Are you ready to explore some of the words that are often misspelled? Hint: The word "misspell" is one of them. Below, you'll find a one-stop cure for all your spelling ills. The list highlights the correct spelling of 100 hard words to spell, along with brief tips on how to avoid making common spelling mistakes. Whether you're a student or are simply looking to compile a list of hard words for a spelling bee competition, this list of 100 difficult words to spell is a great resource to use.
Commonly Misspelled Words A-B
The first two letters of the alphabet have quite a few of the hardest words to spell. From acceptable to bellwether and several words in between, there are quite a few challenging words that start with "a" and "b." Apply the helpful tips below and follow key spelling rules to boost your ability to properly spell some of the toughest terms to get right.
- acceptable - The suffix pronounced /êbl/ can be spelled as -ible or -able. For this word, think about an acceptance speech for an award, as this can help you remember to add a second "a."
- accidentally - If an -ly adverb comes from an -al adjective ("accidental" in this case), then the -al has to be in the spelling. That rule, along with doubling the "c" will put you on the right track.
- accommodate - Remember that this word is large enough to accommodate two sets of double consonants. Double both the "c" and the "m" in this term.
- acquire - The "c" in "acquire" is silent, so it is often omitted in spelling. To help get it right, remember that you should "see" (sounds like "c") something before you acquire it.
- acquit - The challenge with spelling acquit is the same as with acquire. Remind yourself that acquit is related to accusations of criminal activities to help remember to include a "c."
- a lot - A lot is actually two words, but it's often misspelled as a single word (alot). In actuality, alot is not a word. Hopefully, you won't have to allot a lot of time remembering not to write alot.
- amateur - This word ends with the French suffix -eur (the equivalent of English -er), though it is pronounced like words that end in "ure." Remind yourself that amateurs need not be mature.
- apparent - It's apparent that you must pay the rent, so remember this word always has "rent" in it, but you don't want to pay double. In other words, double the "p,' not the "r."
- argument - Let's not argue about the loss of this verb's silent "e" before the suffix -ment. This is based on the rules for suffixes. Don't keep the silent "e" of the root word "argue."
- atheist - To remember how to spell atheist, remember that it combines the prefix a- (not) + God + the suffix -ist (one who believes). Put together, they spell the word for one who doesn't believe in God.
- believe - The word believe follows the general rule that "i" usually comes before "e" except after "c." (You might be surprised to learn that this rule has more exceptions than words it applies to!)
- bellwether - This term isn't about the weather, so don't spell it that way. A wether is a gelded ram that leads the herd. He wears a bell to alert the sheep to his presence and others to the herd's presence.
Hard Words to Spell From C-D
Words that are challenging to spell don't stop with the first few letters of the alphabet. From calendar to dumbbell, the letters "c" and "d" pose some tough spelling challenges to consider.
- calendar - To correctly spell calendar, remember that this word has one "e" sandwiched between two a's. The last vowel is an "a."
- category - In this word, the "y" is pronounced with a long "e" sound, but don't spell it that way. It's not spelled catastrophe, even though the end sounds are similar, because the middle vowel is an "e."
- cemetery - Don't let the suffix of the word cemetery bury you with a spelling error (pun intended). Cemetery ends in -ery. There's nary an -ary in it.
- changeable - The verb change keeps its "e" when able is added to the end. The spelling of this word indicates that the "g" is soft, not hard.
- collectible - Where do you keep a collection? In your home. Use the word "in" as a reminder that this word's final syllable ends with an "i."
- column - A silent final "n" is not uncommon in English, especially after "m." Some buildings need columns to be structurally sound, so think about the "n" in need when spelling this word.
- committed - If you're committed to correct spelling, think about double consonants to help you remember that you'll need to double the final "t" from "commit" before adding the -ed suffix.
- conscience - Don't let misspelling this word weigh on your conscience. While the /ch/ sound spelled as "sc" is a bit unusual, it's a consonant blend that is correct here.
- conscientious - Work on your spelling conscientiously! For this word, remember that conscientious has the /ch/ sound spelled two different ways: "sc" and 'ti."
- conscious - Try to be conscious of the "sc" spelling of the /ch/ sound and the fact that there are three vowels in this word's last syllable. Keep the order straight by thinking of "i-o-u."
- consensus - Don't get tricked into spelling the end of this word like "census." The census does not require a consensus, since the two terms actually are not related in meaning.
- daiquiri - These fruity concoctions are named for a village in Cuba with the same name. As with many proper nouns, no specific rule applies. Remember that "i" appears in this word three times, to help avoid leaving one out.
