The Grammarphobia Blog

The accent on “homage”

Q: I have a word gripe. I’ve recently heard any number of Americans pronouncing “homage” as if they were speaking French. Not only does this sound pretentious, but, I believe, it is incorrect. Are there any occasions where the French pronunciation is preferred?

A: “Homage” has been part of the English language since before 1300, and it’s correctly pronounced (in English) as HOM-idj or OM-idj. Whether or not the “h” is pronounced, the accent is on the first syllable. The French pronunciation “oh-MAHZH” is unnecessary. There are no occasions for which the French pronunciation is preferred unless one is speaking French. It sounds affected, and there are no grounds for claiming it has precedence over the English pronunciation. After all, the ultimate source is the Latin “homo” (man), which has a pronounced “h.” And Latin got there first.