Church and state are like light in a prism:
Far more beautiful after the schism.
Some take issue with this,
And support antidis-
— Burma Shave
"Antidisestablishmentarianism," as a word, technically refers to a specific political movement which would have opposed removing the Church of England from its status as the "official" church of Ireland. (The Other Wiki has some information
, if you're curious.) A more modern definition is that it refers to the movement to dissolve the legal separation between church and state. That's what the Burma Shave quote was referring to. This is not about that movement, however. This is about the word.
"Anti-", meaning against, "dis-," meaning to negate, "establishment," a structure, "-arianism," a sect or schism surrounding said establishment. Taken together, it means "A position counter to dismantling the establishment."
You see, this infamously long-winded word is more famous for being long, unwieldy, and taking a heck of a long time to type. If anybody needs a go-to big word, this is the one they usually pull out. (Especially if it's at a Spelling Bee
.) It's not even the longest word in the English language, though it is the longest one that is neither a scientific term nor specifically coined to make a huge word.
Why this word? While it's long, it's really just "establish" with a bunch of fairly standard prefixes and suffixes tacked on. It's not even hard to spell, since it's spelled exactly as it's pronounced, without any of English's 1001 special spelling exceptions or oddities.note
Possibly because it's Inherently Funny.
A favorite form of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness
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- Netflix runs a series of radio ads based on a fictional quiz show with borderline Calvinball-esque Non Sequitur answers. One of the questions is "What word comes next in this sequence? Crustacean, kumquat?" and the answer, of course, is "Antidisestablishmentarianism."
- One DQ commercial has a father agree to share some ice cream with his toddler if he can say "one little word: Antidisestablishmentarianism." The kid manages to squeak it out flawlessly.
Live Action TV
- Blackadder: "I'll be back before you can say Antidisestablishmentarianism." Since the "you" in question is Prince George, he's right. Although he needs two days.
- In an episode of Big Time Rush, during a montage of the boys answering many arbitrary questions, Logan replies solely with the word.
- In an episode of Second Noah, there is a scene where the 2-3 year old Ben wants the twins to let him up into the tree house. All he can say is "Me up!" One of the twins agrees to let him up if he can say "Antidisestablishmentarianism".
- The Honeymooners episode "The $99,000 Answer''
Alice: Spell "antidisestablishmentarianism".
Ralph: I'll spell it. [pause] I'll spell it!
Alice: Well? Go ahead.
Ralph: [agitated] I'll spell it when you give me $16,000 for spelling it!
Alice: [disbelieving] Sixteen thousand dollars for spelling it?! I'll give you $32,000 if you can SAY it!
- In a segment on Victorian school punishments in the second Horrible Histories TV series, one boy was being punished for misspelling antidisestablishmentarianism.
- Owned by a student during a spelling bee in Leverage when the grifter of the team was trying to get the student to fail and get the child the team who needed to win win.
- On The Drew Carey Show, Drew asks Mimi to take a letter and begins with this word, followed by "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
- Classical example in Yes, Prime Minister, in which Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness is a Running Gag. Sir Humphrey tells PM Hacker that a nominee for bishop in the Church of England is a disestablishmentarianist.
- Other than the chorus, the final word in Lemon Demon's Word Disassociation is "Antidisestablishmentarianism."
- Eminem uses this in his song 'Almost Famous' in reference to the word length being similar to how well endowed he is.
- Norwegian folk singer Øystein Sunde has a song called "Overbuljongterningpakkmesterassistent". He did invent the word, but it's a legitimate word according to the rules of the Norwegian language, and means something like "over bouillon cube sorter assistant".
In one podcast on The Ricky Gervais Show
[later adapted as part of the animated series], Ricky and Steve ask Karl what book he would choose if he were on "Desert Island Disks", with Karl choosing a dictionary. Karl, Being Karl
tries to justify this by saying having a better vocabulary would be helpful when he is rescued.
Karl: If I sort of say something with a big word that I can't think of right now, they'll go "oh, who's that, he sounds like he knows his stuff".
Steve [as Karl]: Yoo-hoo! Antidisestablishmentarianism!
Ricky [as captain of the rescue ship]: Get him on this boat now.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 2: Strong Badia the Free, upon inspecting Strong Bad's large collection of "Edgarware" titles, which includes "anti-virus", "anti-spyware", and "anti-disestablishmentarianism".
- Hellsinker uses Floccinaucinihilipilification as a name for one of its final bosses.
- On Arthur, they had a spelling bee, and the resident Smart Guy tried to spell this word during a practice session. His dad recommended he skip down to "antidote".
- Showed up in the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode "For Letter or Worse". In the beginning of the episode, the designated Hollywood Nerds (the Brainy Bunch) guessed this word from the blanks without even trying to get a letter before guessing. They just learned it was the longest word and said it (possibly not so hard a task given the lack of words of that number of letters in English). Shaggy and Scooby then tried to find the word in a dictionary. The Bunch get tripped up in the end when the word has two consecutive Zs, and they don't know any (which there are actually plenty of). They are stumped, while Shaggy and Scooby recognize the five-letter word immediately: "pizza".
