Key to US English pronunciations

The pronunciations given represent a general accent of American English, without certain features particular to New England or the southern states of the U.S., and the example words given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

US pronunciations are transcribed in two ways, in traditional respelling (as seen in the New Oxford American Dictionary) and using symbols of the IPA.

In both systems, the letters b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, and z have their usual English values. In IPA, d is also used to represent a ‘flapped t’ as in butter.
Other symbols are used as follows:

Consonants

Respelling
IPA
Example
as in
CH

as in 'chip'
j

as in 'jar'
KH
x
 as in 'loch'
NG
ŋ
as in 'ring'
TH
θ
 as in 'thin'
TH
ð
as in 'this'
SH
ʃ
as in 'she'
ZH
ʒ
as in 'decision'
y
j
as in 'yes'
(h)w
(h)w
as in 'when'

Vowels

Respelling
IPA
Example
a
a
as in 'cɑt'
e
ɛ
as in 'bed'
ə
ə
as in 'ɑgo', 'run', 'person'
ē
i
as in 'see'
i
ɪ
as in 'sit'
i
i
as in 'cosy'
ä
ɑ
as in 'hot', 'ɑrm'
o͝o
ʊ
as in 'put', 'poor'
ô
ɔ
as in 'sɑw'
u
as in 'too'
ī

as in 'my'
oi
ɔɪ
as in 'boy'
ā

as in 'dɑy'
ou

as in 'how'
ō

as in 'no'
e(ə)r
ɛr
as in 'hɑir'
i(ə)r
ɪr
as in 'near'

In polysyllabic words the symbol ˈ is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in cabal /kəˈbäl/ IPA /kəˈbɑl/. The symbol ˌ indicates a secondary stress, as in collocation /ˌkäləˈkāSHən/ IPA /kɑləˈkeɪʃən/.