floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Archived Topic » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:41 pm

First prize goes to the first one who comes up with a definition for this one.
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:56 pm

This shorty was obvious:

FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION (29 letters) -- The action or habit of estimating as worthless.


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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Feb 18, 2004 9:10 pm

Where's my prize?
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Feb 18, 2004 9:25 pm

From The Maven's 'Word of the Day'.

The word floccinaucinihilipilification, which is usually encountered only as an example of one the longest words in English, means something like 'the estimation of something as valueless'.

The word is formed from four Latin words, all of them meaning 'of little or no value; trifling', and the noun suffix -fication, as in classification. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the Latin 'trifling' words are "enumerated in a well-known rule of the Eton Latin Grammar."

The word is first recorded in 1741, in a letter of William Shenstone, an eighteenth-century English pastoral poet and landscape gardener. The OED records other uses in the early nineteenth century from Sir Walter Scott (who spells the second element "-pauci-" instead of "-nauci-") and the poet Robert Southey.

The question of the longest word in English is a difficult one; suffice it to say that floccinaucinihilipilification is one of the longest that's been seriously used; it's also the longest word in the first edition of the OED.

If one were going to use it in conversation, the most likely sentence would resemble, "Do you know that 'floccinaucinihilipilification' is one of the longest words in English?" But it is not without a useful meaning, and one could imagine something like "I can't believe that critic's floccinaucinihilipilification of the new Jim Carrey movie! I thought it was great!" If you try it, however, be warned that your friends will think you very weird.

Do I still get the prize? And if so, how much is it? Hopefully, it's a jackpot not just some floccinaucical token.
Reply from Doug Gilbert (Chai Yi - Taiwan)
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:05 pm

It is not often that one actually finds one of these ridiculously long words used seriously in a real sentence nowadays. So it was surprising to see this whopper in an article in this month’s Scientific American (January 2005) entitled ‘Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth.’ The basic idea of the article, which is a real shocker after all these years of having the importance of self-esteem in education drummed into our heads, may be summed up in the following quote: “Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior. . . . . Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent academic performance.” Those of us who have been involved in education can tell you about the wonderful effects of pushing self-esteem over academic substance, which began sometime back in the 1970s or so – but don’t let me get started on that one.

Anyway, here is the word and the sentence it appeared in: “Floccinaucinihilipilification also raises the danger that those who describe themselves disparagingly may describe their lives similarly, thus frustrating the appearance that low self-esteem has unpleasant outcomes.”

FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION (29 letters): The action or habit of estimating as worthless (Rare – encountered mainly as an example of one of the longest words in the English language).
[from Latin ‘flocci,’ ‘nauci,’ ‘nihili,’ ‘pili' words signifying ‘at a small price,’ ‘of little or no value,’ ‘trifling,’ enumerated in a well-known rule of the Eton Latin Grammar + ‘-fication’].

The word is first recorded in 1741, in a letter of William Shenstone, an eighteenth-century English pastoral poet and landscape gardener. The OED records other uses in the early nineteenth century from Sir Walter Scott (who mistakenly spells the second element ‘-pauci-‘ instead of ‘-nauci’ ) and the poet Robert Southey.

The fascination with long words dates back to ancient Greece where Aristophanes was fond of concocting long words to amuse his audiences. His longest comes from the play ‘Ecclesiazusae’ and basically means ‘hash’: lopadotemachoselachoga leokranioleiosanodirm hypotrimmatosilphioparaome litokatakechymenokichlepikos syphopattoperisteralektryonop tekephalliokigklopeleiolago iosiraiobaphetraganopterygon (181 letters). [note: the spaces have only been included here to prevent the site editing program fron stretching this posting horizontally]

In Shakespeare’s school days he learned the longest Latin word, which the clown Costard pontificates in “Love’s Labor’s Lost”: ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus’ (27 letters).

In Sir Walter Scott’s youth he learned the longest word and repeated it to his diary (though he mangled it a bit by replacing the first ‘n’ with a ‘p’ (see above): ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ (29 letters).

Of course, with the proliferation of scientific hybridizations, etc. [e.g. hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomies (39) – a surgical term, and chemical terms such as ‘dimethylamidophenyldimethylpyrazolone’ (37) & ‘formaldehydetetramethylamidofluorimum’ (37),], ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ with only 29 letters and the old 19th and 20th century standard ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ with only 28, look like small potatoes.

But as far as words which actually show up in most dictionaries, our friend ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ is right up there. The longest word that actually appears in the OED is the 45-letter name of a fictional lung disease, ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis,’ which it turns out was a hoax perpetrated by the members of the National Puzzlers’ League, the world’s oldest wordplay association - the word is unknown to medical science. The League president (Everett M. Smith) coined the word at the 103rd meeting of the League in 1935. It was picked up by a newspaper reporter for the ‘Herald Tribune’ and printed the next day. Frank Scully (see quote below) the author of a series of puzzle books repeated it in one of his works the following year and on the strength of that citation the word appeared in the OED and Webster’s 3rd International Dictionary where it remains today.

So ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ isn’t nearly the longest word in the English language, and some even argue that there is no longest word because one could legally keep adding prefixes and suffixes forever. For example, the ‘closed compounds’ (most of which dictionaries do not explicitly list in order to save space) are considered legitimate words (e.g. ‘countercounterterrorism,’ ‘overintellectualization’). So then, is not ‘countercountercountercounterterrorism’ also a legitimate word? Only the Shadow knows for sure! But mathematicians have long resigned themselves to the fact that there is no largest number. So next time a child pleads with you to PLEASE tell them the longest word, perhaps a 45-letter imaginary lung disease will be good enough – at least for a while.
<1741 “I loved him for nothing so much as his FLOCCI-NAUCI-NIHILI-PILI-FICATION of money.”—‘Works in Prose and Verse – Elegies, Odes and other Poems, Essays, Letters’ (1777) by Shenstone, xxii. III. page 49>

<1829 “18 Mar., They must be taken with an air of contempt, a FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION [‘sic,’ here and in two other places] of all that can gratify the outward man.”—‘Journal’ by Sir Walter Scott>

<1936 “‘PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANAKONIOSIS’ [‘sic’], a disease caused by ultra-microscopic particles of sandy volcanic dust, might give even him laryngitis.”—‘Beside Manna’ by F. Scully, page 87>

<1966 “The resources of Greek have enriched the modern world as well as the ancient one. Perhaps this is most dramatically illustrated by the longest and most fantastic word now in an English dictionary (the Merriam-Webster's great Unabridged) which is forty-five letters in length: PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANAKONIOSIS, . . . meaning ‘a disease of the lungs caused by extremely small particles of ash and dust.’”—‘Word Study,’ October, page 7/2>

<1973 “It has been said that ‘FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION’ is the longest word in the English language . . . The word's proud title must yield to some technical terms, such as ‘PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANAKONIOSIS.’—‘Second Miscellany-at-Law’ by R. Megarry, page 160>

[Oxford English Dictionary, A Curious Dictionary of Language Oddities by Will Shortz (puzzle editor of the N.Y. Times), http://members.aol.com/gulfhigh2/words11.html]]
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Phil White » Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:09 am

Ken, how do you pronounce it, please?
No, not FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION, the one from ‘Ecclesiazusae’.
And was it 181 letters in the original Greek or only in transliteration?
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:53 am

Phil, I’m going to be explaining all this in a seminar I’ll be offering on this subject in Fort Collins and am considering videotaping it and selling it on our website as a as a fund-raiser for Wordwizard.com. For those who want to fly in and see it live, I’m putting together a reasonably-priced package and am reserving a block of suites (with a view) for your stay, as well as the main ballroom at our local Holiday Inn. I see this as a potential big moneymaker for our site and who knows, on a personal level, it could lead to speaking engagements, endorsement contracts, a possible cover on Time Magazine, . . . .

Ken
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Phil White » Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:13 am

Does that mean that Wordwizard can finally afford to send Leif his prize?
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:21 am

Phil, We’ll have to put that to a vote at our next advisory board meeting, which, BTW, with our newfound wealth, I suggest be held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Ken
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:41 am

I have heard that there are at least eleven non-etymologists who might also be very interested in paying a brief visit to the Bellagio.
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by pokoma » Wed Dec 28, 2005 4:57 pm

Comedian Red Skelton defined the longest word in the English language as that which follows "And now a word from our sponsor."
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floccinaucinihilipilification and other long words

Post by spiritus » Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:55 am

Two points:
Ken Greenwald wrote: It is not often that one actually finds one of these ridiculously long words used seriously in a real sentence nowadays. So it was surprising to see this whopper in an article in this month’s Scientific American (January 2005) entitled ‘Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth.’ The basic idea of the article, which is a real shocker after all these years of having the importance of self-esteem in education drummed into our heads, may be summed up in the following quote: “Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior. . . . . Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent academic performance.” Those of us who have been involved in education can tell you about the wonderful effects of pushing self-esteem over academic substance, which began sometime back in the 1970s or so – but don’t let me get started on that one.
In reading the above source quote and your comments (noted in bold font) the word ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis,’ did not come to mind. The word that did pop into my head was, 'fiction'.
So ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ isn’t nearly the longest word in the English language, and some even argue that there is no longest word because one could legally keep adding prefixes and suffixes forever.

The longest word that actually appears in the OED is the 45-letter name of a fictional lung disease, ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis,’ which it turns out was a hoax perpetrated by the members of the National Puzzlers’ League, the world’s oldest wordplay association - the word is unknown to medical science.
Though not the longest word, 'FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION' does seem to be the "longest" distance between your two points. *SMILES* As a lover of the classics, that word does it for me.
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