How To Pronounce “Aesop” and “Adage”

ONE of the most joyous memories of my growing up years was luxuriating in the company of our collection of Ladybird books. There was a famous composers series, a treasury of nursery rhymes and classic fairy tales, and one called Famous Legends with Medusa and the Minotaur gracing its cover. Then, our all-time favorite: a double- or perhaps triple-book series of Aesop’s fables.


aesops-fables-2The stories remain as vividly as the colorful illustrations, even the image of the knackered spine not just on Aesop’s fables, but the other more ardently read books that served us so well—first my elder brother, two years older than me, right down to my other brother, who’s three years younger.

The other memory that’s etched in my mind is that all of us at home pronounced Aesop like “AIR-sop” instead of “EE-sop.” Thankfully, our ignorance of Greek pronunciation had in no way affected our appreciation of his fables and wise saws.

While googling quotes by Aesop, I came across so many sayings, quotes, and adages attributed to him, including “Necessity is the mother of invention” and “United we stand, divided we fall.” It would be an interesting exercise to line up all those sayings against the respective fables he had told, or to match the distilled observations on our folly and deviousness, kindness of heart and compassion against the acts and words of all the animals that have starred in his tapestry of tales. Alas, that would be a luxury in these wildly busy days of unending drama and digital diversions!

To make up for this, I shall indulge in a little detour: the word adage is not pronounced “uh-DAGE,” but “AIR-didge.”

adage |ˈædɪdʒ| (n)
a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth: the old adage “out of sight out of mind.”

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


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