- definitely - Also related to the rules of suffixes, the silent "e" remains with the word definite when an -ly is added to the end.
- discipline - This commonly used word has an unusual spelling. Think of how this word is broken into syllables: dis-ci-pline. Remember that the "sc" sound actually comes from two different syllables. That should help keep you from leaving out one of the letters.
- drunkenness - To help you remember that drunkenness has two n's and two s's, remember that having too much to drink could cause one to see double!
- dumbbell - The "b" in dumb is silent. When dumb and bell are combined to form a compound noun, all of the letters remain. That's why there are two b's.
Hard to Spell Words From E-H
The more you explore the alphabet, the more hard words to spell you'll find. From embarrass to humorous, plenty of words that start with letters between "e" and "h" are ever-so-difficult to spell properly.
- embarrass - Spelling this word won't be a cause for embarrassment if you remember that it's large enough for a double "r" and a double "s."
- equipment - This word is misspelled "equiptment" a lot. However, the only "t" in this word is at the end, so be sure not to add one in the middle.
- exhilarate - Remembering the "h" is silent when you spell this word will lift your spirits high, with no "h" required. The other tricky part of this word is the fact that there are two a's.
- exceed - This word is often misspelled with -cede at the end instead of -ceed. Think of the double-digit speed limit you shouldn't exceed! This should help you remember the side-by-side e's.
- existence - People often replace one or both of the e's in this word with an "a." Remember that there is no "a" in existence.
- experience - It's fairly common for people to substitute an "a" for the last "e" in the word experience. Remind yourself that there are three e's in this word.
- fiery - This one is tough. The base word is fire, but when using it as an adjective, the "r" and "e" change places before a "y" is added to the end.
- foreign - The word foreign violates the i-before-e rule. Remember that something foreign is different from the norm, which is also the case with how this word is spelled.
- gauge - To gauge the positioning of the "a" and "u" in this word, remember that these two vowels appear in alphabetical order.
- grateful - Remember that grateful is based on the word gratitude, not the word great, so it should be spelled accordingly. Keep "great" out of "grateful."
- guarantee - This word isn't spelled like "warranty," even though these words sound alike and can be used as synonyms for each other.
- harass - This word is too small for two sets of double letters, just double the "s" on the end.
- height - English reaches the height (not heigth!) of absurdity when it spells "height" and "width" so differently. Remember that height is the opposite of width, so it does not end with "th."
- hierarchy - The i-before-e rule works fine here. Remind yourself that "hierarchy" is all about proper order, so it makes sense to stick to the rule when you're spelling this word.
- humorous - People often leave out the second "o," incorrectly believing that only the "u" is needed rather than the "ou" diphthong. Think of it like this: The "r" is so weak here, it needs an "o" on both sides to hold it up.
Difficult Words to Spell I-L
Ignorance of correct spelling doesn't give you a license to turn in work that's rife with spelling mistakes. Instead, take the time to learn how to spell these challenging words throughout the alphabet, including ones that begin with the letters between "i" and "l."
- ignorance - Don't show your ignorance by spelling this word with -ence! Remember that the vowels in ignorance are consistent with ignorant and ignoramus. There's no "e" in these terms.
- immediate - Do you need something now? Then you need to spell this word with two m's for the proper emphasis!
- independent - Remember that there are no a's in the word independent. Instead, there are three e's. Please be independent but not in your spelling of this word. It ends on -ent.
- indispensable - Knowing this word ends on -able is an indispensable spelling skill. Remember your indispensable assistant (starts with "a") makes you able (starts with "a") to function.
- inoculate - This word is often misspelled with a double "n." This one sounds like a shot in the eye. Remind yourself that one "n" in the eye is (more than) enough. Nobody needs two!
- intelligence - Using two i's in this word and ending it with -ence rather than -ance are marks of, of course, intelligence. There are no a's in this term.
- its/it's - Keeping the spelling of these words straight is a matter of remembering the difference between its and it's. Both are correct spellings of different words. "It's" is a contraction of "it is." while "its" shows possession or ownership.
- jewelry - Jewelry is made by a jeweler, but don't just add on a "y" to that word. Instead, the last "e" flees the scene (like a jewel thief!) when "y" is added to the end.
- judgment - Judges make judgments. The "e" should be dropped when -ment is added to the word "judge." In British English, though, either spelling (with or without the "e" at the end of judge) is correct.
- kernel - There is more than a kernel of truth to the claim that all the vowels in this word are e's. There are no o's in this word. Save those for popcorn!
