Say What?

Gene Weingarten on

Me: OK, without referring to your dictionary, please tell me how you personally, Michael Agnes, professional lexicographer, pronounce the word W-H-A-T.

Michael: I aspirate the w, but in the course of a sentence it can be reduced to a vowel with a full-word stress.

Me: So that would be?

Michael: Hwut or wut. It rhymes with "rut."

Me: Auuuugggh.

Michael: That is not in the dictionary. "Aargh" is, on our very first page, on the bottom of column one. "Used to express disgust, nausea or any other forceful negative reaction."

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Me: Aargh.

Michael: Splendid.


Gene Weingarten can be reached at Follow him on Twitter, @geneweingarten. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon Eastern at

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