Words in English That Defy Pronunciation with Examples

Hello, dear friend. Welcome to another educative post. Read on as we embark on a linguistic journey to explore and unravel the enigma of words in English that defy pronunciation with examples. From silent letters that lurk unnoticed to baffling phonetic shifts, these peculiarities can leave us scratching our heads and questioning the logic of the language as we are confronted with Difficult English Words to Pronounce.

English Pronunciation: A Perplexing Labyrinth

The English language is a fascinating tapestry of diverse influences, with words borrowed from various cultures and subject to centuries of evolution. As a result, it is no surprise that English pronunciation can be a perplexing labyrinth for both native speakers and non-native learners alike. Among the many linguistic curiosities that challenge our assumptions, there exists a captivating category of words that sound astonishingly different from the way they are written. To delve into this linguistic labyrinth, we encounter words like “colonel,” pronounced as “kernel,” or “Wednesday,” where the “d” silently disappears. The term “Worcestershire” confounds with its pronunciation of “woos-tuh-sher,” while “February” makes us stumble with its enigmatic “feb-roo-er-ee” sound. Such examples reveal the astonishing gap between written representation and oral expression in the English language.

Reasons for Disparities in Pronunciation

English is notorious for its irregularities, and there are indeed numerous words that sound drastically different from the way they are written. These disparities in pronunciation stem from a complex web of historical, cultural, and linguistic influences. English has borrowed words from different languages and undergone transformative phonetic shifts over time, resulting in a linguistic landscape where the spelling of words does not always align with their pronunciation. Exploring further, we encounter geographical anomalies like “Arkansas,” which defies its written “s” by being pronounced as “ahr-kuhn-saw.” Similarly, “Leicester” sounds nothing like its spelling, becoming “les-ter” when uttered. Even names like “Cholmondeley” surprise us with its unexpected pronunciation of “chum-lee.”

Understanding These Irregularities…

These linguistic discrepancies challenge our assumptions and remind us of the complexities inherent in language. While they may seem bewildering, they also offer a glimpse into the historical journeys of words and the diverse origins that have shaped English into the language we know today. Understanding these irregularities becomes a crucial part of navigating the English language with confidence and fluency. By delving into the intriguing world of words that defy pronunciation, we gain valuable insights into the language’s rich history and the idiosyncrasies that make it both captivating and challenging. In this post, we embark on an exploration of these fascinating words, shedding light on their origins, historical context, and the linguistic transformations that have led to their unconventional pronunciation.

Words in English That Defy Pronunciation with Examples

Here is a list of words in English that defy pronunciation (words in English that sound remarkably different from the way they are written), often due to irregularities, phonetic shifts, or borrowed influences. Learn the strategies that will help you navigate these linguistic conundrums with finesse and enhance your overall language skills.

Set 1 Examples

  • Arkansas (pronounced “ahr-kuhn-saw”)
  • Bologna (pronounced “buh-loh-nee”)
  • Choir (pronounced “kwai-er” or “kwire”)
  • Cholmondeley (pronounced “chum-lee”)
  • Clothes (pronounced “kloz” or “klohz”)
  • Colonel (pronounced “kernel” or “kur-nl”)
  • Colonelcy (pronounced “kur-nl-see”)
  • Diphthong (pronounced “dif-thong” or “dip-thong”)
  • Eczema (pronounced “ek-suh-muh”)
  • Ennui (pronounced “ɑːnwɪ”)
  • Entrepreneur (pronounced “ahn-truh-pruh-nur” or “ahn-truh-pruh-noor”)
  • Epitome (pronounced “ih-pit-uh-mee”)
  • February (pronounced “feb-roo-er-ee”)
  • Gauge (pronounced “gayj”)
  • Gnome (pronounced “nohm”)
  • Hiccough (pronounced “hik-up”)
  • Island (pronounced “eye-land”)
  • Knuckle (pronounced “nuh-kuhl”)
  • Leicester (pronounced “les-ter”)

Set 2 Examples

  • Paradigm (pronounced “par-uh-dym”)
  • Pharaoh (pronounced “fair-oh”)
  • Pneumonia (pronounced “noo-moh-nee-uh”)
  • Pseudonym (pronounced “soo-duh-nim”)
  • Psychology (pronounced “sai-kol-uh-jee”)
  • Quay (pronounced “kee” or “key”)
  • Queue (pronounced “kyoo”)
  • Receipt (pronounced “ri-seet”)
  • Salmon (pronounced “sam-un”)
  • Science (pronounced “sai-uhns” or “sai-ens”)
  • Sewage (pronounced “soo-ij”)
  • Tomb (pronounced “toom”)
  • Trough (pronounced “trawf”)
  • Wedlock (pronounced “wed-lok” or “wed-luhk”)
  • Wednesday (pronounced “wenz-dey”)
  • Worcestershire (pronounced “woos-ter-sher” or “woos-ter-sheer”)
  • Xylophone (pronounced “zy-luh-fohn”)
  • Yacht (pronounced “yot”)
  • Zephyr (pronounced “zef-er”)


These examples demonstrate the peculiarities and inconsistencies that can make English pronunciation a challenging endeavour. It is crucial to familiarize oneself with these irregularities to navigate the intricacies of the language more effectively. Please note that this list is extensive but not exhaustive, as the English language is filled with numerous words that challenge conventional pronunciation. You can send in more words you have come across in the comment section.

Related Readings

Having read through Words in English That Defy Pronunciation with Examples, are there words you have encountered which contains letters that are not pronounced and you wonder why such letters are included in the words? Then, you should check out our post on Silent Letters in English. Remember to share this post with your circle of influence and help someone to learn.


  • Jaymz Boanerges

    I am a teacher of English. I have a passion is to impart the knowledge of the English language to the teeming populace in Nigeria and beyond, especially students at all levels of education, so that they can acquire both linguistic competence and linguistic performance in the language, gaining mastery of and comprehending the nitty-gritty of the language.

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