Throughout Wikipedia, the pronunciation of words is indicated by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The following tables list the IPA symbols used for English words and pronunciations. Please note that several of these symbols are used in ways that are specific to Wikipedia and differ from those used by dictionaries.
If the IPA symbols are not displayed properly by your browser, see the links below.
If the words given as examples for two different symbols sound the same to you (for example, if you pronounce cot and caught the same, or do and dew, or marry and merry), you can pronounce those symbols the same in explanations of all words. The footnotes explain some of these mergers. (See also Dialect variation below.)
If there is an IPA symbol you are looking for that you do not see here, see Help:IPA, which is a more complete list. For a table listing all spellings of the sounds on this page, see . For help converting spelling to pronunciation, see .
This key represents diaphonemes, abstractions of speech sounds that accommodate General American, Received Pronunciation (RP) and to a large extent also Australian, Canadian, Irish (including Ulster), New Zealand, Scottish, South African and Welsh pronunciations. Therefore, not all of the distinctions shown here are relevant to a particular dialect:
On the other hand, there are some distinctions which you might make but which this key does not encode, as they are seldom reflected in the dictionaries used as sources for Wikipedia articles:
The pronunciation of the /æ/ vowel in most dialects of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and Wales has always been closer to [a]. BBC English has moved away from the traditional near-open front realization [æ] towards almost fully open front realization [a], and both the Oxford English Dictionary and the 2014 edition of Gimson's Pronunciation of English transcribe the vowel in lad, bad, cat, trap with /a/.[y]
For more extensive information on dialect variations, you may wish to see the IPA chart for English dialects.
Note that place names are not generally exempted from being transcribed in this abstracted system, so rules such as the above must be applied in order to recover the local pronunciation. Examples include place names in much of England ending ‑ford, which although locally pronounced [‑fəd] are transcribed /‑fərd/. This is best practice for editors. However, readers should be aware that not all editors may have followed this consistently, so for example if /‑fəd/ is encountered for such a place name, it should not be interpreted as a claim that the /r/ would be absent even in a rhotic dialect.
If you feel it is necessary to add a pronunciation respelling using another convention, then please use the conventions of Wikipedia's pronunciation respelling key.