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I can't pronounce half of these words!

 


LONG WORDS

PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS (45 letters; a lung disease caused by breathing in certain particles) is the longest word in any English-language dictionary. (It is also spelled -koniosis.)

On Feb. 23, 1935, the New York Herald-Tribune reported on page 3:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis succeeded electrophotomicrographically as the longest word in the English language recognized by the National Puzzlers' League at the opening session of the organization's 103d semi-annual meeting held yesterday at the Hotel New Yorker.

The puzzlers explained that the forty-five-letter word is the name of a special form of silicosis caused by ultra-microscopic particles of siliceous volcanic dust.

The word appears in the 1936 Supplement to OED1, the OED2, the addendum to W2 (spelled -koniosis), W3 (spelled -coniosis), RHUD2, and Chambers.

The OED2 has:

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (-koniosis), a factitious word alleged to mean 'a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust' but occurring chiefly as an instance of a very long word.
1936 F. Scully Bedside Manna 87 *Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanakoniosis [sic], a disease caused by ultra-microscopic particles of sandy volcanic dust, might give even him laryngitis.
1966 Word Study Oct. 7/2 The resources of Greek have enriched the modern world as well as the ancient one. Perhaps this is most dramatically illustrated by the longest and most fantastic word now in an English dictionary (the Merriam-Webster's great Unabridged) which is forty-five letters in length: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,..meaning 'a disease of the lungs caused by extremely small particles of ash and dust'.
1973 R. Megarry Second Miscellany-at-Law 160 It has been said that 'floccinaucinihilipilification' is the longest word in the English language... The word's proud title must yield to some technical terms, such as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.
The following appeared in a post in alt.usage.english:
I conjecture that this "word" was coined by word puzzlers, who then worked assiduously to get it into the major unabridged dictionaries (perhaps with a wink from the editors?) to put an end to the endless squabbling about what is the longest word.
Karl F. Lingenfelder reports that the domain name pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.com was registered on October 28, 1999, and that when activated it will point to http://www.mauigateway.com/~team/longestwordinenglish/ This is a commercial website selling domain names.

[Note: To be precisely correct, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest vocabulary entry in any English-language dictionary. Stuart Kidd points out that a longer word actually appears in the OED2, although only as part of a quoted citation for a different word. It is a 75-letter chemical name with numerous hyphens, and it is described on page 13 of this web site. Several other citations in the OED2 include multiple words that are "run together" with or without hyphens, forming "words" of more than 45 letters.]

TETRAMETHYLDIAMINOBENZHYDRYLPHOSPHINOUS ACID (39 letters in the first word) appears in the OED2 in a citation for another word; this word itself is not a vocabulary entry.

HEPATICOCHOLANGIOCHOLECYSTENTEROSTOMIES (39 letters; surgical creation of a connection between the gall bladder and a hepatic duct and between the intestine and the gall bladder) is the longest word in Gould's Medical Dictionary.

FORMALDEHYDETETRAMETHYLAMIDOFLUORIMUM (37 letters) is in the OED2.

DIMETHYLAMIDOPHENYLDIMETHYLPYRAZOLONE (37 letters) is in the OED2.

SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS (34 letters) from the movie Mary Poppins is not the longest word in English, although many people believe it is. The word is in the OED, which has the following as the first four citations:

1949 Parker & Young (unpublished song-title) Supercalafajalistickespialadojus.
1951 Parker & Young (song-title) Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus; or, The super song.
1964 R. M. & R. B; Sherman (song-title) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
1967 Decisions U.S. Courts involving Copyright 1965-66 488 The complaint alleges copyright infringement of plaintiff's song `Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus' by defendants' song 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.' (All variants of this tongue twister will hereinafter be referred to collectively as 'the word'.)
(The definition says Disney won, "in view of earlier oral uses of the word sworn to in affidavits" and because they wrote the rest of the song themselves.)

DICHLORODIPHENYLTRICHLOROETHANE (31 letters; usually abbreviated DDT) is the longest word in the Macquarie Dictionary and is in the OED2.

PSEUDOPSEUDOHYPOPARATHYROIDISM (30 letters) is defined in the OED2 as "a familial disorder in which the skeletal and developmental abnormalities of pseudohypoparathyroidism are present without the biochemical abnormalities common to hypoparathyroidism and pseudohypoparathyroidism" [Philip Bennett].

FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION (29 letters; an estimation of something as worthless) is the longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED2 shows a use of this word in a 1741 letter by William Shenstone (1714-1763), a British poet and essayist. It has been used by Sir Walter Scott and Senators Robert Byrd and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It was used by Senator Jesse Helms in 1999 during the debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [Randolph V. Cinco]. It also appeared on March 14, 1996, in "Zippy," a comic strip distributed by King Features Syndicate:

Do you think I may be too quick to find fault with things and people, Zippy?
Yeh.
Th' 'floccinaucinihilipilification' process.
Th' what?
Floccinaucinihilipilification!! It means 'the estimation of something as valueless'!
You've been randomly reading th' dictionary, haven't you?
Yes. That and my natural tendency toward antifloccinaucinihilipilification!!
Floccinaucinihilipilification was also used by Press Secretary Mike McCurry in his December 6, 1995, White House Press Briefing in discussing Congressional Budget Office estimates and assumptions: "But if you -- as a practical matter of estimating the economy, the difference is not great. There's a little bit of floccinaucinihilipilification going on here."

The 1992 Guinness Book of World Records calls floccinaucinihilipilification "the longest real word in the Oxford English Dictionary," whereas it calls pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis "the longest made-up word in the Oxford English Dictionary."

The Merriam-Webster website in 2002 stated that floccinaucinihilipilification "is not in any of the Merriam-Webster dictionaries because our evidence shows us that it is ... almost always used simply as an example of a long word."

In this word the letter i occurs nine times, but e, the most commonly used letter in English, does not occur.

TRINITROPHENYLMETHYLNITRAMINE (29 letters; a type of explosive) is the longest chemical term in W3.

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM (28 letters) may be the best-known long word. The word means "the belief which opposes removing the tie between church and state."

PARADIMETHYLAMINOBENZALDEHYDE (29 letters) is the name of a chemical substance and is found on several Internet web pages [Richard Eisenberger].

HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS (27 letters) is the longest word used by Shakespeare. It appears in Love's Labor's Lost, Act V, Scene I, and is spoken by Costard:

O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words.
I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;
for thou art not so long by the head as
honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier
swallowed than a flap-dragon.
Both W1 and W2, which include every word used by Shakespeare, define the word as "honorableness" and label it a "pedantic nonsense word." It is the ablative plural of the Latin contrived honorificabilitudinitas, which is an extension of honorificabilis meaning "honorableness." It first occurs in English in 1599, used by Thomas Nashe. The letters can be rearranged to give "Hi ludi F. Baconis nati tuiti orbi," meaning, "These plays, F. Bacon's offspring, are preserved for the world." This fact has been cited by proponents of the theory that Francis Bacon actually wrote Shakespeare's plays.

The next-longest words used by Shakespeare are ANTHROPOPHAGINIAN, INDISTINGUISHABLE, and UNDISTINGUISHABLE (all with 17 letters) and INCOMPREHENSIBLE and NORTHAMPTONSHIRE (both with 16 letters) [Nelson H. F. Beebe].

ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHICALLY and ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETATE (27 letters) are the longest words without spaces or hyphens in MWCD10.

ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETATE, HYDROXYDESOXYCORTICOSTERONE, and OCTAMETHYLPYROPHOSPHORAMIDE (all with 27 letters) are tied for second-longest chemical term in W3.

METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE (27 letters) is found in Pert Plus shampoo, according to John Carroll.

ANTITRANSUBSTANTIATIONALIST (27 letters; one who doubts that consecrated bread and wine actually change into the body and blood of Christ).

ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETIC ACID (26 letters in the first word) is in MWCD10. The substance is abbreviated EDTA.

ANHYDROHYDROXYPROGESTERONE (26 letters; a synthetic crystalline female sex hormone) is the third-longest chemical term in W3.

CYSTOURETEROPYELONEPHRITIS (26 letters; a combined inflammation of the urinary bladder, ureters, and kidneys) is a long medical term mentioned by Paul Hellweg in The Insomniac's Dictionary.

DISPROPORTIONABLENESS and INCOMPREHENSIBILITIES (21 letters) are described by the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records as "the longest words in common use."

The LEVATOR LABII SUPERIORIS ALAEQUE NASI is a thin triangular muscle located on the side of the nose [Charles Turner].

