Why the p in "receipt" is not pronounced?

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Is there any known pronunciation rule that justifies the p in "receipt" not being pronounced, does it have to do with the origin of the word or something or how it is? Why the p in "receipt" is not pronounced?

Pablo

Posted 2018-09-17T21:37:09.493

Reputation: 479

Fyi,that is called a silent p. Like the l in would and should. Also silent. – Lambie – 2018-09-17T22:09:41.217

2There are two different pronunciations of receipt. One is /ri'sit/, where the P is not pronounced, and the other is /'rɛsəpi/, as an alternate spelling of recipe. In that one the T is not pronounced. The fact is that letters in English spelling do not represent the pronunciation of English words, no matter what your English teacher told you. Sorry about that. Spellings and pronunciations have to be learned separately. This saves time over following spelling rules, because there are too many random exceptions to all of the rules, and all of those exceptions have to be learned separately. – John Lawler – 2018-09-17T22:13:17.733

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@JohnLawler: Can you give a reference for pronouncing "receipt" as /'rɛsəpi/? The word "receipt" has been used to mean "recipe", but as far as I know it was usually pronounced the same as for other meanings of the word receipt. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-rec1.htm

– sumelic – 2018-09-17T22:44:19.843

2@JohnLawler I'm not sure I understand what you're saying in your first two sentences. Receipt is pronounced one way, and recipe another. Receipt and recipe are different lexemes. – None – 2018-09-17T22:45:34.573

Please always wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer (you never know who might want to add something, and not everyone's here all the time). You'll find other good reasons listed in this meta post, which I encourage you to read. (Please don't mistake this as saying that the currently accepted answer is bad.) Nice question, by the way. Also, if you're interested in detailed etymologies and so on, you might wanna consider asking such questions on ELU.

– None – 2018-09-17T23:32:54.010

1My grandparents (in the UK) both pronounced "recipe" (i.e. a cookery recipe) as "receipt" - which is the opposite way round from John Lawler's comment. – alephzero – 2018-09-18T00:51:13.493

Answers

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"Receipt" is pretty much just an exceptional case. The word is pronounced without a /p/ sound because it comes from French receite/recete. It is spelled with a P based on its etymology from Latin receptus.

It's not entirely random, but it's certainly irregular: the words conceit and deceit have analogous histories, but aren't spelled with P, and the word concept is both spelled with the letter P and pronounced with the sound /p/.

There is a small set of words like this with "etymologically" inserted silent letters. (Most "silent" letters in English are of other types, e.g. the so-called "silent e" that functions in many words as a marker of vowel "length".) Some of the etymologies aren't even accurate: probably the most infamous example is the "silent s" in the spelling of the word island.

Since many people tend to emphasize the "unpredictability" of English spelling in discussions of words like this, I'd like to stress that words with completely irregular "silent" letters like this really are uncommon. English spelling is certainly complicated, but most of the complications are related to semi-regular patterns (e.g. consonant doubling or systematic ambiguities in the spelling of certain sounds), not one-off oddities like this.

sumelic

Posted 2018-09-17T21:37:09.493

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