SoCS — The Longest Word

I was maybe in third grade when I heard from someone, I don’t remember who, that the word “antidisestablishmentarianism,” with 28 letters, was the longest word in the English language.

Actually, it isn’t. According to Google, “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” at 45 letters, is the longest word. It refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano.

But when I was maybe in the third grade, Google didn’t exist. Neither, for that matter, did the internet. So when I heard that antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in the language, I assumed that it was, in fact, the longest word. And I made it my goal to learn how to spell it by heart.

Once I had mastered memorizing how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, I would go up to random people and proudly say, “I know how to spell the longest word in the English langage.” Then I would spell antidisestablishmentarianism for them. Everyone was duly impressed. And I was very pleased with myself.

Until one day when someone asked me if I knew what antidisestablishmentarianism meant. I didn’t. My skill was being able to spell the longest word. It didn’t occur to me to that I should also know its meaning. I asked my father what it meant. He didn’t know. Neither did my mother. Nor my two older sisters. Even my third grade teacher was stumped.

So I went to the school librarian and asked her if she knew what it meant. She smiled at me and said, “Let’s go look it up.” Then she led me to the biggest, fattest dictionary I’d ever seen. It was sitting atop a tall pedestal and I had to stand on a step-stool to read it.

The librarian opened the dictionary and turned to the page and said, “Ah, here it is.” Then she began reading from this humongous dictionary.

“Antidisestablishmentarianism: Opposition to the withdrawal of state support or recognition from an established church, especially the Anglican Church in 19th-century England.”

Sadly, even after hearing the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism, I still didn’t really understand what the word actually meant. Something about being against not paying for the church, but to my maybe in the third grade mind, that didn’t make much sense to me anyway.

Besides, my claim to fame was not explaining what the word meant. Oh no. It was in being able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism by heart on demand. Although truth be told, there wasn’t much of a demand for that particular skill.

To this day, though, should anybody ask, I’d be happy to spell antidisestablishmentarianism for them. And I think that is pretty supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (34 letters).

Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, where Linda has asked us to decide on our favorite word and use it in our post any way we’d like. Can you guess the word I chose?

38 thoughts on “SoCS — The Longest Word

  1. Nope, Not Pam November 5, 2022 / 3:32 am

    You did well, I can’t spell it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. donmatthewspoetry November 5, 2022 / 3:37 am

    Billy says he is impressed with Uncle Fan. He knows what the colour of ‘flan’ is. You’ve gone up in his eyes……..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 November 5, 2022 / 4:18 am

    Well get you that quite some feat for a young lad!

    Can you spell Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, yet? 💜💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stevie Turner November 5, 2022 / 4:43 am

    My mum used to get me to spell antidisestablishmentarianism as a kid. She worked as a medical secretary (like I do now) and so in my spelling tests there were lots of long medical words to spell that I’d never heard of. The tests stood me in good stead in later life though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Maggie November 5, 2022 / 5:21 am

    I was fascinated by that word as well. We loved to say it and spell it and like you none of us had any idea what it meant. Great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lou Carreras November 5, 2022 / 6:43 am

    I see! A Fandango hidden agenda? Want to disestablish the States as a “Christian Nation”? You Cad! Liberal…free thinker. What next? Democracy?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. newepicauthor November 5, 2022 / 6:49 am

    Do you know that hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Irene November 5, 2022 / 8:11 am

    I also admire your good memory, how multitalented you are!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. JT Twissel November 5, 2022 / 11:03 am

    I’m going to guess “heart” is your favorite word. All those long words remind me of my struggles with the German language.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Marleen November 5, 2022 / 11:49 am

    The other big question, when playing Scrabble, is what dictionary to use. I’ve been annoyed when a dictionary knows fewer words than I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gr8BigFun November 5, 2022 / 2:00 pm

    Now if I’m playing Scrabble and everyone insists it not a word because it’s not in the dictionary, I’m calling you, Marleen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen November 5, 2022 / 10:26 pm

      😅 I have fond memories of learning vocabulary with various nuances and roots and so forth. I didn’t know Fandango’s and Willowdot’s long words, and I’ve not tried to display an ability to spell words that are long, but you might be surprised at what isn’t in some dictionaries… meaning dictionaries intended for adults. A dictionary for kids could be chosen to make a game more fair. You might, meanwhile, want me on your team when playing Trivial Pursuit in that regard. I got a question, once, that many people wouldn’t have known or, if they thought they might, would have been too unsure or sheepish to say out loud. I recall the word as diphallica, but I don’t have an encyclopedic memory. When I did an internet search just now, what I found is “diphallus” — even though I typed in “diphallica” [and both of those are showing up as incorrect words with the spell checker here]; the question was worded as what is the condition known as… ? I hadn’t heard of it, but I was in that moment certain it must be a thing. It caused everyone to take a moment and look in dictionaries and ponder, even though the answer was right there provided by the game.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. cagedunn November 5, 2022 / 5:31 pm

    The trouble with knowing and spelling the longest word is that the Scrabble board doesn’t give enough space to use it to best effect. Unless you cheat and create a few extra squares to tack onto the board …

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reaseaorg November 15, 2022 / 11:59 am

    Quite ironic how the longest word would be the hardest to say with someone serving lung disease from inhaling silica particles from a Vulcano

    Liked by 1 person

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