The longest words in the world

Aug 21, 2013 | Language

IMAG1669Some languages have bigger words than others. Fact. Not perhaps a very interesting fact but a fact nonetheless, and one which can cause interesting challenges when translating and typesetting.

I’ve been looking at German cookbooks this week and the German language does like a long word. And I, for one, like a long German word. Such words have featured here before – such as a favourite in the office: Anstandsstückchen but that is a tiny baby word compared with some.

For example, because German numbers are expressed as a single word, the number 777,777 has a whopping 65 letters:

siebenhundertsiebenundsiebzigtausendsiebenhundertsiebenundsiebzig

Go on, say it out loud – you know you want to.

But the longest German word on record, according to Wikipedia and The Guinness Book of World Records anyway, is (drum roll please):

 Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhaupt… (Will it fit onto one line? Keep going!) …betriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft.

Phew.

This is a compound word which has basically been added to and added in order to get to its final 79-letter gloriousness and means: Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services. So not one you’re likely to drop into everyday conversation too easily.

The longest recorded word in the English language, apparently, is

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

or, to put it another way, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, causing inflammation in the lungs (otherwise known as silicosis). This very large word appears to be used chiefly as… an example of a very large word!

A more commonly used, and personal favourite, is Antidisestablishmentarianism. I like that one.

To listen to some fabulous examples of outrageously long words, take a look at this video put together by PolyglotPal – the inspiration for this post.

Do you know the longest word in your language? Come back soon for more!