True Confessions


Elizabeth Creith

I am a polysyllable whore.

Oh, I look normal enough. I dress neatly and modestly, and I hold a regular job. You wouldn’t find me on the corner furtively thumbing a grubby copy of Roget’s pocket thesaurus or adding “ization” onto perfectly respectable monosyllables like “film”. Those people are at the bottom of the heap. They have no shame. But once I open my mouth, I give myself away as badly.

My fascination with polysyllables probably started with my mother. She taught me never to say “enough” when “sufficient” would do. Was she capable of prognosti—sorry, could she even have guessed that a single extra syllable would start such an avalanche of linguistic perversion?

School, all unwittingly, catered to my burgeoning obsession. Pluperfect, Euclidean, alluvial, paleontology, extracurricular, hemidemisemiquaver—wherever I looked, those polysyllabics winked and beckoned. But it was “antidisestablishmentarianism” who was my downfall.

He looks standoffish, impossible to approach, as though he has . . . standards. The thing is, I know that if he’s approached correctly, anyone who can offer him a good fit can have him. Men, women, old, young, thoughtful or just freakishly lucky, he’ll do it for anyone who can slide him into just the right spot. He doesn’t care.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t care, either. I don’t care how many others have used him before me; I’d take him, too, if I could ever get lucky enough. Oh, I’ve slipped him into a sentence here or there, but it’s all been wordplay, never a relationship with any meaning. I’ll admit that sometimes, when I’m writing other words, I’ve thought of him. I’ve argued with other polysyllable whores about whether he is really as long as he pretends. Is he only eleven syllables, or is the swallowed “i” between the final “s” and “m” enough to make it twelve? Does size matter? Yes, to a polysyllable whore, it does. But eleven, twelve, I don’t care. I’d swallow all five, or six, “i”s to get him to myself just once.

The truly shameful thing is that if I ever did get him, if I once had him spread out on my page, doing my bidding, a slave to my syntax, I’d actually be thinking of someone else. How can “antidisestablishmentarianism” stand up against “pneumoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconiosis”[1]?

But of course I’d never have a chance with him. I’ve had little teases of him; that hot “volcano”, a slide around with “silicon”, and once or twice that sweet, silky little “ultra”. But it’s been like licking a milk-chocolate kiss off my fingers when what I really want is the whole thing written across me in dark-chocolate body paint from clavicle to patella.

It’s impossible. He’d never fit.

Excuse me, I have to go find my thesaurus.


[1] Editor's note: "Pneumoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconiosis," forty-five letters, was specifically invented by crossword puzzle addicts in 1935 to be  the longest word in the English language. It still appears in some dictionaries.


Elizabeth Creith is a biblioholic and incurable librocubicularist. Not only does she buy, read, shelve and stack books, but she also writes them and on occasion makes them by hand. Elizabeth lives and writes in Wharncliffe, Northern Ontario, distracted occasionally by her husband, dog, and cat. The Scriptorium is where she blogs about writing and life. Contact Elizabeth.



Contact Us || Site Map || || Article Search || © 2006 - 2012 BiblioBuffet