I didn\u2019t even stop to imagine that people pronounced Linux commands differently until many years ago when I heard a co-worker use the word \u201cvie\u201d (as in "The teams will vie for the title") for what I\u2019d always pronounced \u201cvee I.\u201d It was a moment I\u2019ll never forget.\nOur homogenous and somewhat rebellious community of Unix\/Linux advocates seemed to have descended into dialects \u2014 not just preferences for Solaris or Red Hat or Debian or some other variant (fewer back in those days than we have today), but different ways of referring to the commands we knew and used every day.\n\nThe "problem" has a number of causes. For one thing, our beloved man pages don't include pronunciation guidelines like dictionaries do. For another, Unix commands evolved with a number of different pronunciation rules.\nThe names of some commands (like "cat") were derived from words (like "concatenate") and were pronounced as if they were words, too (some actually are). Others derived from phrases like "cpio," which pull together the idea of copying (cp) and I\/O. Others are simply abbreviations, such as "cd" for "change directory." And then we have tools like "awk" that go in an entirely different direction by being named for the surnames of its creators (Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan). No wonder there are no consistent rules for how to pronounce commands!\nSome commands are basically pronounced as if we are spelling them out loud \u2014 like \u201cel es\u201d for ls and \u201cpee double-u dee\u201d for pwd, while others are read like \u201cchown\u201d (rhyming with "clown") as if they are words. And since many Linux users might first be exposed to the Linx command line on some old PC that they decided to put to better use, they may never hear other people saying Linux commands out loud. So, in today\u2019s post, I\u2019m going to explain how I pronounce Linux commands and how I\u2019ve heard some others going in different directions.\nWe'll start with the easy stuff. Several Linux commands are simply words and, at least for English speakers, just get pronounced like the words when people use them in conversation.\nLinux commands that are words\nThese Unix\/Linux commands are also common words and should be pronounced as expected.\nalias\tapropos\tapt\tcat\techo\teval\texec\texpect\t\texport\tfind\nfor\tgawk\tless\tlocate\tman\tmore\tping\tshutdown\tsnort\tsort\ntar\ttop\ttouch\twhile\twho\tzip \n\nLinux commands pronounced as if they are words\nA number of other commands are pronounced as if they were words:\nawk\t\tbeginning of \u201cawkward\u201d\nchmod\t\tsh+mod or ch+mod (one syllable)\nchown\t\tch+own (rhymes with "clown") or ch+own (rhymes with "own")\ncron\t\tbeginning of \u201cchronology\u201d\ngrep \t\tsimilar to \u201cgrope\u201d, but with a soft \u201ce\u201d (as in \u201cend\u201d)\nifconfig\tif+config (beginning of \u201cconfigure\u201d) but some say "eye eff config"\nifdown\t\tif+down\nifup\t\tif+up\nnetstat\t\tnet+stat\npasswd\t\tpronounced as if spelled \u201cpassword\u201d\nperl\t\tpronounced like \u201cpearl\u201d\nsed\t\tpronounced like "said"\nsudo\t\tpronounced like "pseudo\u201d (doesn\u2019t rhyme with \u201cvoodoo\u201d) or "soo doo" (rhyming with "voodoo")\ntraceroute\tpronounced like the word \u201ctrace\u201d followed by the word \u201croute\u201d\nuniq \t\tpronounced like "unique\u201d\nvim\t\trhymes with \u201cgym\u201d (I\u2019ve never heard it pronounced \u201cvee eye em\u201d\nwhoami\t pronounced like the question \u201cWho am I?\u201d\n\nLinux commands that are spelled out\nIn my experience, all of these commands are simply spelled out. People say "see dee" for cd and "pee es" for ps, etc.\ncd\tcp\tcpio\tdd\tdf\tdu\tenv\tln\nls\tps\tpwd\tssh\ttr\tufw\tw\twc\n\nAnyone who says "piss" for ps or "turr" for tr is bound to get some funny looks.\nLinux commands that are both read and spelled out\nOther commands include words but also contain some extra letters that are generally spelled out.\nemacs\t\tpronounced \u201cee max\u201d\ngzip\t\tpronounced \u201cgee zip\u201d (not "gee zee ipp")\nmysql\t\tpronounced \u201cmy es queue el\u201d\nnslookup\tpronounced \u201cen es lookup\u201d\nrsync\t\tpronounced \u201care sync\u201d\nsdiff\t\tpronounced \u201ces diff\u201d\nslocate\t\tpronounced \u201ces locate\u201d\nxtop\t\tpronounced \u201cex top\u201d\nuname\t\tpronounced \u201cyou name\u201d\nvmstat\t\tpronounced \u201cvee em stat\u201d\nwget\t\tpronounced \u201cdouble you get\u201d\nxargs\t\tpronounced \u201cex args\u201d\n\n\n\n \n\n\nBreaking the rules\nIt gets more interesting in some cases when, like my old coworker with her \u201cvie\u201d pronunciation for vi, people vary from these general pronunciations. I can only imagine what the commands sound like when pronounced in languages that have very different pronunciation rules.\nProbably the command with the most variations in how it\u2019s pronounced is the fsck command. Part of the reason may be its similarity to a common English curse word. I\u2019ve always pronounced it as if I were spelling it \u2014 "ef es see kay." Others, however, say \u201cef es check,\u201d \u201cfiss check,\u201d or even \u201cef suck.\u201d\nAnd it's not just commands\nThere many directories and files on Unix and Linux systems that also get pronounced in multiple ways. One that comes to mind is \/etc. While I\u2019ve always said \u201cetsy,\u201d some say \u201cetcetera\u201d or "ee tee see." In addition, I\u2019ve referred to the fstab file as \u201cef es tab\u201d though I\u2019ve heard it called \u201cef stab.\u201d Some say "lib" (first syllable of "liberty") for the lib directory while others insist it should be "libe" (first syllable in "library"). One reader said he once heard someone call CLI "cly" (first syllable in "climate").\nAnother, and potentially unexpected, pronunciation issue for Linux is how people say the word \u201cLinux\u201d itself. While most people say the \u201cLi\u201d in Linux as they do the \u201cli\u201d in \u201clittle,\u201d there are some who insist on saying \u201cLinux\u201d as in \u201cLye nux.\u201d The reason is clear once you reflect on the fact that Linux was named after its creator and historically principal developer, Linus (pronounced \u201cLine Us\u201d) Torvalds.\nAnd, of course, we've probably all heard an occasional person referring to a router as a "rooter" -- the old "rowt" vs "root" argument that comes into play when we try to drive across the country.\nThere are probably many others, and I\u2019d love to hear some of your favorite mispronunciation stories.