The Pedant’s Pulpit – KilOMMetres

If we ever share a conversation do please try to avoid the ghastly kilOMMetre.

I know of no logical or historical basis whatsoever for this pronunciation.  The only similar pronunciation is micrOMMmeter, which is not a distance at all, but a device for measuring small lengths.

I will, reluctantly, and only if I like you very much, allow you to use kilOMMetre on one condition – that you’re consistent.  In which case, please start practising now.

Here we go: “There are ten millIMMetres in one centIMMetre”.

Got that?  Now try: “There are one thousand grams in a kilOGGram”

In Number I don’t see why I shouldn’t ask you to talk about decIMMals.

And while we’re at it, please don’t forget that “decimate” is not a synonym for devastate or anything else; it means what the root implies – to lose one-tenth of the initial quantity.




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