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25 English Language Oddities

Jamie Frater

Many cultures find that English might possibly be one of the most difficult languages to learn. Not, in fact, for its words, but for the fact that it has so many unusual and contradictory rules. Just looking over an English study book will tell you that so many odd ifs and buts apply to so many words that it is enough to drive one crazy. Here are 25 examples of the oddities in the English language.

Oddities 21 – 25

Words1

25. “Rhythms” is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.

24. Excluding derivatives, there are only two words in English that end -shion and (though many words end in this sound). These are cushion and fashion.

23. “THEREIN” is a seven-letter word that contains thirteen words spelled using consecutive letters: the, he, her, er, here, I, there, ere, rein, re, in, therein, and herein.

22. There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: queueing.

21. Soupspoons is the longest word that consists entirely of letters from the second half of alphabet.

Oddities 16 – 20

Scrabble-Letters-1

20. “Almost” is the longest commonly used word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

19. The longest uncommon word whose letters are in alphabetical order is the eight-letter Aegilops (a grass genus).

18. The longest common single-word palindromes are deified, racecar, repaper, reviver, and rotator.

17. “One thousand” contains the letter A, but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an A.

16. “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in English.

Oddities 11 – 15

Words Are Sweet-1

15. Cwm (pronounced “koom”, defined as a steep-walled hollow on a hillside) is a rare case of a word used in English in which w is the nucleus vowel, as is crwth (pronounced “krooth”, a type of stringed instrument). Despite their origins in Welsh, they are accepted English words.

14. “Asthma” and “isthmi” are the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.

13. The nine-word sequence I, in, sin, sing, sting, string, staring, starting (or starling), startling can be formed by successively adding one letter to the previous word.

12. “Underground” and “underfund” are the only words in the English language that begin and end with the letters “und.”

11. “Stewardesses” is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand.

Oddities 6 – 10

Crossword

10. Antidisestablishmentarianism listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, was considered the longest English word for quite a long time, but today the medical term pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is usually considered to have the title, despite the fact that it was coined to provide an answer to the question ‘What is the longest English word?’.

9. “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

8. There are many words that feature all five regular vowels in alphabetical order, the commonest being abstemious, adventitious, facetious.

7. The superlatively long word honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters) alternates consonants and vowels.

6. “Fickleheaded” and “fiddledeedee” are the longest words consisting only of letters in the first half of the alphabet.

Oddities 1 – 5

Words1B-1

5. The two longest words with only one of the six vowels including y are the 15-letter defenselessness and respectlessness.

4. “Forty” is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order. “One” is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.

3. Bookkeeper is the only word that has three consecutive doubled letters.

2. Despite the assertions of a well-known puzzle, modern English does not have three common words ending in -gry. Angry and hungry are the only ones.

1. “Ough” can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

Jamie Frater

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and cooking. He is fascinated with all things morbid and bizarre.

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