Fun facts about English words

Posted on 04. Oct, 2012 by in English Language

A while back I wrote a post about palindromes which are some really fun words in English.  I thought today it would be interesting to look at some fun facts about words and letters in English in general.  We speak, hear, and write words all the time, but it isn’t often we give them much thought other to check our spelling or look up a new word in the dictionary.  That is not the case today!  This post is a chance for us to take a closer look at some English words and the letters used to make those words and to have a little fun in the process.

Typing words
•    Using an American style keyboards the words “stewardesses” and “reverberated” are the longest words that can be typed using only the left hand.
•    “Lollipop” is the longest word that can be typed using only the right hand.

Consonants and Vowels in words
•    “Rhythm” and “syzygy*” are the longest words in English with no vowels (technically the letter ‘y’ is not a vowel even though it acts like one).
•    The word “queueing” is the only word with five consecutive vowels. The word with the most consonants in a row is “latchstring”.
•    “Subcontinental” is the only word that uses each English vowel only once and in reverse alphabetical order.
•    The most common letter in English is “e.”
•    The most common consonant in English is “r.”
•    More English words begin with the letter “s” than with any other letter.
•    If you spell out every number from 0 to 999 (i.e. one, two, three, etc.), you will find every vowel except for ‘a’. You have to count to one thousand to find a single ‘a’!

Syllables and words
•    The longest one-syllable words are “screeched” and “strengths”.
•    “W” is the only letter in the alphabet that does not have one syllable. It has three syllables!

Words inside words
•    The word “therein” contains ten words without rearranging any of the letters: there, in, the, he, her, here, ere, therein, herein, rein.

Fun facts about letters
•    A, H, I, M, O, T, U, V, W, X, and Y are the symmetric capital letters.
•    The symmetric lowercase letters are i, l, o, t, u, v, w, x.
•    “Q” is the only letter that is not used in the name of any of the United States.
•    The only words with “uu” are “vacuum”, “muumuu”, “residuum”, and “continuum”.
•    The only words with three consecutive double letters are “bookkeeping” and “bookkeeper”.

Words that stand alone
•    There aren’t any words in English that rhyme with “orange,” “purple,” “silver,” or “month.”
•    “Underground” is the only word that begins and ends with “und”.
•    Only two English words in current use end in “-gry”. They are “angry” and “hungry”.
•    There are only four English words in common use ending in “-dous”: “hazardous,” “horrendous,” “stupendous,” and “tremendous.”

*syzygy = a straight line configuration of three celestial bodies

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About gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after I completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.

One Response to “Fun facts about English words”

  1. kerry@effective english speaking in mumbai 8 October 2012 at 8:33 am #

    That’s really quite interesting. I didn’t know many of these fun facts. In stand alone words there are also some other words that end in “-gry”.


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