hippo what?

This post is extremely hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian. (In other words, it’s all about really, really long words.)

So what’s the longest word in the English language?

Is it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? (34 letters) Well, no. This word—meaning extraordinarily good or wonderful—was actually made up by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, co-writers of songs for the musical Mary Poppins in 1964. The brothers pulled the word from their memories of creating double-talk words in their childhood. Due to the popularity of the movie and its songs, the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986.

Mary Poppins via Wikimedia Commons

The current longest word in any major English dictionary is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis (45 letters). Pneumonia? Microscopic? Volcanoes? Well, pretty much. It’s a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano.

But if you’re looking for truly hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian words, here’s one that’s bound to astound:


“51 letters!” you exclaim. Not so fast. You know those three little dots called ellipses? Well, we know they represent some kind of omission, in this case, 189,768 more letters! Yep, this word, the chemical name for the human protein titin (a very short word for the largest known protein), is a total of 189,819 letters, and takes about three-and-a-half hours to pronounce!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    After this lesson, I say class dismissed. There is nothing else to say. What a group of words!!!

  2. Linda says:

    WOW! I’m a technical editor, but never had to edit words that long.

  3. wow , guess those won’t work for scrabble, eh? When Mary Poppins came out pretty nearly every child in America ( and a lot of adults) was using that word. well singing it actually. brought back happy memories.

  4. bonnie ellis says:

    Wow! Those are all mouthfulls.

  5. Pingback: Floccinaucinihilipilification | Raising Jane Journal

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