Good news!  Peridot can be pronounced in several different ways according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  The word Peridot comes from two possible routes, one French, one Arabic, and it’s not clear which one is correct. The French route is the Anglo Norman word pedorates, which comes from the Latin word paedorot, a kind of opal.Alternatively, it could have come from the Arabic word faridat which means ‘gem’.

Peri-doh or Peri-dot? 
In Middle English there are several variations – peridod, peritot pelidod, pilidod. The d ending suggests the last consonant was sounded.But no one was saying peridot. The first time the word peridot gets recorded in English was in 1705. This was a translation of the entry in Latin in the register of St Albans Abbey recording that in 1245 Bishop John left the abbey several items of peridot. Anglo Norman was the language of the court at the time - Richard the Lionheart who died in 1199 only spoke French, and it was the first language of the royal family right up until Henry IV.

But how would the clerk writing
peridot for the first time in 1705 pronounce it? Who knows! It depends on which version was current in St Albans at the time. Perhaps peri-dot, because he was unlikely to be from the upper classes. Perhaps peri-doh because he was probably educated in the south of England. So it depends on which route you fancy – Middle English, or Norman French.  Peri-doh or Peri-dot: it’s a beautiful stone either way.  


May 30, 2023 — Sarah de Larrinaga