Longest Town Name and Shortest Town Name

Longest Town Name and Shortest Town Name

If you read my hubs, you know that I often use longer words.

Longer words have a certain appeal. For example, I believe that the word, ‘perspicacious,’ conveys so much more than ‘wise.’

And ‘perspicuous’ has so much more class than ‘easy to understand.’ Those are two of my favorite words.

I have noticed this inclination at times in the writings of fellow Hubbers. As an example, Nicomp is fond of ‘sentient’ (having feeling or perception), and ‘plethora’ (profusion) – two more of my favorite words.

This fellow may have tried to pronounce the town's name without taking a breath.
This fellow may have tried to pronounce the town's name without taking a breath. | Source

Longest Town Name

The founders of a village in Wales also believed that the sentient inhabitants of their town would enjoy a plethora of characters proclaiming the identity of their residence. So they named their small village Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch (58 characters)

The population at the 2001 census was 3,040.

Have you ever known someone who has lived in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?

Can you say, “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?”

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts | Source

Naomi Watts can!

Naomi Watts, the lovely actress, was born in Shoreham, Kent, England.

After her father died, she moved with her mother to the village of Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch on the island of Anglesey in Wales.

And Naomi can spell that long name by heart.

What does that long name mean?

Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.


The approximate English pronunciation is printed on a sign at the railway station as: Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-chwurn-drob-ooll-llantus-ilio-gogo-goch.

The name is sometimes shortened to Llanfair PG, which is sufficient to distinguish it from several other Welsh villages with Llanfair in their names.

Footnote #1

‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenu kitanatahu' is the longest place name in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. It is a hill located at southern Hawke's Bay on the North Island of New Zealand. (85 characters)

Abbott and Costello in the 1940s
Abbott and Costello in the 1940s | Source

Shortest Town Name

Before I explain the origin of the town with the shortest name, let me digress for a moment. Do you remember the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello?

Bud was the taller straight man who fed the lines to his chubby colleague, Lou. A typical dialogue might start something like this:

Bud: What is the name of that town with the shortest name?

Lou: Why.

Bud: Because I’m asking. What is the name?

Lou: No, it's not.

Bud: Whatta ya mean, no, it's not? What is the name of that town?

Lou: No. Why.

Bud: Whatta ya mean, why? Because I’m asking, that’s why.

Lou: Correct.

Bud: What is correct?

Lou: No, it's Why.

And that sort of disjointed conversation could go on for some time. Here is an example – their famous baseball routine:

'Who's on First'

Why, Arizona
Why, Arizona | Source
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ | Source

Let me tell you about Why – the town with the shortest name.

Why is a tiny unincorporated rural community in Pima County, Arizona, U.S.

It lies near the western border of the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation, and due north of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona.

It is approximately thirty miles north of the Mexican border.

The population in Why at the 2000 census was approximately 116.

The town derives its name from the fact that the two major highways, State Routes 85 and 86, originally intersected in a Y-intersection. The town’s founders wanted to name the town ‘Y.’

At the time of its naming, however, Arizona law required all city names to have at least three letters, so the town's founders named the town "Why" as opposed to simply calling it "Y."

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) later removed the old Y-intersection for traffic safety reasons, and built the two highways in a conventional T-intersection south of the original intersection.

No, the inhabitants have not changed the name of the town to Tea or Tee . . . yet.

Footnote #2

In 1781, the original name for Los Angeles, California was the longest name for a town in the U.S. The name was ‘El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula’ which means ‘The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River.’ (61 characters)

Favorite ‘small town’ quote:

“A small town is a place where there’s no place to go where you shouldn’t.” – Burt Bacharach

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2015. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

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Comments for Longest Town Name and Shortest Town Name 32 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub drbj. I saw the Welsh weatherman read out the the longest town name with ease. I never knew Naomi Watts wa from there, I always thought she was Australian like Heath Ledger she used to go with. But then we tend to claim anyone who ha lived here at some stage our own...like Russel Crowe. I also shared "Who's on First" in my first of the "Just For Kicks" series...but it's a classic that never gets boring. I hadn't hard their exchange about the shortest town."why or what?" Interesting to hear about the original name of Las Angeles too.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Now that is the longest name of a town that is hard to pronounce

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 17 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Doc....Interesting and a bit strange. There are some City & town names that stretch the imagination, not to mention challenge pronunciation. The 58-character town name starts out meaning St. Mary's Church...? So, is it a church or a town? LOL What's obvious is that it's a mouthful and a half....(& that should be what it means!!)

You always bring us something to think about as we scratch our heads, Doc!

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 17 months ago

I'll stick with WHY!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

Oh, those silly Welsh! I would just move. It's much easier than trying to say the town name daily, right?

Fun read, of course. You can take a sow's butt and make it a silk ear, or something like that. :)

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 17 months ago

So very amusing and informative. Town names can be so much fun. I've noticed that Catholic areas seem to have the longest names, usually beginning with Our Lady of.... There are a lot of Old Testament names in protestant areas, too, like Jerusalem and Antioch. But I really like the funny ones best. I love Why, why I don't know.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

G'day, Jodah. It was your fascinating hub with that video of Abbott and Costello that gave me the idea of introducing the town of Why in that fashion. Don't feel badly that you missed the 'what or why' exchange because they never used it. I just composed it for this hub.

