A One-Word Tongue Twister

Our fan Thomas Z. asked us a great question: “What’s the longest word in English?” Of course, the joke goes that it’s the word “smiles,” because there’s a “mile” between the s’s (ha!). But the real longest word in the English dictionary is a lot longer than that. It’s “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.” The word has 45 letters, and it is what happens to you if you breathe the dust from a volcano. Luckily that’s not something that happens to us every day, or it would take us forever to answer the question “How are you doing?”

Wee ones: How many letters does your name have? Spell your name and count!

Little kids: How many letters are in the word “volcano?” Bonus: This longest English word has 1 e, 9 o’s, 6 i’s, 2 u’s, and 2 a’s. How many vowels are there?

Big kids: Once you say “pneumonoult,” you’ve knocked off 11 of the 45 letters. How many letters do you have left? Bonus: If you could string together 4 45-letter words to make an even longer one, would that new word reach 200 letters?


Wee ones: Different for everyone…say the letters in your name and count them!

Little kids: 7 letters.  Bonus: 20 vowels.

Big kids: 34 more letters.  Bonus: Not quite…it would give you only 180 letters.

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