snooty. Aunt/Ant doesn't have the same implications I think at least, because it's a much more commonly used expression, and therefore local dialect is acceptable...and by the way, I was therefore, wrong in my disagreement with my wife. I'll tell her on our 70th anniversary which is still half a century away...

ydoesitmatter July 16, 2007 @ 7:30AM

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Anonymous II, I agree with most of what you said, except for one thing. It's pretty much irrelevant to what I said. I'm sure that there exists a relatively small group whose regionalisms would make them unable to say or hear an "ah-" sound and hear/say it as "aw-", but so what? the majority say aunt like "ant", and most others say it as "ah-nt". the vast majority say either ant or ah-nt. Using a small minority's inability to distinguish between two commonly recognized differences in vowel sounds ah- and aw- (just look at every single dictionary) surely cannot be used to justify rejecting the more common pronunciation. I stand by what I said before. the point has already been made several times. Listing a bunch of words that have the vowel sound "aw-" cannot be used to support the pronunciation "ah-" over the the slightly more common "a". It doesn't matter if a few people can't hear the difference between "ah-" and "aw-". The fact is, most people can. And, regardless, there are plenty of words spelled "au", that ARE pronounced "ah-" and "a", and, while we're at it, "ow" (rhymes with how, cow, etc.), "owe", etc. So should I claim that aunt should have the same vowel sound as cow? How one word or a list of words is pronounced just doesn't have anything to do with how any other particular word should be pronounced. English is filled with many words of different origins where the same spelling has many different pronunciations. Perhaps you're familiar with "ghoti"?

anonymous4 July 21, 2007 @ 10:25PM

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Wow! I did not expect to even find an answer to my question I typed in Google which was as follows: " why do black people pronounce aunt different than white people?" And I guess I will never know why either. LOL I don't think it is a regional thing as every white person I know says aunt "ant" and every black person I know says aunt "awnt" or "awnty" which the latter drives me nuts for some reason. :) I've been watching those courtroom drama shows on TV (I'm unemployeed at the moment) hence the reason I am even taking the time to research this silly subject. And it does not seem to matter what city or area they are filmed or where the litigants are from, black people pronounce aunt "awnt" or "awnty". Someone mentioned that it comes from the way the English pronounce it. Well if that is the case then why don't we pronounce the word little with no "t" sound in the word the way they do? That is just one small example.
On another note...I've travelled all over our country and have heard many accents. Some subtle some down right annoying. But wherever I go and turn on a TV to watch the news/weather, the anchorperson/ weatherperson, always speaks or pronounces their words the way I do. I have never heard a southern accent, Bostonian (no r's) accent or an ebonic speaking accent on a TV newscast. Why is that? What usually goes through my head is "is this person from around the area I live originally?" or do they beat the accent out of them before they allow them to go on the air? hahaha

dan1 July 26, 2007 @ 8:26AM

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they beat it out of them in journalism school. same with broadcasting school. announcers are supposed to sound "generic", which one could also call boring or even robotic. but that might be a character judgment as well....

amazed July 26, 2007 @ 11:51AM

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My family went through the serious dust bowl years of Okla/Texas and some of my older relatives say AINT. As in old AINT Edna. I love the differnet regional dialects.

OKIE August 4, 2007 @ 5:09AM

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I be from Detroit. I gots 13 aunts. I calls 6 bitch and I calls 7 ho. Now let me ax you sumpin. Hows come in England they says fag when they means cigaret and here we says fag and means Neilbert or ChuckEEE?

Tyrone August 23, 2007 @ 7:37PM

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regardless of how you pronounce anything, it's just retarded to think that being black has anything to do with how you speak. dialect and pronunciation are regional traits. so, yes, it often happens that a lot of people from an area are of the same race and speak the same way, but the connection between race and speech is superificial; it's proximity that matters.

on another note, i have always associated "ont" with the new england accent. my mom's family, who are all from Boston say "ont" and used to yell at me for saying "ant." on the other hand, my dad (who's black!) is from the west coast and is the one who taught me to say "ant."

finally, people speak in different registers depending on the situation they are in...i, for example, call my mom's sisters "onts" and my dad's sisters "ants." it's impossible to talk to people without subtly adopting the vernacular of the group you're in!

anonymous4 August 30, 2007 @ 11:11AM

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Well I must say, I'm astonished to see so many posts on the subject. I'm from the midwest, and my whole family pronounces the "au" in the word "aunt" just like the "au" is pronounced in the words "guant" or "flaunt". I think everyone is running around in circles with the whole "ont" "ahnt" and "awnt". Realistically I think everyone has one of two variations of the word in their verbal arsenal. People either say "ant" or "aunt" ("au" like in "flaunt"), and based upon their ethnic and regional backgrounds, all of these derivations take place.

