I think that it is safe to say that all of us have committed a verbal guffaw or faux-pas every now and again. We attempt to use a word that we have read many, many times, on whose definition we are completely clear, we try to sound smarter, and then we blow the whole thing with mispronunciation.
But it doesn’t have to.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: Dictionaries have pronunciation keys for a reason, but most of us don’t understand the phonetic alphabet and when it comes to how one says something, there is no replacement that substitutes the confirmation of hearing it. There are several websites right now that can do just that for you.
Dictionary.com offers audio help for all words. Simply turn your speakers on, enter the word in question into the Search box, watch word and its definitions appear, click the speaker-looking audio icon next to the word — sorry, Internet, I know that I am a “professional blogger” but I have no idea how to get this icon into my blog. I trust in your ability to navigate this one alone. You can do it. — and hear the correct pronunciation.
The Pronounce Firefox extension is also a handy tool. Install the extension, highlight a word on any web page, right click, and choose “Pronounce” from the context menu. Pronounce is a free download for all platforms running Firefox, and it’s Firefox 3-ready.
Finally, for non-native speakers, there is also Hear See Say where you can find examples of how to pronounce common words and phrases.