Longest word with only 3 letters

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timonan
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Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby timonan » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:55 am UTC

What's the longest English word you can create using only three letters?

For example, the letters B, A, and N can spell BANANA, which is 6 letters long.
Also, the letters S, E, and D can spell SEEDED, which is also 6 letters long.

I've come up with an 8 letter word. Any guesses? Or can you come up with a longer word?

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby btilly » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:19 am UTC

Here is the best that I can do.
Spoiler:
8 it appears to be.

I downloaded the ispell dictionary from http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/. I then used Perl to look through it for the longest word with 3-letters. I found none longer than 8. Those of length 8 that I found were:

assesses
caracara
greegree
lavalava
pepperer
referrer
susurrus

Some of these I don't recognize. But some I do.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby evilbeanfiend » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:53 pm UTC

lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Kabann » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:59 pm UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?



Or the poetic O.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby btilly » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:25 pm UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?

For 2 you have booboo and deeded.

For 1 it depends. Do you count abbreviations like AAA or WWW?
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby evilbeanfiend » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:00 pm UTC

no i dont think abbreviations should count otherwise you can construct an answer of any length you like.

deeded and booboo seem ok though i think the latter would normally be hyphenated so is still slightly cheating
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby mudge » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:34 pm UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?


nope. aa (a hawaiian word for a type of lava. Scrabble accepts it, so I'm happy with it :D )
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Robin S » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:44 pm UTC

You may find this Wikipedia article interesting.
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby GodShapedBullet » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:02 pm UTC

mudge wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?


nope. aa (a hawaiian word for a type of lava. Scrabble accepts it, so I'm happy with it :D )


I'm fine with the word 'A'ā, but Scrabble does have some rather loose standards when it comes to two letter words.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Felstaff » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:05 pm UTC

mudge wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?


nope. aa (a hawaiian word for a type of lava. Scrabble accepts it, so I'm happy with it :D )


The sound that ghosts make is clearly the longest word you can make with only one letter.
You can also spell it out with cheerios.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby mudge » Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:35 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:
mudge wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?


nope. aa (a hawaiian word for a type of lava. Scrabble accepts it, so I'm happy with it :D )


The sound that ghosts make is clearly the longest word you can make with only one letter.
You can also spell it out with cheerios.


Like that one time a ghost was contacting me through my alpha-bits?!
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby timonan » Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:47 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:
mudge wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:lets try with different numbers then

for 2 i get épée and sees for 4 and the wonderfully self descriptive esses for 5

for 1 i think a or i may be the only solutions?


nope. aa (a hawaiian word for a type of lava. Scrabble accepts it, so I'm happy with it :D )


The sound that ghosts make is clearly the longest word you can make with only one letter.
You can also spell it out with cheerios.


I think it's actually a tie between the sound that a ghost makes and the sound you make when you see one (more of an "AAAAAAAAAAAAAA" sound).

Ok, what about 4 letters? Just enough to be interesting, not too many to get out of control.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby 4=5 » Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:53 pm UTC

the sounds you make when you see a really hot lady
Daaaaaaaamn!

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby btilly » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:48 am UTC

timonan wrote:Ok, what about 4 letters? Just enough to be interesting, not too many to get out of control.

senselessness at 13 looks like the winner.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby steewi » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:04 am UTC

btilly wrote:
timonan wrote:Ok, what about 4 letters? Just enough to be interesting, not too many to get out of control.

senselessness at 13 looks like the winner.


You could theoretically pluralise it to make 15: 'senselessnesses'. The context of using it would be pretty specialised. If you were discussing the nature of senselessness and decided that there were different types, you could talk about all the different people's senselessnesses.

Slightly OT: I've recently wanted to use the word 'goddesslessnesses' in conversation. Just because.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby michaelandjimi » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:47 am UTC

So, what's up with the goddesslessness of certain religions, such as Christianity?
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby steewi » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:39 am UTC

Further OT:
Judaism has its own share of goddesslessness, too. But when it comes to goddesslessness, Islam's goddesslessness is greater than Christianity and Judaism's goddesslessnesses.
/OT

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby btilly » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:08 pm UTC

michaelandjimi wrote:So, what's up with the goddesslessness of certain religions, such as Christianity?

