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The longest word in any given language depends on the word formation rules of each language, and on the types of words allowed for consideration. Agglutinative languages allow for the creation of long words via compounding. Even non-agglutinative languages may allow word formation of theoretically limitless length in certain contexts. Words consisting of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of characters have been coined with the goal of being ranked among the world's longest words; technical scientific terms can run to hundreds of thousands of characters in length. Place names may not be accepted on lists of longest words despite their length. Longest word candidates may be judged by their acceptance in major dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary or in record-keeping publications like the Guinness World Records, and by the frequency of their use in ordinary language.

Bulgarian

Непротивоконституционствувателствувайте (Ne protivokonstitutsionstvuvatelstvuvayte), 39 letters, in Bulgarian means literally "Do not act against the Constitution".

Danish

Speciallægepraksisplanlægningsstabiliseringsperiode, Counting 51 letters, it's the longest used in an official context. It means "Period of stability planning for specialist doctor practice", and was used during negotiations with the local government.

Dutch

Dutch is capable of forming compounds of potentially limitless length. The 49-letter word Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamheden, meaning "preparation activities for a children's carnival procession," was cited by the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records as the longest Dutch word.

The longest word in the authoritative Van Dale Dutch dictionary is wapenstilstandsonderhandelingen; 31 letters long, the term means "cease-fire negotiations".

The free OpenTaal dictionary, that was certified by the Dutch Language Union (i.e. the formal Dutch language institute) and that is included in many open source applications, contains the following longest words that are 40 letters long:

  • vervoerdersaansprakelijkheidsverzekering, that means "carriers' liability insurance";

  • bestuurdersaansprakelijkheidsverzekering, that means "drivers' liability insurance";

  • overeenstemmingsbeoordelingsprocedures, that means "conformity assessment procedures".


English

The longest scientific term in English is the full chemical name of the world's largest known protein, titin. Beginning with Methionyl... and ending with ...isoleucine, the word contains 189,819 letters.

The 45 letter word Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest English word that appears in a major dictionary. Originally coined to become a candidate for the longest word in English, the term eventually developed some independent use in medicine. It is referred to as "P45" by researchers.

Antidisestablishmentarianism, at 28 letters, is the longest non-coined, non-technical English word. It refers to a 19th century political movement that opposed the disestablishment of the Church of England as the state church of Englandmarker.

In "How to Build a Better Vocabulary", there is also a word attributed to P. T. Barnum, who wanted to have the record for inventing the longest word:Di-isobutyl-phenoxy-ethoxy-ethyl-dimethyl-benzyl-ammonium-chloride, where the hyphens normally are not present but show how the word is built up, however this is not a correct chemical name, as there needs to be some numbers between the fragments to show the correct substitution.

Floccinaucinihilipilification at 29 letters (and meaning the act of estimating something as being worth so little as to be practically valueless, or the habit of doing so) is the longest non-technical, coined word in the English language.

Esperanto

The longest official Esperanto roots are the 12-letter administracio (administration), aŭtobiografio (autobiography), demonstrativo (demonstrative pronoun), diskriminacii (to discriminate), konservatorio (conservatory), paleontologio (paleontology), paralelogramo (parallelogram), spiritualismo (spiritualism), spiritualisto (spiritualist) and trigonometrio (trigonometry). However, since Esperanto allows word compounding, there are no limits on how long a word can theoretically become.

French

The longest non-technical french word is anticonstitutionnellement (25 letters), which means anticonstitutionally.

German

Because German is an agglutinative language, long compound words are both relatively common and comprehensible. A 79 letter word, Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, was named the longest published word in the German language by the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records, but longer words are possible. The word refers to a division of an Austrianmarker shipping company named the Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaft which transported passengers and cargo on the Danube.

Greek

In his comedy Assemblywomen (c. 392 BC) Aristophanes coined the 183-letter word λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμ­υπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβο­μελιτο­κατακεχυ­μενο­κιχλ­επι­κοσσυφο­φαττο­περιστερ­αλεκτρυον­οπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλο­πελειο­λαγῳο­σιραιο­βαφη­τραγανο­πτερύγων. A fictional food dish consisting of a combination of fish, poultry and other meat, hare usually refers to rabbit, it is cited as the longest ancient Greek word ever written.

