This post was inspired by a news story where the writer got wraith confused with wrath.
I think the writer meant to write wrath (meaning anger or fury) – not wraith.
A wraith is a spirit or ghost. (from old Scottish). It’s also a car and a movie.
Another danger with the word wrath (especially for broadcast news where the word is said not read) is pronouncing it correctly.
I’ve heard Australian reporters pronounce it was Wr-AH-th (like raft) – when in British English it’s pronounced Wr-oth. An Australian speech expert friend who teaches TV reporters has the useful memory device – ‘Wrath rhymes with Goth’
In North America, it’s common to pronounce Wrath more like RAT or HAT. Different regions have different vowel sounds. An American TV friend gave me her memory device: “In the US, Wrath rhymes with math.”
(Different regions of the US have different vowel sounds. The Bostonian AH sound (pAHk the cAH) is similar to Australian.)
The word looks like it should be pronounced with ‘A vowel sounds’ like RAT or RAFT – but the British English pronunciation is like w-ROTH – like the actor Tim Roth.
So two things for Australian reporters and writers to remember:
- it’s wrath not wraith – if you mean anger or fury
- In British English, it’s pronounced Wroth.
That should help you avoid the wraith of an angry editor or news boss.