A list of 9,123 English monosyllabic words published in 1957 includes three ten-letter words: scraunched, scroonched, and squirreled. Other sources include words as long or longer though some are questionable on the grounds of spelling, pronunciation, archaic status, being nonstandard, a proper noun, loanword, or nonce word.
Nine-letter monosyllables are scratched, screeched, scrounged, squelched, straights, and strengths.
The past tense ending -ed and the archaic second-person singular ending -st can be combined into -edst. While this ending is usually pronounced as a separate syllable from the verb stem, it may be abbreviated -‘dst to indicate elision. Examples include scratch’dst and stretch’dst, each of which has one syllable spelled with ten letters plus an apostrophe.
Onomatopoeic monosyllables may be extended without limit to represent a long, drawn-out sound or utterance. For example, Yann Martel’s 1995 novel Self includes a 45-letter Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh and a 35-letter Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh.
Some nine-letter proper names remain monosyllabic when adding a tenth letter and apostrophe to form the possessive:
- Laugharne’s /ˈlɑːrnz/
- Scoughall’s /ˈskoʊlz/
A nonce word is a word created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication, i.e., “for the nonce” or this once. Some nonce words may be essentially meaningless, but they are useful for exactly that reason. For example, the single-syllable word wug was invented by researchers to be used in exercises in child language testing as a word children would not be familiar with.
The poem “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll, is full of nonce words, with two of them, chortle and galumphing, entering into common use. James Joyce’s 1939 novel, Finnegans Wake, used the monosyllabic quark as a nonce word. Physicist Murray Gell-Mann adopted the word in the 1960s as the name of a subatomic particle.
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