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101 Difficult English Words Explained

September 27, 2019

Did you know that it’s not just people who don’t have English as their first language who are looking for explanations for all kinds of difficult English words? There are tens of thousands of native English speakers who are looking for the correct way to spell or pronounce complicated English words. If you are a non native English speaker, things tend to get a lot more complicated. And if you are also a student, you really have a problem. Misspelling certain words in your essays will get you penalized quite harshly by your professor, so you may even need to consider using proofreading services. There are many weird words in English and we will try to show you how to spell the most common 101 of them. We even explain some funny Russian words in English.

Difficult English Words

Are There Any Weird Words in the English Language?

Many people don’t know that there are plenty of difficult English words. You may have encountered a couple of them over time, but there are hundreds. There are words that are difficult to spell and there are even words that are difficult to pronounce. However, it’s easy to learn the difficult English words to pronounce. Spelling is a bit more difficult to learn. Let’s take a look at the most difficult words in English and their explanation.

List of Difficult English Words to Spell

In most cases, students are having a pretty difficult time spelling certain words. Don’t worry, it’s not just you! Tens of thousands of students have visited our list of the most complicated English words so far. This means that most of these people have run into trouble with at least some of the following English words:

  • Abjure – solemnly renounce something
  • Abnegation – the action of renouncing or rejecting something
  • Bashful – reluctant to draw attention to oneself
  • Beguile – to charm someone in a deceptive way
  • Bereft – deprived of or lacking something
  • Blandishment – a flattering statement or action used to convince someone to do something
  • Cajole – persuade someone to do something by flattery
  • Callous – having an insensitive disregard for others
  • Camaraderie – mutual trust and friendship among people
  • Candor – the quality of being open and honest
  • Debacle – a sudden failure
  • Debunk – expose the falseness of an idea or belief
  • Defunct – no longer existing
  • Demagogue – a political agitator
  • Eclectic –deriving ideas from a broad range of sources
  • Ebullient – cheerful and full of energy (one of the most difficult English words)
  • Egregious – outstandingly bad
  • Fallacious – based on a mistaken belief
  • Fatuous – silly and pointless
  • Fetter – a chain used to restrain a prisoner
  • Garrulous – excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters
  • Gourmand – a person who enjoys eating
  • Grandiloquent – pompous or extravagant in language or style
  • Idiosyncratic – relating to idiosyncrasy
  • Impecunious – having little or no money
  • Knell – the solemn sound of a bell at a funeral
  • Laconic – using very few words
  • Largesse – generosity in bestowing money or gifts upon others
  • Legerdemain – skilful use of one’s hands when performing tricks
  • Maelstrom – a powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river
  • Maudlin – self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental
  • Maverick – an unorthodox or independent-minded person
  • Negligent – failing to take proper care over something
  • Neophyte – a person who is new to a subject or activity
  • Obdurate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion
  • Obfuscate – make obscure or unclear
  • Obstreperous – noisy and difficult to control
  • Palliate – make something less severe without removing the cause
  • Paradigm – a typical example or pattern of something
  • Quixotic – extremely idealistic
  • Quandary – a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do
  • Recalcitrant – having an obstinately uncooperative attitude
  • Redoubtable – formidable, especially as an opponent
  • Sanguine – optimistic or positive in a difficult situation
  • Scurrilous – making or spreading scandalous claims about someone
  • Toady – a person who behaves obsequiously to someone important
  • Torpid – mentally or physically inactive
  • Ubiquitous – present, appearing, or found everywhere
  • Umbrage – offence or annoyance
  • Upbraid – to find fault with someone
  • Vicissitude – an unpleasant change of circumstances or fortune
  • Vilify – speak or write about in an abusively disparaging manner
  • Virtuoso – a person highly skilled in artistic pursuit
  • Wanton – deliberate and unprovoked
  • Winsome – attractive or appealing in a fresh, innocent way
  • Yoke – the wooden crosspiece that is placed over the necks of two animals (part of the plough)
  • Zephyr – a soft gentle breeze
  • Wily – skilled at gaining an advantage
  • Tirade – a long, angry speech of criticism

