5 Conversations

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicavolcanoconiosis1 is a form of the illness pneumoconiosis caused by the inhalation of a fine silica dust found in most volcanoes. It is also the longest word in the dictionaries of Random House, Websters and Oxford, beating Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Floccinaucinihilipilification and antidisestablishmentarianism. Some people believe the word is a hoax; others disagree.

The Word


pneumono-: Greek - 'lung', 'lung-related'

ultra: Latin - 'beyond'

micro-: Greek - 'small'

scopic: Greek - 'looking'

silico: Latin - 'like sand'

volcano: Latin - volcano

konis: Greek - 'dust'

osis: Greek - 'condition'



The hoax

There is a theory that the word is a hoax created by the National Puzzlers League. At the 103rd meeting of the National Puzzlers League in Hotel New Yorker in 1935 Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis succeded electrophotomicrographically as the English language's longest word. The puzzlers claimed the word was an illness caused by ultra microscopic silica dust, but there is no record of medical literature containing the word. Which is why the word is suspected as a hoax.

The Disease

Types of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

There are four types of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis chronic,asymptomatic, acute and accelerated. The Chronic form is the most common and devlops after being exposed to low levels of silica dust for 20 years or longer.


When the dust is inhaled its embeds itself in the alveolar sacs and ducts where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. When the white blood cells respond they release a series of cytokines which stimulate fibroblasts and result in fibrosis.

The dust can also create silicon-based radicals which release compounds that damage surrounding cells such as hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl and oxygen radicals.


Its Symptoms are similar to those of the common cold not including those which affect the nose and head. They can include faster breathing, severe coughing, a hoarse throat, loss of appetite, chest pain and more susceptibility to tuberculosis.


There is no cure for the disease and there is no chance of recovering but there are somethings which can alleiviate the symptoms.

Making sure you are not in exposure to other lung damaging particles.
Taking cough suppressants.
Taking antibiotics and antitubercular agents to make sure tuberculosis does not develop.
Doing physiotherapy for the chest.
Lung transplantation.

1Called p45 by logists and Silicosis by doctors

Bookmark on your Personal Space



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more