Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
List of the longest English words with one syllable
The longest English word of one syllable (in some dialects) is the ten-letter squirreled, as in "I've squirreled away my nuts for the winter." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the ten-letter scraunched, appearing in a 1620 translation of Cervantes' Don Quixote, is also a very long word for being only a single syllable. It is a largely obsolete form of scrunched or crunched.
Both of these two "longest one-syllable word" claims are questionable, subject to variations in pronunciation. The eleven-letter word broughammed, while readily pronounceable as one syllable in all dialects, is questionable on other grounds.
There are a number of nine-letter words of a single syllable.
Unsurprisingly, most of these long words contain one or more digraphs (e.g., rr or ai) and the occasional trigraph (e.g., tch). That is, multiple letters are used to represent a single sound. Additionally, neither the -ed preterite past tense ending for verbs, nor the -s plural ending for nouns increases the syllable count for words, so it is unsurprising that the longest words would use these endings.
Note, however, that in early Modern English, the -ed ending was frequently pronounced with a (schwa) or /ɪ/ or /ɛ/, resulting in another syllable. Even today, the e is pronounced as a schwa in some dialects, resulting in an increased syllable count.
Aside from the -ed pronunciation issue, scraunched's claim is further weakened by the fact that English spelling was largely unstandardized throughout the early Modern English period until the advent of modern dictionaries. 1620 is well within the early Modern English period. Additionally, scraunched is somewhat obsolete.
List of nine-letter English words of a single syllable:
Note that strengths manages to have only one vowel letter. It is also one of the most complex syllables in English, its consonants and vowels being distributed as CCCVCCC (/strɛŋθs/), as well as scrounged, scrunched, etc.
Finally, one can consider the use of an apostrophe as an extension to the word length. Under this assumption, nouns using the plural -s can be modified to use the singular possessive case ending -'s or the plural possessive -s', resulting in a marginally longer word.
List of nine-letter English words, plus apostrophe, of a single syllable:
- brougham's and broughams'
- straight's and straights'
- strength's and strengths'
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