Improve Your Spelling: The Hardest Words, Part 1

This list is of 200 fiendish words. Some of these are so hard to spell that you can't even get enough of them right to find them in a dictionary (or maybe that's just me?) — so to really impress the neighbours, see if you can learn these off by heart!


Note: Troy and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include the popular spelling-improvement software Ultimate Spelling.*


Many of these words have come fairly directly from other languages, with French words being the most confusing in general. Silent letters and unusual combinations of letters (especially vowels) make things extra hard. Some words are hard because they've come from a person's surname – Chauvinism is derived from the name Nicolas Chauvin and fuchsia was named after the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

If there are two variations for a word, the British version is first, and the American version is second.

acquiesce
adieu
aesthetic
annihilate
apartheid
appliqué
asphalt
auxiliary
behaviour/behavior
bivouac
bouillon
bouquet
bourgeoisie
bureaucracy
caffeine
camouflage
cartilage
cataclysm
Celsius
chameleon
charisma
chartreuse
chateaux
chauffeur
chauvinism
coiffure
connoisseur
corduroy
cuisine
Czechoslovakia
dachshund
daiquiri
diarrhoea/diarrhea
ecstasy
embarrass
endeavour/endeavor
etiquette
eulogy
euphoric
Fahrenheit
fatigue
fluorescent
foreign
forfeit
fuchsia
gaiety
guerrilla
haemorrhage/hemorrhage
hallelujah
heifer
hierarchy
hors d'oeuvre
hygiene
jeopardise/jeopardize
jodhpurs
khaki
lacquer
leisure
liaison
lieutenant
lightning
limousine
lingerie
liquor
luscious
maelstrom
mannequin
martyr
masquerade
masseuse
mastectomy
mayonnaise
medieval
mediocre
Mediterranean
memoir
meringue
millennium
minuscule
miscellaneous
mischievous
misspell
mnemonic
mosquito
naive
nasturtium
nauseous
neighbour/neighbor
ninety
noxious
nuisance
nutritious
oblique
odyssey
omelette/omelet
omniscience
orangutan
orchid
oscillate
ostrich
paradigm
parallel
pasteurise/pasteurize
personnel
pharaoh
pharmaceutical
philosophical
phlegm
physician
physicist
physique
picturesque
pigeon
pilgrimage
plagiarise/plagiarize
plaque
plateau
poinsettia
porcelain
posthumous
potpourri
poultry
practitioner
prairie
precious
prejudice
prerogative
Presbyterian
prestigious
privilege
pronunciation
proprietary
pseudonym
ptarmigan
pumpkin
quadruple
questionnaire
quiche
quotient
rapport
reconnaissance
rehearsal
reminiscent
renaissance
rendezvous
renown
repertoire
requiem
reservoir
rhetoric
rhinoceros
rhubarb
rhythm
ricochet
saboteur
sacrilegious
samurai
schizophrenic
scythe
seismology
seizure
sergeant
sherbet
silhouette
sleuth
somersault
sovereign
stalactite
subterfuge
succinct
superfluous
surgeon
surveillance
susceptible
syllabus
symmetric
synagogue
synonymous
syringe
tableau
tarpaulin
technique
therapeutic
tongue
tortoise
tournament
transcend
troubadour
turquoise
twelfth
vacuum
vaudeville
vengeance
vermouth
veterinarian
vigilante
Wednesday
wholly
zephyr
zucchini

One way to learn these hard words is to break them up into smaller bits and come up with a funny sentence to help remember the spelling. When I was in high school I learned to spell UNFORTUNATELY by breaking down as "Un-for-tuna-tely" with the mental image of a large fish watching TV ... I still use this mnemonic today! I also sometimes make up a silly pronunciation for a word that more clearly reveals its spelling — for example, for PIGEON, I pronounce it as "Pig-ee-on" (rather than "Pid-jin") when I need to spell it.

Doing puzzles that use the words you're trying to learn is a good method of practicing them as well. There are several that features many of the words on this list in the Puzzles and Games section of this site. You simply download the PDF and print it out.

But even easier than these ploys is using some special spelling software to help you. You can create a custom spelling list in the popular spelling-improvement software, Ultimate Spelling; just copy and paste the list I have provided you in this article! Then you can use the program's flash cards and other great Spelling Drill features to help you learn these extra tricky words.

Part 2 in this series presents another 200 tough words, when you feel ready for the additional challenge!


*Troy and I have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of the Ultimate Spelling software because we are happy to endorse that software.

 

Last modified on Friday, 27 November 2015 23:21
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

Website: sutherland-studios.com.au E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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