Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Coyote in Death Valley, California. Photo by Manfred Werner via Wikimedia Commons.

On Monday of last week, I posed a question on Twitter: “Hey everyone, do you pronounce the word ‘coyote’ with two syllables or three?” I’ve been in the habit of saying all three syllables – “coy-yo-tee.” But a lot of people generally only give it two, “coy-yote,” and I wondered which was more common. Of course, a lot of the answers were less straightforward than I expected.

Jokes aside, three syllables seemed to be more common overall, with two syllables used more in rural areas and the west. The comment about it being a Spanish word is true, which is probably why the two-syllable version grates on my ears ever so slightly, like the Americanized pronunciations given to the many Spanish street names where my parents live in the Phoenix area. (And it’s true as well that technically, as a Spanish word, it should be coy-yo-tay, not -tee.)

Say it how you want. You say coy-yote, I say coy-yo-tee, I’m not actually calling anything off and the scrappy canine itself is to busy being awesome to care.

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