What is the longest English word? That is a question which has always intrigued people interested in words. For a variety of peculiar reasons, it has, until recently, not been possible to give a simple, clear-cut answer. Should we restrict ourselves to "dictionary" words? If so, which dictionaries should we accept as admissible? Should we accept geographic names? If so, must such names be found in English-speaking countries, or is the entire world fair game? Should we accept biographical names? If so, must we restrict ourselves to names found in "standard" reference works, or are names in telephone directories equally acceptable? Should we accept coined words found in English literature? If so, do we limit ourselves to the classics, or is any published book whatever acceptable?
Borgmann, Dmitri A.
"The Longest Word,"
Word Ways: Vol. 1
, Article 13.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol1/iss1/13