silent letters

Silent letters occur in spelling but are not pronounced (and are therefore not cued). Words with silent letters can be useful examples for demonstrating the sometimes inconsistent relationship between English spelling and its pronunciation. These words can also be valuable for introductory lessons to remind students to think beyond spelling when cueing words.

Examples

b

bomb, bombingclimbcombcrumbdebtdoubtdumblamblimb, numbplumbersubtlethumbtomb.

c

fluorescentindict, musclescentsciencescissors.

ch

yacht 

d

handkerchief

g

campaign, champagne, feign, foreign, gnash, gnaw, reign, resign, sign

gh

daughter, fightlightmightrightsightthoughthoughtthroughweigh, weight.

h

exhaust, honest, ghost, heir, herb, dishonest, honor, hour, rhythm, rhyme

i

business, cushion, fashion

k

knead, knee, kneel, knewknife, knight, knock, knot, know, knowledge

l

almond, balm, calf, calm, colonel, could, embalm, folk, half, Lincoln, psalm, salmon, salve, should, solder, talk, walk, would, yolk

m

mnemonic

n

autumn, column, condemn, damn, solemn

p

corps, coup, cupboard, psalm, pterodactyl, psychiatry, psychology, raspberry, receipt

s

apropos, bourgeois, chablis, corps, debris, Illinois, island, isle, rendez-vous

t

ballet, buffet, castle, Christmas, nestle, rustle, thistle

th

asthma, isthmus

w

answer, sword, two, who, wholewhose, wreath, wrench, wrestle, wriggle, wrist, write, wrong

x

faux

z

rendez-vous

 

