What's the longest word in the world? Some say it's the word "smiles" – because there's a "mile" between the s's (ha!). But the longest words out there are way longer than that. For starters, the longest word in the English dictionary is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The word has 45 letters, and it's the name of a lung disease you get from breathing the dust from a volcano (pneumo means "lung" in Greek). But the longest English word to show up in any book has 183 letters. It starts with Lopadotemachoselachogaleo…and it's the name of a Greek fish dish (the Greek name for it is just as long). And the longest word ever has 189,819 letters. It may be the longest, but has anyone ever tried to say it?
Now see if you and your kids can come up with the answers to these math challenges:
Wee ones: How many letters does your name have?
Little kids: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamogg in Massachusetts has just 1 fewer letter than the 45-letter word. How long is that lake's name? Bonus: If the volcano-disease name has 1 e, 9 o's, 6 i's, 2 u's, and 2 a's, how many vowels are there?
Big kids: Once you say "pneumonoult," you've knocked off 11 of the 45 letters. How many letters do you have left? Bonus: If you string together four 45-letter words like that one, would that new word be as long as the 183-letter word?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…say the letters in your name and count them!
Little kids: 44 letters. Bonus: 20 vowels.
Big kids: 34 more letters. Bonus: No…it would give you only 180 letters.