Skip to Content

10 Most Mispronounced Words Around the World. Some May Surprise You!

Having someone correct you after speaking can be disconcerting and embarrassing, particularly if you’re in a leadership role where complex English words are essential.

To manage your apprehension, learn some of the most frequently mispronounced words you may need to use. Many people stumble over these words daily, so sidestep uncomfortable instances of verbal mistakes by enhancing your dialogue abilities.


A clear sign that someone is unfamiliar with the Italian language, or is a beginner, is how they pronounce ‘grazie’, which translates to ‘thank you’. A common mistake is not pronouncing the ending ‘e’, which alters the word into something resembling ‘grat-zi’.

In Italian, vowels typically have distinct pronunciations, so it’s crucial to emphasize both the ‘i’ (which has a ‘y’ sound in this context) and ‘e’.

Colonel (KERN-ull)

If you’ve had any involvement with the military, perhaps through family, or have played war-themed video games, you’ve likely encountered the term “colonel” on several occasions. This rank stands above a lieutenant, yet its pronunciation can be quite baffling.

You may read the word as “call-oh-nel” based on its spelling, but actually, it is pronounced the same as “kernel”.

The word “colonel” has been widely mispronounced for many centuries. The original term, “colonnello”, was used by Italians to denote a small group’s military leader. In the 1600s, the French adopted this term, modified it to include an “r” sound, made the first “l” silent, and got rid of the second “n”, thus creating the word “colonel”.

How to avoid being robbed during your travels
The traditional gondolas of Venice, Italy

Schlittschuhlaufen (Ice skating)

The challenging aspect of this German term is ensuring you don’t mistakenly include an ‘l’ in “schuh” when pronouncing it. By continuously repeating “schlitt” and “schuh”, you’ll eventually get the hang of the word!

Indeed, the most intimidating German words can appear daunting and difficult to articulate because they are written as one long word. Nevertheless, the key to conquering these compound nouns lies in dissecting them into their elements.

Start by practicing each part slowly, then gradually use your German accent to pronounce them all together. You can also try Lingoda, which enables German language learning for everyone. Once you’ve become proficient, you can apply your skills by talking to a native speaker. 


The Italian term “Bruschetta” is often mispronounced by those who speak English. Typically, in English, people pronounce it as “bru-sheh-ta,” incorporating a ‘sh’ sound, but the correct Italian pronunciation uses a ‘skeh’ sound instead of ‘sche.’

Another minor mistake English speakers often make is the pronunciation of the double “tt”. Depending on their geographical origin, English speakers articulate it as either a single “t” or “d”. However, in Italian, there’s a distinct emphasis on the double “tt”.

Hyperbole (high-PER-boh-lee)

Acknowledging the number of individuals who incorrectly pronounce hyperbole is not an overstatement. This word refers to assertions or statements not to be taken literally due to their exaggerated nature.

Instead of pronouncing it as hyper-bowl, try to pronounce it correctly as indicated above. This will facilitate smoother conversations, particularly as you can use this term to embellish your language.

The Brandenburg Gate of Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate of Berlin

GIF (jif)

The younger and older generations often debate the correct pronunciation of small, repetitive, animated images. These were first created by Steve Wilhite in 1987 and named as graphics interchange format (GIF).

The question that arises is whether it should be pronounced with a hard G (like in ‘goodness’) or a soft J (like in ‘Jack’). Wilhite clarified in 2013 that the correct pronunciation was ‘jif’ with a soft J.

While some people have been using this pronunciation all along, others may continue using the hard G. After all, the word “graphics” isn’t pronounced as “jraphics.”

Regardless of your preference, you’re aware of the original pronunciation. Saying it out loud can assist you in distinguishing between two letters that sound almost identical.


Even native speakers find the word “Aeropuerto” difficult to articulate. Similar to English, the prefix “aero” in Spanish implies “air”, making “Aeropuerto” directly translate to “airport”. However, there’s another Spanish term for air: ‘aéreo’, typically associated with anything related to air transport, such as ‘transportes aéreos.’

Consequently, it’s common for people to mistakenly say ‘Aeropuerto’ when they intend to say ‘Aeropuerto’. Avoid this beginner’s error; you’ll speak Spanish more proficiently than many natives.


Pronouncing medical terms can be daunting in many languages, including Spanish. The term otorrinolaringólogo refers to an ENT (nose, ear, and throat) doctor, which is a shortened version of the full name “otorhinolaryngologist.”

In English, the use of the more manageable acronym ENT helps avoid the challenge of pronouncing this long word. However, it’s worth noting that the term otorrinoralingólogo is commonly used in Spanish. Therefore, mastering the pronunciation of this term might be necessary when dealing with potential throat or ear infections before seeking medical attention.

Pneumonia (noo-MOHN-yuh)

The starting “p” in the term “pneumonia” is mute, which gives us the accurate pronunciation as “noo-MOHN-yuh.” Some individuals erroneously include a “p” sound at the onset or incorrectly shift the emphasis on the syllables.

If pronouncing complex terms like pneumonia make you uneasy in public, consider setting up a preparatory routine that you can rehearse before any dialogue or presentation. This practice allows you to familiarize yourself with the toughest words in your vocabulary, preventing any potentially embarrassing slip-ups when you start speaking.

Edinburgh, the place where legends come true
Edinburgh, the place where legends come true


Undoubtedly, this word is among the top tongue twisters out there. It can either humble you, make you feel inadequate, or it can make you burst into laughter. Historically, it refers to a county in west central England and is also a distinct condiment for food and beverages, sometimes called ‘Worcester sauce’.

A helpful tip for pronouncing this word is that the first ‘R’ is silent. Even with this hint, it’s still a challenging word to master. If you’re struggling with it, rest assured you’re not the only one.

Yacht (yaht)

Those who fantasize about owning a boat may often dream about eventually owning a yacht. The pronunciation is akin to ‘yaht,’ tracing back to its Dutch roots from the word ‘jaght.’ The term evolved into its current form when the British merged it with the term ‘schip,’ transforming its meaning to a fast sailing ship. Despite being one of the most challenging words in English due to its spelling, understanding its origins in Dutch can make it easier to remember.


All languages contain words that are frequently mispronounced. If you’re unsure about the correct pronunciation of a word, follow these steps to become more confident: Enter the word into a pronunciation application, seek assistance from a language tutor, and regularly practice the correct pronunciation to commit it to memory.

The Best Things to Do and See in Puerto Vallarta
Breath taking sunset at Sayulita, Mexico