floccinaucinihilipilification! - glossary of fun words
Thread poster: Sheila Hardie

Sheila Hardie  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:13
Catalan to English
+ ...
Oct 8, 2002

I came across a great glossary today on my travels. My particular favourite has to be floccinaucinihilipilification. Don\'t ask me how it\'s pronouncedicon_smile.gif)

Have funicon_smile.gif



Andrea Bullrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
English to Spanish
Neat! Oct 8, 2002

But if I can\'t ask you, who can I ask? icon_wink.gif




Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:13
Dutch to English
+ ...
flaw'-sin, awe'-sin, i'-ya, lip'-if, fi.kay'.shun Oct 8, 2002

run it all together and there you go! It\'s a word I learned in my introductory linquistics course meaning the act of deeming or regarding something as trivial.


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:13
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Try link below, Andrea. Oct 8, 2002


Damn! If you look up this same entry at the above link, you will find the pronunciation too, but for some reason it didn\'t come out when I pasted this.


The action or habit of judging something to be worthless.

Back in the eighteenth century, Eton College had a grammar book which listed a set of words from Latin which all meant \"of little or no value\". In order, those were flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili (which sound like four of the seven dwarves, Roman version, but I digress). As a learned joke, somebody put all four of these together and then stuck -fication on the end to make a noun for the act of deciding that something is totally and absolutely valueless (a verb, floccinaucinihilipilificate, to judge a thing to be valueless, could also be constructed, but hardly anybody ever does). The first recorded use is by William Shenstone in a letter in 1741: \"I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money\".

A quick Latin lesson: flocci is derived from floccus, literally a tuft of wool and the source of English words like flocculate, but figuratively in Latin something trivial; pili is likewise the plural of pilus, a hair, which we have inherited in words like depilatory, but which in Latin could meant a whit, jot, trifle or generally something insignificant; nihili is from nihil, nothing, as in words like nihilism and annihilate; nauci just means worthless.

The word\'s main function is to be trotted out as an example of a long word (it was the longest in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary but was supplanted by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in the second). It had a rare public airing in 1999 when Senator Jesse Helms used it in commenting on the demise of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: \"I note your distress at my floccinaucinihilipilification of the CTBT\".


mgonzalez (X)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks Oct 8, 2002

to both Sheila and Jack. Best regards. MG.


Andrea Bullrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
English to Spanish
Thanks, crumpler and Jack! Oct 9, 2002

And Jack, World Wide Words definitely goes to my bookmarks along with Sheila\'s find... icon_smile.gif



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floccinaucinihilipilification! - glossary of fun words

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