The tentacles of spelling pronunciations


Tentacle, barnacle, manacle: all words that are stressed on the first syllable.

But now, in a Today programme interview on BBC Radio 4, our erstwhile Foreign Secretary, brother of the current leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, has brought us a new one in all seriousness: debacle /ˈdebəkl/. He was referring to the current situation in the eurozone , and it took me a few seconds to decipher what he was actually saying.

Can David Miliband really have gone through his life never having heard this word pronounced?


  1. A spectacular mumpsimus.

  2. I he·rd it too but I ‘cdn b·lieve my ears’. My g·ess is that it was an accidental throwback under the stress of a public interview to a childhood mistaken habit normally now long since avoided.
    Rather painf·l thing to ask ·im about.

  3. Limey – Surely he must be used to public interviews by now?

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.