Ready for some fun facts about nouns? Let’s start with their length. According to Google, the longest English noun is “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Even though it is in a dictionary, it achieved its length by adding silicovolcanoconiosis to pneumonoultramicroscopic. Therefore, some linguists don’t consider it a true word.
The chemical composition of titin is methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalanyl…isoleucine, with the ellipses replacing the other 189,773 letters of this “word” that is not in a dictionary and takes 2+ hours to say.
Other candidates for the longest words include floccinaucinihilipilification (29 letters), antidisestablishmentarianism (28 letters), and counterrevolutionaries (22 letters), depending on who you ask.
The Word Noun is Associated with Name
The word “noun” can be traced to the old French word nom or non, and, before that, the Latin word nomen, or name. That makes sense, since we can either name a thing—a cat—or give the cat a name—Marnie, for example.
The list of words that contain the root nom, non, or nym includes
And because I want to use the word eponym twice, don’t forget “eponymous.”
All of those words are nounal, which means “of or pertaining to a noun.”
Useful but Rare Nouns
Sometimes rare words are rare for a reason. Dord, for example, is a ghost word, created by accident by a lexicographer compiling a dictionary. Another rare word, ebulliate, means to send up bubbles while boiling.
Accismus is a helpful term for pretending indifference to something when you’re really interested in it. Next time you see a person eyeing something and pretending not to want it, say, “Your accismus is showing. Just grab that last donut. You know you want it.”
Metanoia is used to describe a fundamental change in how someone perceives things. When your friend grabs that last donut, say, “I see that your metanoia got the better of you.”
Paucity means that something is available only in small or insufficient quantities. After your friend finishes the donut, look at the plate and say, “There’s a paucity of food remaining.”
Other rare nouns that should be in common usage, include solipsist (a self-absorbed person who doesn’t care about the needs of others), uhtceare (waking up before dawn and feeling anxious), and ultracrepidarian (a person who rambles on about something he knows nothing about).
The Most Common Nouns
Google Trends shows you what people are searching for on a given day. If it’s May 4th, “Star Wars” will trend. However, on May 5th, something else will
The Oxford Language Dictionary group has created the Oxford English Corpus. This online database has gathered more than 2.5 billion words and created a list of the most commonly used words in written English. Check out these interesting statistics:
The top 10 words are ”the,” “be,” “to,” “of,” “and,” “a,” “in,” “that,” “have,” and “I.”
The top 100 words equal 50% of all words used.
“Be” is the most commonly used verb.
The most commonly used noun is time.
But why “time”? So much of our interpersonal communication is used to express when we plan to do something, what we will do first, and what we plan to do when we are finished.
Every story we tell unfolds with the passing of time. Fairy tales begin with once upon a time. Most stories are told from the beginning to the end. We measure our days in time, from what time we get up to when we need to get to work, what time we go to lunch, and what time dinner will be ready.
Not-So-Fun Fact About Nouns
Maybe this is not one of the fun facts about nouns, but it is important. What people remember from school about nouns is that they are a person, place, or thing. You know that an animal is technically not a person or thing. But it is not a stretch to connect a person and an animal as both living things.
What teachers sometimes don’t teach, or they did, and we weren’t paying attention, is that words that express or label an idea are also nouns. Freedom, time, information, government, and system are among the many nouns that express an idea. Usually, these words can be replaced by it.
“I need my freedom, and I want it now,” said the kid stuck in detention.
“I need more time, but I never get enough of it.”
“I need more information, and I need it now.”
“You might hate government, but you need it, or else you have anarchy.”
Words About Nouns Are Not Nouns
I know that’s a tongue twister, but it is not my fault—not entirely.
In the sentence “My cat ran away,” cat is a noun, but “my” is not. The purpose of “my” is to indicate who the cat belongs to.
My, the, and a are classified as determiners. A book refers to some book, the book specifies a book, and my book specifies it further.
Not everyone agrees that my is a determiner. Some consider it an adjective. They argue that the my in “my book” describes the book.
Regardless, my is not a noun.
In that sentence “my” is an interjection, but let’s save that for another article.
Nouns are the building blocks of language, and they play a crucial role in communication. For example, in the sentence “The cat chased the dog,” the nouns are important. However, the excitement of the sentence comes from the verb. Without nouns, a sentence would mean nothing. “It chased after it” is meaningless if we don’t know what the pronoun stands for. Verbs, on the other hand, give life to the sentence by expressing action or occurrence.
If you enjoyed learning some fun facts about nouns, check out the article “Fun Facts About Verbs” for interesting facts about that part of speech.