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Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (, also spelled -koniosis) is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "a word alleged to mean 'a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust found in volcanoes' but occurring chiefly as an instance of a very long word."Oxford English Dictionary online, Oxford University Press, quote listed in "Second Edition 1989" definition. "Draft revision Sept. 2006" definition reads "a word invented (prob. by Everett M. Smith (born 1894), president of the National Puzzlers' League in 1935) in imitation of polysyllabic medical terms, alleged to mean 'a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine sand and ash dust' but occurring only as an instance of a very long word." Retrieved on 2007-10-08. It was coined to serve as the longest English word. It is one of several dust inhalation lung diseases called pneumoconeoses.
Usage Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest word ever to appear in an English language dictionary. This 45-letter, 19-syllable word, referred to in one linguistics journal as p45,Cole, Chris. (1989.) "The Biggest Hoax". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, via wordways.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-08. first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in 1936. It is still listed in the current edition of the OED, as well as several current American dictionaries."Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: Definitions from dictionary.com". Dictionary.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.
Coinage suggests that the word was invented in 1935 by Everett M. Smith, president of the National Puzzlers' League, at its annual meeting. The word figured in the headline for an article published by the New York Herald Tribune on February 23, 1935 titled "Puzzlers Open 103rd Session Here by Recognizing 45-Letter Word":
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis succeeded electrophotomicrographically as the longest word in the English language recognized by the National Puzzlers' League at the opening session of the organization's 103rd semi-annual meeting held yesterday at the Hotel New Yorker. The puzzlers explained that the forty-five-letter word is the name of a special form of silicosis caused by ultra-microscopic particles of silica volcanic dust...See "Cole, Chris. (1989.)" The New York Herald quote is quoted from this article.Subsequently, the word was used in a puzzle book, Bedside Manna, after which members of the NPL campaigned to have it included in major dictionaries, eventually succeeding with the 1936 supplement to the OED and Websters Second''.Miller, Jeff. "A collection of word oddities and trivia: page 11, long words". (Personal website.) Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
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