English: 10 fun facts and a brief history


In the 5th century AD, three Germanic tribes arrived on the shores of Britain, marking the beginning of the history of the English language. These tribes – the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes – crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany.

At the time, people in Britain spoke Celtic. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders – mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from Engla land and their language was called Englisc, which is where the words ‘England’ and ‘English’ are derived from.

10 fun facts

1. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the longest word in the English language is: ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’. The only other word with the same number of letters is its plural: ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses’.


2. The word ‘alphabet’ is etymologically derived from the first two letters in the Greek alphabet: ‘alpha’ and ‘beta'.

3. ‘Underground’ is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters ‘und’.

4. ‘Testify’ is a word based on the tradition of men in the Roman court who validated the truth of their statements by swearing on their testicles. Luckily, nowadays we swear on a book instead.

5. No other word in the English language rhymes with month, and no English words rhyme with orange, silver or purple.

6. The combination of letters ‘ough’ can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: ‘A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough (American accent needed); after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed (hiccupped).’

7. The English word ‘fart’ is one of the oldest words in the English vocabulary. Etymologically, its immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten, feortan or farten, which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan, now furzen (to fart) or just plain der Furz (fart). The Old English word for ‘fart’ was verteth.

8. The shortest complete sentence in the English language is: ‘I am.’

9. This sentence has every letter of the alphabet in it: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’

10. What is the longest one-syllable word in English? You might be surprised to find out that it’s ‘screeched’.

Whether you’re just starting to learn the language at an English school London is home to, or you’re at a more advanced level and taking a Business English course, prepare yourself for many surprises. The English language is rich and diverse thanks to its many influences.

What is your favourite word in English?

  • Fart
  • Testicle
  • Hiccup
  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
  • None of the above
See results without voting

Comments 13 comments

Josh 5 years ago

Fun article, did you know the word OK comes from WWI. Apparently at the UK air bases they had a blackboard where the Kills for the day were written down as K. So for example if 2 planes didn't return back they would appear as 2K (2 Kills). Those days that had no victims would appear as OK, hence OK having a positive meaning !

Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

I loved reading this! I just wish I would have found your information a few weeks ago. My coworker was giving me a hard time about knowing the longest word in the English language - I didn't know it and he did. Thanks for sharing :)

LearnFromMe profile image

LearnFromMe 5 years ago

I love etymology, especially when it comes to our language, so I absolutely thought this hub was awesome! Recently, someone asked me to give the meaning of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, thinking it was some profound word when in reality, it's just a few common prefixes, roots and suffixes strung together... Thanks for sharing!

fedemenzed profile image

fedemenzed 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

@Josh Wow, that's quite a story! I didn't know about it, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

@Ardie Thanks for passing by, Ardie! I'm glad you enjoyed the reading :)

@LearnFromMe Yes, I discovered that when I was working on this Hub. When I ran into "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", I thought it was a profound word as well, hahaha :) Thanks for stopping by!

fedemenzed profile image

fedemenzed 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thanks @Deborah Rangel I'm happy you like it!

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very informative hub. I learn much from you. Thanks for share with us. Rated up! ~prasetio

fedemenzed profile image

fedemenzed 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

@Paraseito30 Thanks for your kind words, it's nice to know that people appreciate my writing.

arwa 4 years ago

very informative site

no 4 years ago

hello bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbop

jimmy 4 years ago

I never knew our language could be so ineresting.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

You guys swear on a "book" over there? Over here in America we use the Bible. :D

Anyway, your article is fascinating and I enjoyed it very much. Great stuff. Thank you!

gemma 4 years ago

great stuff very good i got a lot of information

bingkahuna 3 years ago

#9 - also, "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz." #10 - also, "strengths"

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