In Spanish, SUPEREXTRAORDINARISIMO is the longest word according to Guinness 1995. However, the legitimacy of this word is open to dispute. Nidia Cobiella points out that there are numerous similarly-formed questionable words, such as superextraordinariamente, superespectacularisimo, otorrinolaringologistico, endocrinologicamente, apesadumbradisimamente, descontaminadamente, requeterequeteacostumbrado, sobreabundantisimamente, superimaginariamente, superexcelentisimamente, superpsicoanalisticamente, and desconsideradisimamente. SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICOESPIALIDOSO (from Mary Poppins) has also been suggested. The legitimate words OTORRINOLARINGOLOGIA and OTORRINOLARINGOLOGO could also lead to superotorrinolaringologo and superotorrinolaringologisimo. Other suggestions for the longest word in Spanish are ESTERNOCLEIDOMASTOIDEO (22 letters, a neck muscle), ANTICONSTITUCIONALMENTE (23 letters, unconstitutionally), and ELECTROENCEFALOGRAFISTA (23 letters, electroencephalograph technician).

In French, ANTICONSTITUTIONNELLEMENT is the longest official word [Jacques Raymond Kilchoër].

In Lithuanian, NEBEPASIKISKIAKOPUSTELIAUJANCIUOSIUOSE (38 letters) is possibly the longest word that can be formed according to legal grammatical rules (so it can't be regarded as completely coined). It means "in those, of masculine gender, who aren't gathering wood sorrel by themselves anymore." The meaning is obscure but possible, e.g. in a fairy tale about hares: "A terrible hunger arose in the [long word] hares" [Juozas Rimas]. Vilius Puidokas provides a slightly longer version of this Lithuanian word: NEBEPRISIKISKIAKOPUSTELIAUJANCIUOSIUOSE (39 letters), meaning "in those, of masculine gender, who aren't gathering enough wood sorrel by themselves anymore." He says the fairy tale use could be the same.

In Matsigenka (also spelled Machiguenga), IRAPUSATINKAATSEMPOKITASANOIGAVETAPAAKEMPAROROKARITYO is the longest word. It means: They will probably really go head over heels into the water when they arrive but not stay that way [Pierre Abbat].

In Portuguese, INCONSTITUCIONALISSIMAMENTE (27 letters) is the longest word. It is translated "in a way that really goes against the constitution" [Carlos Andre Branco].

In Croatian, PRIJESTOLONASLIJEDNIKOVICA (26 letters) is a word meaning "the wife of a heir to the throne" [Vjekoslav Babic].

In Russian, the longest word is RYENTGYENOELYEKTROKARDIOGRAFICHYESKOGO (33 Cyrillic letters, 38 Roman), "of the X-ray electrocardiographic," according to 1996 Guinness. According to Ilya Morozov, the longest Russian common noun is VODOGRYAZETORPHOPARAPHINOLECHENIE (29 Cyrillic, 33 Roman). It means "a medical treatment with use of water, ooze, peat and paraffin." Another long Russian word is ZAGIPNOTIZIROVAVSHEMUSYA (22 letters), meaning "to him who has hypnotized himself" [Pierre Abbat]. Regarding this word, Ilya Morozov writes, "This is a verbal adverb, not a noun. It is very important: in the overwhelming majority of Russian word-puzzles only nouns can be used. Therefore, most Russian computer programs for word searching contain only noun lists."

In Turkish, ÇEKOSLOVAKYALILASTIRAMADIKLARIMIZDANMISINIZ (43 letters, 18 syllables) is usually cited as the longest word. It translates as "are you one of the people whom we couldn't Czechoslovakianize (i.e. make into a Czechoslovakian)"? However, the last seven letters are usually printed as a separate word [Edward Sawyer].

NAJNEOBHOSPODAROVAVATELNEJSIEHO (31 letters) is the longest Slovak word, according to Miroslav Sedivy, who reports it means "of the less cultivable" (about a field).

According to Jacek Drobnik, the longest real word in Polish, which is neither an intentionally mounted oddity nor a surname nor a chemical name, is NAJCHARAKTERYSTYCZNIEJSZEGO which means "of the most characteristic" (27 letters).

According to 1996 Guinness, the longest Dutch word is KINDERCARNAVALSOPTOCHTVOORBEREIDINGSWERKZAAMHEDEN (49 letters, preparation activities for a children's carnival procession," or literally, "for children Carnival procession preparation activities"). ZANDZEEPSODEMINERAALWATERSTEENSTRALEN (37 letters, to "take a hike" or to "p*** off") appeared in a book by Herman Brusselmans, a (Flemish) Belgian writer, who writes in Dutch. There is also WAPENSTILSTANDSONDERHANDELINGEN (31 letters, "cease-fire negotions" or "truce negotiations") [Richard Eisenberger, John Slegers, René Davids].

