How Do You Pronounce the Word “Bokeh? This Fun Video Has the Answer!

Though it's a commonly used term in the photography world, opinions vary on how the word “bokeh” should be pronounced. The term is said to come from the Japanese word “boke,” which translates as “blur” or, in some cases, “senility.”

That’s a bit confusing in itself but most photo buffs use it to mean the blurred/out-of-focus background in an image that helps draw attention to the sharp foreground details of your subject, such as in this image of a rose below.

©Dan Havlik

But how exactly do you pronounce this strange word? The team from Photogearnews roamed the halls of The Photography Show in England and asked attendees how they say “bokeh” and got a number of different responses. Is it bowkeh, bookah, or bokkay?

Actually none of those is quite right. Watch till the end of the video below where an authority on the correct pronunciation of the Japanese words explains how you should say it. (SPOILER ALERT: There are actually two correct ways to pronounce it!)

To learn more about bokeh, read Shutterbug columnist Seth Shostak’s piece, “What Is Bokeh?: How Background Blur Can Be Both Good and Bad For Your Images”