Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – Definition, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Do you fear long words? If you suffer from a phobia of long words, you must be having Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – the fear of big words.


Curious about Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia meaning? Wonder about the actual meaning of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia? This huge word literally comes from the fusion of a word, “Hippopotamus”, and a phrase “Monster-Related Fear of Very Long Words”. Medical practitioners normally define Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia as an unreasonable phobia of big words or phobia for long words. This is mainly seen as a type of anxiety disorder.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a 14 syllable word. This is the reason why another medical term named Sesquipedaliophobia, meaning the fear of many syllables, is often used as a replacement.

Is Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia a real word?

Contrary to what many people think, this is an actual word and the name of a real condition. It affects those people who suffer from fear when they come into contact with big words.

A recent study shows about 5% of the population suffering from this condition. Clear reports are still unavailable as to how many people are actually affected by hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. However, many people are believed to be suffering from this phobia every year.


Lots of people are confused about Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia pronunciation. How do you pronounce Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia? As you can make out, this is a very complicated word. A proper way of pronouncing this word is to utter it bit by bit. The correct way of pronouncing this word is to utter it as “hippo-poto-mon-stroses-quipped-alio-phobia”. You can also pronounce it according to syllables – “Hip-po-pot-o-mon-stro-ses-quip-ped-ali-o-phob-i-a”.


Like all other disorders, Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia gives rise to a number of symptoms. These are


Big words can give rise to anxiety in many sufferers. This can range from mild to extreme anxiety. Sufferers may also experience dread or terror in some cases.

Rapid Heart Rate

People with this condition suffer from increased heartbeat.

Loss of Breath

Affected people normally have respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath which is attributed to anxiety.


Anxious feelings also produce nausea or vomiting feeling in the affected people.

Dry Mouth

Dryness in the mouth area is a common physical symptom caused by anxiety.

Clammy Hands

The affected people also experience from wetness in hands due to nervousness.


Anxiety related to fear of long words phobia can also make the person tremble.

Causes of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – Fear of Long Words

Medical experts have failed to explain the exact cause behind this condition. However, they have attributed the disease to certain factors like :

Past Experiences

Some past traumatic happening related to the use of big words may lead to this syndrome. Such situations may include incidents where a person had tried to learn and pronounce a big word but failed. This negative experience paralyzes the person whenever he or she has to deal with a word of considerable length.

Biological Factors

Biological reasons like heredity are also held as a cause behind this disease.


Family members and friends are often responsible for putting the fear of long words into the minds of sufferers.

Medical researchers explain this condition as an unreasonable anxiety syndrome that is totally a creation of the mind.


As aforesaid, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is actually a condition of the mind which results from a previous negative experience with a failed attempt to learn a large word. Whenever the person comes across a big word, the fear of failure flashes through his or her mind and causes anxiety. In such cases, it is necessary to remove the negative emotions from the sufferer’s mind. Psychological counselling and psycho-therapies are used to remove the fear from affected people.

If therapies fail to make an improvement, anti-anxiety medications may be put to use. The objective of treatment in such cases is to root out the fear of long words from the mind of the person.

If the cause of fear is successfully found out and removed, it can eradicate the syndrome. However, the cure ultimately depends on the sufferer himself. The person needs to use his own will power to ultimately conquer his or her own fear.

As you can understand, this is a very non-serious condition. However, suffering from hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia can impair your learning abilities and give you a lot of trouble during examinations. So if you or any one in your family has a fear of words, you should get in touch with a psychiatrist. If your child shows a fear of hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, it is advisable that you cure it as soon as possible. Effective counselling and medication can help any person recover from this peculiar kind of learning disability and get rid of fears.






One Response

  1. david April 5, 2011

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