The Longest Word in the French Language

Le saviez-vous? 🙂 It means, the fear of the number 666.

This unfortunately set off a search for the longest word in the English language. There are a couple of contenders.

There is, of course:

 Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon, which  is a fictional dish mentioned in Aristophanes’ comedy Assemblywomen.

It is a transliteration of the Ancient Greek word λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμ­υπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβο­μελιτο­κατακεχυ­μενο­κιχλ­επι­κοσσυφο­φαττο­περιστερ­αλεκτρυον­οπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλο­πελειο­λαγῳο­σιραιο­βαφη­τραγανο­πτερύγων. Liddell & Scott translate this as “name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces.” In English prose translation by Leo Strauss (1966), this Greek word is rendered as “oysters-saltfish-skate-sharks’-heads-left-over-vinegar-dressing-laserpitium-leek-with-honey-sauce-thrush-blackbird-pigeon-dove-roast-cock’s-brains-wagtail-cushat-hare-stewed-in-new-wine-gristle-of-veal-pullet’s-wings”. Yum! I bet you didn’t even know that veal pullets had wings. We’ll let the mention of cock’s brains pass. 

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And who could forget Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis? The longest word to appear in an English dictionary? That definition is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a word invented in imitation of polysyllabic medical terms, alleged to mean ‘a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine sand and ash dust (mostly volcanic silica ash dust)’ but occurring only as an instance of a very long word.” A condition meeting the word’s definition is normally called silicosis.

Ooh, one of the longest words AND it’s directly related to glassblowing? Is anyone reading this who still narrates the glassblowing shows for Corning, because BOY, do I have a great answer for you for the next time someone asks you, “Is glass blowing dangerous?” (giggle)

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This one’s nice:

floccinaucinihilipilification 

  1. (often humorous) The act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless

It was coined apparently by pupils at Eton, combining a number of roughly synonymous Latin stems. The word was inspired by a line in the Eton Latin Grammar that listed verbs that govern a genitive noun: “Flocci, nauci, nihili, pili, assis, hujus, teruncii, his verbis, aestimo, pendo, facio, peculiariter adduntur.”

(In other words: from the Latin flocci, from floccus, a wisp or piece of wool + nauci, from naucum, a trifle + nihili, from the Latin pronoun, nihil (“nothing”) + pili, from pilus, a hair, something insignificant (all therefore having the sense of “pettiness” or “nothing”) + -fication.) Fun fact: it is also the longest word ever to be used in the British House of Common. The verb form (to regard something as worthless) is floccinaucinihilipilificate.

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The longest word to appear in Shakespeare is, as I’m sure you undoubtedly know, Honorificabilitudinitatibus. It was used in Love’s Labour Lost in anabsurdly pretentious dialogue between the schoolmaster Holofernes and his friend Sir Nathaniel:

“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.”

It translates as: “”the state of being able to achieve honours”, and no, Shakespeare did NOT make it up to makes these guys sound like a bunch of stuffy Latin obsessed douchebags; rather, long before Love’s Labour’s Lost, the word and its variants had been used by medieval and then Renaissance authors. The unusually long word had apparently already been in circulation among scholars by the time of Petrus Grammaticus, 8th-century Italian poet, deacon, grammarian, and Charlemagne’s primary Latin teacher. It can be found in Codex Bernensis 522, a manuscript copy of his work dated to around 9th-century.

Well, so there’s that.

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My favorite, however, in Titin. Titin is a giant protein that functions as a molecular spring which is responsible for the passive elasticity of muscle.

You may ask why I call a five letter word my favorite LONG word.

As the largest known protein, titin also has the longest IUPAC name . The full chemical name, which starts methionyl… and ends …isoleucine, contains 189,819 letters and is sometimes stated to be the longest word in the English language, or any language. It can take over three hours to pronounce.

Here is a link to the entire WORD. I would copy and paste, but it’s about ten pages long. It starts like this and goes on for a while in very much the same way:

Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucylphenylalanylalanylglutaminylleuc yllysylglutamylarginyllysylglutamylglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenylalanylvalylthreonylleucylgl ycylaspartylprolylglycylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylserylleucyllysylisoleucylaspartylthreonylleucylisoleu cylglutamylalanylglycylalanylaspartylalanylleucylglutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylphenylalanylseryla spartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolylthreonylisoleucylglutaminylasparaginylalanylthreonylleucyl arginylalanylphenylalanylalanylalanylglycylvalylthreonylprolylalanylglutaminylcysteinylphenylalanylglu tamylmethionylleucylalanylleucylisoleucylarginylglutaminyllysylhistidylprolylthreonylisoleucylprolylisol eucylglycylleucylleucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparaginylleucylvalylphenylalanylasparaginyllysylglycyli soleucylaspartylglutamylphenylalanyltyrosylalanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylvalylglycylvalylaspa rtylserylvalylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalylprolylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylalanylprolylphenylalanylarg inylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginylvalylalanylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleuc ylcysteinylprolylprolylaspartylalanylaspartylaspartylaspartylleucylleucylarginylglutaminylisoleucylalany lseryltyrosylglycylarginylglycyltyrosylthreonyltyrosylleucylleucylserylarginylalanylglycylvalylthreonylgly cylalanylglutamylasparaginylarginylalanylalanylleucylprolylleucylasparaginylhistidylleucylvalylalanylly sylleucyllysylglutamyltyrosylasparaginylalanylalanylprolylprolylleucylglutaminylglycylphenylalanylglycy lisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminylvalyllysylalanylalanylisoleucylaspartylalanylglycylalanylala nylglycylalanylisoleucylserylglycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisoleucylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylhist…

And because the Internet is a vast, dark and scary place, here is a link to a video. Of someone saying it. Yup.

Enjoy your evening!

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