Friday, August 4, 2017


Feeling around in the mailbox in search of more mail, I found my way to the clothespin that we use to attach outgoing items to the box. And Elaine called attention to my pronunciation of clothespin, a pronunciation I’ve used, unconsciously, for, like, forever: /'klōs-pin/. (She thinks it’s sweet and says not to change it — not that I can.) I have learned that my mom, too, says /'klōs-pin/. I have also learned that most people say /'klōz-pin/ and that the pronunciation of the word is of little interest to the Internets.

My best explanation of the Leddy version of the word is that it replaces the slightly awkward /'ōz-pin/ with the easier-to-pronounce /'ōs-pin/. (Or even /'ō-spin/.) I think — think — that the replacement is an example of what’s called sandhi.

All that aside: does anyone out there say /'klōs-pin/?


August 5: I just remembered a handful of clothespin-centric posts:

From Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist : About the clothespins in Baker’s book : From Peanuts: “What are clothespins?”

comments: 8

misterbagman said...

At my house we pronounce it /'klōðz-pin/ with a voiced dental fricative, as in "father" or, perhaps more on point, "clothing." But then, we're in California, so who knows what to expect, am I right?

Michael Leddy said...

That seems more difficult than /klōz/. I admire your pronunciation and your bringing in the ð.

The Crow said...

I say clothespin the way you do, Michael; never heard it any other way.

Cool bit of serendipity: glanced at YouTube offerings a moment ago and in the first row was this one:

Sorry I don't know how to embed a link in the comment section.

Michael Leddy said...

Martha, now I know I’m not alone. :) I wonder if this pronunciation could be one that joins New Orleans and the NYC/NJ area.

That’s an ingenious use of clothespins in the video.

By the way, to add a link in a comment, you can use HTML: <a href="URL">text</a>.

shallnot said...

As with misterbagman, my family and pretty much everyone I've met says /'klōðz-pin/. A Canadian thing?

I remember, when a child, people split between using clothes-pin and clothes-peg; both pronounced with the /ð/ sound. I notice, as an adult, people rarely use either ("eye-ther" or should that be "ee-ther"?)

Michael Leddy said...

Clothes-peg is British English, yes.

Ee-ther? Eye-ther? Or Ira? Each is correct.

Richard Abbott said...

Yes, over here in England we would still pronounce the -th- in clothes. But then we would say peg rather than pin. Often just "peg" and drop the "clothes" part altogether as it's usually obvious from context. And nowadays not so many people use a clothes-line (or washing-line) to dry clothes anyway, so a lot of people only encounter the devices when on holiday camping!

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for the English perspective, Richard.