Wandering around the Web, I came across what’s called the world’s longest word.
I believe this really is the world’s longest word, even though I haven’t seen it. Well, I haven’t seen the whole word end to end.
This word contains 189,819 letters. It’s so long that stretched out in one long line, it would be like looking down an arrow-straight desert highway that disappears into a distant horizon.
If I were to show this word to you here, you’d be scrolling and scrolling and scrolling for I don’t know how long before you got to the tail end, the last letter.
This word is so incredibly long it takes approximately three-and-a-half hours to pronounce.
Here’s how the word starts: Methionylalanylthreonylserylarginylglycylalanylserylarginylcysteinylproly…
Yeah, I’m disappointed too. This mile-long word is the chemical name for titan – a human protein that, as its name implies, is the largest known protein. [Titans were a race of giants in Greek mythology; various large things have been named after the Titans — RMS Titanic, for example].
So the word titan, spelled with five letters, and [insert world’s longest word here], spelled with 189,819 letters, mean basically the same thing? That’s crazy!
But in a way, it makes sense. The world’s longest word mimics the titanic protein it represents – a long, long, long string of molecules. It is what it is.
By the way, my favorite long, long, long word is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.
hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia noun fear of long words
Strange, Wondrous, Rarely Used Words
Outside of technical, scientific and medical terms, we rarely if ever use extra-long, multi-syllable words. Words like horbgorbling, mautuolypea, ozoamblyrosis just don’t come easily to mind. Spellcheckers don’t recognize them; most dictionaries don’t list them. These obscure words are difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to spell.
And if you should use such fancy, five-dollar words, only a tiny, tiny fraction of the population has the wide-ranging vocabulary to comprehend what you’re saying. Which in the case of ozoamblyrosis is too bad as that word means loss of sexual appetite because your partner has unpleasant body odor. Ask someone you’ve just met socially if he or she has ever suffered from ozoamblyrosis – there’s a great conversation starter! (Though they may, against all odds, know what ozoamblyrosis means and complain that your question is not only rude and inappropriate but ostrobogulous as well).
Our quirky English language has plenty of words that are strange and wondrous in spelling – such as zenzizenzizenzic (meaning the eighth power of a number), and strange and wondrous in meaning: a retromingent is an animal that urinates backwards, as lions and raccoons do.
The strangest single word that I’m aware of is spangchew, which apparently means to throw a frog into the air, a concept so weird that you wonder why anyone would ever feel the need to coin a word for it.
Richard Watson Todd, Much Ado About English
Would you like to be a sesquipedalian (one who uses big words)? Check out BIGWORDS.com – “Type in what you’re looking for and we’ll hook you up with the lengthiest words we can think of.” People will think you’re sooo smart ‘cause you use such BIG words! Why don’t you drop the pretense and get down here with us and watch Honey Boo Boo.
Short words get all the action – easy to say, easy to spell, instantly understandable. Short words are so handy they often have more than one meaning. The simple word set has 126 meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participal adjective. (Source: Bill Bryson, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words). Short words are broad and general in meaning; long words are pin-point precise and unique.
If obscure English words fascinate you – words like chankings, dishabillophobia, or philodox – may I suggest Charles Harrington Elster’s There’s A Word for It! A Grandiloquent Guide to Life.
chankings food that you spit out, such as seeds and pits
dishabillophobia fear of undressing in front of someone
philodox someone in love with his or her own opinions
See & Hear the World’s Longest Word!
Want to see the world’s longest word in its entirety? You can download a 65KB text file of the word here.
Or you can watch this guy take three-and-a-half hours to read out loud the word in its entirety. Watch the flower bloom and wilt as he goes on and on, seemingly without a pause. You’ll see the guy’s beard grow as the pronunciation drones relentlessly pass an hour, two hours, three. You have to wonder if he was able to do this reading in one take!
Just click on the photo to view video and kill an entire afternoon.