Most concise word for a complicated concept

By Abraham Piper


The honor of “most succinct word” according to the Guinness Book of World Records goes to the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego. The word is…


“Most succinct?” you say—”But that’s kind of a long word.” True. But it’s short for all the meaning that’s packed into it.

It describes “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.”

Here’s the breakdown:

The word consists of the reflexive/passive prefix ma- (mam- before a vowel), the root ihlapi (pronounced [iɬapi]), which means to be at a loss as what to do next, the stative suffix -n, an achievement suffix -ata, and the dual suffix -apai, which in composition with the reflexive mam- has a reciprocal sense.

(via Wikipedia)

I wouldn’t say I agree with this, since pretty much any word can be said to have an extremely complicated definition if you want to break it down far enough, but it’s still interesting… Right, guys? Right?