While trying to occupy myself with anything other than laundry, I let my mind begin to wander. It took me the better portion of the day to find it. It gets lost in the strangest of places, today I found it drinking coffee and pondering vowels. Why? Why not? Vowels are cool, and, if you don’t know it by now, I can be a little left of normal sometimes.
So the laundry lay unattended whilst I looked up words, using a prompt I recalled from somewhere asking what the longest letter in the English language was which used a singular vowel. My kind of interesting . . . My husband hasn’t any clean socks, yet somehow I still feel accomplished.
Now, after much consideration and counting, it seems the longest word in the English language with only one vowel is strengths which is made up of nine letters. In comparison to the word strengthlessness, which has sixteen letters, strength is relatively small. Though strengthlessness has three vowels, they are in fact the same vowel simply utilized thrice, thus making it a much longer word utilizing just one of the five vowels.
If you excuse Y from its part-time vowel work, the word glycyphyllin which is a photochemical compound, has a singular vowel as well and consists of twelve letters.
There are a plethora of words which utilize just one vowel, not too hard to come by at all, so far, I’ve made use of seventy-six such words not counting those appearing more than once. Eighty-one when you consider *a* and *I* are actual words themselves, minuscule in comparison to the twenty letter word Chrononhotonthologos. Like strengthlessness, it contains the same vowel more than once, but only one vowel nonetheless.
The larger the words the harder they are to find, but there are more than a few with the same vowel used in repetition, technically they do utilize only one of the chosen few we call vowels, a, e, i, o, u . . . and sometimes y.
Succubus (three – u) has eight letters.
Screeched, (three – e), mundungus (three- u), beekeeper (five – e) these words have nine letters in each.
Asarabacca (five – a), oconomowoc (five – o), numbskulls (two – u), untruthful (three -u), dumbstruck (two – u), decrescence (four – e), nebelwerfer (four – e) and telemetered (five – e) each have eleven letters.
Taramasalata (six – a) is comprised of twelve letters.
Effervescence (five – e) is a good example with thirteen letters. Handcraftsman (three – a ), Mississippi (four – i), disinhibiting (five – i), whipstitching (three – i), kinnikinnicks (four – i) primitivistic (five – i), Philistinisms (four – i) have thirteen as well.
Instinctivistic (five – i) and defenselessness (five – e) have fifteen letters respectively.
Coming in at twenty letters is Chrononhotonthologos (seven – o), a satirical play by the English poet and songwriter Henry Carey from 1734.
While each of these words obviously contain more than one vowel, they do have the distinction of having the same vowel throughout, so depending on your criteria, the longest word in the English language (I have so far found) with only one vowel is either strengths or Chrononhotonthologos.
*Yes, they are all real words.
Crystal R. Cook