Philip Bennett writes, "The longest (non-hyphenated) Gaelic word I know of is BEARRADAIREACHD (15 letters), which means 'clipping, shaving or pruning.' The longest (hyphenated) Gaelic word I know of is CRUIMH-SHIONNACHAIN (18 letters), which is 'a glowworm.'"

According to a reader of this page, the longest word in Malay (called "Bahasa Malaysia" in Malay) may be DIKETIDAKNYAHCASDIVERSIFIKASIELEKTROSTATIKKAN (45 letters), which means "has been undiversified of uncharged electrostatic electricity." There are also MENYETIDAKNYAHCASDIVERSIFIKASIELEKTROSTATIKKAN (46 letters), meaning "to undiversify uncharged electrostatic electricity" and PENYETIDAKNYAHCASDIVERSIFIKASIELEKTROSTATIKKAN (46 letters) meaning, "the process of undiversifiying uncharged electrostatic electricity." However, the latter two are no longer the widely used spellings.

In Japanese, the longest word is CHI-N-CHI-KU-RI-N (12 letters) a very short person (slang), according to 1996 Guinness. However, Ben Rudiak-Gould writes, "I can't imagine why they'd think this. Right off the top of my head, BUTSURIGAKUSHA (physicist) is both longer and more commonly used. A look in the dictionary turned up OSHITSUKEGAMASHIKATTA (was forceful), which has the added virtue of being a native yamato word (as opposed to a Chinese loanword). If you're allowed to use implausibly complex verb conjugations, you can get things like UKETAMAWARASERARETAKATTA ("I wish I had been allowed to hear of it"). These weren't the result of any kind of systematic search. A native speaker could probably come up with better examples."

The 1996 Guinness also has: "Patent applications sometimes harbor long compound words. An extreme example is one of 13 kana (Japanese syllabary), which transliterates to the 40-letter KYUKITSUROHEKIMENFUCHAKUNENRYOSEKISANRYO meaning 'the accumulated amount of fuel condensed on the wall face of the air intake passage.'"

According to Takasugi Shinji, the longest native Japanese word is ryűgűnootohimenomotoyuinokirihazushi. Ben Rudiak-Gould writes, "It's not always clear what constitutes a word in Japanese, but I'm not convinced this qualifies. It's the name of a plant (eelgrass), and like other plant names it's often written in katakana, which makes it look like a single word. But it's really a multi-word phrase, ryuuguu no otohime no motoyui no kirihazushi, which means something like 'clippings of the hair-cord of the princess of the Dragon Palace' (said princess being an ocean-dwelling character from Japanese folklore)." Takasugi Shinji disagrees with this. He writes, "A reliable online Japanese dictionary says it is the longest plant name. A species name is a compound word, not a phrase consisting of several words, because it cannot be divided or reordered. Grammatically speaking, "forget-me-not" is a single word, so is "baby's breath." English speakers usually don't treat them as single words just because of hyphenation and spacing."

In Icelandic, the longest word is HĆSTARÉTTARMÁLAFLUTNINGSMAĐUR (29 letters, "Supreme Court barrister").

In Hungarian, the longest word is megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért (44 letters), according to the 1996 Guinness. A translation is "for your constant mentioning of the fact that [a particular thing] is unprofanable."

Ádám Szegi writes, "Since the publication of the above word, a new invention has been made. The basic word was modified and extended to another direction, leading to: legeslegmegszentségteleníttethetetlenebbeiteknek which means: "to those of you who can the very least be made profanized." This may be the current record in Hungarian with its 48 letters. This is not used in everyday Hungarian, of course. But there is another snake of word: változásbejelentésikérelem-benyújtási [kötelezettség] -- 37 letters which means: [obligation] "of filing an application to register a change" [of address etc.] This may occur in formal documents (though people usually don't dare to write down such a long word in one and will probably separate it with some spaces "to look better"). In theory, according to the orthography, this is a perfectly correct form, though they advise to possibly paraphrase expressions like that."

In Mohawk, the longest word is TKANUHSTASRIHSANUHWE'TSRAAKSAHSRAKARATATTSRAYERI' (50 letters), "the praising of the evil of the liking of the finding of the house is right," according to 1996 Guinness.

