Before starting, I’d like to apologize for the fact that this post’s title is so long that it runs off the visible page. Today’s word comes from my dad, actually. Although he doesn’t speak German, I guess the word was just so large, he couldn’t help but run into it.
Never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.
The 63-letter (or 65-letter, if you turn ü into ue) word breaks up as follows: Rindfleisch + Etikettierungs + Überwachungs + Aufgaben + Übertragungs + Gesetz, which mean: beef + labeling + monitoring + tasks + transfer + law, respectively.
Or, as a whole, it means: law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling.
This word came about when the European Union demanded more testing of cattle during the mad cow crisis of the late ’90s. But now that testing has halted, the word fell out of use and has been struck from the language (as much as any word can be struck from any language, I guess).
With Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz gone, a new word has risen to claim the longest German word title (albeit unofficially): Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänswitwe (a 48-letter word that means widow of a Danube steamboat company captain). The official (i.e., dictionary accepted) longest word is actually Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung, meaning automobile liability insurance.
I guess it’s questionable whether or not we should consider these words “words” at all. But that’ll be a more appropriate topic for another debate.
Want to read more about other uncommon words? See the Interesting Words page.