Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Longest Word in Print

The longest word in print in the English language is a behemoth. At 2,087,214 letters, I won’t be reprinting it here. It starts off “Babyoubiquitous”… and ends in …”oiletub”.

It is a word printed in author Nigel Tomm’s “The Blah Story, Vol. 10” and it supposedly means “girl” or “bitch”.

Because of its extremeness, I feel the need to mention it here; however, I questions its validity as a true coinage due to the fact that he himself did not coin it; a computer program running an algorithm did. The superword consists of fusing seperate words together, end to end. The last letter of the first word is the first letter of the second word, and so-on.

The book is available at http://www.amazon.com/Blah-Story-10-Nigel-Tomm/dp/1419693611/ and it can also be downloaded for free at http://www.nigeltomm.com/bookblock-9781419693618.pdf.

Would anyone else agree that because he did not coin the word, it lacks validity?

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Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk

Influential Irish writer James Joyce coinded a number of 100 and 101 letter words in his book Finnegan’s Wake. Arguably, the most well-known of these is bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk.

It symbolizes a sound which represents the symbolic thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve.

Sylvia Plath made mention of it in her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, when the protagonist was reading Finnegans Wake.

Joyce was obviously highly influential and creative, and as such, I will be posting on all of his 101-letter coinages.

Source:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk

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Lepadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon

The second longest word in the English language, excluding technical and medical terms, is Lepadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon.

At 182 letters, this word has been around since 392 B.C., and as such, its notability has survived the test of time and would make a great addition to every dictionary. It is an ancient Greek word coined by the comedic playwright Aristophanes in his play Assemblywomen, also known as Ecclesiazusae.

Its original form, in Greek, is λοπαδοτεμαχοσελαχογαλεοκρανιολειψανοδριμυποτριμματοσιλφιοκαραβομελιτοκατακεχυμενοκιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττοπεριστεραλεκτρυονοπτοκεφαλλιοκιγκλοπελειολαγῳοσιραιοβαφητραγανοπτερύγων.

The Romanized form of the word was transliterated by Eugene O’Neill in 1938 (The Complete Greek Drama, vol. 2 [Random House]), who was a Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning dramatist responsible for a movement reviving stage traditions of classical Greek theater.

It was originally coined by Aristophanes as poking fun at the fact that stringing together words to form compound words was common practice, and wanted to show an extreme version of the lengths that sometimes resulted in doing so.

The dish is a fricasee, with 17 sweet and sour ingredients, including brains, honey, vinegar, fish, pickles, and the following: fish slices, fish of the Elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray), rotted dogfish or small shark’s head, silphion laserwort – a kind of fennel, a kind of crab, beetle, or crayfish, eagle, cheese, honey, wrasse or thrush, topped with a sea fish or blackbird, wood pigeon, domestic pigeon, chicken, roasted headof dabchick, hare (a kind of bird or sea hare – a mollusk), must (wine), dessert, fruit, or other raw food, and wing or fin.

Specifically:

  • lopado- from λοπάς (lopas, stem lopad-) “dish, meal”,
  • -temacho- from τέμαχος (temachos) “fish slice”,
  • -selacho- from σέλαχος (selachos) “fish of the Elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray)
  • -galeo- from γαλεός (galeos) “dogfish, small shark”
  • -kranio- from κρανίον (cranion) “head”
  • -leipsano- from λείψανον (leipsanon) “remnant”
  • -drimy- from δριμύς (drimys) “sharp, pungent”
  • -hypotrimmato- from ὑπότριμμα (hypotrimma) “generally sharp-tasting dish of several ingredients grated and pounded together”
  • -silphio- from σίλφιον (silphion) “laserwort” (apparently a kind of giant fennel
  • -karabo- from κάραβος (karabos) “a kind of crab, beetle, or crayfish” (the word is related to scarab)
  • -parao- appears to be from παραός (paraos) “eagle”
  • -tyro- is clearly just τυρός (tyros) “cheese”.
  • -melito- from μέλι (meli) “honey”
  • -katakechymeno- is from κατακεχυμένος (catacechymenos), something like “poured down”, past participle of καταχεύω (catacheuō)
  • -kichl- from κίχλη (cichlē) “wrasse” (or “thrush”)
  • -epi- from (epi) “upon, on top of”
  • -kossypho- from κόσσυφος (cossyphos) “a kind of sea-fish” (or “blackbird”)
  • -phatto- from φάττα (phatta) “wood pigeon”
  • -perister- from περιστερός (peristeros) “domestic pigeon”
  • -alektryono- from ἀλεκτρυών (alectryōn) “chicken”
  • -opto-/-opte- from ὀπτός (optos) “roasted, baked”
  • -kephallio-/-kephalio- from κεφάλιον (cephalion), diminutive of “head”
  • -kinklo-/kigklo- from κίγκλος (cinclos) “dabchick”
  • -peleio- from πέλεια (pelīa) “pigeon”
  • -lagoio- probably from λαγῶς (also accented λαγώς) meaning basically “hare” but also a kind of bird or a kind of sea-hare
  • -siraio- from σίραιον (siraeon) “new wine boiled down”
  • -baphe- from βαφή (baphē) “dipping” (also ‘dyeing’, ‘temper (of a blade)’)
  • -tragano- from τραγανός (traganos) “he-goat” (but if it is really ‘-tragalo-‘ as in one variant, then maybe it is really from τραγάλιον “dessert fruit; thing eaten uncooked”)
  • -pterygon from πτέρυξ (pteryx) “wing, fin”.

