The Grammarphobia Blog

Is “flaccid” pronounced FLASS-id or FLAK-sid?

Q: Most people pronounce “flaccid” to rhyme with “acid,” but it looks like it should be pronounced to rhyme with the first two syllables of “accident.” What are your thoughts?

A: Traditionally, dictionaries have listed FLAK-sid as the first, or more common, pronunciation, with FLASS-id given as second choice (if listed at all; very old dictionaries list only FLAK-sid).

In more recent editions of many dictionaries, though, the editors have reversed themselves and listed FLASS-id first and FLAK-sid second, as in these entries from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

It may be that the newer (mis-)pronunciation arose by association with the word “placid.” At any rate, FLASS-id has become not only acceptable but finally the more common.