The last 2+ months have not been easy, despite how aware I am that my wife and I are having a far easier time of it than many people are. We have been rigorous about staying far away from others, wearing masks when outside and gloves when shopping, and dealing carefully with everything that enters the house — mail, packages, groceries. It has all paid off so far: neither of us has brought The Miley home.
As the Governor loosens restrictions and life returns to some shadow of the former normal, I won’t be taking any more risks than I have since early March. I refuse to floccinaucinihilipilificate all the work that we have put into staying healthy so far.
Don’t ask me why, but that is the word I woke up with this morning to accompany the resolve to stay the course on measures to avoid infection.
Floccinaucinihilipilification was first used in print in 1741. It is a jocular word meaning the declaring of something to be of no worth or value. It was the longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (until bested in a later edition by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis).
The word is a prime example of sesquepedalianism: the use of words a foot and a half long. That one goes back to the Roman poet Horace. He was being jocular too.
I learned both of the words in the title decades ago from my autographed copy of Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words (the author is the daughter of the late violinist Jascha Heifetz). You have not played Dictionary until you have played it using that reference work as the authority.