20 Most Difficult Words in the English Language

English is a tricky language. What are the most difficult words in English? There are so many rules and then there are so many exceptions to every rule. And the loopholes are always there… English is not black and white. There are so many gray areas. Some words are hard to pronounce, some are spelled not at all like how they sound, and some words have multiple meanings. Below we will list the 20 of the most difficult words in English based on one, two, or all of those reasons.

20 Most Difficult Words

1. Anemone

Anemone is pronounced uh-nem-uh-nee. As you can see, that is not how it is smelled. This also isn’t a common word, so you may not know what it means. It comes from the Greek word “wildflower.”

2. Antidisestablishmentarianism

This is one of the longest words in the English language. It has 28 letters and 13 syllables. It is also a tongue twister… I’m not sure I can even pronounce it properly.

3. February 

Unlike January, February has an r before the u, which gets caught in a lot of people’s tongues. A lot of people pronounce Feb-roo-er-ee like Febuary.

4. Floccinaucinihilipilification

The longest word in English. It is 29 words and 12 syllables. It means seeing something as worthless… funny because that word seems to have a lot of worth in the length.

5. Onomatopoeia

Saying this word and spelling this word is a tricky one. Onomatopoeia is when you make a sound relating to something like buzz, hiss, splash.

6. Left

Left isn’t hard to say or to spell, however, it has multiple meanings which makes it tricky for people trying to learn English. Left can mean the left side of your body, or that you left something at someone’s house or that you are politically left (liberal). This can easily confuse a non-native English speaker.

7. Park

Like left, park is not hard to say, but has multiple meanings. You can park your car in the driveway or go to the park and watch the sunset. This can confuse people who have only learned one meaning of the word and then it can be taken out of context.

8. Mourning

This word sounds the exact same as morning but is spelled slightly different and has an entirely different meaning. For a non-native English speaker, this is extremely confusing because it sounds like one thing but means another. Morning relates to the time of day, whereas mourning, means deep sorrow for someone who has died.

9. Amateur

Amateur is one of the most misspelled words in the English language because the ending is french. Most English words end in -er, like harder, colder, freezer, meaner, but amateur has the u. This is an exception to a basic English rule.

10. Collectible

You would think collectible is spelled collectable, but it is just one of those -ible words that must be memorized.

11. Rhyme

Rhyme seems like it should be spelled rime and it used to be, but in the 1600’s it was changed to be more like rhythm, which is another hard one the spell and commonly misspelled.

12. Misspelled

Another commonly misspelled word is misspelled. Isn’t that ironic and embarrassing? Mis-spell is an easy way to remember the proper spelling.

13. Occasionally

Doubling consonants can get confusing. Oftentimes people put two s’s and forget an l.

14. Twelfth

It is very common to forget the f when spelling twelfth. Most people even pronounce it without the “F” sound.

15. Weather

Weather is another word that sounds just like another word that is spelled differently and means something else. Whether vs. weather. Don’t confuse them in your paper because they mean two very different things. Weather relates to the temperature and whether relates to an option or whether or not you are doing something.

16. Principal

When to use principle and when to use principal… Just remember that your principal is your pal and a person, and a principle is a theory.

17. Specificities

Specificities is extremely hard to say for people with a lisp. All of the s’s and c’s make it almost impossible for anyone with a speech impediment.

18. Quinoa

Pronounced Keen-wah, this is a yummy seed. You just have to know its a q instead of a k. One of those words without any type of reason.

19. Timbre

The r before the e throws a lot of people off. Usually, words have an er ending… and it is pronounced like many other -er ending words.

20. Rambunctious

This is a fun and different word to say, spell, and use in general. Bunc is pronounced – bunk, a soft c sound.

There are so many hard words in English. To choose only 20 was a challenge because words are difficult for many reasons.

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20 Most Difficult Words in English with Image

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