Silent letters in English


In the English language, almost every letter can be a 'silent' letter. For a technical discussion of the different forms of silent letter, see the page on wikipedia. Here, we try to give an example for each letter possible.

  1. Cocoa, bread
  2. Debt
  3. Scissors
  4. Wednesday
  5. Every
  6. Halfpenny
  7. Gnome
  8. School
  9. Maize
  10. Marijuana
  11. Knife
  12. Colonel
  13. Mnemonic
  14. Damn
  15. Oestrogen
  16. Psyche
  17. Racquet
  18. February
  19. Island
  20. Ballet
  21. Guard, buoy
  22. ...
  23. Whooping cough
  24. Faux
  25. Prayer
  26. Rendezvous

According to Webster's dictionary, in the US a variant pronunciation of "fivepence" can be "fi'pence", omitting the 'v'. The letter 'v' can also be silent in placenames: for example, I'm told that Milngavie in Glasgow is pronounced as "Mill Guy".

We would welcome suggestions for the letter v, and better examples for some of those included (such as f). Please send them to richard@onetrickwords.com. As elsewhere on this site, words of foreign origin are considered part of the English language if they are included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Some words with multiple silent letters include:


Double letters

Fewer letters can be double than can be silent:

  1. aardvark
  2. rubber
  3. flaccid
  4. rudder
  5. beer
  6. buffer
  7. digger
  8. beachhead
  9. zombiism
  10. hajj
  11. pukka
  12. taller
  13. hammer
  14. canned
  15. fool
  16. hopper
  17. ...
  18. current
  19. pass
  20. hatter
  21. vacuum
  22. skivvy
  23. powwow
  24. ...
  25. ...
  26. buzz

Richard's Useful Lists
One-trick Words Untruisms
Heteronyms Silent letters
Morissettes Quotes and Links

Wordplay compiled by Richard Stevens, Ruth Coleman and Katia Houghton.