What is the fear of long words called, or what is hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?

There is no such person who has not experienced fear or fright throughout his life. Many fears are logical and relate to the body’s defensive reactions to possible danger. However, there are unreasonable anxieties that arise subconsciously and cannot be controlled. Among phobias there are many exotic manifestations. One of them is the fear of long words. Let's consider its features, symptoms and treatment methods.

Causes of long word phobia

In most cases, pedalophobia develops in people with a neurotic character and an increased sense of anxiety.
The main causes of long word phobia:

  1. Hereditary predisposition, if one of the parents has a stutter or other speech problems.
  2. Existing speech defects – stuttering, burr, lisp.
  3. An unsuccessful public performance that caused psychological trauma.
  4. Difficulty pronouncing complex sounds or long speech combinations in childhood.
  5. Errors in upbringing - if a child has been taught from childhood that he will remain ignorant and become a universal laughing stock because of incorrect or ugly speech.
  6. The stress that the child experienced during a lesson in his native language - for example, during a dictation or a call to the board. The situation is aggravated if the teacher or other students ridiculed the child.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is a disease that is often found among people whose profession involves speaking in front of the general public. The maximum risk of disorder develops when listeners are initially skeptical of the speaker.

The development of the disease can be triggered by an inferiority complex caused by a mistake in speech, after which the audience laughed.

Fear of long words is observed in a person who is afraid of complex lexical structures, because he believes that he will seem incompetent in any matter. His incompetence will cause a decrease in social status and loss of respect from authoritative people. This is what causes pedaliophobia.

Fear of long words definitely requires treatment, otherwise this disorder can become a serious obstacle to career advancement.

How to give first aid

At a certain point, a person who is overcome by a phobia of long words may develop a panic fear

It is important to focus your attention on your breathing here.

As soon as a panic attack occurs, involuntary deep breathing begins. This causes hyperventilation, which can lead to shortness of breath (such processes lead to deterioration of health). A phobia of long words can lead to physical and mental distress. Depression often begins if a person does not cope with the problem in time.

It is necessary to restore normal breathing as soon as possible. The specialist is advised to imagine how energy enters the body, and when it comes out, the body should relax. If your body is shaking, you still need to continue doing the exercise.

Please note that fear of the phobia itself causes even greater disruption in the body. He begins to think that danger is coming from outside

Phobia of long words is treatable, like any other fear. To achieve this, a complex of medical measures and psychological work on oneself is carried out.

Is it possible to overcome the disease?

This disorder is quite rare . Despite this, the fear of long words and its treatment remain relevant. If the disease arose in childhood, then it can manifest itself at any time in the future. Often the problem affects people who constantly encounter the practice of public speaking. People who have a fear of long words cannot remember what the phobia is called. The very understanding of the presence of a phobia causes them to panic.

In critical situations, when fear takes over, you need to calm yourself as much as possible. A phobia of long words can develop into a panic attack. Situations are especially unpleasant when a person speaks publicly. Correct breathing techniques often help. There is no need to be afraid that the public will look with judgment. This can happen to anyone. The body must survive stress and then cope with it. It is important not to trigger the fear of long words. Any path is surmountable, especially for a person who is moving towards his goals. With the right approach, you can get rid of such a phobia for life.

Why is fear dangerous?

The most negative consequences can occur in childhood and adolescence. Typically, such fears appear while attending scientific clubs or studying at a university. While studying, there is a need to memorize words that are difficult to pronounce. The fear of big words will cause the child to simply fall behind in class and receive unsatisfactory grades. Some children simply begin to avoid this type of activity. The child may be expelled from the educational institution.

In some cases, such fear is justified. Most of those who have ever encountered such a phobia learn to get rid of it at an early age. A phobia of long words often creates difficulties in everyday life. Sometimes it contributes to a person’s depression, the development of complexes, and the deterioration of relationships with relatives, colleagues and friends.

Many people fail to understand the scale of such a problem. They believe that such fears are far-fetched and cannot cause real harm to the owner of the phobia or others

Please note that the phobia of long words quickly enters the active phase. It turns out that a person who suffers from a phobia simply ceases to control himself in the most inappropriate place and moment.

