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Patti Wigington

How Do You Say That Word?

By September 17, 2009

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Reader MumbletyPig writes in, "How in the heck do you pronounce "Samhain"? Is it Samm-hane, or Sow-en?"

The general opinion among the Pagan community is that it's pronounced "Sow-en," which would seem accurate, given the etymology of the word. It's from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” which means either the end or beginning of summer, depending on which scholar you ask.

If you'd like to hear how to pronounce a lot of words you'll see on this site and other Pagan web pages, add this to your list of Really Fun Linkage: The Pagan Talking Dictionary. It features sound files of proper pronunciations of words commonly found in the Pagan and Wiccan lexicon. This is a great resource, so be sure to check it out!

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September 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm
(1) Freeman Presson says:

Gaelic rules of pronunciation: when you see an impossible string of consonants in the middle of a word or at the end of a monosyllable, it’s a “v” or “w” depending on dialect. If it’s at the end of a word, it’s silent.

September 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm
(2) Lisa Spangenberg says:

Yep; it’s SOW in SOW en.

The h is silent.

In Old Irish you’ll see it written Samain–and pronounced pretty much the same way.

September 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm
(3) Drew says:

I was privy to the Samhain pronunciation (though I know many aren’t), but I had NO idea that “arcana” was pronounced that way. I always said it as if it were “ark on a stick” without the “stick.” Who knew it sounded like “arcane” with a surprise ending! I’m definitely bookmarking that site. Thanks, Patti!

September 18, 2009 at 11:41 am
(4) Mia says:

I knew most of the pronunciations, but some were a surprise to me, too. Awesome link! Thanks!

September 19, 2009 at 10:07 am
(5) Purdy says:

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU – I know I’ve been pronouncing MOST of the words incorrectly and did not know where to go to actually hear them. Thank you so very much for this link.

September 19, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(6) Labrys says:

I say “Sav-ane” more or less, tho it all comes out softer. This was the pronunciation used by a dear,dear woman who celebrated a form of Celtic spirituality…and yes, that ‘mh’ in the center gets the “v” sound, not a “w” sound. Also, since it is still the Irish word for November…a friend in Ireland assures me my pronunciation is pretty close to theirs.

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