I found in the German dictionary that the word Tee has two pronunciations.

It sounds [te:] for the drink and [ti:] for the tool used for American football or golf.

I think the former is the standard pronunciation which aligns with the spell.

  • 5
    The are quite a few other words, which are pronounced differently despite being written the same, the linguists have the term homographs for them. See wiktionary for more examples.
    – guidot
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 10:58
  • 2
    ...and this effect is not limited to German: Microsoft recently announced that they would phase out their "resume assistant" in Word, which left me wondering whether this assistant would (a) help people resume [ɹɪˈzjuːm] their work or (b) write a resume [ˈɹɛz.ə.meɪ]. Obviously, the latter is a loan word from French.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 12:38
  • It's worth noting, though, that (at least) Americans pronounce those two "tee"s exactly the same, in all dialects/regions I'm aware of. Despite us spelling one as "tea"! @Heinzi: Only a problem because someone was too lazy to write résumé.
    – FeRD
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:36
  • These words are homographs.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 22:12
  • Why are there two different pronunciations for the English word tear? ("I have a tear in my eye" but "I tear my shirt.") There are much more examples: *"The servants bow to the king" - "With bow and arrow" or "The wind is blowing" - "I wind my watch." or "Yesterday I read a book and tomorrow I will read another." Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 10:16

2 Answers 2


Those are simply two different words. They are homographs.

"der Tee" refers to the tea plant and the beverage.

"das Tee" is a very recent loanword from English and refers to the golf/football device. Consequently, (approximate) English pronounciation is used as for other loanwords from English (e.g., E-mail).

Never forget checking the article (i.e., grammatical gender) when looking up (or learning) German nouns. But even with the same article, it could be two different words.

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    Even the phenomenon of differentiating identically spelled words by pronounciation is not unique: der Band/die Band/das Band, das Collagen/die Collagen. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 6:39
  • @JannPoppinga Yes, there are more examples of homographs and it is quite common that they involve loanwords.
    – user6495
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 6:56

German has a tendency to pronounce loan words in (roughly) the same way as they are pronounced in their language of origin.

der Tee ("the tea") is coming into German probably from Dutch thee and is pronounced alike. das Tee ("the tee") comes into German from the American English word and is pronounced alike.

Your hypothesis that the pronounciation [te:] is "aligning with the spell" is correct.


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