If someone asked me to think of a long word, I’d probably say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious; however, I’ve only heard it used in a song in the Mary Poppins film so I don’t know if that counts. I think it’s about time I learnt another one. Time for some research…
Wikipedia say that the longest word in most English language dictionaries is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which I haven’t attempted to pronounce just in case it brings on one of my headaches. The definition of this 45 letter word is “lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis“ (possibly not a word I’ll use every day!).
Other words Wikipedia mention are:
- Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters) – an inherited disorder (Oxford English Dictionary)
- Floccinaucinihilipilification (29 letters) – longest non-technical word found in major dictionaries (as far back as 1741) meaning “consisting of a series of Latin words meaning ‘nothing’ and defined as ‘the act of estimating something as worthless'”.
Robin Bloor in his blog 10 Very Long Words You Don’t Know (site: Word You Don’t Know.com), lists number 2 above, but also has a 28 letter word antidisestablishmentarianism. He explains that British politicians were called disestablishmentarians when they didn’t agree with Henry VIII setting himself up as the Pope of the Church (after not being allowed a divorce). Other politicians who opposed of this were called antidisestablishmentarians.
The coolest one Robin Bloor has written about is Hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia (all 36 letters of it!) and if you happen to be a hippopotomonstro…blah blah blah, then you have a fear of long words! Who came up with that?
I’ll end with the word in the image above – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch which is a ’58 letter’ station sign in Wales (United Kingdom). I have a feeling it gets shortened to Llanfairpwll – otherwise the station announcements might take a while!
Please leave me a comment if you know of any other interesting long words.
- The longest Lithuanian word (letyourlanguagespeak.wordpress.com)
Image attribution: Via Wikipedia Commons