Words with silent letters that trip up writers

Many communicators are confident spellers, but some words defy logic. Here are a handful that warrant a second look when writing or editing.

Words with silent letters

As writers and editors (and Ragan/PR Daily readers), most communicators are all above-average spellers.

You’re the one others call for spelling advice. You’re the one who correct what the spell-checker has mangled. You’re also the one who remembers the spelling rules you learned in second grade.

Yet, sometimes even you can get stumped and stunned by spelling. That’s how you spell that word?

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 10 punctuation essentials]

For the incredulous among us, below are 23 words that trick even confident spellers with silent letters and other quirks.

1. Aplomb — self-confidence

2. Acquiesce — to give in

3. Apropos — appropriate

4. Awry — not as expected

5. Baguette — a long, narrow loaf of bread

6. Catarrh — inflammation of the nose and throat

7. Convalesce — to recover

8. Guillotine — a machine used to behead a person

9. Hemorrhage — to bleed profusely

10. Ophthalmology — the branch of medicine that treats the eye

11. Philatelist — a stamp collector

12. Phlegm — mucus

13. Pterodactyl — a flying reptile that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods

14. Quiche — an unsweetened pie made with eggs, cream

15. Queue — a line of waiting people or cars

16. Resuscitate — to revive or regain consciousness

17. Ricochet — to rebound or skip off a surface

18. Sherbet — a frozen dessert made with skim milk, sugar, and flavoring.

19. Supersede — to replace or set aside

20. Tchotchke — a trinket or decorative item of little value

21. Ukulele — a small, four-stringed guitar

22. Handkerchief — a small cloth used for wiping the nose or mouth

23. Mnemonic — a device or system used to assist the memory or aid in remembering

Can you think of any others to add to the list?

A writer and editor from Austin, Texas, Laura Hale Brockway is also a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.


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