Floccinaucinihilipilification

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The act or habit of describing something as worthless.

The longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, where it dates back to Eton College, 1741: "I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money".

It is said to have been made up by some Eton students from a number of Latin and Greek words meaning 'nothing' or 'worthless', for example:
Flocci - a sheep's fleece or piece of wool, as in the Latin flocci non facio - "I don't care" (literally "I couldn't give a sheep's fleece)
nihil - 'nothing' in Latin

It has been used by Zippy the Pinhead (March 14, 1996):

"Do you think I may be too quick to find fault with things and people, Zippy?"
"Yeh."
"Th' 'floccinaucinihilipilification' process."
"Th' what?"
"Floccinaucinihilipilification!! It means 'the estimation of something as valueless'!"
"You've been randomly reading th' dictionary, haven't you?"
"Yes. That and my natural tendency toward antifloccinaucinihilipilification!!"

...Jesse Helms, in reference to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: "I note your distress at my floccinaucinihilipilification of the CTBT"

...Mike McCurry, Clinton's press secretary: "But if you -- as a practical matter of estimating the economy, the difference is not great. There's a little bit of floccinaucinihilipilification going on here."

...Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

...Sir Walter Scott (3/18/1829, with 'pauci' as the second element rather than 'nauci'): "They must be taken with an air of contempt, a floccipaucinihilipilification of all that can gratify the outward man."


/Talk