Last revision: March 27, 2019
A 2016 article in Pharmacy Times listed 12 difficult-to-pronounce drug names. Number one was TALIMOGENE LAHERPAREPVEC. [Dennis Miller]
Since iterate means “to repeat,” REITERATE could be considered a redundancy [Bill Farrell].
LCD DISPLAY (Liquid Crystal Display) has been suggested for this category, but Mark Brader says it is not a redundancy. He writes, "The first 'display' refers to an individual character (or similar component), the second to the whole array of these. The big display is made up of little displays."
[The Cyber Stylebook of the San Antonio Express-News states that RIO GRANDE RIVER is a redundancy since Rio means "river." There are numerous similar place names such as Gobi and Sahara deserts, Fujiyama and Sierra mountains, La Brea Tar Pits, etc.; however, these are generally not considered redundancies because they involve two languages. A list of such place names is here.]
IMMUNOHEMATOLOGIC contains 8 pairs of alternating vowels and consonants.
Some words containing 7 pairs of alternating vowels and consonants are: ALUMINOSILICATE, AUTOMANIPULATIVE, DELIBERATIVENESS, GELATINIZABILITY, HYPEROXYGENIZES, IMAGINATIVENESS, INERADICABILITY, INOPERATIVENESS, MEGALOPOLITANISM, PHENOMENOLOGICAL, PHOTOPOLYMERIZATION, PRECIPITINOGENIC, PREFIGURATIVENESS, REMUNERATIVENESS, SEMIMINERALIZED, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, UNILATERALIZATION, UNILATERALIZES, VERISIMILITUDINOUS [Nelson H. F. Beebe].
The name GIROLAMO SAVONAROLA (the famous Italian friar) may be the longest name of a famous person with alternating consonants and vowels [Octavian Laiu]. Another long name with this property is GORAN IVANISEVIC (a top tennis player) [Craig Kasper].
THEOPNEUSTIA (part of the title of a book of Christian theology) consists of alternating vowels and consonants [Charles Turner].
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES is the longest name of a country consisting of alternating vowels and consonants.
Other place names consisting of alternating vowels and consonants include GULEMALAMALALANA Point in Papua New Guinea, REBUREBUSIWASIWA (a Papuan town), KAWAKAWAMALAMALA (a Fijian stream), PROMYSEL IMENI NARIMANOVA (a village in Azerbaijian) [Juozas Rimas], and WEROWOCOMOCO (Indian place name on John Smith’s map of Virginia) [Charles Turner].
Juozas Rimas reports that Fijian streams NAIVUTUVUTUNIVAKALOLO and NONDRAISILISILINAYALEWATONGA have even longer sequences of alternating vowels and consonants (19 and 20) but the sequences constitute only part of the words.
Some Japanese place names with alternating vowels and consonants include: KAKINOKIZAKA (district in Meguro, Tokyo), KASUMIGASEKI (district in Chiyoda, Tokyo), and TAKADANOBABA (district in Shinjuku, Tokyo). These spellings use the widely-recognized Hepburn system for the Romanized alphabet version of Japanese words. In this system, all Japanese ideographic and phonetic characters can be represented by a "vowel-only" or "consonant(sound)-vowel" combination [Joseph Hernandez].
The most commonly used words in written English, according to the 1971 American Heritage Word Frequency Book are: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, for, was, on, are, as, with, his, they at, be, this, from, I, have, or, by, one, had, not, but, what, all, were, when, we there, can, an, your, which, their, said, if, do.
The ten most commonly used verbs are BE, HAVE, DO, GO SAY, CAN, WILL, SEE, TAKE, and GET. They are all irregular.
The most commonly occurring words in Shakespeare’s plays and poetry (with frequencies) are: the 29854, and 27554, I 23357, to 21075, of 18520, a 15523, you 14264, my 12964, that 11955, in 11842, is 9734, not 8871, with 8269, s 8160, for 8100, it 8080, me 8059, 7357 his, 7228 be, 7120 he. In Shakespeare, 8598 words (abaissiez, abash, abatements, abates, abbeys, ..., zo, zodiac, zodiacs, zone, zwaggered) are used only once [Nelson H. F. Beebe].
The most commonly occurring sound in spoken English is the sound of a in alone, followed by e as in key, t as in top, and d as in dip [Stuart Kidd].
