What is the Fear of Long Words? – Discover the Surprising Name for This Common Phobia

Fear is a natural response to danger or perceived threat, but there are certain phobias that go beyond the typical fears. One such phobia is the fear of long words, which is surprisingly named hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. If you are one of those individuals who are anxious or distressed by long words, then reading this article will help you understanding the nature of the phobia.

The Meaning of Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is a mouthful of a word, and if you suffer from the fear of long words, just hearing the name of this phobia can make you feel anxious. But, what does it really mean?

The term Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is made up of different Greek roots and words.

  • The first root, hippopotamus, means ‘river horse’
  • The second root, monstro-, means ‘monstrous’
  • Sesquipedali- means ‘measuring a foot and a half’
  • Phobia, refers to an intense fear, aversion or irrational dread of something

When you put it all together, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia means an intense fear or anxiety of long words. However, the irony is that the name of the phobia itself is extremely long.

The Symptoms of Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

Individuals who suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia may experience a range of symptoms. These symptoms can vary in intensity and may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating or trembling
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of dread or panic

The Causes of Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

Phobias are often the result of a traumatic experience or a learned behavior. For individuals with hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, the fear of long words may have developed from a negative experience, such as struggling with spelling or pronunciation when they were younger.

Other possible causes of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia may include:

  • Genetic predisposition to anxiety
  • Anxiety or anger disorders
  • Stressful life events
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Diagnosing Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

If you suspect that you have a fear of long words, it is important to talk to a mental health professional. A mental health professional will be able to diagnose the phobia and recommend a course of treatment.

To diagnose hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, a mental health professional may:

  • Ask about your symptoms and their severity
  • Take a medical history
  • Perform a mental status exam
  • Use psychological tests to assess your anxiety levels

Treatment Options for Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

If you are diagnosed with hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, there are a number of treatment options available to help you overcome your fear of long words. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals with phobias by changing negative thought patterns and teaching them coping skills. CBT is often the first-line treatment for Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.
  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to the object of their fear in a structured and controlled environment, allowing them to build up a tolerance to the fear.
  • Medication: Medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.
  • Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga may be helpful in managing anxiety related to Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.


The fear of long words, or Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, may seem amusing and unusual, but it is a real phobia with serious consequences. If you or someone you know suffers from this phobia, it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional to overcome the negative impact it can have on daily life.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Fear of Long Words

Q. What causes hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?

A. The causes of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia are not fully understood, but they may be the result of a negative experience, genetic predisposition, anxiety, stress or OCD.

Q. What are the symptoms of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?

A. Symptoms of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia may include rapid heartbeat, sweating or trembling, nausea, shortness of breath, and feelings of panic or dread.

Q. Can hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia be cured?

A. Yes, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia can be treated and managed through cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, and medication.

Q. How common is hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?

A. The exact prevalence of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is not known, but it is considered a rare phobia.


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • National Health Service. (2017). Specific Phobias. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/specific-phobias/
  • Oxford English Dictionary (2021). Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/87931?rskey=x7VQLM&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *