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with Anu Garg

pneumonoultramicroscopi csilicovolcanoconiosis

(NOO-muh-noh-UL-truh-MY-kruh-SKOP-ik-SIL -i-koh-vol-KAY-no-KOH-nee-O-sis, nyoo-) noun

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

A lung disease caused by inhaling fine particles of silica.

[From New Latin, from Greek pneumono- (lung) + Latin ultra- (beyond, extremely) + Greek micro- (small) + -scopic (looking) + Latin silico (like sand) + volcano + Greek konis (dust) + -osis (condition).]

Even though we have included the pronunciation of this word, we advise caution lest you may have to avail the services of an otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist).

At 45 letters, it's the longest word in any English language dictionary. It's a trophy word -- its only job is to serve as the longest word. In day-to-day use, its nine-letter synonym "silicosis" works just as well. Whatever you call it, it is deadly. Here's the story of an incident.

And what's the shortest word in the English language? There are a number of them: A, I, O, but we'll have to give it to I which is the skinniest as well.

"This time the messages were longer and nastier. 'What on earth is the matter with you? Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis?'"
Marion Thomas; Mystery Writer; Curriculum Corporation; 1998.


You will find relief from vain fancies if you do every act in life as though it were your last. -Marcus Aurelius, philosopher, writer, Roman emperor (121-180) (121-180)

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