63-Letter German Word Becomes Obsolete

Auf Wiedersehen!

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Farewell to the longest word in the German language. The 63-letter word – “RkReÜAÜG” for short – had a surprisingly brief, 14-year life for such a mouthful. The word was originally coined in 1999 to describe a state labelling law meant to safeguard against mad cow disease, according to the Associated Press. But now that the state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, has changed its regulation to conform with European Union regulations, both the word and the law it describes have been rendered moot.

So what exactly was this mouthful of a word? Here goes:

Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz

According to The Telegraph, that’s pronounced:

Why are German words so long in the first place? As Spiegel explains, “Technically, there is no limit to word length in German because, like Finnish and Hungarian, it allows words to be joined together to create compound nouns at will.”

As it turns out, the 63-letter word never actually made it into the German dictionary because it was only relevant in one state. The longest word in the German dictionary is the 36-letter Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung or auto insurance, the Associated Press reports via dpa. And the most lengthy word used in everyday conversation is the 39-letter  Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, which refers to insurance companies offering legal protection, per The Telegraph.

The longest word ever “composed” is:

Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft

That word stands for the “Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services.”

Fans of long words still have plenty of sturdy standbys, however, including:

Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen: speed limit.

Herzkreislaufwiederbelebung: CPR

Windschutzscheibewaschanlage: windshield wiper system

Betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung: prescription regulation of narcotics

Fussballweltmeisterschaftsendrundenteilnehmer: a football team that makes it to the World Cup

Überschallgeschwindigkeitsflugzeug: a supersonic jet

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