- leisure - This term is another violator of the i-before-e rule. Remember that if you go to Hawaii for some rest and relaxation (i.e., leisure), you'll be greeted with a lei.
- liaison - This French word is throwing a bit of an orthographical curve. Remember that the "a" is sandwiched between two i's and the /z/ sound is really an "s."
- library - The library may be as fun as a berry patch, but that's not how it's spelled. There is no such word as liberry. There is only one "r." It should be pronounced and enunciated clearly.
- license - Remember that there's only one "s" in license, so the other soft /s/ sound has to be a "c." Fortunately, these letters appear alphabetically in this word.
Common Misspellings M-O
There are even more often misspelled words that begin with the letters "m" through "o." Make an effort to own your responsibility for spelling these words correctly rather than being overly reliant on the spell check function on your computer or mobile device.
- maintenance - The main tenants of this word are "main" and "tenance" even though the term comes from the verb to maintain. It has exactly two e's, though people often wrongly use a third "e" instead of the second "a."
- maneuver - This one combines the French words French main and oeuvre, which together mean handwork. In English, the spelling adjusts slightly. Main is shortened to man and ouevre is shortened to euver. That's where the spelling of maneuver comes from.
- medieval - The medieval orthography of English lays traps for you: everything about the Middle Ages is Medieval or, as the British would write, mediaeval. In both situations, there is an additional vowel before the second "e."
- memento - Why is something that reminds you of a moment is spelled memento rather than momento? The word memento is actually a Latin word that means remember. Remind yourself that there are more e's in memento than any other vowel.
- millennium - This word is large enough to hold two sets of double consonants, double "l" and double "n." Plus, remember that it began in a year with double o's at the end.
- miniature - Since that "a" is seldom pronounced, it's easy to leave it out of spelling. Remind yourself that this one has four distinct syllables, two of which are solo vowels: min-i-a-ture.
- minuscule - Since something minuscule is smaller than a miniature, it's a minus, not a mini. See? That's why this word has a "u" before the "s."
- mischievous - This mischievous word holds two traps: an "i" before the "e," and an -ous rather than a -us or or even -ious ending.
- misspell - What is more embarrassing than misspelling the name of the problem (spelling)? Just remember that it is mis- + spell. The s's are in separate syllables so they both stay.
- neighbor - The word neighbor invokes a silent "gh," as well as the /ei/ sound as a rule. This is fraught with error potential. It is one of the designated exceptions to the "i" before "e" rule, so the "e" comes before the "i." As far as the "g" goes, remind yourself to try to be a good neighbor.
- noticeable - The "e" is noticeably retained in this word to indicate the "c" is soft, which means that it's pronounced like /s/. Without the "e," the "c" would be hard and have the /k/ sound, as with the word applicable.
- occasionally - Writers occasionally tire of doubling so many consonants (or just forget). Remember that the word "occasionally" refers to something that occurs more than once as a reminder to double the "c" and the "l."
- occurrence - Remember not only the occurrence of two pairs of double consonants in this word but also note that the suffix is -ence, not -ance.
Hard Words to Spell From P-R
Yes, there are even more challenging spelling words that begin with the letters"p" through "r." When you start considering the most commonly misspelled words, you'll pretty soon realize that there are quite a few. After all, when it rains, it pours!
- pastime - Since a pastime is something you do to pass the time, you would expect a double "s" here. However, you aren't talking about the passing of time or how time passes, which would include two s's. A pastime is an activity, which is an enjoyable way to spend time. Knowing the different meanings should help.
- perseverance - All it takes is perseverance and you can be a perfect speller. The suffix is -ance, ruining an almost perfect run of e's. The correct spelling is maxed out at four e's already, so don't take it up to five by using an "e" where the "a" belongs.
- personnel - It's not personal that personnel has two n's and one "l." It's business, which is the context in which this word is used. Personal is an entirely different word. When you're referring to the people who work for a business, use two l's and an "e." There's no "a" in personnel.
- playwright - Since playwrights write plays, they should be "play-writes," right? Wrong. In Old English, a play writer was called a play worker. Wright is from an old form of the word work. This term is a basic compound word that combines play and wright into a single term.
- possession - Possession possesses more s's than a hissing snake. Remember that there are two occurrences of double s's in this word for a total of four.
- precede - What follows, succeeds, so what goes before should do what? Nothing confuses English spelling more than common sense. We "succeed" after the fact but "precede" before. This term is of Latin origin, combining pre and cedere. It means to go before.
- principal - The words principle and principal sound the same but are spelled differently. When you're referring to someone who is in charge (such as a school principal) or at the top (such as a principal dancer), use principal with an "a". They're at the top of their occupation, so their final vowel is at the top of the alphabet.
