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What in the word?!

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

What is the longest word in French?, a student asked me last week. ''Anticonstitutionnellement'' (''unconstitutionally'') and the longest town name in France is ''Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson'', was my answer.

With a mere 38 letters, it simply cannot compete with the longest word in the English language, was his. He was talking about ''pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis'' with a grand total of 45 letters! Hopefully no one has to pronounce it on a regular basis, also because it describes a nasty lung disease.

To which I added that – and you probably know where this is going – that at this point, I'd rather use the word ''Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'', especially since it doesn't belong in the dictionary!

Except... that it does! I checked. According to the Collins English dictionary, it means 'used as a nonsense word by children to express approval or to represent the longest word in English'.

Words fail me.

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