Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (i//) is an English word that refers to a lung disease that is otherwise known as silicosis. It is the longest word in the English language published in a dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary.
This word was invented by Everett M. Smith, president of the National Puzzlers' League (N.P.L.), at its annual meeting. The word figured in the headline for an article published by the New York Herald Tribune on February 23, 1935, titled "Puzzlers Open 103rd Session Here by Recognizing 45-Letter Word":
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis succeeded electrophotomicrographically as the longest word in the English language recognized by the National Puzzlers' League at the opening session of the organization's 103rd semi-annual meeting held yesterday at the Hotel New Yorker. The puzzlers explained that the forty-five-letter word is the name of a special form of pneumoconiosis caused by ultra-microscopic particles of silica volcanic dust...
Subsequently, the word was used in a puzzle book, Bedside Manna, after which time, members of the N.P.L. campaigned to include the word in major dictionaries.
In the episode "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" from The Simpsons' sixth season, Abraham Simpson asks his son what it is that is bugging his wife. Abe suggests she might be suffering from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
On May 21, 2015, Stephan Pastis, American cartoonist, included this word three times in his comic strip "Pearls Before Swine" as part of a joke that the hardest part of doing a comic strip is "Lack of space, especially for dialogue."
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- Longest words in English
- List of long place names
- Coalworker's pneumoconiosis
- "Definition of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in Oxford dictionary (British and World English)". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19.
- Ulkin, CMAxim (1999). Wordplay, A Curious Dictionary of Language Oddities. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-8069-1797-0.
- Cole, Chris. (1989.) "The Biggest Hoax". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, via wordways.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
- Miller, Jeff. "A collection of word oddities and trivia: page 11, long words". (Personal website.) Retrieved on 2007-10-08.