The Virgin Mary makes Christian goddesslessness less.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby audioMIME » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:15 pm UTC

btilly wrote:
michaelandjimi wrote:So, what's up with the goddesslessness of certain religions, such as Christianity?

The Virgin Mary makes Christian goddesslessness less.


Well played, sir.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Avram » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:52 pm UTC

"Bonobo," "rococo," and "needed" come to mind. I can't think of anything great than 6 off-hand.

Also: "effete," "murmur" (a synonym for "susurrus," oddly enough), "sasses," & "reefer."

Aha! "referee" and "referer" both have 7.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby timonan » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:15 pm UTC

Yeah, referrer was the word I can up with originally and led to me posting this topic (it actually has two R's, so it's eight letters long).

Actually, if I had to refer something twice, wouldn't that make me a rereferrer? Or if I made someone a referee a second time, would I be a rerefereeer.

Ok, now I'm just being ridiculous.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Simbera » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:04 am UTC

More than anything else, it doesn't work because a person who referees isn't a refereer, they're just a referee.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby timonan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:16 am UTC

No, I'm making someone a referee, so I'm a referee-er. If I do it again, I'm a re-referee-er.

Wait, why am I arguing this?

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Avram » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Because it's the internets!

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby titanicdaze » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:26 am UTC

btilly wrote:Here is the best that I can do.
Spoiler:
8 it appears to be.

I downloaded the ispell dictionary from http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/. I then used Perl to look through it for the longest word with 3-letters. I found none longer than 8. Those of length 8 that I found were:

assesses
caracara
greegree
lavalava
pepperer
referrer
susurrus

Some of these I don't recognize. But some I do.


Holy living everything. I had never seen that webpage before. I am absolutely in heaven. I respect you deeply, kind sir.

p.s., I know that 2 is a kind of very sweet and very juicy orange; 3 is a variant on a rather complicated piece of Vodun ("Voodoo") paraphernalia (
Spoiler:
"grisgris" -- it means "graygray" or "greygrey" in French
;
Spoiler:
susurrus
is whispering.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby R.K. » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:58 pm UTC

"Sky", "sun", and "eon".

Also, "Senesenes" is a very rare surname in the US.
[citation needed]

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:40 am UTC

what about the shortest words with n distinct letters? obviously we have a lower limit of n, its pretty easy to start with but i bet it'll get harder later

1 a 1
2 be 2
3 sea 3
4 dear 4
5 earth 5
6 creams 6
7 custard 7
8 seams hard
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Avram » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:48 am UTC

8 blackens 8
9 simulated 9
10 stupefying 10
11 kleptomanic 11

I can come up with plenty more 9's and 10's... like "hyperbolic" or "narcolepsy," but 12 is damn hard.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby R.K. » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:16 am UTC

Fonkey wrote:8 blackens 8
9 simulated 9
10 stupefying 10
11 kleptomanic 11

I can come up with plenty more 9's and 10's... like "hyperbolic" or "narcolepsy," but 12 is damn hard.


Not hard. 257 already there. 257. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of 257 257 times, but always comes out one. "un" is a problem. Excluding the words starting with "un" leaves 216. Also important. One goes into the house of 216 216 times and always comes out in ones, twos, or threes. My favorite is "psychoneural". It means "I can kill you with my brain".
[citation needed]

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby btilly » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:57 am UTC

Fonkey wrote:8 blackens 8
9 simulated 9
10 stupefying 10
11 kleptomanic 11

I can come up with plenty more 9's and 10's... like "hyperbolic" or "narcolepsy," but 12 is damn hard.

As before I cheated with ispell. Spoilered for those who like to figure these things out for themselves.
Spoiler:
12: customizable
13: uncrystalized
14: ambidextrously
15: dermatoglyphics
16: superacknowledgment

and ispell did not list any words with 17+ distinct letters. Unless you count the apostrophe in superacknowledgment's.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby steewi » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:29 am UTC

btilly wrote:
Fonkey wrote:8 blackens 8
9 simulated 9
10 stupefying 10
11 kleptomanic 11

I can come up with plenty more 9's and 10's... like "hyperbolic" or "narcolepsy," but 12 is damn hard.

