Have you ever participated in a spelling bee? As you learn to read and write, becoming a good speller will help you excel in your studies. Spelling bees put you to the test by allowing you to compete with your friends to see who is a super speller!

Most spelling bees start out with short, easy words. As the competition goes on, though, words get longer and harder to spell. If you knew how to spell every word in the English language, the competition would eventually get around to some of the words in today’s Wonder of the Day.

Have you ever wondered what the longest word in the English language is? Believe it or not, there’s no simple answer to that question. You might think it would be as easy as opening a dictionary and looking for the longest word. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Over time, many people have suggested many different words for the title of longest word in the English language. How can that be? Well, as it turns out, people argue over what should be considered a word. Some of the words suggested by some people were even simply made up to be the longest word!

For example, one really famous long word that most kids know comes from Disney’s movie Mary Poppins: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But since that 34-letter word was made up simply to be sung as a song in a movie, should it count?

How about long words that actually describe something in the world? Scientists have come up with a couple of possible candidates. The name of the tobacco mosaic virus when spelled out totals a whopping 1,185 letters. There’s also a tryptophan protein whose name totals 1,909 letters.

Should these hold the crown? “Not so fast!” say some people. Are these words ever actually used? Can they even be pronounced? And should long technical names even count, since they could’ve been made up just to be long?

The longest word that appears in a major English dictionary is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Found in the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s the name of a lung disease. Many people don’t count it either, though, since it was created to win a puzzle contest in 1935.

The longest nontechnical word that wasn’t made up and most people can agree upon as being a “real” word is the 28-letter antidisestablishmentarianism. It means — roughly — opposition to the withdrawal of State support from a church. Of course, it’s not without its critics.

Some point out that it’s really just a jumble of prefixes and suffixes. To prove their point, critics point out that other people have added the prefix “pseudo” to the word to create the 34-letter pseudoantidisestablishmentarianism, which would be false opposition to the withdrawal of State support from a church.

Yikes! What’s a wordsmith to do? If you’re wondering what the longest words you might actually encounter in regular English text are, those words include uncharacteristically (20 letters), deinstitutionalization (22 letters)and counterrevolutionaries (also 22 letters).

Naturally, some smarty pants might make a case for smiles being the longest word in the English language. Sure, it has only six letters, but you can also truthfully say that there is a “mile” between the first and last letters!

66 Join the Discussion

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  1. We loved the song today! We even tried to sing a long as it got super speedy.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about: candy, rushing water, onions, or coffee.

    • You’ve got us giggling today, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class! We tried to sing along with today’s song, too– it was TOUGH! Our tongues were getting tied here at Wonderopolis! :)

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… it’s going to be great! :)

  2. This is our first visit to Wonderopolis and we think it is really cool, fantastic, fun and awesome!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will either be about yoga, peaceful music or soft winds.

    From Mrs. Keeling’s class

    • Welcome, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Keeling’s class! We are oh-so-happy that you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

      We hope you’re having a fantastic time using your imaginations to form the longest word! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again– thanks for sharing your AWESOME guesses with us. They sound very soothing… :)

    • Yikes, which one of our spectacular Wonder Friends could sing along with that tongue-twisting song?! We are glad the 3S Tollgators are WONDERing with us today– we hope you all learned something new about words today! :)

    • It’s a tough one to say, isn’t it Coltin? We hope you have a WONDERful day– we are so glad you’re WONDERing with us! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Coltin! We are glad to hear that you liked today’s Wonder– it can be a tongue-twister! :)

  3. We really enjoyed today’s WONDER! Some of us cannot say the word, but we can sing it!!

    We think tomorrow’s WONDER will concern wind, Pepsi, or physical therapy!!

    • WOHOO, our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Karr’s class are singing today! :)

      Our tongues have been getting tired after trying to say all these looonnggg words today! We are glad you shared your comment today– and we can’t wait to see you tomorrow for more WONDERing! Thanks for sharing your super soothing guesses! :)

    • Hi there Jacob, we really appreciate your comment today! We know it’s no fun to spoil a surprise, but we have a lot of Wonder Friends who enjoy guessing the next day’s Wonder! You can join the fun and guess if you’d like, too! If not, you can avoid the clues– just don’t click on the “Wonder What’s Next” button on the screen! This way, you can save the secret until tomorrow! :)

  4. Hey guys. I researched this a little bit and found out that there is a DNA molecule that has more than 1,000,000 letters when it is fully spelled. I think that any word that is English can take the crown if it’s long enough. Thanks for making this site!

    • Check out all the great WONDERing you’ve been doing, CKapps! We are so happy that you shared what you’ve researched with the rest of us at Wonderopolis! Thanks for adding ANOTHER great, long word to our list today! We are glad we have SUPER Wonder Friends like you! :)

  5. This was our first time visiting…I think we’ll make a habit of it! We thought it was great… we especially liked the joke about “smiles” being the longest word. We think we’ll take this joke home to our grownups! We are curious about Egypt, the veins in leaves and skateboarding tricks.

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Cooper-Shand’s class! We hope you had a great time WONDERing about cool, long words and learned something new, too! We hope your grownups at home enjoy the new “smile joke” you’ve learned!

      We cannot wait to Wonder with you again– we hope you have a SUPER day! Thanks for sharing your AWESOME guesses… we’ll see you tomorrow! :)

  6. Hey there wonderopolis! I liked today’s WONDER. My mom always uses BIG words. She always sings SUpercalafregalisticexpialadocious! It’s funny, and sometimes me and my sisters join in. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a lion?