bomb

  • /bɑˈm/
  • /bahˈm/
  • /bäˈm/
  • 4sf5s

bombing

  • /bɑˈmɪŋ/
  • /bahˈming/
  • /bäˈmĭng/
  • 4sf5t8s

climb

  • /klɑɪˈm/
  • /klieˈm/
  • /klīˈm/
  • 2s6s5t5s

comb

  • /koʊˈm/
  • /kohˈm/
  • /kōˈm/
  • 2sf5s

crumb

  • /krʌˈm/
  • /kruhˈm/
  • /krŭˈm/
  • 2s3sd5s

debt

  • /dɛˈt/
  • /dehˈt/
  • /děˈt/
  • 1c5s

doubt

  • /dɑʊˈt/
  • /dowˈt/
  • /dowˈt/
  • 1s5t5s

dumb

  • /dʌˈm/
  • /duhˈm/
  • /dŭˈm/
  • 1sd5s

lamb

  • /læˈm/
  • /laˈm/
  • /lăˈm/
  • 6t5s

limb

  • /lɪˈm/
  • /liˈm/
  • /lĭˈm/
  • 6t5s

numb

  • /nʌˈm/
  • /nuhˈm/
  • /nŭˈm/
  • 4sd5s

plumber

  • /plʌˈmɚ/
  • /pluhˈmur/
  • /plŭˈmûr/
  • 1s6sd5m

subtle

  • /sʌˈtəl/
  • /suhˈtəl/
  • /sŭˈtəl/
  • 3sd5sd6s

thumb

  • /θʌˈm/
  • /thuhˈm/
  • /thŭˈm/
  • 7sd5s

tomb

  • /tuˈm/
  • /tueˈm/
  • /to͞oˈm/
  • 5c5s

fluorescent

  • /floˌrɛˈsənt/
  • /flohˌrehˈsənt/
  • /flōˌrěˈsənt/
  • 5s6sf3c3sd4s5s

indict

  • /ɪndɑɪˈt/
  • /indieˈt/
  • /ĭndīˈt/
  • 5t4s1s5t5s

muscle

  • /mʌˈsəl/
  • /muhˈsəl/
  • /mŭˈsəl/
  • 5sd3sd6s

scent

  • /sɛˈnt/
  • /sehˈnt/
  • /sěˈnt/
  • 3c4s5s

science

  • /sɑɪˈəns/
  • /sieˈəns/
  • /sīˈəns/
  • 3s5t5sd4s3s

scissors

  • /sɪˈzɚz/
  • /siˈzurz/
  • /sĭˈzûrz/
  • 3t2m2s

yacht

  • /jɑˈt/
  • /yahˈt/
  • /yäˈt/
  • 8sf5s

handkerchief

  • /hæˈŋkɚʧɪf/
  • /haˈngkurchif/
  • /hăˈngkûrchĭf/
  • 3t8s2m8t5s

campaign

  • /kæmpeɪˈn/
  • /kampayˈn/
  • /kămpāˈn/
  • 2t5s1c5t4s

champagne

  • /ʃæmpeɪˈn/
  • /shampayˈn/
  • /shămpāˈn/
  • 6t5s1c5t4s

feign

  • /feɪˈn/
  • /fayˈn/
  • /fāˈn/
  • 5c5t4s

foreign

  • /fɔˈrən/
  • /fawˈrən/
  • /fôˈrən/
  • 5c3sd4s

gnash

  • /næˈʃ/
  • /naˈsh/
  • /năˈsh/
  • 4t6s

gnaw

  • /nɔˈ/
  • /nawˈ/
  • /nôˈ/
  • 4c

reign

  • /reɪˈn/
  • /rayˈn/
  • /rāˈn/
  • 3c5t4s

resign

  • /rɪzɑɪˈn/
  • /rizieˈn/
  • /rĭzīˈn/
  • 3t2s5t4s

sign

  • /sɑɪˈn/
  • /sieˈn/
  • /sīˈn/
  • 3s5t4s

daughter

  • /dɔˈtɚ/
  • /dawˈtur/
  • /dôˈtûr/
  • 1c5m

fight

  • /fɑɪˈt/
  • /fieˈt/
  • /fīˈt/
  • 5s5t5s

light

  • /lɑɪˈt/
  • /lieˈt/
  • /līˈt/
  • 6s5t5s

might

  • /mɑɪˈt/
  • /mieˈt/
  • /mīˈt/
  • 5s5t5s

right

  • /rɑɪˈt/
  • /rieˈt/
  • /rīˈt/
  • 3s5t5s

sight

  • /sɑɪˈt/
  • /sieˈt/
  • /sīˈt/
  • 3s5t5s

though

  • /ðoʊˈ/
  • /tHohˈ/
  • /t͟hōˈ/
  • 2sf

thought

  • /θɔˈt/
  • /thawˈt/
  • /thôˈt/
  • 7c5s

through

  • /θruˈ/
  • /thrueˈ/
  • /thro͞oˈ/
  • 7s3c

weigh

  • /weɪˈ/
  • /wayˈ/
  • /wāˈ/
  • 6c5t

weight

  • /weɪˈt/
  • /wayˈt/
  • /wāˈt/
  • 6c5t5s

exhaust

  • /ɪgzɔˈst/
  • /igzawˈst/
  • /ĭgzôˈst/
  • 5t7s2c3s5s

honest

  • /ɑˈnəst/
  • /ahˈnəst/
  • /äˈnəst/