As before I cheated with ispell. Spoilered for those who like to figure these things out for themselves.
Spoiler:
12: customizable
13: uncrystalized
14: ambidextrously
15: dermatoglyphics
16: superacknowledgment

and ispell did not list any words with 17+ distinct letters. Unless you count the apostrophe in superacknowledgment's.


Check the spoiler for spoiled victory. Otherwise fine.

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby evilbeanfiend » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:35 am UTC

no its fine its 16 distinct letters in 18 letters. its just not the theoretical best. adding an s to the end obviously doesn't help though as there is already an s and i don't the the apostrophe is even correct (something belonging to it?) before we go into does it count as a distinct letter. so perhaps it is unsolvable for 17 distinct letters, or at least with our current inadequate words.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Avram » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:17 pm UTC

But there aren't any bragging rights when you use software!

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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:59 pm UTC

uncopyrightable has 15 and is actually something more people are likely to understand than dermatoglyphics.
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby trisw » Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:05 am UTC

FYI -- I know I am 4 years late, but I caught this on Google and decided to write a program of my own. It looks like either your dictionary or program didn't work quite right, btilly, because I got a longer 3-letters-only word: seeresses: 3 letters, 9 chars long. I also got another in the 8-letter-word category: kavakava: 3 letters. With 4 letters, you can make a 15-letter word, "senselessnessess"

