How To Pronounce “Yacht”

YACHT is one of those words that would make for a great quiz in a game show. How do you pronounce it?

(16.05.30) yacht.001

The moment the words flash on the screen, the contestants slam their buzzers. Tom’s the fastest, and he blurts out: “A,” Yatch. The ugly buzz squawks: Sorry, Tom, that’s not right.

Amy gets her turn: B, yotch. Almost there, but still not right.

From “A” to “D,” I must have heard them all—not in a game show, but real conversations with adults, and responses from questions I popped to some of my students this past week. And then I can’t help wondering, “Why don’t they know that ‘E’ is the correct answer?” We can try going down that convoluted path of questioning Tom’s parents, Tom’s teachers, Tom’s parents’ teachers, the educators, the learning environment. No, we don’t want to go there. But we can certainly go to the origins of the word.

The word hails from jaghte, the Dutch word originating from jaghtschip (fast pirate ship)—a fusion of jag(h)t (hunting) and schip (ship). The mid-16th century meaning has now morphed into a word that has less belligerent intentions:

yacht |jɑt| (n)
a medium-sized sailboat equipped for cruising or racing.

Oh, and the word could take on the role of verb as well:

yacht |jɑt| (v) (no object)
race or cruise in a yacht.

I invite you to write to me at if you have any word ideas you’d like to share.


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