We're All Trying To Say 'Omicron' Now So Here Are The Right & Wrong Ways To Pronounce It

Hint: Don't say it like Joe Biden.

Senior Global Editor
We're All Trying To Say 'Omicron' Now So Here Are The Right & Wrong Ways To Pronounce It

You know how to say "Delta" if you've flown with a certain airline, visited a certain town in B.C. or just been paying attention to COVID-19 virus variants as a human being on this Earth.

But have you figured out how to pronounce "Omicron" yet? Because some people — including the president of the United States — are still playing catchup with this not-so-popular letter from the Greek alphabet.

"It's called the Omnicron variant," President Joe Biden said during a speech to the U.S. on Monday. (It's not.)

It's actually called the Omicron variant, not the Omnicron variant. But even if you get the spelling right, it's not a simple thing to pronounce.

The New York Times did a deep-dive on how to say the word and in the end, it found that there's no one way to do it.

Luckily there are native Greek speakers on TikTok to help us all out, as well as plenty of language experts making the rounds in the media to tell you all the ways you can say the word right — or wrong.

TikTok user @kingbobof3rdst offered a sassy example of how to say "Omicron" on Tuesday, in a video with more than 240,000 views.

“Some of you did not have to recite the Greek alphabet multiple times before a lit match burned somebody’s finger, and it shows,” he says in the video.

“It’s Oh-meh-KRAAN you GDIs.”


Some of the pronunciations in hearing 😂 #GreekLife #omicron #covid

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19, also pronounced it that way when she announced the variant's name last week.

Other Greeks have offered their own tutorials about the pronunciation online.

Google's handy pronunciation tool offers two options for saying it. The British pronunciation is "o-muh-kron" and the American version is "aa-muh-kraan," according to Google's tool.

Merriam-Webster lists three ways to say it and they're all written in special lettering, but the options sound like:

  • Ah-meh-KRAAN
  • Oh-meh-Kraan
  • Oh-mee-KRAAN

You're more likely to make the "ah" sound at the beginning if you have an American accent, according to both sites.

The World Health Organization started naming COVID-19 variants after Greek letters earlier this year, and we're already halfway through that list.

They named Omicron and dubbed it a variant of concern last week, just a few days after South African officials warned the world about the heavily mutated version of the COVID-19 virus.

Research is underway to find out exactly how deadly and transmissible it is, and vaccine-makers are already racing to make sure that they can stay ahead of the mutations in this new variant.

Meanwhile, "Omicron" is on many world leaders' lips as they close borders and restrict travel to slow the spread of the variant.

There might be different ways to say it but if there's one thing you need to remember it's this: Don't call it "Omnicron."

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