European Longest Words
“My revenge is fraternity! No more frontiers! The Rhine for everyone! Let us be the same Republic, let us be the United States of Europe, let us be the continental federation, let us be European liberty, let us be universal peace!”
Did you know that a German 79-letters word was the European longest word and that the Irish Gaelic one was the shortest (longest) word on the continent? More surprisingly and for some curious reasons, it is interesting to notice that some longest words in few European countries are directly linked to their national backgrounds. French men launched a revolution to get a constitution, they afterwards invented the word ‘Anticonstitutionnellement’, English men separated their Church from the Vatican, and they get ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’, Norwegianpeople invented the Peace Nobel Price, they have ‘Menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene’… Fascinating isn’t it?
The Portuguese non technical longest word is the famous anticonstitucionalissimamente. It means “anticonstitutionally“, that is to say, in a way which is not conforming to the constitution. It counts not less than 29 letters!
The 24-letters word meaning electroencephalograph technicians is considered as the usual longest word in Spanish language. Humorously, the longest Spanish word is often cited to be “arroz” (rice),because it “starts with an ‘a’ and ends with a ‘z’, the first and last letters of the Spanish alphabet (also most traditional alphabets).
With (only) 25 letters, the French longest word ‘anticonstitutionnellement’ is not so impressive compared to other countries’ references. This is not really a surprise that France’s longest word precisely refers to a constitution as the country actually launched a revolution to get one…
There are not less than 64 letters in the Icelandic longest word. The meaning of this unpronounceable word is: “Key ring of the key chain of the outer door to the storage tool shed of the road workers on the Vaðlaheiði plateau”. You could easily lengthen the word by being even more specific. If you tweet it, you won’t have much characters left!
If we exclude coined and technical terms, the 28-letters word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ is considered as the longest word in English-speaking popular culture. It designates a political position in opposition to proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England, that is, to remove the Anglican Church’s status as the state Church of England, Ireland, and Wales. Humorously, some say that “smiles” is the longest word ever, because there is a mile between both ‘S’es.
In Irish Gaelic, the 21-characters term ‘Grianghrafadóireachta’ is regarded as the longest word. It only means “photography”. Another long Irish word of 19 letters is ‘sceimhlitheoireacht’, meaning “terrorism”.
Meaning “the human rights organizations“, ‘menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene’ counts not less than 33 letters and is the longest usual word in Norwegian, that is a real word in ordinary use. In Norway, where the Nobel Peace Prize is delivered, this is actually not a surprise that the longest word deals precisely with human rights!
According to the Svenska Akademiens Ordlista, the dictionary published every few years by the Swedish Academy, the longest word in Swedish language is ‘Realisationsvinstbeskattning’, which means “capital gains tax”. It counts 28 letters.
According to the Finnish edition of Guinness Book of Records, the longest acceptable Finnish word is ‘lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas’ which has 61 characters. It would be approximately translated as “airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic under officer student” This word has actually been in use in the Finnish Air Force.
With 51 letters, this is the longest Danish word that has been used in an official context. It means “Period of plan stabilising for a specialist doctor’s practice“. Not sure that it is useful in Danes’ everyday life!
Counting 41 characters, the most famous and curious Dutch longest word designates an “exhibition ground for Hottentot huts“. Dutch is a so-called “agglutinative” language which means that it is perfectly legitimate to string together related words that describe a particular person, thing, or situation and thus create a brand-new compound word.
Germany, Austria, Luxemburg & Switzerland
The writer Mark Twain once said “some German words are so long that they even have a perspective”. The classic longest German word with its 79 letters would be translated in English into 15 words “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.” As an “agglutinative” language, German can however offer other amusing examples, just as in 1999 when members of a regional parliament adopted the law entitled ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz’ (literally, Cattle marking and beef labeling supervision duties delegation law). Try to pronounce it without pause!
With three official languages –Dutch, French and German- the longest word in Belgium is thus logically the German one.
