Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. I know, it seems cruel. However, it's also wonderfully whimsical, and that's where I come in. The word, first of all, is erroneous: the correct spelling is Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (slightly less monstrous, one p less), but now the former form is more common. It may even be that the word was altered to make it longer and thus more ironic. Now let's break it up! Hippo- and monstro- being obvious prefixes alluding to hippopotamuses and monsters, respectively, were also added to blow the word even more out of proportion. Technically, you don't even need them for the meaning (though they are indeed now part of the word); sesquipedaliophobia says it all. The root of the word is Latin sesquipedalis, which meant "a foot and a half long", a portmanteau of sesqui (one of my favorite Latin words, meaning "1.5") and pedalis ("pertaining to feet"). Phobia we all know as "an irrational fear". It's pretty evil to make people afraid of length fear another eighteen inches and thrice as many letters.
3/15/2020 12:45:02 pm
I understand the derivations indicated above. But, I don't understand why there is no reference to the word, "word," which of course is, "verbum" in Latin.
11/23/2022 03:28:02 pm
I don't understand. Why the heck did they make this word so unnecessarily long? I mean --- Hippopoto- really?
Scott Peacock III
1/23/2021 01:28:41 am
Question: What type of bear is best?
2/17/2022 02:12:50 am
the black bear.
2/3/2021 07:16:51 pm
According to Merriam-Webster.com, at the entry for "sesquipedalian,"
2/20/2021 02:49:35 pm
Is there a word for academic pedants and humorists who mix their Greek with Latin? I was suspicious of Johnson... but the humor seems more Oxfordian Shakespeare and his secretaries!
2/20/2021 02:53:06 pm
P.S. Was that Horace possibly a previous incarnation of Horatio, or of Rumpole?
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.