Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tousling my hair

Okay, there's a new Herbal Essence product that I've seen advertised this week, their Tousle Me Softly collection. And I'm perplexed.

How do you pronounce that word, tousle?

I've always pronounced it to sound like "tossle", but the people on TV are not pronouncing it that way. To settle the dispute, I picked up my handy-dandy American Heritage Dictionary that resides in the night stand drawer, and here's what I found:

tou' zel

Just to be sure that I wasn't losing my mind, I asked Eli how he would pronounce t-o-u-s-l-e, and shook my head and mussed up my hair to give him an idea of the word I meant when he looked at me blankly. And he too pronounced it "tossle."

This bothers me. This is not a Yankee vs. Southerner thing. Where did I get my misinformed pronunciation of the word? I pride myself on being able to pronounce words correctly, at least words that I've heard before though this doesn't seem to be as much of an issue now that I'm older (when I was younger, around 11-12 years-old, I would often mispronounce words that I had read but had never heard, notably "oscillating", "hors d'oeuvres", "ethereal", and "macabre"). Recently it was brought to my attention that I have been mispronouncing "banal" also. Geez. I need to keep my dictionary even closer than my night stand. I should put it in my pocket.

The point here, then, is, how do you pronounce "tousle"? I want to see if there's a trend. Vote in the poll at the top of the right column. Voting ends August 4. Feel free to comment.


Stacey L King said...

Like 'counsel', but with a T and without the N.

Tgiguy said...

What she said.

Cheryl said... you touse something or do you toss something? It is definitely TOSSLE. Look in another dictionary, maybe. What does Webster know? He was probably bald.

Craig-Jen said...

Sorry Erin, I've pronounced this the dictionary way...not that it makes a difference! ha ha!

Motorcycle grandma said...

sorry. agree with Stacey.
I learned (by points off in a speech)in a college Itro to Speech Class how to pronounce "preferable" - the first "e" is a short e (eh) sound -now it really irritates me to hear it mis-pronounced!!

Stacey L King said...

Mom, TOSSING your hair and TOUSLING your hair is two different things. You can even do both at the same time! Tousled hair is messy hair. To tousle someone's hair is to mess it up. When I rub the top of his head to mess up Kid#1's hair, I'm tousling his hair. When Kid#2 flings her hair over her shoulder in disgust, she's tossing her hair.

Cheryl said...

The numbers speak for themselves in spite of the example I used.

twelveandnine said...

hi there -

This commercial bugs me too! I've always pronounced the word 'toosle' (I live in Washington State). I realize your polling was over months ago, but I was googling some info on how to pronounce this word and came across your blog.

And, like you, I've always prided myself on pronouncing words correctly.

SpiritEntity said...

See, and I always thought it sounded like "tussle". I hate the commercial and the product because of that word now. :P

Derek the Viking said...

Came across this whilst wondering the same question - the OED has it down as "tow-sel", with "tussle" being a Scottish mutation.

BROD WONG said...

I came across this word today and have spelled and defined it for others without giving the real pronunciation away. There was no "tussle" about pronouncing this as "tossle", though it's true phonological structure left everybody in a state of disbelief. Everybody includes an American and A British for good measure!