With its unusual length of 26 letters, the Italian word is regarded as the longest term deriving from the adjective ‘precipitevole’, and meaning “in a way like someone/something acts very hastily“. It is funny to consider that the word is grammatically incorrect, but is nowadays part of the language, especially in jokes. It was even coined in 1677 by poet Francesco Moneti: “finché alla terra alfin torna repente / precipitevolissimevolmente” (Cortona Convertita, canto III, LXV)
The 30-characters word ‘nejneobhospodařovávatelnějšímu’ is the traditional longest word in Czech language, even though other artificial words can be longer. It means “to the least cultivable ones”.
‘Znajneprekryštalizovávateľnejšievajúcimi’ counts not less than 40 letters. It is the plural form for “with most anticrystallizing”! No doubt that it will make many points once placed on the scrabble board on triple word score!
Even though other longer words can be composed by assembling adjectives, the 32-letters word is the traditional longest Polish term. It designates the unmarried daughter of a man from Constantinople. Of course, it is not a modern word, as Constantinople doesn’t exist anymore and is now called Istanbul!
Let’s bet that you won’t succeed in using this 37-characters word in the appropriate context! Indeed, you will barely have the occasion to designate “those that were repeatedly unable to pick enough of small wood-sorrels in the past“…
Here comes a very useful spatiotemporal term, as the Latvian longest word means “in a counter-clockwise direction“. It has not less than 27 letters.
A 42-letters word to express not less than “the tiredness one feels on the afternoon of the weekend birthday party”: this is the Estonian longest word which is actually composed of a combination of many words “birth day week end party after lunch tiredness”.
The Ukrainian 34-Letters ‘Нікотинамідаденіндинуклеотидфосфат’ means “nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate”. It is a molecule that provides the energy needed by the body cells for the synthesis of proteins.
Romania & Moldova
The lung disease affecting pit workers ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconioză’ counts with 44 characters. But this is actually a technical word…
As an agglutinative language, the borders of longest Hungarian words are endless. However, the 44-letters ‘Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért’ is officially regarded as the longest word in the Hungarian language and means something like “for your [plural] continued behaviour pretending to be indesecratable’“. The core of the word is ‘szent’, meaning “saint” but contains plenty of inflexions, prefix, suffix, etc.
The longest word in Slovenian language is said to be ‘dialektičnomaterialističen’ which means “dialectical materialistic“. It has 26 letters. Another relevant long word in Slovenian which is historically important is ‘starocerkvenoslovanščina’ meaning the “Old Slavonic Church”.
The “official” record in Croatian language and which was once part of the Guiness book is the 24-letters word ‘prijestolonasljednikovica’. It designates the “wife of a heir to the throne“.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnian language one of the longest words is ‘Antisedamnaestogodišnjakinjovinevica’, which would mean in English something like “anti-17 Year old girl” (36 letters).
The longest Serbian Word seems to be the 38-letters word ‘Семпаравиливичинаверсаламилитипиковски’ which is a last name from a family in old Yugoslavia. This is the longest known word in Serbian language.
The longest word in Albanian is probably ‘Kundërzhurmëkrijuesabërësave’, which is 27 letters long, and means “Against noise maker makers.”
The longest word in Bulgarian is the 39-characters long word ‘Непротивоконституционствувателствувайте’. One can find it written at the beginning of the Bulgarian constitution and it means “not to take actions which are against the constitution of the country”.
The longest Greek word to be found in a dictionary means “of an electroencephalogram“. It has 24 characters. In his comedy Assemblywomen (c. 392 BC) Aristophanes coined the 173-letter word ‘λοπαδοτεμαχοσελαχογαλεοκρανιολειψανοδριμυποτριμματοσιλφιοκαραβομελιτοκατακεχυμενοκιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττοπεριστεραλεκτρυονοπτοκεφαλλιοκιγκλοπελειολαγῳοσιραιοβαφητραγανοπτερύγων’ which is a fictional food dish consisting of a combination of fish, poultry and other meat, hare usually refers to rabbit.
Once again, as an agglutinative language, Turkish can provide words of a potentially infinite length. This 71-letters word is often cited as the longest Turkish word, and sometimes as a tongue twister. It means “As though you are from those we may not be able to easily make a maker of unsuccessful ones“.
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