Some Greek Fun

Daniel Riaño danielrr at
Thu Jan 9 13:34:08 EST 2003

Matthew R. Miller wrote:
>Just for fun, can you answer the following koine Greek questions for me?
>1. What is the longest Greek word you know? I suspect it will be a verb

The longest words in Greek are always adjectives. Beat this:

A)STRAPOBRONTOXALAZOREIQRODA/MASTOS (33 letters, ignoring breathing 
and accent).

This adjective appears (in gen. fem. sing.) in Basilius Ep.365 
(=M.32.1109A). DGE (it is not in LSJ) translates it as: "dominado por 
el rayo, trueno, granizo, e inundaci'on". This is one of the longest 
word in "serious literature" I am aware of, but long[er] composita 
can be found in Philoxenus of Leucas, among them the suspected:


In subliterary magical papyri one can find even longer composita of a 
magic ring, like this vocative sg. from Preisendanz's *PGM* 12.175:


In magical papyri, it is easy to find yet even longer pseudowords (a 
succession of letters with a supposed magical power, commonly used in 
magical charms and spellings --I omit any example since I don't know 
its effects when used in electronic devices or over the Internet).

In comic poets is not unusual to find, eh, yet even looooonger words 
composed for the comic effect, like the not yet beaten Aristophanic 
monster (*Ecclesiazusae* 1170):

(172 letters, nisi fallor)

Numerals can also be stretched out ad infinitum; see
ejnneakaieikosikaieptakosioplasiavkis Pl.R.587e. (36 letters)

But it is doubtful that such strings can be considered one word (you 
could print it with spaces in between as well).

That's for the first one.

Daniel Riaño Rufilanchas
Madrid, España

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