Thursday, October 14, 2004

Longest English Words

Many claim that Antidisestablishmentarianism (a movement opposed to the separation of church and state) is the longest word in the English language; it is, however, merely the most familiar longest word. Barring medical and biological terms that can be made almost arbitrarily long, floccinaucinihilipilification (the act of estimating as worthless) is the Guinness Recognized "longest real word." It even has the distinction of being used by Jesse Helms in a Senate Hearing.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica or quartz dust) is longer than both the above words, but it is believed to have been contrived by Everett Smith in 1935 as an attempt to show how long words may be manufactured.

The longest word Shakespeare used is honorificabilitudinitatibus (the state of being able to achieve honours), appearing in Love's Labors Lost.

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