hard words to say

Impermeabilizante. Floccinaucinihilipilification. Eichhörnchen. 

Arriving in a new country can be a daunting experience, especially when you don’t speak the language. It’s tougher still when you see words that are as long as sentences.

These hard words to say  can challenge even the most experienced speakers.

Overcoming it, however, can be a thrilling personal victory — like Shah Farid Rashid’s personal experience shows.

As a Malay man, Malaysian-born Rashid had been brought up with virtually no experience in speaking the Mandarin language. 

“I started from zero, so it sounds crazy,” he tells Study International. 

“But as a child in Malaysia, I grew up hearing Chinese people speak in Mandarin. It sounded very interesting to me, even if I didn’t understand what was being said.”

The Malaysian eventually got an offer to study Chinese Language and Literature at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China.

When he landed in Bejing, Rashid faced his next big hurdle: navigating the city. 

“I had zero basic knowledge of the language, so there were many problems,” he says. 

“The language barrier prevented me from going out, buying food, using public transportation and more. I’d always have to ask someone to come with me.”

Soon, however, Rashid mastered the language. 

He spent much of his five years in Beijing exploring China and taking in the wide expanse of culture and character the country had to offer. His time in China was more than just enjoyable, though — it opened up many doors for him in his career upon returning to Malaysia. 

Today, he runs his own language centre for non-native speakers in 2018: Fasih Mandarin. The company only exclusively employs non-native Mandarin speakers — most of them Malay — to teach the language to learners. 

Since then, Fasih Mandarin has branched out to seven locations across Malaysia with over 8,000 students across the nation and holds the title of the largest licensed Mandarin Language Institute in the country.

hard words to say

Shah Farid Rashid pursued an undergraduate degree in Chinese Language and Literature at Beijing Foreign Studies University with no experience speaking the language. Source: Fasih Mandarin

Why do some languages have hard words to say?

Comedian Trevor Noah once said: “An accent is not a measure of intelligence. An accent is just somebody speaking your language with the rules of theirs.”

In simple terms, that’s why some words might sound confusing to you — you’re just not used to the nuances of a particular language.

Even English speakers struggle to speak some English words.

That’s surprising, considering there are over 1.5 billion native and non-native speakers of the English language worldwide.

It is also the official language in over 40 countries and the language most people seek to learn.

If you’re curious to know what are some hard words to say, here are our top picks:

10 words that are hard to say

1. Impermeabilizante

In Spanish, it means waterproofing.

This word is likely used frequently in the rainy countries of Latin America, especially during heavy downpours in the wet seasons. Interestingly, even Spanish speakers struggle with this particular word.

Its difficulty stems from the count of syllables and a vowel diphthong in the middle. Diphthongs are double vowel sounds in words like side, chair, or fear.

So, if you want to pronounce this word, take it step by step. Break it into separate syllables, and say it slowly: “Im-peR-mi-a-bil-i-SAN-teh”

Example sentence: “I need to apply a coat of ‘impermeabilizante’ to my roof before the rainy season begins to prevent any water leakage.”

“Szczęście” is one of the hard words to say in Poland. Source: AFP

2. Szczęście 

If you think happiness is hard to find, try pronouncing it in Polish.

While the word means “happy” in English, many foreigners might feel frustrated pronouncing it due to its complex spelling.

The word consists of two Polish digraphs (sz, cz), a nasal e sound, the Polish diacritic ś, another digraph (ci), and a final e.

Example sentence: “Finding love and pursuing your passions can bring you a deep sense of ‘szczęście,’ filling life with joy and contentment.”

hard words to say

Charcuterie is a snack platter. Source: AFP

3. Charcuterie

Snack enthusiasts, this English word is for you. 

These are fancy snack platters with yummy smoked meats, sometimes paired with cheese and fruit. 

But here’s the thing — saying “charcuterie” might sound tricky, especially if you’re new to it. 

It’s pronounced as “shahr-koo-tuh-ree.” 

