Japanese Kanji and Longest Words

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We know that the Japanese language loves to have short words of only one syllable, but there are also long words that you didn’t think existed. In this article, we will look at the longest words and ideograms in the Japanese language.

Japanese ideograms called kanji usually have from one to three syllables in their reading. There are exceptions where an ideogram can have a very long Japanese reading. Besides the readings there is something called definition, which is the meaning or translation of the ideogram which can sometimes be as long as a sentence.

Now when it comes to words composed of several ideograms, they can reach exorbitant sizes. This is because Japanese words convey ideas bigger than a simple foreign word. There is no space in the Japanese language, so some words appear only with the addition of others just like in the German language.

Long words in Japanese are spelled jogaku [長大語]. 

Yojijukugo - Words from 4 ideograms

They are not the longest words in Japanese, but we can quote a giant list of Japanese words, mainly onomatopoeia and duplicates that are categorized in Japanese as yojijukugo [四字熟語] which literally means a word made up of four characters.

These words are often used as hitorihitori or mechakucha, some may even have 8 syllables and 16 Roman letters when converted. They are not giant words, but it is interesting to know that they receive a category.

You will hardly find Japanese words and expressions with more than 5 ideograms other than a combination of words that can be decomposed to form other words. Although all can be decomposed lol.

Kanji and Longer Ideograms in Japanese

Usually a kanji has only one or two syllables. Rarely will a Japanese character or kanji have more than 4 syllables. Now we are going to change this concept by presenting some ideograms that exceed 4 syllables of pronunciation.

Ideograms can have multiple readings, so some Japanese may end up inventing infinite readings for certain ideograms. Now we will see ideograms with long readings, but which are common and used in Japanese daily life.

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
KanjiReadingMeaning
mikotonoriimperial edict
kokorozashiintention, kindness, will
matsurigotorules, government
deshimeetoruDecimeter
ureerusamabusy, restless
iiaresoufight, discussion

When dealing with ideograms with a long definition we have [孒] that can be read as hydranoudeganeganai which means I have no left arm. Another ideogram is [砉] which can be defined as honetokawatogahanareruoto.

I couldn’t find or write the ideogram on the computer or internet, but I know that the largest ideogram has a total of 62 letters and 33 syllables and is pronounced monokagekarakyuunitobidashitehitowoodorokaserutokinihassurukoe.

Another Japanese character can be read with 37 letters and 18 syllables and is pronounced: toragahitowokamoutosurutokinounarigoe. Both words refer to a surprise reaction that makes you jump when you hear a lion’s voice or shadow.

If anyone can write these ideograms, let me know. The second word is written as follows: [⺮] above [將]. I tried, got it, but I couldn’t write the ideogram that is probably obsolete.

The longest words in the Japanese language

The longest-named mountain in Japan is 牛奥ノ雁ケ腹摺山 (うしおくのがんがはらすりやま)
The longest-named temple in Japan is called 三図河頭極楽東門蓮華台上阿弥陀坊太平埜山本実成院長福寿寺 
There is a hill in New Zealand called タウマタファカタンギハンガコアウアウオタマテアポカイフェヌアキタナタ Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta 
The kanji and longer words of the Japanese language
Japan’s longest god name is アメニキシクニニキシアマツヒコヒコホノニニギノミコト 
The longest-named train station in Japan is 南阿蘇水の生まれる里白水高原駅 [minamiasomizunoumarerusatohakusuikōgen’eki] 
There is a character in the Rakugo called じゅげむじゅげむごこうのすりきれかいじゃりすいぎょのすいぎょうまつうんらいまつふうらいまつくうねるところにすむところやぶらこうじのやぶこうじぱいぽぱいぽぱいぽのしゅーりんがんしゅーりんがんのぐーりんだいぐーりんだいのぽんぽこぴーのぽんぽこなーのちょうきゅうめいのちうううううう

The biggest JAPANESE word comes from English

Did you know that one of the biggest words in the Japanese language actually comes from the English language? Yes, they use the same technical term for a lung disease caused by breathing 46-letter volcanic ash which is:

  • pneumoultramicroscopicossilicovulcanoconiotic

In Japanese the word has 33 syllables or kanas in a total of 60 romanized characters. See the word below:

  • ニューモノウルトラマイクロスコーピックシリコヴォルケーノコニオシス
  • Nyuumonourutoramaikurosukoopikkushirikovuuorukeenokonioshisu

It even makes sense, since Japan is a country with many volcanoes, the word is probably much more used than in English. Did you have any idea of ​​that word? I hope you enjoyed the article! We appreciate your comments and sharing.

The infinite flexibility of the Japanese language

It is not wrong to lengthen a verb or expression by repeating its conjugation. Someone could write for example: 食べられられられられられられられられ ... られる or おいしくなくなくなくなくなくなくなく ... ない to cause some effect on expression.

The Japanese language is very flexible when it comes to word formation. There is no space in the Japanese language, words are classified most of the time when they are between particles and verbs.

Often a dictionary ends up with entire expressions as a single word. Do you remember another gigantic Japanese word to share with us? We appreciate the comments and shares, I hope you enjoyed the article.

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