Floccinaucinihilipilification: Hashtag That

Today it’s floccinaucinihilipilification.

No, I didn’t just make that up. The term ‘creatio ex nihilo’, meaning the creation of something from nothing, cropped up in my Philosophy class. To give this a bit of background, I’d previously asked my teacher whether ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’ had Greek or Latin roots. And she didn’t know, which completely baffled me—after all, why would you be happy to remain in ignorance of the etymology of terms you use and teach all the time? I guess not everyone can be a linguist, but…but… *bites lip* Since then, she’s taken to translating all the foreign terms that come up in the syllabus, including their roots (though she couldn’t define ‘despotic’. Meh).

To return to the tale in question, I’d never seen the fragment ‘nihil’ anywhere else, except in this word I’d known since I was eight: floccinaucinihilipilification. Strange how our minds work!

I looked it up later in the day, and found that not only had I spelt it correctly all those years in my mind, but that I was correct about the ‘nihil’ bit.

A bunch of boys from Eton found a list of nouns in their Latin grammar books: ‘flocci, nauci, etc’. (Sorry if I got all the cases and declensions wrong.) They collected a loads of semi-synonymic words and made them into the twenty-nine-letter monster ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’.

Longest word used in the British House of Commons, as of February 2012.

If you haven’t Googled this word yet, don’t. Give me a moment, and I’ll deign to explain.

*deep breath*

Flocci—a wisp (of wool, for example)

+Nauci—a trifle


+Pili—a hair/something insignificant


= the act of regarding something as unimportant, worthless or having no value

I floccinaucinihilipilificate long words. And make sure you pronounce it with optimum ease and fluency.

I spent my lunch period yesterday teaching a few strangers that word. I didn’t bring it up; they caught sight of it doodled in my planner.

To digress, one of them is a Lord of the Rings fan. Like, a real hardcore one, who makes me feel like a fraud.

She has read The Lord of the Rings (and that includes all three volumes and The Hobbit, not much less than 450,000 words) eight hundred and forty-eight times. Each of them.

I couldn’t resist taking out my calculator and pumping the sums. Taking that as four books, she’s read 3392 books at least in her lifetime. That’s like reading a book (and we’re talking about long books) every day of your life for nine years three and a half months. I’m almost inclined to disbelieve her, but she started when she was five and has read nothing else ever since. It’s just too incredible to contradict. Even if she added a couple of hundred on for effect (though she did consult a note on her phone to give me this figure), five or six hundred times is scarcely less staggering.

But I digress. I’ve made new acquaintances. That’s basically what’s going on in my life at the moment. Oh, and I’m doing my Silver Qualifying from Thursday till Tuesday. Wish me luck! (If I can only stay out of A&E, I’ll be delighted!)


Eat that!

Seven Fun Facts – Viral Infections of the Upper Respiratory Tract

I’ve been working till midnight three nights in a row, while simultaneously suffering from a smothering cold that really requires decent sleep. And I’m going away all weekend, so homework is currently preying upon my anxiety. At least in Sixth Form there’s no backlog, because every piece of work is in for the next day.

The common cold is one ailment I just can’t ignore. The monotony of mild headaches and stomach pains can help send me into a trance (good?!); but the constant fluctuations of the common cold manacle one to one’s feeble body.


Is it the comfort and privilege of a middle-class first-world citizen’s life that has let my immune system wane? I know I have many mineral and vitamin deficiencies, but you might expect all the drugs I take for that to help somewhat.



You can almost, almost guarantee that if there’s something going round, I’ll catch it. I won’t take a day off school, because in Year 10 I taught myself that commitment was the most important thing, and a sufficient portion of that mentality remains. But from October 2012 to January 2013 inclusive I was unwell. I got through three packets of tissues a day, rubbed my nose raw to bleeding, destroyed my hearing for months afterward. Standard effects of colds gone overboard.

Ugh. *blows nose* What is up with me?!

But it’s okay. I’ll get over it.

And because I can’t be bothered with essays tonight, here’s some fun facts about the common cold:

  • If you want to get technical, or are bored of people commenting on your ill health, you could call it a ‘viral infection of the upper respiratory tract’. Might as well glory in it, rather than degrading your everything-centric ‘man-flu’ to a mere ‘common cold’.
  • Over two hundred viruses are implicated in the common cold. And whilst it’s said due to your B-lymphocyte white blood cells you can’t suffer the same one twice, I’m nowhere near two hundred! Another virus is sure to find me.
  • The average adult contracts between two and three viruses per year. I must be uncommon! I must’ve had six colds this year alone, one after the other.
  • Symptoms usually resolve between seven and ten days after the virus is contracted. Again, I must be strange. I don’t feel a smidgeon better than I did two weeks ago.
  • Symptoms are more likely the result of the body’s immune response rather than the virus destroying tissue. So if it feels like you’re coughing your lungs up, nine times out of ten you’re not going to die. 🙂
  • Did you know rhinoviruses are the most common of the common cold viruses? (Anyone know the etymology of ‘rhino’?)
  • There is evidence everywhere that hand-washing is extremely effective in warding off the virus, so if you don’t want my phlegm, go wash your hands with antibacterial soap as soon as you’ve finished reading this post. But don’t worry; my blog isn’t contagious. And if you want to be extra-careful, try wearing a face-mask. (Just don’t sue me if you’re coughing like a hyena next week after some cruel person sneezed on you.)

*feels exhausted but knows she has to blow her nose again*

*realises she just used the last tissue in the box*


Anyway, I still have an essay to write…