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.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.