Top 10 most difficult words of 2022

So many words aren’t pronounced the way we read them, and as the world has become more multicultural in recent years and the internet has increased proximity to one another, we’re finding out new words.

Some are trickier than others, so Writing Tips has compiled the top 10 most difficult words for Americans to pronounce according to monthly searches.

  • The most searched pronunciation was for “acai”
  • Pronunciations for both “acai” and “omicron” were the most searched globally
  • Four of the words are related to food

The most searched pronunciation in America in 2022 was “acai”.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the berry is said “ah-sigh-ee”. Americans accounted for 75% of all the people searching for “how to pronounce acai”. Across the 12 months of 2022, the average monthly search for “acai” was 24,000 globally. Americans made up 18,000 of those searches.


The second most searched pronunciation was for “nguyen”.  The most common Vietnamese surname was searched 15,000 times in the US; the same number of times as the pronunciation for “gyro”. Compared to the global searches, American searches made up 71 % and 88%, respectively.


“Omicron” has been used a lot since the world initially heard about COVID-19 in 2020. Used to name a variant of COVID-19, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet is pronounced “oh-mih-kron” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Making up just over half of all omicron pronunciation searches, Americans searched it 14,000 times in comparison to the total 24,000 people worldwide.


The fifth word is the third food-related word: “charcuterie”. A French word used to describe cured and dried meats, and cheeses. It’s also used for a deli that sells mainly these, and is pronounced: “shar-koo-te-ree”. Americans accounted for 75% of the global searches; 12,000 searches came from the US.


Next on the list is “gif”. The confusion often lies with whether the “g” is a hard one or a soft one, pronounced like a “j”. According to Merriam-Webster, either pronunciation can be used. 11,000 people searched for this pronunciation.


Both “gnocchi” and “kyiv” were searched for 13,000 times globally, but were searched for 10,000 and 7,900 times in the US, respectively. Gnocchi, an Italian potato-based pasta, is pronounced “nyo-kee”, while Kyiv, the Ukraine capital, is pronounced “keev”.


The ninth pronunciation is “Worcestershire”, an English county. The pronunciation is one that has stumped non-English people for a long time, but is said “wuh-stah-sheer” or “wu-stah-shah”. 7,800 people in the US, 65% of the 12,000 people worldwide, searched for the pronunciation.


The last on the list is “dogecoin”. Co-founder of dogecoin, Jackson Palmer, pronounces the word “dohj-coin”.


A spokesperson from Writing Tips commented: “Some of the words in the list are unsurprising such as ‘Kyiv’, given that it’s topical.


“‘Worcestershire’ is a word that often confuses non-Brits, and 2022 saw many pronunciation social media challenges which included this word. Admittedly, there are far fewer syllables than you might expect with that number of letters.


“Alternatively, a word like “charcuterie” is an interesting one to see considering it’s in steady use.”

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