Thursday, March 26, 2009


No I didn't make up this word. Yes, it really is a word and yes, it really has a meaning. Can I actually say this word? Would I use this word in casual conversation? Both of those are good questions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines floccinaucinihilipilification as "the action or habit of estimating as worthless."

The first known written instance of floccinaucinihilipilification, as recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, is in 1741, in a published letter by William Shenstone. The quotation is: "I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money." Other notable users of the word have included Robert Southey (in the Quarterly Review 14:334, 1816), and Walter Scott (Journal 18, 1829). Scott, however, replaced the "nauci" component with "pauci". The feminine noun construction, floccinaucinihilipilificatrix, can be found in the Robert Heinlein novel The Number of the Beast. Wikipedia.

Look, this word isn't even close to being the longest word ever used, Aristophanes used the word Lopado­te­macho­se­lacho­galeo­kranio­leipsano­drimhypo­trimmato­silphio­parao­melito­katakechymeno­kichlepikossypho­phatto­peristeralektryonop­tekephallio­kigklopeleiol­agoiosiraio­baphetraganop­terygon, λοπαδοτεμαχοσελαχογαλεοκρανιολειψανοδριμυποτριμματοσιλφιοκαραβομελιτοκατακε-χυμενοκιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττοπεριστεραλεκτρυονοπτοκεφαλλιοκιγκλοπελειολαγῳοσιραιο-βαφητραγανοπτερύγων in the Greek alphabet

Neither of these words is legal in Scrabble.

1 comment:

  1. I always figured there had to be a word bigger than antidisestablishmentarianism, even though people always say it's the biggest word in the dictionary. Then again, I hear gullible isn't even in the dictionary . . .