  • 5sf4sd3s5s

ghost

  • /goʊˈst/
  • /gohˈst/
  • /gōˈst/
  • 7sf3s5s

heir

  • /ɛˈr/
  • /ehˈr/
  • /ěˈr/
  • 5c3s

herb

  • /ɚˈb/
  • /urˈb/
  • /ûrˈb/
  • 5m4s

dishonest

  • /dɪsɑˈnəst/
  • /disahˈnəst/
  • /dĭsäˈnəst/
  • 1t3sf4sd3s5s

honor

  • /ɑˈnɚ/
  • /ahˈnur/
  • /äˈnûr/
  • 5sf4m

hour

  • /ɑʊˈɚ/
  • /owˈur/
  • /owˈûr/
  • 5s5t5m

rhythm

  • /rɪˈðəm/
  • /riˈtHəm/
  • /rĭˈt͟həm/
  • 3t2sd5s

rhyme

  • /rɑɪˈm/
  • /rieˈm/
  • /rīˈm/
  • 3s5t5s

business

  • /bɪˈznɪs/
  • /biˈznis/
  • /bĭˈznĭs/
  • 4t2s4t3s

cushion

  • /kʊˈʃən/
  • /kooˈshən/
  • /ko͝oˈshən/
  • 2t6sd4s

fashion

  • /fæˈʃən/
  • /faˈshən/
  • /făˈshən/
  • 5t6sd4s

knead

  • /niˈd/
  • /neeˈd/
  • /nēˈd/
  • 4m1s

knee

  • /niˈ/
  • /neeˈ/
  • /nēˈ/
  • 4m

kneel

  • /niˈl/
  • /neeˈl/
  • /nēˈl/
  • 4m6s

knew

  • /nuˈ/
  • /nueˈ/
  • /no͞oˈ/
  • 4c

knife

  • /nɑɪˈf/
  • /nieˈf/
  • /nīˈf/
  • 4s5t5s

knight

  • /nɑɪˈt/
  • /nieˈt/
  • /nīˈt/
  • 4s5t5s

knock

  • /nɑˈk/
  • /nahˈk/
  • /näˈk/
  • 4sf2s

knot

  • /nɑˈt/
  • /nahˈt/
  • /näˈt/
  • 4sf5s

know

  • /noʊˈ/
  • /nohˈ/
  • /nōˈ/
  • 4sf

knowledge

  • /nɑˈlɪʤ/
  • /nahˈlij/
  • /näˈlĭj/
  • 4sf6t7s

almond

  • /ɔˈmənd/
  • /awˈmənd/
  • /ôˈmənd/
  • 5c5sd4s1s

balm

  • /bɔˈm/
  • /bawˈm/
  • /bôˈm/
  • 4c5s

calf

  • /kæˈf/
  • /kaˈf/
  • /kăˈf/
  • 2t5s

calm

  • /kɑˈm/
  • /kahˈm/
  • /käˈm/
  • 2sf5s

colonel

  • /kɚˈnəl/
  • /kurˈnəl/
  • /kûrˈnəl/
  • 2m4sd6s

could

  • /kʊˈd/
  • /kooˈd/
  • /ko͝oˈd/
  • 2t1s

embalm

  • /ɛmbɑˈm/
  • /ehmbahˈm/
  • /ěmbäˈm/
  • 5c5s4sf5s

folk

  • /foʊˈk/
  • /fohˈk/
  • /fōˈk/
  • 5sf2s

half

  • /hæˈf/
  • /haˈf/
  • /hăˈf/
  • 3t5s

Lincoln

  • /lɪˈŋkən/
  • /liˈngkən/
  • /lĭˈngkən/
  • 6t8s2sd4s

psalm

  • /sɑˈm/
  • /sahˈm/
  • /säˈm/
  • 3sf5s

salmon

  • /sæˈmən/
  • /saˈmən/
  • /săˈmən/
  • 3t5sd4s

salve

  • /sæˈv/
  • /saˈv/
  • /săˈv/
  • 3t2s

should

  • /ʃʊˈd/
  • /shooˈd/
  • /sho͝oˈd/
  • 6t1s

solder

  • /sɑˈdɚ/
  • /sahˈdur/
  • /säˈdûr/
  • 3sf1m

talk

  • /tɔˈk/
  • /tawˈk/
  • /tôˈk/
  • 5c2s

walk

  • /wɔˈk/
  • /wawˈk/
  • /wôˈk/
  • 6c2s

would

  • /wʊˈd/
  • /wooˈd/
  • /wo͝oˈd/
  • 6t1s

yolk

  • /joʊˈk/
  • /yohˈk/
  • /yōˈk/
  • 8sf2s

mnemonic

  • /nəmɑˈnɪk/
  • /nəmahˈnik/
  • /nəmäˈnĭk/
  • 4sd5sf4t2s

autumn

  • /ɔˈtəm/
  • /awˈtəm/
  • /ôˈtəm/
  • 5c5sd5s

column

  • /kɑˈləm/
  • /kahˈləm/
  • /käˈləm/
  • 2sf6sd5s

condemn

  • /kəndɛˈm/
  • /kəndehˈm/
  • /kənděˈm/
  • 2sd4s1c5s

damn

  • /dæˈm/
  • /daˈm/
  • /dăˈm/
  • 1t5s

solemn

  • /sɑˈləm/
  • /sahˈləm/
  • /säˈləm/
  • 3sf6sd5s

