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Word of the Moment: Floccinaucinihilipilification

Updated on September 24, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Longest Non-Technical Word

Floccinaucinihilipilification is the longest non technical word in most English dictionaries. There is some dispute to this since it is a "coined" word, in other words it was coined but not generally accepted in regular use, but I think people voicing this opinion are just fans of antidisestablishmentarianism. In previous lenses I have spoken of the oddities of the English language, and this word is a prime example of the wierdness. It can be broken down into Latin roots rather easily, but who would want to. Such a long word for such a simple definition, it seems absurd, where innuendo fits its definition so nicely floccinaucinihilipilification is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

The Definition

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The Dictionary defines floccinaucinihilipilification as:

The action or habit of estimating something as worthless. (The word is used chiefly as a curiosity.).

Legend has it that it was coined by students at Eton from a handful of latin roots that all mean basically the same thing, they are all variants of "something of little importance".


The Debate

Floccinaucinihilipilification is the longest word that is in the dictionary, but there is some debate as to if it truly qualifies as the longest word in the english language. The debate comes in due to the fact that the floccinaucinihilipilification is not really a word at all, it is made up for the purposes of describing uselessness, and is in itself more of a game than a word. However due to the fact that the english language barely qualifies as a language I think putting rules on what are "words" and what aren't is a little silly at this point. After all goodbye isn't a word if you go back far enough.

If floccinaucinihilipilification isn't a word than antidisestablishmentarianism would be the clear winner for the longest word, but since its fallen out of use one could argue that even that isn't a word.

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

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    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @FlynnTheFineFle: Not sure how I missed this comment, sorry for taking so long to answer.

      Yes Cu Allaidh is old irish gaelic for wolf, or wild hound.

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      FlynnTheFineFle 5 years ago

      Well, I'll have to admit, it's at least the longest word (real or no) that I've read all day. Speaking of words, your alias...I've been trying to figure it out. Old Irish for "wolf"?

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      anonymous 5 years ago