Fears can lead to a person constantly experiencing panic attacks, feeling nauseous and constantly dizzy. Increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and shortness of breath are possible. If no one nearby provides help, then this condition can pose a danger to the person himself.

Typically, a phobia is tied to an action or a specific object. In this condition, treatment is necessary. If you don’t fight your fears, then the number of objects that cause phobias increases every time. The person will no longer have a normal life.

People who constantly suffer from various phobias have good intellectual abilities. They clearly understand the problem and adequately perceive their condition. In fact, they do not always have the strength to fight such a phobia; they often need support or help from outside.

Fear of holes. Trypophobia

Trypophobia (also fear of cluster holes) - the term was proposed in 2004, a combination of the Greek τρυπῶ "to make holes, drill" and -phobia. This is the fear of cluster holes (that is, clusters of holes). Clusters of small holes in organic objects, such as lotus fruits or bubbles in dough, can cause jitters, itching, nausea, and a general feeling of discomfort. Although trypophobia is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, thousands of people claim to suffer from the phobia, which is a fear of objects with small holes, usually in repeating patterns (clusters). . .

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Phobias and fears

Each of us has experienced fear of something or someone. Events, phenomena, objects and people can bring a feeling of discomfort. This is where the phobia begins. The psychological nature of a phobia is such that a person, based on previously experienced events or other factors, is afraid of something or someone. At the initial stage, this fact has virtually no effect on the quality of life or relationships. Many negative aspects can be eliminated or circumvented. But it happens that a person still faces his fear face-to-face. This state can be described this way:

  • feelings of fear, anxiety, panic;
  • growing excitement;
  • dizziness;
  • feeling of lack of air;
  • nausea (rarely vomiting);
  • cardiopalmus;
  • tremor of the limbs;
  • in rare cases - loss of consciousness, fainting.

The list of phobias officially recognized by medicine is so huge that everyone can find something “of their own”

It is important to understand that not all phobias are mental disorders. These are conditions experienced by people at certain stages of life rather than a disease

How to Diagnose the Problem

The quality and duration of treatment until full recovery occurs depends on the timely diagnosis of fear of words. As part of diagnostic measures, tests are carried out for adequate perception of oral and written speech. A person is asked to pronounce short and long words, then anomalies in behavior are identified when reading individual lexical units. Also, for diagnosis, a psychologist can use a confidential conversation with a client, asking him about his feelings at the moment of uttering certain words, phrases, sentences.

Modern specialists actively use tongue twisters as a tool for diagnosing pedaliophobia. If the patient cannot quickly pronounce a long phrase and begins to feel unwell, we can talk about a phobia. However, it should be borne in mind that sometimes patients cannot cope with tongue twisters not because of fear of long phrases, but because of an inferiority complex caused by problems with diction or articulation (for example, a person is nervous because he has a lisp or does not pronounce the letter "R").

When diagnosing, psychologists use various methods of working with patients.

Attention! Do not confuse fear of long words with other speech disorders, for example, with stuttering of a neurotic nature. In the latter case, even the utterance of monosyllabic words causes fear in a person. If the patient is afraid of long phrases, in all other respects he may have absolutely normal speech

The phobia manifests itself only when encountering polysyllabic lexical units.


Symptoms of the disorder can be described as mental, emotional, or physical.

  • Many people feel panicked at the sight or thought of long words.
  • Physical symptoms: crying, running away, trembling, feeling sick, headaches, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath.
  • A person feels fear and horror. His brain creates very bad pictures in which he is embarrassed and gets into an unpleasant situation.
  • Often the patient understands that his fear is irrational, but is unable to control himself. Powerless to think rationally.

The good news is that fear can be overcome. Medication should be a last resort because it masks the symptoms of anxiety. To get rid of fear, you need to remember and evaluate the factors that led to the phobia.

Psychotherapists will help with this. They will develop an effective treatment plan. First, a person gradually pronounces words starting with “I”, then moving on to complex phrases. At first he just looks, then switches to thinking about long words, saying them out loud.

