One of the most annoying solecisms current in broadcasting is the phrase an historic.
Eradication of this pest would make me an happy guy. Perhaps I’m an
hard man to please, but it is an silly affectation. I heard one
broadcaster claim that an
should be used before multisyllabic words which are accented on the
second syllable. It may be an heretical attitude on my part, but I
think this assertion was an hallucination on her part. She can tell it
to an harmonica player, an humanitarian, or an hyena, but I’m not
If you would like a more authoritative citation than ridicule from me, consider:
Webster’s New World Dictionary, Elementary Edition
An is used before all words beginning with a vowel sound. A is used before a consonant sound. [This includes a pronounced h, as in historic.]
The Secretary’s Desk Book
[An is] used before words beginning with a vowel sound or a silent h, as an egg, an hour. [The h in historic is not silent unless you're Cockney.]
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary
An now replaces a before all words beginning with a vowel sound or mute h, as, an orange, an honor. [The h in historic is not mute. Do you detect a pattern here?]
The Little Brown Handbook, Third Edition
Use a before words beginning with consonant sounds, including those spelled with an initial pronounced h and those spelled with vowels that are sounded as consonants: a historian, a one o’clock class, a university. Use an before words that begin with vowel sounds, including those spelled with an initial silent h: an orgy, an L, an honor.
If you are impervious to all the citations given above, and still think
“an historic” is OK, remember it is regularly used by that great master
of the English language, Dubya. Makes me want to go “nookyular”.