This week we are looking at words of fear.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia: fear of long words. 

Brace yourself.  This one is tough to break down.  First, the easy part.  Phobos, from the Greek word φόβος, is fear.  From this word, we get all of our phobias. 

The middle part of this word is from the Latin sesquipedalis meaning, “a foot and a half long.”  Whenever I see this word, I can’t help but think of a Roman soldier ordering lunch at a Subway.    

Hippopotamus and monstro seem to have been thrown in just to make this word longer.  

Monstro is from the Latin word monstrum.  A monstrum is a monster or an unnatural thing or event regarded by the Romans as an omen.  Usually, a bad omen. 

A hippopotamus is a “river horse”.  The Greek word for horse is ίππος (hippos) and the Greek word for river is ποταμός (potamos).  

It does look like the Potomac River in Virginia is the “River River”.  But, the name Potomac does not derive from the Greek word for river.  Instead, it comes from Patowmeck, the name of an Algonquian village in Virginia.

Where were we?  Oh, yes.  Long words. 

Do you know the longest word in the English language?  

Smiles.  There is a mile between each “s”.


Like words?  You will enjoy the series Word up!  Warning.   Word up! is a bit wacky.  You will learn a lot… but, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, too.

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