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“Esssse” is an "obsolete" form of the word “ashes.” It is in the OED (2nd edition).

This word is noticeably a palindrome and can be used to form a 6x6 palindromic square (according to the website where I found it, this palindromic square was created by someone named Daniel Austin), which looks like a 6x6 square (of course) with the following words stacked seriatim:

ESSSSE
SLEETS
SERVES
SEVRES
STEELS
ESSSSE

Personally, I don’t think that square should be valid, since “sevres” should actually be spelled “Sèvres.” Oh well.

Primarily, this word is just cool because it has four of the same consonant in a row. I believe it is the only such word in the English language.

I have not yet been able to find a reliable source as to the pronunciation of this incredibly cool word. The OED does not provide a pronunciation for it. When I searched for it, the few websites that did give some sort of pronunciation claimed that it is pronounced “eshih.” That’s not particularly helpful, since I can think of at least four ways to pronounce “eshih.” If anyone can find a better pronunciation guide for this word, please let me know.

Sources: www.fun-with-words.com/palin_example.html
itsjing.greatnow.com/Terra/Fun/Palindrome.htm
www.13d.org/esofword/esof.cfm?type=right
www.theologyweb.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-13043
members.aol.com/gulfhigh2/words5.html
members.aol.com/gulfhigh2/words7.html
http://www.oed.com/


Gritchka says: Probably this word had a long 'sh' sound, as could happen in Middle English, so the 'ss' was written twice. The final 'e' is a schwa, like the last sound of sofa: that makes it like 'esha' but with a prolonged 'sh'.

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