Image you’re at a party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It’s a Saturday or Sunday, the party’s been going on for quite a while and you’re starting to feel somewhat fatigued. In English and most other languages it would take a whole sentence to explain this situation.

In Estonian however, there’s a word that covers just such an eventuality – Sünnipäevanädalalõpupeopärastlõunaväsimus, which according to Corcaighist, means “The tiredness one feels on the afternoon of the weekend birthday party”. Or if you break it down into parts “birth.day.week.end.party.after.lunch.tiredness”.

9 thoughts on “Sünnipäevanädalalõpupeopärastlõunaväsimus

  1. Well but that’s not a word, its like 8 words sticked together.
    Sometimes I think some languages like German just paste words together to try and break the Guinness record of the longest word.

    PS: strip out every space of my message and you have the longest word in the world, I justed invented it. And it means the same that meant with the spaces, but in one word.

  2. You could say that the whole word is semantically the same as an English sentence, as they both are conveying the same idea, it’s just glued together in Estonian. However, it would probably be quicker to say it in English in an Estonian/English bilingual environment!

  3. Most languages use compound words in some form or another. English compounds are usually 2 or 3 words together- Rarely more, unlike various Germanic and Baltic languages- and Inuktitut- which normally use such hypercompound words (usually nouns).

    As for word spacing, there are some scripts with no spaces between words (or few), such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Kmer, and some unnecessarily space syllables in polysyllabic words, particularly in romanisation (Chinese and Cherokee come to mind).


  4. I felt the need to do some explaining when I saw this post. Thanks for the plug though Simon 🙂 I will go edit my post on my blog afterwards to clear the matter up, just incase it starts an urban myth about Estonians and their language.

    My girlfriend and I just made up that term for fun. It is grammatically correct but it isn’t actually used.

    The original post was called “Estonian Linguistic Humour” so you can see where I was getting with this compound. For the most part I was just testing out my knowledge of the Estonian genitive case.

    Estonians are not generally great fans of long compound words. To express the idea Estonians would be likely to say something like this:

    Väsimus, mida keegi tunneb nädala lõpus peale pidu.

    tiredness. what . one . feels . week . end . head . party.
    tiredness what (partitive) one feels week (genitive) end (inessive) head (allative) party.

    Or in real English:
    The tiredness, that one feels on the weekend after the party.


    Breaking the compund word ( Sünnipäevanädalalõpupeopärastlõunaväsimus ) up we get:

    Sünnipäeva . nädalalõpu . peo . pärastlõuna . väsimus

    and changing gentitives to nominatives we get:

    sünd (birth) . päev (day) . nädal (week) . lõpp (end) . pidu (party) . pärast (after) . lõuna (noon/ lunch) . väsimus (tiredness)

    For the record in case there in any confusion amongst the posters. Estonian is not fully an agglutinative language. It has many elements of an inflected language. And Estonian is a Baltic-Finnic language like Finnish. It is not thus related to the Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian which are Indo-European.

    @ Petruza. Well if we are talking about acceptable words here that really makes 5 because:

    ‘Sünnipäev’ (birthday), ‘nädalalõpp’ (weekend) and ‘pärastlõuna’ (afternoon) are recognised compunds, just as in English. Saying that, they are all formed from two elements.

    So as I said, it was all a bit of good-natured fun with Estonian genitives.

  5. Colm, thanks for pointing that out, I was getting really afraid of the Estonian language by the end of Simon’s post. I’m glad to know it was only an experiment, a work of pleasure so to say! It looks like a great word though, do you think there’d be many Estonians out there that are capable of pronouncing it the fist moment they see it?

    Jdotjdot89, you’re right about that Mark Twain article, it’s hilarious! I’m Flemish (Dutch) myself, a language closely related to German, and it actually makes it even funnier.

    We do the same strange agglutinations… One of my favorites still is “Gefeliciteerd! u wint een autowielventieldopje!”, which particularly works during a quiz. It reads: “Congratulations! you win a car wheel valve cap!” With the right amount of pause between the different word parts it becomes a real source of exaltation-slash-frustration.

  6. “Colm, thanks for pointing that out, I was getting really afraid of the Estonian language by the end of Simon’s post.”

    You’re welcome. I wrote that because I had daymares of ten years down the road this ‘word’ having spread all across the internet and being quoted in every pop-linguistics book. Just like the nonsense myth about the 100 words for snow in the ‘Ekimso language’ [sic.]

    “It looks like a great word though, do you think there’d be many Estonians out there that are capable of pronouncing it the fist moment they see it?”

    Depends on the person but I would say they would have no great difficulty. It’s a rather simple, easy-to-say word. It looks ‘exotic’ to people unfamiliar with the language but really it’s childsplay 🙂

  7. I thought the same thing as Petruza that it’s just a sentence with all the spaces between words taken out.
    It just seems impossible that a language has a single noun word for every possible imaginable sentence.


    But to my surprise a linguist once defended this idea that some highly agglutinative, and highly polysynthetic languages like Inuit and other Native American tongues do have what we have to classify as single word nouns and not sentences, that in most other languages would be expressed in a sentence.

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