Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Honorificabilitudinitatibus

From Wiki:-

Honorificabilitudinitatibus is a word used by Costard in act five, scene one of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost. It is (in the quotation) the ablative plural of the medieval Latin word honorificabilitudinitas, which can be translated as "the state of being able to achieve honours." Appearing only once in Shakespeare's works, it is a hapax legomenon.

The word has been cited by anti-Stratfordians who believe Shakespeare's plays were written by Francis Bacon as an anagram for hi ludi, F. Baconis nati, tuiti orbi, Latin for "these plays, F. Bacon's offspring, are preserved for the world".

Parodying this, John Sladek demonstrated in the 1970s that the word could also be anagrammatized as I, B. Ionsonii, uurit [writ] a lift'd batch, thus "proving" that Shakespeare's works were written by Ben Jonson. (The two u's, rendered as v's in the original literation, are put together to form - literally - a w, as was common practice in Shakespeare's day.)

The word, however, was used long before Shakespeare used it in Love's Labour's Lost, and thus the anagram stands as proof of the anti-Stratfordians' ingenuity rather than as a marker of authorship.

Honorificabilitudo appears in a Latin charter of 1187, and occurs as honorificabilitudinitas in 1300. Dante cites honorificabilitudinitate as a typical example of a long word in De Vulg. Eloq. II. vii. It also occurs in The Complaynt of Scotland, and in Marston's Dutch Courtezan (1605).

The earliest use listed in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1599, by Nashe: "Physitions deafen our eares with the Honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heauenly Panachaea, their soueraign Guiacum."

James Joyce also used this word in his mammoth novel Ulysses, during the Scylla and Charybdis episode when Stephen Dedalus articulates his interpretation of Hamlet.

The cartoon Pinky and the Brain also defined honorificabilitudinitatibus during the credits of the episode "Napoleon Braineparte," in their tradition of defining long, obscure words such as this one.

Similarly, it features in the Spelling Bee episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.

It is also worth noting that Honorificabilitudinitatibus is the longest word in the English language featuring alternating consonants and vowels.

What a great word!

1 Comments:

Blogger Nick said...

You've put yourself in "the state of being able to achieve honours" by coming up with such a winner.

4:39 pm  

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