Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia: Fear of long words

Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia Fear of long words

It is defined as a persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of long words .
This complicated and long name Hipopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia ) derives from the Greek. “ Hipopoto ” ( big ) “ monstro ” ( monstrous ) “ sesquipedali ” ( mutilated form of Latin “sesquipedalian”, that is, big word ) and “ phobos ” (fear).



It is ironic that such a long word is used, precisely and precisely, to refer to the phobia of similar words. To avoid problems, at other times it is more simply called sesquipedaliophobia .

This phobia is characterized by aversion or nervousness at the given moment in which the person is included in conversations where long or infrequent words are used (for example, in a talk in the hospital with doctors, scientific or technical colloquia, etc. ) .

As well as avoiding or not mentioning abnormal words in the colloquial vocabulary at all.

The disorder is caused by the fear of saying or pronouncing the word in question incorrectly, because this would represent for the phobic the possibility of being exposed to ridicule, being at a disadvantage, being considered someone of inferior culture or low intelligence in the face of the persons.

Often this phobia is accompanied by social shyness.


While hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia may be less common than other phobias, people who acquire this disorder experience the same feeling of panic as those suffering from such phobias as  acrophobia ( fear of heights ), or arachnophobia  ( fear of spiders ), or any other phobia. known.

Rather than spiders or heights, however, the schipedaliophobic hypopommons experiences a general feeling of dread or fear whenever the person comes into contact with a very long word.

Despite the understanding that they pose no harm to the person, patients may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, and even the urge to vomit whenever this happens.

The hipopotomonstrosesquipedaliofobia literally means ” hippopotamus and the monster related fear of very long words .” As a word of about 15 syllables, it is almost certain to scare off those suffering from this disorder itself.

As a result, many experts have questioned its use, with the excuse that the term makes fun of those who suffer from it.

Therefore, the term  sesquipedaliophobia , or fear of many syllables, is often used instead.

In the following video you will see the 8 longest words in the world in Spanish and it is a good test to analyze yourself and know if you suffer from this fear of long words.

Clammy hands, elevated heart rate, and dry mouth are some of the most common physical symptoms of the disease.

The phobia refers to the pronunciation of not common or not so common words, for example, for a person who suffers from this phobia of long words it would be totally impossible to pronounce the name that designates this type of phobias.

An example or symptom would be being afraid to pronounce something like: Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg , it is an existing name, it is the name of a lake, it is also known as Webster Lake, because it is where it is located ( Massachusetts ) near Connectica.

Its name consists of 45 letters and it is known for being the site with the longest name in the entire USA, and one of the longest on the planet and the one that makes life more difficult for the inhabitants of the place … or for example also fear pronouncing words like Paraskevedekatriaphobia  this unpronounceable name ( Parakevi; Friday and Dekatria; thirteen ) from the Greek vocabulary, is a real disease like life itself, and as you may have already guessed, it is about being afraid of Friday the 13th, traditionally the figure 13, has always been considered bad luck, especially for superstitious people and the combination of this day of the month, with Tuesday or Friday have been considered the fewest, a day of ” bad luck ” or perfidious.

And it is that although it does not seem like it, there are people in the world with this disease.


Previously we mentioned that this phobia can be caused mainly by the fear of pronouncing the word incorrectly, since this represents for the person a possibility of being at a disadvantage or being seen as someone of inferior culture or unintelligent before their peers. But then why does this phobia carry this long name ?

The word hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia itself presents a certain irony, due to the strangeness and length of the word that indicates the phobia towards similar words. To avoid trouble, the word currently in use is sesquipedaliophobia.


Like all phobias , this one also has a solution.

The phobia of long words is fair and precise to work on in therapy, with the symptoms of discomfort that cause it, the multiple reactions and triggers typical of all phobias, that is, anxiety, the feeling of losing control and all the symptoms of discomfort …

But even this is not enough, it is necessary to treat more in depth the attitudes of avoidance , anticipatory and maintenance thoughts , emotions and disorders that cause and related to the phobia of long words.

Only when the depth of the psychological problem is dealt with, and not just “what is seen”, does the problem really disappear. It is not about alleviating the symptoms, but about healing a underlying problem that is the cause of triggering, enhancing or maintaining a phobia.

A good advice to treat the phobia of long words or any other phobia, the first thing we should do, is to recognize it, accept it and admit its discomfort.

Then put yourself in the hands of a good professional Psychologist, and allow him / her to know all the causes and reasons for your discomfort.

Do not feel sorry for it, no matter how strange your reason is, do not be afraid that it seems strange and different, since it is very normal that more people suffer what you suffer.

One of the best ways to alleviate any type of phobia, including hypopomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, is to replace the victim’s bad associations with good ones.

To accomplish this, treatment may include  anti-  anxiety medications or  therapy . Regardless of how it is treated, however, it is very important to determine the source of the fear before it can be successfully alleviated.

Unfortunately, experts are unable to explain exactly why people suffer from hypopomonstrosesquipedaliophobia , but those fears are primarily caused by family or friends, or past experiences.


All phobias have treatment, which will depend on the intensity and follow-up and the psychopathological complications that the affected individuals present.

Mild phobic conditions can be tackled on your own, but some requirements are required:

  • The desire to overcome it is essential . Be determined. There are those who use the phobia as an excuse not to face situations and do not show a real will, a personal commitment, to eliminate it.
  • Firmly set a day to start the workout .
  • Create, with the necessary time and reflection , a list of situations to overcome. And plan yourself the measures to take.
  • Imagine yourself facing the phobic situation .
  • Be aware that we must gradually expose ourselves to the situations that cause us the phobia.
  •  Value achievements , however minimal, and be strong in achieving the objectives. And when they meet, reward each other accordingly for such difficult work.

When phobic conditions are more complicated, it is advisable to put yourself in the hands of competent professionals.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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