What is “ghoti?”

While you may not recognize the spelling, you’d know it if you heard it pronounced. So, how do you say this unusual word?

Let’s sound it out, using some common sense about English.

First, the “gh.” Well, “tough” is pronounced “tuff,” and “rough” is “ruff,” so clearly “gh”makes an F sound.

Next, the “o.” We know “women” is pronounced “WIHM-in,” so obviously this makes an IH (short i) sound.

Finally, the ending “ti.” This one’s easy. “Station” is “STAY-shun,” and “national” is “NASH-un-ul.” Without doubt, “ti” makes an SH sound.

Put it all together, and what do you get?


Yep – “ghoti” is just an alternate spelling of “fish,” pronounced exactly the same way.

Okay, so this is fairly ridiculous, but the point is real. Someone in the 1800s – we don’t know exactly who – invented this word to make a point. We’re speaking a seriously messed-up language.

But oh, English. I can’t stay mad at you.

9 responses to “Ghoti

  1. Who? What? When? Why? Where can I read more about this? I’ll try just googling the word… Very cool fact 🙂 Thank you! Alexandra

  2. (Dies laughing)
    This was a terribly amusing post. Is this a real word?

  3. Pingback: Greek language lesson | βιβετα Mentzelopoulou - ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ! Greeklish Blog and information

  4. George Bernard Shaw I believe is the author of this pointed example of the mystery and wonders (?!) of the English language. Clever fellow, he eschewed the eating of meat and had preference for writing in a small, garden hut. Sigh. A retreat. Thanks for your bloggings.

    • According to Wikipedia:
      Ghoti…is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw…. However, the word does not appear in Shaw’s writings, and a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.”

      That’s about the extent of my knowledge. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Greek language lesson « The Chair

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