Hungarian

Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért, with 44 letters is officially the longest word in the Hungarian language which is actually in use, means something like 'for your [plural] keeping behaving as if you could not be profaned'. It is already morphed, since Hungarian is an agglutinative language. For this reason, it is possible to create words like összetettszóhosszúságvilágrekorddöntéskényszerneurózistünetegyüttes-megnyilvánulásfejleszthetőségvizsgálatszervezésellenőrzésiügyosztály-létszámleépítésellenesakciócsoporttagságiigazolványmegújításikérelem-elutasítóhatározatgyűjteményértékesítőnagyvállalatátalakításutó-finanszírozáspályázatelbírálóalapítványkuratóriumelnökhelyettesellenes-merényletkivizsgálóbizottságiüléselnapolásiindítványbenyújtásiforma-nyomtatványkitöltögetésellenőrizhetőség-próba which is 447 characters long and refers to a committee and its cognizance. Of course in reality such committee couldn't exist.The longest dictionary form word is the non-morphed form of the longest word in use, megszentségteleníthetetlen, with only 25 characters, and means "stain-proof".

Italian

The longest word in Italian is traditionally precipitevolissimevolmente, which is a 26-letter-long adverb. It is formed by subsequent addition of postfixes to the original root:
  1. precipitevole: "hasty";
  2. precipitevolissimo: "very hasty";
  3. precipitevolissimevole: "[of someone/something] that acts very hastily", (not grammatical correct);
  4. precipitevolissimevolmente: "in a way like someone/something that acts very hastily" (not grammatically correct, but nowadays part of the language).


The word is never used in every-day language, but in jokes. Nevertheless, it is an official part of Italian language; it was coined in 1677 by poet Francesco Moneti:

It is to be noted that the word technically violates Italian grammar rules, the correct form being precipitevolissimamente, which is 3 letters and one syllable shorter. The poet coined the new word to have 11 syllables in the second verse.

Other words can be created with a similar (and grammatically correct) mechanism starting from a longer root, winding up with a longer word. Some examples are:
  • sovramagnificentissimamente (cited by Dante Alighieri in De vulgari eloquentia), 27 letters, "in a way that is more than magnificent by far" (archaic)[127040];
  • incontrovertibilissimamente, 27 letters, "in a way that is very difficult to falsify";
  • particolareggiatissimamente, 27 letters, "in an extremely detailed way";
  • anticostituzionalissimamente, 28 letters, "in a way that strongly violates the constitution".


The longer accepted neologism is psiconeuroendocrinoimmunologia (30 letters).

Lithuanian

Nebeprisikiškiakopūsteliaudavome , is a word said by a hunter who's hunting a rabbit in Lithuanian tale.

Māori

The 85-letter place name Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahumarker was the longest place name in the Māori language, and for that matter the longest place name in an English-speaking country.

Polish

Konstantynopolitańczykiewiczykówna, 34 letters, in Polish means young girl who is an inhabitant of Constantinople.

Portuguese

The 46 letter word pneumoultramicroscopicossilicovulcanoconióticos (plural of pneumoultramicroscopicossilicovulcanoconiótico) is the longest word. It is the carrier of the disease Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

The 27 letter word inconstitucionalissimamente is recognized as being the longest non-technical word.

Slovak

The longest slovak word is najneobhospodárovavateľnejšia (29 letters), which means the least cultivable.

Spanish

The 24 letter word electroencefalografistas, referring to people who practice electroencephalography, has been cited as the longest Spanish word in actual use.

Swedish

As well as other languages named herein Swedish also is an agglutinative language. The longest word in a Swedish dictionary is Nordöstersjökustartilleriflyg-spaningssimulatoranläggningsmaterielunderhållsuppföljningssystemdiskussionsinläggsförberedelsearbeten which is a 130 letter word about a specific preparation talk about a north eastern artilleryship.

Turkish

Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine, at 70 letters, has been cited as the longest Turkish word, though it should be noted that it is a compound word and that Turkish, as an agglutinative language, carries the potential for words of theoretically infinite length.

Welsh

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochmarker, a railway station on the island of Angleseymarker in Walesmarker, is the longest place name in the Welsh language. 51 letters long in the Welsh alphabet, the name can be translated as "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave". Welsh is the only language where you can have four of the same character in a row, which appears in this word.

References

  1. Website project OpenTaal


See also




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