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Alternative forms


Coined by Everett K Smith, President of the National Puzzlers' League, at their convention in 1935. From Ancient Greek πνεύμων (pneúmōn, lung) + Latin ultra (beyond) + English microscopic + silico- + volcano + Ancient Greek κόνις (kónis, dust) + English -osis, as an extension of the medical term pneumonoconiosis.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /njuːˌmɒ.nəʊ.ʌl.tɹə.maɪ.kɹəʊˈskɒ.pɪkˌsɪ.lɪ.kəʊ.vɒl.keɪ.nəʊ.kəʊ.niˈəʊ.sɪs/[1];
  • (General American) enPR: no͞o-män'ō-ŭl-trə-mī-krə-skäpʹĭk-sĭl'ē-kō-väl-kā-nō-kō-nē-ōʹsĭs, IPA(key): /nuˌmɑ.noʊ.ʌl.tɹə.maɪ.kɹoʊˈskɑ.pɪkˌsɪ.lɪ.koʊ.vɑl.keɪ.noʊ.koʊ.niˈoʊ.sɪs/;
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊsɪs
  • Hyphenation: pneu‧mo‧no‧ul‧tra‧mi‧cro‧sco‧pic‧si‧li‧co‧vol‧ca‧no‧co‧ni‧o‧sis


pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (uncountable)

  1. (nonce word) A disease of the lungs, allegedly caused by inhaling microscopic silicate particles originating from the eruption of a volcano.
    • 1980 March, Lorin E. Kerr, “Black Lung”, in Journal of Public Health Policy, volume 1, number 1, →JSTOR, page 50:
      Call it miner's asthma, silicosis, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung—they are all dust diseases with the same symptoms.
    • 1998 August 27, Smokey, “Lament for a Lung Disease”, in talk.bizarre[1] (Usenet), message-ID <6s3r8o$brt$>:
      I say that it must be the silica dust
      That we breathed through our mouths and our noses
      That brought pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
    • 2002 December 18, Pod, “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”, in[2] (Usenet), message-ID <iHSL9.2091$h43.295898@stones>:
      It's either pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, or a bad cough.
    • 2011 April 28, Kurt D. Stradtman, Am I the Person My Mother Warned Me About?: A Four-year College Experience ... Only the Good Parts, Xlibris, →ISBN, →LCCN, page 90:
      I still can't watch House M.D. and not have my mind wonder [] Even I can fear of[sic] having Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis after watching it.

Usage notes

  • Cited as the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary. On July 14, 2017, sixteen-year-old Michael Bryan used the 45-letter word during a Youth Select Committee meeting to highlight the “grave inconsistency” of addressing health conditions, with physical problems given greater precedent than mental health issues.[2]
  • The Oxford English Dictionary lists pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis as “a factitious word alleged to mean ‘a lung disease caused by inhalation of very fine silica dust usually found in volcanos’ but occurring chiefly as an instance of a very long word”.[1]
  • This word was invented purely to be a contender for the title of the longest word in the English language, comprising forty-five letters and nineteen syllables. The word is not in official medical usage, and textbooks refer to this disease as pneumonoconiosis, pneumoconiosis, or silicosis.


For more quotations using this term, see Citations:pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.


Coordinate terms



  1. 1.0 1.1 The Oxford English Dictionary [Second Edition]
  2. ^ "Boy, 16, uses 'longest word' in Parliament".