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floccinaucinihilipilification

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English

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Etymology

Latin floccus (a wisp) +‎ naucum (a trifle) +‎ nihilum (nothing) +‎ pilus (a hair) + English -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 an object in the genitive case: “flocci, nauci, nihilī, pilī, assis, huius, teruncii, hīs verbīs, aestimō, pendō, faciō, pecūliāriter adduntur”.[1] This translates loosely to: “The verbs aestimo, pendo and facio when used in the sense of ‘to value’ or ‘to care’ irregularly take the following objects in the genitive case: flocci, nauci, nihilī, pilī, assis (penny), huius (this) and teruncii (farthing)”.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˌflɒksɪˌnɔːsɪˌnaɪhɪlɪˌpɪlɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/, /ˌflɒksɪˌnɒsɪˌnɪhɪlɪˌpɪlɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/
  • (file)
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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[1]:
      Floccinaucinihilipilification in accounting - does it matter?
    • 2006, Sol Steinmetz, The life of language[2]:
      They must be taken with an air of contempt, a floccinaucinihilipilification of all that can gratify the outward man.
    • 2009, Judith Orloff, Emotional Freedom[3]:
      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[4]:
      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[5]:
      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. In the debate on the remuneration of EU staff, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg used the word on 21st February 2012 and it was later reported as being the second longest word ever recorded by Hansard [2] after Michael Bryan's use of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in a select committee enquiry. [3]

Related terms

Translations

See also

References

  1. ^
    2011 June 1, The Spectator, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
  2. ^ HC Deb, 21 February 2012, c787
  3. ^ http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/834593/Jacob-rees-mogg-long-word-hansard