    • We’re so glad you’re WONDERing with us today, Gina M! We think your mom and sisters sound like fun– we love to try out tongue twisters and long words with our Wonder Friends, too! We hop you learned something new today– it’s so much fun to Wonder with you!

      Thanks for sharing your guess for tomorrow… we can’t wait to discover what it will be! :)

    • We’re glad you liked today’s Wonder, Daniel! We love to try out new, big words and use them in a sentence! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  7. Hm…
    I guess I was right when I was guessing today’s WONDER. I think tomorrow’s is about Lavender.

    That imaginary guy over there…

    • Hey there, imaginary Wonder Friend! We are so excited that you correctly guessed today’s Wonder! We found it cool that you and another one of our friends, Emily, got it right! WOHOO!

      We can’t wait to Wonder with you again tomorrow– we hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  8. Hey wonderopolis I learned some things today

    First that spelling bees start with really easy and they get very hard

    Next jumble of prefixes and suffixes. To prove their point, critics point out that other people have added the prefix “pseudo”

    Last the longest word in the English dictionary appears to be Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

    • Hi there Ses Lava, we are glad you joined the fun today! While there are lots of Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis, you’ve got part of it right… we communicate through a computer! We are real people who love using our imaginations, especially with awesome students like you! :)

  9. Hi Wonderopiles I am a person from Mrs. Kelling’s class your reply was fantastic. I wonder if you can tell me tomorrow’s wonder of the day! Thanks Wonderopolis!

    • Hi there, Abanoub, we’re glad you are back today! We are happy that you liked today’s Wonder about longgggg words! :)

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… it’s a secret until then! However, you can guess and find out if you’re right tomorrow! :)

    • We like your style, R.L.G.! Thanks for sharing your comment about today’s Wonder– we can’t wait to see what you found when you WONDERed on your own today! :)

    • Well thanks for your SUPER comment, Karla G! We are glad you joined the fun at Wonderopolis today– we hope you have a SUPER WONDERful day! :)

  10. Dear wonderopolis that is a really long word my brother found that in the dictionary it took up eight pages.
    Please make a video about Halloween monsters. -cutie girl

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Telephone! We’re glad you’re WONDERing today! We aren’t sure if ghosts are real or if they are just legends, but it’s sometimes fun to tell “ghost stories” by the campfire with family and friends! We Wonder if you have any ghost stories to share? :)

    • Great answer, Wonder Friends 2,3,4! We like your fun response to our Wonder of the Day®! We hope you’re having a word-riffic day in class! Keep up the SUPER work! :)

  11. Very Long Words! Me and my class think tommorrow’s wonder will be about storms, clouds, and nature.

    This is our very first time using Wonderopolis. Bye!

    • We are so happy our new Wonder Friends from Mrs. David’s 3rd Grade Class are here today! HOORAY!

      We are glad you learned some new vocabulary words! They are quite l e n g t h y! Thanks for sharing your guesses with us about the next day’s Wonder… we hope you’ll join us again soon!

      See you soon, Wonder Friends! :)

  12. Wow that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and heard before but I want to see your guys best one you’ve got. Seriously that was so cool. Can I ask you a very simple question? Ok thanks. So are you guys computer or are does everybody have an assignment to each wonder that’s human like normal people?

    • HOORAY, we’re glad that you enjoyed our wordy Wonder, Frances! Thanks for sharing your comment, we’re glad to know that you liked learning about how words make their way into the dictionary! :-)

      Here at Wonderopolis, we have lots of Wonder Friends (real people- not robots or computers) who chat with all our Wonder Friends in schools, at home, or anywhere in between! We love making new friends like you– and thanks for asking! :)

    • We certainly agree, Wonder Friend Annaline! :) We know that the longest word is a medical term, but we still enjoy supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! We will try to use it in a sentence today! :)

  13. Believe it or not… I think i found it. It’s a science word that is a part of protein. The word has over..wait for it..100,000 letters!!!!

    • WOWZA, Tyler! We can hardly imagine a 100,000 word! Luckily we don’t have to use it in our everyday language! :)

  14. Dang that’s a long word… “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoniosis.” In the word, I see the words ultra, microscopic, and volcano.

    • It’s definitely a long word that takes a few breaths, Alyssa! Do you think you could say it five times really fast? It is neat how there are so many smaller words inside the longest word! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Thank you for sharing your comment, Donavin! Some people would argue that because supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was only made up for the movie Mary Poppins, it doesn’t count as the longest word. If supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was a word, what do you think it would mean? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is the longest word?
  • What counts as a word?
  • Can you make up your own unique, really-long word?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Whew! Today’s Wonder of the Day was a bit long-winded, wasn’t it? Sorry! We couldn’t help it.

Which one of the words discussed in today’s Wonder of the Day do you think should be considered the longest word in the English language? Why?

For fun, how about you and a friend make up your very own longest word ever? Think of something you’d like to describe and then come up with your very own — and very long — word for it. It doesn’t have to be realistic. It can be funny or just plain crazy!

If you want, share your long word on Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to read your long word!

Still Wondering

Use ReadWriteThink’s My Picture Dictionary reproducible worksheet to help children create a picture dictionary by writing words and drawing pictures for each letter of the alphabet.

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Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might make you feel calm…or not!

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