What Are the Longest Words in English? A Quick Guide

According to the 20th volume of the Oxford English Dictionary, there are a total of 171,476 words in current use. With this number of words, your mind will begin to imagine which words are the longest and how many letters they have. Well, you needn’t wonder anymore, this article has got you covered.

A very high percentage of the longest words in English are medicine and chemistry terminologies. However, you will not find some of them in the dictionary as space is an essential constraint of a dictionary.

For example, the longest word in the English language is METHIONYLTHREONYLTHREONYGLUTAMINYLARGINYL…ISOLEUCINE which is the full chemical name for the human protein titin. The word has 189,819 letters, taking about three-and-a-half hours to pronounce. The problem with including chemical names in the dictionary is that there is no limit to how long it can be.

In the same light, the longest word to ever appear in the literature is from Assemblywomen, a play by Aristophanes published in 391 BC. LOPADOTEMACHOSELACHOGALEOKRANIOLEIPSAN…PTERYGON is a Greek word that has a total of 171 letters that translates to 183.

However, this article is focused on the longest English words in the dictionary. There are several lengthy words in the dictionary. Continue reading to appreciate a few of them.

PneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosisThis is the longest word in the dictionary, with a total of forty-five letters. Also, it has 19 syllables which divides as pneu-mo-no-ul-tra-mi-cro-scop-ic-sil-i-co-vol-ca-no-co-ni-o-sis.

The forty-five-letter word is a noun that refers to a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica, quartz dust, very fine ash or sand dust found in volcanoes.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis was invented in the 1930s during the annual meeting of the National Puzzlers’ League (N.P.L.) by Everett M. Smith (the president). The word was coined in imitation of very long medical terms. The 45-letter word is a synonym for the disease known as silicosis.

Additionally, it first appeared in the supplement to the Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary in the year 1939.

HippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiaThe second position on the list is Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, with a total of thirty-six letters. Plus, it has 15 syllables which divides into hip-po-pot-o-mon-stro-ses-quip-ped-al-i-o-pho-bi-a.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a noun that refers to the fear of long words. Isn’t it ironic that the word that means the fear of long words is actually one of the longest words in the dictionary?

Additionally, the prefix hippopoto- and monstro- which alludes to hippopotamus and monsters, were only added to the word to blow the word out of proportion. You don’t necessarily need them for the meaning. The word’s true meaning comes for the Latin word sesquipedalis, which means a foot and a half long and the word phobia, meaning an irrational fear.

SupercalifragilisticexpialidociousSupercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the third-longest word in the English language, having a total of thirty-four letters. However, it is not a word that appears in all dictionary, only a few. Plus, it has 14 syllables which divides into su-per-cal-i-frag-i-lis-tic-ex-pi-al-i-do-cious.

The thirty-four-letter word is an adjective that means extraordinarily good or wonderful. However, the oxford dictionary defines the word as a nonsense word typically used by children to express excited approbation.

If you ever watched Mary Poppins (the 1964 film) as a child, you might remember supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as first used by Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins described it as a word to use when you have nothing to say.

PseudopseudohypoparathyroidismThis is the fourth-longest word in the dictionary, and the longest non-coined word in the English language with a total of thirty letters is pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism. The thirty-letter word has 11 syllables, which divide into Pseu-do-pseu-do-hy-po-pa-ra-thy-roid-ism.

Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism, which is often abbreviated as PPHP, is a noun that refers to the condition that causes the soft tissues and joints in the body to harden, leading to a round face, short stature and short hand bones. This condition is often inherited

Pseudo means false or fake. The word consists of the word pseudo twice because the disorder stimulates the peculiar symptoms of pseudohypoparathyroidism, whereby the body does not respond to the parathyroid hormone. This shows two-level of faking it or falseness going on.

FloccinaucinihilipilificationThe fifth on the list is Floccinaucinihilipilification coming with a total of twenty-nine letters. Floccinaucinihilipilification has 12 syllables which divides into floc-ci-nau-ci-ni-hil-i-pil-i-fi-ca-tion.

Floccinaucinihilipilification is a noun that refers to the action or habit of estimating something as worthless or valueless. It is mostly never used except in a list of the longest words in the English language. However, when it is used, it is often in reference to itself.

The twenty-nine letter word dates back to the mid-18th century having Latin roots. It is made up of the Latin words flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili, which means little value. The first recorded use of Floccinaucinihilipilification was in a letter by William Shenstone in 1741.

AntidisestablishmentarianismFollowing closely on the list is Antidisestablishmentarianism, with a total of twenty-eight letters. Antidisestablishmentarianism is pronounced in 12 syllables which divides into an-ti-dis-es-tab-lish-ment-ar-i-an-is-m.

Antidisestablishmentarianism originally referred to the opposition of the Church of England’s disestablishment and the advocacy that the church should continue to receive government patronage. However, it is now being used to describe any opposition to withdrawing government support from religions or churches.

Also, in 1838, Antidisestablishmentarianism was first said by Weekley. The word was first recorded in Gladstone’s “Church and State. Furthermore, the twenty-eight-letter word, a prime example of a sesquipedalian word, is never really used today and was rarely used after it was formed.

HonorificabilitudinitatibusHonorificabilitudinitatibus is the longest word in the dictionary that features only alternating consonants and vowels with 27 letters. Also, it has a total of 11 syllables, which divides into Hon-ori-fi-ca-bi-li-tu-dini-tat-i-bus.

Honorificabilitudinitatibus is a noun that means the state of being able to achieve honours. Also, it is the ablative and dative plural of the Latin word honorificabilitudinitas. The twenty-seven letters only appeared only once in Shakespeare’s works (Love’s Labour’s Lost).

IncomprehensibilitiesComing eighth on the list is incomprehensibilities with a total of twenty-one letters. The pronunciation of Incomprehensibilities comes in 8 syllables, which divides into in-com-pri-hen-si-bi-li-ties.

Incomprehensibilities is a noun that refers to the things that are impossible to understand or comprehend; it could also mean unintelligible.

The word was derived in Middle English from the Latin word incomprehēnsibilis; it was first recorded sometime in the early 1300s. Also, during the 1990s, the word was named the longest word in common usage.

UncharacteristicallyWith 20 letters words, the next letter is uncharacteristically. The pronunciation of the word comes in 8 syllables, which divides into un-char-ac-ter-is-ti-ca-lly.

Uncharacteristically, it is an adverb that means performing an action in a way that is not typical for a person or thing. The first known use of uncharacteristically was in 1748.

UncopyrightableIsograms are words that have no repeated letters in their spellings; there are several isograms in the English dictionary. The longest isogram is subdermatoglyphic, with a total of 17 letters. However, subdermatoglyphic is not included in the dictionary; that is why it is not part of this list.

On the other hand, the next longest isogram is uncopyrightable, which is a word included in the English dictionary, has a total of 15 letters. Plus, it has six syllables that break down into un-co-py-righ-ta-ble.

Uncopyrightable is an adjective that means not allowed to or not able to be protected by copyright, the first known use of the word was in 1926.

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