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I'm assuming there isn't a word that contains every letter in the alphabet, so which word contains the most?

Examples:

antidisestablishmentarianism - 12 [antidseblhmr]
psychotherapy - 12 [psychotherap]
handcraftsmanship - 13 [handcrftsmhip]

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Actually, this is not a dupe of "What is the longest word in the English language without a repeated letter?", as this question here expressly allows letters to be repeated. Check out OP's examples. –  RegDwigнt Mar 3 '11 at 8:52
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4 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Among words in a certain word list I found:

(18, 'llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch')

It has ten words with 16, including:

(16, 'superacknowledgement')
(16, 'pseudolamellibranchiate')
(16, 'pneumoventriculography')
(16, 'phenylthiocarbamides')
(16, 'hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia')
(16, 'formaldehydesulphoxylic')
(16, 'blepharoconjunctivitis')

There are several dozen with 15, including:

(15, 'undiscoverability')
(15, 'uncopyrightable')
(15, 'supermagnificently')
(15, 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious')
(15, 'submetaphorically')
(15, 'spondylotherapeutics')
(15, 'semiautobiographical')
(15, 'pterygomandibular')
(15, 'pseudoromantically')
(15, 'overdiscriminatingly')
(15, 'neuropharmacologists')
(15, 'hyperconstitutionalism')
(15, 'honorificabilitudinities')
(15, 'gumpoldskirchner')
(15, 'formaldehydesulphoxylate')
(15, 'encephalomyocarditis')
(15, 'dermatoglyphics')

and several hundred with 14 (including a few 14-letter words like 'pseudomythical', 'hydropneumatic' and 'ambidextrously').

In case anyone cares, this was done with Python, something like:

F = open('words.list').readlines()
for i in range(len(F)):
    w = F[i].strip().lower()
    F[i] = (len(set(w)), w)
F = sorted(F, reverse=True)
for i in range(len(F)): print F[i]

A better word list (one that includes subdermatoglyphic, for instance!) may give longer words. And you didn't ask about two words, but just for reference: this says "Ralph Beaman proposes formaldehydesulphoxylic ventriloquizing as a two-word combination having 22 different letters which should be difficult to beat"; I haven't checked this.

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5  
Given as how this isn't a programming site, it might be worth mentioning that you've used python here. –  dmckee Mar 2 '11 at 23:02
1  
@dmckee: Ok, done. Although, "given as how this isn't a programming site", perhaps I should have removed the code altogether! –  ShreevatsaR Mar 3 '11 at 18:05
1  
I like that you've displayed your python code. –  KerxPhilo May 5 '11 at 21:36
    
perl -le'for(@ARGV){my %s;@s{split//,lc}=();print$n=()=keys%s}' superstition Subdermatoglyphic Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch produces 9 17 18 — and involves significantly less monkeywork and prestidigitation. –  tchrist Feb 5 '13 at 13:39
1  
@Gareth: That's informative, thanks. Of course, whether something is an English word is loosely defined, and appearance in a word list is as good a metric as I can think of -- leave the decision to the word list, essentially. (The place is in Wales, but does that make it a Welsh word? Is "London" an English word? How about "Boston" or "Tokyo"?) BTW if we count according to Welsh letters (counting 'ch' as 1) it appears that we'll also have to count 'll' as 1, so we're back to 18 as it contains both 'll' and 'l'. :-) –  ShreevatsaR Feb 6 '13 at 4:49
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Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch clocks in at 18 distinct characters, but arguably a near-infinite number of 25-character answers exist, since organic chemistry nomenclature allows one to build valid hypothetical compound names of essentially arbitrary length, and the full alphabet less only J appears on the periodic table (though this does require one to refer to rutherfordium by its old placeholder name unnilquadium or arrogate a placeholder name for a transuranic element with an atomic number ending in 4 that hasn't been named yet, so it may only get us to 24 characters).

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Uncopyrightable is supposedly the longest word in the English language with no repeated letters, which makes it a logical starting point. That sets the bar at 15 unique letters.

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The funny part is that it does not appear in ShreevatsaR's list from /usr/share/dict/words. –  dmckee Mar 2 '11 at 23:04
    
make it plural, and that's 16 unique letters. Also, less common are: dermatoglyphics and misconjugatedly wikipedia –  Sean Cheshire Feb 5 '13 at 21:53
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Subdermatoglyphic = 17 (longest one seen so far).

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protected by RegDwigнt Feb 5 '13 at 13:32

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