- This also showed up in an Imagine Spot during an episode of Doug. Doug misspells "bologna" in a spelling bee and gets laughed at, while Chalky flawlessly rattles off "antidisestablishmentarianism" and is applauded.
- In Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, one of Piggley's grandsons tricked the other out of dessert with the riddle "Antidisestablishmentarianism is a long word. Think I can spell it?" He spelled it "I-T".
- Phineas and Ferb: Apparently, they found a cure.
- "I can finally take off this puce ribbon."
- In-Universe Fridge Logic: "Wait, I thought it was more an ideological stance than a disease?"
- One of the bumpers of Recess involved Gretchen saying "We'll be back before you can say antidisestablishmentarianism".
- In an early episode of Danny Phantom, "One of A Kind," look closely: the test◊ Danny receives back has "antidisestablishment" as the entire first line.
- An episode of Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? had one of Robot's friends try to write this on a guitar. He then asks "How do you spell that?"
- Averted in Rocket Power where Twister has to spell "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis."
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force had the character of the Robot Turkey Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future cite "antidisestablishmentarianism" as one of the outcomes of the great chicken uprising lead by Carl.
- In the Robot Chicken episode "President Evil", a teacher had written "ANTIDISE" on the board when she was alerted to a cootie outbreak in her class.
- Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a similar sort of word.
- At one time, Disney had sing-a-long videoes put out with intros to each song by Professor Ludwig Van Drake. The cartoon before the sing-a-long to Supercalifragilisticexplialidocious involves a gag about antidisestablishmentarianism not being the word he was thinking of.
- Shows up in Dave Barry's Money Secrets when showing the proper way to write a resume:
"Results-oriented multitasking hands-on team-building problem-solving take-charge self-starter with enterprise-wide cross-functional productivity-enhancement management-specific capabilities including all phases of conceptualization, implementation, integration, augmentation, allocation, irrigation, fermentation, lactation, plantation, and antidisestablishmentarianism served over field greens with a balsamic viniagrette."
- The Elizabethan form of this was the Latin word honorificabilitudinitatibus (literally, "to those things in the state of being able to achieve honours.")
- The Dutch variant is Hottentottententententoonstelling, Khoikhoi tents exhibition. It can be expanded to, among others, Hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein (Khoikhoi tents exhibition terrain).
- It's easy to make large words in Dutch anyway, as most normal words remove spacing if used in an adjective way, so you can just stick words together that have barely any significance to one another. See Fietsventieldopjesfabrieksmedewerkersconventiespreker (Bike Valve Cap Factory Employee Convention Speaker), which are all words separated by spaces in English. Hottentottententententoonstelling is often used in a "she sells sea shells by the shore" way though.
- Canadian Icelanders in Gimli have their own similar variant - Islendingadagurinn. Germanic languages have a tendency to mash words together, with strange and lengthy results.
- The popular (yet notoriously hard to perform if you don't know German) anecdote written by Polish poet and satirist Julian Tuwim in 30s is centered on building the word "Hottentottenstottertrottelmutterbeutelrattenlattengitterkofferattentäter" ("Assassin of the Khoikhoi mother of the stuttering fool closed in the wicker cage for holding kangaroos").
- In Switzerland, the captain of the company driving steamships on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake of the four forest counties) is called a Vierwaldstätterseedampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftkapitän. And since German allows you to add any number of nouns to that word, you can extend it to just about any lenght you like.
- Another popular go-to long word is "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (a lung disease more commonly known as silicosis) frequently lauded as the longest word in the English language.
- Hungarian has "széttöredezettségmentesítőtleníttethetetlenkedhetnétek" (≈ "you all could perform acts of not being able to be rid of defragmentation tools [which would cause loss of integrity]").
- Not to mention "megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért" (≈ "for your acts of undefilability").
- The Portuguese equivalent is "Anticonstitucionalissimamente" ("very anticonstitutionally").
- "Anticonstitutionnellement" is the longest word in French language.
- The way Russian numerals are formed allows for pretty long compound words, like "тысячавосьмисотпятидесятидвухмиллиметровый" (tysachavos'misotpyatidesyatidvukhmillimetrovyi, 1852 millimeters long/wide).
- There used to be on The Other Wiki instructions for adding elements to this word, producing "propseudocontraneoantidisestablishmentarianistically" ("in a manner favouring false opposition to a new form of antidisestablishmentarianism").
- Floccinaucinihilipilification is "the act or habit of calling something worthless." It's actually one letter longer than the Trope Namer.
- Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a coinage that supposedly means "the fear of long words."
- The longest word in the Old Testament in the original Hebrew is וְהָאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִים (vehaakhshdarpanim, ‘and the satraps’). While far more modest in length, it’s often used as a nice tidbit of trivia.
- Some people have argued that the longest word in English is the full chemical name of the protein Titin, which is 189, 819 letters. However many linguists have argued that it is actually a verbal formula and thus not a word (it's kind of like renaming the Big Mac Two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions–on-a-sesame-seed-bun).
- Finnish language is well known for almost endless possibilities on combining long compound words, such as Pientalokolmivaihevaihtovirtakilowattituntimittari (Small house three-phase alternative current kilowatt-hour meter) or Lentokonesuihkuturbiiniapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas (Aircraft turbojet engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student). Those are actual, but seldom used, words.