The 10 most difficult words to pronounce. How many can you get right? 52



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Refrigerator, Alzheimer’s, clothes – these are just some of the words we struggle to pronounce everyday thanks to the English language’s confusing tendencies.

Recently, more than 5,000 people shared their opinions on the most difficult words to pronounce and we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 below. Take a look and tell us how many you get right.

10. Rural

Rural made it to number 10 on the list thanks to its tricky double ‘r’, made especially hard when paired with another ‘r’ sounding word.

One user noted no made how hard they tried, they could not pronounce a particularly tricky phrase.

“I cannot say Rural Juror – comes out rurrrerr jerrrerr and sounds like I’m growling.”

An Australian writer helpfully offered an Aussie translation: “An Aussie would pronounce it ‘ruhral jurah.”

Best tongue-twister “I want to be a juror on a rural brewery robbery case.”

9. Otorhinolaryngologist

No wonder this one made the list! Thankfully someone offered a helpful way to break it down

“Once you know what it is, it’s much easier. “Oto-rhino-laryng-ologist” is literally “ear-nose-throat-scientist,” they wrote.

8. Colonel

Ahh the English language strikes again – a word where spelling has nothing to do with it’s pronunciation!

“If you know it’s pronounced “kernel”, it’s easy to pronounce,” one writer pointed out. “But if you were new to the English language and didn’t know that, you would never pronounce it correctly.”

Another contributor offered a little background on the word. “We took the French spelling (spelled and pronounced with r) and the Italian pronunciation (also spelled with an l).” Makes sense, right?

7. Penguin

This one was brought to light recently when it was revealed British actor Benedict Cumberbatch had done a documentary on penguins despite the face he couldn’t pronounce the furry creature’s name. Take a look at the video below. We think he’s saying “peng wings”!

6. Sixth
We couldn’t agree more with this one! The ‘s’ and ‘xth’ make this work hard to get right every time. As one user noted: “What kind of word is that with an S and xth sound?”

Best tongue-twister: “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

5. Isthmus

This unusual word is used to describe a narrow strip of land with sea on either side. It’s pronounced “is-muh-s”, not that you’d know that from the spelling.

“Ithmuth,” was one contributor’s hilarious attempt.

4. Anemone

An anemone is a type of plant, and a tricky tongue-twister, too! Our best advice is to break it down: “Uh-Nem-Uh-Knee.”

Best tongue-twister: “In me, many an enemy anemone enema.”

3. Squirrel

Apparently people all over the world struggle to say this word. Germans in particular have trouble pronouncing it, with one writer explaining it was used in WWII to detect a German accent.

2. Choir

No doubt the difficulty comes from the spelling, which easily confuses people due to the ‘ch’ and ‘oir’.

One helpful user suggested saying ‘enquire’ without the ‘en’.

1. Worcestershire

Rolling in a number one is the world’s most mispronounced condiment! Many people offered amusing attempts they’d heard over the years, including, ‘Wor-kester-shire’, ‘Whats-dis-here’ and ‘Wooster-shire’.

Once you get rid of the ‘ce’ in the middle, it’s really not that hard though.

Our top tip? Break it down like this: ‘Woos-ter-sheer’.

Do you struggle to pronounce any of these words? Do you have any other words to add to the list?

Meagan Lawrence

  1. Number 9 hasn’t ever come up in conversation. I am a South Australian we pronounce everything correctly it’s the Eastern Staters that get it wrong. Must be the lower class convict background. Why the heck too to Croweaters say the River before its name. The River Murray not Murray River, River Torrens etc.

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  2. I’d have put vulnerable (vunnerable) near the top of the list. Oh and another, after today’s efforts, Essendon (Essedon).

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    • Vulnerable is the one that annoys me the most! Even news readers and interviewers can’t pronounce it correctly. It has an “l” for goodness sake!

  3. Shouldn’t anaesthetist be on the list ? I’ve heard some pretty interesting attempts at saying it sometimes.

  4. The number 1 most common everyday mistake is people pronouncing “issue” as “ishoo” and “tissue” as “tishoo”. I blame the School system for not emphasising that the pronunciation is “is-sue” and “tis-sue”.

  5. one you don’t have here which makes me cringe when even television newsreaders can’t pronounce it is “fifth” . it’s not “FITH”…there’s an “f” in there in the middle!

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  6. Brace yourselves folks. The country the largest population where english is the official language is the good old USA and have they ever made a mess of the language. And all we see on TV is US crap.

    In fact I’m halfway through watching Swamp People and as it is made in Louisiana it has subtitles. At least I haven’t heard them say dorenge or is that Arkansas. ROFLMAO

  7. “ask” is another one…’s not “AKS” people…..brrrrrr!

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