Believe it or not, loads of people go online to learn how to say it. On average, they search for it about 15,140 times every month! 

So, next time you’re at a party, impress your friends with this cool snack word trivia.

Example sentence: “He brought a delicious ‘charcuterie’ platter to the picnic, which included a variety of savoury smoked meats, cheeses, and fresh fruits.”

4. Floccinaucinihilipilification

As a word from the mid-18th century, it can be a mouthful for some and may seem like a spell from the wizarding world.

It simply means the act or habit of estimating something as worthless.

Comprising 29 letters, “floccinaucinihilipilification” has earned the unofficial title as the lengthiest non-technical term in English.

This word is pronounced as “flok-suh-naw-suh-nahy-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-key-shuh n”

Example sentence: “His constant ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ of others’ opinions revealed his dismissive attitude towards differing viewpoints.”

hard words to say

Eichhörnchen is the German word for squirrel. Source: AFP

5. Eichhörnchen 

Saying “squirrel” can be tricky in English, but pronouncing “eichhörnchen” in German can be even more challenging.

Break it down into “eich” and “hörn-chen,” and you’ll find it becomes simpler.

While “eichhörnchen” might sound hard for people who don’t speak German, it’s easier to say if you understand its parts and how they fit together.

Example sentence: “The playful ‘eichhörnchen’ darted up the tree, its fluffy tail trailing behind it like a furry flag.”

6. Ferrocarril

Many people think “ferrocarril” translates to “railroad,” but it actually means the train itself.

This word might challenge native English speakers due to the robust “r” sound in Spanish.

When producing any Spanish “r” sound, your tongue’s tip should gently touch the roof of your mouth.

Alternatively, to find the correct placement, pronounce the English sound “t.” That’s the spot your tongue should target.

This word is pronounced as “feh-rroh-kah-rreel”

Example sentence: “The ‘ferrocarril’ offers breathtaking views of the coastline as it winds its way through rugged terrain.”

hard words to say

“Nieodpowiedzialność” is Polish for saying that someone is being irresponsible. Source: AFP

7. Nieodpowiedzialność

“Nieodpowiedzialność” is a long and hard-to-say Polish word.

Many people make mistakes when they try to say it, and that’s understandable.

This Polish word means “irresponsibility” in English.

It’s a complex word with multiple syllables, making it challenging for non-Polish speakers to pronounce smoothly.

If you’re wondering how to pronounce it, you can break it down like this: “nyeh-ohd-poh-vee-ed-zhahl-noh-shch”

Example sentence: “His ‘nieodpowiedzialność’ led to serious consequences for the project.”

8. Déshabiller 

Déshabiller is a charmingly nuanced French word that means “to undress” in French.

While it might seem relatively simple, its pronunciation can be tricky due to the combination of consonants and the distinct French “r” sound.

This word is pronounced as “Day-shah-bee-yay”

Example sentence: “She asked him to wait outside the room while she ‘déshabiller’ to put on her evening gown.”

hard words to say

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during Israel’s Independence Day Reception, hosted by the Embassy of Israel to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Source: AFP

9. Onafhankelijkheid

This word means independence.

It describes the state of being free from outside control or influence. In the context of history, it often refers to a nation’s sovereignty and autonomy.

This word is pronounced as “Oh-nah-fhahn-kel-ik-hayt”

Example sentence: “The country’s struggle for ‘onafhankelijkheid’ was marked by years of resistance against colonial rule.”

A “neprijateljski” situation. Source: AFP

10. Neprijateljski

It’s a complex Croatian word that translates to “hostile” in English. It characterises behaviour or attitudes that are unfriendly, antagonistic, or aggressive.

This term is used to depict situations where cooperation and friendliness are absent, often in the context of conflicts or disagreements.

This word is pronounced as “Neh-pree-yah-tel-skee”

Example sentence: “The negotiations took a turn for the worse when both parties adopted a ‘neprijateljski’ stance, making compromise nearly impossible.”