With regard to actors from Australia, I have not yet seen a single one that was not handsome/beautiful and most charming.

Thanks for stopping by.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 17 months ago from Southern Illinois

Omg, " Take a sow's butt and make it a silk ear. " Interesting how towns cling to long names. I like Y. and I enjoyed this...

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

You got that right, peachpurple. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch IS the longest name for a town and the residents seem to be very proud of every single syllable.

Practice saying it every day and soon you'll be perfect.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

You got my meaning, Paula. Interesting and strange was my mission.

The longest town's name celebrates the name of the town's church. And the shortest town's name simply piqued my curiosity.

Just don't scratch your head too hard since Michigan Part 2 is on its way. Wait 'til you read that crazy 'bestiality' law.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, bp. OK, stick with Why - it's so much more fun than What (Watts) ... or Howe ... or Wen ... or Ware - all actual town names. ;)

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

OK, Bill, I like your translation of that ancient adage better than mine: 'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.'

It would be kinda fun to live in Why and every time someone asks where you are from, you respond, 'Why!'

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Thanks, MizB, for stopping by and finding this amusing and informative. Like you, I am fond of Why, too. Maybe I'll visit that metropolis one day so I can say I've been to Why.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Ruby. It is interesting how some villages cling to those overlong names. But like you, Y rings a bell with me, too. Great conversation starter, you know.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

Always enjoy the bizarre and obscure. Great read!

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 17 months ago from sunny Florida

O my...I would not have wanted to be a young 'un learning to spell the name of my hometown if the, you know that town above reputed to hold the title for its length, was my hometown....

and Why .....now that is a great little name..short and sweet.

Yes, Abott and Costello....love love love them....who's on first?? Never tired of their antics.

Always a hit drbj Angels are headed your way ps

shared g+ tweeted pinned

Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 17 months ago

I so enjoy this hub of happy knowledge

Something to smile about , something to learn about, an a delighful hub you shared.

Thank you for shaing BJRakow

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

What lovely, intriguing adjectives, Larry. I have always had a fascination for the bizarre and obscure. Perspicacious of you to notice that.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Patricia. Good to know that slapstick humor like Abbott and Costello has a place in your heart, too. I also would have had a difficult time learning to pronounce and spell the complete name of Llanfair PG if that had been my birthplace.

Now Why - that's a different story. Thanks, m'dear, for the tweeting, pinning, sharing and such. You are a sweetie.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Kiss and Tales - love your profile name. Thanks for enjoying this hub - it was my pleasure to share. Any time.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 17 months ago from sunny Florida

You are so welcome....It is always a delight to stop by your pages, drbj...have a lovely evening :D

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

As it is always a delight to hear from you, sweet Patricia. May your evening be super special. And here are a few Angels for YOU.

sajupalu profile image

sajupalu 17 months ago from India

Strange and interesting a bit. Some of this seems challenging to pronounce. I’m eager to know how people of those hard to pronounce places pronounce that name easily. I doubt how they use their place’s name frequently. Weird and funny as well.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

Nice to meet you, sajupalu. I imagine the folks who grow up in Llanfair PG learn the full long name when they are children. But as adults, they probably tell others they are from the shorter version name of their town. The folks born in Why have no problem.

Thanks for all the interesting adjectives.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 17 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

“Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?” Unbelievable. And good for Naomi! (She's one of my favorite actresses by the way.) Another interesting and unique charmer. These articles are your wheelhouse, drbj, for I don't think there is another hub author who can write them so well. Thank you for sharing them with us.

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

You get an A for spelling the name of the town correctly, Genna. You and Naomi are two of my favorite people. Loved your description of these articles as my wheelhouse - very imaginative, m'dear. Sharing them is my pleasure - thank you for reading them.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 17 months ago from Orlando, FL

Geez, that town with all those letters that I am not going to attempt to spell, WOW! I can't imagine trying to address that envelope!!!

I had fun watching Abbott and Costello, brought back many memories :)

drbj profile image

drbj 17 months ago from south Florida Author

So happy you enjoyed Bud and Lou again, Linda. They were a funny duo. Their films may be corny by today's standards but I love them anyway. If you ever need to mail something to that longest named town, use Llanfair PG as the address and you won't have a problem. So they say!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 16 months ago from Dallas, Texas

That town's name must require an extension flap on a person's identification. I can't imagine trying to teach it to a child who needs to remember their address. They should all move to Why.

Very funny topic and I loved the Abbott and Costello video.

drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

The children in that long-named Welsh town should be given ID bracelets imprinted with the town's name and their address so they don't have to strain their brains trying to spell it.

Thanks for finding this funny, Peg, and loving Abbott and Costello as I do.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 15 months ago from New York

Again dear Doc, you entertain us with strange but true facts. The best part, of course, is all the background you give us leaving us all hankering for more. I guess the founders of the long-winded Welsh town didn't care if the kids could spell it when they got to Kindergarten.

drbj profile image

drbj 15 months ago from south Florida Author

Leaving you hankering for more is my mission, dear Mary. And thanks for being such a loyal follower. As far as the long-named town is concerned, I wouldn't be surprised if the inhabitants possess a sense of superiority and celebrity in being the 'longest-named' town.

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