In any language there are words that must be mastered so as not to appear Johny Very Foreigner or a complete sack of potatoes: cat, thank you, eat etc; there are words that, correctly used, show an interest in the language or a “bottom caning and gym teacher who later in life gets arrested for liking small boys just a little too much” education: facetious, paradox, penultimate; then comes an almost inexhaustible amount of delicious-sounding words, the judicious use of which sets one aside from hoi-polloi: peradventure, nidificate, ataraxia.
There is, in my mind, one further category of words, of which the word “floccinaucinihilipilification” belongs. Whilst I may not know what an ereption is, or be unsure if a comment about my napiform head should elicit a coy smile or a broken bottle in the groin, these words have at least in their favour that I can write/pronounce them.
I could possibly get away unscathed by throwing the occasional “lippitude” or “hebetate” in my quotidian conversations (or, for that matter, “quotidian”), but I’d most likely be calling for an ambulance at the mere mumbled mention of the sesquipedian “floccinaucinihilipilification”.
I spend a fair amount of time browsing dictionaries and the like, finding what I consider to be interesting words to learn for my own pleasure, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste much-needed brenergy (that’s not a word, I just needed something that sounded a bit less childlike than brain energy) on something that will lead to either pain or cause others to think I’m an arrogant toss-brush.
Sesquipedaliophobia, by the way, is the fear of long words. Thinking this to be a joke I delved around a bit, and found out that it seems to be an accepted word. The ironical word for this fear is hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.