According to https://www.howmanysyllables.com/, “dune” and “rider” are 1 syllable and 2 syllables respectively, but “Dunerider” is 4 syllables.

I don't understand.

The first word of a close compound noun is usually stressed, so “Dunerider” should pronounce [ˈd(j)uːnraɪdə], right?

I feel "Dunerider" should be ˈd(j)uːn-raɪ-də, 3 syllables. If it is 4 syllables, is it ˈd(j)uː-n-raɪ-də?

related question: A better parody of “traitors, Rattlesnakes and alligators”

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    This web site probably uses rules to guess the syllable count of words, and has a list of exceptions kindly contributed by users. it's a neat business model. The exceptions are therefore probably limited to words that were queried by other users,.Dunerider is not a real word: it is used only in Frank Herbert's Dune books, and in games derived from it.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 3:59
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    I’m voting to close this question because it relates to a word that is not real.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 4:00
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    @JavaLatte - I suppose you're right but there is no such thing as "a word that is not real". Everything that can be pronounced becomes a word eventually and the word in the question can be pronounced!
    – user119042
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 7:18
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    @JavaLatte The word is very much real, having been used in books, games and now on this site. How could it possibly not be real?
    – Polygnome
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 15:08
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    I quite like the idea of the mythical "dunny-rider" character; sounds like a refreshing change from the usual Marvel/Disney fare! Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 16:33

3 Answers 3


The website you linked is unreliable and incorrect. I wouldn't recommend using it (or any other website) syllabification because syllabification is a highly controversial topic in linguistics. How to syllabify a word depends on who pronounces it. For example, the traditional pronunciation of the word film is [fɪlm] (one syllable), but I've certainly heard the disyllabic pronunciation [ˈfɪ.ləm].

The word 'dune' is usually pronounced [djuːn] and 'rider' [ˈɹaɪdə] (BrE). I agree with your analysis that 'dunerider' should be [ˈdjuːn.ɹaɪ.də] (three syllables) (it can also be pronounced in many other ways, though, even four-syllable pronunciation is possible depending on the speaker). It is not pronounced /ˈd(j)uː-n-raɪ-də/ (four syllables), because it suggests that the /n/ is syllabic which it is not. /n/ can only be syllabic when it's preceded by an obstruent (/t s z d/ etc) as in button. I would suggest you use your ears for deciding the number of syllables in a word.

Let's see how 'dunerider' is a three-syllable word:

sonority curve for 'dunerider'

This is the sonority curve for the word 'dunerider'. The dark blue dots mark the peaks of sonority and the number of peaks correspond to the number of syllables. As you can see, there are three peaks in [ˈdjuːn.ɹaɪ.də], hence three syllables.

The sonority of all phonemes of English can be depicted on a sonority scale (sonority hierarchy). A sonority hierarchy is a hierarchical ranking of speech sounds. Typical order of sonority values is:

Vowels [ɑ, ɔ, ɪ, i] etc > Glides [j, w] > Liquids [ɹ, l] > Nasals [m, n, ŋ] > Fricatives [s, f, θ, ð, z, ʃ] etc > Affricates [d͡ʒ, t͡ʃ]> Plosives [p, b, t, d, k, g]

Vowels are the most sonorous whereas plosives are the least sonorous sounds.

[From my previous answer]

I have explained the Onset Maximisation Principle (syllabification rule) in this answer.

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    Nobody pronounces 'dune' with two syllables! Presumably the erroneous fourth syllable arose because the website analysed the word as 'duner'+'ider'.
    – TonyK
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 12:21
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    @TonyK: Right! I've never heard 'dune' pronounced disyllabically, but there may be people who pronounce it with two syllables.
    – Void
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 13:03
  • “we have syllabic consonants that make syllables on their own, [...] consonants can't [make a syllable on their own],” seems to be a contradiction—possibly an initial statement that was later edited incompletely?
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 14:01
  • @KRyan: Uh... that's ambiguous. I meant consonants cannot make syllables when they're alone (unlike vowels). (I'll update)
    – Void
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 14:12
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    @Fattie: I have updated my answer. The question is about syllables, not about the ridiculousness or spuriousness of the website
    – Void
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 17:08

There is a "Contact Us" form linked directly from the page you cited with the text "Wondering why dunerider is 4 syllables? Contact Us! We'll explain." If you want to know why the site has it listed as 4 syllables, try that.

I would question using this syllable website as a source of truth. It would be better to understand for yourself the rules to determine the number of syllables in a word. To this end, please see this question, you may find it helpful.

As for dunerider, your analysis is correct. If it is said as a combination of dune ("doon" - 1 syllable) and rider ("rai-der" - 2 syllables), then it is 3 syllables. That is how I would naturally say this as a native American English speaker without a pronunciation guide.

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    It is possible that the site you have linked is mostly or completely automated, and it is interpreting the written form as du + ne + ri + der. I can't access it either by the link here or by typing the URL directly.
    – Sydney
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 3:40
  • @Sydney Odd, I got there from a browser in the U.S. To be clear, the howmanysyllables.com website is not something I recommend, I only included information about the site because it is explicitly part of the original question text.
    – mjjf
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 3:48
  • Which website do you recommend? I didn't visit howmanysyllables.com until today. I tried another online syllable counter, which also says "Dunerider" is 4 syllables. However, I guess @Sydney is right -- those websites are mostly or completely automated.
    – Zhang Jian
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 3:54
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    @ZhangJian I'm afraid I don't have a website to recommend. When I want to know the syllables in a word I say it in my head and count. I know that isn't great advice since I can't explain how I know what a syllable is, but check out the question I linked. Watching some instructional videos might help too. Good luck!
    – mjjf
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 4:01
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    The question you linked is helpful. By the way, that question also cited the website, howmanysyllables.com
    – Zhang Jian
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 4:09

The web site is completely, totally wrong.

Every single word I tried - was wrong.

It's not a serious, professional site. (It's not offered by, say, a major dictionary or the like.)

It's a silly site someone threw together, the "data" there means utterly nothing.

There are dozens of toy "syllable counter!" website sitting dead on the web, SEO companies throw these up when there's a fad. This QA should be deleted promptly as it is only feeding a (ridiculous, dead anyway) spam site.

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    Why should the question be deleted? It's about syllables, a totally valid question. If anything, edit out the website from the question. Though I'm not sure that's really necessary either.
    – mjjf
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 16:34
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    @mjjf The question is asking why that specific specific web site claims the word is four syllables. If the asker had not seen this site the question would not have been asked, so there's no reasonable way to remove the site without removing the question. However I do think the question has value because the answers do point out that the site isn't reliable, and that's a good thing to do.
    – barbecue
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 21:34
  • @barbecue That website was the first item (or should I use another word instead of "item") when I binged "word syllables". After being confused by that website, I immediately tried another online syllable counter, which also said dunerider is 4 syllables. It was then when I asked the question. Now I know those websites are unreliable. BTW, I'm not the only one who cited that website in questions: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/136110/…
    – Zhang Jian
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 14:07
  • The issue with most of these sites is that they use algorithms to guess at the syllables rather than maintaining an actual dictionary. You can test this for yourself by entering a random combination of letters. If it provides a syllable count, you know it's using an algorithm rather than a dictionary. English spelling is extremely inconsistent, so any algorithm based on spelling would have to be enormously complex to be reliable.
    – barbecue
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 17:34

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