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, combining a number of roughly synonymous Latin stems. The word was inspired by a line in the Eton Latin Grammar that gave a rule for certain verbs that take some words irregularly in the genitive case: “Flocci, nauci, nihili, pili, assis, huius, teruncii, his verbis, aestimo, pendo, facio, peculiariter adduntur”.[1] This translates loosely to: “The words floccus, naucus, nihilum, pilus, assis (penny), hic (this) and teruncius (farthing) are irregularly used with the genitive case with these verbs: aestimo (to appraise value), pendo (to weigh, to pay), facio (to make)”.

Pronunciation

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

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[3]:
      Floccinaucinihilipilification in accounting - does it matter?
    • 2006, Sol Steinmetz, The life of language[4]:
      They must be taken with an air of contempt, a floccinaucinihilipilification of all that can gratify the outward man.
    • 2009, Judith Orloff, Emotional Freedom[5]:
      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[6]:
      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[7]:
      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.[2]

Related terms

Translations

See also

References

  1. ^ Dot Wordsworth (11 June 2011), “Floccinaucinihilipilification”, in Mind your language[1], The Spectator.
  2. ^ Jacob Rees-Mogg (21 February 2012), “HC Deb, 21 February 2012, c787”, in TheyWorkForYou[2]:

    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