8 Hardest Programming Languages to Avoid as Beginners

Most difficult programming languages

Once upon a time, there were three friends who were all technology freaks. They decided to learn programming languages to become developers. One started with C programming language, followed by C++ (one of the hardest programming languages to begin with), Java, assembly language, etc. as the standard protocol of learning to code.

However, the second one of them heard that learning Python could make him a better programmer, and faster.

Impressed by the easy-to-code, beginner-friendly nature of Python programming language, the second friend quickly did wonders in coding with Python, HTML, CSS, etc., he also mastered prominent skills to get into an advanced technology field.

Now, the third friend wanted to do something different. So like you, he set out on the path of finding the hardest programming languages to prove that he is the better programmer. Although, soon enough, he understood that these difficult programming languages must be avoided at the beginning.

So what were these hard-to-code programming languages and what made them one of the most difficult languages for the third friend?

It is said that Malbolge is the hardest programming language to learn. Is it? Well, that depends because there are multiple difficult programming languages that can rival Malbolge. Let’s find out, shall we?

1. Malbolge

First on the list of hardest programming languages is Malbolge. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the below code!

Malbolge hardest programming language

Could you understand anything? We certainly didn’t. That’s why this obscure programming language seems to be one of the hardest programming languages in the developer community. It represents a series of hidden meanings and purposes behind the lines of code. Ben Olmstead introduced this public domain esolang in 1998. It is named after the eighth circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Do you know what makes Malebolge nearly impossible to use? Malebolge has a self-altering code. This hardest programming language’s best job is to make writing programs as difficult as possible. Classic!

hard to code

Sadly, it has not seen any updates since its initial release in 1998. According to the author’s website, more than 16,000 people have expressed interest in Malbolge.

However, there seem to be hardly a dozen meaningful programs ever written in Malbolge. The software industry ignores it entirely, and that’s not likely to ever change.

2. Whitespace

Next on the list of hardest programming languages is Whitespace, another hardest programming language to learn. Edwin Brady and Chris Morris developed this language. Interestingly, the date of its introduction makes perfect sense to this language: April 1st, 2003!

Whitespace is a programming language formulated with only two characters- space and tab. The number of spaces you type sequentially equals a value.

whitespace hardest programming language

Oh yes, Whitespace is typically a language that stands in opposition to any programming language on this planet! Why? Since its interpreter ignores any non-whitespace characters. No kidding! Now, do not jump in and start suggesting “Then, it might be an invisible code!” The above blue and red beauty marks its visibility of course!

Whitespace is an imperative stack-based language. In its syntax, commands comprise sequences of spaces, tab stops, and line feeds. All other characters are ignored and thus can be used for comments. 

3. Intercal

The Compiler Language with no Pronounceable Acronym is Intercal! Intercal is a programming language invented in the early 1970s by Princeton University students Don Woods and James Lyon. Another esoteric programming language, Intercal is also an equally hard-to-code programming language.

Intercal Hardest programming languages

Surprisingly, Intercal, despite being plagued with these uncommon features, has survived for twenty years and is indeed flourishing. C-Intercal is the recent version of Intercal that has spread far beyond its original domain.

By the way, it has turned out to be the only computer language that has ever succeeded in acquiring acceptance owing to its elegance & comprehensibility. For your information, you can also get into some good jobs after mastering Intercal. Most importantly, Intercal will also help you sell hardware.

4. Cow

Copy-on-write (COW) is, once again, an esoteric programming language that falls in the hard-level programming languages. Sometimes we refer to it as implicit sharing or shadowing programming language. Why?

Let me explain:

cow programming language

COW is a resource-management technique employed in computer programming to efficiently implement a “duplicate” or “copy” operation on modifiable resources.

You might already know that if a resource is duplicated but not modified, it is not required to create a new resource. The copy and the original can share the resources. However, modifications must still use up a copy. Hence, the copy operation gets delayed until the first write.

So, we can reduce resource consumption drastically while adding a slight overhead to resource-modifying operations.
Using the page table, we can efficiently implement COW by marking certain pages of memory as read-only and keeping a count of the number of references to the page.

Copy-on-write finds its use in sharing the virtual memory of operating system processes and fork system calls.

5. Brainfuck

Brainfuck is another hard programming language created in 1993 by Urban Müller. His goal was to build the smallest possible compiler. It was built for the Amigo 2.0 operating system.

Do you know this language consists of only eight simple commands, a data pointer, and an instruction pointer? We should really be happy with its extreme minimalism.

Surprisingly, Brainfuck is not intended for practical use! Then? It is here to challenge and amuse programmers. Brainfuck requires one to break commands into microscopic steps.

