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Arms of the See of Canterbury, governing the Church of England, mother of the Anglican Communion.

Antidisestablishmentarianism (listen to British sample , American sample ) is a political position that originated in 19th-century Britain. The position opposes proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England, meaning to remove the Anglican Church's status as the state church of England, Ireland, and Wales.

The establishment was maintained in England, but in Ireland the Church of Ireland (Anglican) was disestablished in 1871. In Wales, four Church of England dioceses were disestablished in 1920, subsequently becoming the Church in Wales.

The question of disestablishment of the Church of England is still current, often tied with the position of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom as “Supreme Governor” of the Church (see Act of Settlement 1701).

Word length[edit]

The word is notable for its unusual length of 28 letters and 12 syllables. It is one of the longest words in the English language.[1] It is commonly believed to be the longest word in English found in major dictionaries, excluding coined and technical terms.[1] It rose to the public consciousness in the United States via a popular television show in the 1950s The $64,000 Question, when a young contestant correctly spelled it to win. A slightly longer but less commonly accepted variant of the word can be found in the Duke Ellington song "You're Just an Old Antidisestablishmentarianismist",[2] although the correct construction of that word would be antidisestablishmentarianist (without the -ism) or antidisestablishmentarian.

The word construction is as follows (the numbers succeeding the word refer to the number of letters in the word):

establish (9)
to set up, put in place, or institute (originally from the Latin stare, to stand)
dis-establish (12)
to end the established status of a body, in particular a church, given such status by law, such as the Church of England
disestablish-ment (16)
the separation of church and state (specifically in this context it is the political movement of the 1860s in Britain)
anti-disestablishment (20)
opposition to disestablishment
antidisestablishment-ary (23)
of or pertaining to opposition to disestablishment
antidisestablishmentari-an (25)
an opponent of disestablishment
antidisestablishmentarian-ism (28)
the movement or ideology that opposes disestablishment

J. E. Littlewood pointed out that the word is all "form" apart from the Latin stem st.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b What is the longest English word? Oxford Dictionaries Online
  2. ^ ELLINGTON, Duke and Eminems song Finally Famous Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
  3. ^ Littlewood's miscellany p.165 ISBN 0-521-33702-X