These Norwegian words have 27 letters: ARBEIDSTAKERORGANISASJONENE, KORREKTURLESINGSPROGRAMMENE, STATSTJENESTEMANNSKARTELLET, UNDERVISNINGSORGANISASJONER, and FOLKESUVERENITETSPRINSIPPET.

In German, the longest word is DONAUDAMPFSCHIFFAHRTSELEKTRIZITAETENHAUPTBETRIEBSWERKBAUUNTERBEAMTENGESELLSCHAFT (80 letters), "the club for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services (name of a pre-war club in Vienna)," according to 1996 Guinness. According to Barbara Kratzin, in German the word would just have 79 letters, since ae would be written as Ä. A reader of this page writes, "There has been a 'Rechtschreibreform' in Germany recently which has changed the spelling of many words. I believe that there should be another "f" in Donaudampfschiffahrt.... It is now Donaudampfschifffahrt...." This word is an agglutinative.

However, Paul Cooper writes, "The longest German word, quoted as Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitaetenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengessellschaft, has the statement appended to it, that it can be spelled Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitaetenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengessellschaft is wrong. The reform of the German language is only accepted by one Dictionary (Duden) and the spelling rules are now ignored by the government and all major newspapers, therefore the fff is likely to be incorrect."

He also writes, "There is another long word in German, although its real status as a word cannot be correctly confirmed. The word is "Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaensfrauenverbandsvorsitzendenaufwandsentschaedigungsrahmenordnungsrichtlinienen" 119 and loosely means "The Danube Steam Navigation Company’s Captain’s wives federation for basic remuneration expenditure guidelines." It can also be spelled under the new spelling rules as "Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaensfrauenverbandsvorsitzendenaufwandsentschaedigungsrahmenordnungsrichtlinienen" with 120 letters.

According to Guinness, in German the longest dictionary word in everday usage is RECHTSSCHUTZVERSICHERUNGSGESELLSCHAFTEN (39 letters), "insurance companies which provide legal protection." A reader of this page writes, "There is no real 'longest word' in German, as speakers may make up grammatically correct words when needed."

In Swedish, the longest word is NORDÖSTERSJÖKUSTARTILLERIFLYGSPANINGSSIMULATORANLÄGG-
NINGSMATERIELUNDERHĹLLSUPPFÖLJNINGSSYSTEMDISKUSSIONS-
INLÄGGSFÖRBEREDELSEARBETEN
(130 letters), "preparatory work on the contribution to the discussion on the maintaining system of support of the material of the aviation survey simulator device within the north-east part of the coast artillery of the Baltic," according to 1996 Guinness. Fredrik Viklund found LĹGTRYCKSKVICKSILVERĹNGURLADDNINGSANORDNING in a Swedish patent application from approximately 1910-1930. It referred to what is now called a "lysrör" in common language. It means "Low pressure quicksilver vapour discharge apparatus."

According to Ville Koskivaara, the longest word in Finnish is epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkään, which he says means roughly "even with its quality of not being possible to be made irrational."

Charles Turner believes the longest word in Nahuatl (Aztec) is MIHUIITTILMOYOCCUITLANTONPICIXOCHITL (37 letters).

According to Fotis Papanicolaou, in Greek, two long words in common use are SKOULIKOFAGOMIRMIGOTRIPA (an ant eating worm's lair) and LEMONOPORTOKALOMANTARINOFLOUDA (citrus fruit skin). However, Tsompanidis Vassilis writes, "These two are made-up words that do not actually mean anything. They are only used as examples of long words. For example the second one 'means' "skin of a lemon-orange-sanguine.'"

In 1950, Time magazine printed the following suggested correction in its letters column:

Shouldn't Ausserordentlichhochgeschwindigkeitelectronenentwickelndesschwerabeitsbeigollitron [Time, March 13] read Ausserordentlichhochgeschwindigkeitelectronenentwickelndesschwerarbeitsbeigollitron?

(Rev.) T.M. Hesburgh
C.S.C.
Notre Dame, Ind.

Time's terse reply:
Yes, as Time's Los Angeles and Philadelphia (but not Chicago) printers had it.---Ed.
According to Charles Turner, who supplied this information, Rev. Hesburgh has pointed out the need for an 'r' in the 18th position from the end of this German "word."

SMILES is supposed to be the longest word in the dictionary because "there's a mile between the two S's." Randal J. May points out that adding one letter to SMILE adds two syllables (in forming SIMILE).

According to Red Skelton, the longest word is the word that follows the announcement, "And now a word from our sponsor"!

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