What is the Fear of Long Words? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

People could develop fear and phobia out of anything, it doesn’t matter however innocuous and insignificant a thing maybe. Usually, unknown things that don’t have a name or description make people scared. Rarely, long words also make people scared. It’s uncommon, but it exists and is very painful for those who are experiencing it. Today, we’re going to discuss what is the fear of long words; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Root Word

The term and word for fear of elongated words is “hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” and it rightfully describes this condition. Apparently, it’s the longest word in the English language, and people use this term both in a serious tone or sarcastically. The short term for this elongated word is “sesquipedalophobia” and both terms have the same meanings. Technically speaking, “sesquipedalophobia” is a more correct term.

Some linguistic experts included references like monsters and hippopotamus in the term along the way. While doing so, it has made the term scarier. Ironically, the term has got 35 letters in it.

What is the Fear of Long Words?

People afraid of long words often have to deal with elongated words. Some consider it as a joke, but it’s very much real for those who experience it. If you make someone pronounce the elongated words over and over again in order to describe their fear, then it helps them to manage the symptoms of sesquipedalophobia.


The elongated words encourage the readers to develop the skill of breaking them down into smaller syllables and then pronounce them step by step. When you practice this technique, then it helps people to deal with their discomfort with long words.

For instance, the first part in the term ‘hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia’ is ‘hippo’ meaning horse in Greek. It’s also similar to the word ‘hippopotamus’ that we’ve heard before, and it’s not a scary word. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Hippopotamine is a large animal, and it’s relevant to the elongated word and animal.

The next element is ‘monster has its root in Latin and it means something big, scary, and monstrous being. Sesquippedalio is also a Latin word, and it means ‘measuring a foot half long.’ Finally, the word ‘phobia’ is from the Greek word ‘phobe’ and it means fear. However, the elongated word ‘hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia’ may seem big and scary. When you break it down into smaller parts, then it becomes less scary.

Symptoms of Fear of Long Words 

Some of the main external symptoms of fear of elongated words are as follows;

  • Sweating
  • Freezing in one place
  • Shaking

Some of the other symptoms are more subtle. If you have this phobia and your mind becomes locked up when you come across any long word. When it starts happening to you, then it limits your reading, writing, and researching skills. Usually, such people brush off reading/writing activity by saying that the writer is pretentious

School-going children usually develop this or relevant phobia. When it happens, then they lose interest in the school and the homework. Some of the symptoms among children are;

  • Communicating with limited vocabulary
  • Not doing or forgetting school and homework assignments
  • Rebellious behavior

Causes of Fear of Long Words 

Sesquipedalophobia occurs and is caused by when parts of the brain like the hippocampus and amygdale record any event as deadly or dangerous. The body would react to it the same as the mind has described it. Severely phobic people would experience panic and anxiety attacks when they across any elongated word.

It’s not an inborn or by birth phobia. People develop this phobia by going through any unpleasant event. Usually, they don’t remember how and when they developed this fear.

Children experience embarrassment, trembling, and they become a laughing stoke when it comes to reading the long words in the class. The mind records this reaction and it exhibits the same reaction later in life without any basis.

Effects of Fear of Long Words 

Fear of elongated words could have a very bad effect on the daily functions of a person’s life like any other phobia. Teachers usually come across with long words, and the phobia would create great trouble for them while performing their duties. Manual working employees don’t have exposure to elongated words, and the phobia won’t impact them.

It has a crippling impact on young children because they’re in the learning phase and exposed to deal with elongated words. The anxiety makes them develop other types of mental health issues like depression, isolation, and social phobia. However, when they grow up, then it limits their career opportunities because they have to choose such a profession where they don’t have to deal with words.

Treatment of Fear of Long Words 

The fear of long words phobia is mild and low among many people. If it’s not impacting their personal life, then they can deal with it by making a conscious effort of expanding their vocabulary and learning to divide syllables. They should study new words, develop the habit of reading and writing, and keep familiarizing themselves; it would lower the anxiety level.

If symptoms are severe and impacting your personal life and routine functions, then you should consult a mental health professional. The therapist would teach you various coping strategies to deal with the anxiety.

Conclusion: What is the Fear of Long Words? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is the fear of long words; its symptoms, causes, effects, and treatment; we’ve realized that sesquipedalophobia is a serious problem among some people. If you’re seeing any children dealing with this phobia, then you should inform his/her parents to get the relevant help.