Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

From Academic Kids

The word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is defined as "a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, mostly found in volcanos". However, the origin of the word has been found to be a hoax.

Etymology:

  • Pneumono = Related to lungs (Latin)
  • Ultra = Very (Latin)
  • microscopic = Extremely small (Latin/Old English)
  • silico = Silica (Latin)
  • volcano = Volcano (Latin)
  • coni = related to dust (Greek: konis, dust)
  • osis = Disease / condition (Greek)

It is the longest word ever to appear in a non-technical dictionary of English (Source: OED). This 45 letter word, referred to by logologists as "p45", first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1936, and has also since appeared in the Webster's Third New International Dictionary (under the alternate spelling of -konioisis), the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, and the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Critics complained that this word is a technical term (specifically, a medical term), and hence not worthy of consideration as the "longest word in general usage"; However, the more serious problem with the term is that it is a hoax: In Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, in several separate articles (May 1985, pp. 95-96; November 1986, pp. 205-206; May 1987, p. 82), researchers discovered that the word was a neologism invented in 1935 by Everett M. Smith, president of the National Puzzlers' League, as an example of a theoretical word that might one day enter use if trends in medical word coinage were to continue. Research into the body of medical literature prior to his usage in 1935 have never successfully shown that the word existed prior to his coinage.

The actual name of the disease is pneumoconiosis.

See also

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