The Epitome of Awkwardness

The executive vice president of a business unit at the company I worked for at the time was standing in front of a large room full of people. It was one of those corporate “rah-rah,” motivational meetings and he was presenting recognition awards for outstanding contributions by employees.

He clearly was reading, possibly for the first time, from a narrative that someone had prepared for him. As he read the accomplishments of a particular individual, he was attempting to articulate how this award winner was the personification of a diligent employee.

He said, “Joe Schmo (I can’t remember the guy’s name) is the epitome of efficiency.” If he had used the word “personification,” he’d have been fine. But when he read the word “epitome,” a synonym for “personification,” he totally mangled its pronunciation. It was a very awkward moment.

No doubt you know that the proper pronunciation of the word “epitome” is “ih-pit-uh-mee.” It’s not “epi-tome.” But “epi-tome” is the way this senior executive pronounced it.

The closest way to get across in print the way he said that word, since you can’t hear what he said, is to use another word that, when pronounced out loud, would approximate the way he pronounced “epitome.” Substitute “hippodrome” or “Thunderdome” as a way to pronounce epitome. You get it, right?

Written for these daily prompts: MMA Storytime (motivation), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (epitome), and Word of the Day Challenge (awkward).

17 thoughts on “The Epitome of Awkwardness

  1. Marleen January 6, 2021 / 5:32 pm

    Yep. I get it. And that would be an awkward moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindakempwriter January 7, 2021 / 12:18 am

    I had to sit through a lecture in my 20s where the tutor said repeatedly pronounced the word ‘hyperbole’ as hyper-bowl, not hi-per-boll-eee. It was so hard not to correct him 🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marleen January 7, 2021 / 11:48 pm

    I remember mispronouncing Yves Saint-Laurent. No French training at all (and no heavy steeping in designer names). I suppose it was a moment where I was the epitome of American. However, when a couple came from France for work purposes (the husband’s work), I was the kind of person to pay attention to the way the wife’s name was really pronounced — not an Americanized version to foist upon her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. talesfromthemindofkristian January 8, 2021 / 9:23 am

    But some words are pronounced differently across the pond. Like Docile, in the UK sounds similar to Profile rather than in the US where it’s pronounced like Fossil. I have personally said Epitome wrong in my callow youth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango January 8, 2021 / 11:09 am

      Since the pandemic began, I’ve watched a lot of British shows on Netflix and even though they’re speaking English, I find I have to put closed-captions on because otherwise I can’t always understand what they’re saying!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. robinsaikia January 22, 2021 / 9:59 am

    Another thing that sets my teeth on edge is the repeated mispronunciation, on both sides of the Atlantic, of the word “aesthetic”. It’s become widespread recently, I think as the result of self-appointed arbiters of taste on YouTube who refer to the “aesthetic” qualities of whatever tat they’ve unboxed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 22, 2021 / 12:15 pm

      Isn’t it supposed to be pronounced es-THET-ic?


      • robinsaikia January 22, 2021 / 1:00 pm

        Yes – ees-THET-ic. Rather than ass-ET-ic or ass-TET-ic, or ass-HE-tick. Oscar Wilde was an EES-theet.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. STACY July 10, 2021 / 10:17 pm

    I heard your pronunciation and was cringing well before the Thunderdome. Wow…

    What are the odds they’re at home tearing their hair out over this mishap?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 10, 2021 / 11:00 pm

      Oh, I know I would. I still agonize over the time in a meeting when I pronounced the word “precipice” as “precipee.” My boss corrected me and it was mortifying.


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