Word of the week: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Some people are just cruel. And none more so than the person, or persons, who decided that the term to describe an irrational fear of long words would be hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.For those of you that are trying in vain to pronounce it, I suggest you search for it on YouTube - it’s quite a mouthful. While […]

editor
6th March 2017

Some people are just cruel. And none more so than the person, or persons, who decided that the term to describe an irrational fear of long words would be hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.For those of you that are trying in vain to pronounce it, I suggest you search for it on YouTube - it’s quite a mouthful.

While it is certain that the irony was not lost on those that created the word, they did support its design with a degree of logic. The etymology of the term comes from its component parts: with ‘hippopotamus' connoting something very large and ‘monstrous' something terrifying, whilst ‘sesquipedalio’ is derived from sesquipedalian, which means many syllables. And of course, ‘phobia’ is a persistent and irrational fear of something.

It may have seemed funny at the time, but choosing a thirty-six lettered word to describe a fear of long words seems just plain spiteful.

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