- privilege - According to the pronunciation of this word, that middle vowel could be anything. Remember that this word has two i's followed by two e's.
- pronunciation - Nouns often differ from the verbs they're derived from, which is true in this case. Here, the second "o" has been dropped from the root word pronounce, as well as the "e."
- publicly - Let's publicly declare the rule (again)! If an adverb comes from an adjective ending in -al, include that ending in the adverb. If not, as in here, don't add an -al.
- questionnaire - The French are doing it to us again. Don't question it, just double up on the n's and don't forget the silent "e" on the end.
- receipt - This is another example of the "i" before "e" rule. Plus, to further complicate things, this word has a silent "p." Think of patiently waiting for a receipt to print in the store.
- recommend - Think of this word as the equivalent of commending. It's formed by combining re- + commend. That would be (re)commendable. Any time commend is used as part of a word, it includes two m's and one "c."
- referred - Final consonants are often doubled before -ed is added (remit, remitted). This rule applies to accented syllables ending with "l" or "r," as is the case with referred, as well as the term rebelled. There would be an exception if the word contained a diphthong, such as with the word prevailed.
- reference - Refer to the aforementioned word and remember to add -ence to the end of the term. In this case. Notice that the "r" is not doubled in this case.
- relevant - The relevant factor here is that the word is not "revelant," "revelent," or even "relevent." It's all about "l" before "v" and the suffix -ant.
- rhyme - Actually, "rime" was the correct spelling until 1650, but it is not correct now. After that time, the spelling was changed to rhyme. Remember that it begins the same way as the word rhythm.
- rhythm - This one was borrowed from Greek (and conveniently never returned). As a result, it's spelled the way words that are borrowed from are spelled.
Challenging Words to Spell S-Z
Even at the very end of the alphabet, there are sure some real zingers. Words that are difficult to spell persist all the way through the alphabet, to the very last letter.
- schedule - If perfecting your spelling is on your schedule, remember the /sc/ sound is spelled the same way as the beginning of the word "school." Think about your school schedule and remind yourself to use the same three consonants at the beginning of both words.
- separate - How do you separate the e's from the a's in this word? Simply remember that "e" is the first vowel in the article and the last. In other words, the e's surround the a's.
- sergeant - The "a" in this word has been marched to the back of the line, so it's in the last syllable. Remember that, along with the fact that "e" is used in both syllables. You'll be able to write to or about your sergeant without fear of a spelling error.
- supersede - This word supersedes all others in perversity. This is the only English word based on the stem -sede. Supersede combines the Latin words super and sedere, meaning to sit above.
- their/they're/there - They're all pronounced the same but their spelling is different. The key to choosing the right word and spelling it properly is to know the difference between these three words. "Their" is possessive. "They're" is the contraction of "they are" Everywhere else, the word "there" is used.
- threshold - This one can push you over the threshold. It looks like a compound of "thresh" and "hold" but it isn't. Two h's in the word are enough. The letter "h" does not appear side-by-side in this word.
- twelfth - Even if you omit the "f" in your pronunciation of this word (which you shouldn't, as this is a pronunciation error), it's always retained in the spelling. When in doubt, you could always opt to write 12th instead.
- tyranny - If you are still resisting the tyranny of English orthography at this point, you must face the problem of the "y" inside this word. It refers to a tyrant and whose problem is tyranny. Don't forget to double up on the n's before adding the "y."
- until - Don't add an extra "l" to until. This word needs only one. It would be wrong to add more; there are no double letters in this term.
- vacuum - People tend to misspell this word by using two c's and one "u," or two of both of these letters. Both are incorrect. To spell vacuum correctly, remember that "u" is the only double letter in the term.
- weather - Whether you like the weather or not, you have to have the "a" after the "e" when you put it in writing. Of course, that's if you're referring to the weather conditions. The word whether serves an entirely different purpose.
- weird - This word is an exception to the rule about "i" I before "e" except after "c." Remember that this word is an exception, though of course exceptions aren't so weird in the English language! It's full of exceptions to the rule.
Misspelling Mania: Master More Tough Spelling Words
The English language is full of linguistic pitfalls and exceptions to the rules when it comes to spelling. Working through the list above, including the helpful tips, will help you recover from your spelling woes and effectively improve your spelling skills. If you're ready to investigate another set of confusing words to spell, review YourDictionary's additional list that features 150 more commonly misspelled words for you to consider. When you're ready to soothe your aching head, be sure to check out this quick overview of words with two spellings.