Flibbertigibbet and other tongue pleasing words

The structure of part of a DNA double helix
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Long Words

I love long words. They feel so wonderful after your tongue completes the complex and intricate maneuvers that get each word out of your mouth.  Antidisestablishmentarianism, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, deoxyribonucleic acid , Greek last names.  They are all so tactile.  You feel like such a rhetorician when you manage to insert each multi-syllabic mouthful into a sentence.

But wait a minute

Unfortunately, these words either have very specialized meanings that are hard to insert into normal conversation or they don’t mean anything at all.  Try parsing antidisestablishmentarianism. It apparently actually means something but you would never know it from its construction. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, according to Disney Studios means “Something to say when you have nothing to say.”  I might add, when you have nothing to say and you want to say it with flair.  Deoxyribonucleic acid – we might actually be able to use that one these days since it is so important on crime TV shows except for the damnable tendency these days to turn any word longer than two syllables into letters.  Deoxyribonucleic acid has been downgraded to DNA.   No fun there.  And Greek last names.   Let’s face it, the world needs more Greeks.  Compare the delicious name Tsakopoulos with the ordinary Smith or Jones– even the more exotic Carlson.   Which one does your tongue prefer?

But I digress

What got me started on this homage to long words was a not so long word but one that still flits provocatively off the tongue,  Flibbertigibbet.   It is fun to say, has a real meaning and you can use it today.  It means “ a flighty or whimsical person.”  Someone who behaves in a higgledy piggledy fashion which is to say confused or unorganized.

Finally, the point

You see I struggle daily to maintain the image of a focused, goal-oriented individual while trying to mask the reality that underneath the facade is a flibbertigibbet whose natural tendency is to make daily decisions in a higgledy piggledy fashion.  At the moment this effort has exhausted my will and I feel an uncontrollable urge to waste 3 hours on Facebook but I do really want to explore this in depth sometime.  Maybe tomorrow.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Travis February 11, 2010, 10:27 am


    One that’s really full of oxy-moronical-ness….

    Hypotomonstrousequipedalophobia and I know I didn’t spell it right… but guess what it is?

    Fear of long words.
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..The End Justifies the Means =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 11:07 am

    I love it. Does Wikipedia tell you how to say it?

  • Travis February 11, 2010, 11:09 am

    I have no idea!!! I never checked. I should check today.
    Good suggestion! 😀
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..The End Justifies the Means =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 11:11 am

    Do so forthwith!

  • Eleanor Edwards February 11, 2010, 11:25 am

    Awesome post Ralph! I too love long words, although I tend not to use the very, very long ones that you’ve advocated today. But language is very beautiful and deserved to be celebrated.

    As an aside, this was the first time I noticed your excellent use of the sub-headings. I was never even aware of this before reading Travis’s post over at James’ place but yours today was a lovely example.
    .-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..Top 5 Jokes to Help Your Health =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 11:32 am

    Thanks you very much for the kind, although short, words. The sub-headings are something I have been doing for a short time. I forget now who was advocating the practice so I can’t even give proper credit, It is nice to know that I am doing it well. Was it Travis’ suggestion? It all blurs.

  • Heather February 11, 2010, 11:47 am

    Hehe, that made me giggle Ralph – awesome, and nice to see you taking a break. Also a fan of long, complicated words… can’t wait til you pursue it further.

    Anyway, I’m here right now to award you the Sunshine Award; details are over at my blog.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Sunshine Awards – Congratulations Everyone! =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 11:52 am

    That’s what my wife calls me – Sunshine. Not really.

  • Heather February 11, 2010, 11:54 am

    Hehe ^_^
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Sunshine Awards – Congratulations Everyone! =-.

  • Travis February 11, 2010, 12:38 pm

    One thing that cracked me up actually, I live with housemates and we have a weak sofa.

    So one of my house mates is an avid Star Trek fan…

    He said this one night when we were rough housing on the sofa…

    “Hey guys, please refrain from continuing in this manner, the structural integrity of the furniture is in question.”

    I LOVED THAT!!! It was amazing and it cracked me up big time. He meant it genuinely too! He doesn’t try to talk like this. Every once in a while, we’ll catch him talking super smart like that and it’s glorious.
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..The End Justifies the Means =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 12:56 pm

    Did you stop the rough housing? If so, the housemate is a good communicator.

