If you've ever cooked a meal for yourself, or even helped out in a kitchen, chances are you've probably seen cumin at one time or another. It's included in all types of dishes all over the world, so it's an important ingredient to have in your pantry if you're interested in learning to cook.

So how exactly do you pronounce "cumin?" You've probably heard some friends or family pronounce it "KYOO-men," while others pronounce it "KOO-min." So, which is correct? A closer look into the history of the spice and a little help from the dictionary can help settle your uncertainties once and for all. Let's become more confident and knowledgeable in the kitchen!

A Little Bit of History

herb, condiment, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, relish, curry, chili
Hannah Linn

The first step in figuring out the pronunciation of 'cumin' is to look into the etymology of the word. The word cumin is derived from the Latin word "cuminum." Since the spice has been around since ancient times, 'cuminum' refers to the cumin plant. According to the rules of Latin pronunciation, this word would be pronounced "KUH-min-um" because both of the 'u's are short vowels. We still use this term in the scientific name of the plant, "cuminum cyminum," which is part of the parsley family. However, today we refer to it by its common name, cumin.

Around 900 AD, terms for this plant in Middle English, Old English, Latin, and Greek all started to combine together. Eventually, the word "cumin" was formed as a common name for the plant.

How to Pronounce Cumin

coffee, chocolate, relish, cinnamon, sweet, condiment, garam masala, herb, cumin
Ashleigh Monaco

Even though it has roots in Greek and Latin, I am here to clarify the American pronunciation of the word cumin. Is the pronunciation of the Latin word (KUH-min-um) an indication of how we should pronounce it today?

One of the first differences in the pronunciation depends on where you are from. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the UK pronunciation of the word is "KYOO-men," whereas its US version is pronounced "KOO-min."

The debate doesn't end there, however, as some other dictionaries have a different idea about how to pronounce the word. Both Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster also list "KUH-min" as a valid US pronunciation.

So, How Do I Actually Say it?

Spice, spices, oregano, chili powder, cumin
Victoria Hoang

After reviewing what several dictionaries consider to be correct, I have concluded that there are multiple ways to say "cumin." If you're from the UK, the correct pronunciation is "KYOO-men," and if you're from the US, both "KOO-min," and "KUH-min" are correct. Ultimately, it's up to your accent and personal preference.

The next time you're making cumin grilled chicken or shopping for kitchen essentials, pick one of the above pronunciations and say it with confidence!