Interesting? I am sure your interest will run a mile by seeing the below code! Try your brains and accept this Brainfuck challenge!

brainfuck code

How about you learn it with the help of a video? Try here:

6. Prolog

Next on the list of hardest programming languages to give food for your thoughts is Prolog, a logic programming language. It is associated with artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.

prolog code window

Prolog language is very expressive, allowing recursive rules to represent reachability in parse trees and the operation of negation-as-failure to check the absence of conditions.

Do you know that IBM Watson uses Prolog? 

It doesn’t get much “hype” and “buzz” these days, but the fact is, it is totally in use. Prolog requires a completely different mindset compared to other difficult programming languages. Learning the basics of Prolog is absolutely worthwhile, whether you’ll ever use it in the real world or not.

Also, it is intriguing to learn the basic ideas underlying unification. Meanwhile, we can also understand how a trivial and inefficient implementation might be handled.

Using Prolog, you can easily build databases with minimal programming effort. Also, pattern matching is easy with Prolog. Search is recursion-based. It has built-in list handling, making it easier to play with any algorithm involving lists.

Okay, let’s take a break from the toughest programming languages and find out what the top programming languages are. And how to learn them easily.

The 5 Most User-Friendly Programming Languages

How To Learn Any Programming Language? This Will Help.


Lisp is a family of functional programming languages. It has a long history and a distinctive, fully parenthesized prefix notation. Introduced by John McCarthy in 1958, Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language, still in common use. Only Fortran is older by one year.

The overall style of the language is organized primarily around expressions and functions rather than statements and subroutines. You should know that every Lisp expression returns some value and every Lisp procedure is syntactically a function; when called, it returns some data object as its value.

LISP coding

Lisp, originally styled LISP, stands for list processing. Lisp is a family of functional programming languages. It has a long history and a distinctive, fully parenthesized prefix notation.

Introduced by John McCarthy in 1958, Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language, still in common use. Only Fortran is older by one year. As one of the earliest programming languages, Lisp pioneered many ideas in computer science, including tree data structures, automatic storage management, dynamic typing, and the self-hosting compiler.

The overall style of the language is organized primarily around expressions and functions rather than statements and subroutines. You should know that every Lisp expression returns some value and every Lisp procedure is syntactically a function; when called, it returns some data object as its value.

Common Lisp, Arc, AutoLisp, and BBN Lisp are a few of the common Lisp dialects.

8. Haskell

Haskel first appeared in 1990, named after logician Haskell Curry.. Haskel is a general-purpose, statically-typed, purely functional programming language. Initially designed for teaching, research, and industrial applications, Haskell has pioneered a number of programming language features, such as type classes, which enable type-safe operator overloading.

Haskel is vividly known for the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC). The last formal specification of the language was made in July 2010, while the development of GHC continues to expand Haskell via language extensions.

hardest programming languages

Haskell is still implemented in academia and industry. As of May 2021, Haskell was the 28th most popular programming language by Google searches for tutorials. However, it just made up less than 1% of active users on the GitHub source code repository.

Let’s wrap it up!

So, what do you think is the hardest programming language of all? Are you interested in learning any of these languages? Let us know from your comments below.

Check out this list of the easiest programming language to build your dream career with ease of coding & learning.

To know more about the programming languages and to make your grandest entry into the tech world, stay abreast with GUVI Blogs.

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Is C++ the most difficult programming language?

No. C++ is an easy-to-code programming language understood and followed by many developers worldwide. Compared to the inconsumable and hardest programming languages like Malbolge, whitespace, COW, internal, and others, C++ is a simple and effective programming language.

Is Python the hardest programming language?

Python is considered the easiest programming language to learn and execute. It has a relatively simple syntax and readymade functions or libraries.

Can I study Python in 2 days?

Yes! You can study Python in 2-days and construct your career pathway with further upskilling. To learn Python in just 2 days, You can sign up for a comprehensive online course with certification. You can develop a career pathway from such a course and master Python with constant upskilling and keeping up with trends in Python.

Is learning hard programming languages worth it?

Well, learning hard programming languages isn’t necessarily rewarding, except in some cases. Most esoteric languages are considered the hardest programming languages. These were just introduced to make coding more challenging for the sake of experience.

Although there are more conventional programming languages like C++, Assembly Languages, Haskell, Prolog, etc. which are considered hard, yet can be really useful and fetch high pay in case of unique requirements.

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A traveler, and explorer, Archana is an active writer at GUVI. You can usually find her with a book/kindle binge-reading (with an affinity to the mystery/humor).

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