I’ve been strangely preoccupied with vowels today . . . I tend to get stuck on various oddities and random subjects when I am anxious. My son boards an airplane on Saturday, he is heading home. I’m happy he’ll be home soon, but nervous about the trip. So to deal, I obsessed on vowels all day. Who knows, the topic could arise one day and you’ll be glad you read my ramblings. It could happen.
The English language, language in general, is filled with all sorts of interesting oddities. Since I was old enough to read I have been fascinated with words. I seemed to have a knack for picking up on some of their various little quirks, one I found particular delight in were words with vowels, not just vowels, almost all words contain vowels, it was words with vowels in alphabetical order that caught my fancy.
There are many words which contain letters arranged alphabetical order such as almost, begin and biopsy, but even more interesting are those composed of vowels in the exact order in which we first learned them, a, e, i, o, u and yes, sometimes y.
One such word is ArsEnIOUs (arsenious), which means something derived from or containing arsenic. Another is sUbcOntInEntAl, while at first glance subcontinental doesn’t appear to fit the alphabetical mold, it does, it just does so backward. Another backward vowel order word is dUOlItErAl (duoliteral).
In yet another example, fAcEtIOUslY (facetiously) the often misunderstood Y has been included. So far the longest word known to have all five vowels is order (for those of you who can overlook the Y as a vowel) is phragelliorhynchus with eighteen letters, while not found in the dictionary, it is widely recognized in the scientific realm as a protozoan. The shortest I’ve seen thus far is the word areious with just seven letters. The longest word I have found with the vowels in reverse order is another scientific term, this time for a crustacean, punctoschmidtella with seventeen letters.
Science has provided us with more than a few of these fun and nearly impossible to pronounce words with well placed vowels. Lamelligomphus, a type of dragonfly, annelidous is something to do with segmented worms; I didn’t study further into this particular definition. Adecticous means with immobile mandibles. Juloidea (reverse order) is a family of millipedes, super millipedes to be more precise. Another in reverse order is a rodent by the name of muroidea.
There are more than a few words which have become nearly obsolete in our everyday vernacular but fit well into the category of alphabetical vowel usage. Affectious and affectiously are little used variants of affectionate. Cameelious is word created in jest by Kipling to describe the lazy camel’s hump in his Just So Stories. Placentious, meaning pleasing, or disposed to please; complaisant or agreeable. Gravedinous lends itself to define drowsy or heavy-headed.
Better known words with this fun element include, in alphabetical order of course, abstemious(ly) abstentious(ly), acheilous, acheirous, adventitious(ly), annelidious, aerious, arteriousum, avenious, bacterious, cavernicolous, casious, hareiously, materious, parecious(ly), placentious, tragedious, uncomplimentary. This is just a sampling of the many words in this world which have the distinction of having all their vowels in order.
Perhaps these are not facts you will use in your everyday life, but they are fun little tidbits to know if you happen to be enamored with words. The dictionary can be a wonderful playground. I have great respect for words, their form and their function, I find great beauty in them.
*I perused the Internet while writing this, looking for words to add to my list and was dismayed to find many seemingly made up words or words slightly misspelled to fit the mold. There were hundreds of words to be found, but only dozens with definite definitions, so of course, only those definitively defined were used above. Definitely.