What is the longest English word?
A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but contrary to what a certain magical nanny might have led you to believe, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is not the answer to this question. In fact, it’s not even a word that’s universally accepted. It only appears in some dictionaries, and in these, it’s considered a casual term popularized by Mary Poppins. Sigh. Childhood linguistic reveries dashed, I know.
A real word to bring into this conversation is “sesquipedalianism,” which means the tendency to use long words, but this still isn’t the longest word in the English language.
The longest, clocking in at 45 letters is “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” which is a type of lung disease, but among the longest non-scientific words are:
- “Floccinaucinihilipilification” (29 letters), which is the estimation of something as worthless, and
- “Antidisestablishmentarianism” (28 letters), which is opposing the withdrawal of government support of a particular church or religion.
“Incomprehensibilities”(21 letters) deserves a shout-out too, as the longest commonly-used word.
Yes, each of these words is a mouth workout, but spelling them right almost takes a touch of magic. Maybe this is where Mary Poppins can step in after all.
What do you think?
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