corps

  • /kɔˈr/
  • /kawˈr/
  • /kôˈr/
  • 2c3s

coup

  • /kuˈ/
  • /kueˈ/
  • /ko͞oˈ/
  • 2c

cupboard

  • /kʌˈbɚd/
  • /kuhˈburd/
  • /kŭˈbûrd/
  • 2sd4m1s

psalm

  • /sɑˈm/
  • /sahˈm/
  • /säˈm/
  • 3sf5s

pterodactyl

  • /tɛˌrədæˈktəl/
  • /tehˌrədaˈktəl/
  • /těˌrədăˈktəl/
  • 5c3sd1t2s5sd6s

psychiatry

  • /sɑɪkɑɪˈətri/
  • /siekieˈətree/
  • /sīkīˈətrē/
  • 3s5t2s5t5sd5s3m

psychology

  • /sɑɪkɑˈləʤi/
  • /siekahˈləjee/
  • /sīkäˈləjē/
  • 3s5t2sf6sd7m

raspberry

  • /ræˈzbɛˌri/
  • /raˈzbehˌree/
  • /răˈzběˌrē/
  • 3t2s4c3m

receipt

  • /rɪsiˈt/
  • /riseeˈt/
  • /rĭsēˈt/
  • 3t3m5s

apropos

  • /æˌprəpoʊˈ/
  • /aˌprəpohˈ/
  • /ăˌprəpōˈ/
  • 5t1s3sd1sf

bourgeois

  • /bʊrʒwɑˈ/
  • /boorzhwahˈ/
  • /bo͝orzhwäˈ/
  • 4t3s1s6sf

chablis

  • /ʃæbliˈ/
  • /shableeˈ/
  • /shăblēˈ/
  • 6t4s6m

corps

  • /kɔˈr/
  • /kawˈr/
  • /kôˈr/
  • 2c3s

debris

  • /dəbriˈ/
  • /dəbreeˈ/
  • /dəbrēˈ/
  • 1sd4s3m

Illinois

  • /ɪˌlənɔɪˈ/
  • /iˌlənoyˈ/
  • /ĭˌlənoiˈ/
  • 5t6sd4c5t

island

  • /ɑɪˈlənd/
  • /ieˈlənd/
  • /īˈlənd/
  • 5s5t6sd4s1s

isle

  • /ɑɪˈl/
  • /ieˈl/
  • /īˈl/
  • 5s5t6s

rendez-vous

  • /rɑˈndeɪvuˌ/
  • /rahˈndayvueˌ/
  • /räˈndāvo͞oˌ/
  • 3sf4s1c5t2c

ballet

  • /bæleɪˈ/
  • /balayˈ/
  • /bălāˈ/
  • 4t6c5t

buffet

  • /bəfeɪˈ/
  • /bəfayˈ/
  • /bəfāˈ/
  • 4sd5c5t

castle

  • /kæˈsəl/
  • /kaˈsəl/
  • /kăˈsəl/
  • 2t3sd6s

christmas

  • /krɪˈsməs/
  • /kriˈsməs/
  • /krĭˈsməs/
  • 2s3t3s5sd3s

nestle

  • /nɛˈsəl/
  • /nehˈsəl/
  • /něˈsəl/
  • 4c3sd6s

rustle

  • /rʌˈsəl/
  • /ruhˈsəl/
  • /rŭˈsəl/
  • 3sd3sd6s

thistle

  • /θɪˈsəl/
  • /thiˈsəl/
  • /thĭˈsəl/
  • 7t3sd6s

asthma

  • /æˈzmə/
  • /aˈzmə/
  • /ăˈzmə/
  • 5t2s5sd

isthmus

  • /ɪˈsməs/
  • /iˈsməs/
  • /ĭˈsməs/
  • 5t3s5sd3s

answer

  • /æˈnsɚ/
  • /aˈnsur/
  • /ăˈnsûr/
  • 5t4s3m

sword

  • /soˈrd/
  • /sohˈrd/
  • /sōˈrd/
  • 3sf3s1s

two

  • /tuˈ/
  • /tueˈ/
  • /to͞oˈ/
  • 5c

who

  • /huˈ/
  • /hueˈ/
  • /ho͞oˈ/
  • 3c

whole

  • /hoʊˈl/
  • /hohˈl/
  • /hōˈl/
  • 3sf6s

whose

  • /huˈz/
  • /hueˈz/
  • /ho͞oˈz/
  • 3c2s

wreath

  • /riˈθ/
  • /reeˈth/
  • /rēˈth/
  • 3m7s

wrench

  • /rɛˈnʧ/
  • /rehˈnch/
  • /rěˈnch/
  • 3c4s8s

wrestle

  • /rɛˈsəl/
  • /rehˈsəl/
  • /rěˈsəl/
  • 3c3sd6s

wriggle

  • /rɪˈgəl/
  • /riˈgəl/
  • /rĭˈgəl/
  • 3t7sd6s

wrist

  • /rɪˈst/
  • /riˈst/
  • /rĭˈst/
  • 3t3s5s

write

  • /rɑɪˈt/
  • /rieˈt/
  • /rīˈt/
  • 3s5t5s

wrong

  • /rɔˈŋ/
  • /rawˈng/
  • /rôˈng/
  • 3c8s

faux

  • /foʊˈ/
  • /fohˈ/
  • /fōˈ/
  • 5sf

rendez-vous

  • /rɑˈndeɪvuˌ/
  • /rahˈndayvueˌ/
  • /räˈndāvo͞oˌ/
  • 3sf4s1c5t2c