The world’s longest words. Language is a funny thing, and the length of words is no exception. While it might initially seem simple to find the world’s longest word, it turns out that it’s everything but. Being in the Ai transcription game, our machines often get thrown a curve ball with things like long words.
We’ve compiled a list of candidates across several languages!
The traditional one: Antidisestablishmentarianism
If you check the average English dictionary, antidisestablishmentarianism is likely to be the longest word you’ll find. It refers to what was opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England. But at 28 letters it’s better known for its sheer length.
The scientific one: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
This 45 letter mouthful is the longest defined word in the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s the technical term for a lung disease more commonly known as silicosis. Although its inventor was no scientist – but the president of the National Puzzlers’ League!
The geographic one: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
The longest word you’ll find on the British map. The village on the island of Anglesey changed its name in order to attract tourists. The railway station sign is something of an attraction in itself! With 58 letters (or 51 in Welsh), its name is actually a description of where the place is situated.
The cultural one: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Ok, this one has been made up, but so have all words. Well known as a catchy tune from the 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins, its origin is the subject of several explanations. Despite being famously defined by the eponymous nanny as “something to say when you have nothing to say”, an unsuccessful copyright dispute was brought against the song’s writers, the Sherman brothers, by the authors of a 1949 song similarly titled supercalafajalistickespeealadojus. Whichever way you say it and whatever it means, it deserves a place on our long word list.
The technical one: methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalanyl…isoleucine
The technical answer to the world’s longest word is, amazingly, the chemical name for the world’s largest protein, tilin. You’ll notice I haven’t written this one out in full, because to do so would take a small age as it is – wait for it – 189,819 letters long! How’s that for lexical longevity!
The obsolete one: Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz
This would have been a contender around 10 years ago. This 63 letter mouthful was the name of German beef label law that has since been removed as of 2013. But then again, German is a tricky one. Given that words are made by squashing lots of smaller ones together there is technically no ceiling for the longest word.
The “longest shortest” one: nghiêng
I know what you’re feeling – this one doesn’t feel like a candidate for the world’s longest word, or even within a country mile of it for that matter. But Nghiêng, Vietnamese for tilted or leaning, is actually the shortest longest word for any language, if you know what I mean. It’s technically a morpheme rather than a word (the peculiarity of the Vietnamese language), but we feel it still deserves a place.
As you can probably tell by now, finding the world’s longest word is like determining the length of a piece of string. It’s hard enough as it is to put a precise definition on a word. I just go with a collection of letters with spaces at either end.