How do you pronounce "centimeter" ??? - page 4

by shermrn 5,430 Views | 46 Comments

Not a big deal but something that bothers me. I run into a lot of nurses who pronounce the word centimeter as sontimeter.... Read More


  1. 0
    I pronounce it as sent but heard it the other way when I oriented in ICU. It rubbed off on me for a few weeks...along with pronouncing afebrile as a-fib-rile. Maybe they want to sound posh. I live in SC
  2. 0
    Quote from GrnTea
    I resemble that agre group, although there are still some of us out here who don't have formal teaching jobs. I am assuming you're making this descriptor pejorative, but please correct me if I'm jumping to take offense too easily.

    Maybe more of us older folks have broader educations in the liberal arts For which I make no apology.

    And I went to a college mumblemumble years ago where we were taught in metric. Perhaps the hospitals here are more progressive than they are in Michigan. Eh?
    I had to LOL at your typo... age = agre = ogre?

    But nope, it wasn't meant to be pejorative at all (I'm one of the oldest in my ADN program at 43yo, and I use your "mumblemumble years ago" phrase from time to time myself!) - it's simply a descriptor. The "younger" instructors (40s and 50s) in my program all say "sent", and the only two who I've heard say "sont" are on the slightly more mature side. Some of them went the Diploma to BSN to MSN route, some of them went the ADN to BSN to MSN route, and some went the BSN to MSN route, so I have no idea if there was a particular program/instructor that instilled the "sont" pronunciation in them, or if they brought it with them prior to their nursing careers.

    I know that back in the 1970s when I was taught the metric program in elementary school, it was "sent"-imeters. And when my 12yo son went through elementary school a few years ago, it was still "sent"-imeters. But I took four years of French in high school, so when my two "sont"-imeter instructors used that pronunciation, I knew exactly what they meant.

    I wonder if the "sont" pronunciation was put forth in certain regions to distinguish between "deci" and "centi" when spoken? Obviously they don't look anything alike, but when spoken they might be mistaken for each other? Or just the French/Cajun influence from the Northern/Southern regions?

    Things that make you go hmmmmmm......
  3. 3
    There are thousands of words in the English language that are French in origin, if we gave each a French inflection you'd have a hard time completing a sentence without an oddly placed Fronch accent. If something costs $2.50, do you say "two dollars and fifty sahnts"? Is that thing crawling up your arm a "sahntipede"?

    I thought this was a good description of the issue; (From The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations)
    "centimeter SEN-ti-MEE-tur
    Some speakers insist on pronouncing the word SAHN-ti-MEE-tur, with the first syllable rhyming with don. This eccentric French-English hybrid is based on the French pronunciation of centimetre, the source of the word...
    Centimeter - along with centigrade, centigram, and centiliter - entered English way back in 1801 and has been fully anglicized for well over a hundred years: Funk and Wagnalls Standard (1897) and the Century (1914) give only Sen-ti-MEE-tur. Today, unless you're French or lamely attempting to speak French, there's no excuse for affecting a French pronunciation of these established English words. The weight of authority overwhelmingly favors SEN-ti-MEE-tur...Centimeter, says Garner (2003), "is sometimes, in medical jargon, given a precious pronunciation: SAHN-ti-MEE-tur. Avoid this."
    Mainly, it's just poor communication. I spent the better part of a shift after I first heard it trying to figure out how to convert sonometers into centimeters.
    Flare, apocatastasis, and SummitRN like this.
  4. 0
    This always has annoyed me too, it even made me wonder if I was saying it wrong a few times! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that pronounces it cent!
  5. 0
    i had a biology teacher way long ago who insisted protein was pronounced pro tee in. not proteen. im sure she said sontimeter. she wasnt foreign either . just snooty.lol
  6. 0
    Quote from GrnTea
    Interestingly, the metric system (including the centimeter) originated in France, so it really is "sont-i-meter" (there is a "T" sound in that) in the first place. Really liking word origins, I stick to that.
    It is an SI unit that came from metric, but the metric prefix system, including centi- prefix, is LATIN not French. (Yes, French is a romance language, but we don't say other French derived words that way). We do not pronounce direct-Latin derivations with French pronunciation, particularly if the word has been present in English for centuries.

    Mathematicians, scientists, and engineers do not say "sont-i." Neither do the British.

    We strive for clarity in communication to avoid error and confusion, so I'd argue that "sohn" is a confusing pronunciation ought to be discarded even if it were the more proper pronunciation, which it is not.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercorrection
  7. 0
    Northern Midwest where T's tend to get skipped or stopped, it's SIN-uh-meeter.

    I have never heard of Sontimeter.
  8. 0
    What I want to known is whether it's Cef-uh-PEEM, or Cef-uh-PIME.
  9. 0
    Quote from Anoetos
    What I want to known is whether it's Cef-uh-PEEM, or Cef-uh-PIME.
    CEF-uh-peem.
  10. 0
    Thank you, I've taken to saying it that way, but I was never sure and there's disagreement among my colleagues...lol


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