• honorificabilitudinitatibus •
ah-nêr-ri-fi-kê-bi-li-tyu-di-ni-tah-ti-bês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Deserving of honor, capable of receiving honor.
Notes: If Shakespeare had not used this word, it would have never even received consideration for the otherwise rampant English snitching. However, it has been used several times since Shakespeare, so it has made Wikipedia. This article mentions 4 or 5 other occurrences since Shakespeare.
In Play: In Act V, Scene 1 of Love's Labor Lost, today's word pops up in an extremely pretentious dialogue between two pedants:
"O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. 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."
Flap-dragon was a game of trying to eat raisins from a bowl of burning brandy and extinguishing the fire in your mouth.
Word History: Today's unusually long Good Word was already used among Italian scholars in the 8th century. It was last used by James Joyce in his 1922 novel Ulysses. This word is a Medieval Latin compound comprising honorificus "honorable" + (h)abilis "easily handled, manageable" + a series of noun and adjective suffixes. Latin honorificus is a compound, including honor "honor" + the compounding variant of facere "to do, make". How honor got into Latin is anyone's guess. Habilis apparently came from PIE ghabh- "give, receive", which went into the making of Sanskrit gabhasti- "hand", Lituanian gabana "armful", and English give. (Now we should thank Rob Towart, who seems to be competing with the mysterious Grogie with his suggestion of today's rather long and arcane Good Word.)
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