Linguists Reveal the Hardest Words to Spell

Most of the words are not of English origin.

Entertainment
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The Scripps National Spelling Bee is only a week away, and to celebrate the occasion, dictionary writers Merriam-Webster and Babbel — and app that helps people learn new languages — has teamed up to analyze 10 years-worth of words that knocked out spelling bee finalists. The analysis included almost 400 words, and found that most often competitors were eliminated by words that have their origins from classical languages. Specific fields such as scientific, medical, and legal terms often trace their origins back to Greek or Latin. In particular, words pertaining to nature and natural science caused a whopping 38% chance of being misspelt.

“English has always borrowed words from other languages, and once they are found in our dictionaries they are considered to be English words,” said Peter Sokolowski, an editor at Merriam-Webster. It’s not a huge surprise then that most English speakers will find these “foreign” words much harder to spell. Check out below for a full list of the top culprits of eliminating Spelling Bee finalists:

Words with French origin:
  • Bondieuserie [bohn-dyooz-ree]: banal and often shoddy religious art
  • Bourrée [boo-ray]: a ballet combination that consists of small crossing steps
  • Clafouti [cla-foo-tee]: a dessert consisting of a layer of fruit (such as cherries) topped with batter and baked
  • Gaillardia [guy-ar-dee-a]: any plant or flower of a genus of western American herbs having hairy foliage and long stalked flower heads with showy rays
  • Paillasson [pie-ya-sone]: coarsely woven natural or synthetic straw used for hats
  • Pissaladière [pee-sa-la-dyair]: an open-faced pastry topped with olives, onions and anchovies
  • Réseau [ray-zoh]: a group of meteorological stations under common direction or cooperating in some common purpose
  • Sarrusophone [sah-roos-o-fon]: a metal wind instrument with a double reed and a tube of wide conical bore played like the bassoon
  • Zenaida [zen-eye-da]: any bird of a genus of tropical American pigeons that has one species reaching the West Indies and formerly the Florida coast and one occurring in the southwestern United States
Words with German origin:
  • Bewusstseinslage [beh-VUST-zines-laggeh]: a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components
  • Drahthaar [DRAHT-har]: a dog of a German breed of wire-haired pointers
  • Hallenkirche [HALL-en-keer-sheh]: a Gothic church especially in Germany in which in place of the clerestory the aisles are extended to nearly the height of the nave
  • Schefflera [SCHEF-luh-ra]: any of several shrubby tropical plants that are cultivated for their showy digitately compound foliage
  • Schwärmerei [schvair-muh-RYE]: excessive unbridled enthusiasm or attachment
  • Schwyzer [SCHVEE-tsah]: a breed of large hardy brown dairy cattle originating in Switzerland
  • Vitrophyre [vee-tro-FUHR]: rock having distinct crystals (as of feldspar, quartz or augite) in a relatively fine-grained glassy base
Words from the rest of the world:
  • Aalii (Hawaiian) [ah-LEE-ee]: an ornamental shrub or small tree of tropical to subtropical regions that has narrow, glossy leaves coated with a sticky substance when young and a fruit that is a winged, papery capsule
  • Ayacahuite (Spanish) [ah-jah-kah-WEE-tay]: a large Mexican pine tree with long needles and extremely large yellowish red cones
  • Bakshaish (Iranian) [BOCK-shy-eesh]]: a semi-antique or antique Persian carpet with usually angular designs
  • Cipollino (Italian) [chip-oh-LEE-no]: a light-colored Roman marble containing layers of micaceous minerals and abundant silicates
  • Coaming (English) [COH-ming]: the raised frame around a hatchway, skylight, or other opening in the deck of a ship to prevent water from running below
  • Háček (Czech) [HAH-check]: a wedge-shaped diacritic placed over a letter to modify it : an inverted circumflex — called also wedge or caron
  • Lassi (Hindi) [LAH-see]: a flavored iced yogurt drink that may be either sweet or salted
  • Minhag (Hebrew) [min-HAHG]: Jewish religious custom
  • Tyee (Chinook) [TAHY-ee]: a king or chinook salmon especially when of large size
  • Yunnanese (Mandarin) [YOO-nan-ease]: of or relating to the province of Yunnan, China, or its inhabitants

Elsewhere in entertainment, reports indicate that top Twitch streamers make upward of $50,000 USD per hour of streaming.

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