16.1.15

Longest Greek word


In his comedy Assemblywomen (c. 392 BC) Aristophanes coined the 173-letter word:

λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμ­υπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβο­μελιτο­κατακεχυ­μενο­κιχλ­επι­κοσσυφο­φαττο­περιστερ­αλεκτρυον­οπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλο­πελειο­λαγῳο­σιραιο­βαφη­τραγανο­πτερύγων

 Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichl-
epikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon

A fictional food dish consisting of a combination of fish, poultry and other meat, hare usually refers to rabbit, it is cited as the longest ancient Greek word ever written. A formal Greek word of 24 letters is ηλεκτροεγκεφαλογραφήματος meaning "of an electroencephalogram" according to the Oxford Greek dictionary.


λοπάς (dish, meal)
τέμαχος (fish slice)
σέλαχος (shark, ray)
γαλεός (tope, dogfish, small shark)
κρανίον (head)
λείψανον (remnant")
δριμύς (sharp, pungent")
ὑπότριμμα (gen. sharp-tasting dish of several ingredients grated & pounded together)
σίλφιον (laserwort)
κάραβος (crab, beetle, or crayfish)
μέλι (honey)
κατακεχυμένος (poured down)
κίχλη (wrasse, thrush)
ἐπί (upon, on top of)
κόσσυφος (a kind of sea-fish or blackbird)
φάττα (wood pigeon)
περιστερός (domestic pigeon)
ἀλεκτρυών (chicken)
ὀπτός (roasted, baked)
κεφάλιον (diminutive of "head")
κίγκλος (dabchick)
πέλεια (pigeon)
λαγῷος (hare)
σίραιον (new wine boiled down)
βαφή (dipping)
τραγανός (crunchy)
πτέρυξ (wing, fin)
The dish was a fricassée, with at least 16 sweet and sour ingredients, including the following.
    fish slices
    fish of the elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray)
    rotted dogfish or small shark's head
    generally sharp-tasting dish of several ingredients grated and pounded together
    silphion "laserwort", apparently a kind of giant fennel
    a kind of crab, shrimp, or crayfish
    honey poured down
    wrasse (or thrush)
    a kind of sea fish or blackbird as topping
    wood pigeon
    domestic pigeon
    rooster
    roasted head of dabchick
    hare, which could be a kind of bird or a kind of sea hare
    new wine boiled down
    wing and/or fin

In English prose translation by Leo Strauss (1966), this Greek word is rendered as "oysters-saltfish-skate-sharks'-heads-left-over-vinegar-dressing-laserpitium-leek-with-honey-sauce-thrush-blackbird-pigeon-dove-roast-cock's-brains-wagtail-cushat-hare-stewed-in-new-wine-gristle-of-veal-pullet's-wings"

English verse translation by Benjamin Bickley Rogers (1902) follows the original meter and the original way of composition:

"Plattero-filleto-mulleto-turboto-
-Cranio-morselo-pickleo-acido-
-Silphio-honeyo-pouredonthe-topothe-
-Ouzelo-throstleo-cushato-culvero-
-Cutleto-roastingo-marowo-dippero-
-Leveret-syrupu-gibleto-wings."

Older English verse translation by Rev. Rowland Smith (1833) destroys the original composed word and breaks it in several verses:

"All sorts of good cheer;
Limpets, oysters, salt fish,
And a skate too a dish,
Lampreys, with the remains
Of sharp sauce and birds' brains,
With honey so luscious,
Plump blackbirds and thrushes,
Cocks' combs and ring doves,
Which each epicure loves,
Also wood-pigeons blue,
With juicy snipes too,
And to close all, O rare!
The wings of jugged hare!

The newest translation by O'Neill, quoted above, does not translate this word and uses only a transliteration.

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