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The Most Difficult Words to Spell in English

English is not a difficult language and yet there are some words that are confusing and weird. Some letters are silent, for example ‘our’ and ‘hour’ – two different words and seemingly simple words – yet they are pronounced same! Some words just don’t rhyme – but, cut, hut, nut – and then comes put!

5:05 min read
  Yigal Ben Efraim  —  Grammar Tips
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And, then come those complex words that don’t even enter our tongue, leave alone learning or using them. But why are those words there?

• For most English language exams, knowledge of these words can help you score easily

Spell Bee often has the most difficult words to be spelled.

There are vocab jams that happen – and they are actually fun!

• Some of the finest literary words use these words to describe something or someone accurately. These words are difficult but they convey the meaning in the most appropriate manner.

That’s why, I have compiled a list of top 15 words most difficult words in English. Hope you will enjoy learning these words –

1. Abstruse (adjective) – As the word is, it means difficult to understand. Most people often miss the ‘s’ after the ‘b’ or pronounce it without that same ‘s’. The word is pronounced as abs-troo-s (UK) or abs-tri-yoos (US). ExampleThese maths concepts are so abstruse.

2. Concomitant – this word can be used as a noun as well as adjective. Concomitant is something that happens naturally after another incident or something else. The word is derived from the Latin con + comit where con means with and comit means companion. The correct pronunciation of the word is – cun-com-i-tant. Example – I get a concomitant nervousness whenever I see him around.

3. Pococurante – Can be used as a noun and adjective both. The word refers to someone who is indifferent or unconcerned. It is pronounced as po-co-cyoo-raan-ti. The origin of the word is Italian, poco (little) + curante (caring). Example – His own pococurante attitude towards his own family eventually led to loneliness and depression.

4. Feuilleton – The word is pronounced as fa-ee-ton. Yeah, lots of silent letters. It refers to a part of a magazine or newspaper that contains light literature, criticism or fiction. Initially, it used to be referred for the supplement that comes along with the main paper. The word has been described as ‘Talk of the town’ by French editors. It was derived from the French word ‘feuille’ meaning leaf. Example – She got the job of writing feuilleton for one of the best newspapers of the US.

5. LaodiceanRefers to a person who is indifferent towards religious matters or politics. The word is pronounced as lay-o-di-see-an. The word has its roots from the Latin word ‘Laodicea’ which referred to the early Christians there. Example – He shows a Laodicean attitude whenever I talk about Donald Trump.

6. BrusqueAnother adjective that means one who is abrupt or blunt in their speech or manner. The word has Italian roots from the word ‘brusco’ meaning sour. It is pronounced as ‘brusk’. Example – My mother could be a little Brusque sometimes, as she has so many things going on in her mind.

7. AlbeitAlbeit is a conjunction that means ‘though’. The word is pronounced as ul-beet. The word came from the middle English word all be it. Example – His progress is consistent, albeit not enough to clear the entrance exam.

8. Idyllic – a perfect or ideal situation or place. For example, Paris is the idyllic vacation spot for newlywed couples. The word is pronounced as – i-di-lick. You can remember this adjective by thinking about ‘ideal’ meaning just perfect, extremely happy or picturesque.

9. CongruityCongruity is a quality of appropriateness and being suitable. It is the same as we say ‘This pair of earring goes well with your dress. The ‘goes well with’ is the congruity. The word is pronounced as – con-groo-ity. Example, “The terms and conditions are in congruity with the company’s vision and policies.”

10. Surreptitious – An adjective that refers to something kept as a secret, because it would not be allowed or approved of otherwise. The word is pronounced as – ‘sur-ept-ishi-us’. The word originated from the Latin sub (secretly) + rapere (seize) meaning obtained by the suppression of truth. Example, “I don’t understand why they were so surreptitious about their marriage”. Surreptitious is often confused with superstitious, which is a totally different word.

11. Ubiquitous – The word means found or present everywhere. The word is pronounced as ‘you-bi-quit-us’. The word originated in the mid-19th century from the Latin word ubique meaning everywhere. Example, “Most people believe that God is ubiquitous.”

12. Liaison – The word is pronounced as ‘lee-ae-sun’ and refers to the communication between two more people or groups who work together. It can also refer to a person who helps groups to work with each other effectively. Example, “The lack of liaison between the departments of the organization led to its collapse.”

13. Lieutenant – The word refers to a rank of officer in the Army or Navy which is the second-in-command, just below the commander or captain. In British English, it is pronounced as – lef-tenant while in US English, it is pronounced as lee-you-tenant. The word finds its roots from the Latin locum (in place of) + teneris (holding). Example, “The Lieutenant General has not yet returned from his 10am meeting.”

14. Mendacious – It means not being truthful or lying about something. It is pronounced as men-day-shi-us. The word originated by adding ‘ious’ to the Latin word mendac, meaning lying. Example, “The mendacious propaganda started by some college students is taking ugly turn by the day.”

15. Camaraderie – A beautiful word, it means trust and friendship among people who spend lot of time and experiences together. It comes from the French word camarade. The word is pronounced as – cum-a-raa-dere. Camarade in middle French meant ‘roommate’ or ‘companion’. Example, “The camaraderie between the troops who came to rescue us was amazing”. Camaraderie is often confused with the word comradery, which though has the same meaning, has different origin and is newer to the English dictionary.

Hope you enjoyed learning new words today. Let us know if you want another word to be included in this list, and we will be happy to do so!

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