The Shockingly Simple Words Brits Struggle to Spell, According to Google

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A new study by McGowan Transcriptions has shed light on the perplexing world of spelling, exposing the words that often trip us up. Analysing a vast dataset of 48,073 keywords from Google’s search data, the research unveiled some surprising findings. Topping the list as the most challenging word to spell across the UK is “Favourite” with 38,400 yearly searches. “Colour” and “Beautiful” follow closely behind, rounding out the top three.

Interestingly, the whimsically long and tongue-twisting word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” manages to secure a spot in the top ten, attracting over 18,000 searches annually in the UK. The sheer length and complexity of the pop-culture term make it a challenging word to remember and spell accurately. This playful inclusion highlights the curiosity and humorous nature of people’s online searches.

Joe McGowan, CEO of McGowan Transcriptions, commented on the findings: “Our data not only identifies the words that challenge us the most but also provides insight into the common pitfalls in everyday spelling, pointing to areas where improvement may be needed. If some of these seemingly simple words have tripped you up, you’re not alone – the English language is fascinatingly complex and can catch anyone off guard.”

The UK’s Top Ten Trickiest Words

KeywordYearly Volume

Four Common Pitfalls

  • Americanisms: The inclusion of the letter ‘u’ in words like “favourite” and “colour” is a characteristic feature of British English. People who are more exposed to American English spellings might find the variations challenging.
  • Unusual Phonetics: The words “lose” and “quiet” have spellings that don’t precisely reflect their pronunciation, confusing those who rely on phonetic rules.
  • Silent Letters: The presence of a silent ‘p’ in “receipt” challenges individuals who may not be aware of the word’s etymology.
  • Vowel Combination: The combination of vowels in “niece”, “received”, and “beautiful” can be tricky for some, especially considering that English has multiple ways to represent similar sounds. The “I before E except after C” rule can be a helpful reminder here, but it isn’t always accurate. 


We used Ahrefs to examine Google search data for the terms “How do you spell” and “How to spell”. We compiled a list of the most common words people were looking to spell check and sorted the top 10 by yearly volume.


This study illuminates the fascinating intricacies of English spelling, revealing both expected and unexpected challenges faced by Brits. From everyday words like “favourite” and “colour” to whimsical terms like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” our language continually surprises and delights with its complexity.

In light of these findings, it becomes evident why relying on professional transcription companies like McGowan Transcriptions is essential. Transcription accuracy is paramount, especially when it comes to capturing spoken words accurately. Spelling errors can not only detract from the professionalism of a transcript but can also lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the content.

By entrusting your transcription needs to experienced professionals, you can ensure that even the trickiest words are transcribed flawlessly, maintaining the integrity and clarity of your documents. With meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to linguistic precision, professional transcription services like McGowan Transcriptions offer a reliable solution for businesses, researchers, and individuals alike, helping to navigate the complexities of language with confidence and clarity.

Call 0800 158 3747 or email

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April 2024 – blog post based on this article: Illiterates: Words English speakers struggle to spell most