So you’re looking to buy kratom online, and you’re about to head to the store when you realize you have no idea how to pronounce “kratom.” You might feel embarrassed, but the great news is, you’re not alone!
Originating from Southeast Asia, kratom has become increasingly popular in the Western world over the last few years, with an increase in kratom consumption in Europe and 15 million active users in the USA alone in 2020.
Indeed, from pain relief and anxiety management properties to energy-enhancing benefits, this natural remedy has helped millions across the globe. With such rising popularity, it’s therefore only fair to try and figure out the correct pronunciation of the word. Need some help with that?
To assist you, we’ll review below the different Western and Eastern pronunciations. You’re welcome!
How Kratom is Pronounced in the West
According to the Oxford Lexico Dictionary, kratom can be pronounced in two different ways:
- The first pronunciation is “KRAT-um.” The “krat” part of the word rhymes with the word “cat” and is pronounced with a short “a” So, KRAT-um sounds a bit like the word “atom.” Note that, in this version, the syllable “KRA” is accented.
- The second possible pronunciation of kratom is “KRAY-tum.” It’s the most widespread pronunciation, especially in the US. In this version, the “Kray” part of the word uses a long “a” sound, just like the “Kray” pronunciation of the word “crayfish.” Note that the “Kray” syllable is accented. The overall word rhymes with “Tatum.”
Many kratom users and vendors believe the first pronunciation, KRAT-um is the correct one. However, certain organizations, such as the American Kratom Organization, use the second pronunciation, KRAY-tum, making it difficult to pick a winner!
To try and shed some light on this mystery, let’s take a closer look at the pronunciation of the word “kratom” in the plant’s native countries.
How Kratom is Pronounced in the East
Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, all offer excellent growing conditions for kratom, with Indonesia and Malaysia exporting the majority of the world’s supply. The plant has traditionally been used in Southeast Asia in religious ceremonies or as a stimulant to increase work productivity. It has also been used to help alleviate pain and quell anxiety.
And to make things easy, the word kratom is pronounced differently in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia!
In Malaysia, the pronunciation of the word “kratom” differs quite significantly from the way we pronounce kratom in English. Indeed, kratom is called ketum in Malaysia as the sound of the letter “r” is silent in Malay, and the word is therefore pronounced either “Key-tum” or “Kay-tum.” In the Key-tum version, the “key” part of the word rhymes with the word “bee.” In the Kay-tum version, the “Kay” rhymes with “okay.” In both pronunciations, the “Tum” syllable rhymes with the word “atom.”
While the word ketum is well-known in Thailand, it’s more commonly used in Malaysia. As a result, Thai people have their own way of saying “kratom.” Indeed, some Thais pronounce it as “KRUH-tome.” The “tome” part of the word sounds like the word “tone,” while the “kruh” part is accented. It’s also spoken faster. Note that the “k” in the word “kratom” is an unaspirated K pronounced between a “g” and a “k” in English.
In Indonesia, “kratom” is pronounced “KRA-thom.” The “a” sound is the part of the word rhymes with the word “bra,” and the “r” is rolled. The “thom” syllable is pronounced like the name “Tom” but with a “th” sound instead of the “t” sound. You can hear the pronunciation here.
You’ve probably guessed it; there is no definitive right or wrong way to say kratom. Traditionally pronounced ketum in East Asia, the pronunciation has evolved when the powerful supplement became popular in the USA. Indeed, languages are constantly changing, evolving, and adapting, shaped by external influences, societal changes, and users’ needs, and English is no exception. English speaking consumers have, therefore, adapted the pronunciation to their own language.
As to why there’s no unanimous pronunciation of the word kratom in English, let’s just say that the English language is full of contradictions when it comes to vowel pronunciations. Therefore, as long as you enjoy the benefits of kratom, keep a wellness mindset, and a holistic approach to health, it doesn’t matter how you say it 🙂