Just For Fun · Life · Words · Writing

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia and other long words…

That monstrosity in the title is the scientific name for the fear of long words. No, really, it is.

It is composed from the words sesquipedalis (which means ‘a-foot-and-a-half-long’ in Latin), monstr (the Latin origin for words about monstrous beings), hippopotomine (From the Greek – meaning ‘something very large’… like a Hippo) and, Phobos (morbid fear).

Is it just me, or does that seem unnecessarily cruel to those who suffer from it?

It is also REALLY hard to spell, which is why I haven’t written it again since the blog title…

(And if you are a sufferer of that phobia, I suggest skipping the rest of this blog post because that’s not the end of the crazy long words!)

If you’re just afraid of words in general (why are you here?) then you have Verbophobia, a fear of writing is Graphophobia, and a morbid fear of learning? That’s called Sophophobia and I suspect it strikes entire classrooms of children at once when things such as ‘The Quadtratic Equation’ and ‘Thermodynamics’ are first introduced!

The word ‘sesquipedalias‘ amusingly provides some of the longest words in the English language as well as the one for a fear of long words:

  • Sesquipedalianists are writers who use long words.
  • Sesquipedalianism is the name for the writing style of using lots of long words.
  • Sesquipediality is the name for the habit of using long words.

And the icing on the cake?

Someone who takes pride in their use of sesquipedalia verba (one and a half foot long words) is called a…


Please don’t make me say that out loud.

Now, I bet we all know, or have known at some point, a Hyperpolywhatchamacallit. Someone who clearly enjoys using long, complicated words when perfectly acceptable short words would do (but wouldn’t sound so impressive).

They generally like sounding superior or just bamboozling others in my experience.

The one I was friends with at school went on to be an Astrophysicist and so gets to use long words no normal people understand to his hearts’ content.

(I tried to proof read one of his dissertations once… I basically understood words like ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘so’, and ‘therefore’ and the rest was just strings of letters with the odd enormous number in between. I am not clever enough for Astrophysics.)

Oh, and before you go, do you want to know what the longest word in the English language is according to the Oxford Dictionary?


It is a term for a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles that specifically come from a volcano.

Medically, it is the same as silicosis, and that is the term basically everybody uses, because nobody has time to get their mouth around that other monstrosity of a word.

(Hands up, who tried to say all of the crazy long words out loud? I know I did!!)

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