19. One-trick words & The longest words

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 28 日 in Logology

Just as some ponies in a circus may be used for only one trick (one-trick ponies), so a word may be always or nearly always used in only one phrase. These words are called one-trick words.

  1. arms akimbo

  2. make amends

  3. run amok

  4. anecdotal evidence

  5. look askance

  6. be-all and end-all

  7. betwixt and between

  8. condign punishment

  9. dribs and drabs

  10. a fine-tooth comb

  11. to and fro

  12. time immemorial

  13. indomitable will

  14. the jig is up

  15. kith and kin

  16. death knell

  17. in lieu of

  18. at loggerheads

  19. filthy lucre

  20. far from the madding crowd

  21. on the QT

  22. whole shebang

  23. slake one’s thirst

  24. tit for tat

  25. vantage point

  26. vested interest

  27. vim and vigor

  28. wishful thinking


In any event, there is no easy answer to the question, “What is the longest word in English?” In fact, it is possible to create words that are tediously long and that no one would use except to mention examples of words that are tediously long. For example, people can stretch out the term “great-great-great-great-great grandfather/grandmother” 100,000 or more times.

  1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED): floccinaucinihilipilification = estimating something as worthless; pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis = silicosis = a lung disease contracted from inhaling fine silica particles from a volcano; antidisestablishmentarianism = opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of the England = a political philosophy opposed to the separation of religion and government

  2. Gould’s Medical Dictionary: hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomies = a surgery in which surgeons create a connection between the gallbladder and a hepatic bile duct and between the intestine and the gallbladder

  3. Walt Disney’s movie Mary Poppins: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious = atoning for extreme and delicate beauty while being highly educable (In the movie, people use the word when they don’t know what to say.)

  4. Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (act V, scene 1): honorificabilitudinitatibus = the state of being able to achieve honor (It is also one of the longest English words with alternating consonants and vowels.)

  5. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition): electroencephalographically and ethylenediaminetetraacetate

  6. Guinness Book of World Records (1992): disproportionableness and incomprehensibilities

  7. James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: bababadalgharagh takammina rronnkonnbronn tonnerronn tuonnthunntro varrhounawns kawntoohoohoor denenthurnuk = a sumbolic thunderclap that represents the fall of Adam and Eve; klikkaklakkaklaskaklopatzklatschabattacreppycrottygraddaghsemmihsammihnouithappluddyappladdypkonpkot = the sound of crashing glass (There are eight more 100-letter words created by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake)

  8. American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts: C785H1220N212O248S2= tobacco mosaic virus = acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylprolylserylglutaminylphenylalanylvalylphenylalanylleucylserylserylvalyltryptophylalanylaspartylprolylisoleucylglutamylleucylleucylasparaginylvalylcysteinylthreonylserylserylleucylglycylasparaginylglutaminylphenylalanylglutaminylthreonylglutaminylglutaminylalanylarginylthreonylthreonylglutaminylvalylglutaminylglutaminylphenylalanylserylglutaminylvalyltryptophyllysylprolylphenylalanylprolylglutaminylserylthreonylvalylarginylphenylalanylprolylglycylaspartylvalyltyrosyllysylvalyltyrosylarginyltyrosylasparaginylalanylvalylleucylaspartylprolylleucylisoleucylthreonylalanylleucylleucylglycylthreonylphenylalanylaspartylthreonylarginylasparaginylarginylisoleucylisoleucylglutamylvalylglutamylasparaginylglutaminylglutaminylserylprolylthreonylthreonylalanylglutamylthreonylleucylaspartylalanylthreonylarginylarginylvalylaspartylaspartylalanylthreonylvalylalanylisoleucylarginylserylalanylasparaginylisoleucylas paraginylleucylvalylasparaginylglutamylleucylvalylarginylglycylthreonylglycylleucyltyrosylasparaginylglutaminylasparaginylthreonylphenylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserylglycylleucylvalyltryptophylthreonyl serylalanylprolylalanylserine (1,185 letters)




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