In my personal opinion, I am more likely to accept "aunt" ("au" pronounced like the "au" in "flaunt") as the correct pronunciation of the word for the sole purpose that it follows the unvarying, uniform pattern of every other word in the English language that contains the string of letters "aunt".

It's very hard for people to accept that there may be two right answers, but there, in fact, may be.

P.S. I found Tyrone's post the funniest and most entertaining of all the posts on this page. It was a nice change of pace from the mundane, repetitive, and often meaningless arguments that everyone else is trying to make.

Matt2 September 5, 2007 @ 11:43AM

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Hello everybody
Just to say that I was really amused at this post. I think that english is possibly the only language in the world where you can have such a discussion … or at least the only indo-european language that do not have rules to relate prononciation and spelling.
By the way is anyone there in the audience that can explain me why is that so ?
I mean how comes that english seems to be the only language in the world (OK I don’t know about chinese) where you don’t have simple rules to link signs on paper and sounds ?
Thanks in advance

gvertigo September 17, 2007 @ 8:23AM

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It's all to do with the rising power of England in World War I, along with America and their consequential colonising of other parts of the world, either politically, or culturally, which causes it to be hyper-inclusive of a multitude of languages. Also, for want of a better word, it is an uncreative language, which seeks to retain the spellings of the original languages it borrowed from, rather than derive its own form.

And yes, Chinese will be as challenging, because it is a tonal language, amongst many others (it has 4 tones, and one toneless), and each tone has as many as 25 different characters to it. Sometimes, Chinese words will mimic the pronunciation of the foreign word it is trying to refer to, simply for lack of having its own vocabulary for it. Imagine trying to figure out which characters and tones the foreign words will conjure (e.g., 'Hamburger' is pronounced as 'HAN BAO BAO', and unless you know chinese, you'll have a hard time ploughing through more than a few hundred different combinations of charactes with the same phonetic symbols).

So if you think English tears strands off your head, try Chinese, and you'll go bald in no time!

Derek1 September 17, 2007 @ 3:04PM

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I live in Kentucky and everyone I know... with the exception of one aquaintence from Philadelphia... says "ant." Black people and white people. "Ont" is thought to be a northern thing.

KY October 3, 2007 @ 3:43AM

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In England 'Aunt' is generally pronounced as 'Ant'. The only people who pronounce it 'Ont' are members of the aristocracy and the upper classes. The overwhelming majority of black people pronounce the word 'Ask' as 'Axe', and as this phenomenon seems to exist on both sounds of the atlantic, i would surmise that this is indeed a 'black ting', much in the same way as the Irish cannot pronounce words that include the letters 'OW' or 'OU'. Words such as 'Now' for example, become 'Noy' and 'Downtown' becomes 'Dointoin'. None of this would normally register with the average Brit, who generally cares very little about the bastardisation of his/her language by the less-fortunate in foreign countries. However, as a result of the unswerving project by the politically-correct lunatic brigade to apparently maintain a multi-cultural society in our once fine nation, it is the case now that every news-reader, tv presenter, weather person, sport commentator etc etc. in Britain is now either Irish or Black, or both, maybe with the odd jock thrown in for good measure, and consequently we are bombarded with such mis-pronunciation on a daily basis. I have never been to Ireland, and doubt I ever will, My mother was injured by an IRA bomb in '96, my city was blown to smithereens, Irish tinkers move into my local park once a year and leave three months later with no turf, toilet blocks or swings still in existence, not to mention the three month local crime spree which usually results in the theft of every lawn mower and bicycle within a ten mile radius. Therefore I have no love of the Irish race as a whole. However, if I was to visit the place and found myself switching on a TV, i place extreme doubt upon the likelihood of me being faced with an English human, which all seems a little unfair. Irish people can mis-pronounce words as much as they like in their own cesspit of a country, why do they have to come and do it in mine?, that is the question. So they ran out of spuds a few years ago, but surely they could have found something else to eat rather than starving to death or scrounging off us, the fuckin peasants, perhaps this gives some insight into the weak character as well as the illiteracy of the average Irish person...

picwick October 13, 2007 @ 7:15AM

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Mr. Pickwick -

You poor SOB, must be miserable in your neck of the woods.

Michael Morris

anonymous4 October 27, 2007 @ 1:22PM

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I am originally from South Carolina but currently live in Maryland. Growing up, I always heard aunt pronounced 'ant' and I was taught to pronounce it that way. When I moved to Maryland, I noticed that everyone from this area pronounced the word 'ont'. I actually got into a heated discussion with one of my dear friends from here who insisted that only uneducated people pronounced aunt as 'ant'. I insisted that it wasn't a matter of education but a matter of geography.

Very strange how heated this topic makes people. I guess nobody wants to admit that they have been pronouncing the word incorrectly their whole lives! Or, even worse, no one wants to think that they sound uneducated.

My guess is that it's okay to say either. You say 'toe-may-toe', I say 'to-mah-toe'.

South_Carolina October 29, 2007 @ 7:27PM

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