Anyone who has ever spoken to me about interesting words will have heard me pontificate about floccinoccinihilipilification. It is one of the few really long words which I can spell without recourse to a dictionary. Although it’s only fair to point at this point that there is an alternative spelling – floccinaucinihilipilification, and neither are being recognized by the inbuilt dictionary of my word processing package today, funny that.

What does it mean? It means to make little of something, to deem it worthless or insignificant. I love that fact that to make little of something one has to use such a large word.

Wiktionary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/floccinaucinihilipilification) has a good listing for it, including pronunciation recordings and its usage in text from 1741 onwards. I say it as flocky-knocky-ni-hilly-pilly-fication and have taught a number of people its meaning and usage in order to ensure its proliferation.

There’s a story, and I have no idea of its veracity, that the word was cobbled together by Eton students using the following Latin words – floccus (wisp of wool) + nauci (a trifle) + nihil (nothing – remember the Nihilists?) + pili (a hair) + fication (making it an action-noun). This would imply that my spelling with nocci rather than nauci is incorrect, but it looks better on the page, in my opinion.

I dare you to teach at least one person about floccinoccinihilipilification today. Words of such ridiculous spelling and proportion deserve to endure!

Until next time, happy reading and writing,


ps. regular readers will be aware that I’m busy behind the scenes with major revisions of my first novel. I passed the halfway point yesterday and am on track to re-start submitting it by the end of June.

2 thoughts on “Floccinoccinihilipilification

  1. Pingback: Interviewing my Husband (his first book is out!) | The Wordfoolery Blog

  2. Pingback: Forlorn | Wordfoolery

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