The English word antidisestablishmentarianism (// (listen), US also /-/ (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), although some sources say that it is not used enough to carry that title. 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
- antidisestablishmentar(y)i-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
- What is the longest English word? Oxford Dictionaries Online
- Merriam Webster: "Antidisestablishmentarianism is not in the dictionary"
- 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" Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.. 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.
- The dictionary definition of antidisestablishmentarianism at Wiktionary