Monday, June 18, 2007


My nine-year-old son came home today from a summer day camp to inform me that the longest word in the English language is ultramicroscopicvolcanicsiliconiosis. Is that so? It is not in my dictionaries and a Google search returns zilch. Does anyone know for sure? Can you quote an authoritative source? I would accept the Oxford Unabridged, but don't have a copy at home.

The word apparently refers to a lung disease caused by the inhalation of fine volcanic ash.


  1. You want this page, where you'll find the word is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis not ultramicroscopicvolcanicsiliconiosis, and where you'll also discover that determining the longest word depends on whether one will accept chemical formulas, foreign words sometimes used in English, or words invented merely to be the longest word.

    By the way, there's no such dictionary as the "Oxford Unabridged." You probably mean the "Oxford English Dictionary," which is the largest and longest dictionary Oxford University Press makes.

  2. On the other hand google doesn't return zilch - on the contrary it returns So whether it is a word or no, you've manged to single-handedly convince google it is, congratulations ;)i

  3. Thanks, Grant and Andrae!

    I should have known better than to use an unreferenced abbreviated form when asking a pedantic question ;)

  4. Looked everywhere to no avail. Only retunr on google is this blog entry. blue silk