As some of you likely know, ghoti is an interesting spelling of the word fish.


the "gh" from "tough"
the "o" from "women",
and the "ti" from "nation"

This is a rather ghotiy way to spell the word. But in the same spirit, what common phrase is spelled below?

ugh theighmolo

Please mention each sound and what word it is taken from (there may be more than one word that fits!)


The "u" and "gh" in "ugh" are taken from separate sources.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This page may come in handy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – Miles
    May 10 '16 at 2:40
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ Given the three answers, the question could be what phrase does it not spell? $\endgroup$
    – Pål GD
    May 10 '16 at 16:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PålGD Strangely enough, I can't get it to spell "ugh theighmolo"... $\endgroup$
    – paste
    May 11 '16 at 0:38

I think it's

egg timer


<u> denotes /ɛ/ in bury (at least in some dialects). (Hat-tip to Miles' Wikipedia-link for this one.)
<gh> denotes /g/ in ghost.

<th> denotes /t/ in thyme.
<eigh> denotes /aɪ/ in height.
<m> denotes /m/ in timer.
<olo> denotes /ɝ/ in colonel. (Technically egg timer ends in /ɚ/ rather than /ɝ/, but I think it's close enough.)


It's pronounced

Using these "sounds":

U: as in *guard*.
G: as in *reign*.
H: as in *hour*.

T: as in *ballet*.
H: see above.
E: as in *active*.
I: as in *friend*.
G: see above.
H: see above.
M: as in beginning of *mnemonic*.
O: as in *leopard*.
L: as in *salmon*.
O: see above.

(Examples mostly taken from here.)

  • 39
    $\begingroup$ Ok +1 because this is hilarious. But that wasn't what I was looking for. $\endgroup$
    – Devsman
    May 9 '16 at 20:40
  • 100
    $\begingroup$ ...I kept clicking the spoiler even after reading the explanatory text. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    May 9 '16 at 22:19
  • 20
    $\begingroup$ I kept trying after reading your comment, @Deusovi, because I thought my phone was rendering something wrong. facepalm $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 0:26
  • 33
    $\begingroup$ I think you'll find that the second occurrence of gh is gh as in daughter. $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 1:41
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm not English so I didn't know this common phrase :-( $\endgroup$ May 11 '16 at 13:28

It is pronounced



the "ugh" from cough
the "th" from Thaïs
the "ei" from height
the "gh" from slough
the "m" from magic
the "olo" from "colonel"

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could also combine the "ei" and "gh" sections. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    May 9 '16 at 22:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "cough" is pronounced "coff", so that makes "ugh" = "ff". $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 6:08
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ ugh is sometimes pronounced "you". Can't think of any examples. ;-) $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 10:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Lexible I find it pretty funny that I also have never heard the word "hetaria" before. My college degree is in Mathematics, so that might account for my ignorance. (PS, I also haven't heard the word "hetaira" before, which I'm pretty sure is the word you meant.) Ah, my best friend is a professor of Classics and Sexuality studies, but he's a Latinist, not a Hellenist, so I've probably heard the ancient Latin equivalent before. $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 17:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ToddWilcox . . . o 0 O (am trying to think of a famous manifold projection named "Thaïs" ;). $\endgroup$
    – Lexible
    May 10 '16 at 17:56


a typo? (This phrase may not be so common, but at least is related to spelling)


"u" as in "support"
"gh" as in "weight" (silent)
"th" as in "Thames"
"ei" as in "height"
"gh" as in "hiccough" (pronounced like "hiccup", now obsolete)
"m" as in "mnemonics" (silent)
"o" as in "go"
"l" as in "chalk" (silent)
"o" as in "leopard" (silent)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that I agree on your assessment of some of those "silent" letters. "chalk" vs "chak" have different pronunciations; the 'l' changes the pronunciation, making it not silent. $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 16:08
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "tap" vs. "tape" the 'e' changes the pronunciation, but wouldn't you still call it a silent 'e'? At least that's what I was taught in grade school. $\endgroup$ May 10 '16 at 18:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Dane Andersen I do agree with you. Silent letter is a letter which isn't pronounced, in my humble opinion $\endgroup$
    – trolley813
    May 10 '16 at 18:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ ... I distinctly pronounce the 'l' in 'chalk'. Am I just weird? $\endgroup$
    – Tin Wizard
    May 11 '16 at 18:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Amadeus9 I'm kinda confused who doesn't. "Chock?" $\endgroup$
    – Devsman
    May 16 '16 at 12:57

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