Cuepons and Bobsleds


Last Saturday was a real shocker of a day for me, as I learned that I’ve been completely mispronoucing two words my whole life.

In the morning, I told Sir Monkeypants I’d like to go to the Chapters sometime that day because I had a coupon that was about to expire.

He said, “A what?”

And I said, “A coupon.”

And he said, “A what? A queue?”

And I said, “No, silly, a CUE-PON.”

And then he laughed and laughed and laughed, and there may also have been some finger pointing.

Sir Monkeypants claimed that the word was “coo-pon,” not “cue-pon,” and I thought about it, and it did seem to make sense. But I’d been saying “cue-pon” my whole life, and seriously? Totally wrong? Seriously?

I grew up in a town in southern Ontario called Cambridge, and Cambridge is an odd and interesting place that seems to exist in its own dimension. In the Cambridge Dimension, it’s always 1974 Texas. Everyone has wood paneling in their basements, drives a pickup, and — I am not kidding about this at all — it is the place that originated the phrase, “Giver.”

I figured I may have stumbled on yet another Cambridge-ism.

So I got on the horn to FameThrowa, and I asked her on speaker phone: “Say you had a little piece of paper that said you could get 50 cents off of crackers at the Superstore, what would you call that?” And she very, very carefully said, “A coo-pon,” While Sir Monkeypants whooped with glee, she explained that she also grew up saying “cue-pon,” but learned a few years back that the rest of the world says “coo-pon,” and so made a concerted effort to correct her Cambridge-ism.


And then! Later that afternoon, while I was driving home from the Chapters having used my CUE-PON, I was listening to an Olympic update on the radio and the announcer said that there would be coverage later of the men’s bobsleigh.

Only he said “bob-slay,” when clearly, b-o-b-s-l-e-i-g-h is pronounced, “bobsled.”


So I came home and twittered about it, because I was far too embarrassed to ask Sir Monkeypants about it, and apparently, SERIOUSLY, it is bob-slay. I eventually caved and checked with Sir Monkeypants and yes, bob-slay.

And the funny thing is that I have a whole arm of my family with the last name Sleigh, and they pronounce it “slay,” and yet, I still say “bob-SLED.”


23 thoughts on “Cuepons and Bobsleds

  1. MrsCarlSagan

    Seriously? There’s no “D” in bobsleigh 🙂

    I’m a coo-pon girl. Growing up I often wondered if I was pronouncing things correctly as my dad has a funny way of saying some words – It’s pen-guin and not pen-quin right??!

  2. Shyla

    Haha! I grew up in Cambridge and I think I suffer the same affliction of cuepon. But isn’t there such a thing as a bobsled? But I also care enough about pronounciations and spellings to correct thing. Like I say bagel wrongly? But I don’t know what is wrong about it. Mr. Mercer told me, but I can’t hear the difference. 😦

    1. When you’re here in March we’ll review the bagel situation. I don’t remember you saying it funny. If I give you a pass we can crank call Mr. Mercer in revenge!

    1. I’m surprised at how many people are saying they also say cue-pon, in particular. This is definitely a Canadian-ism worth investigating.

      If the Americans get a hold of this post, we’re in trouble. Instead of every sitcom saying “aboot” when someone is Canadian, they’ll throw in “cue-pon” instead!

    1. I’ve also seen it written as “giv’er” and “give’r.” But I thought that Little Sis’ infamous t-shirt just said, “giver.”

      Clearly, we must convene a committee to settle this issue!

  3. I can’t tease you too much about cue-pon, as I’m sure I have some strange Renfrew County pronunciations of certain words, too. I especially start talking with a Valley accent when I’m tired and/or excited and/or tipsy. Mainly I start dropping the “g” in -ing words, or just generally slurring words together. Sample:

    D’ja wanna come with us? We’re goin’ fishin’.

    Renfrew County is big on “Give ‘er” too, even if it didn’t originate there.

  4. now that you said it, i don’t know if i say cue-pon or coo-pon. and you are enlightening me on the whole bobsleigh bobsled thing. i was totally in the bobsled camp.

    the weird things i got from my english grandmother

    bo’le (bottle)
    ke’le (kettle)
    mur-rur (mirror)

    i’m sure there are tons more but i just can’t think of them at the moment.

  5. My brother-in-law is from Cambridge. Must consult him about the coupon thing. My husband is from Thunder Bay, and they don’t say ‘trick or treat’ when they go out for Halloween there. Once his brother was here, and he asked him “so what do you say when you’re out trick-or-treating” and his brother said “Halloween treats please!’. Of course, whenever they say that not in Thunder Bay people think they’re bonkers. It’s a fun subject — like a wider-ranging version of family-isms.

    1. Hmmmmm. Fascinating. I was saying above to Betsy Mae that we should start a Canada-wide study. I think I’ve discovered the new “aboot”!

  6. Love your assessment of Cambridge! I grew up in London, just down the way. It’s always 1974 there in my head, but I haven’t been back in years.

    I’m okay with cue-pon, although I think I’ve settled on coo-pon the majority of the time. And I really thought bob-sleigh and bob-sled were two totally different things.

    It was only a few years ago that I realized “awry” was pronounced “a-rye”. I thought it was “awree”. I’m now so confused by the issue that I’m afraid to use it in conversation because I can never remember which pronunciation I thought it was and which it really is.

    But for a really Canadian debate? I insist on “shedule” instead of “skedual” for schedule. The CBC told me so!

  7. Lynn… you WERE RIGHT — but only on this side of the pond.

    In England — it’s totally CUE-PON. And it’s also STEW-pid. But I have to say, we both know that the always delightful Fame Throwa is most of the time a total brainbox, but once she told me that she wasn’t going to be at someone’s ‘beckon call’ so don’t believe everything she says. 😉

  8. I think bobsleigh and bobsled are interchangeable. Everyone I know says bobsled.

    AND! According to “Coupon, related to cope and coup, is of French origin. It has developed an American pronunciation variant  /ˈkyupɒn/ Show Spelled[kyoo-pon] with an unhistorical y-sound not justified by the spelling. This pronunciation is used by educated speakers and is well-established as perfectly standard, although it is sometimes criticized. Its development may have been encouraged by analogy with words like curious, cupid, and cute, where c is followed by a “long u” and the /y/[y] is mandatory.”

    I say koopon and my mom says cuepon. Go figure.

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