Word Ways


William Shakespeare--the 16th-century dramatist and poet, not the 19th-century musical composer and pianist--is credited with using the longest English world faithfully alternating consonants and vowels: the 27-letter HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS. The term is, unfortunately, both a nonce word and obviously Latin, not truly English. The Funk & Wagnalls Unabridged, apparently by way of a back formation, has converted the word into HONORIFICABILITUDINITY, a 22-letter term wholly English in appearance, possessed of a simple meaning ("honorableness"), and also alternating consonants and vowels regularly. Since 1913, when that dictionary was first published, these two words have stood unchallenged in point of length.