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April 21st, 2004

The Longest Word

Have you ever felt like saying a word that required a breath before you could finish? Or one that is so long, it couldn’t fit in the memory of some of the earliest computers? There’s plenty of stuff out there about the longest word, and here’s a summary of what I’ve found…

“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is 45 letters and is in the dictionary, but is considered a “fictitious word.” There’s also a 85 letter town in New Zealand named “Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu” (there’s also a town in Wales that’s 58 letters long: “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll Llantysiliogogogoch,” which apparently means “St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave.”

The longest English words? “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (34 letters) and the good old stand-by “antidisestablishmentarianism” (28 letters).

Even though it’s a scientific word (the name of a protein), the whopping 1913-letter methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucy-lphenylalanylalanylglutaminylleucyllysylglutamylarginyllysylglutamy-lglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenylalanylvalylthreonylleu-cylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylserylleucyll-ysylisoleucylaspartylthreonylleucylisoleucylglutamylalanylglycylala-nylaspartylalanylleucylglutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylphenylala-nylserylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolylthreonylisoleu-cylglutaminylaspfraginylalanylthreonylleucylarginylalanylphenylal-anylalanylalanylglycylvalylthreonylprolylalanylglutaminylcysteinyl-phenylalanylglutamylmethionylleucylalanylleucylisoleucylarginylg-lutaminyllysylhistidylprolylthreonylisoleucylprolylisoleucylglycylleuc-ylleucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparaginylleucylvalylphenylalanyla-sparaginyllysylglycylisoleucylaspartylglutamylphenylalanyltyrosyla-lanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylvalylglycylvalylaspartylserylv-alylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalylprolylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylal-anylprolylphenylalanylarginylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhi-stidylasparaginylvalylalanylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleucylcyst-einylprolylprolylaspartylalanylaspartylaspartylaspartylleucylleucy-larginylglutaminylisoleucylalanylseryltyrosylglycylarginylglycyltyrosy-lthreonyltyrosylleucylleucylserylarginylalanylglycylvalylthreonylglycy-lalanylglutamylasparaginylarginylalanylalanylleucylprolylleucylas-paraginylhistidylleucylvalylalanyllysylleucyllysylglutamyltyrosylaspar-aginylalanylalanylprolylprolylleucylglutaminylglycylphenylalanylgly-cylisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminylvalyllysylalanylalany-lisoleucylaspartylalanylglycylalanylalanylglycylalanylisoleucylseryl-glycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisoleucylisoleucylglutamylglutamin-ylhistidylasparaginylisoleucylglutamylprolylglutamyllysylmethiony-lleucylalanylalanylleucyllysylvalylphenylalanylvalylglutaminylprolyl-methionyllysylalanylalanylthreonylarginylserine is the one I’d most like to hear someone utter without taking a breath.

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