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Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (Listeni/njuːˌmɒnˌʌltrəmkrɵˌskɒpɪkˌsɪlɪkvɒlˌknɵkɒnˈsɪs/) 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.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is "an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust."[1]


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":[citation needed]

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.[2]

This 45-letter word, referred to as "P45",[3] first appeared in the 1939 supplement to the Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary, Second Edition.[4]

Word length

Antidisestablishmentarianism, which consists of 28 letters and 12 syllables, is one of the longest words in the English language and was commonly cited as the longest word, excluding coined and technical terms.[5] However, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is identified as the longest word in the English language, regardless of word type.[5]

Cultural usage

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. After suggesting flu and protein deficiency, Abe suggests she might be suffering from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but is told this is not the problem.

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in Oxford dictionary (British and World English)". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. 
  2. ^ Ulkin, CMAxim (1999). Wordplay, A Curious Dictionary of Language Oddities. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-8069-1797-0. 
  3. ^ Cole, Chris. (1989.) "The Biggest Hoax". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, via Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
  4. ^ Miller, Jeff. "A collection of word oddities and trivia: page 11, long words". (Personal website.) Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
  5. ^ a b What is the longest English word? Oxford Dictionaries Online