Trope like Opie?
March 17, 2013 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Has the word "trope" ever been pronounced to rhyme with "Opie"?

This might be mildly crazy, but I had this notion that the word "trope" was always pronounced "tropie" - can't possibly say why. I was listening to NPR and kept hearing "trope" like "hope" and it bothered me to no end, so I looked it up on the off-chance that it was an alternate pronunciation. Then my mind was (mildly) blown.

So my question is, why in heck did I ever think that it was ever pronounced "tropie" - was that ever the case at some point? Is THAT, in fact, the possible alternate pronunciation? Or was I just smoking crack the whole time?
posted by war wrath of wraith to Writing & Language (13 answers total)
I checked the OED and they don't mention a pronunciation other than rhymes-with-hope.
posted by naturalog at 4:14 PM on March 17, 2013

Probably the crack.

This type of thing is pretty common, though, so don't beat yourself up about it. It happens a lot that you'll read a word, pronounce it one way in your head, and be so focused on always reading it like that that you completely forget you made it up in the first place.

My mom and I had a fight last Christmas over the pronunciation of the word wizened. I insisted it was wee-zund. She insisted it was why-zund. Both of us thought the other one was an idiot. Turns out it's whiz-und. (I got lucky in that wee-zund is also an accepted variant, but my point is that neither of us knew the correct one, and both had just always pronounced it our own way.)

See also: awry, segue, misled (these have come up on mefi a lot)
posted by phunniemee at 4:18 PM on March 17, 2013 [7 favorites]

Might you have confused it with "trochee", the metrical foot?
posted by holgate at 4:26 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Interestingly, "trophy" has the same ultimate root etymologically as "trope." Not sure that helps, exactly, but it suggests that an alternate universe where we pronounced "trope" to rhyme with "Opie" wouldn't have been hard to bring about.
posted by yoink at 4:29 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple of thoughts:

1. Consistency with mores (as in "the mores tend toward consistency"). Wikipedia lists both /ˈmɔreɪz/ and /ˈmɔriːz/ as possible pronunciations. I pronounce it /ˈmɔreɪz/, but /ˈmɔriːz/ seems close to your pronunciation of trope.

2. Hyperforeignism based on confusion about its origin.

3. I was a precocious reader, and there were plenty of words for which I developed incorrect internal pronunciations. These persisted until I heard them spoken, which was frequently years later in the case of an uncommon word.

4. Trope has a classic silent e, which in modern English corresponds to a long preceding vowel. Trop, if it existed, would have a short o, rhyming with strop; conversely, we can intuit that if strope were a word, it would rhyme with trope. The silent e wasn't always silent in all cases, however, but the silent e in trope (c. 1530) probably was. Someone who actually knows something about the history of English could probably answer with more authority.
posted by pullayup at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2013

Trope has always been monosyllabic because it's from Greek tropos 'turn.' If it had derived from the related Greek tropē, it could have been pronounced "tropie"; as it is, I'm afraid you'll have to blame the crack.
posted by languagehat at 5:47 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe you conflated it with "strophe" ?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:49 PM on March 17, 2013

Just to make you feel better, for the longest time epitome in my head was read "eppy-tome". Also, I still am unsure of the pronunciation of banal. Sounds perverted no matter what I do.
posted by karlos at 6:30 PM on March 17, 2013

Ahhhhhh, karlos, banal makes me crazy and I was just reminded of it today listening to This American Life. I feel like for the longest time it rhymed with "anal," and then all of a sudden people started saying buh-nall. I remember reading in the American Heritage Dictionary that even their panel (which, incidentally, rhymes with the previously preferred pronunciation) disagreed and that any pronunciation is supported.

Unfortunately, with "trope," I have never heard it pronounced "tropie," but it does seem that, just from the AskMefi boards alone, people go for years mispronouncing words because when they hear the correct pronunciation they think it's a completely different word.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 8:11 PM on March 17, 2013

Thanks everybody for your suggestions and insight - I don't think I'll ever know why this got stuck in my head. Even now, "trope" like "hope" just sounds so WRONG - don't know if that will ever go away.

"Epitome" and "hyperbole" though... you'll have to take their long Es from my cold, dead hands!
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:32 PM on March 17, 2013

Could it be from hearing St. Tropez?/San tro-pay/
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:47 AM on March 18, 2013

Just to be safe: Meme? It's pronounced MEEM, not MEE-MEE or MAY-MAY.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:45 AM on March 18, 2013

"It's pronounced MEEM, not MEE-MEE or MAY-MAY."

Aww. And such a shame about or-ree and mis-cheevious, and my-zeld. And allee-bee.

But I'm hanging on to segue-rhymes-with-plague. Different drummer, and all that.
posted by glasseyes at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2013

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