Gradual exposure helps reduce panic until the person becomes comfortable. Over time, he will begin to confidently cope with the phobia.


What is it : fear of crossing the street

Venture to : An intersection in the Shibuya area of ​​Tokyo. It is the most congested in the world. The green traffic light here turns on for pedestrians from all four directions at once, and huge crowds literally rush towards each other along zebra crossings.

Why does the fear of long words have such a name?

It is difficult to remember what the fear of long words is called. Only practicing specialists have the right to name phobias. This term is widely used in medical practice and is considered officially recognized. The word hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia sounds like the Greek language and consists of several of the most common ancient Greek roots; in fact, it does not carry any semantic meaning. Psychologists usually shorten the name of the disorder to “pedaliophobia.” It was necessary to come up with such a term so that patients would finally remember the name of their problem.

The intricate name of a phobia is an attempt to convince patients that their illness is not serious and can be easily treated.

Methods of psychological control of the disease

Psychotherapy methods are most effective for pedaliophobia . Psychological struggle includes performing exercises to accept your own fears and relax, reduce anxiety and get rid of anxiety in a stressful situation.

The main goal of psychological struggle is not to help the patient pronounce long words correctly, but to prepare him for the fact that even if he pronounces it incorrectly, nothing terrible will happen. An excellent and effective treatment method is to slowly pronounce long tongue twisters. That is why treatment is recommended to be carried out by a psychologist and speech therapist.

Causes of long word phobia

Fear of big words can be caused by various reasons. Here are the most common ones:

  • In childhood, parents instilled in the child that he would remain illiterate for the rest of his life due to poor studies in his native language;
  • A patient in adolescence experienced stress during a dictation or test in the Russian language, caused by an acute lack of time or the inability to cope with work;
  • Once, during a public speech, a man stumbled on a long word and had to unscheduledly interrupt his story.

Pedaliophobia is also a property that is often inherent in people with high levels of anxiety and a neurotic personality. Phlegmatic and melancholic people more often suffer from this disease, compared to choleric and sanguine people.

Interesting. Many patients admit that their fear comes from childhood. For example, a child was called to the board and asked to read or write a long word of several syllables. The student failed, the teacher or peers ridiculed him, and the psychological trauma eventually developed into a phobia. Pedaliophobia can also be a congenital mental disorder.

Symptoms and treatments for phobias

Some people who have this fear try to avoid reading aloud as much as possible or even refuse to read out loud, especially to their children. They try to avoid exotic restaurants, the menu of which may contain dishes with long and difficult to pronounce names. They may go out of their way to avoid people who use words that frighten them in their daily speech.

Fear causes a sudden impoverishment of their vocabulary, a refusal to read textbooks or scientific papers, and as an excuse they say that the author is too pretentious or that their head is not created for science. Children may avoid going to school, simply lose interest in learning, “forget” to do homework, and their speech becomes monosyllabic, with a limited vocabulary.

The physical symptoms through which the phobia manifests itself are uncontrollable panic attacks, increased heart rate, dizziness, shortness of breath, trembling, nausea, dry mouth and dizziness. All this can go as far as a person’s inability to pronounce the simplest sentence.

The basis for overcoming hippopotomonstrosesquipedalophobia is knowledge of the reasons that caused it. It cannot be cured with drugs because... it's a mental state. Therefore, depending on the reasons, you can turn to a psychiatrist or speech therapist for help. Effective counseling and treatment can help anyone cope with this peculiar fear.

How to overcome this fear

Fortunately, hippopotomonstrosesquipedalophobia is not a serious mental illness and does not usually require medication. The main condition for successfully getting rid of a phobia is the desire of the person himself, and the most effective tool is acquiring positive experience in pronouncing long words.

In addition, an effective way to get rid of the obsessive fear of complex words is to contact a specialist who will identify the true cause of the fear and select suitable psychotherapy.

Important! The best result in the fight against a phobia will be obtained by combining therapy with a specialist and independent work with diction, facial expressions and increasing the degree of self-confidence. In some cases, the help of a speech therapist will also be necessary.

