The year 2020 saw an explosion of home cooking, with many people heading into their kitchens to learn new skills while in lockdown.

But while many have honed their skills, it appears they might be struggling with how to pronounce common foods and drink.

Researchers working with UK-based firm Harvey Water Softeners analysed 215,460 search queries from Google to discover the 11 most commonly searched for words, from gnocchi to Turmeric.

Some of the words are ones borrowed from French, like croissant, which leaves people confused with the silent ‘t’.


Meanwhile, others like ‘water’ and ‘tomato’ seem to emerge from a disagreement between English and American English.

Here, a look at the words tripping people up.

1. Quinoa

Common: kin-oh-a

Correct: keen-waa

Quinoa, a hugely trendy food a few years ago the South American grain is now ubiquitous on menus across the UK, but still often mispronounced – with 1300 Brits searching for how to pronounce it a month in 2020.

cooked riced with green leafy

Picture by Nick Bratanek for Unsplash

And despite it’s popularity, many say it incorrectly pronouncing it ‘kin-oh-a’. The correct way is ‘keen-waa’.

2. Gnocchi

Common: ga-nok-key

Correct: nyawk-kee

Other foodie words that made the list were gnocchi – the Italian dough dumplings usually served with pasta sauce was commonly searched for this year.

In Italian, ‘gn’ is pronounced as ‘ny’, which means the g is silent. The word should be pronounced like ‘nyawk-kee’, not ga-nok-key, as often said.


3. Croissant

Common: Crwa-sant

Correct: kwa-son

Despite being a common breakfast treat in the UK, the French pastry croissant is often incorrectly articulated, with 590 people searching for how to say it a month.

The food is pronounced ‘kwa·son’ with a silent T, the French way.

Bunch of Croissant


4. Water

Common: Wa-dah

Correct: Waw-tuh

Perhaps down to an American dialect while binging US TV series in lockdown, thousands of Brits searched how to pronounce water this year.

The correct way in British English is waw· tuh, however many in the US pronounce T and D, saying it as ‘wa-dah’.


5. Turmeric

Common: tew-mur-ik

Correct: tuh-muh-ruhk

Despite turmeric being a common ingredient in cooking, many Brits struggle to say turmeric correctly, saying ‘tew-mur-ik’, rather than its correct pronunciation of ‘tuh-muh-ruhk’ with a soft ‘r’ sound that is similar to an ‘uh’.

Curcuma powder on tablespoon and spilled on black surface

Picture by Karolina Grabowska for Pexels 

6. Almond

Common: ahl-mond

Correct: ah-mond

A beloved flavouring, popularly used in a vegan alternative to milk, a healthy snack, and a sweet topping to dessert, almonds are in the most British pantries.

But many still pronounce it incorrectly saying ahl-mond instead of ah-mond.

Bowl filled with raw almond nuts on white background

Picture by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels 

7. Moët

Common: Mo-way

Correct: Mo-wett

Moët suffers from the opposite problem to croissant, with many dropping the T, believing it’s silent.

However, the correct way to pronounce it is ‘Mo’wett, with a hard T sound.

While Moët & Chandon is a French champagne and was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët – who is French.


However, his surname is Dutch, not French, meaning the T is not silent.

8. Nougat

Common: noo-gaa

Correct: nou-gatt

A delicious French treat, perhaps most familiar to British palettes as the filling of a Mars Bar is often pronounced ‘nou-gatt’ instead of noo· gaa.


9. Tomato

Common: tom-ay-tow

Correct: tuh-maa-tow

Perhaps another cross-Atlantic confusion, many Googled the best way to pronounced tomato this year. The correct way in British English is tuh -maa -tow.

Close-up of Tomatoes on Wooden Table


10. Focaccia

Common: foh-ka-chee-ah

Correct: foh-kah-chuh

The soft Italian bread, often served with rosemary, became a lockdown trend this year, with many using it as canvas to make bread art. But the bread is still pronounced incorrectly. The right way is foh-kah-chuh.

sliced bread on white ceramic plate

Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash