Inherent (pronunciation)

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Two pronunciations of the adjective inherent may be heard in academic English using RP in Britain. In the USA, GA favours one. None of these three has a proper claim to exclude the others.

  • The one preferred by 66% of a sample of British speakers in an LPD poll in 1988 has the vowel of 'egg' in the central syllable: IPA: /ɪn ˈhɛ rənt/.
  • The other RP pronunciation (34% in the same sample) has a diphthongal '-ee-' sound in the central syllable: IPA: /ɪn ˈhɪə rənt/.
  • In General American the central vowel is flattened into a monophthongal '-ee-': IPA: /ɪn ˈhiː rənt/,
Etymological note: inherent, which now means " Existing in something as a permanent attribute or quality" (OED, 1900) originally meant 'sticking in [something] or 'contained [physically] in some thing'. It is derived from the Latin in- (= in) and haerēre, 'to stick', as do adherent (as noun 'one who supports, or sticks to (ad-) [a person or a cause, idea etc]'; as adjective 'sticking to') and coherent (mostly an adjective 'sticking together' or, of speech, argument, thought etc, 'consistent'.