Littoral, not figurative


Littoral combat ship Freedom // Navy

OK, folks. Scoop Deck doesn’t want to get into a whole thing here, but there’s something we have to say. Now that littoral combat ships are getting named, launching, deploying and being celebrated at baseball games, it’s time to get used to the word “littoral.”

It’s pronounced “literal,” not “lit-TOR-al.” So the next time you see, say, an admiral saying it wrong, do the right thing and correct him or her. OK, maybe that’s not a good idea. You could, however, tell the admiral’s aide. Give the two of them something fun to talk about in the back of the SUV on the trip back to the office.

Now that we’ve taken care of that, can you think of any other common Navy mispronunciations?


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  1. I’ve got an even better idea, how about we drop this stupid LCS baloney and call them Frigates (or Frigate escorts or Corvettes – whatever, but something with a nautical tradition!).

  2. Yeah, I could go for terming these vessels a corvette, or something of the like. Littoral sounds too ‘new Navy’ with no long-standing tradition to back it up. Is it too late to change?

  3. Actually it is pronounced Li TOR al in the latin based languages from which the word comes from!!….so really Potato Potahtoe. (which originated in Chili by the way)

  4. Nobody knows what this ship is for, let alone how to pronounce its name!

    Maybe new CNO will cancel it and actually build a ship that the Navy ‘literally’ wants, needs, and understands.

  5. My older version of Websters (1953) lists the pronounciation as Li TOR al … Internet and more modern dictionaries differ so you might be careful correcting Admirals with this one.

  6. Yes, the LCS figuratively is supposed to do everything well but it LITERALLY does nothing well. Also, it’s basically a corvette or coastal patrol craft or some such. What a stupid made-up term.

    These four major authorities DO NOT list li-TOR-al even as an alternate pronunciation. So stop reaching back to a 1953 dictionary or other languages. If I’m speaking Latin or some language other than English, I’ll look up the correct pronunciation and use it. But if I’m speaking English, I’ll pronounce littoral as literal. (And really, if these four sources don’t even list li-TOR-al as an alternate pronunciation, are you really going to use a 1953 pronunciation? Was it listed as a dubious pronunciation, or a foreign one, perhaps?) lit-er-uhl [a homophone of literal; no alternate pronunciations given]

    World English Dictionary (‘litərəl) [a homophone of literal; no alternate pronunciations given]

    The American Heritage Science Dictionary (lĭt’ər-əl) [a homophone of literal; no alternate pronunciations given]

    Merriam-Webster ‘li-tə-rəl; ,li-tə-‘ral, -‘räl [the first pronunciation listed is a homophone of literal; the second and third are almost the same, but have the primary accent the final syllable]

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