Silent B in “Debt”?

There’s a Chinese tradition which requires us to clear all our debt before the Lunar New Year.

How do you pronounce “debt”?

a) deBt (pronouncing the B)
b) Det (silent B)

(B) Det is the answer!

The word was usually spelt “det” or “dette” in Middle English from the Old French “dette”. Originally it came from the Latin “debita” which is from the Latin verb “debere” – to owe.

In French, the “b” that was in the Latin word reappeared in the 13th century and “debte” was the common form. This spelling moved to England as “debt” in the sixteenth century but the Middle English pronunciation “det” remained.

While the word has undergone many changes, the “b” that was in the original Latin has not been pronounced in English for a thousand years.