We use a building tool named Gradle in our project, but we don't know how to pronounce the a in it.

Someone speaks it like a in cake, but someone speaks it like a in bad.

How may we determine the correct pronunciation of this unique proper name, which does not appear in dictionaries?

  • It's a in cake. You might have searched this on the net before you ask it here.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 6, 2013 at 8:51
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    @MaulikV Really? This is not a common word, which online dictionary did you find it in? Dec 6, 2013 at 13:39
  • Welcome to ELL! Unfortunately this question is off-topic because single word pronunciation questions can be easily answered by any standard online or paper-based dictionary. If you're having specific problems understanding what the dictionary is telling you, please feel free to add what the dictionary says and why you don't understand it, and I'll reopen the question
    – Matt
    Dec 6, 2013 at 14:26
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    The word, gradle, is not in any online dictionary. It's the name of a computer tool, it is therefore a proper noun. In fact it's spelt with a capital letter. Intuition tells me that it should be pronounced as /'ɡreɪdl̩/ like cradle but with a "g".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 7, 2013 at 17:50
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    For uncommon brand names like gradle, the only way to know for sure what how it is pronounced is to ask the people that own it. The question is excessively localized, and cannot be answered by a native speaker in an authoritative way, and hence is not (IMO) a good fit for ELL. The best the you can do here is to look up similar words in a dictionary (such as ladle) and try pronouncing the words similarly.
    – Matt
    Dec 7, 2013 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


The pronunciations of proper names are notoriously unpredictable.

  • Old placenames and family names may preserve old spellings set in writing before natural evolution changed the pronunciation—Cholmondely, for instance, which is pronounced chumly.
  • Names may undergo all sorts of changes in pronunciation or spelling as people or their names migrate into different speech communities—my own family name, for instance, is spelled with {ey} instead of its original {eu} because a US customs official was confused by the German dialect pronunciation of {eu} as /aɪ/.
  • New coinages, particularly of company or product names, may be driven by typographic rather than linguistic considerations—iPod, for instance, or dBase.

So where do you turn to learn the “correct” pronunciation?

  1. You could follow the usage of knowledgeable users ... But in your case, unfortunately, these users are not consistent.

  2. You could assume that the spelling follows ordinary patterns. This is, to be sure, a very unreliable guide. But a little poking around in rhyming dictionaries turns up the fact that English words in -adlecradle, ladle—are pronounced with a ‘long a’, /eɪ/, while words with a ‘short a’, /æ/, are spelled with a doubled consonant: addle, saddle.

  3. Your best source is “the horse’s mouth” (if you don’t know this expression, which means ‘the authoritative source’, it is explained here). In the end, the pronunciation of a name is determined by the person or entity who bears it. I find nothing explicitly about pronunciation on Gradle's own website, http://www.gradle.org; but I do find mention of a presentation “Rocking the Gradle”, which is very suggestive. We speak of ‘rocking’ a baby’s cradle, and the pun would be much less effective if Gradle and cradle didn’t rhyme.

    I also find that the originator of the system and the organization is named Hans Dockter, who we may presume is the “horse”. Searching on that name on YouTube I find a video interview with Herr Dockter here—and in it he consistently pronounces the name to rhyme with cradle and ladle.

Just as a by-the-way: the word gradle (no capital) is in fact recorded in English, though I have found it in no dictionaries. It appears three times in Sean O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock, where it represents a Dublin working-class elision of the quantifier great deal—“I’m sorry to say there’s a gradle wrong with her.”

  • 1
    I thought another possible way might be to shove the word through the text-to-speech feature in Windows. I have several voices installed besides Microsoft "Sam", but I'm astonished to find they all pronounce "gradle" as "graddle". Dec 12, 2013 at 3:07
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    To be even more precise, here is the first spot where he pronounces gradle: youtu.be/XXoIzzcJr80?t=50
    – Torsten
    Dec 9, 2019 at 7:46

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