  • Travis February 11, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Haha!!! You’re awesome, Ralph. We did, actually!
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..The End Justifies the Means =-.

  • Sire February 11, 2010, 2:29 pm

    I much prefer words that flow off the tongue easily. The only one of those I could handle is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and that’s only because I had to sit through the movie so many times.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Quick Update On People Search Money Opportunity =-.

  • TheInfoPreneur February 11, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Was this post designed to make me work Ralph! You know how I struggle with words. I couldn’t tell if you had written them properly or not. ha ha

    I agree though, sometimes you really do have to relax and kick back, looking up crazy words or on facebook.

    Top work here Ralph
    .-= TheInfoPreneur´s last blog ..How To Get My Site Popular Quickly? =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 3:29 pm

    What amazes me is that with a little practice these long words just flow easily.. and then they are so much fun to say.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Yes James. This post was intended only to make you work.

  • Sire February 11, 2010, 4:05 pm

    That’s true Ralph, but who’s going to be around to make sure I pronounce it right?
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Quick Update On People Search Money Opportunity =-.

  • Ralph February 11, 2010, 4:16 pm

    Say it with authority and no one will challenge you.

  • Matthew Needham February 12, 2010, 6:46 am

    The one thing more difficult than saying those words Ralph is spelling them!

    My wife often occuses me of doling out long words when short words suffice.

    I’m with you that some very fine words have fallen into obscurity and maybe that’s a bad thing.

    As a whole, we try to over complicate things in life when saying exactly what we mean will aid limpidity (now there’s a great word!)

  • Dr Egg February 12, 2010, 2:31 pm

    The best one I came across I first saw on Blue Peter when I was but a lad: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis but by the time I got to medical school, everyone had got fed up and just called it pneumoconiosis. It’s a disabling lung disease and nothing like as exciting as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

  • Ralph February 13, 2010, 8:35 am

    Matthew, I don’t want to be pretentious with the words because your wife is right about overdoing them but some of them are just so much fun to say.

  • Ralph February 13, 2010, 8:37 am

    Dr. Egg,
    Why not PMC?

  • Dr Egg February 13, 2010, 11:01 am

    PMC – no idea, especially as we use COPD for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. By the way, the other one we have here is Wales, of course, is llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch a little village in Anglesey, North Wales.
    .-= Dr Egg´s last blog ..Taking the day off =-.

  • Ralph February 13, 2010, 11:06 am

    Dr. Egg,
    I forget those Welsh names. It would take quite a bit of practice to get that one to flit off my tongue. Do the people that live there use the name or do they have a shortcut?

  • Dr Egg February 13, 2010, 12:18 pm

    You’re absolutely right Ralph. It’s Llanfair PG, to those in the know!
    .-= Dr Egg´s last blog ..Taking the day off =-.

  • Keith Davis February 14, 2010, 6:02 am

    Hi Ralph
    Doesn’t “underneath the facade is a flibbertigibbet” sum up the human condition?

    As we get older all we do is get better at putting up that facade.
    My pal used to call it “that moment of self doubt” – the moment when we question if we know anything at all.

    No big deal… just being human.

    • Ralph February 14, 2010, 10:11 am

      I think you are right. At least it is comforting to believe tht others have the same problem. I have long wondered when I would feel like a grownup meaning how I always thought my parents felt – knowing everything and confident about what to do at all times.

  • Ralph February 14, 2010, 10:08 am

    Dr. Egg,
    Seems like such a waste. All those delicious syllables getting ignored.

  • Keith Davis February 14, 2010, 10:23 am

    If you ever get to the point where you know everything and feel confident all the time, please let me know.

    It reminds me of a comment from the Batman TV series…
    Robin says to Batman “Gee Batman is there anything you don’t know?”
    To which Batman replies “Yes Robin… there are several things.”

    There are more than several things that I don’t know, but I live in hope.

    • Ralph February 15, 2010, 8:00 am

      You will be the first to know. Don’t hold your breath.

  • Olusegun February 15, 2010, 3:38 am

    Awesome, Funny and Full of sense.

    I certainly have SO MUCH to learn from you Ralph.


    • Ralph February 15, 2010, 7:59 am

      I am glad you enjoyed this post. When it just burst out while I was trying to put together a serious post, I thought to myself that nobody would like it. It is too silly. So far it has received the most comments of any post. I am trying to learn something here. Whatever is good about this post, I would love to understand so that I can do it again.

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