What’s the longest ever word in literature? The longest word in the English language (leaving literature to one side for a moment) is a staggering 189,819 letters long. Or rather, it is and it isn’t.
The chemical formula for the protein otherwise known as titin runs to 189,819 letters, but whether this constitutes a ‘word’ is a moot point. Science abounds in long formulae like this, but are such formations really ‘words’? We have to turn to literature to find the bona fide, non-specialist tonguebusters.
There is a word for those who are scared of long words: hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. There is also a word for somebody who is fond of using long words: sesquipedalian. It stems from the Latin for ‘a foot and a half’, and was first used to denote someone who is given to longwordiness in Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1853 work Cranford (or at least this is the earliest instance the
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