Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and Other Long Ten-dollar Words

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Members of our staff have been accused by some of using many “ten-dollar words.”

Ten-dollars words are large words that can be difficult to say and spell. As a result, most people will not understand what you are saying. Some say that is the value of education. Others think it makes someone look like an elitist jerk that wants to flaunt their advanced intelligence or vocabulary in someone else’s’s face.

As a collection of logophiles, we pay tribute to these ten-dollar words.

Several sources we checked report that the longest word in any of the major English-language dictionaries is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. This is a medical term that describes a lung disease contracted from inhaling very fine sand and silica particles which come directly from a volcano erupting. If you must, you can also refer to it briefly as silicosis. Some of you may recall that Grandpa Simpson accused Marge of having this disease in the Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy episode of The Simpsons (Season 6, Episode 10). http://putlocker.is/watch-the-simpsons-tvshow-season-6-episode-10-online-free-putlocker.htm

The Oxford English Dictionary shows that the word pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters) is among the longest. This is defined as an inherited disorder that closely simulates the symptoms but not the consequences of pseudohypoparathyroidism. 

Many teachers have taught that Antidisestablishmentarianism as a wildly popular 10-dollar word, even though most people who can say it also don’t know what it means. Antidisestablishmentarianism stands for a political position taken during the Reformation. King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife, so he split from Roman Catholicism. Those against him were “anti” the “disestablishment” of the church and thus, didn’t approve of the budding Anglican Church, later known as the Church of England. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary does not contain antidisestablishmentarianism, as the editors found no widespread, sustained usage of the word in its original meaning.

Electroencephalographically at 27 letters is the longest word that the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary does contain.This is a process for recording the electrical activity of the brain, usually by means of electrodes placed on the scalp: used to diagnose tumours of the brain, to study brain waves, etc.

The longest non-technical word in many major dictionaries includes is flocci­nauci­nihili­pili­fication at 29 letters. Consisting of a series of Latin words which mean”nothing” and defined as “the act of estimating something as worthless”; its usage has been documented as far back as 1741.

Yet, these are pretty specialized words and aren’t likely to be used in general conversation. Research indicates that the longest words likely to be encountered in general usage are deinstitutionalization and counterrevolutionaries, with 22 letters each.  A computer study of over a million samples of normal English writing found that the longest word one is likely to encounter on an everyday basis is uncharacteristically, which checks in at 20 letters.

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