Using the 2006 Scrabble dictionary, I get the following for mos/least unique letters in various-length words. Enjoy!
--
Spoiler:
Loading dictionaries...
Done. Loaded in 0.06 seconds.
2-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
aa: 1 letters
mm: 1 letters
oy: 2 letters
ae: 2 letters
ag: 2 letters
ah: 2 letters
ai: 2 letters
al: 2 letters
am: 2 letters
an: 2 letters
3-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
zzz: 1 letters
aal: 2 letters
aas: 2 letters
aba: 2 letters
zuz: 2 letters
zoo: 2 letters
zee: 2 letters
yay: 2 letters
wow: 2 letters
add: 2 letters
4-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
abba: 2 letters
dodo: 2 letters
epee: 2 letters
eses: 2 letters
deed: 2 letters
gaga: 2 letters
gogo: 2 letters
dada: 2 letters
haha: 2 letters
juju: 2 letters
5-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
esses: 2 letters
mamma: 2 letters
tazza: 3 letters
abaca: 3 letters
gelee: 3 letters
geese: 3 letters
hahas: 3 letters
abaka: 3 letters
halal: 3 letters
gamma: 3 letters
6-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
booboo: 2 letters
muumuu: 2 letters
weewee: 2 letters
beebee: 2 letters
doodoo: 2 letters
deeded: 2 letters
coocoo: 2 letters
pompom: 3 letters
terret: 3 letters
terete: 3 letters
7-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
weewees: 3 letters
beebees: 3 letters
booboos: 3 letters
doodoos: 3 letters
entente: 3 letters
feoffee: 3 letters
alfalfa: 3 letters
gigging: 3 letters
ginning: 3 letters
halalah: 3 letters
8-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
caracara: 3 letters
susurrus: 3 letters
referrer: 3 letters
pepperer: 3 letters
assesses: 3 letters
lavalava: 3 letters
kavakava: 3 letters
greegree: 3 letters
septette: 4 letters
cassabas: 4 letters
9-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
seeresses: 3 letters
represses: 4 letters
onenesses: 4 letters
kavakavas: 4 letters
lavalavas: 4 letters
nonsenses: 4 letters
arrearage: 4 letters
peeresses: 4 letters
peesweeps: 4 letters
pepperers: 4 letters
10-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
rememberer: 4 letters
susurruses: 4 letters
disseisees: 4 letters
hasheeshes: 4 letters
sleeveless: 4 letters
tattletale: 4 letters
deadheaded: 4 letters
sereneness: 4 letters
peppertree: 4 letters
senescence: 4 letters
11-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
senescences: 4 letters
sissinesses: 4 letters
densenesses: 4 letters
tensenesses: 4 letters
coccidiosis: 5 letters
newsinesses: 5 letters
inanenesses: 5 letters
nippinesses: 5 letters
unsuccesses: 5 letters
noisinesses: 5 letters
12-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
kinnikinnick: 4 letters
serenenesses: 4 letters
suddennesses: 5 letters
intentnesses: 5 letters
effetenesses: 5 letters
jejunenesses: 5 letters
selflessness: 5 letters
needlessness: 5 letters
sullennesses: 5 letters
insanenesses: 5 letters
13-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
senselessness: 4 letters
sinlessnesses: 5 letters
intensenesses: 5 letters
endlessnesses: 5 letters
sexlessnesses: 5 letters
reengineering: 5 letters
sleeplessness: 5 letters
uselessnesses: 5 letters
kinnikinnicks: 5 letters
immensenesses: 5 letters
14-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
sensuousnesses: 5 letters
needlessnesses: 5 letters
selflessnesses: 5 letters
nonpossessions: 6 letters
helplessnesses: 6 letters
sinisternesses: 6 letters
heedlessnesses: 6 letters
sheepishnesses: 6 letters
skillessnesses: 6 letters
assassinations: 6 letters
15-letter words with the fewest unique letters:
senselessnesses: 4 letters
sleeplessnesses: 5 letters
spinelessnesses: 6 letters
erroneousnesses: 6 letters
insatiatenesses: 6 letters
condescendences: 6 letters
insensitiveness: 6 letters
insensitivities: 6 letters
classlessnesses: 6 letters
instantaneities: 6 letters
------------------------
2-letter words with the most unique letters:
za: 2 letters
ab: 2 letters
ad: 2 letters
ae: 2 letters
ag: 2 letters
ah: 2 letters
ai: 2 letters
al: 2 letters
am: 2 letters
an: 2 letters
3-letter words with the most unique letters:
tun: 3 letters
zoa: 3 letters
zit: 3 letters
zip: 3 letters
abo: 3 letters
abs: 3 letters
aby: 3 letters
ace: 3 letters
act: 3 letters
zin: 3 letters
4-letter words with the most unique letters:
zyme: 4 letters
zouk: 4 letters
zori: 4 letters
zonk: 4 letters
zone: 4 letters
abed: 4 letters
abet: 4 letters
able: 4 letters
ably: 4 letters
abos: 4 letters
5-letter words with the most unique letters:
zymes: 5 letters
zowie: 5 letters
zouks: 5 letters
zoris: 5 letters
zoril: 5 letters
zonks: 5 letters
zones: 5 letters
zoner: 5 letters
zoned: 5 letters
zonal: 5 letters
6-letter words with the most unique letters:
zymase: 6 letters
zygote: 6 letters
zygose: 6 letters
zygoma: 6 letters
zygoid: 6 letters
zydeco: 6 letters
zoysia: 6 letters
zounds: 6 letters
zouave: 6 letters
zoster: 6 letters
7-letter words with the most unique letters:
wergild: 7 letters
shriven: 7 letters
shrivel: 7 letters
shrived: 7 letters
shrined: 7 letters
shrimpy: 7 letters
shrieky: 7 letters
showmen: 7 letters
showman: 7 letters
showing: 7 letters
8-letter words with the most unique letters:
pinscher: 8 letters
pintados: 8 letters
pinocles: 8 letters
pinochle: 8 letters
pinwales: 8 letters
pinholes: 8 letters
pinheads: 8 letters
pinfolds: 8 letters
pinworks: 8 letters
pinworms: 8 letters
9-letter words with the most unique letters:
zymurgies: 9 letters
triplanes: 9 letters
keratosic: 9 letters
kephalins: 9 letters
spikenard: 9 letters
ketonuria: 9 letters
keyboards: 9 letters
kashering: 9 letters
karyotins: 9 letters
kidnapers: 9 letters
10-letter words with the most unique letters:
zygomatics: 10 letters
exactingly: 10 letters
excusatory: 10 letters
exfoliants: 10 letters
euthyroids: 10 letters
exhausting: 10 letters
eurythmics: 10 letters
exhaustion: 10 letters
eurybathic: 10 letters
exhumation: 10 letters
11-letter words with the most unique letters:
abolishment: 11 letters
conjugality: 11 letters
conjugately: 11 letters
smouldering: 11 letters
confirmedly: 11 letters
confirmable: 11 letters
construable: 11 letters
consumptive: 11 letters
shouldering: 11 letters
shortwaving: 11 letters
12-letter words with the most unique letters:
stickhandler: 12 letters
productively: 12 letters
bluestocking: 12 letters
unhysterical: 12 letters
unglamorized: 12 letters
unforgivable: 12 letters
nightwalkers: 12 letters
problematics: 12 letters
cabinetworks: 12 letters
multipronged: 12 letters
13-letter words with the most unique letters:
copyrightable: 13 letters
unpredictably: 13 letters
unproblematic: 13 letters
multibranched: 13 letters
hydromagnetic: 13 letters
troublemaking: 13 letters
motherfucking: 13 letters
flowchartings: 13 letters
subordinately: 13 letters
endolymphatic: 13 letters
14-letter words with the most unique letters:
troublemakings: 14 letters
ambidextrously: 14 letters
dermatoglyphic: 14 letters
superovulating: 13 letters
republications: 13 letters
pulverizations: 13 letters
cholestyramine: 13 letters
preformulating: 13 letters
cinematographs: 13 letters
cinematography: 13 letters
15-letter words with the most unique letters:
uncopyrightable: 15 letters
dermatoglyphics: 15 letters
overspeculating: 14 letters
cytomegalovirus: 14 letters
mouthwateringly: 14 letters
methoxyfluranes: 14 letters
laryngectomized: 14 letters
hypercatabolism: 14 letters
hyperfunctional: 14 letters
decarboxylating: 14 letters

