Sometimes there’s more to a word than meets the eye. You might think that words are just a heap of letters and a definition, but some of them have more personality and pizzazz than that. Here are some word-related facts to share at your next cocktail party.
QWERTY’s longest words
Using only your left hand, stewardesses is the longest word you can type on a QWERTY keyboard, and the longest word you can type with only one hand, period. The longest word with your right hand? Lollipop.
Every vowel in its place
Only two words in the entire English language use each of the five vowels in order — facetious and abstemious.
Be back in a jiffy!
The next time you promise you’ll “be back in a jiffy,” you’d better know what you’re getting yourself into. A jiffy is a real measurement of time, and it’s pretty fast — 1/100 of a second. Next time you tell someone you’ll be back that quickly, you’d better hope they don’t hold you to it.
Don’t make me repeat myself
Bookkeeper is the only word in the English language that uses three sets of repeated letters in a row, and that might sound like an accomplishment. But what about words made up of only repeated letters? The letters may not all be in a row, but happenchance, signings, intestines, and a few others all use each of their letters twice.
Which definition do you mean?
Most words have two or three definitions, even if we don’t commonly use them all. And then there’s run. At 645 definitions, as of January 2019, run has more meanings than any other English word. Set follows close behind with 464. Good luck remembering them all.
Keeping things in order
Billowy and beefily are the longest words spelled with each letter in alphabetical order. There are a handful of others, including forty, the only numerical word with this trait.
Speaking of numbers
While forty is the only alphabetically sequential word, four is the only one that has the same number of letters as the number itself. That is, it’s self-enumerating.
Never wear the same letter twice
We talked about words that have repeating letters, but what about those that don’t? This phenomenon is less uncommon, but there are only so many letters in the alphabet that you can use in one word without duplicating at least one of them. At 15 letters, uncopyrightable is the longest word that has no repeated letters.