English edit

Etymology edit

The first appearance of honorificabilitudinitatibus in a printed English-language work is thought to be in the First Quarto of William Shakespeare’s play Love’s Labour’s Lost (1598).

Learned borrowing from Medieval Latin honōrificābilitūdinitātibus, the ablative and dative plural of honōrificābilitūdinitās (the state of being able to achieve honours).

Pronunciation edit

  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌɒn.əˌɹɪf.ɪ.kəˌbɪl.ɪˌt(j)uː.dɪ.nɪˈteɪ.tɪ.bəs/, /-ˈtæ-/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˌɑn.əˌɹɪf.ɪ.kəˌbɪl.əˌt(j)u.dɪ.nɪˈteɪ.tɪ.bəs/, /-ˈtæ-/, [-ɾɪ-]
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: hon‧or‧if‧ic‧a‧bil‧i‧tu‧din‧it‧a‧ti‧bus

Noun edit

honorificabilitudinitatibus (uncountable) (chiefly humorous, obsolete, rare)

  1. The state of being able to achieve honours; honourableness.
    Synonym: honorificabilitudinity
    • 1599, [Thomas] Nashe, Nashes Lenten Stuffe, [], London: [] [Thomas Judson and Valentine Simmes] for N[icholas] L[ing] and C[uthbert] B[urby] [], →OCLC, page 24:
      Phyſitions deafen our eares with the Honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heauenly Panachæa their ſoueraigne Guiacum, their gliſters, their triacles, their mithridates of fortie ſeuerall poyſons compacted, their bitter Rubarbe, and tortuting Stibium.
    • 1616–1619 (first performance), John Fletcher, “The Mad Lover”, in Comedies and Tragedies [], London: [] Humphrey Robinson, [], and for Humphrey Moseley [], published 1647, →OCLC, Act I, scene i, page 3, column 2:
      Novv the Drums doubbes & the ſticks turn'd bed-ſtaves, / All the old Foxes hunted to their holes, / The Iron age return'd to Eribus, / And Honorificabilitudinitatibus / Thruſt out o'th' Kingdome by the head and ſhoulders, / VVhat trade doe you meane to follovv.
    • 1688, [George Tullie], An Answer to a Discourse Concerning the Celibacy of the Clergy, Printed at Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] [A]t the Theater, for Richard Chiswell [], →OCLC, page 28:
      [H]e would much more have approv'd this victory over natural inclinations, in the Virgin [Mary, mother of Jesus] than in the Father, who might be neceſſitated to go againſt his will, by the incontinacibility (or, honorificabilitudinitatibus) of the Virgin.
    • 1858 September 18, “Calling Bad Names”, in Charles Dickens, editor, Household Words. A Weekly Journal, volume XVIII, number 443, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], →OCLC, page 333, column 1:
      He who by the seashore makes friends with the sea-nettles, is introduced to them by the scientific master of ceremonies as the Physsophoridæ and Hippopodydæ. Creatures weak, delicate and beautiful, are Desmidiaceæ, Chætopterina, and Amphinomaceæ, Pyenogonida, Teuthredineta, Twentysyllableorfeeta, and all for the honour of science; or rather, not for its honour; but for its honorificabilitudinitatibus.
  2. Used as a person's title or the name of a thing meaning "honourable one", or simply as a very long word to indicate prolixity.
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), W. Shakespere [i.e., William Shakespeare], A Pleasant Conceited Comedie Called, Loues Labors Lost. [] (First Quarto), London: [] W[illiam] W[hite] for Cut[h]bert Burby, published 1598, →OCLC; republished as Shakspere’s Loves Labours Lost (Shakspere-Quarto Facsimiles; no. 5), London: W[illiam] Griggs, [], [1880], →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
      Clow[ne]. O they haue lyud long on the almſbaſket of vvordes. I maruaile thy M[aster] hath not eaten thee for a vvorde, for thou art not ſo long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: Thou art eaſier ſvvallovved then a flapdragon.
      Apparently the first appearance of the word in a printed English-language work.
    • 1605, Iohn Marston [i.e., John Marston], The Dutch Courtezan. [], London: [] T[homas] P[urfoot] for Iohn Hodgets, [], →OCLC, Act V, scene ii:
      For griefes ſake keepe him out, his diſcourſe is like the long vvord, Honorificabilitudinitatibus: a great deale / Of ſound and no ſence: []
    • [1622, John Taylor, “To the (Sir Reverence) Right Worshipped Mr. Trim Tram Senseless, []”, in Sir Gregory Nonsence His Newes from No Place. [], published 1700; republished in Charles Hindley, editor, The Old Book Collector’s Miscellany: Or, A Collection of Readable Reprints of Literary Rarities, [], volume III, London: Reeves and Turner, [], 1873, →OCLC, page i:
      Most Honorificicabilitudinitatibus, I having studied the seven Lub berly sciences (being nine by computation) out of which I gathered three conjunctions four mile Ass-under, which with much labour, and great ease, to little or no purpose, I have noddicated to your gray, grave, and gravelled Prate ection.
      The version of the word used has an additional syllable -ci-.]
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 9: Scylla and Charybdis]”, in Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare and Company, [], →OCLC, part II [Odyssey], page 201:
      Like John O’ Gaunt his name is dear to him, as dear as the coat of arms he toadied for, on a bend sable a spear or steeled argent, honorificabilitudinitatibus, dearer than his glory of greatest shakescene in the country.
    • 1963, James Baker Hall, Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings[1], Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, published 2002, →ISBN:
      When he bounded out of the darkroom in the long apron, squinting first at Jane and then at his father, it was an antidisestablishmentarian break; or a honorificabilitudinitatibus break; or a parking meter break; or a first-fifteen-Presidents-of-the-United-States-and-their-Secretaries-of-States break (it was the Secretaries that made that one—a lot of people knew the V.P.s); or a major-league-record-for-stolen-bases, time's up, Ty Cobb, ninety-six, break.
    • 1964 May 4, Richard Bentley, “Editor’s Correspondence [Letter to Whitney North Seymour]”, in Richard Bentley, editor, American Bar Association Journal, volume 50, number 7, Chicago, Ill.: American Bar Association, published July 1964, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 647, column 1:
      Arthur Goodhart dropped in at the Journal office the other morning and told me of the signal honor you have received in being chosen an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln's Inn. He tells me that the selection of a practicing lawyer, especially one not resident in England, is a notable departure from custom and as such, would qualify you for the title "Honorificabilitudinitatibus"! Many congratulations!

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Trivia edit

The word is said to be the longest word in Shakespeare’s works, and the longest word in the English language which has alternating consonants and vowels.[1]

References edit

  1. ^ See, for example, Michael Powell (2019) Word Nerd, London: Cassell, →ISBN, page 50.

Further reading edit

Latin edit

Pronunciation edit

  • (Classical) IPA(key): /ho.noː.ri.fi.kaː.bi.li.tuː.di.niˈtaː.ti.bus/, [hɔnoːrɪfɪkäːbɪlʲɪt̪uːd̪ɪnɪˈt̪äːt̪ɪbʊs̠]
  • (modern Italianate Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /o.no.ri.fi.ka.bi.li.tu.di.niˈta.ti.bus/, [onorifikäbilit̪ud̪iniˈt̪äːt̪ibus]

Noun edit


  1. dative/ablative plural of honōrificābilitūdinitās