Even among community aficionados and experts, the debate rages: just how to pronounce kratom?? It seems almost absurd that there should be such disagreement over such a basic concept! After all, you’d think that pronunciation is even more basic than how to use kratom. But it’s really not so unusual.
The word “kratom” originated in Thai. Though it’s made its way into English parlance, it’s no surprise that we English speakers have… well, we’ve changed the pronunciation a bit. Our bad.
But even with English pronunciation of kratom, there are a few variations! Turns out that, with a language as widely used and with as many regional dialects as English, disagreements inevitably arise.
In this article, we’ll answer the question “how to pronounce kratom” once and for all. Granted, we’ll do it by acknowledging that there is no One True Way, so you’d best just choose for yourself. But as so many learned pedagogs will tell you: the best thing is to “teach the conflict”.
So without further ado, let’s learn how to pronounce kratom!
How to Pronounce Kratom in English
As with so many foreign words that have made their way into our lexicon, we English speakers seem to have a hard time agreeing on how to pronounce ‘kratom’.
But whenever there’s a dispute about English pronunciation, there’s only one source to trust: The Oxford English Dictionary!
Only, there’s a problem. It seems that there are at least TWO accepted English pronunciations of kratom: KRATum and KRAYtum.
Pronunciation One: KRATum
The first English pronunciation of kratom uses a short ‘a’ sound, as in “cat” or “hat”. This pronunciation also places emphasis on the first syllable, ending with the letter ‘t’.
The result rhymes with “atom” or, more whimsically, with “cat tum”.
This pronunciation seems to follow common American English pronunciation rules. After all, “cat” and “brat” both use this sort of ‘a’. But English pronunciation loves to make odd exceptions to the general rule, and “KRATum” is somewhat less popular than the second definition.
Pronunciation Two: KRAYtum
The second English pronunciation of kratom uses a long ‘a’ sound, the type you’d expect from an ‘ay’ as in “say” or “play”. This pronunciation also makes the ‘t’ a part of the second and final syllable.
Does this pronunciation follow standard English language conventions? Nah, but who really cares about that? It’s a wildly popular pronunciation, and most people in the industry prefer this “ay” version.
What’s the Correct English Pronunciation of Kratom
So, dear American English speaker: how to pronounce kratom correctly? DRUMROLL PLEASE!
Whichever of the two above pronunciations you want. Anticlimactic, I know, but you do you.
You’ll find experienced, knowledgeable members of the kratom community who will insist on one pronunciation or the other. Neither is objectively correct, so just pick one and know that, at some point, you’ll probably be accused of being wrong, much like the GIF pronunciation controversy.
Interestingly, however, it seems that most kratom industry insiders, including at Kratom Spot and the American Kratom Association, prefer the “KRAYtum” pronunciation. Take it with a grain of salt, but them’s the breaks.
Of course, we could always go old school and rely on the original Thai pronunciation. But, spoiler alert: that’s just going to confuse the issue even further. But heck, let’s go for it.
How to Pronounce Kratom in Southeast Asia
Ready to get even more frustrated? Great, let’s go.
Southeast Asia, from whence comes the term ‘kratom’, also pronounces the word in several different ways.
The most common is arguably “KETum”. That rhymes with “hey, that guy’s article didn’t actually teach me how to pronounce kratom; GET‘IM!”. Yeah. No ‘r’ sound to be found here.
Depending on where in Southeast Asia you are, however, you may instead hear “KRUHtome”.
In other locations, you may instead hear one of those pronunciations, but with a ‘g’ sound instead of a ‘k’!
So, like I said: Southeast Asian pronunciation won’t actually help us figure out how to pronounce kratom.
But it hasn’t all been a waste of time. Next time someone tries to correct your pronunciation, you can stick your pinky out and snobbishly say, “well, actuallyyyyy, in Southeast Asia…”
How to Pronounce Kratom: In Closing
So, how to pronounce kratom? There are at least two commonly accepted American English pronunciations: ‘KRATum” and “KRAYtum”. Neither is more correct than the other, though one will be more prevalent than the other, depending on your location and community.
If you’re trying to avoid being called out, you’re probably best off just parroting whichever you hear most frequently in your area.
If you want to follow the industry’s own standard, you might be better off with “KRAYtum”.
And heck: If you want to peer down at your nose and feel superior to silly American kratom users, why not go with the traditional “KETum” or “KRUHtome”?
Ultimately, how to pronounce kratom is a question that we’ll have to leave unresolved. Still, it’s best to know the conflict, so you’re not caught off guard when you hear one of these other pronunciations bandied about!
But however much we disagree about pronunciation, we can all agree on one thing: kratom’s some pretty great stuff.