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Ghoti is a constructed word used to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish: i.e., it is supposed to be pronounced /ˈfɪʃ/. It comprises these phonemes:

An early known published reference is in 1874, citing an 1855 letter that credits ghoti to one William Ollier Jr (born 1824).[1] Ghoti is often cited to support the English spelling reform, and is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw,[2] a supporter of this cause. However, the word does not appear in Shaw's writings,[1] and a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.[3] Similar constructed words exist that demonstrate English idiosyncrasies[citation needed], but ghoti is the most widely recognized. Linguists have pointed out that the placement of the letters in the constructed word is in fact inconsistent with the claimed pronunciation,[4] that the expected pronunciation in English is as in goatee.[5]


Silent ghoti

Using the same method and reinforcing the original point, ghoti can be a silent word, where:[6]

Notable usage

See also


  1. ^ a b Benjamin Zimmer. "Ghoti before Shaw". Language Log.  Cites S. R. Townshend Mayer, “Leigh Hunt and Charles Ollier”, St. James’s Magazine, October 1874, page 406 (itself citing a 1855 letter from Ollier to Hunt).
  2. ^ Holroyd, Michael, Bernard Shaw: Volume III: 1918–1950: The Lure of Fantasy, Random House, 1994, ISBN 0-517-13035-1
  3. ^ See Jim Scobbie's article at, citing Holroyd, page 501
  4. ^ Benjamin Zimmer. "Ghoti". The New York Times. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Klingon Language Institute
  8. ^ Teleplay by Stanley Ralph Ross, Story by Ed Self (19 October 1966). "An Egg Grows in Gotham". Batman. episode 13. season 2. Event occurs at 13 minutes. ABC. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Re: Spelling Bees" Discussion of speech synthesis programs
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links