Longest Word in English

The identity of the longest word in English depends upon the definition of what constitutes a word in the English language, as well as how length should be compared. In addition to words derived naturally from the language’s roots (without any known intentional invention), English allows new words to be formed by coinage and construction; place names may be considered words; technical terms may be arbitrarily long. Length may be understood in terms of orthography and number of written letters, or (less commonly) phonology and the number of phonemes.


Word Letters Characteristics Dispute
Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl…isoleucine 189,819 Chemical name of titin, the largest known protein Technical; not in dictionary; disputed whether it is a word
Methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamyl…serine 1,909 Longest published word Technical
Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsano…pterygon 183 Longest word coined by a major author, the longest word ever to appear in literature. Coined; not in dictionary; Ancient Greek transliteration
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis 45 Longest word in a major dictionary Technical; coined to be the longest word
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 34 Famous for being created for the Mary Poppins film and musical Coined
Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism 30 Longest non-coined word in a major dictionary Technical
Floccinaucinihilipilification 29 Longest unchallenged nontechnical word Coined
Antidisestablishmentarianism 28 Longest non-coined and nontechnical word
Honorificabilitudinitatibus 27 Longest word in Shakespeare’s works; longest word in the English language featuring alternating consonants and vowels. Latin

Major Dictionaries:
The longest word in any of the major English language dictionaries is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a word that refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis. The word was deliberately coined to be the longest word in English, and has since been used in a close approximation of its originally intended meaning, lending at least some degree of validity to its claim.

The Oxford English Dictionary contains pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters).
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary does not contain antidisestablishmentarianism, as the editors found no widespread, sustained usage of the word in its original meaning. The longest word in that dictionary is electroencephalographically (27 letters).

The longest non-technical word in major dictionaries is flocci­nauci­nihili­pili­fication at 29 letters. Consisting of a series of Latin words meaning “nothing” and defined as “the act of estimating something as worthless”; its usage has been recorded as far back as 1741.

Ross Eckler has noted that most of the longest English words are not likely to occur in general text, meaning non-technical present-day text seen by casual readers, in which the author did not specifically intend to use an unusually long word. According to Eckler, the longest words likely to be encountered in general text are deinstitutionalization and counterrevolutionaries, with 22 letters each.

A computer study of over a million samples of normal English prose found that the longest word one is likely to encounter on an everyday basis is uncharacteristically, at 20 letters.

The words Internationalization and localization are abbreviated “i18n” and “l10n”, respectively, the embedded number representing the number of letters between the first and the last.

Smiles, according to an old riddle, may be considered the longest word in English, as there is a mile between the first and last letter. A retort asserts that beleaguered is longer still, since it contains a league. The riddle and both jocular answers date from the 19th century.

In the old time radio retrospective, Golden Radio, comedian Jack Benny jokes that “the longest word in the English language is the one that follows, ‘Now, here’s a word from our sponsor.'”


Did you know that if you subscribe to our website, you will receive email notifications whenever content changes or new content is added.
1. Enter your e-mail address below and click the Sign Me Up button.
2. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your intention of subscribing to our site.
3. Click the link in the email to confirm. That’s all there is to it!

Enter your email address below to subscribe to IWeb TEFL.

Note: if you wish to unsubscribe from our site, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email you received.
Then indicate you no longer wish to receive our emails.

Thank You
IWeb TEFL Team

Posted in English, Linguistics, Teaching Around The World, Teaching Materials, Teaching Young Learners.

Leave a Reply