June 14, 2012

Greeks Have the Longest Word, According to Guinness

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest word coined by a major author and the longest word ever to appear in literature comes from a word coined by Aristophanes (c. 392 BC) in his comedy Assemblywomen (line 1169-74), which in Greek contains 173 letters, which far surpasses that of Shakespeare's 27-letter long word, "honorificabilitudinitatibus" in his Love's Labour's Lost (V.I). In Greek it is:


The English transliteration has 182 letters:


What it describes is a fictional food dish consisting of 17 ingredients, combining fish, poultry and other meat. It was originally coined by Aristophanes as poking fun at the fact that stringing together words to form compound words was common practice, and wanted to show an extreme version of the lengths that sometimes resulted in doing so.

Liddell and Scott define this as "name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces."

More specifically, the dish is a fricasee, with 17 sweet and sour ingredients, including brains, honey, vinegar, fish, pickles, and the following: fish slices, fish of the Elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray), rotted dogfish or small shark’s head, silphion laserwort – a kind of fennel, a kind of crab, beetle, or crayfish, eagle, cheese, honey, wrasse or thrush, topped with a sea fish or blackbird, wood pigeon, domestic pigeon, chicken, roasted headof dabchick, hare (a kind of bird or sea hare – a mollusk), must (wine), dessert, fruit, or other raw food, and wing or fin.


-lopado- from λοπάς (lopas, stem lopad-) “dish, meal”,

-temacho- from τέμαχος (temachos) “fish slice”,

-selacho- from σέλαχος (selachos) “fish of the Elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray)

-galeo- from γαλεός (galeos) “dogfish, small shark”

-kranio- from κρανίον (cranion) “head”

-leipsano- from λείψανον (leipsanon) “remnant”

-drimy- from δριμύς (drimys) “sharp, pungent”

-hypotrimmato- from ὑπότριμμα (hypotrimma) “generally sharp-tasting dish of several ingredients grated and pounded together”

-silphio- from σίλφιον (silphion) “laserwort” (apparently a kind of giant fennel

-karabo- from κάραβος (karabos) “a kind of crab, beetle, or crayfish” (the word is related to scarab)

-parao- appears to be from παραός (paraos) “eagle”

-tyro- is clearly just τυρός (tyros) “cheese”

-melito- from μέλι (meli) “honey”

-katakechymeno- is from κατακεχυμένος (catacechymenos), something like “poured down”, past participle of καταχεύω (catacheuō)

-kichl- from κίχλη (cichlē) “wrasse” (or “thrush”)

-epi- from επι (epi) “upon, on top of”

-kossypho- from κόσσυφος (cossyphos) “a kind of sea-fish” (or “blackbird”)

-phatto- from φάττα (phatta) “wood pigeon”

-perister- from περιστερός (peristeros) “domestic pigeon”

-alektryono- from ἀλεκτρυών (alectryōn) “chicken”

-opto-/-opte- from ὀπτός (optos) “roasted, baked”

-kephallio-/-kephalio- from κεφάλιον (cephalion), diminutive of “head”

-kinklo-/kigklo- from κίγκλος (cinclos) “dabchick”

-peleio- from πέλεια (pelīa) “pigeon”

-lagoio- probably from λαγῶς (also accented λαγώς) meaning basically “hare” but also a kind of bird or a kind of sea-hare

-siraio- from σίραιον (siraeon) “new wine boiled down”

-baphe- from βαφή (baphē) “dipping” (also ‘dyeing’, ‘temper (of a blade)’)

-tragano- from τραγανός (traganos) “he-goat” (but if it is really ‘-tragalo-’ as in one variant, then maybe it is really from τραγάλιον “dessert fruit; thing eaten uncooked”)

-pterygon from πτέρυξ (pteryx) “wing, fin”.

There is some disagreement as to the original form of the word and the correct transliteration.