The word forte (pronounced “fort”) is a French word meaning “strength” that is used in English to refer to one’s talent or ability.

Example: English is my forte.

This word is often mispronounced “FOR-tay” because it is confused with the Italian word forte (pronounced “FOR-tay”). The words are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and meanings. If you play a musical instrument, you will probably recognize the Italian word as a term meaning “loud.” When referring to ability, the correct pronunciation is “fort,” but in music, it is always “FOR-tay.”

Posted in Pronunciation.

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  1. Marc says:

    This is actually a linguistic misconception. Forte in Italian actually means strong not loud. So the fortay pronunciation stands correct. It is the musical connection that throws most people.

  2. Robin says:

    WHAT???!!!… Forte in French is indeed pronounced FORT and in Italian pronounced FOR-tay. Let’s continue to use the Italian pronunciation because saying for example, ‘English is my fort.” would sound very strange.

    How about picking on ‘pronunciation’ versus ‘pronounciation’; the latter being wrong. The verb is pronounce. The noun is wiithout the O and is spelled pronUnciation.

    In Canada we have never heard ‘drug’ for the past of drag. I heard it on a trip to the US and didn’t know what it meant.

    The absolute worst thing is when people use the perfect tense of verbs as the past participle. e.g. He would have WENT. He has RAN 3 miles. Sometimes these words ARE one and the same but not always!

    Another thing that can make people sound uneducated is in an IF sentence using WOULD twice. If he would have known you were going, he would have joined you. No! No! No! Painful! Nails scratching on blackboard! It is If he HAD known you were going, he WOULD have joined you.

    Our language is collapsing into a sink hole!

  3. Jeremy says:

    In Spanish it is Forte – pronounced ForTAY. Same word, same meaning as French.

  4. Dan says:

    Since looking it up years ago, I always use the pronunciation “fort”. What’s right is right.

  5. Beata says:

    I’ve never heard this word pronounced “fort.” I think “FORtay” has become the accepted pronunciation through usage.

    • Torch says:

      Hmm – common pronunciation does not make it right – would you really want nuclear pronounced noocoola or what about laboratory as lab-rat-ory?

  6. bob says:

    I agree that calling it ‘fort’ would be far more confusing. (See

    I think that over time, pronunciations become ‘technically correct’ through usage, which I think has happened with ‘fortay’.

  7. Bernard says:

    The Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Edition offers three pronunciations for forte, meaning talent or ability, in the following order: fortay, forty, fort.

  8. Frank says:

    Actually the Italian pronunciation is not ‘for-tay’. The ‘e’ and the end of ‘forte’ in Italian is pronounced like the ‘e’ in best. If you said ‘fortay’, an Italian might interpret the word as ‘fortei’.

  9. Music says:

    In music,isn’t the word pronounced “Fortay”

    • Rachel V says:

      Music: Yes, that’s correct. The debate is whether the the word is pronounced “fort” or “for-tay” when used to mean a strength/strong point.

  10. Andy says:

    I’m gonna have to agree that forte, though perhaps technically incorrectly pronounced “fortay”, would be far more confusing if pronounced “fort”. In the vernacular, as Michael (above) notes, it is always pronounced “fortay”.

  11. Michael says:


    I’d just like to note that, here in the UK, the ability meaning of forte is always pronounced as ‘for-tay’. That’s ‘always’ as in ‘never otherwise’.