I think it only right to start off with one of the words that really captures my fascination with words, and is actually this blog’s indirect namesake.

This word is “sesquipedalian.” It is an adjective, and it helps convey that a specific word is really long, or, in describing someone, a person who is known to talk in long words, or be overly wordy or verbose.

This word is funny, to me at least, because of the bizarre relationship between its meaning and its form. It’s hilariously discordant to me that the word describing someone who uses long words is actually one of the longer words I would ever use. There are, of course, many alternative words that could fill the same purpose, but the mix between form and function of “sesquipedalian” makes it almost too good to pass up.

As with most of these words I examine, I find the history and roots fascinating. From Latin, the two roots “sesqui-” (meaning “one and a half”) and “ped” (meaning “foot”) forms the descriptor of “a foot and a half long,” describing the words that are sesquipedalian in nature, or a person who you could describe as sesquipedalian. Thus, the word is literally referring to words, in their own right, or that are coming out of a persons mouth, that can be a foot and a half long.

This is the current namesake for this blog, which is “A Foot and a Half Too Long,” denoting my proclivity for using words that are a mite too long. Maybe I should worry less about form and more about function.

Either way, this is exactly what this blog is, in part, for: brief surface examinations of interesting words and their roots–their etymology. But I wont limit myself to just that. I will probably also come across turns of phrase or axioms I’d like to examine as well. And, of course, I could always throw in something totally unrelated, but which I find fascinating and worthwhile sharing.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy.


-(Of a word) polysyllabic; long: ‘sesquipedalian surnames.’
-Characterized by long words; long-winded: ‘the sesquipedalian prose of scientific journals.’

Mid 17th cent.: from Latin sesquipedalis ‘a foot and a half long,’ from sesqui- (denoting one and a half) + pes, ped- ‘foot.’

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Posted in Etymology, Foundations
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May 2013
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