English Words That Are Utterly Unique

Tuesday, July 92 min read

The English language is full of quirks. Some are recusing, others are amusing, and a few are downright confusing. Most words are familiar to us, or they at least follow familiar patterns. Things get interesting when the patterns are broken. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting combinations of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Vowel Play

The true vowels are "a," "e," "i," "o," and "u." Almost every word in English contains at least one of these letters. In fact, 11% of the English language is just the letter "e."

For the rebellious words that eschew true vowels, a "y" is shoehorned in there so we have a chance of pronouncing them.

The longest word in English without any true vowels is "rhythm."

At the other end of the spectrum, "queueing" is the only word that pulls off an impressive five consecutive vowels.

Additionally, there are four words that contain all five true vowels in alphabetical order: "facetious" (using humor in serious situations), "abstemious" (having good self-control), "annelidous" (similar to earthworms), and "arsenious" (related to the chemical arsenic).

Another alphabetical anomaly is in the word "hydroxyzine" (a medication), which contains "x," "y," and "z" — in that order.


There are only four English words with a double "u." No, not a "w," but two consecutive letter u’s.

The more popular ones are heavily used in science and sci-fi: "vacuum" (as in the vacuum of space) and "continuum" (like the space-time continuum).

Less famous are "residuum" (similar to residue) and the double-double "u" "muumuu" (a loose-fitting dress, often with a floral pattern).

Left and Right Keys

If you’re a typing purist, you know how to keep your hands in the correct position. That means the left index finger should rest on the "f" key, and its right-handed counterpart sits on "j." All the while, both thumbs get to hang out on the spacebar.

From this position, the longest word that can be typed entirely with the left hand is "stewardesses," while the word that takes this honor with the right hand is "polyphony."


There are only two words in the entire language that have three consecutive double letters (although it’s almost cheating because they are quite similar).

The two words in question are "bookkeeping" and "bookkeeper." These triple-doubles are far rarer than LeBron's triple-doubles.

One and Done

Can you spot what’s special about "uncopyrightable"? Give up? It’s the longest word we have that doesn’t contain any repeated letters.

Photo credit: Waldemar Brandt/ Unsplash

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