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Sesquipedalian Words

Sesquipedalia Verba or Sesquipedalians in Action

Etymologically, this word comes from Latin sesquipedalis; literally, a foot and a half long, from sesqui- + ped-, pes, foot. Date of origin in English is believed to be from 1656.

1. Having many syllables, long; as in “sesquipedalian terms”. 2. Given to or characterized by the use of long words; “a sesquipedalian political statement”. 3. Long and ponderous; polysyllabic. 4. Measuring or containing a foot and a half; as, a sesquipedalian pygmy; sometimes humorously applied to long words (as in the “Verba Obscura” shown below). 5. Given to the overuse of long words; as with “sesquipedalian political orators”.

See if you can determine the meanings of the following sesquipedialian “common proverbs” or sayings before you click on the solutions.

  • A lithoid form, whose onward course
    Is shaped by gravitational force,
    Can scarce enjoy the consolation
    Of bryophytic aggregation.


    —Hubert Phillips

Translation for Verba Obscura #1 may be found by going to Translation #1. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Of little value his compunctions
    Who assumes clavinous functions
    When once from circumambient pen,
    Is snatched its equine denizen.


    —Hubert Phillips (with slight revisions)

Translation for Verba Obscura #2 may be found by going to Translation #2. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • It’s possible to conduct an equine quadruped to the immediate vicinity of an aqueous liquid,
    but bibulation cannot be induced by any coercive process.


    —Anonymous

Translation for Verba Obscura #3 may be found by going to Translation #3. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Subterranean entry port. —Anonymous

Translation for Verba Obscura #4 may be found by going to Translation #4. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • A mass of concentrated geolithic or lapitarial material perennially rotating on its axis will not accumulate an accretion of muscus growth.

    —A slightly revised rendition of Mr. Aaron Sussman’s obtuse version of a common proverb as seen in Bennett Cerf’s column in This Week Magazine, February 13, 1955. Mr. Sussman wrote: “Are we a nation of dolts?” he inquired angrily. “Must we reduce every thought to a single paragraph of one-syllable words?”

Translation for Verba Obscura #5 may be found by going to Translation #5. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • A superabundance of talent skilled in the preparation of gastronomic concoctions
    will impair the quality of a certain potable solution made by immersing a gallinaceous bird in ebullient Adam’s ale.


    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #6 may be found by going to Translation #6. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Individuals who perforce are constrained to be domiciled in vitreous structures of patent frangibility
    should on no account employ petrous formations as projectiles.


    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #7 may be found by going to Translation #7. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • That prudent avis that matutinally deserts the coziness of its abode will ensnare a vermiculate creature.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #8 may be found by going to Translation #8. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Everything that coruscates with effulgence is not ipso facto aurous.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #9 may be found by going to Translation #9. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Do not dissipate your competence by hebetudinous prodigality lest you subsequently lament an exiguous inadequacy.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #10 may be found by going to Translation #10. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • An addlepated beetlehead and his specie divaricate with startling prematurity. —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #11 may be found by going to Translation #11. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • It can be no other than a maleficent horizontally propelled current of gaseous matter whose portentous advent is not the harbinger of a modicum of beneficence.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #12 may be found by going to Translation #12. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • One should diligently exercise proper speculation upon that situs that one will eventually tenant if one propels oneself into the aerosphere.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 [with minor revisions] (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #13 may be found by going to Translation #13. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Aberration is the hallmark of homo sapiens while longanimous placability and condonation are the indicia of supramundane omniscience.

    —Written by Mr. Aaron Sussman, 1955 (See #5 above).

Translation for Verba Obscura #14 may be found by going to Translation #14. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • Conducting to the watering place
    A quadruped of equine race
    Is simple; but he may not care
    To practice imbibition there.


    —Hubert Phillips

Translation for Verba Obscura #15 may be found by going to Translation #15. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • When, nimbus-free, Sol marches by
    Across the circumambient sky,
    To graminiferous meads repair—
    Your instant task awaits you there!


    —Hubert Phillips

Translation for Verba Obscura #16 may be found by going to Translation #16. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

  • That unit of the avian tribe
    Whose movements one can circumscribe
    “In manu,” as a pair will rate
    Subarboreally situate.


    —Hubert Phillips

Translation for Verba Obscura #17 may be found by going to Translation #17. Use your browser’s “back” or “return” button to return to this list.

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