biggest word

Baker, John JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Thu Sep 26 18:38:42 UTC 2002


        Well, Alejandra, at least you're candid that it's a homework assignment.

        There is no standard "longest word."  The longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (which is the most comprehensive English dictionary) is "floccinaucinihilipilification," which is the action or habit of estimating as worthless.  There are some longer words in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, but they usually are just nonsense words, like "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," or, even if they supposedly have a proper meaning, are just made-up long words, like "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis," which supposedly is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust.  I think that one may be the longest word in the second edition; maybe one of our lexicographers can confirm or refute that.

        So you've got two choices, Alejandra:  floccinaucinihilipilification is probably the longest real word in English, and the made-up word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is probably the longest word in the biggest dictionary.  I'm sure your teacher will be impressed with either one of those.

John Baker


-----Original Message-----
From: Kati Pletsch de GarcĂ­a [mailto:kdegarcia at TAMIU.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 2:09 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: biggest word


Hi. My name is Alejandra and I'm 9 years old and in 4th grade. My
teacher asked us if we knew the biggest or longest word in English or
in a dictionary. Could you help me with my homework? Do you have some
words that I can tell her?
Thank you.



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