Word of the Week: Take Cover!7:30 AM
The first time I realized people did not appreciate my logophilia was at church, in the coat racks. I lightly said (after a near fatal collision, no doubt), "I'm just oscillating back and forth."
"Oscillating?" said someone.
"Oscillating," answered I, unsure.
"Like an oscillating fan."
Well, that's a poor example - but you get the point. The staring and polite snickering - sometimes the guilty fear of ignorance - it's enough to frighten any serious, tenderhearted logophile right out of her socks. Lucky me. I go around barefoot.
The truth is, my dear readers, people just aren't interested in etymology and words like you are. They don't take the time to read my column; they don't feel anything but insulted when I approach them with a new word.
And some people are downright scared. Would you tremble at antidisestablishmentarianism? Think you safe from Shakespeare's
honorificabilitudinitatibus? Are you nightmare-proof over the introduction to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Thank goodness - most of you have all your breath and sanity about you by now. For those of you who are hyperventilating, I'm sorry to say it, but you have a problem.
Of course, there's a name for it. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. It's quite simple to see if you have it. No need to pronounce it, either. You simply look at the phobia - there it is above - and check your vital signs to make sure you're alive.
Now, this is not a free diagnostic column, so we'll go no further. Suffice it to say that hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia comes from several words - hippopotamus, monster and sesquipedalian, which of course means having many syllables or characterized by the use of long words.