- <strong>What is the longest world in the world? What language is it? See the list of the longest words in the world and their meanings</strong>
What is the longest world in the world? What language is it? See the list of the longest words in the world and their meanings
There are more than seven thousand living languages around the world, and the number would be even higher with dialects. In some of their vast vocabulary one can find words that could take hours to pronounce! What is the longest word in the world? What does it mean? Which English word has the most letters?
How are long words created?
Languages of the world can be categorised according to many different criteria. In some languages, referred to as agglutinative, words often tend to have a large number of letters as they are formed by ‘agglutination’ – a morphological process in which words are formed by stringing together multiple morphemes – particular letter clusters, each of which corresponds to a single syntactic feature, adding or altering the meaning. Determining the longest word in the world was therefore not easy!
The longest word in the world
The largest word in the world is the term: ‘methionylthreonylthreonyl(…)isoleucine’. As you can see, we wouldn’t even be able to type it in full. It happens to be a word in the English language, and is the chemical name of titin, the largest known protein in human muscles. The term, having no less than 189 819 letters would take three hours and thirty-three minutes to recite it from beginning to end! If you don’t believe it, try it yourself! You should be able to find the entire word online (or in certain science books, perhaps).
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The longest word in a different alphabet
The longest word in the world written in a non-Latin alphabet, at the same time being the second longest word in the world overall, is a 195-character Sanskrit word, which, if transliterated into the Roman writing system, would be equivalent to as many as 428 letters.
The word has been previously listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the longest word in the world. It is also said to be the longest word in all literature. It first appeared in the 16th century in Varadāmbikā Pariṇaya Campū, a book written by Queen Tirumalãmbã, the senior wife and chief queen of Emperor Krishnadevaraya, who is considered to be the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire which covered much of the southern part of India between the 14th and 17th centuries.
What does it mean? We will not challenge you to read it (unless you know how to!), but just know that it is a description of a region in South India called Tamil Nadu:
“In it, the distress, caused by thirst, to travellers, was alleviated by clusters of rays of the bright eyes of the girls; the rays that were shaming the currents of light, sweet and cold water charged with the strong fragrance of cardamom, clove, saffron, camphor and musk and flowing out of the pitchers (held in) the lotus-like hands of maidens (seated in) the beautiful water-sheds, made of the thick roots of vetiver mixed with marjoram, (and built near) the foot, covered with heaps of couch-like soft sand, of the clusters of newly sprouting mango trees, which constantly darkened the intermediate space of the quarters, and which looked all the more charming on account of the trickling drops of the floral juice, which thus caused the delusion of a row of thick rainy clouds, densely filled with abundant nectar.”
The shortest longest word in the world
Yes, you read that right. The Vietnamese word ‘nghiêng’ clearly isn’t the longest word in the world, but at just seven letters long, it remains the longest in the Vietnamese language, making it the shortest longest word that exists. Technically, ‘nghiêng’ is a single morpheme and not a word-word, but since Vietnamese is an isolating language, where, instead of combining (agglutinating morphemes) it uses several isolated morphemes to create or change meanings, it does figure as a separate combination of letters.
The longest word as a name of a geographical feature
Not only chemical materials and substances enjoy the terminology of such vast numbers of letters or characters. The same thing often characterises words and names referring to all kinds of geographical areas and features, such as rivers, lakes, or other landscape forms. If you are wondering what the longest word in the world is that is a name of a geographical region or feature, it is the name of a hill in New Zealand: ‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhe nuakitanat ahu’.
Consisting of just over 80 letters (57 in the slightly condensed synonymous version), the word comes from Māori language, spoken in Eastern Polynesia, and is the fourth longest word in the world, and the longest place name in the world. It has also been included in the Guiness Book of Records. Its translation is: ‘The peak where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the surveyor, the mountain climber, the walker who travelled here, played his flute to his beloved.’ It’s hard to believe so much information can fit into a single word!
The longest word as a name of an animal
At 42 letters (counting the space), ‘Parastratiosphecomyia Stratioshecomyioides’ is a name of a species of soldier fly native to Thailand. Fine, this is not a single word, but since the two words have no meaning on their own and exist exclusively as part of this binomial, it is fair to accept it as one word. Funny enough, the animal itself does not live up to what the name would suggest: it is only 10 millimetres long!
The longest monosyllabic English word
English, as a non-phonetic language, can pose pronunciation challenges even for native speakers! Can you think of any long words in English that are pronounced as one syllable? Here is the answer: ‘squirrelled’. Hard to believe? Depending on the regional variants of English, the word can be correctly pronounced as one syllable. Although the American spelling carries only a single L, British English proudly boasts a double L in similar words, making ‘squirrelled’ the longest monosyllabic word.
The longest consonant-only English word
Proudly accepted as a full-fledged word in the Oxford English Dictionary, psst is the longest word without neither a vowel nor a vowel sound. We don’t think there’s a need to explain its meaning, but just in case you wonder, it is an exclamation ‘used to attract someone’s attention surreptitiously.’
Although the way we communicate today is becoming rather economical, and the languages are being modified and reduced to shortcuts, symbols, or even emojis, plenty of language systems still enjoy and preserve terms and names consisting of dozens or even hundreds of characters or letters. This proves the extraordinary creativity of sociolinguistics and the aptitude of peoples and communities when it comes to word formation.
What do you think of our list of the longest words in the world? Are you able to pronounce them? What other long words do you know in English or other languages? Let us know in the comments!
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