This beauty of a word was discovered in the Books section of The Daily Telegraph (Saturday, 20th May 2006).
For the article A Writer’s Life, the journalist, Helen Brown, interviewed the author Will Self. I quote from her article:
‘In the public imagination, Self is a freak-show sesquipedalianist.’
Somehow, I think that is attributing too much to the public’s intellect. I would not mind betting that the majority have no idea as to the meaning of the word ‘sesquipedalianist’. I admit to being in the same category until I delved into the New Oxford Dictionary of English (NODE). Before then, it took me about ten minutes to even say the word with any degree of fluency!
According to the NODE, the adjective, sesquipedalian, means ‘polysyllabic, characterized by long words, long-winded.’ It originated in the mid 17th century, being derived from the Latin, sesquipedalis, meaning ‘a foot-and-a-half long.’
Rather an appropriate word for such a meaning. However, anyone reading this article can now consider him or herself to be a sesquipedalianist by virtue of their newfound knowledge. I am reliably informed that one cannot be arrested for it.