Tag Archive | Vowels

The things I do to pass the time


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.

Crystal R.Cook

In case you’ve ever wondered, and I doubt you have.


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