How To Pronounce These 13 Difficult English Words Ep 477

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Learn How To Say These 13 Difficult English Words Correctly With Some Practise English Pronunciation

English pronunciation practice with 13 words that most English learners have a hard time with, and a quiz. Do you want to improve your English pronunciation? Do you want to speak English with a British accent? Bored with learning English with the standard lessons? Then try this alternative approach to sound more like a native! Become a better speaker of English, one podcast at a time.

In this lesson, you will learn about 13 English words that are difficult to pronounce. You’ll learn what they mean, how to use them in a sentence, and we help you practice with a quick quiz. Find out more by listening to the rest of the episode and don’t forget to use our free lesson transcript to help you. Listen and practice your English with us, and if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast.

English language is full of words that are difficult to pronounce. That’s why many learners avoid unknown words, because they are afraid they cannot pronounce them. This is understandable, but it actually makes learning English more difficult. Using only the vocabulary that you can pronounce with no problems, you miss out on a lot of opportunities to use words with wonderful meanings and applications.

Now Spring restores the balmy heat, now Zephyr's sweet breezes calm the rage of the equinoctial sky.
⭐ Catullus, Latin poet of the late Roman Republic

Pronunciation is one of the most important parts of learning a new language. While learning words and grammar rules helps you communicate, it’s the pronunciation that will give you the confidence to speak English at a much higher level. Learning tough words can be really fun.

They might be words with complex pronunciations and/or expressions - but we will help you tackle them! In this podcast we’ll not only look at how to pronounce them properly, but we’ll also learn some interesting facts about them and we’ll give tips on avoiding mistakes.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

A Bit Like2
A Brewery Is2
Difficult To Pronounce2
In The Sea2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: How To Pronounce These 13 Difficult English Words

Hi there and welcome to this Adept English podcast. I haven’t touched pronunciation for a while, so let’s make this a more lighthearted podcast and tackle some of those famously difficult-to-pronounce English words. I’ve just picked some hard-to-pronounce English words at random – and I’m going to put them into sentences at the end of this podcast, so that you can practise repeating after me.

I guess they’re a bit like tongue twisters, where you’ve got several difficult words all in one sentence, but I’ll give you the word explanations, the definitions as well, then you’ll be increasing your vocabulary. And I’ll try to make my explanations, my definitions memorable, so that you have a better chance of remembering the word!

The first one – they’re in alphabetical order these - I struggle to say myself, so bear with me!

Anemone, ANEMONE

An anemone is either a flower in your garden or it’s a sea anemone – it’s a creature, an animal which usually has spikes and lives in the sea. It’s a bit like an underwater cactus! It’s the sort of thing that gets stuck in your foot when you’re in the sea on your holidays in the Mediterranean and then you have to go to hospital to have it removed. Not exactly what you want on your holiday! But that is an anemone.


A photograph of tropical underwater scene. Today we're looking at English words that can be very difficult to pronounce.

©️ Adept English 2021

Antarctic, ANTARCTIC

I’ve mentioned this recently in a podcast, when we were learning the English words for the continents and the Seven Seas – if you remember podcast number 462? So we either say ‘the Antarctic’ or ‘Antarctica’. It’s the land at the bottom of the earth. It’s cold there. That’s ‘Antarctic’.

Brewery, BREWERY

A brewery is a kind of factory, I guess, but specifically one where beer or lager is produced. So Budweiser, Heineken, Fosters and Pilsner – all produced in breweries across the world. And a brewery is for beer, whereas we’d say ‘distillery’ for a factory that made wine or spirits, like gin, whiskey or vodka. But for beer, it’s a ‘brewery’.

Camaraderie, CAMARADERIE

This word is used for that really nice, good fun, light hearted feeling between friends or workmates. The other word that has a similar meaning in English is the French word ‘rapport’, RAPPORT.

You might say ‘We’ve got good rapport – there’s camaraderie.’ Camaraderie is related to the word ‘comrade’, so ‘camaraderie’ is also about comradeship and loyalty. That’s ‘camaraderie’.

Cavalry, CAVALRY

This word is used for a part of an army, a fighting force. The cavalry are the soldiers on the back of horses, as opposed to ‘the infantry’ which are the soldiers on foot. Phrases in English like ‘We’re waiting for the cavalry’ or ‘Send in the cavalry’ may be used as idioms and reflect the fact that a battle was more likely to be won, when the men on horseback arrived. So that’s ‘cavalry’.

Leicester, LEICESTER

The UK is full of place names which are difficult to pronounce. And so one of our main towns, famous of course for its football team and for Gary Lineker is Leicester. And if you’ve visited the UK, you’ve probably not been to Leicester, because it’s up in the Midlands – in the county of Leicestershire.

