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Math and Arithmetic
Word and Phrase Origins

What is the longest palindrome?


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December 05, 2015 12:15AM

While there are many computer-generated thousand-word palindromes, almost none make consistent sense. In the Finnish language, there is a 25-letter single-word palindrome, saippuakuppinippukauppias which means "soap cup dealer". Officially, the longest palindrome is the 19-letter "saippuakivikauppias", which means a person who sells soapstones. "Tattarrattat" would be the longest single-word palindrome in the English language, but it appears in few dictionaries. It is an onomatopoeic nonce word describing the sound of someone knocking on a door, coined by James Joyce in the novel "Ulysses" (1922). It is considered secondary to the similarly used "rat-a-tat-tat".

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