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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?

  • Fyi,that is called a silent p. Like the l in would and should. Also silent. – Lambie Sep 17 '18 at 22:09
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    There 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 Sep 17 '18 at 22:13
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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. worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-rec1.htm – sumelic Sep 17 '18 at 22:44
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    @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. – userr2684291 Sep 17 '18 at 22:45
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    My 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 Sep 18 '18 at 0:51
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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.

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