Americans usually pronounce kratom in one of two ways. The first way rhymes with “atom” so it sounds like Kra-tum. The second is pronounced like kray-tum with the long a sound. You may have even heard it pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable making it sound like “tom” so that it is pronounced “krah-tom.”
While you can probably get by with any of these pronunciations, which way is actually the correct way to pronounce it if you decide to walk into a store to buy your favorite strain (my personal favorites are Super Green Malay and a special blend called White Fire).
Which one is right, KRA-tum or KRAY-tum?
For those of us who speak English, we have to look at the complicated rules of our language and it can also help to look at the “official” pronunciations used in Southeast Asia as well. Since it is not a traditional English word, it is kind of difficult, or even impossible, to claim that one is correct and one is incorrect.
Typical English rules would seem to suggest that Kray-tum is the right way to pronounce the word, but our language has a lot of instances where rules do not apply. In addition, different accents around the United States and the rest of the English speaking world could influence the way it is pronounced.
The American Kratom Association uses the “Kray-tum” pronunciation, but many kratom connoisseurs still use other pronunciations. To discover the official way to say the word “kratom,” it can help to take a look at the regions where kratom originates as a natural tree.
What Is The “Official” Way Of Pronouncing Kratom?
Southeast Asia is a large area, so there are actually multiple ways to pronounce kratom even where it is natural. However, the most popular way to pronounce kratom in this region of Asia is “Ketum” (as in ShopKetum!). This pronunciation does not have any “r” sound like the most popular American pronunciations.
Other portions of Southeast Asia pronounce it closer to “Krah-tom” or even “Kru-tome.” In some locations, the less popular way of pronouncing this medicinal herb with a “g” sound instead of the standard “k” sound is also heard and seen.
Ketum is still the most common in regions where kratom originates and grows ferociously including Malaysia, but Thailand is more likely to say “Krah-tom.” Not only do the different pronunciations make it difficult to determine the best Englishization of the word, but many of the countries in the Southeastern part of Asia also have different alphabets with slightly or greatly different sounds that we have in the English speaking world.
Motherland of Kratom has Malays, Thais, and Indonesians: Who to Follow
The three most kratom-producing countries are Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia with Indonesia being the greatest producer of kratom in the world. The Malaysian pronunciation should probably not be used, because it sounds so much different than the most common pronunciations in America so it would not always work for effective communication.
Since the word developed and originated in Thailand, this may be the best choice for those wanting to use the oldest pronunciation. This would mean that “Krah-tom” or “Krah-tome” would be the best choice.
Other Names of Kratom
There are a few other ways to pronounce kratom, plus there are different ways to pronounce powerful and potent strains of kratom known as Maeng Da strains. The most common name for the plant, other than the popular names “Kratom” or “Ketum,” is the scientific name.
The scientific name for the kratom plant is Mitragyna speciosa. While this may be difficult to pronounce as well, it only has a single correct pronunciation because of its use in the scientific community. It can also be shortened to M. speciosa.
Mitragyna is linguistically related to the world mitragynine, the most beneficial abundant alkaloid found in kratom leaves. The “speciosa” component of the scientific name means “brilliant” or “impressive.”
The “speciosa” part of the scientific name is easy enough to sound out, but the “Mitragyna” part is much harder to pronounce without guidance. Mitragyna is pronounced with the long “I” sound for the first letter so it rhymes with the letter or word “I,” but can also be pronounced as the word “me.” Therefore, the complete pronunciation would be “mi-tra-ginah” or “me-tra-ginah.”
Other names for the kratom plant include “biak-biak,” “thang,” “kakuam,” and “Thom.” In addition, the most famous strains known as Maeng Da are pronounced as “mang-dah” or “Mang-duh,” but can also be pronounced with a “mung” sound.
Like many words that we use in everyday conversation, kratom has multiple pronunciations that are considered acceptable. However, at least now you have some background knowledge about the word and can confidently pronounce it when you speak with someone about the wonderful benefits of this natural wonder of nature.