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You’re Saying It All Wrong: Real Estate Words

There are widespread words in real estate that are mispronounced, misspelled, and misused. Linguists say that the more expensive the house, the more likely the potential for gaffes because pricey homes often come with elaborate descriptions.

Here are a few words that are frequently used in real estate and architecture, along with their approximate phonetic pronunciations. Linguists caution that the most accurate guides to pronunciation include diacritical marks.

Banquette (an upholstered bench)

Bona fide offer (genuine)
bone-uh fide or sometimes bone-ah-FEE-dey

Beaux-arts architecture (classical decorative style)
Boh-zahr architecture

Bespoke (made to order)

Cachet (respected, prestigious)

Chaise longue (chair with lengthened legrest)
shezz lawng

Chattel (personal possession)

Clerestory (raised section of roof with small windows)

Dais (a low platform or stage)

Feng shui (Chinese philosophy of environmental organization)
fung shway

Foyer (entry area)
FOY-yer, or sometimes fwa-yay

Ipe (a kind of hardwood)

Koi (an ornamental carp)

Le Corbusier (the Swiss-French architect)
leh core-BEW-zee-ay or luh core-boo-zee-EY

Miele (German appliance manufacturer)

Porte cochere (a covered entrance that allows vehicles to pass through)

Realtor (a real estate agent with the National Association of REALTORS®, a trade group)

Settee (a long upholstered seat)

Trompe l’oeil (a visual illusion in art)
tromp LUH-ee

Wainscoting (wood paneling on the lower part of a wall)
WAYNE-scot-ing or WAYNE-skutting

Which ones surprised you and didn’t know you were mispronouncing?

Michael B. Bell | Making All The Difference In Real Estate