Posted by: jowanderer | January 11, 2008

It is the fear that dare not speak its name

It is the fear that dare not speak its name. It is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.

Those afflicted are afraid of very long words, yet even as they attempt to lead normal lives, avoiding medical dictionaries and high-scoring Scrabble players, the very term that defines their condition hangs over their heads, terrifyingly polysyllabic.

Their irrational fear and the word that defines it has been catalogued by readers of New Scientist among a list of the most curious phobias to trouble modern man, as advertised by counselling companies promising a cure.

As readers delved deeper, a dictionary of phobias emerged that included some apparently reasonable apprehensions. There is nucleomituphobia, the fear of nuclear weapons, the fear of dentists (odontophobia) and a fear of the French (Francophobia).

Rhytiphobia, the fear of wrinkles, has surely plagued Hollywood actors, and pentheraphobia (fear of mothers-in-law) may have afflicted the late Les Dawson along with numbers of otherwise happily married men.

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