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Hard Words in English that Every Student Should Know

The English language is a mix of easy and hard words. There are many words that seem easy to pronounce but have difficult spellings. Likewise, there are also challenging words that you must know to build your vocabulary. The hard words in English are often a part of competitive exams like IELTS, TOEFL, or GRE. If you know them, it will be easy for you to tackle questions about them.

Moreover, you will also become a better writer. In this post, we will help you learn these challenging words that sound different from how they are spelled.

What Makes Words Hard to Spell

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There are many hard words to spell in English. The key reasons that make their spelling complex include the following. 

  • You cannot spell many English words by just hearing them.

For example, when you hear the word ‘Wednesday,’ the letters ‘d,’ ‘n,’ and ‘e’ cannot be heard. Since they are silent, you can omit them while spelling the word.

  • There are differences in the spellings according to the country.

For example, American English uses ‘z’ in words like ‘organization,’ ‘optimization,’ and the like. On the other hand, in British English, ‘z’ is replaced by ‘s.’

  • Homophones are another category of hard words for kids and many adults. They refer to words with the same pronunciation but different meanings and spelling.

For example, ‘mussels’ and ‘muscles’; ‘cruise’ and ‘crews.’

  • The presence of double consonants in English spellings.

For example, the word ‘misspell’ has two s’s and two l’s. 

  • There are many hard words for adults having numerous vowels. The presence of vowels makes the spelling even harder to memorize.

For example, ‘adieu,’ ‘queue,’ ‘euouae.’

A List of Hard Words to Spell in English

Now that you know why some words are hard, begin learning them. In the following section, you will find common hard words to spell.

Understanding their spelling will make it easier for you to tackle an aptitude test and express yourself better.

  • Narcissistic – It is a health condition wherein the person has an inflated sense of their importance. The spelling can be difficult to remember because it has many S and C at different places.
  • Byzantine – It means complex. It is pronounced differently everywhere. For example, some pronounce it as biz-uh n-teen while others pronounce it as bih-zan-tin.
  • Equivocate – This is one of those hard words to read, and people understand it in different ways. People also get confused between its meaning and think that it means to equate. However, the word means using vague language to deceive people.
  • Vacuum – Many people make mistakes in writing the spelling of this name. You might double C instead of double U.
  • Spaghetti – It is one of those hard words to say because of its Italian origin. A lesser-known fact is that the ‘I’ at the end of it shows that the noun is plural. Also, people commonly omit the writing ‘h’ as it is silent when spoken.
  • Quisling – It means someone who betrays their country by siding with the enemy. It is a rare English word and so people often find it hard to spell it.
  • Charcuterie – Charcuterie is a prominent example of hard words to spell in English. It is not only hard-to-spell but also a hard-to-pronounce word. You should pronounce it as ‘SHAR coo tuh ree.’its meaning is cold-cooked meats.
  • Commensurate – This is a Latin word that means corresponding in amount or degree. Commensurate is one of the hard words for adults and kids as it can be difficult to remember to write a double ‘m’ in it.
  • Truculent – This word means having a fierce and savage nature. You can use it to describe the attitude of someone. However, ensure that you place the vowels correctly while writing it.
  • Massachusetts – This is perhaps one of English’s most challenging and long hard words. This place in the USA literally means ‘at the large hill.’ The presence of s’s and t’s makes the word a very tricky one.
  • Acquiesce – Acquiesce, pronounced as ‘ak wee es’ is a verb that means to agree, not wholeheartedly. This is a challenging word in English because of the three consecutive vowels in it.
  • Curmudgeon – This noun is one of the hard words to pronounce in English. It implies a bad-tempered person. The presence of numerous u’s at different places makes this word a tricky one.
  • Epistolary – It means ‘in the form of letters.’ This is a hard word whose meaning is often unclear to students.
  • Gourmand – Gourmand means a person who enjoys eating food. This word can be used to describe delicious food items like desserts.
  • Impecunious – This is one of the adjectives and hard words to read. It implies having no money. The word can be difficult because people often make mistakes in writing.

A List of Hard Words to Pronounce

You might come across various hard-to-pronounce words in English. Here’s a list of some of the hardest words that bewilder even the most fluent English speakers.

  • Worcestershire – Pronounce it as vu-stuh-shuh
  • Chores – Pronounce it as chaus
  • Anathema – pronounce it as uh-na-thuh-muh
  • Otorhinolaryngoloist – Pronounce it as oh-toh-RYE-noh-LAR-en-GOL-e-gee
  • Isthmus – Pronounce it as is-muhs
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – Pronounce it as hi-poh-po-poh-mon-stroh-ses-kwee-peh-dah-leejoh-foh-beeja
  • Asterisk – Pronounce it as a-stuh-ruhsk
  • Balmoral – Pronounce it as bal-maw-ruhl

Tips to Learn the Trickiest and Hard Words in English

Many long hard words have Italian, Spanish, Latin, or French origins. So memorizing them is undoubtedly difficult. But here are some techniques to help you keep them in your memory. You can also avail of professional assignment help if you find it difficult to understand the meaning of such words.

  • Record yourself pronouncing hard words – Hear a difficult word and practice pronouncing it. While doing so, record yourself, so you know where you are making mistakes.
  • Rely on the sound of the words – Many hard words to say are those with tricky spellings. However, a good tip is to focus on pronouncing it correctly with the right sound. Learn the word phonetically, and only after that, move to its spelling.
  • Break down the word into smaller parts – A long and hard word can be broken into small parts that are easy to remember. Doing so will also help you discover that various hard words to pronounce can have a root word in common.
  • Memorize words in context – While learning a difficult word, learn to use it in the context of a sentence. This will help you find out the meaning and the general usage of the word.

Summing up

Now, whenever you come across hard words in English, you wouldn’t worry. Learn the word phonetically, pronounce it correctly, and then learn its spelling. Also, try making sentences using difficult words. You can also avail of professional help to boost your vocabulary for academic writing.

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