The English word antidisestablishmentarianism (UK: // ( listen), US: // ( listen)) is notable for its unusual length of 28 letters and 12 syllables, and is one of the longest words in the English language. It has been cited as the longest word in the English language, excluding coined and technical terms. The longest word found in a major dictionary is "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", but this is a technical term that was coined specifically to be the longest word.
The word became known in the public realm in the United States via a popular television show in the 1950s, The $64,000 Question, when a young contestant correctly spelled it to win. A slightly longer, but less commonly accepted, variant of the word can be found in the Duke Ellington song “You’re Just an Old Antidisestablishmentarianismist”; although the correct construction of the word used in the song should be "antidisestablishmentarianist" (without the "ism"), or "antidisestablishmentarian".
Antidisestablishmentarianism is a political position that originated in 19th century Britain. The position opposed proposals at that time to remove the Anglican Church's status as the established church of England, Ireland and Wales, but not in Scotland, which had and still has its own separate national church.
Construction of the word
The word construction is as follows (the numbers succeeding the word refer to the number of letters in the word):
- establish (9)
- to set up, put in place, or institute (originally from the Latin stare, to stand)
- dis-establish (12)
- to end the established status of a body, in particular a church, given such status by law, such as the Church of England
- disestablish-ment (16)
- the separation of church and state (specifically in this context it is the political movement of the 1860s in Britain)
- anti-disestablishment (20)
- opposition to disestablishment
- antidisestablishment-ary (23)
- of or pertaining to opposition to disestablishment
- antidisestablishmentari-an (25)
- an opponent of disestablishment
- antidisestablishmentarian-ism (28)
- the movement or ideology that opposes disestablishment
- antidisestablishmentarian-ist (28)
- a person that opposes disestablishment
- antidisestablishmentarian-istically (34)
- adverb derived from antidisestablishmentarianism as in "(s)he was antidisestablishmentarianistically inclined
In the Ice-T song "First Impressions", from the album O.G. Original Gangster, the narrator notes that Ice-T is "the epitome of antidisestablishmentarianism". This line is sampled by da Lench Mob for their song "Ankle Blues", found on the album Guerillas in tha Mist.
In the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode "For Letter or Worse", the word antidisestablishmentarianism is featured as the mystery word for a game show that Shaggy and Scooby are playing. The word is immediately solved by Bobby and Betsy Brainy, their opponents for the match.
In the TV show Blackadder the main character, Edmund Blackadder, assures the Prince of Wales that he will return before he can finish saying antidisestablishmentarianism. The scene then proceeds to show the Prince make several unsuccessful attempts and reveals the Prince to still be trying two days later when Blackadder returns, having thus far only managed "Anti-distinctly-minty-monetarism".
- What is the longest English word? Oxford Dictionaries Online
- linguistblog (7 May 2014). "Language & Translation - "Language statistics and facts"" (Image upload). Day Translations on Pinterest. Pinterest. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
- Cole, Chris. (1989.) "The Biggest Hoax". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, via wordways.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
- "ELLINGTON, Duke". Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
- Eminem (2014). "Eminem – Almost Famous Lyrics". Rap Genius. Genius Media Group Inc. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
- The dictionary definition of antidisestablishmentarianism at Wiktionary