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Vowels

Here is a collection of words notable for their vowels. Some have many, some have few; some contain them all, some contain none.

Note that we are talking about the five true vowels in the English alphabet: A, E, I, O, and U. Sometimes the consonant Y may be pronounced as a vowel, as may other letters in rare words, such as W in some words of Welsh origin.

Many Vowels

Words (found in major English dictionaries) consisting entirely of vowels include AA (a type of lava), AE, AI, AIEEE, IAO, OII, EAU, EUOUAE, OE, OO, I, O, A, IO, and UOIAUAI, the last of these being the longest vowel-only word (seven letters).

OUENOUAOU (a stream in the Philippines) has nine letters but only one consonant. It is the longest known place name with only a single consonant.

The English dictionary word with the most consecutive vowels (six) is EUOUAE. Words with five consecutive vowels include QUEUEING, AIEEE, COOEEING, MIAOUED, ZAOUIA, JUSSIEUEAN, ZOOEAE, ZOAEAE. The Hawaiian word HOOIAIOIA (meaning certified) has eight consecutive vowels and is listed in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records. Allowing proper nouns, URU-EU-UAU-UAU (a language of Brazil) has nine vowels in a row, ignoring hyphens.

HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS is the longest word consisting entirely of alternating vowels and consonants. Other such words are ALUMINOSILICATES, EPICORACOHUMERALER, HEXOSAMINIDASES, ICULANIBOKOLAS, PARAROSANILINES, PARASITOLOGICAL, VERISIMILITUDES. GORAN IVANESEVIC (a top tennis player) is the longest known celebrity name that alternates consonants and vowels. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES is the longest name of a country consisting of alternating vowels and consonants.

Few Vowels

The longest common word without any of the five vowels is RHYTHMS, but there are longer rare words: SYMPHYSY, NYMPHLY, GYPSYRY, GYPSYFY, and TWYNDYLLYNGS. WPPWRMWSTE and GLYCYRRHIZIN are long words with very few vowels.

ASTHMA begins and ends with a vowel and has no other vowels in between. Some less common long words with this property are ISTHMI (alternate plural of isthmus), APHTHA, and ELTCHI.

The longest word in dictionaries having only one vowel is STRENGTHS. The longest word with only one vowel (if repeats are allowed) is CHRONONHOTONTHOLOGOS (twenty letters). STRENGTHLESSNESSES contains only Es and is just two letters shorter.

The Five Vowels

The shortest word containing all five vowels exactly once is the six-letter EUNOIA, meaning alertness of mind an will (and also the title of a book by Canadian poet Christian Bok). However, it is not included in any major English dictionary. There are several seven-letter words containing all the vowels, including SEQUOIA, EULOGIA, MIAOUED, ADOULIE, EUCOSIA, EUNOMIA, EUTOPIA, MOINEAU, and DOULEIA. The relatively common French word OISEAU (meaning bird) contains all five vowels, once each.

The shortest word with the five vowels occurring in alphabetical order is AERIOUS (airy), which has seven letters. The longest such word is PHRAGELLIORHYNCHUS (a protozoan) with 18 letters. There are two seven-letter words in Portuguese that contain the five vowels in alphabetical order: ACEITOU and ALEIJOU.

SUOIDEA (the taxonomic group to which pigs belong) is the shortest word with the five vowels in reverse alphabetical order. The longest such word is PUNCTOSCHMIDTELLA (a crustacean).

ULTRAREVOLUTIONARIES has each vowel exactly twice. The shortest such word is CUBOIDEONAVICULARE, and the longest, USSOLZEWIECHINOGAMMARUS (a small crustacean).

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