Words that are longer or shorter than they should be

In English (and presumably other languages), shorter words are usually simpler or more basic words. You’ve got your prepositions. You’ve got your pronouns. You’ve got your articles. And most one syllable words are very basic concepts, like “foot” or “high” or “love” or “hit”.

On the other side of things 3- or more syllable words are usually fairly precise and specialized things.

There are a fair number of single syllable words that do not deserve to be so short. For instance, jess, “A short strap fastened around the leg of a hawk or other bird used in falconry, to which a leash may be fastened.” What are more examples? And can anyone think of a three- or more syllable word that really ought to be (or at least COULD be) only one syllable? The best I’ve come up with so far is “emergency”.


refrigerator/freezer has become “frig” (though I’ve heard it refered to as a “reefer.” :eek: )


It’s always bothered me that this word is:

a.) way too long;

b.) doesn’t have any obvious root (what is “onoma” Greek for? Or is it Latin? Heck, I know where “dinosaur” comes from);

and c.) doesn’t sound like what it describes. This is one word that ought to.

Not QUITE what the OP was looking for, but when I read the thread title, the first word that came to mind was “queue”.

Way too many letters for a word that’s pronounced “q”.

True story. My wife works in the refrigerated foods business. The cooling unit on the trucks is called a reefer. One day, they were having a tough delivery day and had to call in a driver from a temp driver service. The guy was a little out of it to say the least but they still needed him for the day. As it so happened, a truck broke down that day and they didn’t have enough. They decided to send the temp driver out to do quick local deliveries in an unrefrigerated truck. On the first stop, the driver got out and walked over to the receiving person at the store. The receiver looked over the truck and said “Hey, where’s your reefer?” The temp driver replied “Aw man, I ain’t got no more reefer but I can probably go get some if you really want it.”

Double-u all the other letters are monosyllables.


“Straightforwardly” is mighty cumbersome to write, if you catch the irony. Not a straightforward word at all.

“Simultaneous” (and “–ly”) will take you a while to get through. Of all words, that one ought to be one of the shortest.

humuhumunukunukuapuaa n. a small tropical Hawaiian fish.

ai n. another name for a three-toed sloth.



Go to any amusement park this time of year and you’ll see plenty of long queues.

Does anyone ever use that word aside from Scrabble players?

I was thinkiing about it and “oe” and their ilk, but they don’t seem like actual Real Words to me at all…

Abbreviation. Someone tell me why this word is so freakin’ long.

Again not exactly what you’re looking for, I don’t think (since they’re both pretty simple concepts), but as Gallagher said, why is “little” bigger than “big”?


Here is the one that I can never remember the definition to. It is long, sounds funny, hard to spell, and doesn’t sound like other words with similar types of meanings.

onomatopoeia - The term used to describe words whose pronunciations suggest their meaning (eg, meow, buzz)

This would depend upon how many three-toed sloths there are in your locality.

Abbreviation, though abbr is OK.