One of the classic long words is floccinaucinihilipilification, which means estimating something as worthless. It was coined by students at Eton, combining a number of roughly synonymous Latin stems. Latin flocci, from floccus, a wisp or piece of wool + nauci, from naucum, a trifle + nihili, from nihilum, nothing + pili, from pilus, a hair, something insignificant (all therefore having the sense of “worthless” or “nothing”) + -fication.
At 29 letters, the word has many instances of use and appears in many larger dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary.
It is one of the longest non-technical terms with many instances of printed use. Its first use in literature was in 1741 in William Shenstone’s Works in Prose and Verse: “I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money”.
In Voltaire’s Candide, Pangloss is supposed to have given lectures on metaphysico-theologo-cosmonigology (34 letters).
In Thomas Love Peacock’s satirical novel Headlong Hall (1816) there appear two high-flown nonce words (one-off coinages) which describe the human body by stringing together adjectives describing its various tissues. The first is based on Greek words, and the second on the Latin equivalents; they are osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous (44 letters) and osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary (51 letters), which translate roughly as ‘of bone, flesh, blood, organs, gristle, nerve, and marrow’.
An alternate spelling of the latter is osseocarnisanguinioviscericartilaginonervomedullary.
This is a relative short one. Aequeosalinocalcalinosetaceoaluminosocupreovitriolic has 52 letters and was coined by Dr. Edward Strother (1635-1737) to describe the spa waters at Bath, England.
The word is composed of the following elements:
- Aequeo: equal (Latin, aequo)
- Salino: containing salt (Latin, salinus)
- Calcalino: calcium (Latin, calx)
- Ceraceo: waxy (Latin, cera)
- Aluminoso: alumina (Latin)
- Cupreo: from “copper”
- Vitriolic: resembling vitriol
The hundredletter thunderwords of Finnegans Wake
There are ten thunders in the Wake. Each is a cryptogram or codified explanation of the thundering and reverberating consequences of the major technological changes in all human history.
1 ) (thunder):
2 ) (thunder):
3 ) (clap):
4 ) (whore):
5 ) Thingcrooklyexineverypasturesixdixlikencehimaroundhersthemaggerbykinkinkankanwithdownmindlookingated
6 ) (shut the door):
7 ) Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansumuminarumdrumstrumtruminahumptadumpwaultopoofoolooderamaunsturnup
8 ) Pappappapparrassannuaragheallachnatullaghmonganmacmacmacwhackfalltherdebblenonthedubblandaddydoodled
9 ) (cough):
10 ) (Norse gods):
The tenth and last has 101 letters, making 1001 letters in all.
Filed under coinages, joyce
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?
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.
Filed under coinages, joyce