10 Difficult Words to Spell in the English Language

There are numerous hard words to spell in the English language. Spelling such words correctly can be particularly challenging for people who don’t often come across these words.

Hard Words to Spell in English

Here’s a list of ten difficult words to spell in English and the correct way to spell them.

1. Pronunciation

The word ‘pronunciation’ takes its origin from the Middle English word ‘pronunciacion‘ and from Latin prōnūntiātiōn- which means “delivery (of a speech).”

Pronunciation is ‘the process of imitating the sound patterns of a language’. Since pronounce is the verb form of the word, one would assume that the spelling would be ‘pronounciation,’ but this is not the case. The only correct spelling of this word is PRONUNCIATION.

2. Misspell

While we’re discussing the hard words to spell, it’s essential to look at this word – misspell. This is one of the most ironically misspelled words in the English language.

The term is commonly written as ‘mispelled,’ with an omission of an ‘s.’ The correct spelling of this word has a double letter ‘s’ and the double letter ‘l,’ as in MISSPELL.

3. Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is not only a hard word to spell in the English language, but it’s also a difficult word to pronounce.

The term originates from the Latin ‘onomatopoeia‘ and Greek ‘onomatopoiia‘, which means ‘the making of a name or word.’ Onomatopoeia is the act of creating words that phonetically imitate the sound it describes.

Some common misspellings are onomatopeoea, onomatopiea and onomatopoiea. The correct way to spell this way is as ONOMATOPOEIA.

4. Receipt

This word looks simple, but it’s often misspelled. Receipt originates from the Middle English word ‘receite.’ The term is most times spelled as ‘reciept,’ with an ‘i’ before ‘e’ – but this is incorrect!

The only way to spell this word correctly is to write ‘e’ before ‘i.’ A simple tip to remember is this: letter ‘e’ comes before letter ‘i’ in English alphabets, so ‘e’ should come before ‘i’ in receipt!

5. Psychologist

You guessed right! Psychologist is another tricky word to spell in English. Going by the pronunciation, one would spell the word as sykchologist; the p is often silent. A psychologist is a person who specializes in the study of behavior and treatment of emotional, and mental disorders.

It is best to ignore the pronunciation of this word and master the spelling. The correct spelling of the word is PSYCHOLOGIST. The misspelling always occurs with the former part of the word ‘psy.’ Note this tip when spelling the word: P, S and Y come in this order in the word just as in English alphabet.

Photo by Nathaniel Shuman on Unsplash

6. Mnemonic

A mnemonic is a memorable way of storing information with the help of a mental image or story. It could be a word, group of letters, or sentence intended to help you remember things. The word is commonly spelled as ‘nemonic’ because of the way it is pronounced. The ‘m’ is silent only in pronunciation but not in spelling!

7. Pneumonia

Another hard word to spell in English! Pneumonia is the term for an infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs. The term is pronounced [new-moan-ee-a], with the p usually silent – but it isn’t spelled this way. Spell this word as PNEUMONIA.

8. Narcissistic

‘Narcissistic’ is a challenging word to pronounce and spell! The c and s letters sound alike and make it hard to know where to place them.

The word narcissistic is from the Greek word ‘narkissos.’ It describes an extremely self-centered personality. The correct spelling of the word is NARCISSISTIC, with three letter ‘s’ and two letter ‘c’.

9. Lightning

Lightning is the natural electric discharge that happens during storms. This word is often misspelled as lightening; which has a different meaning altogether. Note that the actual spelling of the word is without an e.

10. Grateful

A commonly used word, but often misspelled! The word ‘grateful‘ is from the Latin word ‘gratus’, which means ‘pleasing.’ It is commonly written as greatful; as if it relates to the word ‘great.’

It’s important to know that the words grateful and great are not similar in meaning except in pronunciation (i.e., grate and great are homophones).

When you want to appreciate someone or show gratitude, the word is GRATEFUL and not greatful.

To Wrap Up

This article has highlighted ten difficult words to spell in the English Language and the correct spellings of these words. If you ever find it challenging to spell any of these words, this guide will come in handy.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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