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What is the Longest Word?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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There is great dispute about the longest word in the world, as well as in the English language. Many words are great candidates, but most of them are not in common use. It used to be said that antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in English, but it has been replaced by other words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, which has 45 letters and describes a lung disease.

The word is unlikely to fall into common use, and there have been other words longer, including the 52-letter word osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary, used in Thomas Love Peacock’s novel Headlong Hall. Not surprisingly, this lengthy word, which describes various components of the body, did not become the latest slang term after the 1816 novel was published.

Writers have a habit of making up very long words, and one of the longest word examples is a Greek term created by the comic playwright Aristophanes. The term describes a dish of food in the play The Assemblywomen and is loosely transliterated as the following: Lopado­te­macho­se ­lacho­galeo­krani o­leipsano­drimhypo­ trimmato­silphio­parao ­melito­katakechymeno­ kichlepikossypho­phatto­ peristeralektryonop­tekeph allio­kigklopeleiol­ag oiosiraio­baphetraganop­ terygon. Other long terms include a 101-letter word created by James Joyce.

Nigel Tomm created the most striking of these words. It appears in his tenth volume of the The Blah Story published in 2008. The word contains over two million letters, and again is not likely one to be repeated, or perhaps even read aloud. It currently ranks as the longest word in the world, though it is not listed in dictionaries.

Other long words include the New Zealand name for a hill, Taumatawha-katangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitanatahu. Generally, aside from a few place names and the creations of writers, the largest words are generated from scientific names. The chemical name for the largest protein contains over 180,000 letters.

One of the longest words in English that deserves honorable mention is floccinaucinihilipilification, which is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and has been in use since the 1700s. It’s the act of judging something as worthless. It does occasionally see use by the public, though this is rare.

Some of the longest word types involve constructions with either a list of Latin or Greek words, as in pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, and a variety of prefixes or suffixes. Prefixes may cancel each other out in the case of words like antidisestablishmentarianism, which loosely translates as against the opposition to establishmentarianism.

Other words simply create a vast description of something by chaining numerous words together. While at present the longest word in the world is in English this is always subject to change. It’s likely that someone will view Nigel Tomm’s longest word as a challenge and compose one of three million letters or longer to earn a new a record.

LanguageHumanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a LanguageHumanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon84912 — On May 18, 2010

There is a word:'Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia' Which has 36 letters and means a fear of long words (funny that).

By mmbhatk — On Feb 28, 2010

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a proper noun. it's a name given to a disease. any other name could have been given to it, even a longer name, so, in my opinion we should not accept any proper noun as the longest word in english.

By anon62943 — On Jan 29, 2010

there's a word over 180,000 letters.

By anon56542 — On Dec 15, 2009

is there a word over 100 letters?

By anon40252 — On Aug 07, 2009

thanks a lot. i didn't know there was a 52 letter word.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a LanguageHumanities contributor,...
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