Just practise that one a minute – ‘Leicestershire’. But if you’re been to London and travelled on the Tube, the Underground, then you’ll probably have passed through or even visited ‘Leicester Square’.

Library, LIBRARY

And this is a word which lots of English speakers mispronounce too. ‘Library’. A library is a place which has lots of books. And importantly, it’s not a shop – it’s not a bookshop. A library is a place where you become a member and you loan books. You borrow books from a library and then you return them – or at least, if you don’t want to get fined, you return them. So that’s a ‘library’.

Onomatopoeia, ONOMATOPOEIA

Gosh, that’s a lot of vowels on the end! I love this word and I remember an English teacher of mine telling a joke to help us remember the word ‘onomatopoeia’. The pun, the punchline was ‘I’m on a mat, up here’ – pity I can’t remember the rest of the joke, isn’t it?! Maybe if you know it, you could send it in – email it to us!

Anyway, onomatopoeia is hard to pronounce I think, perhaps because there are all those vowels at the end, when you see it written down. It’s a noun and examples of onomatopoeias are words like ‘buzz’, ‘screech’, ‘shush’ or ‘smash’. So they’re words which are designed to sound like the noise or the action they describe. That’s ‘onomatopoeia’.

Phenomenon, PHENOMENON

So phenomenon is a noun and it means ‘something that you can see or perceive’. So a phenomenon is a grouping or an association or an event or an effect which you notice, because you see it or perceive it. A phenomenon may have an explanation or may be mysterious.

You might say ‘The Northern Lights are a phenomenon’ or ‘The migration of birds is a wondrous phenomenon’ or you might talk about ‘the phenomenon of social media’. That’s ‘phenomenon’ and watch the plural – it’s 'phenomena'with an A on the end.


Puerile, PUERILE

This one is an adjective and it comes from the Latin ‘puer’, PUER meaning ‘a boy’. If you have a ‘puerile sense of humour’, it means that you laugh at rather childish things, silly things, it’s not mature or clever humour. If you say something is ‘puerile’, you’re usually meaning a negative. That’s ‘puerile’.

Quinoa, QUINOA

This one is another hard-to-pronounce word, because the pronunciation doesn’t really follow logically from its spelling. The joke in the UK is usually that quinoa is ‘rather middle class’.

Quinoa is a seed and it’s used like a grain, like wheat. If you eat ‘tabbouleh salad’ – that’s made with quinoa. A good carbohydrate food. That’s ‘quinoa’.

Worcester, WORCESTER

This is the second of our difficult-to-pronounce place names in this pronunciation podcast. And like Leicester, Worcester is a county town – meaning that the area, the county around the town of Worcester is called ‘Worcestershire’.

These place names which end in -CESTER exist because they come from the Latin ‘castra’ meaning ‘a camp’. And they reflect that fact that the Romans occupied Britain for a time. So that’s Worcester. And if you’ve visited the UK, you may have heard of ‘Worcester sauce’ – nice on your eggs on toast!

And finally...

Zephyr, ZEPHYR

So a zephyr is a light wind, a breeze, if you like. It comes from Greek mythology – Zephyros was the west wind. There was also Boreas, the north wind, Austris, the south wind – like in the name ‘Australia’ and Eurus, the east wind – as in the name ‘Europe’.

That’s lovely, I like that – how two of the continents got their names. Maybe that’s for another podcast sometime! A zephyr is not just the west wind, it’s also a type of motorbike – a Kawasaki Zephyr. So that’s ‘zephyr’.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

OK, so that’s thirteen difficult-to-pronounce words in English. Before we go onto those practice sentences, just to remind you that if this podcast is helping you learn English – if this is at the right level of your English language learning – we have 100s of podcasts that you can download on our website at

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

Far more podcasts than are available on Apple podcasts, Spotify or Google – we’ve got even more of them! So with the Adept English podcast download service, you’ll always have some English language to listen to.

So, that quiz now. Just four sentences to practise saying. Here goes – I’ll leave a space afterwards for you to repeat.

  1. Onomatopoeia is a phenomenon in English where sounds are made into words.
  2. You don’t see anemones or quinoa in the Antarctic, just gentle Zephyrs. (I don’t think that’s true – I think there are raging winds down there, but anyway….)
  3. There was some puerile camaraderie going on amongst the cavalry.
  4. Worcester and Leicester are county towns, with good libraries, but even better breweries.

So you can use those final sentences to practise your pronunciation, practise repeating after me. And when you’ve done that, you could try listening and writing the sentences down, because sometimes difficult pronunciation is really about spelling which doesn’t match the word.


Let me know if this podcast is helpful and you’d like more podcasts like this one.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.



The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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