10 longest words in the French language

Author: Clark Tos
2022-10-20 17:19:01

As with English or German, the French language has very long words. What are they ? Overview of what to learn about it.

How are long words used in the French language?

Eight cubes forming the French word presented with a blue white red flag Photo credit: Stadtratte

Scrabble players have probably noticed the presence of many very long words during their searches. Bad luck for those who thought they had more points, since most of them are not usable in the game or even in the speech daily. However, they are part of the French language. Indeed, some words are too long, with a number of letters that even borders on the ridiculous. For others, their pronunciation is almost impossible . And even if someone got there by chance, the person opposite would not understand much about it, unless receive training in this domain. These words can be learned. Using them is also tricky, unless you're part of an elite group that isn't afraid to speak virtually unpronounceable words.

What are these very long words of the French language for, you ask? Generally, they are little used in daily life. The few times they are used, they are truncated. Most people who know them and use them are chemists. Indeed, many of these very long words designate molecules or a chemical phenomenon .

How was the formation of these words?

A teacher asking his students to try to repeat difficult-to-pronounce French and English terms Photo credit: Jovanmandic

In general, the French language words are of Latin origin. This is why it is designated as a Romance language all over the world. The words used on a daily basis go through a number of processes before arriving at the French Academy. They must, among other things, go through a center known as the “General Delegation for the French language and the languages ​​of France”. Some very long words have gone through this process. Such is the case with the words ' unconstitutionally ' and ' intergouvernementalisations » accepted by the Academy as the longest of the Molière's language .

Please note that these words are not the longest in the French language. They are even far from it. Most very long words are not yet accepted in the dictionary. They were created by accident for some and from a logical construction or from puns for others. In other words, they formed naturally and not because academics worked on them. They were not even invented by linguists or writers. Rather, they came out of a laboratory and were taken up by researchers or scientists to designate an element or a chemical phenomenon among others.

Thus, these terms do not exist to make the language evolve on a daily basis. They are mainly used for complete the list of technical lexicons often useful when discovering a phenomenon.

List of the 10 very long French terms

A teacher explaining French and German vocabularies during training Photo credit: Ridofranz

Here is the part that surely interests you the most, the moment when you are going to discover the longest words in the French language . The first one is sure to impress you. You will be tempted to read it and re-read it aloud. You can do it, but remembering it will be difficult without memorizing it. Without further ado, discover the ten French words that have the reputation of being very long:

  1. Diisobutylphénoxyéthoxyéthyldiméthylbenzylammonium

You do not dream. It is indeed a French word and not Danish or another language that you would hear for the first time. 50, such is the number of letters which constitute it. It designates a molecule related to the composition of vitamin B2. In details, it is a male common name also referring to an antiseptic or dispersing agent. Sometimes it is also used as a synonym for benzethonium chloride.

  1. Aminométhylpyrimidinylhydroxyéthylméthylthiazolium

The second longest word in the French language is ' aminométhylpyrimidinylhydroxyéthylméthylthiazolium '. It is also a male common name which is made up of 49 letters. Aminomethylpyrimidinylhydroxyethylmethylthiazolium refers to an element relating to vitamin B1. In the language, it is used in a contracted form 'aminomethri' or 'amoneni'.

  1. Rhinopharyngitolaryngographologiquement

In this classification, Rhinopharyngitolaryngographologically is also very long with its 39 letters. Employee in the medical field , it depicts a cartoon illustration of Nasopharyngitis. Unlike the two terms cited above, it is not a common noun, but rather an adverb.

  1. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

This word, which is a female common name, is formed by 35 letters. Ironically, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia refers to the phobia of extended words . It doesn't actually exist, but 'hippotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia' stuck around, even though it appeared as part of a joke.

  1. Metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology

Métaphysico-théologo-cosmolo-nigologie is also composed by 35 letters. It designates the name of a fanciful science mentioned in Voltaire's book entitled Candide. It should be noted that this word was obtained by the association of suffixes of real sciences such as metaphysics, theology and cosmology. The only component invented is the “nigology” part.

  1. Cyclopentanoperhydrophénanthrène

Word cyclopentanoperhydrophénanthrène is a male common name formed by 32 letters. It holds sixth place in the ranking of the longest words in the French language. The word cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene is used in the field of biochemistry. It designates a molecular structure essential in the composition of biochemical molecules such as cholesterol.

  1. Dichlorodiphényltrichloroéthane

From words the longest, 'dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane' means something known to the general public. This is the name of an insecticide used in agriculture: D. D. T. This word is formed by 31 letters, which allows it to position itself in the seventh position of this classification.

  1. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobie

Word hexakosioihexekontahexaphobie is a female common name consisting of 29 letters. It designates a recent phobia which results in the fear of the number 666. It can present 31 letters when it takes the form of an adjective: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobique.

  1. Esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy

The word esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy is used primarily in the medical field. It was born thanks to the association of 27 letters. It concerns an endoscopic diagnostic procedure usually performed in the hospital. The latter consists of passing a flexible tube at the level of the mouth in order to control the esophagus and the stomach.

  1. Intergouvernementalisations

Being formed by 26 letters, intergovernmentalization is also one of those words that are difficult to pronounce without good practice. Its pronunciation is one of the easiest, since it was obtained from words very used in everyday life.

What are the longest terms in the French dictionary?

A French vocabulary book placed near a miniature Eiffel Tower Photo credit: Bet_Noire

It should be noted that these words are not all included in the dictionary or even used in everyday life. If you only refer to this book, the longest word in the French language is ' unconstitutionally '. It has long been considered as such by the French Academy with its 25 letters. It is right behind “intergovernmentalization”. Regarding the latter, the French Academy announced that it would be the longest word in the French language if it took an 's'. However, its use has remained only in political law, because it is considered a very technical vocabulary. It is not yet used in everyday language.

Regarding their meaning, unconstitutionally means a fact that does not comply with the constitutional rules in force, particularly in the organization of public powers. Thus, it is also the domain of politicians, but it has only been officially recognized as usable by the general public.

As for the word ' intergouvernementalisaton it means implementation of a common strategy or action by several governments. This vocabulary is mainly used at the level of European policy and not only in France.

Word length: does the world record come from languages ​​like French, German or English?

A few words translated into different languages ​​Photo credit: Oko_SwanOmurphy

You now know the longest words in the French language. However, they are far from being so at the global level. 50 letters in the same term are still insufficient to hold the world record in terms of word length . In this category, this award goes to english with a word consisting of 189819 letters . The longest word in the world in question begins with “menthionylthreonyl” and ends with “isoleucine”. It is simply difficult to transcribe everything because of the time it would take. Even pronouncing this word as a whole would take more than three hours, which also makes it the most difficult word in the world. For your curiosity, this term is the scientific name of Titine. Titin is a large protein ensuring the regularity of the elasticity of the sarcomere in the muscle fibres.

For your information, the second longest word in the world is Sanskrit and is composed of 185 characters.

The third is a 136 letter Afrikaans word « Used car salesmen union strike meeting conveners speech writers press release releases media conference announcement ».

As for fourth place, it goes to New Zealand with the unpronounceable “Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu”. The literal translation of this word composed of 85 letters is « The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the surveyor, the mountain climber, the walker who traveled hither, played his flute to his beloved”.

If we have to continue this ranking, France would come in tenth position with “Diisobutylphenoxyethoxyethyldimethylbenzylammonium” and its 50 letters. It would be behind the “Speciallægepraksisplanlægningsstabiliseringsperiode” which is of Danish origin. You should know that it is formed by 51 letters.