7 Most Difficult Programming Languages to Learn in 2023


January 2023

Learning the hardest programming languages in the world is similar to art in certain aspects. You begin with a blank canvas and basic raw materials. By combining science, art, and craft, you decide what to do with them. You sketch an overall form, paint the background, and then fill in the details. You continuously take a step back and look at what you've done with a critical eye. But then, you'll toss aside a canvas and start over.

In simple words, the hardest programming languages to learn leaves your brain in stubborn nodes and intricate code. 

However, learning any programming language, no matter how basic or complicated, requires time and effort. As a result, it is necessary to undertake significant research and choose a programming language suitable for the desired career route.

In addition, a programming language's market value and usefulness have nothing to do with its complexity or convenience. Your final decision should depend on the usability of the language. The ability to make logical decisions using a query language and serial statements are analogous to computer programming languages, which is an advantage.

What Are The Hardest Coding Languages?

When we talk about c, c++, Java, Python, and other programming languages, there are some that are not only tough but completely unintelligible to most software engineers. They have built a reputation as esoteric programming languages (or esolang).

Here is a detailed list of the top hardest programming languages to learn in 2023:

  • C++

Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++, a general-purpose programming language,  as an extension to the C computing language. Development teams frequently utilize it in in-game and online development, as well as machine learning and data mining applications.

However, high-level languages like Python, Java, and JavaScript appear to have surpassed C++ in popularity and usage in recent years. This prompts developers to wonder: Is C++ hard to learn?

The quick answer is yes!

Because of its multi-paradigm nature and more complex syntax, C++ is difficult to master. While it is well renowned for being particularly tough for novices, it is equally challenging for programmers with no prior expertise with low-level languages. 

Additionally, C++ allows for low-level manipulation of memory, which can lead to undefined behavior and memory leaks if not used correctly. The C++ Standard Template Library (STL) also provides powerful, high-level abstractions that can be difficult to understand at first.

  • Malbolge 

Malbolge programming language robbed the mental peace of many developers, ingraining its name in the list of the hardest programming languages to learn. Ben Olmstead invented this language in 1998, and the first program took nearly two years to build so that you can appreciate the intricacy of this language. Malbolge's complexity stems mostly from (a) restricted instructions, (b) instruction substitution after execution, and (c) loadable data restrictions.

To this end, coding in this language appears to be garbage or malfunctioning. As a matter of fact, many believe that Ben Olmstead never developed a single program in this language. However, Hisashi Lizawa proposed obfuscation in software protection by providing a programming guide in Malbolge.

For example, unreadable programs are resistant to alteration. Assume Alice wishes to transmit a program (or binary code) to Bob, who will run the application. Even if it is an encrypted code, Bob needs the authorization to decrypt it for it to be executed. As a result, Bob has the opportunity to change it.

However, an unreadable program, written in the toughest programming languages to learn, layers the code and functions as encrypted data. Now that is a significant advantage.

Equally important, the language earned its name after the eighth circle of hell in Dante's inferno, namely reserved for those guilty of fraud. To put it differently, Malbolge is "A programming language that came from HELL". 

  • Haskell

You will fail to learn this toughest programming language at least 3 to 4 times before finally grasping it. But needless to say, it will ruin other programming languages for you!

Haskell is a fully-functional programming language. In imperative languages, you accomplish things by assigning tasks to the computer, which then performs them. It may change state while performing them.

However, it is lazy. Unless explicitly instructed differently, Haskell will not perform functions or compute anything until compelled to offer you a result. This is consistent with referential transparency because it allows you to think of programs as a sequence of data transformations.


Jim Lyon and Don Woods created INTERCAL, one of the hardest coding languages to learn, in 1972 as a satire of several computer languages. 'Compiler Language With No Pronounceable Acronym.' was the first moniker given to it.

INTERCAL includes various features that aim to frustrate programmers. For example, it employs modifiers such as "PLEASE". The compiler may reject it if the word "PLEASE" is not used frequently in the code. The program is deemed 'insufficiently courteous' by the organization. On the other hand, if the modifier 'PLEASE' is used too many times, the compiler rejects the code as 'excessively courteous'.

  • BrainF**k 

A Swiss physics student called Urban Müller developed Brainfuck, in 1993 as an attempt to design a language with the smallest feasible compiler.

