Antidisestablishmentarianism: One of the Hardest Words to Spell

The English language has a lot of long words. Many of these absurdly lengthy words refer to chemistry or medicine.

One of the long and popular words out there is antidisestablishmentarianism. Pronouncing this word can be fun, but not many are aware of the meaning of this term. Today, we’re going to look at the definition of this word, its origin and how you could properly spell this word (and hopefully impress your friends while doing so).

The Definition of Antidisestablishmentarianism

Photo by Erik Langner via Flickr Creative Commons

Antidisestablishmentarianism is a political position or doctrine that describes the movement to dissolve the legal separation between the state and the church. This infamously long-winded term can also refer to a particular political movement that opposed getting rid of the Church of England as the “official” church.

People call an official state church an “established” church. A disestablishmentarian is an individual who wants to put a stop to the state church. This favors the church-state separation, especially the withdrawal of the support, status and rights granted an established church by a state.

Disestablishmentarians argue that the presence of a state church hurts their freedom of religion or belief. They also believe that the state should be secular, which means the country and religion must be separate from each other. This idea is disestablishmentarianism. Put the prefix “anti” on that word and you have one of the longest words in the dictionary.

The Origin of Antidisestablishmentarianism

Historians trace the origin of antidisestablishmentarianism back to the 19th century. During this period, England was having a crisis of sorts regarding its traditions. People were questioning the role of the Church of England. Tradition dictates that the said church was the United Kingdom’s official state religion. The King would act as the religion’s ceremonial head.

When the 19th century rolled in, however, the number of countries that had an official state religion was decreasing. During this time, the United States had abolished the practice of state religions.

This progressive concept eventually spread across the globe. The idea was that individuals should be free to practice whatever faith they wanted. The state religions, unfortunately, served as a barricade to freedom of religion.

Those who wanted to disestablish the Church of England formed a movement called disestablishmentarianism. Others chose to stick to the status quo by keeping the Church of England official. These individuals are antidisestablishmentarians.

Antidisestablishmentarianism won out in England. At present, the monarch of Great Britain is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This political movement, however, did not prosper in Wales and Ireland.

How People Used Antidisestablishmentarianism

You may wonder if people have used such a long word. There have been accounts of individuals using this 28-letter doctrine. Giles Coren, a practicing Christian Jew, has expressed his support of antidisestablishmentarianism in this article.

Some oppose this political position. Rev. David Williams cited modern antidisestablishmentarianism as a real danger to the church’s integrity.

Many famous people have used Antidisestablishmentarianism in their songs. Take Duke Ellington as an example. This jazz artist released a song titled “You’re Just an Old Antidisestablishmentarianismist.” The construction of this word, however, is incorrect. The right term is antidisestablishmentarian.

American rapper, record producer and songwriter Eminem also used inserted this 28-letter word in one of his songs. The rap “Almost Famous” contained this line: “Get off my antidisestablishmentarianism, you prick.”

Is Antidisestablishmentarianism the Longest Word?

Although this popular word can be a mouthful to pronounce, it is not the longest word out there. Not counting Mary Poppins’ fictitious “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” here are a few words that are longer than antidisestablishmentarianism — and a lot harder to spell:

Floccinaucinihilipilification

This 29-letter word is the habit or the action of regarding or describing something as unimportant.

Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism

This 30-letter word is an inherited disorder that causes short hand bones, round face and short stature. This disease also causes soft tissues and joints to harden, as well as affect the formation of bones.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

The Oxford English Dictionary considers this 45-letter word as the longest word in the English language. People develop this lung disease when they inhale quartz or silicate dust.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

This 58-letter word (or 53 letters if you consider the double-L as a single character) is a village in Anglesey, Wales. You can find out more details about this place in our article.

How to Spell (and Remember the Spelling of) Antidisestablishmentarianism

This word can be tricky to spell. Unlike our good night vs. goodnight article wherein you only have to consider the spacing, the sheer length of antidisestablishmentarianism could trip you up if you’re spelling it for the first time.

How do you go about spelling this long but popular word? Break this 28-letter term into segments. Take note of this breakdown for your guidance:

Anti

This is a prefix that means “opposite of” or “against.”

Dis

You use this prefix to give a word the opposite meaning.

Establishment

This can refer to a household, a public institution or a business organization.

Arian

This suffix indicates that an individual or that believes, advocates or is associated with something.

Ism

You add this suffix to indicate that the word represents a specific philosophy, system or practice.

Antidisestablishmentarianism may not be the longest word, but it sure is popular. Impress your friends by spelling this word confidently and telling them the history behind the term.

Scroll to Top