Well-known tongue twisters will come to the rescue, as well as impromptu performances with family or friends, during which you will need to pronounce a number of long words. Every tongue twister delivered without hesitation and every successful performance gives a person confidence in his own abilities and a speedy recovery from the phobia.

If, when pronouncing a difficult word, you feel an approaching attack of fear, try performing a simple but effective breathing exercise:

  1. Inhale for 3 seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for 1 second.
  3. Exhale slowly for 6 seconds.

When performing this exercise, breathe from the diaphragm, and not from the chest, which should remain motionless. Repeat the exercise until your physical and emotional state returns to normal.

Features of treatment

The phobia does not require any medical treatment. It is important to understand the reason for the fear of long words, the name of which cannot be remembered and pronounced without preparation. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia requires the participation of a competent psychologist and, possibly, a psychiatrist. With timely treatment and a positive attitude of the patient, a complete cure is possible.

There are a number of phobias related to the fear of long words, these are acribophobia (fear of not understanding the meaning of what you read), xenoglossophobia (fear of foreign languages), gnosiophobia (fear of acquiring knowledge). Often a person has two or more diagnoses.

It is not so important to know what the fear of long words is called, as to understand that it can be cured with the help of a competent specialist.


Manifestations of phobia

This phobia manifests itself in the form of various physiological reactions, namely arrhythmia, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness and a feeling of horror. In severe cases, loss of consciousness is possible. It happens when a person needs to speak a long word in front of a large audience. A serious problem is that errors begin to appear even in simple words, and stuttering develops. Because of this, the situation only gets worse, the person succumbs to fear.

Fear of pronouncing complex terms appears for various reasons. Firstly, in childhood, a child can experience stress associated with the use of long words, which will affect his entire future life. Secondly, this fear may arise from the demands of modern life, which does not allow for shortcomings. It is often difficult to pronounce a long term without mistakes the first time. This is what makes people afraid.

Most often, fear manifests itself among those who work in the field of a person’s professional activity, because ignorance of the pronunciation of these particular terms can make colleagues doubt the competence of a specialist. Especially strong feelings in people suffering from this phobia are caused by business conversations on free topics, for which it is impossible to prepare in advance.

Fatigue and excitement do not allow you to concentrate on pronunciation, so errors appear

For a person who does not use complex terms every day, a phobia does not have serious consequences, but, for example, a teacher at an educational institution, who constantly operates with a large number of concepts and names, will feel all the consequences of the disease on himself.

People who are afraid of long words often suffer from other phobias. They are afraid to speak in front of an audience and have complexes.

Many people doubt the existence of this fear. But it really exists, because those who are faced with it often have great limitations in life, their relationships with others worsen, and they suffer from depression. People begin to deprive themselves of participation in various social situations. For example, they stop visiting restaurants that serve exotic dishes that have difficult names, avoid reading aloud, and refuse to communicate with people who may use difficult-to-pronounce terms in their speech.

The phobia causes the most harm to schoolchildren. They withdraw into themselves because of the ridicule of their classmates. Their academic performance drops, they cannot demonstrate their qualities because they are afraid of disgracing themselves, and their fears significantly worsen their lives.

What does it represent?

Scientists decided to have fun, which is why they named the fear of long words so that you can literally break your tongue.

That is, the very term itself causes a panic attack. If only because it consists of 33 letters. By the way, it is not only almost impossible to pronounce, but also to read.

It turns out that trying to say it out loud can provoke the development of a phobia.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia affects about 3% of the world's population. And this, I want to tell you, is quite a lot.

Almost every 20th person on earth avoids using long, incomprehensible words in their speech. Which, by the way, he is not even able to hear, as he begins to get nervous.

In principle, the presence of this disorder does not bring significant problems. The only people who find it difficult are teachers, doctors, lawyers, in general, everyone who, as part of their job, has to deal with complex terminology.

It most often manifests itself among adolescents and children of primary school age. Since they have a fear of embarrassing themselves in front of the class while answering at the blackboard, or reading out a report or essay.

Because the teacher will swear, give you a low grade, and tell your parents. And what’s even worse is that peers will make fun of you, give you a funny nickname and stop being “friends.”


Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the name given to the fear of pronouncing or reading long words. In some cases, people are even afraid to hear long names for something. The main reasons for the appearance of this neurotic disorder, according to scientists, can be considered the following:

  • Complexity and lack of self-confidence due to improper upbringing.
  • Childhood psychological trauma.
  • Ridicule from peers and others when an unsuccessful attempt to pronounce a big word.
  • Once a mispronounced word from the stage, which, according to the speaker, caused laughter in the audience. Considering this a shame, a person, without meaning to, succumbs to the fear of making a slip again or stuttering during a speech.
  • A person’s fear of making a mistake in pronunciation so that others do not have doubts about his competence in a certain matter.
  • Fear of a possible decline in social status due to frequent stuttering and slips of the tongue.

The essence of the disease

The essence of the disease is that when trying to pronounce a polysyllabic word, the patient begins to experience a neurotic syndrome and fear. In some cases, people who have never stuttered before begin to stammer from fear of words. However, if you use simple (two- or three-syllable lexical units), this does not happen. Since long, polysyllabic terms are rarely found in everyday speech, most often psychologists diagnose this disorder by chance, while solving other problems of a particular patient.

When contacting polysyllabic lexical units, the patient experiences real panic horror

First aid for a phobia

Phobia of long words is not a complex disease; it can be successfully treated . The first thing to do during a panic attack is to try to relax as much as possible, both psychologically and physically.

In the initial stages of treatment during public speaking, all long, polysyllabic words can be replaced with shorter synonyms. Gradually, complex and long lexical units are introduced into the speech of a person suffering from a phobia.

Why does the fear of long words have such a name?

The fear of pronouncing long words is called very intricately - hippopotomonstroseskippedalophobia.

As a rule, phobias are given a name in Latin, based on the name of the object or phenomenon that causes obsessive fear, and the prefix “phobia” is added to this name (from the Greek φόβος “fear”). Meanwhile, from the name hippopotomonstrosesquipedalophobia it is completely impossible to determine what is the source of fear

Probably, this term arose thanks to the professional humor of scientists, focusing on the main problem of people suffering from it - long, difficult to pronounce words

As follows from one common joke, thanks to just one name of a phobia, one can diagnose its presence in a person. Another scientific name for this phobia is “sesquipedalophobia,” which is a common abbreviation for its full (and completely unpronounceable) name.

Interesting information: according to official data, every twentieth person in the world suffers from sesquipedalophobia.

What is the fear of polysyllabic words called?

A 33-letter word that describes a strange phobia that affects one-sixth of the planet's population. So, the fear of long words is called hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. Sesquipedaliophobia, as it is also briefly called, is the name for the fear of pronunciation, reading, and writing long words. A person suffering from this condition may not only be afraid to utter a long word and make a mistake. He feels uncomfortable seeing and listening to words of impressive length. It is unknown why such a strange name was chosen for this condition. It is possible that this is due to the sense of humor of the people responsible for the terminology of such diseases. Even an absolutely healthy person will feel uneasy when reading the full name of the fear of long words.

How the disorder manifests itself

Some symptoms are specific, others are characteristic of various phobias. A person suffering from this neurotic disorder is afraid to read, write, pronounce definitions and terms consisting of a large number of letters. May avoid pronouncing polysyllabic words and tends to replace them with synonyms in speech.

Symptoms of a panic attack appear. The skin around the face turns pale, and the hands may also turn pale. It becomes difficult to breathe. Breathing is uneven, rapid, and may be accompanied by pain in the chest area and a feeling of tightness. There is a feeling of nausea, and vomiting is occasionally observed. There may be trembling in the hands, less often in the legs. The heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.

Dizziness and sometimes headaches are possible. Dryness occurs in the mouth. Due to severe nervous tension, a person may begin to stutter and lose the ability to pronounce even a short word without errors. If a polysyllabic term has to be uttered in public speaking, the fear may become so intense that the speaker faints. Characterized by increasing excitement and anxiety, turning into a panic state.

He is not present during conversations on scientific topics, he refuses spas, restaurants and coffee shops with exotic names of dishes.

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