Sesquipedalian is derived from the Latin phrase sesquipedalis, which means the words are a foot and a half of long. It is a stylistic tool, defined as the usage of words that are very lengthy and have numerous syllables. In other words, sesquipedalian writing or speech involves the overuse of long syllabic (multisyllabic) phrases, or excessive use of noticeably long phrases.
This style of talking and writing is called “sesquipedalian style,” and is proven on this example: “Antipericatametaanaparcircumvolutiorectumgustpoops of the Coprofied”(From Gargantua and Pantagruel through Francois Rabelais). Some words are made longer through adding multiple suffixes and prefixes to the everyday terms, like this lengthy syllabic phrase, “antidisestablishmentarianism” (anti-dis-establishment-arian-ism).
This device become first delivered in literary texts in Roman times, when the famous poet Horace coined the phrase sesquipedaliaverba. Thereafter, no examples of sesquipedalian were found till the nineteenth century. Later on, this literary tool has been significantly used.
Examples of Sesquipedalian in Literature
Example #1: Finnegans (By James Joyce)
“The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur — nuk!) of a once wallstraitoldparr is retaled early in mattress and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The notable fall of the offwall entailed at such brief observe the pftjschute of Finnegan … one well to the west looking for his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out within the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the inexperienced on account that dev-linsfirst loved livvy. What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygodsgaggin fishy-gods! BrékkekKékkekKékkekKékkek! KóaxKóaxKóax! UaluUaluUalu! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmasterMalachusMicgranes and the Verdonscata-pelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms…”
There are many sesquipedalian examples in this James Joyce book. Joyce has used words up to hundred letters lengthy on this novel. In this excerpt, he has used one of the maximum famous long words within the first line. This phrase supposedly represents a symbolic thunderclap related with the fall of Adam and Eve.
Example #2: Chrononhotonthologos (By Henry Carey)
“Enter RIGDUM-FUNNIDOS, and Aldiborontiphoscophornio.
Aldiborontiphoscophornio! Where left you Chrononhotonthologos?…
Peace Coward! were they wedg’d like Golden Ingots,
pent so close, as to admit no Vacuum.
One appearance from Chrononhotonthologos
Shall scare them into Nothing. RigdumFunnidos,
Bid Bombardinion draw his Legions forth,
And meet us within the Plains of Queerumania.”
This is a excellent example of sesquipedalian, as Carey has coined long syllabic phrases. Here, the opening line, and then the second one to the ultimate line, incorporate multisyllabic words which are very long coinages that give a humorous effect.
Example #3: Love’s Labour’s Lost (By William Shakespeare)
“Cost. O! they have got lived long on the alms basket of words. I wonder thy grasp hath now not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the top as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art simpler swallowed than a flap-dragon…”
Shakespeare used a 27-letter lengthy word, honorificabilitudinitatibus, as proven in bold. It method the capability to be honored, and is taken into consideration as one of the longest words in literature.
Example #4: Assemblywomen (By Aristophanes)
Aristophanes, being a comedic playwright, created a long Greek word of approximately 171 letters, which is proven above. This phrase way a dish consisting of different ingredients, like fish, dainties, sauces, and flesh.
Example #5: Headlong Hall (By Thomas Love Peacock)
Thomas Peacock has coined words on this example. The first one has 44 letters, and the second one has fifty one letters. These phrases are more or less translated as of “flesh, bone, organs, blood, nerve, gristle and marrow.” He describes the human body with the aid of the use of these phrases.
Function of Sesquipedalian
The English language has an abundance of sesquipedalian words, which might be regularly used to feature funny effect. The maximum probable users of such words are language experts and word hobbyists. Many language lovers and hobbyists are prone to try topping one another that allows you to set new facts using these phrases and devising them.
It is also used as a funny try to reformulate famous English expressions. Since the multisyllabic words sluggish down the tempo of a verse, it offers readers greater time to recognise the meaning of such phrases. Hence, the main feature of sesquipedalian phrases is to place emphasis and draw the attention of the audience.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw