Top 16 Most Difficult Words To Pronounce in English Language: English Language is one of the most widely used languages in the world. It is the foremost language for business, academia, music, art and most cultures are represented through the use of the language. The ability to speak the language eloquently is considered by many to be a sign of intelligence.
There are some words which are however not so easy to pronounce in English Language. Learners of the language, especially those whose mother’s tongue is not English must be careful to pay close attention to learning how to pronounce some of these words.
This is a guide on how to pronounce some of the most difficult English words. The ability to pronounce words correctly gives confidence and allows listeners to pay attention to the content of what is being said as opposed to how its being said.
It is sometimes really annoying when we get to pronounce words countless number of times, just so that the other person can get an idea of what we are saying. The reason for this sometimes, is that we are pronouncing the words wrongly. Knowing how well to pronounce difficult words will go a long way in ensuring that we speak better.
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Top 16 Most Difficult Words to Pronounce in English
1. Colonel: Don’t be surprised, the word looks easy but very difficult to pronounce. The correct pronunciation is “Ker-nul”. The difficulty associated with how to correctly pronounce the word is because the word has a french origin. The second ‘o’ is silent and the ‘e’ is pronounced like it’s a ‘u’.
2. Anathema: The problem with pronouncing this word correctly comes from the beginning part of the word. The fact that the word has quite a number of the alphabet ‘a’ makes it all the more complex to pronounce. It is correctly pronounced as uh-nath-uh-muh. The word means a person or thing that is extremely dislikes. Once you get the first two syllables correctly, then you are good to go.
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3. Brewery: Yes! It is a difficult word to pronounce. The word does not look as easy and straightforward as it seems when being pronounced. The correct pronunciation is broo-uh-ree. The word is correctly pronounced when the middle syllable is ignored as though it is nto present.
4. Deteriorate: This word is certainly not pronounced as spelt. Trying to memorize the word slowly and exactly the way it appears will not cut it. You will most likely pronounce it wrongly that way. The correct pronunciation of the word is dih-teer-ee-uh-reyt. The ‘a’ and ‘r’ in the word get the silent treatment.
5. February: No doubt, a lot of people struggle with pronouncing this word correctly. It is certainly the most difficult month of the year to pronounce. It is correctly pronounced as feb-roo-er-ee. Looking at the pronunciation closely, you will discover that the difficult part of pronouncing the word is the presence of the ‘a’ which happens to be silent. An understanding of this will go a long way in easing the pronunciation of the word.
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6. Massachusetts: This is one of the difficult places to pronounce. The way of pronouncing the word correctly seem to be completely different from the way it is spelt. But once a person has mastered the right pronunciation, the word becomes very easy. The right pronunciation is mas-uh-choo-sits. It appears as though some of the letters are replaced when being pronounced. It is therefore important to practice a word like this.
7. Isthmus: This is a word that represents narrow strips of land. The word is easy to pronounce if the right pronunciation is known. It is correctly pronounced as is-muhs. The ‘th’ is completely silent and once this fact is known, then the problems with pronouncing the word are solved.
8. Phenomenon: You will be surprised at the number of persons that usually pronounce this word wrongly. It is correctly pronounced as fi-nom-uh-non. None of the alphabets in this word is silent, they are just tweaked when being pronounced.
9. Anemone: It looks easy you may want to say, but pronouncing it correctly is far from easy unless you know a few tricks. The right pronunciation is uh-nem-uh-nee. Strange right? But that’s the correct pronunciation. The first two syllables seem to be the problem associated with pronouncing this word correctly.
10. Synecdoche: This is a literary device that many people are unfamiliar with how to pronounce correctly. It is correctly pronounced as se-nek-de-kee. Now you know the trick, it shouldn’t be so much of a problem going forward.
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11. Quintessential: Quintessential is an English word which means perfect or typical example of class. For instance: Anayo is a quintessential guy. While this word seems fun to say, pronouncing it appears to be a difficult task for some people as they often pronounce the ‘Q’ and ‘essential’ in a stressed manner. However, the word should be produced in this manner ‘ˌkwɪn.tɪˈsen.ʃəl/’.
From the above we can say that this word should be pronounced starting with Kwin and the word essential should be pronounced as ti sen al instead of verbally pronouncing it as quintessential.
12. Accede: The word Accede basically means to give approval or agree to do what someone have asked. For example: Federal Government acceded to the demands of ASUU.
This word Accede seems to be a difficult word to pronounce for some people as people often pronounces it as ‘a-seed’, whereas its correct pronunciation is ‘ak-seed’.
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13. Scissors: Scissors is a popular English word as it is commonly used by all of us; however it is not commonly pronounced well by all of us, as people unknowingly pronounce this word wrongly.
The word Scissors is commonly pronounced with the ‘Sc’ and ‘o’ in the word sounded as literally deduced from its spelling. However, this is an incorrect pronunciation as the word should be pronounced as ‘Siz-erz’.
14. Accessory: Accessory is a tricky word in part because of the double C. Individuals are frequently tempted to substitute a single S sound for the C. But each of these C letters stands for a distinct sound—a “soft C” and a “hard C.” In light of this, the pronunciation of accessory is [ak-ses–uh-ree].
15. Choir: Although it’s tempting, pronouncing the CH in choir as [ch ] would be incorrect. The pronunciation of the word choir is [kwahyuhr]. Quire is an archaic and sadly defunct spelling of this word that more accurately reflects its current pronunciation.
16. Coup: Another term that has been borrowed from French and used in English is coup, which makes pronouncing it difficult. When a word ends in -oup, it is pronounced [oo] in French. Not only did we translate this French word into English, but we also did so using the same pronunciation. This indicates that coup is pronounced [koo] correctly.
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Tips On How To Improve English Words Pronunciation
Having discovered the most difficult words to pronounce in English language, the following tips on how to improve English words pronunciation should be considered:
a. Learn how similar words are pronounced: There are some English words that are pronounced similarly. It is best to know of some of these words and if possible know the tiny differences that exist in the way they are pronounced. They may sound very similar, but there are always differences in the stress patterns.
For instance, words like sleep and slip, beat and bit, win and wean, are usually pronounced very similarly except for a few long stress or short stress. Also, knowledge of the similarity between both words would also allow us to give listeners a hint of what we really are referring to. This hint may be to stress this word and use it in a sense that the right meaning will be easily considered.
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b. Learn how to pronounce difficult words using good online dictionaries: There are various online dictionaries that try to teach users how to pronounce some difficult words. The use of these dictionaries will go a long way in aiding the pronunciation of these words.
You can use online dictionaries like google translate, FuentU, Forvo, Marriam Webster, among others. It is sometimes easier to hear how a word is pronounced by listening to the correct pronunciation of the word, than by just seeing the word written out.
c. Pay attention to the movement of your mouth and tongue: When pronouncing some difficult words, the movement of the mouth goes a long way in determining how well we pronounce the word.
So, practicing using a mirror can help us in seeing the movement of our lips and tongue and this can give us guidance on whether the words are being pronounced well or not.
d. Add the relevant stress to words and sounds: English as a language involves a lot of stress. It is when the right amount of stress is added to some words that they come out well pronounced.
There are some words which are not exactly pronounced the way they are spelt. They require special attention to be given to them if they are to be correctly pronounced. A few of them are given above and the right way to pronounce them. Careful study of these words, and continuous practice on the right way to pronounce them no doubt is the secret to mastering how to pronounce them with ease.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.