WOTD: Honorificabilitudinitatibus

“WHAT!?!?!?!” You ask? This is the longest word used in any of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s also the longest word in the English language that alternates consonants and vowels. Some think that it’s a meaningless word based on the context used in the play, but that’s not so!

Honorificabilitudinitatibus (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Honorificabilitudinitatibus
the state of being able to achieve honours

I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;
for thou art not so long by the head as
honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier
swallowed than a flap-dragon.
- Love’s Labour’s Lost (V.i)

This word has a lot of baggage. Some have tried to rearrange the letters of what they thought was a made up word to create messages in latin to “prove” that Shakespeare didn’t write the plays. I won’t discuss that too much right now, personally I think it’s just trying too hard to create evidence for what some people want to believe. The facts are that this is plural form of the real medieval Latin word honorificabilitudinitas.

Now this isn’t a word you can use everyday. This isn’t even a word you need to know the definition of when you hear or read it, any long word could have taken its place, though I thought it’d be fun one to share. Practice reading it for a little while. How long does it take you to be able to pronounce it with ease?

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