Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The longest word in English

This post turned out to be surprisingly popular, so I rewrote it to include not only the longest word but also a few other linguistic anomalies - a hill name 85 letters long for example. Happy reading...

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The longest word turned out to be a scientific one, a full name of a protein - Titin, also known as connectin. It is 189,819 letters long. Professional dictionary writers regard generic names of chemical compounds as verbal formula rather than as English words, so it is a bit disputable if this can be viewed as a true word. it is too long to post here, so I am posting a shorter one instead - this one is only 1185 letters long:
acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylprolylserylglutaminyl-
phenylalanylvalylphenylalanylleucylserylserylvalyltryptophylalanyl-
aspartylprolylisoleucylglutamylleucylleucylasparaginylvalylcysteinyl-
threonylserylserylleucylglycylasparaginylglutaminylphenylalanyl-
glutaminylthreonylglutaminylglutaminylalanylarginylthreonylthreonyl-
glutaminylvalylglutaminylglutaminylphenylalanylserylglutaminylvalyl-
tryptophyllysylprolylphenylalanylprolylglutaminylserylthreonylvalyl-
arginylphenylalanylprolylglycylaspartylvalyltyrosyllysylvalyltyrosyl-
arginyltyrosylasparaginylalanylvalylleucylaspartylprolylleucylisoleucyl-
threonylalanylleucylleucylglycylthreonylphenylalanylaspartylthreonyl-
arginylasparaginylarginylisoleucylisoleucylglutamylvalylglutamyl-
asparaginylglutaminylglutaminylserylprolylthreonylthreonylalanylglutamyl-
threonylleucylaspartylalanylthreonylarginylarginylvalylaspartylaspartyl-
alanylthreonylvalylalanylisoleucylarginylserylalanylasparaginylisoleucyl-
asparaginylleucylvalylasparaginylglutamylleucylvalylarginylglycyl-
threonylglycylleucyltyrosylasparaginylglutaminylasparaginylthreonyl-
phenylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserylglycylleucylvalyltryptophyl-
threonylserylalanylprolylalanylserine
I didn't even tried to read it or to pronounce it. This is however a perfectly real word and an example to the problems scientists have when they are out of words.

The longest word coined by a major author is a name of a fictional dish (183 letters):

Lopado­temacho­selacho­gameo­kranio­leipsano­drim­hypotrimmato­silphiokaraome-
lito­katakechymeno­kichl­epi­kossypho­phatto­perister­alektryon-
opte­kephallio­kinklo­peleio­lagoio­siraio­baphe­tragano­pterygon

For a long time it was the longest word known.

The longest officially recognized place name is a name of a hill in New Zealand (85 letters):

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungaho-
ronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu


The name is often shortened to Taumata by the locals for ease of conversation. It translates roughly as "The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one".

Also the longest nontechnical word is (29 letters):

Floccinaucinihilipilification.

It is "the act or habit of estimating or describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by deprecation". This word is frequently used in maths and maths related subjects.
The is some disute about this word status - as of now wikipedia claims that the longest non coined and not technical word is (28 letters):

Antidisestablishmentarianism.

It is a political position that originated in nineteenth-century Britain, where antidisestablishmentarians were opposed to proposals to remove the Church of England's status as the state church of England forwarded principally by both Payne and Tuffin.)

Source - wikipedia.

2 comments:

Anatoly said...

People never stop to amaze - somebody just left a comment on this post saying his opinion about "people who name a protein 185000 letters long". Since he totally failed to be polite I am not going to publish this comment.

What is ever funnier is that after he saw that his comment didn't appear (comments on this blog go to moderation first) he left another one - in this one he was calling me names.

But there is even more - he left a third comment in which he demands to publish his comments, or else ****(I am not gong to write what he said, but it was funny).
This is the first threat I received, and it was simply hilarious...

Whoever did this is probably watching this post so this is my reply;
1. First of all thank you - it was very funny. Especially when you started threatening me. :)
2. Since you tried to comment as Anonymous I see no reason to treat you seriously.
3. If you want you can leave a comment - provided that it will be polite. And preferably don't comment as Anonymous.

P.S. Giving a 185000 letters name is a very logical thing to do. Proteins are giant (in molecular sense) structures - the full name reflects this fact.

leeshink said...

spot on with this write-up, i like the way you discuss the things. i'm impressed, i must say. i'll probably be back again to read more. thanks for sharing this with us.

Lee Shin
www.trendone.net