“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”? Have you ever heard this word? Perhaps you have. However, do you know what it means exactly? If you look up for this word in a dictionary, you will probably find another explanation for the word “silicosis”. OK, now you know what it is about, don’t you? Of course not. We were curious to find out the meaning of this long word.
There are suggestions that “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” should not even be considered a word. However, it can still be found in English dictionaries and, as such, it should be considered a word, regardless of its meaning or number of letters it consists of.
True Meaning of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
As we said, it is another name for “silicosis”. What is silicosis? Silicosis is a lung disease – an inflammation. It occurs when someone inhales silica dust.
“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is also used as an example for a word that’s too long. It has 45 letters and it is considered to be the longest word you can find in English dictionaries.
Now, let us go back to 1935. That was the time when Everett M. Smith invented the word “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”. The first dictionary that had this word in it was Merriam Webster New International Dictionary from 1939. As we said, this word is used to describe a medical condition. However, it is also used to express how difficult and unnecessary medical terms can be. If you tried to explain this to a patient with silicosis, you would have to repeat it again and again. Why wouldn’t you just say “silicosis”? Well, that remains a mystery. People still use “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”. Perhaps it is interesting to say “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”, since it is a real challenge to pronounce it.
“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is also used in spelling games. Some people believe that doctors use this word when they cannot find any better word to explain a patient’s lung disease.
There are people who use this word when they want to make a joke. However, this requires a lot of practice, don’t you think? Regardless of its true meaning, “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” sounds funny when you hear someone pronouncing it. Ask your kid to spell it and see how it goes. Your kid will keep laughing. You should try to spell it, too, just to show your kid that it is equally hard for you.