57 Really Hard to Pronounce Words in English

Updated April 28, 2020
how to pronounce accessory
    how to pronounce accessory
    background: gn8 / iStock / Getty Images ; woman: CSA Images / CSA Images / Getty Images

The English language is full of wacky words, including many that are hard to pronounce or say. Read through the word lists and see if you can pronounce them all correctly without looking at the explanations.

Common Words That Are Hard to Pronounce

Some of the hardest words to pronounce are ones you encounter every day. You may not even realize you’re saying them wrong!

  • accessory: /əkˈsesəri/, ack-sess-or-ee: small thing you wear with clothes to add style
  • anemone: /əˈneməni/, uh-neh-muh-nee: small plant
  • Antarctic: /ænˈtɑrktɪk/, ant-ark-tik: extremely cold region in the Southern part of the world
  • anthropomorphic: /ˌænθrəpoʊˈmɔrfɪk/, an-throw-poh-more-fik: considering a non-human object as having human qualities
  • asterisk: /ˈæstərɪsk/, ass-ter-issk: the symbol *
  • chipotle: /chə-ˈpōt-lā/, chih-poat-lay: smoked and dried chili pepper
  • comfortable: /ˈkʌmfərtəb(ə)l/, come-fur-tuh-ble: feeling relaxed
  • connoisseur: /ˌkɑnəˈsɜr/, con-ih-sir: someone who knows a lot about a particular thing
  • curmudgeon: /kərˈmʌdʒən/, ker-muhd-gin: someone who gets annoyed easily
  • expatiate: /ekˈspeɪʃiˌeɪt/, ex-pay-she-ate: talk or write in great detail about
  • jalapeno: /ˌhɑləˈpeɪnjoʊ/, ha-luh-pain-yo: small green or red pepper
  • ignominious: /ˌɪɡnəˈmɪniəs/, ihg-nuhm-in-ee-us: very embarrassing
  • lackadaisical: /ˌlækəˈdeɪzɪk(ə)l/, lack-uh-days-ih-cuhl: doing something in a lazy way
  • mischievous: /ˈmɪstʃɪvəs/, miss-chih-vuss: person who enjoys causing trouble for fun
  • misogynist: /mɪˈsɑdʒənɪst/, miss-ahdg-in-isst: person who hates women
  • niche: /nɪtʃ/, neesh: activity you are good at that is suited to you
  • nuclear: /ˈnukliər/, new-clee-er: type of energy
  • nuptial: /ˈnʌpʃəl/, nupshl: concerning marriage
  • onomatopoeia: /ˌɑnəmætəˈpiə/, on-uh-ma-tuh-pee-uh: words that sound like the thing they refer to
  • pauciloquy: \ pȯˈsiləkwē \, paw-sill-oh-kwee: brevity in speech
  • peremptory: /pəˈrempt(ə)ri/, per-empt-er-ee: speaking or behaving rudely
  • pronunciation: /prəˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃ(ə)n/, proh-nun-see-ay-shun: the way you say a word
  • quinoa: /ˈkinwɑ/, keen-wah: plant whose seeds are used as food
  • sadomasochism: /ˌseɪdoʊˈmæsəˌkɪzəm/, say-dough-mass-ih-kizm: getting sexual pleasure from pain
  • sesquipedalian: /ˌseskwɪpɪˈdeɪliən/, sess-kwih-pid-ay-lee-in: using a lot of long words
  • sherbet: /ˈʃɜrbət/, sher-bit: ice-cream like food
  • stultiloquence: \ ˌstəlˈtiləkwən(t)s \, stuhl-till-oh-kwense: senseless talk
  • turmeric: /ˈtɜrmərɪk/, ter-mer-ik: yellow spice used in cooking
  • worcestershire: /ˌwʊstərʃɪr /, wuh-stir-sure: brown sauce

English Words Difficult for Non-Native English Speakers to Pronounce

Seemingly simple English words can be hard for non-native English speakers to pronounce because they put two difficult letter sounds next to each other or are said very different from how they look.

  • colonel: /ˈkɜrn(ə)l/, kernl: high ranking officer in the military
  • data: /ˈdætə/, dah-tuh: information used for making calculations
  • drawers: /drɔrz/, drorz: multiple furniture components that slide in and out
  • entrepreneur: /ˌɑntrəprəˈnʊr/, on-treh-preh-ner: someone who starts a business
  • epitome: /ɪˈpɪtəmi/, ih-pit-uh-mee: best example of something
  • February: /ˈfebruˌeri/, feb-roo-airy: second month of the year
  • Nazi: /ˈnɑtsi/, not-see: member of the Nazi party
  • pizza: /ˈpitsə/, peet-suh: food made from flat round bread with toppings
  • police: /pəˈlis/, puh-lee-ss: people who legally enforce the law
  • restaurateur: /ˌrestərəˈtɜr/, rest-er-a-ter: someone who owns a restaurant
  • rural: /ˈrʊrəl/, rer-uhl: places away from cities with low populations
  • squirrel: /ˈskwɪrəl/, skwer-rel: small animal
  • Wednesday: /ˈwenzˌdeɪ/, when-z-day: day of the week

Hard to Pronounce Science and Medicine Words

There are undoubtedly too many medical and science terms that are difficult to spell or say to list them all here. Try out this sampling to see if you could be a science or medicine pro.

  • acetylcholine: \ ə-ˌse-tᵊl-ˈkō-ˌlēn/, a-set-l-koh-leen: a neurotransmitter
  • ambulance: /ˈæmbjələns/, amb-yoo-lence: vehicle that takes people to the hospital
  • anesthetist: /əˈnesθətɪst/, ah-ness-the-tihst: an anesthesiologist
  • cacophony: /kəˈkɑfəni/, kuh-kaw-fun-ee: unpleasant mixture of sounds
  • cytokinesis: \ ˌsī-tō-kə-ˈnē-səs\, sight-oh-kin-ee-sis: cytoplasmic changes in mitosis
  • dengue: /ˌdeŋɡi/, deng-ee: dengue fever is a serious illness
  • erinaceous: \ ¦erə¦nāshəs \, air-in-ay-shus: relating to a hedgehog
  • glomerular: \ glə-ˈmer-(y)ə-lər\, gluhm-air-yoo-ler: relating to a small intertwined mass
  • ibuprofen: /ˌaɪbjuˈproʊfən/, eye-byoo-pro-fin: medicine that reduces inflammation
  • kinesthesia: \ ˌki-nəs-ˈthē-zh(ē-)ə\, kin-ess-thee-jee-uh: a sense stimulated by body movements
  • mastectomy: /mæˈstektəmi/, mass-tek-toh-mee: operation to remove a woman’s breast
  • nauseant: /ˈnɔːzɪənt/, naw-zee-ent: substance causing the feeling of needing to vomit
  • ophthalmologist: /ˌɑpθælˈmɑlədʒɪst/, opth-all-mall-oh-jist: expert doctor on eye illnesses
  • scapula: /ˈskæpjələ/, skap-yoo-luh: shoulder blade
  • sphygmomanometer: \ ˌsfig-mō-mə-ˈnä-mə-tər\, sfig-moh-muh-nom-it-er: instrument for measuring blood pressure

Challenge Your Mind and Your Mouth

Some of these words are hard to say because your mind sees them one way and your mouth forms them in another. Other words simply have too many syllables to keep them straight in a hurry. Check out the 100 English words and phrases that are mispronounced most often to see if you’ve got those right too.