10 Most Difficult Words To Pronounce and Spell In Spanish

Are you finding some Spanish words difficult to pronounce? Here's our list of the 10 most difficult words and how to pronounce them.

10 Most Difficult Words To Pronounce and Spell In Spanish

For a beginner learning the language, there are certain tough Spanish words that are challenging to pronounce. To cope with any of them though, all you have to do is learn a few shortcuts and become fluent in their pronunciation.

Though these words can be challenging, knowing them is one of the many cool ways of improving your Spanish vocabulary within 15 minutes. You can use them as ice-breakers with your new Spanish friends.

Continue reading to find out why having excellent Spanish pronunciation is crucial, the ten Spanish words that are hardest to speak, and some solutions for how to pronounce them.

make salsa not war written in lights

4 Tips To Improve Your Spanish Pronunciation

1. Listening And Mimicking Are The Best Ways To Learn

The best way to improve your general pronunciation is to pay attention to the way native speakers speak and then attempt to replicate that.

Recording yourself and comparing it to recordings produced by native Spanish speakers is a terrifying but valuable practice to attempt. You'll hear your errors much more clearly that way. You'll be able to pick up on any inconsistencies and work on them by listening to and replaying the problematic passages.

Additionally, you may test out some of these well-known Spanish tongue twisters if you really want to work out your mouth and tongue:

Pancha plancha con cuatro planchas. ¿Con cuántas planchas Pancha plancha?
Iron plate with four plates. With how many irons does Pancha iron?

Buscaba el bosque Francisco, un vasco bizco, muy brusco, y al verlo le dijo un chusco, ¿Busca el bosque, vasco bizco?
Francisco, a cross-eyed Basque, was looking for the forest, very brusque, and when he saw him he said a joke, Are you looking for the forest, cross-eyed Basque?

3. Join Words

In Spanish, we combine words that have the same letter at the beginning and end.
A few examples: Voy a hacer (I’m going to do), which is typically pronounced "boi a-ser," and Qué es eso (What is that), which is often pronunced "quee-so" (like the term for cheese).

4. Be Comfortable Speaking Differently

When switching from Windows to Linux, for example, or from dinner to dessert, you do not anticipate the same emotions and sensations.
You need to turn off English and all of your preconceived ideas about how things should be stated, to the degree that you can, and log into another system.

boy playing a difficult jenga game

10 Most Difficult Words To Say In Spanish

1. Espantapájaros (Scarecrow)

Spanishdict Phonetic Alphabet (Spa)
The word "Pah" has an accent.
Espantapájaros or "scarecrow" is difficult to say due to repeated consonants and a large number of vowels with varying accents.
In this situation, mastering the pronunciation of the five Spanish vowels would be helpful. Another helpful suggestion is to move slowly and start with the first syllable, as in es-pan-ta-pá-ja-ros. When you have each syllable down, just focus on speaking the whole word more quickly.

2. Desarrolladores (Developers)

This term is quite enjoyable. You have a lot of syllables on top of the double-whammy of "rr" and "ll."
TIP: The nation determines how to pronounce "ll." The pronunciation is similar to an English "y," but a little rougher, throughout much of Latin America.
In Colombia and Venezuela, the letter "ll" is pronouced midway between an English "y" and a "j," but in Spain and Argentina it is pronouced similarly to the "j" in jump.

3. Estadounidense (American)

Spanishdict Phonetic Alphabet (Spa)
The word "dehn" is emphasized
Examine how various Spanish accents pronounce this word:
ESTADOUNIDENSE is derived from ESTADOS UNIDOS, 'United States,' and the demonymous suffix -ENSE.

In Spanish, AMERICANO may imply either:
a) from the AMERICAS or b) from the United States.

To resolve this issue, ESTADOUNIDENSE solely means "from the United States."
Nonetheless, the term AMERICANO, which means "from the United States," is still used in numerous expressions:
a) EL SUEÑO AMERICANO is the Spanish translation of THE AMERICAN DREAM.
b) If you're in a Latin American country and someone asks you to "go Dutch" (split the cost of a dinner), you might say "PAGAR A LA AMERICANA" (literally, "pay the American way").
B) An AMERICAN (book, music, etc.) edition is typically referred to as EDICIÓN AMERICANA when translated into Spanish.

4. Impermeabilizante (Waterproof)

You'll hear this term a lot in the wet areas of Latin America. The wet seasons may bring heavy downpours. As a matter of fact, I've even seen several Spanish speakers having difficulty with it.
It's challenging because of the length and the middle vowel diphthong.
TIP: Until you feel comfortable saying it, break it up into individual syllables. No need to hurry!

5. Ronronear (to purr)

One of the hardest Spanish verbs to say is ronronear, which means "to purr." It consists of two hard r sounds, one soft r sound, and one vowel pair, known as a hiatus in Spanish.
In Latin America, particularly in Mexico, individuals often turn pauses into diphthongs. So don't be shocked if you hear words like golpear (to hit) suddenly pronounced as golpiár or peleé (I fought) change to pelié.

6. Anaranjado (orange)

Why does Spanish have two terms for orange? Technically, the fruit is known as "naranja" and the color as "anaranjado." As in English, "naranja" gradually evolved to also refer to the equivalent hue.
To say "orange" in Spanish, use naranja or anaranjado.
The Spanish term for "orange" has two alternative pronunciations: naranja (pronounced nah-RAHN-hah) and anaranjado (pronounced ah-NAH-rahn-HAH-doh).

7. Verdadero (correct)

Spanishdict Phonetic Alphabet (Spa)
Note emphasis on “deh”

un verdadero fanático del fútbol no se pierde un partido
A real football fan doesn't miss a match

ese es el verdadero espíritu olímpico
That's the real Olympic spirit

De hecho, este es un verdadero factor unificador
Indeed this is a true unifying factor

8. Ferrocarril (Railroad)

In this word, there are two double "rs"!
TIP: The "r" is pronounced differently in Spanish than it is in English when it appears alone and when it is doubled.

Many people who speak English find it hard to make these sounds, but it is possible. Your tongue tip should softly contact the roof of your mouth when you pronounce any "r" sound in Spanish. Alternately, you may pronounce "t" in English to locate the correct spot. There is where your tongue should go.
The challenge is making your tongue vibrate in that position so that you can roll the "r." Let your tongue go up and down as you exhale through your mouth.

9. Vergüenza (Embarrassment or Shame)

Vergüenza, which translates to "shame," has a tricky diacritical mark (also known as a "umlaut") above the u. The diéresis signifies that the normally quiet u between the g and the e must be spoken.

10. Ornitorrinco (Platypus)

The name of this strange animal is likewise strange. Platypus is the meaning of the word "ornitorrinco," and the difficult r and several o that make up this word make it tough. But at this point, you're a pro at making these sounds and shouldn't have any trouble saying this word.

white desktop with monitor and books on the table

You Are Now Ready To Go

Now that you have mastered the 10 most difficult words to pronounce in Spanish vocabulary, any other words will be easy for you! You can keep on practicing those pronounciation until you sound like a native speaker. If you want to impress your Spanish speaking friends, why not find a way to use one of those words in your conversations.

There are several simple ways to improve your communication in Spanish if you are interested in pronounciation and Spanish conversations. However, they all require you to practice your Spanish speaking skills. If you are looking for a native speaker who can correct you while conversing, why not try out Speechling. Afterall, there is always room for mejorar (improvement)!