A Wehnelt lens, grid, cap, etc. is a standard component in an electron gun on may types of scientific instruments including electron microscopes. It is named after its inventor Arthur Rudolph Berthold Wehnelt.

I've been using the term for several decades and always mumble when I speak it out loud because I'm not sure how to pronounce it. (I speak only English).

Is it possible to use some simple phonetics guide to help me pronounce it close to correctly?

Right now I say something like Vay-nault am I at least close?

image. Source


2 Answers 2


"Vaynault" seems to be the English/American way to pronounce it. The German one can be listened to here (click the speaker icon next to the German translation): https://www.dict.cc/?s=wehnelt

The machine pronunciation for Wehnelt is correct although the entire words are of somewhat arguable quality.

I'm not the best with IPA-signs but here's my try:


Possible analogy to English words

Wehnelt as a normal v as in vowel
Wehnelt as e in vein (suggested by Cubic)
Wehnelt as n in no
Wehnelt as a in a tree(undefined article)
Wehnelt as -led in pickled (more pronounce t-ish than d-ish)

  • 2
    I think when it comes to the eh sound there's no real englisch approximation. You can try it like the ay in may, or as you used to do with your Vay-Nault Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:20
  • 4
    The colloquial meh (boring) might be a good approximation for that eh sound.
    – Arsak
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:33
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    The pronunciation by the woman (or is it a machine?) on your link is really bizarre. The stress should be on the second syllable of "Zylinder".
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:59
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    You can approximate the “Weh” in “Wehnelt” as being kind of similar to the “ve” in “vein”.
    – Cubic
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 17:12
  • 2
    @fdb: I think it's a machine and I fully agree the pronounciation is weird (particularly the Wehneltelektrode where "she" doesn't have the pronounciation help of the dash). Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 17:56

Correct pronuncation

As the records offered by Dict.cc are indeed something between disastrous and hilarious, here is a record with a real living German native speaker:

How to pronounce "Wehneltzylinder" in German

Notes on the t-z difficulty

On trying several times I find that the word "Wehneltzylinder" is challenging because of the word boundary between Wehnelt and Zylinder with two plosive consonants t and z (German "z" being pronounced "ts"). So, standard pronuncation would merge the t and z; however, in very slow, over-precise pronunciation you might separate the words audibly.

Here is a record to demonstrate this:

Word boundary challenge in Wehneltzylinder

In everyday practice it might be a good shortcut to pronounce it somewhat like

Wehnel - Zylinder

(i.e. leaving out the t of Wehnelt, and relying solely on the "ts" sound provided by the "z")

Bonus info

Also, this second record shows how to pronounce "Arthur" in German (which is rather different from English).

  • @CarstenS Done. Thanks. Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 13:40
  • Thank you for your extensive answer and audio demonstrations!
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 1:30

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