floccinaucinihilipilification

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English

Etymology

Latin floccus (a wisp) +‎ naucum (a trifle) +‎ nihilum (nothing) +‎ pilus (a hair) + -fication

A jocular coinage, apparently by pupils at Eton College,[1] combining a number of Latin word stems. The word was inspired by a line in the Eton Latin Grammar (published in the early 19th century), in which some nouns commonly used in the genitive case with some verbs like pendo and facio are listed, which express evaluating something as worthless or as previously mentioned:

"Flócci of a lock of wool, náuci of a nut-shell, níhili of nóthing, píli of a hair, ássis of a pénny, hújus of this, terúncii of a fárthing, addúntur are ádded, peculiáritèr pecúliarly or véry próperly vérbis to verbs æstimándi of esteéming."[2]

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˌflɒksɪˌnɔːsɪˌnaɪhɪlɪˌpɪlɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/, /ˌflɒksiˌnɒsiˌnɪhɪlɪˌpɪlɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/
  • (file)
  • (file)

  • Hyphenation: flocci‧nauci‧ni‧hili‧pili‧fi‧ca‧tion

Noun

floccinaucinihilipilification (uncountable)

  1. (often humorous) The act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless.
    • 1741, William Shenstone, Letters:
      I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money.
    • 1970, Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander:
      There is a systematic flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification of all other aspects of existence that angers me.
    • 2000, Raymond J. Chambers, Logic, Law, and Ethics[4]:
      Floccinaucinihilipilification in accounting - does it matter?
    • 2006, Sol Steinmetz, The life of language[5]:
      They must be taken with an air of contempt, a floccinaucinihilipilification of all that can gratify the outward man.
    • 2009, Judith Orloff, Emotional Freedom[6]:
      Some people with low self-esteem are prone to floccinaucinihilipilification, the habit of deeming everything worthless.
    • 2011, Bruce Ratner, Statistical and Machine-Learning Data Mining[7]:
      The quasi statistician would doubtlessly not know how to check this supposition, thus rendering the interpretation of the mean profit as floccinaucinihilipilification.
    • 2012, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Hansard[8]:
      Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges and quote from the book of Amos about them.

Usage notes

Often cited as the longest non-technical word in the English language, being one letter longer than the commonly cited antidisestablishmentarianism. It is the longest word ever recorded by Hansard after Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg used the word in Parliament on 21st February 2012.[3]

Related terms

Translations

See also

References

  1. ^ Dot Wordsworth (11 June 2011) , “Floccinaucinihilipilification”, in Mind your language[1], The Spectator.
  2. ^ T.W.C. Edwards (1826) , “RULES of SYNTAX construed”, in Eton College Grammar: A Plain and Concise Introduction to the Latin Language, being Lily's Grammar Abridged[2], page 269
  3. ^ Jacob Rees-Mogg (21 February 2012) , “HC Deb, 21 February 2012, c787”, in TheyWorkForYou[3]:
    It does not apply to judges in the EU, so let me be rude about them. Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges and quote from the book of Amos about them: []

Further reading