Stop Mispronouncing These Real Estate Words!

Several real estate words – particularly surrounding design and architecture – are frequently mispronounced or misused. Make sure you don’t look like an amateur by saying them incorrectly too.

Read more: Property Descriptions: The Power of Words

Linguists say when selling pricier homes, you may be even more likely to say a word incorrectly because of the more sophisticated descriptions and less familiar terms that are often required.

“A house is about elegance,” says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist who teaches at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s as much about prestige as it is about need.” As such, he says it’s “never a bad idea” to use words that flatter the taste of clients, but just make sure you use them correctly.

Many words in architecture and design derive from other languages like Italian, French, German, and Latin. The Wall Street Journal recently broke down the proper pronunciation of some of the most commonly misused words in real estate, including:

  • Dais: DAY-is, not DIE-is … it’s a low platform or stage.
  • Chattel: CHAT-el, not SHAT-tel …  a personal possession.
  • Cachet: Cash-AY, not cash or cash-et … it’s respected, prestigious.
  • Feng shui: fung shway, not feng shwee … Chinese philosophy of organization.
  • Porte cochère: port-co-CHER, not port coach-er … a covered entrance that allows cars to pass through.
  • Banquette: bang-KET … an upholstered bench.
  • Bona fide: bone-uh fide or sometimes bone-ah-FEE-dey … genuine.
  • Chaise longue: shezz lawng, not chase lounge … a chair with lengthened legrest.
  • Clerestory: CLAIR-stor-ee, not clear-story … a raised section of roof with small windows.
  • Foyer: FOY-yer, or sometimes fwa-yay … the entry area of a home.
  • Ipe: EE-pay … a type of hardwood.
  • Realtor: REEL-tor … a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.
  • Wainscoting: WAYNE-scot-ing or WAYNE-skutting … wood paneling on the lower part of a wall.

See more commonly mispronounced or misused real estate words at The Wall Street Journal.

Source: “You’re Saying It Wrong: Design Words That Will Trip You Up,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 23, 2021)

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