The Grammarphobia Blog

Snappy endings

Q: I’ve been collecting words where the “ed” ending is pronounced ID. Here’s my list, but I know I’m missing a few: “crooked,” “dogged,” “jagged,” “legged,” “peaked,” “ragged,” “rugged,” “supposed,” and “wicked.” Can you come up with any more?

A: Several adjectives have an “ed” ending that’s pronounced as a separate and distinct syllable. These include the ones you mention, as well as the following:

“aged,” “beloved,” ”blessed,” “naked,” “sacred,” “ragged,” “rugged,” ”supposed,” “wretched,” sometimes “striped,” and the old poetical usages “cursed,” “accursed” and “winged.” 

Yet when some of these show up as verb forms, they merely end in a “d” or “t” sound that’s not a separate syllable:

“he aged fast” … “she blessed the child” … “he crooked his finger” … “we cursed our fate” … “they dogged his footsteps” … “we learned a lot” … “I supposed as much” … “the bird winged its way home.”

The Oxford Guide to English Usage has a section devoted to these words (pages 44-45). And Pat discusses “aged” in the pronunciation chapter of the new third edition of her grammar and usage guide Woe Is I. Here’s the paragraph:

AGED. This has one syllable, except when it’s an adjective meaning “elderly.” Here, only the first aged has two syllables: My aged grandmother, who aged gracefully, took a liking to aged cheese when she was a child aged ten.

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