In the word “appetite” T is between 2 vowels and it’s not flapped T according to Oxford American English dictionary. Why?

  • 2
    I am not 100% sure, but I think it's because there's an exception to the "t between two vowels" rule: if the t begins a stressed syllable, it's not flapped. I can think of lots of words that have a t between two vowels that isn't flapped: deter, betide, maternal...
    – stangdon
    Jun 14 at 14:38
  • I might be misunderstanding something, but I can't imagine pronouncing the word "appetite" with an unflapped "t." Wikipedia gives an audio example between "latter" and "ladder" where unflapped "latter" sounds nearly identical to "ladder" ("appedide?") But online pronunciation examples for "appetite" for American Engilish and British English are both flapped. I have no idea why OAE would say otherwise. (Curiously, I flap the "t" in all three of the examples @stangdon suggests...)
    – JBH
    Jun 14 at 15:42
  • Nak, it might help if you specified which T in appetite you are talking about - the first one, the second one, or both. I assumed you meant the last one, but it would help if you could clarify.
    – stangdon
    Jun 14 at 16:07
  • 2
    @JBH, I think you've got the terminology swapped. A flapped t sounds like a d - so flapped "latter" sounds just like "ladder". If you pronounced those three other words with flapped ts, they'd sound like de-dur, be-died, ma-der-nal.
    – Juhasz
    Jun 14 at 19:16
  • @Juhasz That wouldn't surprise me at all... it's happened before. And it would explain why the OAE makes the claim it does.
    – JBH
    Jun 15 at 7:02

2 Answers 2


The main reason for not flapping a T that is between vowels is how the vowels either side of it are pronounced. For example, a 'T' followed by a 'silent E' is not usually flapped, such as in late, ate, plate etc.

In the word appetite there are two Ts, and both are flanked by vowels, technically. But the second is followed by a 'silent e' which acts on the letter 'i', changing it into a long vowel. The letters 'ite' should therefore be considered a unit of speech, and that is why the preceding 't' is not flapped - the 'i' does not belong to that unit.

Even written rules of English commonly have exceptions, but you're referring to nothing more than a 'rule of thumb' for certain English dialects.

  • What do you mean by "unit of speech"? Like, a morpheme? a syllable? What are the units of speech in "latter" that allow the flap?
    – gotube
    Jun 14 at 19:20

The first "t" in "appetite" is not flapped because flaps only occur in unstressed syllables. That syllable, "tite", has a secondary stress:

-- Merriam-Webster

The 'ˌ' symbol before the /tīt/ indicates a secondary stress.

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