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.


  • 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.





1 Comment

Filed under ancient greek, coinages, transliterations

One response to “Lepadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon

  1. Manolis

    “lagoio- probably from λαγῶς”. Actually it is “λαγῳος” – lag’o-os meaning the (wild) rabbit (λαγός in modern greek).


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