skullturf
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby skullturf » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:08 am UTC

"erroneousnesses" has the visual property of having no ascenders or descenders when typed in lower case.

I guess the letters with this property are:

acemnorsuvwxz

I don't know if we can make a longer word using only those letters.

MV94041
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby MV94041 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:31 pm UTC

Here's a 9-letter word using only E, R and S -- seeresses

Used in a sentence: "I can fortell the future. I am a seer. So can my wife, she is a seeress. So can both of our daughters -- they are seeresses."

"Seeress" was used in a New York Times crossword puzzle recently.

On a semi-related topic, my father told me once that "bookkeeper" was the word with the most consecutive repeating double letters, and that he thought that the phrase "boob bookkeeper," as in "Look, that boob bookkeeper made another mistake" deserved some credit for the 5 consecutive double letters.

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Eebster the Great
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:57 am UTC

trisw wrote:FYI -- I know I am 4 years late, but I caught this on Google and decided to write a program of my own. It looks like either your dictionary or program didn't work quite right, btilly, because I got a longer 3-letters-only word: seeresses: 3 letters, 9 chars long. I also got another in the 8-letter-word category: kavakava: 3 letters. With 4 letters, you can make a 15-letter word, "senselessnessess"

"Senselessnesses" has already been mentioned. "Seeresses" (female seers) was probably not in the dictionary, though unlike "senselessnesses," it is a word that actually sees some use, apparently.

MV94041 wrote:On a semi-related topic, my father told me once that "bookkeeper" was the word with the most consecutive repeating double letters, and that he thought that the phrase "boob bookkeeper," as in "Look, that boob bookkeeper made another mistake" deserved some credit for the 5 consecutive double letters.

Martin Gardener published the example of "subbookkeeper" as a somewhat plausible word with four consecutive double letters and "boobbookkeeper" as a silly word with five.

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mathmannix
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby mathmannix » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:41 pm UTC

btilly wrote:Here is the best that I can do.
8
...
pepperer


So I ask, if "pepperer" is a word, why not "repepperer"? 10 letters.
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

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Eebster the Great
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Re: Longest word with only 3 letters

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:46 pm UTC

Or for that matter, the prepepperer, who peppers before either the pepperer or the repepperer.


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