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Antidisestablishmentarianism long held the crown of English's longest word, but I can't help but feel that it cheated a little by just tagging on a series of prefixes and suffixes to the much shorter root word 'establish'. I've been trying to discover the longest non-compound word, without success. Does anyone have any suggestions? The best that we've been able to come up with are 'anthropomorphic' (which I don't really think qualifies, as it is a composite of two ?Greek components) and 'discombobulate'.
 
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Floccinaucinihilipilification beats it by one letter. Some suggest that if we use a DNA strand as a word it's by far the longest, but that's not English - it's biology.
 
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I'd think it would be some medical or biological term, unless you consider them compound words. One that you see a lot about is the following lung disease: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Welcome, ms!
 
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Many words in English that contain two or more syllables turn out, when investigated, to be compounds. There's an article in Wikipedia which lists long words, but doesn't specifically mention non-compound words.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Yes, I certainly think mine is, but now that I think about it Antidisestablishmentarianism is too, isn't it with Anti, dis? Maybe not.
 
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Well, with Antidisestablishmentarianism we have a whole collection of affixes and suffixes: anti-, dis-, then -ment, -arian and -ism.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Technically speaking, from a linguistic POV, Floccinaucinihilipilification et al. are not compounds because the different affixes on a root cannot stand on there own. For example, establishment is not a compound, it is a root, establish plus a suffix, -ment. Linguistics also distinguish between inflectional and derivational morphology: loves vs establishment. Compounds are two or more roots combine in such a way that (at least orthographically, they are one word. Truckdriver is a compound of two nouns: truck and driver. Driver is a derivation morphologically of drive (a root) and a suffix -er (signifying "somebody who does X").

Some light reading for word lovers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...lectional_morphology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivational_morphology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compound_(linguistics)


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Interesting links, z. So, antidisestablishmentarianism really is a derivation, right?
 
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I think ms609 is asking about the longest monomorphemic word. Not a compound, no affixes, just one morpheme. I don't think any of the words mentioned so far qualify. intelligent? hippopotamus?
 
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Hippopotamus isn't one morpheme as it's composed of the Greek words for water and horse.


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Now you come to the question of "what is a morpheme?"
In English "hippopotamus" IS one morpheme because neither of the parts "hippo" or "potamus" represents a morpheme - free or bound - in English.

The morpheme analysis of it in Greek may well differ but that's not relevant when talking about English.
 
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If "hippopotamus" isn't one morpheme, then "lord" isn't one morpheme either because it's composed of the Old English words for "loaf" and "ward".
 
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Chrysanthemum
 
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Now you come to the question of "what is a morpheme?"
In English "hippopotamus" IS one morpheme because neither of the parts "hippo" or "potamus" represents a morpheme - free or bound - in English.

The morpheme analysis of it in Greek may well differ but that's not relevant when talking about English.

I thought about that and decided you are right. But surely, if an affix or suffix is tacked on, or even two root words are turned into a portmanteau, ms609's problem would apply. For instance, is 'antichrist' OK or not? What about 'television'? I know they're not especially long, but serve to show what I mean.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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It's a problem: what counts as a morpheme. Kalleh's word starts with "Pneumono-"which is in the OED as a combining form, so it is a morpheme. "floccinaucinihilipilification" ends in the morpheme "-ion" so is the rest of it a cranberry morpheme. I'd say "television" is two morphemes but what about "vision" - I'd say it was two morphemes as well.
 
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Wow - I am learning that there are no long words, really.
 
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I am learning that there are no long words, really.

Well, now you are talking about something we have discussed before many times: what is a word?

Antichrist

I would say it's a two-morpheme word in English because the prefix anti- is a productive derivational prefix, and Christ is a proper noun that can stand on its own. But, the discussion on morphemes from Greek and Latin vocabulary is interesting, because for some folks (say chemists and biologists) those are morphemes of the ISV in English.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I was recently/am currently involved in a research project that looked/looks at derivational morphology in English, and I can confirm that it is pretty surprising which seemingly simple words have origins in multiple morphemes!

zmježd is right that these aren't compound words, but rather complex words (in contrast with simplex). Compound words are things like "houseboat", "scarecrow", etc.

Hippo- does exist as a combining form in English in things like "hippodrome", but "hippopotamus" is probably an example where the whole unit was formed before arriving in English, as -potamus doesn't exist to mean river (although it does appear again in "Mesopotamia" - the land between rivers). We also have another prefix/combining form for "river": fluvi(o)-.

"Chrysanthemum" is a good one too. There is chryso- for "gold", but again I don't think it's actually a derivational morpheme in that word.

Another thing I would say is be wary of using the OED - it's very inconsistent and needs a lot of work! Razz

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Stanley,


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If your rhubarb is forwards, bend it backwards.
 
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-potamus doesn't exist to mean river

Then how to explain the Potomac River here in the US?
 
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Then how to explain the Potomac River here in the US?

Hadn't heard of it before! But apparently it's from "Patowmeck", Algonquian (a Native American language) for "something brought". According to Wikipedia, anyway! Big Grin


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If your rhubarb is forwards, bend it backwards.
 
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Originally posted by Stanley:

Another thing I would say is be wary of using the OED - it's very inconsistent and needs a lot of work! Razz


I know a lot of entries haven't been updated in a long time, but I think it's one of our best dictionaries, especially for etymology.
 
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I agree with goofy about the OED. Yes, updates are needed, but it's our gold standard. What's better in your opinion, Stanley?
 
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Oh, I definitely don't deny that the OED is an excellent source and probably the best - definitely didn't mean to slag it off!

I only mean it in the context of etymology and morphology that we were talking about. I just know from experience that there are inconsistencies in that area, e.g. where a morpheme's entry lists word XYZ as an example of it, but the entry for XYZ says it's not an example of that morpheme.

It's what comes with having lots of people researching some of the same things - which is of course a big advantage in the main. Their pronounciation guides can be a bit inconsistent as well for the same reason.


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