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25 Most Difficult French Words To Pronounce

25 Most Difficult French Words To Pronounce

Today’s Word of the Day lesson won’t just focus on one single word but 25 words! In particular, we’ll look at the 25 most difficult French words to pronounce. Have you ever struggled with words that seem almost impossible to say such as écureuil (squirrel) or accueil (reception, front desk)? Then this lesson is just for you!

mots difficiles à prononcer

difficult words to pronounce

25 Most Difficult French Words To Pronounce

Pronunciation of the 25 hardest French Words

How we came up with this list

Bonjour! There are two ways we came up with this list. The first was simply by knowing which words are hard for students following 10+ years of teaching French. The second was to ask French learners on Facebook to suggest words they wanted on the list.

Spend some time here and really listen. You’ll hear that our voice over artist, Marie, really did an amazing job! She pronounces all of the words slowly and clearly with a perfectly neutral European French accent. Play the audio files as many times as necessary to really get the pronunciaiton right!

One more note: Don’t ignore our notes which we’ve typed out for each word. They really will help!


The word un is the masculine-singular indefinite aritcle meaning “a” or “an”. The lesson on our site covers the French articles in detail.


Écureuil means squirrel in French. The euil is particularly hard to pronounce. Don’t say the -l! The phonetic symbols for this word are: [ekyʀœj]. A ryhming word which could have made our list is: fauteuil (armchair).


Grenouille means “frog” in French. The ouille sounds like “ou-ee”. Don’t pronounce the -ll’s.


Quincaillerie means hardware store. The ai sounds like “I” and the ll’s are not pronounced. The -in is a nasal sound. Native speaker and Parisian, Camille, at French Today does a great job explaining the French nasal sounds in this lesson.


Millefeuille (one thousand sheets) is a kind of pastery. Pronounce the -ll’s for mille but don’t pronounce the -ll for feuille. Translations for feuille include leaf and sheet of paper.


Aujourd’hui means today in French. We did a Word of the Day lesson on this word in this post.


Many students struggle with the word euro (€). It sounds like “uh-roh”. Can you say it?


Heure (hour) is another classic that students find difficult. Do not pronounce the -h at all. We did a Word of the Day lesson on heure in this post.


What makes aéroport (airport) difficult is that you must pronounce both the a and the é next too each other in two distinct syllables. The -e with the upward slanting accent aigu (accute accent) sounds like ay as in “play”.

Serrurier, serrurière

Serrurier means “locksmith”. Serrurière is the feminine form. What makes this word hard is the multiple -r sounds.


Sœur means “sister” in French. This word made our list as many people have trouble with the œ sound. This is called l’e dans l’o (the e in the o) and is found in the word cœur.


The word œil means “eye”. The phonetic œil is [œj]. Do not pronounce the -l.


Voiture means “car” in French. This word made our list because of the tricky ure sound. Another tricky word which rhymes with voiture is confiture (jam, jelly). J’ai laissé la confiture dans la voiture (I left the jam in the car).

Accueil, accueillir

The noun accueil translates to welcome or reception desk. It is also use to mean “homepage” for websites. This is one of the hardest words in French to pronounce. Just click on the audio below and listen a few times until you get it. The verb accueillir means to host or welcome.


Huile means “oil” in French. Totally ignore the -h and say “u-ee-l”.


Monsieur means “sir” or “mister”. The pronunciation sounds like “muh-see-uh”. Again, click and listen.


Beurre means butter. The word made our list as people don’t know what to do with the -eu. It sounds like “buhr”.


Eau means water. A few people on Facebook asked to have this word included. It simple sounds like “oh”.


Chirurgien means “surgeon”. What makes this word tricky is the -irur. In your mind, try seperating the syllables: chi-ru-gien. Don’t pronounce the final -n.


Escroquerie means swindle or fraud. Again, this word was requested on Facebook. Try using technique of separating the syllables on this word: es-co-que-rie.


Dehors (outside) is a classic that students dislike. Basically, say 2-or or “deux-or”. Try pushing the two syllables together.


Caoutchouc means rubber. Listen to Marie as she reads the word: Ca-ou-chou(c). The final -c is silent.

En haut

En haut means upstairs. This was also requested on Facebook. Notice that 1) Marie does not do a liaison and 2) The -h on haut (meaning high) is silent.


Many people have a hard time with yaourt (yogurt). Separate the word into two syllables (ya-ourt) and pronounce the final -t. This goes against the French reading rules which say to ignore the final consonant if a word in two consonants (such as Robert).


Cuillère means spoon. Students typically don’t know what to do with the -uill. Simply pronounce the word like “kwee-yayr”.


Et voilà ! You should now have a much better idea of how to pronounce these 25 most difficult words to prnounce in French! A great next step would be to check out our posts covering the French reading rules and accent marks!

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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