Spelling variations of the word are Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon.

There is some disagreement as to the original form of the word and the correct transliteration.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assemblywomen

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lepadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimypotrimmatosilphiotyromelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptokephaliokinklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetragalopterygon

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Ornicopytheobibliopsychocrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohieroanthropoichthyopyrosiderochpnomyoalectryoophiobotanopegohydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxinocoscinodactyliogeolithopessopsephocatoptrotephraoneirochyroonychodactyloarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenoscapulinaniac

The longest word in the English language, excluding non-technical and/or medical terms, which has a history of at least 3 years and has many mentions, is Ornicopytheobibliopsychocrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohieroanthropoichthyopyrosiderochpnomyoalectryoophiobotanopegohydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxinocoscinodactyliogeolithopessopsephocatoptrotephraoneirochyroonychodactyloarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenoscapulinaniac.

Researching its history, it supposedly was mentioned in Russell Ash’s “Top 10 of Everything” books. According to Russell, it was published in ‘The Omnibus Believe it or Not!’ (London: C. Arthur Pearson – undated, but c. 1935), page 276. It also seems to have been mentioned in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book, c. 2007, ISBN 0-439-82598-9.

It got a popular revival on blogs in October and November of 2004 when a story went around stating one Aaron Zweig, of Randolph, New Jersey, who was 9 years old at the time, spelled the word correctly. He was challenged by his teacher, Ruth Kalata, to memorize the word and to come back when he learned it. According to some websites, Ms. Kalata said that “last year, the boy learned to spell two, extremely long words, antidisestablishmentarianism and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. But the two words with 34 and 28 letters, respectively, were puny compared with the latest challenge.

It apparently was coined as an exercise in demonstrating the extent to which the English language is capable of forming extremely lengthy words. Most of the word is filled with various Latin and Greek prefixes regarding divinatory practices. According to some, the literal translation of the word is “A deluded human who practices divination or forecasting by means of phenomena, interpretation of acts or other manifestations related to the following animate or inanimate objects and appearances: birds, oracles, Bible, ghosts, crystal gazing, shadows, air appearances, birth stars, meteors, winds, sacrificial appearances, entrails of humans and fishes, fire, red-hot irons, altar smoke, mice, barley, salt, lead, dice, arrows, hatchet balance, sieve, ring suspension, random dots, precious stones, pebbles, pebble heaps, mirrors, ash writing, dreams, palmistry, nail rays, finger rings, numbers, book passages, name letterings, laughing manners, ventriloquism, circle walking, wax, susceptibility to hidden springs, wine and shoulder blades”. If anyone can verify or rebuke that, please leave a comment. It supposedly is a list of a set of words ending in “-mancy”, such as theomancy, bibliomancy, austromancy, etc. It is also said to be derived from a set of similar words in Roget’s Thesaurus under the heading of “Prediction”.

Depending on the spelling variation, it has approximately 300 letters.

Its spelling variations include Ornicopytheobibliopsychcrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohieroanothropoichthyopryrosiderochpnomyoalectryoophiobotanopegohydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxinocoscinodactyliogeolithonpessopsephrocatoptrotephraoneirochoonychodactyloarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenoscapulinaniac, Ornicopytheobibliopsychocrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohieroanthropoichthyopyrosiderochpnomyoalectryoophiobotanopegobydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxinocoscinodactyliogeolithopessopsephocatoptrotephraoneirochiroonychodactyloarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenosapulinaniac, and Ornicopytheobibliopsychocrystarroscioaerogenethliometeoroaustrohierroanthropoichthyoophiobotanopegohydrorhabdocrithoaleuroalphitohalomolybdoclerobeloaxinocoscinodactyliogeolithopessopsephocatoptrotephraoneirochiroonychodactyloarithstichooxogeloscogastrogyrocerobletonooenoscapulinaniac.

There are some misconceptions about this word. First and foremost- the word was not used in the middle ages or in medieval times. Second- that the boy spelling the word was in a spelling bee. He was not; it was simply a challenge by a teacher.

The only sources I could find have been online; if anyone comes across or knows of a source in print, please let me know- I am trying to find a definitive answer as to where it was in print and the spelling of the word in print. It supposedly has been printed in sources as diverse as The New York Times, The New York Post, The Randolph Reporter (Randolph Township, New Jersey), and The Metro (UK), plus the aforementioned books, but I have not been able to find an actual printed source. If anyone has any leads, please leave a comment.

Sources:

http://our-community.org.uk/index.php?showtopic=3759

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Longest_word_in_English#very.2C_very_long_medieval_word

http://xo.typepad.com/blog/2004/11/img_alt_srchttp_174.html

http://www.repairmanjack.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-2847.html

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20041128/ai_n12763491

http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=95;t=000789;p=1

http://www.spursreport.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21417.html

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