Seriously...What's the Correct Pronunciation of 'Bokeh?'

Boh-keh? Boo-kay? Boh-kuh? Bok-uh?

What do you call the blurry part of an image that is out of focus? Silly question, right? It's bokeh. But—how do you pronounce it? If you're like me and countless other filmmakers and photographers, you hesitated to answer and then started questioning everything you thought you knew about saying the Japanese word.

There is a right way to pronounce bokeh and in this video from Photo Gear News we get to learn what it is once and for all.

First of all, I just want to take a second to say—you're welcome. When I grew weary writing all of those term papers on film movements no one has ever heard about, I knew that it all was somehow worth it, that my career and my daily internet scouring would one day lead up to this moment—the moment when I would find a video like this that put an end to the utter confusion surrounding this one filmmaking term in particular.

For a long time I pronounced bokeh as "boh-kay," like a "bouquet of beautiful flowers." Then I heard someone much more experienced than me pronounce it "boh-kuh," so I started pronouncing it the same way. Then I heard someone else much more experienced than me pronounce it as "bok-uh," so, of course, I started to believe that that individual was not as experienced as I thought they were.

The true answer: "boh-keh."

I've been wrong for decades, as were all of my heroes.     

Your Comment

10 Comments

I thought it was pronounced Rye OOh.

March 30, 2017 at 7:33PM

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Jake
695

Funny, I always thaught it was rrr-you with a soft r.
The best character in the game and this video too :)

March 31, 2017 at 3:50AM

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Ben McAllister
Compositor
255

We always pronounced it Rye eww.

March 31, 2017 at 7:17AM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
895

Fun topic. You should have more international heroes, than just English speaking ones!!!
By the way, the guy asking the question is still not making it at the end of the video. He is still closer to "Bokey" (like Okay) than "Bokeh".
The "h" is there for an extended and "dry" ending of the "e" sound.
Japanese is a very rich and interesting language to learn.

March 30, 2017 at 11:31PM

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Franc Sanka
Director of Photography / Film and Photography Teacher
154

So like saying okay with a B before it. Boh'kay. They just don't draw out the kay part like Americans sometimes do.

March 31, 2017 at 7:25AM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
895

Well, what ever.... I am okay with Bokay as long as I get 'the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens' :-)

March 31, 2017 at 8:38AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
855

Everyone pronounces it incorrectly, doesn't really matter. If you're going to go this far, then to be completely correct it's being spelt incorrectly as well.

Japanese cannot finish a word with a silent "H". Japanese words with H always include a vowel after it: Ha Hi Hu He Ho. So bokeh correctly spelt is boke.

Noel Evans (former resident of Tokyo)

April 1, 2017 at 2:27PM

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Noel Evans
Director / Director of Photography / Cinematographer
199

Hey Noel, you're not a orthographist. You're better off sticking to your day job. I'll visit your at Best Buy when I wanna get a discount on some memory cards.

-

April 1, 2017 at 4:14PM

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liang
81

"Japanese cannot finish a word with a silent "H". Japanese words with H always include a vowel after it: Ha Hi Hu He Ho. So bokeh correctly spelt is boke."

That statement doesn't make any sense at all!

April 13, 2017 at 6:14AM

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Fun fact: if you read "Bokeh" in German like it was a German word, you kind of get the correct pronunciation (at least as close as you will ever get as a non-Japanese person). The "h" after a vowel in German is also silent and indicates a long vowel.

April 13, 2017 at 6:13AM, Edited April 13, 6:13AM

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