The longest word with a horizontal line of symmetry is COCCIDIOCIDE [Paul Wright]. Some other words are: BEDECKED, BOOHOOED, CEBID (a type of monkey), CHECKBOOK, CHOICE, CODEBOOK, COOKBOOK, DECIDED, DIOXIDE, DOBCHICK, EXCEEDED, HIDE, HOODOOED, ICEBOX, KEBOBBED, OBOE, OKEECHOBEE, and OXOBOXO (a small lake in southeastern Connecticut, also a palindrome). [Dmitri Borgmann, Stuart Kidd]
The longest word with a vertical line of symmetry is AOXOMOXOA (the title of an album by the Grateful Dead). Other such words are AA, AHA, AHA, AIA, AMA, AVA, AWA, HAH, HOH, HUH, MAAM, MA'AM, MAM, MAM-MAM, MIM, MM, MOM, MUM, OHO, OO, OTTO, OXO, TAMMAT, TAT, TAT-TAT, TIT, TOOT, TOOT-TOOT, TOT, TOT-TOT, TUT, UTU, VAV, WAW, WAW-WAW, WOW, and WOW-WOW (an alternate spelling of wou-wou, a type of gibbon in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary). [This list was provided by Yarlagadda police.]
All of the letters of these words have a vertical line of symmetry: AUTOMATA, AUTOTOMY, HIMATIA, HOITY-TOITY, HOMOTAXIA, MAHATMA, MAHIMAHI, MAMMATI, MAMMOTH, MATAMATA, MOTIVITY, MOUTH-TO-MOUTH, MYOMATA, MYXOMATA, OUTWAIT, TATOUAY, TAXIWAY, THATAWAY, TIMOTHY, TOMATO, TOWAWAY, WITHOUT, YAWATAHAMA (a city in Japan), and YOUTH.
Upper case BID, BOD, and BOOD (Chambers’s Dictionary) have a horizontal line of symmetry. Lower case versions of these words have a vertical line of symmetry. [Hugo Brandt Corstius, Yarlagadda Police].
SWIMS, SOS, and SIS have 180-degree rotational symmetry (also called point symmetry). If written in lower-case cursive, chump comes very close to having 180-degree rotational symmetry [Mark D. Lew].
These words with 6 or more letters have all letters rotationally symmetrical: NINONS, ONIONS, SISSOOS, SOZINS, ZOONOSIS, ZOOZOOS.
All of the letters of these words have both horizontal and vertical lines of symmetry: HI, OH, IO, OHIO, OHO, and IHI'IHI (rare Hawaiian fern that now exists only in three populations, two of which are inside volcanoes) [Bruce D. Wilner, Dan Tilque, Mike Turniansky].
The shortest word with six letters appearing at least twice is METASOMATOSES [Stuart Kidd].
The letter J does not appear anywhere in the periodic table of the elements. [Charles Turner]
A Finnish tongue twister for "a water devil hissed in the elevator" has 56 dits in a row in Morse code. It has a total of 60 dits and 3 dahs which is the greatest ratio (20:1) known in any mix. VESIHIISI SIHISI HISSISSÄ (...- . ... .. .... .. .. ... .. ... .. .... .. ... .. .... .. ... ... .. ... ... .-.-) [Pertti Malo, Mark Brader].
MOTMOT (a tropical American bird) and TOM-TOM (ignoring the hyphen) contain only dahs in Morse code (-- --- - -- --- -) and (- --- -- - --- --) [Chris Cole, Byron Davidson].
SHEESHES (plural of SHEESH) may be the longest word containing only dits in Morse code (... .... . . ... .... . ...) [Byron Davidson].
In English, ignoring spaces, the longest palindrome in Morse code is INTRANSIGENCE (.. -. - .-. .- -. ... .. --. . -. -.-. .) [Chris Cole]. If spaces are not ignored, the longest word is FOOTSTOOL (..-. --- --- - ... - --- --- .-..) [Andrew Dart]. The Finnish word for "stereo mapping" is even longer with 33 characters: STEREOKARTOITUS (... - . .-. . --- -.- .- .-. - --- .. - ..- ...) [Pertti Malo].
The longest words consisting of letters without any enclosed spaces (cfhijklmnrstuvwxyz) are the 15-letter citriculturists and silviculturists.
With capital letters, E and G do not have enclosed spaces so the longest word then is the 18-letter CHEMILUMINESCENCES.
In 2017 Merriam-Webster was asked on Twitter what word is exactly the middle word in their dictionary. M-W’s ruling: LIMPIDNESS.