If you don’t count the fictional Mary Poppins’ “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” everyone knows what the longest word in the English language is: antidisestablishmentarianism!

Actually, as you might expect with these sorts of things, there’s some dispute over whether it really is the longest English word. Suffice it to say, it is certainly one of the longest English words that has legitimate use (and wasn’t just made up in order to be the longest word).

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But for all the people who know it as “the longest English word,” how many people know its Christian origins?

Back in the 16th century, with the Protestant Reformation in full swing, King Henry VIII of England, declared himself to be the supreme head of the Church in England. Since that time (with a few exceptions), England has had an established Church – that is, a Church officially supported and run by the government. Even today, Queen Elizabeth II is not only the Head of the Commonwealth but also officially the Supreme Governor of the Church of England (though in practice this is largely ceremonial). (Now remember that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”)

However, over the last few centuries, especially since the 19th century, there have been people in England against the country having an established Church. They favor, one can say, the “disestablishment” of the Church of England as the state Church.

Yet the Church of England remains an established state Church, since many oppose the disestablishment movement. Such people can described as “antidisestablishment” and be said to be “antidisestablishmentarians.”

Finally, the word to describe that political position – of being against the disestablishment of the Church of England – is “antidisestablishmentarianism.”

You may have noticed that the word has a double negative, which can make talking about it get pretty confusing pretty fast…

via supercaleygoballistic.wordpress.com
via supercaleygoballistic.wordpress.com

[See also: 7 More Words You Didn’t Know Had Christian Origins]

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