Stewardess – the longest word in English typed with just the left hand


Male and Female Flight Attendants – 1940s.

Well no wonder that we now use the phrase flight attendant to describe those hard working folks who run about before during and after a commercial flight.

Stewardess – a ten letter word. Six more than four.

Apparently its also the longest word in English typed just with the left hand. Try it at home, kids.

Imagine a court case where two stewardesses claim the other has committed libel in 1954. A typewriter does not have copy and paste, so the cramping in the left flexor muscle would have been severe as the court scribe pounded away.  Think about the extensor digitorum which is a classic antagonist to the flexor muscles and is based in the forearm.

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 18.46.25

That means when you stick the middle finger up in the air, your flexor muscle is antagonised by your extensor digitorum.


While considering this incredible fact, its time to drop another list into the plethora of listicles spreading like a pool of warm custard across the ether. Some arbitrary facts on the listicle could include:

  1. American Airlines slashed $40,000 from costs by removing one olive from each salad served in first class.
  2. The Wing-span of the Airbus A380 is longer than the aircraft itself. Wingspan: 80m, Length: 72.7m.
  3. As the commercial airliner climbs, the cabin atmosphere dries out your nose and eyes and as altitude increases, around one third of your taste buds are numbed. You feel like more salt and pepper. And not just your hair.
  4. The internet & on-line check-in was first used by Alaska Airlines in 1999.
  5. In the 1930s The first women flight attendants were required to weigh no more than 115 pounds, be nurses and un-married. In those days they were called stewardesses.
  6. A single window frame of a Boeing 747-400’s cockpit costs as much as a BMW.

After some thought, its also time to analyse two words, the left-hand cramping stewardess and the far more diverse, flight attendant. Here are two definitions:

A. Stewardess

  • A woman who performs the duties of a stewardespecially one who attends passengers (as on an airplane).  Merriam-Webster 2018.

I collect dictionaries. Here are a few other definitions of stewardess.

  • A female waiter on shipboard . Websters Complete Dictionary 1882.
  • A female steward specifically a woman employed in passenger vessels to attend to the wants of female passengers. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913.
  • A female steward, specifically a woman employed on shipboard to attend passengers, esp women and children. Webster’s New International Dictionary 1934. 
Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 18.47.48
Real Life Stewardesses but these days PSA Airlines flying from Dayton International AIrlines in Ohio.


B. Flight Attendant/In-flight crew member 

  • A person who attends passengers on an airplane.

So not much history there – or is there?

  • The first the first flight attendant was a German man called Heinrich Kubis who first attended the passengers on board the DELAG Zeppelin in 1912. He also attended to the famous Hindenburg and was on board when it burst into flames and survived by jumping out a window as it dropped to the ground.
Kubis 1947
Heinrich Kubis in 1947.
  • But things have changed over the years.  For example, in the USA (and many others countries) in the 1950s, stewardesses had to be registered nurses or have at least two years in college behind them.


Appearance was very important and eventually the concept came to represent models in the sky.  In the 1950s Stewardesses had to be female,  between the ages of 21 and 26, between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh no more than 135 pounds.

So the idea of stewardess emanated from the shipping world, where the derivation results from the international British maritime tradition dating back to the 14th century and the civilian US Merchant Marine.

So the first stewardess was actually a steward who was also a flight attendant.




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