Müller got the idea for Brainfuck from FALSE, a "perverse" programming language created earlier that year by Wouter van Oortmerssen, a Dutch software developer currently working at Google, with the purpose of producing a confusing Turing-complete language with the smallest feasible compiler.

While modern programming languages like C++ may require a 2.6 Mb compiler, FALSE's compiler was just 1,024 bytes or nearly 2,600 times less.

Because of the language's extraordinary simplicity, Brainfuck's compiler ended up being an order of magnitude smaller than FALSE at just 240 bytes. Brainfuck comprises only eight commands:, >, +, -, [,], and,.

Despite its simplicity, the Brainfuck vocabulary is one of the most perplexing and difficult programming languages available owing to a large amount of code required to run a basic program.

When a programmer wishes to learn a new language, for example, one of the first programs they normally teach themselves to create in that language is to print the word "Hello, World!" on the computer screen. The code for this application in a standard programming language like Python looks like this:

However, the same program implemented in Brainfuck might look something like this:



  • COW

The name gives hundreds, if not thousands, a wrong impression. We are not indicating a technology that will help you talk with a cow. Nor do we plan to fabricate a Google Translate interface to uncover the hidden meaning of “MOO”.

We are talking about one of the world’s top 6 hardest coding languages to learn in 2023, i.e., COW. It came into being in early 2013 and has received little attention from the development community. Later, it built a reputation as the most complex programming language in the world.

Brainfuck is a bad influence on the COW, yet developers playfully built it with Bovine in mind. Cow contains 12 instructions, four more than Brainfuck, and is Turing complete. All 12 instructions are just variants of the word "MOO."

Source: Cow Commands

  • Whitespace 

Chris Morris and Edwin Brady created Whitespace at the University of Durham. The language debuted as one of the hardest languages to learn programming on April 1, 2003.

The term "Whitespace" comes from the fact that it only employs three white characters: space, tab, and newline. As a result, the source code of programs written in Whitespace is rendered invisible.

To make the code visible, three characters are commonly used: S for space (Space), T for tabulation (Tab), and L for new line (Line feed). Non-Whitespace characters are ignored by the Whitespace interpreter and are treated as code comments.

For example, a sequence of spaces might represent a single command, and a tab followed by a space might represent a different command. Because whitespace characters are not used to separate keywords or identifiers, like traditional programming languages, the source code written in whitespace looks like plain text with no distinguishable programming language syntax.

Here's some code to display 'Hello, World!' in Whitespace.

Want To Learn Some Real Programming?

Mainstream programming needs the user to think in a specific way. However, esolangs encourage the user to think in ways that are useless and time-consuming yet nevertheless logical enough to develop complicated software.

Therefore, we recommend skipping the hardest programming languages to learn as breakfast in 2023. 

But if you want to capitalize on real programming to retain your customers in this smart era,  hire dedicated developers of ARFASOFTECH to bridge the gap in your company's talent pool!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is C++ the hardest programming language?

It is difficult to say whether C++ is the hardest programming language, as the difficulty level can vary depending on the person learning the language and prior experience with programming.

However, C++ is generally considered a more difficult language to learn than other popular programming languages, such as Python or JavaScript, due to its complex syntax and steep learning curve.

Which is harder, C or C++?

C and C++ are considered relatively low-level, systems-level programming languages and both have a reputation for being difficult to learn. C is considered to be a relatively simple and minimalist language. It's often used as an introductory language to programming and computer science and gives you just what you need to get the job done.

On the other hand, C++ is a more complex and feature-rich language, which has a steeper learning curve than C and adds several additional features such as object-oriented programming (OOP) support, templates, and a standard template library (STL).

Which is harder, C++ or Python?

C++ is considered a more difficult language to learn than Python, as it has a complex syntax and a steep learning curve. It has many features, such as templates, namespaces, and multiple inheritances, making the code difficult to understand and debug.

However, Python is considered more beginner-friendly, has a simpler syntax, and is widely used in data science, machine learning, and web development.

Which is the most difficult programming language?

It is difficult to say which programming language is the most difficult as it can vary depending on the person learning the language and their prior experience with programming.

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Fahad Ali, Author

Fahad is PM at ARFASOFTECH but has a knack for writing. He enjoys writing about the latest technologies and evolving trends. Most of his writings revolve around trending technologies and their integration into operations.

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