List of Difficult Words to Pronounce for Non Native English Speakers

  • Rural – characteristic of the countryside rather than the town
  • Otorhinolaryngologist – a specialist in the disorders of the ear or nose or throat (one of the most difficult English words to say)
  • Colonel – a rank of officer in the army and in the US air force
  • Penguin – a large flightless seabird of the southern hemisphere
  • Sixth – constituting number six in a sequence
  • Isthmus – a narrow strip of land with sea on either side
  • Anemone – a plant of the buttercup family
  • Squirrel – an agile tree-dwelling rodent with a bushy tail
  • Choir – an organized group of singers
  • Worcestershire – a former county in West-central England

List of Weird English Words

When it comes to the English dictionary, there are times when you won’t believe your eyes. There are hundreds of strange English words that almost nobody knows about. Truth be told, we never even heard about 80% of the following words:

  • Bamboozled – to cheat or fool someone
  • Bumfuzzle – to confuse someone
  • Cattywampus – not lined up or not arranged correctly
  • Discombobulate – to disconcert or confuse someone
  • Flabbergast – to surprise someone greatly
  • Foppish – a person concerned with his clothes in an excessive way.
  • Gardyloo – a warning cry when somebody threw slops from the windows into the streets
  • Jalopy – an old car in a dilapidated condition (just one of the weird words in the English dictionary)
  • Lothario – a man who behaves irresponsibly in sexual relationships with women
  • Taradiddle – a petty lie
  • Tergiversate – to make conflicting or evasive statements
  • Snickersnee – a large knife
  • Collywobbles – stomach pain or queasiness

List of Funny Russian Words in English

  • Pochemuchka – a child who asks many questions
  • Perepodvypodvert – doing something in an overly complex or totally incomprehensible way
  • Nedoperepil – somebody who drank more than they should have, but less than they could have
  • Toska – sadness, melancholia, or lugubriousness
  • Poshlost’ – vulgarity, banality, platitude, triteness, or triviality
  • Kapel – small Christian place of worship
  • Dacha – a country house or cottage in Russia
  • Glazomer – the ability to measure without any instruments

List of Funny Old English Words

Of course, the dictionary contains a ton of funny English words. Many of these are old words that are rarely used nowadays. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use them in your essays. It’s always fun to see your teacher searching through the dictionary. So here are the most interesting old English words that are as funny as they get:

  • Ultracrepidarian – giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge
  • Philogrobolized – stupefied, or having a hangover
  • Hum durgeon – an imaginary illness
  • Quomodocunquize – that makes money in any possible way
  • Zwodder – a drowsy, foolish frame of mind
  • Groke – to look at somebody while they’re eating hoping they’ll give you some of their food
  • Famelicose – pertaining to being hungry
  • Bang-a-bonk – to sit lazily on a riverbank
  • Crambo-clink – rime or riming
  • Inisitijitty – a worthless, ridiculous-looking person (one of the most difficult words in English)
  • Omperlodge – to disagree with or contradict someone

Why Does This List of Difficult Words to Pronounce in English Matter?

Many students have asked us why we bothered to make this list of 101 difficult English words. The truth is that we really enjoyed it. However, this list is of great help to people who are looking for ways to improve their vocabulary. Yes, many of these words may seem old-fashioned and obsolete. However, we guarantee you that your professor will greatly appreciate you using many of them. It shows that you are a well-read student and that you are not afraid to use uncommon language to make an impression. It also shows your professor that you are a master of the English vocabulary.

Another reason why you would want to take a look at our list of difficult English words to spell is to avoid any future errors. Your professor will swiftly penalize you for spelling errors in your academic papers. You can lose valuable points because of some improperly spelled words. Furthermore, you need to understand exactly what each word means and how it is used.

Do You Need to Learn These Words?

No, you don’t need to learn all these words. These are all the most complicated English words, but you can find plenty of synonyms for each one of them. So you can simply use a synonym instead of the words listed in our list. There are, however, times when you want to demonstrate your strong grasp of the English language. That’s when you may want to consider using words from this list. This is why we encourage you to bookmark this list of complicated English words. You can come back at any time. This list of difficult English words will always be free. However, we may update it to add more words in the future. We are all about helping students excel at school!

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