How do you pronounce the word potable, which means drinkable? A woman in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, says most of her fellow sailors pronounce it with a short o, but she pronounces it with a long o. The word derives from Latin potare, meaning to drink, and traditionally the long o sound in the Latin has been preserved in the pronunciation of potable so it sounds something like /POE-tuh-bull/. Increasingly, though, many people pronounce it with a short o, something like /PAH-tuh-bull/, as if assuming that the adjective describes something that might be put in a pot and boiled. This pronunciation is especially common in the military. Potable is a linguistic relative of the word potion, a type of drink, and symposium, from Greek words that literally mean drinking together. This is part of a complete episode.
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