The Longest Word

What’s the longest English word ever? As far as I know, medical and technical terms are indeed very long. Look at this word:

  • otorhinolaryngologist

This is a 21-letter medical term – a medical profession commonly known as ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Let’s break it down into more digestible parts. I’m not sure what “oto” means, but “rhino” is related to the nose (like rhinoplasty, a nose job) and “larynx” is the tissue in your throat that gives you your voice. Thus, join them together, and you’ll get otorhinolaryngologist. I seriously don’t know why it’s not called “audiarhinolaryngologist“.

As you can see, it’s not really the longest word. It’s considered the longest just because it’s a combination of various other words to coin a new word.  For the record, the longest word that you could find in a dictionary is:

  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)

This word, coined around 1935, is found in the Oxford English Dictionary (don’t know which version), and that word means. “a  lung disease caused by the inhalation of volcanic ash, causing inflammation in the lungs.” If you know of any other very long words that exist in a dictionary, do share with us in this blog.

Oh, another thing. The longest unofficial word consists of an unbelievable 189,819 letters – a chemical name to describe the largest protein. It’s not even possible to pronounce! Here’s just part of it as I don’t have the complete word:


Gee, come to think of it, these can not even be English words!  😛


Posted on November 9, 2009, in Jottings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. wowthinkenglishissuchacomplexlanguagebetterdropthewholelessonandconvertotbahasamalaysiabeginningtogetsofreakedoutwhatshallidofromnowthankyou?:P

    • 😀 that’s so cool. Now you know why people are so afraid of learning English, but that’s where the fun begins! The more complex it is, the more fun it becomes.

  2. Kevin you are the type of person who go for challenges, the harder the better, good spirit!. Just to share a conversation over dinner with friends as they were talking about their 9 year old daughter teaching them proper Mandarin and the subject of English was brought up. They were saying no need to say “I’m makan-ing now, or makan-ed yesterday” and added “lagi leceh ‘eat’ is not ‘eated’ but ‘eaten’ and more confusion on ‘ate’; have to shuffle the alphabet some more”. If they were to see this longest word in English sure ‘pengsan’ because I ‘pengsan-ed’ yesterday, haha. Thanks

    • Hi Cheah, too challenging is a no-no for me too. It’s gonna sizzle my brain; there’s a limit.

      I can foresee that one day, English would be simplified but not in our lifetime. Perhaps in a hundred years from now, our generation would learn Cyberlanguage or Netlingo, a variation of what we have now when we send SMS or chat online. 🙂

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